geopolitics

Ulhas Joglekar uvj at vsnl.com
Wed Jun 13 09:35:41 MDT 2001


From: Johannes Schneider
  > This means: While it is important to analyze what are US, British,
Chinese
> or Indian interests in Nepal the decisive fact remains the struggle of the
> Nepali peasants against the state: Through which political forces is it
> expressed, what is the strategy and tactics, what are the allies, what are
> the demands.

My sympathies are with the workers and peasants of Nepal. But it would be
useful to keep in mind ground realities:

1. Nepal (pop. 20-25 million) is surrounded by India from three sides. China
is in the North. The entire region is part of Himalayan ranges. The average
height of hills on Indo-Nepal borders is about 2000-2500 metres. The average
height of mountains on Sino-Nepal border is about 6000-6500 metres. Terrain
is difficult to negotiate. Tibet is sparsely populated. I may be wrong, but
there is as yet no railway linking Tibet with Beijing and Shanghai. (China
proposes to build railway in Tibet, it will be the railway at very high
altitudes, highest in the world. But that is in future.) Calcutta is the
nearest port for Nepal. (Shanghai is far away.) Nepali aircrafts have fly
over Indian territory. Nepal could use Chittagong port in Bangladesh, but
Nepali goods must through Indian territory to reach Chittagong.

2. Nepal and India have an open border. There is free movement of goods and
people between India and Nepal. Indian currency can be freely used in Nepal.
Nepali goods get dutyfree excess in India. Nepalis can freely migrate to
India, take up jobs, acquire Indian citizenship. Nepalis settled in India
have close ties with people with through marriage, kinship etc. Large number
of Nepalis have worked in Indian army in the past and many continue to do
so. On retirement, they return to Nepal, they get pensions from Indian
government. I don't suppose Tibetans are likely intermarry Nepalis and
Nepalis are not being recruited in PLA.

3. Tourism is important source of income in Nepal. Visitors are largely
Indians, pilgrims or tourists. I don't suppose Tibetans will visit Nepal in
large numbers. Religious and cultural ties are close. From gods and rituals,
to Indian newspapers, TV channels and Indian films Indian influence is
significant. Nepal with the population of about 20 million and dependent on
India in numerous ways, will find it difficult, if not impossible to
'delink' from India.

4. Why should China spoil its growing ties with India for the sake of Nepali
revolution? Sino-Indian trade has gone up from $250 million to $3 billion in
ten years and the scope for further growth is vast. Indian market is much
bigger than the combined markets of all nations of South Asia put together.
Remember, China will soon be joining the WTO.There is also the question of
Tibet. India is a nuclear weapon
state and day is not far away, when Indian missiles can reach Pacific coast.
I find it difficult to believe that China would sacrifice its relations with
India to help Nepali Maoists. China did not liberate Honkong and Macao in 50
years. I don't suppose China can do much in Nepal.

Ulhas






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