Early Life & Education
Ujwal Thapa spent his childhood in Kathmandu and attended the prestigious Budhanilkantha School from 1986 to 1995, graduating with the University of Cambridge’s GCE A-levels. In 1996, Ujwal moved to the USA and in May 2000 graduated with a BA in Multimedia, Interface Design and Hybrid Arts from Bennington College,Bennington, Vermont, USA.
Ujwal often describes in his autobiographical notes that his life in the USA was a difficult one and he had had a series of eye-opening experiments.
“In my last year of college I became disillusioned with the materialistic life-style I was drowning into. So I started searching for a better way to live and I immersed myself in ancient religious and spiritual teachings. I contemplated dropping out of college. I flew all the way across the US to enter in a zen buddhist monastery in Berkeley, California.”
In addition, he has openly said that he nearly quit his education at Bennington College to become a Buddhist monk, he used to be a computer game addict, often binge-gaming computer war games, and considered investing into Apple stocks while living in the USA. He has also said that he suffered a significant psychological damage due a severe acne problem and at one point considered relinquishing everything to become a football player.
Back to Nepal & Political Activism
After spending 5 years in the US and completing a college degree, Ujwal returned back to Nepal in 2001. The country was ravaged by an ongoing Maoist civil war and he set out to become a conflict resolution trainer in Rolpa and Surkhet districts. Reflecting upon his experience as a conflict resolution trainer, he writes:
I tried to train warring sides and different stakeholders on how to start a ‘dialogue’ between them.I must confess, I learnt much more from my ‘trainees’ than they ever possibly did from me. They changed me, more than I changed them.
Since his career as a conflict resolution trainer was going nowhere, he started experimenting with a number of start-ups. Some of them were successful and a few of them never progressed. Fed up with Nepal’s frequent general strikes (commonly known as Nepal bandhas), Ujwal started initiating and participating in activist movements that called for an end to Nepal band has. He also advocated for women’s equal treatment as men in Nepal’s public spheres and on one occasion dressed as a woman in a protest demanding an end to gender violence in Nepal.
Ujwal Thapa’s continuous engagement in civic activism eventually led him into establishing a political force which is nowadays known as Bibeeksheel Nepali party. Writing about the inception of the party, he explains:
“On May 28th, 2012 the Constituent Assembly tasked with building the new constitution of Nepal collapsed. 4 years of work amounted to nothing! This awakened me to another painful realization, to clean this dirty pond, one has to jump in (and survive long enough to clean it). I turned all my energies to clean Nepal’s toxic political culture which is the root of many evils here.”
Ujwal is a soccer fan and an avid traveller.