Academic journal article Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Understanding Nepali History in the Context of Changing Political Situation

Academic journal article Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Understanding Nepali History in the Context of Changing Political Situation

Article excerpt

"nepali hami rahanchhaum kahan nepalai narahe uchai hamro chulincha kahan himalai narahe"

Rastra-kavi Madhav Ghimire

1. Background of the formation of Modern Nepal

The very basis of the discourse of "New Nepal", I think, cannot be launched properly without systematically delving into the history of the formation of the Modern map of Nepal by Prithvinarayan Shah and his immediate successors. Nepal today is going through an extremely difficult phase in its history. The thousands of years of old Monarchy has been eliminated and the country has plunged into the age of republicanism. At the same time, another difficult task of turning the nation into a federal structure is already in motion. The successful implementation of both of these difficult tasks are very challenging particularly in a country like Nepal where over 50% people are virtually illiterate and had been ruled by a feudal or semi-feudal monarchical system of government continuously for over two millennia. In this highly volatile situation, the politicians, members of the civil society, scholars and common citizens of Nepal must be aware of the importance of a proper understanding of our history from both analytical and factual angles. Since a balanced political vision cannot be achieved through romanticism and unnecessary excitement over the concept of change we must rather focus on a thorough, serious and clear knowledge of the formation and historical developments of the country. I think, what we seriously lack is an emphasis towards the need of a proper understanding of the formation and historical development of Nepal. We must accept that if we intend to address the present effectively and step forward in the right direction, all actors must not focus simply on being plain revisionists in analyzing the nation's history and undertaking specific policies for the future. It seems clear that Nepali politicians and social activists today are distorting the realities of our nation's history by highly romanticizing the discourses within the framework of social and political change. We as a nation are without a proper understanding of our own history. The late Father Ludwig Stiller seems to have rightly indentified this shortcoming in Nepali historical discourse decades ago by expressing "what we lack is the historical framework we need if we would question the present effectively" (Stiller 1999: I).

It is notable that the very existence of Nepal as an independent country was made possible only because of the timely realization of the geopolitical situation of the region by P. N. Shah alongside the committed, dedicated and trusted ministers and generals belonging to various ethnic origins. There were nearly hundred feudatories and princely states within the territory unified by the military efforts of the Kingdom of Gorkha.

This was a time when hundreds of old and powerful states in India were rapidly disappearing from the political map of the region. Very surprisingly, Nepal was able to stand its ground as an independent, unique and powerful multi-ethnic state situated in the lap of the Himalayas, even in such a vulnerable situation where such extreme colonial encroachment in South Asia was rife. In shaping Nepal as an independent country in South Asia, both the ruling elites and the common people of the region seem to have come forward with their full and wholehearted support under the leadership of the rulers of the tiny hill Kingdom of Gorkha. They appeared as if the entire populace of the region belonged to the same cultural tradition and ethnic background. Self determined natives from their states and villages stood in unison to save the newly founded Himalayan state of Nepal from the common colonial enemy of the region. The oral tradition of popular khando culture prevailed in Nepali society can serve as one of the few good examples of the history of such unison seen among the Nepalis of hill origin in which historic pride story of Nepal's victory over colonial British power and the grand success in defending the newly founded Himalayan Kingdom is nicely presented (Panta VE 2028: 148-152). …

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