Since the historical ages in general and after the “Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950” in particular, the international border between India and Nepal is formally open. The clause number 7 of the said treaty writes, “The Governments of India and Nepal agree to grant, on reciprocal basis, to the nationals of one country in the territories of the other the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of a similar nature.” Nepalese people discuss this treaty but merely in an abstract way. It is opposed inside the left circle, only in a general sense. However, there is no sufficient analytical appraisal of each article of the constitution and their effect, positive and negative, in the socio-economic landscape of Nepal is not discussed deeply.
One of the clauses of the 1950 treaty has dealt with open border between Nepal and India. Some self-claimant intelligentsias interpret it in the sense of matchless friendly relation between two neighbouring countries. The treaty states that Indian nationals in Nepal and the Nepalese nationals in India will enjoy national status. Does this provision of the treaty provide equal right to Nepalese citizens as the Indian citizens entertain in Nepal? Is it equally beneficial to Nepal as it is for India? What are the benefits that Nepal is enjoying from the open border between them? But, these questions are hardly discussed in the political landscape of Nepal. This article will briefly focus on this question.
With the introduction of this subject matter, my mind has now gone to hit at the national news that was broadcast by Radio Nepal about 30 years before. I cannot remember the exact year, month and the day the very news was broadcast. May be it was in 1987, the national news broadcast by Radio Nepal at 7 PM had disturbed me for quite a long time. The news was, “In view of the interest of peasantry, the price of the chemical fertilizer has been increased by Rs. 2 per Kg.” In this excerpt, it may be Rs. 1 or Rs. 3 instead of Rs. 2, the rest I have not forgotten. In the beginning, I thought that the reader misspelt the word; possibly he read ‘increase’ instead of ‘decrease’. The next day, I raised this question with my friends. None of my friends had paid sufficient attention to this news. They did not count on me. Rather, Radio Nepal does not broadcast such a nonsense, may be you heard wrong, they told me. I did not hear about the correction of news in the following days. I was working as a District Committee Member of the erstwhile CPN (Mashal). I did not have an easy access to the central leaders in short time. I was not convinced with the reply the district leaders then had. It became a subject of study for some time to me.
I tried to get into it deeply. I found that there was shortage of fertilizer in the Indian market at that time. Indian peasants, close to borders, used to travel to Nepal and buy fertilizers in the Nepalese market. It caused Nepalese peasants to face shortage of fertilizer. The Nepalese peasants could be supplied with sufficient fertilizers only when Indian peasants were discouraged to purchase from the Nepalese market. The Nepalese government did not have any other alternative than increasing fertilizer price to make the Indian peasants turn their back to Nepalese shops. I got to know afterwards why the erstwhile Panchayati government was forced to provide ‘respite’ to the Nepalese peasants by increasing fertilizer price. It was not because of the subjective weakness of the concerned administrator, but it was mainly because of the open border India and Nepal had. This problem has not yet been solved, even after the establishment of republic.
The 1950 treaty has talked of “equal privilege on the equal basis” in all sectors including economic and social arenas. This absolute equality is not unequal only for Nepal but it jeopardises our national sovereignty as well. Let’s imagine, if all the Nepalese people numbering less than 30 million migrate to India, they will disappear in the ocean of Indian population. But, if a little more than 2 per cent of total Indian population, 1.3 billion, migrate to Nepal, the Nepalese people fall in absolute minority. Then how is it equal for both? Will the independent existence of Nepal continue anymore? Let’s us have an example. It makes no such difference when the whole Bagmati River is made to flow into Gandaki River, but what will be happen when the whole Narayani River is made to flow into Bagmati River? One can easily answer, Kathmandu valley will not remain anymore. Thus the ‘equal privilege’ provided by open border between Nepal and India does not jeopardise politics and economy only but it can cause to disappear the territorial integrity and national identity of the former as well.
Nepal has 1,751 Km long open border with India. Most of the pillars have disappeared although it is said they will remain after every Kilometre. Border specialists say that Nepalese border has been encroached on the part of India in 62 places of 22 districts out of 26 districts bordering India. It is a nonstop process. One of the main reasons behind encroachment along the Nepalese side is open border between Nepal and India and it is being done under the patronage of Indian rulers. The invasion in Nepal and murder of Govinda Gautam that Indian SSB carried out a few days before in Anandapur Bazar, Kanchanpur, is the latest link in the chain of events of Indian intervention. It is sure that this process of invasion by India will not stop till the Indo-Nepal border is open.
Most of the well-to-do families reside and possess property on both sides of the bordering areas and run their business unchecked. Not only this, many Nepalese people know that a person, whose name was listed in the Indian voter’s list, had become a minister in the Nepalese cabinet. The population growth rate is much higher in Terai region compared to the hills. One of the main reasons behind this is the migration and permanent settlement of Indian citizens in the Nepalese territory. This demographic attack is based on a specific strategy. It is an important part of the expansionist stratagem of the Indian ruling classes to annex Nepal into India. It has been proved by many facts.
Apart from the aforesaid political questions, unwanted and asocial activities, including smuggling of Nepali archaeological matters to foreign countries, trafficking of Nepalese girls to Indian brothels, arms trafficking, illegal trade, burglary, hooliganism and dacoit etc. have been rising one after another in the bordering areas. The cultural invasion is rampant. The open border between Nepal and India has played a big role for all these asocial activities to happen. Indian ruling classes have used the open border to impose political, economic and cultural hegemony upon Nepal. Not that it is not in the interest of Nepal; more than that it has become a curse for her.
The industry, business and trade have all been destroyed because of open border between Nepal and India, lack of national industrial and business policy of the Government of Nepal and the uncontrolled import of consumer goods from India. The Radio Nepal news recalled before has clarified how pathetic is the condition of Nepalese trade vis-à-vis India. Nepalese trade cannot be brought into national command so long as Indo-Nepal border is open. As a result of the uncontrolled import of consumer goods from India and other countries, not only modern industries but also cottage industries and the agro-businesses, unable to compete, have been destroyed and the national production has been wrecked. All this has led to increase Nepal’s import to export ratio with India to be about 14:1. It is a terrible situation. All this has pushed the Nepalese people to such a situation in which they have to buy everything, from the latest computer technology to daily consumer goods including chili, from India on the one hand, and they have to go to Malaysia and Gulf Countries to earn money for purchasing them, on the other. It shows how much our country is becoming reliant on and dependent with other countries of the world. It is a way towards Nepal becoming a failed nation.
It is not that Nepal has been trapped in such a pathetic situation because Nepal lacks natural resources and people living in Nepal are lazy. Nepal is geographically diversified; it has a lot of natural means and resources like water, fertile land, minerals and forests. The awful condition of dependence has been an inevitable result of the irrational outlook and the class and national capitulationist thinking present in the Nepalese ruling classes. In order to be free from this state of affairs and open the door of comprehensive economic development of Nepal it is necessary to adopt a policy that defeats capitulationist thinking, boosts up the national production and discourages import. Open border with India and competition with Indian economy do not make possible the growth of national capital in Nepal. If this situation persists, it is sure that not only the economy but the national independence and Nepalese identity both will disappear in the long run.
It is an era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. Capitulation of the reactionary classes from the oppressed countries before the imperialist and expansionist rulers and surrender of their national interest to them is the characteristics of this era. It is not that the rulers till now do not know the open border and unequal treaties are not in favour of national interest. As a consequence of the unscientific world outlook and reactionary class character, they cannot resist imperialist intervention rather try to lengthen their rule by pleasing the imperialist marauders. Therefore, it is not possible on the part of imperialist system and the government constituted by parliamentary election to control open border, protect national economy and solve the enduring problems of democracy and livelihood let alone solving the bad consequences of external intervention.
In order to solve these problems it is necessary to establish People’s Federal Republic, Nepal, which is opposed to imperialism and domestic reaction formed of comprador and bureaucratic bourgeoisie and the feudal class. It is a political system that is established under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, leadership of a communist party, the vanguard of the proletariat, and the joint dictatorship of the people of oppressed classes, nationalities, sex and region. Only the People’s Federal Republic can resist imperialist and expansionist intervention, control open border, protect national economy, solve the problems related to democracy and people’s livelihood and then pave the way to accomplish new democratic revolution, socialism and communism. Therefore, to go ahead towards the direction of establishing People’s Federal Republic, Nepal, is the need of the day that enables Nepal to entertain right of self-determination.
March 16, 2017