Academics, Gurkha community stakeholders, friends and family members gathered in the UK on the 11th of February to mark the launch of From Taplejung to Oxford, a book on the multidimensional life and writings of Dr Chandra Laksamba. Dr Laksamba sadly passed away during the Covid19 pandemic in January 2021. Recently on 22nd of April the Nepal book launch took place at the Hotel Himalaya in Kupondol.
Organised by the Laksamba Family the event was a celebration of Dr Chandra Laksamba, as a young man he joined the British Gurkhas from Taplejung and later pursued higher education to carve his own space in the challenging landscape of academia. It is not common for a former Gurkha soldier to pursue higher education. Additionally, Dr Laksamba’s Limbu background an indigenous community that comes from the Eastern parts of Nepal made his story richer. In many Limbu households like mine, the children are the first generation to reach higher education and attain a degree.
I am very thankful to the Laksamba Family for giving me the opportunity to share a few words as part of the opening speech. Dr Laksamba meant a lot of things for different people and it will be a losing battle to mention the breadth of his work. I’ve been fortunate to read, be part of and hear him speak about his work with Center for Nepal Studies UK, University of Surrey, Taplejung Society UK, his research on Limbu people and views on Gurkhas and the Nepali diaspora. The academic landscape is often over-represented by white or brahmin men. Dr Laksamba challenged that and added more through his lived experience being a former Gurkha soldier, coming from an indigenous community and being a non-resident Nepali. Like his life, he provided layers to his work.
A moving note written by Kalpana Laksamba, wife of Dr Laksamba was read by UK based journalist/writer Naresh Khapangi Magar at the start of the event. The event was attended by many friends, supporters and key people from Taplejung including Hon. Speaker of the house Dev Raj Ghimire, former MP Yogesh Bhattarai, Prof Abhi Subedi, Prof Shilu Manandhar, MP Sushila Shrestha and more.
The sudden loss of Dr Laksamba is a huge loss to the growing Nepali diaspora in the UK. It’s a huge loss for many communities and groups within the UK as well. It’s more important now than ever that we carry the goal-oriented spirit of Dr Laksamba, to make things happen and complete the things we’ve set out to do.
I often operate from “I want to do and be a lot of things in life” and in his own way, Dr Laksamba embodied that line very well! Just before his passing, he had shifted to Nepal to pursue teaching at the Lumbini Buddhist University.