Dignitaries at a glittering award giving function at "Indo-Nepal Friendship Summit" organised by Global Achiever's Foundation at Kathmandu on 2nd August, 2014 included, apart from Ambassador V.B.Soni, former Chief of Nepalese Army, former Chief of Nepalese Police and a local MLA.
A Indo-Nepal Friendship Summit was held at Kathmandu on August 2,2014. A seminar on "Indo-Nepal Friendship and Economic Co-operation" was organised to mark the occasion. Guests of honour included former Chief of Staff of Nepalese Army Lt. Gen. Nepal Bhushan Chand, former Chief of Nepalese Police, a local MLA and CEO of Nepal's NIDC Bank. By fortuitous coincidence Prime Minister of India ShriNarendraModi paid an official visit to Nepal during that period.
In his opening address at the seminar Ambassador V.B.Soni started by saying that Nepal and India are two neighbours having unique relationship dating back to ancient times. In the course of relations spread over such a long period, culture and history, tradition and politics, religion and mythology, language and literature, trade and commerce, matrimonial linkage and migration bound the two countries even closer.
There has been a long tradition of free movement of people across the borders. Nepal shares a border of over 1850 Kms to the south with five Indian States - Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and in the north with the Tibet autonomous region of the People's Republic of China.
As a brotherly nation, MrSoni observed, that India has been extending moral and material support to Nepal for its socio-economic development. The areas cover basic infrastructure such as airports, irrigation, agriculture, roads, bridges, power projects, industrial estates, communication, surveys, forestry, building construction, along with some vital social sector areas like health, education, human resource development etc.
As part of India's efforts to assist with capacity building and development of Human Resources in Nepal, around 1800 scholarships are offered annually for Nepalese students to pursue various courses in India and Nepal.
According to Mr. Soni India continues to be Nepal's largest trading partner, source of foreign investment and tourist arrivals. According to the figures for the Nepalese fiscal year (ending July 2012), bilateral trade with India stood at Rs. 21812.8 crores which accounted for 65.1% of Nepalese total external trade. India and Nepal have a treaty of transit, which confers transit rights through each other's territory through mutually agreed routes and modalities.
India had played a leading role in helping the Nepal Army (NA) in its modernization through provision of equipment and training. More than 250 training slots are provided every year for training of Nepalese Army personnel in various Indian Army training institutions. The Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army is given the honorary rank of a General in the Nepal Army and a reciprocal honour is conferred on the Chief of the Nepal Army.
India has always been proud to have Nepalese as soldiers in her Forces and has made every effort to ensure that they are looked after and cared for in their twilight years. As of now there are over 1.25 Lakh ex-servicemen residing in Nepal. In 2011-12 the payments of pensions to the Indian ex-service men in Nepal amounted to Rs 1226 crores.
It was Mr. Soni's feeling that there is vast potential for cooperation between India and Nepal in the field of water resources. Nepal has 43,000 MWs hydropower potential that is known to be technically feasible and economically viable. However, major projects have not been taken-for one reason or the other. Ironically, India is a net exporter of power to Nepal. Both countries have recognized the importance of cooperation in this field and decided to inject a new dynamism by establishing a three-tier bilateral mechanism at the Ministerial and technical levels to oversee the entire gamut of cooperation in water related issues.
Cooperation on issues of mutual security concerns relating to the open border in Mr. Soni's opinion has been a hallmark of India's relations with Nepal. Nepalese side has assured at various levels that it would not allow its territory to be used for any activity against India. There are streamlined bilateral mechanisms to address all issues concerning security, including cross-border crime, and establishing effective communication links between and along the bordering districts to further facilitate the exchange of information.
On the cultural fronts several events are organized from time to time to promote people to people contacts in areas of culture, art, academics and media during the year. Indo-Nepal Youth Conference in which eminent young professionals from film, fashion, music, literature and business took part was held in Kathmandu on 13-14 May 2012. As part of the festival "Tribute to Dev Anand" two of the legendary actor's much acclaimed films - Hare Rama Hare Krishna and JohnyMeraNaam were screened in Kathmandu on 8 July 2012.
In the context of the evolution of SAARC as an important regional organization, the south Asian nations have much stronger basis for closer regional friendship and cooperation. Nepal and India can work together with better coordination in international organizations like United Nations, NAM, SAARC, BIMSTEC etc. for the better future of the peoples of the both countries and the world.
In conclusion Ambassador Soni felt that Nepal and India with so many commonalities have to take bold initiatives in terms of economic and technical cooperation so as to directly benefit the peoples of the two countries. This is the only way to uplift the living standards of our people, majority of whom are still denied even the basic needs of health, education, employments and shelter.