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History of Nepal

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Ancient History

Main article: Licchavi

Between about 400 and 750 AD, Nepal's present capital Kathmandu was ruled by the Licchavi kingdom. Archaeological evidence for this period mainly consists of stonework inscriptions, reckoned on two separate, consecutive eras. The former, ┼šaka era has an epoch corresponding to 78 AD, whereas the latter Aṃshuvarmā or Mānadeva 2 era reckons from 576.

Whilst most such inscriptions list the dates and commissioners of stonework construction, some communicate royal edicts, religious mantras or historical notes. It is through the corroboration of local myths with such evidence that a people prior to the Licchavi have been identified, known as the Kirata. Of these people very little is known.

Modern History

Formation

Modern Nepal was created in the latter half of the 18th century when Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ruler of the small principality of Gorkha, formed a unified country from a number of independent hill states. The country was frequently called the Gorkha Kingdom, the source of the term "Gurkha" used for Nepali soldiers.

Rana Administration

Rani (Queen) of Nepal surrounded by her Ladies-in-Waiting, 1920
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Rani (Queen) of Nepal surrounded by her Ladies-in-Waiting, 1920

After 1800, the heirs of Prithvi Narayan Shah proved unable to maintain firm political control over Nepal. A period of internal turmoil followed, heightened by Nepal's defeat in the Anglo-Nepalese War (181416). Stability was restored after 1846 when the Rana family gained power, entrenched itself through hereditary prime ministers, and reduced the monarch to a figurehead. The Rana regime, a tightly centralized autocracy, pursued a policy of isolating Nepal from external influences. This policy helped Nepal maintain its national independence during the colonial era, but it also impeded the country's economic development.

Democratic Reform

Popular dissatisfaction against the family rule of the Ranas had started emerging from among the few educated people,who had been taught in various Indian school and colleges, and from within the Ranas,many of whom were marginalised within the Ruling Ran hirearchy.Many of these Nepalese in exile had actively taken part in the Indian Independent struggle and wanted to liberate Nepal as well from the internal autocratic occupation.The political parties like The Prajaparishadand The Nepali Rastriya Congress were already formed in exile by the patriotic minded people who wanted to stage both the military and popular political movement in Nepal to overthrow the autocratic Rana Regime. Among the prominent martyrs to die for the cause executed at the hands of the Ranas were Dharma Bhakta Mathema,Shukraraj Shastri ,Gangalal Shrestha and Dasharath Chand. This culminated in 1950, King Tribhuvan, a direct descendant of Prithvi Narayan Shah, fled his "palace prison" to newly independent India, touching off an armed revolt against the Rana administration. This allowed the return of the Shah family to power and, eventually, the appointment of a non-Rana as prime minister. A period of quasiconstitutional rule followed, during which the monarch, assisted by the leaders of fledgling political parties, governed the country. During the 1950s, efforts were made to frame a constitution for Nepal that would establish a representative form of government, based on a British model.

In early 1959, King Mahendra issued a new constitution, and the first democratic elections for a national assembly were held. The Nepali Congress Party, a moderate socialist group, gained a substantial victory in the election. Its leader, B.P. Koirala, formed a government and served as prime minister.

Democratic Failure

Declaring parliamentary democracy a failure 18 months later, King Mahendra dismissed the Koirala government and promulgated a new constitution on December 16, 1962. The new constitution established a "partyless" system of panchayats (councils) which King Mahendra considered to be a democratic form of government closer to Nepalese traditions. As a pyramidal structure progressing from village assemblies to a Rastriya Panchayat (National Parliament), the panchayat system enshrined the absolute power of the monarchy and kept the King as head of state with sole authority over all governmental institutions, including the Cabinet (Council of Ministers) and the Parliament.

King Mahendra was succeeded by his 27 year-old son, King Birendra, in 1972. Amid student demonstrations and anti-regime activities in 1979, King Birendra called for a national referendum to decide on the nature of Nepal's government--either the continuation of the panchayat system with democratic reforms or the establishment of a multiparty system. The referendum was held in May 1980, and the panchayat system won a narrow victory. The king carried out the promised reforms, including selection of the prime minister by the Rastriya Panchayat.

People in rural areas had expected that their interests would be better represented after the adoption of parliamentary democracy in 1990. When promised land reforms failed to appear, people in some districts started to organize to enact their own land reform, and to gain some power over their lives in the face of usurious landlords. However, this movement was repressed by the Nepali government, in "Operation Romeo" and "Operation Kilo Sera II" which took the lives of many of the leading activists of the struggle. As a result, many witnesses to this repression became radicalized.

Civil War Begins

Main article: Nepalese Peoples War

February 13, 1996 saw the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) launch the "People's War" -- an insurgency with the stated goal of overthrowing the existing monarchic state and establishing a communist republic, or a Maoist "people's democracy". (The term, as with "People's War", is in quotes because the validity of the concept would be challenged by some.)

Led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (also known as "Prachanda"), the insurgency began in five districts in Nepal: Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Gorkha, and Sindhuli. The Maoists have declared the existence of a provisional "people's government" at the district level in several locations.

2001 to the Present

In June 2001 Crown Prince Dipendra went on a shooting-spree assassinating 11 members of the royal family including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya before shooting himself. Due to his survival he temporarily became king before dying of his wounds resulting in Prince Gyanendra (Birendra's brother) inheriting the throne. Meanwhile, the Maoist rebellion escalated, and in October 2002 the king temporarily deposed the government and took complete control of it. A week later he reappointed another government, but the country is still very unstable because of the civil war with the Maoists, the various political factions, the king's attempts to take more control of the government and worries about the competence of Gyanendra's son and heir, Prince Paras.

King Gyanendra took control once again on February 1, 2005. See Gyanendra of Nepal for more details.es:Historia de Nepal fr:Histoire du NÚpal

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