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FORMER DIPLOMAT, EDITOR WARNS OF GROWING THREAT BY INDIA TO NEPAL SURVIVAL

SHARE FORMER DIPLOMAT, EDITOR WARNS OF GROWING THREAT BY INDIA TO NEPAL SURVIVAL

A retired diplomat and magazine editor from Nepal is in the United States to warn Americans about the encroaching threat of India, which, with millions of U.S. dollars, is rapidly becoming a nuclear power.

Madhav K. Rimal, chief editor of "Spotlight," a recognized editorial magazine that's printed twice monthly in Nepal, said India's financial and political growth have been at the expense of the country's estranged neighbor, Nepal."It has been more than five months now since India clamped a complete embargo on Nepal-India trade," Rimal said in a Deseret News interview. "This has indeed caused great hardships to the people of Nepal and if the stalemate continues for long, life in Nepal could be further destabilized."

Rimal, who is visiting with friends in Salt Lake City, said Nepal is now the world's second poorest country - second to Ethiopia.

Fifty percent of its 18 million people live under the poverty level. The average per capita income is $160 a year. Already debilitating conditions were worsened when a massive earthquake Aug. 20, 1988, tumbled buildings and killed 13,000 people, he said.

Thousands more were left without adequate medical care and the landlocked country could receive little outside assistance - even from India, which tightened its economic squeeze against its tiny neighbor.

"The stringent economic blockade that India has kept on clamping against Nepal has not only pushed her teetering economy further down but posed a severe question of even her survival," Rimal said. "By stopping the export of even life-saving drugs and baby food, millions of poor Nepalis are being forced to undergo abject sufferings and hundreds of infants have already met untimely deaths."

Rimal said Indian officials have been unwilling to sit down with Nepali officials for a dialogue to break the stalemate.

"This is a clear testimony of her determination to teach Nepal a lesson so that she relinquishes her independent posture in the conduct of her foreign policy and starts following the Indian bandwagon," he said. "Nepal is equally determined to resist the Indian pressure even if she has to face untold economic miseries."

The diplomat-turned-journalist said Nepal only wants the government of India to be magnanimous, treat Nepal as a sovereign, independent country and respect her status.

"Nepal only wants India to abide by the principles of non-alignment, the five principles of peaceful co-existence and the charter of the United Nations in her relations with her smaller neighbors," he said. "Nepal only wants India to conform her behavior to her protestations at international forums. Nepal wants India to understand that no nation however small or weak likes its dignity being slighted."

Meanwhile, Rimal said, the superpowers and the developed nations of the world cannot stay "disinterested and unaffected by such happenings."

"Since they are donating billions of dollars for the uplifting of poor and miserable peoples of the third world, it also becomes their responsibility that no smaller or weaker nation is browbeaten into submission by a stronger nation," he said. "In this age when the two superpowers are relinquishing their antagonistic postures and steadily advancing on the path of peaceful co-existence, they must see that no region in the world is to bedeviled by the hegemonic designs of a fastly growing regional superpower."