Celebrating the National Day of Nepal
H.E. Mr Amrit Bahadur Rai, Ambassador of Nepal to South Africa and Mrs Manju Rai hosted a reception to celebrate the National Day of Nepal. They are pictured with Attaché - G Gyanwali (l) and Counsellor - B P Gautam. Speaking about the newly declared national day of Nepal, Ambassador Rai explained that on the 20th of September 2015, the Constituent Assembly of Nepal promulgated the new constitution as the successful conclusion of the peace process that started in 2006 and on that day, a new chapter unfolded in Nepal’s history.
Ambassador Rai said, "The promulgation of the new constitution by the Constituent Assembly was a culmination of the Peace process which has fulfilled not only the long-held aspiration of Nepali people to have a constitution drafted by their own elected representative but also transformed the country from centralized unitary system to federal dispensation by embracing the value of multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural, and geographically diverse characteristics of the country. The Constitution has envisioned an egalitarian society by ending all kinds of discrimination on the ground of class, ethnicity, region, language, religion, gender and all kinds of caste-based social prejudices. It has embraced all the essential features of democratic and inclusive governance."
Speech by H.E. Amrit Bahadur Rai, Ambassador of Nepal to South Africa at the celebration of the National Day of Nepal on 21 September, 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa
Her Excellency Kelebogile Sethibelo, Deputy Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture, the Republic of South Africa
Chairperson of the Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare Committee of the Legislature-Parliament of Nepal Honorable Ranju Kumari Jha,
Your Excellency, Bene M’POKO, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Your Excellency, Tian Xuejun, Dean of Asian Group Heads of Missions
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished Guests, Fellow compatriots, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Photo: (l-r) Mr B P Gautam - Counsellor, Ambassador Rai and Ms Sethibelo
It is my honour and pleasure to extend a warm welcome to all of you on this auspicious occasion of the National Day of Nepal. Our sincere gratitude to you all for honouring us with your valuable presence. On the 20th of September 2015, the Constituent Assembly of Nepal promulgated the new constitution as the successful conclusion of the peace process that started in 2006. On that day, a new chapter has unfolded in Nepal’s history. The Government of Nepal decided to commemorate the very day, the 20th of September, as National Day that left indelible mark in the annals of its political history. I feel privileged to host this reception here in Pretoria to commemorate the constitution promulgation day, as newly declared national day of Nepal. And I feel singularly privileged at this momentous occasion to have the presence of honourable member of the then Constituent Assembly who were one of the drafters of the new constitution.
The promulgation of the new constitution by the Constituent Assembly was a culmination of the Peace process which has fulfilled not only the long-held aspiration of Nepali people to have a constitution drafted by their own elected representative but also transformed the country from centralized unitary system to federal dispensation by embracing the value of multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural, and geographically diverse characteristics of the country. The Constitution has envisioned an egalitarian society by ending all kinds of discrimination on the ground of class, ethnicity, region, language, religion, gender and all kinds of caste-based social prejudices. It has embraced all the essential features of democratic and inclusive governance. Further, the constitution also envisioned transformation of society through the principle of proportional inclusion of all sections of the Nepali society into every step of governance structure. With a view to making sure the proportional participation, six Constitutional Commissions have been instituted and each Commission is empowered to direct the government for the formulation of necessary policy required for inclusion and proportional participation from all sections of the society. We are fully aware of uphill task ahead of us that we would confront while implementing the new constitution. They are challenging but not insurmountable. One year on since the promulgation of the constitution, 193 laws have already been amended for their compatibility with the new constitution and additional 138 laws are being amended which have to be completed within a few months for the successful implementation of the constitution. We are confident that our lawmakers will deliver this legal framework in a timely fashion.
The constitution reflects the agreements of contemporary political forces thereby it becomes ipso facto a living document which could be amended to accommodate the peoples’ desire in the changing context for the greater good of the country. The constitution of Nepal has also already enriched itself through its first amendment within a short span of its life. After all, the constitution itself was a result of 8 years long arduous yet comprehensive and broad-based negotiations among various political parties and thus adopted as a document of political compromises.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Nepal is one of the oldest nations in South Asia founded in 1768 as the 22nd state in the global comity of the nation-states. She has never come into subjugation of any foreign power. The country is a confluence of exquisite beauty of nature and colourful tapestry of diverse ancient culture. It is a country tucked on the lap of the majestic Himalayan range which consist of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. As a matter of fact, Nepal’s Himalayan range covers 8 out of 14 highest peaks in the world. Nepal is cradle of great sages and saints where Lord Buddha, an apostle of peace and compassion, was born and a number of great sages and saints of Hinduism got their divine enlightenment. Capital city of Kathmandu preserves 7 world heritage sites within radius of 15 square kilometre, the densest presence of world heritage site in the world. According to ‘Rough Guides’, a travel guidebook publisher, owned by Penguin Random House, Nepal is on the top of 10 countries that one should visit in lifetime. Nepal is the ultimate and ever tantalizing destination for mountaineering and trekking.
Despite long political and cultural history, Nepal has yet to make stride on modern economic development. While Nepal was preparing to take off for speedy economic development by leaving the scar of a decade long internal armed conflict, it was struck by devastating earthquake last year in April which perished around 9000 people and caused physical damage estimated for US$7 billion, equivalent to one third of our GDP. The government has given utmost priority for speedy reconstruction. At this moment, let me express, on behalf of the government and the people of Nepal, our sincere gratitude to all who have extended their generosity with financial contributions and provided rescue, relief and reconstruction support in the aftermath of those difficult days.
As the new constitution is in place, Nepal is all set to embark on accelerated economic development. The government is making every possible effort to create conducive environment, including through necessary policy and institutional reforms, for attracting enhanced level of investments. Nepal cannot be more well positioned to reap the benefits from unprecedented economic transformation taking place in its immediate neighbours India and China which are considered the engine of global economic growth in the 21st century. The government is determined to hinge our economy with these fastest growing economies so that we could also rise with the tide. Nepal is ranked 2nd easiest place to do business in South Asia by Doing Business Report 2016. We are resolute to do more to make our country a better place for doing business and unleash the potential of our people.
Nepal’s contribution toward maintaining international peace and security is unswerving which is based on the principle of UN Charter. Nepal has been taking part in UN peacekeeping missions since 1958 and has contributed more than 115000 army personnel in a cumulative figure. Currently Nepal is sixth largest troop contributing country whose troops involve in ten different UN peacekeeping missions in the African continent out of her involvement in 15 UN peacekeeping missions.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Nepal and South Africa enjoy an excellent state of relationship. These ties of friendship and mutual understanding have grown continuously to our mutual satisfaction especially after the establishment of formal diplomatic relations on 28 July 1994. As a small yet responsible member of international community, Nepal had played her role for the freedom of South Africa by serving as a member of UN Special Committee against Apartheid from its inception in 1962 and as Vice-Chair for 25 years, starting in 1969 until the Committee was disbanded in 1994. In addition, Nepal had also served on the UN Ad Hoc Committee against Apartheid in Sport during the years from 1980 to 1985 and in 1992, Nepal served as Rapporteur of this Committee. The reference point of our bilateral relations could go as far back as 1955 in that year Asian-African Conference, also known as Bandung Conference, was held where Nepal participated as founding member and expressed its firm support to the ANC’s movement for ending the racial discrimination. Our two countries share similar views at the United Nations, Non-aligned Movement and other multilateral forums for promoting peace and ensuring prosperity to all around the world.
It is a matter of satisfaction that our interactions in terms of trade and tourism is growing steadily, though, at present trade is still small by volume but its year-to-year growth clearly indicates greater potential. There are several medical doctors from Nepal who have been serving in different hospitals and universities of South Africa and have contributed to bring people to people relations even closer. Agreement on the establishment of bilateral consultative mechanism and visa waiver for official and diplomats are at final stage, which I am confident will be signed soon. These developments manifest that our relation is being evolved from strength to strength.
Exchange of visits at different levels have also played a role for the strengthening of Nepal-South Africa relations. In August 2015, Deputy Minister of DIRCO Honourable Nomaindiya Mfeketo visited Nepal as a renewed commitment by the South African Government towards enhancing bilateral relations between two countries. From Nepal side, there were several high level delegations visited South Africa. As I mentioned earlier, we feel privileged to have the presence of a delegation led by Honourable Chair of one of the Parliamentary Committees of Nepal at this event. And there will be another delegation from the Supreme Court of Nepal in next month. Some other delegations are on the pipeline. There is great potential in expanding and deepening our bilateral relations particularly in the areas of trade, investment, tourism, culture and people to people relations.
With these words, now, I wish to propose a toast,
To the good health and happiness of His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa
To the success and prosperity of the people of South Africa; and
To the everlasting friendship between Nepal and South Africa.