After 33 years, it’s ‘homecoming’ for Nepal president

Friday, January 28, 2011

KOLKATA - It was a trip down the memory lane for Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav who on Friday returned to the city where he had taken his medical science lessons 33 years ago.

Attending the 177th Foundation Day of the Calcutta Medical College, from where he had obtained his MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree, Yadav was in high spirits and nostalgic as he spoke about the good old days.

The visiting head of state struck a chord with the college audience by addressing them for some time in broken Bengali, speaking about how he was deeply influenced by poets Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, and called his trip as a sort of homecoming.

Yadav greeted the audience comprising doctors, nurses and medical students in Bengali. “Namaskar”, “Subhechchha” (best wishes), he said, as the audience broke into applause.

“Aami Nepal-e janmechi. Kintu aami amar jiboner dashta bochor ei Kolkatai katiyechi. Prothome Calcutta Medical College, tarpor School of Tropical Medicine. Ekhane eshe mone hochche jeno nijer barite esechi. (I was born in Nepal. But I have spent 10 years of my life in Kolkata, first in Calcutta Medical College, then in the School of Tropical Medicine. Coming here after so many years I feel like I am back home),” he recalled.

“After 33 years, I have come back to this city, but I still can speak in Bengali. It feels great. I had friends here. I had the opportunity of studying at this pioneer institute 33 years ago,” continued Yadav, a commoner who replaced Nepal’s King Gyanendra in 2008 as the head of the nascent republic of Nepal.

Yadav, who topped up his MBBS degree with a diploma in clinical pathology from the School of Tropical Medicine here, saw the Maoist insurgency in West Bengal - then called Naxalite movement as it started in the northern village of Naxalbari - grow and reach its peak during the decade he spent in the city from 1968.

He paid glowing tributes to Kolkata.

“Many great men were born in this state and this city. Great men like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Ashutosh Mukherjee, Surendranath Banerjee, B.C. Roy, Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam …were born here. I was deeply influenced by the works of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam,” said Yadav.

The visiting president also offered puja at the famed Kali temple in Kolkata and visited the landmark Victoria Memorial.

Yadav, a former physician, was a leading light of the Nepali Congress, one of the largest political parties of Nepal.

The roots of the Nepali Congress go back to a low-profile meeting that took place in south Kolkata’s Bhowanipore in January 1947. The two-day general convention, which has today become part of Nepal’s history, was held at the Khalsa School, now known as the Khalsa English High School.

Yadav, currently on a ten-day high-profile official visit to India, will be meeting President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other top leaders in New Delhi next week.

Wide-ranging high-level talks on Indo-Nepal ties are scheduled in the capital, which come on the eve of Nepal’s next round of prime ministerial elections to be held Feb 3.

Filed under: Education

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