On reading 'Reminiscences and Reflections': Share the optimism

Himalaya Rana’s book Reminiscences and Reflections ,written in Nepali and recently released by President Ram Baran Yadav, gives a detailed account of the writer’s active involvement in public life at the national and international level with disarming candour and in a fascinating and persuasive narrative style. His flair for choicest expressions is one of the highlights of the book.

Born in a Rana family with all the comforts one can think of at his disposal, Rana received his early

education at home, pursued his higher studies at Tri-Chandra College and later at the Bombay University of India where he did his Master’s in Economics.

During his student years, he was greatly influenced

by the Freedom Movement of India, which inspired him to join the movement against family autocracy of the Rana rulers in Nepal. The early part of the book establishes, in unmistakable terms, Rana’s credentials as a democrat.

The period from 1951 to 1960 AD, which is described as a turning point in shaping the future course of Nepali politics, marks the first phase in Rana’s public career. Rana was privileged to become the first Finance Secretary and the first Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank(NRB) or the Central Bank of Nepal under the new democratic setup after the overthrow of the Rana regime in 1951.

While as Finance Secretary he played a significant role in modernizing the country’s financial administration, introducing fiscal discipline through new rules and regulations and curbing irregularities as well as misuse of public expenditure, his contribution as Governor of NRB to stabilize the exchange rate between the two currencies of Nepal and India has been commendable. Equally appreciable has been his role as a member of the negotiating team to finalize the 1960 Trade and Transit Treaty between Nepal and India. The Treaty was the best deal in the given situation.

Rana was removed from government service after the royal takeover in December 1960, apparently for being a democrat and a supporter of the Nepali Congress. The second phase of his public career begins after this as he was invited to join UN service in April 1962. He was UNDP’s deputy country representative in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and was later promoted as Resident Coordinator in Myanmar (then Burma), Indonesia and Pakistan. He retired from UN service in 1986 with excellent record testified by the two letters of appreciation published in the book.

Himalaya Rana was not even sixty when he returned home after 24 years of UN service. With the pension that he earned from the UN, he could have comfortably lived a retired life. But he opted for an active life and decided to utilize his experience and expertise that he acquired over the years in various capacities at home and abroad .A few years after his return home, the country witnessed the

people’s movement or Janaandolan I of 1990

which restored parliamentary democracy and party rule . Rana narrates with disappointment the failure of several party governments to ensure stability and promote economic growth and development in the country, thus, facilitating the rise of a group of insurgents known as Maoists with their acts of violence and terror.

In the Return home-Part ii chapter of the book,

Rana presents himself as a prominent and staunch civil society activist. He worked and closely collaborated with other prominent activists like Daman Nath Dhungana and Padma Ratna Tuladhar in bringing the decade-long insurgency to an end and restoring the long-cherished peace and stability in the country.

In the concluding chapter entitled Reflections, the writer shares with readers some of his thoughts about the ongoing peace process, problems relating to management ,integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and the continuing political turmoil and a state of anarchy due to the lack of consensus among the major political parties of the country.

Rana forcefully affirms that agreement among

all the political parties

and other stakeholders

on basic principles is crucial to the drafting of a new

constitution acceptable to all segments of the

population. He is also of the view that drafting a new constitution affecting the future and destiny of a country should not and can not be done in a hurry.

On the foreign policy front, since the writer has had long exposure to international responsibilities, he deplores the tendency of political parties and their leaders to camouflage their own dependency syndrome by blaming external powers for interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

Rana strongly believes that Nepal needs goodwill and cooperation from its immediate neighbours and other friends and at the same time we should be able to respond to and address the legitimate concerns of our neighbours in our own national interest. Despite uncertainty looming large on the horizon, one can share the writer’s optimism that all the political forces will reach consensus on critical issues facing the country at the moment.