Harka Gurung was born in 1939 in Lamjung, Central Nepal, and went to military school in India. He earned BA honors from Patna College, Patna, India, and later earned a post-graduate diploma (1961) and PhD (1965) from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Harka’s main areas of professional interest included demography, development planning, environment, geography, sociology, and tourism. He was a prominent conservation expert and Nepal’s foremost authority on the Himalaya, making significant contributions to the promotion of mountain tourism and the conservation of wildlife and environment. Harka lead the government committee formed to provide names to mountain peaks in the late 1970s. He was also the chief advisor to the Nepal Maintaining Association. Harka served the government of Nepal at different times as member and vice chairman of the National Planning Commission (1968-75), minister of state for education (1975-78), and minister of state for tourism, industry and commerce, public works and transport. He also worked in academia as demonstrator at the University of Edinburgh, research fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, lecturer at Tribhuvan University, and visiting fellow at the Population Institute/East-West Center. After leaving the government, he provided consulting services to numerous international organizations. Harka was director of the Asia Pacific Development Center, an inter-governmental think-tank (1993-97) and also served on the board of Lumbini Development Trust, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and International Institute of Educational Planning. Since 1991, Harka was associated with the research and consulting firm New ERA. Harka disagreed with the class and caste classification in Nepal and one religion/ one language policies. His work added to the debate over exclusion felt by many communities in Nepal. Harka authored numerous books including: Pokhara Valley: A Geographical Survey; Vignettes of Nepal and Annapurna to Dhaulagiri; A Decade of Mountaineering in Nepal Himalaya, 1950-1960; Janajati Serophero; From Exclusion to Inclusion: Socio-Political Agenda for Nepal; Faces of Nepal; Nature and Culture: Random Reflections; and Nepali Nationalism. His articles mainly focused on geography, nationalism, building of nation, and issues of Janajati indigenous people.
Harka Gurung (Necrology). 2006. AAG Newsletter 41(10): 6.