The Nepal Digest - Feb 6, 1995 (22 Magh 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Diges Monday 6 Feb 95: Magh 22 2051 BkSm Volume 36 Issue 4

  Today's Topics:

        1. TAJA_KHABAR
                 News From Nepal
        3. KURA_KANI
                 Education - Re: Budhanilkanta
                                Re: BKS Final
                 Social - Forwarded Opinion
             Foreign Policy - Re: Korea
                                Re: Nepalis in Korea
                 Economics - Re: Child Labor/Carpet
        4. JAN_KARI
                 Matrimonials
                 About Himalayan Research and Studies

 ******************************************************************************
 * TND Board of Staff *
 * ------------------ *
 * Editor/Co-ordinator: Rajpal J. Singh a10rjs1@mp.cs.niu.edu *
 * SCN Liaison: Rajesh B. Shrestha rshresth@black.clarku.edu *
 * Consultant Editor: Padam P. Sharma sharma@plains.nodak.edu *
 * Discussion Moderator: Ashutosh Tiwari tiwari@husc.harvard.edu *
 * Memberlist Archives: Sudeep Acharya sa01@engr.uark.edu *
 * TND Archives: Sohan Panta k945184@atlas.kingston.ac.uk *
 * Book Reviews Columns: Pratyoush R. Onta ponta@sas.upenn.edu *
 * *
 * The Nepal Digest(TND) is a publication of the Nepal Interest Group for *
 * news and discussions about issues concerning Nepal. All members of *
 * nepal@cs.niu.edu will get a copy of TND. Membership is open to all. *
 * THE EDITOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO EDIT ARTICLES FOR CLARITY. *
 * *
 * +++++ 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_RJS_Khalifa *
 * *
 ******************************************************************************

********************************************************************** Date: Wed, 1 Feb 1995 20:01:36 -0500 (EST) From: Nirmal Ghimirez <NGH42799Q236@DAFFY.MILLERSV.EDU> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Keep it up you have the support

Dear Ashu: Your idea of sending a letter to Korean officials about the status of Nepali workers in Korea and mistreatment done to them must be stated. I do not see how anyone is against this idea. I believe that all the people tuned in TND approve this idea. Maybe some just have had no time to log in. If anything has to be done from my side please let me know. Since i do not have your account number write now, I am writing this through the TND. Noble ideas and deeds must be keptalive. I appreciate your idea. Thanks. Nirmal

******************************************************************** To: Nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Its too early to critisize Budhanilkantha Date: Wed, 01 Feb 95 21:13:28 -0800 From: "shailesh ghimire" <ghimi_s@whitworth.edu>

        All these months I have been quietly following the discussions about my former school. I read what every one had to say, but due to the lack of time last semester I could not write back. Now I feel I should express myself.
        I want all the readers for one moment to forget the economics of this and think about how we grew up in Budhanilkantha School, where the Crown Prince of Nepal was treated as equal with the rest of us whethter we were rich or poor we were treated equally. We could only use our first name and number to identify ourselves, so that we would not be judged upon our caste. For once we realized the challenges our society faced.
        Yes, Budhanilkantha School was not economically efficient, but it is a long term investment whose true benefits will surface in the next ten or twenty years. The first batch of Budhas are only 30 years old. They have yet to realize their potential. It is also a falacy to believe that most Budha grads end up in the West. I do not know the exact stats but, I would say that out of the 75 or so grads every year, about 20 make it to the West. That is not a big number. What the others do is what makes Budhanilkantha School an even better investment. They go to college in Kathmandu, work as tutors and eventually give back to the society what they took. Again the full potential of this giving back process is yet to be achieved.
        I feel with deep conviction that in the course of the next ten years Budha grads will have had a much more positive impact in rural Nepal than anyone of their greneration. I say this because of the success of the National Scholarship Program. This program was initiated in 1991 by the then leadership of the Social Service Club of Budhanilkantha.(I had the honor of being a member of this group). This program was designed to help local teenagers in rural communities attend local high schools, as high school is not a free commodity. We the students of Budhanilkantha, we were just A1 students then, organized a national level program which in two years grew to support 33 students in about 10 districts. Since high school is so cheap it only takes Rs.1000 to educate a person for a year and also provide stationery. The Scholarship Committee raised the money from within the businesses in Nepal and funded students. Now it helps 50 students attend high school. We placed emphasis on disadvantaged groups especially the lower caste people. It is now a government recognized program under the wing of the Society of Ex Budhanilkanta Students (SEBS). This achievement speaks for itself the marvels Budhanilkantha students are capable of.
        1991 was just a begining, in 1992 students organized national level programs to help with AIDS, rural health and even went on to launch a national development program. All these programs were run by 17 and 18 year old students.
        The way the programs worked was exactly what was expected of Budhanilkantha students when the school was established. As students go home three times every year for about a five week time period, the idea was to educate the guys (now we have girls to work with and reach a greater part of society) going home on basic health items or AIDS and while they were home they would use this knowledge to help the people in that village. With the Scholarship program, only selected Bdhanilkantha students were allowed to select students to sponsor. All students who are selected had to meet conditions set by the working committee.
        We touched many lives with this program and I am proud to say that it is continuing to do so. Another students work also demonstrates to our society the need for a school like Budhanilkantha. Bolaram Pandey after his A Levels returned to his home district Dang. There he set up a school and has built it with captial from within the village. The school now is a success and he has been able to achieve in 3 years what the government could not in 30.
        Hemendra Bhora, with whom I travelled the country in mid 1993 is another person which makes me want to tell everyone to hold their words before commenting on something. Hemendra is on a mission. He is currently in Darchula on the verge of createing a model village program. This model village program is what the SEBS will use in the future as a platform to give back to the Nepalese people what we took from them.
        Finally I would like to say that the economic argument against Budhanilkantha is biased. I ask every one to hold their breaths for a while. In 1993 an inevitable goal emerged in the minds of the organizers of the National Scholarship Program. Within the next 15-20 years Nepal will see the rise of a new politcal entity. This entity will be formed by people who by then will have worked at the grass roots level of the development process of Nepal. Do not be surprized if you see Budhanilkantha School graduates at the helm of the political party ready to steer Nepal into the age of economic prosperity.
        Jai Shree Ram.

Shailesh Ghimire. PS. please send all responses to ghimi_s@whitworth.edu I can provide you with additional information on the National Scholarship Program, if you so desire.

***************************************************************** From: IRIS@irispc.mos.com.np Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 09:24:17 Subject: Change of Address

Friends and Foes,

My new E-mail address is: iris@irispc.mos.com.np. We are now hooked up with Australia because ERNET India could not provide adequate services. This also means that the messages you may have sent during January did not reach me. If you do get this message and consider yourself a friend, could you spare a minute in responding; otherwise, I will assume the converse.

Greetings and see you in August!

Praveen Dixit e-mail: iris@irispc.mos.com.np Fax: +977-1-524139 or 977-1-474990

***************************************************** To: rshresth@black.clarku.edu Subject: Information

I am Anil Kumar Upadhyaya, studying in the Netherlands. I would like to request you to kindly please send me the email address of any Nepali studying at Department of Environmental Engineering, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok from Department of Water Supply and Sewerage, kathmandu.

Thanking you, Anil Kumar Upadhyaya M.Sc. student IHE, Delft The Netherlands

**************************************************************** Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 15:16:39 -0500 From: DAVIDCFOLK@aol.com To: Nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Nepal Digest

I am sorry to relate that we cannot keep-up with reading the Nepal Digest and ask that you delete our email address.

The Center for Himalayan Research & Studies:

1: Partners-in-Aid Program
     A: Provides school scholarships to students, especially girls who
           will stay in school through college.
     B: Donated medical supplies to a new clinic in Bungamati
     C: Had a 2 day health clinic in a mountainside Rai village

2: Field Research
      A: Continues the 4 year research of the Tharu people in Nepal
      B: Seeks funds for the Rani Tal rehabilitation project

3: Seminars and Courses
       A: Offers a yearly Traditions and Cultures of Nepal through
              a USA university
       B: Provides study-programs for colleges and universities upon
              request.

Keep up your good writing and work at Nepal Digest. Sorry that we cannot keep reading.

********************************************************************************************** Date: Thu, 02 Feb 1995 23:45:42 EST To: The Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> From: Dilip Parajuli <parajuli@husc.harvard.edu> Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - Feb 3, 1995 (19 Magh 2051 BkSm)

        Thanks to Ashu Tiwari for his defensive clarification on Kedar Mathema. That looks pretty convincing but I just want to make it clear that my comment on his unpopularity at TU wasn't meant to criticice him but to get an answer about his specific achievements. I got it, it's fine.
         Ashu himself says that this discussion has been growing sillier. I guess he is correct to a good degree. But as my classmate, Basanta Chitrakar, now at Chicago doing economics says `Education is a special kind of investment. Arguments on the issue should be based on empirical evidence not merely on the sometimes-superficial theory.' I agree. It can be quite a tricky business to track down the validity of a certain argument when the cost-benefit analysis becomes complex with so many variables on both sides. Why not be more materialistic? Why not give some potentially successful suggestions?
     If this is too boring, don't bring that issue again. It might be more
`brain-less'.

Dilip

********************************************************************** Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 17:19:09 -0500 To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu From: mdeschen@cc.brynmawr.edu Subject: Re: South Korea letters & V.C. Mathema

In response to Ashutosh Tiwari's recent post, I have two suggestions. First, to add to the list of recipients whoever in the U.S. State Dept. is responsible for South Korean affairs. This is a human rights/labor issue not restricted to either Koreans or Nepalis. If we could get a letter of complaint from that quarter sent it might garner some attention in S. Korea. Chances are slim, yes, but as G. Pokharel said, one must try. Second, what about Koreans in the U.S.? I know that there are lots of Korean organizations, but that's all I know. Surely some of them will be concerned with this kind of exploitation of foreign workers in their homeland. If there is a soc.culture.korea, maybe the letter could be posted there as well, urging Koreans in the U.S. to send it to the same people?
        Finally, I want to second Ashutosh's comments re the work that Kedar Mathema has been doing as V.C. Once in power, who is free from criticism? He has been devoting himself to improving T.U. (and took a large pay cut to do so, one should note), so if outcomes are not perfect, this can be distinguished from effort. He would be the first to tell you that there are many problems remaining, etc. I have seen several posts that say
"former V.C.". Is there definite news of a new V.C., and if so, who?

Mary Des Chene Dept. of Anthropology Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

**************************************************************** Date: Thu, 2 Feb 95 15:07 PST From: pawan@level1.com (Pawan Agrawal) To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: SODH_PUCHH

Is there any body from Nepal in Sacramento/Folsom or San Jose (Northern California) area? If so, please send an E-mail to me.

Pawan Agrawal

My e-mail address: pawan@level1.com

************************************************************ From: gshah@st6000.sct.edu (Gopal Shah) Subject: Matrimonial To: Nepal@cs.niu.edu Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 18:24:59 -0500 (EST)

We have a lady candidate this time for matrimonial section.Interested candidates can contact responsibly at gshah@st6000.sct.edu. Descriptions: Name: "Minu" Gender: Female Caste: Brahmin Height: 5'6" Age Group: 24-26 yrs. Education: Drafting in Architecture + M.A. Location: Kathmandu,NEPAL

*********************************************************** Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 21:33:15 -0500 (EST) From: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@husc.harvard.edu> Subject: Re:TU To: nepal@cs.niu.edu

        I just learnt that Kedar Mathema is no longer the VC of TU. I do not know who his successor is, possibly Dr. K Joshi, a botanist. If so, could anybody post info on Dr Joshi's ADMINISTRATIVE background (I am not interested in where he got his degrees, the number of his gold medals and other such nice-but-not-that-helpful stuff, but more in his DEMONSTRATED track record of "getting things done" by coalition-building ability for leadership.)

        In any case, I wish Dr. Joshi loads of good luck and best wishes in running the Tribhuvan University very well -- a job which, in my opinion, is possibly the MOST DIFFICULT and CHALLENGING, yet MOST THANKLESS, one in Nepal.

namaste ashu

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Fri, 3 Feb 1995 05:04:36 -0500 (EST) From: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@husc.harvard.edu> Subject: BKS: The FINAL, FINAL, FINAL and FINAL Rebuttal (fwd) To: Nepal Digest <nepal@cs.niu.edu>
                                                 Note: This is rather long. But I have tried to be as clear as possible with the final rounds of arguments. If you are tired of the BKS and the Nepali national education debate, please skip this. If not, you may start reading it from the middle, where the meat is. ashu

Also, BKS is the LAST discussion topic on TND under my moderatorship. I urge others to send in other discussion ideas and topics.
                                                                
>
> Thanks to Ashu Tiwari for his defensive clarification on Kedar
> Mathema. That looks pretty convincing but I just want to make it clear
> that my comment on his unpopularity at TU wasn't meant to criticice him
> but to get an answer about his specific achievements. I got it, it's fine.

        Dilip, don't get so prickly now. My respect for Mathema stands on its own, regardless of what you think of him BEFORE or AFTER my 'defence'. Just because Mathema is allegedly "unpopular", that does NOT make his
"public policy sharpness" questionable, as you implied earlier. [Go back and read your posting!] If you love arguments, then don't make such ill-causal remarks. [No reply on TND expected]

> Ashu himself says that this discussion has been growing sillier.

No, I never said that. Go back and re-read my postings again. More carefully, this time. Don't fall into the same trap as those seem to have developed a knack for arguing from non-existent sentences and points.
 
> I guess he is correct to a good degree. But as my classmate, Basanta
> Chitrakar, now at Chicago doing economics says `Education is a special
> kind of investment. Arguments on the issue should be based on empirical
> evidence not merely on the sometimes-superficial theory.' I agree.

        Believe me, if your friend sticks to economics till graduation, he'll be thinking in terms of "opportunity cost" that would surely lead him to question the role of the Nepali state at BKS. ESPECIALLY at Chicago! I guarantee you that. Come back and talk to me in four years about this. If not, then I'd be happy to pay you 100 dollars (adjusted for inflation, of course!) in Jan 1999 as a 'pennace' of my mistaken belief! Yes, I am serious. :-)

>It can
> be quite a tricky business to track down the validity of a certain
> argument when the cost-benefit analysis becomes complex with so many
> variables on both sides. Why not be more materialistic? Why not give some

It's not as complex as you think. If you come over to my apartment later this weekend ( call first, I might be busy!) I'll prove ALL of my arguments to you in economic terms
(assuming, of course, you know your micro cold!). Pure economic theory is quite elegant and powerful. You can draw lot of powerful conclusions on the basis of pure theory without looking at a strand of data. But I'd also be happy to consider the data and show you exactly what I mean.

> potentially successful suggestions?

A lot of arguments could be open-ended without needing "suggestions" or conclusions or there being the RIGHT answers. That's one of the first things you learn in college, hai na?

> If this is too boring, don't bring that issue again. It might be more
> `brain-less'

Dilip, at the risk of sounding I-don't-know-what, your respect for arguments and debates -- as evidenced from the above line -- is amusing. If such is the attitude you want to cultivate while going thru Harvard, all I can say is: Good luck on your success, especially in the social scinces and hunmanities.

Finally, one more thing: your attending Harvard does NOT cost American or Nepali taxpayers a penny. You are [like other Nepali students at H] getting PRIVATE scholarship money (ironic isn't it, for somebody like you who does not even believe in privatization?).

BUT your doing British-style expensive A levels (the ONLY purpose of which seem to prepare students for British/ American universities -- and nothing wrong with that) at BKS COSTS Nepali taxpayers all across Nepal a hell of a lot of money, which even you admit as being "too high".

Now tell me, why should the BULK of poor Nepali taxpayers (each of whom also has an EQUAL claim on the education-aid) foot the bill of your fancy A Levels, when it is NOT -- by any stretch of evidence -- clear what the taxpayers are getting in return? Yes, if education is an investment, should Nepal NOT measure the efficacy of that investment? Otherwise, how to make reducation policies and have debates like this? [The "You" here is general, so Dilip, don't take it personally!]

So, all I am saying is that your doing A levels -- if not your entire education at BKS in Kathmandu -- could be FINANCED by private money
(through various sources) while the taxpayers' money could be better used for the education of a greater number of Nepali citizens who do not need to do A Levels to come to fancy places like Harvard or Chicago, but just need some decent basic education and skills to make a productive living right in their villages and towns in Nepal.

How long do you think Nepal can go on paying for EXPENSIVE Harvard-preparatory education of a dozen or so so-called "bright" BKS kids while consistently NEGLECTING -- as it has been doing since God knows when -- the education of the
"dullards" who will presumably make up Nepal's future workforce in the markets,in the farms, in the villages and towns, in the army, in the civil service, in teaching, the the chowki-darhood in India, and in-what-have you? Is such a scheme even practical? I think not.

You say BKS is a "model school", as if reciting from the brochure. But I say, what kind of model school are you talking about which cannot even be REPLICATED elsewhere in the country even after 23 years of its founding? Is THAT your idea of a model school? Get real. The answer again lies in its high cost, and high strain on the poor Nepali taxpayers. And, no matter what anybody says, Gandaki Boarding School is NOT a replication of BKS. Just witness its deteriorating state for the last few years (as Pradip Baniya has pointed out on SCN). Why do you think that has happened? Think in larger national educational cost-terms, and not only in knee-jerk-defence of BKS.

My point is that state-money saved from A Levels could be used to train many other Nepalis to do better on SLCs, learn other marketable vocational skills and so on and on -- whichever the state deems to be having priorities.

So, from the country's broad, macro perspective, with the money it spends on BKS education, for example, it's better and "getting more for the money" to have, say, a thousand skilled carpenters all over Nepal who can make their own living than to use all that scarce money (that's what I meant by scarce resources) in educating ONE Nepali to prepare for Harvard.[This is just an example, so do not take this literally, as some of you consistently do!]

So, my central argument is taxpayers' education rupees could be more effectively spent on OTHER ways than on tying it all up on a few kids
-- no matter how superbrilliant and no matter how poor from Jumla or wherever -- at one school in Kathmandu. And that IS my stand, which has only grown stronger in the face of BKS grads' increasingly emotional
(Laba Karki comes to my mind) charges.

Having said all that, should BKS exist? Yes, I think it should. But the state should reduce its financial support to the school, and start opening up credit lines for the school to tap into private money. BKS could, for example, try to get grants from PRIVATE foundations and private businesess and citizens from all over the world to shore up its finances. Given the school's well-deserved, good reputation, I do not see why the school cannot attract private money, and be able to provide even more service to scholarship-needy students from all over. The state could give tax-breaks to the contributors and so on. Otherwise, to argue that BKS won't be able to attract private capital is to have no faith in its reputation and strength. Believe me, if helping the poor is everyone's objective, then the better way to achieve that is surely to strengthen many Nepali public high schools -- from Fikkal, Ilam to Dadheldhura -- that offer instruction to the large number of Nepalis. Those Nepalis form the BULK of our educated citizenry, NOT a few expensively educated Ivy-League grads.

So, gentlemen, cool your passions. Suspend your loyalties for a few minutes. Think like a Nepali taxpayer for a moment. And think through my arguments. Carefully and objectively. I don't claim to be right in the cosmic sense, but I do claim to have rattled your sense of complacency without attacking you personally. And, yes, by all means, do the data-analysis yourself, and try to discredit my position. I assure you that you will instead be doing me a favor by only proving what I have argued on the basis of simple economic reasoning makes more sense after all. [Usually it's first the theory, the arguments, then the data!]

And as I have patiently explained twelve times before, I am NOT against your school, just against its financing precedure. That's all. And you know what, as a tax-paying citizen, I do have the right to challenge (used in a positive sense) you all like this. Given the volume of your emotional charges, with the exception of Swarnim Wagle's, I am seriously beginning to think -- and no offence to you guys -- that perhaps debating issues is not in the tradition of Nepal's "national school".

As for Dilip, do come by for dinner next week. We can have more spirited discussions face to face over some dal-bhaat-tarkari-masu . . . .

namaste ashu

P.S As TND's discussion moderator, I hereby invoke my prerogative ;-)
:-) that for the benefit of other readers, the BKS debate has hereby ended. All dissatisfied parties are requested to send their emails directly to me. My thanks to all for their vigorous participation.

Lastly, my greatest thanks to Rajendra Shrestha for the most CLEAR and COGENT, at least in my opinion, counter-arguments to my position long time ago on SCN.

****************************************************************** Date: Fri, 03 Feb 1995 09:26:12 CST To: nepal-request@cs.niu.edu From: Ram Acharya <Ram.Acharya@ag.auburn.edu> Subject: Nepalese Workers in Korea

I support the idea of expressing our concern about Nepalese workers in Korea. We may or may not be as effective as others who speak against brutality (eg., the case of "Hattori", as expressed by G. Pokhrel), I think,it is our responsibility to voice against such brutal actions.

Ram N Acharya Auburn University

********************************************************************** From: ponta@sas.upenn.edu (Pratyoush R. Onta) Subject: forwarded opinion To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu (tnd) Date: Fri, 3 Feb 1995 20:45:05 -0500 (EST)

The following note was sent to me with the request that I forward it to TND. Its author wishes to remain anonymous. Pratyoush
 
 RE: Mr. Amulya Tuladhar's Postings > > It seems
 that one of Mr. Amulya Tuladhar's favorite themes is bahun-bashing, AND >
 whenever possible, propping up the image that his own ethnic group is
 somehow a > deserving minority. > > In his posting about crimes, he
 mentions that a bahun eating beef in Shangrila > will not be persecuted
 for cow slaughter, while a Sarki will be. To be fair a > Newar, or even a
 Tuladhar Newar for that matter, will not be persecuted in this > case
 (anyone who can afford the luxuries of a Sangrila dinner will get > away
 with it). So there was absolutely no logical need to throw in the word >
 "bahun" out here (he of course might have gotten a certain satisfaction
 from the > ethnic remark), even though the point he was trying to make -
 that the laws are > designed to maintain the caste hierarchy on opressed
 groups - is perhaps valid. > Similarly there was no locgical need to talk
 about an insecure "baje" (clearly, > Mr. Tuladhar was not referring to
 just an old man, but rather to a particular > cast) when it comes to child
 marriages. > > In his posting about the performance of the UML govt., he
 is full of praise for > their policy of trying to include more ethnic
 groups in the power structure. > However, the examples he gloats over
 primarily relate to giving more newars a > bigger piece of the pie. It is
 very difficult to see how this is a progressive > step when you consider
 that among ALL ethnic groups in Nepal, the Newars are > the most
 overrepresented (i.e. previlideged) group in positions of power in > every
 sector of the society excluding, perhaps, the armed forces. If you look >
 at the percentage of nepalis who are newars, and then look at their >
 representation in society, they are clearly the MOST previledged group,
 even > more so than the bahun-chettri community. So if we want to evaluate
> things from the point of view of ethinc representation, what the UML is
 doing > (in the context of diverifying ethnic representation) is nothing
 more than > catering to and enhancing the previledges of an already
 overpreviledged > population. This is similar to the move after the
 democracy movement when radio > nepal was instructed to broadcast news in
 newari as well, while other much > larger languages (in terms of
 population base) like maithili were completely > ignored. So let's get the
 facts right, and make our arguments slightly more than > just thinly
 veiled (or explicit) attacks against those we are prejudiced > against and
 calls for a bigger piece of the power pie for our own ethnic > groups. If
 we want a more ethnically representative government, > we shoudl call for
 an inreased representation of non-newar and non-bahun > chettris. When
 remarks about enthnicity center around just the ruling enthinc >
 groups,the real truth becomes glaringly obvious: those of us who belong to
 the > underrepresentd majority continue to be marginalized and that the
 sqabbling in > the ruling circles deals exclusively with their self
 interests and nothing more. > Lets face it, when there is indeed a more
 just distribution of power in Nepal, > the Newars will lose in big way, in
 a much bigger way than even the > Bahun-Chettris. But we should hope that
 when this happens, everyone will feel > that they have "won", since a just
 society will be to everyone's benefit > (including Newars and
 Bahun-Chettris). > > Opinions like Mr. Tuladhar's will only help to
 increase certain cast prejudices > and preconceived ill-wills we Nepalis
 usually carry with us. But if this is > exactly what Mr. Tuladhar is
 aiming for, then there is nothing to say. Let's > hope it is not. > > >

********************************************************************************************** From: ponta@sas.upenn.edu (Pratyoush R. Onta) Subject: Opinion: Some hasty conclusions To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu (tnd) Date: Sat, 4 Feb 1995 12:27:54 -0500 (EST)

Since his return from Nepal Amulya Tuladhar has posted interesting items on TND/SCN for which he has my thanks. I write in response to one of his items and suggest that he has been too quick to reach certain conclusions.

Re: Child labour, carpet industry and dollar-hungry NGOS in Nepal.

Hundreds of media reports in Nepal during the past one year have discussed the issue of child labor in the carpet industry in Nepal. The story goes something like this (and Amulya, based on his posting subscribes to its logic). Dollar-hungry NGOs like CWIN have inflated the actuality of child labor in the carpet industry in Nepal. A German TV station picked up this story, showed a program on it and therefore German buyers have cancelled their bulk orders of Nepali carpets. The Nepali carpet industry is hurt by it, the Nepali govt. half-heartedly decides to prohibit child labor in the industry, requires factories to certify they do not employ children and these children are now on the streets of Kathmandu (working as prostitutes, domestic servants, in hotels etc.). So the story goes.

Let us look at the scenario a little more carefully. Yes there was no agreement between the various sides involved re:the percentage of children (under 14) in the work force in the carpet industry. Government and industry sources put the figure to somewhere near 10% whereas CWIN said it was more like 50% (based on a 1992 study). None of the sides presented a convincing story on how these numbers had been obtained (some sampling was done of course in each case but the basis for their overall projections were never clarified).

Media in Nepal paid a lot of attention to this issue and to factions within the industry (small producer vs big, those in favor for certification vs those against, etc.). The German tv program was for real; so were the cuts in the German demand. What is absolutely unclear, however, is if and how the issue of child labor was connected to the decrease in demand. The media in Nepal (which almost as a rule is lazy when it comes to investigate journalism) has repeated the connection so many times that it has become the truth. I am not so sure. Why?

Industry sources in their more private moments acknowledged (in a study done in September/October 1994, a partial report of which I have read
) a somewhat different story. They talked about the sheer volume of Nepali carpets that had reached the European market in the past 3/4 years and pointed out that there were only a few major buyers in Germany and Belguim. Because of less than healthy economic conditions, these buyers had not been able to get rid of their stock as quickly as they had planned. This resulted in (i) severe price cutting between them and (ii) cancellations of orders at previously agreed prices (the second point also suggests price-cutting amongst Nepal's biggest exporters).

Result: the small producers got squeezed out of the market in more than one way: they could not get prices previously agreed to from the folks to whom they supplied their carpets and payments were made late, if at all. In all this, the issue of child labor has been inflated to a level that serves many interests: those of the German media and importers, Nepali NGos and the media in Nepal. My point: Child labor is an important issue but not the main reason for the current slump in the carpet industry.

When many small producers were forced out of the market their labor force was dispersed. In bigger factories, children were the first to go and in many cases, they (these factories) are functioning at a small percentage of their capacity.

Where did the children go? As Amulya says, some have gone to the streets of Kathmandu. But the above-mentioned study also suggests that many families and groups of workers (including children) have left Kathmandu for their places of origin. I find this plausible because of the nature of labor recruitment (yet another subject not deeply studied by the media in Nepal) in this and cognate industries. The role of labor sardars as intermediaries between factory owners and groups of workers
(more often than not, related members of a large family, etc) has not been identified in its entirety. Many displaced workers who work as part of a team which came specifically to work in the carpet industry have returned in groups to their homes.

This fact is now interesting for the following reason: International sponsors are now beginning to channel money through Nepali NGOs to help
"educate" the carpet children (as they are called). They are now coming up with various definitions of who are eligible for this kind of help, etc.

Personally, what is interesting to me is the process whereby various agents -local and translocal - work together to make one problem ("child labor in the carpet industry") visible while closing their eyes to many other manifestations of the same problem (CWIN's studies have argued that there are more children working as domestic servants in Kathmandu than in other industries. These other problems are of no interest to International agents and too close to heart to many who run NGOs in Kathmandu.

After having said all this, I do want to caution ourselves against making too hasty a criticism of all NGO work in Nepal. Yes, NGOs do dollar-farming in a big way. Yes, NGOs like CWIN have sometimes raised issues without having responsibly thought through the alternatives
(the work of the alliance for energy is an example that could be followed by others). But they have and are doing other good work as well for which we have to give them credit.

About the NGO scene in Nepal, the following questions might serve as the basis of future discussions: why isn't the media in Nepal able to better monitor the NGOs? Why isn't there some rules regarding the NGO financial regime (disclosure of sources, audited accounts, etc.)? How non-governmental are the NGOs in Nepal? and other such questions.

Amulya, I am sure, has interesting thoughts on the above questions and others that I remain unaware of.

***************************************************************** Date: 04 Feb 95 15:24:50 EST From: Rajendra.P.Shrestha@Dartmouth.EDU (Rajendra P. Shrestha) Subject: News1/29-2/2 To: nepal@cs.niu.edu

Febuary 1 Parliament session Ends with Opposition Walk-out Excerpts from AFP, Xinhua and Reuters reports

       The eighth session of the Nepali Parliament adjourned on Wednesday with indignant opposition members accusing the communist government of failing to deliver on promises.

   The two main opposition parties, which stormed out of parliament over separate issues on Tuesday night, accused the two-month-old government of failing to listen to parliament.

   "If this is the way you are going to work, we may have to think how long to continue our good will to the government," Padma Sunsar Lawati of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) told the House of Representatives.

   Late on Tuesday, the RPP walked out in protest at what it called the government's failure to win more power and water from the Tanakpur project.

   Shortly afterwards, Congress walked out protesting against the government's reply on an accident two years ago in which two communists were killed.

    The Nepali Congress (NC) and right wing Rastriya Prajatantra Party
(RPP) has made the controversial hydro-electric project at Tanakpur in western Nepal the thrust of its campaign against the Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist and Leninist (NCP-UML). The communists, while in opposition, opposed the project. Since coming to power the communists have remained silent.

   The re-negotiation of hydro-electric power project with India, one of the Communist party's election promises, dominated Tuesday's session with opposition deputies demanding that the government clarify its stand on the issue.

   Opposition leaders said it was not clear whether the communists, which had criticised the earlier Congress government for not having wrested enough concessions from India on the Tanakpur dam project, had changed its views.

   The Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Subash Chandra Nemwang, said the government would present its views on the matter at the next session of parliament in six months time.

   "The government is studying various aspects of Tanakpur very seriously," he told Parliament. "We will present the treaty before the next session of parliament."

   RPP deputy Padma Sundar Lawati objected to Nemwang's statement before walking out of Parliament.

   "The views presented by the minister are not clear," he told Reuters.

   The parliament adjourned as scheduled on Wednesday. Under the constitution, it must reconvene within six months. The dates for the next session have not been set.

   Prime Minister Man Mohan Adhikary was unruffled by some opposition members' veiled threats to withdraw support.

   "You should not boast of support to the government as a matter of a life grant or a gift," he said. "The ultimate source of support to us is the mandate of the people." Since taking power, UML leader Prime Minister Man Mohan Adhikary has adhered to Marxist rhetoric while pursuing free-trade policies.

   "Your contradictory economic policies will lead the country to an economic disaster," Ram Sharan Mahat of Congress said. "This will discourage national entrepreneurs and foreign investors from putting money in industries."

   But Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikary said the communists were not opposed to liberalisation.

   "The liberal economy is the present-day reality," he told Reuters. "We have to live with it."

   Opposition officials said the government had offered relief to farmers through lower fertiliser prices. But, they said, the fertiliser was smuggled out to Nepal's neighbour India.

   "Nepali taxpayers cannot thus subsidise the Indian farmers," Mahat said.

   During its 50-days, parliament passed six bills, including one on journalists and four fiscal and monetary bills.

   An important bill concerning compensation to the those tortured in custody could not be passed, and was sent back to the parliamentary management committee.

Deputy PM to take high-level delegation to India Excerpts from DPA, Xinhua and Reuters reports

    Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will pay a five-day official visit to India February 6-10, the Nepalese foreign ministry announced on Tuesday.

    Nepal will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including three parliament members from UML and the foreign secretary, Kedar Bhakta Shrestha, and Water Secretary Surya Nath Upadyaya. This will be his first foreign visit since the communists came to power in November's general elections.

    Considerable importance is attached in Kathmandu to the journey, described officially as "goodwill visit", which it is hoped will put Nepal -India relations on a new footing, informed sources said.

    In talks with the Indian minister for external affairs, Dinesh Singh, and other officials, the Nepalese deputy prime minister was expected to discuss among other topics the Nepal -India treaty of peace and friendship, calls in Nepal to regulate the free flow of people from one country to another, and the controversial Indian project, Tanakpur Dam.

    The visit will also pave the way for a visit to India of the Nepalese prime minister, Man Mohan Adhikari.

According to last week's Independent:

   Nepal Rastra Bank governor Hari Shanker Tripathi and Tribhuvan University Vice-chancellor Kedar Bhakta Mathema has resigned after informal requests from the government to do so. HM King Birendra has also accepted the resignations of TU's Director Dr. Devendra Raj Mishra and Registrar Sudarshan Risal. A committee, under the chairmanship of Minister for Education Modnath Prasrit, has been formed to recommed a new Vice-chancellor for the university.

   King Birendra, on the advice of the cabinet, has also appointed Prof. Harsha Narayan Dhaubhadel as the amabassador to India and Narendra Bikram Shaha as the permanent representative to the United Nations.

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