Context: The Lower House of Nepal's Parliament on Saturday unanimously passed the historic Second Constitution Amendment Bill guaranteeing legal status for the updated political map of Nepal which includes India's territories in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district.

More on news:

  • Members from all the political parties of the Pratinidhi Sabha voted in favour of the motion moved by the government of Prime Minister.
    • Nepal claims right to the region and says India was allowed to station troops there in the 1950s and that Delhi has refused to remove forces from the region ever since. 
  • India’s response: The artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable.
    • 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 cooperation
    • India is Nepal’s largest trade partner and the largest source of foreign investments, besides providing transit for almost the entire third country trade of Nepal.
    • India provides development assistance to Nepal, focusing on creation of infrastructure at the grass-root level.
    • Bilateral defence cooperation includes assistance to Nepalese Army in its modernization through provision of equipment and training.
    • As Nepal lies in a sensitive ecological fragile zone it remains the biggest recipient of India’s humanitarian assistance.
  • The dispute: As per Nepal, , the river originates from Limpiyadhura in the higher Himalayas, giving it access to a triangular-shaped land defined by Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh and Kalapani. India opposes the notion and says the origin of the river is much further down, which reduces Nepal’s territorial demand.
  • Implication of this move by Nepal:Indo-Nepal border negotiations will be all the more complicated as secretaries have no right to negotiate on the provisions of our Constitution.
    • the speed with which the constitutional amendment was passed has left little space for diplomacy now. 

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: Lower House of Nepal's,territories in Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district.

Image Source: the hindu