At a time when Nepal and Britain are celebrating two hundred years of establishment of bilateral relations, former finance minister and a renowned economist Madhukar Sumsher Rana has urged Nepal to join commonwealth as a member.
Former finance minister Rana’s proposal got criticism as well as support among the participants. However, Rana’s proposal has a strong economic basis.
Although Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) is a group of nations mostly comprising former British colonies, its new charter allows countries like Nepal to also apply for membership.
“Nepal meets the criteria of being a CoN member,” said former Finance Minister Madhukar SJB Rana, presenting his paper on Nepal’s prospects of joining the CoN. “It was not necessary to be a former British colony to acquire CoN membership as countries like Mozambique and Rwanda, which were never ruled by the British, are also among its 53 member-states.”
Even though it was a part of the former British Empire, Myanmar has chosen not to be a CoN member.
The former minister referred to Nepal’s proposal of becoming a part of CoN in the mid-1990s and urged the concerned stakeholders to take up this issue now as Nepal and the UK are celebrating the bicentennial of diplomatic relations.
“Nepal could be a CoN member by adopting the bloc’s core values such as democracy, human rights and rule of law as per the Harare Declaration of Commonwealth of Nations,” said Rana. “Joining the CoN will provide an exceptional opportunity for us to diversify our interests and diplomacy."
Rana said that most CoN member states share Nepal’s situation as they are either Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Small Island Nations, or vulnerable states and if Nepal becomes part of the grouping, Nepal will have a bigger platform to raise its interests and issues.
Opposing Rana’s views, former secretary Bihari Krishna Shrestha said that Nepal was never a part of British colony and it is not in the interest of Nepal to be a part of it. “It is against the spirit of Nepal’s nationhood as Nepal fought a war with British to remain independent,” said Shrestha.
Among SAARC countries, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal are not CoN members while Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are members.
Professor Shreedhar Gautam held the view that Nepal needs to maintain its independent status not to be a part of grouping largely referred to as a club of ex-British colonies.