India and Nepal share a unique friendship as neighbouring states, both the countries also share collaboration ties, facilitated by an open border and deep-rooted kinship and cultural ties. There has been an open cross-border migratory tradition.
Nepal shares an approximately 1850-kilometre-long border with five Indian states: Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal. Nepalese nationals have the same rights and privileges as Indian citizens under the Treaty.
Around 8 million Nepalese citizens reside and work in India.
India and Nepal have many institutional frameworks for bilateral discussion, including the India-Nepal Joint Commission, which is co-chaired by India's External Affairs Minister and Nepal's Foreign Minister.
The Fifth Joint Commission Meeting took place in Kathmandu on 21-22 August 2019.
Parliamentary Exchanges: From 8-16 July 2016, a 13-member delegation of Members of Parliament and officials from the Parliamentary Committee for Development, Nepal's Legislature-Parliament, visited India on a study tour.
From 20 to 31 August 2016, a second Nepalese parliamentary delegation visited India. From 5 to 12 March 2017, a 13-member team from Nepal's Legislature-International Parliament's Relations and Labour Committee visited New Delhi and Gujarat on a goodwill/study mission.
In May 2019, the Federal Parliament of Nepal established the 'Nepal-India Parliamentary Friendship Group,' which is composed of nine members from both the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the National Assembly (Upper House).
Both the countries share a strong relationship in the field of defence. India has been assisting the Nepal Army (NA) in modernizing through the provision of equipment and instruction.
Assistance during disasters, joint military exercises, adventurous activities, and bilateral visits are all part of India's defence cooperation with Nepal. Various Indian Army training sites host a large number of Nepal Army defence specialists.
Surya Kiran: The Indo-Nepal Battalion-level Joint Military Exercise ‘SURYA KIRAN’ is organised every two years in India and Nepal. From December 3 to 16, 2019, the 14th Surya Kiran exercise was held in Saljhandi, Nepal. In recognition of their militaries' mutual harmony, India and Nepal have conferred the honorary rank of General on their respective Army Chiefs since 1950.
The Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army are largely recruited from Nepal's highland districts. Currently, around 32,000 Nepalese Gorkha soldiers serve in the Indian Army.
There are two Pension Paying Offices in Pokhara and Dharan, as well as 22 District Soldier Boards throughout Nepal, all of which function under the aegis of the Indian Embassy's Defence Wing and manage pensions and welfare programmes for ex-Gorkha soldiers and their families.
After a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, the Indian government promptly dispatched National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams and special planes loaded with rescue and relief supplies to Nepal (followed by a severe aftershock of 7.4 magnitudes on May 12, 2015).
Indian relief assistance to Nepal was approximately US$ 67 million. The Indian government announced a US$ 1 billion post-earthquake reconstruction package (which includes a US$ 250 million grant and a US$ 750 million concessional line of credit) during the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction in Kathmandu on June 25, 2015.
In March 2018, the government signed two Partnership Agreements with the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Office for Project Services to provide socio-technical assistance to housing beneficiaries in Nepal's Gorkha and Nuwakot districts, respectively.
Over 45,000 GoI-supported houses (or 90% of total construction) have been constructed in Nepal's Gorkha and Nuwakot districts, out of 50,000 earthquake-affected beneficiaries allotted to the Government of India.
On January 21, 2020, the Prime Ministers of India and Nepal viewed the progress of the housing repair project from afar.
The Indian government's development assistance to Nepal is a broad-based programme centred on grass-roots infrastructure development, through which various initiatives in infrastructure, health, water resources, education, and rural and community development have been implemented.
India has helped Nepal in enhancing border infrastructure in recent years by renovating eleven highways in the Terai region, developing cross-border rail links between Jogbani and Biratnagar, and establishing Integrated Check Posts at Birgunj, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, and Nepalgunj.
In FY 2019-20, the 'Aid to Nepal' budget provided INR 1200 crore in economic assistance.
The two Prime Ministers jointly inaugurated the Integrated Check Post in Birgunj (Nepal), which was built with cooperation from the Indian government, during the Prime Minister of Nepal's visit in April 2018.
On August 31, 2018, the two Prime Ministers jointly inaugurated the Nepal-Bharat Maitri Pashupati Dharmashala in Kathmandu. The Prime Ministers of India and Nepal jointly inaugurated the Integrated Check Post in Biratnagar (Nepal), which was built with Indian assistance, on January 21, 2020.
Aside from grant help, the Indian government has approved USD 1.65 billion in Lines of Credit for infrastructure development, including post-earthquake recovery projects.
India supplied 1million doses of AstraZeneca Covishield Vaccines. Also, India is the only country to provide Nepal with liquid oxygen and other medical aid including ventilators and ambulances Nepal.
Water Resource Cooperation
One of the most important areas of bilateral relations is cooperation on water resources, particularly in relation to common rivers.
From Nepal to India, a significant number of small and major rivers flow, forming an important component of the Ganges river basins. These rivers have the potential to provide Nepal and India with significant irrigation and power.
A three-tier bilateral framework set up in 2008 to discuss topics such as water resources, flood management, inundation, and hydropower cooperation between the two countries has been successful.
Trade: India is Nepal's primary trading partner. Bilateral trade totalled INR 57,858 crore (US$ 8.27 billion) in 2018-19. While Nepal exported INR 3558 crore (US$ 508 million) to India in 2018-19, India exported INR 54,300 crore (US$ 7.76 billion) to Nepal.
Nepal's primary imports from India are petroleum products; motor vehicles and spare parts; M. S. billet; rice and paddy; other machinery and parts; medicine; hot-rolled sheet in coil; electrical equipment; cement; agricultural equipment and parts; coal; M. S. wires, rods, coils, and bars; vegetables; cold-rolled sheet in coil; thread, and so on.
Investment: Indian firms are among the largest investors in Nepal, accounting for more than 30% of the total approved foreign direct investments. There are about 150 Indian ventures operating in Nepal engaged in manufacturing, services (banking, insurance, dry port, education and telecom), power sector and tourism industries.
Some large Indian investors include ITC, Dabur India, Hindustan Unilever, VSNL, TCIL, MTNL, State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Asian Paints, CONCOR, GMR India, IL&FS, Manipal Group, MIT Group Holdings, Nupur International, Transworld Group, Patel Engineering, Bhilwara Energy, Bhushan Group, Feedback Ventures, RJ Corp, KSK Energy, Berger Paints, Essel Infra Project Ltd. and Tata Power, India etc.
India's commitment to the development of human resources in Nepal has been a significant part of bilateral cooperation over the years. The Government of India yearly awards around 3000 scholarships/seats to Nepalese people for various courses at the Ph.D./Masters, Bachelors, and plus–two levels in India and Nepal.
These scholarships are available in a variety of fields, including engineering, medicine, agriculture, pharmacy, veterinary sciences, computer science, business administration, music, and the creative arts.
Nepalese journalists/editors can visit India for familiarisation visits, as well as short-term training in India for Nepalese editors/journalists/experts/officials in the fields of print and electronic media, as well as archaeology.
Several India-Nepal Friendship Organizations are also supported in their efforts to promote Indian culture and bilateral connections between the two countries. In Nepal, India is creating an e-library system.
The following MoUs/Agreements have been signed:
Sahitya Kala Akademi (India) and Nepal Academy
Doordarshan (India) and Nepal TV
Press Council of India and Press Council of Nepal
Lalit Kala Akademi (India) and Nepal Academy of Fine Arts
GoI and Government of Nepal for cooperation on youth affairs
Sangeet Natak Akademi
Nepal is home to approximately 6,00,000 Indians. Professionals (doctors, engineers, IT experts) and labourers (including seasonal/migratory in the construction sector) are among those who have lived in Nepal for a long time.
On September 14, 1990, the Indian Citizens' Association (ICA) of Nepal was founded. ICA is Nepal's only association of resident Indian citizens, with branches in Pokhara, Damak, and Bhairahawa.
It provides a forum for discussion on issues affecting the legitimate rights of resident Indians in Nepal, as well as works to defend such interests.