Birendra of Nepal

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Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (Nepali: वीरेन्द्र वीर विक्रम शाह देव) (28 December 1945 – 1 June 2001) was the tenth Shah Ruler and the King of Nepal from 31 January 1972 until he died in 2001.

Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
Birendra Bir Bikram Shah.jpg
King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev official portrait.
King of Nepal
Reign31 January 1972 –
1 June 2001
Coronation24 February 1975
PredecessorMahendra
SuccessorDipendra
Born(1945-12-28)28 December 1945
Narayanhiti Royal Palace, Kathmandu, Nepal
Died1 June 2001(2001-06-01) (aged 55)
Narayanhiti Royal Palace, Kathmandu, Nepal
SpouseQueen Aishwarya of Nepal
IssueKing Dipendra
Princess Shruti
Prince Nirajan
Regnal name
Shree Paanch Maharajadhiraj Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
DynastyShah
FatherKing Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
MotherIndra Rajya Lakshmi Devi
ReligionHinduism

As the eldest son of King Mahendra, he reigned until his death by assassination in 2001 Nepalese royal massacre.

Early life and educationEdit

Birendra was born at the Narayanhiti Royal Palace in Kathmandu as the eldest son of the then Crown Prince Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and his first wife, Crown Princess Indra Rajya Lakshmi Devi.[1][2]

Birendra spent eight years studying at St Joseph's School, a Jesuit school in Darjeeling, with his brother Gyanendra. On 13 March 1955, their grandfather King Tribhuvan died and their father succeeded the Nepalese throne. With his father's ascension, Birendra became the crown prince of Nepal.

In 1959, Birendra was enrolled at Eton College in the United Kingdom. After studying at Eton until 1964, he returned to Nepal where he began to explore the country by traveling on foot to the remote parts of the country where he lived humbly with what was available in the villages.[1] He later completed his education by spending some time at the University of Tokyo, before studying political theory at Harvard University from 1967 to 1968.[3] Birendra enjoyed travelling in his youth, and went on trips to Canada, Latin America, Africa, many parts of India, and a number of other Asian countries. He was also an art collector and supporter of Nepalese craftspeople and artists and learned to fly helicopters.[4]

Birendra was married to Aishwarya Rajya Lakshmi Devi from the Rana family, his second cousin, on 27 February 1970.[5] The wedding, which was billed as one of the most lavish Hindu nuptial ceremonies in history, cost $9.5 million to stage.[6]

Early reignEdit

Birendra ascended to the Nepalese throne on 31 January 1972, at the age of 27, after the death of his father, King Mahendra. On his ascension, he was effectively an absolute monarch, as he inherited a country where political parties were banned and he ruled through a system of local and regional councils known as panchayats.[4] His first trips abroad as king were to India in October 1973 and China two months later.[7] He believed that Nepal, sandwiched between the two Asian powers, should have good relationship with both.[8]

1980 referendumEdit

In an attempt to maintain the panchayat system of government prominent leaders of the Nepali Congress Party were arrested.[4] Because of the growing pro-democracy movement Birendra announced that a referendum to decide between a non-party and a multi-party system would be held. The referendum was held in May 1980 with the non-party system winning by a margin of 55% to 45%.[8] During the 1980s the restraints that had been imposed on political organizations were eased, and liberal student-led groups started to demand constitutional change in Nepal.[3][9]

Democratic eraEdit

 
Birendra shaking hands with Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi

In 1990, a series of strikes and pro-democracy riots broke out in Nepal. Due to the riots, Birendra lifted the ban on political parties and agreed to become a constitutional monarch in April 1990. He appointed an independent Constitution Recommendation Commission to represent the main opposition factions and to prepare a new constitution to accommodate their demands for political reform.[10] The commission presented him with the draft of the proposed constitution on 10 September 1990. The new constitution would make Birendra head of state of a constitutional monarchy with a system of multiparty democracy. The draft constitution was approved by the Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and his cabinet and so, on 9 November 1990, Birendra promulgated the new constitution transformed Nepal into a constitutional monarchy.[11] Birendra, however, could not prevent the Nepalese Civil War, a conflict between Maoist rebels and government forces, which lasted from 1996 until 2006.

Notable works and ImprovementsEdit

Diplomatic campaignEdit

He managed to maintain Nepal’s independence despite encroaching influences by India, China, and the Soviet Union. During his reign Nepal was opened up to extensive tourism. He proposed Nepal to be declared a zone of Peace which was supported by 116 countries in the UNO.[12]

Focusing on sustainability and environmental conservation, on 28 December 1975 (1975-12-28), trolley bus system was established in Nepal from the aid of People's Republic of China. The dramatic decline of the rhino population and the extent of poaching prompted the government to institute the Gaida Gasti – a rhino reconnaissance patrol of 130 armed men and a network of guard posts all over Chitwan. To prevent the extinction of rhinos the Chitwan National Park was gazetted in December 1970, with borders delineated the following year and established in 1973. He established Parsa National Park in 1984. Mahendra conservation trust in memorial of his father, with the then prince Gyanendra as the chairman was also established in 1990. With the establishment of Mahendra trust he declared Annapurna Conservation Area[13].Subsequently in Bhrikuti Pulp and Paper was established in 1985 under the Companies Act 2021 (Bikram Sambat) with support from the People's Republic of China.[14][15]. He followed in the path of his father to establishlish industrial estates by establishing Nepalgunj Industrial Area(1973), Pokhara Industrial Area(1974), Butwal Industrial Area(1976), Bhaktapur Industrial Area(1979), Dhankuta Industrial Area(1980), Birendranagar Industrial Area(1981),Gajendranarayan Industrial Area(1986) respectively[16].

Birendra is initially credited for devising the plan of Melamchi water project to Kathmandu[17]. Hetauda Textile, Gorakhali Tires Industries, Udayapur Cement Industries Limited were all established during his time. King Birendra, was the patron of Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, and Pashupati Area Development Trust[18]. Due to these economic reforms, by 1986, there were 2,054 industrial establishments employing about 125,000 workers in the nation.

Political achievementsEdit

During the reign of King Birendra. Democracy was referendum was done in 2037 BS.Options were a multi-party system or a Panchayati system. Beginning early in 1990, a popular prodemocracy movement led to demonstrations that erupted into bloody clashes between the soldiers and police and the demonstrators. Submitting to pressure, Birendra lifted the ban on political activity and on November 9, 1990, approved a new constitution that preserved his status as chief of state but confirmed multiparty democracy, a separation of powers, and the protection of human rights. A new general election on the basis of this constitution took place on 2048 B.S

Mid-term elections, 2051 and General Election, 2056 can be attributed to his good governance.

During the Panchayat era he divided the nation into 5 development regions in order to create balanced development and visited each division once a year; the visits were discontinued after 1990 democracy movement.

Social reformsEdit

He established Mahendra Sanskrit University in 1986 to preserve the language and culture in the region. Dowry system was criminalized in Nepal in 1976 under the Social Practices Reform Act (2033)

Development policyEdit

Birendra took the policy of road development according to the population and daily road traffic.

MemorialEdit

Many structures, institutions and honors have been built in the memory of King Birendra. Monuments erected in his name were renamed after the restoration of the parliament in 2063 BS and the end of the monarchy in 2065 BS. After the political changes of 2063 BS, an attempt was made to rename the highway built in the name of the king as Lok Marg.

  1. Birendra statue (Nepalgunj)
  2. Birendra statue (Dang )
  3. Shree Birendra Higher Secondary School,Jhapa
  4. Shree Birendra Sarwajanik Higher Secondary School, Morang
  5. Birendra Secondary School, Baitadi
  6. Birendra Secondary School, Syangja
  7. Birendra Secondary School, Nuwakot
  8. Birendra Secondary School, Parbat
  9. Birendra Army School, Bhaktapur
  10. Birendra Multiple Campus, Bharatpur
  11. Birendra Memorial College , Dharan
  12. Birendranagar
  13. Birendra Chowk , Birendranagar
  14. Birendra Municipality, Surkhet
  15. Birendra chowk, Kageshwori Manohara Municipality
  16. Birendra chowk , Fungling Gaunpalika
  17. Birendra Chowk, Dharan
  18. Birendra Chowk, Tulsipur
  19. Birendra Army Hospital
  20. Birendra Lake (Birendra Tal), Gorkha
  21. Birendra Museum, Kathmandu Durbar Square
  22. Birendra Beer, Zürich[19]

AssassinationEdit

Birendra and his whole family were gunned down by Crown Prince Dipendra at a royal dinner on 1 June 2001. Almost all of the royal family members were killed in the massacre except Gyanendra Shah, Birendra's younger brother. Dipendra was proclaimed the king but died a few days later of self-inflicted gunshot wounds sustained in the massacre. Consequently, Gyanendra was made the king.[20]

PersonalityEdit

From a very young age, Birendra was described by his Eton teachers as a kind prince.[citation needed] He was remembered by his Eton classmates as a "very, very nice bloke who was embarrassed when his full title was read out at the school assembly."[21]

Birendra allowed the 2036 B.S. Janmat Sangraha (1980 Referendum) which was considered a move towards democracy. However, the leaders advocating for democracy and historians have claimed that the referendum was rigged.[22] After People's Movement I that resulted in few hundred deaths, he established a constitutional monarchy in Nepal.[23]

Some historians have speculated that Birendra's democratic views and simple nature may have led to the success of the People's Movement I (1990).[24] He is credited for introducing SAARC in Asia in order to strengthen the foreign relations of Nepal with the other South Asian countries.

Titles and honoursEdit

National orders
Foreign orders
Association honours

AncestryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "King Birendra of Nepal". Daily Telegraph. 23 August 2001. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  2. ^ "The Late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah - Childhood Picture".
  3. ^ a b "Birendra: Nepal's monarch of change". BBC. 2 June 2001. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Crossette, Barbara (3 June 2001). "Birendra, 55, Ruler of Nepal's the Hindu Kingdom". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  5. ^ Mainali, Pramod (2000). Milestones of History. p. 111. ISBN 99946-960-4-1.
  6. ^ "Marriage of Convenience". Time. 9 March 1970. Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  7. ^ "King Birendra's Historic China Visit". Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  8. ^ a b Malhotra, Inder (4 June 2001). "King Birendra of Nepal". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  9. ^ "King Birendra Credentials".
  10. ^ "The Constitution of 1990". Country Studies. Retrieved 21 July 2008.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. ^ Malhotra, Inder (4 June 2001). "King Birendra of Nepal A ruler much loved by his people, he bowed to popular will and surrendered absolute power". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "Diplomatic achievements of King Birendra: From Peace Zone Proposal to expansion of foreign relations". Nepal Press. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  13. ^ Croes, K. D. (2006). Conserving the king: Inverting the origin story of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project of Nepal. HIMALAYA, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, 26(1), 6.
  14. ^ Chitrakar, Tara Devi (2012). "Performance of Bhrikuti Paper and Pulp Limited: Before and After Privatization". PYC Nepal Journal of Management. 5: 44–54 – via Public Youth Campus.
  15. ^ "Largest Paper Mill in Nepal Closing". Global Paper Money. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  16. ^ Khatri, M. B. (2018). Industrial development in Nepal: Problems and prospects. Economic Journal of Nepal, 41(3-4), 25-40.
  17. ^ Magazine, New Spolight. "MELAMCHI PROJECT Water At The Tap". SpotlightNepal. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  18. ^ "RAOnline Reports on Nepal - The Royal Tragedy". www.raonline.ch. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  19. ^ swissinfo.ch. "Swiss brewery defends choice of Nepalese monarch on beer bottle". SWI swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  20. ^ West, Julian (2 June 2001). "Nepal's royal killer is named King as his parents are cremated". Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  21. ^ Malhotra, Inder (4 June 2001). "Obituary: King Birendra of Nepal". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  22. ^ https://www.kullabs.com/classes/subjects/units/lessons/notes/note-detail/1971
  23. ^ "Nepal's King Gives Way to Multiparty Democracy". The New York Times. 11 November 1990.
  24. ^ Katawal, Rookmangud (2014). Aatmakatha ["Autobiography"] (in Nepali) (paperback ed.). Nepal. ISBN 978-9937874076.
  25. ^ "Bilateral relations". La France au Népal. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Boletín Oficial del Estado" (PDF). Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  • Album of late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev by Narayan Prasad Shiwakoti: Published in 1995 – Election
Regnal titles
Preceded by Crown Prince of Nepal
1955–1972
Succeeded by
King of Nepal
1972–2001