Nepal | May 26, 2020

Festival for citizens: Its significance

Anand Aditya
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A country that somehow has been able to survive with its sovereignty and independence more or less intact resisting powerful imperial onslaughts successfully in the course of its struggles has more than one reason to celebrate

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

Going by what history tells us, most people would agree that geopolitically, Nepal emerged as a state in the year 1768.  But how many can still figure out when our country is going to complete the Quarter Millennium of its statehood?

In all likelihood, less than 1000 out of the 30 million or so of this country’s total population which in percentage terms means a pathetically small figure .003.  One very quick if brief purposive survey done recently among the top literati of the country’s capital city by this observer, for instance, shows that the number of the citizens who even remember that Nepal’s bicentennial was observed hardly exceeds a couple.

Despite the starkness of such historic amnesia, the fact remains that when Nepal appeared on the world’s map, there were only 21 states worth the name. Added to this is another matter of singular importance. Nepal precedes all the states in the subcontinent of South Asia except Afghanistan.  Centesimally, this means our country stands in the top 10th position in the global comity of states today.  Is not all this a matter worth celebrating?  The year 2018 somehow happens also to mark the first centennial of the establishment of Tri-Chandra College, a critical milestone in the education chronology of our country as also the second bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth anniversary.

Celebrating the country’s quarter-millennium (QUAM) is not just a matter of exercising the state’s symbolic capability.  A country that somehow has been able to survive with its sovereignty and independence more or less intact resisting powerful imperial onslaughts successfully in the course of its struggles has more than one reason to celebrate.

It epitomizes not only the robustness and resilience of Nepal’s statehood, the keystone of Nepal’s nationhood-in-the-making. It will serve other purposes as well.  At a time when the country is facing probably the most serious crisis in the course of its political transition from monarchy to a republican order and when frantic calls are being made against the very physical integrity of the just-born republic, such celebration can bring together thousands of citizens at home and abroad in the towns and villages from the northern Himalayan region and hills to the plains of the south in a meeting of hearts and minds, probably for the first time.

Such congregation can organize events, set up fairs, mount exhibitions, and hold tournaments contests, conclaves, and symposia, even conferences, on a whole range of issues and agendas of concern to democracy and development at various levels – local, national as well as international.  The conclusions that might follow the dialogues, debates, and discourses in the wake of the gala celebration could guide the course that our toddler republic takes in the days to come, generating a whole slew of policies, plans, and programmes of immense value.

One way to set the ball rolling would be to spread out QUAM over the whole year, selecting 12 key sectors for the festival, focused separately on the twelve months of the year:

The advantage of year-long distribution lies in offering the widest possible opportunity to the potential visitors who arrive in Nepal that year – both the NRNs and foreigners – from January to December and pickup the particular month and event of their choice.  The QUAM can conclude with an international conclave of intellectuals and commendation for social icons.

Some possible highlights of the celebration could be the inauguration of a regional center in the Saptakoshi Corridor for study and research on social and political movements as the crowning event to commemorate martyrs who have fallen fighting for the cause of the nation’s independence, anti-colonial  struggle, human rights, and community development or democracy.

A wildlife sanctuary work is underway. A video documentary on Nepal depicting its past cultural heritage, contemporary politics, and future potentials and prospects is to be made, besides the launching of a special yearbook on Nepal tourism, production of quarter-millennium gift craft (souvenirs, mementos, and memorabilia), declaration of special discounts on tariff and other facilities by the sponsors and tourist agencies, associations, and hotels for the year.

The central leitmotif of the festival, of course, is to make it a Festival of Citizens, as the chance of a lifetime for every participant.  Since the state in Nepal may have never attempted a celebration on the scale imagined here, ideas will have to be invited from home and abroad on the means and methods in an idea bank of sorts to streamline the event.  All in all, the celebration could then turn out to be a rewarding moment for every participant.

To operationalize QUAM, it seems sensible, indeed, necessary, to set up an Alliance for Quarter-Millennium with a Steering Committee as its core executive planning body.  A high-level Trust, membered by celebrities of national and international eminence, is to be formed to direct the flow of events, through consensus or a predominant majority vote of the Alliance for a fixed tenure of five to 10 years.  Sponsors from professional agencies will have to be sought to fund the resource inputs and volunteers from a large range of schools, campuses, associations, and NGOs must come forward to man the event.

 


A version of this article appears in print on September 25, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.


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