The Nepal Digest - Aug 29, 1994 (26 Bhadra 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Monday 29 Aug 94: Bhadra 26 2051 BkSm Volume 30 Issue 6

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********************************************************************** Date: 18 Aug 94 16:30:54 EDT From: Rajendra.P.Shrestha@Dartmouth.EDU (Rajendra P. Shrestha) Subject: News 8/15-17 To: nepal@cs.niu.edu

SOURCE: DPA, UPI, Reuters

HEADLINE: Koirala emerges more powerful after Nepal party struggle

DATELINE: Kathmandu, August 15

        In a major political coup Monday, Nepal Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala gained a tight hold on the ruling Nepali Congress Party before elections Nov. 13 by pressuring the party president to oust his critics and replace them with loyalists.
        Party President Krishna Prashad Bhattarai reconstituted the 27-member central working committee Monday morning and formed a smaller 21-member committee with Koirala supporters. Those who were ditched included such critics of the prime minister as Bharat Shumsher and Kuber Sharma. Their departure had long been sought by Koirala supporters. Koirala welcomed the move saying "it will lead to party unity and consolidation."
        This latest move in the party comes amid reports that Koirala's faction was about to register a new party with the election commission for the coming snap polls. Reports also said Koirala is pressuring Bhattarai to reconstitute the central parliamentary board, which chooses candidates for the elections and where Koirala does not have a majority.
        The party has been embroiled in a dispute since February, with most of those ousted Monday demanding the expulsion of Koirala from the party. Koirala is charged with engineering the defeat of Bhattarai in parliamentary byelections in February to prevent the president from assuming premiership.
        Most analysts expect the new working committee to change an earlier decision of the committee that bars Koirala, Bhattarai and General Secretary Mahendra Narayan Nidhi from running for election, thereby removing a hurdle that prevents Koirala from becoming premier after Nov. 13.
        Congress leaders, plagued by leadership rivalries, said they feared the communist-led opposition would gain ground unless the party healed its divisions. But the latest reshuffle of the CWC came amid press reports of renewed differences between Bhattarai and Koirala. Party workers unattached to either of the two main factions said the bid to bridge differences could prove futile because Congress did not appear committed to running a united campaign ahead of the autumn polls.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- Electoral Constituency Delineation

The Constituency Delimitation Commission has recently delineated electoral constituencies for the upcoming general elections. Based on the 1991 census, the Commission added electoral constituencies in 9 districts and reduced them in 10 districts. Each constituency will now have 111,000 people, give or take a difference not exceeding 6000. The commission has also sought suggestions and recommendations from sixteen districts for on-the-spot delineations, and is scheduled to submit a final report August 16.

List of Districts with Added Constituencies Districts Previous Present Population
-------------------------------------------------------------- Kathmandu 5 7 675,341 Morang 6 7 674,823 Sunsari 4 5 463,481 Dang 3 4 354,413 Chitwan 3 4 354,488 Kailali 3 4 417,891 Surkhet 2 3 225,768 Kanchanpur 2 3 257,906 Ilam 2 3 229,214

List of Districts with Reduced Constituencies Districts Previous Present Population
----------------------------------------------------------- Mahottari 5 4 440,146 Syangja 4 3 324,329 Kabhre 4 3 293,526 Bhojpur 3 2 198,484 Khotang 3 2 215,965 Achham 3 2 198,188 Baitadi 3 2 200,716 Darchula 2 1 101,683 Tehrathum 2 1 102,970 Myagdi 2 1 100,552

Source: The Independent, August 10th
------------------------------------------------------------- SOURCE: DPA, UPI, Xinhua

HEADLINE: Second strike in a week paralyzes Nepal

DATELINE: Kathmandu, August 17

        Life in Kathmandu was severely disrupted by a second strike in a week. This general strike, called by the far-left group United People's Front (Bhattarai) came just three days after a strike called by a coalition of six other left groups. The Left are demanding an all-party government to oversee election to be held in Nov. 13.
        There were few public or private transport in the roads of Kathmandu, although a few public buses were running with armed guards. Schools and colleges were closed. People coming from the airport were escorted in buses by a strong contingent of police who were patrolling streets in large numbers.
        The UPF claimed that more than 1,100 of its activists were arrested all over the country. Local newspapers confirmed 22 arrests in Kathmandu and 32 in Pokhara. A Home Ministry spokesman said only 450 had been arrested in total. The UPF also claimed that hundreds of its supporters were detained in Tuesday as they were planning to hold torch light rallies. It said that several of its leaders, including Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai, have gone "underground" to avoid arrest. The Home ministry spokesman claimed that the strike had had minimal impact outside Kathmandu.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- SOURCE: Xinhua

HEADLINE: India apologizes to Nepal

DATELINE: Kathmandu, August 17

        India officially apologized to Nepal for recent police incident in Nepalganj, reports the "Kathmandu Post". Badrinath Khanal, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that "the Nepali government had lodged official complaint to the Indian embassy immediately after the incident" and that "they said they deeply regretted the incidence."

************************************************************** Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 23:26:26 -0700 (PDT) From: BKHANAL@GONZAGA.EDU Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - Aug 18, 1994 (5 Bhadra 2051 BkSm) To: NEPAL@mp.cs.niu.edu

        This letter is a letter in response to the letter written by
        Madhav Bhatta.
        Websters Dictionary defines "Alliance" as "A close association for a common objective." Either I am stupid or asking for rest of the Nepali community not to vote while calling your self part of the "Alliance" is rather inconsistent and as a matter of fact is plain ignorant. I do not admit that I have been in Nepal for the past few years but Iwas there during the andolan and I was out on the streets when most of my
"colleagues" were watching Ramayan. It outraged me to hear some one ask probably the most educated part of the Nepalese community not to vote.
        I do agree that things that have happened in Nepal probably donot follow the "Eutopian" deram of development most of the people had when
"democracy" dawned over the Panchayat system. We have gone through a lot of changes and most of it has not been very plesant but it disgusts me to hear a suggestion not to vote from probably the most educated and energetic part of Nepalese community. I agree that the new system has its fault but we must understand there is no political party that is perfect in the whole world. Look at the United States. It is thought of as the epitome of democracy. When we are inside the country, we can see the flaws of the democracy which the rest of the world thinks as the best and it is probably still the best or one of the best. I urge all the Nepali community to not to give up because there are harder times to come in the long road of development for Nepal. I think that the Nepali community in USA is probably one of the most hopeful things that can be offered to Nepal and I hope that we don't give up so easily.............
        Thank you very much.
        Any replies are welcomed....
        Please reply at bkhanal@gonzaga.edu
        My name is Bhushan Khanal
        Address: Po. Box 631 Whitworth College
                        Spokane WA. 99251
                        (509) 468-9973

****************************************************************** Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 11:32:42 -0400 (EDT) From: SURAJ BASNET <sbasnet@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu> Subject: Addresses To: Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu>

Dear Friends,

I am looking for names and addresses of non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) in Nepal. I would be most grateful if you can forward the list of any organizations you know, with their addresses, a contact person, and a brief description of the institution's activities.

Although this collection is a venture for personal use, I will be happy to share with anybody who needs them.

Thank you. Suraj Basnet Baltimore [The city that reads]

******************************************************************* Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 08:43:16 -0700 (PDT) From: BKHANAL@GONZAGA.EDU Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - Aug 18, 1994 (5 Bhadra 2051 BkSm) To: NEPAL@mp.cs.niu.edu

I am sorry but i might have made a mistake on the author of the article that I am writing about. I thouht that it was written by Madhav Bhatta on the topic of " Voting" but I think it was written by Dil Basnyet or some one else. Could youmake the necessary correction./ Thanks
        Bhushan Khanal...

****************************************************************** Date: 20 Aug 94 17:35:31 EDT From: Rajendra.P.Shrestha@Dartmouth.EDU (Rajendra P. Shrestha) Subject: News8/18-19 To: nepal@cs.niu.edu

SOURCE: Reuters

HEADLINE: LEFT-WING ACTIVISTS ARRESTED IN NEPALI PROTEST

DATELINE: KATHMANDU, Aug 19

 BODY:
   Nepali police arrested hundreds of demonstrators including a top opposition leader on Friday during a protest calling for the government to quit, witnesses said.

   The president of the main opposition United Marxist Leninist (UML) party, Mana Mohan Adhikary, and dozens of his party colleagues were detained soon after the protest began.

   Police later said all the demonstrators, including Adhikary, had been released but a UML spokesman said a dozen activists remained in custody.
                                                                                 Witnesses said more than two dozen protesters were taken to hospital with injuries and the UML spokesman said three activists were seriously injured in a police baton charge.

   The protest was the latest in a series by the opposition which is demanding that Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala make way for a national government to supervise elections set for November -- 18 months ahead of schedule.

   They allege that free and fair elections are impossible under Koirala, who called early polls after losing a key vote in parliament because 36 members of his own Nepali Congress party boycotted it.

   King Birendra asked Koirala to continue in office till the elections.

   Home Ministry officials said opposition leaders and supporters were arrested because they were blocking traffic and had damaged at least a dozen government vehicles with stones.

   The UML spokesman accused plainclothes police of throwing stones.

   The opposition planned to stage protests in front of government offices in all 75 districts in Nepal. Outside Kathmandu valley, protests appeared to be peaceful except for some arrests in the western districts of Banke and Bardiya, government officials said.

   Mass meetings and demonstrations were set for next Tuesday in the capital and outlying districts.
------------------------------------------------------------------- SOURCE: DPA

HEADLINE: Violence erupts during communist sit-in at Nepal government office

DATELINE: Kathmandu, Aug 19

 BODY:
    Violence erupted in the Nepalese capital on Friday two hours after supporters of the country's six communist groups started a joint sit-in at the offices of the government's central secretariat in Singha Durbar.

    The action was part of an ongoing campaign, now in its third phase, by leftwing organisations to remove Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. They demand institution of an all-party government to supervise the coming November 13 general elections.

    Trouble began soon after police started beating the protestors with canes and drove them to about 300 metres away from the offices.

    The protestors dispersed, but then began throwing stones at the police. A government vehicle was set alight, and several others were smashed.

    Stones were also hurled at the government-owned Royal Nepal Airlines and Nepal telecommunications buildings.

    Police claimed that their actions were meant to clear the roads and pavements of the protestors, to facilitate the movement of persons and vehicles heading for the government offices. dpa vm ds
---------------------------------------------------------------------

SOURCE: DPA

HEADLINE: Communist leader shot dead in southern Nepal

DATELINE: Kathmandu, Aug 19

 BODY:
    A senior leader of the United Peoples Front (Dr. Bhattarai Group) was shot dead in his village in southern Nepal Thursday evening, the party said in Kathmandu Friday.

    The victim has been identified as Ram Brikshya Yadav and was shot dead at Barjamiya in Dhanusha district, about 150 kilometres southeast of the Nepalese capital.

    Ram Brikshya Yadav was a member of the central committee of the party which has been at the forefront of raising nationalist slogans, specially after the incursion into Nepal of Indian police personnel on several occasions

    Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai told newspapers Friday that the killing was carried out by an Indian national, saying it was "purely and solely politically-motivated".

    The United Peoples Front, both the Bhattarai and Baidya Groups, have a reputation for more extremist communist views than the stronger United Marxist-Leninists, the largest communist grouping in Nepal.

***********************************************************************************************

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Sun, 21 Aug 1994 14:38 EST From: ATULADHAR@vax.clarku.edu Subject: Nepal Forest Act 1993/94: Problems with Community Forestry To: nepal@cs.niu.edu

Nepal Forestry Act 1993/94: Problems with Community Forestry
============================================================

The World Resources Institute (WRI) and LEADERS, Nepal have come out with a critical study of the legal problems with community forestry regulations in the present legal and policy framework.

Specifically, the document, "Handing it over: Analysis of the legal and policy framework of community forestry in Nepal" points out to inconsistency betwen letter and spirit of Nepal's different legal and policy documents on Nepal's community foretry. These include the Nepal Constitution 1990, the Decentralization ACt 1982/83, the Distric and Village Development Committee Acts of 1992. All of these examined with reference to the proposed Forest Act 1993, still not formal law.

The Forestry ACt 1993 is a post-democracy law that is supposed to capture the spirit of democracy, pluralism and the valorizing of the public over the governement in development decision making. The preamble makes a committment to "hand over forests to the communities". The government has done preciousl little since such promises hve been made in serious legal documents since 1977/78. Over 60% of the national forest land is considered "potential" lands that can be handed over to the community, hardly 2% had been handed over till 1991. Though the news are full of bits and pieces of forest patches handed over to the locall community, the scale does not seem to add to much. What are the reasons for this. Once, all the probleme could be explained away as due to the Panche and there are still old bogeymen, like the foresters, who are the perennial reactioneries resisting development and empowerment. Kirk Talbott of WRI and Shantam Khadka of Leaders Nepal try to find some faults with inconssistencies in the legal frameworks.

One of the primary inconsistency is betweeen the nepal Constitution spelling out that the soveriegn rights of Nepal rest with the Nepali people, the proposed Forest Act 1993 seems to go directly against this spirit and letter by vesting residual rights of forests in the institutions fo the state. The Act still empowers the District Forest Officer, DFO, not the community, to delay and derecognize the functioning of the legal user community that is supposed to manage the forest that are handed over. Whether it is due to genuine faults of the user committee or due to natural faults such as draughts and fires, the community forests are not "sustainable and ecologically managed" the DFo can take back the land and worst there is no provision for challenging the technical decision of the forester. These so-called technical decisions are more often political and unscrupulous decison to to benefit the DFO personally or or the powers of the state or local elite with he is aligned and such technical decisions are not spelt to be challenged by foresters outside the government.

The second category of legal inconsistency is between the Decentralisatin Acts and the District and Village Development Committee Act 1992 which gives unchallengeable rights to the village to make decisions on resource allocations at the village and district levels by politcally elected representiaves. It has been proven during the pancha time that linking forest user committees to political institutions at the village just does not work. Often people active at such levels are people with surplus time, money, political social resources who do not depend on Forests so they just sit on the committee with a view to further their ends rather than the interests of the forest users who are a community unit smaller than the village deeloment committe level.

Whne the specific legal righrs of users committees are not defined, there are all sorts of rooms for conflicts as is already happening in many parts opf Nepal. In Dhanusha, I heard the user committee complaining that they had no legal rights to persecute neighbouring villagers who were stealing their forest products. In Terai where there has been high mobility of Nepalese whose rightrs shall we uphold, the rights of the Tharus who have been historically living in the forests and are the real user groups or the the hill recent migrants of Brahmin-Chettri groups who have displaced them. Again do we uphold the rights of landed farmers who use the forests or itinerant landless miggrant Nepalese who all need farmers. By promoting community, are we not discouragningh spontaneous cooperatives?

The Forest ACt 1993 purports to reach the poorest of the poor in partipatory forestry management but alll managment must be sanctioned by a written conttract called the "operational plan". In a country where 64% are literate, this provisition brings power squarely in the hands of the literate and powerful of the rural society, the rural elite , mostly the brahmins who have both the tradition of Sanskrit literacy and the social sanction to read and explain, whichbrings us back to Dor Bahadur Bista's diagnosis of the impediment to modernization in nepal.

While the analysis is interesting and timely, it points out to the tremendous push and pulls in politics that is going on in the design of the Forest ACt 1993. The Forest ACt 1993 had been anticipated ever since 1989 when the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector proposed to spen $ 1.7 billion over 21 years and the singly most expenditure was community forestry at 46.6%. Designed i the dying days of Panchayat the Master Plan was in line with Tropical Forestry Action Plan proposed by FAo to tap environmental dollars that was anticipated with the new found importance of forests as carbon sinks in the global climate change scare that said the oceans would rise with the melting of icecaps with icreased atmospheric temperatures. The new Government wanted to dump the master plan due to its Panchayat legacies but stayed quied after cosmetid exorcising of the word Panchayat from the document and endorsing as offical forest policy to attract foreign aid. The promised moeny has not been forthcoming and the grandiose plans are already being pruned. For instance, the Master plan envisaged a community forest springin in every noook and corner and merrily projected huge manfower neeeds for forest rangers and officers, a new college of forestry was justified. The capacity of the Institute of foresty was increased from 110 rangers a year to 220 rangers a year plus 30 forest officers ayear from 4-5 forest officers from Deherad dun. After over 15 million dollars of aid in forest manpower procution alone in 10 years, the government is waking up to tight screws from the world bank/imf structural adajust plan where the government is diagnosed to be bloated and hence need o f trimming/ Foresters hve been fired and there has been a hiring freeze for 3 years while the Institute of Forestry continues to churn out unwanted foresters.

It is rumoured in the forest circles that there is a great deal of power pullling going on between World Bank and Nepal ove rForest ACt 1993/94. The World Bank will not give a big loan and and willnot persuade other to do so unless Nepal endorses the rights of the local users to manage the forests without any fear that the state will not take it back. Old habits die hard and the Forest act piously recites principles to make the Bank happpy while surresptiously inserting clausing that allow the state to take back the forests and shoot people. Let us alll wathch and see.

Amulya Tuladhar Clark University USA

*************************************************************** Date: Sun, 21 Aug 1994 14:04:44 -0700 (PDT) From: BKHANAL@GONZAGA.EDU Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - Aug 18, 1994 (5 Bhadra 2051 BkSm) To: NEPAL@mp.cs.niu.edu

We all knpw how the traffic is in Nepal. I found an article by Allan McKellar that describes it very well. I hope that this article can be published for all the rest of the Nepali students to read.... Thanks.
        
        - Bhushan Khanal
         bkhanal@gonzaga.edu
         Po. Box 631 Whitworth College
         Spokane Wa. 99251
         (509) 468-9973.

                        Driving in Nepal.......

Travelling in Nepal is almost hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rendering, sometimeshilarious, most exhilarating, always unforgetable - and, when you are on the roads, extremely dangerous.

Most Nepali road users observe a version of highway code based on Sanskrit text. These 12 rules of Nepali road are published for the first tme in English.

Article I The assumption of immortality is required of all road users.

Article II Nepali traffic, like Nepali society, is structured on a strict caste system. The following precedence must be accorded at all times. In descending order, give way to: cows, elephants, heavy truck, buses, official cars, camels, light trucks, buffalo, jeeps, ox-carts, private cars, motorcycles, scooters, auto-rickshaws, pigs, dogs, pedal-rickshaws, goats, bicycles(goods-carrying), handcarts, bicycles(passenger-carrying), dogs, pedestrians.

Article III All wheeled vehickes shall be driven in accordance with the maxim: to slow is to falter, to brake is to fail, to stop is defeat. This is Nepali driver's mantra.

Article IV Use of horn (also known as the sonic fender or aural amulet): Cars(IV,1,a-c):Short blasts(urgent) indicate supremacy, ie in clearing dogs, rickshaw and pedestrians from path. Long blasts (desperate) denote supplication, ie to incoming truck, "I am going too fast to stop, so unless you slow down, we shall both die." In extreme cases this may be accompanied by flashing headlights (frantic). Single blast (casual) means "I have seen someone out of Nepal's 21 million whom I recognize", "There is a bird on the road (which at this speed could go through my window" or " I have not blown my horn for several minutes." Trucks and buses (IV,2,a): All horn signals have the same meaning, viz, "I have an all-up weight of approximately 12.5 tons and have no intention of stopping, even if I could." This signal may be emphasized by the use of headlamps(insouciant). Article IV remains subject to the provision of Order of Precedence in Article II above.

Article V All manoeuvres, use of horn and evasive actions shall be left until the last possible moment.

Article VI In the absence of seatbelts (which there is), car occupants shall wear garlands of marigolds, These should be kept fastened at all times.

Article VII Right of the way: Traffic entering from the left has the priority.So has traffic from the right, and also traffic in the middle. Lane discipline
(VII,1): All Nepali traffic at all times and irrespective of direction of travel shall occupy the center of the road.

Article VIII Roundabouts: Nepal has no roundabouts. Apparent traffic islands in the middle of crossroads have no traffic management function. Any other impression should be ignored.

Article IX Overtaking is mandatory. Every moving vehicle is required to overtake every other moving vehicle, irespective of whether it has just overtaken you. Overtaking should only be undertaken in suitable conditions, such as in the face of incoming traffic, on blind bends, at junctions and in the middle of villages/city centeres. No more than two inches should be allowed between your vehicle and the one you are passing - and one inch in case of bicycles or pedestrians.

Article X Nirvana may be achived through head-on crash.

Article XI Reversing: no longer applicable since no vehicle in Nepal has reverse gear.

Article XII The 10th incarnation of god was as an articulated tanker......

        Hope you enjoyed this.......

**************************************************************** From: mbhatta@sas.upenn.edu (Madhav Bhatta) Subject: Nepal: The Futureless Country -Dil Basnet To: NEPAL@mp.cs.niu.edu (Nepal Digest) Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 14:52:28 -0400 (EDT)
      Nepal Futureless country ?
       
>From the begining of our history, Nepal has been set back in every aspect
of physical development. One has to accept that there had been lots of development in our culture, arts & architecture. The holy sites of Budha's to Sita 's birthplaces all lie in Nepal. They were the sources of peace & prosperity for the whole world. We still have our strongly developed & preserved culture. We are proud of our culture. That is why we have strong family values. We can find contrast between the ancient Nepal & present Nepal. Of course the whole world has been changing, so is Nepal. However our country could not be developed physically.

Only few parts of our country are accessible . Rest of the country is still behind as it was 200 years ago. The government never reached to those part of Nepal. Whatever the foreign aid the government got had been used only in few part of the country. The rural areas of Nepal lack the basic needs of life. People who live there are still in stone age. Most of them haven't seen even a bicycle, whereas other Nepalis are using Disc-satellite antenna to watch T.V. in city areas like Kathmandu. Only for a hand full of people schools & the institutions of higher educations are accessible. There are no schools in rural villages. There are no health posts or health care centres. 99% of the people live below the poverty line, that is in the Internatonal standard. Eonomically, Nepal lies in the fourth World, not even Third World. Now the question rises who is responsible for this? The Ranas, the Shahs, the Panches, Koirala government or the people? The day to day life of public has been ruined by the protests and street violence initiated by the different political parties. The inflation is sky-rocketing. How long can our country survive in such a state? Now it is time for all the Nepalis of different walks of life to think about the bleak ( not that it is any good now) and grave future. It doesn't matter where we live, inside or outside the country. All of us will be affected if we cannot bring change in our country. If this situation goes on there is a likely possibility of civil war in our country. As a result one day we will be watching our country in CNN like Rawanda and Somalia. At that time we will be too late. Therefore, I request all of my Nepali friends to think and do something for our country. For this mission a single individual cannot do much but we can make a difference if all of us are united. There are many intellectuals and concerned Nepalis living in Nepal and abroad. If all of us are united in a network to bring change in Nepal we certainly can make difference. But if we bicker and fight among ourselves like the politicians and leaders back home in Nepal for our personal agendas then we are doomed. Finally,I urge and request all of Nepalis living in Nepal and abroad send the reaction and opinion regarding this issue. I hope everybody will contribute for their motherland.

-Dil Basnet
 Alliance for Nepal

************************************************************************* Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 18:42:07 -0400 From: rajendra@coos.dartmouth.edu (Rajendra P. Shrestha) To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Sanskrit Controversy in Nepal

SOURCE: DPA

HEADLINE: Controversy rages over teaching Sanskrit in Nepal

BYLINE: By Shyam Bahadur

DATELINE: Kathmandu, Aug 20

 BODY:
    A recent government decision to make Sanskirt, the ancient and virtually dead language, compulsory in schools threatens to aggravate ethnic tension in Nepal.
                                                                                
    At least three ethnic organisations recently submitted a memorandum to Prime Minster Girija Prasad Koirala urging him to withdraw the decision.

    They said the decision went against the spirit of the Nepalese constitution - and in any case would serve no useful purpose.

    Opposition to Sanskrit classes is snowballing, with political parties joining the opposition.

    Ironically many leaders of ruling and opposition political parties had initially backed the proposal to introduce Sanskrit as a compulsory subject in schools back in 1991.

    Advocates of the language say Sanskrit is the root of the Nepali language - the official language of the Kingdom and listed as mother tongue by over 53 per cent of the country's population of 19 million.

    They managed to muster signatures of more than 60 per cent of the members of the now dissolved Lower House of parliament to back as compulsory Sanskrit in schools.

    Sanskrit belongs to the Indo-European group of languages and is viewed as the root of many languages of the South Asian subcontinent including Hindi, India's official language.

    Sanskrit was compulsory in schools until two decades ago when authorities deemed it served no useful purpose and merely a burden which strudents had to bear.

    The subject was taken out of the school curriculum soon after the introduction in 1972 of what was then described as "vocational" and
"realism"-oriented education stressing the dignity of labour.

    Arun Khadka, a 15-year-old class ten student who will not be affected by the government decision, said: "It is like asking students in England compulsorily to study Latin, as their official language is English. There is no justification for making Sanskrit compulsory in Nepal".

      Nepal, though small, has a wide spectrum of ethnic groups speaking a wide variety of languages and dialects including those that owe their origin to the Tibeto-Burmese language.
                                                                                
    Various ethnic groups in Nepal have vehemently opposed compulsory Sanskrit. They apparently feel that high caste Brahmins who occupy positions of power in democratic Nepal are imposing their will, and that their own languages, dialects and culture are threatened.

    Under the new government regulations, Sanskrit is compulsory in all government-financed lower secondary schools. The decision has affected those studying in classes four to seven.

    It means some 3.5 million children studying in primary and lower secondary schools has been affected. About 500,000 who go to higher secondary schools would be exempted.

    The government decision had followed extensive debates and long preparations. Now, with only a caretaker government in power, any further decision will have to await the outcome of the November 13 elections - and even then it will be years before the decision can be reversed. dpa sc zm

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