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Description of the (Great) First World War

Written by: Bidwochhiromani Hemraj Sharma
Edited by: Prof. Dinesh Raj Pant
Published by: Bidwochhiromani Hemraj Puraskar Guthi, Dhakatol,
Published on 26 Mangsir, 2075
Price: Rs. 600.oo
Printed by: Shree Press, Jawlakhel, Lalitpur

It is interesting to read the book, “Description of the (Great) First World War”, of which, the script was written more than a century ago by Hemraj Sharma, who was decorated with the title “Bidwochhiromani” acknowledging his education, knowledge and wisdom by Juddha Shumsher Rana.
The book describes on how the first (Great) World War took place and how Nepal was involved in the war in Europe.
The European war that started in 1914 and ended in 1918, is known as Great War. In the preface of the book, the writer has given background of the war, which was started along with assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo.
The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary’s South Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Yugoslavia. The assassins’ motives were consistent with the movement that later became known as Young Bosnia. Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, which was rejected. Austria-Hungary then declared war, triggering actions leading to war between most European states.
In this war, German and Austria were in one front, whereas, Russia, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Serbia were in another front.
The British government’s representative in Kathmandu informed about the upcoming war to the Nepal government. Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher JB Rana, responding to the British government’s request, sent the message that Nepal would support the Great Britain as much as possible. PM Rana had informed that he would send the military force with 6 thousand personnel at the first phase, 4000 personnel at the second phase and 4000 personnel at the third phase.
The Prime Minister, immediately after sending the message to the British government, opened the war office and started preparation for sending Nepali warrior in the European war.
The remaining part of the Book is details about opening recruiting centers to sending the force to the then British India. In other words, the Book is the record book of Nepal’s preparation and involvement in the war.
According to Prakash A. Raj, grandson of the writer, Hemraj Sharma was a powerful personality during the rule of prime minister Chandra Shumsher Rana. He had good command in Sanskrit language. Also, he was from the Royal Priest (Badaguruju) family.
Prakash A Raj, in his preface write-up, has stated that Hemraj Sharma had the opportunity to work in the War Office, therefore, he was able to compile every details about Nepal’s preparation for the War.
Professor Dinesh Raj Pant, who has edited the Book, has stated that from the script of the Book, it becomes clear that the writer had started writing the Book before start of the First Great War and the war was yet to end during the time of concluding the book.
As stated above, the Book is a record book of the War Office, it is worth reading to know Nepal’s hearty support to the British government in the war in Europe. The Book can be a strong reference book for the student of history and also important for the students of international relations specially to know about Nepal’s help to the British government and also to know about Nepal-Britain relations and First World War.
After going through the Book, this reviewer was compelled to give a glance on Nepal-UK relations. Although, brave Nepalis have shed their blood for safeguarding sovereignty of the UK but the British government was unable to reciprocate the same level of support for Nepal.
Even today, the DFID, an organ under the British Foreign Ministry, is found involved in destroying religious, cultural and ethnic harmony among the Nepali people.
Nepali people still recall the Indian and British PMs’ joint statement supporting India imposed blockade against Nepal during the Indian PM’s visit to London.
(Reviewed by PRP)