Time is very important. It is a dimension in itself to everything. In history- time is the only dimension.
Let’s look at the 1940s. In 1939, the Chinese people gained control of their country after driving out the Japanese. Japan and Germany were the two most important forces of the second world war the coming decade was to see. In India, freedom fighters were in negotiations with both German and Japanese rulers in order to form an alliance to defeat the occupying British forces. The British and Germans were enemies. After the second world war ended, a big dent was formed in the economies of countries like Britain, Germany and Japan. The British left the subcontinent.
In Nepal, we tried our own things too. Although we were not being ruled by foreign occupying forces, the Rana rulers would have never been able to rule the way they did without the support and recognition of the British. The Ranas supplied Nepalese soldiers to fight from the British side during the world war and they also helped defend the British colony in events like the Lucknow Sepoy Mutiny. So, when the British left, the Ranas too had to go. We must thank our democratic and communist leaders of that time, who had participated in the Indian Independence movement and made friends with India’s leaders- it’s because of them that we continued to exist as independent country and enjoy a change of scheme no later than it was enjoyed by people in neighboring countries.
Let’s look at 1990s now. The year 1990 was a year after the Berlin wall was brought down- described as one of the most important events in modern world history. At around the same time, the collapse of the superpower Soviet Union ended the bitter cold-war and constant threats of two world-powers destroying the world in their tussle that included an arms and nuclear showdown. That was also the time when the World Wide Web (the internet as we know it) was developed- this technology would go on to change the world in the next twenty years
In Nepal, after 1990 we curtailed the powers of our monarch and decided we’d also feel the winds of change in our faces. A few years ago, we decided we needed more and got what we wanted too.
Foreign powers ruled most of our region for many decades from the 19th to the middle of 20th century. From 1940s to 1980s, most countries of the region were very poor and undeveloped in the global standard. China and India had a huge number of poor people. They had driven away the foreign occupiers of their land, but were struggling with other problems. China adopted Chairman Mao’s version of communism and India took a democratic socialist path espoused by Pandit Nehru. But during the 1980s and 1990s, both of these countries took a different path- that of market-driven free economy and have now emerged as very formidable forces in the world.
Until the 1990s, similar to the now powerful India and China, we were doing bad too but we were at least at par with them in some indicators. Similar to Nehru and Mao, we were following the visions of our Kings.
Time is important. Disregard to to this dimension when explaining whatever absolute truth you can think of will most probably make me think that you are a waste of time.
In India and China, we don’t hear of a national hatred against Nehru or Mao. In fact, they are revered by a large majority and despite whatever ills the time they lived in had to see, both Nehru and Mao are respected today.
In Nepal, we have learnt to badmouth everything from the history. I will present my analysis of our history in some other post, but given that we were doing at least as good as countries at comparable states, what is the rationale for denigrating anything and everything from history? After 1990, we have had democracy and leaders elected by ourselves have been deciding things for us- at least they could have done so. More than 20 years have passed since and we are still blaming the history for our failures of today.
Even before the complete verdict statement is out, today I read news about programs organized by some political outfits to burn the court decision and the current national dress of Nepal. In reaction to the court’s decision to merely uphold the government’s recognition of a code of dressing for governmental occasions (the court spokesperson has said it’s not their job to decide the national dress), the political parties, especially the UCPNM and Madheshi parties have blamed “Mahendra Nationalism” once again for all the ills of the country.
“Mahendra nationalism” is blamed for many things today- and this is used to attack the Nepali language, the current national dress and so on. According to them, the reason is that late King Mahendra tried to propagate a slogan “one language- one dress” (I am not aware of it, but I can’t give it to them for lack of proof). Past rulers and their policies have to be seen in the context of the time they lived in, for example, see this article that tries to explain why Mahendra’s vision was brilliant in his time.
People who do not like to wear Daura-Suruwal-Topi have been in the helm of Nepal’s administration and governance for many years now. Communist and/or Madheshi leaders and parties have held many important positions since 1990s. It’s true that the present national dress (Daura-Suruwal-Topi) is not suitable for the people of Terai and they don’t feel a sense of ownership to it. I think this realization has already dawned upon those who wear and feel like they own the daura-suruwal-topi too. I, personally believe that there should be a respect for history and also a space all communities of Nepal to wear their dresses and speak their languages.
There should be no problem addressing grievances and fixing things in an amicable and proper manner if there is a will to do so (making law is parliament’s job, not the court’s). Disrespecting court-verdict and burning a dress that is not just the dress of the majority of Nepal’ population, but also the present national dress is only trying to save one’s face from failures. The present breed of political leaders and parties have had every opportunity to improve things for the last 20 years and they have failed miserably at it.
Some people blame everything on India, others blame everything on imaginary creations like “Mahendra nationalism.” On their part, they have done nothing.
Blaming history and it’s heroes for present’s failures is despicable. Even more worth contempt is the act of disrespect to the law and system; the way things are, daura-suruwal-topi is the national dress of Nepal and people who burn it should be made accountable for it.
- The national dress was burnt in 2008 too, and a well-known commenter even thought it was justified.
I think he’ll present some usual rigmarole to justify the recent acts too. Update [28th Aug, evening]: He’s already indicated so.
- In their defence, people who wear daura-suruwal-topi claim that it used to be a perfect dress for war because it allows for free movement of body parts during hand-to-hand combat operations involving the khukuri. Given that the nation of Nepal was built through wars fought and won by these people, blaming them for making it a national dress in a system they built is only ridiculous.
- To know some stupid reasons presented to attack the national dress: see this entry by one well-known humorist.