Madhyama Pratipad: Nepal’s Middle Path Ambition through Non-alignment




Nepal-India- China, Panchasheel, Non-Aligned Movement, relevancy, multi-alignment


The geopolitical variable alone is not sufficient to understand Nepal’s entry into NAM and its relevance. While very little literature has been produced on Nepal’s non-alignment, what exists is also limited to either speeches or statements delivered by Nepali leaders at the conferences Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Still, while scanning the perspective of Non-Nepali Cold War foreign policy analysts in the literature produced on Himalayan geopolitics, it can be clearly observed that Nepal’s voyage to non-alignment was driven by the Indian response to the bipolarity in Cold War. Such a perspective, however, dismisses the influence that MadhyamaPratipad (the concept of the middle path) had in the evolution of Nepal’s foreign policy priorities as a unified state in 1769. MadhyamaPratipad, here, should be understood as the cultural and civilizational philosophy, which Nepal has accommodated in its world view for centuries. Hence, Nepal’s shift to non-alignment was not abrupt and impulsive. Rather it was triggered by the MadhyamaPratipad, which was also realized by the founder of modern Nepal, Prithivi Narayan Shah. While non-alignment and MadhyamaPratipad differ in their approaches, their objectives remain the same: balancing. While non-alignment demands balancing by not being aligned to any security bloc, MadhyamaPratipad appeals to balancing by treading a middle path. Thus, this qualitative study argues how the historical experience of balancing made it easier for the Himalayan state to adapt to the non-aligned policy and posture. Accordingly, non-alignment to Nepal is not only a survival strategy but also a historical expression of its cultural and civilizational philosophy. Therefore, any attempt to understand Nepal’s foreign policy of non-alignment only from the grand narratives of geopolitics and changing dynamics in the regional and international security environment would not be sufficient to weigh the rationale and relevance of non-alignment for Nepal. Today, India’s perceptible shift to multi-alignment and China’s emphasis on the Xi Jinping Thought have already raised the question of the relevance of non-alignment for Nepal. The answers lie in Nepal’s historical experience of balancing.


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Author Biographies

Gaurav Bhattarai, Department of International Relations and Diplomacy (DIRD) Tribhuvan University

Assistant Professor

Manish Jung Pulami, South Asian University, New Delhi

PhD Student




How to Cite

Bhattarai, G., & Pulami, M. J. (2022). Madhyama Pratipad: Nepal’s Middle Path Ambition through Non-alignment. Journal of Foreign Affairs, 2(01), 153–173.