KATHMANDU, July 18: Our reader this week is Avash Bhandari, 23, who is taking a break after completing his 3rd year examinations for Bachelor’s in Arts from St. Xavier College, Maitighar. He loves reading books in his free time.
He has just finished reading Dr John Whelpton’s “Kings, Soldiers and Priests.”
This book is about the political history of Nepal between the turbulent years of 1830-57. It begins with the years when Premier Bhimsen Thapa’s tyranny was reaching its end and finishes with the emergence and consolidation of the Rana regime.
The writer uses Foreign Political Proceedings and Notes by British Residents in Kathmandu as the main strand of his arguments. One learns from the book how intrigues, plots, short-lived alliances and cold-blooded massacres were the major features of the palace-confined Nepali politics.
The role of the British Residents in Kathmandu, especially Brian Hodgson, is dealt with aptly. However, for common readers, the details and evidences presented to strengthen the arguments can be overwhelming.
We asked Avash the following questions and he replied accordingly:
What do you like most about the book?
What I liked mostly about the book is the forcefulness of arguments advanced by Whelpton, especially regarding the fall of Bhimsen Thapa and the inevitable emergence of another tyrant from the anarchy which itself was the consequence of an equally fierce tyrant.
Who is your favorite character in the book, and why?
Jung Bahadur has to be the most compelling character in this book and arguably the Nepali political history itself. Jung’s awareness of the geopolitical constraints that characterized his times is something capable of only a clever ruler, however unjust and cruel he might have been.
How has this book made any impact on you?
The book’s impact lies in its relevance. One cannot but wonder why Nepali rulers and leaders have always been so occupied by their own interests and petty power lust. Leaders especially should be able to judge that what emerges from full-blown anarchy is only another brutal dictator.
Whom would you suggest this book for reading?
I suggest this book to youths of this country who are interested in learning about our nation’s past and finding our shortcomings during the nation-building process that excluded its toiling mass.