Need you be anti-Indian to be pro-Nepali?
Need you be anti-Indian to be pro-Nepali?
“What’s the rush?…Let the PM scratch a coupon he brought from India first…if it’s arms or helicopter, or aid or petroleum or railway or trade or dam or…” This was the “Gajab Chha Baa” cartoon published in Kantipur online on September 13, in connection with Prime Minister Deuba’s return after his visit to India to secure the Indian Government’s support in combating the Maoist rebels. Certainly, a true depiction of the Indo-Nepal relation! Because India shows its willingness and optimism in responding to the needs and requests from Nepal, the latter too approaches India confidently when in need – A friend in need is a friend in deed!”Please don’t mind, but we were just curious to know why the mainstream Nepalis have anti-Indian sentiments?” is the question that is often asked by some of our puzzled Indian friends. The question is perfectly genuine, and therefore makes it a Herculean task to answer why, because there seems to be no rational reason why we actually should have a cloud of negative sentiment against India.Sure, it cannot be generalized that all Nepalis are anti-Indians; but one cannot either deny the overt or covert existence of anti-Indian sentiment among many Nepalis. It is difficult to guess why, but the common hunches might be that good fences make good neighbors and we lack one? Probably the reasons could also be due to some “third party involvement” in injecting anti-Indian feeling; or it could be like some “family values” learnt from a generation to the next; or could it be a mere fashion to be called or known as anti-Indian? It is also most likely that we might be using anti-Indian sentiment as a form of defense mechanism to protect our own ego.
Historians have tracked down the seeds of anti-Indian sentiments among the Nepalis back to the ousting of the Rana rule in 1950 due to India’s active involvement and effective presence in Nepal’s contemporary history and politics, including the dismissal of parliamentary democracy and the imposition of direct rule by King Mahendra in 1960, and the return of a constitutional monarchy in 1990-91. Perhaps there were internal and external powers, who, threatened by India’s involvement in Nepal, tried to inject anti-Indian ethos into Nepali nationalism to serve their own vested interests?
We have this classic habit of forgetting to appreciate each other for their help. When we want tea to be served to us, we humbly request for it, but after the tea is served, neither tea nor the provider gets any compliment; rather, we have grudges against tea being tasteless, or not served properly! We might call it interference or subjugation or imposition of unequal treaties by India, but why would Nepal not play its best bait on the bargaining table or before signing treaties or before reaching an understanding with India, rather than acting cold turkey and playing victim afterwards? It goes without saying that he who pays the piper calls the tune! And if we analyze Indo-Nepal relations in this tune for the past several years, or examine the give and take relationship between these two nations, we would actually find no “perfect” reason to be anti-Indians, if we would not want to be called pro-Indians!
Anti-Indian sentiment as if helps create the impression of a nationalist! The famous Hritik Roshan episode was a bitter-pill, where the rumor about the famous Indian matinee idol making disparaging remarks about Nepal had created a nationalist hysteria among the Nepalis. And as if being anti-Indian is a requirement to be in politics, there are political parties in Nepal who ride on anti-Indian sentiment. The Maoists too, whose main demands, although remains to overthrow monarchy and setting up People’s Republic, the target of their attacks include “Indian hegemonism” and “American imperialism.”
When there are neighbors, hiccups do happen. It seems to be inevitable that the countries which fall under the categories of “haves” would have critiques and anti-country sentiments from the “have-nots” or the “have less,” partly because of the sense of threat or vulnerability. Take the example of America, the powerful bigwig, which has equally powerful critics around the globe. This could be another reason why India too observes sporadic unfortunate outbursts of anti-Indian sentiments by the Nepalis and other anti-Indian forces from neighboring countries; for instance the hijack of the Indian Airlines Kathmandu-New Delhi flight by terrorists allegedly backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It is a different matter what nourishes or who flourishes anti-Indian sentiments in Nepal, but owing to the anti-sentiments, anti-Indian forces from neighboring countries find it easy to fish in Nepal’s troubled waters.
Sum and substance, being an anti-Indian is like a wild goose chase and does not seem to serve the interests of the people of Nepal anyway. Quite obvious, Nepal needs India as India does Nepal; a great deal of Nepal’s day-to-day activities are tied up with India and vice-versa. But the fact that still remains is that India is such a huge and powerful country – twenty-two times bigger than Nepal and sharing an open border of over thousand miles with Nepal – we can neither compete with it nor can we do without it. These are realities that are irreversible.
With the ebb and flow of time, the new generation, with their fresh pair of eyes, should be able to weigh positive aspects of a close bilateral relationship. Instead of wearing horse’s blinkers and joining the bandwagon of those who regard anti-Indianism as an essential component of Nepali nationalism, Nepal-India relation should be studied from a multifaceted approach also opening up chapters which describe how we have till date benefited from having India as our close neighbor.
To those who may have mistaken my critical thinking for being an anti-Nepali, let me outwardly refute that, for I am neither anti-Nepali, nor anti-Indian. I believe that one need not be anti-Indian to be pro-Nepali or vice-versa. Final words – “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” so why not be sweet than sour towards our neighbor!
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