Monday, July 15, 2024
HomeOpinionsIndia should engage with Nepal else China will take its place

India should engage with Nepal else China will take its place

Also Read

Brabim Karki
Brabim Karki
Brabim Karki is a businessman based in Nepal and the author of two books, “Mayur Albatross” and ”Osin Fisher”. He works as a consultant for The Global Fund, UNDP, and Save the Children.

China has announced that it will provide 1 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to Nepal in grant assistance as the Nepal government scrambles to get vaccine shots amid a surge in Covid-19 in the Himalayan country of more than 28 million, China stepped in when India halted vaccine export to Nepal citing its rising domestic demand.

The surge in infections is creating bigger cracks in Nepal’s fragile health system, pushing it to the brink. Hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients and do not have sufficient ventilators, oxygen. Nepal is now seeing more infections per million than its neighbor India, with about 9,000 new daily cases, up from fewer than 200 in the first week of April. Nepal has vaccinated 1.9 million people since it launched a vaccination campaign in January – less than 7 percent of the total population.

China and India have long jostle for influence in the Himalayan country. Both nations are giving away vaccines to Nepal as a part of diplomatic efforts to strengthen their ties with the country.

Nepal has been depending on India for vaccines, oxygen, and other supplies. Nepal initiated its vaccination drive in January with the Covishield vaccines provided by India.  It ordered two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from its neighbor earlier in the year, but after supplying 1 million doses in February, India’s pandemic struggles put a stop to exports of supplies and vaccine doses. Nepal also received 8,00,000 doses of vaccines from China and continued its vaccination drive. There were no supplies after that.

Now, China has stepped in trying to fill the void by supplying additional doses when the Nepali authorities are struggling to get the vaccines. In a world of vaccine diplomacy, China’s greatest advantage in diplomacy has been its speed. As South Asian countries like Nepal do not have quick access to Western vaccines, China may reap soft power in these nations.

Now, as there is a less chance for India to supply vaccines to Nepal, India must remain engaged with Nepal at all levels and political scenario to safeguard India’s interest. Else, China will get opportunity to increase its clout in Nepal.  This time, India should approach its relation with Nepal cautiously. India should ensure people to people relations along with cultural and religious aspects. India should leverage this relation to engage with Nepal. India should assure its Nepali friends that it is a good friends rather than a big brother. There should be high-level talks between two nations to further improve the ties between two nations.

India’s engagement with Nepal should find a vital place for people in Nepal. India should assure its Nepali people try to help if and when possible. Friend in need is friend indeed and assurance and motivation also plays a vital role in this crisis. India should also ramp up its vaccine production and continue its export if possible.

While India is struggling with its own outbreak, China wants to be seen as a global power and it isn’t possible without being a leader of Asia. It seems China wants to create a South Asian bloc without India. Last month, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi held a virtual meeting with his counterparts from South Asian countries- Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka, and Afghanistan. India wasn’t present in the meeting. The meeting agreed to extend practical cooperation in the fields, including Covid-19, poverty reduction, non-traditional security fields, and poverty reduction.

India, a pharmacy of the world, had set an ambition to become a global superpower in vaccine distribution. India had already supplied 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines to 76 countries under the COVAX mechanism. The country was set to produce a billion doses by 2022 with support from Quad partners. But the country suffered a setback due to its growing Covid crisis. India’s worsening Covid crisis opened opportunities for China to use vaccine diplomacy to increase influence in South Asia. South Asian countries like Nepal, Srilanka, Pakistan, Maldives, and Afghanisthan have approved emergency use of Chinese vaccines or given approval to mass rollout.

So, now as the country is struggling with crisis and India is struggling with its crisis, there is a chance that China may increase its clout in Nepal. So, India should engage with Nepal and other South Asian countries more cautiously and assure. It should also ensure that its vaccine exports aren’t affected for long, else China will get the opportunity to increase its clout in South Asian countries, including Nepal. 

  Support Us  

OpIndia is not rich like the mainstream media. Even a small contribution by you will help us keep running. Consider making a voluntary payment.

Trending now

Brabim Karki
Brabim Karki
Brabim Karki is a businessman based in Nepal and the author of two books, “Mayur Albatross” and ”Osin Fisher”. He works as a consultant for The Global Fund, UNDP, and Save the Children.
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Recently Popular