The first US Ambassador came to Nepal 65 years ago this week to push for socio-economic reform
The first US Ambassador to visit Nepal arrived not by plane or car, but by horse. In February 1952, US Ambassador to India and Nepal Chester Bowles came to Kathmandu for meetings with King Tribhuvan. At the time, most ‘thulo manche’ who came overland from India were carried by porters in dandies, but not Bowles.
This was political theatre, he wanted to show he was different than the Britishers who had ruled in India, and prove that Americans understood the troubles of ordinary people. In Delhi, he had impressed the Indians with his fondness for bicycling around town and had also enrolled his children in Indian schools.
A year later, exactly 65 years ago this week, Bowles was back in Nepal to push a program for land reform aimed to improve the lives of average Nepali citizens. He met government officials, with Paul Rose and the members of the new US Operations Mission in Nepal (the precursor to USAID). In the 1940s and 50s the US was pushing for land reform around Asia, including Japan, Taiwan and South Vietnam as a way to counter the appeal of Chinese communism.