Adieu To Murari Raj Sharma

We are sad that a man whose maxim was plain living and high thinking is no more

Jan. 16, 2020, 10:24 a.m.

We are sad to learn of the untimely demise of our good friend and senior colleague Murari Raj Sharma Adhikari yesterday. Born on April 01, 1951, he was 68 years, 9 months and 14 days. Our heartfelt condolences to Madam Leena Adhikari and sons and other members of the bereaved family. Though a very sad news, I extend sincere thanks to our close friends, Ambassador Bhagirath Basnet, Secretary Rajiv Prasad Gautam and Posh Raman Chapagain and three more who wish to remain unnamed, for informing us of the tragic end.

Sharma joined the Nepali civil service after coming out successful in 1977 examination and spent his days in various ministries that included Finance, Home and General Administration before coming to the Foreign Service in 1992. He had also a short stint in the Foreign Service earlier as he was transferred to the Foreign Ministry after coming out successfully in the inter-departmental competitive examination but was soon transferred back to the general administration as he came out successful in the competitive examination for the post of under-secretary within some months.

He was also a member of the panel during his stint as under-secretary, Ministry of general administration, that may be taken as he once told us, as some sort of a screening committee to recommend the government for departmental action against civil servants. Spartan and austere in his lifestyle, Sharma was also a story writer and won prizes. He wrote and was co-author of some books on diplomacy too.

Though he passed through all levels, he climbed the career ladder fast and left many of his seniors way aside even becoming their boss as it happens in our context many times. Sharma was the 18th Foreign Secretary of Nepal and was Special Secretary prior to his eventual taking over of the top diplomatic post. He served as Nepal's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York and handled several key assignments there.

One assignment that was much talked about was his assumption as a Member of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Budgetary and Administrative Questions. My belief is that the hefty allowance that the position carried seemed to colour the opinion of many of our diplomats. Since I am least oriented to the UN system, I as Joint Secretary in charge of administration, was asked to send suitable instruction to the PR. I wanted to be as impartial as possible.

I had to face a problem to decide if he could handle both positions, PR and Member of the body, together since I had got different and conflicting versions of our experts on the matter. I came to final decision after ascertaining the fact from Sharma's predecessor Ambassador (former Foreign Secretary and later Foreign Minister) and one of the creams of our Service, Narendra Bikram Shah, and two others who had handled this post, Indian Foreign Secretary and Governor Shilendra Kumar Singh and Ambassador Ranjit Rae.

Sharma was later Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The picture shows him presenting the Letters of Credence to Her Brittanic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace on February 22, 2008. We deeply cherish the memory of the private visit that Sharma and his full family members paid to Germany and stayed as our guests for a week later that year.

There were some negative reports of his decision to stay in the UK after he was recalled from the position of the ambassador in 2009. We regret that I was involved to carry out the decision of the Government of Nepal as officiating Foreign Secretary to recall him well in advance of the end of his tenure.

Sharma was very particular in his food habits. He was well conversant in the field of Ayurveda as his father Din Raj Adhikari was a famous Kabiraj that his elder brother Thakur Prasad inherited in toto. Sharma had also won prize in folk song competition and took interest in singing.

While everybody has to leave the world, there is absolutely no doubt that Sharma was a hard worker and a self-made man and was, therefore, a bit straight-forward and sometimes a bit blunt too that brought him in clashes against many people. A former palace official and ambassador has recently written that Sharma was particularly not well disposed towards the Royal Palace.

One incident we remember is his refusal to attend Nepal's Europe-based ambassadors' conference in Frankfurt that we had the honour to host when Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda passed through Germany on his way to the UN in September 2008, on the ground that Tourism Minister was to attend a program in London on the next day. There was a similar story attached to his recall from London apart from penchant on the part of our politicos to recall people and send their own.

We are sad that a man whose maxim was plain living and high thinking is no more. We pray to almighty for peace to the departed soul, Once again, our heartfelt and deepest condolences to the bereaved family.

Madan n Ambika

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