Nepal: Pioneer republican thinker passes away; legacy study required
Nepal’s pioneer republican thinker Ram Raja Prasad Singh passed away on Wednesday morning at about 06:00 according to Kathmandu time. The Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu circulated this information after 06:15.
Mr. Singh, 77, had been brought to Kathmandu due to the worsening condition of his health. He had been suffering from multiple health problems, especially those related to heart, kidney, lungs, and nerves.
In the 1960s, Mr. Singh had initiated Nepal’s republican seed movement by harshly advocating against monarchy and calling on parties to go for republican setup of Nepal. Through University graduate election, as per the then Panchayat provision, he became a member of the Legislature, then known as the Rashtriya Panchayat. However, he was immediately imprisoned for his argument that monarchy was a burden to the Nepalis because it used huge public resources irrationally for luxurious purposes.
According to the Nepali language book Ganatantra ko laagi sangharsha (Struggle for Republic) written by Sitaram Baral, a Nepali journalist, Ram Raja Prasad Singh had even met the world known revolutionary fighter Che Guevara.
Talking to different Nepali media in the post-1990 period, Mr. Singh had said that his political ideology was for state welfare system and social justice based on the equitable distribution of resources to the people, not for monopolization and wealth concentration that would lead to poverty perpetuation and criminalization of politics among the people and parties in the country.
In May 2008, former Maoist rebels made him a presidential candidate in the Legislative-Parliament. The coalition of 22 parties led by the Nepali Congress and the Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) defeated him—the difference was quite narrow. Most of the Nepalis had expected him to become Nepal’s first President out of public respect as he had fundamentally revolted against monarchy in the most explicit terms.
The performance of his group called Janabaadi Morcha does not appear very effective, except for the lead he took in exploding time bombs in the major powerful centers in Kathmandu in 1995. The monarchy announced a death penalty against him for the explosions in which about half a dozen people lost their lives. He saved his life by escaping to India. He however returned to Saptari, his home district in Nepal after the absolute monarchy accepted the multiparty democracy in which there would be no capital punishment.
Mr. Singh was a visionary republican thinker. He was the first person to implant seed of republican thought into people’s minds in the most apparent form.
Mr. Singh was a person of moral quality. He never conceded to the idea of separatism under Madhesh or Hills. Most of the Madehshi parties and leaders, though they praise him in appearance, do not like him because he never cooperated with them to divide Nepal. Even the most powerful and glamorized leaders in Nepal need to learn from Ram Raja Prasad Singh, especially his commitment to national unity amidst diversity and a simple way of living.
Basically, he was a thinker, not a leader. A leader makes organizations and networks for mass mobilization. He depended on selected cadres. His greatest weakness was his incapability of producing more republican leaders, who could genuinely work to transform the Nepali society in every way possible and necessary. Currently, most of the parties and leaders think and behave like kings and sub-kings and even seem to have been prepared for restoring monarchy should their material interests be fulfilled.
There might have been valuable principles and parameters of republican democracy behind what Mr. Singh lived for. His colleagues, disciples, family members, relatives and contemporaneous intellectuals could be the major sources for further research.
Tags: Nepal , Republic , Monarchy , Panchayat , Ram Raja Prasad Singh , Resources , Democracy , Capital Punishment , India , Nepali Congress
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