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Jeetendra Dev: We have to restructure and reorient our foreign policy

Jeetendra Dev: We have to restructure and reorient our foreign policy

Jeetendra Dev is a leader of the Nepali Congress. As a senior politician, he closely observes Nepal’s foreign policy and international relations. In this context, ApEx talked with him about the various aspects of Nepal-India relations.

How do you see the current state of Nepal-India relations?

Nepal and India have an age-old historic as well as civilizational relationship. This is the relation of emotion, daily life and shared destiny. We are interlinked with an umbilical cord towards shared destiny. Nowhere in the world could we see such a relationship between the two sovereign countries. On top of that we should never forget that this relation was not made by any government, parties or individuals; rather it was made by civilization, history and by the people itself and this bond is unbreakable.

After this we have the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950 and the international border is open as well as there is no passport and visa system. We have deep and fruitful political relations too. We have a wider range of dimensions and paraphernalia of socio-economic cooperation. For this purpose the Indian Aid Mission was set up in 1954 which was later transformed into Indian Cooperation Mission in 1966.

Nepal has been receiving socio-economic support and cooperation through this mission in the sector of connectivity, education, health, power generation, irrigation, flood control, empowerment of government agencies, and various community development projects. 

Overall, Nepal-India socio-economic cooperation is growing day by day and bilateral relationship is strengthening and getting deeper in mutual interest and advantages.

What is the current state of economic collaboration between the two countries ?

First of all, I believe that we are not distinguishing and differentiating between political and economic issues. Political issues should be tackled and resolved through political and diplomatic means and it must not be linked with economic issues. Nepal needs development and prosperity. For this we need investment and friend’s financial support. We cannot move forward without the support of our friends. Our public revenue is low, capital expenditure is low, economic activities are slow, investors are not attracting for investment, donors and friendly countries are becoming suspicious on our policies and dealings, we need employment generation activities to boost up the economy and to be graduated in middle income country in 2026 as well as to achieve SDG goals, among others. So the government and the political parties must bring the economic agenda to the forefront in the interest of the people and the country.

What should be our policy to enhance economic relationships?

It needs political trust and deep understanding between the political leadership of both countries and also the investment friendly environment in Nepal. We should be free from the mentality of skepticism and cynicism. In the present international order, bilateral economic relations can only be strengthened and made vibrant if there is a political trust. We only can garner maximum benefit from Indian economic powerhouse when we feel that India is our number one friend. When we enter this new thought, the whole bilateral scenario will move in a new positive direction.

Why are we failing to attract Indian investment?

As I explained above, I again say that for this, political trust and an investment friendly environment are needed. It is so nice that we are going to hold the Third Investment Summit at the end of April. For this purpose we have amended some Acts through ordinances to create an investment friendly atmosphere in the country. Now we have to strengthen inclusive democracy in the country as well as to bring good governance and maintain excellent relationships with our neighbor as well as other friendly countries.

What are your suggestions for the political parties to redefine bilateral relations in the changing context?

We have to review and reassess our whole political, socio-economic and foreign policies. Nepal needs inclusive and participatory democracy. Nepal should bring its socio-economic agenda on top priority. We need an employment generating economy and good governance. There is a need for a good and clean image of the political leadership.

We have to restructure and reorient our foreign policy. New priority should be drawn. We have to review our neighbor policy. I have the feeling that our India policy is not pragmatic and perfect. We have to keep in mind that India is our next door number one friend. If we take such a policy, the whole bilateral scenario will move to change in a new dimension and new vistas of economic cooperation will open and at the due course of time all our other bilateral unresolved issues will be solved.