Greater Nepal map with ceded territory
Greater Nepal map with ceded territory

Greater Nepal is a nascent irredentist concept of Nepal extending beyond its present boundaries to include current Indian and Bhutanese territories, which were once controlled by the Gorkha army.[1] After defeating some neighbouring kingdoms in wars between 1791 and 1804, the Gorkhas fought with the British East India Company in the 1814–16 Anglo-Nepalese War and were made to sign the unfair treaty in 1816 Sugauli Treaty. Greater Nepal is aimed at setting the clock back to the status before the Sugauli Treaty.

The concept of "Greater Nepal" does not include those parts of Tibet that the Gorkha army occupied very briefly after defeating Tibetans in wars fought from 1789 to 1791 but from where the Gorkha army was ejected by Chinese army which defeated the Gurkha king in 1792 Sino-Nepalese War.

Background

It is claimed the historical "Greater Nepal" extended from the Sutlej to the Teesta River in 1813, spanning 1,500 km. Gorkha rule over this expanse was brief, however, and in the aftermath of the 1814-1815 war with the East India Company the Gorkhali realm was whittled down considerably. The real time Gorkhali presence in Garhwal was for 12 years, Kumaon for 24 years,[2] and Sikkim for 33 years. The Treaty of Sugauli, between the Gorkhali king and the East India Company, was ratified in 1816. It caused Nepal's rulers to lose about 176,000 (according to greater Nepal map ) km2 of territory and left Nepal with its present-day borders, with 147,516 km2 total area.

Greater Nepal Nationalist Front

Greater Nepal map. Extent of the Gorkha rule at its height[citation needed]
Greater Nepal map. Extent of the Gorkha rule at its height[citation needed]

Greater Nepal Nationalist Front (GNNF) is a Nepalese NGO headed by Phanindra Nepal, which champions the cause of Greater Nepal. The organisation disowns the 1810 Sugauli Treaty and the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship with India. It demands the return of the land that belonged to Nepal before the signing of the Sugauli Treaty. This involves land up to the Sutlej River in the west, the Teesta River in the east ("Shimla to Darjeeling" in the organisation's parlance) and extending up to Varanasi in the south.[3]

Scholars Mishra and Haque state that the organisation is rhetorically very powerful. The map of Greater Nepal produced by the organisation provides power to the movement by building "meanings and nostalgic longings". The movement has a web page in the Nepali language, a Facebook page and blog sites. Its agenda has also been coopted by the Unified Nepal National Front.[3]

An even more grandiose movement is said to talk about "Unified Gorkha-States of India Sub-Continent", which restructures the Indian subcontinent into five autonomous states, the largest of which is the so-called "Arya Autonomous State".[3]

Maoists

A Maoist movement has published a 260-page Nepali book titled "Nepal: Teesta Dekhi Satlej Samma" ("Nepal: From Teesta to the Sutlej") which, while repeating similar demands to the GNNF, also provides copious references to alleged historical facts. Among others, it claims that the Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru supported the idea of "Greater Nepal".[1] Their map includes the Indian towns of Varanasi, Ballia, Bahraich, Pilibhit and Jaunpur.[4]

The Maoist leader Prachanda dismissed the claims in an interview with the Times of India as a "media-created stunt". But according to the Times of India the book is readily available in and around the Maoist camps along the Indo-Nepal border.[1]

Scholars

Scholars and retired officials such as Buddhi Narayan Shrestha (former Director of the Survey Department) and Dwarika Nath Dhungel (former secretary of Water Resources) have published scholarly articles with maps labelled "Greater Nepal".[5][6] Shrestha has also spoken in Greater Nepal gatherings[7][8] and made media comments in its favour:[9]

The land we lost to the East India Company should not belong to India. It is ours.[9]

Shreshta narrates that, before the Sugauli Treaty, Nepal extended up to the confluence of Gandak and Ganges Rivers in the south, and to Shigatse and Tashilhunpo in the north. "It was called the 'Greater Nepal'", he states, without mentioning who called it so.[10] British India apparently "did not like" Greater Nepal as a unified country and therefore dismembered it.[11] He alleges that the British wanted to expand trade into Tibet but, since Nepal stood in the way, they needed to cut it down.[12]

Official position of Nepal government and political parties

The former kings of Nepal and prime ministers of Kingdom of Nepal have never discussed or approved of the concept of "Greater Nepal". Thereafter the prime ministers of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal have never discussed or approved of the concept of "Greater Nepal".

Upon forming a coalition government after the 2008 Nepalese Constituent Assembly election, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Pushpa Kamal Dahal (who had spent 10 years of his life in India after being declared a terrorist by the Nepalese government) said on 24 April 2008 that the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship would be scrapped.[13] However, he soon realised and the matter was not pursued afterwards as he resigned as Prime Minister after nine months in charge due to other reasons. Late Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala told journalists in Jalapa that the Greater Nepal idea is "a product of unstable minds". The mainstream Left of Nepal appears ambivalent, says Kanak Mani Dixit. "They like the concept but are unwilling to do anything about it."[14]

Present-day view

There is no official claim by the Government of Nepal or any political party of Nepal to take back the territory ceded to British East India Company by Nepal which is now territory of India but there is a NGO Named; Greater Nepal Nationalist Front whose creator is Phanindra Nepal. There are also some major Nepali political parties which are formed with a view to achieve Greater Nepal.

References

  1. ^ a b c "Nepal Maoists produce maps to claim parts of India". Times of India. 25 October 2005.
  2. ^ Pande, Puran Ch.; Pande, Ravindra K.; Pande, Rajnish (1998). The Himalayan Environment: Issues and Challenges. Daya Publishing House. ISBN 978-81-7035-187-0.
  3. ^ a b c Mishra, Swasti Vardhan; Haque, Sk. Mafizul (2020), "Geographies of India-Nepal contestation", osf.io
  4. ^ Nayak, Nihar (2010). "India–Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty (1950): Does it Require Revision?". Strategic Analysis. 34 (4). page 591, note 20. doi:10.1080/09700161003802778. S2CID 154483196.
  5. ^ Shrestha, Demarcation of the International Boundaries of Nepal (2013), p. 151.
  6. ^ Dhungel, Dwarika Nath; Pun, Santa Bahadur (2014), "Nepal-India Relations: Territorial/Border Issue with Specific Reference to Mahakali River", FPRC Journal, New Delhi: Foreign Policy Research Centre – via academia.edu
  7. ^ Looking For Greater Nepal, greaternepal.asia.np, retrieved 20 October 2020.
  8. ^ Buddhi Narayan Shrestha Speaking, Buddhi Narayan Shrestha blog site, 16 March 2010. "Border researcher Buddhi Narayan Shrestha delivering speech in Shanti Batika, Ratna Park during displaying the Hoarding Board of the Map of Greater Nepal by United Nepal National Front on 7 March 2009."
  9. ^ a b Buddhi Narayan Shrestha: ‘We could regain Greater Nepal’, The Kathmandu Post, 6 January 2008.
  10. ^ Shrestha, Demarcation of the International Boundaries of Nepal (2013), p. 149.
  11. ^ Shrestha, Demarcation of the International Boundaries of Nepal (2013), p. 150.
  12. ^ Shrestha, Demarcation of the International Boundaries of Nepal (2013), p. 154.
  13. ^ Maoists to scrap 1950 Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty
  14. ^ Kanak Mani Dixit, Looking for Greater Nepal, Himal SouthAsian, 1 March 1993.

Bibliography