1768: Prithvi Narayan Shah, a leader of a small hill state called Gorkha or Gurkha, united the small kingdoms of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur in the Katmandu Valley creating the sovereign state of Nepal.
2001: The population of Nepal grew about 4 times in comparison to 1911. In 1911, there were 38.3 people per square kilometer, and in 2001 there were 157.3 people per square kilometer (Matthew and Upreti 145).
June 2001: Prince Dipendra killed member of his royal family, including King Birendra, and attempted suicide. After that incident, Gyanendra, the king’s brother, became the next king causing a bumpy transition of power (Rademacher 11).
2004: There was a skewed distribution off land suitable for agriculture. Only 20% of the country is suitable for agriculture and 78% of the total population depends that area for subsistence. The Nepal Human Development Report 2004 states that 29% of people are landless and more than 70% of peasants own less than one hectare of arable land. It also indicates that the bottom 47% of households own 15% of the total arable land while the top 70% own 37% (Matthew and Upreti 146).
2006: This marked the end of the Civil War which started in 1996, also referred to as the People’s War, where Communist Party of Nepal- Maoists (CPN-M) fought against the Royal Nepal Army (RNA). The war killed more than 13,000 people, internally displaced more than 200,000, and led to the emigration of about 1.8 million people (Rademacher 13; Matthew and Upreti 142).
2007: Human welfare had not improved in many areas of Nepal and the Human Development Index ranked Nepal as the 142nd country and last country in South Asia (Matthew and Upreti 145).
April 2008: Elections were held establishing Nepal as a new republic. To the surprise of many people, the (CPN-M) won a large number of seats in the new republic.
April 2015: A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Kathmandu killing more than 8,000 people and leaving people displaced (“Nepal Profile-Timeline”).
Nepalese Civil War
One very event that has had a significant impact on Nepal is the Nepalese Civil War, which was also called the People’s War. This event arose because of frustration the CPN-M had “in response to this failure of development” by the governing leaders (Matthew and Upreti 142). The violent conflicts with state authorities began in 1996 at first with Nepal police and then later with the RNA (Rademacher 13). This civil war claimed more than 13,000 lives, internally displaced at least 200,000 people, and was responsible for the emigration of about 1.8 million (Matthew and Upreti 142).
Children, caught in between the chaos of war, are impacted greatly by the tolls of war. Education was disrupted while children were recruited to provide military services to both sides. They encountered physical threat to personal security, such as landmines, which killed approximately two hundred children a year (143). NGO Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict reported that during the war “twelve thousand girls were trafficked across the border [from Nepal] into India each year” (143). The movie, Sold, directed by Jeffrey D. Brown in 2016 sheds light about this issue (“Sold”). Telling the story of a thirteen-year-old girl, who like many other children, gets caught up in child trafficking, this movie based on true stories brings you into the disturbing realities people face.
Not only were people’s lives in danger, but other aspects of human security were affected during the war. Exacerbated environmental degradation was the result of failed official river restoration initiatives (A riverscape undone 15). This shows how political stability is tremendously important and interconnected to areas including the environment. Without first establishing human security and “living in a society that honours their basic human rights”, you cannot create a society dedicated towards the resiliency of a community and sustainable development. (Human Development Report 32; Matthew and Upreti 151). This event holds relevance to us in this course because it shows us the resiliency of the Nepalese communities and the ways that Nepal has been challenged. Through all the human security threats civil war brings, we see how systems were impacted as a result. The effects of the Nepalese Civil War played a major role in shaping Nepal and by understanding the impacts of this war we can better understand the current structures and threats to human security.
Matthew, Richard A., and Bishnu Raj Upreti. “Environmental Change and Human Security in Nepal.” Global Environmental Change and Human Security, PDF ed., pp. 137-54.
“Nepal Profile-Timeline.” BBC News, BBC, 8 June 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12499391.
Rademacher, Anne. “A Riverscape Undone.” Introduction. Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu, PDF ed., 2011.
“Sold.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt1411956/.