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Reports on Speech/Lecture

Name of Event: 
Third Sapru House Lecture
"India-Nepal Relations: Vision for the next Decade"
H.E. Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda'
former Prime Minister of Nepal
Date:  29 April 2013
Venue:  Sapru House, New Delhi

         The Indian Council of Worlds Affairs organised the Third Sapru House Lecture by H. E. Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', former Prime Minister of Nepal, entitled "India-Nepal Relations: Vision for the Next Decade" on 29 April 2013. Ambassador Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary, chaired the Lecture. A large audience comprising the diplomatic corps, academic community, media and university students attended the lecture.

         Ambassador Rajiv K Bhatia, Director General, ICWA, introduced the Speaker and the Chair, and formally welcomed all. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Bhatia highlighted the importance of Nepal in India's foreign policy and mentioned about the seminal contribution made by the ICWA's 'Core Group on Nepal' to the study of foreign policy.

         Espousing his vision of a trilateral cooperation between India, China and Nepal, Mr. Prachanda held that the economic development of Nepal was in the larger interests of India and China. He argued that the tripartite cooperation would neither undermine nor replace the bilateral relationship between India and Nepal; instead it would help Nepal eradicate poverty and develop its backward regions. Further, better political and economic cooperation between India and Nepal would contribute to peace and stability in the region. Acknowledging India's economic support to Nepal's development, Mr. Prachanda sought investment in a number of areas, viz. infrastructure, hydropower, manufacturing industries, information technology, agricultural development and tourism promotion initiatives like Budha circuit.

         Mr. Prachanda, informed the audience that in its Party Convention, the UCPN (M) had effected three fundamental changes in its ideology, i.e. 'peaceful multi-party democracy', 'focus on economic development' and 'progressive nationalism' which promises healthy relations with India. He termed this decision of the party as a 'turning point' and hoped that it would generate a 'new basis' for Indo-Nepal relations.

         Mr. Prachanda recalled India's contribution to the 12-Point understanding reached between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists in Delhi (2005) and also to the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2006) that led to political stabilization in Nepal through peaceful reconciliation and inclusive democratic processes. Recognizing India's security concerns, he emphasised that Nepal had adopted a firm policy of not allowing any activity against its friendly neighbour from its soil. Mr. Prachanda emphasised that his party had ideological difference with the extremist groups.

         Mr. Prachanda concluded the discussion on an optimistic note with a prognosis of greater integration in the region marked by the support of India and China to Nepal. He went on to say that his party, UCPN (M), was committed to peaceful democracy and looked towards India for active economic and political support for ushering in a stable and prosperous Nepal.

         During the discussion round, multiple questions were raised relating to different aspects. Issues ranging from India-Nepal relations, economic cooperation, Constituent Assembly of Nepal and federalism, China factor and future developments in Nepal were discussed. The discussion was interactive and informative. In his final remarks, Ambassador Shyam Saran said that like India, Nepal is also a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society and after the political change from monarchy to democracy, it is worth watching that what shape the new state of Nepal will take.

Report by:     Dr. Smita Tiwari, Research Fellow, Indian Council of World Affairs