The Nepal Digest - Feb 15, 1995 (1 Chaitra 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Wednesday 15 Feb 95: Chaitra 1 2051 BkSm Volume 36 Issue10

       Apologies for no headers due to time restrictions.

 * TND Board of Staff *
 * ------------------ *
 * Editor/Co-ordinator: Rajpal J. Singh *
 * SCN Liaison: Rajesh B. Shrestha *
 * Consultant Editor: Padam P. Sharma *
 * Discussion Moderator: Ashutosh Tiwari *
 * TND Archives: Sohan Panta *
 * Book Reviews Columns: Pratyoush R. Onta *
 * News Correspondent Rajendra P Shrestha *
 * *
 * The Nepal Digest(TND) is a publication of the Nepal Interest Group for *
 * news and discussions about issues concerning Nepal. All members of *
 * will get a copy of TND. Membership is open to all. *
 * *
 * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
 * *
 * "If you don't stand up for something, you will fall for anything" -Dr. MLK *
 * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" - Sirdar Khalifa *
 * *

******************************************************************* From: (Pratyoush R. Onta) Subject: Book Review To: (tnd) Date: Sat, 11 Feb 1995 19:48:10 -0500 (EST)

Book Review

Tribal Ethnography of Nepal, 2 vols. By Dr. Rajesh Gautam and Asoke K.Thapa-Magar.1994. Delhi: Book Faith India. Price: Rs. 1756.

by Pratyoush Onta

This two volume book contains a total of 50 chapters in nearly 750 pages of text. Arranged alphabetically by the name of a 'tribe' of Nepal, these chapters consist of various information on habitation patterns, history, physical characteristics, language, life-cycle rituals, religion, festivals, dress & ornaments, food habits, economic status, social organization and norms. In a two-page preface, the authors tell us that the inspiration to write this book came after extensive travels throughout the country. They say that they "were fortunate to perceive the changing of the ethnic mosaic towards a more artificialised pattern" which in the process was "annihilating the simple cultures that are precariously balanced." Three characteristics of salvage anthropology come together here: the assumption of the existence of simple cultures, precariously balanced as it were, prior to the ethnographic present; the deterioration and annihilation of the tribal landscape witnessed by the ethnographers at the moment of their arrival in the 'field' and the motivation to record whatever is salvageable of the 'true position' (always thought to have existed in the past) of our country's diversity for posterity's sake.

If common language and culture form the authors' criteria for judging who is or is not a tribe and Newars qualify, then I do not see why hill or terai-based bahuns or chhetris have been left out. The assumption that tribal cultures were 'simple' and 'balanced' can not stand up to scholarly scrutiny and belongs to a form of nostalgia that is quite at vogue among Nepali writers these days. Moreover the assumption that changes they are undergoing will give these 'tribes' a homogeneous artificiality neglects the possibilty for cultural reinvention under conditions of 'modernity.' Recent work on the Sherpas and the Thakalis have highlighted this point.

The authors claim their work to be "simply and strictly ethnographic." For those who believe ethnography is a listing of a disparate set of information on a wide variety of topics, this book might prove to be a goldmine. But even then some passages will be difficult to digest. Two examples might suffice. On p. 356 of volume I, the authors while talking about the kusbadiya of west Nepal, say that when a woman of this tribe goes into labour, "the neighbouring hags ... converge at the spot, and it is by their guidance and ability that the baby is delivered." Hags? A bunch of ugly old women, or a group of committed women bent on using
'local' knowledge to help a would-be mother in pain? Is this abusive language an evidence of the authors' misogynism?

On page 38 of volume II, the authors write: "The tradition of going to the Indian or the British Armies is the one which is causing the Magar people to become vegetablished since they have set a trend and anyone who is not in the army is useless or no good is the feling these people have."
'Vegetablished' is perhaps a hybrid neologism through which the authors want to suggest that because of their army service, Magars cannot use their brains and therefore lead a boring and mentally unstimulating life. This does complete injustice to, among other things, the long tradition of ex-soldier inspired formal and non-formal education amonst the Magars and others who have served as the Gurkha Regiments. Their statement regarding present day schools making "sojo (honest and straight forward) Magars of yesterday ... slightly conscious of their identities and social status in this society" is unacceptably patronizing. A more sensitive analysis would have asked how discourses of Magar identity has had to negotiate itself with state's politics of ethnicity in the history of Nepal.

One final note to demonstrate why I find the notion of ethnography as exemplified here to have serious limitations. On death rites of the Newars , the authors, in four pages of text, describe various details regarding how different types of Newars perform their last rites, observe pollution and undergo ritual purification. This text gives no sense of the grief that envelopes a Newar family that has just lost a member. Does it, for instance, teach us how a Newar couple in their seventies grieves over the death of their 42-year son? Or the sorrow of his wife and young children? The bereaved appear as automatons going through a list of rituals.

(A slightly longer version was published in The Independent of 1 June 1994. I have not read anything else by the author Thapa-Magar. Author Gautam, I must point out, is a historian whose 2046 v.s. book on the role of the Nepal Praja Parishad in anti-Rana politics was awarded the prestigious Madan-Puruskar. He has also written - in collaboration with other writer-activists - several volumes on human rights abuse in Nepal.)

************************************************************ Date: Sat, 11 Feb 95 20:42:43 EST From: To: Subject: Khoj Khabar

    I am extremely khushi to read Nepal Digest. (May be I am the guy # n+1 if Mr. Rauniyar is #n to say this)
    If any one reading this happens to have attended Bhanu Bhakta Memorial School, Panipokhari or Kathmandu Valley Campus or Nagarjuna Academy, Kopundole
-it would be great if we could keep in touch.

namaste Anup

********************************************************************************************** Date: Sat, 11 Feb 1995 23:15:57 -0500 (EST) From: Ashutosh Tiwari <> Subject: Why Have Arguments? (fwd) To: Nepal Digest <>
                                                                 FORWARDED by: ashu

        It was in Kathmandu in 1990 that a patrician Nepali tycoon with a cultivated British accent told me: "You know, my boy, unlike the Brits we Nepalese don't know how to make arguments. We are incapable of dealing with ideas that upset our own. That is why, even though we have democracy now, it cannot flourish well here, without debates and dialogues. And since we do not have a debating culture (a la the members of his Oxford Union, I dryly supposed), how can democracy sustain itself in Nepal?"

        Over cold-cuts and hot coffee that evening in that pricey restaurant on Durbar Marg, I merely smiled and listened to that businessman. Since he was paying the bill, I thought I would just listen to his philosophical palaver. Boy, how wrong I was! With every passing day, his words, even after five years, still ring loud and clear and TRUE in my ears.

        Below appear an extract from Anthony Weston's "A Rulebook For Arguments", which I hope will be read and understood by those who think arguments are pointless, and those who take offence at every logical thrashing, and those who urge others to "stop complaining" or "stop writing" just because they find others' views disagreeable, yet cannot come up with good counter-arguments to defend their own position.
                What's the point of arguing?
                      By Anthony Weston

        Some people think that arguing is simply stating their prejudices in a new form. This is why many people also think that arguments are unpleasant and pointless. One dictionary definition for "argument" is
"disputation". In this sense we sometimes say that two people "have an argument": a verbal fistfight. It happens often enough. But it is not what arguments really are.
        "To give an argument" means to offer a set of reasons or evidence in support of a conclusion. Here, an argument is NOT simply a statement of certain views, and it is not simply a dispute. Arguments are attempts to SUPPORT certain views with reasons. Nor are arguments in this sense pointless: in fact, they are essential.

        Argument is essential because it is a way of trying to find out which views are better than others. Not all views are equal. Some conclusions can be supported by good reasons; others have much weaker support. But often we do not know which are which. We need to give arguments for different conclusions and then assess those arguments to see how strong they really are.

        Argument in this sense is a means of INQUIRY [something TND strives very hard to facilitate]. Some philosophers have argued, for instance, that the "factory farming" of animals for meat causes immense suffering to animals and is therefore unjustified and immoral. Are they right? You cannot tell by consulting your prejudices. Many issues are involved. Do we have moral obligations to other species, for instance, or is only human suffering really bad? How well can humans live without meat? Some vegetarians have lived to very old ages. Does this show that vegetarian diets are healthier? Or is it irrelevant when you consider that non-vegetarians have also lived to very old ages? And so on and so forth.

        All these questions need to be considered carefully, and the answers are not clear in advance.

        Argument is essential for another reason too. Once we have arrived at a conclusion that is well-supported by reasons, argument is the way in which we explain and DEFEND it. A good argument does not merely repeat conclusions. Instead, it offers reasons and evidence, so that other people can make up their minfs for themselves. If you become convinced that we should indeed change the way we raise animals, for example, you must use arguments to explain how you arrived at your conclusion: that is how you will convince others. Offer the reasons and evidence that convinced you.

        It is not a mistake to have strong views. The mistake is to have nothing else.

************************************************************** Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 00:54:28 -0500 (EST) From: Ashutosh Tiwari <> Subject: Nepali Teaching in Boston II To:

        Thanks to Seattle's Sujata Rana for her interest in Nepali teaching in that area. Nepali classes are going full-swing in Boston for America-grown Nepali kids who are learning their ka/kha/ga from some of the smartest and most dedicated Nepali students and professionals in the Boston area.

The following people are the tutors:

        Sunil Shakya, Co-ordinator (Student, Northeastern University)
        Rabi Karmacharya, Tutor (Student, MIT)
        Bibek Chapagain, Tutor (Student, Northeastern)
        Mrs. Alka Bhandari, Tutor (Home-maker)
        Prabodh Upreti, Tutor (A professional in Boston)
        Jagdish Pandey, Tutor (A Professional in Boston)
        Binoy Yonzon, Tutor (A Professional in Boston)
        Diwas Shrestha, Tutor (Student, University of Lowell)

        These volunteers need all our support and applause. It's commitment like theirs that makes the Greater Boston Nepali Community (GBNC) the most exciting and the most interesting, and possibly a unique, coalition of Nepalis in the entire North America (Ok, ok, that's a Chatwin-esque boast! ;-))
        For details on the tutorials: send email to Sunil at

namaste ashu president, gbnc

******************************************************************* Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 18:00:54 -0500 (EST) From: Ranjan Panth <rpanth@uceng.uc.EDU> Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - Feb 10, 1995 (26 Magh 2051 BkSm) To: The Nepal Digest <>

> Shyam Bahadur's question, I agree, is simple. But as far as I
> know, the educational problem in Syam's Manang is not the absence of a
> school ( there might be very few but that is in conjunction with the
> population there- thus economy) but its quality (as those who are agaist the
> Budhanilkantha funding would agree).

        Someone pointed out to me that the reference to Manang has been taken literally and that it has. I do not mean only Manang. Why can't some guy from Ason have the same money distributed among other schools around that area (like J.P. or Durbar High or Tin Dhara).

> How does GAA work in that context-
> this is
> not meant to offend St. Xaviers/and its partner St. mary's- if it does or
> did in the past? I honestly do not know about it.And many of you might
> instantly say that St.Xaviers didn't/doesn't have such
> government-expenditure for its set-up and why should one talk about the
> alumni-funding. But I just want to know the possibility of fund-raising
> from BKS-grads not yours(there might be some other reasons for your
> contribution to the nation).

        You tend to be making my point. All this rambling does not have any connection with the discussion at hand.

> And finally on Ashu's no-win position. If the discussions are
> meant to give birth to more ideas, I don't believe that he should ( and I
> guess he is not looking for a win)aim to try to win the game-if that is the
> right term to be used.

        I honestly did not know that a "no win situation" had anything to do with the actual winning and losing of a game.

        All along nobody has argued the fact that BKS graduates do so much for the country and so on. I have known quite a few BKS graduates myself and they were not the kind of people that you, and your friends, boast about. In fact, they are such close friends of mine that I am sure that they would not mind my mentioning their names. Can you tell me how much the following people have "given back" ? ( If you know them, of course.) Sitaram Joshi, Subodh Bhatta, Sanjay K.C. and Kiran Thapa have not ever thought about rural health or anti-AIDS. You may say that they are the exceptions. If so, I can name another 20 exceptions. Your portrayal of the BKS graduate and how much he means to Nepal is very unconvincing. I have known BKS graduates and I do not know how different they are from any average Joe like me. You tend you portray BKS grads as the people that will go back to the poor and help them after graduation. The saviors of the poor. Robin Hoods of the 20th century. Based on what I know about my BKS friends, all of this is just plain bullcrap. My BKS friends are no different from me and my education didn't cost the Nepalese government a cent.
        I would agree with the point you are making about 'quality' education had the literacy rate of rate of Nepal been in the 90's instead of where it is today.
        I would agree with your point about how much the BKS grads are
"giving back" had my BKS friends been "giving back".
        I would agree with your point of quality education if it were not to cost the Nepalese government an arm and a leg. The "quality of education" you boast about just isn't worth it. It's like something you tell your kids, "Yes, the Maisonette does serve good food but we can't afford it, son."
        Wouldn't it be just cheaper for the government to hire people to contribute, as you claim, to rural health, anti-AIDS and all that ? What do we get out of BKS that we don't get out of AVM or Banasthali? ( and don't say social service because I've seen a lot of BKS graduates and they were no more into social service than Hitler was)
        The BKS school motto should be "If it's free, it's for me!"


*********************************************************************************************** Date: Sat, 11 Feb 95 11:18:00 EST From: Ram <> Subject: Address To: Om Gurung <>

Gurungji: Namaskar. I read your posting in TND about the address of H. S.Poudel

Try this address: Mr H. S. Poudel 129-8 S. Hills Carbondale, IL 62901 From: (DURGA) Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 11:22 EST To: SOC.CULTURE.NEPAL@IS.CORNELL.EDU Cc: Subject: Intensive Nepali Language Prog

                               - - Mail - -
         February 13, 1995 11:22am MAIL IS -
   FROM: Durga Delvry Ntfy Private Urgent
     TO: The Nepal Digest FOR YOUR - SUBJECT: Intensive Nepali Language Prog Information Comments Action
                                         Signature Approval Editing

This is to inform you of Cornell University's Summer Session in Intensive Nepali This is an eight-week, ten-credit course providing an unusual opportunity to develop competence in Nepali over the summer. Two FLAS fellowships will be awarded through the South Asia Program @ Cornell for this course. For further informaiton on housing, tuition, requirements, etc. please inquire:

         South Asia Program
         Cornell University
         170 Uris Hall
         Ithaca, New York 14853-7601
         phone: 607-255-8493 or e-mail

Thank you. Durga Bor South Asia Progam Cornell University

******************************************************************** From: (Madhur Shrestha) Subject: Re: Thanks!!! To: Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 17:22:25 +0100 (NFT)

Dear Editor,

Thank you very much for sending us the Nepal Digest information regularly. We feel like home now.

I would be very grateful, if you let my brother Manjil Shrestha, Tel 522289, how he could contact me through email.

Looking forward to hearing from you again and again.

Thanking you once again. Madhur Shrestha

%%%%%Editor's Note: To access e-mail in Nepal, please contact %%%%%
%%%%% RONAST (govt. agency) or Mercantile (commercial %%%%%
%%%%% agency) in Kathmandu, Nepal. %%%%%

********************************************************************************************** From: suresh man singh <> Date: Mon, 13 Feb 95 18:20:34 100 To: Subject: Press release of Visit to India by Deputy PM
 The following is the press release made available by Mission Du Nepal,
 1. Honourable Madav Kumar Nepal, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
    Defence and Foreign Affairs of Nepal visited India from February 6
    10, 1995 at the invitation of the Minister of External Affairs of
    India, His Excellency Mr. Dinesh Singh. A high level delegation
    including the Minister of State for Water Resources and Industry, Mr.
    Hari Prasad Pandey, three members of parliament, the Nepalese Foreign
    Secretary of Water Resources accompanied the Deputy Prime Minister.
 2. During the visit the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign
    Affairs and Defence called on Their Excellencies and President,
    Vice-President and Prime Minister of India. He held official talks
    with the Commerece Minister, H.E. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee who led the
    Indian delegation, and met several dignitaries and political personalities
    in New Delhi. The Deputy Prime Minister also visited Madras, Tirupati
    and Bombay.
 3. During the visit bilateral discussions were held in a free and frank
    manner and a wide range of bilateral issues and other matters of
    common concern were discussed.
 4. Both sides reiterated their commitment to the traditional friendship
    and close ties existing between Nepal and India and emphasized the
    need to further consolidate these bonds of relationship.
 5. Several new suggestions for strengthening relations were made during
    the meetings, which will be further discussed and cosidered by the
    two governments prior to the visit to India in the near future of the
    Rt. Hon'ble Prime Minister of Nepal, the dates for which will be
    conformed through diplomatic channels.
 6. It was agreed that the meetings of High Level Task Force and the
    Home Secretaries as well as those of the Committees under the Secretaries
    for Commerce (in the inter Governmental Committee), and .......
    Water Resources would meet to prepare for visit of Rt. Hon'ble Prime
    Minister of Nepal to India. It is hoped that the visit will mark a
    new and constructive phase in Nepal-India relations. The timing of these
    meetings will be determined shortly through bilateral contacts. It
    was also agreed that the two Foreign Secretaries will meet shortly
    to discuss the Nepal-India Treaty of 1950.
 7. The visit of the Deputy Prime Minister has been particularly significant
    as the first high level visit to India after the formation of the
    new government of Nepal following the November 1994 elections. It has
    resulted in enhancing mutual understanding through high level dialouge
    and interation between Nepal and India.
 Ministry of Foreign Affairs
 February 10, 1995

********************************************************************** Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 15:56:41 -0500 From: (RaJesh B. Shrestha) To: Subject: German lives less important than Nepalese lives.

Cross-posted from SCN:

On 4 Feb 1995, GP wrote:

> Few reasons, I noticed why they don't cover our news in their NEWS media:
> 1. The South Asia is poor----- They want to potray that see how poor
> these guys are and how rich we are. In most of the entertainment program
> they laugh with poverty of poor countries. They potray the #BHUKH-MARI#
> in Africa as an advertisement by travel agent ? How wonderful they are?
> What to do with our good news? There was one complain sometime back,
> by one bangladeshi , to Japan Times (an english daily) asking why do
> you potray our (South Asia's) bad things only ? Why don't you spend
> some pages on our cultural heritage ? I guess the answer is that
> they don't want to say "South asians are rich in somesense and we
> are poor in that sense".

Konichi wa GP san,

Couple of years ago the Japanese T.V. brought the Kalahari bushman
(starred in the movie 'The Gods must be crazy') and made him prance about selling noodles and being laughed at in all the demented talk shows they have...That's cultural insensitivity at its worst. However, before we start moralising about western media think just how little coverage Nepal gets even in newspapers in neighboring countries - i.e.The Times of India - goes on to show Nepal's importance in the scheme of things. Another point to ponder - 'just how many Nepalese are concerned with events in Botswana or Spanish Sahara?

Arun Pant University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

********************************************************* Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 15:59:12 -0500 From: (RaJesh B. Shrestha) From: (George H Dick)

I'm working on a world wide web site that is intended to be a lingustic reference work. Mostly what I want to do at the moment is collect audio samples of language. I would love to have information on the languages of Nepal. If anyone can send an audio file of a sample of spoken language, by native speakers, I would greatly appreciate it. Please include a transcription in the language (using a gif or jpeg if necessary), and a translation in English if at all possible. If you can transcribe it into the IPA as well, so much the better....! Any information on how the language fits into language families, how many people speak it and where, dialects, etc., would also be helpful.

here's the blurb: The Universal Survey of Languages is envisioned as a major collaborative effort with the goal of creating a linguistic reference for the layman and linguist alike. The USL will contain audio files of spoken language and descriptions of morphology and phonology of the world's languages, as well as a hypertext introduction to linguistics, an introduction and reference to the International Phonetic Alphabet, a linguistic dictionary and information on language families. This is very much a work in progess, and all are invited to contribute and debate the course of evolution for the project.

thanks for listening... George Dick

*********************************************************** Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 16:00:36 -0500 From: (RaJesh B. Shrestha) To: Subject: Need Help on Thakali's of Nepal

Cross-posted from SCN:

From: Sudeep M Dasgupta Subject: Re: soc.culture. hi vivek.

i thought the simplest thing to do would be to post this to you and you could forward it.

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

***************************************************** Date: Tue, 14 Feb 1995 08:14:00 PST To: Nepal Digest <> From: "Khanal, Bushan" <,> Subject: HUMOR: Hunting Elephants

A friend of mine forwarded this to me.

 - Bhushan
                    **** HUNTING AN ELEPHANT ****

MATHEMATICIANS hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left.

EXPERIENCED MATHEMATICIANS will attempt to prove the existence of at least one unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate exercise.

PROFESSORS OF MATHEMATICS will prove the existence of at least one unique elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for their graduate students.

COMPUTER SCIENTISTS hunt elephants by exercising Algorithm A:
 1. Go to Africa.
 2. Start at the Cape of Good Hope.
 3. Work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent
    alternately east and west.
 4. During each traverse pass,
   a. Catch each animal seen.
   b. Compare each animal caught to a known elephant.
   c. Stop when a match is detected.

EXPERIENCED COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS modify Algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate.

ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE PROGRAMMERS prefer to execute Algorithm A on their hands and knees.

ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed elephant.

ECONOMISTS don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they will hunt themselves.

STATISTICIANS hunt the first animal they see N times and call it an elephant.

CONSULTANTS don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do.

OPERATIONS RESEARCH CONSULTANTS can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only identify the elephants.

POLITICIANS don't hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.

LAWYERS don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who owns the droppings.

SOFTWARE LAWYERS will claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel of one dropping.

VICE PRESIDENTS OF ENGINEERING, RESEARCH, AND DEVELOPMENT try hard to hunt elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it. When the vice president does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants are completely prehunted before the vice president sees them. If the vice president does see a nonprehunted elephant, the staff will (1) compliment the vice president's keen eyesight and (2) enlarge itself to prevent any recurrence.

SENIOR MANAGERS set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.

QUALITY ASSURANCE INSPECTORS ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.

SALES PEOPLE don't hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the season opens.

SOFTWARE SALES PEOPLE ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant.

HARDWARE SALES PEOPLE catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as desktop elephants.

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