स्वर्गीय गिरिजा प्रसाद कोइरालाको आठौ पुण्यतिथिको अवसरमा विराटनगरमा बिशेष कार्यक्रमको आयोजना गरिएको छ । जि.पी.कोइराला फाउण्डेशनले आयोजना गरेको कार्यक्रममा बिभिन्न व्यक्तिहरुले कांग्रेसका स्वर्गीय सभापति कोइरालाको योगदानको चर्चा गरेका थिए ।
Girija Prasad Koirala Foundation marked the 94th birth anniversary of Late GP Koirala by organizing a one-day symposium on "Connecting Nepal's Tourism/Culture Promotion to Asian Countries" in Kathmandu on 4th July 2017. Honorable Minister for Finance Mr. Gyanenedra Bahadur Karki was the chief guest of the program.
On March 18, 2017, to commemorate the 7th year of passing of legendary political leader GP Koirala, GP Koirala Foundation (GPKF) organized a one-day interaction program on the topic “Nepal-India Connectivity: Opportunities for Holistic Development”. The program was chaired by the chairperson of GPKF, Hon’ble Sujata Koirala. The chief guest of the program was senior leader of Nepali Congress, Ram Chandra Poudel. Charge D’Affairs of the Indian Embassy HE Vinaya Kumar, Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University Dr. Sangeeta Thapaliya, Former Ambassador Dr. Suresh Chandra Chalise, Hon’ble Lalbabu Yadav, President of Nepal Council of World Affairs - Dr. Rajendra B Shrestha and CEO of National Reconstruction Authority - Dr. Govinda Pokhrel were guests at the program.
In his welcome address, Dr. Chalise discussed the historical achievements of GP Koirala which included, but were not limited to, ending the dictatorship of the monarchy, bringing the then belligerent Maoists into the democratic process and ending the decade-long conflict. Dr. Chalise mentioned that even leaders of other nations such as Manmohan Singh and Jimmy Carter had highly appreciated Late Koirala’s contributions to democracy. Dr. Chalise posited that the current state of affairs in Nepal would have been different had Koirala still been alive.
Dr. Rajendra B Shrestha presented facts and his views on Nepal and India connectivity. Citing that South Asia was one of the least connected and poorest regions in the world marked by low trade and Investment, he argued that connectivity would lead to faster and cheaper movement of goods and people and greater investment in Nepal. Dr. Shrestha was of the view that the ancient South Western Silk Road China in which Nepal was a node should be revived to link Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and India. He further reasoned that that Lhasa was becoming a transportation hub in Western China and that China’s growth centers moving closer to Nepal were facts largely ignored by Nepal to its own peril. He posited that China’s “Go West” and recent OBOR policy, and the BCIM Economic Corridor were new developments in Asia which Nepal should be mindful of.
Dr. Shrestha argued that tourism from India would be vital towards reducing poverty in Nepal. As for infrastructural connectivity, he mentioned that there were several roads being built with Indian support in Nepal. Citing that over 60% of Nepal’s trade was with India, and that the share of tourists in Nepal were highest from India, Dr. Shrestha said that India was an important development partner for Nepal. He hoped for the construction of proposed railway linkages in Nepal and for transportation across the border to be hassle-free, and also for the development of a “Hindu circuit” and a “Buddhist circuit” which would be beneficial to Nepal.
CEO of the National Reconstruction Authority, Dr. Govinda Pokhrel praised GP Koirala’s contributions toward economic growth in Nepal. He said that Koirala’s role was vital in the establishment of Nepal as a social-democratic nation. Dr. Pokhrel said that reforms carried out during Koirala’s leadership as Prime Minister such as VAT Reform and tax reform contributed greatly to state revenue collection. Dr. Pokhrel however expressed his grievance at the fact that no political leadership in Nepal has since prioritized the development of economic institutions. He hoped that parties today would follow Koirala’s footsteps and shift their focus on the design of economic institutions alongside political institutions. He hoped for the Nepali state to take advantage of development across both the northern and southern border. Since industrial contribution to GDP was a shameful 5%, Dr. Pokhrel expressed his wish for the development of “value-chain industries in Nepal” by connecting with “Make in India”. This would be in Nepal’s interest since low economic growth would lead to unemployment which would in turn develop rebellious attitudes in the youth population. Citing that 200 million Indian tourists went on vacation every year, Dr. Pokhrel hoped that Nepal would develop programs to attract Indian tourists in Nepal, and also attract FDI from India since India now ranked third after China and the UK in FDI in Nepal. Currently, Nepal has been importing 340-380 MW of electricity from India. Dr. Pokhrel hoped that Nepal would someday be exporting electricity to India. Dr. Pokhrel argued that Nepal and India needed a single vision of economic development.
Hon’ble Lalbabu Yadav also spoke highly of Late Koirala. He told the audience that in his conversations with Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal and UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, he found that both of them held high respect for late Koirala. As for Nepal-India relations, Hon’ble Yadav argued said that India played a huge role for development in the entire SAARC region. He highlighted the primacy of human security in development. He hoped for clear border demarcation between Nepal and India. He expressed his dismay at Nepal’s need to import foodstuff and hoped for the development of agro-based industries in the Terai belt. He posited that rural tourism and pilgrimage tourism would be crucial towards tackling poverty in Nepal, and hoped that policy and programs that encompassed the needs and aspiration of the Nepali people would be developed.
Charge D’Affairs of the Indian Embassy Vinaya Kumar spoke of Nepal-India relations as one having ancient ties, and that the two countries shared spiritual, mental, and physical ties. He said that the Himalayas were the common ancestry of Nepal and India. Since 5 states of India neighbor Nepal and familial ties existed across the border, and currently 6 to 7 million Nepalis are working in India, these facts highlight the close ties between Nepal and India. He spoke of GP Koirala as a great leader of all South Asia which was evident in the fact that Nepal experienced the highest percentage of growth during his leadership. He mentioned that initiatives such as the postal road, integrated check posts, and rail projects were all conceived during the leadership period of GP Koirala. He argued that Nepal should take benefit of Indian development in the past few decades, and that we should learn from the lessons of GP Koirala to have a peaceful and developed society.
Professor Sangeeta Thapaliya began by speaking of the role of Nepali leaders during India’s Freedom movement and of India’s support for Nepal’s democratic movements arguing that the 2 countries shared democratic linkages. She posited that India and Nepal have a special bond like no other neighboring countries in the world. However, both countries failed to translate cultural similarities into political realities. She expressed that cultural similarities and geographical contiguity were being taken for granted and so, she highlighted the need to facilitate people to people relations between India and Nepal through joint studies and joint projects, and development of culture centers and literary centers. She further argued that Indian bureaucrats currently emphasized on realism and national interests and that Nepal defines its international relations on the basis of realpolitik downplaying shared similarities between the 2 counties. She argued that there was a “disconnect” between the 2 countries although there exists deep socio-cultural relations between the 2 countries which Indian PM Modi highlighted during his state visit to Nepal. As for tourism between the 2 countries, she stated that India has not ever issued a travel advisory to its citizens traveling to Nepal at any point in history. Since not much of a language barrier existed between the 2 countries and Indian Currency was widely accepted in Nepal, she said that Nepal was once a major travel destination with India preferences now shifting to other locations.
As for hydropower development, she said that she felt a need for there to be a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of hydropower development on the economy, society and ecology and that Nepal needs to dissociate Hydropower with politics since benefits of hydropower should flow down to the people and not just the elites. She concluded with the thought that holistic development would take place only after emphasizing people-to-people relations.
A lively discussion then took place between the floor and the panel judges. After the discussion, chief guest of the program, Hon’ble Ram Chandra Poudel also paid his respects to the late Koirala. He said that he was personally influenced by the vision that Koirala held during a crucial time in Nepal’s history and that Koirala played an important role in establishing political relations between Nepal and India. As for Nepal-India relations, he asserted that although, occasionally there may arise certain issues of conflict between India and Nepal, peace and stability in both nations were of primary importance for progress in both nations, and that it was important to create an environment of trust between Nepal and its two neighbors.
In her vote of thanks, Vice President of GPKF, Melanie Rosa Chowdhary fondly remembered Late Koirala as someone who freed the nation from fear, and that Nepal was forever indebted to his leadership. She remembered Koirala’s fervent wish that future generations would not have to have a lifelong struggle for democracy as he did. She hoped that Nepal and India would continue the dialogue that took place on the day and that everyone present would build on the ideas generated. She argued that peace and development flourished in good neighborliness which was also essential for inclusive, sustainable and equitable development.