India and Nepal are currently in the middle of a longstanding border dispute, in which Nepal is largely unable to obtain key resources it needs. Nepal is still rallying from two major earthquakes that hit the country in April and May of this year.
Indian border police are largely blocking the border, and key supplies of petroleum, medicines and earthquake relief materials are unable to get through. The entire economy of Nepal is shutting down, as schools are closing, hospitals are refusing patients, transportation is restricted and tourism has been erased.
Many people in Nepal are saying that the Indian blockade is even worse than the earthquakes themselves. Part of the problem is that Nepal’s political leaders rushed through a new constitution that had been deadlocked for years.
The newly established political boundaries of the constitution brought great displeasure to many people along the southern border that it shares with India. These people have argued that they have not been given fair representation in proportion to their populations. Violence quickly escalated, and many people were killed in protests.
Because of this unrest, India is cutting off its relations with its northern neighbor, limiting the amount of cargo that can go in and out of the country. Simply put, the violence in Nepal has scared off India. Additionally, India is angered by the fact that many of the people being adversely affected are of Indian origin. With its large amount of influence over Nepal, India can essentially get away with whatever it wants when dealing with Nepal.
Nepal’s new Prime Minister K.P. Oli has been dealing with heavy amounts of political pressure because of this. As soon as he was sworn in, Oli immediately had to start dealing with political activists.
Nepal is a landlocked country, and it conducts more than 75% of all trade with India. The country has been devastated by this border issue. Meanwhile, India isn’t very happy about the situation either, but it can easily get by until the situation in Nepal settles down. With its vast southern coast, India has countless alternative trading options.
Making matters worse for Nepal is that the Himalayan Mountains form a strong barrier to trade with China, and many of the critical highways in Nepal were damaged in the earthquakes. With the border dispute with India, Nepal is essentially isolated.
Part of the problem is that Nepal became too dependent upon India for trade. The country did not have enough alternative options, and now that it is facing the possibility of losing one of its closest allies, Nepal is in serious trouble. Until the country can convince India that it is peaceful and safe to conduct trade with, expect things to continue to grow worse in Nepal.