The Nepal Digest - August 18, 1995 (4 Bhadra 2052 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Friday 18 August 95: Bhadra 4 2052 BkSm Volume 41 Issue 6

 * TND Board of Staff *
 * ------------------ *
 * Editor/Co-ordinator: Rajpal J. Singh *
 * TND Archives: Sohan Panta *
 * SCN Correspondent: Rajesh B. Shrestha *
 * *
 * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
 * *
 * "If you don't stand up for something, you will fall for anything" -Dr. MLK *
 * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" - Sirdar Khalifa *
 * *

********************************************************************** From: Ranjan Koirala <> Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - August 11, 1995 (27 Shrawan 2052 BkSm)News Subscribtion To: Date: Mon, 14 Aug 1995 16:07:22 +1000 (EST)

Dear Editor,
        Thank you for your efforts and contribution in running a Nepalese type computer magazine, TND to the Nepalese living away from their motherland. Some of my friends and relatives are interested to get this digest regularly so will you please put the address given below as a permanent subscriber of TND.
        Thank You for your time and consideration. Yours Ranjan Koirala

************************************************************ Subject: Congratulations to Dr. Hari Koirala To: Date: Sun, 13 Aug 1995 23:21:23 -0700 (PDT) From:

The Vancouver ( saanotino) Nepali Community gathered yesterday Aug. 12, to celebrate Hari Daai's succussful completion of his Ph.D. ( Education/math) from University of British Columbia. We also bid farewell to Hari Daai, Sita Bhaauju, and their two daughters. After four years in Vancouver, the family leaves next week to pursue a bright future in Connecticut. We will miss them, and wish them all the best.

The gathering was blessed by the presence of Dhruba Bhakta Mathema, a prominent Nepali elder, who is visiting his daughter and her famaly
 ( they live in Vancouver).

Despite the political uncertainly back home, everyone was in high spirit. The blue skies ( after a week of rain), the grandeur of the mountain view, and the ocean-side setting of the UBC location may have contributed to the happy mood. The Food ( Yummy!) definitely had something to do with it as well. There was of course the
 "chhoto mitho tar Bhabuk banaaune khaalko" mantabya by Hari Daai
 & Sita Bhaauju; followed by the cutting of the delicious CAKE prepared by Ishwari ( Mathema) didi.

After the Bhoj - Bhater, our own Rodi Ghar maestro Som Pun took over the floor with, " Suntalaa Paani, Suntalaa Paani... sss," prompting everyone dancing Laibari bhaakaamaa. The Party was brought to an end with the singing of,
        Bidaa hune bhai gayo belaa
        Feri bheta holaa ki naholaa...

        E ho ki hoina, ho ho
        Hoina bhanne ko ho (!)

The party was put together by Jasmin and Anil Tuladhar. A special THANKS to both.

Namaste abi sharma

************************************************************** Date: Sat, 12 Aug 1995 16:16:45 EDT From: tilak@UFCC.UFL.EDU To: Subject: Religion

     The Koan - 'The Battle of the Left and the Right Hand'.
     Tilak B. Shrestha, University of Florida, Summer 1995.

     (Part II of IV parts series. The part I was published in
      the August 7, 1995 issue of the Nepal Digest. Comments
      are welcome.)

     A Hindu, never claims to know all the truth, or expresses that his or her religion is the only correct religion. A Hindu, like a scientist, rather admits the limitation of his or her background or upbringing and present living environment, and does as best as he or she can do to improve his or her spirituality, with the help of countless spiritual masters who has left their teachings behind. That is why, if you ask ten Hindus to define Hinduism, you will get twenty different answers.

     To consider Hinduism only as rituals and casteism is, as Buddha might have put, ignorance. They are some of the negative aspects of Brahmanism, not Hinduism at large. Brahmanism has its own relevancy, imperative and usefulness. However, unfortunately it also has developed a few strands of objectionable practices through the ages. If told, the saga of exploitation of poor and ignorant by learned and powerful, the evolution of casteism, degeneration into ritualism, Brahmanic adulteration of scriptures, will never end. Those kind of corruptions, like bad apples, need to be discarded. However, we cannot condemn all the apples. Like in any society, there are many problems in the Hindu society. However, they are social problems, not religious. I can imagine a mad scientist, but not a mad science. The answer lies in the moral and intellectual discipline, not in politics.

     Sanatana :
     The notion that Buddhism is different from Hinduism has come due to the misunderstanding of the nature of 'Sanatana' or inquiry into the universal truth. The difference is the approaches taken by different sects, not the truth per se. After all truth remains the same, though it may be approached or understood from different perspectives.

     The eternal truth cannot be understood by us, not because it is mysterious, but because our human faculties like the physical body and the intelligence are limited. Thus, like the fable of an elephant and blind men, we may be able to perceive only partial truth. This is expressed in Sanskrit as 'Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti - Truth is one, sages call it by different names'. Sanatana or inquiry of the eternal truth can be done with the available human tools only.

     The classical Hindu spiritual masters point out those tools, in order of preference, as - a. Physical observation, b. Logic, c. Simile, and d. Revelations. The truth as understood due to the direct physical observations gets the first preference. Next, in order of preference, is the truths which, though cannot be directly observed, can be logically deductible. Next, would be the use of simile. For example, if we like to know the number of teeth of a live lion, we may count that of a cat instead and make inference. The last source of truth is the so called
'revelations', which needs to be taken with a grain of faith or a grain of salt, as you prefer.

     The order of preference pertains to the validity of the truth. We might argue that the validity becomes less credible and more difference in opinion precipitates as we base our inquiry in the later tools. However, if we base our inquiry only within the observable phenomena, then the scope of inquiry will be limited, though arguments will have stronger credibility. This is how a spectrum of sects or metaphysical views have developed in the Hinduism.

     Materialist like Carvak bases their world view strictly according to the observable phenomena only. Strictly speaking, they cannot be called atheist, because they do not say that God does not exist. Rather they will argue that there is no physical proof of existence of God. Empiricists like Buddhists and Jains base their world view strictly according to the observable phenomena and logically deductible concepts, but not on revelation or faith. Typically, Carvak would argue that there is not enough physical evidence to prove the theory of Karma. Where as Buddhist would argue that the law of Karma is empirically provable, however it needs higher perspective than that of Carvak's. Vaishnav or Shaiva would consider the law of Karma as a revealed truth. Similarly, Carvak would consider Newton's law
'every action has equal and opposite reaction' as an observable truth, but not the Karmic law. Whereas, others would consider the Newton's law as the physical subset of the universal Karmic law. The dwaita philosophers like Vaishnavs would add on the article of faith that God exists. They may also talk about their faith that God reincarnates into the human history frequently in different forms and personality according to the human need or divine will. Thus, they will emphasize on relation with God in personal way, through love and prayer. Where as Adwaita philosophers like Shaivs will add on their faith that there exist eternal truth which they call, at the lack of better word, the big one (Brahma). They would argue that all the cosmos, including human being, is simply a transient manifestation of the Brahma. A dwaita-adwaita philosopher may argue that the Brahma does manifest as personified God. Thus, the arguments and metaphysical views continues, till the cows come home.

     The Gnan yoga observes that each of these views contains partial truth but not the whole truth. Thus, a student is advised not to attach himself or herself to a particular view but to learn all of them and later to go forward on his or her own strength. The point here is that Hinduism consists of a spectrum of many interconnected world views including that of Buddhism.

     Buddhism :
     Buddhism need to be understood, not as a faith, but as the rational approach to the truth and according to the priority it assigns. Buddhist approach of truth is strictly empirical, or based on the knowledge, symbolized by Gnan Chachhu or Eye of knowledge. Buddhism's priority is the practical way of lessening the suffering. Other issues, like Buddhahood (Arhat) or metaphysical views are only secondary. Majjhima Nikaya Sutta states - "If a man is struck by an arrow, then as the first order of business the arrow should be pulled out and the wound should be treated. It would not help to insist to know what caste the person belongs to, or what kind of arrow it is, or how tall the man is etc., before pulling the arrow out. Similarly, it is not on the view that the world is eternal, that it is finite, that body and soul are distinct, or that the Buddha exists after death a religious life depends. Whether these or their opposites are held, there is still rebirth, there is old age, there is death, and grief, lamentation, suffering, sorrow, and despair. I have not spoken about these views because they do not conduce to absence of passion, tranquillity, and Nirvana. And what have I explained ? I have explained suffering, the causes of suffering, the destruction of suffering, and the path that leads to the destruction of suffering. For they are useful in life. Therefore, my disciples, consider as unexplained what I have not explained, and consider as explained what I have explained."

     The concepts like Karma, Incarnation, Raj yoga's techniques of meditation, Gnan yoga's technic of inquiry into universal truth etc., which are also the staples of Buddhism existed long before Buddha was born. However, the difference is that Buddha recognized them through empirical means, not as revelation out of Veda. Buddha insists 'Ye be lamp onto your self'. That is why he is correctly called 'Nastik', that his teachings do not depend upon 'Veda' or other scriptures. 'Nastik' does not mean atheist. It simply means teachings independent of Vedic scriptures, as opposed to 'Aastik', which means teachings dependent upon 'Vedic scriptures'. For example, Krishna considers 'Gita' as milk out of scriptural cow. Otherwise, the truth is the same. Buddha himself had many teachers, who were trained in then prevalent schools of Hinduism.

     The greatness of Buddha is that he is able to bring many of the truths, which were considered purely a matter of faith and revelation, within the realm of rational deduction. That is why initially many Brahmans opposed him, and once they understood the importance of the Buddhist approach they recognized him as an incarnation. His way of knowledge was indeed the ignorance shattering. Such height of spiritual innovation is not achieved easily. However, there are other instances also. For example, Krishna's Karma Yoga brings the possibility of Nirvana within the grasp of ordinary people or Grihastha, instead of being only for professional ascetics.

     If Hinduism is considered strictly Vedic teachings only then Buddhism, south Indian Shaivism (whose Agamas are independent of Veda) etc. are not Hinduism. Exclusive Vedic teachings and attendant culture may be termed 'Brahmanism'. If, Hinduism is considered as truth in general, then not only Buddhism, but Confucianism, Taoism, physics, mathematics etc. are also different approaches to the same eternal truth. As I said before both 'Hindu' and 'Hinduism' are adopted alien terms. On one hand, Sanatana is not limited within any book, geography or history; though certain book might illuminate certain aspect of it. On the other hand, if every so called concept of Hinduism is purged out of Buddhism, then left over will truly be the heaven of Sunyabad
(pardon my pun). Einstein would not have incarnated without the background of Galileo, Newton, Planck, Fitzgerald, Lorentz and countless other physicist.

     Any Buddhist doctrine needs to be understood in terms of the Buddhist approach and the context, not taken as an article of faith. Unfortunately, some of the Buddhist doctrines like that of
'Anahata - no soul' some times has been mistakenly considered as a Buddhist faith. As I mentioned before, Buddha neither cares about metaphysical views, nor builds his thesis on faith. Just for the argument sake, consider the fact that Buddhism recognizes the karma and reincarnation. Then question may be asked what connects the one life from the next and keeps the karmic action intact. In Buddha's time the vulgar concept of 'Atma - soul' was the 'Suchsma shareer - microbody', which in English may be termed
'Ego-substance'. As if there is a small etherial or astral body within the larger physical body, kind of trapped inside. This suchsma shareer is supposed to carry the memory and physical attributes of the given life like a seed of a plant. At the death this suchsma sareer escapes out of the physical body and jumps into a new body or goes to heaven, carrying the karmic bundle and the subdued form of memory and attributes from the past life. This is similar to the christian concept of soul, which after death retains all the attributes and memory of the life. According to christianity, when resurrection occurs all the souls will come back alive in their previous forms, even the families would come back and live as before, though in happier state. This egocentric concept of Atma is denied (Anahata) by Buddha. However, the classical Hindu concept of Atma also is not egocentric. Yogavashista states (52.44) - "In reality, there is no such thing as the ego-soul, nor is there any mine and thine, nor imagination. All this is nothing but the manifestation of the universal soul which is the light of pure intelligence." According to classical Hinduism Atma is divine, attributeless, eternal, and is not subject to karmic law.
(Message inbox:157)
 -- using template mhl.format -- Date: Mon, 14 Aug 1995 09:11:00 EDT To:

From: DGURUNG@CLEMSON.EDU Subject: Chinese Pressure on Nepal's Tibetans Deportation

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Crosslisted from WTN

Chinese Step Up Pressure on Nepal Deportations (TIN) Tibet Information Network 12 August, 1995

The Chinese Government has asked the Nepalese authorities to step up their restrictions on Tibetan refugees in Nepal. The Chinese are reported to be increasing security on the Tibetan border to stop refugees fleeing, and the Nepalese have responded by deporting most recent Tibetan refugees.

"The Chinese want Nepal to restrict undesirable activities of Tibetans in Nepal," said Ganesh Prasad Bhattarai, the Director General of Nepal's Department of Immigration, according to Reuters news agency on 7th August.

Mr Bhattarai was leading the Nepal side in three days of talks with a seven member Chinese delegation led by General Zhang Guogang, Director-General of the Chinese Border Security Department, visiting Kathmandu to discuss "border security and other matters of mutual interest". Mr Bhattarai's involvement suggests that the talks focussed on immigration issues.

In the last two weeks the Chinese are reported by unofficial sources to have moved a border post or roving patrol to a posiiton high up the Nangpa-la, a 5,700 metre high pass in the Himalayas which most refugees use when they attempt to reach Nepal.

In the last month Nepali police have been deporting some refugees to the Nangpa-la, which until now has been unguarded, instead of escorting them to the main border town of Dram
[Nepali: Khasa, Chinese: Zhangmu], 150 km south west by road. Since April over 200 Tibetans have been forcefully repatriated by Nepalese officials via Dram.

- Tibetan Preferred Death to Repatriation, says Tourist -

Forced deportations have also been taking place in the far west of Nepal, and in early July Chinese security officials in Burang, western Tibet, wrote to their Nepali counterparts thanking them for their co-operation in repatriating a group of Tibetan refugees. The asylum seekers were described as "people who disturb the border business", according to a tourist who was shown the letter.

In one incident last month witnessed by western tourists a Tibetan refugee asked a doctor to help him commit suicide rather than face deportation to Chinese border guards.

The Tibetan was amongst a group of 11 refugees who were being marched under armed escort through Humla, in the far west of Nepal. On July 4th the deportation party encountered a group of Swiss tourists on a trek towards the Nepali-Tibetan border post at Yari, through which western trekking groups are occasionally allowed to travel on their way to Kailash, a famous mountain and pilgrimage site in Western Tibet.

The 11 Tibetans had escaped from Tibet in June but had been detained by Nepalese police at Basra, in Darchula district, 100 km south-west of the TIbet border post, and had been marching back under escort for seven days before they met the Swiss group.

"They were guarded by 7 Nepalese policemen with rifles, walking all the way," said Bruno Baumann, a well-known photographer and mountaineer from Munich who was leading the group, which included a medical doctor. "The refugees were very weak and they asked if we had a doctor and if he could see them - one or two had very bad diarrhoea and could hardly walk. They were very thin and they didn't look very healthy at all," said Mr Baumann.

Most of the refugees, seven of whom were monks from Kham, an former area of eastern Tibet now known as western Sichuan, had been travelling for four months before they crossed into Nepal, following a circuitous route of about 2,000 km across central Tibet in order to avoid detection.

"On the second day one of the refugees asked the doctor to give hm an injection which would kill him, as he believed that he would be shot by the Chinese," said Mr Baumann, who named the refugee as Sonam Gyatso, a 26 year old from Ngari. "He also tried to practice something like passive resistance, refusing to walk further than Yari, the last settlement in western Nepal before the border", said Mr Baumann. The protest was unsuccessful, and the eleven refugees were handed over without incident to Chinese police on the Humla-Karnali bridge on 7th July.

The trekking group asked the Nepalese officer if he would release the refugees in the no-man's land between the two border posts - a practice which some Nepali guards have followed in some areas to give deportees a chance to escape - but a small squad of Chinese troops with automatic weapons had already been informed of the deportations and had travelled to the border below the Nara-la, 4,500 metres high, to collect them.

"We tried to think about what could we do, and in the end we took photos and tried to record details of their biographies," said the tourists.

The deportees were escorted by the Chinese squad to the road-head a kilometre inside Chinese territory, where they were loaded onto a truck. "This was when we saw the refugees for the last time," said Mr Baumann. "A monk signalled to me to come to him in the truck, and then gave me a badge with his identification from his monastery. To my friend he passed all the religious texts that he had hidden under his clothes," he added.

"They were too weak to resist, and they were much too weak to try to escape," said Mrs Brandenberg, another member of the Swiss trekking group. "They looked very sad, very hopeless," she commented.

The Nepalese policemen were also driven to Burang, the local military and administrative centre 25 km from the border, and returned the next day. "We were told that they are paid 1,000 yuan
(about $200) each by the Chinese, and that as a reward the policemen are also offered a trip to Lake Manasarovar", said one of the trekking group. The sacred lake, 80 kms beyond Burang, is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus as well as for Buddhists.

- Earlier Repotts of Beatings and Imprisonment -

There are no accountsu of returned Tibetan deportees being killed by Chinese police and the refugees' fears that they would be shot are exaggerated. Imprisonment of two months or more and beatings are, however, frequent in such cases. Semi-official sources in Burang say that the 11 refugees deported on 7th July were handed over by the Chinese border guards to the Army Headquarters in Burang, where they were beaten by soldiers before being transported to Lhasa the following day.

In Lhasa they are likely to remain for some months in prison, according to a Tibetan who tried to escape to Nepal in November 1994 but only succeeded this month on his second attempn. "The Chinese arrested 13 of us in Dram, and we were detaoned and questioned there for seven days," said Dudul Dorje, a 46 year old nomad fromr Jyekundo in eastern Tibet, adding that they had been bhaten with electric batons by border police in Dram.

The nrisoners were then sent to Lhasa, where they were imprisoned for up to four months, d ring which they were questioned every day, mainly about their reasons for trying to le ve Tibet. "We were accused of being splittists and being followers of the Dalai clique," said Dudul Dorje, who says he was questioned up to three times a day, given electric shocks and beaten. The prisoners were released when the authorities finally accepted that their motive for leaving had been only to see the Dalai Lama.

Information about the treatment of deportees or escapees by the Chinese authorities is rare, since only a few manage to escape again. Some are released after only a few days, but others are sent on to larger prisons in Shigatse or Lhasa.

Those who have re-escaped allege that they were ill-treated by guards at the border town of Dram. Three youths from Damshung in Northern Tibet, caught trying to cross the border at Dram in March 1994, say they were detained and tortured in the prison there. "As soon as the interrogation started I was given electric shocks in my face and chest," said Nyima, who was then 19 yeas old. "The interrogator kicked me in my kidneys and I could hardly breathe for a while. They beat me in my face with their fists and interrogated me for a few hours." The three, who say that they were also made to stand barefoot in the snow as a punishment, later escaped from the prison after 10 days in custody and walked across the mountains to Nepal.

A Tibetan monk from Tashigompa, near Labrang in Gansu says that shots were fired at him by border guards when he and a group of refugees tried to cross into Nepal from south-east Tibet in May 1993. None of the escapees were hit, but after being handed over by Nepali guards to the Chinese, the men were sentenced by a military court to 2 months and 2 days imprisonment, which they served in a military prison in Lhasa. They were beaten or given electric shocks twice daily for the first five days, according to the former prisoner, who asked not to be named.

Nepalese police have opened fire on Tibetan refugees several times during attemtpts to detain or deport them, killing at least two. In January 1992 a 22 year old student from Lhasa was shot in the back and killed when he tried to run away from Nepali guards deporting him. In June 1993 a 20 year old monk from Lithang was shot dead and seven other refugees were injured when they tried to run away from Nepali police. In August 1994 a refugee had to have his leg amputated after being shot by a Nepali policeman.

Last month Nepali police opened fire on a Tibetan student who tried to escape while being escorted back to the border in Solo Khumbu, in eastern Nepal. The bullets missed him but he was severely beaten by police, according to an informed source in Nepal.

[Note: names of deportees available from TIN]

Names of Tibetans Deported from Humla, Western Nepal, 7th July 1995:

Gompo Gyaltsen, 45 years, monk from Miwa monastery, in Hongyuan county, Ngaba prefecture, Sichuan Choeku, 26 years Tsedrup, 25 years Rigpa, 24 years Gyathar, 44 years Oegyal, 25 years Wajar
[ba-cor?], 25 years
 (all monks at Garthang [mgar thang] monastery in Kham Minyak,
 Ganze Prefecture, Sichuan) Urgyen Nyima, 20 years, layman from Amdo Dondrup, 32 years, layman from Amdo Dorje, 19 years, layman from Amdo Sonam Gyatso, 26 years, layman from Ngari

Names of Tibetans arrested in Dram during escape attempt November 1994, imprisoned for up to 4 months in Lhasa:

Nyima Tashi (from Dzado in Kham, c. 20 years) Karma (Chamdo, c. 20 years) Thupten (Nagchen, c. 18 years) Topgyal (Dzado, 26 years)
 Karma Gyurme (monk from Nagchu, c. 30 years) Urgyen Topgyal
(Nagchu, 22 years) Sonam Gyurme (Derge, c. 26 years) Sangye Nyima
(Chamdo, c. 26 years) Sonam (Lhasa, c. 30 years) Thupten Gyurme
(Lhasa, c. 26 years) Tashi (Nagchu, c. 31 years) Konchog (monk from Drayap, age not known),


*********************************************************************************************** Date: Tue, 15 Aug 1995 01:08:56 EDT To: The Nepal digest Editor <> From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <> Subject: Two Cheers and a tear for Communalism

Dear Editor,

        In the recent issues of TND, some readers have lamented the lapse of TND debates into communalism. I feel like investing this unpopular beast. What after all is communalism? Although any -ism tends to make its followers one-track thinkers, communalism may not necessarily do so in every case. Racism and, its extreme form, Nazism are the most extreme form of harmful communalism because in these forms the more powerful dehumanize the less powerful, discriminate against them, put the less powerful down and keep them down as long as possible. But the positive form of communalism takes places when the deprived and dispossessed raise their voice and critique the more powerful, in academic parlance, the dominant, and demand equal rights.
        Of course, there are mainstream parties that can address these communal issues, absorb them, and change them from ethnic concern to, let's say, class-oriented, human-oriented concerns. Liberalism and its political front democracy to some extent addressed these concerns in many countries. American affirmative action and the Civil Rights movement could be taken as one example; the reservation of assembly seats for the untouchables and the tribals in India could be taken as another example of good communalism. In this kind of communalism, social inequality is analyzed in its historical context and action is taken to redress the mistakes made in the past.
        Now, more to the point, is Nepal's UML party is going stray when it addresses communal problems? I would say, not at all. One of the shortcomings of traditional Marxism has been that it reduced a human as only an economic animal, but a human is a cultural animal, too. That's why, in many parts of the world, Communism contained communal forces, but couldn't resolve them, and as soon as communism disappeared, communalism rose like a uncontrollable monster to devour all vestiges of civility and human values.
        These days, after the collapse of the Soviet System and the general failure of Marxism in producing wealth, Marxists have tried to broaden the sphere of oppression and dispossession in various forms and understand the myriad ways in which economic inequality can overtime occur.
        All form of governments in the world have been communal governments under democracy. Democracy can succeed only when it becomes communal, takes into account the interests of all communities, not just impose one sets of values as the so-called national value. Neslson Mendela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi all were communalists in its best sense. On the other hand, Hitler and his past and present cohorts are communalists in its worst sense.
        I don't think we need to be afraid in Nepal of the rise of healthy communalism, for if we don't timely recognize this positive communalism, it's going to take a twisted form and refuse to reconcile to the common norms. Shri Lanka, Northern Ireland, and Bosnia are but only a few example among many lesser ones.
        Before we dismiss the concerns raised about the discrimination against people based on their language, facial profile, religion as communal therefore taboo, we need to examine the nature of communalism and see if there is any validity in the concerns raised, and if there is validity, then is it possible to address those concerns within traditinal paradigms? Or, do we need to formulate a new paradigm to resolve the communal concerns. For by just dismissing certain concerns, we are not going to get rid of those concerns in a democracy.
        I, therefore, think that UML, by following a structured policy about communalism, is doing the right job, courageously tackling the demon. The Panchayat system also was communal, at least in the form of tokenism, and the Congress party's haphazard, mouth-sweetening communalism is well-known. The distribution of tickets in all election in a democracy has so far occurred based mainly on communalism. So in stead of getting scared, I feel that we should embrace communalism, which, among other things, would mean respecting another person's culture, language, religion, dress, rights. This kind of communalism strives to bestow human dignity to every human.
***********************************************************8 Date: Tue, 15 Aug 1995 18:51:06 -0000 To: From: Subject: Re: Nepal's Music and Dance Performance

Internationally known music and dance group Sur Sudha will be performing at the Pacific Asia Museum on Saturday, August 19 to celebrate the 9th anniversary
  of the Himalayan Arts Council, founded by Deepak Shimkhada. The program begins
  at 6:00 PM with a pot-luck dinner in the courtyard of the Pacific Asia Musuem, located at 46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena. Admission is $8 for HAC members, and $10 for non-members. The money collected will go to pay for transportation of the artists. The HAC will host a reception before and after the show. To reserve your seat and for more information and/or directions, call Liz Corey at the Museum (818-449-2742, ext. 14).

If you don't wish to participate in the pot-luck dinner, you may simply come for the show at 7:30 PM.

********************************************************************** Date: Wed, 16 Aug 1995 07:25:35 EDT To: The Nepal digest Editor <> From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <> Subject: The Dancing Girl and Her Religion

Dear Editor,

        Did you read in the current issue of India Today about Manisha Koirala's security guards? Yup, these days she goes around escorted by her security guards, for she has been threatened by Hindu extremists for playing the role of a Muslim girl in the recent so-so Bombay film "Bombay."
        Now what can you say to that? It is not Manisha's wise advice to the Indian public about teenage sex (Manisha is reported to have told the Indian media that premarital relationship, even sex, is good for the girls) that has irked these zealots. No, it's not even the fact that she said such an outrageous thing even as a girl herself. It's her acting the role of a Muslim girl that seems to have threatened the existence of Hindu religion. What has Hinduism come down to? I thought it was a "sanatan" eternal dharma! It needs to be defended by such cowards
 and dimwits who threaten a young woman for playing a fictional role?
        These godforsaken zealots have not only forgotten all about the much vaunted spirituality ("tatwamasi," "neti neti,"), universalism
("basudhaiva kutumbakam"), tolerance ("satyameka bahudha badanti"), they have exposed their abysmal ignorance of Nepal's tradition of lack of historical animosity toward people of other faiths, let alone the iconoclastic, enlightened heritage of her family.
         No matter how serious and how many differences one might have with the political ideologies of the Congress Party, with B.P. and Girija Koirala, and with others in the family, one can't help but acknowledge the contribution of this perhaps one of the most enlightened and cultured families of Nepal. No hero worship here, let me tell you.
        Even a brief glance at B.P. Koirala's written works, even at the thin booklet called "B.P.ka Bicharharu" would convince anyone of the man's revolutionary temper in social matters. Of course, one can, if one wants to, go back to the imprisonment and death-in-prison of the Koirala patriarch, Krishana Prasad, and trace the political struggle and years of political sacrifice of the family for civil rights and liberties in Nepal. One doesn't have to be an admirer of the Congress Party or its political and economic values to see the contribution of this family to the cause of freedom and human rights in Nepal.
        But these ignoramuses have nothing to do with these values and ideals. They are so insecure and tied down to the filth of the moment that they take this artist as any other dancing girl, forgetting that this dancing girl is like no other, for she carries in her bearing, in her art and temper the ideals of humanity, the universalism of Hindu seers without their hypocrisy and close-mindedness, in deed, the ideas and values perhaps of her own grandfather, B.P. as found in his thin booklet.

        We must condemn such threat on this artist, not because she is a daughter of Nepal but because these zealots have already defamed Hinduism by their simplistic minds and cudgel-wielding hearts. Only by critically examining Hinduism from within can its ideals be saved; only by condemning and doing away with the abuses, the hypocrisies, the bigotry, and the rottenness from within can Hinduism be kept alive, not by writing facile, simple-minded essays and platitudes. Manisha Koirala and her kind could be the saviors of Hinduism whereas these zeolots the cause of its undoing.

Subject: Mourning for Nepal's Village People: The Tyranny of "-Ism" in Environm

Dear Editor,

    Arun III hydroelectric project now seems to have been quashed in the womb, and I feel like taking the banner of an anti-abortionist in this matter. Most of the arguments the opponents of Arun III have made against this project have so far failed to convince me. That this project was in the long run against the interest of Nepal; that the flora and fauna of the region would be destroyed; that the local peopl e would be displaced; that China would do something to the glacier from which the Arun descends; that India wouldn't buy electricity; that thousands of Indian skilled
 workers would stay during the construction of the project for years in Nepal affecting the economy, demographics, lifestyles, and so forth of Nepal; and that Nepali peopl e wouldn't be able to afford the cost of this expensive electricity are all uncon vincing arguments. They stem either from the condescending attitude of Western environmentalism and their native cohorts don't want to destroy what they see a s the pristine pastoral lifestyle of mountain women, who become old in their late tw enties from backbreaking labors, and men who very often flee their harsh terrain eithe r to the easy life of the Terai or to foreign countries as mercenary soldiers and me nial laborers. Or, they seems to stem from the exaggerated fears of the ultra natio nalists within Nepal, whose comfy, electrified middle class life in the city makes it e asy for them to draw easy conclusions for those who live in darkness in the villages. On the contrary, I have been convinced all through that the gains from Arun III, done right, far outweigh the hazards, and the project represents the one once-in-a-lifetime
 shot in the arm of Nepal's ailing economy and the economic misery of majority of its pe ople. It's unfortunate that the World Bank and other major donor countries have decid ed to withdraw their support from Arun III project in the face of unrelenting opposit ion from these groups. It is definitely a day of mourning, not at all of celebrati on.
    On the forefront of this group of people who oppose such a huge project as Arun III are the environmentalists. It was indeed heartening to read many arti cles about the environmental degradation in Nepal. Particularly Prabigya Regmi's pi eces did much to enlighten me about the details of what has already happened in Nepa l. I also learned much in detail about the various regions all over Nepal, from the east to the west, which I had but scanty knowledge about. An educated rising middle cl ass myself, I had most of the time been concerned about what happened to Kathmandu; whether its people were breathing fresh air and drinking clean water; living in
 health and happiness. Or, if the horizon of my concern expanded at times, it included Biratnagar, my beloved district town, and most often when I met a person from Biratnagar, I asked, "Garmi kattiko chcha Biratnagar ma?" (How hot is it in Biratnagar?). And when I met a person in Biratnagar who had just come down fro m Kathmandu (most likely by a night bus), I asked, "Kathmandu maa jado kasto chch a?"
(How cold is it in Kathmandu?). In fact, if you ask me, I must confess that I don't know much about the people and places west of Palpa and Nawal Parasi, although, like most children of Nepali public schools, I memorized the fourteen zones of Nepal in this formulaic fashion "Jaseko Bhena Basma luka gamera dhau" (the first lett ers of all the fourteen zones) and chanted like a mantra "Nepal ko dhan Hario Ban." A nd the shameful thing is I have pretensions of being an informed, educated person.
  Why couldn't I know more about the people living in various parts of Nepal through visits and personal contact than a casual Westerner, who visits many more parts and me ets many more people from various parts? The question is complex. I don't know th e answer fully yet; I'm trying to figure out. But some of the articles written a bout Arun III definitely broadened my knowledge.
      Environmental activists have contributed much to the well-being of the mo st wonderful and vulnerable planet earth. From Al Gore's book "Earth in the Balan ce" to the Green Peace movement in France and all over, to the Green Party in Germa ny, to the "Chipko" movement started by Sundarlal Bahuguna in north-west India, to the vociferous scientists and activists in the Amazon region, most people and ideas concerned about the welfare of the earth have done good to restore in some meas ure earth's health. At least, they have drawn the attention of the law makers and many common people in the educated world. Although the ozone layer still remains, a t least according to the news paper reports, depleted and depleting, it is primarily be cause of the efforts of the environmental groups that the profit-motivated, value-free c apitalistic machine is doing what it is doing to lessen pollution and protect the environme nt. Instead of mere development, we now have "sustainable development."
     Any "-ism," however, can fall victim to the blindness of its one-track the ory. Communism failed because the Russian bureaucrats failed to take into account th e global reality of checkered world, failed to keep renewing more ideas and quest ioning the old ones that didn't work. Democracy has disappointed many because it very often fails to recognize the pitfalls of its unholy alliance with merciless cap italism; and capitalism has proven disappointing because it very often refuses to wear a hum an face and take into account the human factor in its running.
    Has environmentalism similarly failed, particularly in the context of what is still conveniently called the Third World? It seems so to me--at least partly. Environmentalism in the industrialized world is not the same as it could be in the poverty-stricken, infrastructure-lacking developing world. At this point in hi story, the industrialized world consumes (the data is well known) more energy, pollutes mo re, and in a highly sophisticated manner, and has done not enough to stem the deterioration of world environment. The ozone layer, for example, is not the r esult of burning bushes or lighting the clay oven with firewood or bonfire in the winter
 in places like Nepali villages; it is the result of manufacturing technology and c hemicals and letting technology consume the chemicals on the streets of the developed an d developing world for the luxury and convenience of the world's elite. My villa gers and the villagers of most parts of Nepal and other such countries have very lit tle to do with all this. Their women still light their oven with dry leaves and dung cak es and, if fortunate, firewood; the children of the fortunate few still in most cases f inish reading books before sunset and some read by the kerosene lamps (thank God I st ill don't wear reading glasses); they still cover the miles to their nearest towns either on foot or mules or bicycles; most of them still wear a single pair of cloth all t he year round; and their women wash their metal pots every morning with the ashes of th eir oven. The only commodities in most parts these people still need from the industrialized world are kerosene, salt, soap (soap has replaced a kind of dry fruit people used once to wash their hair, but Rajbanshi women still wash their bodie s and hair with "khalli," squeezed mustard seeds), pieces of iron used to make tools such as a spade or a plow blade or a knife, clothes, and for the well-to-do radios and watches.
    Now in Nepal, if Arun III had gone on to be a complete project, every villa ger could have had at least electricity. They may not have driven motor cars (alth ough that is also possible), but they wouldn't have to depend on the whims of the mo nsoon rains to water their rice paddies and wheat and corn fields; women in the hills wouldn't have to go down very often miles to fetch drinking water. In addition
 to making a villager's life a little bit easier to live, Arun III could have allev iated the poverty of Nepal's rural population by increasing agricultural productivity and educating its still large number of illiterate population. Like my village, ma ny villages these days, particularly in the Terai, have black and white 14" televi sion sets run by a car batteries. Village children, many of whom have never been to scho ol, come to watch television shows, but the darn thing runs out of its battery, and
 every two weeks or so someone has to take the car battery to be recharged ten or so m iles away. Electricity could have solved this problem, and helped people see a diff erent world. Watching television could be addictive in New York, but watching it in a remote village in Nepal could change a man or a woman's life for the better. B ut without Arun III, all these aspirations have stalled at least another several d ecades.
    Now the arguments. China would do something to the glacier, the source of the Arun river. If China does not object now when all these world agencies and Western countries are financing such a huge project, it wouldn't object in futu re as well. At least, here we have to take into account Nepal's historical relations hip with China and the stakes of the world powers in this matter. So to say that China would at some unspecified future time try to abort the Arun III project by draining t he glacier amounts to little more than unfruitful speculation. Arun III would def initely displace the local people, but that doesn't seem to be a world-shaking problem.
  We students of Nepal's demography and the migratory trends and its history should know that because of the harsh terrain Nepal's people have migrated for centuries to
 various places in the world, including Burma, Assam, and the north-eastern region of In dia. In the past fifty years, particularly since the eradication of malaria from the
 Terai region, the hills of Nepal have emptied into the plains, creating a serious pop ulation imbalance and deforestation. And it is widely known that those middle income a nd poor people who migrated to the forests of the Terai didn't have an easy life.
 In addition to facing the immense task of clearing the massive forest for a few bi ghas of land, they very often faced the guns and battens of the Panchayat regime and mercilessly evacuated from one settlement to another at the whims of the policy makers. So if adequate compensation is given to the people who face the risk o f displacement because of Arun III and safely resettled somewhere else, I don't t hink many people would object to that. On the contrary, they may very well welcome such a move.
    As for the flora and fauna, they would be destroyed anyway in the absence o f growing economy to feed the increasing population. I would argue that because the success of Arun III would have laid the infrastructure of Nepal's economy, not only the destroyed flora and fauna but even others which are in danger could have be en saved and rescued. American environmentalists know pretty well that at the tur n of the 19th century, most of the forest of the American South-East had been cut do wn for logging purposes. Much of the dense forest that exists now in this region has been replanted primarily the economy has been productive. And even in those regions where the American government is at loggers head with the timber industries, environmentalist efforts are paying dividends because there are still other sou rces that can sustain the people. The basic tenet of environmental safety is the presenc e of alternative sources of livelihood both in the developed and the developing worl ds.
    It is true that if the contract is given to the Indian companies, a large n umber of skilled Indians would stay for several years in the hills of Nepal, affecting t he local way of living, in many cases even destroying the balance of the economy. But t hat's the kind of hazards that accompany most development projects. As for these peo ple settling in Nepal, I don't think there is any danger. After all, the Mahendra National Highway was made for the most part by the Indians in the sixties. As a child, on picnic from school, I saw Sikhs working on the river, drilling huge pipes. I d on't think any of them stayed on in Nepal. Besides, what would the government of Ne pal do? Indian migration into Nepal for the most part has been from the neighborin g states, mainly of Bihar and Uttarpradesh, particularly semi-skilled workforce, such as vendors, barbers, jute washers, harvesters, and unemployed school teachers and so on. Those who are already well employed in India seldom come to Nepal to face gente el poverty. In fact, my observation is that those lecturers (M..A's. and M. Sc.'s
 in English and the sciences) who cross the border to teach at colleges on contract
 as soon as they get a job in India they rush back to their familiar, better paying surroundings.
  Yes, it would be difficult for the Nepali people to pay much higher rate for electricity. But if that's the case, that is, if the river is not conducive to
 producing cheap electricity, then it's not worth it. But my impression was that the Arun possessed large potential for cheap electricity. And by the time the project i s completed, it is the responsibility of the world development agencies to see to
 it that a suitable ground is laid down in Nepal so the electricity could be used for prod uctive purposes--to develop the hills, to increase industrialized farming of fruits an d nuts and so on. Sooner or later, Nepal has to stand on its own two feet, and for that i ts people would have to be educated on a massive scale about the possibilities of its development. Although I didn't like the unionizing of elementary school studen ts on partyline, I admired their song, "Mange ko roti le mero pet bharinna; diyeko dh oti le mero laaz chchopinna." (My hunger cannot be quenched by the doled out bread and my body cannot be covered by the charity cloth). The hard working, quick-study people of Nepal would have found ways, given the right means, to raise their in come level to pay for this electricity. Even now, a large portion of Nepal's annual
 budget depends on foreign aids; subsidizing the cost of electricity for a few years wo uldn't have been a very difficult task for the donor agencies.
    As I'm writing now, I feel lost in the maze of would-have-beens. I must sa y that this project would have brought about a massive transformation in the life style of Nepali people; they could have been better off. I'm all for it. I have no nos talgia for dark nights in which every evening when you sit down to read, the smoke of the lamp changes course and enters into your nostrils and irritates your eyes. Yes, I h ave no nostalgia for the back-breaking fruitless labor of Nepal's singing planters. I
 want all of them don pants and shirts like the environmentalists and other city dwellers
; I want all the fruitless traditional ways to go away to herald a new culture, a new wa y of life- more enlightened, more materially comfortable, richer and longer. I want ever y villager, living in the far off hills or the interior Terai, to have every comf ort of a city dweller. And for all this, Arun III was a must. Piecemeal projects would Nepa li's condition in bits and pieces; only a project like Arun III had a chance of over hauling the system.
    Therefore, let's mourn this day on behalf of the majority of the people in Nepal who still live in unelectrified, unpaved villages, because the abortion of Arun
 III may mean a victory for a few misguided activists but misery for many years to come for these people. I wonder how true were the cynics in Kathmandu who very often ca ll such vociferous Nepali environmentalists as having "Mangi khane bhando (extendi ng the begging bowl in the name of environmentalism)."

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