Negotiating Between Unequal Neighbours

PRIF Working Paper by Prakash Bhattarai on India's Role in Nepal's Recent Constitution-Making Process

Protests against India's blockade of Nepal in Washington im November 2015. (Photo: flickr, S Pakhrin, https://bit.ly/2HqREk4, CC BY 2.0)

Protests against India's blockade of Nepal in Washington im November 2015. (Photo: flickr, S Pakhrin, https://bit.ly/2HqREk4, CC BY 2.0)

Nepal’s post-conflict con­­sti­­tution-making pro­cess has seen the involve­­ment of many inter­­national actors. While studies on demo­­cracy pro­­mo­tion, to this day, mainly focus on Western "donors" and inter­­national or­­ga­ni­­zations, PRIF Working Paper No. 43 "Negotiating Between Unequal Neighbours: India's Role in Nepal's Recent Constitution-Making Process" looks at the role played by India in the com­­pli­­cated pro­cess of moving from a peace agree­­ment to the establish­­ment of an inclusive, demo­­cratic con­­sti­­tution in Nepal. More specifi­cally, the author Prakash Bhattarai analyses how a power­­ful neigh­­bouring demo­­cracy (India) partici­pated in what is essen­tially a domestic nego­­ti­ation pro­cess (con­­sti­­tution-making) with a view to in­­fluen­­cing the emer­­ging demo­­cratic regime. In terms of the issues on the ne­go­tiation table, his analysis shows that India, in pushing for an in­­clusive con­­sti­­tution, pursued the specific agenda of sup­porting the in­­clusion of the Madheshis, an ethnic group mostly living in Nepal’s Terai region. In terms of ne­go­­tiation strategies, the paper iden­ti­fies four dif­ferent ways in which India tried to in­fluence the con­­sti­­tution: high-level dialogue; eco­­nomic blockade; inter­­national coalition building; and targeted support of do­mestic op­­positional forces in Nepal. Com­­pre­­hensive as this nego­tia­tion strategy was, it only met with partial success. Para­­meters that limited India’s in­fluence included the domestic strength and le­gi­­ti­macy of the official Nepali position (elite align­ment; popular support) as well as scepticism con­­cerning India’s role in Nepal, which was rei­­nforced by India’s overly partisan agenda.

Download (pdf, 350kb): Bhattarai, Prakash (2018): Negotiating Between Unequal Neighbours: India's Role in Nepal's Recent Constitution-Making Process, PRIF Working Papers No. 43, Frankfurt/M.