Nepal’s shortest man is seeking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s help to achieve greater stature: the title of the shortest man in the world.
Khagendra Thapa Magar, also known as the “Little Buddha” of the country, who will try to claim the title in the Guinness Book of World Records next year, wants the southern neighbour to help his campaign.
Khagendra, who measures only 22 inches and weighs about 6 kg, is eyeing the title of the shortest man in the world, currently held by China’s He Ping Ping, who stands 2 ft 5 inches.
The teen’s bid to oust the Chinese failed after the Guinness authorities told him to make a claim only after his 18th birthday, when he will be officially an adult.
With his 18th birthday coming up on October 14, 2010, the Khagendra Thapa Magar Foundation, a Kathmandu-based NGO that is espousing his cause, has begun a dogged campaign to ensure he wins the title.
Last week, the chairman of the foundation, Min Bahadur Rana Magar, accompanied the teen wonder and his father, Rup Bahadur Thapa Magar, to Kathmandu to rope in Nepal’s entertainment industry stars.
Rana Magar, an astute businessman, who runs a remittance business in Pokhara city in central Nepal, also feels Khagendra needs diplomatic lobbying.
He has already arranged meetings between Khagendra and Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal as well as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala, who have assured him of all governmental support.
Last week, Khagendra also met Maoist chief and former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who too has agreed to help him.
Now, Rana Magar is seeking meetings with Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, for greater impetus to his campaign.
“Till 1997, India’s Gul Mohammad held the record of being the smallest man in the world,” he told IANS.
“Now, 13 years after Mohammad’s death, there is another contender from a neighbouring country. Since Nepal is a small and poor country, its voice is not always heard by the world. But if India, a developing nation, takes up cudgels on his behalf, the title will remain in the neighbourhood.”
Rana Magar is seeking to draw the attention of the Indian television channels so that Khagendra becomes a household name in the sub-continent.
He explains why the title is important for Nepal and Khagendra.
“It will draw further attention to Nepal,” he says. “It will also make Khagendra become a familiar face.
“He was born in Dhullubaskot, a remote village in western Baglung district, which still has no motorable roads. You need to walk for eight hours from the nearest town.
“But today the boy is known in Nepal and abroad.”
The 17-year-old, who studies in lower kindergarten, needs financial security since he will not be able to find employment and look after himself like other normal adults, Rana Magar points out.
“If he wins the title, the Nepal government is likely to make state allowances for him.”