Nepal’s top businessman hopes Modi will take decisive steps to build ties

(140531) -- SOLUKHUMBU, MAY 31, 2014 (Xinhua) -- Picture taken on May 30, 2014 shows a magnificent view of Himalayan Range from Periche village in Solukhumbu, Nepal. Periche village lies on the route to Mount Everest (Qomolangma) base camp.(Xinhua/Sunil Sharma) ****Authorized by ytfs****

New Delhi:  As Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge for a second term, Nepal’s top industrialist and Chairman of CG Corp Global Binod Chaudhary has expressed the hope that the two countries will show a “renewed sense of commitment” to take the bilateral ties to a new height by forgetting the “unpleasant” developments witnessed in the recent past, like the 2015 economic blockade.

Chaudhary, who was here to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Modi government-II, is confident that the Indian Prime Minister would take the “required decisive steps to transform Nepal”, saying it would be beneficial for India too.

The billionaire businessman talked about the trade imbalance tilted towards India and wanted Modi to “correct” the situation, saying: “It requires a political leadership of different order. Modiji has that courage.”

Speaking to IANS here, he said the re-election of Modi with a much bigger mandate gives confidence that he would be able to accomplish what could not be achieved earlier and that the bilateral relations would be taken to a new height.

“A prosperous Nepal will be beneficial for India,” said the Chairman of CG Corp Global, which has more than 130 companies in diverse sectors, including financial services, energy, education, hospitality and real estate.

“I hope there would be a renewed sense of commitment on part of both the governments to take the Nepal-India relationship to the new height, thereby concluding many critical bilateral projects of huge importance, which have not made progress.

“Both countries need to forget the past and work for a different level of economic prosperity,” Chaudhary said.

Asked what he meant by “forgetting the past”, Chaudhary referred to the 2015 Madeshi unrest, which was followed by the economic blockade of Nepal.

“Things were moving on track, but the unfortunate events, like Madeshi unrest and blockade, happened and caused serious damage to the relations at people to people level. This has left an undesirable level of trust deficit and pain in many minds which, given the historic relationship of Nepal and India, needs to be corrected,” the billionaire businessman said.

Recalling Modi’s address to the Nepalese Parliament during his first visit to Kathmandu in 2014, Chaudhary, who had met him at that time, said, “there was a completely different level of euphoria and the expectations went high”.

Hopes rose about languishing important projects seeing the light of the day, he said.

“Unfortunately, there are elements in both India and Nepal who consciously don’t let things happen and sabotage the processes. They are good at spreading an impression that help in creating lack of mutual trust,” he said.

According to the top businessman, people in both countries have “now repaired the ties, but we lost 4 years in the process”.

Modi, in his address to the Nepalese Parliament on August 3, 2014, had said India would help the Himalayan country build highways, I-ways and transways.

He had noted that Nepal had abundant potential in the hydro power sector and India would like to buy electricity from it, for which New Delhi was committed to establish transmission lines.

While making a reference to those promises by the Indian Prime Minister, Chaudhary said: “Modiji went out of the way in cementing the relationship, which has opened many new dimensions of mutual cooperation, including waterways and railways, and reopening avenues with economic relationship to a new height.”

Likewise, the Nepal government has also responded to this effort and initiative demonstrated by India during the two visits of Prime Minister Modi and the then Foreign Minister.

Underlining that a prosperous Nepal, with enhanced capacity to buy, will only benefit India, Chaudhary said: “India is a huge market in the eyes of the whole world. But as far as Nepal is concerned, it’s the other way round. Nepal has two-third market share for goods from India, while Nepalese exports to India are limited and not growing as it should.”

This caused trade imbalance in favour of India, Chaudhary said, adding one of the ways to address it was cooperation in the power sector.

Talking about possibilities in the energy sector, he said: “Nepal is in an unfortunate situation by having to buy power instead of selling… There is potential for generation of 100,000 megawatts of power in Nepal. Instead, Nepal buys 500 megawatts from India.”

According to the top businessman, India should help build power plants of at least 20,000-30,000 megawatts in Nepal.

“It’s in India’s interest to see Nepal become an example in the neighbourhood of a country, which contributes to the Indian economy through supply of power, energy several agro-based raw material, including trustworthy and hardworking man power,” the billionaire businessman said.