Why India Needs to Make Itself Heard in Nepal

in Program

Nepal is in trouble. Since the April 2015 earthquakes, in which over 9,000 Nepali lives were lost, hurried legislative action in Kathmandu has triggered instability across the country, particularly along the Indian border. After eight and half years under an interim constitution, on August 8 the Constituent Assembly (CA) reached an agreement on seven provinces under a contested, proposed constitution. After years of political stagnation, the desperate aftermath of the earthquake seems to have reenergized the CA which aims to announce this new constitution on September 20.

In the last two weeks alone, however, protests against the proposed document have resulted in 40 deaths—both of protesters and police. Much of the tension is in the Terai, along the Indian border, where many of Nepal’s minority communities reside, including most Nepali Muslims. Major protests by Madhesi and Tharu communities opposed to the proposed federalist mapping have become increasingly violent from lynching to burning people alive. The newly proposed 7 provinces would divide these communities, making them even smaller minorities in separate states. Unrest in the Terai has negative implications for India’s border security increasing the likelihood of spillovers of instability and terrorist attacks. India has an interest in postponing the constitutional process so the CA can ensure it is inclusive and durable.

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