Nepali Times

Many listeners in Nepal who tuned in to the BBC's World Today re-broadcast from Radio Sagarmatha FM 102.4 were shocked to hear an e-mail letter being read out saying Nepal should be under India's security umbrella. As word spread, the BBC, which was just facilitating the debate, was blamed for formulating the question wrongly. Said one senior official: "What if Radio Nepal launched a debate saying the United States and Britain have the same language, culture and religion therefore they should be one country." Actually, there probably wouldn't be an uproar, and Robin Cook would probably not write a stiff note to Radio Nepal. But the point was taken.

The Foreign Ministry's stiff statement on 26 September accused the BBC of hurting Nepali sentiments. "The Nepali people are proud and have shed their lives for preserving their identity and sovereignty," a spokesman said with rhetorical flair. "For us sovereignty and independence are sacrosanct."

Sensing that it had picked up a red hot potato, the BBC quickly backtracked and changed the subject of the debate (see original web site, left, and the amended one, right). Nepali Times presents below selected excerpts from the debate, which show many comments actually favourable to Nepal's point of view

India has nothing to give that Nepal doesn't have already."

While other parts of the Indian sub-continent have reeled under the rule of various colonial powers, Nepal has rebuffed such powers in the past and should do so in the future. It is better to be a first class citizen of a poor country than a second class citizen of a rich country.

Ganga J. Thapa, Nepal

The idea of Nepal being better off under India's umbrella is superficial when there are many Indian states whose economic growth is as bad as Nepal's if not worse. What Nepal badly needs is dedicated politicians or leaders who can offer concrete plans to India for the betterment of both nations.

Sujeet, Japan

From geographical and cultural view points, Nepal and India should have a stronger co-operative relationship in different fields. But this does not mean the invasion of one's sovereignty by another neighbour. This debate itself is nonsense.

R.R. Giri, Nepal

Merely unifying with India does not guarantee any economic development. In the short term Nepal will simply inherit India's problems. The potential will be in long-term development, and taking advantage of India through intelligent policies. As of now, they are better off independent.

Pawan, India

After living in India, Pakistan and Nepal for about half a decade I am of the view that Nepal with all its similarities to India is a distinctly different country. Nepali culture is a good example of peaceful coexistence which is hard to find in India despite tall claims of secularism and democracy. I am astonished how many of the participants are advocating Nepal's union with India. Nepal despite being a small country will be better off independent. Small countries have as much right of being independent as the
big ones.

J. Simon, USA

It is stupid to say Nepal shares commonalties with India only. How about with China? Lots of Nepalis share the language and culture of Tibet. Why would these people want to merge with India and not with China?

Prasanna, Nepal

Nepal was, is and will always be proud of being a sovereign nation. We have been able to maintain our national integrity, unity and dignity even though we are sandwiched between the two most populous nations in the world.

Ashok Regmi, Nepal/ USA

Nepal could benefit substantially in all social and economic spheres if it forms an economic alliance/union with India. This will enable Nepal to retain its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as to sustain a quicker pace of development that can be aligned with the enormous growth potential of the resurgent India in the years to come.

S.K. Sarker, Canada

India has enough problems of its own without adding Nepal to the list. Political unification of India and Nepal would be a bad idea, as it would mean simply tagging on one already corrupt system to another without any obvious benefits. On the other hand, more economic co-operation on both sides and an active partnership with India in building up the Nepali economy could benefit Nepal and India.

Rupa, India

We are certainly close to India when it comes to culture. But sovereignty is a different matter. We Nepalis are proud that we were never colonised by anyone and believe me, all Nepalis will be united to fight against any foreign power trying to dominate us!

Swatantra, Nepal

India has enough misery, corruption and mismanagement in its border areas without needing to cast its acquisitive eyes on Nepal. There is already too much of Indian influence in that country.

Linda, Italy

Nepal can never be a security threat to India and wants to maintain close relations with her. But Indian hawks see everything, even the issue of co-operating in the area of water resources with Nepal, from a security point of view. There is immense potential within Nepal to make her a rich, independent country-only if we had good governance.

Kamal Yogi, Nepal

It is inevitable that Nepal will have to rely heavily on India since we are a landlocked country. Therefore, it is indeed a necessity that we stay in good terms with India.
The political rat race in Nepal should be dealt with first, then only can we do something about our economy.

Ram Shrestha, Nepal

Nepal needs to remain an independent nation. India has nothing to give that Nepal doesn't have already.

Chris Callison, USA

Nepal is in more or less a similar situation as India. Namely, poverty, illiteracy, poor infrastructure, medically backward. Two poor neighbours joining do not make a rich man. What can two politically weak, economically poor, corruptly managed countries produce?

Vikram Chopra, India

There are quite a few states in North East of India which were merged into India, and a lot of them want to be independent again. If merging into India has not benefitted these nations/states, I wonder how it will benefit Nepal.

H.K. Khatri, UAE

I think Nepal and India should work together like the US and Canada, and find out what
works economically for the benefit of both.

Girish Kshirsagar, USA

Nepal has always enjoyed good relations with India, and the limited development that Nepal exhibits today is in no small part due to Indian assistance. Imagine the growth that Nepal could attain under the multicultural umbrella that is India. Although it is unlikely that such a change in political structure will happen fast, I believe that there
is no doubt that an Indian state of Nepal has a much brighter future than the nation of Nepal.

Satya Ramiah, India/USA

I agree that not only Nepal but other South Asian countries should come under one roof, like the EU. This will lead to an end to conflict and poverty. Bold decisions by strong leaders are required to achieve this unity. This can only increase security and prosperity in the region.

Srinivas, UK

Perhaps Nepal would be better off as part of India-but how would India benefit from such an arrangement? We Indians are tired of the smaller South Asian nations like Nepal and Sri Lanka requesting our help and money when they need it and then insulting India and cosying up to China. My message to all Nepalis: solve your own problems.

Rajan Koshy, India

Canada and Nepal seem to have more in common than we thought. Because we both have a "similar" culture, language and religion to our bigger republican neighbours in the south, it is suggested that somehow we will be better off if we are simply swallowed up by them. Most loyal Canadians would argue we would only be assimilated and forgotten, and I think most Nepalis would agree. Our sovereignty was established long ago and we should retain and preserve it.

Pete D, Canada

Nepal and India share a lot of things in common but we are quite apart on many issues. The majority of Nepalese people seek a due place under the sun but do not want the Indian umbrella over their head.

Dhruba Kuwar, Nepal

Nepal has always been a friendly neighbour and we should keep it that way. Anyway Indians can go there freely and trade today as there are no visa problems or anything else of that sort.

Sandeep, USA

Nepal, sandwiched between India and Pakistan has been very vulnerable to infiltrators and foreign emissaries. It would be wise for the country to come directly under India's umbrella to contain this effect. They share the same culture, language and food.

Guru Shenoy, USA

Culture and religion are becoming less important as the deciding factors for integration. The main consideration for Nepal would be economic and given the fact that the country is so dependent on India for almost everything, it is already under a de facto Indian umbrella. It is for the Nepalis people to decide whether political integration with India would benefit them.

Laksh Nukala, USA

It makes sense for Nepal to enter into a more strategic alliance with India. It will be a win-win situation for India as well as Nepal.

Amit Taneja, France

All Nepal has is its pride. Who cares about pride nowadays? I am sick and tried of these people who only talk about pride, history and culture.

Ram Sharma, Nepal

Nepal can and will survive on her own as she has done for centuries. Let us not forget that Nepal is a much older nation than all other nations in South Asia. Nepalis would rather die a rather horrible death than become part of India.

Amar Singh Thapa, Nepal

India has its own 500 million living below the line of poverty. How can it help Nepal? Nepal will have to educate its people.

Mo Akhtar, Canada

Nepal is a country with its own religion, people and culture. It should try and be more closer politically to democratic countries like India and try to stay away from communist ideology.

Shardool Vyas, USA

As a sovereign and more or less democratic nation, Nepal has the right to decide its own future. If closer ties with India is to the benefit of the Nepalis, why not?

Prasenjit Medhi, India

The recent hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu is merely one of the many cases in which India's hostile neighbors have used Nepal's open border with India to undermine India's security. Since many Nepalis already work in India (legally and illegally) and India has a large number of Gorkha soldiers in its ranks, a confederation between the two countries is a good idea.

Vish, India/USA

Five million Indians are already in Nepal legally or illegally working. Nepal has to absorb the poor of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and provide them with business opportunities. Furthermore, India despite being a Hindu majority state has never been friendly towards Nepal. It has imposed the problem of Bhutanese refugees, and provided minimal economic assistance that is lower than the proportion of trade surplus it has with Nepal.

Suo Bi, USA

Nepal was, is and always will be a sovereign and independent country. Though we Nepalese are poor and our country is underdeveloped, we are proud of our country and in our view, being independent and a first class citizen of a poor country is far better than being controlled by any foreign power be it India or America.

B. Nepal, Nepal

Without strong ties with India, Nepal cannot prevail on its own.

Manorama Rauniyar, Nepal/USA

First and foremost, I think these countries should resolve their own problems (not to mention the nuclear chaos). Otherwise, Nepal is a beautiful country with mostly honest people there. It's a sovereign state and does have the right to remain independent.

Raja Dutta, USA

This is the 21st Century. All large countries are breaking up into small ones. Every nation is searching for its own identity. Nepal has had its own sovereignty and history for ages.

Kuber Chalise, Nepal

Closer ties to India is not a solution. India has actually been a hindrance to Nepal's development. While it is important to maintain working ties with India, the solution to the pressing poverty in Nepal will only come from internal reconstruction. The governments need to change, people's attitude needs to change, we need a better education and health system and much more.

Diwakar Thapa, Nepal

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)