With China on its other flank, Nepal has tended to cock a snook at India as if to say that if you turn cold and un-cooperative, we have the Chinese to bank upon. There are lessons to be learnt by India from the Constitution, which has recognised the rights of the LGBT community and has abolished the death penalty.
“India being a matured and largest democracy should not have displayed immature and irresponsible behavior towards Nepal after the promulgation of the constitution”, Madhav said. Nepal, on its part, needs to appreciate that its interests lie in taking India along on major decisions, especially those that impinge on a sizable chunk of its population that is of Indian origin.
The Constitution has enunciated fundamental rights of citizens which are more wide-ranging than those provided in the Indian Constitution.
The new Constitution allows only 45 per cent of the total members of Parliament to be elected through proportional representation system as compared to 58 per cent under the interim Constitution of 2007. There are many features of the Constitution which represent an advance over existing democratic Constitutions in South Asia, though there may be some shortcomings too.
The result has been deadly street clashes near India’s border with a curfew imposed and the army called in to quell the tensions.
For years Indians have been trying to get Nepal’s fractious and petulant leaders to clean up their act to write a constitution. Prime Minister Narendra Modi dialled his Nepali counterpart only on August 25, much later in the day. And it’s the ethnic Madeshi community from the Tarai region that feels the creation of the seven states will diminish their political standing and give dominance to upper-caste Hindus. (IANS, March 22, 2010). Hundreds of trucks loaded with essential goods, cooking gas cylinders and petroleum products were stalled at the Nepal-India border at Birgunj due to the agitation. The UCPN (Maoist) leader Pushhpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), for example, has tapped into this rallying around flag by stating that Nepal is eager to maintain friendly relations with India, but not at the cost of becoming its “Yes man”. The two countries share close economic and cultural ties and an open border.
Madhesis also want a key provision on citizenship to be changed. But it has also been criticised that it takes its neighbour for granted.
Supporters saw a new constitution as a way to cement the peace process and pave the way for national reconciliation and the entrenchment of democracy.