Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect 

is a small town railway station that I pass by on my way to Raxaul, the town on the Indian border town bordering the Nepalese town of Birganj. Sagauli is a railway junction on the Delhi – Muzaffarpur route and basically nothing more. Yet a treaty signed here as far back with subsequent modifications still determines the character of the relationship between India and Nepal and even the nature of India’s geography. On May 15, 1815, General Ochterlony (after whom the monument in the Kolkata Maidan is named) compelled the Gurkha leader Amar Singh Thapa, to surrender the fort of Malaon. And finally on November 28 1815, the Gurkhas signed The Treaty of Sagauli. As per the treaty, the Nepalese gave up their claims to places in the lowlands along the southern frontier, gave away Garhwal and Kumaon on the west of Nepal to the British and also withdrew from Sikkim.

Amazing that because of a battle fought in an obscure town, Sikkim gained a political identity, Garhwal and Kumaon became part of British India and today are part of India. But India’s colonial past casts a very long shadow and is not likely to go away soon. But those parts of it that tread on the foreign policies of our neighboring countries, we are beginning to revisit and that is a good thing. Admittedly, not all of this is out of charity. The Maoists in Nepal and the previous Nepali governments had taken the issue of abrogation of the treaty, signed on July 31, 1950, to New Delhi stating Nepal as an “unequal” one. India finally had also agreed to consider Nepal’s request for reviewing the treaty, and the foreign secretaries of Nepal and India were assigned the task of handing the review.

Perhaps taking the cue from the Nepalese demand, India has moved pro actively to revise a similar treaty that was in operation with Bhutan which required that the country to be “guided” in the conduct of its foreign policy by the wisdom of the Indian government. Mrs. Indira Gandhi used this proviso to good effect when she ensured that after India , Bhutan was the only the second country to recognize the political entity of Bangladesh when the Pakistani Army’s surrender in the East had just occurred and the dust had yet to settle.

The dust on the Indo – Bhutan treaty is almost as old as the treaty of Sagauli. The first treaty concluded between British India and Bhutan–the Treaty of Sinchula was in 1865, and this was followed by the Treaty of Punakha dating back to 1903. The current treaty governing relations between the two countries dates back to 1949. But now ,India and Bhutan have “reviewed” and decided to “upgrade” the August 1949 treaty and the new agreement will reflect, according to Indian foreign ministry officials, “the contemporary nature of the India-Bhutan relationship” and lay the foundation for its future development. It is good that we are adapting to the changing geo political realities in the world and are beginning to abandon the Raj approach to our neighbors

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