Teaching of International Relations in Nepal (1)

By Khatri, Sridhar K. | Contributions to Nepalese Studies, July 2001 | Go to article overview

Teaching of International Relations in Nepal (1)


Khatri, Sridhar K., Contributions to Nepalese Studies


Introduction

International relations has been taught in Nepal for over the last 40 years, but has never emerged as an independent discipline on its own. There are a number of factors responsible for this situation, among which include the political conditions in the country, the rather slow growth of the manpower needed to teach the subjects, as well as the poor resource base from which it has had to operate.

It is the contention of this paper that time is now ripe for international relations to stand on its own in Nepal. But to understand the status of teaching of international relations in the country, one needs to first understand how it has grown within the umbrella of political science itself.

Political Science in Nepal

Political Science as an independent discipline was late in emerging in Nepal. During the 104 years Rana rule it was a forbidden subject and had no opportunity to lay its foundation since books on the subject could not even be imported by the ordinary people in the country. This did not however completely prevent the study of politics in general since learning of Eastern philosophical text could not be prevented. Mythological texts contained in the stories of the Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Manusmriti contained a rich supply of political philosophy, while important political works, such as Kautilya's Arthasastra, also provided knowledge of important political treatises. (2)

After the overthrow of the Rana autocracy in 1950-51, political science was introduced in Nepal not as an independent discipline, but as part of civics in matriculation examinations. Even then, teaching on the subject focused mostly on political thought and constitutional development, and only partially on public administration. This was so because, due to the lack of development in the discipline in previous years, colleges in Nepal were affiliated to Patna University, in India, and followed the hand-me-down British models followed by Indian universities.

The system continued till the establishment of Tribhuvan University in 1959, when changes were gradually introduced in the curriculum to suit the national requirements. Intermediate level teaching (lower undergraduate level) focused on civic rights and obligations both at the theoretical and practical levels, with emphasis on the legal system of the country (Mulki Ain) and policies of the Panchayat political system in the country which had been introduced in the early 1960s. At the degree level (upper undergraduate level), public administration courses were introduced with greater focus on modern governments and working of the Nepalese Constitution. The post-graduate level was devoted to advance studies on Nepalese political system and incorporated studies on political system of the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, along with those of neighbouring countries like India, Pakistan and China.

With the introduction of the New Educational Plan in the early 1970s, the educational system was thoroughly overhauled at all levels, including the primary and secondary levels, with new emphasis on also given to vocational training (Sharma 1989). At University level, teaching methods shifted from the hand-me-down British-Indian system to the American semester system. During this period syllabi were further refined to include courses on China and Japan and new attention was given to the study of behavioural and interdisciplinary approaches, while dissertation was introduced for qualified students who obtained 55 percent in the first part of their MA exams. This system continued till 1979-80, when political movement against the Panchayat system suddenly erupted through mobilization of students on colleges and University campuses. The first casualty of the political movement was the educational system as it was the first area in which the authority compromised, as it also agreed on a referendum to decide the fate of the Panchayat political system. …

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