Nepal’s first president studied medicine in Kolkata (Profile)

July 21st, 2008 - 7:09 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, July 21 (IANS) When Ram Baran Yadav is sworn in Tuesday as the first president of Nepal, it will be a cause for special celebration among the medical fraternity in Kolkata as the 61-year-old received his higher medical education in the Indian city. Yadav, the fourth son of a peasant family from Sapahi village in Dhanusha district, did his MBBS from the prestigious Calcutta Medical College, followed by a course at the School of Tropical Medicine in the city.

He joined student politics as a teenager and during the pro-democracy movement in 1990, that forced the then king Birendra to lift the ban on political parties, was jailed for three months.

Yadav won his first parliamentary election from prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress party in 1991 and became the minister of state for health. In 1999, he won the election again and was made health minister.

A moderate voice among Terai politicians, Yadav remained loyal to Koirala and remained in the Nepali Congress though other senior party men left en masse before the election to float a Terai party.

Yadav has also been a staunch opponent of the rising ‘One Madhes One Pradesh’ demand in the Terai asking for the creation of a Madhes state for people of Indian origin in the plains that, politicians fear, could lead to secession.

Yadav was the personal physician of Koirala’s elder brother B.P. Koirala, the first elected prime minister of Nepal.

Yadav said he had contested the first presidential election to focus on the need for consensus, cooperation and dialogue.

“I, Ram Baran Yadav the individual is not important,” he said. “The people, nation and restructuring of the state comes first.”

He also said the election was not a matter of personal victory or loss. “The main issues are the state, the people and the drafting of a new constitution.”

On Tuesday, Yadav replaces dethroned king Gyanendra as head of state. For the first time in Nepal’s history, the place of a man who was regarded as a god would go to a man from one of the most disadvantaged communities in the country.

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