This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by saurav_50. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How Nepal’s Past Diplomatic And Political Failures Stopped It From Developing

More from saurav_50

By Saurav Raj Pant and Rafael (Rebati Ram) Poudel:

The game-plan of Nepal’s former monarchy made the nation more Kathmandu-centric after the 1990s. This despite having an ideology that should have made her more diverse.

Birendra Shah

At that time, King Birendra wasn’t the only significant person in the Naryanhiti Palace – there was the queen, the prince, the princess, the mistress, their nobles and the royalty. Mockingly, Shah decided to accept ‘constitutional monarchy‘ – but they indirectly sabotaged the mechanism of the decentralisation process.

As a result, Nepal’s ‘Kathmandu’ became more economically and politically centralised than in the past. This was the starting chapter of Nepal’s political instability that deliberately led the country into a bloody civil war, the election of a constituent assembly and the adoption of federalism.

Political Ideological Dilemma

Nepal’s backwardness is purely ideological. After the 1950s, in Kathmandu’s political lab, there were series of experiments. The conservative, the progressive and the revolutionary forces played a game of tug-of-war against each other. The result was disastrous.

The conservative forces blocked globalisation and disconnected Nepal from the entire world. Boycotting Indian influence and trying to sell ‘watermelons to China during Nehru’s time wasn’t a part of King Mahendra’s doctrines. Rather, it had much to do with Nepal’s faulty foreign policy.

King Mahendra

At that time, he forgot the contrasting status of Nepal and India in the global sphere. India had already been contributing to the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), while Nepal wasn’t even part of the global economic game. Even though Nepal is situated in a very volatile geopolitical situation, it has always failed to celebrate the two giants, India and China.

Initially, Nepal’s royal palace was ineffective in handling foreign diplomacy – and later, the country’s party politics. The cadres were so lacking that they were not even in a position to have basic diplomatic conversations. The progressive forces had loopholes in organising and managing their parties. Gaining the support of the elites became their only characteristic – and eventually, they became so power-oriented that they invented a new form of plutocracy in Nepal.

On the other hand, the revolutionary forces consisted of people from marginalised communities. They were agenda-oriented but chose to ignore the fact that Nepal could not stay blind to the global development patterns. Even now, revolutionary forces fail to understand ‘agenda’ cannot be the baseline of Nepal’s efforts to have a cutting-edge transformation. Rather, economic revolution is the way forward for Nepal.

After monarchy took over in the 1960s, development became something akin to a food garnish only to provide flavour for the royalty. After all, clinching power and clinging on to it was the only way they could prolong their ‘lifelines’.

The public was educated through the Radio Nepal briefings. The listeners used to picture Nepalese society as one that lacked entrepreneurial spirit. The entire motto of life was to plough the land and get crop harvests. This essentially allowed the monarchy to sap innovation and creativity from Nepalese society – so that they could continue their exploitation and maintain their political stronghold.

Nepal’s youth also need to understand that during ‘panchayat time‘, Nepal was comparatively closer to China than India, even though only the Tatopani border was operational between Nepal and China (till 2012). Why then did the monarchy not open the other borders to China? The simple answer is that China was very suspicious regarding the Tibetan movement in Nepal, which has always been a big concern for China.

Maintaining equal and equidistant relations with India and China is practically impossible – at least in the current situation. After all, how can 1000 kilometres of open border with India compare with the naturally-blocked borders with China?


It is claimed that habitation in Kathmandu Valley stretches way back to 300 BC. Our oldness and historical unity are our unique features. However, many of us are also unaware of how the economic magnet has moved from the West to the East and back to the West.

As a result, we are seriously lacking when it comes to taking advantage of the economic growth made by India and China. A strong knowledge of Nepal’s history and international relations among the youth may help wipe out this issue.

Malfunctioning State

After the 1990s, Nepal’s mismanagement reached a new height. Plutocracy became the new normal among our political circles. Health and education were seriously commercialised. Government and private schools started taking the services of two types of work forces (metaphorically speaking, that is) – English speakers and non-English speakers.

As a result, Nepal’s ‘fortune’ comes mainly from the West, the Gulf and India. ‘Nationalism’ comes in daily – in coffins and in the form of remittances. In spite of all the bloodshed, sweat, labour exploitation and abuse of workers abroad, Nepal seems to have failed to manage its production sector.

The political circle in Nepal have made a flawed democracy. Furthermore, the Nepalese themselves have accepted and institutionalised the phenomena of election delays. The local elections, party elections and organisational elections have all been infected by it. Neo-feudal attitudes have become highly influential, whereby the person(s) who is/are close to their leaders are likely to reap the maximum benefits.

Narayanhity Palace, the seat of Nepal’s erstwhile monarchy (Image Source: Kakarvitta, Jhapa, Nepal/Facebook)

A fear that cripples me concerns what will happen if the Nepalese don’t change their ways and art of living. In such a case, it is possible that Nepal will degrade from within. There is also a high probability of hard-line foreign intervention in the country, which is a very real threat indeed. If Nepal does not make itself compatible with the changing global socio-economic and political environments, it will have a serious existential crisis.

However, Nepal is still fortunate to have some who are sensible and can adapt to the changes around.

Post-1991 Youth Consortium

The post-1991 generation needs to understand our nation may fail because of our uncompromising attachment to our ideologies, poor foreign policy and diplomacy.

There are also other factors causing Nepal’s backwardness. For instance, fuelling anti/pro-Indian or anti/pro-Chinese sentiments in school children is a form of hypocrisy demonstrated by our leaders. On one hand, the leaders are asking for support in the development of Nepal, with regard to India and China – and on the other, they are brainwashing the minds of the youth for their own political interests.

The extremes of ‘not taking the side of any country’ or ‘becoming an ally of a country’ or ‘participating in global wars’ shows that the country has failed to build a strong consensus within, between and across political parties and the public. This is the age of globalisation and free market – and without aligning to a powerhouse, Nepal’s development is almost impossible.

Gulf countries and South Korea can be taken as examples. For generating foreign direct investments (FDI) in Nepal, it cannot afford to leave negative impressions on other nations. Till now, however, Nepal has failed to advertise its market – and more importantly, it has also failed to ‘play’ and compete with its two vibrant neighbours (India and China) for FDI.

Here, the government changes so frequently that it has almost become institutionalised. The politicians are ‘hijacking’ the essence and freshness of our democracy. And the best way to stop such nuisance is to become a watch dog and hold them accountable.

Who is going to be the watchdog(s)? The post-1991 youth should take lead on this issue, especially in this period of ’emergency’. This time, however, they should adopt a purely agenda-based approach, which is critical of others and their own selves.

Power has finally shifted from the 240-year-old monarchy to the masses. In this still-continuing transition, other parties are bound to take advantage of it. The post-1991 generation is aware of this, but is not in a position to influence this narrative. With a clear indication that earlier experiments have failed to help the nation and its citizens prosper, a meaningful role for the youth is sorely needed.

The authors are freelance development consultants based in Nepal.


Image used for representative sources only.

Image Source: Paula Bronstein /Getty Images
You must be to comment.

More from saurav_50

Similar Posts

By BaluSingh RajPurohit

By Nitin Meena

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below