Word of the Year 2017

निर्वाचन /nir·bä·chan/ (election)

Nepali Language Resource Center's Word of the Year 2017 is निर्वाचन /nir·bä·chan/, and the word means "election."

The word was used significantly more by our users in 2017 than it was in the previous years. The usage spiked more in the beginning of the year when Nepal was preparing to hold its local elections for the first time in two decades and the spike continued through the conclusion of the provincial and general elections later in the year. All eyes were on the elections, not only because the local polls were being held after two decades, but also because the elections were the first elections being held after Nepal had adopted a new constitution. There were doubts on whether they could even be held as many, mainly the Madheshi parties of the southern plains, objecting to various provisions in the new constitution, had threatened to boycott and disrupt the polls. However, differences among the parties were sorted out and the elections of all levels, local, provincial and general, concluded successfully.

Nepal Academy's dictionary defines निर्वाचन as "a process practiced in most democratic countries in which adult citizens of the country choose their representative or representatives to various bodies of the legislature." The word is a Sanskrit word used in Nepali.

The events leading up to the elections marked an important transitional period in Nepal's political history. Nepal had signed the 2006 peace deal with the Maoists ending the decade-long insurgency and had become a new federal democratic republic. A constituent assembly had then crafted the new constitution in 2015, and the fate of the first elections since the adoption of the new constitution had then become a predictor of whether or not the new constitution could be successfully implemented.

The 2017 general elections elected the members of the House of Representatives, the lower house of the Federal Parliament of Nepal. During the same elections, the voters also voted to elect the members to the Provincial Assemblies. The provincial elections were the first of the kind since the new constitution federated Nepal into seven provinces.

It was a historic achievement for Nepal and a major milestone in the successful implementation of the new constitution. Failure to hold the general elections in a timely manner would have thrown the fate of the new constitution into uncertainty and could have derailed the peace process that had started after the end of the insurgency. In this regard, the political parties played an important and crucial role in being able to bring the various stakeholders, especially the Madheshi parties that had started the violent protests objecting various provisions in the new constitution, together and to hold peaceful general elections in the country paving the way for the implementation of the new constitution.

Earlier in the same year and before the general elections were held, landmark local elections had been held across the country after two decades. The tenure of the local bodies elected by the 1997 local polls had ended during the height of the Maoist insurgency and it had not been possible to hold new elections during the insurgency. Attempts to hold the elections right after the promulgation of the new constitution had failed as the Madheshi parties had protested various provisions in the constitution they felt had marginalized them. After some of their demands had been met and as pressure had mounted on both sides to hold the elections, all sides finally had agreed to go to the polls.

The conclusion of the much awaited local elections was a significant milestone in Nepal's political process as development at the local level had been severely impacted in the absence of local bodies and representatives. With the new election of the local representatives and institutions, people at the local level could expect to see a functioning local government and a resumption of development activities at the local level. Equally importantly, the local elections held under the new federal setup under the new constitution, had paved the way for the provincial and general elections to take place.

Now with the successful completion of all three levels - local, provincial and general - of polls, Nepal has completed a historic milestone in the implementation of its new constitution.

The following related words were also among the top words for 2017: स्थानीय निर्वाचन /st̪ʰä·niya nir·bä·chan/ (local elections), प्रदेशसभा /pra·d̪es·sa·bʰä/ (provincial assembly), प्रतिनिधिसभा /pra·t̪i·ni·d̪ʰisa·bʰä/ (the lower house of the federal parliament), ऐतिहासिक /ai·t̪i·hä·sik/ (historic).

संविधान कार्यान्वयन /sam·bi·d̪ʰän kär·yän·wa·yan/ (implementation of the constitution)

The word "implementation of the constitution" remained as one of the most widely used words throughout the year as various levels of elections were held and as their successful conclusion marked an important, if not the most important, step toward the successful implementation of the new constitution.

नेपाली भाषा /ne·pä·li bʰä·sä/ (Nepali language)

"Nepali language" spiked during the months when residents of Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal, India, started massive protests in support of their language, Nepali. When the West Bengal government announced that it would make Bengali language a compulsory subject in grade 1 to 10 in all schools across the state, protests immediately erupted in Darjeeling and other areas of West Bengal where Nepali is the lingua franca. According to Indian media reports[1], the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, later softened her stance and clarified that the new rule would not be applicable to the Hills (a term used to describe Darjeeling and areas where Nepali is the lingua franca) and that Bengali would be an optional subject there.

Even though the protests started because of the language issue, it reignited the demand of the Gorkha community (Nepali-speaking Indian citizens) for a separate state, the Gorkhaland. The protests, often violent, lasted over a hundred days and was called off only after the federal government stepped in and promised to find a solution involving all three parties, the federal government, the state governments and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) that is currently spearheading the statehood movement.

संविधान संशोधन /sam·bi·d̪ʰän sam·so·d̪ʰan/ (constitution amendment)

The word "constitution amendment" spiked during the protests by the Madeshi partities who had demanded an amendment to the newly adopted constitution and continued to rank higher throughout the year.

वर्षा र बाढी /bar·sä ra bä·ɖʰi/ (rain and flood)

Usage of "rain and flood" soared during the months of July-September when Nepal got severely affected from the 2017 South Asian floods. The flooding from the 2017 monsoon rain across South Asia claimed over a thousand lives. In Nepal, the southern plains in the eastern part of the country were greatly affected. Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs said[2] that by August 27, 159 people had died in Nepal and that many were missing. In addition to the damage to the critical infrastructure across the region and to the humanitarian crisis, the scale and timing of the flood also caused great losses of crops and livestock. The areas most affected include one of the main agricultural areas of Nepal, and the floods occurred before the main harvest season, when the paddy grains, the staple food of the country, are harvested.


[1] Gazmer, Deep. "Bengali optional in Hills, says Mamata Banerjee; unfazed Gurung threatens strike." The Times of India. 6 Jun. 2017. Web. 15 Oct. 2017.
[2] Ministry of Home Affairs, Nepal. "Press bigyapti 2074 Bhadra 11 gate" [Press release 2017 August 27]." moha.gov.np. 27 Aug 2017. Web. 27 Aug 2017.

About Word of the Year
Nepali Language Resource Center's Word of the Year and other top words are chosen from the most used words by users on our Website or our apps. Two types of words rank the highest in usage: evergreen words, which are not considered in choosing top words, and words whose usage spikes as a result of certain events. We then choose the Word of the Year and other top words based on how they rank in the current year and how they compare to their normal usage in the previous years.


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