The Nepal Digest - February 4, 1998 (22 Magh 2054 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Wed Feb 4, 1998: Magh 22 2054BS: Year7 Volume71 Issue1
  Today's Topics:

           Should We Question Monarchy?
           Global March on Five Continents Targets Child Labor
           Re: The Problems of Christianity
           Help in identifying someone
           Response to Nepali girl trafficking
           Travel, Trafficking, Women and Poverty
           A book-review
           Environmental Information on Nepal
           LOW AIR FARE TO KATHMANDU
           It is dangerous to fall in love with Jesus
           Re: Web Site, Nepal, Travel, Trekking and Trafficking

 ******************************************************************************
 * TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
 * -------------------------------------- *
 * *
 * The Nepal Digest: General Information tnd@nepal.org *
 * Chief Editor: Rajpal JP Singh a10rjs1@mp.cs.niu.edu *
 * (Open Position) *
 * Columnist: Pramod K. Mishra pkm@acpub.duke.edu *
 * Sports Correspondent: Avinaya Rana avinayar@touro.edu *
 * Co-ordinating Director - Australia Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * Dr. Krishna B. Hamal HamalK@dist.gov.au *
 * Co-ordinating Director - Canada Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * Anil Shrestha SHRESTHA@CROP.UOGUELPH.CA *
 * SCN Correspondent: Open Position *
 * *
 * TND Archives: http://library.wustl.edu/~listmgr/tnd/ *
 * TND Foundation: http://www.nepal.org tnd@nepal.org *
 * WebSlingers: Pradeep Bista,Naresh Kattel,Robin Rajbhandari *
 * Rabi Tripathi, Prakash Bista tnd@nepal.org *
 * *
 * +++++ 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: Sun, 1 Feb 1998 17:59:32 EST From: Ang Tsering Shrepa <ACSherpa@aol.com> To: webmaster.tnd@nepal.org Subject: Should We Question Monarchy?

Hi, Aloha Namaste,

Thank for all the information about Nepalese political issue.We need to educate young people in Nepal. And, why we have to put offwith this autocratic king and government of Nepal. Here how we should developed our country.

It seems like only human nature that when one person has absolute power over the others, he or she will lose touch with the feeling of those less fortunate and only look out for the best interest of themselves. This has been the case with the one person who has been given this power in the small kingdom of Nepal. That person is the king of Nepal, Birendra Bri Bikram Shah. The king got this position for just being born in the royal family at the right time. It is certainly the primitive way of thinking when one person is of a higher status just because he or she was born to a certain family.

The future of a person in Nepal is not determined by their character, but rather by the caste system of the person. This has a lot to do with the history and culture of Nepal, but we now live in the Twentieth century and it is time that things started to make changes so that all people as seen as equal and treated without discrimination to color, race, age, or caste system.

The problem identified in this paper is that king of Nepal will not let his country move forward in the productive direction until he gives up his power to the people. With so much power in the hand of one person, there is a constant fear that in order to protect his wealth and lifestyle, the king will be blinded to look out for his own interest and thus turn on his own people. Take for example the former dictator of Philippines, President Marcos. In the beginning, Marcos rose to power as a heroic leader and a defender of his country. However, after 30 years as a head of Philippines, it was apparent that he was stealing money from his own people to support his lavish lifestyle. Who can forget the 200 pairs of shoe of Imelda Marcos when the people ransacked the presidential palace after the Marcos had to flee for their lives from their own country.

In order to develop and bring Nepal into the modern century while keeping the rich history and culture intact, it is imperative that the people of Nepal are aware of their basic human rights. In particular, the children of Nepal have to be shown the right path to self-dignity. They children have to be taught that we are all created equal in the eyes of the God, and that no one should be seen as a superior or inferior just because they are born in a different caste than yourself. The children are indeed our future and Nepal needs their strength in numbers for any significant change to take place.

The focus of this paper is geared more towards the younger generation because the older generation is already set in their way of thinking. The thinking is such that the king of Nepal is seen as re-incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. Therefore, the culture of has big part to play in the role that shaped the caste system in this mountainous country. The young children need to be reminded that the ruler of Nepal is only human and because he was born a king does not mean that he is given the intelligence to do what is best for his country. That right should be decided by a majority vote of the people.

The first alternative of the author is to immediately get rid of the king in order to being the people in power. One radical solution is to use terrorist tactic by intimidation. Through this method, it is hoped that the king and his family will leave Nepal in an exile. With the king out of the way, the people will be allowed to decide for themselves how that country should be run to bring changes to make lives better in all parts of Nepal.

With any radical suggestion, there is always a crisis situation at hand. In this particular situation, it will be a difficult task to make an attack upon the king because he has the army of Nepal at his disposal. With the army under my strength, the ordinary people will little or no training in combat will face a formidable task. The irony in this alternative is that the king of Nepal has most of the wealth under his name in the Swiss bank account and there is no way the terrorist will be afford any equipment to fight the force of the army.

This alternative would be considered a fact track solution. By getting rid of the king, the people would come to power. A democratic system where the leader for the country is chosen by the majority vote rather than a country ruled by a single person and his hereditary.

The second alternative is to educate the people to change their way of thinking. It is important to make them aware that the king is not always suited to be a leader. The children plays a big role here by changing their views and changing the country in ways that will make the people open their eyes and realize their blindness.

The objection to this alternative will come from the people that enjoy benefit while the king is in power. With change is effect, there will be a lot of unhappy people that will resist the new system.

While this alternative is slow in coming, it will eventually take a strong hold with the new way of thinking. This will be a powerful tool to have as people demand changes and revolt with strength in numbers. There is also a solution for the king to remain in the country, which is where he is just a figurehead without any authority. This would be similar to the way the Queen of England is able to remain as a royal, while the prime minister is in charge of the actual leader that oversee how things are run in England.

The final alternative is to have foreign countries take notice of human rights issues in Nepal and thus force necessary changes to protect the right of a person. Human right issues such as freedom to vote without intimidation and freedom to speak your mind without fear that you will be taken away by the army or the police and disappear without any trial. In this age of Information Superhighway, any injustice or human right violence should be clearly and quickly pointed out to the United Nations and the world to record and take notice.

It seems that Nepal has fallen through the loopholes and forgotten from the rest of the world. It hardly makes any news in the world unless it is about some poor foreign hiker or mountain climber that has been trapped in the Himalayas while the native people of Nepal has to live in poverty and fear of its king.

Similar to the second alternative, the people that enjoy the benefits while the king is in power ruler will oppose any changes from an outside force. They have the most to lose from developing Nepal and making it a society where all people are considered equal. While this alternative will require help from foreign countries that are able to influence the wrongdoing of the king. Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada just to name a few, where human right issue is considered a priority in the development of a nation. The author would like to suggest that the best solution is to go with the second alternative where the education plays a front role in bringing changes to Nepal. The country has to be in a mindset where change is needed, wanted and understood by the majority. Only through education will the people of Nepal realize that king is not a god and he does not have all the answers. As any human being, he has his faults and good will and it seems that his greed has taken over in the case of this particular king. That is to say that all kings are bad but unfortunately for Nepal, the king has turned out to look for his own interest and forgotten why a person is chosen to be a king in the first place. In conclusion, the country of Nepal has been stagnating in a backward time while the rest of the world gets ready to move forward to the Twenty First Century. The main obstacle has the ruler of Nepal where he seems to make laws and order authority to only please himself and his family. It is time that change came to his small country in the Himalayas. Change to make the lives of the people a little better from what their forefather had to endure. Change to raise their children in a nation where all people are seen as equals and treated as equal. Change to live as a free human being without fear or intimidation from the authority in power. We are all created equal in the eyes of the God Vishnu and we should be allowed to die as a free human being.

lets work together and be free. Move our country forwards not backwards. we should educate more people who live in village, children and women in Nepal.
   Thanks again see you next time

Please relay this message to TND,and student organization. Our web-site Address is (http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/9220/NHS.htm)

**************************************************************** Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 22:49:03 -0800 (PST) To: CLR media list <clr@igc.apc.org> From: Mike Rhodes <clr2@igc.apc.org> Subject: Global March on Five Continents Targets Child Labor

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FEBRUARY 26, 1998 FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

The Global March Against Child Labor: children@globalmarch-us.org, 733 15th Street NW, Suite 920, Washington, DC 20005, phone:(202) 347-3817, fax:(202) 347-4885.

Global March on Five Continents Targets Child Labor
 
[Information provided by Global March Against Child Labor]

Starting on January 17, 1998, three parallel Marches Against Child Labor are winding their way through Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe. The Global March is a combination of marches and bus caravans linked with an extensive program of local and national demonstrations, events and advocacy campaigns. Activists from each region of the world will sponsor their own marches and activities, converging in Geneva in June at the time of an International Labor Organization (ILO) meeting where representatives of governments, businesses and unions will convene to discuss a new ILO convention on child labor.
  For 250 million children around the world, childhood is lost to grinding labor, often in dangerous and degrading circumstances and for wages that adults would not accept. Children sell flowers on the streets of Rio, break stones in Portugal, work at carpet looms in India, scrub the floors of middle-class households in Nairobi. Millions of children work as prostitutes or soldiers or are handed over to strangers to work as virtual slaves. In the United States, children work every day - on farms harvesting fruits and vegetables and in urban sweatshops sewing garments for U.S. consumers. A recent study commissioned by the Associated Press estimated that at least 230,000 children are working in agriculture and 13,000 children are working in sweatshops in the U.S. The number may be much higher.
  The Global March is more than a demonstration of public concern. It is an international alliance of many groups and individuals concerned with eradicating child labor. It aims to mobilize worldwide efforts to promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free, meaningful education and to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be damaging to the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
  The Americas March begins in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 25 and arrives in the United States on May 2. U.S./Mexico border itinerary:
  May 2 Los Angeles, CA May 3 San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico May 4 Mexicali, Mexico May 5 Yuma and Tucson, AZ May 6 El Paso, TX May 7 Sonora, Mexico May 8 travel May 9 Edinburg, TX May 10 rest May 11 San Antonio, TX May 12 Dallas, TX May 13 Hope, AK May 14 Little Rock, AK May 15 Memphis, TN May 16 St. Louis, MO May 17 Chicago, IL May 18 rest May 19 Detroit, MI May 20 Cleveland, OH May 21 Pittsburgh, PA May 22 travel May 23 New York, NY May 24 rest May 25 Philadelphia May 26 Washington, DC May 27 Washington, DC May 28 leave for Geneva
  The movement has captured the imagination of more than 700 non-governmental organizations, trade unions and children's rights organizations representing millions of people; they range from local grassroots groups to international organizations. The march and its related activities will take place in 92 countries. Children around the world are getting involved in activities supporting the Global March as it comes to their countries. They are finding ways to participate even if the march is not scheduled to pass near their homes. For example, a group of students in Massachusetts is creating an on-line march that will enable children everywhere to participate.
  The International Labor Organization has proposed a major new convention targeting the worst forms of child labor; it will be discussed at the ILO conference in Geneva in June. Global Marchers from around the world will converge there to deliver a strong message that the new convention must strengthen existing protection.

Contact the Global March Against Child Labor: children@globalmarch-us.org, 733 15th Street NW, Suite 920, Washington, DC 20005, phone:(202) 347-3817, fax:(202) 347-4885.

This Press Release is distributed by:

Campaign for Labor Rights 1247 "E" Street SE Washington, DC 20003.
(541) 344-5410

For corrections or changes to the e-mail address this Press Release was sent to please contact <clr2@igc.apc.org>

****************************************************************** From: "tiger ss" <kathmandu99@hotmail.com> To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 21:43:59 PST

Dear friends,

I am looking for the addresses of my friends siddarth Uprety and Madhu Pant. So, I would be very greatful if you could send me their email or postal addresses.

Thank You, Nabin Sharma

********************************************************** Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 01:30:23 -0500 (EST) From: Joel Hafvenstein <joel.hafvenstein@yale.edu> To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Re: The Problems of Christianity

To the Editor:

I was surprised (and, honestly, somewhat dismayed) by the amount of space given to Jason Ritchie's paper on "The Problems of Christianity" in the most recent issue of the Nepal Digest. In the first place, it seemed an awful lot of bandwidth to devote to a paper that nowhere mentions Nepal, nor has any but the most indirect bearing on Nepali events. (I don't mean to ingenuously imply that Nepal is unaffected by Christianity, or that issues of Christian expansion, intention, and doctrine should not be of concern to Nepalis. However, a good 5+ pages of discussion of religion with _no_ reference to Nepal seems excessive for the "Nepal" Digest).

In the second place, it was an extremely slanted, polemical paper, and unfair to the religion it criticized. It was written by a young man with a huge chip on his shoulder against Christianity, who makes no effort to hide his prejudice. Jason Ritchie declares from the outset that his grudge is a personal one, that he's attacking Christianity as someone who
"has suffered" under it ever since his father disowned him. Jason clearly hopes that the reader will sympathize with his story of parental rejection, and add it to the list of evidence that Christianity makes people like his father do bad things. I do sympathize with him; I understand from personal experience the deep pain that can be caused by rejection from within one's own religious community. But I also maintain that his pain has led him to be grossly unfair in analyzing Christianity.

Jason Ritchie (at least in this paper) writes as a crusader, not a philosopher. He is not interested in objectively understanding or analyzing Christianity, but in tearing it down, as a "bastion of intolerance, domination, and suffering." As a result, he freely accuses Christianity of all kinds of crimes, without bothering (in most cases) to back up his accusations with relevant facts. His main source is Betrand Russell, an admittedly brilliant man, but one who (like Jason) never actually gives sufficient details to support his allegation that Christianity is a net negative force in history. Both are writing polemics -- papers intended to convert others to their point of view -- rather than objective, helpful analyses of the religion in question.

Let me offer one or two examples of how Jason is either factually wrong or unfair. (In fact, I think the whole paper is incorrect -- even when the crimes he alludes to are real, the conclusions he derives from them are unjustified. But refuting him point for point would take up too much space, and divert this message still further from the topic of Nepal).

First, Jason continually tries to attribute exclusively to Christianity characteristics which are shared by religions and/or cultures across the world. Many (if not most) religions have a conversion impulse -- including Islam, many forms of Buddhism and Hinduism (the Hare Krishna sect leaps instantly to mind), "artificial" religions like Scientology, and not least of all, the aggressive agnosticism of people like Jason Ritchie. _All_ religions have been guilty of condoning crimes such as slavery or racism for long periods in their histories. And all religions have been attended at times by superstitions (such as witch hunts) or cultural baggage (such as myths of racial superiority) which proved harmful and unjust.

I'm not going to go through the arguments here that you shouldn't judge a whole religion by the actions of some of its members. Instead, I just want to point out that Jason might more accurately have titled his paper
"My Problems with Religion"... and that such a paper would have been much less likely to find its way into the Nepal Digest.

Second, Jason has adopted the classic strategy of confusing Christianity with European imperialism. This is a particularly easy strategy to take, since for the last few centuries, the most powerful people in the world have generally been European Christians or Europeans of Christian descent. The evils committed by these people (and justified by many European religious authorities) are an undeniable moral outrage. However, in claiming that _Christianity_ is responsible for all the enslavement and genocide perpetrated during this period, Jason overlooks two key points. First, there were plenty of European Christians who opposed the crimes of colonialism -- I recommend the movie "The Mission" (starring Robert de Niro) as a dramatized illustration of one such example. Second, there were and always have been plenty of Christians who are simply not European. Claiming that all of these Christians are as guilty as (say) Christopher Columbus is not only unjust, but ridiculous. _Their_ form of Christianity did not encourage colonialism or proclaim the superiority of the white race.

Finally, Jason's accusations of prejudice against Jews, homosexuals, and women are hopelessly confused. He attributes to _all_ Christians the flaws of some; he has no sense of how the understanding of (say) the role of women has changed over time; and, again, he claims that Christianity is solely responsible for social evils which have been present under other religions, and even before Christ. At times, his simplifications of the issues turn into flat-out lies, such as this one:

> Simply stated, Christians will always hate Jews as long as they are
> taught that their savior, Jesus Christ, was killed by Jews.

Nepal and Nepali interests are not served by this kind of religious polemic. Like almost all new democracies, Nepal is becoming open for the first time to philosophies and religions which were previously suppressed by the government. Accordingly, religious unrest is slowly beginning to rear its head -- between Hindus and Muslims, Hindus and Christians, even between Hindus and Buddhists. This is a potentially huge disaster (as any student of Indian politics is well aware). To keep Nepal's long tradition of peaceful religious coexistence intact, a friendly dialogue between religions must be maintained under the new, democratic conditions. If the Nepali people begin to think in terms of religious polemic -- if they begin to think of other religions (and their followers) as destructive, immoral, and evil -- the tension between different religious groups will inevitably turn into violence, repression, or both.

I'm not suggesting that Nepali leaders should only examine religious issues through rose-colored spectacles. The growing Christian community within Nepal, not to mention the Christian foreigners who come to the country with an interest in converting Nepalis, present very real and knotty problems -- especially when so much of Nepal's rich and beautiful culture stems from its traditional religions. Allegations that Christian groups have sought to make conversions by offering money or education opportunities to potential converts should be investigated, and (if proven to be true) the perpetrators should be punished. At the same time, Nepal has successfully maintained religious diversity for centuries, and if the inter-religious dialogue remains peaceful, there is no reason Nepal cannot adjust to the new atmosphere of freedom of religion while maintaining its cultural uniqueness.

Jason Ritchie (like Bertrand Russell) claims that Christianity has done more damage than good throughout history. I don't pretend to be qualified to answer the question of whether, on the whole, Christianity has done more harm or good in Nepal. However, individual Christians have
_undeniably_ done a great deal of good for Nepal. My father (to pick a close-to-home example) was responsible for the construction both of Patan Hospital and of the Andhikhola hydroelectric project. The late Father Gafney was respected by all, as a man whose Christian convictions led him to do good works (without expecting those he helped to convert to Christianity). And I've personally witnessed the efforts of many Nepali Christians to improve the food, shelter, and life of those around them.

These good deeds should merit respect. They make possible an atmosphere of friendliness in which Christians (both foreign and Nepali) can learn to interact with the majority religions of Nepal. On the other hand, false and misleading polemics can only poison the relationship between all Nepali religions.

So let's leave crusades and polemics at the door. If we're going to discuss the complex issues of religion in Nepal, let's at least discuss them as they affect _Nepal_, and not get sidetracked into poorly argued debates on religion in general.

Regards, Joel Hafvenstein

****************************************************************** Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998 17:45:17 -0500 (EST) From: aiko <gs07aaj@panther.Gsu.EDU> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: Help in identifying someone

I just re-read more closely the interesting if incoherent taped interview by REFGID in the 14 Jan issue of TND. When I read it the first time, I missed the beginning where he writes that he had gone to the bob Dylan concert in Atlanta, GA. However, even without reading that part, as I read the interview part, I realized with a jolt that I may know the guy being interviewed. Upon re-reading the piece, this time I saw the part about "Atlanta, GA. . . .Bob Dylan concert. . ." and now I am more sure who the chap is. IF it is the same dude who was interviewed, I just want to say while it made for "different" reading, it's typical of this individual to say the things he said. And, this person is no longer in Atlanta(thank goodness --- but that's another story!)

Aiko Joshi

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998 21:01:15 -0500 (EST) From: aiko <gs07aaj@panther.Gsu.EDU> To: tnd@nepal.cs.niu.edu Subject: Response re Nepali girl trafficking

I read the response by Mr. Koirala in TND issue before this past one, and Mr. Rajbhandari's in TND of 13 January, and I can sympathise with their concerns regarding the trafficking of Nepali girls as well as the harassment of female tourists.

I think noone who feels strongly about these issues denies that poverty and lack of education contributes to the insidious practice of trafficking girls for the sexual pleasure of men. I do not think anyone would say that girl trafficking is a cultural phenomenon like female genital mutilation. That would be ludicrous! Personally, I believe there are instances where boycotts and embargoes DO NOT work -- are not effective. Sometimes, they are effective, as in the case of boycotts of big companies that make use of sweatshop labor for the production of brand name items such as Nike, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria's Secret. But there are times when boycotts/embargoes ARE INEFFECTIVE, such as in the case of Cuba or Iraq. We all see the results(or lack or) such attempts at trying to bring those two nations to their knees. However, in the case of sexual harassment of female tourists, some kind of boycott seems to be called for. If the perpetrators are the tour guides and tour agencies themselves, then asking tourists to stay away from Nepal could effectively curtail some of that harassment. This does not mean that tourists will stay away in great numbers. I think Nepal will not suffer a lessening of the tourist trade as a result of trying to bring an awareness of this danger, because quite frankly, most people don't give a damn about what happens to women tourists. I have found that in many instances, the general attitude towards women traveling alone in a foreign country in Asia or Africa is "well, she should not have been by herself"; or, "why is she complaining; after all, aren't all Western women pretty easy!" In essence, BLAMING THE WOMAN HERSELF -- which is an all too-typical reaction among many people globally(and I include women as well as men).

In Europe, the United States, Canada, and Japan, there are catalogs and guide books extolling the pleasures of sex tours in Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia.

According to "Diva" magazine, Nepal has become a major source of exporting Nepalese girls to the Middle East and other parts of the Asian continent. Each year, about 5,000-7,000 Nepali girls are trafficked to India! The average age of these girls has dropped from 14-16 years to 10-14 years! Of these, roughly 90 per cent will contract AIDS, turned loose, left to die without medical treatment. A few will escape back to Nepal, only to be rejected by their families, their neighbors, the government; probably sucked back into the prostitute lifestyle. . . UNLESS SOMEONE is willing to do something! If this does not move the Nepali community worldwide to take action, I do not know what will. For me, this has become my life's goal. The more I hear and read of these horrors, the more hopeless it seems, the more I am determined to try and put a stop to this wholesale torutre, murder, and maiming of millions of girls and women worldwide -- but especially in Nepal! EDUCATION IS THE KEY. With education, attitude changes can happen. NGO's in Nepal and abroad should work together to provide educational and work opportunities for rescued and escaped girls. Men and women need to be taught that IT IS NOT THE GIRL'S FAULT. Forget about relying on government help. Time and time again, we have seen the results of "government aid". THE PEOPLE need to rally and begin making the changes: step by step, not in giant leaps and bounds because that will only bring on frustration and depair, and lead to giving up/giving in. To effect any sort of change requires the cooperation and working together of various groups, each dedicated to helping in some way: education, eradication of poverty, job training, emotional and psychological support.
. .the list goes on.

Mr. Rajbhandari is right. But we must not give in to despair either. There are many Nepalese right now trying to make a difference. Let us be supportive of them; don't criticise or make fun of them; don't say things such as what's the use; or, who cares; things that might discourage. If there any who couldn't care less about their country and what is happening to one half of the population(the female half; and judging from past TND issues, I know there are two or three who couldn't care less, comfortable in their credit-debt ridden pursuit of the illusive "American Dream" -- and I do not mean "elusive"; I DO mean "illusive"), that is okay; but don't look down on your fellow countrypeople who do care, who have hearts and souls and are not caught up in capitalistic, materialistic gains; just turn your heads and close your eyes and don't read this post; you have that choice. But think on this as you contemptuously sneer at the rest of us: but for a twist of fate, of circumstance, the trafficked girl could be your sister(if you have one), or it could even be YOU -- if you had the misfortune of being born a girl, a poverty-stricken girl.

Aiko Joshi gs07aaj@panther.gsu.edu

****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 15:29:52 GMT To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> From: wings@gn.apc.org (S Barton) Subject: Travel, Trafficking, Women and Poverty

In the last issue of the Nepal Digest, I wrote:

>It would be good if tourism money really did benefit the people as
>a whole, but does it? I believe income from tourism mainly stays in
>the hands of a wealthy few. However this is a topic that deserves a
>post to itself.

I agree with the points raised by L. Lagerlof of Captive Daughters, as well as Helen Brown, but I would like to add these comments about tourism.

In Nepal, backpacking is permitted, as is independent trekking with a porter to carry your pack, but the policy is to steer tourists away from these types of treks to use the services of registered tour operators. I'm familiar with the arguments put forward.--

Firstly, backpackers are often blamed rightly or wrongly for degradation of the environment and negative impact on the culture. IMO there are responsible and irresponsible people in all forms of trekking, including the organised tours.

Secondly, any kind of problem experienced by a trekker is usually attributed to being alone or with insufficient assistance. As Helen Brown's web site explains, problems can also beset people using trekking companies, but these tend to be hidden out of sight for financial reasons. On my last trek I remember meeting a woman walking alone in forest. I asked her why she was alone and she explained that she could not walk as fast as her guide and porter - from a well-known company, neither did she want to miss all the interesting sights that they sped past. She had explained her fears about trekking alone through the forest to the guide but he had refused to wait for her. He was, she thought, about two hours ahead.

However, I think bandits in the forest is a danger that is publicised more than most. I met her again. She was frustrated by the guide's behaviour but otherwise well.

My main point is this. I believe much of the income from organised treks does not stay in Nepal but goes back to the country of origin. The income that does stay in Nepal mainly goes into the pocket of a company director in Kathmandu who pays government taxes and can live in style while his employees, especially the porters, work very hard for very little. Some of these company treks utilise local lodges - if there are few trekkers - but many use supplies that are imported. So to what extent does organise trekking alleviate poverty as opposed to benefiting a wealthy minority in Kathmandu?

On the other hand, the backpacker or person who can find a reliable porter is spending money as he [or she] goes along, bringing income directly to ordinary people in each village. This, to my way of thinking, brings maximum benefit to impoverished areas of Nepal, but the authorities have less control over it, so they try to channel income into the trekking companies that bring them more revenue.

Also, if your job does not demand that you return home within a few weeks, you have to budget your available income for a period of time. The sooner you go home, the more you will need for your living expenses in your own country, so unless you expect to walk straight into a marvellous job [many Nepalis firmly believe this, but how very far removed it is from reality in the West!] the less you can spend in Nepal. The longer you stay [within reason] the lower the amount you have to budget for living expenses in your own country, so the more opportunity you have to spread money around these impoverished villages on trek. However you are frowned on because you are not spending a smaller amount of money in a lot less time.

I realise this is opinion and not necessarily fact. There has to be more to it than this: economics is generally a complex subject. For example I haven't mentioned the cost of visas and trekking permits, which is one way for the government to make money out of all tourists, regardless. If anyone wants to take me up on any point they will find me far more flexible than I am in my determined opposition to trafficking and sexual offences of any kind.

It seems to me this anti-trafficking campaign is not directed at the impoverished people of Nepal. It is directed at the wealthy men at the top. I re-read Barbara Adams' powerful article "How long must we wait?" again last night. It is at http://www.bena.com/nepaltrek/adams/ad70227.html or you can follow the link from the trafficking page on Helen's site at http://www.blue-fox.com/nepal. Barbara Adams states plainly that the real blame lies with wealthy corrupt politicians. As she says:

>the politicians who are supposed to work to alleviate poverty
>in the remote areas concentrate on filling their pockets and their
>Pajero tanks in Kathmandu. Their
>only connection with these poor villages is usually at election
>time when the same pimps who sell
>women to Bombay, round up votes for the politicians.

I am sure these men also know how to make the most out of tourism. As I wrote to the authorities:
>
>I am a man who supports the human rights and equality of
>women. Therefore I will not visit Nepal until these situations
>are rectified.

In directing my original protest at these men, and including tourism in my protest, I acted on the belief that they only understand money, not human rights.

Simon Barton wings@gn.apc.org

************************************************************** From: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@fas.harvard.edu> Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 12:25:40 -0500 (EST) To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: A book-review by Dr. Rajendra Pradhan

Book Title: Learning from Gal Oya: Possibilities for Participatory Development and Post- Newtonian Social Science. Author: Norman Uphoff Publisher: Intermediate Technology Publications, London, 1996
--------------------------------------

Altruism Stimulated by Rajendra Pradhan

Norman Uphoff's "Learning from Gal Oya" is a bold, stimulating and ambitious book. Reflecting on his decade long experience of the Gal Oya project in Sri Lanka, Uphoff not only draws lessons about participatory development but presents his vision of 'post-Newtonian social science'.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part's description of the Gal Oya project is written ingeneously in the form of a narrative report (which reads like a mix between fieldwork diary and fieldwork report familiar to anthropologists ) of his fieldvisits to Gal Oya. Uphoff describes lucidly and in a reflective manner what the project attempted to do, what actually happened, what was possible and what was not, and what the key actors (farmers, government officials, project personnel, etc.) did or did not do. The narrative includes not only observations on behaviour but also records people's thoughts.

The Gal Oya irrigation was constructed by the Sri Lankan government in the 1950s. It was the country's biggest irrigation system, covering about 125,000 acres and fed by a huge reservoir. By the mid-70s, the system was badly in need of rehabilitation due to poor management and maintenance by the Irrigation Department. Water shortage was severe, especially since the reservior was usually less than half-full. Frequent conflicts between the farmers over the supply of water led to breakage of structures, poor maintenance and irregular and unequitable distribution of water.

In 1980 the Sri Lankan Government and USAID requested the Agrarian Research and Training Institute (ARTI) and the Rural Development Committee of the Cornell University to help organize water user associations in Gal Oya as a pilot project. Thirty-two local university graduates were trained as institutional organizers (IO) and sent to the pilot area.. Their main task was to motivate over 10,000 farmers to form water user associations.

Within six weeks of beginning their work, the IOs managed to motivate over 90 percent of the farmers to meet frequently in small groups to discuss problems and seek collective solutions. The farmers cleaned the canals, the head-end farmers began saving water, and the associations introduced water rotation schedules so that the tail-end farmers would receive a fair share. After more public meetings between farmers, especially between the head-end farmers and the tail-end farmers, again facilitated by the IOs, more head-end farmers were willing to cooperate and ensure that the tail-end farmers received water, even if this meant reduced water supply to their fields. The farmers were able to continue and expand their altruistic and cooperative behaviour which led to social, political and economic changes in the project area.

The main lesson learnt about participatory development from the Gal Oya project is that local communities are able to organize themselves, indentify their problems and seek collective (and equitable) solutions, especially if they are motivated to do so by external agents or local leaders who act as catalysts.

In the second part, called 'Explanations', Uphoff presents his analysis and explanation of the case study. Uphoff attempts to explain why the farmers, considered individualistic, selfish, and contentious so quickly and readily became altruistic and cooperative. His explanation is that human beings are both selfish, individualistic, and contentious as well as altruistic and cooperative just as they are guided both by material interests as well as ideas and values. If a suitable situation is created so as to change value orientation, human beings will be willing to act collectively, keeping each others' welfare in mind. Good IOs are able to create such situations, especially by organizing public meetings between farmers.

He presents a fine critique of the dominant social science assumptions which are based on classical Newtonian science and presents his version of a new social science, drawing on diverse theories and disciplines such as theory of relativity from quantum physics, chaos theory from biology, and multiple frame of reference from hermeneutics (interpretation of texts). Newtonian social science posits mechanistic, determinsitic causation, defines 'essenses' (as opposed to emergent properties), lays emphasis on equilibrium and entrophy (instead of on evolution and energization), assumes closed systems and zero-sum alternatives [one benefits at another's cost] (instead of open systems and positive-sum dynamics [total benefit increases] and separates subjective and objective factors instead of inclusing both in analysis. It also privileges individual over collective, material over ideational and mechanistic over organic models. Post-Newtonian science has a binocular perspective, it does not insist on either/or alternatives but on both/and; and it appreciates contradictions and paradox. It insists on the importance of values, norms and meaning while not ignoring material interests.

Post-Newtonian social science does offer a better explanatory power than Newtonian social science but it is limited by its exclusion of history and political economy. Uphoff does not ask, much less answer, what historical and political economic conditions set the stage for individualistic, contentious, uncooperative behaviour in Gal Oya. Uphoff's social science is strangely limited to economics and political science (with a nod at sociology ). He seems rather ignorant of developments in anthropology
(and sociology) which has addressed some of the theories he discusses.

It also seems strange that though he discusses Gal Oya, he does not mention traditional irrigation management in Sri Lanka just as although he briefly discusses the Pithuwa Irrigation System (Government constructed by later managed by the farmers), as a success story, he does not at all mention farmer-managed irrigation systems, some of which have been studied by Cornell students, and are as
'successful' as Gal Oya. They did not need help from social scientists, institutional organizers or the Irrigation Department. One is led to ask what do we learn about participatory development from Gal Oya and the ignored traditional farmer managed irrigation systems. And what type of post post-Newtonian social science do we need?

(Anthropologist Rajendra Pradhan, Ph.D., is affiliated with FREEDEAL in Kathmandu. This book-review was first published in the Kathmandu Post Review of Books, co-ordinated and edited by Ms. Shizu Upadhya in Kathmandu.)

*********************************************************** From: Wong Ee Ling <eeling@riet.org.sg> To: "'nepal-request@cs.niu.edu'" <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Environmental Information on Nepal Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 12:30:21 +0800

Dear Editor of Taja Khabar

Greetings! I am Ee Ling, Wong from the Regional Institute of Environmental Technology (RIET). RIET is an Euro-Asia environmental business organization stationed in Singapore. Our activities concern the promotion of greater technological awareness, international standards and environmental news around the Asia region. I am the Senior Information Executive for our newsletter: RIET in Focus and I would like to write something on Nepal in the near future. Perhaps, on ecotourism, environmental issues in Nepal and environmental projects. Therefore, I drop a note of greeting to you. Hope to hear from you soon.

Ee Ling, Wong Senior Information Executive RIET eeling@riet.org.sg
                                 
"Driving Environmental Business in Asia"

****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 14:08:27 -0500 From: Sunrise Travels <nepaltravel@hotmail.com> Subject: LOW AIR FARE TO KATHMANDU To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu

Air Fare as low as $1150 to Kathmandu in Singapore Airlines. Email or call 703-862-3572 for more information.

SUNRISE TRAVELS
(Owned and Operated by Nepali).

************************************************************** Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 15:36:41 +1000 To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu From: Owen Lewis <owen.lewis@flinders.edu.au> Subject: It is dangerous to fall in love with Jesus

Jason Ritchie's article "The Problems of Christianity" reflect who he is, an angry young man rejected by his father.

Like many before him, he confuses the church and Jesus. He follows a well worn path of four centuries of critics of the church in western culture. The Enlightenment philosphers have "progressed" from scepticism to atheism, to meaningless despair. Now in post-modern, post-Christian times, western culture is on the brink of spiritual collapse. People like Jason, in rejecting the roots of their culture have come to reject the culture itself.

For those who come to know Jesus there is a dangerous decision to make - a life turning decision. I am no longer my own, now Jesus lives in me. For this reason I went to Nepal and spent seven years working in the health field. I had fellowship with other Christians to thank God for the good things He was doing in Nepal and to pray for the country. I related to thousands of Hindus, Buddhists and Moslems in my work but did not proseletise them. I do not know who became curious to know Jesus because of my presence.

Jesus does influence culture - for the better. Nepali Christians must interpret the Gospel of Jesus for themselves and not take on the trappings of western civilisation uncritically.

Listen too, you Nepali secularists - which is a bigger threat to you, Christianity or global cultural imperialism via the market and the media?

After four years back in Australia I still read TND because I love Nepal, and I still pray for it and my Nepali friends.

Dr Owen Lewis

********************************************************** Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 06:14:16 -0500 (EST) From: atuladhar@clarku.edu Subject: stuff3 (fwd) To: THE NEPAL DIGEST <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu>

To: atuladhar@clarku.edu Subject: stuff3

First Come First Serve??

A major legal claim for the primacy of Thapa's recommendation for dissolution of the House on "1145AM" was that it was earlier than the UML's counterclaim filed on "335PM" the same day.

This "self-evident" logical claim came in for specific questioning by the Supreme Court Justice Kedarnath Upadhaya according to Sandhya Times, Jan20 issue.

Justice Upadhaya asked Mukund Regmi counsel from the NC arguing the case: "From where did you pick up this First come First serve principle to apply to this case?"

The implication was that such a "principle" was not enshrined in the Constitution. The other Supreme Court Justices further ridiculed the notion that such a principle was enshrined in legal theory by challenging Mukund REgmi as follows:"Just because you were given the first chance to argue the case, does that mean you will inevitably win?"

It is obvious that this crank theory has come out of former Chief Justice Bishwo Nath Upadhaya's hat.He has said as such in public interviews and the NC has adopted this line as their fundamental legal argument.

The conventional logic is to blame the power-hungry political leaders for the current state-of-affairs. Granted. But why should we leave the other "intellectual leaders" for their lack of intellect or political acumen?

Bishwa Nath as the chairman of the constitutional drafting committee has come in for the square blame by his constitutional peer RishiKesh Shah in a hard hitting interview in Pratipaksha (Asoj 10. 2054). It was Bishwa Nath while under impeachment proceed ings tried to stop the PM (ManMohan) preroragative of dissolving the Parliament when he wanted a fresh mandate from the public. It is this "constitutional reinterpretation" by the father of th**********
**ic at large. Only surya bahadur girija, sher, ramhandra, b amdev, oli, and nepal are the choices who can come to power, why cannot the people have other choices, all due to supposed stellar quality of bishwonath's legal brains and reinterpretation...All corruption is due to the shutting out of people's voice by this Constitution

This interview certainly cries Emperor's New Clothes for the fancy attire of the title of the foremost authority on Nepal constition that biswonath crrently enjoys. Part of the stripping was done by the UML who accussed his decision as class based decisi on. There was a roundabout defence against this by bishwanath who said that all his sons are in USA due to no thanks from Panchayat regime where he served several decades as the "incorruptible, conscientious" legal cog, rising in seniority and showing ju st enuf NC inclination to win the constition drafting chairmanship. From his own story, he just happened to be there.

What we should have the freedom to think is that he is not some stellar legal brain nor incorruptible conscientous political thinker nor extraordinarily trained and experienced in constition that everytime there is some problems we should take his word a s god's own words. Of course he would love it, playing more kingly than king, by quashing the king's decision to dissolve manmohan's parliament with his imaginative reinterpretation and giving us Bam dev, Chands, Suryas, Girijas, Shers, Kamal Thapas, Kri shna Bhattarais and other moral lilliputians...

Amulya Tuladhar

************************************************************************ Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 13:09:56 GMT To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu (The Nepal Digest) From: carin@gn.apc.org (H Brown) Subject: Re: Web Site, Nepal, Travel, Trekking and Trafficking

Dear Sir,

Recently the Web Site, http://www.blue-fox.com/nepal belonging to my friend and myself, has attracted a lot of interest, even controversy. It aims to raises awareness of sex trafficking and also sexual offences committed against tourists by men in positions of trust in tourism. Although I am impressed by the kindliness of most Nepalese people, we believe both offences, although obviously differing in magnitude, have their roots in the same problem - utter disregard shown by powerful men to the human rights of women and girls.

The problem in tourism is not that large numbers of rapists exist, but that alledgedly corrupt authorities apparently make no effort to remove known sex offenders who operate travel businesses. If countries like Nepal do not adequately safeguard the rights of the tourists who bring money into their economy, then what hope is there for Nepalese women who are treated like chattels? If we raise awareness of offences committed against women tourists and oblige the authorities to make changes, then we are in a stronger position to press for an end to sex trafficking.

People other than myself have mentioned the Holocaust in relation to trafficking. It seems appropriate to mention that I have just seen a film I have wanted to see for a very long time - "Schindler's List." I knew it would inspire me, and it did.

The trafficking of girls is indeed like a present-day Holocaust. People will no doubt think of some differences - I agree - but there are great similarities. A whole section of society is targeted as
"inferior" and systematically despatched to be used as slave labour, incarcerated, subjected to endless humiliations and torture, leading in most cases to a horrific death.

Many millions of Jews died in the Holocaust. World-wide, the number of trafficked women and girls who are murdered by their tormentors, who die of totally preventable diseases such as AIDS, whose lives are otherwise shortened as a direct result of their suffering, or who are even driven to suicide, amounts to genocide. Maybe this genocide claims even more lives than the Holocaust - no-one seems to know exactly - but two hundred thousand Nepalese girls may be brothel slaves at any one time. Over the years, who knows how many Nepalese lives are lost?

However much I love and respect Nepal, however many happy thoughts I have of people who treat me as a member of their own families, the uncomfortable reality is that Nepal is among the major trafficking countries of the world. I have felt more involved with these issues in Nepal than anywhere else. I also feel that for every Nepalese critic, I have dozens of Nepalese supporters.

Like Schindler I am not a hero and I cannot stop the whole process of genocide. But I have known that tremendous quote from the Talmud for a long time.

"He who saves a life, saves the world entire..."

How can anyone put a value on a human life? Rape, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation in all their forms can cause life-threatening levels of stress, even cause people to take their own lives. Counselling, even if it is available, is not an easy cure. For some people, it can do more harm than good.

In focusing strongly on sexual abuse inflicted on visitors, I saw work that I can do, that needs to be done because very few other people are involved in it, and that could save some people from situations that could bring about their deaths.

Like most other things in life you can't hope to succeed unless you give an issue everything you've got... and pull out the stops to give it even more, no matter how tough, and believe you can win, and keep on believing... So it seems to me that if I mentioned rape and abuse in tourism as a secondary issue, it was unlikely I would achieve anything at all. I have simply got to give it my very best shot...

Then my Web Master and I made connections to the genocide that is called trafficking...

Helen Brown carin@gn.apc.org http://www.blue-fox.com/nepal

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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