Ever since bilateral relations were established between Nepal and the Indian state of Bihar, the two have shared cordial historical and cultural ties that are based on the age-old custom of not having customs. In fact, if there is one thing that makes the two states intimate it is the smuggling of contraband across no man’s land.
For a long time, the two-way flow has helped Nepal and Bihar to improve their per capita GDP, augmenting economic growth and cementing this two-country co-prosperity sphere. When the price of diesel has even a 50 paisa differential, fuel flows from one country to the other. Gold biscuits are smuggled south and Britannia Thin Arrowroot biscuits are smuggled north. The Secular Federal Democratic Republic now exports herds of bulls and oxen in the middle of the night, while water buffaloes go in the opposite direction to be converted into momos.
The best thing that happened to crossborder trade between Nepal and India is Chief Minister Nitish Kumar banning the production, sale and consumption of alcohol. Bihar is on the wagon, and this has put Nepal on the bandwagon. In fact, if the Indians aren’t careful, the informal economy may fully remedy Nepal’s balance of trade deficit if booze exports continue at the present rate. The Nepal-Bihar border today is one huge moonshine strip. Rum is smuggled across by the tanker-load, and it has encouraged small- and medium-scale businesses to thrive as individuals walk across the order with bottles strapped to their bodies in a manner they seem to have learnt from suicide bombers (pictured).
But wait, there is a slight problem. How come when Darbhanga’s liquor shops go dry, so do petrol pumps in Kathmandu? Is there a correlation? Is the mysterious petroleum shortage in Nepal this past week — as soon as His Awesomeful took over as Prime Minister — somehow linked to the crackdown on Nepali bootleggers in Bihar? It proves, does it not, that you don’t even need an Indian blockade to have a petrol shortage in Kathmandu. If so, why wasn’t hooch diplomacy on the list of agenda items that Comrade Needy discussed with his counterparts in New Delhi last week?
As usual, the Ass has a perfect solution to foster the exchange of bodily fluids between Bihar and Nepal, and prevent it from escalating into a diplomatic incident. Nepal has a huge trade deficit with India, and most of this is because of our insatiable thirst for petroleum, right?
India has oil. Nepal has alcohol. Let there be a fair barter. In one swell foop, we eradicate the trade deficit, Biharis get the booze they crave, we don’t have to wait in line for petrol anymore.
As time goes on, this bilateral trade will grow to such an extent that it will not suffice for Nepalis to smuggle diesel in jerkins from India, and Biharis to smuggle, concealed on their person, high-octane liquor from Nepal. (That last message was brought to you by 8848 Vodka.
This is where things get really interesting. We have heard from the grapewine that the Indo-Nepal Petroleum Pipeline from Raxaul to Amlekhganj will be extended to Kathmandu. This is the best piece of news for India-Nepal relations since the Kosi Barrage was built. Diesel, petrol, kerosene can henceforth be pumped up to feed Kathmandu’s petrol stations, and there won’t be landslides, strikes, chukka jams or blockades to create fuel haha-cars in Kathmandu. And at night, when no one is looking, we can send vodka, gin, whisky and beer in the opposite direction to Raxaul. The beauty of it is that we don’t even need to pump the booze down — gravity will do it for us, thus reducing the overheads considerably.
And this week we have breaking news that Nepal’s raxi and ayla have been ranked 41 out of the 50 most delicious drinks in the known universe, by none other than CNN. This adds another item of export that we can send down to the Biharis on the Indo-Nepal Daru Pipeline in exchange for petrol.