Sixty years ago, the British Council was established in Nepal with the first British library, to build friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of Nepal and the UK. Sixty years later, it has touched millions of lives through working with people and institutions from the education, language, skills, arts and youth sectors in Nepal –working to build trust between the people of Nepal and the people of the UK.
Nepal and the UK have a rich and complex relationship that dates back over 200 years, when Nepal chose the UK as the first country with which to establish diplomatic relations. This relationship is built upon the active and positive contributions of Nepalis in both the UK and in Nepal.
Nepalis have been travelling to the UK for a variety of reasons for centuries. The first Nepali widely considered to set foot in the UK was Nepal’s Prime Minister Jang Bahadur Rana, who visited Britain and France in 1850, and who met Queen Victoria. There is also the visit of the Nepali soldier Motilal Singh,who wrote in the July 1850 edition of the New Monthly Magazine the article, ‘Some Accounts of Nepalese in London’.
These travellers, these people at the interface of borders, have and continue to be full and active members of both British and Nepal society, and as they navigate diverse cultural influences and expectations, they enrich British and Nepali society alike.Nepal has the most extraordinary history, full of wondrous culture, and only in recent history has it experienced a civil war, a royal massacre, an earthquake of major magnitude, a border blockade and the promulgation of its Constitution.
It is the latter and the transition to federalism that the council look forward to, supporting the Government of Nepal and its peoples with technical assistance and cultural relations programmes as it navigates this historic process. In a press release, council has said that, their celebration of 60 years in Nepal and excitement of another 60 years to come is only really possible through the journeys, achievements and contributions of these Nepalis at the interface. All Nepali citizens who have been touched by the UK through the British Council and in turn have made significant contributions to Nepali society – some through civil society and services to the Government of Nepal, some in business and public institutions, especially universities, and some in the arts. Many of them are pioneers, all of them are cultural leaders in their own right.
As the UK and Nepal continue their journey together, the British Council is proud to be a major part of this journey. It look forward to developing even closer cultural ties and friendly knowledge between Nepal and the UK in years to come.
On the occasion His Excellency, British Ambassador to Nepal Richard Morris said, “Over this 60 year, the British Council has come a long way from library to teachers’ training to building cultural relations and educational opportunities in Nepal. It has made a rich and wide range of impact by supporting Nepalese women to tell their stories, become true inspirations and help people understand each other better. Thank you to the British Council for their positive contributions in Nepal.”
Saurav Dhakal, one of the climate champions from 2010 said, “I got involved with the British Council as the International Climate Champion and had the opportunity to be a part of the Great Himalayan Trail Smart Celebrity Trek in 2012. I traveled from eastern to western Nepal and learned so much about the local communities. It inspired me to know more about the local people so, with my team, we started to train local people to use mobile phones and capture their stories. We trained the youth of the communities to become digital storytellers and started a project like ‘Dream City’, where people designed their cities using maps. I am very glad I became a part of the British Council as a climate champion. The participation has been quite beneficial for me.”
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. It is working with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. It creates friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources, the council make a positive contribution to the countries it works with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.