The Nepal Digest - December 17, 1997 (4 Poush 2054 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Tues Dec 17, 1997: Poush 4 2054BS: Year6 Volume69 Issue3
 

              SEASON'S GREETINGS! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Today's Topics:

        Prejudice IV: The Story of the Nepali Plains
        Armed Forces and the Constitutional Framework
        Green Tara Foundation
        Nepalese Activities in UK, Sagarmatha Times
        Volunteer Work
        Graduate study in pokhara
        Khoj Khabar

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 * TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
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 * The Nepal Digest: General Information tnd@nepal.org *
 * Chief Editor: Rajpal JP Singh a10rjs1@mp.cs.niu.edu *
 * (Open Position) *
 * Columnist: Pramod K. Mishra pkm@acpub.duke.edu *
 * Sports Correspondent: Avinaya Rana avinayar@touro.edu *
 * Co-ordinating Director - Australia Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * Dr. Krishna B. Hamal HamalK@dist.gov.au *
 * Co-ordinating Director - Canada Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * Anil Shrestha SHRESTHA@CROP.UOGUELPH.CA *
 * SCN Correspondent: Open Position *
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 * TND Foundation: http://www.nepal.org tnd@nepal.org *
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 * Rabi Tripathi, Prakash Bista tnd@nepal.org *
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 * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
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 * "Heros are the ones who give a bit of themselves to the community" *
 * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" -Sirdar_Khalifa *
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********************************************************* To: The Nepal Digest <nepal@cs.niu.edu> Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 06:05:23 +0530 Subject: These are topics. From: kantipur@juno.com (Himal Ghimire)

Reading Nima Puri's article published in The Nepal Digest (TND) of 4th December 1997, I could not stop myself from writing this response. before i proceed, i would like to tell you that this is not any kind of personal attack.

I totally agree with you that there are people who hate government and politics, but arn't there people who like it? You ask if we are running out of topic, but answer this question. arn't political and governmental issues a topic. I Look at TND as an electronic paper focused on the debatable issues regarding our country Nepal. I may be wrong, but if i am right i don't see any other topic that is more important than government and politics in our country. In the past 7 years there have been 2 general elections and six priministers. On top of that ministers have now started a system of changing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) evry time the government changes. Soon we might see a day when the Supereme Court judge and even the king will be changed along with the change in government. There are plenty of issues like these that arte going on in our country and you what poems and stories in this newspaper. i do agree that one a week or once a month is fime but how often do you want that.

I personally think that it is better if people like you, who are abroad start thinking about the political benifit and how to develope the country instead of expressing the desire to read poems and stories. Come on let's be realistic. let's think for a second -- arn't those Nepalese who are here supposed to be the future of Nepal?

Keep it up TND. this is all i have to say.

Himal Ghimire 8346 Willowdale Way Fair Oaks, CA 95628 Phone : (916) 967 - 7375 e-mail : kantipur@juno.com

********************************************************* Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 00:26:22 -0500 (EST) From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <pkm@acpub.duke.edu> To: The Nepal digest Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Prejudice IV: The Story of the Nepali Plains

Dear Editor,

        Ever since I gained awareness of my surroundings as a child in a Rajbanshi tribe in the hinterland of Morang, an eastern plains district in Nepal, I knew two things. One, that there was Desh somewhere in the south, where my mother and I couldn't go, and there was Morang in whose jungles we lived; and, two, that I was an abominable nothing, not a Deshwali Pannit like my father, who spent much time in his Desh; nor one of the hill men, a few among whom lived in scattered wooden houses in the clearings of the jungle as farmers and repaired to their hills at the onset of dust, heat, and malaria.

        It was only later I knew that I was not even a Rajbanshi, either, one of whose courtyards we lived in and whose language I spoke, and a few among whom had become my mother's mother, brothers, and uncle by faith and so mine as well. Nor was I like any other Deshi who set up
"kirana" stores or worked as fishermen, carpenters, barbers, and seasonal workers, such as planters, weeders, jute washers, and harvesters. A few literate among the petty traders had become our masters at what later became the village school named after the then Crown Prince of Nepal.

        When I walked through the village bazaar in my bow legs to go to or come from school, the women of these Deshi fishermen and carpenters pointed their accusing fingers at me and whispered and gestured among themselves about some unspeakable social affliction I was said to have been born with. For some unspeakable reason, I was considered unspeakably worse than everyone around me; the nature of my predicament such that it could only be whispered about and expressed in gestures.

        But Autumn Moon, the club-footed, knock-kneed boy, himself a laughing stock among the village children for his limp, openly called me names and made me mad. And because he was physically weaker than I, I very often kicked, pushed, and thrashed him for insulting me. My thrashing, however, had no long-term effect on his filthy mouth. But the precise nature of my affliction I didn't know at the time--neither did I have the courage nor the wherewithal to investigate it. As for knowing the "nothing" part of my being, there was nothing to know about nothing.

        I was just a grimy, snotty, bow-legged ugly little boy with no claim on anything--no language, no culture, no religion, no family, no house, nothing. I had already spent time by then as an untouchable urchin in the cell of a police station along side other adult criminals near Calcutta. So in this unspeakable vacuum of nothingness in the Nepali jungle, I became curious about others who had something and were somebody.

        Only much later, when I became a college teacher in Biratnagar, did I know that the Rajbanshis, the Dhimals, the Tharus, the Gangais, the Satars, the Khabas--the tribes in the Nepali plains--were not the only inhabitants of the Terai. Although I had met in later years a teacher or two among these non-tribal Madhesis at the village school whose alumnus I was, I didn't know them well. It was only in this college in Biratnagar that I knew the plains dwellers from mostly the Maithili-speaking districts of Saptari, Mohottari, Dhanusha, Siraha, and so on, who were derisively called Madise by the dominant hill dwellers.

        These college teachers were not the tribesmen. Far from it. They came from the same castes and languages as people from the other side of the border, people I had met and lived with in my college days on the banks of the Ganges. These people came from all castes and taught more than one subject. There were high castes and low; some taught the humanities and social sciences, some the sciences (Later I found out that at one time at Trichandra college, Kathmandu, different men with their last names as Jha taught Sanskrit, Newari, Nepali, English at the same time, and had there been Hindi and Maithili as subjects, I have no doubt that these would have been taught by other Jhas, as they did on the banks of the Ganges).

        The Brahmans among these were more fierce, more aware of their social and political status. These people felt caught in the web of Nepali politics of de facto discrimination against the inhabitants of the Terai. They resented being called Madise, definitely a pejorative term when pronounced with a twist of the tongue and bitterness, ethnic malice and hatred in one's mouth by a hill person. These plain dwellers preferred to call themselves Madhesi, as though the "h" instead of nothing and 'i" instead of "e" made hell of a lot of difference, changed their political and cultural status. Indeed, I, too, felt that the word
"Madise" carried in it a pejorative connotation, like nigger, kike, or faggot for certain groups in the United States, because it was used by the dominant people, the Nepali-speaking people of the hills, to hurt the Madhesis and look down upon them. These people from the hills, by virtue of their caste and language status and link with Kathmandu's power establishment, wielded unsaid political and cultural power--the country seemed to belong to them alone. Because "Madise" was a term given to the plain dwellers by those who discriminated against them and generally didn't like them, these Brahman Madhesi college teachers hated that term. They were the ones among the Terai people who resented their dominated position the most. So they clung to their caste status more fiercely and volubly.

        On the other side of the border, their position would be as respectable as the position of any dominant group in any culture; but in Nepal, they were lumped together with the rest of the plain dwellers--with the lower castes and tribes. They couldn't distinguish themselves and evince their comparable, no, even loftier lineage to others. Some of them were mad that they couldn't explain their superiority by virtue of their birth and marriage genealogies that dated back to the seventh century, a tradition begun to maintain caste purity and prevent contamination (it would be interesting to investigate the historical reasons for the origin of these family genealogies). At marriage time, since the seventh century, any member of the Brahman caste had to go to a registrar called Panjikar to see if the groom's both parents and the bride's both parents had impeccable blood, pure and unadulterated, in the caste. Only after the verification of purity down the lineage line could marriage be fixed and consummated.

        But these Madhesi Brahmans were hard put to explain the superiority of their blood and language to the Nepali-speaking folks, who knew no other kind of superiority but their own. Indeed, all the Madhesis were looked down upon, as though they didn't deserve treatment as respectable human beings. Culturally, this was more true in areas where the hill population outnumbered the Terai population, such as Biratnagar, but in western districts, where the ancient settlements of these Madhesis outnumbered the recent hill population, the old Birtawala and other hill folks had adopted the linguistic habits and dress codes of the respectable Madhesis. That's why, when you heard them speaking Nepali, their accent was like that of any Maithili-speaking Madhesi. In addition, they wore dhoti and kurta, and a "gamcha" lazily hung on their shoulders. Not only that, their teeth looked as black and rotten, their mouth as red and bulging as that of any paan-eating Madhesi gentleman of means. Nonetheless, politically, by virtue of their affiliation and identification with the dominant ideology of the Nepali state, they carried more political and cutural clout.

        Despite their cultural position as dominated people, they did get some positions of power in the Panchayati state, these high caste Madhesis--Bhumihar, Rajput, and Kayastha completing the high caste quatrain. A few among them became zonal commissioners, one or two ambassadors, one or two in the courts and the palace and the Panchayat cabinet. These were token appointments, and the appointees carefully guarded their position and status and followed the rituals of power and position with more than usual zeal. Because these Terai high caste people had their own traditions that emphasized education and power, they were educated, but instead of becoming power-wielding officials with a revolving chair and a mighty pen that wrote signature and turned the fates of men and society and their future, majority of these plain dwellers became teachers and technicians--health assistants, teachers from college down to primary schools, quite a few even doctors and engineers and overseers. But they could never become Royal Army officers, hardly any police officials, and few civil servants.

        But, truth be told, because of their caste consciousness and cultural affiliation across the borders in India, these Madhesis, too, like the hill folks against them, were deeply prejudiced against the hill folks, especially against those who were poor and came from non-high caste hill backgrounds. (But I must say that when they found the hill men mistreated on the south side of the border in the buses, trains, and on railway platforms, these Madhesis defended their countrymen from insult and assault). For example, they considered even the hill men of high castes relatively less civilized by virtue of the latter's long abode in the hills, where traces of civilization and sophistication--in matters of bath, toilet habits, cuisine, caste rigidity, tradition of music and literature--were few and far between. And because marriage system even among the hill high castes is a little flexible, because widows could traditionally remarry if they couldn't live as widows and had guts to find a man who could run away with them; and a married woman, if unhappy in her marriage, could elope with another man, their ways were considered not so sanctified--and so inferior. Furthermore, there is a tradition of becoming a hybrid caste for the progenies of permissible intercaste unions among the hill dwellers in Nepal. The more rigid and orthodox you could be, the more stubborn your belief system, the more superior your status among both hill and Madhesi castes. In a nutshell, you can say overall that these Madhesi high castes were more conservative in caste matters than the hill high castes, and they were immensely proud of it. And it's one of these Madhesi Brahmans who once told me, "I would rather be dead as a Brahman than live as any one else." And he was a PhD in English and a nice, soft-spoken man.

        Most of the lower caste Madhesis followed the examples of their high caste fellow Madhesis. They obeyed caste rules, followed the cultural mores of their castemen on either side of the border, carried an ambivalent attitude toward the Nepali state because of the rampant discrimination against them in social, political, and cultural matters. And because of the vast ocean called India lies on the south side of the border, they get a whiff of the dominant wind from the other side and become complacent and proud. Alas, only if they knew the treatment their fellow lower castes receive on the south side of the border--these proud ignorant fellow Madhesis!

        In the latter half of the eighties, when the Panchayat system seemed as firmly ensconced as the Himalayas, when one by one the university teachers, lured by gains and frustrated by delay in change, were being inducted into the corrupt and corrupting system, and when we lost the major executive positions even in the Nepal University Teachers' Association one year to the system, in the latter half of the eighties, in a casual conversation with us one of the leading and respected democrat intellectuals wondered while sitting on the grassy ground on the eastern side of Rani Pokhari in Kathmandu, "What has happened to our people in Nepal? Even our people in the Terai are doing nothing under such oppressive, despairing conditions. We know the volatility of people on the other side of the border when Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency and suspended the Indian constitution, but on our side the same people have lain docile and dead, no fire, no energy, nothing." Who could understand what he was saying better than I? In my college days I had known first-hand the agitation of the people on the other side of the border during the Emergency.

        The same evening, I went to the staff room and raised this question to my colleagues. One of them, a Tirhute Bahun whose ancestors had been brought to the Valley from the Mithila region in the times of the Malla kings, said, "Da Terai is dead. Dere's nothin happenin dere. Nobody knows dere how to pronounce a Sanskrit line anymore."

        Was the Terai dead? Was the Madhesi culture dead? Was the tradition established by the Maithili culture dead? Where have you gone Yajnaavalkya, Gargi, Maitreyi, Sita--the ancient Madises and Madesinis? Where have you gone Siddhartha the Madise? one felt like asking. Of course, one could ask only silent questions then.

        The culture of Mithila goes back to the times of the Vedas, in which the region is called Videha, because of King Janak of Janakpur, who, too, was called Videha, a saint in the garb of a householder, whose famous daughter, Sita (who is also called Vaidehi), became the heroine of Valmiki's "Ramayana." In the ninth century, on the other side of the border, the First Sankaracharya, in his sub-continental crusade to reestablish the dominance of Hinduism and wipe out Buddhism, had encountered a householder named Mandan in a little village. Shankar had heard about this simple villager's scholarship. With Mandan, Shankar debated for several days, at the end of which the formidable Shankar triumphed. But then a strange thing happened. The wife of the householder, privy all this time to the scholarly exchange from behind the door, came out and challenged the celibate Shankar into an intellectual duel. They went through the whole gamut of shastras, but Shankar remained unfazed. So Bharati, for that was her name, lured the celibate into the uncanny realm of sexology. Shankar was dumbstruck by the woman's discourse on human sexuality. Having known no woman other than his mother, he knew nothing about it. So he conceded defeat and vowed to return after having mastered the formidable "Kok Shastra." He had died young, and I'm not sure if he obtained the forebidden knowledge or died obtaining it.

        Just the other day here in North Carolina, while browsing through the CD's in a local CD store, I stumbled upon Vidyapati's name. The writing on the front cover of the CD was in French--"Chants d'amour de Vidyapati" (Love songs of Vidyapati) and the titles of the songs, too, were in French and German; it was produced by Radio France. For a moment, I couldn't believe my eyes! Then I thought, maybe Vidyapati's songs had been translated in French and rendered into melody. I asked the manager if I could listen to the CD just in case. He said, sure. So I listened. I was dumbfounded at the original songs, the same Maithili songs I had sung and read and had happily memorized like many a Bengali, Nepali, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Sanskrit, Hindi, Rajbanshi song and poem. Vidyapati had composed those songs in the 14th century in India, but also in Nepali Madhesh. And these songs warm the hearts of millions everywhere they were sung, far beyond the regions in which they had originated six centuries ago.

        For the first time perhaps anywhere, Vidyapati's songs had legitimized, from a woman's perspective, the rights of women to their sexuality and made women the subjects and agents in erotic acts and expressions rather than just objects of male gaze and lust. In one of his songs, not included in the CD, he makes a woman lament her unequal marriage to a child groom, "Piyaa mora baalak, hum taruni he, kaun tuup chukli bheli janani he . . . ." (My husband is a child but I'm a young woman. What virtue I didn't earn in my past life that I was born a woman." And I know for a fact that in the villages of Mithila, there's still a tradition of writing poems and lyrics, learning classical music, intricately painting the mud walls and courtyards, and pursuing knowledge for its own sake. So why is the culture of the Madhes dead?

        Now I think that maybe you need a palace, a kingdom of your own, or a clear acceptance and recognition of your rights and culture in order to be culturally and intellectually alive. If one doesn't have a palace, how can one leave it or not leave it--either way creating a sensation and feeling the weight of both leaving it or living in it? You need a rightful share in the political power and you need legitimacy of your culture--your language, dress, way of life, including paan- chewing--in order to awaken to selfhood, knowledge and excellence. But every little culture, every little language group cannot have a kingdom of its own in order to realize its full excellence; the world would be full of kingdoms and their wasteful kings. Nonetheless, in many parts of the world, war rages on in order to have a kingdom in the absence of honest legitimation to diverse cultures and languages within any political borders of nation-states.

        Or, more importantly, the caste system has proved to be the undoing of the Terai. The non-tribal Madhesis are too engrossed in their castes and clans to think of anything else as the arbiters of their sense of self and cultural capital. Maybe it's true that they have nothing more to offer than the rotten leaves of the Panjikars' family geneologies. Once you belong inflexibly to a caste, you receive a certain degree of ready recognition and respect, which is not going to go away. The deadened caste rituals of birth, initiation, marriage, and death replace the need to be in perpetual search for excellence in all human endeavors. The need to be perpetually alert gives way to the comfort of an unavoidable caste complacency. So the only risk you need be aware of and against which you need to build fortifications is the loss of your caste, like my Brahman colleague; and once that's secure, then the other thing you need do is look for a way to earn your living to feed yourself and your family and follow the rituals. And in an effort to earn a living, no matter what kind of crimes you commit and corruption indulge in, there's nothing to be ashamed of and worry about, because your ever-stable caste is your conscience-keeper and morale booster, always at your rescue from birth to death. As long as you have the security of caste, you have no need to worry about anything else, any fall. And when the insecurity and humiliation of political dispossession combine with the stifling security of caste identity, the result is a death-blow to all vitality and creativity in the culture. Survival of the body and maintenance of its purity become the only mantra worth chanting, sleep or awake.

        And in all this the Brahmanic ideology has been the one prime instrument of destruction and decay. If a culture or a language becomes the sacred preserve of one narrow group of people, stagnation and rot set in. The suffocating confines of religious codes create a stale pool of ideas and talent, blocking new talents from cropping up from unexpected quarters. All human creativity is reduced to the level of rituals in such a situation by those who think the culture is their paternal property. And the Brahmans are the ones who are most trapped in the Brahmanic ideology, which has not only prevented them from breaking into new grounds but stunted the rest of the society's unhindered growth.

        This dangerous ideology is afloat wherever caste system is practiced. It propounds that only the Brahmans, and with some concession the other high castes, are capable by divine ordinance to pursue knowledge and become professionals to run the society; education doesn't come to others naturally, because God hasn't made knowledge for others nor others for knowledge, particularly the lower castes. Even if by the force of circumstance, the well-to-do lower castes have sent their children to schools in recent years, it's only for pragmatic reasons, not as part of the natural order of things. A set of stifling ideas still pervades the conversations, language, songs, beliefs, attitudes, and consciousness of men and women in the Terai, and all these cultural sources of knowing and interpreting the world come, in one way or another, from the mainstream Hindu religion in the region. So a non-tribal Madhesi may be ignorant about everything else, but he is never ignorant about his caste and what it means in the society at large.

        No wonder, then, that the fertile land of the Terai can yield bumper wheat or rice or corn, but is so dead and dying when it comes to producing vibrant culture and leadership. Whatever brilliance and whatever vitality that has come about in recent years in the region, it's mainly because of the settlement of the hill people in the Terai, devastating as these settlements have been to the local tribes and their livelihood. These people from the hills had the guts, the courage, of course supported by the political ideology of the Nepali state, to leave the hardship, the beauty, the climate, the cold crystal water, the scented pines, their generations-old neighbors and neighborhoods of the hills and come down to the plains and cut the dense forest for livelihood. I'm not talking about the Birtawala hill people who lived in Kathmandu and maintained their large landholdings in the plains, originally political gifts to them by the rulers, but the new settlers, who came down for a few bighas of land. These people have the courage, the vitality, the brilliance, the political confidence to do new things, think in new ways.

        Of course, the closer these people from the hills have gotten to the Panchayat system and benefitted from the corruption of Cold War easy foreign aids and lived in the towns, the less they have retained the original vitality of the first generation hill dwellers. That's why, you see a drastic change in lifestyle among the new settlers of the Terai towns. For example, in the hills, the women worked in the kitchen and the fields from sunup to sundown, brought brimful water vessels a mile or two down from the water source, cut firewood, bore children alone, did all kinds of work and still survived the harsh patriarchal codes. But once these men and their women settled in the comforts of the Nepali towns in the Terai, they began to employ maids to do the dishes and cooking, boys to get grocery.

        Their sons, clothed in the latest fashions and toiletries, map the streets of the towns from one cinema hall to another every evening, beating about the bush, killing time on the steps of popular shopfronts all day long. Their daughters go to college as part of a marriage fad, as a need to look attractive to the potential grooms, not for a serious pursuit of knowledge that would make them confident and self-dependent. These young, energetic, vibrant young women frequent the film halls of their towns to watch the Hindi melodramas so they can get out of the boredom born of inactivity and learn their lives' lessons. Decay has already set in at this intersection of caste- clan security and pride, and film and now T. V. images. There's hardly any serious emphasis on a systematic cultivation of their mind, their soul, and body through literature, music, the arts, and sports. Preservation of virginity rather than acquisition of knowledge and development of talent still characterize their and their parents' paramount concern, and those who rebel against the ideology of virginity and caste do not do so inspired by a solid base of knowledge but by the teenage rebellion shown in the formula Hindi films. But you can't make lifelong decisions and channell your life based on teenage whims and Bombay film messages, meant to play on the fantasy of the sexually repressed people of the region.

        The parents and male elders are of no help, either, in this matter, for they still believe in the old feudal morality, as the culture still remains Panchayati--caste and clan based. And the towns have developed hardly any innovative ways to capitalize and train these young energies. All the towns in the Terai are mushrooming and expanding without any thought to their hygiene and culture; without any plans for adequate parks, playing grounds, adequate roads. The schools are of no help, for most teachers read one thing, if they read at all, and believe in something quite different, the book teaching and learning good only for helping students pass exams; their syllabi do not encourage curiosity and questioning, instead emphasize rote-learning and getting certificates. And the salary these teachers get these days is not enough to pay even the rent, let alone have enough for a basic dignified living. So these teachers overwork in too many places.

        The colleges are worse--their teachers ill-paid, ill-fed, mired in petty group and parochial politics and gossips, well-to-do among them wasting their time playing popular Puploo, Nepal's national pastime for the prosperous; their privileged pupils desperate to show off the clouts of their castes, clans, source and force. As a college teacher, I nearly got beat up more than once by many of these college scums of prosperous Nepali parents for not letting them cheat in the exams. As for name-calling, don't even talk about it. You should have been there to witness the ridiculousness of the whole enterprise called college education in Nepal.

        Because the political system was bad, a system in which nobody was accountable for anything, least of all those who wielded power, college teachers, like every functionary of the state, did only their offiicial duties. Everyone, from the vice chancellor down to the peon, seemed scared both of the students and their guardians, let alone the mysterious sources of power in the government. Everyone afraid to lose one's izzot, the all precious honor, a concoction made of caste, clan, wealth, social and professional position. But since I didn't think I possessed this strange bird called izzot in the first place, I wasn't afraid of losing it in doing what I thought was right. Besides, my izzot, if I had any, was not something, I told my colleagues, that could turn into water in a mere fist-fight with a well-groomed, spoilt hoodlum son of some corrupt functionary or feudal lord. And if izzot was such a fickle commodity, to be guarded at the expense of one's personal dignity and sense of justice, then one and one's society and the nation would be far better off without it. But you never knew whether a college ruffian's father, or father's father, or mother's somebody, or his somebody's somebody was a cook, a functionary, a secretary in some important places.

        So the only good thing that happened in Nepali colleges in those days was the student politics--against the Panchayat system, because in the absence of people's awareness and courage in opposing political tyranny, these students acted as the vanguards of political change. I admired both the democrat and the progressive groups. But what surprised me here was that the women student leaders almost always became treasurers in these students unions, as though that was a transferred role from their household in which a woman kept account of the day-to-day expenses that a bunch of keys hanging by her waist symbolized and to which they would return after their stint as student union treasurers--a smooth transition, I suppose.

        Once I asked a bunch of these female college students, seated in rows on the steps of the college, Why is it that you guys always become only treasurers? Why don't you field women candidates for other positions? Why not have even all female student union for a change for God's sake? They collectively looked at me as though I had gone out of my mind. Of course, many among these student activists, men and women, loved comrade-handshakes more than political and intellectual analysis, but the serious among them, despite some of their sold out college teachers and despite much of the curriculum, did do some serious thinking about their society and its political system.

        Among other damages it inflicted, and whose repercussions Nepal will have to face for decades to come, the Panchayati Raj, and the supposedly new things and new ways it brought about in Nepal's national life during its thirty-year tenure, the Panchayat Raj decimated the tribes that lived in the forests and the open lands where the jungle ended. The Tharus, the Dhimals, the Khabas, the Rajbanshis of Morang and Jhapa have been finished--their land, the only source of income, gone for the most part, partly rendered unproductive by deforestation but mainly sold; their way of life vanished and vanishing with the disappearance of the forest, which served for these tribal villages as sources of more than one thing; their self-respect turned into drunkenness and gambling.

        The political leader called zamindar they had of their own tribe in times past, too, is finished after the inactment of land reform in B.S. 2018; his land and power gone for good. And when your most respectable person in the tribe, no matter how tyrannical, is reduced to a beggar, you don't have any role models left, nor can you, like the caste Madhesis of other districts, look across the border for inspiration and encouragement. If there's nobody who comes from your tribe is important or is accorded importance by the state ideology, then there's nothing but despair staring in your face. And the only people these tribesmen see in positions of power now in Nepal, from a police official to an office clerk, are aliens for them. What has happened to the tribes in the eastern Nepali Terai during the thirty-year Panchayat period is terrible.

        One at times thinks that the caste Madhesis of the Terai, because they felt dispossessed, became compulsively self-serving and conserved everything indiscriminately. They didn't raise any noise when the vast jungle in the Terai was cleared and sold to India in the late seventies and early eighties. Many among them, the rangers and foresters, indulged in the Bramha loot along with the patriots. What made Sundar Lal Bahuguna in north western India found the "Chipko" movement to protect deforestation and what prevented the caste Terai people from doing so? The answers could be alienation, the need to just survive, and lack of democracy. And caste system that played such a vital role in this passivity still continues to be so in all matters of public concern in the Terai. If anyone has doubts, one needs to attend a meeting of the Sadhbhavana Party for a knowledge of this aspect of the Madhes. Even those who are educated among the Madhesis, politically, socially, and intellectually, they continue to be as good as their uneducated fellow Madhesis--caste, family, clan, blind imitation of India and Indian ways in bad matters still characterize their private and public lives and thinking. Maybe the advent of democracy will change all this to some extent. But only maybe.

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Sat, 6 Dec 1997 14:06:36 -0600 From: "Rajpal J. Singh" <a10rjs1> To: The Nepal Digest <nepal@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Armed Forces and the Constitutional Framework

    Continuing "curiosity killed the cat :)" thread -

   1) What role does the constitution allow Nepal Armed Forces
      to play within its framework today?

   2) Do the men and women of the Armed Forces swear legioncy/alliance
      to the crown or to the nation?

   3) Does PM or the parliment has authority to declare nation's
      participation in a war? Or does this authority still lies in
      the hands of the crown?

   4) Are the Armed Forces accontable to the defense ministry,
      the parliment or to the crown?

   5) Do Armed Forces take direct orders from the defense ministry,
      the parliment or from the crown?

   6) Is the role of the Aremed Forces in Nepal in par with the
      democratic norms of a constitutional monarchy?

   7) Is there any loop hole in the current constitution for a military
      take over?

So long, RJPS

"Democracy perishes among the silent crowd." - Sirdar_Khalifa.

****************************************************************** Date: Fri, 5 Dec 1997 09:31:34 -0500 (EST) From: murari r shivakoti <murashi@wam.umd.edu> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Forwarding

CALL FOR IMMEDIATE WEBSITE NOMINATIONS

This is a impromptu note hoping to elicit a quick response in line with the demands of the so-called information age. Himal is going monthly with the January issue, and that issue's cover feature is on the Internet/email and their meaning for the Subcontinent. We are carrying a section on "Best South Asian Web Sites" in the magazine, which we will also place on our own web site and spread the word. The homepages may be of any kind, as long as there is a proximate or even remote link to South Asia or South Asians.

Please assist us by sending in nominations for up to three web sites that you have visited and liked, together with a paragraph of appreciation on each. The para would include any information you think is useful: why you like the site, its distinctive aspects, whether it is utilitarian or utopian, is it updated often or does it not need to be, and so on. Any other ancillary information which would help us put a polish on the Internet/email issue as a whole would of course come handy to us editors here in Kathmandu, who are Web Neophytes. Also, you might want to pass this note along to other friends who you think will be able to contribute nominations.

Our deadline is short: we need to have your stuff in by the morning of 8 December, Monday (Nepal time). I really hope that you and other Friends of Himal will contribute to what I hope will turn out to be a useful and interesting exercise.

All the best! Kanak

Please note: Himal is going monthly in January. and Find out all about the Himal Conference on South Asian Mediocrity, to be held in early May. How? By reading Himal. by reading Himal.

GPO Box 7251, Kathmandu, Nepal Tel: +977-1-523845, 522113, 521013 (fax) himalmag@mos.com.np

Now you can also advertise in our web site: http://www.himalmag.com

Also, Film South Asia '97 report at http://www.himalmag.com

%%%%%Editor's Note: Dear readers, do not forget to vote for %%%%%%%
%%%%% http://www.nepal.org ;) %%%%%%%
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

************************************************* Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 13:48:56 -0700 From: Leigh Davidson <davidson@nmmnh-abq.mus.nm.us> To: nepal-request@cs.niu.edu Subject: Green Tara Foundation

Hi, I am on the board of the Green Tara Foundation whose missions is to distribute funds to people of Tibetan descent in the areas of education, clean water systems and sustainable agriculture. We are looking for contacts in these areas to set up programs. Thank you in advance for your response. Leigh Davidson

***************************************************** Date: Fri, 5 Dec 97 03:20:48 UT From: Mickey Veich <mveich@classic.msn.com> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: Response to Greta Rana

In America many years ago, an old song was very popular. I think sometime between the two great wars, specifically world wars I and II. The song's words, in part, go something like this..."How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?"

I would suggest applying the same question to America's Nepalese visitors who come for an education. Why not an education at Tribhuvan University or Kathmandu University. And Kathmandu Univ. is allegedly the first successful, non-government subsidized school in Nepal. I'll tell you why you can't keep them down on the farm!

America's Nepalese visitors either stay on for the wonderful salaries, quality of life, quality of work, quality of education, and a government run as efficiently as any other government in the world. In fact, America enjoys the oldest democracy in the free world. We even jail our crooked politicians.

Then ask yourself the next logical question. What will Nepal's newly educated sons and daughters return to? Will they return to their families who have enjoyed gifts of thousands of dollars from their working children over the years? I think not.

I know many Nepalese in America, both students and, yes, newly minted citizens. One in particular, whose story is typical. He is an undergraduate student who started working part-time as a restaurant busboy. He diligently worked his way to the position as the restaurant's manager, all while attending undergraduate school. The student, now the restaurant manager, is salaried at US$35K. He also shares the tips (almost equal to his salary) received by the waitstaff. Last year he sent his family several thousand US dollars. (not his first gift)

Does his family enjoy the reward of having sacrificed their only son to America? You bet! They don't want him to come home! If this son of Nepal returns upon completion of his studies, what will be his reward? Where will he work? Will he find a restaurant in Birganj, Kalaiya, Hitaura, or for that matter, in Kathmandu? Perhaps Pokhara? What will Nepal offer this long lost son? Something global, no doubt? You speak of a global village of the 21st Century. I think he will look for work with the foreign devils who pay exorbitant salaries and then complain because his salary is not up to par with that of his benefactors.

Do you also suggest that ex-pats, whose salaries are in the US$35-75K range, give up those benefits and come to Nepal to work as volunteers? America continues with that experiment. It's called the US Peace Corps. What has Nepal done for them lately? Little, I'll bet.

Peace Corps Volunteers are paid the same wage as their counterpart. And that is the poorest salary of all Peace Corps Volunteers worldwide. How long should one volunteer for? The rest of one's life? Perhaps, because even the poorest salary in Nepal is still enough for daily dal bhat, kasiko masu weekly and experimental pau roti from the bazaar. (BTW, those same ex-pats you so flippantly castigate are paying the tuition for the student mentioned above)

You suggest that ex-pats have no problems, e.g.,"...coming home to servants, comfort, and an ex-pat community that does its best to create a non-Nepali setting." You live in a fantasy world! American ex-pats are charged with the responsibility of creating and nurturing cultural exchanges as well as educational events that can be exported to American upon their return. Do you speak from the experience of having been there and done that? Or were you never invited to the home of an ex-pat? Is your spouse a host country national helping foster mutual understanding, or is he merely someone who only works for those poverty wages you mention, the wages disbursed by those foreign devils?

And the young doctors you allege who don't go into the villages because they lack equipment. In reality, what they lack is incentive, not equipment. They see no future! It's a question of lacking idealism and altruistic motives. It's not equipment. In addition to the foreign devils' over-inflated salaries, those same devils have been supplying equipment for forty years. I remember when the Russians built a cigarette factory near Birganj in 1962. Then the local farmers were supposed to displace 600 bigas of rice by planting tobacco. You can't eat tobacco! What happened to the factory?

Then the Americans brought tractors. One tractor put 100 farmers out of work! That didn't work either.

Education before family planning you say? What do you propose Nepal should do with all the unplanned mistakes? How will you educate the mistakes? More foreign money for scholarships and grants? You are wrong! You allege the West fears immigration? Why then do America's annual immigration quotas continue to rise beyond allowances? Under Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva, Nepal didn't permit immigration of Nepalese. Nepal's allowance was never used. Does Nepal now permit immigration? If not, Why not?

You mention the North American Indian. The first wheel he saw was on the carriage of a gun. And he still can't figure it out. When Europeans landed in the Americas they found a population cooking and eating their own people, sacrificing young women and decorating their leaders' bodies with gold, bloody skins and painting their faces blue. Only 500 years ago! Who told them gold was great? They prayed to gods for rain, crops, more virgins to sacrifice and they killed the handicapped, and, like Hitler, believed that might made right. Survival of the fittest was the order of the day. What are you suggesting, Ms. Rana?

You say that for the government to thrive they have to pay its people a living wage. Are you a communist? Do you believe that Nepal should extract from each according to his ability and provide to each according to his needs? You forget that for communism to survive it must first begin in a functioning industrialized nation. That is, at least, if you believe in Marx. Please visit post-communist Russia and ask them how well communism functions.

And, pray tell, where is that living wage to come from? From Nepal's abundant industries? Who will pay the taxes to support the Nepal government's giving program, all the non-licensed haircutters on the bridge over the Baghmati or all the dhoti wallas? You are a simpleton to dismiss Nepal's perceived ills as primarily caused by overpaid ex-pats. What are you and your spouse doing to help Nepal? Please be specific.

Your overly simple suggestion that Nepal needs to get into the 21st century global village as if it were a mere, overnight task, lacks depth. How should they accomplish this fete? Nepal must first get through centuries 19, and 20. I see you have an e-mail address in your office AND your residence. Where on Nepal's socio-economic scale does that put you?

I would be interested to hear what your suggestions for reform might be, that is, if you have any constructive suggestions. Furthermore, you print your title as senior editor, but you fail to name the publication? Please correct me if I fail to see the light but your carping does more harm than good.

Aru kura garaunla, Jai Nepal, Jai Himal, Mickey Veich, aka, Punya Ratna Bajracharya

*************************************************** Date: Fri, 5 Dec 1997 22:16:10 -0000 From: Balmukund Joshi <B.P.Joshi@btinternet.com> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: Nepalese Activities in UK, Sagarmatha Times

Dear Editor,

Please find enclosed the news from Sagarmatha Times, November edition relating to Nepalese Activities in UK and other Nepal relating news.

From Mr B.P Joshi (Editor-in-Chief) and Mr Sohan Panta (Editor)

Nepalese Activities in UK

Royal Audience His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev gracefully gave Royal audience to the Editor-in-Chief Mr Balmukund Prasad Joshi and Publisher Mr J.B. Tandon of the Sagarmatha Times, published in UK on 19 Nov at the Royal Nepalese Embassy, London. HRH the Crown Prince also gracefully enquired about the Sagarmatha Times and its web-address on the Internet.
=09On the same occasion the latest issues of Sagarmatha Times were present= ed to HRH the Crown Prince.=20

HRH Crown Prince in Reception
=09His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev gracefully attended a reception hosted by His Excellency the Royal Nepalese Ambassador Dr Singha B Basnyat and HRH Princess Jotshana Basnyat at the Royal Nepalese Embassy on 19 Nov. HRH the Crown Prince met the =20 Nepalese participants of World Travel Mart 97. In the same occasion HRH the Crown Prince also met foreign guests and enquired on the tourism development of Nepal.=20

Prince Of Wales to visit Nepal
=09His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales is to visit Nepal in January 1998. As per our special source of information, HRH Prince Charles will be accompanied by high level officials of the Buckingham Palace.

=09WTM Reception
=09Royal Nepalese Ambassador Dr. Singha B. Basnyat and HRH Princess Mrs Jotshana Basnyat hosted a reception on the happy occasion of Nepalese=20 participation in the World Travel Mart 1997 ( WTM ) at the Royal Nepalese Embassy. Ambassador Dr Basnyat told the gatherings that the participation of Nepal in WTM is to success the Visit Nepal Year 98 (VNY 98) and is ultimately to support the economic develeopment of the Nation.
=09In the same reception the Secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism of Nepal, Mr Dipendra Purush Dhakal said in his brief speech that the preparation of VNY is completed in planned manner and also hoped that the participation of Nepalese are of encouraging. He also assured that Nepal is a safe destination and the visitor could have everything except sea beach. He further reiterated that Nepal will became a most popular destination soon.
=09The programme was conducted by Mr Ashok Pokharel of PATA Nepal Chapter a= nd were attended by big numbers of Nepalese and foreign guests.

Sharma in world tour
=09Mr Madhav Prasad Sharma of Lagankhel , Kathmandu Nepal arrived London o= n 29 Nov for 4 days stay on his way to world tour on a motorbike. Mr Sharma has visited number of Asian and European countries before arriving in=20 London. The schedule was delayed by 50 days due to his hospitalisation in Turkey due to a road accident while traveling.
=09In a meeting with our correspondence Mr Sharma says his mission of wor= ld tour is to introduce Nepal to the world as a place of Buddha and peace and harmony.
=09Mr Sharma is being looked after in London by social workers Mr Hari KC and Mr Iswor Manandhar.

Activities of Yeti-Midlands and North UK
=09As per communique received from Manchester, following are their activities :=20 Dance workshop : A workshop is going to be held in Manchester from 7th December. The workshop will be conducted by Choreographer Andrea Young under the coordination of Mrs Jamuna Mali free of charge. Meeting : The executive committee of 16th November approved the report submitted on Dashain and Tihar. The Vice-Chairman Mr Buddhi Ram Shrestha and his wife hosted lunch during the meeting. Next meeting will be held on 25 January 1998. Euro-Tour : In view of popularity of Euro-Tour 1997, the Euro-Tour 98 has also been organised. Dr. Deepak Upadhyay and social secretary Mr Sobhan Amatya (Tel : 0161 442 9012) may be contacted for advance booking. Book Publication : For enhancing the bravery of Nepal and Nepalese, the book "Gorkha Medal" written by Chandra Bahadur Gurung is to be published in English. The necessary preliminary work has already started on the book and most probably should be distributed for sale soon. Association Fund : To keep up the transperency policy, the association feels importance of information on association fund. and published in own news bulletin and Sagarmatha Times. The present balance of the association is, as at pound 7035.91=20

Britian-Nepal Society AGM
=09The Britian-Nepal Society Annual General Meeting 1997 was held at the Royal Nepalese Embassy on 20th November. The AGM was attended by about 70 society members. The AGM re-elected old executive committee in the chairmanship of Sir Neil Thorne.

Nepalese beer popular in UK
=09The Nepalese Iceberg premium beer is the only beer in Nepal to be export= ed to the overseas countries. Mr C.K Bhandari, the proprietor of Marklink, the sole distributor of the beer in UK had a painful experience on winning over Nepalese and British officials before approval for the import in UK.
=09The manufacturing company has recently started producing the beer in a small convenient bottle for export to UK only. The beer is becoming very popular in the British market.
=09As per our correspondant, the market can be further developed with the help of Nepalese mission and other various Nepalese organisations in UK.

Miss Nepal returns to Nepal
=09Miss Nepal Jharana Bajracharya, the contender of Miss World title recent= ly held in the Seychelles returned to Kathmandu on 28th November by Royal Nepal Airlines, London-Kathmandu flight.
=09Miss Nepal confirmed to our correspondent Mr Ishwor Manandhar that she i= s very happy to have taken part in the Miss World competition and thus=20 representing Nepal there for the first time. She further said, the participation also plays a positive role to introduce Nepal and Visit =
=20
 Nepal Year 1998 to the outside world.
=09Mr Hari K.C and Mrs Nirmala K.C hosted a farewell dinner in honour of Mi= ss Bajracharya on 27th November in Gurkha Tandoori, London.

Interview with Miss Nepal Mr Hari K.C and Mrs Narmila K.C hosted a farewell dinner in honour of Miss Nepal, the Miss World Contender, Miss Jharana Bajracharya in Gurkha Tandoori Restaurant, London on 27th November 1997. Sagarmatha Times (ST) correspondent Mr Ishwor Manandhar had a brief interview with Miss Nepal
(MN), the synopsis are as follows :=20

ST : How did you feel when you were living with Miss World contenders from different countries ?=20

MN : There were very modest and caring of each other. But most of the contenders had no knowledge of Nepal. Even the judges of the competition were asking me about Nepal and Nepalese religions.=20

ST : What will you do once you return to Nepal ?=20

MN : I shall be visiting Hong Kong, China, Singapore, etc=85 soon to promote Visit Nepal Year 1998. I shall also be very much involved in charity and social works. I am also planning to write a book on the role of females in Nepalese society.=20

ST : Do you have any advice/suggestions to future Miss World contenders from Nepal ?=20

MN : I think, the winning of the 'Miss World' title is not that important. That is simply a title. The main important matter is, how to introduce Nepal to the world. It was very sad to know that people did not know about Nepal and it's location in the world map.=20

Nepal Kingdom Foundation Activities :=20 Royal visit : Her Majesty the Queen Aishwarya Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah, HRH Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikarm Shah Dev, HRH Prince Nirajan Shah and HRH Princess Jotsna Basnyat gracefully visited Reading to visit Nepal House, Nepal Kingdom Foundation, The commemorative plaque, Ram Tamang memorial library and resource centre and Buddhist Viharas.=20 The Royal entourage also visited Standard Nepalese Restaurant, Reading .
=09During the Royal visit, the NKF officials Mr Chandra Sagar Lama, Mrs Pasang Laxmi Tamang, Mr Padma Prakash Shrestha and other Nepalese residing in Reading welcomed the Royal entourage with flower bouquets. National Remembrance Day : For the first time, Nepal and Nepalese community members are recognised by the London Borough of Haringey during National=
=20 Remembrance Day. But it was never recognised by the British Government to lay wreath at the Cenatoph Whitehall, London inspite of painful long efforts of NKF. Mr Padma Shrestha and Miss Samdipa Shrestha of NKF and Mr Mahanta Shrestha of Sagarmatha Times laid wreaths in respect of Martyrs of the World, on behalf of Nepalese community. High Level Support : Rt. Honbles. Babra Roche MP and Jane Griffith, MP are persuing the Nepalese cause at higher levels. World Travel Mart : Mr Padma Shrestha of NKF visited Nepal pavillion at the WTM and also attended reception at the Royal Nepalese Embassy and exchanged views with the participants on the success of VNY 1998.=20

********************************************************* Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 08:55:50 -0000 From: Peter Whicheloe PLC <peter.whicheloe@Inchcape.com> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: volunteer work

Please send me some information on the work that you do in Nepal, and what availability's you have for volunteers with work experience in culture preservation. would also like any information on how to become a trekking guide in Nepal, either with a local company or on how to set up an environmentally sound organisation.

Thanks

My email address is: peter.whicheloe@inchcape.com, or my real address is 28 Pine Grove, Wimbledon, London SW 19 7HE

Look forward to hearing from you, Sarra Whicheloe

*************************************************** Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 22:49:17 -0800 (PST) From: "Robyn E. McClintock" <rem@ecst.csuchico.edu> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: graduate study in pokhara

namaste! I will be coming to Nepal at the end of January to do graduate research and am trying to find information and contacts in the pokhara area. I have been e-mailing with a dear friend,(peace corps worker who was stationed in rajbiraj) her name was Lillith Iversen. She was in Kathmandu prior to leaving Nepal in the last few days so we had many wonderful e-mails. She was trying to connect me with another Peace Corps worker in Pokhara, Kat Le, katle@himal.wlink.com.np I have been trying to reach her but haven't had any reply...how reliable is the net access in Pokhara? I would deeply appreciate any information about relevant/practical issues concerning getting set up in Pokhara. I will be travelling with my family, husband and two daughters. My husband must leave after 2-3wks so I would like to settle in during that time. Is it difficult to find rentals there, any hints? Also how can I find a list of schools that I might be able to volunteer? I am a graduate student in Social Sciences with a degree in Philosophy and Social Work. I have am also experienced in health care/counseling/nursing. My research is in how the sacred is brought onto conflict resolution. Looking forward to hearing from you. Robyn McClintock rem@ecst.csuchico.edu

Your life is your message. Robyn McClintock: rem@ecst.csuchico.edu

***************************************************************** Date: Thu, 06 Nov 1997 16:09:06 -0700 From: Kala Pandit <knpandit@nwrc.ars.pn.usbr.gov> To: info-tnd@nepal.org Subject: Khoj Khabar

Dear TND Editor:

Could you please post the following message in the forthcoming issue of TND.
..............

I am looking for Badri Adhikari who has been residing in Canada for a long time. He originally belongs to Tiram, Pyuthan but later on migrated to Masuriya-Deukhuri, Dang district. If anyone knows about him, please pass on this message.

Badri Adhikari jee:

If you happen to find this message, please contact me. My e-mail address and telephone numbers are printed below.
   Kala Nidhi Pandit Northwest Watershed Research Center, USDA-ARS 800 Park Boulevard, Plaza IV, Suite 105 Boise, Idaho 83712 USA

Tel # 208-422-0706 (Work)
      208-342-6241 (Home) Fax # 208-334-1502

E-mail: knpandit@nwrc.ars.pn.usbr.gov

OR pand9551@uidaho.edu Home-page: http://www.uidaho.edu/~pand9551 Home Address: 1601 Joyce Street, Boise, ID 83706 USA

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