Home Contact Us  

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4626, 27 August 2014
India and the Charm Offensive in Nepal: Modiís Magic
Subin Nepal
Research Intern, IPCS

To give a boost to improving India’s relations with its neighbours, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Nepal for his second official state visit. Making it the first official visit from an Indian Prime Minister in 17 years, Modi was very clear in expressing his intentions of increased regional cooperation. While in Nepal, Modi seems to have utilised every chance to express his willingness to work with the country’s government on several intricate issues.

Modi’s speech at the Nepali parliament received particularly positive feedback as the first part, on his close relations with the country, was delivered in Nepali. During the two-day visit, Modi seems to have created an overall positive image of Indian leadership among the general population as well as the political leadership. Exploring the details of how exactly Modi was able to achieve this overwhelmingly positive feedback could reveal more about Modi’s ‘magic’.

Modi seems to have used several populist tactics during his visit to Nepal. The first one came when he stopped the car carrying him from the airport to his hotel and shook hands with people on the street - this was a major security breach, though some experts claim it may have been staged. Regardless, Modi quickly established himself as someone with the willingness to risk his security to meet people on the ground - a personal touch to his diplomatic mission.

The other major and possibly the most favoured act came when Modi spoke in Nepali. While addressing the parliament of Nepal, Modi started his speech in Nepali and went on for about two minutes before switching to Hindi. This is a rare occurrence as Indian politicians resort to Hindi for speeches - which is criticised as an ‘Indian imperialist’ action of assuming that all Nepalis are able to speak Hindi. This time was no different - Modi eventually resorted to Hindi for the rest of the speech. However, the first two minutes of broken Nepali was enough to convince Nepalis that he came with an agenda of friendship and was making a genuine an effort by going as far as learning the language of the people he was addressing.  

Modi avoided political disaster and received even more favourable reviews from the general public and the opposing factions in the parliament - mainly the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPNM) - once he rejected any possibility of meeting the ousted King Gyanendra Shah. To those worried about the BJP’s support to the Nepali monarchy, this was a clear message in the other direction. Modi was successful in keeping BJP’s Hindu right philosophies out of that particular conversation, which hinted at non-interference.

During a meeting with the Madhesi leaders, Modi was clear about his disinterest in ethnicity-based federalism in Nepal. This may have put him in some disagreement with the Madhesi leaders and the UCPN-M, but he was certainly able to tap into the popular view of geography-based federalism. Modi’s overall language made it clear that he aligned himself with the majority on this particular issue and his clear message did not leave any room for doubt. Even more surprising was how the UCPN-M, the staunchest critic of the Indian establishment, quickly found itself praising Modi’s proposals.

The Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty 1950 was at the forefront of the UCPN-M’s criticism of the Indian establishment before Modi’s visit. However, Modi surprised the UCPN-M when he showed his willingness to renegotiate the treaty. UCPN-M’s previous prime ministers have shown little-to-no ability to renegotiate the terms of the treaty - instead using it as a measure to create anti-India sentiment. Modi’s call to renegotiate the treaty was able to debunk the propaganda machine of the UCPN-M while amassing public support for India.

Finally, Modi offered his prayers at Pashupatinath temple - the most important shrine for Nepali Hindus. This was followed by the announcement of a large donation to the temple by the Indian government. Nepal is a Hindu-majority country, and this action was naturally well-received.

While Modi was obviously able to gather very warm feedback from the Nepali population, the demographic he reached out to reveals a certain pattern. Modi seems to have focused mostly on the majority - while almost completely ignoring the minority factions in the country regardless of their political and religious affiliations.

Modi’s largest plan while in Nepal was to convince Nepal’s leadership and public about the Power Trade Accord (PTA) - which he clearly seems to have been successful at. He said exactly what Nepalis wanted to hear - whether it was praising the bravery of the Gurkhas or relating to Nepal at a personal level. However, somewhere in his political orchestration, the larger discussion of the PTA seems to have been lost from the minds of the general public and even the leaders. All things said, it is of course too early to make definitive pronouncements on the success of the visit without any substantial results. 

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Nepal, India and the Electricity Trade: Advantage Kathmandu

Nepal: Flawed Nature of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Nepal and Ethnic Federalism: The Insufficiency of the Maoist Model

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.