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Fri 11 Jun 2021

Dear Vishi, what if Dehradun was in Nepal?

Tags: diary rambling

What’s a nationality? The idea of the nation-state is pretty modern. Ancient lands were usually under the suzerainty of kings & queens. While most emperors spilled blood to expand their kingdom, the common man was seldom concerned about borders.

Peace of Westphalia was a famous peace treaty in 1648 that ended thirty years war. Historians often cite this as an example of first nation state. It relied on a system of independent states refraining from interference in each other’s domestic affairs and checking each other’s ambitions through a general equilibrium of power.

I am born in Dehradun, a valley crowned by the mountains of Mussoorie. “A town called Dehra” is a phrase immortalized by Ruskin Bond stories. Doon is a place that has nurtured us. We love Dehradun because we were born there & it dwells in our memories. Were we born in Albania, we would probably be romanticizing the streets of Albania.

The British had a war with Nepal from 1814 to 1816. Nepal lost the war & signed the Treaty of Sugauli. It ceded territory to the British which included Dehradun, Kumaun & Nainital. This was called Anglo-Nepalese War. With the stroke of luck, Dehradun eventually became part of independent India.

Most of the boundaries in the world are man-made. Earth doesn’t have any boundaries. It reminds me of an old Sanskrit phrase, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which means the world is one family.

Nehru wrote about this in his book, Glimpses of World History-


Political tensions have been simmering between India and Nepal. In 2020, the Nepal government led by K P Sharma Oli introduced a constitutional amendment that made changes to the Nepali map. This includes areas that are currently under the sovereignty of India like Kalapani territory which is part of Pithoragarh district in the Uttarakhand state.

India & Nepal are both Hindu majority countries. They are still plagued by border disputes. Pakistan & Afghanistan are both Muslim majority countries. Yet both countries regularly engaged in skirmishes over Durand line. Thirty Years’ War, one of the most destructive conflicts in European history, was between Catholics and Protestants (both Christians).

What can history teach us? That religion is never the binding force for cordial relationships and bonhomie among countries.


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