A.P. Venkateshwaran Former Foreign Secretary
Peter Sinai IFS (retd)
Gen (Retd.) Ravi Eipe
First Floor, 6th Cross, 20th Main, J.P Nagar,
Bangalore Karnataka 560078, India;
(+91 80) 26595150,
and its impact
Rahul Bhonsle (Retd)
Way Forward" by
S K Lambah, IFS (Retd)
Defense Modernisation: Implications for India
of Chinese Forces- Implications
and Space Modernisations"
Chief Marshal Fali Major (Retd)
of the situation of Iran: India's strategic interests and options
"A Historical Perceptive" by
Amb. Akbar Mirza Khaleeli
Strategic perspective" by
P J Jacob
Media perspective" by
security relations: Measures to improve trade and economic ties
Col. R Hariharan
Dr Sayed Ali
Shri T P
Developments in Nepal:
impact on India
Current Scenario" by
K V Rajan, IFS (Retd)
for India" by
Gen (Retd. Ashok K. Mehta
Situation and its import" by
developments in Nepal and their impact on India's security
Political Scenario" by
of Political events" by
for India" by
Gen (Retd.) Dipankar Banerjee
Analysis and Opinions
Gen (Retd.) Ashok K. Mehta
Crisis in Pakistan" by
Alok Bansal, IN
security assessment" by
K Bhadrakumar, IFS (Retd)
Pakistan?" by Lt
Gen Satish Nambiar (Retd)
strategic relations in the new world order
Vision and Reality"
Shri Rajiv Sikri (Retd)
" Historical Perceptive and Current Realities"
Madhavan, IFS (Retd)
"Defence Cooperation Aspects" by
Air Marshal N Menon
contours of Indo-US
"A strategic review" by
" A historic perspective"
Krishnan, IFS (Retd)
"India's options in the global senario" by
Gen S. S Mehta
"Indo-US core interests" by
to India's Look-East
policy’: suggested remedies
" India's Look-East Policy: Vision and Reality" by
Shri C.V Ranganathan (Retd)
" Impediments to India’s Look-East
Policy – China’s Reservations and Suggested
"Maritime Aspects of our Look-East Policy" by
Admiral (Retd) P J
DEVELOPMENTS IN NEPAL AND THEIR IMPACT ON INDIA’S SECURITY
by Shri A Madhavan, former
ambassador of India and a current member of Asia Centre;
IAS officer’s Association, # 1, Infantry Road, Bangalore -1
Centre has been conducting a series of seminars and discussions to
’s Security environment in the Sub-continent. As a part of this of
Series, a seminar was held on
08 April 2006
from 10 A M to 1 P M on the topic “Recent Developments in Nepal
and their Impact on India's security” at the I A S Officers’
# 1 Infantry Road
. The seminar was presided by Shri A P Venkateswaran, former Foreign
Secretary and chairman of Asia Centre.
The following distinguished speakers addressed the seminar: -
Institute of Adanced Studies
of political events" by
Dr. Smruti Pattanaik Research
fellow, Inst. for defense studies and analysis
Maj.Gen (Retd.) Dipankar Banerjee,
Institute of peace and conflict studies.
Analysis and Opinions" by
(Retd.) Ashok K. Mehta, Historian
and commentator on Nepal
presentations were followed by a lively discussion session. Nearly
45 Asia Centre members and invitees drawn from retired officers of
Indian Administrative Service, Foreign Service & Defense
Services, academics and scientists attended the seminar.
This report summarises the
essence of the presentations and the discussions that followed.
Gen. (Retd.) Ravi Eipe, Director of
Asia Centre, introduced
the speakers in a topical discussion, the third of a series of
’s neighbours. The first two meets covered the relations of
A.P. Venkateswaran, Chairman of Asia
Centre, introduced the seminar as the last in the series held by the
’s relations with
. This seminar is held
at a time when the relations between
have improved and a basis of friendship has been laid.
Lt. Gen. Eipe introduced each of the four speakers in turn. A
brief account of the four presentations and the discussion is given
Dr. Arvind Kumar
had recently returned from
, where he had met politicians of different parties, academics, palace
officials and others and discussed issues of both domestic and foreign
policy. He briefly reviewed the history of Nepal since the revival
of the monarchy, and the reign of three kings.
the accession of King Gyanendra, brother of the assassinated King Birendra
June 4, 2001
, the new king effectively marginalised the political parties. They
were partly to blame, being diffident in carrying forward the
parliamentary polity, which became discredited because of their mutual
mistrust. In the political space thus created, the Maoists gained
prominence by violent attacks against the unpopular regime and won the
confidence of the common people in the countryside whose interests had
been consistently neglected by the state.
academics believe that the recently forged Seven Party Alliance (SPA) will
has generally followed the same approach to
as the British Raj. One sign of
’s neglect is that no Indian prime minister has visited
after A.B.Vajpayee. This has contributed to the anti-Indian feelings
among the Nepalese.
is isolated in its foreign policy, in the view of some
academics. It was a wrong signal for
to supply arms to
during this crisis. Many are critical of the
’s policy is thought to be ambiguous. In this circle, a wish is
should take an active role in overthrowing King Gyanendra.
speaker listed certain options in
’s future course. 1) A multi-party system, with a ceremonial role
for a monarchy shorn of executive power. 2) A multi-party republic
with no kingship. 3) The old status quo. 4) A Maoist takeover.
5) A polity similar to the Pakistani model. 6) ‘People’s
power’, with the Maoist insurgents ascendant.
react to the developments unfolding in
? The vexing dilemma was whether to support the existing two
‘pillars’ of constitutional monarchy and the multi-party parliamentary
system concurrently or to let the monarchy collapse when the occupant of
the throne had been so recklessly plunging the country into chaos. But
developments were not in
’s hands. The links between the Maoists of Nepal and the
Naxalites who are terrorising civilians in several states of
are indeed a security hazard. It is impractical to close the open
over the length of 1800 km. Each policy option has its costs, its risks
and its possible benefits.
consensus among the Nepalese that is emerging favours the ending of the
55-year history of the monarchy and a reliance on a multi-party republic.
of political events
By Dr. Smruti Pattanaik.
The speaker was critical of ‘knee-jerk reactions’ of the Indian government
to the developments.
cannot afford to be hegemonic and interfere in
’s affairs, but it must fashion a clear-cut approach to the growing unrest
and turmoil there. The popular demands are for elections to a
Constituent Assembly and a new constitution. The King has urged his own
concept of a partly nominated National Conference. But the royal coup by
which the King declared an emergency and assumed executive power on
February 1, 2005
, together with his control of the Royal Nepal Army, have thwarted attempts to
resolve the crisis.
speaker sketched the political events since the popular movement since
April 6, 1990
, which led to the restoration of parliamentary democracy. There were no
less than 14 governments since 1992. Each of them wanted just to stay in
power, not to strive for decent governance. The same leaders remained in
office though regimes changed. The panchayat system piloted by the king
made no effective difference. The Left gained in mass appeal. It
was also better organised as a defined structure of power. Against the
unorganised state set-up, it was more effective in protest than the government
was in administration.
Maoists started by taking on the police first, with the King and the Royal
Nepal Army (RNA) remaining rather passive.
They have conducted an armed struggle since 1996.
The army Chief wanted the political parties to reach a consensus to
defeat the Maoists.
politicians knew that no credible elections could be arranged in six months.
The municipal elections of
February 10, 2006
hardly inspired confidence, since the turnout was low, and Maoists were in
control in some regions. No
government was sustainable and no coalition was steady in governance.
Seven Party Alliance was willing to negotiate with the Maoists, but the
monarchical regime did not give it the space.
The King adamantly opposed any such deal.
was to keep a channel open to the Maoists and to avoid exclusive reliance on
any single entity in the polity, but also to allow the Seven Party Alliance to
reach a consensus with the Maoists.
the royal coup or takeover of complete power in February 2005, the groundswell
of anti-monarchical opinion became stronger.
The king would not accept a constitutional status reduced to a merely
ceremonial and religious role. Meanwhile,
it was evident that the seven parties were not united.
They could hardly be expected to maintain solidarity.
The Maoist role in a future set-up is unclear.
The Maoists made a provisional tactical decision to set aside their
differences with the political parties and to accept the democratic model
which the parties were sponsoring. The
opposition to the king is insistent on an elected Constituent Assembly meeting
to end the deadlock. It is agreed
that there should be one representative from each political party to organise
’s options at this point were: 1)
Whether to continue maintaining the open border between
. If we have a regulated border,
there will be problems in securing it. But
the spread of insurgency from
and elsewhere in
is a present danger. 2) Whether
the 1950 treaty should continue without amendment or whether we should
regulate Indians visiting
. 3) Whether we should impose an
Nepali Maoists realise that without Indian support
can hardly develop in a satisfactory way.
could be more open in expressing support for
seemed to support the status quo in
, it cannot long continue to do so in the face of rising opposition to the
has influence in
and should use the popular feelings there to promote trade and other contacts.
should be more forthcoming in regard to support for the emerging forces in
sketched out the macro aspects and the implications for
Nepalese will decide their own form of government.
can offer help and retain its influence, but it will be limited.
’s influence has been growing since 1988.
Its arms supplies strengthened the RNA.
The Lhasa-Nepal road route has speeded up
’s access to
has increased its control and presence along its southwest border areas.
Tourism between the two countries has grown, along with a
liberalisation of visas.
The King of Nepal, with a loyal palace
group round him, became a hands-on ruler, concentrating power in his
hands. He had an antipathy to
party politicians. He defied
in 2004-05. But he has been
losing popular support. The
monarchy may revert to the role of a unifying force in the multi-ethnic
, and perhaps retain a religious role besides.
The Army (RNA), whose chief was an orphan
brought up in the palace, is a loyalist dependent on the King’s support.
He had a stint in the
too. The RNA has relished its
chance for taking part in the UN peacekeeping operations over two decades,
finding it highly lucrative (Rs. 8 billions of transferred savings).
It has improved the standard of living and welfare of officers and
The King could play the
card, but he is now on shaky ground. It
is doubtful if he can survive in kingship.
Monarchical succession is not clear-cut.
The political parties are not a promising
basis for parliamentary democracy, since they are discredited and have no
prominent younger leaders to take over.
They are against the Maoists, but disunited.
In a democratic framework the Maoists will get in and this could
shift the armed struggle to a political struggle.
’s Maoists are not like the Bhadralok communists of
. (It was Jyoti Basu who
eliminated the Naxalite insurgents from
. Prachanda, or Pushpa Kamal
Dahal, as he was earlier called, is the leading Maoist of Nepal.
His plan was to downgrade the political parties.
He may revive it, if the present Maoist agreement with the SPA for
a united front against the King breaks down.
The policy options for
will be determined by current developments. (i) The strength of the Mao-vadis
is in the countryside. Their
coercive tactics are resented. They
lack popular support for a revolutionary solution.
(ii) They have no external support.
gave up the policy of supporting Marxist movements abroad after Mao’s
death. So the Maoists have no
significant Chinese backing. (iii)
The Mao-vadis realise that they cannot win by force of arms.
So they have joined the united front with the SPA against the
autocratic monarchical rule with a 12-point programme (November 2005).
(iv) There is a linkage of the Maoists with the radical Left in
. Our Home Ministry’s Annual
Report has acknowledged that in 2001, 76 districts in nine states of
were affected by Naxalite insurgency. Now there are 175 districts thus
affected, and parts of
are declared “liberation zones” by the insurgents.
Some politicians are in league with them.
The European Union is pressing for Human
Rights to be observed in
. The UN HR observer has
brought out some shameful instance of violations.
had forged a common approach of not supporting the royal autocracy.
We stopped military assistance to the RNA after the King’s coup.
does not like
’s recent policy of tacit support for the united front of the SPA and
the Maoists. It wants a
stronger drive by the King and the RNA to defeat the Maoists.
’s aims, if intervention is ruled out:
a) support a democratic, stable, representative government that
emerges, with sound economic policies contributing to regional prosperity.
should not be used for hostile acts against
. c) Nepal’s hydel potential
should be shared cooperatively and equitably.
Private enterprise is more likely to achieve results here than
state level treaties. Indo-Bhutan
cooperation could be an example, when
’s GDP goes up as a consequence.
’s options were poised between support for the royalty and backing for
the democratic movement.
’s attitude to the growing influence of the
Mao-vadis was also in consideration.
The role of other powers and the UN in
’s evolution was another important strategic factor.
will always have a defence role in
. It is a touchy relationship.
The extent of military assistance to the
army in future and the training facilities to be provided to it must
engage our policy makers. The
army there is in desperate straits, with its stocks of ammunition running
The speaker concluded that
lacked a clear and coherent policy for
Analysis and Options
is important to
because of its location and because insurgency there affects insurgencies
. The people’s movement is
growing in strength, recalling its forerunner in 1990, when political
parties emerged from suppression successfully.
The King has not learnt the lesson yet.
There are three scenarios: 1) The King has his way.
2) The King is forced to reverse the royal coup and re-introduce a
multi-party democracy. 3) The
King is deposed.
’s role: 1)
must heed the invariant security factor in carrying out its
policy. From British colonial
times, it was believed by policy makers that anarchy in
would spill over into
. This has political, economic
and security ramifications. There are 10-12 million Nepalese in
(his estimate), among whom there could be those who escaped from the
Maoist hold or the RNA. 2)
should avoid a situation where the
takes over the lead in
Indian National Congress and the BJP have different approaches to the role
of the King. The latter sees
him as the avatar of Vishnu and
as the sole Hindu state in the world.
remains passive, the vacuum will be occupied by the West,
. The last three powers have
refrained from siding with the democratic movement, holding that they
should not take sides in
’s internal matters (as regards the role of the monarchy). Since
over common concerns, we can perhaps discount Chinese interference in the
agitation for democracy. Prachanda’s
interview with The Hindu (
February 8, 2006
) signalled a nuanced change in Maoist policy.
wants action in
to curb if not defeat the Maoist movement, being convinced that the
Maoists are terrorists and communists who intend to take over the state.
On the one hand the
appears to support
’s moderating role in
, but on the other hand it has backed the King-RNA offensive against the
the recent release of the speaker’s new book on
, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran had expressed
’s wish that the royalty would play a benign role in the
crisis. The King could
possibly follow the model of the Thai monarchy.
The Maoists will however press for the restructuring of the state
along radical lines, not wanting even a constitutional monarchy to remain
in the polity.
this situation, it is time for
to wrest some initiative, instead of allowing the
to bolster its role in
. We have to go beyond the
“twin pillars” policy and even engage the Maoists.
The King cannot be trusted to pilot the requisite changes in this
’s political parties have to reach a consensus on our policy.
We should persuade the King to hold elections, not just to the
parliament, but also to the Constituent Assembly.
But the King fears this bogey.
were several questions from the floor which the speakers answered with due
deliberation. One question was
about Indo-Nepal military cooperation and our influence with the RNA.
Major Gen. Mehta stated that
had given about Rs. 500 crores worth of arms to
. But some RNA generals look
with suspicion on
has some tribes which are pro-Indian, but other ethnic groups and
individuals who want to procure arms from elsewhere, (sometimes with
kickbacks in mind). They are
wont to complain against the effectiveness of
weapons. At the moment, the
RNA has no critical shortages. It
has doubled its strength in five years. Major Gen. Banerjee said that
other departments of the Government of India concerned with
, apart from the MEA, do contribute their perceptions and wishes.
The bond between the two armies can be built upon.
regards external influences on Nepalese developments, Major Gen. Mehta was
keeping a wary eye on Chinese moves, apart from the
angle, which may or may not be duplicitous.
to lead, but
jibs at calling the Maoists terrorists, since they have indicated a
willingness to come into the mainstream as a party.
Major Gen. Banerjee agreed that there is a divergence of perception
a question if the Nepal Maoists coming into the political mainstream would
persuade the Indian Naxalites to do so, it was said that the Nepal Maoists
have made this tactical change, but may later press for their own
blueprint of governance. The
may not be peaceful. Instability
is on the cards.
comment was that
had ignored its neighbours,
. We tend to react to events.
The government in
now runs without a Foreign Minister.
a question on the ISI presence in
, Major Gen. Mehta conceded that it had grown since 1990.
It has been active in recruiting Muslims in the Terai and setting
up madrassas, so that, though formally banned in
, it has agents to carry out some missions.
It was stated that there are 2.5 to 4 million Muslims in this
. Bangladeshis also settle
Gen. Banerjee said that the
King had been miffed when the Indian prime minister failed to visit
. It was only after the King
and the Prime Minister met in
during an Asean summit that a thaw was achieved.
There was a question about the extent of anti-Indian sentiment in
neighbouring countries. Dr. S.
Pattanaik replied that in her estimation this feeling was more conspicuous
among Nepalese than in
being a small, landlocked country, (‘India-locked’, say some), is
sensitive about its sovereignty and resents the big brother attitude which
some Indians tactlessly display.
is extremely dependent on
and values its cultural and religious bonds with us.
Therefore it needs the traditional open border between the two
countries. Major General Mehta observed that the anti-Indian feeling was
, not in the countryside. It
is a love-hate relationship. There
was also some discussion on the
’s importance for
as a buffer state.
up the seminar, Shri A. P. Venkateswaran said:
had been rather soft in its policy to
in its relations with its small neighbours, when security interests are at
should not be treated specially as a Hindu state, since there were
differences to be taken into account.
Thirdly, the open border between
does not work to our advantage.
is not deterred from obtaining arms from
. Fourthly, the Maoists do
pose a danger for
We should be guided by reciprocity in dealing with other countries.
If they are hostile to our interests, we should not remain inactive
or passive. But a clear-cut
to be firm where firmness is required to secure our basic interests.
Though this seminar was well timed to present an
informed and analytical briefing on Nepal’s political impasse between
the King, backed by the army, and his unarmed subjects, it was only later
(after April 8) that events gathered momentum to a crisis point in the
confrontation. Here it was
that the coalition forged (with the help of the Indian CPI-M) uniting the
anti-monarchical popular forces finally decided the issue.
After days of wanton violence by the monarchical regime against the
agitating throngs from all over
, when their unyielding spirit was magnificently displayed for all the
world to witness, the popular demand for the ending of the King’s
autocratic rule and the restoration of the parliament had to be conceded.
At the last moment,
sent Dr Karan Singh as a special envoy to persuade the King to restore
April 20, 2006
). But the message was
appearing to be still clinging on to the preservation of the monarchy in
the old form, while also accommodating the people’s demand for
sovereignty. The impression of
ambivalence was fortunately corrected almost immediately, for
came out in support of the people’s will prevailing over the King’s.
Once the new government by a coalition of political parties was
recognised, with the veteran Girija Prasad Koirala as interim prime
and the world heaved a sigh of relief.
It was a near thing that the country was saved from chaos and
endless bloodshed. Indians
could hail the people’s victory in
with sincere fellow feeling.
But obviously there are serious challenges ahead, which will sorely
test the Nepalese people and institutions.
Progress is possible towards an election to a new Constituent
Assembly. Parties are taking
up positions on behalf of the people. The task of including all the ethnic
and sectarian groups in the electorate is not easy to accomplish in a
short time. As of early June, it seems likely that the elected government
will want to reduce the kingship to a cipher, if not abolish it under a
new constitution, since the people are clearly unwilling to experience the
possible reversion to a repressive autocracy aided by the army and the
far, Prachanda and his cohorts have shown maturity in letting the
political process rather than armed insurgency determine the emerging form
of government. But the Nepal
Communists may lose their unity in the aftermath of the revolution, with
an extremist faction holding out for exclusive power, not to be shared
with the democratic parties. After
all, the present united front is but a tactical convenience forged against
the King. The parties may also
fall out over the spoils of power. So
too may politicians of the same party.
It is not good that the Maoists have resisted the temptation to
join the ruling coalition. It
indicates that they may harbour a more radical agenda which may have been
shelved for the present. The
King himself may be waiting to pounce on such disarray to re-assert his
authority with a constitutional fig leaf, on the pretext of saving the
country from descent into anarchy. But
the Nepalese politicians are sufficiently wise to such tactics and will
safeguard their hard-won wresting of power from the royal usurper.
has a vital stake in ensuring that
is not destabilised, but that it should build on the people’s April
’s formidable challenges on the economic and social fronts,
can and should contribute to the gradual rebuilding of the country’s
can help in almost all sectors of
’s development, without fanfare or condescension, in a spirit of
co-operation rather than of a donor of aid.
The defence link will be crucial for both countries.
must prevent other powers from gaining a predominant influence in
can have an understanding on
, so that neither has to suspect a hegemonic intent on the part of the
other. Similarly, our
diplomacy must be honed to keep vigil on the possible interference of
to our detriment. This is not
to claim exclusive influence in
, but to propose a keen awareness of
’s basic security interests.
the Nepal Maoists may come into the political mainstream, realising that
armed struggle will not gain them political power, this favourable
scenario does not necessarily entail the Indian Naxalites following suit.
has to tackle its varied Naxalite insurgencies with a firm but nuanced
approach to the local realities and a sensitivity to the legitimate
grievances of the people which may have driven the rebels to battle the
state and sabotage its functioning.
may have to renegotiate the open border with
. No unilateral decision
should be taken in this regard. As
a first step, some sections of the border may be patrolled to prevent
illegal and hostile cross-border activities.
The Indo-Nepal treaty also needs to be revised to reflect the
has a favourable opportunity to re-shape its policy towards
in a context that is now far less dangerous than it seemed as recently as
in March-April, 2006. We
should not lose this chance to regain the trust and confidence of the
Nepalese people, with whom we share cultural and social bonds unique to
both our countries.
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