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Nepal: Proposals to change the flag

Last modified: 2011-02-19 by ian macdonald
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Introduction

Since the overthrow of the royal family (2007) and the first seating of the Constitutional Assembly (May 2008), Nepal has debated the fate of its national flag.  Below are some comments gleaned from reports from Nepal, presented chronologically.


[Nepal flag proposal] image by Ivan Sache, 4 March 2007

On the "United We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal" blog, Prakash Bom explains that the national flag of Nepal should be changed for the design proposed by Shree Shreshta. The main idea supporting the change is the need to remove the connotations with the Hindu nationalism and the royal values. Accordingly, the proposed flag is rectangular, red with the 12-pointed star of the present flag in canton.

The comments left by the blog's readers do not really support the change. Gus Tracchia and Peter Ansoff have added vexillologically oriented comments, whereas most other comments are politically based. Anyway, it seems from that limited sample that the Nepalese do enjoy their national flag and do not want to change it.
Ivan Sache, 4 March 2007

Two major Nepali newspapers - Gorkhapatra and Nepali Times - report today that on May 28 (2008), at the first seating of the Constitutional Assembly, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal would be officially declared, before any other business on the agenda. Also, the royal flag would be removed from atop the Narayanthiti Palace and replaced with the national flag, presumably unchanged yet.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 23 May 2008

May 29 2008: The flag of Nepal's 240-year-old Shah dynasty has been taken down from the palace in Kathmandu, after legislators abolished the world's last Hindu monarchy.
Kathmandu - The flag of Nepal's 240-year-old Shah dynasty was taken down from the main palace in Kathmandu on Thursday after legislators abolished the world's last Hindu monarchy, officials said. "The royal flag was replaced by Nepal's national flag inside the palace on Thursday morning," a palace official said on condition of anonymity. Thursday and Friday were declared public holidays in the new republic. The king has been given 15 days to vacate the sprawling pink palace at the heart of Kathmandu, which will now be turned into a national museum. "The flag has been changed as part of the government decision to implement a republic," the palace official said.
Source: http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_2331007,00.html
Bruce Berry, 29 May 2008

The new proposal for the constitution envisions the retention of the current flag, makes the cow the national animal and divides the country into 7 autonomous provinces, among other things. Scanning other Nepali newspapers it seems the proposed division of the country will be hotly debated, especially among the Madheshis. The proposed autonomous provinces are Sagarmatha (Nepali name for Mt.Everest), East Terai, Bagmati, Annapurna, West Terai, Karnali, and Mahakali. It abandons the divisions declared during the "revolutionary" period leading to the formation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal but, at least, it preserves the beautiful and unique national flag.
http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=195481
Chrystian Kretowicz, 22 May 2009

From from the Kathmandu Post:
"Kathmandu, September 17 - The UCPN (Maoist) and two other parties on Wednesday proposed to change the country’s national flag. During a meeting of the sub-committee to prepare the concept paper of the Constitutional Committee, lawmakers of UCPN (Maoist), Rastriya Janamorcha and Dalit Janajati Party demanded that the national flag be changed.
The present triangular flag with the sun and moon is based on the principles of monarchy, so the new constitution should give a new national flag to the country, they argued. On the other hand, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party opposed the proposal and expressed their commitment to continue with the national flag. “The flag of our country is based on the principles of Chandrabansi and Suryabansi kings,” Maoist lawmaker Dev Gurung said. “It will be best if we change it.” He said the Nepali national flag should depict inclusiveness and proportional representation. The Maoists say the new flag ought to symbolize the number of federal units that will be determined by the new statute.
Rastriya Janamorcha lawmaker Chitra Bahadur K.C. said the new national flag should represent the restructuring of the state. “The present flag, which is based on the principles of monarchy should not be continued in the new system that we are going to introduce,” added K.C.
However, UML lawmaker Agni Kharel said it is meaningless to argue for changing the present national flag. “Our national flag is unique. It has its own identity and recognition,” Kharel told the Post. “We can’t make a new Nepal by changing the flag.” Kharel debunked the analogy drawn between the present national flag and monarchy. “The meaning of those symbols is that the country will remain eternal till there is the sun and the moon,” he added.
Madhes-based parties did not present their opinion at the meeting of the subcommittee on the proposal to change the national flag."
Chrystian Kretowicz, 19 September 2009

The Kathmandu Post reports today (October 15, 2009):
Flag debate flares up
KATHMANDU, OCT 15 - The Constitutional Committee (CC) saw deep schism on Wednesday over the proposal to change the national flag.
  At the day’s CC meeting in Singhadurbar, the UCPN (Maoist), CPN (United), Rastriya Janamorcha, Dalit Janajati Party, Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi) and lawmakers Pasang Sherpa and Sadrul Miya Haq made pitched calls for changing the flag, while the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML said there was no need for it. Parties that favoured change of flag argued that the sun and moon in the existing flag symbolised monarchy, while those for retaining the flag proposed redefining the two symbols and the red and blue colours to suit the changed political context.
   “The existing flag embodies one-caste and one-culture system. Since our constitution will endorse the multi-nation concept, we should go for a new flag with symbols representing the federal structure or inclusiveness, not monarchy. Redefining the symbols won’t reflect political transformation,” Maoist lawmaker Dev Gurung argued.
   For Bishwendra Paswan of Dalit Janajati Party, the flag was representative of Hinduism. He proposed a green-bordered rectangular flag with a picture of Gautam Buddha. Sadbhavana lawmaker Sarita Giri was all for a flag that sported blue and yellow colours to suggest peace and liberty. Sherpa spoke for a clearly visible rectangular flag, while Haq proposed a green-bordered flag. Some lawmakers even proposed competition for designing the new flag.
   “The national flag is unique, so let’s not look at it from materialistic and religious perspectives. Let’s redefine it and address the row,” proposed NC lawmaker Bimalendra Nidhi. “The sun and the moon are not just Hindu symbols, other religions also revere them.” Kings have had separate flags, so the charge that this flag symbolises monarchy is baseless. UML lawmaker Chhabi Lal Bishowkarma said chan-ging a “unique and popular national flag” was not a good idea.
   There was also debate on national emblems. Gurung maintained there should not be any national emblem and objected to recognition of the cow as national animal. Some lawmakers opined that the one-horned rhino as the national animal would embody secularism, while Nidhi said the national animal cow, national colour crimson, national bird danphe and national flower rhododendron should be preserved. Giri said retaining the cow as national animal would not hurt secularism."
Chrystian Kretowicz, 15 October 2009

Kathmandu Post reports (25 December 2009):
The Constitutional Committee (CC) on Friday rejected the Maoist proposal for changing the national flag by voice majority. The CC also declined to take up the terminology ‘People’s War’ in the preamble of the constitution in the making, while it endorsed the Tarai-based parties’ proposal to use “Madhes Andolan” in it.

In voting on Friday night, the Maoist proposal for recognition of People’s War in the new statute received 20 yeas and 30 nays. The proposal for mentioning “Madhes Andolan” in the preamble garnered 29 votes, while 21 members did not support it. Fifty-five out of 63 CC members took part in the voting on more than 85 disputed issues in the concept paper. Bishwendra Paswan of Dalit Janajati Party walked out while voting was under way. The CC opted for voting on contentious issues after the major parties failed to reach understanding. The voting process started at the CC Office in Singhadurbar at 4 p.m, and is underway. The parties differ over naming the new constitution, its preamble, defining the nation and states, and the national flag.

Top leaders of the three major parties--UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal and Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala--did not vote. Dahal and Khanal came to the CC meeting and informed CC Chair Nilamber Acharya that they would not take part in the voting. The proposal receiving majority votes will be taken as draft report, while the others will be incorporated as differing opinions. Nepal Sadbhavana Party-Giri (NSP-G) leader Sarita Giri walked out of the meeting writing a note of dissent on the list of issues readied for voting.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 26 December 2009

Republica reports (26 December 2009):
THIRA L BHUSAL
KATHMANDU, Dec 26: The Constitutional Committee (CC) of the Constituent Assembly decided by vote Friday on 98 provisions, to be enshrined in the new constitution, that had remained contentious among the political parties. In the voting, a majority of the agenda items supported by the largest party UCPN (Maoist) were defeated by the alliance of the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML among other political parties.

The Maoist proposal to change the national flag failed as it could not garner majority support in the committee. But the vote against the proposal was in minority also. The Maoist proposal to change the national flag got 27 votes from the 58 members present in the committee while 24 votes were cast against. The NC, UML and Madhesi People´s Rights Forum (Democratic) were in favor of giving continuity to the present flag.

The number of members present and voting in the 64-member committee was 58 as the heads of the UCPN (Maoist), NC (NC) and CPN-UML -- Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Girija Prasad Koirala and Jhala Nath Khanal respectively -- agreed to abstain in the voting. Suprabha Ghimire of NC is abroad while another member, Ek Nath Dhakal, could not cast his vote as he has already used his ballot in another thematic committee. And the chairman of the committee can use his vote only in case two sides get an equal number of votes.

The proposal to change the color of the present flag proposed by Madhes-based political parties was also defeated.

More at: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=13284.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 26 December 2009

It appears the players in Nepal's political scene have agreed to keep the National Flag as it is: http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=All-party+mechanism+okays+national+flag+deal&NewsID=273416
Dave Martucci, 17 January 2011