Nepal; Strategy for Survival

Nepal; Strategy for Survival

Nepal; Strategy for Survival

Nepal; Strategy for Survival

Excerpt

The progenitor of the present ruling dynasty in Nepal, Bada Maharaja Prithvi Narayan Shah, once aptly described his newly conquered kingdom in the central Himalayas as "a root between two stones." Even in his day -- the mid-18th century -- Nepal's most formidable problem in the formulation and implementation of foreign policy was the preservation of the country's independence in the face of the concurrent but separate threats posed by the newly emerging dominant power in northern India, the British East India Company, and a slowly but steadily expanding Chinese presence in Tibet. Present-day Nepal thus perceives its critical geopolitical situation in terms of a long tradition as a buffer state and with some deeply ingrained attitudes toward the policies and tactics required to maintain its political and cultural integrity.

Because of Nepal's preoccupation with mere survival, its foreign policy inevitably has a psychological orientation different from that of larger states, including India and China, whose physical attributes are in themselves a fairly reliable guarantee of security. To Kathmandu, the current potentialities of external domination and subversion are not very different in kind -- though they may be in degree-from those with which Nepali governments have had to contend for at least two centuries. And if the problems are not particularly new, neither is the repertory of responses devised by the Kathmandu authorities. There is a basic similarity between King Prithvi Narayan Shah's analysis of Nepal's role in the Himalayan area and his selection of tactics and that of the Ninth ruler in his dynasty, King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev. In part, of course, this can be attributed to the paucity of alternative policies for a country in Nepal's position. Nevertheless, there are choices to be made within this strictly limited framework, and the consistency displayed by widely different groups of decision-makers over a long period is one of the more notable aspects of Nepal's history.

Social scientists in both Western and non-Western countries have usually perceived contemporary international relations in terms of the major powers, both real and potential -- the United States, the Soviet Union, the larger Western European states, China, Japan and India. Although some attention has occasionally been . . .

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