IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Thinking through the Nepal policy

25th August, 2020 Editorial

Context: On August 15, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli made a friendly gesture towards India by telephoning Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convey greetings on India’s Independence Day.

Unilateral actions

  • The Nepali side has upset the apple cart by taking a series of unilateral actions.
  • A relatively minor dispute involving about 35 square kilometres of territory around the Kalapani springs was expanded to claim a large wedge of Indian territory towards the east, measuring nearly 400 square kilometres.
  • The expanded claim was incorporated into Nepal through a constitutional amendment and a revised official map.

Geography and boundaries

  • The Treaty of Sugauli of 1816 sets the Kali river as the boundary between the two countries in the western sector. There was no map attached to the treaty.
  • Nepal is now claiming that the main tributary of the Kalapani river rises east of the Lipu Lekh pass from the Limpiyadhura ridgeline and hence should serve as the border.
  • Even if the lengthiest tributary may be one principle for a riverine boundary, which is itself debatable, it is not the only one. There are many boundaries, which do not follow any geographical principle at all but are the result of historical circumstances, mutual agreement and legal recognition.

History and ties

  • Reversing history selectively may seem tempting but it can open a Pandora’s box, which may have irretrievably negative consequences for the most exemplary inter-state relationship of South Asia.
  • For India, more than the exemplary inter-state relationship, it is the unique people-to-people relations between India and Nepal; and, fortunately, inter-state relations have been unable to undermine the dense affinities that bind our peoples together.


  • India should reject the Nepali state’s ill-conceived territorial claims; it should do everything to nurture the invaluable asset it has in the goodwill of the people of Nepal.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/thinking-through-the-nepal-policy/article32424033.ece