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Nepal,ZoneofPeace
A Revised Concept for the Constitution“Diplomacy andStrategy”
EnglishSeries
Directors: Fouad Nohra and Michael J. Strauss
Diplomacy and Strategy is a collection initiated by the academic directorate of
the Centre d’E tudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques to promote the outstanding
scientific work presented by Ph.D. graduates, professors and researchers. The
scope of subjects covered is as wide as international relations itself,
encompassing disciplines such as political science, economic science,
international law and sociology.
BACKLIST
STRAUSS Michael J., The viability of territorial leases in resolving
international sovereignty disputes, 2010.IsabelleDuquesne
Nepal,ZoneofPeace
A Revised Concept for the Constitution©L’Harmattan,2011
5-7,ruedel’Ecole-Polytechnique,75005Paris
http://www.librairieharmattan.com
diffusion.harmattan@wanadoo.fr
harmattan1@wanadoo.fr
ISBN : 978-2-296-54948-7
EAN : 9782296549487DEDICATION
This book is dedicated to the People of Nepal, particularly the last three
generations that have lived immense upheavals in a race towards freedom
from feudalistic structures, redress from poverty and entry into globalness.
Their efforts often seem without reward, yet I believe that none have gone
lost and that a fortunate renewal of the nation within a democratic agenda is
possible– ifitisbasedonpeace.
These pages hope to honor the 13,000 Nepali women, men and children
of all ideologies, religions, castes, communities and occupations who,
victims of both courage and folly, died in an internal conflict that captured
the fears and the hopes of the nation. A fundamental change was overdue in
Nepal,yetsocio-political forces,timesrivals,timesallies,couldnotcombine
towards a non-violent transformation. This is a recurring phenomenon at
times preceding a large social change: those calling for a new order often
prevent it from happening, as do those who force it through violence, or
thosewhositonthefence,marginalized,disempowered,boundbyinertia.
The People of Nepal deserve a winning breakthrough, the establishment
of a peaceful society,a fair State, a stable rule oflaw, and the transformation
of financial aid into sustainable local, regional and national economies. The
comprehensive answer to Nepal’ s challenges today can only be uniquely
Nepali, based on a constitution that reflects the aspirations of a federation of
over 100 indigenous nationalities,vocalpolitical parties,anewgenerationof
entrepreneurs and a vibrant civil society. Nepal today has three generations
of change agents, politicized thinkers and courageous citizens, but also
millions in need. The violence of the insurgency must be condemned. Was
there really no alternative to bring about change? And if there had been one,
would the Nepali people have chosen it? This hypothetical question will
remain unanswered. Historyt ends to honor revolutions everywhere,
probably because evolution, following a kinder pace, is easily diverted and
dominatedbytheelites.
What is significant now is that it is possible to choose peace, in
reverence to the dead, to the living victims that are in need of healing today,
to the previous generations that lived through bondage, and to thefulfillment
of the democratic promise. It is possible to choose evolution, change
management and continuous strategic improvement, and apply systems that
see to fairer distribution. The means are now available. It is a question of
choice,ofcommitment.
7ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
My acknowledgments for preparing the text go to Melinda Lies, who
proofread the manuscript when it was a PhD thesis. As the thesis became
material for publication, my gratitude goes to Michael Strauss, who edited
thepresentwork.
MyacknowledgmentsinNepalgoto:
The Bhandari family, who welcomed me like a sister many a time; Om,
Priti and C. M. Yogi and their family, who took me in with open arms;
Balananda Sharma; the late Laxman Aryal; the late Saubhagya Shah;
Bhimarjun Acharya; Dev Raj Dahal; Manish Thapa; Ram Thapa; Amar
Gautam; Madan Kumar Bhattarai; NirajanBasnyat;MohanShrestha;Chakra
Bahadur Shanker; Lalan Chaudary; Deo Kumar Limbu; Arjun Limbu; Man
Bahadur Bk; Bishal Khanal; Bishnu Rimal; Mukti Rijal; Kashiraj Pandey;
Daman Nath Dhungana; Padma Ratna Tuladhar; Bishnu Sapkota; Rabindra
Khanal; Subas K. C. and Joyti Regmi Adhikari (KUSOM); Rajib Pokhrel
and my friends at the Rotary/Rotaract Metro; the students at Global College
of Management, Tribhuvan University (Conflict, Peace and Development
Studies); the participants in my seminars, workshops and conferences in
Kathmandu; the many people who granted me interviews; and all the good-
willed Nepalese who gave me their time and support so generously that I
mayunderstandtheircountrybetter.
For having opened the door of my heart to this wonderful country, my
deepestgratitudegoestoChetnaBhandari.
9PREFACE
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Maoist insurgents
and the mainstream political parties was signed on 21November2006.After
a ten-year People’ s War, Nepal could now integrate the radical forces
pushing for change and establish with them the institutions that guarantee a
federaldemocraticrepublic.
Four years later, at the time of writing, the country continues to be
shaken by whatseemstobelongbirthpangstowarda New Nepal.Thereare,
however, many signs pointing to the creation of equitable opportunities,
democratization, capacity-building and governance. And yet, growing
paralleltopositive changes is anincrementalfilteringofviolencethroughout
society,aspillover of knife-and-gun training by ex- and new rebels, cross-
border opportunists and disillusioned street politicians. Truth and
reconciliation programs, peace village councils, mediation training, rule of
law implementation and other mechanisms of the peace process are either
too few or too weak, or have not yet started. The Nepalese citizens need to
show tenacity in their peace process, the fundamental precondition for
economicimprovement.
Nearlyfourdecades ago, King Birendra askedthecommunity ofnations
to support Nepal in becoming a Zone of Peace, hoping to distance his
countryf rom regional security schemes at the heart of the Cold War
paradigm. With the refusal of India, followed by that of Russia, the idea was
denied embodiment. Yet today, as the incentives of trade and economic
growth bring China and India closer than ever before, as the international
community searches for new avenues to bring the poor onto the bandwagon
of globalization, and as the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation (SAARC) nations agree to tackle their common terrorism
problems at the root causes, the notion of a Zone of Peace is attractive and
timely. Nepal could now make the stance for peace a core component of its
foreign policy – towards its two large neighbors and within the SAARC
compound – while at the same time affirm a deepened notion of peace in its
constitution, herewith concluding the peace processin a positionofdomestic
andregionalstrength.
This book proposes that Nepal becoming a Zone of Peace would be
beneficial to its nation-building, its home governance, its foreign policy, its
changing relationship with its closest neighbors and its own healing process.
It would fulfill a dream where both idealism and realism converge in giving
Nepal a geopolitical function based on cooperation and humanistic values,
fulfillingmutualandmultilateralinterests.
11This book is based on a PhD thesis defended at the Centre d’ Etudes
Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris in 2010.It was intended fora western
readership, which is why Part I presents Nepal in general terms as a country.
Nepalese readers who are familiar with this material may want to start
readingfromPartIIrightaway.
The style of the thesis was descriptive and prescriptive, based on
qualitative research through personal experience, many interviews and group
discussions. I apologize to Nepalese readers if at times it may sound as if I
am giving solutions to someone else’s problems. My intention never was to
“know better.” Studentsofinternationalrelations,reportersandanalystslook
at countries other than their own, seek to understand situations and imagine
future scenarios. All states are under the scrutiny of thousands of analysts
and opinion-makers, an outcome of liberalized information and
communication. It is a professional competence to make suggestions without
eversoundingarrogant.ThereaderwilljudgeifIwasabletodothis.
The work is divided into three parts, each composed of four chapters.
Part I introduces Nepal as a country and situates today’ s events in a
historical perspective, highlighting the causes and motivationsfortheMaoist
insurgency. It also includes Nepal’ s relationship with its proximate
neighbors, and the foreign policy that has guided these relations. It discusses
the changing nature of the Indo-Nepalese and Sino-Nepalese relationships,
andwhya Zone of Peacewouldbenefitthelargerneighborhoodtoday.
Part II presents four pillars for Nepal’ s development. These strategies
are not new. They have been a concern of policy-makers for decades. I
formulate them in the proposed context of a Zone of Peace. Three of them
are related to Nepal’s economic diplomacy: becoming a transit state,
managing the world’ s second largest water reservoir, and expanding the
nascent industry of natural and spiritual tourism. The fourth pillar is related
to Nepal’s governance and administration in the form of institutionalized
empowerment, revenue-sharingandthecommitmenttoself-sufficiency.This
implies a continuous political discussion and monitoring of the quality of
democracynecessaryforsuchachievements.
Part III studies the forces of globalizationthatarepushingandpullingat
the center and at the seams of Nepal. In light of current discussions on peace
politics and peace economics, Nepal is a case study for the necessity of
global influences to demonstrate greater respect and care towards local areas
of deprivation. I adhere to the discourse on growth, diversification, social
mobility and controlled capitalism if it is in balance and complementarity
with local, small, ecological and sustainable microeconomies. This section
also looks at Nepal’s position in SAARC and the positive influence it would
12have on the region if the country declared itself a Zone of Peace. The final
chapter presents the mechanisms necessary for a Zone of Peace to function
inadurablemanner.
Despite the fragility of the state, the antagonisms between parties and
the lawlessness in agitated areas, the overwhelming majority of Nepali
citizens believe it is possible to have a peaceful country with the civic
enrichment of egalitarian ethnic diversity as a national strength. A central
lever for success is the practice of inclusion and commitment to diversity.
The enshrining of a Zone of Peace in the constitution would greatly enhance
this domestic undertaking and significantly contribute to socioeconomic
solutionsinAsiaandintheworld.
(ThetermZone of PeacewilloftenbeabbreviatedinthetexttoZoP).
13LISTOFABBREVIATIONS
ADB AsianDevelopmentBank
AEC AsianEconomicCommunity
ATC AgreementonTextilesandClothing
BIMSTEC BayofBengalInitiativeforMulti-SectoralTechnical&
EconomicCooperation
BOOT Build,Operate,OwnandTransfer(industrialoperations
scheme)
BOP BalanceofPayments
CMIC ChinaMachine-BuildingInternationalCorporation
CPA ComprehensivePeaceAgreement
DoR DepartmentofRoads
ECAFE EconomicCommissionforAsiaandtheFarEast
EDI ElectronicDateInterface
EPZ ExportProcessingZone
ESCAP EconomicandSocialCommissionforAsiaandthePacific
FAO FoodandAgriculturalOrganizationoftheUnitedNations
FDI ForeignDirectInvestment
FUG ForestUserGroup
FY FinancialYear
GC GlobalCompact
GEFONT GeneralFederationofNepaleseTradeUnions
GLOF GlacierLakeOutburstFloods
GoN GovernmentofNepal
GSP GeneralisedSystemofPreferences
HEP Hydro-ElectricProject
ICD InlandContainerDepot
ICIMOD InternationalCentreforIntegratedMountainDevelopment
ICT InformationandCommunicationsTechnologies
IFI InternationalFinancialInstitution
JCWR JointCommitteeonWaterResources
LDC LeastDevelopedCountry
MDGs MillenniumDevelopmentGoals
MFA Multi-FibreAgreement
MFI MicrofinanceInstitution
MoU MemorandumofUnderstanding
MW Megawatts
NDA NepalDefenseArmy
NMTTFP NepalMulti-ModalTransitandTradeFacilitationProject
NTBTourismBoard
15NTWC NepalTransitandWarehousingCompanyLimited
ODA OfficialDevelopmentAssistance
OECD OrganisationforEconomicCo-operationandDevelopment
SADF SouthAsianDevelopmentFund
SAFTAFreeTradeArea
SEZ SpecialEconomicZone
SMC SociallyMobilizedCommunities
TAR TibetAutonomousRegion
ToR TermsofReference
UCPN(M) UnitedCommunistPartyofNepal(Maoist)
UNCLOS/III UnitedNationsThirdConventionontheLawoftheSea
UNCTAD UnitedNationsConferenceonTradeandDevelopment
UNEP UnitedNationsEnvironmentProgramme
UNMIN UnitedNationsMissioninNepal
UML UnitedMarxistLeninist
VDP VillageDevelopmentProgramme
WAFED WaterandEnergyUsersFederation
WECS WaterandEnergyCommissionSecretariat
WDM WorldDevelopmentMovement
WFPFoodProgramme
WPRM WorldPeople’ sResistanceMovement
ZoP ZoneofPeace
16INTRODUCTION
AimoftheThesis
The thesis aims to demonstrate that the country of Nepal, while still
categorized as a least developed country (LDC), has several opportunities
that may significantly contribute to poverty alleviation and socio-political
improvement. Nepal is presently struggling to conclude the peace process
that followed a decade of insurgency, and is suffering froma certain vacuum
that proceeds fromradicalchangethrough violence coupled with insufficient
institutional and financial means. Yet in view of the rapid transformation
from a monarchy to a republic, from a feudal system to a multiparty
parliament with wide representation of castes and nationalities, Nepal is
making a great leap into the twenty-first century. With a view toward
fulfilling the peace agenda set in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA) of 2006, the thesis proposes that Nepal adds to its entity – in its
constitution – the dimension of a Zone of Peace (ZoP). This would have
positive repercussions within the country and in the South Asia region, and
would serve as example for other places in the world where a high
populationdiversityhelpsbuildanationasopposedtounderminingit.
The thesis takes its inspiration from the historical strength of an idea
proposed by Nepal’s monarch in the 1970s. This proposition was approved
by muchoftheinternational community immediately.Yetitwastooweakto
affirmitselfinthegeopoliticalenvironmentatthetime.
The thesis is also grounded in the observation that, unless a definite and
willful statement of peace and reconciliation is emitted by former conflict
partners, the likelihood of reverting to violent means is high. The inclusion
of an explicit peace statement at the heart of the constitution and embedded
in the very defintion of the state would have significant repercussions in
nationalpoliticsaswellasgeopolitically.
Another basis for the proposition is my belief, from personal experience
through many visits in the land, that the Nepali people are peace-lovers and
naturally talented peace teachers; peace is a national characteristic of the
Nepali folk-soul, composed of many identities. It is important to situate and
embrace the historical excursion into insurgency into a larger socio-
psychological effort of freedom-seeking that finally provides instruments of
positive social change and positive peace, rather than an open-ended liberty
toreturntopoliticsofviolence.
17FieldofStudy
The study starts with King Birendra’ s proposition. Birendra Bir Bikram
Shah Dev (1945-2001) appears to have been more loved by his people than
the other monarchs. He was respected by the international community,
partly due to the fact that he was the first Nepali head of state to have
receivedawesterneducation.ThesupporthegainedfromtheNepalicitizens
maybe based on his final acceptance of their will to abolish the 30-year old
partyless Panchayat system, thus becoming a constitutional monarch next to
a multiparty parliamentary institution. Ramjee Parajulee gives a detailed
account of the 1990 People’s Movement, or Jana Andolan,that took50days
1
(February-April 1990) of strikes, demonstrations and crisis meetings, the
end of which ensured the establishment of a parliamentary democracy
through universal elections. The 1990 constitution situated Birendra as Head
of State with reduced executive powers. The king’ s final consent to the
movement s demands has often been interpreted as a show of understanding
from the monarch towards his people’ s hopes. The relevance of King
Birendra’ s leadership in regards to this thesis, however, focuses only on the
definition of Nepal’s foreign policies and the way he sought to implement
them in the South Asian geopolitical context of the 1970s and 1980s. The
changes in foreign policy that he initiated were continued by successive
governments from the 1990s until today; their nature shows a growing
closeness to the northern neighbor, China, and a tight and dependent
relationshipwiththesouthernneighbor,India.
The study continues with the opportunities today that maylead Nepal to
includetheZoPinitsdomesticandSouthAsianagendas.Atfirst,anaccount
of recent history covers the insurgency, its motives, its strategy in a tripartite
political arena (Maoists, the monarchy – King Gyanendra, after Birendra’s
death – and the political parties), the mediated conclusion of hostilities and
the last four years of a partially implemented peace process. Parallel to a
wave of political freedomand capacity-building, the debates on democracy,
federation and constitution have created adversarial camps and the
furtherance of political animosity. Nonetheless, there is a three-pronged
force of positive influence working through the land: 1) civil society,
comprising mediators, educators, teachers, facilitators, NGOs, media and
officials dedicated to peace; 2) businesses, encompassing those that survived
the insurgency, the new ones benefiting from access to globalness, and
enterprising youth who stay in or return to Nepal after their education
1
Parajulee, R. (2000): The Democratic Transition in Nepal. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
82-95.
18
’abroad; and 3) the international community, consisting of UN agencies, the
foundation arms of corporations, the development and cooperation offices of
embassies, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, other donors and
literally thousands of smaller institutions and individuals whose genuine
wishistohelpNepal.
The study finishes with an advocacy for Nepal to give itself the identity
of, and to be recognized as, a ZoP. The potential meaning of such a
declaration is presented against the background of South Asian regional
complexity, in particular through the working agenda of SAARC. A more
philosophical contemplation aims to unite an idealistic intent and a realistic
urgency, while a psychological view focuses on the creative power of the
individualandcollectivewill– thewilltopeace.
LimitsoftheStudy
The studycannot, unfortunately, give enough honor to the changes
taking place in Nepal’ s neighboring lands. This exclusivelyN epalese
standpoint carries its own flaws of filtering information, incomplete
interpretation and partial judgment. I admit to a certain bias on behalf of the
Nepali perspective. A fully objective study including regional viewpoints
proved beyond the limits of this work. Nepal will complain in particular
about Bhutan (the refugee issue), India (unequal negotiating powers) and
foreigners in general (helpers with selfish agendas). I will attempt to show
that Nepal’s complaints usually reflect its own learning curve. An
anthropological account of the peoples of Nepal could not be included. For
this, the seminal work by Dor Bahadur Bista, Fatalism and Development:
2
Nepal’s Struggle for Modernization, isrecommended.
Hypothesis
India and China are no longer considering each other as a potential
threat to their security concerns. They are more interested in developing
economic cooperation and making use of each other’ s markets. Nepal may
conveniently soon become an effective transit state for their trade purposes.
This decreases the function of Nepal as a buffer state in India’ s security
2
Bista, D. B. (2008): Fatalism and Development: Nepal’ s Struggle for Modernization.
Kolkota:OrientLongmanPvt.Ltd.
19plans and increases the acceptability of declaring a ZoP. Madhavi Thampi
edited a volume on India and China in the colonial world, reminding us of
the close relation between the two neighbors since the earliest of times, and
how this relation was damaged by the colonial powers who brought Indian
soldiers to support British expansion and the forced opium commerce –
radically departing from earlier visits of Buddhist scholars and friendly
3
traders. Taking a long-range historical perspective, Sino-Indian relations
have been mostly constructive and only occasionally destructive (and this
mostly through the influence or legacy of external powers). We may assume
that the Sino-Indian relations of tomorrow will be based on interdependent
economictiesandmutualcooperation.
India has its own internal challenges to face in various regions where
ethnic, religious and political conflicts undermine the peaceful affairs of the
large republic. Naxalite insurgencies, Hindu-Muslim avengement, claims for
greater autonomy, independence and cessions, the spread of criminal groups
and the penetration of terrorism all heighten India’ s state of insecurity from
within. ThelikelihoodofaconventionalwarbetweenIndiaanditsneighbors
(particularly Pakistan) is waning; the possibility of guerrilla insurgencies
throughout the provinces or terrorist bomb attacks in city centers is higher.
The need for professionalism in the police and army, and wiser political
decisions prior to sending anti-terrorism commandos, is illustrated by the
accounts and reflections of the former Director General of Punjab Police, K.
P. S. Gill, credited for having brought the Punjab insurgency of the 1970s
4
under control. The security agenda is changing and requires common
agreements among neighbors (especially with Pakistan, itself a victim of
terrorism through the Taliban and other internal groups). We assume that it
would benefit India if Nepal called itself a ZoP and denied on its soil any
presence of violent perpetrators. It would be a welcome statement for the
region and help reduce the spread of violence in northern India. Such a
policy would require pragmatic changes in the Indo-Nepalese administration
oftheborderbetweenthem.
Nepal’ s government is accountable to its people for the fulfillment of
the peace process. Unless clear hallmarks are set that anchor the political
will to make peace a nationalcapability,thevacuumthatunavoidably occurs
between the old and the new will be rapidly filled by aimless and violent
brigands, and clever abusers. As the economist Paul Collier writes, “the end
3
Thampi, M., ed. (2006): India and China in the Colonial World. Melbourne: Social Science
Press.
4
Gill, K. P. S. (2003): Terror and Containment: Perspectives of India’s Internal Security.
NewDehli:GyanPublishingHouse.
205
ofa war often is not the end ofthe conflict.” Theexperienceofhavinglived
a violent conflict increases the risk of it happening again. Only half of the
countries that end their civil wars manage to have a 10-year duration without
relapse. Low-income states are much more likely to fall into a downward-
spiraling violence again. We assume that by calling itself a ZoP, Nepal
would give a strong message to its population, making lawlessness more
difficult and justifying stronger implementation of the rule of law before
damagingbehaviorerodesmoralvaluesforgenerationstocome.
There are credible opportunities for growth opening to Nepal at the turn
of this first decade of the new millennium. There is a real chance for the
country to come out of the poverty cycle and rise to becomean emerging
economy. Nepal has resources, a hard-working population, aid and technical
assistance and increasingly educated youth. A profound statement of peace
would support the construction efforts and knowledge transfers. To this
effect, the leadership needs to demonstrate continued democratization and
sustainable reforms, apply political governance that is capable of consesus
and distance itself from politicking. Georg Sorensen provides examples of
recently democratized countries and relates further democratic consolidation
6
withthepromotionofpeaceandprosperity. Nepalcanachievetheseinlittle
time. The project of building a state based on equal chances for all citizens
and federalist principles of administration is underway. Yet there is work
aheadtosecureinclusiveresults.
The Nepali people are naturally peaceful. Violence is by and large an
imported cultural phenomenon. The diverse population has long been
admired for its tolerance and syncretism, which was abused and rendered to
submissiveness through a rigid caste system. Ruth Schmidt describes
exemplary artistic syncretism in the form of shrines or statues that combine
Saivite Hindu and Tantric Buddhist elements, dating from the Malla era and
7
still standing in Kathmandu today. Festivals of various faiths have been
celebrated together by Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Nepalis of other
denominations and animist religions for centuries. The bombing of a
Christian church in Kathmandu in May 2009 and recent Hindu extremism in
Nepal is a new phenomenon, an export of hatred into the land of Buddha’s
birth, an unfortunate manifestation emerging from the vacuum that follows
5
Collier, P. (2008): The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What
Can Be Done About It.NewYork:OxfordUniversity Press.27.
6
Sorensen, Georg (2007): Democracy and Democratization: Process and Prospects in a
Changing World.Boulder:WestviewPress.
7
Schmidt, R. (1978): “Sy mbolic Fields in Nepalese Religious Iconography: A preliminary
Investigation”. Fisher, J., ed.: Himalayan Anthropology: The Indo-Tibetan Interface. The
Hague:MoutonPublishers.447-450.
21wars. A ZoP campaign within Nepal would reinforce the national psyche
that is naturally altruistic and filled with goodwill, defending the common
goodfromtheinroadsofmalevolence.
Politics of peace, economics of peace, peace dividends and trade-offs
for peace are concepts and terms increasingly used by decision-makers and
civil society on various diplomatic tracks and at international negotiating
tables. The recognition that the gains of war do not offset the costs of self-
destruction – pushing poor countries further awayfrom chances of finding
their rightful places in the world economic community – is all too apparent.
The fundamental problems of social oppression and poverty are found in a
plethoraofdimensionssuchas:
! internalinequitywithinthepopulationofthecountry;
! communalrivalriesandunequalaccesstocommonresources;
! insufficiently managedrelationswithneighborsandtradepartners;
! feudalisticage-oldhabitsinfragiledemocracies.
The legacies of past hurtful practices (colonialism, proxy wars of the
Cold War) surely continue to have an influence in the capacity of states to
affirm themselves in the world community. The conditions laid out by
money providers (World Bank, IMF) for aid and nation-building may be
tough and imperfect. The self-protection by wealthy regions through
agreements and subsidies that prevent poorer lands from entering the
markets needs radical change towards a fairer and flatter global economy.
The super-rich must be subjected to new and effective laws of taxation,
transparency and accountability. Likewise with the financial dealings of
industrial or service firms that no longer produce employment but capture
money-makinginexclusiveweath-creationcyclesforelitistcircles.
However, even if the external pressures on poor countries are
constricting, it is still within the nation, by its politicians, its administrators
and its people that the seeds of positive change must be sown. In the case of
Nepal,thereareinstrumentsavailable tofulfillthepeaceagenda,andifthese
instruments are not being used (while money, assistance and manpower are
available), then this lies in the decisions and behavior of the domestic actors.
It is in the hands of local people to change destructive strikes, anger and
claims into constructive entrepreneurship, negotiation and collaboration.
There are ways to keep towns peaceful, increase employment and share
politicalpower.
22The declaration of a ZoP would give a tremendous boost to the
completion of the peace process and remove the spectre of return to intra-
state warfare. It would secure a framework for Nepal to open its territory for
transit and water management. It would help keep guns away. It would be a
cornerstoneofnation-buildingandtheconstitution.
Against the background of a peace discourse, the thesis discusses the
viability of four major areas of development: the transit economy, water
management, tourism and conscious simplicity. It tests the credibility of
such development in view of Indian and Chinese interests. It asks if SAARC
would benefit from a ZoP adjacent to its northern mountains. It queries
whether Nepal is ready to live up to such an ideal. It searches for supportive
instruments and sustainable mechanisms that would make the ZoP part of
SouthAsianhistorynow.
Methodology
The materials used draw from secondary research and my personal
experience, visiting and working as a lecturer and trainer in Nepal for the
last four years. Various types of interviews were conducted with politicians,
civil servants of the Foreign Office, senior staff of media houses, leaders of
businesses, INGOs and NGOs, lawyers and mediators, principals of schools,
authors, students, UN staff, armystaff and many Nepali citizens of all walks
oflife.
The methodology is purely qualitative. Conferences and debates,
discussions with students and professors, focused interviews with leaders of
trade unions, employers, employees and peace activists have provided
valuable information that confirmed, challenged and at times queried this
thesis. As a writer on Nepal, I am well aware of being a foreigner in a land
that searches its own soul after a long period of stress and shock. Despite the
obvious psychological efforts and the sheer hard work that Nepalese citizens
are engaged in today, I have benefited from a remarkable personal kindness
and patience from them. I am grateful for the generous intellectual and
emotional engagement of my Nepali sisters and brothers towards my work,
which has helped me transcend my being a stranger in a land I consider my
teacher.
23PARTI
NEPAL:FROMMONARCHYTOREPUBLIC,
FROMLANDLOCKEDTOLANDLINKED,
FROMDEPENDENCYTOINTERDEPENDENCY
I cannot let die the hope that one day, the dove of peace will fly in
8
Nepal, and all those who leave will not have to.” – KarnaSakya.
Part I provides the general background upon which the proposition for a
Zone of Peace is placed. Chapter 1 explains the reasoning and motivation of
the idea’ s originator, King Birendra. It places Nepal in the historical context
of the 1970s and its sense of insecurity in view of Indo-Pakistani enmity, the
secession(orliberationwar)ofBangladesh(1971),theannexationofSikkim
by India (1975) and of Tibet by China (1950), the Sino-Indian “no -
communication” status after the border war (1962) and the Indo-Russia
friendship despite non-aligned principles (1971). Further causes are found in
the historical antecedents through the British presence and the proximate
desire by Nepal to amend the Indo-Nepali treaties of 1950, which have been
perceivedas“u nequal.”
Intended for readers who may not be familiar with the country, chapter
2 gives a portrait of Nepal. The physical dimension reveals the remarkable
eco-diversityof its regions but also the strains that nature puts onthe people.
The social landscape is equally diverse, with a complex tapestry of
nationalities, castes, regional tribes and many sub-groups. History shows
how Nepal and India are deeply connected and the dilemmas of Nepali
leaders in securing both their sovereign independence and preferred
treatment from the southern power. Such controversy applies to kingly
houses that favored the status quo as much as to reformers who confronted it
violently. The last 20 years in particular tell the story of political awakening
and the people’s will to know and live democracy. It cost the country an
internal war. The current peace process, while criticized for being
insufficiently implemented, is running an array of educational programs and
reconstruction projects, led by civil society and aided by donors’ monies.
Thedemocraticdebateisveryactive.Butsoarethegangsters.
Chapter 3 deals with the Nepal-India relationship. It shows the
symbiotic characteristics of a deep kinship but also its utilitarianism,power
8
Sakya, K. (2009): Paradisein our Backyard: A Blueprint for Nepal. New Delhi: Penguin
Books.
25
“games and fatigue. Caught in a dependence pattern, Nepal tries time and
again to gain distance, or muscle, but is condemned to dance to the tune of
the partner that has size, ports, nuclear power, a long-established democratic
republic, supplies of all commodities and other essential goods. A
government that is on bad terms with Delhi is a government that will not
supply the nation with resources, which equals its ruin. While problems
betweenIndiaandNepal are complicated by the power asymmetry, some are
of a common nature (such as water, and peace) and maylead to more
interdependence. The solving of similar problems with symmetrical
dimensions is a chance for Nepal to rise psychologically and meet India as
an equal in some domains. While India has been a long-standing donor and
investor in Nepal, it is in matters of trade, transporation, technology and
wealth-creation from resources that interdependence needs to grow. These
areopportunitiesforNepaltodemonstratenegotiatingskills.
Chapter 4 turns northwards and handles Nepal’s relations with China.
TraderoutestoTibethaveexistedsincetheearliestofcivilizationsanditisa
return to normalcy that Nepal and China should reopen the passes and build
roads across the mountains. Nepal has had to show diplomatic flexibility in
the question of Tibetan refugees on its territory, making unequivocal
statementsofsupporttothelegitimacy ofBeijing’ spolicies.TheChineseare
involved inroadconstructionandotherinfrastructure,inhydroelectricplants
and diverse industrial investments. Their engagement in Nepal is rising
rapidly and the growing extent of positive competition between China and
India for a strategic industrial and commercial presence in Nepal is a new
phenomenon since the end of the People’ s War. Chinese goods have
dramatically increased in shops and marketplaces in Nepal. But so has the
western presence through Gucci, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Swarovski and
other labels dotting the main arteries of Kathmandu leading to the former
palace-turned-museum.
26CHAPTER1
KINGBIRENDRAS ZONEOFPEACE
Introduction
The idea of Nepal as a ZoP is traced back to King Birendra (reign 1972-
2001), who proposed it at a time when the region’s grand schemes of
security appeared only too insecure to his sovereign country. The
international community was supportive of the idea, but India and the Soviet
Union declined to endorse it (India in the first place, on the ground of strict
observance of previous treaties). This book will advance new arguments
fitting the current geopolitical context, proposing once again that Nepal give
itself the status of ZoP, in line with the circumstances of the twenty-first
century.
1.1 KingBirendra:HisPersonandHisReign
Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev became King on 31 January 1972 and
ruled over Nepal for 29 years until 1 June 2001, the day he was shot and
9
killed by his eldest son. At the beginning of his reign, Birendra inherited an
autocratic mandate from his father, King Mahendra, who, twelve years
earlier, had used the emergency powers granted by the constitution to
dismiss the Congress government, saying it had failed to maintain law and
order. Mahendra had withdrawn his cooperation with the political parties
(which had entered Nepal’ s government only a decade before), asserting that
multiparty parliamentary democracy was an “alien system unsuited for
Nepal,” and promulgated a new constitution in 1962 that enshrined the
10
partylessregimeof Panchayat. Whilewantingtobringmorestrengthtothe
grassroots levels of the land and using participative and electoral processes,
9
The Nepali Royal Massacre occurred during a dinner at the Narayanhity Palace, then the
residenceoftheNepalese monarchy.Prince Dipendra,eldest sonandheirtothethrone,killed
nine members of his family, among them the king and the queen, and shot himself. It was
known that Queen Aishwarya disagreed with her son’s choice of bride (the crown prince
wantedtomarryDevyani,butbecauseofherfamilylineage,thequeendidnotacceptsuch
a marriage). It was alsor umored that King Birendra had threatened to take away
Dipendra'srighttobetheheirifhemarriedDevyani.Dipendrawasinebriatedashekilled
hisfamily.Birendra’s brotherGyanendrabecamekingafterDipendra’s deathatthehospital.
10
USLibraryofCongress:The Panchayat System under King Mahendra.
27
’the monarch also retained de facto ultimate power. Party-based political
11
activity wasbanned.
Birendra continued in his father’s footsteps and the Panchayat system
lasted nearly 30 years. But the rejected democratic forces, meeting secretly
in Nepal and in India, prepared for a revolutionary return. The Panchayat
system was stifling and, with too little economic progress and too much
appropriation of power by the elite class, became the beast to kill. Agitation
was led by political activists, students and workers rallying to the cause of
democratic freedom. In response to discontent and strikes, Birendra ordered
a general referendum on the Panchayat system in May 1980, in which the
voters were free to choose between a reformed Panchayat and multiparty
democracy. The margin of victory for the Panchayat was 55%against 45%–
a narrow but certain popular choice. Nonetheless, the winds of change kept
12
blowing.
It took one more decade for the political parties to successfully stage the
13 14
(first) historic People’s Movement in 1990, Jana Andolan I. Severe riots
led Birendra to agree to a constitutional monarchy. He appointed a
Constitution Recommendation Commission to represent the main opposition
factionsandtoprepareanewconstitutiontoaccommodatetheirdemandsfor
political reform. Accepting the draft constitution which was also approved
by the new Prime Minister, K. P. Bhattarai, and his cabinet, Birendra
promulgated the new constitution transforming Nepal into a constitutional
monarchyon9November1990.
The following years were an adjustment and a balancing act between
royalist, socialist-centrist and communist politicians, and the king. The
economyand citizenry were not benefiting from the political quarrels in
Kathmandu and elitism was still hindering the development of millions of
Nepalese in need. Emerging from the magnitude of discontent, the radical
left (Maoists) started an insurgency in 1996 and conducted a guerrilla war to
11
Hutt, M. (2004): Himalayan People’s War: Nepal’s Maoist Rebellion. Bloomington:
IndianaUniversityPress.3.
12
Baxter, C., Malik, Y. & Kennedy, C. (2001): Government and Politics in South-Asia: Fifth
Edition.Nashville:WestviewPress.
13
Nepal popular movements are called Jana Andolan. The first refers to the events in 1990,
the second to those of 2006. Yet there had already been another large movement before that:
in 1980, it was “led by the students with a dual aim of ending the Panchayat system and
establishing democracy, and was basically centred around colleges and city centres.” See
GEFONTPolicyLeaflet(2009):UnityForTransformation.DirectionsofNepaliTradeUnion
Movement.2.
14
Jana Andolan I, or The First People’s Democratic Movement in 1990. See Brown, L.
(1995): The Challenge to Democracy in Nepal: A Political History. New York: Routledge,
Chapman&Hall.117.
28force political change. Against the background of aggressive political
contention and five years into the armed rebellion, the highly symbolic
murderous family drama occurred in thepalace,precipitatingNepalintonew
15
depthsofdarkness.
Manjushree Thapa describes poignantly the national state of shock
16
caused by the Royal Massacre. As Birendra’ s younger brother Gyanendra
became king, he inherited trauma, endemic strategic violence between
Nepalese factions, a state in shambles, offensiveness towards the
monarchical institution, and suspicion that he may have orchestrated the
killing. Facing him was an unmistakle opposing intent: the insurgents
17
wantedtobringNepal’s monarchytoanend.
King Birendra today is generally remembered as an engaged and active
king. During the Panchayat years, he believed that Nepal needed a firm and
focused leadership. When multiparty politics reaffirmed itself, he continued
to serve the needs of the Nepali people and support the management of the
18 19
State. He argued with India – especially with Rajiv Gandhi – and
whenever there were causes for Nepali workers, traders, developers or
politicians to be discontent with India, he reaffirmed his proposal for the
Himalayan kingdom to be declared a ZoP as a key instrument of foreign and
20
regionalpolicy.
15
Shrestha, N. & Ellington, L. (2002): Nepal and Bangladesh: A Global Studies Handbook.
ABC-Clio.73.
16
Thapa,M.(2005):Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy.NewDelhi:Penguin.
17
UPI.com(2008): Nepal’s Monarchy comes to an end.
18
Malhotra, I. (2001): “King Birendra of Nepal: A ruler much loved by his people, he bowed
topopularwillandsurrenderedabsolutepower.” Guardian,4June2001.
19
Parajulee, R., op. cit.191.Onereasonwhy therelationshipbetweenRajivGandhiandKing
Birendra was tense may be partly due to the tacit agreement between India and China when
Rajiv Gandhi visited Beijing, whereby the Indian prime minister agreed to support Tibet
remaining a part of China as long as China supported that Nepal should remain in India’s
sphereofinfluence
20
Lama, M. (1996): “Clash of Images in India-Nepal Economic Relations.” Barak, L. R., ed.:
Looking to the Future: Indo-Nepal Relations in Perspective. New Delhi: Anmol Publications.
180.
291.2 KingBirendra’s PropositionforNepaltobecomeaZoneof
Peace
21
At the summit of the Non-aligned Movement in Algiers in September
1973, Birendra expressed the need to formalize peace and cooperation
between Nepal and its neighbors. “Situated between the two most populous
countries of the world, Nepal wishes her frontiers to be enveloped in a Zone
of Peace”, he said. Two years later, in his coronation address, attended by
heads of states and governments and high officials from 65 countries,
Birendra formally asked other countries to endorse his proposal: that the UN
declareNepalaZoP.Inhiswords:
As heirs to one of the most ancient civilizations in Asia, our natural
concern is to preserve our independence, a legacy handed down to us by
history […] we need peace for our security, we need peace for our
independence, and we need peace for development. And if today, peace is
anoverridingconcernforus,itisonlybecauseourpeoplegenuinelydesire
peace in our country, in our region and elsewhere in the world. It is with
this earnest desire to institutionalize peace that I stand to make a
proposition – a proposition that my country, Nepal, be declared a Zone of
Peace.[… ]Asheirstoacountrythathasalwayslivedinindependence,we
wishtoseethatourfreedomandindependenceshallnotbethwartedbythe
changing flux of time when understanding is replaced by
22
misunderstanding,whenconciliationisreplacedbybelligerencyandwar.
Birendra wanted to give a new dimension to Nepal’s policy of non-
alignment, assuring a superordinate protection from the pulls and pushes of
its powerful neighbors.Thesecurity ofNepalclearly dependsonitsrelations
with its neighbors and on their relations between them. The ZoP would have
institutionalized this by placing internationally sanctioned restrictions on the
use of military force in Nepal, while maintaining cordial relations and
fulfillingmutualobligations.
21
Non-alignment or Non-aligned Movement (NAM): traces its origins to a meeting in 1955
when 29 Asian and African countries’ heads of state discussed common concerns, including
colonialism and the influence of the West (mostly driven by Nasser, Nehru and Tito). The
movement comprised countries that did not want toaffiliate with any majorpowerblocorthe
expansion of the Cold War. The purpose of the organization, as stated in the Havana
Declaration of 1979, is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity
and security of non-aligned countries” in their struggle against imperialism, colonialism,
neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination,
interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.” There are 118
countriesintheNAMtoday.
22
Subedi, Surya. (1996): Land and Maritime Zones of Peace in International Law. New
York:OxfordUniversity Press.
30
“1.2.1 ProximateCausesfortheProposition
In 1962, a border dispute between India and China escalated to a brief
but fierce war. The point of contention was stretches of land in the region of
Aksai Chin (north of Kashmir), seen by the Chinese as a strategic link that
enables movement via the China National Highway route G219 to the
Chinese-administered territories of Tibet and Xinjiang. The war ended when
the Chinese captured the disputed area and unilaterally declared a ceasefire
23
on 20 November 1962. Although Nepal did not get involved and both
belligerents respected Nepal’ s neutrality, the war heightened Nepalese
dislikeofbeingseenasaSino-Indiasecuritybuffer.
The 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty reinforced Nepal’s sense of vulnerability.
The 1971 war of independence of East Pakistan from West Pakistan ended
withtheemergenceofBangladesh,aneventactively supportedbyIndia.The
conflict transformed into an Indo-Pakistani war, the third war between the
two neighbors since the separate founding of their States. India annexed
Sikkim in 1975 (through a referendum in favour of it). Besides these cross-
border events, internal upheavals within India were causing much
apprehension in Nepal: on the one hand Delhi was supportive of a banned
Nepali Congress Party (which at that time was anti-Panchayat, King
Birendra’s government), and on the other hand Communist rebels, the
Naxalite, were causing damage in West Bengal, near Nepal, with
underground border crossings of terrorist preparations. In the midst of such
violent surroundings, India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974. Birendra
was alarmed and wanted Nepal to be formally endorsed as a non-militaristic
zone. He also affirmed that playing one neighbor against the other was a
despicable and dangerous thing, and could never be useful to the Nepali
people.
Birendra’s desire to “ protect the flickering lamp of Nepal’s freedom from
being extinguished by the storms blowing far and near” made allusions to
India’ s first atomic test in Pokhran, the annexation of Sikkim by India, the
Indian military intervention to the creation of Bangladesh, the security
alliance between USSR and India on the one hand, and India and
Bangladesh on the other plus a serious regional rivalry that emerged
24
followingmilitarycooperationbetweenChinaandPakistan.
23
GlobalSecurity.org(2009):Indo-China War of 1962.
24
Pandey,N.,ed.(2005):Nepal-China Relations.Kathmandu:InstituteofForeignAffairs.5.
311.2.2 PreviousAntecedentstotheProposition
After India became independent in 1947, Nepalese-Indian relations
continued on the basis of the 1816 Sugauli Treaty between Nepal and the
British. The treaty hadrecognizedthesovereignty ofNepalyetdictated most
terms in economic and commercial relations, thus making Nepal dependent
on the British East India Company for trade, transport and access to
modernization. The Indo-Nepal treaties of 1950 (Treaty of Peace and
Friendship, and Treatyof Trade and Commerce) were based on the Anglo-
Nepal treaties, defining large areas of mutuality. Yet in view of Nepal being
much smaller and landlocked, such mutuality often turned out to be unfair in
the asymmetric reality. In a speech before the Indian Parliament in 1950,
Prime Minister Nehru summed up India’ s security concerns regarding Nepal
asfollows:
From time immemorial, the Himalayas have provided us with magnificent
frontiers. We cannot allow that barrier to be penetrated, because it is also
the principle barrier to India. Therefore, as much as we appreciate the
independence of Nepal, we cannot allow anything to go wrong in Nepal or
permit that barrier to be crossed or weakened, because that would be a risk
25
toourownsecurity.
From then on, India viewed any potential attack on Nepal’ s soil as an
aggression against its homeland, hence insisting on mutuality in the Indo-
Nepalese treaties. In 1952, an Indian military mission was established in
Kathmandu, with the aim of reorganizing and training Nepal’ s armed forces,
civil service and police force to bring the kingdom’ s defenses in line with
India’ s securityscheme. In 1954, a memorandum provided for the joint
coordination of foreign policy, and Indian security posts were set up along
Nepal’ s northern borders. In 1965, India secured a monopoly on armssales
to Nepal. Suffocating from such dependency, the establishment in
Kathmandu expressed its disagreement and challenged the mutual security
arrangement in 1969. It asked that the Indian security checkposts and the
Kathmandu liaison group be withdrawn. Struggling to regain authority and
be free of Indian presence, other elements of the treaties (commerce,
transport,emigration)wereusedastrade-offsinhardnegotiations.
On its northern side, Nepal witnessed the annexation of Tibet by the
People’ sRepublicofChinain1951,alsogivingrisetofeelingsofinsecurity.
Its relations with China, however, would unfold differentlyfrom those with
India.
25
Moraes,F.(2008):Jawarharlal Nehru.Mumbai:JaicoPublishingHouse.491.
32King Birendra, in his enunciation ofthe Kingdom’s foreign policy some
eighteen months after ascending the throne, emphasized the “need for
courage and the potential necessity for it to come to the fore,” as he
underlined the commitment to “independen ce or nothing.” This statement
was later seen as an indication of the intended firmness with which Nepal
wasgoingtoliveitsfriendshipwithitsneighbors.InBirendra’s words:
We shall take special pains to cultivate friendship with our neighbors
hoping earnestly that peace, cooperation and an understanding based on a
sober appreciation of each other's problems and aspirations shall prevail.
Notwithstanding these fervent pleas, notwithstanding this sincere
expression of goodwill, notwithstanding these endeavours, should ill-
fortune ever overtake us,Ihope and praythat the people ofNepalshallnot
lag behind to brace themselves with the last resource they have – courage;
courage to prove to the world that force or contrivances are but feeble
instruments tosubduethefiercespiritofapeoplewhoselifeblood,through
26
theages,hasbeenindependenceornothing.
1.3 ReactionstotheProposition
One hundred and sixteen countries endorsed Birendra’s proposal within
a very short time. Fifteen years later, it continued to be supported by 110
states. India did not endorse it because it saw the concept of ZoP as being
contradictory to the 1950 Treaty. India could not risk releasing Nepal from
the common defence principle, which is central to their treaty and was not
preparedtoallowforanyinconsistencyinitssecuritypolicy.
This partly explains why treaty amendments between Nepal and India
have often been denied, postponed or slow in the agreement process. The
Soviet Union was the second country not to endorse Birendra’s proposal. It
had just signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation
in 1971 and probably felt it was necessary to support India in its
neighborhoodpolicies.
Conclusion
In view of the repercussions of the Cold War and regional conquests
within the highly belligerent environment of the 1970s, King Birendra
26
Only AtNepal(2009):International Relations.
33proposed that Nepal be declared a ZoP. Not fitting its security plan, India
judged it impossible to consider such a regional policy change. On the basis
ofthe1950Treaty,itarguedthatNepalhadagreedtomutualityinmattersof
defense and could not withdraw from such commitments. We shall later
propose that – in view of the new global circumstances, the advent of
democratic, republican Nepal and the significant regional changes over the
last four decades – a ZoP based on new parameters and for the benefit of
SouthAsiamaybeattractivetoall,includingIndia.
34CHAPTER2
PORTRAITOFNEPAL
Introduction
This chapter presents the country of Nepal through the following
aspects: physical characteristics, historical emergence, population diversity,
reasons for the recent 10-year insurgency, the current peace process,
government and administration, economic data, state-building and foreign
policy.Thelastofthesealsocoverseconomicdiplomacy.
We will note through this account that Nepal is in a phase of acute
transition. The insurgency, for all its destruction and violence, has
undeniablycatapulted Nepal into necessary reforms – although many regret
the slowness of their concrete applications. The post-conflict phase, which
started in November 2006, is often criticized for not employing enough of
the peace-building instruments agreed upon by the conflicting parties. An
economic deficit, food scarcity, a lack of infrastructure, strife between
politicians and acts of violence among groups make it difficult to create
structural and cultural change. Yet in view of the shambles and controversial
ideologies inherited by the interim government in 2007, Nepal has managed
the election of a multiparty parliament and launched an in-depth national
debateonthenatureofthefuturestateanditsconstitution.
A UNDP research paper on empowerment revealed in 2004 a disastrous
social landscape where the “level ofboth economic and social empowerment
[remained] far too low to effectively address the overarching goal of poverty
27
reduction on a sustained basis.” The report shows a large empowerment
gap along the rural-urban axis, a gender gap in political participation and
earning capability, and regional discrepancies in services (health care,
education) between the mountains and the hills and plains. There are marked
disparities across all five development regions (the center, including the
Kathmandu Valley and the city of Pokhara, being the most fortunate). The
mountains “rank among the lowest levels of economic empowerment,” with
“low access to economic infrastructure and productive assets, low income
28
andlimitedemploymentopportunitiesbesidesagriculture.”
27
UNDP(2004):Human Development and Empowerment in Nepal Today.
28
Ibid.7.
3529
Yet six years later, indicators are showing an improvement, even if
modest. However difficult the situation may be, it is not insurmountable. A
new generation of administrators is already working in the background,
uninvolved with power games and ego-bashing dramas. These Nepali people
are working diligently to resolve issues at national and local levels. They are
ensuring that primary education happens in the most remote of villages.
They are building small businesses, applying mediation skills and making
effective grassroots politics. Constructive empowerment of citizens is on the
increase,albeitveryslowly.
2.1 PhysicalNepal
With a territory of 147,181 square kilometers, the Himalayan republic
represents 0.1% of the world’ s land surface. Its shape is rectangular and has
30
often been compared to an “elongate d brick” (red brick is one of the
traditional construction materials in Nepal). Situated between the northern
latitudes of 26°22’ and 33°27’ and the longitudes of 80°25’ and 88°10’ , it is
885 kmlong and 200kmwide. Itcoversthe area between the Gangetic plain
and the Tibetan plateau. Nepal has borders only with China (1,236 km of
31
frontier) in the north and with India (1,690 km) in the south, east and west.
It is close to Bhutan and Bangladesh in the east and relatively close to
Pakistaninthewest.
2.1.1 GeographicalRegions
Broadly speaking, Nepal comprises three areas running parallel
laterally: the lowland Terai Region in the south, the central lower mountains
or Hill Region in the middle, and the Himalayas or Mountain Region in the
north (with the 8,848-meter high Mount Everest), the highest summit in the
world.
The Terai (14% of the land and 49% of the population) has been called
“the breadbasket” of Nepal and provides over 50% of the country’s food
requirements.
29
WorldBank(2010): Nepal Country Overview 2010.
30
Jha,M.(1995):Sacred Complex of Kathmandu.Delhi:GyanPublishingHouse.2.
31
Numerical data (numbers, sizes, percentages, distances, even dates) often differ between
sources of retrieval. Even government websites sometimes present the same topic with
differentdata.
36The Hills (22% of the land and 44% of the population) has forested
ridges, valleysand plateaus. Most people there live in the central hill zone,
especiallyinandaroundKathmandu.
The Mountains (64% of the land and 7% of the population) of the
Himalayarangecounteightofthefourteen“e ight-thousanders” oftheworld.
ThepassesleadintoTibet.
2.1.2 ClimaticRegions
Followingthe widthofthecountryandtherapidelevationfromsouthto
north, there are six climatic regions. From the lowest point, Kanchan Kalan
(70 meters) in southeastern Terai, to about 2,000 meters, the climate is
tropical and subtropical; lowland Terai, with an altitude of approximately
305 meters, is a tropical zone (hot and humid) with a temperature that can
rise above 45 degrees Celsius in the summer, while the Kathmandu Valley is
1,500 meters above sea level. The temperate zones (upper and lower) are
between 1,700 and 3,000 meters, and the cold zone is between 2,400 and
3,600 meters. The sub-alpine zone lies between 3,000 and 4,200 meters and
thealpinezoneisabovethesnowline:
Elevationin Elevationin Examplesof
Nameof
EasternNepal WesternNepal Bioengineering
Zone
(meters) (meters) Species
Sal,Khayer,Sisau&
1 Tropical Upto1,000 Upto1,200
grasses
KhoteSalla,Chilaune,
2 Sub-tropical 1,000-1,700 1,000-2,000
Katus,Utis,Tooni,Siris
Lower Khasru,GobreSalla,
3 1,700-2,400 2,000-2,700
temperate Banjh
Upper Banjh,Gurans,Gobre
4 2,400-2,800 2,700-3,000
temperate Salla
Spinyshrubs,Gurans,
5 Sub-alpine Above3,000 3,000-4,200
GobreSallaandDhupi
Thorny plantsand
6 Alpine Abovesnowline Abovesnowline
shrubbyspecies
Dahal,R.K.:Climat icZonesofNepal andPlantSpecies. GeologyforTechnicalStudents.
37
” “2.1.2.1 VegetationZonesofNepal
Vegetation reflects the climatic variances from tropical to alpine. The
altitudinal variance in western Nepal is greater than in the east due to the
latitudinal difference. Many tree species grow at a wide range of altitudes.
Plants and trees reproduce beyond defined geographical or climatic zones, in
32
“transition al” zonesbetweenthem.
2.1.3 Seasons
Some say that there are five seasons in Nepal: spring, summer,monsoon
(heavy rain), autumn and winter. Others count three: winter, summer and the
rainy season. Others still keep to only two: the wet and dry seasons. The
monsoon period is from June to August, but can extend to mid-October. It
comes from the Bay of Bengal and “stri kes the low hills at an acute angle.
[…] Rainfall increases towards the low altitude of the Chaurian Hills, then
decreases in the low valleysand increases again in the mid-mountain valley
of Kathmandu-Pokhara. The maximum rain falls on the southern slopes of
33
the higher Himalayas.” The monsoon in Nepal is not typical of Asia. Rains
34
occurmostlyatnight,leavingcleanandclearskiesby morning. Someparts
of the Himalayas (Manang, Mustang, Dolpo) hardly receive any monsoon
rainsasthehighmountainsblockthepassageoftheclouds.
The contribution of the monsoonrains to the total yearly precipitationin
Nepal is about 80%. Every year (particularly in the month of July), floods
and landslides cause the destruction of villages. In the plains, swollen rivers
break through dams, banks and canals, devastating dwellings and crops. In
spring and early summer, on the other hand, as in autumn and winter,
extreme dry seasons can threaten harvests. An increasing shortage of rain is
a verifiable result of climate change, while insufficient water in villages,
despite the monsoon, is a consequence of the lack of infrastructure (such as
canals,tanksandirrigationsystems).
2.1.4 Eco-DiversityorBiodiversity
Nepalisparticularly richinbiodiversity andishome towidevarietiesof
plants, trees, insects, mammals, fish, reptiles and birds. Approximately 342
plant and 160 animal species are reported as endemic to Nepal, mostly in
32
Dahal, R. K. (2005): Geology for Technical Students: A Textbook for Bachelor Level
Students.Kathmandu:BhrikutiAcademicPublications.630.
33
Wang,B.(2006):The Asian Monsoon.Berlin:Springer.135.
34
VisitNepal.com(2009):The Best Time to come to Nepal.
38sub-alpine and alpine zones. In 1992, Nepal signed the Convention on
Biological Diversity, an international treaty to sustain the diversity of life on
35
earth. To fulfil its membership obligation, Nepali experts and stakeholders,
assisted by international specialists, developed the Nepal Biodiversity
Strategy in 2002. For the period 2006-2010, 13 concept projects were
36
defined in the Nepal Biodiversity Strategy Implementation Plan. Some
componentsarepresentedbelow.
2.1.4.1 EcosystemandHabitatDiversity
There are four biodiversity hotspots classified in the Himalayan region,
37
and Nepal is one of them. The country has six floristic regions, six biomes,
nineeco-regions,118ecosystemsand35foresttypes.
2.1.4.1.1 Forests
Community forests have been estimated to comprise some 3.56 million
hectares, about 34.6% of which (1.23 million ha) have been handed over to
14,431 Forest User Groups (FUGs). This benefits 1.66 million households
(about 40% of Nepal’s households). Womens FUGs manage 23,258 ha of
community forests. The leasehold forestry program is implemented in 28
districts. In October 2008, over 17,320 ha of national forests were leased to
3,417 user groups involving nearly 30,000 households. (The report mentions
that the handing-over process has been slow due to difficulties in
38
implementingoperationalforestmanagementplans).
2.1.4.1.2 Rangelands
Covering some 1.75 million ha (about 12% of Nepal’s territory),
rangelands provide habitat for plants and wildlife, including globally
threatened species. Grasslands have always sustained domestic livestock but
areunderhighgrazingpressuretoday.
35
ConventiononBiologicalDiversity (2011).
36
Government of Nepal, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (2009): Nepal Fourth
National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity.
37
Biome: a major ecological community of organisms adapted to a particular climatic or
environmental condition over a large geographic area in which they occur (examples: tundra,
deserts,grasses,lakes).SeeBiology Online(2009).
38
GovernmentofNepal,MinistryofForestsandSoilConservation, op. cit.iv.
39