Is the white elephant, in the form of monarchy, worth keeping in Nepal?

Mahesh Poudyal, a Nepalese blogger has written a post with very detail analysis on whether Monarchy is worth keeping in Nepal. He analyzes economic, political, and cultural aspect looking at the pros and cons of keeping monarchy in Nepal. The post is very long but it definitely is a worthwhile read.

The Economics of Monarchy

Just looking at the official budget for the year 2005/06 of over 350 million rupees (US$ 5 million at $1=70 rupees rate) for the king and the royal palace affairs, it becomes clear what an elephant we are keeping here. For a country where nearly half the population still live below poverty line (using a dollar a day criteria of the World Bank), and where average per capita income still hovers around $200, that amount has to be nothing but a staggering waste of national treasury given virtually no economic benefits that this monarchy brings. The amount above is just an official budget however. We just have to look at king Gyanendra and his family’s lavish lifestyle, which is fully funded by the national treasury, to see the actual extent of costs to the people.

The politics of monarchy

Now, why should people believe that a monarch (who doesn’t have to get elected) would act in their best interest, when he (the monarch) very well knows that the people cannot make him accountable? The people have no power to vote him out of his office, except by force like that of the French revolution just over a couple of centuries ago. Unless the person in power is accountable to his/her constituents and knows that power can be taken away easily, such as by voting, there won’t be any incentives for him/her to be accountable and act in the greater interest of his/her constituents. In case of Nepal, Gyanendra became king just because he happens to born in Shah dynasty and more importantly he somehow survived the massacre that wiped out King Birendra and his entire family. Now, we wouldn’t be having this debate if he had just stayed a constitutional monarch as his brother King Birendra did. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened and his ambition of playing an “active” political role, his fantasy politics and his abuse of 1990 constitution time and again has eroded any trust that people had in him. Moreover, since he does not need to be accountable to the people, why would he care if the people trust his actions anyway?

The Culture of monarchy

The verdict again? In my opinion, the Shah monarchs haven’t really been a symbol of unity as the monarchists claim them to be. Of late, and especially at times of autocratic regimes, they have been more of a symbol of division than that of unity. Culturally, we had richer monarchies like the Mallas and the Lichchhivis, which have left richer tradition and heritage to the Nepali people, especially to those indigenous to the Kathmandu valley and the surrounding cities. Are we proud to have monarchy as it stands now? Again, personally I am not – especially after what happened in the royal palace in 2001. I think, we should be proud of the monarchs like King Prithvi for creating an politically unified Nepal, King Birendra for at least giving up his power and staying within his constitutional rule until his tragic death (or murder?). However, monarchs like Gyanendra who have not only brought about great suffering to the Nepalese people but also used brutal force against them to stay in power, have brought shame not only to themselves but also to the institution of monarchy. It is time we put an end to this part of our “culture” and “the culture of monarchy” and move on.

Same like Mahesh I’m living in an alien land and "concerned" but as he points out: (we are only good at being “concerned” and not acting on it!). I also grew up in a beautiful Himalayan Kingdom thinking that Monarchy was the factor holding our society together but analyzing the past events, I totally agree with Mahesh that we should put a full stop to the Monarchy in Nepal. This should be in the best interest of the Nepal and Nepalese people.

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Posted in Blogging, Life, Nepal
4 comments on “Is the white elephant, in the form of monarchy, worth keeping in Nepal?
  1. mp says:

    Thanks again Niranjan for spreading the word.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for writing such an excellent article post Mahesh. This is least I could do. Keep it up.

  3. purpleslog says:

    What will happen to Nepal if the Maoist take over? Think Russia, China, Laos, Cambodia, etc for clues…

  4. That’s a very important thing purpleslog has pointed out. If Maoist could/can, I’ve no doubt that they would/will install themselves as another dictatorial regime. But the situation on the ground is different and they’ve already realized that they cannot come to power just by relying in arms and spreading fear. The people of Nepal have done their part and now the historical responsibility lies on the political parties and Leaders. Having said that, even if there’s a risk of Maoist taking over there is no justification for the King to dictate.

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