New Delhi, 17 September : Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat said that countries like Nepal and Bhutan cannot delink themselves from India as they are more inclined towards India “because of the geography”. He also said the geography does not favour their inclination towards China.
Rawat was speaking to the media after the concluding ceremony of BIMSTEC MILEX-18, a joint military exercise of BIMSTEC member nations, which was underway in Pune from September 10.
Replying to a question on Nepal’s absence in the MILEX-18 and its growing ties with China, Gen Rawat said, “They cannot delink themselves from India. Countries like Nepal and Bhutan have to be naturally inclined to India because of the geography. Geography favours their inclination towards India and not towards China. As our leaders say, Neighbourhood First and Act East. BIMSTEC is part of such efforts. We are strengthening our relationship with our neighbours. We are a bigger country, if we take the initiative, others will follow.”
Of the seven BIMSTEC nations, while troops from India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were part of the ground exercise, Nepal and Thailand sent teams of observers.
“China is an emerging competitor. Everything is about economics. They are also looking for market and we are also looking for the same market and there is competition. So, whoever performs better will win the race,” he said.
While commenting about Nepal opting for the joint military exercise with China, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that such alliances are temporary. Nepal will be closely linked with India naturally because of its geographical proximity with India.
He added India should not get too concerned about Nepal sending just its observers for the military exercise while joining China's military exercise.
"India should only focus in getting strong. Our approach should be to engage with our neighbour, take care of our neighbourhood and BIMSTEC is part of that. The motto is neighbourhood first and also act East. India is a bigger country. If we take the initiative, everyone will follow suit. The way India is evolving, other countries are also evolving. Market is common so the struggle is for the same space. The competition for economic growth matters, whoever does better will succeed so let us look at improving our systems," said Rawat.