“The basic concern for us while dealing with Nepal should be the national security. Our open border with Nepal is being misused by terrorists and other anti-Indian elements. This should not be ignored,? said Lt. Gen (Retd.) SK Sinha, former Governor of J&K and Ambassador to Nepal, while inaugurating a seminar in New Delhi on December 20. The seminar was jointly organised by Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP) and India International Centre (IIC). The topic of the seminar was ?Nepal: Changed Concerns and Challenges for India?.
Former Ambassador and convener of India International Centre IP Khosla, former Foreign Secretary and president of ARSP, Shashank, Major General (Retd) Ashok Mehta and former Ambassador Rajiv Sikri presided over various sessions of the seminar. Former Foreign Secretary Rasgotra and Secretary General of ARSP Baleshwar Agarwal were also present on the occasion.
The seminar was attended by eminent thinkers, former Governors, senior retired officers of Indian Foreign Service and armed forces, journalists and keen Nepal watchers deliberated upon the impact of recent political developments in Nepal, domestic politics, bilateral trade and commerce with India and the impact of Nepal'srelations with its immediate neighbours such as China and Pakistan and on our national security.
Dr Chandrashekar, a former Joint Secretary, said Nepal'sMaoists have changed their strategy and tactics but not their goals. ?In 1996 they launched a ?people'swar? to establish a communist republic but ten years later ended it by accepting multiparty democracy; their armed struggle targeted the parliamentary system but they are now working alongside their former enemies, the mainstream parties, in an interim legislature and coalition government. The Maoists? commitment to pluralistic politics and society is far from definitive, and their future course will depend on both internal and external factors,? he said further adding that while the Maoists have signed up a peaceful, multiparty transition, they continue to hone alternative plans for more revolutionary change.
Former editor of Organiser Shri Seshadri Chari spoke on Indo-Nepal trade and commerce. Tracing the economic history he said the treaties on trade, transit and agreements of cooperation between India and Nepal have undergone substantial changes since it was first signed in 1950. Nepal'sforeign trade with India formed 98 per cent of its overall foreign trade in the mid-1960s and steadily went down to as low as 22 per cent in 1989-90, he informed. Although Nepal'sbilateral trade with India improved in the last decade largely due to the 1996 trade agreement and SAFTA, the balance of trade is negative due to a number of factors. He said the political uncertainty continues to be a cause of worry. Both India and Nepal need to work out a new and more focussed approach for a robust economic relationship, he emphasised.
Dr Ravni Thakur, Associate Professor in Delhi University and Member of AICC Foreign Cell, spoke on Nepal'srelations with its immediate neighbour China and its impact on Indo-Nepal bilateral ties. She was of the opinion that the ideological proximity of a section of Nepal'spolitical spectrum to China should not be a major cause of worry to India. Shri NN Jha, former Governor and Ambassador to Nepal and Sri Lanka, shared the mood of the coalition partner, the Maoist party, from the impressions that he gathered out of his interactions with several Nepalese leaders during his recent visit to Kathmandu.