16 Sept 2016: Editor’s Note: “In the history of our friendship, today is significant day.” This was the first sentence Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi uttered today, following the customary salutations, during a joint press briefing with the visiting Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda.
He could not be more accurate. It is indeed a ‘significant day’ in the relationship between the two South Asian nations with “deep rooted historical ties and civilizational linkages”.
“Significant” because only months earlier the relationship between India and Nepal was so low that the latter recalled its ambassador at the New Delhi mission. In diplomatic context, that almost amounts to a declaration of war. As Madhesi Movement raged in Terai and blockade at the India-Nepal border resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis in the Himalayan nation, it was feared that the two neighbours were done and that they would never be friends again. So, “significant” indeed because today, just as two good friends do, the two nations have shaken hands.
Today, as Narendra Modi and a practiced Pushpa Kamal Dahal stood shoulder to shoulder in New Delhi, a particularly dark phase in the history of Nepal-India relationship became history. Today, the body language and words of both the prime ministers showed warmth and friendliness. Although what these high level delegations would entail is yet to be seen, the tense faces of KP Oli’s India visit were gone for now.
Therefore, in recognition of the officially normalised ties between India and Nepal, we present to our readers the full text of the Indian Prime Minister’s speech made in New Delhi on September 16:
Your Excellency Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’,
Distinguished members of the Nepalese delegation,
Friends from the media.
In the history of our friendship, today is significant day.
On his first visit abroad after assuming the office, it is a great pleasure for me to welcome Excellency ‘Prachanda’, and members of his delegation in India.
Both our societies share deep rooted historical ties and civilizational linkages.
Shared rivers, the open border, timeless people to people ties bind our two nations closely.
Along with the relationship between our governments, the links between our societies provide depth and character to our partnership.
We share our burden during difficult times, just as we celebrate each other’s achievements.
Indeed, our friendship is time-tested and unique.
As immediate neighbours and close friendly nations, peace, stability, and economic prosperity of Nepal is our shared objective.
At every step of Nepal’s development journey and economic progress, we have been privileged to be your partner.
We also commend the role that you have personally played in strengthening the democratic institutions in Nepal.
You have been a catalytic force of peace in Nepal. I am confident that under your wise leadership, Nepal will successfully implement the Constitution through inclusive dialogue accommodating the aspirations of all sections of your diverse society.
I wish you every success in this endeavour.
In our extensive and productive discussions today, Prime Minister Prachanda and I covered the full spectrum of bilateral cooperation.
I conveyed to PM Prachanda that India stands ready and prepared to strengthen its development partnership with Nepal.
And, we will do so as per the priorities of the people and government of Nepal.
In this context, we have today signed the agreement for line of credit of US$ 750 million for post-earthquake reconstruction of Nepal.
I am confident that it would bring relief to millions of people affected by last year’s devastating earthquake in Nepal.
India has also agreed to extend additional Line of Credit for new projects such as Phase-2 of Terai Roads, power transmission lines, substations and a polytechnic in Kaski.
Prime Minister Prachanda and I recognize that securing our societies is essential for achieving our shared objectives of development and strong economic growth.
We also agree that our security interests are closely aligned and inter-linked.
Open borders between our countries provide great opportunities for cooperation and interaction among our people.
But, we must also continue to guard against elements that seek to misuse the border.
Continued close cooperation between our defence and security agencies is, therefore, important for our growing trade, economic, cultural and development partnership, and for the well being of our two peoples.
Trade, connectivity, in all its dimensions development projects and mutual investments are key pillars of our partnership with Nepal.
India’s initiatives for open sky, cross-border power trade, transit routes, cross-border connectivity would directly benefit Nepal and help strengthen our economic partnership.
Nepal and India are also closely working on a range of areas of economic engagement including energy and water resources sectors.
Prime Minister Prachanda and I agreed to push for speedy and successful implementation of the ongoing hydro-power projects, and development and operationalization of transmission lines.
This would be a source of much needed energy, and revenue generation for Nepal.
We have also agreed on the need to add depth and vitality to links between our societies.
We have agreed to show case our shared Buddhist heritage, and focus on the development of Ayurveda and other traditional systems of medicine.
Prime Minister and I have also agreed to focus on close monitoring and time bound completion of all development projects.
Prime Minister and I are confident that our decisions today would provide strength to our economic engagement and take it to new heights.
Your visit has been most timely.
I am confident that our discussion today would further cement our centuries old relations.
And, write a new and glorious chapter of our partnership. Once again, Excellency, a very warm welcome to India. I hope you will have a pleasant and fruitful stay in India.