The Nepal Digest - April 27, 1998 (10 Baishakh 2055 BkSm)

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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 !!!!!!
  Today's Topics:

            Nepali News
            Letter to The Digest Nepal USA
            Nepali Web Sites
            New Year celebrations in Canada (Toronto) area
            Martin Chautari Discussion
            Democracy, My Democracy!

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****************************************************************** Date: April 26, 1998 To: The Nepal Digest <nepal@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Nepali News

Source: The kathmandu Post (Duely acknowledged) Tales of struggle between life & death of an AIDS victim's wife Bishnu Nepal/RSS

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> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: Letter to The Digest Nepal USA

The editor The Nepal digest

Dear sir,

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.

Yours sincerely, Suresh J. Shah General Secretary Yeti Nepali Association in the UK.

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************************************************************ Date: 27 April 1998 To: The Nepal Digest <nepal@cs.niu.edu> 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
- Sanam

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 it heartily. 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> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: Trying to Find Nepalese in Richmond

Hi,

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. Thanks i
************************************************************* Date: Tue, 17 Mar 1998 00:13:41 -0500 From: Wendy & Boboy Doromal <doromal@ao.net> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: need help please

Dear Friends:

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 where I was a teacher and advocate for the foreign contract workers. Because of our human rights work on behalf of the foreign contract workers my family was forced to flee the islands. (see Readers Digest, June 1997 issue - On American Soil). I found you on the internet - we are trying to contact concerned citizens, caring people and organizations for help in getting reform in the 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 tears. 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 and had done little- some begged for tickets home, some have active tuberculosis and one man we met had suffered a heart attack. The men are suffering emoptionally because they worry about their wives and children back home. They thought they were going to the USA.

We met with victims from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Thailand also. One maid from Nepal related how her employer threw hot chocolate on her and beat her in the breasts. She was hiding in a Korean church when we interviewed her and 12 other Nepalese victims who sought refuge in the 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 beaten
(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 foreign contract workers. On March 31 there will be a Senate Hearing for Bills S1100 and S1275 (you can view on the internet). We need concerned citizens to write to their own congressmen and to the Committee to protest the treatment of the 37,000 foreign contract workers in the CNMI. (There are Filipinos, Chinese, Thai, Nepalese, Bangladeshi,Sri Lankans, Indians, and workers from other Asian countries who are suffering in terrible working and living conditions)

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 last Friday night on the conditions of the Chinese - you may see the transcript on the internet. Another website where you can view news of plight of the 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 be a voice for them.

If you have any questions you may contact me through email or:

(407)823-8214 Wendy Doromal 2914 Golden View Lane Orlando, FL 32812

Thank you for spreading the word and for any assitance you can give to the cause.

Sincerely yours, wendy

******************************************************************* Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 08:20:09 PST From: Brita DJ <brita_dj@hotmail.com> To: TND@nepal.org Subject: public email

Namast=E9!

Dear friends,

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 Brita

******************************************************* Date: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 13:53:12 -0400 (EDT) From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <pkm@acpub.duke.edu> To: The Nepal digest Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> 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
> Christianity).

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
> field.

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 <harvard@mos.com.np> To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: help...

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) To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu From: sinhas@mos.com.np (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 them?"

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 <roshan@jerusalemail.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.

Thanks Roshan Shrestha

Visit my personal homepage at http://www.jpostmail.com/jpost/users/roshan Click here to open your own free Jerusalem E-mail account. http://www.jpostmail.com

***************************************************** From: "Anil Shrestha" <SHRESTHA@crop.uoguelph.ca> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu 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 PM onwards. 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 To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: BEAUTIFUL NEPALESE COLOR POSTCARD, POSTER AVAILABLE NOW!!

Dear Editor, hello!!

Can you please post this small ad for our reader!!? thanks a lot!!
    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.
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*************************************************************** Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 08:58:13 -0500 (EST) From: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@fas.harvard.edu> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu 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 economic environment.

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 pilferage.

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 importance.

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 presentations.

Bhatta is a Masters student at TU.

****************************************************************** Date: Mon, 6 Apr 1998 09:32:17 +0545 (NPT) To: nepal-list@mos.com.np From: sinhas@mos.com.np (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 Society 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

28 April To be announced

************************************************************** Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 12:05:05 -0500 (EST) From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <pkm@acpub.duke.edu> To: The Nepal digest Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> 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 itself.

        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 in Nepal.

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