Ambassador Ranjit Rae, former ambassador to Nepal
Dr Constantino Xavier, Fellow, Brookings India
Ambassador Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary and Senior Fellow, CPR
Sandeep Bhardwaj, Research Associate, CPR
About the Discussion
Its been nearly six years since Prime Minister Modi announced the "Neighbourhood First" policy, aiming to strengthen India's relationships with its neighbours in South Asia and promising a "non-reciprocal" attitude. While India's new foreign policy approach has made great strides in its relationship with some countries, India-Nepal relationship seems to be still stuck in the old mould of "one step forward, two steps backwards". Indian External Affairs Minister's recent successful visit to Nepal followed by eruption of the controversy surrounding the Indo-Nepal border is case in point. Moreover, 2019 witnessed China and the US jockeying over Nepal, adding a new layer of complexity to the India-Nepal relationship. This discussion addresses some of the challenges which have cropped up recently, as well as, long-term patterns of behaviour which have obstructed successful India-Nepal cooperation for decades.
About the Panellists
Ambassador Ranjit Rae was India's ambassador to Nepal until 2017. Before that, he served as the Indian Ambassador to Hungary (with concurrent accreditation as Ambassador to Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2006-2010) and the Indian ambassador to Vietnam (2010-2013). He has over 30 years of experience in the Indian Foreign Service and has worked in close collaboration with the UN Assistant Secretary-General within the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) on issues related to field operations.
Dr Constantino Xavier is a Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings India in New Delhi and the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. He researches on India’s foreign and security policies as a regional power. He has worked as an adviser to the Embassy of Portugal in New Delhi during the presidency of the European Union. Xavier holds a PhD in South Asian studies from the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies. He is currently writing a book on India’s crisis response and involvement in neighbouring countries (Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar).
Ambassador Shyam Saran, senior fellow at CPR, is a former foreign secretary and has served as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Nuclear Affairs and Climate Change, chairman of the National Security Advisory Board, and chairman of the Research and Information System for Developing Countries. Prior to his appointment as the Foreign Secretary, he served as India's ambassador to Myanmar, Indonesia and Nepal and as High Commissioner to Mauritius. In January 2011, Shyam Saran was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to civil service. He writes and speaks regularly on foreign policy, climate change, energy security, and national and international security-related issues.
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