KATHMANDU: Nepal can learn several things from India when it comes to federating the state, but it should refrain from replicating everything, experts from both the countries said today.
At a conference titled Nepal as federal state: Lessons from Indian experience’, the experts said Nepal has now reached a stage where no one can prevent it from embracing federal structure and that Indian experiences of power distribution between centre and states; arbitration between centre and states and among the states; and sharing and utilisation of resources among states could be a template for Nepal while determining the federal states.
While presenting his paper, Prof Lok Raj Baral said Indian states though at times complain that the powerful centre does not allocate adequate funds to them for development, but they have never gone against it to an extent which could be detrimental to the integrity of the country. “The strong centre has been able to hold all of them together,” said Baral, adding that this can be a very good lesson for Nepal to learn from the southern neighbour. Baral noted that foreign concerns about federalism in Nepal indeed were increasing because of ‘our own failure to assure our neighbours and other countries’.
Addressing the programme, Indian Ambassador Jayant Prasad said choices for Nepal are more difficult than India as the latter already had provinces before it became a federal country.
VR Raghavan, Lt Gen (Retd) of the Indian Army, said it’s up to Nepal to choose what it wants to do and added that over six decades of experience of India could be a guide for Nepal.
Former home secretary of India, GK Pillai, gave credit to the Indian federal set-up for ensuring pluralism in the country. However, India too is facing many challenges, including conflicts and insurgency in the northeast ‘because of politicians’ lust for power in the region’, said Pillai.
Centre for South Asia Studies Director Nischal Nath Pandey said the whole essence of federalism is that each of us can pursue our individual dreams within our individual states and still come together as one Nepali family to ensure that the next generation of Nepalis can also pursue their dreams and aspirations.
“Trouble starts when cultural, religious and linguistic diversity is misused to meet political ends and divided and destabilise society,” said Pandey.
Presenting his paper, former foreign secretary Madhu Raman Acharya said federal states can have a say in security and foreign policy matters but the exclusive jurisdiction has to be with the centre.
The programme was jointly organised by CSAS and Centre For Security Analysis, Chennai, India.THT