India-Nepal Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated an integrated checkpoint near the border with Nepal on Jan. 21 as part of his government’s so-called “Neighborhood First” policy. Modi also lauded progress on the construction of up to 50,000 houses that New Delhi pledged to construct in Nepal after a 2015 earthquake.
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Why It Matters:
The checkpoint is aimed at facilitating cross-border traffic as part of New Delhi’s strategy to extend its leverage in the area and to bring Nepal closer into its diplomatic sphere of influence. Bilateral relations suffered during Modi’s first term, which included a strategic reorientation by Kathmandu toward Beijing.
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As a buffer state between India and China, Nepal is looking to court regional powers to maximize its development funding. India’s Neighborhood First policy is part of New Delhi’s strategy to assert its position as the region’s dominant power, particularly as several countries in South Asia have signed on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
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