Context:  Recently, Nepal’s House of Representatives unanimously approved the tabling of an amendment to the country’s constitution which will now formally depict nearly 400 sq km of Indian territory extending west from the Lipulekh Pass, and including it, as part of Nepal’s sovereign territory. 

More on news:

  • After the vote, Nepal’s Foreign Minister declared that they will be starting dialogue soon and the problem will be resolved through diplomacy.
  • Nepal’s brinkmanship has made it much more difficult to explore a mutually acceptable solution. 
  • Claim to the additional territory: 
    • The additional territory is now  included in its official map on the Anglo-Nepal Treaty of Sugauli of 1816, which determined the Kali river as the western boundary between British India and Nepal.
  • Nepal’s Parliament also considered a report on international religious freedom for 2019 published by the US Department of State and said other countries don't have the right to criticise India on religious freedom.

India’s stand:

  • India made its position clear on these issues and stated it deeply values its civilisation, cultural and friendly relations with Nepal. 
  • India reiterated its multi-faceted bilateral partnership has expanded and diversified in recent years with increased focus and enhanced assistance on humanitarian, development and connectivity projects in Nepal.

India-Nepal Boundary Dispute:

  • The dispute over Kalapani between Nepal and India was revived in November 2019 when India published a revised political map showing the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. 
    • The delineation remained identical but the name Kali river had been deleted.
  • Nepal has published a revised official map incorporating the territory from the Limpiyadhura source of the Kali to Kalapani and Lipulekh pass in the northeast of the triangular region as its territory.
    • The new alignment adds 335 sq km to Nepali territory, territory that has never been reflected in a Nepali map for nearly 170 years.
    • Nepal’s Parliament has taken up the constitution amendment bill that would give constitutional status to the new Nepali map, which includes the Kalapani region. 

Background of the dispute

  • Underlying reasons are far more complex: Nepali Prime Minister’s exploitation of the matter, by raising the banner of Nepali nationalism and painting India as a hegemon, is part of a frequent pattern that indicates that relations between the two countries need a fundamental reset.
    • Nepali nationalism: Under the Nepali Constitution, a new Prime Minister enjoys a guaranteed two-year period during which a no-confidence motion is not permitted. 
      • This ended in February unleashing simmering resentment against Mr. Oli’s governance style and performance. His inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic added to the growing disenchantment. 
      • Within the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) there was a move to impose a ‘one man, one post’ rule that would force Mr. Oli to choose between being NCP co-chair or Prime Minister.
    • The China card has provided Nepal the leverage to practise their version of non-alignment. China is pursuing a more assertive foreign policy and considers Nepal an important element in its growing South Asian footprint.
  • “Neighbourhood first”: But the relationship took a nosedive in 2015 when India first got blamed for interfering in the Constitution-drafting in Nepal and then for an “unofficial blockade” that generated widespread resentment against the country. It reinforced the notion that Nepali nationalism and anti-Indianism.
    • India has ignored the changing political narrative:India remained content that its interests were safeguarded by quiet diplomacy even when Nepali leaders publicly adopted anti-Indian postures.

Source: Nepal prepared to vote,India's civilisational ties with Nepal.&text=India deeply values its civilisation, cultural and friendly relations with Nepal.