28 Sept 2019: The Hindu Editorial Summary
1) On OIC remarks on Article 370
- The statement issued by the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation’s Kashmir Contact Group calling on India to “repeal its actions revoking Article 370”, among other stipulations, may not even be worth the paper it is written on.
- If it has a uncertain relevance, it is one that allows the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to sell the theory back at home that his trip to New York, focused on Kashmir, has met with some success.
- From the mid-1990s, when this Contact Group was formed, it has issued several statements on behalf of Pakistan, which happens, not surprisingly, to be a member, as does Turkey, Niger, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia.
- The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had Imran Khan flown on his private jet to Saudi Arabia for a two-day visit before speeding him on the same plane to New York and the UNGA.
- It is also no coincidence that OIC is headquartered in Jeddah and receives its financial raison d’etre from its chief benefactor, Saudi Arabia. Further, though it boasts of a membership of 57 countries, its influence on world affairs has always been marginal.
- The United Arab Emirates - UAE, for instance, conferred the Order of Zayed, its highest civilian award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than a week after New Delhi’s moves on Article 370, and declared that Kashmir was India’s internal matter.
- Therefore, it’s extremely doubtful if the statement issued by the Contact Group reflects faithfully the national positions of the individual member states. The OIC has achieved little other than pleasing Pakistan through its Kashmir pronouncements.
- The OIC’s record of conflict resolution when it comes to issues between OIC member states is poor. In practical terms, its silly attempts to intervene in Kashmir, including by appointing a so-called special envoy on Jammu and Kashmir, have amounted to nothing.
- The organisation, constituted on religious lines, but seeking to fulfil geopolitical interests, needs reforms from within. It could begin by asking Pakistan to change its state policy on terrorism.
- Imran Khan did admit at various fora that Pakistan had backed entities such as the al- Qaeda, but he should ensure that Pakistan disowns support to Kashmir-centric groups such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
- It serves no useful purpose for the OIC to paint Kashmir in communal and religious political colours. India, though not a part of the OIC, has the second largest numbers of Muslims in the world, perhaps more than Pakistan and some of its most ardent backers put together.
- The OIC would do a lot better if it did something useful to better the lot of its members or mediate between warring Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for instance. In the meanwhile, New Delhi must demonstrate to the world that its new Kashmir policy is in the larger interest of all Kashmiris.
2) On China - Nepal Relations: Xi Jinpings Visit
- Earlier this week, on September 24, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the ruling Nepal Communist Party - NCP with the Communist Party of China. Which was in preparation for the visit of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping in October, the last time a Chinese President visited Nepal was 23 years ago, in 1996.
- Comparing with India: In August 2014, when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Nepal, Kathmandu shut to welcome him. It was called a historic visit by an Indian Prime Minister after more than a decade-and-a-half.
- It felt as if the India-Nepal relationship would undergo changes as a number of sops were announced. Less than a year later, when a big earthquake struck Nepal, India was quick to respond with help and relief materials.
- This made everyone feel that the changes in ties were for real. But months later, India which was dissatisfied with the Nepal Constitution imposed a blockade that changed the perception about Mr. Modi and India forever.
- It was an act that alienated a whole generation of Nepali youth, and Nepali leaders played the nationalism card to reach out to China. Chinese interest grew after the earthquake and the blockade.
- With the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), exchanges and interactions between the two countries grew. Nepal signed agreements with China to ensure it was not “India locked”, in turn opening transit and trade opportunities through its northern border.
- Inertia in reaching out: Nepal, in its nearly 70-year journey after the Rana autocracy ended in 1950, has yet to leverage its bilateral or multilateral ties.
- From the days of the Shah kings who ruled directly till 2006 to the current form of a federal democratic republic. Nepal’s engagements with the outside world have been more of theatrics, speeches and little action.
- After the 2015 earthquake, China, India and other countries pledged approximately $4-billion for reconstruction; India pledged more funds, but Nepal has been tepid in utilising these funds.
- Scouring for grants remains key while there has not been much traction on agreed projects being implemented. It has never been about seeking investments and get into a partnership model such as what Bangladesh has been able to do successfully with both China and India.
- With a strong patriarchal and feudal culture embedded in Hinduism, rituals dominate Nepali life. With people from the Bahun (Brahmin) community dominating the bulk of leadership in politics and bureaucracy, there is much emphasis on rituals rather than an understanding of the deeper issues.
- Therefore, there is little expectation about the upcoming visit apart from keeping nationalism alive from an electoral point of view: in general about creating doubts about India to making anti-India statements.
- Nepali politics: The biggest feature of the Nepali communist ignored by parachute analysts is that communism to Nepal came through Calcutta and not straight from China.
- Therefore, what we see in Nepal is the West Bengal version of communism rather than a Chinese one. Nepali communism has been about continuous infighting and creating fiefdoms rather than accepting an individual’s leadership.
- The recent rise of the Nepali communist has been due to the empathy of and support from the Communist parties of India that were part of the United Progressive Alliance.
- The Maoists, while underground, received tacit support. With the communist parties in India in disarray now, the Nepali communist leaders are looking for options.
- With the co-chair of the NCP, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, in line to succeed Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, other leaders such as Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal who became Prime Ministers earlier with Indian support are trying to look for options in China.
- While Chinese engagement in Nepal has increased post the BRI phase and with revamping of outreach policies, those backing the few projects with Chinese investments have not been happy with the government as they now face the same problems that other investors are experiencing.
- Foreign direct investments to Nepal are low and the way government has functioned does not really encourage large Chinese investors to look at Nepal seriously enough. The increase in Chinese businesses in Nepal has remained mostly low level examples being operations in hotels and restaurants.
- Till there is a complete recalibration in Nepal’s long-term vision of development, a willingness to implement investor-friendly policies and enable concrete steps towards efficiency, President Xi’s visit will be once again be one made by a “friendly neighbour or cousin”, who brings some gifts, exchanges pleasantries and then moves on.