Any enthusiast of important timelines in Nepal’s past can do so by accessing ‘historylessonsnepal. blogspot.com’ online. Unification of the country, Asal Hindustan as termed by Prithivi Narayan Shah (1723-1775), started around the same time that thirteen British colonies in North America achieved independence. With such a similar time frame one wonders at the present standing of USA and Nepal in the present day world? Was Nepal’s isolation during the Shah / Rana years the reason? Was it the quests for invasion and power of the foreigners vis-a-vie our struggle for survival, the cause? Was the subjugation of many parts of the world by European invaders and its results the cause of our present plight? Whilst such subjugation and cruelty to humans elsewhere was responsible for the invader’s successes, the prevailing state in their own lands was however far from ideal.
The existing United Kingdom came into being after various conquests by Romans, Danes, Vikings, Angles and what not. Queen Elizabeth I’s demise resulted in a union of two countries with a shared monarch, King James I of England and VI of Scotland. The subsequent Second England Civil War led to England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland becoming a Republic under Oliver Cromwell that lasted for twelve years till 1680 when the monarchy was restored. The present monarch Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne since 6th February 1952. Though a long established monarchy, the United Kingdom with very close links with us Nepalis since the Treaty of Sugauli of 1816, has no written constitution.
Portugal was an independent state from the 12th Century. It had its kings and queens under whose patronage ships were sent out around the world. Not only trade in materials but also humans became ‘commodities’ for the Portuguese and their neighbours, the Spaniards. This trade transported many Africans to far off lands in the Caribbean and the Americas to work as slaves. The Belgians, Dutch and the English also took to this inhuman activity to ensure labour for the cultivation of sugar and tobacco. Thankfully in this 21st Century both these items are branded as hazards to health.
Monarchy in France was overthrown by the French Revolution of 1789-93 and the First Republic established. The driving force may be said to be, ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’. Then followed the Empire of Napoleon that lasted eleven years and was succeeded by a monarchy which held sway for thirty-four years. Then was established a Second Republic of 4 years, followed by a Second Empire of 18 years. After this, the Third Republic lasted 75 years to be followed by the Fourth Republic which lasted barely 12. The present Fifth Republic has been in existence since 1958. However politics in France has always been rather spontaneous and elastic if one recalls that it was from Paris that the 1968 student unrest started and triggered subsequent movements all over the world.
The British Colonies of North America became an independent democracy in 1776. France, perhaps because of its satisfaction that the British had been displaced in America presented the statue of Liberty, in a piecemeal or part by part fashion to the US. This symbol of friendship between the French and American peoples now stands as permanent landmark on Liberty Island, New York. The new US, as it grew from the original 13 colonies, signified by the horizontal red and white lines of the American flag has now fifty stars on its top left hand corner to reflect its present status. The colour problem, originating from the exploitation of the slaves in the southern states, in spite of the Civil War during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, exists to this day. Stories of subjugation of the coloured population down South, the story of Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow are indelible stains of the past. The actions of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis plus countless others are a living testimony that much difference in thinking still persists.
Ayn Rand, a Russian émigré to the USA, in her book ‘We the Living’ writes about the displacing of the Romanovs as rulers of Russia by Lenin, Stalin and others after 1918. She writes about the ups and downs that the country underwent. This vast country which had withstood the onslaught of Napoleon was reduced in stature following the glasnost and perestroika during Gorvachov’s time. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the USSR then occurred. The world changed too for the Big Four powers which during World War II had brought Germany to its knees had by the end of the 20th Century was reduced to just Two i.e. Russia & US.
The age of Trump (2016-2020), announced a policy of ‘America First’ with the prospect of US isolating itself. This being so, the question that arises to which is the superpower which is going to call the tune for the rest of the world to mark time to? As the saying goes it is ‘The fiddler who calls the tune’. Is this still valid for the US? The treatment of the Negros, now Blacks over the centuries and the existing ill feeling towards Blacks, Asians and even Latinos is something that is not compatible for a country which claims to be a beacon of democracy. Surprisingly many citizens are gullible as per recent polls that show that one-third of the population still believe that Joe Biden won the Presidency by fraud! The recent official order of making 19th June as Juneteenth, a Federal holiday is an attempt to improve national relationships. Though the current President of the US has been trying to mend his fences worldwide, one is not sure at this stage as to what the future holds. Isn’t it an appropriate time to rise and make amends?
Coming back to home ground one is certainly disheartened by the present political landscape and the shenanigans that have plagued this country for almost three hundred years. Recent trends have been musical chairs of a certain coterie and their chamchas, dancing to various distant tunes whilst we ordinary Nepalis look on as spineless and sightless earthworms! It is about time that we started afresh.
The author is a retired medical doctor and writes fiction under the pen name of Mani Dixit also. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd