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NEPAL 28 May 2013 Landlocked Himalayan nation marks five years as a republic
Nepal has the good fortune to be rich in natural resources and the bad fortune not to be able to benefit from them. Its fif

May 18, 2013 - NULL

NEPAL 28 May 2013 Landlocked Himalayan nation marks five years as a republic
Nepal has the good fortune to be rich in natural resources and the bad fortune not to be able to benefit from them. Its fifth anniversary as a republic on May 28 invites a look at why it remains one of the poorest nations on Earth - and also tempts a search to see if there was ever a stretch in the 90 years since it became a sovereign nation that saw anything but upheaval.

Encyclopedia Britannica lists Nepal's mineral resources as lignite (coal), iron, magnesite, copper, cobalt

NEPAL 28 May 2013 Landlocked Himalayan nation marks five years as a republic
Nepal has the good fortune to be rich in natural resources and the bad fortune not to be able to benefit from them. Its fifth anniversary as a republic on May 28 invites a look at why it remains one of the poorest nations on Earth - and also tempts a search to see if there was ever a stretch in the 90 years since it became a sovereign nation that saw anything but upheaval.

Encyclopedia Britannica lists Nepal's mineral resources as lignite (coal), iron, magnesite, copper, cobalt, pyrite limestone, and its natural resources as timber and a great river system with potential for money-spinning hydroelectric power for the region. And as the staging area for Mount Everest ascents, and with a Himalayan backdrop, it also has vast, tourism potential. None of its riches since the then-kingdom signed the Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Friendship with Britain in Dec 1923, which granted unequivocal recognition of Nepal's independence, has been really tapped.

Two experts explaining the political chaos in Nepal of May 2012 in the New York Times attribute some of its problems to the fact that more than 90 languages are spoken in the small country, which is largely Hindu but also has sizeable Buddhist and Muslim minorities. Seyom Brown, a professor of international politics and national security at Southern Methodist University, and Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, note that the "fitful struggle to develop a constitution both epitomizes and exacerbates the country's ethnic, religious, geographical, caste and class divisions." In the present situation, they say, a stalemate has ensued as each party caters to caste, class and ethnic divisions instead of national unity, with many politicians maneuvering to get their hands on money from foreign aid, tourism and hydropower.

A BBC timeline shows a relatively uneventful period between 1923 sovereignty and 1955 when Nepal became a member of the United Nations. Thereafter every stage in its transition through monarchy and into a paralyzed democracy has been accompanied by bombs, protests, barricades and bloodshed. The massacre of members of the royal family in 2001 by the heir to the throne; 10 years of civil war between Maoist insurgents and the government that ended in a faltering peace agreement in 2006, the abolition of the monarchy as the country became a republic and the present turmoil over the country's attempt to write a constitution have caught the attention of the world.

It remains to be explained whether the apparent un-eventfulness before 1955 had more to do with the country's physical isolation from foreign scrutiny until then than to any dearth of turmoil. (WRITTEN JUN 2012)

RELATED READING:

Nepal, on the Brink of Collapse (NYT 5 Jun 2012)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/opinion/nepal-on-the-brink-of-collapse.html

UN leader fears for Nepal after constitution failure (AFP 28 May)
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hyH8o5mSaIRxsDX8JuuXu9k80mtA?docId=CNG.5b2286733410766dff5377a676c68019.1f1

Nepal Timeline (BBC 29 May 2012)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-1249939

Date written/update: 2013-05-18