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30,000 Gurkhas $olve a problem
; ? by ? — Paul Bower
INDIA, after anxiously awaiting the result of the Nepalese civil \kinr fr\r nvpr n u/ppk mn
now breathe a sigh of ?elief. After ten anxious days, he troops of the Nepali National Congress backing he king who had fled to ndia were completely routed jy the Gurkha troops, who ?emained loyal to the ruling \ona family. Nepal's second largest town, Birganj, has been recaptured by the Government, and the defeated insurgents have with drawn across the border into India. The existence of some sort of stable Government in Nepal, nestling at the foot of Mt. Everest, is vital at a time when the Communists in Tiibct are ad vancing towards the long Hima layan frontier. ' ? ??? Thus, however much Delhi poli ticians may be opposed in prin ciple to the despotic rule or the fabulous Rana family they must be thankful that India, to safe guard her northern approaches, will not now be forced to step in and restore order. The Ranas still maintain their iron grip on Nepal Modern, mystic city ? 0 most people Nepal, like Tibet, conjures up visions of Oriental mystery at its wierdest, yet the country, be hind its curtain of secrecy, has clothed its mysticism in surpris ingly modern garb. Far from 'being an ancient and. neglected city, Nepal's capital, Katmandu, is more developed than many a comparable city on the Indian plains. Under the Rana regime, which in many ways is a benevolent despotism, the Katmandu valley has been given many miles of first-class road. In the age-old city of Kat mandu itself, golden-roofed temples, ' quaintly-carved wooden houses, and the white domes of Buddhist 'stupas' contrast strangely with modern motor cars, an up-to-date hospital, university, new schools, electric light, and a recently erected cinema — all gifts of the Rana regime. It is surprising to see such mod ern development in a country which is cut off from the rest of the world by razorback mountains pierced by only a single pass which is acknowledged to be among the worst in Asia. The road across the mountains is scarcely better than a mule track. Thus to-day the . main means of communication with the Indian plains is still a ropeway (albeit electrically driven) which carries freight over the ranges in less than four hours. By mule Admittedly, in the present, tram- Strong and ruthless ? HE present ruler of Nepal, Maharajah MOHUN SHAMSHER JUNG BAHA DUR. RANA, is a small man who, at first sight, might be credited with an austere taste in dress. On in formal occasions he wears a simply-cut frock coat, stove-pipe
trousers, and black peaked cap. But the austerity of his West ern dress is relieved by a breath taking cap badge of miniature ' crossed . kukris— each having for a blade a single priceless diamond! With his long drooping mous tache he looks like a benevolent version of Bismarck, but his proud bearing and compelling eye mark him out for the wealthy Oriental potentate he is— the strong and at times ruthless ruler of over six million people. The job of ruling Nepal has never been an easy one. Still le.s.s has it been safe. Since 1800 four Prime Ministers have died violent deaths, and two kings have been forced' to abdicate. In 1846 two entire families who had claims on the office of Prime Minister were iviped out in the Kot massacre, which ' established the present Rana regime and left the office of Premier as the hereditary per quisite of the Ranas. Since then the Kins;, thnueh very much revered by the people, has been a mere figurehead, and has been kept a virtual prisoner by the Prime Minister. In only one way is the King's superiority to the Maharajah acknowledged. The people call the King 'Panch Sarkar,' which means he is entitled to five 'sirs' in his title. The Maharajah, though he is in fact the undis puted ruler of the country, is called 'Tin Sarkar' with only three 'sirs'! A one-family monopoly P ROB ABLY no where in the world is govern ment so much the monopoly of one family as in Nepal. Maharajah Mohun is the eldest of eight sons of Maharajah Chan dra, Nepal's strong man, who ruled the country from 1901 to 1929. He has held high office since birth, for all legitimate males in the Rana family are born generals in the army. Illegitimate sons rate only as colonels. The Maharajah's brothers also
A Rritith journalist at present in Australia ir/io recently visited Nepal as guest of the Maharajah. hold high office. General Baber Shamsher. commands the army and can be seen reviewing the troops in the grand manner each' day. General Kaiser Shamsher is a senior commanding general— a small dapper figure with a superb library of English books and a penchant for strong cigarj-. General Singha Shamsher, a quiet, studious diplomat, holds the difficult post of Nepalese Ambas sador to India. His younger brother, General Shanker Sham sher, presides over the enormous Nepalese embassy in 'Millionaires Row,' Kensington Palace Gardens, London, and is Nepal's representa tive in America as well as Fngland. Three other brothers take no active part in politics. General Krishna, an invalid, lives in retire ment in Katmandu. General Madan, who does not get on well with his elder brothers, has been exiled to the far eastern province oi Nepal where he acts as governor, and amuses himsqlf by shooting tiger and rhinoceros in the Tend jungle. ? '' ; General Vishnu, the black sheep of the family, was banished frpm Nepal before the war for his Nationalist sympathies, and died recently in the Bahamas reputedly of drink, his best friend being the coloured butler of an American millionaire. Assured of loyalty In the present crisis the Maharajah knew he could count on the loyalty of the administrative machine, lor the eight brothers who hold the higher appointments in the State have, following the example of their father, bred a wealth of generals to fill the lesser positions. Hr could count, too, on the loyalty of the bulk of Nepal's fine Gurkha army, over 30,000 of whom are stationed in the Katmandu valley. Unswerving loyalty is one of trie Gurkha's foremost traits of character, and it was unlikely that they would ,be easily suborned by the escaped King's promise of higher wages. The Rana despotism has sur vived, and Nepal remains, for India, a . tough, solid, if highly militaristic, bulwark against ag-' gression from the north, and a continued source of some of the world's finest fighting soldiers — the Gurkhas!
? PAGE TWO gives the background story to the civil war in tiny Nepal, in the shadow of the Himalayas, which has been making world headlines because of its strategic buffer position between India nnA fhe ndvancina Communists in Tibet.