Critical Issues Related to Connectivity in South Asia
This paper mainly deals with connectivity of Nepal with neighboring countries and beyond. Nepal entered into an agreement with India for a Raxaul – Kathmandu railway line survey last year. After rail connectivity is established with India, Nepal is expected to benefit through transport costs compared to existing road connectivity. Nepal also signed an MoU with India for the development of inland water ways during the last visit by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to India. This is expected to provide Nepal with greater opportunities of better connection with Indian ports to promote trade with her southern neighbor and beyond. Moreover, Nepal and Chinese governments have agreed to work together to construct a rail link between Kerung and Kathmandu. This should allow Indian and Chinese railways to link in Kathmandu although that may yet take some time. Similarly, if Nepal deals tactfully with India and Bangladesh to make the Kathmandu-Kakarvitta-Phulbari-Banglabandha corridor function smoothly, there is a high possibility of establishing China-Nepal-India-Bangladesh (CNIB) Economic Corridor in the future. This paper attempts to explain the critical geo-political issues and challenges in connectivity facing Nepal. This paper is based on secondary data and both the qualitative and quantitative methods have been adopted for analysis. The key point of arguments presented by the paper is that all South Asian countries need to come up with “Connectivity Diplomacy”, preferably on the Track 1.5 level.
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