In the past week, many of us have been fixated on the tragedy in Nepal when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck at the heart of the country, devastated some of the nation’s most densely populated areas, leveled some of the nation’s most significant and historical landmarks, and displaced thousands of individuals into make-shift “tent-city’s” away from any major structure. The death toll was last reported to be nearly 4,000 people and the country is now in the middle of a massive recovery effort of which they have limited supplies and already overcrowded hospital facilities. To confront this tragedy, the world has responded. Many of the surrounding nations, world powers, and international aid organizations, such as India, China, United States, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Norway, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, and Japan are providing millions of dollars in relief effort and some are even sending aid workers to tend to those who have been most affected while searching for those who are still missing. It is not an easy effort, as the mountainous country provides unique obstacles for those trying to get in and many of the smaller rural villages closer to the epicenter of the quake are in much greater need as roads and communications have been severed throughout the country, according to ABC News.
We all realize the destruction that nature can cause, but what about its impact in global politics and diplomacy? Many may not have realized the significance that Nepal’s geography plays as a form of soft power in the area. We are not just talking about the tourist dollars brought in so worldwide trekkers can scale the peaks on the world’s tallest mountain in Mt. Everest. This “low-developed country” uses its geography to garner a particular sway over its more powerful neighbors in India and China. According to Dinnesh Bhattari, “because of our location, two markets of more than 2.6 billion people are at our doorstep…our geopolitical location is also our soft power.” (ekantipur.com). Nepal has an extremely unique opportunity to grow and thrive in Asia due to their strategic location between two superpowers. Natalie Obiko Pearson, Sandrine Rastello, and David Tweed of Bloomberg, continue to highlight Nepal’s geographic uniqueness by explaining the importance of the country’s rich water resources and how the country acts as a buffer zone. When talking about the nations water resources, they said, “the peaks in and around the Tibetan Plateau…feeds Asia’s major river systems…that supplies water to more than a dozen countries…representing nearly a third of the world’s population.” Also, “Nepal is a vital passage in China’s quest for direct access to the South Asian countries.” These are just a few of the reasons in which China and India have spent millions of investment dollars in the country as it is an access gate for more opportunities to expand their countries brand. Even more recently, both India and China have begun to establish more cultural ties to their neighbor with certain public diplomacy initiatives that will increase relations. As more details on this tragedy unfolds, it is almost certain that India and China will continue to be at the forefront of the relief efforts in the form of a medical internationalism initiative in which their relations can continue to thrive at the top of the world.
“Nepal-China Agree to Establish Cultural Center.” The Himalayan Times. The Himalayan Times, 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
“Nepal Earthquake: International Aid Groups, Rescue Teams Head to Quake-hit Country.” ABC.net. ABC News, 26 Apr. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
“Nepal’s Geopolitical Location Is Its Soft Power.” Ekantipur.com. Ekantipur Report, 12 Dec. 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
Pearson, Natalie Obiko, Sandrine Rastello, and David Tweed. “Nepal Has Powerful Friends in High Places: India and China.” Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg, 27 Apr. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
Shanti, Neelapu. “India, Nepal Look to Further Enhance Cultural Relations.” ANI News. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.