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Interview with TIME Magazine on Jan 26, 2004

Monday 26th Jan 2004

INTERVIEW TO MR ALEX PERRY

TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW GRANTED BY
HIS MAJESTY KING GYANENDRA BIR BIKRAM SHAH DEV TO MR ALEX
PERRY, SOUTH ASIA BUREAU CHIEF, TIME MAGAZINE
(Monday, January 26, 2004)

TIME: Where is Nepal heading?

His Majesty: The future of Nepal, yes, lies in constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy. Economically, it lies in openness and competition, and in joining the WTO [World Trade Organization]. Socially, we are in a difficult phase: some infrastructure, some of the basic things that were gelling the country together, have been trampled. There has been a lot of injury to much of rural Nepal, which needs to be addressed.

TIME: Why did you sack the elected government 16 months ago?

His Majesty: I did not dismiss the government on Oct 4, 2002, out of my own free will. Are you saying I liked doing what I did, what I had to do? The compulsions of those days made me do what I had to. I was given a written request by the Prime Minister [Sher Bahadur Deuba, who was acting] on the advice of all the parties to invoke the last clause of the constitution [which, as a last resort in a national crisis, allows the King to take “appropriate measures” to safeguard the country]. So I was surprised when the parties accused us of regression. I had become regressive on their advice. Now, we can go on debating forever whether it was the correct thing to do. I thought it was my constitutional obligation, otherwise the constitution was as good as dead. Don’t forget I am the constitution’s custodian: as long as it is there, I am going to pull everyone within its ambit. And had I not acted as I did, I think that Nepal would be in a worse situation that it is today.

TIME: What’s the way out of the impasse that has developed?

His Majesty: Even at that time, I asked the parties to come with a consensus government. Recently, I also met all the political leaders and I have asked them to put the nation and people first, to come to me with a government made up of all the parties. That is my roadmap, my agenda. I personally believe there is nothing that cannot be solved by dialogue and there is no issue that cannot be addressed within the ambit of the constitution. But for that, the government of the day and the political leadership of Nepal must be pro-nation, pro-people. Everyone talks about the impasse between the “triangle” of the Maoists, the political parties and the palace. But this country is not a triangle. They are forgetting the most important component of any nation: the people. Who is going to talk for the people? If the Maoists are not, if the political parties are not, if they don’t want to, then shouldn’t the King? Someone must.

TIME: I’ve heard that a lot, that many people wish the parties could just put personal ambition aside, forget the competition to be Prime Minister and the rivalry and the corrupt rewards of office, and plain grow up.

His Majesty: Well, you said it, not me. But I wish the political leadership would understand this and speak more often about the people rather than issues which are irrelevant, which only concern their own betterment. You see, I see myself as accountable to the people. If they don’t want to be, then I’m sorry. Much of the ill we have suffered is not because of the democratic political system, it’s because of the actors in the system. All I’m saying is stop saying ‘me.’ Say ‘us.’ Stop saying ‘party.’ Say ‘people.’ We do have our own characteristics, culture and value systems in Nepal and democracy must be, if you like, tuned into these. But if the parties start viewing issues from that point of view, I see no problem in the democratic system functioning in Nepal.

TIME: Are you worried about recent student protests demanding a republic?

His Majesty: Should it concern me? Is that public sentiment? Yes I agree the monarchy in Nepal does conduct itself according to the aspirations and hopes of the people. It reflects those. But my government has advised me that these protests might be only pressure tactics [by political opponents]. And anyway, the government has a job to uphold the law of the land. Does the law allow them to say things like this?

TIME: What do you say to the parties’ accusations that you’re essentially an autocrat only interested in restoring power to the palace?

His Majesty: If some people do not understand me, if there is mistrust and a crisis of confidence, let’s do something about it. In a democracy, the street might be the place to do something, yes, but there are other ways of solving the issue: quiet diplomacy is also an accepted form of dialogue. And, they are right, it should not be my role to point the way out of this crisis. I should not have any active responsibilities [in government]. As a constitutional monarch what I should be doing, on any issue that effects the betterment of the people, [is to] either make suggestions or warnings, or simply keep myself informed. And yet on the other hand, the reality is: the people of Nepal want to see their King, they want to hear from him. The days of royalty being seen and not heard are over. We’re in the 21st century. It’s not that I am taking an active role. I see it as a constructive role. If I step on some people’s toes, I’m sorry. But I can assure you this: the monarchy is not going to allow anyone to usurp the fundamental rights of the people, and those who say they represent the people must learn to lead the people, not be led by them and have the courage to have a vision of prosperity for the people and the nation.

TIME: People see you as very different to your late brother, King Birendra.

His Majesty: Too many people misunderstood my brother too. They took his kindness for weakness and they exploited that. I know many people realize how peace-loving and how development-oriented he was, but I ask them to realize how close we were. His role was very, very constructive too and I think mine is just an extension of that. The circumstances I face are slightly different so our styles are slightly different. But just because I have spelled out what I want to do does not make me any better or any worse.

TIME: What if the parties continue to refuse your demands?

His Majesty: That means they want to carry on playing musical chairs in government. [Nepal has had 12 governments since the arrival of parliamentary democracy in 1990.] But is that what we really want? And I think they are realizing that I am serious.

TIME: How close is Nepal to becoming, as many have warned, a failed state?

His Majesty: It’s not happening. It’s a cliché that you all love. There is a vacuum, yes, a political vacuum. And whatever efforts the security agencies are making will come to little unless this is filled. Previous governments did not have the foresight, the tactfulness to address the issues, the poverty of the common man. Or they addressed in such an inhuman way that those areas developed into the hot spots we have today.

TIME: How important is international military assistance from the US, UK and India in the current conflict?

His Majesty: I would prefer if you’d asked me, ‘Should there be more.’ We cannot view terror in hues and colors. It only has one color. Red, the color of danger. The government is grateful that so many countries are supporting us in this; the fact that their help could have been more expeditious is another thing, but no one wants to see a ‘one-party proletariat state’ in Nepal. And for the US in particular, we all know terror is their main agenda: so we are not surprised, because of the way terrorism is lifting its head in our country, that they are so forthright here. But I can tell you that I am very proud of the way our security forces are conducting themselves on the minimal [equipment] they have. It’s really shoe-string circumstances. But they’re coping. That Nepali resilience is there.

TIME: What about the accusations, and documented cases, of human rights abuses by the armed forces?

His Majesty: Well, I hope you will also mention the documented human rights abuses by the Maoists.

TIME: Yes. Actually, I’ve documented them myself.

His Majesty: Then I would say we’re learning. I will not say that there have not been remises. But at the same time, action has been taken against the violators. It may not be as quick as many people wanted, but there is a due process of law in these things. But do you mean to tell me that earlier on, when other so-called governments of the day were in power, there were no human rights abuses? It’s all cropping up [as an issue] now. But is it because the security agencies are becoming effective that these questions are being asked, or because they are failing? Is it success that is leading to this? In the case of the army alone, they were not deployed before 2001 and now they are. But which country does not have friendly fire, which does not have accidents? Many people have told me that the Fourth Estate is being unkind to the security agencies.

TIME: What happened on the night of June 1, 2001?

His Majesty: I wish I knew. I was not here. I can only tell you what I have been told by surviving members of my family. The report that came out of the commission that investigated this clearly indicated who was responsible. I can tell you what happened. But I cannot tell you why. [The conspiracy theories] are nonsense, wild goose chases. If some people do not want to accept this, then it’s a sad thing. And the people putting them out there are being cruel. It’s offensive.

TIME: But given the unfortunate manner in which you came to throne, have you felt your acceptance by the country, your legitimacy, has been damaged?

His Majesty: My question is, ‘If the Crown Prince had lived, would the kingdom have accepted him, knowing all the facts. [Dipendra, the heir to the throne, lived in a coma for two days and was briefly crowned King before dying.] My whole, prime and first effort when I came to the throne was for the consolidation of the monarchy. From reports that I was hearing, there was a conspiracy to get rid of the institution.

TIME: How traumatized were you, was your family, by the massacre?

His Majesty: I am a human being, after all. But we all show our grief, happiness and joy in different ways. And I had to conduct myself in a proper manner and tried to do that. There is a human face to every King, but that does not mean he has to flaunt it. And it was not only a tragic personal loss, it was a national loss. We personally lost a benefactor and the nation lost a noble King. It was a black spot on our history that will never be wiped out, but that’s the reality of life that we have to face and we have to get on with the future.

TIME: Has it been lonely since?

His Majesty: It is lonely. I miss my brothers and my sisters. But we have learned to cope. And I don’t think it’s that bad. What makes you think I don’t have friends?  What makes you think that because I meet you here I do not have a den? Many people have been there.

TIME: It must be uncomfortable though, living here, in the same palace where so many of your family died.

His Majesty: I left this palace when I got married 30 years ago and I never thought.  I would have to occupy it again. It is difficult, but we have done the best we can. After all, it’s the occupants that transform a house to a home and that’s what we’ve been trying to do.

TIME: What’s it like being a living god?

His Majesty: I’ve been waiting for you to ask this. On the question of the living-god thing, let me interpret it this way: we were given the personification of Vishnu and Vishnu is the preserver of all things. And I’m glad that my role—the role I have to play—has been spelled out like that, just as it is in the constitution. But I’m a pragmatic and practical person. I’ve never said I’m God.

TIME: Do you think the monarchy, and Nepal’s continuing feudalism, needs to reform in the 21st century?

His Majesty: Yes. I do think we have to look at and adapt to society and culture. We need to be in keeping with the times. By that I mean all of Nepal should have the opportunity to progress irrespective of color, caste and creed. This needs to be put into practice.

TIME: Outline what you see in Nepal’s future.

His Majesty: With discipline, dedication and determination, prosperity.

TIME: What keeps you awake at night?

His Majesty: I work hard enough to get a good night’s sleep every night. But you know, there is a saying here: if the people are happy, the King is happy. And my fear is that we might be heading for a ditch if the people, their grievances and their   betterment are not thought of. I put myself in their shoes every night. Why are these things not being addressed? If anything keeps my awake, it’s that.

Interview with Xinhua on July 1, 2002

Monday 1st Jul 2002

INTERVIEW BY THE XINHUA NEWS AGENCY OF CHINA

ANSWERS FROM

HIS MAJESTY KING GYANENDRA BIR BIKRAM SHAH DEV

TO QUESTIONS FROM THE XINHUA NEWS AGENCY OF CHINA

(July 2002)

 

Q. 1 We have learnt that Your Majesty is going to visit China form July 9 to

18. Could you tell us what you are aiming to achieve in the forthcoming visit? Could you name some of the major programmes you are going to hold during the visit?

 

Ans. 1 We will be paying a State Visit to the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of His Excellency President Jiang Zemin. We would like to thank His Excellency the President for making it possible to visit your beautiful country. This is our first State Visit to China and we look forward to discussing matters of mutual interest with the President. The visit will also afford us and opportunity to exchange views with other leaders of China and make new friends. We are confident that this visit will make significant contributions to the further consolidation of the excellent ties of friendship existing between our two countries.

Besides Beijing, we will also visit Dalian and Shanghai. We will also be going to Yichang where we will be seeing for ourselves also on-going works of the Three Gorges Project, which will help China achieve an impressive economic growth. We are sure you are aware that our country Nepal looks to developing her water resources to the benefit of our people and we feel there is much we can learn from your visit to the Project site.

 

Q. 2 Nepal and China have friendly relations for centuries, specially after the establishment of the diplomatic relations between our two countries in 1955. Your Majesty, how do you look forward to the bilateral relationship between Nepal and China in the 21st century? In what fields do you think our two countries can further enhance the long friendship and cooperation?

 

Ans. 2 Nepal attaches importance to her relations with China and we are happy to note that they are based on the principles of equality, mutual respect and good neighbourliness. Given the mutual trust between our two countries and the understanding we have of each other’s aspirations, we are confident that these traditional bonds of friendship will always remain firm and steadfast.

Nepal admires the remarkable socio-economic transformation taking place in your country and hopes to learn from your experienced, especially, in human resource, infrastructure development and science and technology.

Ever since diplomatic relations were established between our two countries in 1955,

China has remained a generous partner in Nepal’s development endeavours. We are also appreciative of China’s understanding of our problems. We feel that we must now focus on economic co-operation, especially in the private sector, to the mutual benefit of our peoples.

 

Q. 3 Your Majesty, as your know that China has changed a lot since the founding of the new China in 1994. You may have witnessed the great changes and progress in China, especially the great changes since China has been carrying on the open-door way and reform policy in 1978. Could you describe the changes and economic achievements that impressed you the most? How do you think of China‘s open-up and reform policy?

 

Ans. 3 I have had the occasion to visit your country several times and have keenly been following the impressive socio-economic progress your country has made over the years. The reform policies adopted by China since 1978 have brought much progress and prosperity to the people of China, making it one of the leaders in the comity of nations.

Interview with Nepal TV on Aug 29, 2005

Monday 29th Aug 2005

INTERVIEW FROM HIS MAJESTY KING GYANENDRA BIR BIKRAM SHAH DEV August 29, 2005

INTERVIEW FROM HIS MAJESTY KING GYANENDRA BIR BIKRAM SHAH DEV TO REPRESENTATIVES OF NEPAL TELEVISION, RADIO NEPAL AND RASHTRIYA SAMACHAR SAMITI Monday,
August 29, 2005

Question 1. Your Majesty, you have just completed a visit to various places in the Far and Mid-Western Development Regions of the country. Would Your Majesty please share with us the sentiments and aspirations of the people of these regions?

Answer 1. People of these regions expressed divergent views and sentiments when I met them. While some came up with matters of a more personal nature, others raised issues relating to their district. There were also those who were more specific in their demands and suggestions. But what I found everywhere I went was the unanimous and overriding desire for peace, followed by development.

Question 2. Your Majesty recently visited the Eastern Development Region as well. How would Your Majesty view the situation in the Far and Mid-Western Development Regions, as compared to that of the Eastern Region?

Answer 2. As you can see, the whole country is passing through a difficult phase, but as far as the Far and Mid-Western Development Regions are concerned, these regions face some unique problems. Though their remoteness and distance from the capital could be some of the reasons, I feel the pervasive poverty in the regions could be the primary contributing factor. Compared to these regions, the Eastern Development Region is somewhat influenced by the neighboring country. If terrorism and fear of terrorism are more intense here in the Far and Mid-Western Regions, the topography of these regions is also definitely more challenging. Karnali Zone could be taken as a case in point. I believe that, taking into consideration its geographical makeup – which includes the high Himalayas as well as the trans-Himalayan region, we must change our attitude towards this zone if we are to do something for it. What is needed is a more liberal approach. There are many places, like Dolpa, where hardly anyone has reached. One even tends to wonder whether the government is present there. During my previous visit to Duani, Dolpa’s district headquarters, people from Upper Dolpa told me they walked for seven days to reach there and that they had more contacts and exchanges with the Tibet Autonomous Region than with other parts of their own country. In Humla, people said it was easier for them to go home through Tibet than through our own country. It is for this reason that I continue to stress the need to build a roadway that connects this remote area with the rest of the country. If a road could be constructed up to Jumla, that would open up an extremely beneficial access to the Terai region.

Moreover, this road could also be extended to Jajarkot, from where another road is being built to Chhinchu. Building this road has not been easy as it passes through remote and difficult terrain but planners tell me that it should be complete within a year. If we could extend this road to Dunai, then Dolpa could be brought into the national mainstream. We must somehow have road links to all district headquarters for increased economic activity and human movement. This will contribute greatly towards forging national unity. It was not for no reason that King Prithvi Narayan Shah the Great called Nepal a garden of a variety of flowers. It is the duty of the Institution of Monarchy to nurture and safeguard this garden and I assure you that the Institution will never shy away from fulfilling this responsibility in all sincerity. Coming back to your question, there are definitely a number of differences between the Far and Mid-Western Regions and the Eastern Region but we should never forget one fact – that, in spite of all the difficulties that may trouble us, we are all Nepalese; Nepal is where we will live and fulfill our moral responsibilities and it is from here that we will leave for our heavenly abode when the Almighty desires. This would give a boost to safeguarding our nationalism and territorial integrity.

Question 3. In the course of the visit, Your Majesty had spoken about development and peace, but the people’s emphasis was more on peace than development. Would Your Majesty wish to comment on this?

Answer 3. The people were only venting their inner feelings. As you are aware, the state has also accorded top priority to the restoration of peace. I believe that peace should come from within; it does not only mean a peaceful environment but one should be at peace in heart and soul. Peace that comes from the soul will definitely build an aura of peace around it. But, sadly, we are presently passing through a difficult phase, with some elements engaged in spreading violence, extortion and terrorizing people. I feel the desire for peace is but natural. All the people wish for is to live, sleep and go about their daily business in peace. Even now, we hear that terror is once again targeting industries; this should be brought to an immediate end. The Nepalese people should give due consideration to the fact that outsiders will take advantage of a divided house. Everyone should remain sensitive in ensuring that others are not encouraged to fool around. I would like to reiterate here that those who have deviated could always return to the national mainstream with the central pillar of their concern as national unity and the nation. Having said this, I would like to add that if they were previously hoping to make some gains from their political agenda, that agenda no longer exists. At one time, I had heard that the terrorists’ agenda was pro-people, aimed at introducing reforms. But look at what has happened now. When they went overboard to embrace terrorism, the people abandoned them. In the beginning, we heard that they had 41 demands, which, as you know, kept changing.  There is no denying that some of these demands were good. May be the governments of the day did not address them. May be our difficulties would not have multiplied so much if something had been done then. I would like to state that the government’s 21- point programme has tried to address many of these issues. That is why I feel that a solution can definitely be found if every Nepali considers the nation as the focal point.

Question 4. In the course of Your Majesty’s visit, people have filed petitions on issues relating to law and order along with development activities and administrative delays. Many of them have also put forth personal requests. Would Your Majesty wish to comment on this?

Answer 4. As you saw for yourself, the requests were rather diverse – some personal while others related to the district, education etc. We will go through them on our return to the capital. Special attention will naturally be given to the genuine ones which are applicable and within the ability of the State. There are some that should be given priority. We will see how these issues can be incorporated in our national policy. This should address many of the issues. One cannot expect the State, government or one person to do everything. That is why I have been stressing the need for public participation. Moreover, in the modern age, we should leave it to the people and their representatives. But those who claim to be the people’s representatives must represent them in the real sense. The representatives must focus on alleviating the difficulties of the people. Popular aspirations must somehow be reflected in the national plan.

Question 5. Although this Far and Mid-Western Region is relatively more affected by Maoist terrorism, Your Majesty’s visit to various places in the region has witnessed the participation of a large number of people. Would Your Majesty wish to comment on this?

Answer 5. First of all, I would like to thank the people for coming to the places I went. I must also confess that this visit has taught me what patience is all about. In some places, the people were profusely sweating in the scorching sun. The flowers in their hands had dried up but they did not relent, saying that they had to personally give the flowers to their king. I have heard that some elements tried to create disturbances, make their presence felt but the people have given them a fitting reply by coming in large numbers. It is heartening that, in spite of all the difficulties, these people waited very patiently to see and talk to their king. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, sweet or bitter, once we go to the people, we must have the patience to listen to everyone. During this visit, the people taught me to be patient. In some places, they were sweating profusely due to the heat while I am told rains completely drenched the people in other places prior to my arrival. But the fact is that the people were there, patiently waiting for me to come.

Question 6. People were rather surprised to see Your Majesty sweating and walking for over two and half hours. How would Your Majesty respond to their reactions to the press?

Answer 6. Isn’t this question pretty odd? I am only human and it is but natural for a human being to sweat when exposed to heat. But we must turn this sweat into constructive and productive energy. Our country has a difficult terrain. We have to climb hills to go from one place to another. We sweat and inhale dust wherever we go. Our clothes and shoes must match up with this environment. If the people can do it, I don’t see why their king can’t. A unique characteristic of the Nepalese Monarchy is that the king and the Nepalese people are inseparable from each other. Monarchy always moulds itself according to the wishes of the Nepalese people – this is our tradition. Unlike today, our forefathers did not enjoy the luxury of asphalt roads, vehicles or helicopters. They had to ride on horsebacks or walk, but the kings did reach the people’s doorsteps. So we can’t afford to say that this is difficult. No matter what the state of the people may be, we must love and respect them. This is another unique feature of Nepalese Monarchy.

Question 7. Your Majesty, regarding the encouraging public participation during the visit, some elements have charged that the people were coerced into coming there. Would Your Majesty comment on this accusation?

Answer 7. How do I react? I think the people present there are best suited to answer this question – whether they were forced to come or if their presence was spontaneous.

Question 8. Your Majesty, you have spoken directly with people from different walks of life, including the elderly and the disabled. How would you assess the difference between times prior to and after the Royal Proclamation?

Answer 8. One of the things I have experienced is that the Nepalese are growing in confidence. The people are also more nationalistic. I have also heard that since February 1, there has been some improvement in the delivery of services. But some also tell me that this improvement has slackened. I would also like to caution all those responsible for providing the services that this is no time for dilly-dallying. These services must reach the people. Excuses will not be tolerated. A commitment has already been made for good governance.

Question 9. In the course of the visit, people of all ages, from small children to the elderly, came in huge numbers to greet Your Majesty, in spite of the scorching heat. There is also a general feeling that such visits should take place more frequently and in other districts as well. Does Your Majesty plan to continue such zonal and district level visits in the days ahead?

Answer 9. I wish to make it clear that this king has absolutely no problem in meeting the people. We are always willing to go any where the people call us. I assure you that the Institution of Monarchy will never lag behind in alleviating the sufferings and difficulties faced by the people. In this light, I believe such visits should and will continue in future as well.

Question 10. Taking into consideration the current situation of the country,   how does Your Majesty think the press should conduct itself?

Answer 10. This might be the most difficult question. Though it is not for me to say how the press should conduct itself, I would like to add that, anyone aware of one’s responsibilities must carry out their duties in a disciplined manner, given the sensitive circumstances prevailing in the country. I wish to reiterate that we should not do anything that encourages terrorism. We must not forget that our nation is still in crisis. Do you think that the fourth state remained quiet during the imposition of the state of emergency? I never thought so. All of us must accept the fact that our country is in a difficult situation and we must work towards achieving one objective – the creation of a self-reliant, peaceful and democratic nation. Of course, we need democracy. But we must be able to exercise it right from the grassroots level up to the parliament. Like a house, the strength of democracy rests on its foundations and pillars. We must, therefore, identify and strengthen them. Then only will higher level democratic institutions be strengthened. Democracy will have real meaning only if the people can enjoy its fruits. What is the essence of the Bhagawat Gita? The essence, as I understand, is that we should continue fulfilling our duties without expecting anything in return. Once we are born into this mortal world, we must continue fulfilling our duties in some form or the other. Now if we get stuck on the consequences, when will we ever attain the goals? Today, the nation has made a firm commitment that terrorism is unacceptable and democracy should be made meaningful and mature. This was also the main objective behind our proclamation on February 1. Different means could be adopted to achieve the goal but we cannot afford to falter or stray away at every juncture. There may be challenges but we must overcome them and continue on the right path. I feel the current relationship between the king and political parties could be compared to the petty daily squabbles between loving couples. The closer they are, the more squabbles there will be. But, as I have said before, political parties must clarify their position on four important issues. First, they must clarify their position on terrorism. Everywhere I went, people, fearful of terror, were clamouring for peace. As for the political parties, some talk about forging an alliance with the terrorists, while others are in favour of initiating dialogue with them. This is not right. The people want answers from these parties. They need not tell the king, but they must take the people into confidence. They must also clarify their views on good governance, corruption, politicisation of different sectors including the bureaucracy and fiscal discipline. If political parties publicly state their position on these issues, there will be room for dialogue to move ahead. As far as I am concerned, my doors are always open. Never have I said that I would not meet them. But there has to be   some basis for that too because I am also responsible to the people. Even I have to be able to tell the people what their leaders’ views on these issues are.

Question 11. Some patriots feel that it may be difficult to fulfill Your Majesty’s wishes in the present circumstances.

Answer 11. This is something I too have heard. First and foremost, we must learn that the nation comes before everything else, so we must move ahead with national interest uppermost in our minds. I would like to mention a tradition of ours. Even during King Prithvi Narayan Shah the Great’s reign, he could not select his own ministers because the people did not allow him to do so. We will also uphold this tradition. We are giving due consideration to the people’s opinion. It is unbecoming of patriots to be disappointed or pass comment just because they were not appointed to any public office. This is what I meant when I said that we must learn patience from the people.

Royal Address on May 7, 2006

Sunday 7th May 2006
Address From His Majesty King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev at Pipara Muth, Birgunj On The Occasion Of The Silver Jubilee Anniversary Celebrations Of The World Hindu Federation (April 7, 2006)
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed a pleasure for us to be amongst this august gathering of revered sages, religious leaders, excellencies, scholars and participants who are here to take part in this ceremony being held on the occasion of the silver jubilee anniversary of the World Hindu Federation.

The Kingdom of Nepal, the fountainhead of Hinduism, has, since time immemorial, provided ascetics and mystics with the spiritual ground for meditation. Siddhartha Gautam, the founder of Buddhism, is a son of this land. Buddhism later spread far and wide, including India, China and Japan, and Lord Buddha came to be revered as the proponent of peace, a fact we should take pride in. Janaki is also a daughter of this soil. Having never faced any kind of discord in the name of religion, Nepal can be taken as a paradigm of perfect harmony between religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence. While holding all religions in high esteem, we firmly believe in the good virtue of creating a peaceful environment. This is also an outstanding attribute of Hinduism.

Nepal is not only home to Vedic sages and Buddhist philosophers. According to scriptures, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, meditated on the banks of the holy Bishnumati River and Emperor Bharat, son of Rishabhdev, considered the first Tirthankar of the Jain sect, meditated on the banks of the Kali Gandaki River in Nepal.  So it can be surmised that the strong religious pillars of all four sects, namely Vedic, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh, were bonded in Nepal, thereby paving the way for the spontaneous development of the Omkar Parivar.

The holy land of Nepal, which has the distinction of having sacred places like the Pashupat, Baraha, Ruru and Mukti Regions and is also referred to in the Puranas, is a common site of pilgrimage for all. The people of Nepal and India enjoy similar culture and tradition, with the age-old affinity and affection fostered by shared religious beliefs complementing one another. Common perspectives have been developed in a number of issues. The deep sentimental relations between the Hindus of the world has augmented and inspired the advancement of fraternity amongst Hindus all over in the 21st century.

Hinduism, which dates back to the beginning of civilisation itself, embraces the high ideals of tolerance and “Vasudaiva kutumbakam” or universal fraternity. In these ideals lies the strength in the relations amongst various faiths in this Hindu Kingdom.

Based on humanistic ideals, the Hindu culture, which espouses the precept “Sarve bhawantu sukhina sarve santu niramaya” or “Let every human being be happy and free of disease; let every individual’s well-being be ensured”, is dedicated to the good and peace of all. These ideals must be incorporated into our way of life, as inscribed in the great religious epic The Bhagawat Gita.

There are many instances where, for peace, many sages have sacrificed their lives. To establish permanent peace in the true sense is the need of the day. Let us all pledge to dedicate some of our time towards this noble cause. The holy Vedas also lay special emphasis on peace and humanism.

The Hindu religion touches every aspect of our lives. To this day, it continues to occupy the pride of place it had acquired during ancient times. We are confident that, like in the past thousands of years, its future is eternally secure because its ideals and philosophy have not been distorted.  We believe that religion leads an individual on the path of righteousness. Hinduism endorses reincarnation and purity of the soul. Our religion teaches us that no matter how difficult a task may be, we must pursue to execute it with a sense of dedication and dutifulness since our good deeds in this world ensures our well-being in the next. At the same time, it also inspires us to view life in a positive manner.

It is a matter of satisfaction that the Third World Hindu Convention and, under the auspices of the Convention, the Shanti Sammelan (Peace Conference) and Santa Sammelan (Sages’ Conference) are being held on the auspicious occasion of the silver jubilee anniversary of the World Hindu Federation. We are confident that the recommendations adopted by these conferences will provide important guidelines for the benefit of the Hindu world as well as humankind as a whole.

Finally, while conveying best wishes for the success of the silver jubilee anniversary, we wish to thank the organisers and participants on behalf of the Queen and ourselves.

May Lord Pashupatinath bless us all!

Jaya Nepal!

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