Nepal covers an area of 147, 181 sq.km., and is inhabited by over 23 million people. Nepal is sandwiched between India and China, the two most populous countries in the world. Nepal is a member of SAARC (South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation), a region where one quarter of humanity reside, and a member of the UN (United Nations). Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in Nepali), the highest peak in the world at 8848 meters, together with eight other mountains over 8000m, is situated in Nepal. The altitude varies from 90m to 8848m over a short distance of 125 kilometers thus providing abundance of bio-diversity; rich in flora and fauna and home to over 850 species of birds, the Royal Bengal tiger, the one-horned rhino and fresh-water dolphins. Fast flowing Himalayan rivers through rugged picturesque terrain have opened up great adventure tourism like white-water rafting, trekking, mountaineering, wild life safaris and the much needed hydropower potential. This vast source of clean hydropower energy has powered over 650 units of 3-wheeler 12-seater electric vehicles to serve commuters in Kathmandu Valley, a showpiece to the world.
Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural Kingdom. Nepal is a very sacred pilgrimage country for Hindus and Buddhists all over the world. Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the torchbearer of peace and home to the famous warriors, “Gurkhas”, who serve in the Indian and British Armies and the Police in Singapore. Nepal has also been contributing military contingents for the UN peacekeeping duties since 1956.
Nepal’s historical experiences through successive political events since the mid-eighteenth century, the autocratic Rana regime, the democratic revolution of 1950 and the party less Panchayat era, (1960-1990) finally led to the 1990 People’s Movement which brought about the 1991 Constitution of Kingdom of Nepal, whereby Constitutional Monarchy and a Multi-party democracy was incorporated. Although the constitution was hailed to be a highly acclaimed document, it is misused by political leaders and political parties. Corruption, misuse of authority and manipulation of elections made multiparty democracy unpopular among the people. The constitution has failed to address effectively the existing inequality elements prevailing socially, economically, politically, culturally and religiously among the oppressed groups (Dalits), the indigenous peoples (Adivashi/Janjatis) and the womenfolk. Moreover, the political environment bred corruption as politics gravitated around holding onto power rather than in nation building. All this discontent found an outlet in the form of an armed rebellion by the Maoists in 1996. Overtures of peace talks between the Maoists and the government have failed because of mistrust and each party sticking firmly on their own rigid agendas. And the ongoing agitation created by the so-called five parties is leaving the people and especially the students completely astray. Whereas these parties should put pressure to the warring parties to come to the negotiating table they are themselves laying claim to positions of power. The political process can only begin once peace is restored and elections take place. The insurgency has taken a heavy toll in the rural populations causing mass exodus of displaced persons to congregate to the district headquarters and the capital and migration of the rural youth to neighboring India and overseas for employment opportunities. The people have been caught between the two warring parties and has become the target of gross flagrance of human rights abuses committed by both sides.