As Nepal and Britain are celebrating two hundred years of bilateral relations, the occasion should remind us of the contribution made by many people to foster the ties. One contributor is Anthony E. Wieler, who was involved in several activities, including British-Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Britain Nepal Society. He is well known in both the countries. In his recent trip to Nepal, Wieler spoke to NEW SPOTLIGHT. Excerpts:
Why do you love Nepal so much?
There are so many things, most importantly the people of Nepal. I have a family to look after me. Purna Bahadur Tamang is still one of my best friends. He stayed in my house since 1964 till 2008. Many retired colonels, generals, brigadiers and current generals and brigadiers of Nepal Army used to visit my home in London whenever they came for training.
How are you retaining your relations?
I am a member of Britain Nepal Society, Britain Nepal Chambers of Commerce, and Gurkha Welfare Trust. They give me opportunity to get involved in Nepal.
How did you connect to Nepal?
I was connected to Nepal through National Service in the seventh Gurkha Rifle in 1959. During that time every British citizen had to serve two years of voluntary service in the army. I served three months as a recruit. It was the time I was exposed to the Gurkhas. At that time I met Nepalese Prime Minister B.P. Koirala, who came from his visit to the People's Republic of China. Late Koirala also talked about the political situation of Nepal, including the political system. B.P. Koirala was a very young personality at that time. He visited 7th Gurkha Rifle in his stopover in Hong Kong. Similarly, late King Mahendra also visited our rifle since there was monarchy at that time.
Nepal has gone through several political upheavals and changes since your first visit to Nepal. How do you observe them?
Yes, I have seen many changes and transformation in Kathmandu. When I first came to Nepal, there was monarchy and now Nepal is a republic. The roads, buildings, education institutions, hospitals have expanded over the time. I am concerned how much benefits the people of Nepal get from them. I think the poverty of Nepal has drastically reduced. But, it is yet to completely wipe out. That is one of visible problems I have been encountering in Nepal. Politicians who seem to come to work for people are making money for themselves. This is a great tragedy.
How important is the coming election for Nepal?
The whole world is now looking to you, to see what can happen on November 19. Look at Syria where American, Russians and British and Chinese don't agree at all on the agenda. In Nepal, you have agreement of every nation, China, America, Russia, Australia, Britain and India. Everybody wants to help you. You deserve this. You need properly elected and properly accountable government to rule the country. People want a government they deserve through the elections.
Nepal and Britain are celebrating two hundred years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. What do you say on this?
It is good to know but I am also interested in two hundred years of Brigade of Gurkhas. Since 1815, Gurkhas have been serving in British Army. Since then, Nepal and Britain have had several links and link of British Gurkha is the most important one.
You are also involved with British-Nepal Society. How does the society contribute to strengthen the relations?
British-Nepal Society and Nepal Britain Society are promoting people to people relations through culture, laws and other things. Currently, Pratima Pande is leading Nepal Britain Society and she has been dedicating her efforts to strengthen people to people relations. However, I am now more concerned with Britain Nepal Chamber and Commerce. There is also Nepal Britain Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of young industrialist Rajendra Kumar Khetan. We are working to promote bilateral trade between the two countries. Our aim is to make trade more valuable than the aid. We don't want to feed a mammal a fish a day. We prefer to teach how to fish a day and benefit for the life. This is a sustained way for economic prosperity.
Nepal needs to generate hydropower so that it can make money. Similarly, Nepal also needs to promote art and artifacts, sculptures as well as export agriculture products.
How much possibility is there to expand the trade between the two countries?
We can work together. There are many areas in which we can cooperate. NBCCI Chairman Rajendra Kumar Khetan has been making efforts to identify the areas. If we can cooperate and work together, it will benefit both of us. We don't have had enough members in Britain and we don't have secretariat at all. However, NBCCI has better secretariat in Nepal.
As a good friend of Nepal, what do you suggest to make Nepal a better place?
First of all, you need to make your house in order. For this, Nepal needs to have an accountable and elected government. Thus, the elections of November 19 are very much important for your country. Nepal needs to make positive attitude. Nepalese are very positive people and very competitive people. Looking at my own contract, particularly the army officers who come to England for training, Nepalese prove themselves as competent and qualified. It is good to know that Nepal army chief general Gaurav Sumsher Rana is going to join a program with army chief of British Army, Malaysian Army and they are same in same intake. You need to believe in yourself and your ability.
How many times have you visited Nepal since 1959?
I cannot tell you the times. I used to come every second or third year on Nepal visit. I came first when I was doing National Service. Then I used to visit Hong Kong every year and I often do stopover in Nepal before going to Hong Kong.