india-nepal-inaugurate-integrated-check-post-at-jogbani-biratnagar

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli jointly inaugurated the second Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Jogbani - Biratnagar.

Background: 

  • Jogbani – Biratnagar is an important trade point between the two countries. It was built with Indian assistance to facilitate trade and people’s movement across the India-Nepal border.
  • The Jogbani (Bihar)-Biratnagar (Nepal) checkpost is the second to be opened since the 2018 inauguration of the Raxaul-Birgunj check post.
  • Other Indian initiatives: India is assisting post-earthquake housing reconstruction projects which have completed 50,000 houses in Nepal, made possible through an Indian grant for people affected by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Significance

  • Connectivity: The ICPs are aimed at boosting commercial and people-to-people links. ‘Neighbourhood first‘ is the main policy of the current Government and improving cross border connectivity is an important aspect of it. India is working on cross connectivity projects Road, Rail, and Transmission lines in Nepal.
  • Containing China: China is conducting a feasibility study of a trans-Himalayan railway link aimed at helping land-locked Nepal to realize its goal of achieving “strategic autonomy.

Concerns:

  • A border dispute at a point, called Kalapani, which is on the tri-junction between India, Nepal, and China. India and Nepal both claim Kalapani.
  • Nepalese demand for the reworking of the 1950 India-Nepal peace and friendship treaty:  An Eminent Persons Group appointed by both governments subsequent to this has come up with a report that has been accepted by Nepal but is still to be formally accepted by India.

Way forward:

  • Project delivery: India has to focus on implementation and delivery on the three key three of rail connectivity, developing inland waterways, and agriculture to address growing competition from China in its neighborhood in general and Nepal.
  • Resolving outstanding issues.
  • Promoting the Transnational Buddhist Circuit and Ramayana Circuit: India should leverage its soft power from a shared culture with Nepal.

Geography, including the open border, for one, is in India’s favor. Winning back Nepal and the confidence of its people is the challenge.

Also readIndia - Nepal relations

Opening Ceremony India-Nepal Joint Military Exercise Surya Kiran – XIV