A brief timeline of Nepal’s contemporary history

1950: King Tribhuvan overthrew the ruling Ranas, with the support from India. As India was fighting for independence as its own democratic state, Nepal formed its first democratic government, after a long ruling of the monarch.

1962: King Mahendra, Tribhuvan son, took power and established the panchayat system, a political system where the democratic government serves the ruling king as his council. The democratic Nepal existed for 12 short years.

1990: Constant public protests lead to the formation of a new constitution, re-establishing a multi-party democracy, which spurred the formation of over a hundred political parties.

1994:  Due to slow social changes to the political system, where the monarch still remained in strong power, undermining a multi-party democratic government system, the United People’s Front fragmented due to conflicting ideologies. The Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist was formed.

1996: The Maoists launched the People’s War, aiming to topple the monarchy.

2000: The royal family of King Birendra was massacred by Crown Prince Dipendra. King Gyanendra took over the throne. King Gyanendra dissolved the parliament in 2002 to take a stronger grip on the government. This fueled more to the fire for the Maoist insurgencies.

2006: The civil war came to an end with the signing of a 12-point understanding peace resolution. The remaining seven political parties pledged with the Maoists to officially end the ruling of the Monarch and begin to establish a democratic government, with the condition that the insurgency forces maintain separate from the National Army, and to be under the supervision of the UN. As a result of this civil war, about 13,000 people were killed and 200,000 – 300,000 people were displaced from their homes.

2008: Elections results for seats in the Constituent Assembly was announced, with the Maoists winning the plurality. Prachanda (CPN-M) became the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Nepal. Ram Baran Yadav became the first president.

2008-2014: The newly formed government worked to form a new constitution. The efforts proved to be unfruitful as the constitution was voted to be delayed for two years in 2010, only for the deadline to be missed again in 2012.

April 25th, 2015:

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake strikes Kathmandu and its surrounding, killing nearly 9000 people and destroying over a half a million homes. The economic losses were about 9 billion US dollars, about a third of Nepal’s GDP. Understanding the political context at the time and the international response towards the disaster is extremely important, as the remnants of the destruction still very much remain 2 years after. As this course aims to examine the climate risks and resilience in Nepal, the aftermath of the earthquake and civil war has left the Nepali people more vulnerable to climate shocks. Thus, through this case study of the earthquake, we can learn short-term and long-term post-disaster management strategies and how effective they can be at re-establishing people’s livelihoods. Unfortunately, for Nepal’s case, the government had not been effective. As the earthquake stroke during a vital time period of the republic establishing its constitution, the government had to rearrange its priorities, diverting its resources to respond to the disaster. Within 3-4 hours after the earthquake, the government issued a request for international assistance and soon received support. Foreign donors pledged $4.4 billion in aid to re-establish the country’s major infrastructural systems. The Nepali government, learning from the mistakes in the international response in Haiti, wanted to maintain maximum autonomy during the disaster relief process. This action, however, slowed down the recovery process, as international funding had to go through the government. On the political side, the Constituent Assembly rushed to approve the new constitution, which was established September 2015. Due to a lack of consensus among the Constituent Assembly, 8 long months after the disaster, the government finally issued a bill for the establishment of the National Reconstruction Authority, a national body, reporting to the cabinet, to provide oversight to recovery efforts from international and local actors. Two years after the disaster, recovery efforts have still remained inadequate, as the government has only spent $330,000 out of the $4.4 billion pledged assistance, and rebuilt only 3.5% of the destroyed homes.


People rushing to help a victim of the earthquake. Source: CNN

As we continue to learn about Nepal, it is important to understand that the earthquake has truly re-shaped the lives of the people there. Even though the disaster happened 2 years ago, there still remains insecurity for the livelihoods of many in Nepal.


Sources Cited

Barry, E. 2016. A Year After Earthquake, Nepal’s Recovery Is Just Beginning. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/world/asia/nepals-earthquake-recovery-remains-in-disarray-a-year-later.html

BBC News. 8 June 2017. Nepal Profile – Timeline. BBC. Retrieved from www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12499391.

Jha, P., 2014. Battles of the new republic: a contemporary history of Nepal. Oxford University Press.

Kumar, N. 2016.Why Nepal Is Still in Rubble a Year After a Devastating Quake. TIME. Retrieved from http://time.com/4305225/nepal-earthquake-anniversary-disaster/

Matthew, R.A. and Upreti, B.R., 2010. Environmental Change and Human Security in Nepal. Global Environmental Change and Human Security, pp.137-54.

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