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Panel for revamp of Indo-Nepal treaty (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS Mains Paper II)

Changes to reflect current realities
The final report of a bilateral committee — appointed to advise governments in Delhi and Kathmandu — is likely to suggest that the 1950 India-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty should be revised.

The committee, a member of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), was appointed in 2016 to suggest measures for improving bilateral ties The committee consists of eight members with four persons representing each side.

About EPG
The EPG was set up during the February 2016 visit of Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli, in the aftermath of the economic blockade of Nepal, to bring in measures to address concerns of both sides. It has met seven times in two years and will hold its last meeting next month in Delhi when the report is expected to be finalised. At the penultimate meeting in Kathmandu, the two sides had exchanged an early draft of the report.

About the India-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty
The 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship is a bilateral treaty between Nepal and India establishing a close strategic relationship between the two South Asian neighbours. Major provisions of the treaty are as follows:

  1. The treaty allows Nepali and Indian citizens to move freely across the border without passport or visa, live and work in either country and own property or conduct trade or business in either country. There are a large number of Indians living, owning property and working or doing business in Nepal as a beneficial aspect of the treaty for India. Reciprocally, many Nepalese live, own property and conduct business freely in India.
  2. The treaty requires a close collaboration on matters of defense and foreign policy. It requires that Nepal will make consultations with India before making defence purchases.

Demand for review of treaty
Some sections in Nepal allege that the treaty erodes Nepalese autonomy as Nepal is required to consult India before making defence purchases. As a result, the sections in Nepal are demanding revision of the treaty.

India argues that the treaty was signed keeping in view the interest of Nepalese people. The treaty provides them with wider opportunities of living. Moreover, along with this treaty, India gave multiple port access to Nepal for its imports whereas according to the Convention on Transit Trade of Land-locked States (1965), it is sufficient to give single port access to a land locked country.

(Adapted from The Hindu and background from PrepMate-Cengage International Organisations and Bilateral Relations Book)

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