Nepal

Found this chronology of Nepal’s political history at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/DEL4482.htm. Saw the same in print edition of ET a few days back.

You need to have a look at it before I go further.

1948 – Nepal’s first constitution is promulgated, then suspended in face of opposition; Prime Minister Padma Shamsher Rana resigns.

1955 – King Tribhuvan dies, succeeded by King Mahendra.

1959 – New constitution promulgated, leading to first general election; centrist Nepali Congress party wins absolute majority.

1960 – Nepali Congress leader B.P. Koirala heads first popular government; his policies are opposed by King Mahendra, who dismisses prime minister, bans political parties and takes over direct control of government.

1972 – Mahendra dies; is succeeded by his son, King Birendra.

1990 – Birendra lifts 30-year-old ban on political parties and ushers in constitutional monarchy.

May 1991 – Girija Prasad Koirala of Nepali Congress takes office as first popularly elected prime minister in 30 years.

July 1994 – Koirala quits after defeat in parliamentary vote, opening long phase of instability.

Feb 1996 – Maoist rebels launch insurgency aimed at replacing constitutional monarchy with one-party communist republic.

Jan 1999 – Birendra dissolves parliament.

June 1, 2001 – Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and other royal family members are killed in shooting rampage by Crown Prince Dipendra, who then shoots himself.

June 4 – Gyanendra is crowned king.

July – Maoist rebels step up violence. Sher Bahadur Deuba becomes prime minister, heading 11th government in 11 years, after Girija Prasad Koirala resigns over violence.

July 23 – Deuba announces peace with rebels, truce begins.

Nov 21 – Maoists say talks have failed, truce is no longer justified.

Nov 23 – Gyanendra declares state of emergency, government declares Maoists “terrorist organisation”.

Oct 4, 2002 – Gyanendra sacks Prime Minister Deuba and assumes executive power. Staunch royalist Lokendra Bahadur Chand is later named prime minister.

May 30, 2003 – Chand resigns after months of protests led by political parties demanding king appoint government with their nominees or revive parliament.

June 4 – Gyanendra appoints royalist Surya Bahadur Thapa as prime minister.

May 7, 2004 – Surya Bahadur Thapa quits as prime minister after weeks of protests.

June 2 – Gyanendra reappoints Deuba prime minister.

Feb 1, 2005 – Gyanendra sacks government, assumes power himself.

It can be seen that Nepal’s attempts at establishing democracy have been, more often than not, failures. Sitting here in India, how does it feel to think about the neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Nepal, struggling with their dream-democracy, when we have taken our democracy almost for granted? And somewhere does it not give a feeling of something being different so that despite so many things going wrong, despite it being such a large and diverse country, we do not see an immediate threat to the democracy as a system!! I do not know how much pride can be taken in simply that, but it deserves some merit at least.

The current Maoist movement in Nepal has literally been a doom for Nepalis. They capture interior villages of the country, and demand either a high sum of money (Which no one can pay) or a young boy/girl from each family. Otherwise they go on a massacre. When I was visiting my place during Dushehra in 2003, it turned out that Maoists had captured some village in proximity of Biratnagar, which is city in Nepal on the border of which we live. No, it did not affect us, but the situation in Biratnagar was highly tense. People were afraid of going out. Maoists had also issued some orders against celebration of Dushehra (it was difficult to judge what exactly since my sole source of information were people around us). Because of which the usual environment of excitement was totally missing!! Nepalis were somehow getting the minimum formalities of worship done and shop-keepers regretted having got the stock in the anticipation of Dushehra.

Many of you might have read news about the situation of strikes. Every other day, there is some strike or other. Sometimes they go on upto 5-7 day at stretch. Can you imagine what does it mean for those who have to earn their daily bread? And eduction of children and economic activities? May God bless them. Its a boon for school-averse children for sure… Because, our town does not have good schools, many children from there also go to schools in Nepal and hence are affected by that. Now, people are rethinking sending their children there.

Traveling by a bus can be nightmarish in Nepal. At the border of each district they will check your luggage. And not by coming to the bus. The bus will be parked some 2-3 kms away from the check-post. You have to carry all your luggage to the check-post and then bring them back and board the bus. Imagine, this at the border of every district!

All this is really pathetic. Despite problems with Democracy, before Maoism, Nepal was not an oppressive country, at least judging from the account of the people we know. Even now, some of the civic amenities and administrative situation far surpass those in Bihar. Roads are so much better, you are not allowed to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, government hospitals function very well (one of our relatives who stays in Nepal used to say that she would far more prefer a government hospital of Nepal to a private hospital in Purnea or Katihar, if for nothine else, then for the cooperative behaviour of the staff. And private hospitals in Purnea or Katihar are not bad, believe me!). Jute industry flourished there and gave employment to God knows how many people. There were investments from China and some other countries also in sweater factories etc. Some of them are still there, but the situation is bad. The main Jute Mill in Biratnagar, which has a large campus, a look at which can tell you how many employees must have been there, has been closed for quite sometime now. Employees have been laid off, without adequate compensation and situation is bad. Tourism, general as well as pilgrimage, also had good opportunities in Nepal and is suffering adversely.

Of course, all this description of “good-old-days” might be coming from a particular strata. Probably people did have reasons to resent the system, but what form it has taken really! Where will this maoist movement lead Nepal too? I am wondering. As of now, I see nothing other than destruction for people, whose fight they are supposed to be carrying out!

One thought on “Nepal

  1. Since I am removing the Haloscan Comments, I am copy-pasting the comments I got on this post here.

    Yeah, even I’ve witnessed good days of Nepal, when I used to live at a borderplace. Because it is a free market, I used to get coke, Archies comics, electronic goods etc. and used to think why they were not avaiable in India. The roads were indeed very good, mostly on grant by either India or China.

    And I’ve also witnessed “Chat” (A festival celebrated in Bihar and UP)on the canal of Kosi River. I’ve never seen such a huge gathering for Chat at any other place. (I’ve heard that on Ganga that is even bigger).

    It was far easier to go to Biratnagar for medical services or any other occasional services than to reach any other place in India. The kind of facilities that were avaiable could be mathced only by a city like Patna (Closest Indian city from that place).

    Well, that ended about 12 years ago, and since then I’ve never been to Nepal. It’s hard to know that now the good days are gone.
    Sandeep | 02.11.05 – 4:19 pm | #

    Well. I didn’t explain that Kosi River canal is in Nepal. (On bank of river Kosi, we used to celebrate “Chath”). Another big Festival is Vivah Panchami, that is celebrated in Janakpur, Nepal at a big scale. Well, now after a mild Dussehra, I do not know how much will these festivals get affected, due to same reason.
    Sandeep | 02.11.05 – 5:46 pm | #

    Gravatar If we talk in context of Indian interest, then the first need is defeat the maoist insurgency be it either monarchy or democracy. Next on the issue
    democracy, King’s present approach is not appreciable. Ultimately the people’s power is the flavour of the season. Rest about their internal affairs until nepal becomes Hongkong type legal point of business, the economy will not improve and as an effect the youth/woman will find enough cause and time for unproductive things.
    Prem Piyush | Email | Homepage | 02.11.05 – 6:37 pm | #

    India’s democratic roots run deep and it should (i feel) be a matter of pride and relief to us. A very recent incidence being the ousting of the NDA govt last year. while everyone in India (including congress!) expected NDA to win, NDA could have easily tried to disrespect the popular mandate had it been a pakistan or nepal kind of situation, but instead it left the office showing respect to the electoral system.
    We didnt even noticed the fact that similar situation in pakistan could have seen a coup(such a situation is simply unimaginable in India), this is the power of our democracy and we should be definitely proud of it.Freedom is one thing we dont care to give importance but if you happen to discuss your life in India with your pakistani friend(if you have one)you will start respecting democracy and freedom by just seeing his reactions. Long live the democracy.
    Anonymous | 02.12.05 – 9:47 pm | #

    Gravatar sorry to post the above comment as anonymous. (remembering the authors dislike for anonymous comments!)
    vivekanand | Email | 02.12.05 – 9:52 pm | #

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