Thursday, August 28, 2014

One Eye On Nepal

A tech startup launched partly or fully by Nepalis that might manage to raise 100K or 200K from among Nepalis in the first round, also called seed round, or friends and family round, if it does good work positions itself to raise north of a million dollars in its second round from professional investors. But it would be hard, probably impossible, to raise a million dollars from among Nepalis.

There is a flip side to that coin. Say that tech startup does well and ends up with a valuation in the 100 million dollar range in five years. Interested Nepalis either invested in the first round or did not invest at all. Because round two onwards you have to be a licensed investor to invest. You can’t come into rounds two, three or four.

Granted a tech startup is high risk behavior. Bottom line, it could fail. You could lose your money as an investor. But I can’t think of a better vehicle than a tech startup to start tapping into the robust capital markets in this city, the finance capital of the world. And unless you are a successful entrepreneur, you have no moral standing to make any meaningful contribution to economic growth in Nepal. Lecturing goes only so far, you have to be in a position to make meaningful investments. In this era of globalization and the Internet one can hope to make major contributions to Nepal’s economic growth, even if it might be 10,000 miles away.

Let’s say you invest 5K in a tech startup that goes on from a million dollar valuation in round 1 to a 100 million dollar valuation in about five years. Your 5K just grew to half a million dollars. It can be argued that is retirement money. A 500,000 dollar trust fund could generate 50K every year forever. It could be set up that way. As in, your half million stays intact. And you are netting 50K a year forever. 50K a year is not fancy, but it can be if you were to choose to spend all your money in a country like Nepal.

By that token a 10K investment would bring you a million dollars in that startup. A 20K investment would bring you two million dollars. A two million dollar trust fund would bring you 200K every year. That is rich!

What if you invested 5K each into 10 startups and only one of them hit it big? Your 50K still became half a million.

By one count there are 30 millionaire Nepalis in Russia. Shesh Ghale is in Australia. No matter which way you look, Nepalis in America look to be in a bad shape. America should have minted more Nepali millionaires than any place else. But that has not happened because not enough Nepalis in this country have gone into entrepreneurship. I happen to think that is a shame.

In Russia you could have bought factories for cheap when the Soviet Union collapsed. In Australia I guess real estate and education were key. But in the American economy high tech is the way to go. Old economy companies make money but not wild money. The beauty of software is it allows you to cash on your old economy expertise. I believe many software companies like Uber and AirBnB are yet to be born, companies that will target major inefficiencies in the old economy at large scales. Both are multi-billion dollar companies.

Clean energy is another way to get on the cutting edge. Finally Nepal might start making some big moves in a few years. I think there is room to build multinational corporations that do business globally, but also are deeply engaged in Nepal’s hydro sector.

The other day I was at a rooftop party in Manhattan and I came across this guy who had a biotech background who was doing Big Data for some big bank. He was not cashing in on his biotech background, not yet. But just like there are intersections between software and biotech, there necessarily are intersections between clean energy and software.

Risk taking is the top quality entrepreneurs share. Risk taking is more important than smarts, more important than a great work ethic. Sometimes you simply have to jump in and let the chips fall where they may. No risk, no gain.

But to the ablest of entrepreneurs, it probably does not feel like risk taking. To those watching, it might look like risk taking. But the best of entrepreneurs move with the assurance of a sleep walker. Just like I think of New York City as not part of America, but a whole different country altogether, I think entrepreneurs are a whole different species.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nitish, Bihar, And Development

English: Flag of Janata Dal (United) of India
English: Flag of Janata Dal (United) of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Map of Bihar showing location of Bhimbandh Wil...
Map of Bihar showing location of Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lalu Prasad Yadav, at a political meeting in K...
Lalu Prasad Yadav, at a political meeting in Kesariya, Bihar, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bihar has seen the emergence of a new alliance with Nitish, Lalu and the Congress coming together. The other of course is the BJP alliance with the likes of Ram Vilas Paswan that swept the recently held national elections.

Right now the two alliances are running neck and neck. That means it will be a close fight next year in Bihar, but it is advantage BJP. Right now Sushil Modi is running ahead. In Bihar it might be 50-50. But in Uttar Pradesh it will be a total sweep by the BJP also at the state level.

Bihar is one place that could give Modi something akin to an opposition. And Modi in Gujrat was known as a man who brooks no opposition. His China model is not only economic, it is also political. He does not like the idea of having much of an opposition. And so he is going to do all he can to put Bihar into Sushil Modi's lap. Sushil Modi is not a bad candidate. He was deputy to Nitish in Bihar's spectacular success story. So he can legitimately take some credit.

If Narendra Modi could sweep Bihar as merely a prime ministerial candidate, imagine what he could do as a performing PM. And I expect him to perform.

Nitish has a tall task before him that has been made tougher by Lalu's mandal-kamandal talk. You can not beat Narendra Modi with that. The way to beat Narendra Modi is with development talk. Laloo was spectacular as Railway Minister, Nitish was the top performing Chief Minister in the country. It is not like they don't have it. But they are not talking development. That is problematic. Right now Nitish is all set to lose the elections next year.

Maybe the real story here is that his break up with the BJP was a bad move. Nitish was the first person to call Narendra Modi a future PM. That was back in 2003, I think. Looks like somewhere along the way he switched his position but has refused to play the role.

He could talk all development all the time and give Narendra Modi a run for the money. But he is not doing it. Puzzles me.

For now Narendra Modi is the man to watch. His political goal seems to be to form BJP governments in enough states that he also ends up with a majority in India’s upper house. His organization people have major plans for the North East and the South. Having a tight grip on the Hindi heartland of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh would go a long way.

All indications are Modi is on his way to giving India growth rates greater than seven per cent. He wants to double the size of the Indian economy by 2020.

Forget Bihar, Modi also has major plans for Nepal. His visit to the country was well appreciated. It felt like he truly wanted a fresh start in a relationship that has always been great but greatly unproductive. If load shedding ends in Nepal within a year or two, you will have Modi to thank for it. He means business.

I still stay curious about Nitish, though. He might have to stop crying hoarse, ke majdoori nahin mili, I did not get my wages. Like Bill Clinton would say, all elections are about the future. The people of Bihar chose to put Modi in Delhi. I am not sure that was a bad choice, economically speaking.

But now Nitish has to make a strong development case for the next five years for Bihar, or make way for Sushil Modi. It is not going to be an easy fight. The two Modis might have to show all tricks up their sleeves to rope in Nitish, once and for all.

The junior Modi is sure determined. Laloo is his usual comic self. Nitish looks a little tired, a little betrayed. He has not taken the latest political debacle too well.

Double digit growth rates are my benchmark, for Modi in Delhi, for the next Chief Minister of Bihar, and for all current and future Prime Ministers of Nepal. Delhi is a tall task, because coordinating all those states across India is no easy task. Patna? Nitish did it year after year. Nepal? Now that is the sad part.

Being in transition does not help. Not having a constitution does not help. There is also the no small matter of not having an obvious leader.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

सच्चा राष्ट्रियता गरीबी सकेसम्म चाँडै कसरी मेट्ने भन्ने हो

The flag of Nepal
The flag of Nepal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In response to a Facebook post by a friend.

(१) नेपाल र भारत को जस्तो नजिक को सम्बन्ध कुनै दुई देशको छैन, अमेरिका र कनाडा को पनि छैन। त्यो जनता लेवल को कुरा। र त्यो तराई का मधेसी को मात्र होइन। नेपालको प्रत्येक समुदाय को कुरा। शाह राणा को पनि "बेटी-रोटी" कै सम्बन्ध हो। हिमाली भेग को कुरा गर्ने हो भने तिब्बती शरणार्थी सबै भारत मै छन। यता दार्चुला, उता धारचूला, मान्छे दुबै तिर उस्तै।

(२) सरकार लेवल को कुरा गर्ने हो भने भारत मा जुन सुकै सरकार आए पनि हाम्रो नेपाल संग जस्तो राम्रो सम्बन्ध अरु कुनै देशको सरकार संग छैन भन्छ।  के भनेको होला?

(३) नेपालका प्रत्येक पार्टी का नेता दिल्ली धाउँछन्, र त्यो भु-राजनीति बुझ्नेले अप्राकृतिक मान्दैन। चन्द्रमा पृथ्वी वरिपरि घुम्छ, पृथ्वी सुर्य वरिपरि घुम्छ। बरु राजनीति र लोकतंत्र बुझ्नेले सोध्छ, भारत ले ठग्छ भन्ने त्यत्रो ठुलो डर छ भने नेपालको संसदले अर्को देश सँग गरिने कुनै पनि संधि सम्झौता नेपालको संसद मा पुर्ण बहसमा लगेर बहुमत ले अनुमोदन गर्न पर्ने प्राबधान किन नराखेको? २०४६ पछि मलाई अलि कति excited पारेका नेपालका प्रधान मंत्री दुईटा छन। कृष्ण प्रसाद भट्टराई र बाबुराम भट्टराई।  बाबुराम ले गरेको BIPPA सम्झौता कति राम्रो। तर उसकै उप प्रधान मंत्री, त्यो पनि उसकै जिल्लाको, त्यो BIPPA को बिरोध गर्दै हिँडेको।  कत्रो नौटंकी। बिरोध हो भने के को बिरोध, त्यो specific रुपमा कहिले भनिएन। कागले कान लग्यो, लग्यो भने पछि लग्यो लग्यो। फेरि बाबुराम भनेको धोती लाउने गजेन्द्र नारायण होइनन् , सप्तरीको मधेसी, भारतको मान्छे यसले भारतकै सोंच्यो भन्ने "ह्रितिक रोशन सिंड्रोम" आरोप लाग्दो हो।  बाबुराम भनेको त १९५० को संधि धांधली भो खारेज गर नत्र भने भन्दै बन्दुक उठाएको मान्छे। माओबादीले बन्दूक उठाएको ४-५ बर्षसम्म मैले उसको बाहेक अरु कुनै माओबादी को नाम सम्म सुन्या थिएन। नेहरू खुदले विश्व स्तरको नेता मानेको BP ले पनि देशै बेचने रै छ, बन्दूक उठाउने SLC Board First बबुरामले पनि देशै बेचने, के रै छ त त्यस्तो?

(४) बाबुराम लाई म अझै BP लेवल को मान्दिन। तर फेरि प्रधान मंत्री बनेर उनी नेपालका नीतिश कुमार बन्छन् भने all bets are off. म आफु बामपंथी होइन (म नेपालको परिप्रेक्छ्य मा कांग्रेसी पनि होइन, anti-Congress हो) तर बामपंथी नै सही फिडेल को education र health सेक्टर का कामहरू गरेर देखाउन सक्नु पर्यो।

(५) लोकतंत्र भनेको जनता ले दिग्गज मान्छे खोज्ने र त्यो दिग्गजले ५ बर्ष एकलौटी शाषण गर्ने भनेको होइन। भारत संग गर्ने समझौता हरु नेपालको संसदले पुर्ण बहसमा लाने र बहुमत ले पास गर्ने ब्यबस्था गर्ने हो।  त्यति गर्दा पनि भारत ले ठग्ने रहेछ भने नेपाल त भारत ले ठग्नु पर्ने देशै रै छ भन्ने हुन्छ। कोही कोही हुन्छ नि पाकेटमार लाई सजिलो पारिदिने बानी भएको मानिस।  त्यस्तो।

(६) तर मुख्य कुरा अझ त्यो होइन। मुख्य कुरा नेपालका नेताहरूको competence or rather lack of it को हो।  आफ्नो कमी कमजोरी ढाकछोप गर्न जुन कुरा को दोष पनि भारत लाई दिई दिने। Dictatorships thrive on the external enemy, नार्थ कोरिया ले अमेरिका सँग निहुँ खोजिरहने कारण त्यो हो।  तर नेपालका नेता हरुले लोकतंत्र मा पनि त्यही कुराको सहारा लिएका छन। It should not be possible तर भइराखेको छ।  चुनाब ले मात्र लोकतंत्र हुँदैन भन्ने कुराको प्रमाण Russia छ। नेपाल लोकतंत्र भई सकेको छैन भन्ने कुरा बुझ्नु पर्छ।

(७) पुरानो सत्ताका status quoist हरु हर तरहले दमजम का मुद्दा हरुमा पुराणो सोंच कायम राख्न तत्पर छन।  स्टेट restructuring हुन नदिन हर किसिमका हथकंडा अपनाउन लागि राखेका छन।

(८) नेपाललाई सिक्किम बनाउन खोजेको आरोप कति लाई लाग्यो त्यो गनेर साध्य छैन, त्यो राजनीति होइन गाईजात्रा हो। अस्ति मोदी आउनु अगाडि समझौता का जुन फर्स्ट ड्राफ्ट हरु आएका थिए केही knee jerk nationalist हरुले "नेपाललाई भुटान बनाउन खोजेको" आरोप लगाए। म त चकित भएँ। अरे बाबा, भुटान दक्छिण एशिया को सबै भन्दा गरीब देश बाट quite literally रातारात दक्छिण एशिया को सबै भन्दा धनी देश बनेको कहानी हो।  सिंगापुर र स्विट्ज़रलैंड पछि बनाउने पहिला भुटान नै बनाउने कि नेपाललाई?

(९) नेपाल बाट गरीबी सकेसम्म चाँडै कसरी मेट्ने - त्यो भन्दा ठुलो राष्ट्रबाद नेपालको सन्दर्भमा हुन सक्दैन। त्यस मापदंड़ अनुसार अहिले को नेपालको political class खचाखच अराष्ट्रीय तत्व हरुले भरिएको देखि राखेको छु।  मोदीले सही भनेका छन -"Nepal can become developed nation by supplying power to India." बोलीले होइन ब्यबहार ले हो राष्ट्रबाद झल्किने, तर नेपालको पोलिटिकल क्लास लाई चिंता छ, नेपाल developed नेशन भयो भने जनता जागरुक हुन्छन् अनि फेरि हामी लाई कसले वोट दिने? त्यो घोर अराष्ट्रीय तत्व thinking हो।

(१०) मोदीले वास्तव मै नया किसिमको सम्बन्ध चाहेका छन, त्यसको फाइदा न उठाउनु मुर्खता नै हुनेछ।

Saturday, August 16, 2014

East West Nepal Railway

Nepal topography. The green/yellow zones hold ...
Nepal topography. The green/yellow zones hold the Inner Terai valleys. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is talk of an East West Nepal Railway. The current talk puts that right next to the Mahendra Rajmarga, the East West Highway. I believe that would be a mistake. The rivers right south of Chure tend to be really wide. You go further south and they narrow down substantially. Bridges are the most expensive part of a road (or rail).

So if the idea is to build an East West Railways at the lowest cost possible, the best part to do it would be in Mid-Terai.

There is widespread feeling among Madhesis that the Mahendra Rajmarga was never built for Madhesis in the first place. It was built for the Pahadis. The highway that would most benefit the Madhesis would be the Postal Highway, or the Hulaki Rajmarga. It goes very close to the Indian border. Because the most dense clusters of the Madhesi population happens to be close to the Indian border.

An East West Railway that runs through the middle of the Terai would benefit the Madhesis a lot. That is true. But that can not be the reason why you not do it. You build it along a route that would be cheapest to build. And you build so as to benefit the largest number of people. That would put the East West Railway along the middle of the Terai.

But you also have to build it for India. India's North-East feels isolated from the rest of India. This East West Railway would connect that North-East to Delhi and mainstream India. The larger South Asian market is what would make this train route indispensable and highly profitable.

It will be easier, much easier, to find investors for the project if you draw in the larger picture. Not only is there a larger South Asian picture, there is also a larger Asian picture. China has plans to connect with India through Sikkim. That rail route could be connected to the Nepal East West Railway. Next thing you know a whole bunch of Indians are traveling through Nepal to get to China.

Such large scale thinking would make it possible to raise large sums of money with which to build something cutting edge. Like bullet trains, for example.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


A tech startup shares its ownership widely as it grows and matures. I think 33-33-34 is a healthy ratio, although many permutations and combinations are possible: 33 to the founders, 33 to the investors in various rounds, and 34 to the team.

Some venture capitalists think their share ought be 40 per cent. Some of them collude with the founders to leave very little for the team. Some of them gobble up even more than 40. I know of one case where the founders had been watered down to around one per cent. That company died soon after.

Round 1 investment is also known as the seed round, or friends and family round. Usually people who have known you a few years put in some money. Venture capitalists are people too. There are all kinds. That includes the bad apples. Vulture capitalists are venture capitalists with bad character. Often times the vulture capitalists have a tendency to water down the early stage investors, and this is with successful companies.

If you are going to give away 33 per cent of the company to investors in various rounds, a good figure for round 1 might be 5. So say you raise 100K in round 1 to give away 5 per cent of the company. It is a good idea to add an anti-dilution clause in there so this 5 per cent stays 5 per cent in all future rounds.

But the anti-dilution clause not used right can backfire. Say you gave away 20 per cent of the company for 50K in round 1 and added an anti-dilution clause to the agreement. You just made it super hard to raise future rounds of money, to attract co-founders. If you gave away 50 per cent for 50K, and added an anti-dilution clause to it, the company is pretty much dead. The person who put in 50K just lost 50K.

I believe Mark Zuckerberg made this mistake starting out. He gave away a huge chunk of his company to his Harvard roommate who put in the first 100K. VCs who came in later had to incorporate a whole new company to dilute away that first guy who made no contribution beyond that first monetary investment. He was an angel investor, not a Co-Founder. Much of the drama in the Facebook movie resulted from this first misstep.

The anti-dilution clause is not the norm right now. Most first round investors might start out with some good sounding number like 20 or even 30. But in future rounds they get diluted to the point they might not make any money.

Another key concept is vesting. If you have a 5% equity, and it is scheduled to vest over five years, and you leave the team after one year, you only walk away with 1% equity. The other 4% goes back to the company. This vesting schedule is for team members, not the investors.

Launching a tech startup is kind of like launching a rocket. The first 100 meters are probably the hardest. Various rounds of fundraising can be compared to various stages of a rocket’s ascent.

A tech startup is a high risk venture. No risk, no gain. You could fail. If you do not raise round 1 money, you will have failed already. You could raise round 1 money and still fail. You could raise round 1 money, do the work, successfully raise round 2 money, and still fail. You could raise round 1, round 2 money, do the work, and still fail. You could raise rounds 1, 2 and 3 and fail. You could do very well for two years, even three years, get a lot of good press, get featured in the New York Times and TechCrunch, and The Kathmandu Post and Vishwa Sandesh and still fail.

My point being fundraising is important, press and hype are important, but ultimately it is about the business fundamentals. Unless you give it the very best shot you can, you will fail, guaranteed. A hundred million dollars is no joke. Heck, a million dollars is no joke. Less than five per cent of the people in America make more than 100K a year.

Fundraising can feel challenging. But once you have money in the bank, team building can be hard. Because ultimately how good you do depends on how good your team is.

There are such huge swathes of the economy that are waiting to be digitized that it still feels like the wild, wild west in the software industry. Big money is waiting to be made.There is a lot of wealth creation in the future. Understanding the ins and outs of equity is necessary to doing well with your startup. Most of the most treasured members of your team will join you for the equity you might give them. It is not salary. Chances are you will pay them below market rate salaries.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

"Nepal can become a developed nation by supplying power to India."

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World E...
English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World Economic Forum in India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Nepal can become a developed nation by supplying power to India."
- Narendra Modi

The government of India formally claims it has better relations with Nepal than any other country in the world. It is also true that India-Nepal have a deeper relationship than any two neighboring countries in the world, US and Canada included.

But recently as soon as news surfaced that India was trying to enter into a power trade agreement with Nepal a lot of leaders and commoners in Nepal gave a knee-jerk reaction. There was deep suspicion and mistrust. India was accused of all sorts of wrong motivations.

Where does that come from? It is very important to get to the bottom of it. Because therein lies the key to ending poverty in Nepal.

I think that parody of false nationalism is everything to do with the fundamental incompetence of the leaders of Nepal, be they political or in the bureaucracy.

When a government sends you a draft proposal, the right thing to do is to take it through wide debate and consultation among the elected leaders of the country. The parliament would have been a good place. But to date the letter of the agreement has not been made public yet, not to my knowledge. So what were the false nationalists reacting to? Nothing they had read.

You do homework months in advance to make concrete gains in a Prime Minister level meeting. You make counter proposals to any proposals. You negotiate.

India renegotiated its 1950 like treaty with Bhutan. I am sure it would be willing to do the same with Nepal. Is the 1950 treaty an issue? But not even the Maoists brought that up with India when they were in power. And they waged a decade long civil war on that (and other) issue.

Nepal is not a landlocked country. It is an India locked country.

Just like blaming India for their own incompetence and inadequacies is a staple among many Nepali politicians, the anti-Madhesi prejudice and hatred and systemic marginalization falls in the same category.
India allays Nepal’s fears over hydel proposal
the proposal was a draft for discussion “and would require bilateral negotiations prior to finalisation.” Both sides are free to propose amendments or modifications to the draft ..... Mohan Baidya said that news reports about an export-oriented PDA (power development agreement) with India, “instead of scrapping the already existing unequal treaties on Koshi, Gandak, Mahakali, Upper Karnali, Arun III, High Koshi Dam and Upper Marsyangdi, has come as a shock to all patriotic Nepalese people.” ...... The controversy over the draft has been brewing for several days now. Both the ruling and the opposition parties have come together to oppose it.
A new beginning with Nepal
No two neighbouring countries enjoy a more intimate and a more complex relationship than India and Nepal. India is where Nepalis come to study, work, spend holidays, plan weddings, invest in a second home; yet, India is also blamed for being insensitive, for meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs and often, for taking Nepal for granted. ...... accumulated cobwebs of mistrust ..... the 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Most Nepalis are unaware that it was Nepal that had wanted this treaty, in order to maintain the special ties with independent India that it had with British India. Nepal’s security concerns had been heightened by the Communist revolution in China and its takeover of Tibet. The treaty provides for an open border between the two countries and allows Nepali nationals to work in India without a work permit, to apply for government jobs and the civil services (except for the IFS, IAS, and IPS), to open bank accounts and buy property. Incidentally, India had waived its rights under reciprocity as a sign of goodwill. The provisions of the “secret” side letters to the Treaty, which required Nepal to consult India on its defence requirements, which Nepalis perceive as unfair and which are often used by politicians to whip up anti-India sentiment, are no longer secret or even observed. ...... Today, the open border is used by Pakistan to infiltrate terrorists and pump in significant amounts of fake Indian currency. Although India has agreed to review and update the treaty, every time the matter is taken up, Nepal sidesteps the issue. ......... accumulated resentment over the 1954 Kosi Agreement and the 1959 Gandak Agreement, cited by successive Nepali regimes as unfair, has rendered progress on hydel cooperation impossible. Three mega-projects — Saptakosi with 5,000MW, Karnali-Chisapani with 11,000MW, and Pancheshwar with 6,500MW — have been languishing for 30 years. When the hydel sector in Nepal was opened up to the private sector, Indian companies (including Tata Power, LANCO, GMR, Jindal, IL&FS, L&T, and GENCO) won 27 survey licences for projects ranging from 100 to 1,000 MW each, but not a single one is even close to beginning construction. ........... help unlock Nepal’s hydel potential, making it one of the richest countries of the region ..... Two-thirds of Nepal’s foreign trade is with India which also accounts for half of Nepal’s foreign direct investment. The Nepali currency is pegged to the Indian rupee. Over the years, India has built highways, optical fibre links, medical colleges, trauma centres, polytechnics, schools, health centres, bridges, etc. For flood protection and embankment construction in Nepal, India provides more than Rs.75 crore annually. To facilitate the movement of goods and people, India is providing Rs.270 crore to build four integrated check posts on the border, Rs.650 crore for extending two railway links out of the five proposed, and Rs.700 crore for the first phase of rebuilding old postal roads in the Terai region. In addition, there is a second EXIM Bank Line of Credit for $250 million available and another $125 million for the power transmission line upgrades. About Rs.1,300 crore is disbursed annually to the 1.25 lakh Indian Army pensioners in addition to other welfare schemes. The provision of iodised salt, conducting cataract and trachoma camps, gifting of ambulances and school buses in the remotest of Nepali villages are initiatives that have made a difference to life in rural Nepal. ........ some Indian political leaders would push for supporting the Madhesis who enjoy a close kinship with Indians in north Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. ..... Nepali leaders publicly adopted anti-India postures — an approach started by the Palace in the 1950s and adopted particularly by the Left parties as a means of demonstrating “nationalist credentials.”
Nepal hopes for deal on power trade
The three-member panel consisting of Nepal’s Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Mr Bhim Rawal of the CPN-UML and Mr Narayan Kaji Shrestha of the UCPN (Maoist) had prepared a draft of the power trade agreement (PTA) for the two governments’ consideration. They had suggested that two countries come to an agreement only on power trade and its transmission. However, an Indian draft that suggested an integrated approach to Nepal’s power development – including hydropower and other forms of renewable energy – was heavily criticised here, forcing Indian Embassy to issue a clarification.
Modi meets Koirala, three agreements signed
A new template for India-Nepal ties
Indians and Nepalese share a common culture and terrain south of the Himalaya. Bound by languages and religions, marriage and mythology, the links of their civilisational contacts run through Lumbini to Bodh Gaya, Pashupatinath to Kashi Vishwanath, and Muktinath to Tirupati. At the people-to-people level, relations between India and Nepal are closer and more multifaceted than between India and any other country. Many partisans of Nepalese democracy also fought for India’s freedom, for which they were jailed by the British, including Matrika Koirala, B.P. Koirala, and Man Mohan Adhikari, who became Prime Ministers of Nepal........ Many Indians believe independent India never had foreign combat troops deployed on its soil. Nepalese troops were the exception. Aside from those recruited to India’s Gurkha Regiment, an outsized Nepalese Army brigade drawn from all its 18 regiments was loaned to India in 1948-49, when Indian troops were deployed in Kashmir and for the integration of Indian States. The commanding officer of this force, General Sharda Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, was the son of the then Prime Minister of Nepal, Maharaja Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana. Yuvraj Karan Singh’s marriage to Yasho Rajya Lakshmi, Sharda Shamsher’s daughter, was arranged during the General’s stay in India. ..... In spite of per capita income levels declining towards close to half of India’s average, Nepal has done better than India on several Millennium Development Goals (MDG), including infant mortality, maternal health, child malnutrition and poverty reduction rates.... Having developed the confidence over the past decade to be able to work with any democratic electoral outcome in Nepal, India has kept the day-to-day bilateral institutional mechanisms in play. ..... These include defence cooperation and supplies, trade access and transit facilitation, river protection works, augmentation of electricity supply during the lean season, Exim bank credit for the infrastructure sector, and development projects, including construction of Terai roads, integrated check points at important border crossings and cross-border rail links. Many of these need a strong push from the two governments to speed their implementation. There exists excellent two-way cooperation between the respective security agencies to deal with difficult cross-border issues such as terrorism, smuggling (including of fake Indian currency notes), and trafficking. ..... India has been ready to receive Nepalese proposals to revise the antiquated 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship — unequal principally because of the one-way privileges it accords to Nepalese nationals living and working in India. Other tasks include resumption of the Boundary Working Group, signing of the finalised strip maps, and signature or ratification of a host of treaties and letters of exchange ranging from extradition and mutual legal assistance to transit, railways and communications. ........ About a fifth of Nepal’s 28 million resident population lives and works in India. The open border is a “safety-valve” for Nepal. ......... Mr. Modi would do well to propose easing remittances and exchanging currencies, reducing telephone calling costs (calls from India and Nepal to Europe or the U.S. cost less than between the two neighbours), expanding educational opportunities, ensuring more dignified border crossings, increasing cross-border social and cultural linkages, improving road and rail transportation links, relaxing rules for border trade for private consumption, better managing the Das Gaja land at unmonitored border crossing points, and improving coordination between the respective border district officials for prompt resolution of local issues. ....... The big idea on the table is for Nepal to simply tap power from the enormous body of waters that flow into the Bay of Bengal. Hydropower generation in Nepal is, unbelievably, less than half per cent of what can be produced. Nepal can become, by far, the richest country of the subcontinent, on condition that it harnesses this resource. There is recognition in Nepal today that this can transform the social and fiscal dynamics of Nepal by its employment, energy and revenue generation potential. ....... If Nepal awarded production licensing for the development of over 8,000 MW of electricity offered eight years ago to independent power producers on the basis of competitive international bidding — most of them run-of-the-river projects avoiding large-scale inundation, displacement, compensation issues and ecological surprises — at the current rate of investment of $2 million/MW, the foreign direct investment (FDI) could be a staggering $16 billion. Compare this to the $350 million actual inflow of FDI into Nepal over the last 23 years. The free power for Nepal, at a conservative rate of 12 per cent just from these projects, will be more than Nepal’s total current production, besides free equity, royalties and taxes that will flow to its exchequer. If half of Nepal’s hydro potential was to be harnessed, annual revenues could top $40 billion, over $100 million a day. Mr. Ranganathan said that in 20 years’ time his successor would have to visit Kathmandu to raise capital for the bank and not go to New York or London for it. ......... Other big ideas include Indian partnership in cooperative watershed and environment management for the protection of the Himalayan ecosystem, including soil conservation, re-forestation, and more rational land use for horticulture and bio-agriculture. On connectivity and infrastructure, India could build a road bridge over the Mahakali, extend Eximbank loans and provide viability gap funding for the Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track road, the international airport at Nijgadh and new cross-border power grids. When the hydropower revenues kick in, Nepal could build an East-West railway (prospected by RITES), along the present alignment of the highway built by India. It could become economically viable the moment it is connected to Kathgodam in the west and Siliguri in the east, significantly shortening the route from north to north-east India.
Will Modi's Nepal visit mark a change in India's water policy?
Controversies surrounding past treaties and deep-seated suspicions have held hostage mega-projects planned on Nepalese rivers that contribute up to 70% of water to India's Ganges during dry season. ...... In the latest reflection of mistrust, Nepalese politics remains heated following a controversy over a hydropower development agreement recently proposed by Delhi. Nepali politicians from both ruling and opposition parties claimed that the proposal was aimed at securing India's monopoly over Nepal's water resources, an allegation India has dismissed....... Delhi also clarified that Kathmandu was free to amend and modify the proposed document. ...... "India-Nepal relations are constantly being upset by insensitivity and blundering on the part of India and hypersensitivity and proneness to misunderstanding on the part of Nepal," former Indian water resources secretary Ramaswami Iyer wrote in the Indian Express newspaper following the latest controversy. ..... five of the 20 most water-stressed cities in the world are in India and the capital, Delhi, is second on the list...... Satellite images have shown that India's underground water tables have depleted to dangerously low levels.
India's Modi offers Nepal $1 billion loan in regional diplomacy push
Modi is on a two-day visit to Kathmandu to help speed up negotiations on a power trade pact that is at the centre of his new diplomatic drive. ..... Nepal's politicians are at odds over the proposed energy pact. Opponents say it would give Indian firms a stranglehold over Nepal's energy resources and bar other countries, like China, from investment in the sector. Modi sought to allay those concerns.
PM Narendra Modi in Kathmandu: India wants a powerful Nepal
Earlier, India had provided USD 250 million line of credit to Nepal through the Exim Bank of India. ..... Modi said India has won no war without the sacrifices by Nepalese soldiers. "I salute those brave hearts who laid their lives for India," he said...... Invoking Sam Manekshaw, the first Field Marshal in the Indian army, Modi said, "Any soldier who says I am not afraid of death would either be lying or is a Gurkha."
Modi pledges $1 billion concessional line of credit to Nepal
The concessional loan will be extended to Nepal through Indian Export Import Bank.
What Modi had for meal today in Kathmandu?
Nepal accords grand welcome to Modi (Photo feature)
Modi mesmerizes Nepal with eloquent speech (with video)
Maze of mistrust
At least since the Treaty of Sugauli between the-then East India Company and the King of Nepal in 1814-1816, suspicion of each other’s intention has remained the fundamental feature of Indo-Nepal relation. All subsequent treaties, exchanges of letters, memoranda of understanding or official transactions have centered around Nepal’s obsession with its sovereignty and the perception in India that unbridled independence of neighboring countries run the risk of becoming security threats. Sasastra Seema Bal (SSB) is a paramilitary agency tasked with patrolling Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border. This year, New Delhi reportedly hiked its budget to over three thousand crore in Indian Rupees. Since New Delhi has almost no faith in the PEON’s ability to safeguard its security interests, it operates its independent network of informers, intelligence agencies and sundry other operatives. ..... Without planned and massive interventions upstream in Nepal in natural drainages that contribute over two-third of its flow, Premier Modi’s much-touted Mission Ganga has little future. Unfortunately, Himalayas are young; Mahabharata Ranges soft; and the Shivaliks mere protrusions of gravel. Rivers that flow through these unstable terrains are unpredictable at best. ....... In the early-eighties, professors of river engineering in universities of North India often distributed cyclostyled research sheets in lieu of textbooks. Western publications on the subject were considered to be completely unsuitable for unique nature of Himalayan streams. If global funding agencies and engineering corporations haven’t rushed to exploit Nepal’s supposed hydropower potentials, there must be some reasons behind their hesitation. Unlike commercial calculations behind prospecting for petroleum, investment in hydropower requires arrangements of political economy that only the State can guarantee. Premier Modi may think that India can’t wait forever for Kathmandu to make up its mind. Politicos afraid of PDA, PTA, and PPA will soon discover that these alphabet soups are made of carrots. Sticks remain hidden. But Modi is not too well known for exercising restrain in using instruments of coercion. Such fears seem to have made vested interests of hydro-politics even more panicky. ....... The border issue between Nepal and India has been dominated by the worldview of cartographers for far too long. Largely determined by the victors of a war—the East India Company—two centuries ago, boundary along Nepal-India land border resembles zigzag teeth of a rusted saw that cuts through families, cultures, natural habitats and inseparable economies. Plans of ‘regulating’ such a line are fraught with risks of unintended consequences on both sides of the international border. Level of trust, however, is so low that the proposal has begun to get traction in capital cities of both countries. ........ The Nehru Creed and the Indira Doctrine gave continuity to the imperial outlook of British India, which wanted to have the final say in the internal affairs of Nepal. In the name of advancing its security interests, New Delhi never refrained from micromanaging political economy of Nepal. It has created a mindset in Kathmandu that nothing can happen in this country without New Delhi’s nod. ..... When others are seen to be determinants of one’s destiny, three kinds of responses usually surface. ...... A large section of Nepali population has become indifferent. Forced by circumstances to survive in a very challenging situation, they become Jit Bahadur of Gujarat, Teriya Magar in Mumbai or struggle as ‘nearly Indian’ workers in the Subcontinent, the West Asia or Malaysia. This cohort will like India and Nepal to get even closer, but they have little or no say in the political economy of their own country.......There is a group active in administration, businesses, professions, politics and religion that considers complete submission to Indian hegemony as the best method of securing its personal and family interests. Since their stakes are purely personal, they probably do more harm than good........ The most vocal, and probably also most dangerous, are relics of the Cold War era in Kathmandu that continuously spin cobwebs of ultra-nationalism in the mistaken belief that the net will stop the sky from falling over their heads. Administrators and accountants masquerading as hydropower experts; cartographers pretending to be professionals of political boundaries; journalists in the guise of geo-strategic thinkers; consultants and NGO-entrepreneurs wearing hats of environment and humanitarian activists; brokers and dealmakers posing as creators of wealth—almost everyone in the motley crowd of self-declared nationalists deserve separate adjective. Though diminishing, they still have enough clout to sabotage any deal between India and Nepal. ...... Until the silent majority begins to assert, the opportunists lose their influence, or the pretenders have been made irrelevant, no compromise reached between India and Nepal—irrespective of the merit of the deal—will remain uncontroversial. Premier Modi’s visit has given Singh Durbar a unique opportunity to clear cobweb off its ramparts. It will take a little longer to remove meshes of the mind. But when relationships are as intimate as between India and Nepal, it’s best not to rush anything and make haste slowly.
In the past, when Buddha Air, a prominent Nepali carrier, tried to link Pokhara and Lucknow directly, the Indian side strangely declined to provide the necessary consent on the requested additional entry-exit point west of Bhairahawa. The plan had to be scrapped. The proposed Pokhara-Lucknow flight would have been of a 30-minute duration for an ATR-42 aircraft, had a direct routing (as the crow flies) been provided, but the Indian side’s insistence on following the existing airway scuttled the plans as the additional distance that needed to be traversed undermined its financial viability. ...... There is tacit understanding in Nepali aviation circles that this “airway stalemate” invariably has to do with the all-pervading influence of the Indian defense establishment. The Indian Air Force, which is the de-facto owner of the entire Indian air space, and its generals have simply remained unmindful of Nepali side’s repeated concerns to break out of its southward “air-locked”-ness and in all likelihood have been exerting pressure on its civil aviation agencies to turn a Nelson’s eye towards Nepal’s concerns. Agreed, every nation is free to tend to its national security interests in a manner it deems best but this cannot be an alibi to encroach on a sovereign neighboring country’s interest, like those pertaining to matters of civil aviation. Else, the very idea of international cooperation, as envisaged under the aegis of the international convention on civil aviation, stands utterly undermined. ...... With limited available avenues for augmenting its revenue in a sustainable manner, until large scale export of hydropower materializes in the distant future, Nepal could supplement its coffers by opening up its airspace for over-flights to dig into the proverbial pie of ever-increasing east-west air traffic along the Indian subcontinent corridor—i.e., open a parallel airway to those existing over India that connect south-east Asia to Europe. For this too, India’s willingness to designate the necessary entry and exit points, whether existing or additional ones, is essential.
Mending ties
Can this visit truly transform Nepal-India relations making it a model of inter-state relations in the 21st century? ..... Nepal-India ties cut across all aspects of state-to-state and people-to-people interactions. The people-to-people relation is such that “if one side bleeds the other feels the pain”. For instance, 5,000 Nepalis died in the Uttarakhand floods two years ago. That is why as some politicians were protesting the visit of the Indian Ambassador in one part of Nepal, people from the two sides of the border were exchanging flowers in another part to ensure that politicians do not further enlarge the chasm. The people-to-people side to our relations will continue irrespective of what politicians do. This is the strength of our relation and politicians and diplomats should learn from it........ Small events are blown out of proportions with slogans of “national independence” in Nepal or “insensitivity to Indian interests” in India. ..... unnecessary politicization of relations with India poisons the environment on the Nepali side. Indian elites recognize Nepalis as porters, security guards and Maoists. Nepal reels under protracted political transition, instability and stagnation. This is bad for both. ...... With creative thinking the rivers, roads, dams and the open border could produce mega-models of mutual cooperation. ..... Contrary to their perception as ‘anti-Indians’ Nepalis know very well that India is the only foreign country where they can travel freely, get refuge when they get persecuted and land decent jobs. Indians too have tremendous goodwill for their Nepali brothers and sisters. But Indo-Nepal relations suffer from the mindset that is unable to comprehend the vitality, complexity and sensitivity of our relations. To transform this relation the political and foreign policy elites need to be guided by popular aspirations and tremendous potential in harnessing the unalterable closeness of geography and time-honored history of mutual benefit.
The Gentleman from South
The man from south with a white beard should be given credit for not only becoming the most sought after politician of his time but also a fashion icon! ..... Personally too if we look within the country many Nepalis have had higher education in India and most come back to be involved in the development activities here as opposed to those who head towards the West for higher education. ..... The most important gift that Modi can bring is education for aspiring youth of Nepal at the same cost that Indians pay in their universities. We studied that way, but for our children’s education we need to pay in dollars as international students! Why is this so? Where have the long-lasting relation and the provision in the 1950 treaty gone? The other gift that Modi should bring is the answer to the question on why Nepal’s economy is sliding day by day whereas India’s is booming? Since 1950 India has had “friendly” economic ties with Nepal but India has reaped most of the border benefits.
Let's prosper together
She clarified that Nepal is ‘top priority’ for her government. ..... Modi is a role model for ‘development and good governance’ in India. His development formula of 5T—trade, technology, tourism, talent and tradition—was instrumental in his success in recent Indian elections. His friendly relation with China is a reflection of India’s willingness to put economy first, apart from its ‘neighbor first’ diplomacy...... Nepal too has a development formula comprising 5H—Himalayas, hydro-power, herbal, heritage and human resources. ...... Exemplary relationship with India is of importance as Nepal shares 1,800-km-long open border; six million Nepalis are working in India; all our big rivers cross into Indian territory; and we have a whopping trade deficit. Nepal is moving towards economic prosperity for which peace and stability are preconditions. Nepal wants to upgrade its status to a ‘developing country’ by 2022. It is high-time for Nepal to seek economic and development partnership with India. Efforts should be made by Nepali and Indian leaders to build trust and confidence and open up new development prospects for mutual benefit.
Nepali leaders praise Modi's speech in parliament
We are looking for investment not charity
Anyone who does not understand from history is bound to repeat it, goes the famous line. We have been repeating the history for the last 65 years. ..... Unless we undertake mega projects of national interest on the basis of broader consensus, we are bound to fail.
Biz community expecting a lot from Modi visit
I have a clear viewpoint on the issue. If you are hungry, you eat whatever you get. Our total energy demand is around 3,000 MW. Up to that mark, we should not set any conditions. After that, we can renegotiate with India. We should sign PTA with India without further delay.