New Delhi, Feb 22 : Amid growing warmth in ties after the chill caused by the Madhesi agitation, India today said it was an “elder brother” to Nepal and not “big brother” as often described. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India will always assist its neighbour and never become a source of difficulties. Swaraj emphasised on the age-old ties between the two countries to make her point and repeatedly praised the Nepalese political leadership and Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli for having promulgated the new Constitution. Also Read - Nepal: Oli Meets Prachanda to Resolve Differences, Expects Breakthrough Soon
“I congratulate their (Nepal’s) political leadership for showing maturity in difficult circumstances (post earthquake). They said that it was time to create the Constitution all the more and the political leadership came together and did so,” Swaraj said. “But few issues cropped up. Madhesis thought they have received less than expected political representation. But I want to reiterate my gratitude to the Nepali political leadership that taking their (Madhesis’) demand as legitimate they passed two amendments under the leadership of Sushil Koirala. Swaraj said the Oli government “bettered” those amendments and passed them. (Also Read: Sushma Swaraj meets Austrian foreign minister) Also Read - Remembering Sushma Swaraj: PM Modi Pays Tribute to Forgone Leader Who Was 'India's Voice at World Stage'
Otherwise amendments are not brought soon after promulgation of a Constitution, she said. She hoped that the “political mechanism” put in place by Oli will address the remaining concerns of the Madhesi community and praised him for engaging them in a dialogue. “This is the power of democracy that we resolve our issues through political dialogue.” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had recently said the “tone and tenor” of Oli’s visit was forward-looking, adding “assurances” given about addressing grievances within Nepal, if left unaddressed, may “detract” the country from stability. Presiding over the 21st Sapru House Lecture of the Indian Council of World Affairs here where Oli delivered the keynote lecture, Swaraj stated that “few people” who don’t want good bilateral relations between the two say that India maintains a “big brother” attitude towards Nepal. Also Read - 'Abrogation of Article 370 India's Internal Matter, Other Nations Have no Business,' Says Venkaiah Naidu
“The Hindi meaning of big brother is elder brother. But the construct of big brother is a western one. Its Indian translation is elder brother. We view it from a different perspective. “Big brother is egotist whereas elder brother shows concern. Elder brother tries to assist you in solving your problems. India is that elder brother who will never become the cause of your difficulties and will assist you. I welcome you as the elder sister of that elder brother,” she said.
Swaraj, who had co-chaired the meeting of the Indo-Nepal Joint Commission in Kathmandu after a gap of 23 years, credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi with infusing new energy in the bilateral ties during his trip shortly after assuming office in 2014, becoming the first Indian PM to visit Nepal in 17 years. “The PM in his speech to the Constituent Assembly had said that Nepal has come from the path of war to that of Buddha, from weapons to scriptures.
These sentences resonated across the country and it seemed as if the distance that was created over the last 17 years got removed in a day,” he said. Swaraj also extended birthday wishes to Oli, who turned 65 today. “I am eight days older than him,” she said, smiling. “Nepal-India relation is unbreakable because it is not just based on geography but history as well, not commerce only but love, not economics but culture as well, not government but people as well,” she said.