Received: from mp.cs.niu.edu (mp.cs.niu.edu [18.104.22.168]) by library.wustl.edu (8.8.5/8.8.5) with SMTP id XAA09267; Sun, 26 Apr 1998 23:14:25 -0500 (CDT) Received: by mp.cs.niu.edu id AA26351 (5.67b/IDA-1.5 for nepal-dist); Sun, 26 Apr 1998 20:49:43 -0500 Received: by mp.cs.niu.edu id AA26347 (5.67b/IDA-1.5 for nepal-list); Sun, 26 Apr 1998 20:49:42 -0500 Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 20:49:42 -0500 Message-Id: <199804270149.AA26347@mp.cs.niu.edu> Reply-To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> From: The Editor <email@example.com> Sender: "Rajpal J.P. Singh" <A10RJS1@cs.niu.edu> Subject: The Nepal Digest - April 27, 1998 (10 Baishakh 2055 BkSm) To: <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> Content-Type: text Status: O X-Status: X-Keywords: X-UID: 261
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The Nepal Digest Mon Apr 27, 1998: Baishakh 10 2055BS: Year7 Volume73 Issue2
H A P P Y N E W Y E A R B S 2 0 5 5 !!!!!!
Letter to The Digest Nepal USA
Nepali Web Sites
New Year celebrations in Canada (Toronto) area
Martin Chautari Discussion
Democracy, My Democracy!
* TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
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* Chief Editor: Rajpal JP Singh email@example.com *
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* +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
* "Heros are the ones who give a bit of themselves to the community" *
* "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" -Sirdar_Khalifa *
****************************************************************** Date: April 26, 1998 To: The Nepal Digest <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Nepali News
Source: The kathmandu Post (Duely acknowledged)
Tales of struggle between life & death of an AIDS victim's wife
KATHMANDU, April 25 - How a totally unsuspecting and innocent wife became a
victim of her
husband's indiscreet misdeed has been a story of pathos and great agony for a
25-year-old lady here who
had to struggle between life and death for six days at local Aryaghat before
she finally died.
The poor lady literally waited for death in a dingy and smelly room at Aryaghat
for six days not because
of any fault of her own but her husband.
The 25-year-old lady (name not disclosed to protect the privacy of the victim)
who contracted the deadly
HIV/AIDS from her husband frantically went from one hospital to the other,
both private and government,
before at last her parents decided to take the dying woman to the dingy shed
at Aryaghat. The lady died
of HIV/AIDS after six days.
The last word she spoke to RSS representative one hour before she slipped into
death was- "Though an
educated person, it was my foolishness not to ask for the report of the blood
test of my husband before
marrying him, which ultimately became the cause of my death."
Already pursuing her higher education, the young lady was married off to a man
in 2048 BS and she did
not notice that she had contracted the deadly disease from her husband until
five years later in 2053 BS.
It was only after Dr Lohit Raj Upadhyaya at Medicare Nursing Home conducted a
blood test on her that
she came to know she had AIDS and the riddle over the deaths of her husband
and an eight-year-old son
earlier became clear.
In great pain the lady went on - "I could not just understand why my husband
was losing weight and why
his health was deteriorating because at that time I was away in the village
teaching and he used to work
with an NGO in Kathmandu.
Her frail, illiterate and old mother, who is beside the ailing lady, could not
bear to see the sight of her
youngest daughter dying and broke down and just said - "It is not my
daughter's fault, she is innocent."
The old woman complained nurses at Teaching Hospital and Chest Hospital
despised to even touch her daughter.
"The doctors there told me to take my daughter home and said she had tuberculosis and would be all right soon. I did not know anything and was not aware what was happening to her. The Teaching Hospital refused to admit her and I had to bring her here."
"Doctors even told us to keep the plate, glass, her clothes and other things she used at a separate place. I was so sorry for this and felt nostalgic and I had to bring her to this secluded place because of the fear of social castigation when even doctors and nurses abhorred from her," she said.
"The disease gradually became more pronounced. I took my daughter to the emergency ward at Teaching Hospital and the doctors there again referred her to Kalimati Chest Hospital, " she went on. She said doctors at the Chest Hospital were no different and they just admitted the patient and did not give much care and again referred her to the Teaching Hospital a week later and the doctors at Teaching Hospital on their part suggested that she should be taken home citing lack of bed. Now it was the turn of the ailing daughter to speak from her death bed. She said in a thin and frail voice that she had sexual contact with her husband a few weeks after their marriage.
"My husband became weak and frail in the later years after our marriage.
Neither would medicine have
any effect on his deteriorating health. Then it was in 2052 BS that we were
blessed with a son and he too
became ill after he was one month old, the lady recalled .
She said the baby died two months later and she asked her husband to get
his blood test conducted. But,
her husband refused to get the blood test as his health declined further. It
was exactly at this point that
she herself started to feel weak and losing body weight.
She recounted that by the Dashain festival of 2053 BS, her husbands health had
deteriorated so much
that he was unable to attend office. He started having fever and later on
developed typhoid. Doctors gave
him some medicine which to some extent had positive effect.
After that the couple went for a pilgrimage to Manakamana where the lady asked
him about what was
exactly happening to him but he refused to tell her what he was suffering from.
"I only came to know later that he had AIDS. He did not tell me at that time," she said adding, "Had he told me about the same earlier I would not meet this fate today." Then, life became a burden for herself. Her health gradually started deteriorating in the intervening years. She knew that she had AIDS but did not tell anybody about the same and now it was the end of her life, an agony that was not of her making.
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 11:25:26 EDT
From: BThapa1767 <BThapa1767@aol.com>
Subject: Letter to The Digest Nepal USA
The Nepal digest
This is regarding a letter written by someone called Kamal Shrestha of
Middlesex university; England, which you allowed to circulate through your
internet channel in Feb. 1998. we found the letter malicious, devisive and
totally false in its account. if the writer was so much concerned about the
issues raised, one we would expect him to find the actual facts first,
confronted the concerning officials of the association face to face rather
than going behind the back in a cowardly manner, as he did, sole purpose of
damaging the good reputation of the association. His comments on the present
ambassador in London were also utterly disgusting to say the least. It
reflected absolute ignorance of the writer on the qualifications, experience
and quality of the person concerned.
I draw your attention to the fact that, to allow such a baseless and
defamatory letter through your interment channel is an illegal act and is
against the rules laid down by Interment system. With great regret I must say
that, irresponsible act like this, does not help to create a better image of
your magazine amongst the Nepalese living in the UK. For detail information
about our association please visit to our internet channel on
http://members.aol.com/bthapa1767/index.html and our Email Add. is
BThapa1767@aol.com. Wishing you a very happy new year 2055 BS.
Suresh J. Shah
Yeti Nepali Association in the UK.
%%%%%Editor's Note: Thank you for your note. Because TND promotes and %%%%%
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%%%%% all articles "but no profanity". We have maintained %%%%%
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%%%%% content of the articles. However this doesn't mean %%%%%
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%%%%% small) price we pay so censorship (at whatever or %%%%%
%%%%% by whomever) will never be part of a free society. %%%%%
%%%%% Obviously profanity has no room here in any capacity.%%%%%
%%%%% We hope that your rebuttal has served the purpose to %%%%%
%%%%% challenge the author regarding the truth of his/her %%%%%
%%%%% piece. Thank you. %%%%%
Date: 27 April 1998
To: The Nepal Digest <email@example.com>
Subject: Nepali News
Source: Explore Nepal As Historian Write....
Each time Surya Bahadur Thapa leaves Singha Durbar, he creates a history of
special sort - First, he became a heroic personality through voicing against
the interference by Palace into government affairs. No more dual administration,
No more dual administration, he said and quit.
On the second occasion he sank with the
flag under what historians say Panchayat's first no confidence motion against
the Premier launched by the so called unconstitutional power
centres. This time Thapa rocked Nepali politics by first presenting
resignation in parliament and second in palace, a record on its own!
Thapa keeps words
RPP President Surya Bahadur Thapa gave a brilliant farewell speech in the
Parliament as the head of coalition
government. He carefully used his exit to promote the image of himself and
that of the party. As the Prime Minister
of the day he first informed the House about his resignation. Thapa evinced
a sense of boldness in criticizing Nepali
Congress for its doubt over his motive of transferring power.
Drawing inspiration from the Dhammapad-expression "I will endure abusive
words like the elephant in battle
endures the arrow shot from the bow; for many people are ill-behaved," Thapa
said NC's sarcastic and insulting
remarks "do not affect me at all." He refered to the last week's expression
of challenging words against him.
Thapa explained that he actually intended to pursue the written tripartite
agreement concluded among NC, RPP
and NSP to the spirit and letter". But NC did not do well by doubting me."
There was no point why RPP should
hesitate to hand over the leadership of the coalition to NC, he noted.
"It is now the responsibility of NC to take the coalition forward" Thapa
said claiming" I have done may duty as per
the understanding reached six months ago. This is a clear indication that
RPP would begin opposing NC the
moment it breaks the present power equation. Politicos opine: Thapa's
warning against NC's search for coalition
with leftist would be a betrayal and this point needs to be taken seriously.
No Prime Minister in the past except Krishna Prasad Bhattarai has so
easily abandoned the post. All others
including Koirala did their best not to exit. In the case of Thapa the
high political morality of keeping words and not
seeking ways to avoid resiguation has been respected: Democrats should laud
In the parliamentary speech, Thapa also sounded critical of the way his
earlier recommendation of dissolving the
parliament and ordering fresh poll was turned down. The court would know how
it saw the prospects of alternative
government in the Parliament, he observed.
Regarding his failure to perform as head of coalition government,
Thapa explained various political reasons that did
not allow him to work." The government had to pay attention to several other
factors that did not allow us to
concentrate on our job. Yet we worked together with a sense of unity. All
coalition partners gave the impression
that they belonged to a team."
Division of his own party RPP due to Chand's break away RPP was also pointed
out by Thapa as destrac-toinary influence.
Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 15:37:52 -0500
From: Rajan Nepal <rrnepal@CC.OWU.EDU>
Subject: Nepali Web Sites
To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu>
Hi Everyone, Check out these sites on the web:
http://www.rajan.com/ Lumbini Web
http://www.rajan.com/bnks/ Budhanilkantha School Home Page
http://www.rajan.com/cam/cameve.htm Current picture of Mt. Everest updated daily
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 22:18:19 EST
From: RA3371 <RA3371@aol.com>
Subject: Trying to Find Nepalese in Richmond
I am Rajesh Acharya. I have recently moved to Richmond, VA. I am trying to
find some Nepalese in the Richmond, Va area. Please let me know if you know
anybody in this area.
************************************************************* Date: Tue, 17 Mar 1998 00:13:41 -0500 From: Wendy & Boboy Doromal <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: need help please
My name is Wendy Doromal -I am a human rights advocate who lived in
the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands for 11 years
was a teacher and advocate for the foreign contract workers. Because
human rights work on behalf of the foreign contract workers my family
forced to flee the islands. (see Readers Digest, June 1997 issue - On
Soil). I found you on the internet - we are trying to contact
citizens, caring people and organizations for help in getting reform
CNMI and justice for the foreign contract workers there.
Last month my husband, Boboy and I were able to return to Saipan for 3
weeks to investigate the human rights and labor abuses there. The
conditions of the workers -especially the Bangladeshis, brought me to
They are living in
squalor in sub-human conditions. Some of these men gave $7,000 to a
recruiter for a
chance to work in the U.S. When they arrived in the CNMI, they found
themselves without jobs, a shelter or food. The CNMI gvt. is corrupt
had done little- some begged for tickets home, some have active
one man we met had suffered a heart attack. The men are suffering
emoptionally because they worry about their wives and children back
They thought they were going to the USA.
We met with victims from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and
also. One maid from Nepal related how her employer threw hot
on her and beat her in the breasts. She was hiding in a Korean church
we interviewed her and 12 other Nepalese victims who sought refuge in
church. We met a Nepalese farmer who was beaten by relatives of his
employer and another who was hired by a CNMI police officer and never
paid. He is ill and wants to return to his country to see his "children before
he dies. "
We met two Indians at my attorneys office -they were also
beaten by their employer, A Pakistani, Muhammed Zulfiqar, was also
(Muhammed is safe on Guam on his way to the U.S. with 3 other victims including Azizul Haque, a Bangladeshi whose life is in danger for his assistance to all of the vicrims and for assisting my husband myeself and U.S. federal officials. They will appear at the U.S. Senate hearings on March 31, 1998.) Some of the workers have been victims of terrible hate crimes. We video-taped and interviews about 400 of these dear men and women and the barracks where they live. We made copies of labor documents and law suits that they filed. Some had worked for employers and companies who have never paid them. They are sick with worry about their families back home and how they will recover the cost of the outrageousrecruitment fees. It is an outrage.
The CNMI is a commonwealth of the U.S. They have local immigration
control. For ten years I have lobbied the US gvt. to initiate federal
immigration and raise the minimum wage to US levels to help the
contract workers. On March 31 there will be a Senate Hearing for
and S1275 (you can view on the internet). We need concerned citizens
write to their own congressmen and to the Committee to protest the
treatment of the 37,000 foreign contract workers in the CNMI. (There
Filipinos, Chinese, Thai, Nepalese, Bangladeshi,Sri Lankans, Indians,
workers from other
Asian countries who are suffering in terrible working and living
You can write to Committe on Energy and Natural Resources
312 Hart Building
Washington, D,C. 20510
ATTN: Betty Nevitt
and copy to us if you could.
I met with officials at the Bangladesh and Philippine embassies in
Washington two weeks ago. We are trying to make contact with Sri
Lankans, Nepalese, Bangladesh, Filipino, Chinese and Thai citizens to
inform them of the conditions in the CNMI. ABC's 20/20 had a segment
Friday night on the conditions of the Chinese - you may see the
on the internet. Another website where you can view news of plight of
foreign contract workers in the CNMI is: http://www.itecnmi.com/news
This website has archives that you can scan.
We desperately need to get grass roots help.
The foreign contract workers make up
a majority of the CNMI population, but have no vote, no voice -please
voice for them.
If you have any questions you may contact me through email or:
2914 Golden View Lane
Orlando, FL 32812
Thank you for spreading the word and for any assitance you can give to
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 08:20:09 PST
From: Brita DJ <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: public email
I have a friend in Nepal who I would like to be able to reach by email.=20
Can you tell me whether there is a public place in Kathmandu, such as a=20
library, where he will be able to go to receive and send mail? (He has=20
his own free email address).
I'll be very pleased if you have time to answer me. I thank you very=20
much for your time.
Many kind regards from Denmark,=20
Date: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 13:53:12 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <email@example.com>
To: The Nepal digest Editor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The Problems of Chritianity
> I'm not suggesting that Nepali leaders should only examine religious
> issues through rose-colored spectacles. The growing Christian community
> within Nepal, not to mention the Christian foreigners who come to the
> country with an interest in converting Nepalis, present very real and
> knotty problems -- especially when so much of Nepal's rich and beautiful
> culture stems from its traditional religions. Allegations that Christian
> groups have sought to make conversions by offering money or education
> opportunities to potential converts should be investigated, and (if proven
> to be true) the perpetrators should be punished.
I agree with you partly here. But the question I ask is, Why is it that
not many alumni of St. Xavier's and St Mary's, many of whom
live and work in the West, have converted to Christianity in spite
of long association with the parphernalia of Christian missionary
education? And why is it that many of Nepal's poor and oppressed in the
remote areas have so easily converted? As long as the
powerful in the Hindu religion continue to treat the oppressed among them
as sub-humans, these oppressed have every right to find other
dispnsations. I think that sooner they did, the better for the sake of
recuperating their humanity. And those among the oppressed who are
adamantly refusing to convert and staying as Hindus, it's their
greatness and generosity. High caste Hindus would do well to worship
them; their children should be taken by the Sanskrit schools in order to
teach them Sanskrit and make them priests free of cost. I know that not
everyone could be B.R. Ambedkar, the Indian dalit leader, who, was sent to
school by a Maharaja, later drafted the Indian constitution and,
defeated by Hinduism's intrangency, converted to Buddhism.
However, individual Christians have
> _undeniably_ done a great deal of good for Nepal. My father (to pick a
> close-to-home example) was responsible for the construction both of Patan
> Hospital and of the Andhikhola hydroelectric project. The late Father
> Gafney was respected by all, as a man whose Christian convictions led him
> to do good works (without expecting those he helped to convert to
People like your father and other such individuals (Gandhi's friend
Joseph Andrews comes to mind) have been the saving grace in any
religion. No doubt about it.
And I've personally witnessed the efforts of many Nepali
> Christians to improve the food, shelter, and life of those around them.
Laudable as they are, I'm not sure if this is going to amount much in the
long term. I don't have much faith in such feel-good work. For
centuries such works have not been able to bring about much change in
fundamental lifestyle of the people.
> Subject: It is dangerous to fall in love with Jesus
> Like many before him, he confuses the church and Jesus. He follows a well
> worn path of four centuries of critics of the church in western culture. The
> Enlightenment philosphers have "progressed" from scepticism to atheism, to
> meaningless despair. Now in post-modern, post-Christian times, western
> culture is on the brink of spiritual collapse. People like Jason, in
> rejecting the roots of their culture have come to reject the culture itself.
Dr. Lewis, what do you say about the colonial studies? It's not the Enlightenment philosophers, who themselves have come under heavy criticism, but scholars of postcoloniality who have questioned both. I'd like to hear your engagement with postcolonial discourse.
> For those who come to know Jesus there is a dangerous decision to make - a
> life turning decision. I am no longer my own, now Jesus lives in me. For
> this reason I went to Nepal and spent seven years working in the health
You talk like a veteran missionary here. While I respect the work of
your kind, I have no faith in your unquestionable faith in only Jesus.
Sure, Jesus was a great men, but so are many others--Gandhi, Buddha,
Mohammad, Vardhamana Mahabira, Zoroaster, Kabir and so on. Why not Buddha,
too? However, it's your personal choice, and I have nothing much to
say about it.
> Listen too, you Nepali secularists - which is a bigger threat to you,
> Christianity or global cultural imperialism via the market and the media?
You speak as though there's no third choice for Nepal. This and your
tone again reveal what you think of Nepal and the Nepali people.
> After four years back in Australia I still read TND because I love Nepal,
> and I still pray for it and my Nepali friends.
Nepal has gone down the tube because of too much prayer. So, Dr.
Lewis, Nepal doesn't need your prayers as much as it needs the foresight
and vision of its political leaders. It needs infrastructure-building
foreign aid. It needs the sanity and selflessness of its
democratically committed political leaders instead of their inter and
intra party quibblings like children.
I'd be interested in your response, but please don't talk as Joel did about
Jason's paper, using terms like "lies" and "chips on the shoulders."
Best wishes and God speed.
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 01:52:30 +0530
From: harvard <email@example.com>
hello editor - help! can you tell me how you send out the Nepal Digest
with hyperlinks in the email - quick reposnes would be apprecviated,
thanks a lot, sushma//
Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 20:13:43 +0545 (NPT)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pratyoush Onta)
Subject: Article TKP, 27 March 1998
Source: The Kathmandu Post, 27 March 1998
The Politics of Knowledge
Beyond fragments of hope
by Pratyoush Onta
In this essay I want to tackle the issue I posed in my last column ("Our
Oppressive Present" TKP, 13 March 1998) once again, but this time with the
help of other interlocutors. Since the publication of that essay, there
have been two sets of responses and concomitantly I have read another set
of writings that have set the stage for this piece.
In the last essay, I argued that the present state of the Nepali nation was
oppressive because the present breed of politicians who run this country
cannot infuse any hope in the hearts of even the most optimistic Nepalis.
After presenting a capsule version of the history of betrayal experienced
by successive generations of Nepalis until now, I concluded by saying that
either we have to figure out ways to tame the all-devouring politics of our
politicians so that they can be contained within a much-reduced social turf
or be prepared to seek a better life elsewhere.
One set of responses received privately from friends in person or via email
(from those who read it in the internet) suggests that some of them have been troubled by the article's dark tone. These respondents have asked what has happened to my sense of optimism regarding Nepali society? As one friend put it from Philadelphia, "Is Onta giving up on Nepal?" Far from it, that piece was deliberately written without any brightside caveats because as another friend put it, "a little truth telling is in order some of the time." If things are so bad as is generally said, then people need to wake up and participate in discussions that seek ways to alleviate and possibly eliminate our oppressive conditions, instead of just languishing in their own small worlds of self-interest. The purpose of that writing was to send this invitation - or challenge if you will - to the readers at large.
The other set of responses have directly addressed the issue I raised. Anil
Bhattarai's response (TKP, 26 March) reiterates the point he has made in
his article in Deshantar Weekly of 15 March 1998. Among other things,
Bhattarai reminds me that to look at the Nepali state for hope is mistaken
for "the possibilities and hope lie somewhere outside the formal political
arena of the state in the larger space called civil society actions,
community organizing and organizations at the grassroots." He further
writes, "we should focus more on the process of delivery of power from the
centralized institutions to the locally accountable ones. There are already
some very good examples in the field of managing community forestry at the
local level and also in the emerging people's organizations at the
grassroots. These institution .... are, in fact, creating direct
democratic spaces by bringing hitherto excluded sections of society into
the decision making process.... So, rather than just... hoping that the
leaders will deliver the goods, should we not, instead, focus on building
networks of these initiatives and press for greater devolution of power to
Similarly Dipak Gyawali (TKP, 19 March) sees rays of hope in villages and
districts mostly outside of Kathmandu: in the work of local businessmen,
junior bureaucrats, local political cadres, more assertive district and
village development committees, younger journalists, and some good NGOs. He
calls for the enhancement of activism in the civil society as a way to
expand "the contested terrain of public life" now largely dominated by the
rapacious politicians and writes, "the first task is to forge such a
concerned collegium and then engage in action big or small as per urge,
inclination and capacity to put pressure on the politicians." Referring to
activities that give him rays of hope, he too ends with a question, "How
can these sources of energy be tapped? Any further ideas?"
The third set of writings - not related to my essay - that have discussed
rays of hope have come from the likes of journalist Gopal Guragain,
'retired' musician and writer Peter J Karthak and fellow columnist C K Lal. Writing in the magazine, Kathmandu Today of 14 March, Guragain revisits the well-known terrain of centralized mass communications system in Nepal
(whose many aspects I have described and critiqued in many of my essays in this space) and states in very general terms the work being done by various communities in Nepal to establish, own and run community media forms that have begun to challenge the hegemony of Kathmandu based, state-centric media.
Karthak (TKP, 23 March), in a preview of Amber Gurung-composed choir
presentation that took place earlier this week says that after the choral
singing bombarded him "into a rare reawakening", he realized that our
society, "so plagued by MTV's and Zee TV's rockish, poppish, rappish and
punkish temporary, rock-bottom and so feeble music, had a better
alternative, more lasting, embraceable and soul-searching musical genre in
our midst." Karthak writes further, "We live in ominosity of our own
inherent creation and our own machinations. Our legacy is oppressive and
desperate, especially in Nepal at present. But there is hope and
sustenance, and we have the competence and willingness to deliver
ourselves." It must also be noted that Karthak, in passing, describes
Gyawali's response to my earlier piece as "balming."
Finally C K Lal, in his lively discourse on "the absurdity of reality"(TKP
24 March) writes, "All is never lost, Howsoever absurd the reality may be,
Chait is still spring....Hope, they say, is as invigorating as the spring
morning." Following Sant Kabir, Lal reminds us that hope is the very
essence of being.
The words of these interlocutors force me to ask one question: how long can
hope survive in fragments? This because, I am not sure how the fragmentary
recognition of various kinds of hope as demonstrated in the writings quoted
above, will rise above the status of gesture. The need for building
networks of initiatives that challenge the hegemony of the centralized
state and politicians, and of inequalities present in our society at large
has been a part of our rhetoric of self-improvement for a big part of my
adult life. While I recognize that the shape and the energy behind these
initiatives have not remained the same over this period, have analysts such
as those quoted above and myself included paid adequate attention to the
historical conditions - financial, cultural and otherwise - that are
necessary to sustain hope beyond the level of fragments?
In other words, taming our bhasmasur politicians would require us to
identify in minute detail, the conditions in which independent
counter-points of power and resistance can survive beyond simply a gestural
level of hope. What are, for instance, the independent financial sources
for those people who want to create a node of counter-power through a life
devoted to writing or progressive choir singing for that matter? How can
media initiatives in the margin survive beyond donor generosity? What are
the sources of sustenance for those genuine NGOs that refuse to succumb to
the dictates of those with the green-money? Where are the institutes and
the newspapers that will take up young journalists and train them how to
think and write? What are the sources that can withstand the forces that
split community organizations along multiple verticle lines?
We need answers to these questions (and others like them) if hope is not to
become simply an intergenerational "balming" commodity that we pass around
as "the very essence of being"
Would someone answer?
From: Roshan Shrestha <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 03:21:14 -0700
To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu>
Subject: Nepalis in COLOGNE ??
Dear Nepali Bandhus,
Are there any Nepalis in Cologne to meet? If so, please call me in 0221 470 3795 (from 0800 to 1500 hr) at Institute of Botany, University of Cologne.
Visit my personal homepage at http://www.jpostmail.com/jpost/users/roshan
Click here to open your own free Jerusalem E-mail account.
From: "Anil Shrestha" <SHRESTHA@crop.uoguelph.ca>
Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 09:06:42 EST
Subject: New Year Celebrations in Canada (Toronto area)
To: The Editor, The Nepal Digest
Subject: New Year celebrations in Canada (Toronto) area
Two of the Nepalese associations in Canada are celebrating New Year
2055 in the Toronto area.
The Nepalese Community Network of Canada (NCNC) is organizing a
dinner and entertainment program on April 11, 1998 at Professor's Lake,
1660 North Park Drive, Brampton from 6.30 PM onwards.
Further details can be obtained from:
Kalpalata Adhikari (416) 778-7203; Sharad Subba (514) 326-9075;
Radha Basnyat (613) 230-4337; Govinda Ghimire (905) 608-2358;
Kiran Dhungan (905) 793-4717
The Nepalese Association in Canada (NAC) is organizing a dinner,
musical entertainment and a video presentation on April 17, 1998 at
the National Banquet Hall, 7355 Torbram Road, Mississauga from 7.00
Further details can be obtained from:
Vijaya Shrestha (905) 472-0372; Binod Upreti (416) 461-8167;
Pallavi Shrestha (416) 293-5552; Muna Pokharel (416) 755-2743
On behalf of the TND Canada Chapter I wish all TND readers a Very
Happy and Prosperous New Year 2055!!!
From: NepaliStuf <NepaliStuf@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 01:19:26 EST
Subject: BEAUTIFUL NEPALESE COLOR POSTCARD, POSTER AVAILABLE NOW!!
Dear Editor, hello!!
Can you please post this small ad for our reader!!? thanks a
Hello TND readers!! i ve a beautiful 35 different color postcards , and 2 different panoramic color poster is available in the U.S. each postcard cost.0. 50 CENT and $ 3.00 Shipping in the U.S. POSTERS is $20.00 included Shipping in the U.S.
neeed more info please E- mail to Nepalistuf@aol.com
Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 08:58:13 -0500 (EST)
From: Ashutosh Tiwari <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: March review of books (fwd)
REAL ISSUES IN LOSS REDUCTION
by Suman Basnet & Kumar Pandey
At a time when the country is facing load shedding because of acute
shortage of electricity, there is an urgent need to reduce losses of
available electrical energy. It is therefore relevant to discuss the
various issues related with loss reduction in the electric power
supply system and our approach in dealing with those problems.
The losses in the Nepalese electric power system according, to
official statistics, is about 24%. This is high, even when compared
with other countries in our region. Of the losses, about 60% are
technical and the remaining 40% are non-technical. The approach to
solving these problems are different. Technical losses can normally
be overcome by technical solutions; solutions which have been
extensively researched, commercialized and used throughout the world.
Non-technical losses, on the other hand, cannot be overcome through
textbook solutions alone. Each problem has to be tackled individually
by taking into consideration the local, political, social and
Keeping this in mind, we will discuss the challenges ahead of us in
reducing non-technical losses.
What are non-technical losses: Non-technical losses can simply be
understood as theft of electricity. But they appear in different
forms. Sometimes the energy meters are inaccessible to the meter
readers- be it because of locked homes or unwillingness by the
residents to allow meter reading because the activity violates their
privacy. The losses accrued by such inability to record energy
consumption is called non-access to premises. Other times the
recordings on the bills are incorrect because of meter reading
errors. This is termed meter-reading errors. And even when access is
possible and meter reading is accurate, over 20 % of the energy bills
in the Kathmandu valley are not paid. It is also believed that a
third of all electric power system losses in the Kathmandu valley is
caused by pilferage, which is carried out mainly by tampering with
the energy meters or totally bypassing it. In all these instances the
utility does not receive the payments due to it.
For the common person these may be the extent of the problem. But if
one were to look at it more closely it would be hard to accept these
as being the real problems. For instance when we know meter readings
have not been taken for as many as ten years in certain localities,
and also hear about utility personnel not being able to take any
action because the concerned consumers have political influence and
would not hesitate to manhandle anyone who tries to enter their
premises, then we know the problem is more that just
inaccessibility. Or if we were having problems in meter reading
because we lacked competent meter readers, then providing them with
appropriate training may solve the problem. But if the meter readers
willfully commit errors for personal gains, the relatively easy
solution of training them, raising their post, level and salary is
insufficient. Likewise the power utility has clear rules and
procedures regarding imposition of fines and cutting off of supply to
consumers who do not pay their bills. But when the defaulters are not
consumers who are poor, uneducated and ignorant but the big hotels,
factories and government offices, where do we look for a solution?
To prevent pilferage, meter resealing, meter relocation, surprise
inspections are some of the technological solutions which have been
tried out with varying degree of success in Nepal. But theft of
electricity does not occur solely because of deficiency in the
technology we use. Most consumers do not dare tamper with the
electric supply on their own. They do it through the utility
technicians who do this "favour" for a "fee".
Where do we stand today? One recorded event serves as an example of
our (in)ability to deal with the issues of theft of electricity. As
the story goes one office of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA)
found someone stealing electricity. After the local police were
notified, this person was arrested. Once in custody, and as the
process for achieving justice proceeded, the NEA office was told that
it was their duty to provide food and other daily essentials for this
person. At the end of the process, when the arrested individual
agreed to pay up the amount which was due, and never steal again, the
local NEA office had to stand as a guarantor to release the person
from the police. Having to take care of the convicted, or to stand
as a guarantor cannot be the duty of a utility and is obviously going
to retard their initiatives even if they were to attempt to do
anything positive. This all brings into question the extent of how
our social and legal system prohibits swift action to deal with
The real issues: In spite of millions of rupees and thousands of man-
hours having been spent on loss reduction efforts, we still have a
long way to go. In retrospect, along with our constant effort to
pursue technological solutions, the time has come to give thought to
non-engineering issues that may be playing as important, if not a
more important role, in the loss reduction issue. Some of the real
issues that need to be addressed when we look for solution to non-
technical losses are personal integrity, our vision & commitment,
management of the supply system, and public awareness. Part of our
commitment must be to accept that loss reduction will require the
development of local capability because the people who best
understand our society, culture and the local thinking are people who
are in touch with our society. We need to clearly move away from the
purely technical practices and focus on the socio-economic
environment and personal ethics. As said earlier, there are no text
book solutions or practices in implementing these 'real solutions'
but it is time we prepared a strategy to acknowledge their prime
Basnet and Pandey are electrical engineers.
Women's Issues in the Indian Media
Whose News? The Media and Women's Issues
Edited by Ammu Joseph and Kalpana Sharma, eds.
New Delhi, Sage Publications, 1994, I Rs. 350
by Rama Parajuli
Although women in India account for nearly half of the population,
women's issues are usually not the stuff of which media headlines are
made. The editors of Whose News? write that gender-related concerns
are not "considered good copy" and when "such questions do draw the
attention of the media, they are often either sensationalized,
trivialized or otherwise distorted." However in the past two decades,
women's issues have begun to make news in the Indian media. This is
because the women's movement has grown in ways that has enabled an
increasing number of Indian women to become more active and vocal.
Also their numbers in the journalistic profession has grown over this
period. This book is part of a larger study that analyzes the media's
presentation of women's issues in India for the period between 1979
and 1988. The two editors, Ammu Joseph and Kalpana Sharma, who also
happen to have authored the seven chapters concerning the English
language press, are journalists who have held decision-making
positions in both mainstream and alternative publications.
The chapters on the print media focus on five issues concerning
women: the re-emergence of Sati, the right to maintenance of Muslim
women divorcees, dowry deaths, rape and the misuse of the fetal sex
determination test. The first part of the book deals with the English
language press. For this, the researchers looked at five dailies -
The Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Statesman, The Times of India and
The Indian Express - four periodicals and two women's magazines. They
quantified the number of stories concerning the above topics, both in
terms of the total number of items on each issue and their categories
(e.g. special story, editorial, edit page articles, magazine articles, etc.). Qualitative analysis was done by looking at the placement of the item within the publication and annualizing its content.
Among these five issues, Sati and the right to maintenance of the
Muslim divorcees received the most attention in the press, both
qualitatively and quantitatively. Roop Kanwar's fiery death on the
funeral pyre of her deceased husband generated a heated controversy.
This event activated feminists all over India and got political
significance. Joseph and Sharma write, "By 1987 when the 'Sati'
controversy shocked the nation, the press was able to respond with a
fair amount of professionalism and sophistication." Reportage and
feature articles covered the issue extensively and women activists,
through their writings, widened media coverage of the issue by
highlighting the women's perspective. However, religio-communal and
political linkages dominated the coverage.
As for the other case, Shah Bano was a seventy-year woman, divorced
by her husband without making any provisions for her maintenance.
According to Muslim personal law, one's ex-husband was only obliged
to pay maintenance for the period of iddat - that is for three months
after the divorce. Shah Bano filed a case and the then Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Y. V. Chandrachud ruled (in
April 1985) that she was entitled to a maintenance amount. Sharma
and Joseph conclude that none "of the papers surveyed adequately
dealt with the potential impact on women" of this judgement, choosing
"to dwell on the political, legal or religious aspects."
After their analysis of media coverage on dowry deaths and rape, the
editor duo conclude that on these two issues, the impact of the
women's movement on the media was clearly evident. Media coverage
coincided with and benefited from the campaigns launched by women's
groups throughout India on these issues. Amniocentesis, used to
detect genetic abnormalities in the fetus was being misused to detect
the sex of the fetus. This issue became public when some activist
groups claimed that there was a connection between the increasing
number of clinics offering this test and the case of female feticide.
The editors conclude that this issue received the minimum coverage
compared to other issues surveyed and propose several reasons to
explain why this happened.
In the second part of the book, several authors look at the
vernacular press: Shubhra Gupta (Hindi), P. Ramaswamy and Vasantha
Surya (Tamil), Maitreyi Chatterjee (Bengali) and Sonal Shukla
(Gujarati). Space limitations do not allow for a detailed description of what these writers say but it becomes clear that the coverage of the above issues in the Indian language press differs in a number of ways from that found in the English press. Reportage in these languages do not need to resort to linguistic translations (a benefit) but, it is suggested, they might succumb to inflammatory and communal tendencies of both the media people and their readers.
In the third part of the book, Deepa Dhanraj studies women-centered
serials that were telecast by Doordarshan in the mid-eighties and
concludes that "the dominant image of woman being constructed as the
norm for representation on Doordarshan is urban, middle class,
literate and upper caste." In a postscript, the editors highlight
significant changes that have taken place in the Indian media scene
and the women's movement between 1988 and 1993, and call for more
detailed studies on the subject covered in this book.
It is interesting to note that the two editors and all the
contributors to this book are women. The interesting cover page -
which shows a woman with a shawl on her head amidst a fire- was also
designed by a woman, Bharati Mirchandani. This book is a good example
of systematic and topical media research done in depth. It should be
very useful to media researchers and students, journalists, and
activists concerned about gender. Analysts in Nepal who have been
following media coverage of women's issues in a somewhat ad-hoc
manner must read this book.
Parajuli is a reporter for Kantipur.
Informative Military History
Shahi Nepali Sena ra Pradhan Senapatiharu
by Prem Singh Basnyat
L. Basnyat and S. Basnyat, Kathmandu, 2053 b.s.
Price: Rs 275
Reviewed by Pramod Bhatta
In Shahi Nepali Sena ra Pradhan Senapatiharu, Prem Singh Basnyat
presents a history of the Royal Nepali Army and its commander-in-
chiefs (CNCs). Basnyat traces the gradual development of the army
from the pre-unification period of Nepali history to the recent past.
Divided into four parts, the book describes the glories of the Nepali
army during the unification era, synonymous with the period during
which the army developed a close intimacy with the Shah kings and
became "royal", a relationship that has remained as such until now.
The first part of the book deals almost exclusively with the
historical and organizational development of the army especially
during the reign of Prithivi Narayan Shah and his successors.
In the second part of the book a more detailed account has been
provided of some specific missions, most of them undertaken by the
army in its bid to help the Panchayat government contain various
political activists and their activities, of both domestic and
international nature, on the Nepali soil. It also highlights various
other facts and figures of the Nepali army. In the third part of the
book, the author, in a simple and textual manner, describes the very
long and active involvement of the Nepali army in the international
scene. In the final section Basnyat presents bio-histories of the
CNCs from Kaji Kalu Pandey on to the present incumbent, Dharmapal
Thapa. The author has done the arduous task of collecting old data,
some of it previously unpublished, and sequencing it with the gradual
development of the Nepali armed force. The Royal Nepali Army has its
own culture. The Gorkhali image is cherished in sainik songs chanted
with dignity and pride during festivals like Phoolpati and Ghode
Jatra; the army and non-army folks then celebrate the colors alike.
However, in other respects, the army world remains isolated from the
public. The common people rarely know of happenings inside the army
that may be of genuine interest to them. For instance, the famous
corruption scandal that rocked the army during the command of Gadul
SJB Rana was quickly swept off the limelight and treated as a
separate phenomenon in the army jurisdiction (similar happenings are
heard of other public offences and crimes around army postings).
The writer, a Major in the army, has clearly mentioned in his
forewords that "by unveiling some previously shadowed aspects of the
Nepali army, I hope to open the door to other historians who can
elaborate on what I have published." Indeed he does highlight some
unpublished and to that extent unknown facts. He describes the
Khampa operation of the 1970s when the Nepali army successfully
disarmed anti-Chinese activists in the Mustang area. He also mentions
Bajhang, Okhaldhunga and other localities where the Royal army was
actively deployed to suppress anti-Panchayat activists.
Basnyat's history of the army ambiguously stops somewhere during the
late Panchayat period as he does not discuss the state-army
relationship during the post-Jana Andolan era. What is happening now?
When we spend a significant portion of our national budget in
maintaining the army, the public has every right to know its state of
the affairs. Similarly, the author could have plunged a bit deeper
into some other aspects of the army world and shared with us some of
his own experiences, instead of just giving us a straightforward,
official-like version of it throughout. Nevertheless, the book is an
useful addition to the written literature on the Nepali army. We can
hope that further writings by insiders such as Basnyat will present
additional insights into other aspects of our army and that social
historians will begin to chart out the relationship between the army
and the Nepali society at large in academically analytical
Bhatta is a Masters student at TU.
Date: Mon, 6 Apr 1998 09:32:17 +0545 (NPT)
From: email@example.com (Pratyoush Onta)
Subject: Martin Chautari Discussion
Please announce schedule for April
Martin Chautari weekly discussion series meets EVERY TUESDAY at 5:30 pm at
the premises of Martin Chautari (tel: 246065) in Thapathali, Kathmandu
(behind VS Niketan School's first building when going from Thapathali towards Babarmahal - past the Maternity Hospital, turn left, turn right after passing the NEFEJ office, not towards UMN and St. Xavier's College; on electric pole you will see a sign for "Friend's Colony" as well as for
"Martin Chautari"). Discussions are held in Nepali or/and English. This is an open forum and anyone interested in it can join.
7 April 1998
Revisiting Modernist Nature: Reflections on the Anthropology of
Environmental Protection in Nepal
Dr. Ben Campbell, University of Manchester
14 April 1998
Some thoughts on religious and jatiya(caste-ethnic) relationships in Nepali
Manu Brajaki, fiction writer
21 April 1998
Who speaks for whom in Nepal - an open discussion
Seira Tamang and Anil Bhattarai will introduce the topic
To be announced
Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 12:05:05 -0500 (EST)
From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: The Nepal digest Editor <email@example.com>
Subject: Democracy, My Democracy!
If anybody asked, What is the most salient feature of democracy in Nepal or for that matter India? Would it be hyperbolical to say that political infighting within the parties among leaders is the most visible sign of Nepali democracy? Intra-party rivalry is not new to a nascent democracy like Nepal's, however. In fact, such rivalries among the leading politicians within any party is what they call democratic competition for better popularity and more votes--and, by default, better leadership accountable to the people. Done positively, it also ensures better quality and the need to be constantly on one's toes. So the matter of rivalry doesn't end there; it just begins there. On the other hand, done with the sole purpose of personal aggrandizement and lust for power, it can quickly turn into not only a childish farce, weakening the institutions of democracy, but a great detriment to the well-being of the electorate. This despairing feature of a democratic exercise has nowhere been more blatant than in the few democracies we have in the so-called Third World, especially in South Asia. What is galling and ludicrous is the ability of an individual or two in any party to break it up and form one's own party when denied the role of leadership in the party. If unable to do so--break it up, that is--then just be a constant headache and hurdle in the way of a smooth functioning of the party machinery. This surely is a special feature of borrowed democracies, where they have survived.
In all the South Asian nation-states, there is now democracy,
something that doesn't exist in most Third World countries even now, but
the spectacle that South Asian democracies have presented to the world is
particularly noteworthy for the inter- and, more importantly, intra-
party bickerings and factionalism and divisiveness. Let's forget about
India (although we in Nepal should never totally forget it) and other
South Asian countries for the moment and focus on Nepal's main parties.
There are three main parties in Nepal: the rightist RPP, the leftist UML,
and the center-right Congress. One can say that there's nothing in
common among these parties(discount for a moment their high caste
leadership and whatever conclusions one can deduce from this biological
composition)--each has its unique history of birth, evolution,
particularity and specificity. Even though each has formed alliances and
reached understanding with the other in order to either launch a movement
or form a government, each does politics in the name of particular
political ideologies that is the legacy of modernity.
A closer look, however, reveals a disturbing picture among these
parties. First of all, RPP, the National Democratic Party. Frankly, a
look at its history shows that it never swore by democratic values
before, at least as we want to know the meaning of the much abused term.
(About it's nationalism, I wouldn't like to say much here; what it did to Nepal in the name of nationalism deserves a more serious look, which I leave for another occasion.) But in order to keep itself alive, its leaders joined the multiparty wave, rightly so, and became one of the parties and won a respectable number of seats in the second election. Old habits die hard, though. For too long, its politicians had governed Nepal in the name of partyless individualism; each individual elected or nominated for his or her personal virtues and vices--at least the front was such. No wonder, then, that a rift has occurred between Mr. S. B. Thapa and Mr. L. B. Chand. So it's break up into two factions and two parties, or hundred, is very much in keeping with its non- democratic, partyless, individualistic nature. Each individual RPP member in theory ought to be a party in himself or herself, as their fundamental values are based on partylessness. Ideas traditionally do not bind individuals here into a group or party, which requires certain boundaries of ideological framework, but personal ambitions and maneuvering do. So, frankly, I'm not surprised at all at the breakup. RPP will not lose its fundamental nature even if it broke into hundreds of independent members--each member a party unto himself or herself.
The United Marxist Leninist Party is another ball game all
together. Its goals are noble, idealistic, materialist, and there's a
standard international line that it either strictly follows or deviates
from. In either case, rims of explanations are offered. So ideas and
ideologies ought to be everything for them in both theory and practice.
Marx and Lenin's ideas are still popular, widely known, vigorously
debated all over the world, more so one notices since the symbolic fall
of the Berlin wall; they are passionately loved and hated. In Nepal, the
case is not much different. But the history of Marxist parties also
reveals that it's not always the ideas and ideologies that have guided
and inspired the followers of Marx in the twentieth century, when they
have had the opportunities to translate their ideas into action and state
power. It's a common knowledge by now how paranoia and personal ambition
drove Joseph Stalin to liquidate his leading communist rivals, among whom
many intellectuals, artists, writers, and politicians--not just
Manshviks, but from among the leading Bolsheviks themselves. Trotsky's
assassination in Mexico is but one example. In other places also, where
Communism was able to hold state power, very often personal ambition and
lust for personal power of its leader rather than any serious policy
difference caused much bloodshed and the ultimate demise of the movement
Very often ideas and ideologies have incarnated and disguised in
the form of an individual's supremacy in the history of communism. Very
often personal ambition, envy, rivalry, and vendetta have taken the form
of class antagonism. If you don't like your rival within the party,
spread the rumor that he or she belongs to the bourgeoisie, and is
therefore a class enemy of the proletariate. As a result, wherever
Marxism has been able to realize its revolutionary ideals by taking over
the reins of the government in the name of the proletariate, it's seldom
the party as a collective entity, it's seldom the workers who sweat in
the burning sun and by the steaming machines, but one paramount leader,
an individual, not the proletariate as a whole, who has ruled, very often
ruthlessly even after the first phase of the initial revolution. Thus
twentieth century history has given us Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, who
did whatever they wanted to do, however they wanted to govern. And when
Gorbachev's turn came, because the supreme leader was supreme to do
whatever he wished, Gorbachev single handedly, true to his predecessors,
brought down the Soviet Union and broke it into numerous other
republics--and in the process reduced it to beggary and a haven for
smugglers and mafiosi. China's history since 1949 is not much
different. As long as Mao lived, it was up to him to do whatever he
wanted, valorize those who agreed and demonize those who differed,
including Deng. Here also, it's not the workers, but the leader who
ruled ruthlessly as long as he lived. The Chinese case as it has been
unfolding after Deng's death is different; it's more collective, more the
rule of the top party leadership rather than one individual. Castro's
case, much as I admire his courage and commitment, is the same. As long
as Castro is alive, Cuba doesn't seem to deviate from socialism, but
nobody knows if Cuba will remain Cuba after he is gone. Many would agree
that despite the good things Castro has been able to do in Cuba in spite
of the constant opposition and hostility of the United States, the legacy
has not translated into a set of institutions; it still depends on Castro
the charismatic leader, the messiah, to carry the day. In each of these
countries, contrary to what Marxism preaches, which is that the material
forces are stronger than individuals in shaping history and that its the
people and workers who make history rather than one individual no matter
how powerful, we have seen that it's one individual who has either made
or marred a nation's present and future. And even as the leader is being
laid to rest, interred into the grave, the country suddenly takes a new
turn for the uncertain destination. While I know that the party
representatives choose the leader, as the Cardinals choose the Pope, but
once the leader is chosen, there hasn't been a case in which the leader
has just been asked to live either in retirement or chill out for a
while. A solid, stable structure of governance that doesn't depend on
the leader for life and sustainence but on the process hasn't emerged in
communist forms yet. It would be interesting to watch what China does
after Deng, much admirable its conduct has been after Deng in steering
the lives of over a billion people to the twenty-first century.
And this brings me to Nepal's UML. The U of the UML has been
dissolved like salt into water. Madhav Nepal became the leader after
Madan Bhandari's death; but as a leader, he apparently gave more
attention to the consolidation of his own personal power rather than to
the strengthening of the party, the U-element of it. Hence the
allegation that Nepal and Oli discriminated in selecting delegates. The
party has broken into two now, each calling the other names and
considering number one enemies, backbiting, mudslinging. What guarantee
is there that with each of the parties the henchmen of newer factions
will not turn into soccer hooligans at their national assemblies in the
future? So again history is repeating itself. We don't have a healthy
contest and competition of ideas before the party delegates, but a fracas
of loyalties to individual leaders. That's why, one hears terms such as
"Gautam Faction," "Nepal Faction" and so on. And in the new ML, soon we may here about "Mainali Faction," "Gautam Faction," and so on, as though these were honorable matters. My experience and knowledge of student politics in India and Nepal University Teachers Association politics in Nepal tell me that there are always people in any group who live and die for posts, for presidentship, secretary-ship, or some such chairs. And once they occupy it, they wouldn't want to leave as laid down in the framework; and those who have ambitions but cannot get such posts would destroy the party rather than let others lead. How far this tendency of personal aggrandizement has been responsible for the break up of the UML in Nepal? How far Madhav Nepal's and Oli's and Mainali's, and Gautam's personal ambition for the chair has worked to break the party is a matter only the future will tell. But there have been signs that don't look too propitious.
Is it what is called party discipline? Can't the party run and
survive without those who cause destructive infightings just because they
couldn't have their or their followers' personal ambitions fulfilled?
This is the time for UML to test if it can function as a party of ideas
and ideologies or self-destruct itself because it can't survive without
Mr. Nepals, Mr. Gautams, and what have you. I have often wondered why
personal loyalties supersede ideas in the Third World countries.
And then we have the Congress, which privately and publicly
swears by and boasts of the norms of liberal democracy. And in such a
democracy, one expects that the leader is elected by the majority, and
until the next national assembly of the delegates convenes, that
individual who is elected the party leader by the majority of the
delegates would shape the party and its policies and bear the
responsibility both for its successes and failures. If the party
succeeded in convincing the people to vote it into power, the leader
would continue to rule, overcoming the petty interests of emerging rivals
within the party, but if the leader fails to deliver, the next time
around he or she would be gone, henceforth working as a wise sage or a
member of some think-tank. In other words, once the open election for
the leader of the party is over, the bickering and simmering would stop
at least for the next major opportunity when the leader is perceived to
have failed to deliver. But that's not been the case in Nepal. For
example, we heard rumors for so long that Mr. Koirala, despite his
unquestionable election as the party leader, was threatened with the
party break up, because he was unwilling to relinquish one of the two
positions of leadership, one in the party and the other in the
Parliament. And Mr. K.P. Bhattarai, despite his failure to be elected
either an M.P. or the Party leader, kept the heat on Mr. Koirala with the
threat of resignation, as though once he is gone the party will crumble
into pieces like a deck of cards or a house of sand. Couldn't he just
chill out, do something else, watch from the sideline and advice, or
shout like Ganeshman if he could, rather than play personal power games?
But how could he? He has already built a coterie of followers, not the
voters, but the midranking party politicians, who are scared of their own
bankruptcy of ideas and leadership capabilities and whose political
livelihood depended on Mr. Bhattarai's existence and name. As long as
Mr. Bhattarai played his personal power game, their future was safe.
These mid-ranking so-called leaders couldn't build their own image and
future by themselves by virtue of their ideas and work among the voters.
In a country where there are few other choices and opportunities
for ambition fulfilment, politics and politics for quick power is the
only game in town left that can bring power, pelf, and name. It is on
such times that one is tempted to endorse the dictum that poltics is the
last refuge of scoundrels. This is how deadwood accumulates in any
party, and this is how a deadwood collects parasites. But I have often
wondered why is it the case that in a country like Nepal, personal
loyalties and ambitions overcome all other considerations.
In addition to what the Western powers did during the colonial
and Cold War periods and are still now doing to affect the politics in
the Third World, the nature of the Third World societies, which is still
highly patriarchal and God-fearing, is partly responsible for this
disgusting scenario. The family head still accumulates all the power in
his hand, and in this bid for unquestioned accumulation of power, all
other individuals in the family live as pygmies, non- entities without
their own recognized and legitimate voices and places. A son, a brother,
a wife, or a daughter can either submit to the dictates of the head of
the household or rebel against him, fight and break the house. Rule or
be ruled is still the norm. A healthy dialogue and communication still
do not exist among family members of unequal powers and hierarchies in
many such societies. The unquestionable sway of religion is another
factor. Just imagine the absence of Enlightenment and the Renaissance,
much responsible as these have been for colonialism, in Europe. Without
the birth of these ideologies that questioned the monopoly of orthodox
Christianity in Europe, Europe would most likely have still reeled in
some form of Medieval darkness. And it's well to remember that
Christianity itself was the gift of the East to the West. A Vishnu, an
Allah, a Buddha, a God, or a Hitler, a Stalin, a member of the Gandhi
dynasty is indispensable, not just necessary, to run the domain.
Or, maybe that what we are witnessing in Nepal is a Freedom
Movement syndrome. Leaders are produced at different sites in the Third
World countries. Among them, Palace, Prison, "Palton,"
"Pathshaala"-vernacular, English, and Sanskrit all three, depending on the site, "Pardesh," and People are prominent. In the colonized countries, Prison, Pardesh, and Pathshaala played a crucial role, and, if the country was fortunate, like India, then people also got to play some role. That's why, a Gandhi-Nehru name sill resonates in India, for these leaders' names are still associated with the emancipation of the country from colonialism. Similarly, in Nepal, the first generation political leaders have some form of charisma attached to their name. Some have spent years of their lives in prison or exile or both under the Panchayat and Rana rules; others spent years underground; they have suffered much in order to make people's rule a reality. For many young leaders, there is hardly such a well-defined chance of trial by fire. One can of coure throw stone and break some one's head or kill somebody in the rival political faction, but that's not going to give anyone a wide recognition as a leader. And there are some, in RPP, who are well-known for their long association with power and rule (the Palace), and a section of the Nepali population still express their faith in their personal charisma and leadership. It's true that political suffering morally entitles such people to shape the destiny of the country, but the question is, How far such a suffering entitles them to lead the country toward chaos, stallmate, and quagmire? Can there be a point when their adverse impact on the future course of the country could just be compensated by some allowance and asked them to live in retirement? When will there be a time when such factionalism would be summarily denounced and the responsible parties penalized in the people's court? In my opinion, both Madhav Nepal and Bamdev Gautam (all those who were the primary leaders of the rift) should resign from party leadership for a few years and serve the people before coming back to contest leadership positions fairly.
The political culture in Nepal thus is no different from the
history of many other South Asian countries. Just see how the Indians
are behaving. The United Front broke up precisely the way the UML has
broken up to nobody's benefit but their rivals. And such a situation is
further aggravated by the fact that a common individual in Nepal has
neither the confidence nor the resources, neither in theory nor in
practice. His or her knowledge, skills, his education do not bring him
hope to believe in similar virtues in others--knowledge, skills,
education, ideas--nor in himself. No. As caste and clans have their
prominent figures, so does a party. Without the leader whom one has
shown an unflinching personal loyalty, one can't do anything, have no
future. And the economy is so weak and corrupt that without links to the
political power structure and corruption, a common individual would
starve in Nepal. So the only choice left is to follow blindly one who
you know, with whom you have struck up and sustained an acquaintance and
devotion--from family, caste, school to public life. If the Chief splits
the party, you follow him, because both from below and from above, its
the personal acquaintance with and devotion to the leader that matter.
Thus the system of joining and building up clientele still continues in
Nepal, a legacy of the Rana and Panchayat systems, indeed feudalism itself.
Thus, borrowing a political system from others is merely the
first step. It's nothing; it can be undone any day if these selfish
leaders continue to behave the way they have been doing. What is
important is to change the whole cultural set up, but one cannot form a
drafting committee to change the culture from feudalism to democracy.
Cultural transformation is a long-drawn, messy process, a challenge for
the people, the politicians, and the intellectuals with bi-focal vision,
with one to take care of the immediate problems, with another to build
democratic institutions rather than fulfill personal ambitions and build
personal clientele--which is nothing but a repetition of recent history
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