#ModiInNepal: Striking The Right Notes

Several Opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Prachanda, who has been very critical of India, praised PM Modi’s address.

India and Nepal has been neighbors sharing almost similar culture and traditions. They have fought wars hand in hand for freedom and have also helped each other whenever time came.

But it was an unacceptable lack on the part of India that from past 17 years none of its Prime Ministers visited the Himalayan nation.

Breaking this tradition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a brilliant step towards wooing Nepal who was gradually breaking away from India.

Modi’s address to the Nepali parliament yesterday showed that he excels when it comes to diplomatic skills. As he arrives for a rudrabhishek in the famous Pashupati Nath temple, the Nepali people are mesmerized by his moves.

Here are 10 things done by PM Modi which struck the right note for strengthening the bilateral ties:

  1. Modi’s speech inside Parliament began with a paragraph spoken in Nepali, to cheers from the lawmakers. “I am a friend of your beautiful country, and always wanted to come back again,” he said, referring to his visits decades ago to Nepal as a “wanderer, pilgrim and traveller.”
  2. He announced a $1 billion (10,000 crore Nepali Rupees) line of credit to Nepal, which is over and above the hundreds of millions of dollars worth Indian assistance that has been extended to Nepal for infrastructure projects in diverse areas over the past several years.
  3. He made it clear that peace process was Nepal’s internal matter and that India will not interfere with it.
  4. He won hearts when he apologized for India ignoring Nepal for 17 years when it came to a visit by the Indian Prime Ministers. He also promised that such thing will never happen again.
  5. He reiterated India’s resolve of launching a SAARC satellite for sharing India’s expertise in space and benefiting SAARC countries in areas such as health, medicine, agriculture and flood control.
  6. He offered support to the country in infrastructure development and coined a new catchphrase for it – the H-I-T formula, focusing on Highways, Infoways and Transways.
  7. While he said all this, he also emphatically added that by helping Nepal, India was not extending any charity to its smaller neighbour but only performing the duty of India as a bigger power.
  8. Modi also cleverly roped in subtle references to the importance of the Constitution, as Nepal has been struggling to draft a new one for more than four years. “A Constitution always unites, it never divides… A Constitution is not merely a book. It integrates the past, present and the future,” he said.
  9. The two sides signed three bilateral agreements, including a Rs69 million grant to Nepal to supply iodated salt to curb iodine deficiency diseases and another pertaining to cooperation between Nepal Television and Doordarshan.
  10. Mod has already visited Bhutan, he is in Nepal right now and will be visiting Myanmar next. All three countries share border with both India and China. This is Modi’s way of telling India’s contiguous neighbours that these countries come first and foremost in his foreign policy.

The diplomatic expertise of PM Modi won hearts of Nepali lawmakers and people who stood along the roadside to have a glimpse of him and were reciprocated the same love by him as well.

Nepal Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat tweeted about PM Modi’s address, terming it an inspiring speech. “(He) said many things in impressive manner making Nepali people proud.”

Several Opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Prachanda, who has been very critical of India, praised PM Modi’s address. “His speech was touching and very inspiring,” said the Maoist chairman.

The signs say that it is a good start.

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