There has been a long debate among the intelligentsia for and against the civil supremacy over the military in Nepal. Advocates of civilian oversight say that this system is perfect as Nepal Army has no history of military coup. It is another matter that it has been misused by autocratic rulers to prolong their regime. Based on this shortcoming, some argue that as an institution Nepal Army is mismanaged by its top leaders at times to fulfill the vested interest of political leaderships including the royalties in the past.
In such a context, in Republican Nepal- General Rookmangad Katawal was the first Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) who is credited to amend the Military Act of 1959 in 2006, after 46 years of its existence enabling royalty to exercise its dictatorship. The new Military Act was approved by the parliament under then head of the state and the Prime Minister Late Girija Prasad Koirala who was desperate to become first President of Republican Nepal in the transitional setting with the help of Maoist party and traditional power like Nepal Army under General Katawal’s leadership.
Other than the removal of death penalty provision, the new Military Act is harsher and more rigid compared to the previous one. It empowered the COAS with mandatory recommendation to promote, transfer and impose capital punishment on senior officers by the Council of Ministers which looks somehow or other a genuine arrangement in the system which is embroiled with massive polarisation. But on the other side it has encouraged COAS to become more autocratic as there is no mechanism of control in the army system as it used to be during royal regime. There was a need of mandatory approval from the monarch in major decisions that might have long term impact in national security including senior officers’ promotion, transfer and so on.
If we jog our memory lanes, the tumbling of Maoist’s first government is a matter of research for many social scientists in a country which is not only geopolitically sensitive but also a victim of divergent ideology that cripple the entire fabric of national integration into peril. In this infant republic, General Katawal’s date of birth case was much provoked and due to this brouhaha, his relation with Second-in-Command Lieutenant General Kul Bahadur Khadka could not remain cordial. As being next in the hierarchy to become the COAS, his desire to replace his senior cannot be taken as an ‘unnatural’ step. The much provoked dismissal case of General Katawal from the COAS post by the first Maoist-led government was stopped due to the prerogative order of then President Ram Baran Yadav which was later approved by the SC.
As per General Katawal’s ‘Autobiography’, he mentions that after the dismissal, he contacted few important personalities over the phone while he was returning from the prime minister’s residence in Baluwatar. But he declined to reveal who those personalities were. He keeps this information secret citing “state secret”. Grapevine had it that he was talking to his counterpart in India and pleading to do something as the Maoist Government in Nepal had dismissed him to topple the entire regime and the army as well.
If such rumours are true the question arises, is it fair to invite foreign intervention in internal matters? Being first man of the army he was responsible to set an example in the organisation but he was inviting foreign power to play with our internal matters. As an evidence, it was later accepted by India’s Ex-Foreign Secretary and Ambassador to Nepal Shyam Sharan of India through his statement that India had interfered in Nepal’s internal affairs in then COAS General Katawal’s dismissal episode by then government in 2009 (Kantipur Daily, July 28, 2012). He further revealed that it was India’s wish not to let Maoist erode Nepal Army’s professional image at any cost.
In a desperate mood, General Katawal decided to carry out many activities as he has mentioned in his Autobiography but why he did not knock the door of the court in Nepal? He rather opted for foreign support. As it has been revealed by Madhav Basnet in Nepal Magazine in its December 11, 2011 issue, his date of birth case filed in the SC took almost three years to have the final verdict and even months were taken to get the ‘sheet-role’ file from the army headquarters which is not even one mile of distance from the Court. In this connection, then Senior Advocate Bishwa Kanta Mainali accepted the fact that the SC was quite liberal in the cases of politically motivated corruption compared to other cases. The SC dismissed the case later when General Katawal retired. This is the clear evidence of his ‘use and throw’ policy-at times he used the SC and its machinery for his own advantage and used the Indian Establishment when he felt the existing law could not protect him through the SC. In this ‘tug of war’, the ultimate victim was the infant republic in Nepal whose peace process was not only prolonged but the conflict embroiled into another bout of conflict between the army and the Maoists.General Chhatraman Gururng replaced General Katawal in a very controversial manner after sidelining Lieutenant General Kul Bahadur Khadka whose image was fully tarnished as a traitor by General Katawal. He was made a ‘scapegoat’ for his dismissal episode by the Maoist government. It was not unfair on the part of General Khadka to seek timely verdict by the SC in the date of birth case of General Katawal which would have opened his way to become next COAS. It was General Katawal’s responsibility to wait for timely verdict by the SC and facilitate smooth transition to his successor. But he influenced his rank and file to prolong the case till the time he desired to remain in the post. General Gurung reveals some of the facts in his newly published book Janatako Chhoro (Son of a Commoner) as General Katawal was trying to extend his tenure unethically but Madhav Kumar Nepal-led government rejected his proposal.
COAS-General Gurung commanded Nepal Army in a very low profile in the beginning. He was a bit introvert in nature but remained professional throughout his tenure. His communal feeling- which he could control at the initial stage surfaced in the spontaneous way when his community insisted him to abuse power. During his tenure, he could integrate Maoist combatants into the army and stopped much hyped political confrontation with the Maoist. The role he played in ‘Katwal Dismissal Episode’ cannot be said neutral as he was against the government decision, the legality of which could only be interpreted by the court in democratic setup. As per his newly published book, his intention has been clearly revealed as if he could sideline General Khadka, he would have been the next COAS.
General Gaurab SJB Rana was the third in the line to become COAS in republican Nepal. He was much seen and expected by most Nepalis as he was trained and exposed to international arena more than his predecessors. His ‘Fast Track Promotion’ system and bidding adieu of incompetent officers with golden handshake were controversial due to his failure to remain impartial in his decisions.
Present COASGeneral Rajendra Chhetri has started to manage Madhes agitation and the five month long economic embargo by the Indian Establishment. When the diplomatic mechanism failed to convince Indian counterparts to lift the blockade Chhetri managed to convince them to look into the hardship of Nepali people. Like most professionals, he was wise enough to use soft-power first to manage the crisis. However, his success will depend how he manages security matters and deals with political players.
- See more at: http://lokaantar.com/en/politics-and-military-leadership-a-case-in-republican-nepal/
Diplomacy & Beyond
India and Nepal must treat each other with respect and dignity to flourish the relationship:
In an e-mail interview with Diplomacy & Beyond, Dr Umesh K. Bhattarai, conflict and public policy analyst and ex-Brigadier General of Nepal Army talks about the current dynamics of Indo-Nepal relations and what should be expected in the near future.
Diplomacy & Beyond (D&B): What do you make out of current India-Nepal relations?
Dr Umesh Bhattarai (UB): As weall know, since the promulgation of new constitution in Nepal from Second Constituent Assembly, Madhesi front bears resentment. It was the people who shaped them narrow through the elections so as Maoist slipped to the third position. Nepali Congress and United Marxist Leninist Party bagged majority. Under their leadership, the new constitution came up. India supported Madhesis and imposed sanctions which most of the Nepali people don’t support. India must review the Nepal policy rigorously.
The issues that India raised in Geneva Human Rights Conference last September and its follow up conference a month before could be justified in matters of inclusiveness, progress on Truth and Reconciliation Commission, woman rights, justice system and equality; but how the issue of demarcation of the federal states can be an agenda for a neighboring state. Such a stance of India has been taken as interference in Nepal. We must treat each other with respect and dignity to flourish our relationship.
D&B: Your views on the entire issue of ‘Madhesi Resentment’ against Nepal’s new Constitution?
UB: Change is inherent and we cannotignore the demand of time. Monarchy was abolished, new constitution declared - that was the wish of our people. No one can claim that present constitution is fully ideal and complete to meet all the aspirations of the people. We need to revise and amend as per the wish of our people. 81 percent Hindus are not happy to declare this country as secular. Most of the Nepali people during the feedback on draft constitution suggested to have a provision of directly elected executive head and there must be threshold to the political parties, but they were all rejected.
These were the common concerns of all the Nepali people. The transitional justice has still not been restored. There are big lapses in the laws and bylaws of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Disappeared Persons. Madhesis should raise these issues first. Madhesi demand of inclusiveness, citizenship as per the law of the land could be justifiable, but they want to include those areas under their federal control which have no resemblance from anthropological as well as geographical perspectives. They should understand the national priority first - and that is stability, not other than that.
D&B: Do you back the theory that blockade imposed by India on Nepal recently has opened doors for China in the Himalayan country?
UB: I do not think that recent blockadeby India to Nepal is a sole cause that has opened doors for China to trade with Nepal. Nepal wanted to have trade diversification as the dependency with India had hiked to maximum elevation. Nepal has options to trade with both the countries, but geography was not favorable with China. The present development on science and technology has made it possible. And, Nepal will be benefited if it can balance the trade with both the countries equally.
D&B: Other than the recent episode, Indo - Nepal relations have long remained on a good note. What can be done to make it stronger?
UB: The Nehru legacy still persists inIndia. The neighborhood policy, though Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed to improve in the initial days of his assignments could not remain longer. History is the evidence that the Indian establishment supported the democratic alliance under the Nepali Congress to abolish Rana autocracy at one side and in a chronicling deal forced Rana ruler to sign the Peace and Friendship Treaty in 1950. Nepal’s Peace Zone proposal could not succeed though it was welcomed by 116 nations in absence of India’s acceptance.
In such milieu, how Indo-Nepal relations can progress if we have reservations as well as trust deficit on each other’s proposal. The present commission of Eminent Persons Group established to suggest how the relations can be improved may be a platform in this regard. n
Dr. Umesh Kumar Bhattarai
Islam was propounded by the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia. Those who follow Islam are called Muslims. Muslims believe that there is only one God. For Muslims, word for God is Allah. Islam was developed as a new faith to the people of Arabia around 6th century.
Why nations fail is a main question for social scientists as every nation claims that it is the welfare state and guarantees the democracy and freedom to its citizenry. Basically, the democracy is imprisoned by the elites mainly in the developing countries whose regimes are captured in the name of democracy. In the quest of nation-states, the Europeans fought many revolutions to amalgamate emotion and justice within the society in order to guarantee rights of the people so as Asians and Americans in the later dates. Africa and the Middle East are the newest to fight against colonial powers of the Europe whose resources were the lucrative items for them whether it was precious metal or stone such as gold or diamond and the fossil fuel to run their power engines.
Philosophy- A Base to Stability
‘Idealism’ denotes a type of philosophy that an individual or group of individuals follow under the domain of a certain religion or the community. As per Plato, idealism suggests to hold to the reality or objectivity of ‘ideas’. His philosophy was understood as the thoughts of the divine mind for which matter and mind are attributable to one substance. Similarly, Hegal philosophy is based on activity of thought, a self-enclosed and self-sufficient whose purpose is to clarify what has happened. His philosophical goal is to understand ‘the world comes to self-consciousness and man rests in God’.
Likewise, culture is the outcome of early schooling and the philosophy developed in a human being. The individuals are all the time influenced by some persons whom he/she likes most, but every time he fights for or defends against an ideology. So what social scientists such as Marx and Engel’s grand design that they had propounded in 1847 is equally applicable at present to advance humanity into a dictatorship of the proletariat. Here, the proletariats mean the victims of the feudal orientation even in this 21st century world.
Cultural value Vs Fundamentalism
Friedrich Hegel’s dialectic philosophy ‘thesis’ (the revolution), ‘anti-thesis’ (the terror which followed) and ‘synthesis’ (the constitutional state of free citizens) can be interpreted as what Khorshidi and Soltanolkottabi have highlighted into two elemental considerations - firstly, the idea of freedom as the absolute and final aim and secondly, the means for realising it, i.e. the subjective side of knowledge and will. The Hegelian dialectic formula is like A (thesis) versus B (anti-thesis) equals C (synthesis), for example: if (A)-my idea of freedom conflicts with (B) your idea of freedom (C) neither of us will be free until both agree.
Let’s examine further, philosophy is wisdom that is based on the universal truth and facts. The societal development took shape from the perceived philosophy by group of individuals within the society. Cultures are the outcome of religion plus philosophy. Culture and religion transform from one generation to another depending upon the philosophy perceived by an individual. The schooling of the child, his early education, surroundings and environment play a vital role for the development of the philosophy.
Religion is simply a practice on which a person believes and follows. Leo Tolstoy indicated the connection of a person with the infinite universe that must be founded on reason and knowledge rather than faith and intuition. As per Hindu mythology, Hitopadesha says religion is that which a person adopts to live the life; it is affected by his pre-conceived ideas, cultural practice, educational background, teaching of superiors and friends, and environment.
It is commonly understood that one can hide for some time not always. In the words of Albert Einstein (Out of My Later Years, 1950)- about communist system and religion as - “one strength of communist system of the east is that it has some of the character of a religion and inspires the emotions of a religion”. Unlike Karl Marx’s saying - ‘religion is the opium of the masses’ who believed on fact and matter- the religious gurus advocate religion from fundamental perspectives to find the ultimate destiny of peace and salvation. At times, the hypocrite political leaders and dharma gurus misinterpret this philosophy to fulfil their vested interest in the society. As a result, present Jihadist is the product of this philosophy who’s not scared to die as they are extremely motivated.
Islam Religion - A Tool for Salvation
Islam was propounded by the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia. Those who follow Islam are called Muslims. Muslims believe that there is only one God. For Muslims, word for God is Allah. Islam was developed as a new faith to the people of Arabia around 6th century. It was incorporated with some Jewish and Christian traditions and expanded with the set of laws that govern most aspect of life including political authority. Sharia law is the body of Islamic law. It means way or path and also a legal framework within which the public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a system based on Islam. It deals with many topics, including crime, politics, and economics, as well as personal matters such as how one should live life, hygiene, diet, prayer, etc. In reality, coherent definition of Sharia is considered in Islam as the perfect law of God.
Islam is the youngest of the great religion and it is dictated by Qur’an, which Muslims believe to be the perfect words of Allah. Although it is also believed to be dictated by Muhammad but, said to be given by God through the angel Gabriel to him. There is some confusion that has borne conflict between Muslim and the ethnic Jews and is thought to have been the cause of much bloodshed in the Middle East. The split of Shia and Sunni occurred after the death of Muhammad in the year 632 leading to a dispute over his succession, which witnessed battles among his followers and divided the early Islamic community. Due to this, the entire Muslims have differences in religious practice, tradition and customs.
Sunnis are a majority in most Muslim communities in Southeast Asia, China, South Asia, Africa, most of the Arab World whereas Shia makes up the majority of the Muslim population in Iran (around 95%), Azerbaijan (around 90%), Iraq (around 75%) and Bahrain (around 70%). Minority communities are also found in Yemen where over 45 percent of the population are Shia. Over the years, Sunni–Shia relations have been marked by both cooperation and conflict. Sectarian violence persists to this day from Pakistan to Yemen and is a major element of friction throughout the Middle East. Tensions between communities have intensified during power struggles, such as the Bahraini uprising, the Iraq War, and most recently the Syrian Civil War and in the formation of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Syrian Civil War - A climax in Middle East Uprising
250 thousand Syrians have lost their lives since 2011. The civil war started in March 2011 in the southern city of Derra amid pro-democracy protest during which arrest and torture of some teenagers took place who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall. The regressive act of the regime against the protesters triggered the incident nationwide demanding President Basal Al Assad resignation. Sunni dominated Syria is ruled by a president whose religious faith is Alawites (also known as Alawis- an Islamic section who follow school of Shia Islam). Due to this repression and subsequent unpopular action by President Assad to disobey the democratic process as well as the United Nations’ allegation to war-crime, legitimised the action of the Opposition to take up arms against security forces. Hence, the rebel brigades were formed to battle government forces. Fighting reached to Damascus and second city Aleppo in 2012. In June 2013, UN claimed 90 thousand people were killed, which reached to 250 thousand during the two year duration.
The conflict is now more than just a battle for and against President Asad. It has converted now to sectarian overtones- pitching the countries Sunni majority against Shia president’s section and drawn in neighbouring countries and world powers. The rise of the Jihadist group, including Islamic State has added a further dimension. Russian involvement and air strike in Syria in support to President Asad has complicated the Syrian war further. However, the Russian airline blown up in Sinai desert in Egypt and suspicion over ISIL involvement has made it more complicated. Similarly, downing of Russian fighter plane by Turkish Armed Forces against its violation to Turkish airspace has escalated the tension that was further ignited when Russian establishment charged to counter Turkey for its involvement in illegal oil trade with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The US and the West unwillingly accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s jump into the civil war has in some way or other complicated the case in Syria. They perceive President Putin’s support to Assad regime to show its power to West and entire world that it has lost after Ukraine tussle and Crimea annexation. However, in reality, it became counterproductive and more unpopular in the West.
Is Counter Terrorism Enough to Combat Terrorism?
An act of creating terror - use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aim is known as terrorism. It is a dangerous act to human lives. Terrorist follows coercive activities to forcefully compel the existing authority to fulfil their unlawful demands. The secessionist and the insurgents also follow terrorist tactics when they start losing the popular support and to keep their campaign alive they carry out such activities for publicity.
Mostly the rebel groups turn to terrorist tactics when they lose ground to justify their demands. Due to severe hatred and frustration- they opt for coercive activities to fight against injustice, oppression, aggression, poverty, deprivation, humiliation, exploitation, victimisation of one particular race or religion and isolation in national and international affairs. Although terrorism is always coward and hateful activity in its all forms and manifestations – counter terrorism is not only sufficient to combat terrorism from the world. We seldom try to eliminate terrorist through the same way as what the terrorist follow against the society. It is not like ‘fighting a guerilla like a guerilla’- which is a simple military tactics followed to fight against insurgency of small size in unconventional pattern of operations. Terrorism is not a tactics rather it is a modus operandi to undermine the morale of a segment of larger society.
To combat terrorism, we have applied coercive diplomacy to address the concerns of the victims. We did not honour the right of the indigenous people all over the world. The way feudal orientations exploited in Africa, Asia and all over the world is the root cause of terrorism in actual sense. To combat it, we need to follow public diplomacy which insists in inclusiveness and pluralism through openness, transparency, accountability, responsibility and justice.
The bloodshed in France killing more than 130 innocent people has changed the calculus of Syrian Civil War. Likewise, Indonesia’s recent terrorist attack is another example of its kind. We have seen al Qaeda terrorist attacks in USA. We have also seen PLO fighting with Israel for their existence in the Middle East. Mumbai terrorist attack is still fresh in our memory. What is happening in Afghanistan nowadays? There are many such incidents in world history. And, are not these a millionaire questions that we need to answer ourselves. Paris attack is one lesson that we must try to learn so that such incidents do not happen again and again. For this, we must remember following saying which is very popular in eastern society -
“It is said if someone wants to beat a cat in a room where all the exits are closed to escape - it will retaliate strongly and hold your neck out rightly. So, it is advised to keep small exit for it to escape - to make own self safe”.
मोदी र यसियाकेन्द्रित राजनीति
अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय शक्तिकेन्द्रको न्युक्लियस यसियातिर सर्ने क्रम तिब्र छ | हरेक क्षेत्रमा आफुलाई खरो रुपमा टक्कर दिइरहेको चीनलाई आफ्नै घरेलु मामलामा व्यस्त तुल्याउदै बिस्तारै बिचरो साबित गर्ने अमेरिकी र युरोपियन युनियनको स्वार्थमा थप धक्का लागेको छ | भारतलाई अति बिश्वाशिलो हतियारको रुपमा प्रयोग गर्ने उनीहरुको बिगत देखिकै प्रयास भारतमा नरेन्द्र मोदीको उदय संगै धराशायी बन्ने देखिएको छ | अनेक प्रयासका बाबजुद् चिन आश्चर्यजनक रुपमा संसारकै दोस्रो ठुलो महाशक्तिको रुपमा उदाउन सक्नुले पनि यसिया अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय शक्ति केन्द्रको न्युक्लियस बन्दै गएको पुष्टि गर्छ |
यसै बीच साउथ ब्लकमा चिन संग निकटको सम्बध भएका व्यक्तिको सानदार उदयले महाशक्ति राष्ट्रको टाउको दुख्नु अस्वाभाविक होइन | सन् २००२ को गुजरातमा भएको धार्मिक दंगा प्रति निरपेक्ष रहेको र हिन्दु-मुस्लिम धार्मिक लडाईलाई मलजल गरेको भन्दै जसरी अमेरिकाले मोदीलाई प्रवेशाज्ञा उपलब्ध गराएको थिएन | तर, मुस्लिम समुदायको समेत उल्लेखनीय मत हाँशिल गरेर संसारकै ठुलो प्रजातान्त्रिक मुलुकको शक्तिशाली प्रधानमन्त्रीमा नियुक्त हुने भएर मोदीले त्यसको शानदार जबाफ फर्काएका छन् | जुन व्यक्तिलादिन आनाकानी गरिएको थियो, त्यहि व्यक्ति आफ्नो ‘काउन्टरपार्ट’ र महत्वपूर्ण रणनीतिक साझेदार देशको प्रधानमन्त्री बनेपछि अब अमेरिकालाई तनाव भएको बुझ्न कठिन छैन | अब निरिह भएर प्रवेशाज्ञा फुकुवा गर्ने मात्र होइन, चिन संग सम्बन्ध टुटाउन मोदीलाई चिन भन्दा बढी महत्व दिनुको विकल्प देखिदैन |
चीनलाई काउन्टर दिन पश्चिमा शक्तिद्वारा भारतलाई क्षेत्रीय नेताको रुपमा अगाडी सार्ने कोशिश निकै लामो समयदेखि भैरह्यो | चीनलाई घेर्ने गेम प्लानमा अमेरिकी एलाइन्सबाट नयाँ दिल्लीको भूमिका ह्वात्तै बढाउने कार्य हुदै आयो तर, यसियाली भू-राजनीतिक अवस्था युरोपियन युनियनका केहि प्रतिनिधि पात्रहरुसंग ह्वाइट हाउसमा बसेर योजना बनाएजस्तो सजिलो पक्कै पनि थिएन | चिन संग राजनीतिक रुपमा जति पौठे जोरी खेलेपनि आर्थिक र व्यापारिक रुपमा उ संग सहकार्य नभएको भए भारतको पनि ठुलो आर्थिक शक्तिमा रुपान्तरण हुन् सम्भव थिएन | जनसंख्यामा विश्वका यी दुइ ठुला मुलुक एक-अर्काको अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय ब्यापारमा धेरै हदसम्म एक-अर्कामै निर्भर छन् | एउटाको उत्थान र पतनको प्रभाव सिधै अर्को देशमा परिहाल्ने अवस्था सिर्जना भैसकेको छ | तथापि कुटनीतिक र रणनीतिक प्रहार भने भारतबाट भएकै छ | नरेन्द्र मोदीको उदयपछी भने पहिलेको जस्तै नरहने सम्भावना बढी छ |
सात समुन्द्र पारिका मित्रहरु संग जतिसुकै राम्रो कुटनीतिक लगनगाँठो भए पनि छिमेकी संग राम्रो सम्बन्ध नभएसम्म राष्ट्रिय स्वार्थको संरक्षण हुन सक्दैन भन्ने तत्वज्ञान यसियाली नेताहरुमा पनि हुन थालेको देखिन्छ | मोदीले सपथग्रहणमा नजिकका सार्क राष्ट्रहरुप्रमुखलाई बोलाउनुका पछाडी छिमेकीहरुसंग विद्यामान तनावमा भारि गिरावट गर्ने र उनीहरुको बिश्वास जित्ने उद्देश्य राखेको देखिन्छ | चिनसंग सुमधुर सम्बन्धको अर्थ बहुपक्षीय सन्तुलित एसियाली सहकार्यबिना भारतले आफ्नो तेस्रो ठुलो आर्थिक हैशियत जोगाइरहन सक्दैन भन्ने कुरा मोदी जस्ता चतुर नेताले नबुझ्ने कुरो भएन | त्यसै गरि संसारकै ठुलो मध्यको एक अर्थतन्त्रलाई नजरअन्दाज गरेर आफ्नो दोस्रो ठुलो आर्थिक शक्तिको हैशियतमा रहिरहन्छ भन्ने कुरा पनि यथार्थ हुन सक्दैन भन्ने कुरा चीनिया नेताले प्रष्ट बुझेका छन् |
बिगत नराम्रो भएपनि अमेरिकालगाएतका शक्ति राष्ट्र मोदीलाई सी जिंन पिंगसंगको सम्बन्धमा तटस्थ राख्न र अझ अघि बढेर आक्रामक प्रतिस्पर्धीको रुपमा अगाडी सार्न नयाँ शिराबाट प्रयत्न थाल्नेछन् | त्यसो गर्दा मात्र यी दुइ छिमेकी राष्ट्रहरु आपसमा लडिरहने स्थिति आउनेछ | त्यसो हुन सके अन्ततः चिन र भारत वर्तमान प्रभावबाट च्युत हुन सक्छन्, जसको प्रत्यक्ष फाइदा अमेरिकी ध्रुबका देशहरुलाई हुनेछ | फलस्वरूप एक्काइशौं शताब्दीको यसिया केन्द्रित आर्थिक र राजनीतिक इपिसेन्टर पनि अन्यत्रै सर्नेछ | तथापी अवस्था पश्चिमादेशहरुले सोचे जस्तो हुनेछैन | किनकि कसैले चाहेपनि नचाहे पनि अबको युग भनेको यसियाको हो | यो मुलतः चिन-भारतबिचको सहकार्य बाट जन्मिने नयाँ शक्तिको हुनेछ | दुई देश र सिंगो यसियाको हितका लागि सहकार्य गर्न तत्पर देखिएका सी जिन पिंग र मोदी विश्व राजिनिती र अर्थतन्त्रका नायक हुने सम्भावना बढ्दो छ | तर, त्यसका निम्ति आगामी दिनमा भारतले युरोप र वाशिंगटनको यसियाकेन्द्रित स्वार्थ होइन कि आफ्ना छिमेकी देशहरुको साझा स्वार्थ सहित अघि बढ्नुपर्नेछ |
यस्तो अवस्थामा स्वतः नेपालको हित कहाँनिर भन्ने प्रश्न उठ्नु स्वाभाविक हो | लरतरो, मौसमी, व्यक्तिविशेष र आकारहीन विदेश नीतिको गोलचक्करमा फस्दै आइरहेको नेपालले यसियाकेन्द्रित विश्वराजनीतिबाट फाइदा लिन अधिक मिहिनेत गर्नुपर्ने देखिन्छ | सम्रिद्दी र परिवर्तनको रेखा दुनियामा कसैले कोरिदिने होइन, आफैले हो | हरेक परिघटनामा कहिल्यै पनि पेरिफेरिको प्रधान भूमिका हुदैन | हाम्रो देश युगौं देखि छिमेकीहरुको आक्रामक नेपाल नीतिको सिकार भैरहनुमा उनीहरुको भूमिका त सहायक मात्रै हो | यदि हाम्रा राजनीतिक दलहरुले साँच्चै दलगत स्वार्थलाई अन्त्य गरि राष्ट्रिय साझा स्वार्थको लागि शंकल्प गर्ने र विदेश मामलामा साझा नीति तयार गरि सोहिअनुसार अघि बढ्ने हो भने नेपालले बद्लिदो शक्ति-सन्तुलनबाट फाइदा लिन सक्छ |
मोदीले सपथग्रहणमा छिमेकी देशका सरकार प्रमुखहरुलाई निमन्त्रणा गर्ने जुन अभ्यास थालेका छन्, त्यसका पछाडी उनको दक्षिण यसियामा “लिजेण्ड फिगर” को रुपमा उदाउने उद्देश्य देखिन्छ | छिमेकीमा सानदार प्रभाव पार्ने रणनीति बमोजिमै मोदीको दिमाकमा उक्त सृजनशील जस्तो देखिने ‘आइडिया’ आएको बुझ्न गाह्रो छैन | मोदी निकै नै कुटनीतिक तर आक्रामक शैलीमा देखा पर्न खोजेको लगभग पक्का भैसकेको छ | अब हामीले मोदीबाट लिने कुराको समयमै पहिचान गरेनौं भने हामी पछी नै परिरहनेछौँ | मोदीका बिशेषता र रणनीतिबाट नेपालले लाभ लिने कोशिश गर्नुपर्छ | समृद्द चिन र भारतबीच गरिब नेपालीको पहिचान जारि रहनेछ |
दक्षिण यसियामा निकै सानदार पूर्ण तरिकाले उदाएका मोदीले आफ्ना छिमेकी देशहरु संग कस्तो नीति अपनाउलान् भन्ने आम जिज्ञाशा नेपालमा छ | बिशेष गरि बिगत देखि नै भारतीय बाज मनोवृत्ति बाट आक्रान्त नेपालले मोदीको आगमन संगै शान्तिको स्वास फेर्न पाउला वा इन्दिरा गान्धिकालिन ‘नेपाल गेम प्लान’ पुरा गर्न र नेपाललाई हिन्दु राष्ट्र बनाउन अझैं शशक्त ढंगको बाज मनोवृत्तिले नै निरन्तरता पाउला ? मोदीले बडो महत्वाकांक्षाका साथ् यस प्रकारको बाजले लिने शैली अबलम्बन गरे भने त्यसले नेपालको मात्र होइन, चीनको समेत राष्ट्रिय स्वार्थमा धक्काको स्थिति आउनेछ | यस्तो अवस्थामा चीनले पनि बाध्य भएर ‘काउन्टर’को शैली अपनाउने छ | त्यस्तो अवस्थामा दिल्ली-काठमाडौँ-बेइजिंग कोरिडर बाजहरुको द्रुत-मार्ग बन्ला वा परेवाहरुको सुरक्षित बासस्थान ? निचोड निकाले हतार हुनेछ | तर, चिन र भारतको सहकार्यले मात्र यसिया एक्काइशौं शताब्दीको आर्थिक पावर हाउस र राजनीतिक रुपमा संसारकै ‘इपिसेंटर’का रुपमा विकास हुन सम्भव छ |
(चन्द त्रिविमा ‘अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय सम्वन्ध तथा कुटनीति’मा स्नातकोत्तर गर्दै छन्)
नयाँ पत्रिकाको बर्ष-८, अंक-४२, २६-मे २०१४ सोमबारमा प्रकाशित लेख
मोदीको भुटान सन्देश र नेपालको विदेश नीति
-हरिप्रकाश चन्द “अग्निपुन्ज”
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR SOUTH ASIA ATUL KESHAP REMARKS TRIBHUVAN UNIVERSITY, GRADUATE PROGRAM IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND DIPLOMACY
June 3, 2014
I am so happy to be here in Kathmandu. I last visited over three years ago and it is amazing to see how much positive change has happened during that time. Nepal is a truly remarkable success story. Very few countries on the globe can boast of having transitioned from monarchy, ended a bloody civil war, and launched a new democracy, all within the space of a few short years.
And the achievements keep happening. November’s successful election of the new Constituent Assembly was a key moment in which the Nepali people demonstrated their commitment to democracy. An amazing 78% of the electorate cast its vote. Nepal is becoming a democratic leader here in the South Asia region.
Today, I would like to share a little about how the United States is focusing on Asia and working to promote broader regional stability and prosperity through economic opportunity and regional interconnectivity.
Asia is full of opportunity. With a growing, youthful population and increasing economic development, Asia is rightfully gaining the attention it deserves. The United States is working with our partners throughout this region, including Nepal, to help unleash that opportunity. President Obama and Secretary Kerry have said that “The United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.”
Currently, South Asia is experiencing a wave of incredible change and transition manifested more than anything else through the recent elections throughout the region. Like Nepal, India recently held an election. With over 530 million Indians going to the polls, the Indian elections were an incredible exercise in democracy which should inspire us all. The United States looks forward to working closely together with the new BJP government and Prime Minister Modi.
We believe there is great untapped potential in the region in general and specifically in Nepal – and now is an excellent time to begin realizing that potential.
South Asia has immense economic potential – unfortunately, it is not coming close to realizing it. South Asia is one of the world’s least economically connected regions – with intra-regional trade flows under five percent and intra-regional investment flows under one percent. To put this simply, this means that South Asians are not trading with one another and not investing in one another’s projects. So, while the world is getting smaller, the distance between South Asian countries is remaining the same.
Individually, we see South Asian countries doing so well. Yet, with its incredible economic diversity and extraordinary human capital, if the countries in South Asia traded with each other and invested in each other, we’d see this growth be so much higher. Nepal would buy things from Bangladesh that Bangladesh is good at making. And Bangladesh would buy things from Nepal that Nepal is good at making. And from Pakistan. And India. And Burma. Everybody would be selling and everybody would be buying, instead of what we have now. Sure, there is growth now, but we can put the growth into hyperdrive. We’d also see more travel across borders. Instead of exporting so many workers to the Gulf, more workers can remain in India and Nepal and Bangladesh, helping build the region.
South Asia can reap the benefits of increased connectivity which trade, technology, and regional economic integration offers. A more integrated South Asia is one in which markets, economies, and people connect can thrive and prosper. To see this, look at the European Union, or America’s trade agreement with our neighbors Canada and Mexico. Canada and Mexico are two of the United States’ top three trading partners. We work together, we all benefit from what the others do well.
Hydropower: This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the energy sector. With 42,000 megawatts of commercially viable potential, Nepal’s hydropower could eventually provide not only an abundant source of clean energy for Nepal, providing a major boost to investment and economic growth, but could also produce a sizable surplus that can be exported to energy-poor countries throughout the region. Time and again we hear of interest throughout region in developing Nepal’s vast hydropower for the benefit of Nepal and its neighbors.
How do we realize this potential? It is going to take a lot of hard work by you and your neighbors. To begin with, it will require a power-trade agreement – first with India, and then among countries in the region. It will also require these countries to cooperatively manage and share the benefits of these transboundary river basins. And it will require a better electrical transmission grid, and the development of a business environment here in Nepal that features market-based pricing and streamlined government oversight and regulation. I don’t mean to make this sound easy. That last requirement – improving the business environment – may be harder than anything else. It will require some attitudinal change: I suspect you would not be surprised if I said this region might suffer from a bit too much red tape. But the rewards are great, and I firmly believe that you here in this room, and your colleagues outside of it, have more than enough will and expertise to make this happen.
Some of you may wonder why someone like me, an official from a large country halfway around the world, would be encouraging you to develop stronger economic linkages with your neighbors. What does the United States get out of that? It’s a very good question.
Certainly there’s self-interest: if you grow, that means larger markets for American companies and more opportunities for American trade. But we also believe that open markets and vibrant international trade lead to prosperity, development, and even peace. Over the last 70 years, the countries of Europe, largely through efforts to promote regional economic integration, have become friends and allies. Here in South Asia, the potential may even be greater. Regional economic integration between India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, and Sri Lanka can be a game changer, just as it has been in the Asia Pacific region through APEC.
We in the United States are committed to bringing together countries from all over the world. We will work with governments, the private sector, and international financial institutions to identify where U.S. engagement could make the most difference. We want to help develop an investment ecosystem that supports strong intellectual property protections, rule of law, and transparency. And we strive to play a critical role in connecting people across this region, which ultimately is the heart of connectivity.
70% of the population of Nepal is under 35, and 2,000 Nepalis leave every day for work abroad. Remittances account for 30% of Nepal’s GDP. It drains jobs, saps investment, and keeps talent from developing here in Kathmandu. It would be much better – I’m sure you’ll agree – to have a Nepal where young men and women have viable economic prospects close by and even at home. That is why accelerating economic growth through regional integration is a top priority for our embassy here.
Economic growth also means ensuring more people--women and traditionally disadvantaged groups-- are educated. To create a prosperous country, Nepal needs the full participation of all its citizens.
The roughly $88 million my government spends here every year on assistance is trying to build this shared prosperity. By focusing on President Obama’s priorities: maternal and child health, combatting climate change, and increasing food security, the U.S. government is making a significant investment in Nepal’s future.
Yes, there are still political challenges. While the drafting of the Constitution is understandably a top priority, there are other priorities as well. Economic growth is one of the most important among them. Nepal has to focus on making it easier to do business here. So, even while a Constitution is drafted --and other aspects of the Peace Process (such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) are concluded -- Nepal can also focus on economic growth. Your country can’t afford to wait.
The good news is that government is only part of the picture. South Asia, Nepal in particular, has an abundance of entrepreneurial talent. They just need a little support. Just last month in Nepal, we brought together 40 entrepreneurs from 12 countries in the region for training, mentorship, and start-up development during the Regional Entrepreneurs Connect Boot Camp event. This workshop not only helped individual entrepreneurs develop their businesses, but by convening innovators from around the region, we are promoting linkages and partnerships that are the seeds for future development, that will result in future economic connections and opportunities that we can only dream of today.
The United States values South Asia and recognizes the region’s growing importance. We seek to be a partner that helps the countries of South Asia – especially Nepal -- achieve their full potential and provide economic and social development for their citizens.
(Copy from American Embassy, Kathmandu http://nepal.usembassy.gov/sp-06-03-2014.html)
The primary goal of foreign policy is the protection and promotion of ‘national interests’. Its goal is to protect national sovereignty, independence and economic interests, and enhance national security and prestige in the international arena. A number of factors – both domestic and international – influence a country's foreign policy. Like other state policies, it is also shaped by geographical realities, history, cultural and political factors. Hence, foreign policy is sometimes called an extension of domestic politics. States identify their priorities and formulate the policy to achieve their goals. But Nepal sorely lacks this knowledge-based approach, without which we cannot formulate and implement our foreign policy.
Not surprisingly, we are not producing expert knowledge such as theories, models and paradigms that could be useful for countries like ours. I doubt if we have even developed realistic conceptual frameworks for our foreign policy formulation and implementation. Most of the studies have only produced ‘thick descriptions’, which is of limited use when it comes to understanding and developing a sound policy.
During the reigns of Rana oligarchy (846 to 1951) and monarchy (1951 to 1990), the domestic as well as foreign policies were tailored to the need of regime sustenance. The democratic governments after the regime change in 1990 were expected to adopt the knowledge-based approach and develop strong institutional structures. But that did not happen. Not that Nepalese foreign policy experts have not raised the issue. But they just put the blame on the political instability and protracted political transition for lack of this knowledge-based approach.
There were some initiatives in the past to shape and update the foreign policy. The Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) was set up in 1993 under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and was revamped in 1998. The purpose of the Institute was to conduct policy research and training, and disseminate information through seminars and publications. Though IFA at present claims to be doing research on security, climate change and food security, it has hardly produced reliable and authentic knowledge. IFA is limited to publishing annual reports, speeches of heads of states and conducting a few seminars on foreign policy every year.
Similarly, university research centers don’t seem to be effective. Centre for Nepal and Asia Studies (CNAS) and Political Science Department under the state-owned Tribhuvan University are not in a position to contribute knowledge to foreign policy. The government has been unable to coordinate among scholars and experts to create knowledge. Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), on the other hand, have only been producing books, journals and holding workshops just for the sake of showing their existence to donors. Some political analysts and foreign policy experts are making limited contributions to I/NGOs because of the sake of handsome payments.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials admit that they don’t have any mechanism for knowledge production. They hardly get inputs from IFA. CNAS and I/NGOs even don’t bother about giving inputs/feedbacks to the officials. The officials also argue that they don’t have any mechanism for inter-ministerial coordination because of lack of ‘funds’. It is however difficult to accept this argument. Government of Nepal has been spending billions of rupees for academic institutions like Tribhuvan University and many research centers. The foreign ministry itself has been spreading its presence in many parts of the world. The budget required for an institution would be equivalent to the funds Nepal government allocates for a couple of its embassies abroad.
One welcome development has however happened recently. Tribhuvan University has started Masters Program in International Relations and Diplomacy in 2013. It seems that this program has worked as a platform for many International Relations and foreign policy experts. If this department sets up research centers, it will be in a position to contribute to foreign policy formulation.
For a country like Nepal that occupies a sensitive geo-strategic location, a sound foreign policy is needed to protect its national sovereignty status. Nepal’s domestic politics is being shaped by external powers such as India, China and the US, among others. International Organizations like the UN, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO) and many other international institutions have also played important roles in shaping policies of Nepal.
The emergence of India and China as ‘superpowers’ is likely to pose a challenge to Nepal's sovereign status. These two states are not so friendly when it comes to cooperating on our economic development.
So, it is only the knowledge based pragmatic foreign policy that can ensure Nepal’s survival amidst the challenging domestic and international settings. For that, we must change the mindset that we can have a sound policy only after ending the political transition. As we cannot become a militarily power, it's only the knowledge-based foreign policy approach that can ensure Nepal's survival. So, it's time we corrected our course to meet the new challenges.
Tiwari is a faculty member at Masters Program in International Relations and Diplomacy, Tribhuvan University