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Professor of English, Tribhuwan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal

Sunday, August 18, 2013

B P Koirala’s Birth Centenary Proposal and Programme

On behalf of Nepali Writers’ Association (NWA), we would like to appeal to the world to help us celebrate Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala’s centenary, which starts on September 2013 which will be observed for a whole year. A great freedom fighter, Nepal’s first elected prime minister, as well as a trend-setter in Nepali literature, B P was truly a charismatic figure. He was a staunch supporter of freedom and so democracy. B P Koirala is an internationally known Nepali statesman.

Nepali Writers’ Association was established in 1951, immediately after the first wave of democratic revolution succeeded in Nepal. Among its founders were Hriddhi Bahadur Malla, Gobinda Bahadur Malla ‘Gothale’, B P Koirala and a team of forerunners. Its main purpose was to establish freedom of expression and nurture democracy. But the first democratically elected Prime Minister was deposed by the then king Mahendra in 1960, and B P together with his supporters were sent to prison.

All political parties were banned, and so was the Nepali Writers’ Association. It took more than three decades’ of struggle to re-establish the democracy in 1990. It was in 1995 that the Association was also revived under the leadership the great freedom fighting writer Govinda Bahadur Malla ‘Gothale’. Again in 2007 after the third revolution that established republic system of government in Nepal, a committee under another freedom fighter poet Bairagi Kaila (the Present Chancellor of Nepal Academy) formed an ad hoc body of Nepali Writers’ Association chained by Dr Tulasi Bhattarai. During Dr Bhattarai's tenure NWA’s constitution was drafted, the organisation was newly registered, duly formalised, and revamped. He worked vehemently and expanded its branches throughout the country, young members joined, and a huge network of writers who trust in freedom of expression started working with revived fervour. 

In 2012 Dr Bhattarai’s tenure ended, and Dr Bishnu Bibhu Ghimire was elected the new President for another term. At the same time a 45 member new committee was formed under him. Today there are more than 30 branches of N W A actively working throughout the country. 

In February 2012, Nepali Writers Association formed a new sub-committee under Dr Govinda Raj Bhattarai, the Vice President (foreign relations) in order to prepare for B P Koirala’s birth centenary. Today I would like to give a brief introduction to our plans and proposals on behalf of the Association and in the capacity of Co-coordinator of the sub-committee.
It was only after the Second World War that some light of the wider world entered Asia. Especially the Indian struggle for freedom gave some courage to the democratic countries. Even B P Koirala himself had participated, as a young freedom fighter, in the Independence Movement of India. However, communist countries were turning into superpowers. 

Nepal too was in her deep slumber of ignorance and illiteracy, she had travelled a long dark tunnel for a thousand years under dictatorial rule. 

What great courage did one require to even dream of a free society in those days! Among such visionary pioneers who dreamed of independence for the people was B P Koirala. But it took seven decades for his dream to materialise. Even now, democracy has not been institutionalised properly, we are still struggling. However, whatever achievements we have made or we achieved, came as a result of untold suffering, tyranny, imprisonment and even death of hundreds or thousands. This long history of suffering brought us small bits of freedom in installments. In this long history of struggle, the bold leadership B P Koirala showed the nation its way. Even after his death his principles and ideals are showing us the path.

B P Koirala was born in Benaras in 1913. His first birth centenary falls in September 2013. On this occasion, Nepali Wirers’ Association has made a special plan to observe the first birth centenary of the great statesman and writer. In this connection we can evaluate the contribution made by B P under three headings. B P Koirala is a person:

a) Who sacrificed his life to introduce democratic system and principles in Nepal.
b) Who was a very popular and successful leader.
c) Who is honoured as a trend setter in Nepali Literature.

Now we need to establish strong and convincing bases in order to evaluate B P Koirala from intellectual, academic, and political grounds and analyse his entire personality accordingly. 

B P Koirala is truly the Father of Democracy, however no complete study has been made on him yet. In order to mark the first centennial birth anniversary this proposal has been drafted on behalf of the Writers’ Association for forming a Committee of high level scholars and academicians and B P experts in order to conduct various programmes. 

The proposed subcommittees will shed light on the various aspects of B P Koirala’s personality, his life and works, his struggle for freedom etc. so that materials produced will fully introduce B P Koirala to the international community.

B P Koirala spent his life in struggles, in anxiety, often was a victim of conspiracy by the dictators but he showed unwavering determination to achieve very high goals. He lived in harsh days, so people could not read and write, neither could they meet him and talk to him, nor could anyone carry out any research work on his contributions. He lived a banned life. He died before democracy was institutionalised, yet his life and works have left a lasting inspiration to people to fight incessantly for freedom. He died of cancer at the age of 69 in 1982. Therefore, on this occasion of his birth centenary, Nepalese people should pay tributes to this great statesman by marking this event with great preparation aiming at a great success. Beginning in September 2013, the anniversary events will be spread throughout the year, ending in 2014. We plan to produce reliable facts on his life and works, sponsor researches on his life and works, publish materials for wider communities, and create an archive for future. 

B P Koirala has been reduced just to a legendary name, and the young generation does not know much about him. Therefore it is essential for us to conduct research on his life and works extensively. B P Koiralas’s total contribution can be classified into two major parts-- Literary and Political. His literary creations have attracted readers, critics and thinkers all alike. They include (i) poetry, (ii) short stories, (iii) novels, (iv) autobiography and journals.

So far eight scholars have earned Ph D degrees on B P Koirala’s works. They are—

a) Hiranya Kumari Sharma– Psychological elements in B P Koirala’s novels
b) Hari Prasad Parajuli– Craft of Writing Short Stories in B P Koirala 
c) Bhupati Dhakal ‘Kamal’– Thought in the novels of B P Koirala
d) Gyanu Pande– Existentialism in B P Koirala’s novels 
e) Krishna Prasad Dahal– Conflict in the novels of B P Koirala 
f) Narayan Prasad Chalise– Eastern Philosophy in B P Koirala’s novels 
g) Birendra Pudasaini– B P Koirala’s novels from narrative point of view
h) Devchandra Misra– B P Koirala and Nepali politics 

Apart from these, many other Ph D level studies are being pursued, and dozens of Masters level theses have studied various aspects of B P. Despite this, his literary contribution has not been fully explored. It is high time we produced materials addressed to different levels of Nepali readership. Besides, we also need, more importantly to prepare biographical and critical works on B P Koirala in order to introduce him to wider readership outside Nepal. There is no publication addressed to readers of neighbouring countries India and China, so our priority should be to produce B P’s biographical works in Hindi and Chinese, since his literary and political career has deep roots in India. The very name B P Koirala symbolises friendship between these countries. The establishment of B P Koirala Foundation and the various programmes it has conducted in Nepal and India have strengthened our friendly bilateral relations.

B P Koirala’s politics never interfered with his literary works. Therefore he once claimed, ‘I am a democrat in politics, and an anarchist in literature.’ We need to seriously study what makes him so, and explore different facets of his personality. 

In order to bring out the complete personality of B P Koirala into light, the committee will have to collect all the articles, writings, publications and interviews that appeared in different publications since the year 1943 when he started writing, and compile and publish them with adequate analysis. Moreover, there are different opinions, ideas and views on nation, democracy and the international relations that he delivered in course of different seminars, conferences and meetings. The speeches that he delivered during foreign tours are of great importance. Likewise, a separate collection of pictures, videos, and speeches that appeared in papers, pamphlets and brochures need to be collected and compiled. These miscellaneous and scattered materials will be compiled and stored in a single archive, electronically and physically both. 

The committee has classified B P’s works into three headings, and each will be given due attention accordingly. They will be divided into (a) Literary, (b) Political and (c) Miscellaneous. 

Literary Programmes
  1. Only the old generation of politicians and intellectuals are fully familiar with the life and works of B P Koirala. The new generation has just heard this name and do not know much about his greatness. Young readers know B P Koirala as a mythical symbol—he introduced Freudian Psychoanalysis in Nepali literature, he was the first elected prime minister, etc.  Therefore, it’s high time we planned and prepared different reading materials to introduce B P Koirala to young generations. First of all, B P Koirala children reader should be prepared, and secondly another reader for a higher level of youth (college level) should be introduced. Likewise, a special material addressed to intellectual readers should also be designed. 
  2. A book focusing on advanced level readers and researchers will be prepared, which will include extensive study.
  3. Such works will be translated into Hindi/Chinese etc in order to familiarise B P Koirala with readers in neighbouring countries.
  4. English translations of the works prepared on B P will be produced.
  5. An annotated bibliography of B P Koirala’s complete works—pamphlets, booklets, brochures, interviews, letters, articles and all the publications will be prepared.
  6. His books will be rendered firstly into English and gradually into other neighbouring languages.
  7. A compilation of pamphlets, booklets, brochures, interviews, letters, his ideas expressed in guest lectures, visits will be compiled; likewise, important pictures, and all the available works of B P will be produced so that researchers can use the tool as an authentic source.
  8. Prepare an analytical book on the works of B P.
  9. Most of B P’s works like Sumnima, Modiaain, Doshi Chasma, Aatmabrittanta have been rendered into English. Remaining works will be translated into English first and other languages gradually.
  10. Arrangement will be made for getting his rare works reprinted and distributed.

Political programmes
  1. B P Koirala’s principles and ideas, his beliefs and philosophical standpoints expressed on different occasions, especially on democracy and socialism, will be collected from different sources like speeches delivered, brochures published, news reports and views, and interviews taken, etc. 
  2. A historical study of B P Koirala’s political career will be made focusing on the establishment of Nepali Congress and its development, and his role in India’s freedom movement.

  1. The centenary committee will form various sub committees and plot a program for celebrating B P Koirala’s anniversary in different parts of Nepal and India throughout the whole year. The anniversary will be celebrated—locally and periodically, specially in five major regions of Nepal, namely—Eastern Development Region, Central Development Region, Western Development Region, Mid western Development Region, Far western Development Region. Moreover, B P centenary will be observed in Patna where he studied, in Darjeeling where he started practicing Law, and in Benaras where he spent days during his early life and later in exile. 
  2. These programmes will be continued throughout the year through speeches, seminars, regional conferences, discussion, publication etc. 
  3. In order to introduce B P’s life and works to readers, we need to produce a special volume of Centenary Souvenir which includes special articles and researches covering various aspects of B P Koirala by renowned scholars.
  4. A separate volume of articles, news, comments, features and reports that appeared in different papers and journals since 1936 should be collected and compiled.
  5. B P Koirala lecture series will be proposed, and this will be planned for the whole year—one delivery a month. 
  6. Special foreign scholars and guest lecturers will be invited, and on special occasions these will be delivered.
  7. At the end of the Centenary programme, a grand closing ceremony will be organised. 
  8. All these plans cannot be put into action within a year, therefore the centenary committee will divide the proposal into—a) Programs for Immediate achievement and b) programs for long term action. Accordingly, different sub committees will be formed and these plans will be trusted on them. NWA will monitor the achievements.
  9. In course of this celebration, different booklets, brochures, banners, bags souvenirs and other publicity materials will be produced as memento.
  10. By the end of the year, a collection of different articles published during the years will be collected and complied in a book.

In order to achieve the goal, we need support from B P Koirala’s family and relatives, friends and well-wishers, researchers and publishers. At this moment, we would like to request all on behalf of the Nepali Writers’ Association—individual citizens, institutions, organizations, political parities and literary organizations, especially Nepal Academy, Ministry of Education and Culture Nepal, B P Koirala India Nepal Foundation and distinguished scholars from different walks of life, from home and abroad to accord help and support in this noble cause of celebrating the centenary birth anniversary of B P Koirala in a grand manner.

Please consult A Brief Introduction to Nepali Writers’ Association (NWA) 2013, a booklet published by the Association.

Thanking you all.

March 25, 2013
Govinda Raj Bhattarai, Ph D
(Professor of English, T U)
Vice President– Foreign relations
Coordinator– B P Koirala Centenary Committee
Nepali Writers' Association, Kathmandu Nepal

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