Nepal, a landlocked nation between two Asian giants, India and China has started to emerge as a new battleground for global powerhouses. Nepal, once considered exclusively in India’s sphere of influence has started to gradually drift towards China. But why are arch-rivals China and India working together to keep the Western theories and philosophies at bay? EurAsian Times analyses SCMP Report.
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Nepal’s parliament recently decided that it would not accept any endowments from contributors for legislative business after it emerged that Nepal’s highest-elected body had been receiving financial support from foreign donors in the name of empowerment and skill development of parliamentarians since 2008 when Nepal elected its first constituent assembly-cum-parliament to draft a new constitution.
The development is the newest in a series of measures taken by the new government of PM KP Sharma Oli to distance Nepal from Western NGOs, whose influence in impoverished Nepal has been a major concern for both India and China. While India has long been irascible about these NGO’s designs in restive Jammu and Kashmir, China, on the other hand, is extremely sensitive regarding Tibet.
Nepal is the direct transit passage for Tibetans trying to flee to India. China has frequently expressed unease with Nepal about several Western NGOs inciting Free Tibet projects in Nepal. Both China and India have also become suspicious about what they see as the West-aided spread of Christianity – a delicate area for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
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The matter of religious conversions has been plaguing the relations between the Nepali society and Western organisations ever since the UK’s then ambassador to Nepal, Andrew Sparkes, created a diplomatic row when he suggested that that religious conversion should be made as a fundamental right in the constitution. Hindu organizations in Nepal seized on the ambassador’s argument as confirmation of a Western conspiracy to spread Christianity in Nepal.
“We have proof that the humanitarian aid distributed to earthquake victims by some NGOs also carried Bible and related literature,” said Foreign Minister Pradip Gyawali, referring to the humanitarian relief that was supplied to Nepal after 2015 earthquake.
Centre for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC), a US-based research group, lists Nepal as the Asian nation with the most accelerated rate of conversions. At 10.93%, it has the fastest average annual growth rate of Christian conversions in Asia. Currently comprising 3.8% of the Nepali population, the population of Christians is expected to double by 2020, which worries both India and China.