The Nepal Digest - December 4, 1997 (21 Mangshir 2054 BkSm)

From: The Editor (nepal-request@cs.niu.edu)
Date: Wed Dec 03 1997 - 22:04:15 CST


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The Nepal Digest Thurs Dec 4, 1997: Mangshir 21 2054BS: Year6 Volume69 Issue1

Today's Topics:

                Re: Curiosity Killed the Cat :)
                Adoption
                Why Nepalese don't want to go back to Nepal
                Newar interpretation of Dasai
                News from Sagarmatha Times, UK

 ******************************************************************************
 * TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
 * -------------------------------------- *
 * *
 * 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 Archives: http://library.wustl.edu/~listmgr/tnd/ *
 * TND Foundation: http://www.nepal.org tnd@nepal.org *
 * WebSlingers: Pradeep Bista,Naresh Kattel,Robin Rajbhandari *
 * 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 *
 * *
 ******************************************************************************
****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 17:06:48 -0500 (EST) From: Nima <purinima@wam.umd.edu> To: The Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - November 19, 1997 (6 Mangshir 2054 BkSm)

Hello all! I think most of you will agree that The Nepal Digest is getting kinda boring! I don't mean to sound rude nor do I want to sound too critical, but it is what I think and there are many out there who do think likewise. I have been noticing for the past three or four issues, government and politics is all that is being discussed. I mean c'mon, are we running out of topics??? I know there are other things that would rouse the interest of most, topics unrelated to politics and topics unrelated to the government. The Digest started out just great, with varieties in articles, like poems, personal experiences, stories, etc. etc. It was a good mixture of all these and therefore made it fun for all to read including students like me. I think now that the main target audience for this magazine is only the elders, people more interested in government and politics! Can we change that? Can we make the magazine more interesting, like it was before or more so? Thank you for taking the time to read this, Nima

****************************************************************** Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 07:57:38 -0600 From: "Rajpal J. Singh" <a10rjs1> To: a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu Subject: Re: Curiosity Killed the Cat :) source: Soc.culture.nepal

In article Rajpal J. Singh <a10rjs1@mp.cs.niu.edu> you write:
>Continuing the insightful debates on constitution's role in Nepal's
>democracy, I wanted to get a through understanding of a few other
>things. They are:
>
> 11) What is the role of "Raj Parishad"? Does its role strengthen
> the democratic values in the country? Or does it give a more
> institutionalized and legal role to the Panchayat days
> absolute autocrates? Should we discard/enhance it?
>
> (2) The role of elected "Lower House" semms to be clear pretty much.
> What is the role of "Upper House"? Are there any popularly
> elected (by voters) individuals in the upper house? Does its
> role strengthen the democratic values?
>
> (3) The Rising Nepal seems to echo governmental views and lines
> irrespective of which party is in the government. Is
> "The Kathmandu Post" a pro nepali congress newspaper? Has it
> earned the respect, trust and credibility from the masses as
> an "unbiased, analytical and thought provoking" newspaper?
> Or is it a yet another "party-line" newspaper?
>
> (4) During the autocratic partyless system, the root of the power
> lay on the hands of Palace and its "sachives" (Palace Secretaries).
> Even though there was a prime-minister and elected panchayat members,
> the Palace and its secretaries were notorious for their direct role
> in running the country as their constitution didn't provide "real"
> power to the PM and Panchayat members. They were mere toys as their
> constitution gave full power to the Palace and its secretaries.
>
> Now the Palace's role is a "consitutinal monarch" one after the
> democracy. At the present politics, has the Palace and its
> Secretaries been accused of playing "underground gang" politics
> to influence/intimidate democratically ellected parties?
>
> (5) How close is Nepal's present constitution compared to UK or Japan
> in terms roles the King and its institution can excercise? Does
> Nepal's constitutio give more power to the King and its institution
> today than British Constitution or Japanese Constitution?
>
>
>My knowledge is very limited in these areas. Please enlighten with
>true and gutsful insights.
>
>Thanks in advance,
>Rajpal J.P. Singh
>a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu
>

>Date: Nov 15, 1997
>From: Rupesh Pradhan pradhan@email.unc.edu

>On 13 Nov 1997, Rajpal J. Singh wrote:
>
>> (3) The Rising Nepal seems to echo governmental views and lines
>> irrespective of which party is in the government. Is
>> "The Kathmandu Post" a pro nepali congress newspaper? Has it
>> earned the respect, trust and credibility from the masses as
>> an "unbiased, analytical and thought provoking" newspaper?
>> Or is it a yet another "party-line" newspaper?
>
>As a former columnist for the Kathmandu Post, let me try to answer that
>question from my own experience. (Ashu, who has had a more recent
>association with the Post than me, may be able to give a better answer.
>But anyway.)
>
>The Post has managed to publish a wide variety of Op-Eds. Some are pretty
>good, but there are many which are there simply as "space-fillers" (this
>was the terminology used by an editor of the Post itself when I once asked
>him why they published so many poorly researched and substantively void
>articles!).
>
>We have seen recent contributions from established (generally panche)
>politicos such as Pashupati Samsher Rana, Kirtinidhi Bista, Yadav Pd Pant
>(who really have nothing new to say than a varied versions of "Bikas ko
>mul Futaun" and "desh-drohi, rastra-ghati, bikas-birodhi tatwo dekhi
>hoshiyar!").
>
>We have also seen contributions from some established professionals such
>as Lok Raj Baral, MR Josse and others.
>
>And there are the new young writers who, in my mind, gives the vigor to
>the Post. Thes new writers have shown not only excellent command of the
>English language, but also superb analytical and observational skills that
>have, to some degree, managed to pierce the "old thinking" right through
>its guts. Pratyoush Onta and CK Lal are two names that I see regularly
>these days.
>
>Yet, the fact that the Post is an English language daily in a country
>where the literacy rate is less than a third makes its readers and writers
>the sort of upper and upper-middle class urban elites whose children are
>more likely to call them "daddy and mummy" than "ba ra aama". If I
>remember it right, the total circulation of the Post is less than 10,000.
>
>So to answer Rajpal-ji's question on whether the Post has earned the
>"respectability, trust and credibility of the masses", I suppose my answer
>is: naaaaaah. But I am not willing to give up right there...because I do
>believe the Post has gained at least some trust of those of us who have
>the luxury and luck of indulging in "things not directly related to
>day-to-day survival".
>
>Is it pro-Nepali Congress? Not really. But it is sort of "center-right" in
>its political standing --and again this, I think, is just because the
>newspaper's readers and writers belong to the demographic group that tend
>to be "center-rightist". Another English language daily "The Everest
>Herald" tried to cater to the UML-sympathizing left-of-center
>readers...but soon realized that there *were* none! And in less than half
>a year, it went out of business. (Just to add a business note, the Post is
>barely covering its cost of paper and ink....it is highly subsidized by
>its sister publication Kantipur.)
>
>But anyway, i think the Post --and more generally Kantipur Publications--
>has added an alternative platform for expression of thoughts. It has also
>shown that, managed well, a privately owned daily newspapers can compete
>against a government subsidized newspapers. Following the lead of Kantipur
>Publications, there are now more than a few daily newspaper. The last I
>knew, there were Himalaya Times -Nepali, Sandhya -Newari, Mahanagar
>-Nepali, Sagarmatha -Nepali. (I don't know how many of them are still
>around).
>
>Rupesh
>
>PS: And, for all of you Marwari haters, if I am not mistaken, Kantipur
>publication was a vision of a marwari --though he has already sold the
>company and no longer owns the company now. Dang! why could not a
>nepali think of that first! :)
>

>Date: 17 Nov 1997
>From: Ashutosh Tiwari tiwari@login4.fas.harvard.edu
>a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu (Rajpal J. Singh) writes:
>
>> (2) The role of elected "Lower House" semms to be clear pretty much.
>> What is the role of "Upper House"? Are there any popularly
>> elected (by voters) individuals in the upper house? Does its
>> role strengthen the democratic values?
>
>
>In theory, as brought from the Westminster Model of England, the membership in the
>Upper House would be extended to distinguished Nepalis from various walks of life.
>The idea here is that: a) the nation would benefit from their competence and
>wisdom; and b) the Upper House would provide some sort of a 'looking over' to the
>Lower House, which is filled with people's directly elected representatives
>
>In practice, however, any political Nepali manche who fails to become a member of
>the Lower House, on account of his losing the elections, can be and has often been
>nominated to and made a member if the Upper House as some sort of a 'consolation
>prize'. Extra-parliamentary bodies such as the Central Committees of a political
>party have often played a big role in deciding who from their party gets to become
>Upper House ko member. As such, the Upper House member look after, NOT the desh ko
>welfare, but their own party ko welfare at any given time.
>
>The King also chooses a few people to be the UH members.
>
>
>> (3) The Rising Nepal seems to echo governmental views and lines
>> irrespective of which party is in the government. Is
>> "The Kathmandu Post" a pro nepali congress newspaper? Has it
>> earned the respect, trust and credibility from the masses as
>> an "unbiased, analytical and thought provoking" newspaper?
>> Or is it a yet another "party-line" newspaper?
>
>When Mr. Kishore Nepal was at the Kantipur Publications, both Kantipur (Nepali
>daily) and The Kathmandu Post were rabidly pro-Congress. Kantipur still has a
>number of journalists who are openly 'pro-congress', and who accordingly 'color'
>their reports. The Post is a little better, but it does lean more toward the
>Congressi side. This much should be evident from its on-again off-again Internet
>editions.
>
>In late 1995, some entrepreneurs, with covert blessings from CPN-UML, started
>publishing via Surya Prakashan, two left-leaning dailies (The Everest Herald and
>Sri Sagarmatha) to counterbalance Kantipur's and The Kathmandu Post's
>pro-congressi slants. But because of a number of internal squabbles, The Everest
>Herald closed shop earlier this year, and Sri Sagarmatha is also on the verge of
>being defunct, if it isn't already.
>
>Himalaya Times, another new Nepali broadsheet daily, is run by a faction within
>the Congressi camp that's closer to the Koirala camp, and as such, that newspaper
>is practically Koirala-bhakta. But I hear that it too is having serious financial
>troubles, and heading for a shut-down.
>
>Aja Ko Samacharpatra -- another large Nepali broadsheet daily -- is probably the
>best of the lot in terms of good investigative reports, and for somewhat
>more relatively balanced political coverage.
>
>
>> (4) During the autocratic partyless system, the root of the power
>> lay on the hands of Palace and its "sachives" (Palace Secretaries).
>> Even though there was a prime-minister and elected panchayat members,
>> the Palace and its secretaries were notorious for their direct role
>> in running the country as their constitution didn't provide "real"
>> power to the PM and Panchayat members. They were mere toys as their
>> constitution gave full power to the Palace and its secretaries.
>
>
>Palace secretaraies do not make much audible noise today. But that's no indication
>of their power or lack thereof -- both open and latent. Who knows what's brewing.
>
>On the other hand, former Palace Secretaries are back as 'civilians'. Notice the
>return of Chiran Thapa, who spent a few years studying for a PhD, I think, at
>Cambridge University. Another former powerful Secretary Narayan Prasad Shrestha
>has just written a book, 'advance-reviews' of which has been satirized by humorist
>C K Lal in The Post (see Oct. 24, editorial section).
>
>
>> (5) How close is Nepal's present constitution compared to UK or Japan
>> in terms roles the King and its institution can excercise? Does
>> Nepal's constitutio give more power to the King and its institution
>> today than British Constitution or Japanese Constitution?
>
>
>Building on Rajpal's idea, let me add that I also do not know much about the
>Consntitution in ways a political scientist or a trained lawyer/philosopher would
>understand. But I am interested in studying it in more detail. I assume most other
>netters are in a similar poistion.
>
>To overcome that, I propose that we, folks on the SCN, initiate a "Nepali
>Constituition Discussion Forum" here on SCN. What I have in mind is something
>like this.
>
>1. Somebody could post a chapter (in English, from the unofficially translated
>book that I have; I am sure others have that too) from the Constitution here maybe
>once every month -- say, by the first Sunday of every English month.
>
>2. And let people on the SCN -- regardless of their backgrounds --
>comment/criticize/share their thoughts on various parts/points of that particular
>chapter. This debate/dialogue/comments/criticisms could go on for a month or more.
>Ideas could be exchanged. Shortcomings could be pointed out, and so on.
>
>3. At the end, somebody could summarize the major for and against arguments,
>clarificatrions, and so forth, and post it in one nice essay here.
>
>4. Then somebody else could post the next chapter of the Cosntitution.
>
>5. Do number 2 and 3 for that chapter. And so on, until the whole Constitution is
>covered.
>
>6. This forum could go on for several months, and that would not necessarily be a
>bad thing. By the end, we will emerge with better ideas about our own
>constitution, and that would be good.
>
>What do others think? Feel free to add to or critize the proposal. Once we have
>some sort of an agreement that this is a do-able idea, we can worry about the
>logictics.
>
>

****************************************************************** To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 10:31:49 +0000 Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - November 19, 1997 (6 Mangshir 2054 BkSm) From: Greta Rana <greta@icimod.org.np>

Dear Editor,
                  I look forward to a lot of things, they add up as you get older. Within this last year ,The Nepal Digest has become another addition to the list of things I look forward to.Most interesting are the ideas put forward by the young of Nepal and the impressions of this country that are held by foreigners. Ms Joshi wonders why foreigners are so willing to do things for NEpal and Nepalese aren't. I felt sadly troubled by this statement. Despite over 40 years of aid, 47% of our people still live below absolute poverty line. Nepalis who live in Kathmandu and wish and strive to remain honest have a very difficult job.For Ms.Joshi's information
,there are clusters of foreigners who work under very hard conditions and have done much in their jobs in this country when they could arguably have done better in their own countries.However, a majority form a super class, who don't mix socially to any great extent with Nepalis and certainly not on an equal level. Foreign aid organisations have dual salary systems. A Nepali with a degree from Cornell ,for example, and a foreigner with the same degree have such an enormous disparity between what they get for their work in the same organisation, it is incredible.This is what creates Lords of Poverty. Something I try and take a humurous look at (although it's not particularly funny) in my novel 'Guests in This Country'. For an ex-pat working in Nepal can be a dream, and no matter what the problems ,one can go home to servants, comfort and an ex-pat community that does its best to create a non-Nepali setting.Then you can dip into the culture , you can take what you want and leave what you don't.A Nepali cannot do that.He/she has to take it all lock,stock, and barrel. The fact is there is a shortage of jobs.Lovers of Nepal can hang around here forever. The fact is that no matter how kindly one looks at this jobs are short-ex-pats jobs are paid for by foreign governments because they want a stake in something (it keeps the doors closed on immigration for eaxmple- our mountains have vast untapped resources that they want to get an edge on). also try looking at AID in a different way.It is not altruistic at all,it is politically motivated. For example, our National Planning Commission two years ago came up with some interesting percentages about the trickle down effect of aid in this country.The lion's share goes back to the country of origin in one form or another-not least in the over-inflated salaries of some ex-pats. Then take forty years of this and you will see Kathmandu and its galloping inflation - a place where few honest Nepalis can afford to live anymore- a place that cannot give jobs to the young.true our young doctors don't go to the village, they get no equipment , no medicines to apply their skills.A doctor as an ex-pat working for foreign aid gets the back-up his organisation can afford.Our government can afford nothing like that. I haven't finished. Years ago I remember wondering as a naive young woman first coming into this country with a Nepali husband why so much foreign money went into Family Planning and not into education, which is the only long-term development input that will count. The reason one presumes was to keep down the population-hence immigration that the West fears so much. Particularly is this attitude hypocritical on the part of governments who built up their nations on immigrants pushed out of Europe by governments who had 'highland clearance' policies over the last 3 centuries. They went to someone elses' land -that of the North-American Indian - and bought it up with baubles ,beads ,and bloodshed. Now the descendants of these people would not wish to be flooded by people from our highlands, the poor North American Indians had no choice- their purchasers and ethnic cleansers do,they can give aid to countries like ours. and not only that they can pay their own citizens well for implementing that aid.But has it been succesful?I'm afraid not, largely because it has been misguided,top-down, and donor-driven. Mainly because ,although some work for most of the time in the field,most run around in posh cars to their offices in Kathmandu. I hope this answers Ms.Joshi's question because I would hate her to get the impression that every child is bursting to get out. Many are because they do not have work.The sad fact is that if a government wants to thrive it has to pay it's people a living wage,it has to pay its people enough for self-actuation, and it has to pay its people enough not to make it a drain to pay taxes.The Nepali government and Nepali organizations for the most part do none of these things.People sell land to buy expensive American education for their kids(encouraged by advertisements and hard sell from American educational establishments).Their kids can never in a lifetime honestly earn back what the surrendering of ancestral land has given them. This is the pathos of Nepal. Sorry, but Ms.Joshi's question got me on my pet peeve. Rupesh Pradhan I think is deserving some thanks for even trying to work out what we could do about this grim political situation.My view, if it is interesting to anyone, is that divisions along the old leftist,rightist , centrist linesare far too outmoded for the 21st century.It's time for a big rethink. The parties are using 19th century political ideals to take us into the global village of the 21st century, and it just won't do.I think that's enough for today.I must be boring everyone stiff.
                       regards
                           Greta Rana

Greta Rana Senior Editor email: greta@icimod.org.np (off.)
          grana@saligram.mos.com.np (res.) Tel: 977-1-525313 (off.)
       977-1-538001 (Res.) Fax: 00977-1-536747
        00977-1-522346

********************************************************* Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 07:49:51 -0600 From: "Jeffrey J. Preston" <jpreston@ameritech.net> To: Nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Adoption

I am writing to you as a resource. Do you know of any adoption agencies in the U.S. or abroad that specialize in Nepalese adoptions? Please reply to me at: jpreston@ameritech.net

Thank you. Jeff Preston

*********************************************************** Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 11:36:49 -0500 (EST) From: "Eknath Belbase (Durrett)" <eknath@math.cornell.edu> To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: contribution

I wanted to add to the responses on the separation of powers issue. I think trying to determine which system (madisonian/parliamentary) works better IN ALL DEVELOPING COUNTRIES is simplistic and probably futile. The failures, especially in the 1960s-80s, of Madisonian systems in Latin America and Kenya recently cited, depend to a large extent on the degree to which the army leadership and executive leadership are interwined. Similar examples of failure can be found in parliamentary systems: military leaders simply dissolved parliament and staged coups. Whether or not this can happen seems empirically to have little to do with whether the country has a parlimentary or presidential form. The times that the army has been involved in political events in Nepal it has, each time, sided with the monarchy. Citing examples in developed countries where parliamentary systems are working fine and examples in developing countries where the presidential system has faltered leaves out the large number of developing countries where the parlimentary system has also faltered. Simply giving examples of ones where democracy faltered under the presidential system does not tell us that the proportion of failures under the parlimentary system is not just as high in the developing world.

Rather than trying to focus on an overarching divide like parlimentary vs Madisonian, better criteria to predict the success of democracies may be (a) the extent to which institutions independent of both the executive and legislative whose job it is to police both are depoliticized
(b) transparency and the degree to which the press is able to publicize wrong-doing
(c) de-politicization of the civil service [mentioned by someone else]
(d) the extent to which business finances politics
(e) the independence/depoliticization of the legislature

Another issue is the criteria by which you measure the success of a system. If the rate of economic growth is your primary criterion then the empirical evidence seems to say that totalitarian systems
-neither parlimentary nor Madisonian - acheived the highest rates in the 70s and 80s [eg Singapore, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.] Also, I don't see how Mexico, Brazil or Kenya strengthen the argument: all three countries have *economically* done rather well over the last few years. What is the proportion of developing countries with parlimentary systems that have NOT had comparable periods to these countries?

Perhaps the lesson here is that FORMS of government, especially along the lines of parlimentary/presidential, have little to do with economic growth and that growth has more to do with legal, financial & economic infrastructure, labor force, resources, geography and government policy TOWARDS entreprenuership
[cf Ashutosh Tiwari's piece] regardless of the constitutional form chosen? And similarly, that even the success of democracy itself lies in the details, not the general scheme?

Eknath Belbase | Home: 607-277-8894 White Hall | Off: 607-255-5012 Cornell University ------------------------------------------- Ithaca, NY 14853

********************************************************* Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 12:25:36 -0500 From: Lokesh Sagar Shrestha <shrestha@princeton.edu> To: c697082@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU, NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: Why Nepalese don't want to go back to Nepal

1)The most obvious answer would be for economic reasons. People who come to the west tend to stay behind because most of them would be earning a lot more than what they would back home. They are lured by the prospect of a "better living standard". 2)Besides career oriented people who specialize in certain fields, like for example say computer science, don't see much of a scope in their respective fields in Nepal. 3)And then there are people who want a better future for their kids. They don't want their kids to be educated in some "shitty" schools in Nepal. The best they can get is Budhanilkantha, St. Xavier's, St. Mary's and a few others , but then most of the graduates from these schools eventually come to the west for their higher education. These are few of the reasons which would prompt people to stay back in the west. But the factors which compel people to be repulsive about the idea of going back to Nepal cannot be ignored as well. Some are: 1)The most likely place a person educated in the west (or someone who has lived in the west for sometime) will spend his life in Nepal would be Kathmandu. But if one happens to analyze the condition of Kathmandu, he would find it repellent if not disgusting for obvious reasons. 2)The political instability would discourage people as well. Well, who would want to go back to Nepal if you won't know whether you will retain your job when the government shuffles the next time. 3)I think the excessive and frustrating bureaucracy that a person has to go through to get something done in Nepal discourages one as well. I remember how frustrating it was for me to go through all those red tapes before coming to the US.

These are some of the reasons that I can think of right now, and I am sure that there are many more, but they may be more of a personal reason than something which can be considered as a generally prevailing factor. However, I think the most important reason is the failure to recognize the "true beauty" of Nepal, the beauty that is hidden underneath the superficial ugly chaos that is characteristic of Nepal (or shall I say Kathmandu), the beauty which is beyond the comprehension of a casual onlooker. And to realize this beauty one has to put some effort, an effort to understand Nepal and its people. I mean for someone who has spent all his life in Kathmandu to say that Nepal is going down the drain would be narrow mindedness. Nepalese in general tend to be very sedentary, most of them spend their life in the same "tole" which, I think, limits their perception. We are proud of Mt. Everest, but how many of us have actually been at least to Namche? I feel quite embarrassed when my friends ask me if I have seen Mt. Everest? And I try to get away with a lie - "Of course YES!" Its not just a matter of going to Namche, its about going to different places, the "durgam" areas, which resemble the greater part of Nepal than Kathmandu does. Its about trying to learn to care about Nepal by traveling, not just going to Pokhara, Manakamana and similar areas. Its about appreciating the rich culture, tradition and the natural beauty of Nepal, not just bemoaning about the political instability over a glass of beer in a pub in Durbar Marg. And I think if one were to learn to appreciate this "beauty" of Nepal which entices so many foreigners, I think that person would be more willing to go to Nepal, even if only for a holiday.

Lokesh Shrestha shrestha@princeton.edu http://www.princeton.edu/~shrestha

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 08:29:37 +0545 (NPT) To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu From: sinhas@mos.com.np (Pratyoush Onta) Subject: KPost article

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 21 November 1997

The Politics of Knowledge
"Women's Writings" in the Media by Pratyoush Onta

On November 4th a discussion on women's writings in the Nepali media was held as part of the weekly Tuesday forum at Martin Chautari in Thapathali. Eight women writers were present along with about 20 other people. In the absence of those who have, in the past, opposed the appearance of women's writings, the discussion focused not on whether or not women's columns should be given space in print media, but more so on their contents and form. Some voiced their criticism against editors who expected them to dwell only on "tamed women's issues." This, they said, limited the possibilities of what they could write. Others pointed out that their writings were not confined to "women's issues" but included other subjects as well.

Some of those who took part in the discussion have picked up this issue in their writings. An article by journalist Shova Gautam appeared in Aajako Samacharpatra of 5 November. Writer Bhuwan Dhungana mentioned the discussion in passing in her weekly column in Jana-Manch on 6 November. In the context of reflecting upon on her weekly columns for Budhabar published in the past two years, writer Sulochana Manandhar has discussed some issues mentioned at the Chautari (19 November). Nepalipatra (whose reporter Babita Basnet was a participant), reported about the discussion but erroneously quoted me as saying that instead of separate columns devoted to women's issues, such issues should be brought into mainstream reporting (an opinion expressed by newsreader and media consultant Bandana Rana).

Here I highlight some of the structural aspects of the issue for the case of print media. To begin with, I think of "women's writings" in the media in two separate but related ways: first as reportage and writings by women; second as writings on "women's issues" by women as well as men. Beginning with the first of the two themes, we must note that writings by women (on any subject) in the print media can come either as journalistic reporting or as researched or unresearched opinion pieces. In the journalism field alone we can think of the number of women journalists hired by any media organization as an indicator of that organization's commitment toward gender equality. The record on this count is abysmal. Even the leading private print media organization, Kantipur Publications, has only two women journalists working for Kantipur and four for The Kathmandu Post at the moment. Women journalists seldom have a say in editorial or managerial aspects of media publications. No media organization that I am aware of has instituted a commitment toward hiring more women journalists, nor have any demonstrated, through active on-the-job programs, the willingness to train young and able women in the field. This lacuna has been long recognized and apart from real work that begins to redress the situation, hardly anything else needs to be said.

Still on the first theme but on the subject of women writers who write opinion pieces in the Nepali language, we need to recognize a few columnists who have written regularly in recent months. These include (with apologies to those whose writings I have missed): Sulochana Manandhar
(Budhabar), Bhuwan Dhungana (Jana-Manch), Amrita Banskota (Dristi and Punarjagaran), Banira Giri (Punarjagaran), Babita Basnet (Nepalipatra), Gyanu Pandey (Himalaya Times), Kamala Parajuli (Sambodhan), Manju Thapa
(Asmita), Gaura Prasai (Prakash), Shova Chand (Dristi), and Komal Oli
(Samakalin). Regular pieces have also come from the likes of Kamala Swarup, Sita Pandey, Aruna Upreti and Shova Gautam in various newspapers. Bindhya Pradhan, a columnist for Dristi until two years ago, has written less frequently since. And there are a number of other women who write occasionally. As was pointed out at the Chautari, most of those listed above are well-recognized names and hence have been invited to write for various papers. But just as in the case of journalists, media organizations have done little to aggressively recruit younger women to write for them on different subjects. Also 'established' women and men writers and organizations who is in a position to help, need to do a lot more to facilitate the publication of writings by younger women.

With respect to the second aspect - writings on "women's issues" in the media - a few points need to be recognized. First, since the so-called
"women's issues" are not hermetically separate from what might be called
"men's issues," we should begin to think of them as "gendered social analysis". By renaming it thus, we highlight the fact that women and men exist within a single society under socially constructed gendered power relations and thus a reading of the society from the usually subordinate position of women brings to fore one of the central ways in which power
(defined broadly) operates in our society. Gendered social analysis provides fundamental insights that add to and alter the understanding of our society obtained from modes of inquiry that take class, caste or ethnicity as their primary social unit. Defined this way, both men and women can write insightful pieces on what has been called "women's issues." However it is true that among the many male columnists writing today, Rajendra Prasad Adhikari (Jana-Ekata) is the only one who has a column on this theme, while a handful of other male writers have contributed an occasional piece or two.

Second, in the print media, gendered social analysis can appear either from the pens of journalists or other professionals who have acquired competence in this subject. Some journalists - mostly women who have self-trained themselves in the subject - have made a valiant effort in this regard (see especially the issues of Asmita). Sancharika Samuha, an organization of mediawomen, has provided good feature articles to various newspapers. However journalism training programs continue to neglect gender as an operative category of social reporting. Journalists who come fresh from Nepal's campuses would have hardly had any exposure to this theme and hence neophyte journalists are hardly equipped to do gendered social reporting.

Third, the media is ill-served by Nepali gender 'experts' (both women and men) who remain, by and large, well-versed in the pre-packaged women-in-development discourses (and hence are darlings of the international donor community) but uncommitted to working toward the enhancement of journalistic abilities. Flaunting their formal degrees as weapons of terror, these 'experts' have given many seminars on the theme of "media and gender" but none has committed any significant amount of time and energy toward the generation of actual copies of serious reporting. About 25 top-class journalists had an opportunity to learn about the ignorance regarding the Nepali print media world on the part of one prominent gender 'expert' during a two-day workshop organized by the Nepal Institute of Mass Communications on 21-22 December 1996. Furthermore, little of the work these experts have produced in the form of project reports and analyses find their way to the media as appropriately written analytical essays.

To conclude then, we need to see a lot more initiative on the part of media organizations and people before "women's writings" - in both of the senses discussed above - can rise from the "columned" space given it at the moment to "mainstream" print media. Private media organizations should demonstrate their commitment to gender equality by vigorously recruiting more women journalists and columnists. Gendered analysis can not become mainstream reporting until we can raise the number of journalists who are capable of doing so. Media training programs ought to include lessons on gender as a fundamental category of social reporting in their curricula. Donor agencies pouring money into the media sector should stop funding useless seminars and should start funding specific organizations and individuals to generate copies of gendered reporting.

Are there any takers out there?
 
*********************************************************** Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 10:52:08 GMT From: Anil M Sakya <Anil.Sakya@brunel.ac.uk> Subject: Newar interpretation of Dasai. To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu>

Newar interpretation of Dasai (Mohani)

Just after Dasai festival which is the most important festival of Nepalese I joined a Nepalese meeting group in London. During the meeting some Nepalese began a discussion about the Dasai festival in Nepal and how it relates to Nepalese identity. It all began when Mr Gurung, a resident of the UK suggested that as a Nepalese one should not celebrate Lhosar festival as it is a Tibetan new year festival.. This was protested by Mr. Shrestha, who said there should not be any restrictions in celebrating such festivals. He added that even the Dasai festival, which is the most important festival celebrated by all walks of life in Nepal, does not belong to Nepal. It is from India and is related to the story of Ramayana. The occasion is the remembrance of the event when Rama succeeded killing Rawana on the tenth day of the month Asoj (September/October). It is, therefore, named Vijaya Dasami which literally means the victory on the tenth day.

Listening to their arguments I was thinking to myself about the significance of Dasai as Mr Shrestha understood and also by most Nepalese. Later I found an interesting indigenous Newar interpretation of Dasai which is known as Mohani Nakha. According to Mr Baldev Juju a Newar Brahman of Rajopadhyaya caste, despite current trends where the Nepalese send each other greeting cards with pictures of Bhagavati goddess killing Mahisasur and bearing phrases such as 'Vijaya Dasamiko Subhakamana' ('best wishes on the occasion of Vijaya Dasami'), in actuality, the Newar are mistaken in their belief that Dasai is based on Indian mythology.

In fact the purpose of Newar Dasai is to empower (Sakti Munkegu) oneself in order to be able to struggle with all obstacles of life throughout the year. According to the Newar indigenous belief, the month of Mohani falls on the month of Kaulathwa which is the last month of the year according to Newar calendar. Therefore when the month of Kaula begins it indicates the end of the year. Throughout the year people have struggled with all sorts of obstacles and problems. Therefore, Mohani is celebrated so as to empower oneself to endeavour through another year. Throughout many days of celebration of Mohani the last day is the ritual of receiving power from sword known as 'khadgasiddhi'. After this ritual Newars join feasts in different relative houses which symbolizes gathering power from different relatives.

On the dark moon day of Kaulaga month the ritual of Laxmi Puja is held which means it terminates the ritual of empowering. Laxmi Puja day is the last day of the year. New year's day is celebrated by performing 'Mha Puja' or ritual of self worship, which symbolizes the readiness to begin another year. This is the Newar version of Dasai or Mohani festival.

In addition, there is also a Buddhist interpretation of the festival which is similar to the Hindu legend. However, they relate the festival with the Emperor Ashoka's victory over his own mind when he became enlightened, stopped all killing and followed the path of Buddhism. In this case, the real victory is not victory over others in war but the victory of morality in oneUs mind.

The various myths and interpretations put forward only attests to the diversity that is Nepalese culture, each with its own unique identity, and each equally enriching to the culture of Nepal as a whole. Rather than deny our cultural diversity, we should celebrate Dasai in our own unique way, without any cultural conflict.

************************************************************* Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 09:10:16 -0500 From: Andrew Manzardo <structure@erols.com> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Marie Norman

For Marie Norman

Somethimes things take time. I accidently ran into your posting in the Nepal Digest requesting help with work on Thakalis for Marie Norman. I asked a friend to check at USEF in Kathmandu. They told me that Marie had returned to the States. If she can send me a note here, she has found Anrew Manzardo, one of the three she was looking for, I also know the whereabouts of William Fisher and am checking on Barabara Parker.

Thanks Andy Manzardo Institutional Structuring Phone/Fax 410 377-9121
  From: Andrew Manzardo <structure@erols.com> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Corrected message: Marie Norman

For Marie Norman

Sometimes things take time. I accidently ran into your posting in the Nepal Digest requesting help with work on Thakalis for Marie Norman. I asked a friend to check at USEF in Kathmandu. They told me that Marie had returned to the States. If she can send me a note here, she has found Anrew Manzardo, one of the three she was looking for, I also know the whereabouts of William Fisher and am checking on Barabara Parker. This is in reference to the following message:
" A friend of mine , Marie Norman is on a Fulbright to Nepal, and working on Thakalis in Pokhara in the tourism industry. She is hoping to get help in two areas:

- the addresses (mailing) of Andrew Manzardo, William Fisher and Barbara

        Parker, all of whom have written on the Thakalis.
- ANY advice and insights from contributors to the newsgroup on the Thakalis.

Please send her information at :

(preferred address) Marie Norman Kathmandu U.S.E.F Deptt. of State"

Thanks Andy Manzardo Institutional Structuring Phone/Fax 410 377-9121
 
******************************************** Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 13:56:35 -0500 To: The Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> From: kiran@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu (Namita Kiran)

        Awaiting For You

In this vast desert of emptiness, I look for the sign of oasis Your soothing voice telling me the love you feel for me...

-looking for a small sign of oasis.

In this barren land of hollowness, I am waiting for the fulfillment a gentle touch the shivering sensation up and down in my spine

-waiting for a little sign of greenery.

Barren land empty heart the pleadings ehoes silently- in the hollow soul - come back embrace me, one more time,

tell me one more time we will run along the dark ocean, we will sing the the song of the silver moon, together and forever,

Tell me one more time...

Namita Kiran-Thuene Sept. 29, 1997

****************************************************************** Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 13:52:26 -0800 From: Valerie Stinger <stinger@gene.COM> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: Request for information on and application for program.

Earlier I had sent the attached letter for my daughter, Laura. I hope you that you received it, but I am not sure so I am resending the request. She is very interested in a program and would appreciate any information or suggestions.

Also please provide any telephone or fax numbers which we should use to communicate with you.

In addition to the addresses below, you may communicate by fax to Laura Stinger, c/o Valerie Stinger, 650-225-1077.

Attachment: Subject: request for information on and application for program.

      My name is Laura Stinger. I just graduated from high school and have deferred a year from Reed College. I have been looking into programs in the India/ Nepal/ Tibet area that are related to ecology. I am very interested in your program and would like more information as well as any application etc. that needs to be filled out. I would like to volunteer for four to five months beginning as soon as possible. I have had some experience in environmental issues and campaigns in the local San Francisco area as well as in Northern California.
       I should tell you that this is my Mother's e-mail address so the name you can send to is Laura c/o Valerie Stinger.
       Thank you so much. I am very excited to hear from you.
            
                         Laura Stinger
                         721 Christine Dr.
                         Palo Alto, Ca 94303

                         (650) 493-6043
    Feel free to e-mail anytime. Thanks again!

Valerie Stinger Strategic Marketing Planning ext: 415-225-4221 fax: 415-225-1077

********************************************* Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 22:52:53 -0000 From: Balmukund Joshi <B.P.Joshi@btinternet.com> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: News from Sagarmatha Times, UK

Dear Rajpalji,

I have included news and editorial with this message that your readers may be interested in. The news and Editorial is from Sagarmatha Times, the only Nepalese newspaper published in UK.

Source : Sagarmatha Times, October 1997 Edition Visit us at http://www.btinternet.com/~sagarmatha.time/menu.htm

Editorial

Once again Nepal enjoyed transfer of power in a very peaceful manner. Th= is transfer of power is the fourth one within the life span of present Parliament. After midterm polls the Communist Party of Nepal-UML formed the first Communist government in the country, though the party was in minority but enjoyed the highest number of elected seats in the parliament. After nine months of power UML government decided to call on midterm polls by dissolving the parliament. The UML government dissolved parliament to avoid facing a vote of no confidence motion, requested to His Majesty the King of Nepal for the special session of parliament by the opposition parties.

The decision of government was a blunt action against the norms and dignity of the Constitution of Nepal. Hence, a constitutional crisis erupted in the country. As per the Constitution, there are various alternatives to be seen before dissolving the Parliament. The UML government decided to ignore them for their own vested interest.=20

The opposition parties could have either taken the matter to people through street agitation or take to law courts. They choose the latter one to avoid violence and filed the case in the Supreme Court for declaring government action null and void and reinstate the dissolved parliament for the remaining period. With Supreme Court verdict of re-instation of the parliament, new coalition government formed in the leadership of Nepali Congress with support of RPP (Rastriya Prajatantra Party) and NSP (Nepal Sadbhavana Party). The coalition government lasted for 18 months inspite of floor crossing by their own cabinet members of the coalition government more than two times.

RPP formed another coalition government with the support of UML, NSP and Nepal Samajwadi Janata Party. The four parties coalition government could not have existed for even one year, this was basically due to infighting within own party of the coalition parties and also because of the correct maneuver of strategy by Nepali Congress.=20

RPP has only 20 members in the 205 members parliament. But because of power hungry mongers domination in Historical People's Movement co-fighters parties Nepali Congress and UML, RPP playing the king maker's role. RPP is also divided for the power, is the main reason their own government replaced by themselves.

It is too early to forecast on the future of this government. But it is true that a strong coalition government should have been made of Nepali Congress and UML. That would have been a great support for strengthening the Nepalese Democracy.

 As usual, the coalition partner parties assured that present coalition government will be lasting and will complete full term of the present parliament. If that really happened, it would be a great favour to the=20 people and the democracy of Nepal.

Sagarmatha Times to donate to Nepalese Schools Sagarmatha Times registered and published in UK publishing monthly newspaper in Nepali for the last six years. The English publication also started from last one and half years. With the unqualified support of Nepalese residing in UK Sagarmatha Times is successful in it's goal on preservation and development of Nepalese language, literature, and culture in England. Sagarmatha Times is being run by social workers on a voluntary basis.=20

Sagarmatha Times has recently decided to keep aside 50,000 Nepalese Rupees
(fifty thousand) as donation funds as financial assistance to schools located in the most remote areas of Nepal for the year 1997. The fund will be used to carry out various matters of the school such as maintenance of school roof top, opening of a library, drinking water arrangement, construction of toilets and others which will give direct benefit to the school. It is also decided that the donation of the fund will be made every year. For your remembrance Sagarmatha Times have provided 10,000 Nepalese Rupees (ten thousand) last year as a financial assistance to Sri Saraswati Lower Secondary School, Choyaga Daha, Gulmi, Lumbini Zone, Nepal.

The necessary contact will be made soon with the Royal Nepalese Embassy, in UK for selection of schools in remote areas of Nepal for the financial assistance.

Dashain Celebrations His Excellency the Royal Nepalese Ambassador Dr S B Basnyat and HRH Mrs Jotshna Basnyat hosted a Tea Party on the auspicious great Nepalese festival Dashain at the Royal Nepalese Embassy on 11th October for the Nepalese community residing in UK.=20

Similarly, Yeti Nepalese Association also hosted a Dashain celebration on 13th October at Acton Town Hall, London. In the celebration, Dinner party and cultural programmes were also organised. His Excellency Dr Basnyat and HRH Mrs Jotshna Basnyat were also present on the occasion. His Excellency the Ambassador Dr Basnyat sang a song accompanied by Dr G.M. Sherchan playing a guitar made the cultural programme interesting, as per news received.

Miss Nepal in UK Miss Jharana Bajracharya, the Miss Nepal 1997 arrived in London on 26th October on the way to participate on behalf of Nepal in the Miss World 1997 competition to be held in Seychelles on 22nd November. Miss Bajracharya was selected as Miss Nepal by an organisation in Nepal called Hidden Treasures through a glamorous competition held in Kathmandu earlier this year. The Director of the organisation, Mr Subarna Chhetri led the delegation. Miss Bajracharya will be participating in different activities in UK in the Miss World Headquaters from 30th October before flying to Seychelles on 2nd November with the other Miss World contestants gathered in London.

Nepalese social workers in UK organised a welcome party on 27th October in the Natraj Restaurant in honour of Miss Bajracharya and the delegation. The party was also attended by Royal Nepalese Ambassador in UK Dr SB Basnyat and HRH Mrs Basnyat.=20

Similarly, another welcome party due to be hosted by Royal Nepalese Embassy on 28th October was canceled at the last minute due to most unavoidable situation as per our correspondent.=20

Social worker Mr Hari KC is looking after the delegation while in London.

Lunch Reception=20 A Lunch reception was hosted by Britain-Nepal Chamber of Commerce at the London Hilton Hotel on 31st October. The reception was attended by British Ambassador to Nepal Mr Barney Smith, Royal Nepalese Ambassador to UK Dr Singha Bahadur Basnyat, Sir John Knott, Sir William, Minister Councilor of Royal Nepalese Embassy Mr Pralhad Prasai, Col. Jimmy Evans and other members of the association.

British Ambassador Mr Smith explained to the gathering about the latest political and economic development in Nepal in his short speech. Ambassador Mr Smith also informed the British investors on possible investment areas specially in hydro-power, tea plantations, constructions, etc.. in Nepal to enhance trade between Britain and Nepal.

Royal Nepalese Ambassador Dr Basnyat assured the safe investment in Nepal. Ambassador Dr Basnyat also elaborated the latest transfer of power through democratic manner as per the Constitution of Nepal.

Association President Sir John Knott and special guest Sir William also spoke in the reception. The reception was sponsored by Zeneca, though the participants were charged admission fee.=20

The Chairman of the Association Col. Jimmy Evans was praised by all the participants for his untiring efforts to make the programme a great success.

Best Nepalese Restaurant in UK The 1998 Good Curry Guide awarded the prestigious award 'The Best Nepalese Restaurant in UK' to The Gurkha Square Nepalese restaurant of Fleet, Berkshire.

The award was presented to the proprietor of the restaurant Captain A.B. Gurung at a glamorous Restaurant Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 14th October 1997 at The Cafe Royal in Picadilly, London attended by more than 500 guests of which many are important press media, specialising food and drink, restaurants and books.

Friends of Nepal-Chesterfield
=09In the initiation of Dr B.K Shrestha, Mrs Nirmala Shrestha, Dr T.N Vaidy= a and Mrs Hind Maiya Vaidya, a charity organisation 'Friends of Nepal - Chesterfield' is being formed.

Dr B.K Shrestha is the coordinator of the organisation and other members of the organisation are the staff members of Maples Health Medical Care.

Friends of Nepal - Chesterfield is planning to develop health posts in Pulimarang village of Tanhau District in Nepal. The charity line dancing on 1st November and charity dinner on 8th November are being organised to raise pound 3,000 for the cause.

Activities of Yeti-Midlands and North UK As per communiqu=E9 received from Manchester, following are their activiti= es

Dashain and Tihar celebration : A function was organised on 26th October in Manchester to celebrate Dashain and Tihar festival. The function was attended by Nepalese residing in various parts of UK along with Mr Pralhad Prasai, the First-Secretary of The Royal Nepalese Embassy and Mr and Mrs George Lowe, the member of first successful Everest expedition.

The function also included Nepalese culture programs performed by the Nepalese Culture Association - UK and Sagarmatha Times. The function was successfully co-ordinated by Mrs Jamuna Mali.

Welcoming of Nepalese students : A program was organised in Widdington public library to meet and welcome Nepalese students who arrived in UK for study.

Cultural Program : A culture program was organised by Nepalese residing in UK, it was also participated by Nepalese Cultural Association - UK to celebrate Dashain and Tihar. The participants are Ajay Shekhar Pradhan, Gopal Poudyal, Tej Bahadur Gurung, Shashi Mali, Bikash Bhattarai, Nirmal Karki, Neera Lopchan, Neety Karki, Arati Shrestha, Niranjan Karki, K.B. Lama, Maya Gurung Lama, and Agni Gurung.

Meeting : A regular meeting was held with Manchester City Council in connection with the organisation of Second Nepal Himalayan Festival 1998.=

Similarly, a meeting was held between Chairman Mr Pushpa Shrestha and FNCCI President Mr Ananda Raj Mulmi, who arrived in Manchester for a very short visit on the way to Nepal from Norway after attending International Conference on child labour. Both of them had a very fruitful discussion on Second Nepal Himalayan Festival 1998.=20

Handicraft Exhibition : An Exhibition and Talk program was organised on Nepalese Handicraft by Manchester Metropolitan University, Textile Environment Network and North - West Arts Board.

The speakers, Nepalese Handicraft Specialist Suzie Unsmoor and Handicraft Specialist Ang Diku Sherpa from Nepal, delivered very interesting talks on the subject.

Workshop on Nepalese Dance : The Association is organising minimum two programs a year to develop and preserve Nepalese Culture in UK. It was very successful specially to educate the Nepalese youths in UK. Choreographer Andrea Young is to run a workshop cum classes on Nepalese dance will be open and be free of charge. Mrs Jamuna Mali Tel : 0161 442 8104 can be contacted for enrollment.

Activities of Nepal Kingdom Foundation UK
=09As per communiqu=E9 received from NKF, following are their activities :=

A true copy of letter received from Barbra Roche, MP to Mr Padma Praksah Shrestha, Chairman of NKF, dated 30th October 1997 published below for necessary information :=20

Dear Mr Shrestha,
=09Thank you very much for coming to meet me at my office. I am writing to confirm that I have now written to the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office about the three matters you raised with me.

=091. Gurkha's pension
=092. Gurkha's residential permit in UK
=093. Remembrance Day

I will, of course, contact you again when I have received replies. I do hope that this is helpful.

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