YUBARAJ GHIMIRE On January 11, people assembled in large numbers in different parts of Nepal, and celebrated the 289th birth anniversary of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the warrior king who until four years ago had the most exalted position in the national calendar as the Architect of Modern Nepal. Following the success of the April 2006 mass movement that laid the foundation for a republic, the government headed by GP Koirala decided Shahs birth anniversary would no longer be celebrated as National Unity Day, nor would it be a public holiday. Euphoria-driven radicals led by Maoists had then broken his statues in many places, even the one in Devighat, around 40km from the capital, where he died some 238 years ago. His life-size statue was reinstalled on January 11 - Culture Minister Minendra Rizal unveiled it and people paid rich homage. Citizen groups warned the government and political parties that demolishing history or undermining the role of Shah would not be tolerated any more, and position of pride must be restored to him officially. The government did not host any programme on the occasion, but the vice-president, the prime minister and a host of government officials attended a tea party organised by Kamal Thapa, chief of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N), who has been campaigning for the revival of monarchy. Thapa was a political pariah until a couple of years ago because of his consistent campaign that monarchy is a unique symbol of national unity, but a fear of the disintegration of the state along caste and ethnic lines has brought that campaign back into national focus. Monarchs come and go. History is replete with such events. But in Nepals context, Prithvi Narayan Shah not only brought caste- and ethnicity-based states under the umbrella of Nepal, but also laid a solid foundation for the modern state. He said Nepal was a yam between two boulders suggesting the need for a delicate balance of relationship between its two big neighbours, a fundamental rule of Nepals foreign policy even now. On the domestic front, he said foreign traders should not be allowed; that all mines and minerals should be kept under our own control as outsiders would make the country bankrupt; that foreign goods, including clothes, must be discarded and home-spinning promoted; that prosperous people alone would make monarchy stronger; that there should be probity in public life; that both bribe givers and takers are criminals. Interestingly, when Nepal ushered in an age of radicalism four years ago, the Maoists and some human rights champions advocated going back to the pre-Prithvi Narayan Shah era, saying a federal Nepal should have ethnicity-based provinces, all with the right to self-determination. With Nepals dwindling image in the international comity, the prediction that it is going to be a failed state, and with no hope entrusted on the current political players, Prithvi Narayan Shah - after a gap of four years - is being looked on as the saviour of Nepals dignity, independence and growth. Politicians, including the Maoists, are at a receiving end. Shahs warning that bribe givers and takers are both enemies of the nation is a quote that many Nepalis repeat today, pointing fingers at their new leaders. Recognised indices put Nepal as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. There is exploitation of mines, minerals and stone quarries and a visible nexus between politicians and mafia traders, adding to fears that there will be drought, flood and food scarcity. Official statistics show in the past four years of free-for-all politics, nearly 100,000 hectares of forest and quarries have been exploited by illicit traders. The near-nil chances of the constitution being delivered by May 28, speculation about the future of the peace process and the unity and integrity of the nation, and peoples frustration and anger that the Nepali Congress, Maoists and the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and the Terai groups are responsible for the current mess, do not augur well for political parties. The return of Prithvi Narayan Shah as a hero shows people have run out of patience. Indian Express