Banning India as part of Nepal's political gimmick

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
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  • Updated: Oct 01, 2012 00:43 IST

The joke doing rounds in Kathmandu is that Mohan Baidya, chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), is thinking of discarding one of his eyes because a corrective operation on it was conducted by an Indian doctor in West Bengal.

While the joke may have brought smiles to many faces, most Nepalis are not impressed with a ban imposed on Indian vehicles, Hindi films and songs by Baidya's party this week.

Though CPN (M) now says the ban doesn't apply to vehicles carrying essential goods and 'good' Hindi films which don't undermine Nepal, some damage has already been done.

The party that split from ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in June may have played the nationalism card to boost its ratings at a time when Nepal is witnessing political and constitutional crisis.

But the high costs of implementing such a ban on a country dependent heavily on India is not lost on those aware of ground realities.

"Those who have called the ban don't understand the impact it will have on Nepal's economy. There could be consequences on market prices and even bilateral relations," said noted economist Bishwambher Pyakuryal.

Nearly two third of Nepal's trade is with India. Indian vehicles carrying essential goods and petrol products are allowed to enter Nepal after clearing customs. Many Indian tourists also prefer bringing their vehicles to Nepal by paying charges at border points and getting temporary number plates.

Terming the ban as "suicidal", the Nepal-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry has appealed to CPN (M) to immediately lift the ban.

"CPN (M) has used the political gimmick to show that they are true nationalists," said Lok Raj Baral, former Nepali ambassador to India. 

Ban on films and songs have evoked reactions from Madhes based parties of the Terai region where Hindi is spoken. The ban is part of a 70-point list of demands by CPN (M) to the government earlier this month.


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