Kathmandu: In a year fraught with political turbulence and the coronavirus pandemic tightening its grip in Nepal, 2021 saw Kathmandu making efforts to reset its bilateral ties with India with high-profile talks and visits, amidst a change in guard in the top leadership in the Himalayan nation.
Coming out from the shadow of the border row that engulfed the Indo-Nepal bilateral ties in 2020, the year 2021 opened with India gifting one million domestically manufactured Covishield vaccines to Nepal in January as it struggled to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The deadly virus has so far infected over 825,000 people and claimed nearly 12,000 deaths in Nepal.
In the same month, India provided a grant assistance of NRs 30.66 crore (INR 19.21 cr) to Nepal as part of its commitment towards reconstruction of educational institutions damaged during the devastating 2015 earthquake, which claimed nearly 9,000 lives and wounded nearly 22,000. With this, India reimbursed NRs 81.98 crore (INR 51.37 cr) to Nepal towards educational sector reconstruction projects.
The bilateral ties had seen new lows in 2020 after Nepal released a new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories, prompting India to caution Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
On the domestic political front, Nepal in 2021 saw a change in top leadership with Nepali Congress (NC) chief Sher Bahadur Deuba becoming the prime minister for a record fifth time in July, following a months-long high-voltage drama.
In a landmark verdict on July 12, the Supreme Court directed President Bidya Devi Bhandari to appoint Opposition leader Deuba as prime minister and dismissed her “unconstitutional” move to dissolve the House of Representatives that plunged the country into a major political crisis.