Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a mega hydroelectric power plant during a visit to Nepal on Friday, part of rebuilding his government to counteract China's influence in its backyard.
Modi and his Nepali counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli laid the foundation for the $ 1.4 billion India-backed Arun Three hydropower plant, a lengthy project that could revolutionize the energy transition in Nepal.
"It's one of the biggest projects in Nepal, and in addition to job opportunities, this project will create economic and commercial opportunities in Nepal," Modi said after the opening in Kathmandu.
The plant is the first of five mega hydropower projects, two of which are supported by Chinese companies construction, which means a diplomatic victory for India.
China has displaced India in Nepal in recent years, when the impoverished Himalayan nation between the two Asian giants has dubbed relations with its northern neighbor.
In 2017, Chinese companies pledged more than $ 8.3 billion in investment, which overshadowed Indian commitments of $ 317 million. In May last year, Nepal joined the ambitious One-Belt One Road Infrastructure Initiative in Beijing.
But Modi, who has made the visit as part of his policy "Neighborhood First", wanted to show that India can exist as well (19659008) "Projects historically funded by India, though they seem generous, have difficulty showing progress, while the Chinese are making it faster and gaining public opinion, "said Kathmandu-based analyst George Varughese  Nepal is suffering from a paralyzing energy shortage and has been talking to its two big neighbors about investing in its hydropower sector for more than a decade.
The Himalayan nation has enough water to be a hydropower plant, but it has been used less than two percent of this potential, according to estimates.
– Big Brother –
Modi's visit to Nepal comes a month after the newly-elected Oli made his first overseas visit to New Delhi.
Neighbors Are Delighted Restoring Relationships Tense Since 2015, When Nepal Passed A Controversial New Constitution That Caused Deadly Protests And Triggered A Month-Long Boundary Blockade
Kathmandu accused New Delhi of the blockade, which is a serious shortage Fueled by fuel and goods such as Nepal struggled to recover from a devastating earthquake earlier this year.
Oli, who was serving his first term as prime minister at the time, garnered widespread support from the public as he fueled the nationalist anti-Indian sentiment over the blockade. He used the platform again during his re-election campaign last year.
Many in Nepal remain suspicious of the Indian attitude of the "big brother" and the hashtags #ModiNotWelcomeInNepal and #BlockadeWasACrimeMrModi tended on Twitter when the Indian prime minister touched down.
Oli, India's largest trade partner, needed to implement his ambitious plans to boost economic growth, has taken a more pragmatic approach since taking office in February.
Modi began his visit to Nepal in the south city of Janakpur, where he offered prayers in a renowned Hindu temple. Janakpur was a center of fatal protests in 2015, which claimed more than 50 deaths.
Modi will visit a second Hindu pilgrimage site near the border with Tibet on Saturday. Analysts say the strong religious undertones should send a message to his Hindu nationalist base at home, where Modi leads a key election in the southern state of Karnataka.