February 19, 1979
Late King Birendra,
SPEECH FROM HIS MAJESTY KING BIRENDRA
BIR BIKARAM SHAH DEV AT A FUNCTION
ORGANISED IN THE WESTERN REGIONAL
DEVELOPMENT CENTRE, POKHARA, TO
MARK THE KING TRIBHUVAN MEMORIAL
AND NATIONAL DEMOCRACY DAY
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Twenty-eight years ago, it was on this day that democracy was founded in Nepal. Since the Nepali movement to a democratic order was led by our revered grandfather, the lake King Tribhuvan, it has been customary with us all to celebrate this day as the King Tribhuvan Memorial and National Democracy Day. It is wholly appropriate that we pay homage to our leader the late king, and all those patriotic countrymen who made great sacrifices to the cause of democracy in our motherland.
When we look back to the times before the advent of democracy we are struck by the fact that people had been denied their rights to participate in the governance of the country. Indeed those were the times when all of us were made to suffer from neglect and obscurity. Even the ties that bound us together with our people lay served. In those days, no political institutions that presented the people and bore responsibility for their welfare could be developed Nepali society thus remained stunted and the country fell behind times to realise her destiny.
For a country, steeped in darkness and destitution for over a century, the historic event of 1951 gave rise to the adoption of different political system with a view to evolve a democratic system suited to our country. The Nepali society was thus subject to experiences of diverse kinds until finally the adoption of the Panchayat system which having been rooted in our indigenous culture proved to be the most befitting system to realize the ideals of aspirations, this system has struck ever deeper roots in our national body polity. Our civic bodies , the Paznchayats for instance, functioning at different levels within the country have developed into effective forums for democratic expression. While inspiring the people to assert their democratic rights, the additional role, which the Panchayats are playing in undertaking development works by themselves, has set in motion healthy trends in the economic development of the country.
Perhaps it will not be out of place to review, on this occasion, the positive changes that have been brought about in the country before and since the establishment of the partyless Panchayat democracy. Every Nepali from his personal experience can relate the changes and improvements the country has witnessed in diverse fields such as education, transport, agriculture, irrigation, health and electricity. Nevertheless, I wish to recount here what I have observed for myself in the course of my travels to different parts of the country.
Until a few years ago the migration of the people from the hills to the Terai, especially in the East, had posed a serious problem. While this migration let to encroachment and destruction of the forest land as a result of the increasing pressure of population on the Terai, it also encouraged a trend to depopulate the hills and mountains, the one problem, having thus compounded with the other, became a matter of serious concern. Thanks to the partyless Panchayat democracy, the problem is being successfully resolved by setting peacefully thousands of families in the plains with fairness and social justice for all. It is to tackle the problems of out-migration and consequent population pressure on the Terai lands that we are focusing our attention on undertaking increasing number of development projects in the mountainous regions as well judging by the way tea, cardamom and fruit cultivation to believe that the plantation of cash crops in the hills will eventually help us overcome the problem even of soil erosion.
In Pokhara region, until a few years ago, we faced one or two awkward problems. Nepalese in remote areas in this region felt threatened with problems of insecurity while a number of foreign national roamed around taking laws into their own hands. Nothing could, possibly, be more objectionable than the nationals of our own be ore objectionable than the nationals of our own country being made unable to move about freely in the land of their own birth. Fortunately, with the active co-operation of our people, the Panchayat system having realised law and order in these remote areas. In the new conditions of security and stability thus brought about, we were able to introduce horticultural cash crops effectively. As a result, districts such as Mustang have begun to see immigration of the local people in a place which had suffered from out-migration. Ranging from education to given hard work and persistence, we will see a positive change for the better within a few years.
The far-western region comprising the largest portion of our country’s territory had lagged behind, happy to note that this region has now begun to receive its share of the national budget to the point that it can, in due course, compare favourably with other parts of the up in this region which, having laid the infrastructure, will help exploit the natural resources that may, eventually, contribute to develop the country as a whole.
It is true that compared to other areas, substantial investments until now have been made to develop the central region. Apart from laying the basic infrastructure which effects of years of investment have been felt not only in the inner Terai valleys such as Hetauda and Chitwan but also along the Terai belt-together with the districts such as Nuwakot and Rusuwa in the hilly and remote region.
In short, the Panchayat system has gradually sought to bring about an equitable economic development for the benefit of all without discrimination. Looking over the noticeable indicators of change between then and now, we may conclude that while much remains to be done, some measure of progress has surely been achieved. Let us, therefore, resolve once again to dedicate ourselves to realise the dreams of all of us Nepalese through the partyless Panchayat system which as an indigenous expression of democracy provides not only forum where people can take decisions freely through active participation, but also a system of delivering the goods for our people in our own way.
In the end, I would like to thank all those who are assembled here today, including the organizers of this function.
May Lord Pashupatinath bless us all !
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