Skip to main content

A MAD GENIUS?

The Roman writer Seneca penned, "There is no great genius without some touch of madness." Could this have been true in the case of the infamous Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal, the person who shot dead his entire family and doomed the institution of monarchy in Nepal? I have got friends who vouch for his intelligence, his ability to win admirers, his penchant for working a crowd, all traits of an excellent politician. It was no wonder that he might have been dissatisfied with the way things were going in the country, he certainly would have perceived the inherent weakness of the system to tackle the Maoist insurgency and his frustration at his father's inaction as a constitutional monarch.

This story does not want to delve on the why's and the wherefore's. It is a story that was told to me by the Honorary Consul General of Nepal in the Netherlands. The Dutch Crown Prince was visiting Nepal in the late nineties when the Maoist insurgency was already in its 3rd year. Industries were already feeling the brunt of the attacks, tourism numbers were tumbling, the politicians were shouting hoarse from the pulpit with nary a plan of containment. Crown Prince Dipendra was the host of the Dutch Crown Prince. During the course of the visit the itinerary took them to Bhaktapur, truly a marvel of the medieval Newari architecture and designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Dutch Crown Prince was no doubt enjoying the walking tour of the old city, marvelling at the intricately carved wooden window and door frames, enchanted by the traditional potters plying their trade, the narrow streets full of souvenir shops, the children running about and playing as in the olden days. Europe does have a few of the old cities resplendently restored, but there is no living city like Bhaktapur.

"This place is just wonderful, Your Royal Highness,"appreciated the Dutch Crown Prince Wilhelm, "Bhaktapur is indeed a very beautiful and interesting city." This probably jolted Dipendra out of his reverie. "Yes, indeed, retorted Dipendra, "but it would be extremely difficult to fight an insurgency in such a crowded town with its narrow alley ways." The reply startled the Dutch prince. He narrated this incident in the evening to his close associates.

Crown Prince Dipendra was probably a man of action, collective leadership gap might have induced a mad spell that fateful night. Would a determined prince be able to tackle the Maoist insurgency by the horn and quash it? The present state of affairs would not have come about. Nepal is now a country without the rule of law, slowly unraveling at the seams in guise of a federated structure it can ill afford.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

RANI MAHAL, THE STORY OF ITS MAKER

PROLOGUE
The first time I ever saw this historical edifice thirty five years ago, she was in ruins and looked like an old hag during the winter of her life, simply waiting for her eventual demise. I was then on my way further west on a week-long trek from Tansen to Tamghas in Gulmi District.
Thirty five years later, I found myself at the same spot once again, this time out there on purpose. I had seen pictures of the building with a coat of new paint before and I wanted to see how much change had been made by the Nepal Government’s Department of Archeology. Yes, the outer fa├žade still looked brand new with fresh paints, which to me personally was a bit too gaudy. But when I walked through the inside of the building and saw nothing but empty rooms without even a single piece of furniture, my enthusiasm took a nose dive.

And when I entered one room where there was a fireplace with the floor in front of the hearth still looking as black as charcoal, I assumed that, over the years before ren…

THE SATI WIVES OF JUNG BAHADUR, MAHARAJAH OF NEPAL

If only the Tudor King Henry VIII of England were as lucky as Jung Bahadur Rana, he would have had male heirs aplenty and he would not have had to behead a few of his queens in the hope of his next one presenting him with an heir. All the Maharanis would live together at Hampton Court Palace in seeming harmony at least until the death of the Maharajah. If England had the tradition of Sati, who among Henry's wives would have had the macabre honour of being buried alive with him? Would her be Catherine of Aragon his first queen? Or Anne Boleyn? Or the fair Jane Seymour, his favorite queen who gave him his only male heir, had she not died in her postnatal illness?

Maharajah Jung Bahadur Rana had many wives because he did not have the Catholic Church to worry about. He had at least a dozen sons and innumerable daughters from at least 13 recorded wives. He married some for love, others for political alliances with various noble houses, including a sister of Fateh Jung Shah, one of th…

FEATHERS IN THE CROWN

As a kid I used to gape in wonderment at the magnificent crown my father possessed not knowing that the jewels were only for show. The dark green emerald drops were made of glass, the sparkling diamonds were probably zirconium and the pearls were not of the best sort. Every Rana general had his personal crown in those days and my father was no exception. I did not recognize the difference between this personal crown of father's and the other more valuable crown of the Nepalese Commander-in-Chief of the Army that my father was seen wearing in many a portrait displayed about the house. Little did I know that my father was the last person to put on his head the army chief's crown from the Rana era, real glittering diamonds, snow white pearls and thumb-sized emerald drops and all. The feather in the crown was the magnificent plumes of the Bird of Paradise that gave it such a majestic look.

Nepal had only three crowns that were genuinely the real stuff bedecked with expensive pear…