India MUST NOT Lose Nepal to the Maoists

India is now on the verge of reaping the fruits of its flawed policy on Nepal. This was the topic of an earlier paper on the subject in this column by this author. The current situation in Nepal directly threatens India's national security interests. India's flawed foreign policy towards Nepal arose from the misplaced perceptions of the first Foreign Minister of the present Congress Government. It also arose from the Indian Communist parties' pressure who form the main prop of the Congress Government. The main Communist party in India, the CPI(M) takes its cues from China.

The Indian ruling establishment has had a bad chemistry with the Nepalese Monarch because of its over-obsessive fixation to bring about democracy in Nepal, hardly realizing that democracy in Nepal could not be brought overnight in a feudal society. Also, that the socio-economic conditions in Nepal and its geographical conditions dictated that in case of Nepal the important and over-riding consideration should have been as to whether 'economic freedom' should have preceded 'political freedom' first. If that had been India's foreign policy's prime consideration then India today would have not been in a strategic bind where it faces the prospect of a Maoist takeover of Nepal. And by extension, the prospect seems to becoming real of China crossing the Himalayas and poised to overlook the Gangetic Plains in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

If the political parties alliance in Nepal, who take their cues from India's ruling establishment, had not been goaded by India into siding with the Maoists politically against the Monarchy, much of the political steam of the Maoists would have been lost. They would have not attained the necessary political credibility and political legitimacy and at best would have remained a rag-tag Communist insurgency. India's flawed foreign policy initiatives have imparted to them a political legitimacy and in the process endangering India's national security interests.

The Nepalese Monarch enjoys the support of the Royal Nepal Army and large sections of Nepal's rural areas. It would be wrong to surmise that just because the Maoists hold sway over a large number of Districts they enjoy undisputed loyalty of the rural masses in these far flung Districts. The Maoists sway is due to their terrorizing the hapless rural masses and the inability of the Royal Nepal Army to extend effective control due to limited resources and means. With more resources and better means the Royal Nepal Army would be better placed to tackle the Maoist insurgency.

The political parties which are supported by the Indian ruling establishment are a discredited lot in Nepalese eyes. In the years of democratic rule , they cannot boast of any economic or social development achievements.

If democracy is restored in Nepal overnight under US and Indian pressure the Maoists would out-maneuver their Nepalese democratic parties political partners and make them irrelevant politically. What would then emerge in Nepal is a Chinese'model Communist State, which would be under Chinese tutelage and in a confrontational mode strategically to India, the United States and the West.

If India and the United States wish to avoid the above strategic discomfiture they need to strengthen the hands of the Nepalese Monarch, build-up the Royal Nepal Army, and remove Nepal's democratic political parties from the Maoists embrace. Also, India can drain away much of the youth support base of the Maoists by enlarging recruitment into the Indian Army and the Indian para-military forces.

India was lulled in the preceding few years that China would not enlarge politically and strategically in Nepal. Many even dismissed that China was behind the Maoist insurgency in Nepal till a year or so. The Chinese have got away by maintaining that the Maoist insurgency in Nepal was an internal matter of Nepal--- a perfect subterfuge for a strategic take-over of Nepal and weaning it away from India's sphere of influence.  


More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila

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