On the Indian Blockade of Nepal

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On the Surface

Nepal recently drafted its first constitution following the fall of the monarchy. Written in the constitution are provisions against Indian influence in Nepali politics; India has imposed an unofficial blockade on Nepal, the existence of which has been denied by the likes of PM Narendra Modi. As the transportation of essential goods (namely fuel) trickles insubstantially in, the blockade might spell disaster for Nepal just months after a devastating earthquake.

The Constitution and Terai

Nepal established a new constitution in September, and, officially, India’s unhappiness stems from the constitution’s lack of support among the Madhesi people of Nepal’s Terai region, which borders India (unofficially, Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party is none too happy that Nepal, a primarily Hindu country, has adopted a secular constitution). The Madhesi, who have close ties to India, claim that the new demarcation of state borders will alienate them from the rest of the country. More than 40 people have died in violent protests in Terai, and India issued a statement basically dismissing the new constitution. Many Nepalis viewed this statement as India espousing an interventionist mindset.

The Blockade and its consequences

India is currently restricting the number of commercial vehicles that can enter Nepal, claiming that this is due to the danger within Nepalese borders caused by the aforementioned Madhesi protests. Since most of Nepal’s fuel resources come from India, the country’s transportation has slowed to a halt. This  infrastructural damage only compounds that caused by the earthquake.

With the blockade, Nepal continues on its downward spiral. She and India need to compromise, or Nepal will be damaged beyond repair.

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