The Nepal Digest - December 9, 1997 (26 Mangshir 2054 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Tues Dec 9, 1997: Mangshir 26 2054BS: Year6 Volume69 Issue2

Today's Topics:

                Nepali News
                DABUU Magazine
                News From Canada: TND Foundation - Canada Chapter
                TIME magazine's article on trafficking
                TKP Book Reviews

 * TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
 * -------------------------------------- *
 * *
 * The Nepal Digest: General Information *
 * Chief Editor: Rajpal JP Singh *
 * (Open Position) *
 * Columnist: Pramod K. Mishra *
 * Sports Correspondent: Avinaya Rana *
 * Co-ordinating Director - Australia Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * Dr. Krishna B. Hamal *
 * Co-ordinating Director - Canada Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * SCN Correspondent: Open Position *
 * *
 * TND Archives: *
 * TND Foundation: *
 * WebSlingers: Pradeep Bista,Naresh Kattel,Robin Rajbhandari *
 * Rabi Tripathi, Prakash Bista *
 * *
 * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
 * *
 * "Heros are the ones who give a bit of themselves to the community" *
 * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" -Sirdar_Khalifa *
 * *
******************************************************* Date: Dec 8, 1997 To: The Nepal Digest <> Subject: Nepali News

Source: The Rising Nepal

Govt to fight Maoist activity 21-point joint policy, programme of coalition out

Kathmandu, Dec. 7 (RSS): The present coalition government is determined to ensure law and order in the country and immediately launch a public security drive to free the country and the people from the dark shadow of killings and terror being perpetrated in the name of Maoist activity. This is stated in the 21-point joint policy and programmes of the coalition government comprising the Nepali Congress, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Nepal Sadbhavana Party. In the policy and programmes document made public today, the coalition government has expressed its determination to come up with a concrete programme within one month, on the basis of a national consensus among responsible political parties committed to the present Constitution and parliamentary exercise, for effective mobilization of the police and administration and for ending the politics of violence. It has also proposed building a free and fearless atmosphere within four months for holding local elections in areas where these elections have not yet concluded because of the inefficiency of the previous government and Maoist killings. As a need is strongly felt for immediately solving the problems currently facing the country in the trade and investment sector, the share market, revenue mobilization and employment generation and for developing a strong, competitive and dynamic economy, the government will immediately launch a programme for promoting economic activity by taking the private sector into confidence, the policy and programmes document says.

The Ninth Plan will be formulated in such a manner as to end the existing uncertainty by giving emphasis to poverty alleviation, employment generation, sustainable and high economic growth rates and regional balance, it adds. The government has also expressed its determination to give a new impetus to the social security programme and programmes for the well-being of the disabled and helpless including and senior citizens and widows, make necessary arrangements for reserving some seats in technical education such as agriculture, forestry, medicine and engineering for downtrodden ethnic groups, backward women and students from remote areas and launch various income - generating pro-grammes for them so that they can be brought into the country's developmental mainstream The government has expressed its determination to establish a commission for the upliftment of the downtrodden and an institute of ethnic groups as proposed by the previous Nepali Congress-led coalition government for the preservation and promotion of the languages and cultures of all ethnic groups and indigenous peoples of the country. It is also determined to encourage high standard, employment-oriented education by putting an end to the existing anarchy in the educational sector, establish agriculture, forestry, medicine and engineering universities pursuant to the concept of multi-university, provide financial, policy and administrative autonomy to the campuses and narrow the gap between government and private sector schools. With a view to solving the growing unemployment problem the government has proposed to launch skill-oriented training programmes and run programmes in credit, technical assistance and market management in a coordinated manner thereby encouraging self-employment.

It also proposes identifying the potential areas for direct employment and providing better employment opportunities to educated unemployed, exploring and regulating foreign employment opportunities and providing unemployment benefits for a certain period to those who have completed specified skill-oriented trainings. Likewise, the government has expressed determination to control corruption and financial irregularities in the administrative and the public sector, maintain transparency and accountability in tender offers and contract related economic activities, bring commission payments into the tax net and seek a solution to the bhutanese refugee problem with the cooperation and goodwill of the government of India. The government will seek a solution to the Kalapani controversy while working for the preservation of national sovereignty and the national interest, prepare the detailed mahakali project report bearing in mind the larger interests of the country, expedite the country's development and implement development projects that have not been able to get off the ground, the policy and programmes document said. The government has also proposed to set up a bonded labour debt relief and rehabilitation fund for abolishing the bonded labour system and other related social malpractices, implement skill-oriented training and credit programmes for abolishing bonded labour in two years and enable such labourers to live independent lives. As for landless settlers, the government has proposed to distribute land to them in an organized manner and launch skill-oriented and credit programmes on a campaign footing from this month onwards for improving the lives of such landless. The government has also given emphasis to ending the uncertainties created by such activities as withholding results and appointments in the civil service and the teaching sector, and to ensuring job security of employees and boosting their morale by correcting decisions which were taken previously out of prejudice and vengeance and which threw the civil service into confusion.

It has proposed resuming the task of deputing citizenship distribution teams to every village and town to solve the citizenship problem in the Terai by providing citizenship certificates to people at their own doorsteps. As stated in the policy and programmes document, the government will make necessary arrangements for ensuring regular supplies of chemical fertilizers, it will launch crop insurance prgrammes to minimize risks in agriculture, and give priority to increased irrigation, construction of rural roads, rural electrification, simple credit programmes and marketing pursuant to the long-term agricultural perspective plan Local bodies will be made more able and autonomous so that they can utilize their own powers and resources and the parliamentary bill on local self-governance introduced by the previous Nepali Congress-led coalition government will be taken as the basis for developing a local self-governance structure to facilitate effective utilization of development budgets on the basis of local priorities and capability. The government has also proposed formulating necessary laws and rules for women's development and empowerment and for encouraging women's participation in every development activity, and likewise proposed mandatory appointment of women teachers in specific numbers in every vdc for running primary schools and adult literacy programmes. The partners in the coalition government have also stated in the document that a mechanism will be developed to monitor and encourge on behalf of the various political parties the efficiency, economic discipline, honesty, sense of responsibility, party discipline and proper conduct of those with responsibilities in government and various other sectors, and also recall such incumbents if necessary.

The government has also proposed to launch effective programmes for the conservation of forests and wildlife, control soil erosion and floods and check rural and urban pollution. it proposes working out programmes for honouring freeedom fighters and political sufferers and providing them with necessary assistance. The leaders of all three parties, ministers and high ranking government officials were present on the occasion.

****************************************************************** Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 19:28:10 -0500 (EST) From: Tulsi Maharjan <> Subject: DABUU Magazine

Just a short note that new issue of the NPPA's DABUU Magazine is available in our homepage. Please send us any comments and suggestions.

If you are interested in getting a hard copy of the Magazine, please mail
$5.00 check made out to the NPPA and send it to me.

* Tulsi R. Maharjan, Ph.D. *
* P.O. Box 3300, Somerville, NJ 08876-1265 *

*********************************************************** Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 22:39:57 -0500 (EST) From: Ashutosh Tiwari <> Subject: article for posting (fwd)

The Kuire debate continued By Seira Tamang

(This essay appears here with Seira's permission from Kathmandu).

      Having just attended a talk on poverty by well know social scientist David Seddon (author of many books on Nepal including "Nepal: A State of=20 Poverty"), it struck me again how during the kuire/bideshyi debate that took place in the Kathmandu Post a few months ago, everyone sidestepped the issue of "kuire worship" that initiated the discussion. In a re-entry into that realm, let us consider a few scenarios, the last of which includes the Seddon talk:=20

Sitting at a restaurant and trying desperately to flagg down the waiter for the umpteenth time as he/she hovers attentively over the more recently arrived caucausians; entering a shop and being served until a white-skinned person arrives whereupon help is no-where to be found; being rudely treated by receptionists of I(NGO) offices (Nepali people off the street cannot possibly have legitimate reasons for entering institutions designed to help Nepalis) while caucasians are smilingly greeted, and going to conferences where only white folk hold the "truth" and Nepalis can but learn, but not contribute, to "knowledge". =20

The latter spectacle is all the more annoying when, as in the Seddon's talk, what is being said is a far cry from what the then moderator described as "very stimulating and thought provoking". Leaving aside the fact that that such phrases are the inevitable mantras of conferences and that conference-speak is rendering irrelevant the actual meaning of words, the crucial areas Seddon pinpointed for progress (decentralization, bureaucracy reform, small-scale hydropower, India relations and political stability) have, in the words of one participant in the audience, already been inventoried "ad nauseum" by others.

        My list of such scenarios could have been continued, but I didn't want to seem whiny... But perhaps whining, complaining, protesting and being outraged that we Nepalis don't appear to have enough self-respect to stop lying prostrate before our western counterparts is exactly what we should be doing. Especially as it is we Nepalis who read English newspapers, who act as the translators and go-betweens between the "natives" and the Westerners, who go to conferences etc - who should be most vocal critics of "kuire" worship
 - are invariably the ones to first drop to our knees.=20

The retort of "so it's internalized racism, not the fault of our foreign friends" misses the fact that it's only our white, foreign=20 friends who seem to elicit scenarios such as the above, and that being part of a society, in whatever capacity, means that you are as responsible for the collective images as anyone else. What are those dominant collective images in Nepal? We have the "Lords of poverty" zooming in their air-conditioned, blue-license plated imports through dirt filled roads; expatriates filling supermarkets where prices of goods are obscene; and tourists out to experience the exotic and be with the natives - "so nice to visit but such a relief to escape back home to civilization".

     From another angle, Nepalis have been scrutinized, studied, managed, organized, classified and said to be brave, chalak, illiterate,
 poverty-stricken, friendly, Hindu, patriarchally structured, exotic, ethnically diverse, sturdy, fatalistic and developing. Once dissected, examined and laid bare in all our adequacies, attempts are then made through policy and prescriptions to mould, construct and redefine us less than perfect Nepalis with our less than perfect understanding of ourselves.

         The resultant dominant image - we're their "friends", guides, we translate for them, we've adopted them in our families, help them "do"=20 bhai tikka and go native in kurtas - but we're never quite as good as our white counterparts. We can but try and copy them and the level of civilization that they embody. We still need to be "developed".=20 Internalized racism has external components. =20

The relevance to the use of "kuires"? Well no Nepali could possibly be totally impervious to those images highlighting Nepali inadequacies and Western perfection. And yes, after nearly fifty years of being
"developed" with no real tangible gains, we Nepalis may be getting bitter. And yes, we've noticed the lack of clean water supplies and we also realize we're too poor to daily buy the bottled water those foreign =91experts' living in mansions buy. And thanks for the information about the level of pollution, traffic and unhygenic waste strewn on the roads Mr/Ms tourist
 - we have managed to notice that too. And no, the Nepali driver of the embassy, INGO agency etc, isn't perfectly happy with his job (contrary to the constant cheerful demeanour his employers may see) - he'd much rather be driven around.=20

  =09Nepali people need to be seen, heard and understood as people who think, feel and reconstitute the flows of information which surround them. While not advocating the use of "kuires", I think it is important to understand why the word "kuire" - encompassing as it does that edge, that tone, that power - may be both an emotive outlet and a sign of Nepalis wanting to take control of their thinking, doing and being. Understanding root causes and then trying to find solutions may be more productive than issueing the moral imperative of what words we should or should not be using.

Moreover, Nepalis need to stop denigrating their own worth as=20 thinkers and doers and enlargen the definitions of not only what is and who has "knowledge" but the spaces in which "knowledge" can be found. If any of those who thronged to see Seddon the other day had taken the time to=20 attend the weekly discussions at Martin Chauthari in Thapathali, they would have known exactly how far and how much more sophisticated those debates outlined by Seddon has become in Nepal. It may not be a fancy hotel or a big goverment office conference room, and there are no delicacies to eat and drink (you have to sit on the floor and have the choice of pancakes and tea from an old flask), but the type of discussions held there make Seddon-esque meetings of which there are all too many
 - seem like kindergarten. THE END=20

************************************************************** Date: November 27, 1997 To: The Nepal Digest <> Subject: Nepal News

Source: The kathmandu Post Nove 27, 1997

Rural life : Badly muddled By Narendra

On account of multi-ethnic and multi-lingual groups, people love to romanticize and describe Nepal as a garden of many flowers. But little do they consider what will happen to untended flowers, if the wild weeds dominate the garden? The fact is that today socio-economic development in rural areas is greatly encumbered by too many social malpractices, superstitions and alcoholism. While larger segments of people are trapped in abject poverty, the many knotty social issues look even more complex. The Deuki system, the Kamaiya (bonded labour) system, Bukrahi system, excessive misuse of foodgrains to produce home brew and alcoholism are the bane of rural society. In rural hills, especially in western Nepal, a man prefers to abduct anothers wife instead of marrying a girl due to the false notion that it is more prestigious. This is utterly weird. The ugly practice of wife-abduction has ruined several homes and created unnecessary social tension.

Intellectuals with long field experience have opined that control in alcoholism alone will solve many rural ills. The rural people are shy, uneducated and incapable of reasoning. Whenever they feel they are cheated or wronged they cannot make their point normally. So, feeling insecure and hopeless, they gulp down a bottle of local brew, whip up courage, wield his khukuri and set out to try a conclusion. whether the dispute is serious or trivial. Whenever a survey team from urban areas go to a village to conduct a household survey on socio-economic condition, they confront a strange situation. Families looking well-off present themselves as poor in the expectation of benefits and families seemingly belonging to the poor groups try to present themselves as well-off to enhance their social prestige.

At present two kinds of waves are stirring and muddying the rural mind. One, foreign employment agents are doing big business by duping the rural youth. These agents present the lure of foreign jobs and push the poor families deeper into debt. What this tantalization leads to is common knowledge. Success stories are too few. Examples of shattered dreams and battered families are too many. Second, following the restoration of multi-party democracy, the politicization of all aspects of rural life has poisoned the air. Local political bodies like District Development Committees and Village Development Committees usually witness a raucous on account of their multi-party character. The majority group tries to bulldoze its motion. The minority group tries to foil everything. So, the situation is one of perpetual polarity. A man of one political group will not marry off his daughter to a boy belonging to a rival group. Social activities and functions organized by one group are cautiously avoided by other groups.

When a murder or fight takes place in a village, both groups issue statement saying that its worker are being victimized by the bullies of the rival group.For the socio-economic uplift of rural society, it is highly imperative that various educative and awareness-building components should be included in the rural development programmes and pushed forward strongly. This seems to be the only effective way to salvage the rural people's life, which is otherwise bogged down.

Young woman jumps to death By a Post Reporter

POKHARA, Nov 26 - A 23-year-old woman, Parvati Dhungana, has committed suicide three days after she was married to Bhola Nath Dhungana, resident of Dulegaunda - 7 in Tanahun district. Two days after the marriage, the newly married couple had returned to the brides parental home at Tallo Gagangounda of Lekhnath municipality ward No 13. The groom and bride went to bed that night. Later, the bride secretly left the sleeping groom and jumped into the Seti river. She had put her gold ornaments in the pocket of her jacket and left the jacket on the river bank. Her body was found after a prolonged search.

The marriage was held against the brides wishes, according to the rumour circulating among the local people.

Photos in media revictimise prostitutes By a Post Reporter

KATHMANDU, Nov 26- Commercial sexual exploitation by displaying photographs by media plays a great role in revictimising the prostitutes, says Renu Rajbhandari, member of Alliance Against Trafficking in Women and Children in Nepal (AATWIN). She says, "the attitude of the society towards prostitutes does not remain the same in different periods, so the right to privacy of them should be made a proactive approach by the media". She added that since they are forcefully made prostitutes, they should not be exposed.

"Also if the prostitutes who have returned to their country home with some hope are discouraged by the media by covering their photographs, then who will be their support and be responsible for their protection?" It is seen that the future of these women and children depends upon improving the situation of them so that they can play an active role in the development of their families and communities. During the programme, Meena Paudel, another member of AATWIN, focused on the positive need to combat trafficking in girls and child sex abuse through every sector especially media and not harrass them. She said that we have to serve by providing them with their rights and duties. "Also inspite of there being agenda and policies, why cannot the issues pertaining to sexual exploitation be politicised."

A one-day interaction programme with the press and the non-governmental organisation was organised today by AATWIN to help prevent misunderstandings between the media and the NGOs. There are seven NGOs involved in AATWIN, a networking group working together for the protection of womens empowerment and child rights.

Scrape the terrible law

As an American tourist travelling into Nepal from India, I was made very uncomfortably aware of a terrible Nepalese law that allows a vehicle driver to run over and kill a pedestrian and pay only a flat sum of Rs 17,500 to cover funeral expenses, whereas if the pedestrian is only injured, the driver must pay a great deal more for the victims medical bills and rehabilitation. My taxi, on the way from Kakarvitta to the airport at Biratnagar, was halted on the road because a bus driver had hit a 15-year-old student, and instead of stopping, getting out and helping, had driven his truck over the childs body, killing him. The reason for this ghastly act was to save money. Rs 17,500 is nothing compared to the potential cost of healing the victims injuries! I understood further that this is not an uncommon occurrence. To say that I am shocked and horrified is an understatement. Clearly, this law needs to be removed from the books and some more humane way of dealing with the Karma of both driver and victim needs to be instituted. Not only is an innocent person deprived of his or her precious human body, but another person is moved to commit and act that will surely bring increasing misfortune and dreadfulness to his own life, for many lifetimes.

Bette Daniels, San Francisco, USA

*********************************************************** From: "Anil Shrestha" <SHRESTHA@CROP.UOGUELPH.CA> To: Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 11:23:23 EDT Subject: News from Canada

Nepal related organizations in Canada

From: Anil Shrestha, TND, Canada Chapter

The following is a brief introduction of some Nepal related organizations in Canada. Most of the information collected is based on the newsletters of these organizat ions.

The Canada Nepal Friendship Association (CNFA): The CNFA is a non-profit, non-political organization established in the Spring of 1990 to foster better relations between Canada and Nepal. The CNFA feels that the immensely rich culture of the Nepalese society should be made more widely knows to Canadians. Its members come from various walks of life and include nationals from both Nepal and Canada CNFA publishes a newsletter called "Namaste." The current President of CNFA is Ms. Bettina Fraedrich. More information on CNFA can be obtained from:

Canada Nepal Friendship Association P. O. Box 77061 Ottawa South Postal Outlet Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5N2

Nepalese Association in Canada (NAC): NAC is a Toronto based organization established to promote and enhance the rich Nepalese cultural heritage. It is a local community organization alive solely for the purpose of the local Nepali community in Toronto. NAC organizes various cultural functions and social gatherings. The official newsletter of NAC is "Laligurans." The current President of NAC is Ms. Shailendri Rana.

Nepalese Association in Quebec (NAQ): NAQ is a Montreal, Quebec based Nepali organization. The current President of NAQ is Ms. Amita Rasaili.
(More information on NAQ will be published as it becomes available).

The Nepalese Community Network of Canada (NCNC): NCNC was established to keep the culture of the Nepalese people living in Canada alive. It organizes various cultural and social functions for the Nepalese community and friends of Nepal. NCNC publishes a bilingual (Nepali/English) magazine "Diyalo." The current President of NCNC is Mr. Sharad Subba of Montreal.

Information on organizations based in Central and Western Canada, if any, will be published as it becomes available.

As a member of the TND Canada chapter, I will highly appreciate and welcome queries, comments, information, articles and suggestions on Nepal related organizations/activities in Canada. My email address is:


*********************************************************************************************** Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 20:46:18 -0500 (EST) From: aiko <gs07aaj@panther.Gsu.EDU> To: Subject: TIME magazine's article on trafficking

In the 27th January issue of TIME magazine, there was a heartrending article on the trafficking of Nepali girls to the brothels of India. Unless your heart is made of stone or you are a completely debased human, noone could read this without shedding a tear or two, and feeling strong emotions of hot anger against the perpetrators of this terrible form of genocide.

The ages of young Nepali girls being tricked or forced into prostitution are getting younger and younger, as AIDS-stricken Indian men pay to have sex with these children in the stupid, moronic belief that their AIDS will then be cured by using a virgin. Happily, these men soon find out they were very wrong and die; unhappily, the little girls they violate are themselves stricken with AIDS and then turned out into the steaming, teeming streets of India to die.

What is the government of Nepal doing? NOTHING! What is the SAARC doing? NOTHING! Numerous requests and pleas for help to SAARC have been sent but to no avail; to this date, no reply has been sent to the emailers. Sadly, many NGO'S are also guilty of not helping all they can; too many seem more interested in the money and prestige than in genuinely helping these girls. But there are other NGO groups that ARE DOING SOMETHING.

Those of you reading this may wonder, why does she go on and on about this! What can I do; what can anyone do! Anyway, the girls brought it on themselves by listening to the smooth-talking men who come to the villages with promises of jobs and stardom in Kathmandu and Bombay! Anyway, it's the parents who are at fault for selling their daughters, etc., etc.,blah, blah, blah . . . . Sorry, but things are not as simplistic as that. There are so many factors that go into the reasons why this is happening, continues to happen, and IS INCREASING / NOT DECREASING! Unless you absolutely have no feeling left for your native country because you have been caught up in the materialism and greed displayed so prominently in this country and other industrialized countries, I would hpe that you take a minute and reflect what this means for Nepal as a whole and for the Nepali people, both men and women! If a huge chunk of the population is being infected with AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases because they are being used as sex slaves, how can they hope to contribute healthily and wisely to the future of Nepal? Do we want a country where half the population is diseased? Do we just sit back and let the little kingdom just rot into the snows of the Himalyas, and we all close the curtain on it with sighs of relief? Those of you from the regions where there is a lot of "recruiting" taking place, think about someone you may know who has quietly "disappeared": some neighbor's daughter or sister. .
 . .What if she were able to return home, but she was sick with disease? Will you lead the fight to enlighten the villagers into realizing this is not the girl's fault, and not to kick her out; will you lead the fight to enlighten her family that there is no shame in taking an abused daughter or sister back into the family? These girls need the support and care of their families and other people. so the government doesn't do anything; so some of the organizations don't give a damn. Since when do we depend on the government to act? The PEOPLE need to take action and take the initiative; people like you and me, people who care and are racking our brains to try and figure out what to do to help. This is your Nepal that is being affected, and I think it is time we got together to help in some way; give our support in any way to the organizations that are helping. Show videos, have meetings, MAKE THE PEOPLE AWARE! You don't have to be in Nepal; this problem of trafficking is GLOBAL! In the coming months, I hope to organize meetings to bring an awareness of this growing problem and I hope that I can count on some of you for support. Remember: you are investing in Nepal's future by HELPING AND CARING!

Aiko A. Joshi M.A. candidate, Georgia State University

********************************************************* Date: Sun, 30 Nov 1997 10:37:58 -0500 (EST) From: aiko <gs07aaj@panther.Gsu.EDU> To: Subject: New Interactive Web Site on Nepal: Protecting Women. (fwd)

Do it for Nepal and do it for women everywhere.

Anne Joshi

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 20:43:00 +0100 From: Debra Guzman <> Reply-To: Subject: New Interactive Web Site on Nepal: Protecting Women.

Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network
## author :
## date : 28.10.97

Hello -

Over the last few months I have been working on an international grass roots organizing project in cyberspace which will hopefully have some important real world implications.

I have been collaborating with Robert Markey, a tireless and experienced activist who founded "Witness to Violence" to address issues of violence against women.

We are targeting the sex trafficking of women and girls from Nepal to the brothels of India as well as rape and sexual harassment of women tourists by tour guides in Nepal, and have created a web site both as a resource and a point of direct action on these issues.

Phase one of the project is now up and running -- an e-mail campaign to the government, media and tour companies in Nepal to stop the pervasive practice of rape and sexual harassment of lone women tourists in Nepal. As tourism is a high economic priority in Nepal, we are hoping that this campaign will not only stop this practice but also give us leverage to help put an end to the sex trafficking industry there. (phase two)

The 'tourism e-mail campaign' page contains a simple form to automatically send emails to the appropriate people in Nepal. Please help this effort by visiting the site and sending an e-mail. While there check out the rest of the site.

The URL is:

Also - and this is important - please send emails to your friends and colleagues who are on-line asking them to join the campaign and visit the site. (Just add a brief note to this and send it) Thus we have a quick chain letter type response to really get this campaign going with maximum impact.

Thanks so much for your help with this.

Helen Brown Check out the New - Interactive - NEPAL - Travel, Trekking and Trafficking home page at:

****************************************************** Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 09:41:09 -0500 (EST) From: Ashutosh Tiwari <> To: Subject: KPRB Rvw 1 (fwd)

From=20The Kathmandu Post Review of Books 30 November, 1997

What Makes a Population Healthy?

Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality by Richard G. Wilkinson. New York, Routledge, 1996 Price: US$18.95

by Dr. Stephen Bezruchka

        Around 1980, three studies with important implications for public health were published. The discovery that heart attack was caused by a clot immediately led to a whole new clinical services industry. Positive relationship between maternal literacy and child survival in developing countries led to the current vogue in literacy programs for women. A third study found a strong negative relation between inequality of income and health among sixty-four countries.
        Responses to these findings were as disparate as the findings themselves. One led to costly therapy with limited world-wide impact. The second, which did not seriously threaten the status quo, resulted in numerous policy declarations but little effective action. Implementation of findings of the third study and the many ensuing confirmatory ones, however, would have required changing national and international economic and political power bases. Not surprisingly, it was swept under the rug. In Unhealthy Societies, Wilkinson again exposes an idea that has been ignored for nearly two decades.
        Wilkinson's main message is that income distribution, both within and among countries, is closely associated with the mortality rate, an indicator of health. He posits that the effect of environmental and behavioral risk factors on health are small in comparison to the overwhelming effect of income distribution. His arguments, laid out like a mathematical proof, are compelling. Most significantly, it shows that the decisions of all government policymakers, not just the Health Ministry, crucially affect the people's health.
        In Wilkinson's conception, a population's health is not merely the sum of its individual members' health. Pondering the rapid rise in life expectancy globally this century, he casts doubt on the causal significance of improved nutrition, environmental control, and medical care. Wilkinson acknowledges that provision of medical services in poor countries will lower mortality, but it is reduction of income disparity that correlates most strongly with reduced mortality.
        Measuring health inequalities via the stratification of mortality rates by socioeconomic position within countries, Wilkinson shows that, except for skin and breast cancers, "every death rate and measure of health
[is] more sensitive to variations in socioeconomic conditions than to medical care" and observes that the "role of medicine is to pick up the pieces". But among countries, the relation between income and health is different. Wealthier countries are not necessarily healthier; notably the richest country overall, the USA, ranks less than 20th among nations in life expectancy.
        Two decades of research show the pervasive and dynamic influence of inequality of income on health: countries that alter income distribution through taxation and other fiscal means have concurrent changes in health indicators. Interestingly, the association does not appear strongly influenced by government expenditures for social programs. Japan and Sweden, first and second in life expectancy, respectively, are at opposite poles in social expenditure as a proportion of GDP (15% in Japan; 40% in Sweden). Wilkinson acknowledges that it is unclear how low relative incomes have to be to affect health, and how much reduction of relative poverty would affect the health of the wealthy.
        Using national and regional examples Wilkinson argues that income distribution is a proxy for what he calls "social cohesion"-that is,
"social capital." Studies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s, show "how closely health is related to the political environment". Today, health is clearly declining in many of those countries, reflecting loss of social cohesion associated with "collapse" and resurgence of economic inequality.
        Finally, the book looks at possible sociological mechanisms for the effect of income distribution on health. Stating that humankind has not yet developed "a satisfactory social organization of the highly integrated productive system which economic development has so recently produced", Wilkinson points out that in older non-monetized economies, food sharing and gift exchange limited social inequities and "open expressions of material self-interest" were taboo. In contrast, the market and wage labor economy institutionalizes individualism and the pursuit of individual gains.
        Wilkinson's public health arguments are epidemiologically well grounded. His advocacy began with activities that indirectly led to the Black Report, a pioneering look at health inequalities in the U.K. After suppression of its findings, then some debate, knowledge has still not led to action. In Unhealthy Societies, Wilkinson shows why putting highly specialized therapeutic methods into practice, or even teaching women to read are worlds apart, judged by effects on health, from implementing egalitarian ideals of social justice, or income equality. The need for action is clear.
        Internally, Nepal suffers from sharply rising income and wealth distribution disparities. Among nations, it ranks near the bottom in economic indicators. Amid the current health policy struggle over specialized care, "excellence" and privatization versus public health, this book contains many timely lessons for ordinary citizens to press their cause with the government. Wilkinson's fundamental message is that only basic economic policies which equalize wealth and income distribution will significantly improve health. More health for all will never be gained by more wealth creation among the economic elite.

(Dr. Bezruchka teaches in the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine and is involved in public health projects in Nepal. Revised from a review published in the New England Journal of Medicine)

Nepali Development: A View from the North

Development Aid to Nepal: Issues and Options in Energy, Health, Education, Democracy and Human Rights By Harald O. Skar and Sven Cederroth Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), Copenhagen, Denmark, 1997. Price (paperback): DKK 125

by Tatsuro Fujikura

        No one has a clear view of all development enterprises in Nepal, much less control over the outcomes-not HMG, GOI, the World Bank nor any other major player. Overviews habitually decry a lack of 'reliable data', precluding determinate conclusions. Hence they are best read not as precise descriptions of sociopolitical realities, but-as literary critic Kenneth Burke recommended in another context-as creative works utilizing various rhetorical and logical strategies to name outstanding features of the situation, and "name them in a way that contains an attitude towards them." Such works, of course, often have substantial effects on the generation of new realities.

        In 1996, anticipating substantial expansion of its aid to Nepal, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry commissioned a study, Development Aid to Nepal: A Summary of Experience, from the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
(NIAS). The book under review is "largely the same" as that report. Thus it can profitably be read as an indicator of likely directions for an increasingly significant donor, and for insights into the process of molding a foreign policy towards Nepali development. Though author Skar has substantial research experience in Nepal, given the impact of donor country policies, it is disheartening to learn that the study is based on "two researcher-months" and "eight days of hectic data collection in Nepal".

        The book examines the energy, human rights, education, and health sectors. Its most forceful argument concerns energy development where it should, "always be a top priority for Norwegian inputs=8Ato support Nepales= e competence building. This is the ultimate test against which all project proposals should be judged".=20

=09Energy sector projects, from 1958 onward, by private Norwegians and the United Mission to Nepal (UMN) are assessed as "fairly successful"-among the most positive evaluations in the entire book.=20 UMN-sponsored companies, engaged in small to mid-sized projects, serve as a model for accomplishing hydropower development while also transferring know-how "so that [Nepalis] can become less dependent on foreign assistance for future projects". Accordingly, the authors recommend Norwegian assistance for small, mid-sized, and micro hydropower projects, while dismissing large-scale ones as almost inevitably involving dominance of foreign expertise and capital, and technical, economic, and political uncertainties that might seriously undermine energy development in Nepal.=

        The authors suggest more tentative engagements in other sectors. Discussing human rights, they write that "Nepal's legal system is renowned for being highly corrupt and a hindrance rather than help in the life of ordinary Nepali citizens". They recommend support for local human rights NGOs, joining in the efforts by DANIDA and USAID on electoral issues, and support for "the peaceful understanding of ethnic diversity" (e.g., the Ethnographic Museum).=20

=09Regarding education, the authors state it would be "prudent" for Norway to invest in the Basic Primary Education Project, regarded by many donors as a 'model', and where, accordingly, many donors have flocked. However, they also suggest that vocational training within high schools
"may become an interesting and important development arena". =20

=09Turning to health, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is described as
"the most bureaucratic and inefficient ministry of all the 47 ministries in Nepal". Hence, rather than investing in MOH, the authors suggest direct financing of short-term projects through consultancy firms or networks established by UMN or Redd Barna. Arguing that sufficient trained rural health personnel, rather than simply more health posts, is the critical need, they recommend a separate study of possibilities for Norwegian-funded health personnel training.

        Readers can benefit from clear presentations throughout of bureaucratic structures related to development projects and their funding sources. However, the authors also make many simplistic, and sometimes illogical statements on sociocultural matters, such as caste and ethnicity. For example, the fact that during the period of their research, the Minister of Law and Justice was a Tamang-whom, the authors explain, have low status in the caste hierarchy -is presented as evidence that human rights are accorded very little importance in Nepal.=20

=09More generally, quoting heavily from the donors' side, the book creates a picture of rational, conscientious donors (from DANIDA to World Bank) struggling in the face of the irrational Nepali, beset by primordial sentiments and practices of aphno manchhe and chakari. This imaginative description of key players "that contains an attitude toward them", leaves no room for sustained analysis of how foreign aid practices themselves may have been transforming the Nepali sociocultural structure at a very deep level. Such analysis, in turn, may be essential if, as the authors of this book profess to believe, the ultimate test for "good" foreign aid is whether it helps to render foreign aid unnecessary.=20

(Tatsuro Fujikura is a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, USA, currently doing research on development in Nepal)

Nepali Literature Through a Glass, Darkly Khagendra Sangraula

        Spun into the web of words produced from their investigations and inspections, social researchers and literary writers endeavour to hang before us mirrors reflective of individuals and society. Ironically, sometimes those mirrors present merely a pitiable reflection of the writers' own intellectual abilities and moral sensibilities.
=09British researcher Michael Hutt has investigated modern Nepali literature for nearly two decades, engaging in editorial work, commentary and, most extensively, translation. Within this web of collected, original, and transformed words, he too has hung a mirror. In it Nepal's reflection appears murky, superficial, piecemeal: his own reflection appears clear, sharp, and whole.=20

=09Reviewing Hutt's Himalayan Voices, fellow British academic David Gellner dubbed him with the title of "foremost foreign expert on modern Nepali literature". What is the basis for such an assessment? Is it the polish and fidelity of the mirror of Nepali literature that Mr. Hutt has created (and within it, true reflections of the images of society that Nepali literature itself produces)? Unfortunately, no.=20

=09Peering into the mirror one can make out, dimly backlit by the never-quite-setting sun of the enduring empire, a few of the characteristics lending plausibility to that title: the English language, white skin, the sterling pound. And gathered round, slavishly worshipping these signs of 'modern civilization', one part of the Nepali intellectual community, whose adulatory stance lends native authority to the lal mohar stamped upon Hutt's credentials by his fellow countryman. Thus has his expertise on Nepali literature become an established fact.
=09What, then, of the fate of Nepali literature, whose faithful image Hutt's mirror is ostensibly designed to reflect? For years his mirror has mainly refracted images of the literature given its own lal mohar by the Royal Academy. About the peculiar features and limitations of that reflection of Nepali literature much could be said. But for reasons of space, here I present just a few examples that testify to Mr. Hutt's intellectual skills, moral sensibilities and apparent love for commando culture.
=09In The Nepali Literature of the Democracy Movement and its Aftermath he writes of the creative assistance to expression rendered by the censorship plastered upon the consciences of citizens during the Panchayati Raj: "The existence of censorship (which was, more often than not, self-censorship) produced many great and memorable works of allegory". But in reality, artistic works like those Hutt seeks to credit for their allegorical form are produced not by censorship; their form is the end result of intellectual effort to break the chains of censorship, a profoundly different matter.=20

=09Hutt expresses concern that, after the downfall of the Panchayat, the regime's censorship may have become exaggerated. If the scope of the Panchyati Raj he inspects were expanded to include the innumerable literary works in newspapers and journals smudged out by the black soot of censorship, the many books stolen and destroyed by the authorities, the anonymous handwritten poems, allowed no publication outlet, scattered secretly in the streets, and the many writers persecuted simply for criticism of the regime, he would surely be saved from such ignorant and absurd commentary. No less absurd are the acrobatics he engages in to surreptitiously conceal the ugly aspects of the Rajat Poetry Campaign's mandalization, through instilled terror and proffered enticements, of independent consciences and poetry alike.=20

        Individuals knowledgeable in English, Nepali, and the art of translation-Taranath Sharma, Pratyoush Onta and others-have meaningfully commented on various injustices to the original found in Hutt's translations. In the arts of discarding parts of the text with abandon and inserting things willy-nilly, Hutt is unrivalled. In some cases this seems merely to reflect a lack of respect for or comprehension of the original text, but in others it actively helps to create his cleansed image of commando culture and his feeble image of opposition to it.

        Translating from Bimal Nibha's portrait, in his poem, Patan, of the aspirations and beauty of the People's Movement's opposition to the autocratic Panchayat, banished from Hutt's mirror is: "And protest against injustice". Just four small words, but within them the essence of the andolan.=20

=09In a short satirical essay discussing the fate of poems founded upon the security of bayonets and plated silver coins, I wrote: "Now praise-filled talk of the brave Nepali people rose toward the stratosphere; along with the gang of commandos, talk of Chandani Shaha slipped inside a hole. It's amazing! Who was where yesterday; who's reached where today?" In Hutt's English mirror, the "gang of commandos" was smudged out altogether. For the "foremost foreign expert", "commando bhaiharuko dalbal" are evidently merely three lifeless words. But for those who experienced the cruelty of Panchayati culture, commando is an unforgettable, ugly sign of the fear, pain, and wrath produced by Panchayati oppression.=20

        Words convey human feelings and experience. Words have life of their own, rhythms, and dignity. For nonsensically-whether whimsically or willfully-pruning others' words, it may seem rude to dub Mr. Hutt a word-stalker and an assassin of meaning. But, unfortunately, to express the essence of his destructive sport in any words but these is impossible.

        And it is in this light that we must examine the spectre of a Hutterized Bhupi-hacked to pieces and condemned to lay exposed so for years to come, before an international audience. Bhupi's words dance to many rhythms-melancholy and slow, fast and furious-but always they dance, creating dazzling patterns in a few short steps. Simplicity and spareness, rhyme and alliteration, repetition and precision, revelation of the subject only after its portrait is before us-these are key elements of Bhupi's wordcraft.=20

=09Satirical, outraged or bemused, profound portraits of the injustices and sufferings of Nepali life written from a sometimes tortured vantage within it-these are what much of his wordcraft was dedicated to. Hutterized Bhupi speaks in unrecognizable plodding, disjointed prose and has nothing much to say. Beyond the artistic travesty, Bhupi's moral stances, and sharp-eyed critiques are frequently smudged out. Consider the final stanza of Sadhain-Sadhain Mero Sapanama:

yasari nai sadhain-sadhain mero sapanama Malayaka asankhya-asankhya manisharuko aasuko ek thulo sagar banchha jasko pratyek laharma ek lash mathi uthchha ek lash tala dubchha tara dubnubhanda agadi malai pratyek lashle ghrinale herchha ah, mero sapanama malai mero bipanako itihasle ghrina garchha

So always always in my dream a great ocean forms: the tears of the men in Malaya; a corpse rises up and a corpse sinks down in every ocean wave, regarding me with hatred. Ah in my dreams I am loathed by the history of my awakening.

        Inviting confusion by omission of "asankhya-asankhya", actively misleading by translating Malayaka manisharu as "the men in Malaya", Hutt then adds a footnote expressly identifying them as Gurkhas, thus erasing Bhupi's image of the ocean of tears of the people of Malaya, that is, erasing his critique of the war in which his countrymen were fighting on the side of imperialism.=20

=09Whose are the bobbing corpses and who do they regard with hatred? For English readers contemplation of those questions is foreclosed by the translation. Its final line completes the hatchet job, obscuring Bhupi's harshly honest, complex relation to the history of our country. A similar erasure is achieved by the translation of galat as "lie" in Galat Lagchha Malai Mero Deshko Itihas.=20

=09Two senses of wrongness pervade the entire poem: the incorrectness of the resplendent national history that is told and displayed, and the moral wrongness of the history that has transpired in Nepal. The second sense fades from the poem in the mirror. In Ghantaghar, several pure Michaelian inventions are added; of Bhupi's few words, several are dropped. All rhythm is lost and so is the profound still portrait effected by the whole. In Sanjhko Naya Sadak =8A, a stark image of citizens treated as refuse by the Panchayati Raj is made opaque in the mirror. And on and on=8A "kathaibara, bichara/'Bhupi' Sherchan!"

        The distorted overall image of Nepali society through its literature reflected in Hutt's mirror is not just a composite of deformed details. Selecting for translation pieces which will, in practice, represent the whole, entails responsibility for careful contextualization, and attention to contemporary contexts.=20

=09In a recent volume under Hutt's editorship (in the Journal of South Asian Literature), no discernible standard of literary or social value, or representativeness guides the selection, rather it seems based on a whimsical "hi-hallo" announcing, 'even in Nepal, there is literature!' And, included there is B.P. Koirala's The Colonel's Horse.=20

=09At this historic moment, when Nepali women are joined in struggle for personal recognition and rights, what is the point of presenting that hapless image created a year before 7 saal, of a woman seeking compensation from a youthful horse for the sexual satisfaction she cannot get from her elderly husband? Carefully contextualized, it could have a point. Without that, is it not appalling derision of the aspirations of women who, in addition to other rights, wish to fulfill, in a natural and healthy way, their sexual desires? Even on the basic questions of what to translate when, and why, we find reflected not an iota of the wisdom of Nepali literature's "foremost foreign expert".=20

        Despite years of effort, a superficial, distorted and ugly image of Nepali literature and the Nepali sensibilities reflected therein has been created by Hutt's spinning of Nepali words into English ones. That his fellow countryman can blithely stamp a seal of approval upon his mirror of Nepal, that the clearest image reflected is the pitiable one of Mr. Hutt's own lack of craft and reactionary sensibilities, and that some members of Nepal's literary community have long gazed in uncritical adulation into such a mirror, are facts that do not make up a pretty picture. It is no source of pleasure to gaze or comment upon it. But gaze and comment we must for, confronted with such a mirror, we Nepalis need to pause and reflect on its sources.

(Khagendra Sangraula is a fiction writer and essayist. The essay of his mentioned above was published in Jan-Andolanka Chharraharu.)

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