Analysis of Nepal’s problems and Probable Solutions – Pt. 1

Posted by: Aneesh Lohani

This is an attempt to find solutions to Nepal’s present problems through historical analysis. I believe that problems should be solved by clinically analyzing their roots. Countries like Nepal, that are diverse in ethnicities, cultures, creeds, religions, languages and demographic peculiarities are usually challenged by varied:

- Levels of literacy.

- Social structures, practices and cultures.

- Ethnic advancement (how advanced a certain group is compared to others).

- Economic activities and habits

- Distribution of wealth

- Political representation

- Access to service, communication and transportation

- Geographically imposed limitations and dissimilarities in all of the above areas.

Social, economic and political developments of such diversified countries require holistic, scientific and credible systems of governance. Methods of governance guided by centralized and idealized models usually result in marginalizing the state. Such seems to have been the case in Nepal.

1 Antiquity – Early Nepal:

- Isolated, land locked, backward, low literacy, agrarian and impoverished

- Based on a mythical model centered on the religious relevance of Monarchy

- Derived from feudalistic model involving landlords and peasants

- Majority living off agrarian economy, while the able also consumed imported goods.

- A leadership selected through allegiance to beliefs, usually from within close circles

- A self-functioning system within its own boundaries (no needs for modernization)

- A very religious society based on spiritual inclination

- Some ethnic groups were deemed inferior

- A patriarchal hierarchal system, with the Monarch on top

- A capital centric society where institutions and economic activities were limited to specific areas

- Not a mobilized society with inter regional cross links

- Major parts of the population lived in isolation and polarization

- The apparent diversities in ethnicities made these situations complex

- A country of hardship with limited flexibility on options of professions and making a living

- Not materialistic, innovative and explorative. There were no schools, colleges or universities.

- Knowledge, industry, technology and economic development stayed away

- So did modernization, human and infrastructural development

- Country was held together with the fabric of cultural scriptures: proclamation of char jaat chattis warna

- King was seen as a messiah and revered as God.

 

Conclusion: the hallmarks of western experience (industry, production, science, technology and democratic principles, that rose from material needs, freedom of will, flexibility of thought, innovation, organization, cross-regional links and trade and exploration, were not sown). Basis for comparison or copy of external models were unavailable due to isolation. Distribution of wealth between rich and poor was generally accepted as reality. People hardly had time to ponder over these issues, or on the fate of humanity. Thinkers, scholars and knowledge seekers were limited to a small, able class. Their knowledge was limited to tiny circles. Various ethnic groups were isolated from the center for ages and couldn’t keep pace with Kathmandu. Nor did expansion in economy and infrastructure reach these groups.

 

2. Nepal in Making – Isolation and Capacity:

Nepal was isolated and land locked. It couldn’t enjoy the benefits of international trade, when nations were beginning to get rich. Compare Nepal with countries like Singapore, Malaysia and even India. Their open seas served as hubs for international trade. Indian spices were exported worldwide. In fact, India was a super power in those days, before the British took advantage. Tipu Sultan thwarted the British advance for 27 years. The concept of missile as weapons was pioneered by his establishment. India under Mughal Empire was a prosperous country. Had Nepal been in Singapore, we could have made millions from an early established Gurkha legacy, flora, various commodities, or even marijuana. Even our Monarchs would have made this country rich. Consider countries like UAE that lived in abject poverty, until a wise king mobilized oil money for its citizens. One would have risen after ignorant ones to emanate from royal wombs – a question of probability. But, we were left with Mount Everest, and the Right brothers took some time to appear, so did tourism economy.

Much of Nepal’s present problems are not entirely human, but its location. Furthermore, we also lost the probability battle against valuable natural resources. There may be oil and even uranium buried somewhere beneath us, though. But, we also lost the probability battle against inculcation of science in our ancestral consciousness. There were no industries. The only agrarian economy further ingrained feudalism in our society. The masters, naturally, took to their interests, and peasants went about their hardship. Mind you, most of us will pick up 100-rupee bills from the streets, even today, if fortune strikes our way. Nor, will most of us kick banana peels off the sidewalk in divine intervention, or return a loaded purse found alien from its master. Perhaps, the only significant human achievement of our race is Nepal’s unification.

 

Conclusion: most of our problems are circumstantial, as far as wealth is concerned. We weren’t able to capitalize on what we had, either. The feudal culture further polarized the rich and the poor. Only an able section of society – usually centered on major cities – got education from India and took up crucial positions in the state hierarchy. Isolation was a big problem, because it limited international trade, bilateral relations, education and inter regional links, trade, transportation and communication – this thwarted people empowerment and development.

 

3. Nepal in Making – Rana Oligarchy and Indian Experience:

The Rana Oligarchy made matters worse and Nepal lost 104 years. That was the period of accelerated scientific innovations and industrialization. The British kept Nepal as a buffer between India and China, while the Oligarchs suppressed us. The British did not interfere with Nepal, recognizing it as an independent state. This period is crucial in Nepali history – it was a defining period of costly stagnation and lost opportunities, and beginning of Indian control over Nepal. India attained independence and made Nepal a part of its domestic policy. Their Nepal policy was exclusively targeted at derailing our economy, controlling our foreign policy, checking our military aspirations and reducing Chinese influence in the country. People of Indian extraction, now called Madhesis, came to Nepal for business and made it to top positions of Nepali business and administrative hierarchy. In contrast, Nepalis work as factory workers and watchmen in India, even today. Over the years, Indians poured to Nepal from India, because India deliberately made its border points congested, uninhabitable and underdeveloped. Terai holds most of our industries, agrarian resources and borders to exports and imports points. Madhesis are more Indian than Nepalis. If you own Terai, you make Girija lick your boots. It is not rocket science to guess who the Terai separatist of present Nepal are, and who’re behind them, or where they get their weapons from.

India controls our imports and exports, sells us finished goods at high rates processing cheap raw materials we sell them. It inundates us, destroying produce and lives; objects international involvement in Nepal; objects our military procurements. In contrast, the nuclear deal between India and US of India buying nuclear fuel – being a non-signatory to CTBT – is a greater threat to Nepal. India discourages Nepali exports to India; avoids Nepali products from reaching competitive status in India; demoralizes Nepali businesses through unjust levies and tariffs; and provides sanctuary for Nepali insurgents within its borders. This is just a grain of India’s grand design. Our Monarchs bear heavy blame for not establishing trade links with China from very early on to create a bargaining capacity. They bear the majority of blame for Nepal’s current position. The first big mistake was leaving Nepali states taken by the British with India. With the treaty held insignificant after British departure, Nepal should have claimed its rightful territory. Those states would have benefited Nepal’s geopolitical position.

To avoid these states from retaining ties with Nepal, India has kept them underdeveloped. Most of these states, at present, are under insurgency. One good aspect of the Maoist insurgency is its links with Indian insurgents. What would have been the prospects of Maoists – escaping ideology and incongruous fantasies of spreading communism in the world – of adhering to the Nepali peace process and democratic principles, international norms and applying pressure on the Indian Maoists to side with Nepal, just as our Madhesi brothers are doing? Nepali monarchs were unconcerned, because most of them were content, guided by opportunists, among whom, some saw their personal interests. There was heavy corruption. Therefore, India was not a threat unless the palace was itself, a threat. This condition, coupled with our mythical culture, perpetuated Nepal’s legendary ‘take for granted’ attitude. Nepal became heavily dependent on India for economy, external trade and national priorities. The cold war between the capitalists (America) and communists (Soviet Union) were unhelpful either. Nepal was forced to align more with India, rather than China. The China card was occasionally used to check Indian bullying, but the Chinese connection didn’t serve any other purpose.

 

Conclusion: unlike the days of antiquity, Nepal’s hopes of attaining decent economic and political sovereignty were crushed by the Rana Oligarchy and subsequent Indian control. From being land-locked, Nepal became India-locked – the heavy part of the blame for Nepal’s current position. This resulted in low economic output enough to please the masters and vibrant cities of Nepal, but left remaining Nepal underdeveloped, agrarian and impoverished. Lack of vision and forward-thinking, mythical priorities and centralized activities, coupled with rural poverty created a historical time bomb. It was natural for this bomb to explode – present Nepal.

 

4. Nepal in making – Polarization of Power Centers:

 

Another crucial historical loss was Nepal’s failure to utilize B.P. Koirala. The polarization of society mentioned earlier took its roots in Nepal from here on in. In fact, Nepali political stalwarts had united with the Indians to abolish the Rana Oligarchy. The kings and the political parties created a culture of ideological divide. Indian influence on Nepali political parties began, because Nepalis studied in India (because, you couldn’t in Nepal in those days) and became politically indoctrinated with Indian models. The king created the Communist Party of Nepal to offset the popular Congress Party lead by B.P. Koirala. The NC and UML united against King Birendra in the 90′s. During the reign of the political parties, NC had been at odds with UML at times. Later, Maoists, another power center, evolved. The political parties and the King were divided between the Maoists. Much has been talked about the King’s links with the Maoists. King Birendra had not used the military against them, even after a request from the then PM, G Koirala. It is assumed that the Maoists had bipolar influence, with one faction aligned to the King and the other with India. Ultimately, the Indian influence grew. King Gyanendra took over power dividing the two power centers. Later, through Indian envisioning, the Maoists and SPA aligned to bring down King Gyanendra. The EPA came into power and got lost in the lust for power. Thereafter, the Terai broke, and then it broke into other factions. Then, still other factions evolved to offset these factions. The Chure Bhawar Ekta Samaj is an example. Now, more factions are rising by the day.

Analysis of Nepal’s problems and Probable Solutions – Pt. 1 was last modified: September 11th, 2013 by Aneesh Lohani
 

Blog Comments

  1. Prem Tamang

    Ram Manohar – Madhesi crying in Nepal is like black crying in USA. You guys have all the opportunity that Pahadi have – you just can’t pull it off. You occcupy the most fertile land of the country. Please move away from Bihari mentality. Contries are merging – look EU and NAFTA – and forging alliances. Separatist can’t last. Why are Biharis behind southern Indians? is their discrimiantion in India. It is because of thinking. Think big. Don’t expect India will help you guys to get separated. India has to deal with buch of separatist within its country. It does not want promote separatist abroad. It has learnt lesson in Sri Lanka. There are 10 million Pahadis in India. They will wake up and ask for Gorkha Land.

    You are sayign high – tech world. Who is stopping you from creating the world’s best open source tool staying in Biratnagar? Cut the crap!

  2. Ram Manohar

    Don’t see Madhesi with bullet eys. Its not the age of Prithivi Narayan Shah. It the age of High tech electrinics gadget. Its the age of high tech man, and machine.
    Using all bullet skill is not patent to pahari only.

  3. Ram Manohar

    Stop bowing infront of India. Don’t go to Indian door with a plat in hand for donation. Close all the door coming from India to kathmandu. No niddle, no shops, no toothpaste, no suit cloth, no boot shoe, no bus, no car, nothing from india.

    If you can do it, it very simple, India will have no role to play in nepal. If you can’t do this, be prepared for bargaining.

  4. Aneesh Lohani Post author

    You may have guessed that, along with the good, the government agreement with the MJF, also served to invalidate the Maoists, now threatening an uprising. It also gives the government a political reason to apply military on the other Madhesi groups, if it comes to that. They’ll side with the MJF and claim that the real issues of Madhes is solved and that the others are terrorists and separatists. This is a possibility with the CA approaching.

    You know as well as I know that the EPA government is fighting to stay in power, thinking that the CA is a general election. They are here for themselves. The Maoists did make one good suggestion of round-table conference. All madhesi rights activists have to accept this and come to an understanding. Let’s not create a feud between the terai and hills. You guys should pressure your representatives to see the big picture and come to an understanding within.

  5. Aneesh Lohani Post author

    Ram, the problem is India is manouvering Nepali politics. You may today work for a common cause, tomorrow it becomes someone else’s cause. And, do read the second part. I think you read hte first one and reacted instantly.

    If the dozen ask for a dozen independent states, are we to then make them independent. What if within each of those dozen independent states, more dissidents rise and some split and then some more split within, and further split and ask for even more independent states?

    The present time is about deep thinking and planning the best model suitable for all Nepalis, while also answering each dissidents’ aspirations. This has to be done scientifically. Why don’t we deside the course of future Nepal after the CA involving experts from all contituencies. Emotion, anger and grudges will not make Nepal better – it will worsen the situation. Why can’t the dozen so groups come to a common agreement and have a unified stand. It will be more powerful and will put more pressure to the EPA.

    If they don’t, that will prove the rising of power centers in the Terai in the political vacuum. I am for all Nepalis, but not for emotion and gut feeling at this historical juncture. There will be no future for Nepal if it disintegrates. If that happens, Terai may be controlled by India leaving the rest, especially, close to Tibet, under Chinese control. Do we want that to happen. The madhes should unite and then put pressure on the EPA.

  6. Ram Manohar

    Nepal Maoist are in agreement with India CPI-M. Baburam was in delhi for long time. He studied all higher education in India. Prachanda was in Delhi during decade long insurgency. Many Nepal maoist meeting is/was held is India. All of the Maoist has some time been to India in some or other form.
    So what that means, Maoist are away from India Influnce?

    Yes, madhesi are close to people of India. So what a big deal. More pahari are in India & benefitted from Indian soil than madhesi do. Ckeck the data, and then speak.

    If dozen groups are fighting for People rights, its good. This shows that, the issue is genuine, and it given more power to the cause.

  7. Aneesh Lohani Post author

    Thank you for your suggestion, Ram. Issues raised by the Madhesi communities are genuine, but who are representing them. That is the issue. You can’t deny Indian support as Maoists are a threat to india. The Madhesi uprising also served to quell the Maoists expansion.

    And, why are there a dozen groups claiming to speak on behalf of the Madhesis? I see that as, among others, former maoists cadres creating new factions, both genuine and fictional, to continue their reign of control with the presense of law removed from Nepal.

    My article was intended to point out that these factions, ultimately, turn into new power centers that will then not represent the whole section of society, in this case Madhes, but their vested interests. Such as been the trend in Nepali history. How do you explain the split in the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum? And, what about the seperatist claim. The terai resources belong to everyone in Nepal, not just Madhes.

    Do comment on the whole picture of the article. Besides, I’ve mentioned that the analysis is limited by my understanding.

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