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Direct grants gone

Sunday, August 13th, 2017
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Narayan Kaji Shrestha in www.setopati.com, 10 August

When I became foreign affairs minister in 2011, people from my village in Gorkha district sought my help in getting a grant from the Indian Embassy to build a school.

Narayan Kaji Shrestha

Narayan Kaji Shrestha

I disappointed them by not just declining but questioning the rationale of the Embassy’s Small Development Project (SDP) under which millions of rupees are spent in Nepali villages. This is not part of India’s budgetary support to Nepal, and our government has no role or say in implementation of the SDP.

Many Nepali leaders and MPs visit the India Embassy requesting SDP grants for their constituencies. The Embassy gives grants to those who are loyal to India, or to villages where it has some interests.

In 2003, Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa appeased India by allowing its embassy in Kathmandu to invest directly in small development projects in Nepali villages. No successive government tried or was able to reverse that policy.

As foreign affairs minister, I tried to block renewal of the SDP but not only was the deal renewed, its amount was increased to Rs50 million from Rs30 million.

The SDP is not good for Nepal’s sovereignty because India can use the program to increase its influence at the grassroots through direct investments and also because people become more loyal to the Indian Embassy than to their own government.

Better late than never, the government has now decided to not renew the SDP, citing the lack of clarity over the development model in a federal Nepal. As a developing country Nepal certainly needs foreign grants, but we have to be able to dictate its terms.

Based on a conversation

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3 Responses to “Direct grants gone”

  1. Anonimous on Says:

    Life does not work like that, go to the moon.

  2. Eric on Says:

    “…people become more loyal to the Indian Embassy than to their own government.”
    Yes, this is what happens if your own government doesn’t do anything for you.

  3. Nepal ko Nagrik on Says:

    Thank you for standing up to the big brother (India). I hope you have an alternate plan to fill the vacuum or do you?

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