NEPAL-U.S. RELATIONS AT 70 Reaching People

Despite several changes in the government and political system of Nepal, Nepal-USA relations have remained stable and strong

April 23, 2017, 10:03 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.10,No 17, April 21,2017 (Baisakh 08,2074)

Since her arrival in Nepal 2015, US Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz has been spending a lot of time to meeting people in rural and remote parts of Nepal, learning about their livelihood and sharing views with them.

Ambassador Teplitz has travelled eastern, western and central parts of Nepal. On following her Twitter page, one can see how strongly she feels for inspiring Nepal’s rural folks.

Although many Nepalese live in very difficult topographies, with all kinds of hardships, they have received Ambassador Teplitz with a smile. For many American citizens and diplomats, this smile of Nepalese in hardship has lured them forever.

Former Peace Corps volunteer Scoot Skinner, a resident of Vermont, came to Nepal in 1964 and never forgot the smile of people and mountains, visiting Nepal several times later with his family members. “Nepal malai ramro lagchha (I find Nepal beautiful),” Skinner replied to Spotlight in a comment.

Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz's tweets from different regions show her inner love for people of Nepal. “For 70 years, the U.S. has worked with Nepal to improve health systems, from cataract examinations to maternal health,” Ambassador Teplitz twitted.

Diplomats come and go. For many American diplomats nature, culture and simplicity of Nepalese rural folks have attracted so much. Former ambassadors Michael Malinowski, Nancy Powell and Peter Bodde served in Nepal as U.S, Mission in different capacities and still maintain their relations even after retirement. Ambassador Scott Delisi who spent two years as an ambassador is now contributing for Nepal’s earthquake victims through a charity.

Some American diplomats have served in Nepal for their entire career until their retirement. Nepal has always attracted them.

People To People

For common American Citizens, Nepal attracted so much that they even gave up American citizenship and became Nepali. There will be a long list of American who served in Nepal.

Born in the US in 1928, Fr. Ludwig F. Stiller came to Nepal in 1956 as a Jesuit at St Xavier School and became a Nepali. Stiller came a Jesuit but when he died in 2009 he became a prominent historian of Nepal. Without his contributions, Nepalese would have been poorer in their knowledge about the history of Nepal, particularly the era of nation building of King Prithvi Narayan Shah and the court massacre.  

Stiller was not the only one of his kind. Other America born Jesuits, who came to Nepal to teach at schools, devoted their life for the betterment of Nepal. Another prominent scholar late Leo E. Rose revealed so many things about Nepal. His book Strategy for Survival is regarded as a masterpiece on Nepal.

Coming as a visitor, Judith Chase and her husband have been living in Nepal for quite a long time teaching Nepalese how to grow organic products. “US citizens love Nepal from their heart,” said the Deputy Chief of the Mission Michael C. Gonzales in a recent program organized by Nepal USA Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Even world renowned American scholars like scholars from America like Samuel P. Huntington, Henry Kissinger, Francis G. Hutchins, teacher of late King Birendra, mentioned Nepal’s position in their books. It indicates that Nepal is in the minds of American scholars.

Other scholars from United States, who have been contributing in political, anthropology and other contemporary issues, have made great contributions to bring Nepal into international arena. Professor of Harvard University Francis G. Hutchins, former teacher of late King Birendra, book Democratizing Monarch

These are among few renowned persons. There are hundreds of Americans who contributed to strengthen the relations between the two countries supporting Nepal’s development efforts.

Peace Corps

Nepal-U.S. relations are not only limited to the level of scholars, PEACE CORPS NEPAL has taken the relations to the inner depth of the rural parts of the society. Many Peace Corps volunteers, who served in Nepal working as unpaid ambassadors, have been lobbying for Nepal’s cause. Many Peace Corps volunteers come and go, but some other Peace Corps volunteers have even stayed in Nepal as permanent residents.

Peace Corps commemorated the 55th anniversary of Peace Corps’ arrival in Nepal last week. According to Peace Corps, over 3,750 American volunteers who lived, worked and served in communities throughout Nepal since 1962.

Fifty-four Peace Corps Volunteers currently serve in Nepal, supporting food security in rural communities in eight districts of the Western and Mid-Western Development Regions.

According to a Peace Corps Online, the Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, many Peace Corps volunteers who worked in Nepal, returned later for time being to support Nepal’s development efforts.

Nepal US Relations

With six constitutions, four different forms of government and two different systems in seventy years, Nepal has seen a rapid transformation in all the sectors in that period. For all these years, Nepal-USA relations have remained stable and strong.

Not only at the government to government level, have the relations taken a deep root at the people to people level as well. In the process of Nepal’s modernization, many Americans have contributed to Nepal's global identity.

It does not matter how far America is geographically from Nepal. What is important is the relationship between the two nations. The United States is Nepal’s third largest trade partner after China and India. America is the second largest importer of Nepalese products after India. Furthermore, the United States is the only country with which Nepal has a huge trade surplus. Other interesting factor is that American tourists make up for the third largest number of tourists to visit Nepal after India and China.

“The United States recognized Nepal in 1947, and the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1948. Bilateral relations are friendly, and U.S. policy objectives toward Nepal center on helping it build a peaceful, prosperous, resilient and democratic society,” said the Bureau of South and Central Asia.

The United States works with Nepal to support inclusive and effective governance, promote political stability and economic development, decrease the country’s dependence on humanitarian assistance, and increase its ability to make positive contributions to regional security and the broader global community. Nepal is one of the largest contributors of troops to international peacekeeping missions.

U.S. Assistance to Nepal

When US started its development assistance to Nepal in 1951, Terai was plagued by malaria, there were 800 primary students, many people had to walk several days to reach near road, and life expectancy was 28 years. According to Half-a-century of Development, the History of U.S. Assistance to Nepal, one out of 5 children born did not live to celebrate its first birthday.

Over the years, everything has changed. In the transformation process, the contribution of United States has remained immense. From Female Health Community Volunteers to education, transport, telecom, resource management, modernization of agriculture, support to peace keeping and disaster, the US has greatly supported Nepal.

“U.S. assistance seeks to cement gains in peace and security, further the democratic transition, support the continued delivery of essential social services, scale up proven and effective health interventions, reduce extreme poverty and address the challenges of food insecurity and climate change,” said the bulletin.

The US support provided following the April 25, 2015, earthquake in Nepal saved the life of hundreds of people. In the rescue operation, six US marines died in a helicopter crash.

After the earthquake, United States committed to aiding in Nepal’s recovery and reconstruction. “The United States will continue to play an important role in reconstruction efforts, particularly in the most critical sectors like housing, education, health, agriculture, protecting vulnerable populations, and preserving Nepal’s cultural heritage.”

“United States is a major partner in Nepal's development. With a large number of Nepalese Diaspora living in the United States, the relations are very strong at people to people level. Nepal can get a lot of benefits from the US,” said Dr. Shanker Sharma, former Nepalese ambassador to United States of America. “As Nepal and United States have been celebrating 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations, this is the time to make our relations stronger in coming years.”

The United States and Nepal have signed a trade and investment framework agreement, providing a forum for bilateral talks to enhance trade and investment, discuss specific trade issues, and promote more comprehensive trade agreements between the two countries.

When the diplomatic relations with the United States of America were established on 25-Apr-1947, Nepal was very remote and out of the global antenna. With support from the United States, Nepal has made a great stride. Now Nepal-US linkages have reached at the people-to-people level.

Then, Prime Minister Padma Sumsher Rana remarked that establishment of diplomatic relations with U.S is ‘important” for Nepal.  As Nepal and U.S are celebrating 70 years of establishment of relations, it is still important. In his book, Rule and Misrule of Rana, Daman Samsher Jang Bahadur Rana described the period when Nepal established diplomatic relations with U.S was so important for Nepal’s relations.l

Keshab Poudel

Keshab Poudel

Poudel is the editor of New Spotlight Magazine.

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