By Dirgha Raj Prasai
1 Poush is the glorious day for the patriotic Nepalis as King Mahendra on 15 December, 1960, had introduced partylessPanchayat system for the betterment of the country and the people. King Mahendra has thus become immortal in the history of Nepal.
The great King Prithbinarayan Shah unified the greater Nepal in 1768 and King Mahendra contributed to unite modern Nepal in 1960. As we know before 1960, foreigners, almost Indians, were free to purchase land in Nepal. After 1961, King Mahendra banned foreigners from purchasing land in Nepal. Nepali language was recognized as national language across the nation. Before 1960, 90% of Indian currency was in circulation which was removed by our own currency. Indian armed force was deployed in the country. King Mahendra played an important role to oust the Indian armed force from Nepali territory.
Earlier, Nepalis were compelled to travel via Indian territory while visiting from one district to another district. In 1961, King Mahendra laid the foundation stone for the construction of the East-West Highway at Gailakot. The highway has greatly contributed to the all round socio-economic development of the country.
A scholar GS Agrawal writes, “The nation has honored the visionary King by naming it MahendraRajmarg. In 1961, King Mahendra laid the foundation for East-West Highway at Gailakot to free the people of Indian torment”.
Swiss geologist and scholar, Toni Hagen first came in 1950 as a member of the Swiss Mission for Development Aid. His first job was to conduct Nepal’s first geological survey. He had remarked, “I call back December 1960 when King Mahendra staged the royal coup. I never agreed with King Mahendra’s this step. On the other hand, I would say looking back into the history that King Mahendra was a very great personality. It is mainly for his merit that Nepal survived as an independent country between two big neighbours. He was very clever and handled the dedicate issues.” (The Independent, 25 November, 1992.)
King Mahendra incorporated the phrase ‘Hindu Kingdom’ in the constitution upgrading the morale of India and Hindus all over the world. His works inclined Nepal’s prestige. He introduced Nepal in the United Nations by adopting the ideology of foreign policy. He maintained a balanced friendship with Chinese powerful leader Mao Ze Dong and Indian powerful Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. King Mahendra introduced more than 50 industries and organizations that directly benefit the people, fulfilled the essential as education, health, transportation, roads construction, irrigation, electricity.
In 17 August, 1963 the late King introduced the MulukiAin (people’s code) and made attempt to break untouchables, caste discrimination and policy of gender-discrimination. In 1965 he declared land reform act and abolished landlords, secured the right of farmers by ending Birta system. King Mahendra managed the way of active people’s participation in the development sectors from the grass root levels He scientifically divided Nepal into 14 administrative zones with 75 districts in it. However, the king had not divided the country based on ethnicity or the origin of people residing in the respective zones or districts which is not possible even today. There were more than 4000 villages every village was divided into nine wards and 35 municipalities whose wards were divided 9-35, vary as per the size of the town.
King Mahendra did a lot to give Nepal a separate identity in the international arena. The administrative mechanism of 14 zones and 75 districts are still very scientific and significant. Decentralization of power to every zone by appointing zonal commissioners; introduction of revolutionary land reform policy; start of the construction of the East-West highway without any budget; opening of branches of Nepal Rastra Bank in districts and restricting Indian currency in the market by supplying Nepali currency; opening of schools and colleges in different parts of the country and establishment of the Tribhuwan University are the landmark contributions made by King Mahendra.
King Mahendra was a courageous and visionary leader who contributed a lot in the development of Nepal in all sectors. After all, all sides may agree with BP’s ideologies that came after 1976. So, to develop Nepal, utilizing Nepal’s natural and cultural resources, implementing the sense of constitutional monarchy and nationalistic democratic system, and then, is necessary to move ahead in unison between King Mahendra’s nationalism and BP’s democratic socialism.