Ramayana was a great epic illustrating many an issues, of which brotherhood was one of the much discussed topic.
On one side were brothers Rama and Lakshmana and on the other side were Ravana and Vibhishana.
Following instructions of Rama, Lakshmana cuts of nose and ears of Soorpanakha, despite her being a woman. To avenge his sister’s humiliation, when Ravana kidnaps Sita, Vibhishana disagrees with Ravana and supports Rama in the name of dharma.
While Rama and Lakshmana became example for the brotherhood, Vibhishana (and surprisingly never Ravana) was criticised for betraying his brother. And in this argument, dharma was simply left out.
It is curious to see the relations India had with its neighbours. Though all the SAARC countries share the old philosophical school of thinking, cultures, preferences have deviated too much for these nations to have a common thinking, all had to endure the love and hate relationship that alternates with seasons. Of all the neighbours India was gifted by Mother Nature and father politics, it was probably Bhutan that has less friction with the country that is synonymous with the sub-continent. Only Bhutan and Nepal are the neighbouring countries, where Indians can visit without visa.
Now, the relation between Nepal and India oscillates between extremes like a pendulum that forgets to swing from time to time. So, there were pretty good times and bad times as well, if the normal times are discounted. When Indians were fighting their first war of independence, Jang Bahadur Rana actively supported the British in quelling the sepoy mutiny. Though in later days kings of Nepal became a sort of ornamental, relations between independent India and Nepal remained continuously under stress.
The fact Nepal needs India for survival was known to both administrations for they were not so naive to not comprehend. Nepal, which had witnessed the so called integration of Tibet into mainland China was forever wary of the Dragon and depended on the Elephant that offered a comfortable ride. Like every rider who takes his mount for granted, Nepal tries to be over-smart and suffers whenever the elephant shakes its muscles.
From the people’s perspective, Indians, especially Hindus feel a sort of gratitude towards Nepal for being the only Hindu nation in the world, or the last one. But, the same was not reciprocated by Nepal, albeit using and exploiting India. There were some genuine issues for Nepalese people with India, but these were non-issues for Indians, one of them is India is a racist country. Yes, we Indians are very good at classifying ourselves based on various parameters from religion, region to language and caste. So, when we express our brotherhood and love to outsiders, we extend our negative side also. Now, given the fact that many a Nepalese live in India for generations and lead a life similar to if not a better one, and never there was no outcry from the mainstream or fringe elements of Indian society against Nepalese should be noted by Nepalese and their Government that runs almost on the principles of Indian Government led by Deve Gowda.
If they have Prachanda, who brought their administration to their knees, he pales in comparison with our own internal extremists, be the naxalites or many a separatists. If they learnt a lesson from Pakistan’s failed theocratic experiment and were willing to experiment with democracy, they better do consider all available alternative varieties of democracy. One can’t blame their politicians who tried to hide their failure of rebuilding the nation after the devastating earthquake. It is natural for any politician, for their first priority is their own struggle for existence and sustenance. Then, even during that period of crisis, why they chose to adopt such a controversial constitution that was prima-facie discriminative? Again the answer is a typical Indian origin one. Like us, they cannot live together without claiming superiority over their brethren.
But, will such a discrimination is going to work in any country, especially in a democratic set-up? Nay! They need to outsource their administration to either Taliban or Daesh to quell any voice that raises in protest. At least they should learn from the military junta of Myanmar. Even here, they failed like typical Indian administration. Indira Gandhi was far more effective in controlling and muting the opposition, given the length and breadth of India. If the new government of Nepal want to be a discriminative one, they better ready to kill their own people, lest adopt a constitution that gives equal rights – at least on paper (as is the case in India).
The current Government led by Oli had even betrayed the Indian one. Oli in fact had slipped between the fingers of Narendra Modi like oil. And, before Bihar elections, Oli declared a constitution in which extended population of Bihar were discriminated. Already people in Terai region were feeling that people from highland were slowly usurping their vast and fertile lands. Now, they were informed officially that they were a sort of lesser citizens. Any statesman would never go back on his words, especially on the one given to a counterpart like Narendra Modi.
Infuriated at the deception, India reacted strongly and didn’t waste any time in showing Nepal, the mirror kept under wrap in their own closet. It probably may be lack of collective intelligence on the part of Nepal, when they called bluff by negotiating goods supply from China, forgetting how they suffered during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime. In international politics, memories exist for less than a week, unless the opponent was not worth having. Considering the growing Indian market in the otherwise dull international one, India is critical for China, at present. And they don’t gain anything from paving roads and selling something to Nepal that may amount to 5% of their trade with India.
Oli should have tried hard to bargain before Bihar elections are over, for once the elections are over, the decision has no impact, irrespective of who rules Bihar. And, when BJP lost Bihar, it only strengthen the position of India, as they don’t have any domestic compulsions, except those of traders. And Indian traders know how to make more money in hard circumstances. They sell pulses to us at four times the price, so we can expect how they would be squeezing Nepalese.
On the other hand, after making Nawaz Sharif realise who the real ‘dehati aurat’ was, Modi is not in the mood to negotiate with Nepal, for they consider the current administration almost like Vibhishana, despite India was playing the role of Rama. When the west is fighting its ‘war on terror” domestically, no other nation has time to pause and glance at the plight of common people of Nepal, who were suffering in the entire episode. It is another thing that they already started to think India was implementing embargo on purpose, but no Indian will be buying these arguments, except some intellectual journalists craving for attention. As it turned out there were no writer or artist of India returned award in support of Nepal. And I doubt, even the evergreen hero of Bolllywood, Dev would support the discriminative constitution they made – fully contradicting the image of Nepal he tried hard to project in India. And for common Indian, it was only when some terrorist or drug peddler was caught in Nepal, we know the second most prospective business that thrives in Nepal.
It appears Oli had watched Nawaz Sharif last week on television, first expressing a desire to have unconditional talks and then a brief chat with Modi. He also appears to be a quick learner, for he sent one of his deputy Prime ministers (and he had six deputies – a feat only Nitish Kumar can target in India) Thapa. The selection of Thapa, leader of pro-Hindu organisation to discuss and settle the issue has shown how much common citizens of Nepal had suffered in the last three months. Though Thapa declared that constitutional amendments are on the anvil, he had no time to explain why it took three long months for Oli to see through the things.
The fact that Manmohan Singh wants GST to be rolled out soon had seen Congress talking on GST for the past month. One sad thing that was noticed in the current Indo-Nepal stand-off was that both Governments tried to woo Indian press, the Nepali one earnestly. And the decision of Indian Government to send a delegation of Indian press to Nepal is seen as an unnecessary move that came so late, that the already formed opinion in India could change a little, even after their visit.
However, the best learning was for Narendra Modi – not to take any person and his promise at face value. Yes, earlier it was Sharif and now it is Oli. Treat leaders of neighbouring countries like political allies – nothing more, nothing less.
It was really a blessing that arrival of winter was late this year, else by now deforestation of Nepal might have started in a commercial way. And it may be better for any elephant rider to remember that sides of elephant are sloppy and always there is a risk of getting crushed under it.
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