Paradigm Shift in Nepali Nationalism

Through out Nepal’s history, past regimes have tried to advocate for nationalism to balance diplomacy between China and India.

By Krishna Giri

Thanks to the CA members who have managed to appoint a Prime Minister after exhausting four months, 1/6th of the total time allocated to write the new constitution for new Nepal. They have not only wasted the most valuable time but also whacked over 3billion rupees for the salaries and services payments. One of the poorest people in the world has paid enough prices; money, lives, destruction; for the appointment of this new Prime Minister. Soon after his appointment, the PM was off to China to complete a disgrace tour started by de-facto minister Pradeep Nepal. Until now, every decision taken by CA assembly has waged serious questions about nationalism and patriotism. Taking the oath by VP in Hindi to costumes worn by new PM during official ceremony has rewarded unprecedented apprehensions about the paradigm shift in Nepal’s nationalism and patriotism. Equivocal nationalism demonstrated by VP and PM has unlocked doors to cease the state base nationalism and adopt ethnic and stateless nationalism. All will catch a clear picture once Upendra Yadav meets his Indian counterpart and possibly Indian PM in Madhesi attires. We are going to observe a historic inauguration of nationalism in new Nepal.

When the nationwide protests were on against the VP’s swearing in Hindi, the Maoist and its unions fuelled the issue wherever possible and backed up the protest unconditionally. They tried to influence the up righted public that they truly stand and represent the Nepali nationalism. But it took only days when Maoist supremo took oath as first republican PM in western suit and tie. And they publicly admitted that they are communist and hence they are international. Vis-a-vis with VP, one ignored the national language and other ignored the national dress. But the most fascinating thing is both of them have utterly articulated for nationalism. VP demonstrated ethnic based nationalism where as PM demonstrated stateless nationalism. Some other minor parties are already representing regional nationalism. The biggest threat at this stage is the possibility of abolishing state based nationalism and its dire consequences in Nepal’s international relations. If the government fails to uphold the state based nationalism, that may sow the seed for civil war and injects slow poison to patriotism.

Nationalism remains an important part of relations between states and also of the domestic politics of many countries. Nationalism is now the moral basis of states and of international system. Through out Nepal’s history, past regimes have tried to advocate for nationalism to balance diplomacy between China and India. In many instances, Nepal’s nationalism played crucial roles to garner reciprocal respects from neighbours. Nationalism and the state are new phenomena given the importance they play in international relations today. One of the most difficult theoretical and applied problems of the post-Cold War era has been the search for an adequate understanding of the resurgence of religion, ethnicity and stateless nationalism in international relations. More exclusively, social scientists and policymakers have been challenged to clarify the nature and impacts of religion, ethnicity, and stateless nationalism in both sub-state and inter-state conflicts in the international system. Most observers are convinced that patriotism can leave most people more blind than they should be to their country’s political imperfections, something loads of critics have argued regarding Americans since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Yet that sort of hyper-nationalism has not often led to the kind of violent conflict which claimed millions of people in the twentieth century. One of the major causes of most of those conflicts has been nationalism of a different kind; one that gets out of hand, turns into hatred of others, and sparks violence, often of the most brutal form. That is especially true when leaders of states can convince people that they have somehow been treated abusively by the ‘other’. I don’t want to talk about the interstate war caused by nationalism but in brief, there is no more obvious example than World War II. Japan, Italy, and especially Germany were all led by leaders who stressed unmet nationalist goals and grievances in the years leading up to the outbreak of fighting in 1939. While psychologists and historians still debate exactly how this took place, there is little doubt that the intense emotions felt by leaders and followers alike contributed to the atrocities committed by people from all three of these countries.

There is no realistic possibility of creating Nepal as ethnically pure states; for instance, there is, no way to envision Hutu or Tutsi states emerging out of either Rwanda or Sudan. Ethnic based nationalism is just a cheap propaganda which only helps to spread anti national sentiment. We have seen the results of ethnic based nationalism in Kashmir, Chechnya, Sudan, or most of the former Yugoslav republics. But, the people who take up arms in those conflicts share the same kind of deeply rooted emotions that gave rise to the Nazis. Similarly, stateless nationalism will not play any effective roles at home and in overseas because they fail to develop any strategy in foreign policy and international relations. Unfinished work of Marx in this regard took some momentum by Lenin’s foreign policy but it was not adequate for 21st century to stay statelessness and just live for and with ideology. Stateless nationalism has failed to deliver emotional attachment and commitment to patriotism to their nation. When these events are left unaccounted, there are risks of losing identity and subsequently losing nationalism and patriotism. A country with a history of unified nation should never pose different sentiments of nationalism. People must be concerned and awake about this shifting in nationalism policies. Should we really be shifting our paradigm in nationalism? I do not think we have reached in that point to make such gigantic plunge and we are not prepared for it. This new government in new Nepal should not abandon the traditional concept of state based nationalism. Nationalism is not an election promise and this country can not afford ethnic or stateless nationalism. The government must concentrate on things that can unite Nepal including national dress, national language, national flag, and our proud history.


40 responses to “Paradigm Shift in Nepali Nationalism”

  1. ram Avatar

    well said

  2. Deepak Bista, Australia Avatar

    Thanks Giri ji for your well defined and articulated essay. Perhaps you should lead the foreign policy thinktank in new Nepal.

  3. change (human right, prosperous nepal) Avatar
    change (human right, prosperous nepal)

    it was mandalas who used to use this term and now its maoist…………………. ………… …………… ok ……. china asked prachanda to visit for olympic, he visited, …………….. but when flood was washing hope of nepalese, why did not prachanda returned in 24hrs. ……….. why he was visiting places as if he was in vaccation. ………………. …. why is mandalas supporting maoist and maoist are trying to kiss the hand of mandalas…………………………… is it because mandalas want protection and maoist want excess to the security officers to coup……………………….. …………………. nationalism is really a dangerious weapon when it is in the hands of criminals. ………………………… netas who have been talking so much about nationalism had always been killers………….

  4. Bahadur Avatar

    Well written but misconstued article. Obviously intellectully stimulating article, but lacks the historical precedents leading up to the need for proportional representation. The idea that Khas bhasa (lanugage of the Bahun/Chetries) and their Daura Suruwal are the symbol of Nepal is obviously laughable propositoin that have failed miserably, especially in the context of so many native indigenous people who actually sustains identity of Nepal. Salute to Prachanda for bringing change, but he is just another Bahun. So, the native nepalese definitely should welcome the change with caution. For one thing, the VP of the Madhesi already demonstrated his false teeth just as Shah’s had demonstrated their false teeth calling themselves as king of Nepal while infact they were simply king of small Hindu minority, who are alien to the Himalayas.

  5. Doug Avatar

    Wonderful essay! Congratulations to Krishna Giri for writing this!

  6. parth guragain Avatar
    parth guragain

    we should not demopnastrate nationalism by dress or language.nationalism is a felling for country and one should respect its feeling and uphold its principle.politician wear cert6ain type of cloth when they are at some part of country and wear another type of cloth when they are at other part.this is there technique for impressing that section of population.this is for getting more votes in elections there is no any sound base in this.this things are known by the people as they slowlly when they get the mst important thig is education so as more and more people get educated these leaders will be more analysed by people and people will decide on these issues by their virtue not by their instints.

  7. kirat_rocks Avatar

    good one bahadur….least they realize the facts and just blow up hollow and vague nationalism.

  8. ram Avatar

    its not you and i, its WE

  9. Khas Avatar

    we need sentiments to unite as the writer said……..if we start to fight for our ethinicity, all going to be loser……few kirati brothers said minority hindu but if you do some reserach you will find its predominant hindu nation……do some reserch dude……….and also i dont think daural suruwal belongs to Khas ………it belongs to all Nepali……if you go to pahad, himal and terai,…………you will realise who wears our national dress………its not bahur, chettri, rai, limbut , newars etc………its all of them……..if you notice traditional newari customs… will realise that………if you get out see our country you will realise………if you are sitting in some ultramodern city like hongkong…….its hard to know…….why people love to copy others but shy to follow our own……….nepali language is national language because thats the language most of nepali understand and hence ifs our official lanaguge……….why VP was wrong PM was right???

  10. Narayan Avatar

    Jasle j gare pani hamro rastriyata ma khabali naawos…hami sabai nepal bhayeko ma garba garau….desh drohi sakti badeka chan….sabailai chetana bhaya……..
    Ma mare pani mero desh bachi rahos……..
    Janani janma bhumischa swargadapi gariyesi…….
    Rato ra chandra surya jangi nisaan hamro………

    antya ma…..hey NETA haru ho……..nadai naala beche pani hamro desh chahi nabecha
    ….mero bhannu yeti nai ho

  11. Narayan Avatar

    Nadi naala beche pani hamro desh chahi nabecha

  12. gaire Avatar

    much better work than few of your previous articles Mr Giri……….good thought but not complete……but hey……well done this time……..thumps UP

  13. umang Avatar

    hummmmmmmmm ok………ok ok i got it

  14. none of my business Avatar
    none of my business

    I dont care who does what……its none of my business..
    if someone develop this nation, my vote for him/her.
    however if some one tries to sell our treasure for political cause, thats not acceptable. all nepali must think for their future not just jaat jaati and shits. i know only 2 jaati men and women. enough bullshit about ethincity, language, dress, system bla bla bla
    what the heck

  15. none of my business Avatar
    none of my business

    are we really worried for our future or not?
    for your children sake, stop these unsocial craps. lets learn to respect each other before…just daibhai and didbaini. everything else is fake. stop all rubbish and lets unite for new Nepal

  16. kirat_rocks Avatar

    aah ic, so u do feel the pain buddy. we aint denying nepali lang to b official in context of nepal, we accept it with full heart, but we r denying that if we talk lang other than nepali to b lebelled as unpatriotic and lacking nationalism, same thing goes with dresses. it is very true those twos’ were propogated to b national in nepal by khas, to b prercise after shah dynasty flourished. its been only 200 years since we got our national indentity as nepal n we r proud of it. no ones talking about seperation, but history n the events around teh world shows people r more ethno-nationalist. count the number of indegenous abroad, its just a drop in a ocean, handful r still living in nepal. it would b a big blunder ignoring these issues in the name of races and castes, its the real problem of nepal to b solved….

  17. AKR Avatar

    I am really tired of these blogs and tired of crooked politicians trying to play with the psychology of us normal citizens. The hell with language, and the hell with nationalism. Lets talk about “gaas, baas, and kapaas”.

  18. Sarang Mahanta Avatar
    Sarang Mahanta

    It is sad to note that an upright and sincere journalist like Yubaraj Ghimire is indulging in absolute falsehoods and a smear campaign against the new government of Nepal that has come to power through a popular vote.

    In his attacking piece (The Bogs and Pitfalls of Democracy in South Asia Intelligence Review, issue: August 25, 2008). on the new Nepalese Prime Minister Pushp Kamal Dahal ‘Prachand’, Yubaraj Ghimire has described the Maoist leader’s ascend to the post of the Prime Minister of the infant Himalayan Republic as “power grabbing”. In the absence of a concrete evidence to show Prachand in poor light, he uses the tools of a biased political campaigner rather than presenting his argument as an objective and honest journalist that he has been.

    How can Ghimire describe Prachanda’s becoming the prime minister as “power grabbing”? When the Maoists were fighting a bloody war, many pro-monarchy writers like Ghimire accused them of being anti-democratic because they were fighting with guns. Many of these commentators went to the extend of saying that the Maoists had a tacit understanding with the then king Gyandendra because both of them were conspiring to isolate the “democratic forces” i.e. the Nepalese Congress and the CPN-UML.

    The Maoists leaders, using their political acumen, came to the negotiating table and showed utmost flexibility in offering to cease the hostilities under the supervision of the United Nations. They did it at the height of their war when more than eighty per cent areas of Nepal had come under their parallel administration. With the overwhelming support of hundreds of thousands of people who turned up in Kathmandu demanding the abolition of monarchy, the Maoists forced the NC and UML to form a joint front against the discredited king.

    It was this tremendous public pressure that forced the NC and UML party to join the struggle with the Maoists. If Nepal is a Republic today, it is not thanks to ever-compromising leaders like Madhav Kumar Nepal or Girija Prasad Koirala. It is primarily a success of the political line followed by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

    Now the people of Nepal have proved that they did not support the Maoists because they were scared of the bullet. Even in the battle for ballot the Maoists got the support of the majority of the Nepalese people. The people have rejected the corrupt politicians of the Nepalese Congress and the UML, still Yubaraj Ghimire prefers to live in his make-believe, pro-monarchy and pro-NC world, refusing to acknowledge the basic foundation of a democratic process.

    The Maoists have time and again said that they believe in multi-party democracy and they have shown the political flexibility throughout the peace talks and beyond.

    Ghimire’s description of Prachanda as power grabber shows his disrespect towards democratic institutions. It amounts to defending the corrupt leaders of the Nepalese Congress and other parties who believe in status quo. It is like parroting the US rhetoric about the Hamas movement. To the US it will always remain a terrorist movement, so what if they have won a popular, free and fair election? So what if the people of Palestine consider them as their leaders who can fight against the might of Israel and the US?

    In the same undemocratic fashion Ghimire’s article declares: So what if the Maoists have won the election? Since we don’t approve of their politics, they don’t pass the test of democracy.

    If the Maoists play by the rules of democracy, Ghimire gleefully declares that they are sinking in the quagmire of democracy! When the Nepalese Congress and other pro-monarchy parties kept worshipping a rogue king and his cronies, does Ghimire think they were actually writing a glorious new chapter in the book of democracy?

    Common Ghimire! Remember your past. Remember those days when you were still an upright, objective and honest journalist.

  19. Sudip "KANCHHA" Avatar

    What is nationalism ? Nepali DAKSHINA movie or nonsense hindi movie ? Nepali FitRite shoe or Bata ? There is no nationalism only in cry but neet to love Nepali language, Nepali culture and Nepali products…

  20. Bahadur Avatar

    Nepal’s nationalism depends on uniformity across various ethnic groups. Khas ji above mentioned his observation of Daura suruwal being widely used in Nepal and hindus being majority. Well, anyone who knows little bit of history of Nepal can figure out in a glimpse of an eye that current status of daura suruwal and khas bhasa is a result of mean spirited hindunization of the country by Mahendra in the 60s. Many of the natives sufferred brunt of imposed hindu culture, but many of them also lost their languauge. An obvious example is some Newars who are ashamed of their own language and pretend to act like a Bahun trying to speak Nepali. Well, although I speak five languages, and encourage people to learn other languages, the damage of losing or demoting one’s own culture can never be forgiven.

  21. Moonflower Avatar

    Nationalism? Nepal? Daura Surwal? Nepali?

    I am sure Prachanda does not need it, Baburam does not need it either and, above all, most of the bloggers do not need it. That is because we are creating Naya Nepal.

    The best solution is to walk naked, learn sign language and do what we do best – fight amongst ourselves to prove individual language, individual community and individual region is superior. Of course, we can also glorify our histories and blame Prithvi Narayan Shah for screwing up everything. When it does not lead to anywhere, then we can always go to good ole’ Gulf to be bahadur. That is what we are capable of and have talent for.

  22. nepalichoro Avatar

    Very well written — as writter mentioned about ethencity based nationalism is very writer said it had failed in many country..
    we as a nepalese need to have common language identity and nepalese language is one which is one widely spoken ..
    and bahadur u are wrong mate go get some education dumb ass..daura suruwal is not khas or bauns i am from chhetri family and i never worn daura suruwal and i know ppl who are from magar –rai and they love wearing daura suruwal its a identify dumb ass it doesnt’ belongs to one jati or state its nepalese
    its a identity
    i think people like bahadur with low education and tolerance level had cause so much trouble to this country get a life

  23. Tr hamal Avatar
    Tr hamal

    A nation can not sustain without nationalism. we must be concerned about our nationalism and patriotism. Let us not forget India wants to wipe out our map from the globe like Sikkim. We are too busy fighting and blaming ourselves rathern then ralling behind our mother land. let us stop fighting and stand up for our nationalism.

  24. wise & dumb Avatar
    wise & dumb

    Hey guys,
    nepali ko nationalism kahile pani mardaina
    hami marna didainua
    hami desh ko lagi marna tayar chau
    forget the leaders
    sabai JOGI aye pani KAN chireka haru
    ek week ma dekhi sakiyo kursi ra satta ko lagi ladai
    aba yo desh bachaune hami janta le ho khukuri ko bharma kohi neta chor harule yo desh lai kehi gardainan hami eklai chau yo ladai ma
    tesaile aba hami jantaharu jutau sathi hoooo
    jaya nepal (yo congress ko jaya nepal haina yo mero desh ko jay ko lagi ho…congresi harule yo sabda lai copy right garna khojchan arka chor haru)

  25. globalist Avatar

    It is interesting to note how some people keep ranting over how India wants to make Nepal the next Sikkim.

    That has no factual basis, only spread by those who want to profit from anti-Indian feelings, which arguably, can be very profitable in Nepal today. In the end, it is the politicians who benefit from such kind of rumors, not the greater public.

    Lastly, one must note that wearing the ‘national’ dress is not equal to nationalism. daura sarwal is reminiscent of the old panchayat days, and if a leader chooses not wear it in official functions, then it is the leader’s choice to do so.

    Real nationalism, or I would rather call it patriotism, is nation building to ensure that our future generations will have homes to live in, good schools to go to and basically, a stable country to live in.

    But tell me, how many of us are genuinely interested in nation-building? Those youths who burn tyres on the road or instigate riots because the VP spoke in Hindi are not real patriots, but fake, hollow patriots, who have nothing better do than disrupt our already fragile society.

    Please, let us have genuine patriot-ness, not hollow nationalism that can threaten to turn our country apart.

  26. ramjee Avatar

    people like global list are the traitors of Nepal….
    they get paid to anex nepal to india and make it another sikkim
    you bloody suckers

  27. ramjee Avatar

    we know what is nationalism and patriotism
    we dont need a traitor to teach us that
    hamro bhasa hamro vesh
    pran bhanda pyaro cha

  28. kirat_rocks Avatar

    so, wearing daura suruwal and talking nepali lang is only the optimum nationalism and patriotism, accept my salute of honour for propogating such superficial n fake nationalism….

  29. S Avatar

    To AKR: least somebody’s talking real!

  30. gone Avatar

    looks like the united nepal is gone guys

    hatred is increasing every day

    may be only god can help us now

    but not many left who believes in god

    all want to have their own uniquness to wards the nation, identity, language and culture

    all want to be king

    i country can not function this wa

  31. globalist Avatar

    I am afraid that Ramjee has never met me, the globalist, so it would be good to stop calling me a traitor.

    Besides Ramjee, from the way you reacted, you have not exactly read my post, and that is quite disappointing.

  32. nepalichoro Avatar

    I totally disagree with your view too globalist
    you are corrupt too
    Daura surwal is not panchayat not dez ma grand dad ma ppl worn for a long time its our identity its rooted in our heart n we need to protect our identity..
    Cheu ko magar dai talo ghar ko tamang dai pari ko newar baje sabai sang maile euta bhasa ma kura garchu tyo ho “nepali” we need to communicate n every country have there official language..
    I live abroad n we have ppl from different race/society and we speak in language call ” English”
    its a bridge between people from various back ground it connects ” so does nepali coz we communicate despite different race/jaat in nepalese n its widely n commonly used language ..
    I dont wear daura surwal tara when m getin married if i take a responsible post one day i’ll wear daura surwal its my identiy we carried from our fore father
    i think globalist u turned into too much liberal or leftist u need to think now..
    we celebrate festival we dont’ need that — n so does every country in the world have different festival we dont’ need that but its identity..spain tomoato festival brazil ko carnival its there culture there identity n de protect it
    globalist as ur comments shows u r traitor u think u too good n brainy then any one .. u think u modern but modernism respect history/culture
    ramjee u were 100% rite …we called people like globalist ” SMART ASS”

    I think we need to have our own nepalese common most of the nation around the world have..
    its not anti-indian sentimen we need to be careful with india

  33. Harke Avatar

    Harke lai yo kura man paryo

    kyanam aba desh masna khojene lai chahi khoji khoji kuti kuti marnu parcha

    ma ta ramro nabole pani nepali bolna man parcha

    aile chai bida pam

  34. Harke Avatar

    I am proud of my origin, language and my country.
    we need to protect our mother land as only NEPAL not bloody just sections of it

    beware of indians and also chinese

    if we finish, we finish, if we stay, they lose

    wake up folks
    kyanam aru ta ma k bhanu

  35. Janajati Avatar


    we might have to start from the top leaders who are surrendering everything to India even natural resources.

  36. Chandra Avatar

    Totalitarian Character. Communist need emergency when people cry!!
    Faced with his first crisis within 72 hours of being sworn in, Nepal’s new Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ Thursday declared a state of emergency in the worst flood-devastated areas in southern Nepal to speed up rescue, relief and rehabilitation work. What he would do now sent gun totting NA and PLA and blind fold that victim of flood. I am questioning now why these morons need emergency rule where people are suffering. Is not it sufficient to declare the effected area a “Natural Disaster zone” and provide adequate help to relive the pain for short term and plan for long term redevelopment? Such specific declaration will give right direction to resolved short and the long term problem. Declaring emergency prevent effected people from moving one place to other. It delays non governmental agency to move good and services that reaches effected population without bureaucratic hurdles. Parading police and security people prevent these efforts. Even Chinese during the natural disaster did not declare emergency, rather declare the effected area a Natural disaster area. It not only help government machinery to move faster, but non government agency to coordinate rescues and relief work effectively. There is no riot. There is no disturbance. There is no lawlessness why emergency rule.

  37. desh premi Avatar
    desh premi

    Well said Chandra je!!
    wholeheartedly agree with your views

    Some good points raised by the writier

    I really enjoyed going thro most of the comments….i enjoyed mostly the ones with patriotic views

    Good job sathi haru ho

  38. yeah Avatar

    we really are shifting our policies and our position in the region and area

    still people disagree with…what can we do

    god help nepal

  39. yeah Avatar

    it is very important to make our position in the region and in the world


    who knows………..since we dont have oil and gas…..any thing could happen

  40. deshkk Avatar

    find those traitors and k’l’em ‘ll

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