Backfire in Nepal: How India Lost The Plot to China
Backfire in Nepal explores how China has become the ultimate beneficiary of India’s democracy-promotion agenda in Nepal. New Delhi had made a bold bet in 2005, but one that contained two mutually fortifying flaws: the abolition of the monarchy and the empowerment of the former Maoist rebels. The world’s only Hindu monarch and kingdom were bound to India in a special relationship that neither country needed to define or assert. True, Indians had been put off by successive Nepalese monarchs playing New Delhi off against Beijing. In retrospect, a little more compassion for Nepal’s compulsions might have put things into sharper relief. Nepalese Maoists, being communists first, were trained to denounce Indian ‘expansionism’ before American ‘imperialism’. Experience may have impelled the senior leadership to make practical compromises. It was a leap of faith for New Delhi to trust the leadership to rein in their cadres’ radicalism. More broadly, since India had also enlisted Western democracies, it needed to address their often-contradictory concerns throughout Nepal’s turbulent transition. The Chinese could act purely on their national interests. India continues to misread how Beijing sees Nepal – both in terms of China’s visions of the past and the future. This complicates the core trilateral challenge: ensuring that Nepal is not sucked deeper into the Sino-Indian vortex, only to be scorned for aggravating the Asian giants’ rivalry.