Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific


Nepal’s geopolitical dilemma

Activists affiliated with 'Human Rights and Peace Society Nepal' protest near the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu against the alleged encroachment of the Nepal border by India, 12 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Gaurab Shumsher Thapa, Nepal Forum of International Relations Studies

Nepal is situated in a geostrategic location between two big and powerful states. Historically, Nepal’s foreign policy has focussed on maintaining a balanced relationship with its neighbours. Modern Nepal’s founder, the late King Prithvi Narayan Shah, once remarked that Nepal was a ‘yam between two boulders’.

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Emotion and insecurity fuel Nepal–India border tensions

Nepalese students affiliated with the opposition party protest against the new map of India demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli in Kathmandu, Nepal, 17 November 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Santosh Sharma Poudel, Nepal Institute for Policy Research

The territorial dispute between Nepal and India over Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura regions reignited after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a road through the area on 8 May 2020. The road leads to Mansarovar, a major Hindu, Buddhist and Jain pilgrimage site in Tibet. During the inauguration, Singh extolled the road’s ‘strategic, religious and trade’ significance. Read more…

Rising tensions on the Nepal–India border

Nepalese student take part in a protest shouting anti Indian slogans near the Indian embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal September 28, 2015. According to the students, they were protesting against the Indian logjam at the India-Nepal borders causing acute fuel crises all over the country (Photo: Reuters/Chitrakar).

Author: Rishi Gupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Amid rising cases of COVID-19 in Nepal, the country is engaged in a diplomatic spat with India over land disputes in the Dharchula region — a tri-junction between Nepal, India and China. The latest dispute began after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80 kilometre road from Dharchula to Lipulekh in India’s Uttarakhand state. The road will shorten the route for Hindu pilgrims to the sacred Mount Kailash in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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Political manoeuvres compromise Nepal’s COVID-19 response

Protesters with placards protest near the Prime Minister's official residence, demanding better and effective response from the government to fight COVID-19 outbreak as the number of infections spikes, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 9 June 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Sujeev Shakya, Beed Management

The Nepali government did little to combat COVID-19 when its first case was confirmed on 13 January 2020, viewing it at the time as an isolated problem in China rather than a looming global public health crisis. Nepal was prompted into action only after Europe was hit, followed by the United States. Nepal implemented nationwide lockdowns on 24 March, and further measures were taken following neighbouring India’s response. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened political tensions both domestically and with India, compromising the effectiveness of the public health response to help combat the virus in Nepal. Read more…

Rhetoric and reality in Nepal’s education system

Children wearing facial masks, as a precaution after Nepal confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the country, attend a lecture at Matribhumi School in Thimi, Bhaktapur, Nepal, 29 January 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Anil Paudel, Right4Children

Nepal’s 2015 Constitution guarantees education as a fundamental right to all citizens, with free and compulsory basic education and free education up to the secondary level. The 2018 Act Relating to Compulsory and Free Education translates the constitutional provision into practice. Education is among Nepal’s top policy priorities — it accounts for around 15 per cent of the annual national budget — but the current system is lagging behind these lofty goals. Read more…

Nepal walks a social and political tightrope

Uttara Saud, 14, sits inside a Chaupadi shed in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal, 16 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar/File Photo).

Authors: Rumela Sen, Columbia University and Richard Bownas, University of Northern Colorado

The more things change, the more they stay the same — this rings true for politics and society in Nepal. Former Maoist rebels, along with the moderate Communist Party of Nepal, are now part of the ruling Nepal Communist Party. It was fair to expect that the rebels-turned-rulers would implement some of their radical programs. But little headway has been made on political and social issues. Read more…

Hope amid political, geopolitical and investment challenges in Nepal

A tree line is pictured between the densely built houses and buildings of Kathmandu Nepal 14 November, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Chitrakar).

Author: Sujeev Shakya, Beed Management

When Nepal’s Prime Minister, KP Sharma Oli, finally made it to the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019, it seemed that the communist government was considering opening Nepal for foreign investment. The Nepal Investment Summit was held in March 2019 and a buzz arose in the international media as many foreign investors thought Nepal was now ready for investment.

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Nepal–China ties tighten, but who gains?

Author: Anil Sigdel, Nepal Matters for America

After upwards of 80 international trips, Chinese President Xi Jinping finally visited his South Asian neighbour, Nepal. The primary motive behind Xi’s visit was not China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but rather the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy. Despite the United States’ efforts, Nepal is hesitant to endorse the Indo-Pacific strategy. Meanwhile, Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding with China to cooperate on the BRI in 2017, but not a single BRI project has taken off in Nepal.

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Cementing a future for India–Nepal ties

(L-R) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Chief Justice and Chief Advisor of the interim government of Bhutan, Dasho Tshering Wangchuk, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Myanmar's president Win Myint, Nepal's Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attend the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit in Kathmandu, Nepal 30 August 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Rakesh Kumar Meena, Indian Council of World Affairs

The India–Nepal relationship is founded on strong historical, civilisational, cultural, religious, social, trade and economic linkages. The two countries also share an open border built as a result of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950. Amidst Nepal’s shifting political climate over the last few decades — including the regime recent shift from a constitutional monarchy to a republic — India remains on balance a good neighbour. New Delhi has assisted Nepal during natural disasters by providing economic aid, investment, education and infrastructure. Yet there are a number of challenges to be addressed to reinvigorate relations. Read more…

Nepal still awaits economic reform

Nepal's Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, 27 September 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo).

Author: Sujeev Shakya, Nepal Economic Forum

Nepal is struggling to implement much-needed reforms for rapid economic growth. When Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli was sworn in as Prime Minister in March 2018, he was expected to go about delivering ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ — a slogan that helped secure his landslide election victory.

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Nepal shifts rightwards after the revolution

Protesters take part in a rally organised by the Sister organisations of Nepali Congress Party, the main opposition party to the government, in support of a doctor who is staging a hunger strike to press for better medical education in the country and government decision to ban public protest in some areas in Kathmandu, Nepal, 21 July 2018 (Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Rumela Sen, Columbia University

Ten years ago Nepal became a federal democratic republic when the Maoists gave up armed struggle and signed a comprehensive peace agreement. The subsequent overthrow of the monarch was hailed worldwide as an exemplary case of successful democratic transition. Read more…

BIMSTEC must scale new heights

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse, Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein, Bangladesh's Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Bhutan's Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley, Nepal's Prime Minister Prachanda and Thailand's Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat pose for a picture during the inauguration ceremony of the second summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in New Delhi, 13 November 2008 (Photo: Reuters/B Mathur).

Author: Prabir De, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS)

On 30 August 2018, the heads of the Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries will meet in Kathmandu for the fourth BIMSTEC summit. The last BIMSTEC summit was held in 2014 and a mini-summit was held on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Goa in October 2016. Read more…

A storm of climate change migration is brewing in South Asia

A Sadhu or a Hindu holy man walks on the banks of the river Ganges during a dust storm in Allahabad, India, 9 June 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Jitendra Prakash).

Authors: Simrit Kaur and Harpreet Kaur, University of Delhi

With climate change and the associated warmer temperatures already altering the timings and patterns of bird migrations, climate change-induced human migration is not far behind. Estimates suggest that by 2050 there are likely to be between 25 million and 1 billion environmental migrants in the world, with a major proportion of these originating from low and lower-middle income countries. Read more…

Can India stomach an India–Nepal–China trilateral?

Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, left, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as they pose for media before their meeting on 18 April 2018 at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China. (Photo: REUTERS/Parker Song.)

Author: Prashant Kumar Singh, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses

During Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali’s recent visit to China, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi underlined the importance of Nepal to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposing to ‘jointly build a community with a shared future for China and Nepal in the new era’. He suggested that ‘supporting the development of Nepal should become the consensus of China and India’, clearly pointing to China’s enhanced profile in Nepal. Read more…

A reset in India–Nepal relations

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is offered a 121 Kg garland during the civic felicitation in Janakpur, Nepal, 11 May 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar).

Author: Rakesh Sood, Observer Research Foundation

No two countries share a more intimate and complex relationship than India and Nepal. India is where Nepalis go to study, find jobs, plan marriages, invest in a second home and undertake pilgrimages. Yet some Nepalis accuse India of interfering in Nepal’s internal affairs and taking Nepal for granted. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Nepal in May 2018 — his third since he became Prime Minister in 2014 — reflects the importance and also the tension in the relationship for both countries. Read more…