Sept. 29, 2015 by Darius
A week after adopting its first-ever constitution, Nepal is facing a fuel shortage so severe that the Nepali government has imposed driving restrictions based on the last digit of motorists’ license plates. Why has the constitution led to the fuel shortage? Because India has decided to express its displeasure about the constitution by stopping the flow of supplies across the border into Nepal.
The constitution in Nepal was not met without controversy. In particular, some Nepalis take exception with provisions of the constitution dealing with ethnic minority status. Furthermore, some religious nationalists object to Nepal’s officially enshrined status as a secular state rather than a Hindu one. Protests have been most severe in Nepal’s southern regions, which border India. Many ethnic groups in southern Nepal also live across the border in India. India complained that Nepal’s government moved too quickly in passing and implementing the constitution. The originally protests in Nepal have dissipated, but India, citing ambiguous safety concerns, has blocked the transit of more than 1,000 trucks, including fuel trucks, from crossing into Nepal.
Unfortunately for Nepal, India has Nepal by the, er, ball bearings: the earthquake that devastated Nepal less than six months ago destroyed Nepal’s only two border crossings with China. Those crossings have yet to reopen, leaving Nepal solely dependent on supplies coming in from India.
Clearly, you don’t have to be a wealthy, developed country to bully your neighbors.