The Nepal Digest - January 11, 1996 (27 Poush 2053 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Saturday 11 Jan 97: Paush 27 2053BS: Year6 Volume58 Issue2

Today's Topics:

                     Prejudice II:The Story of a Riot
                     Ambassador Thapa Speaks at UConn
                     Info on The Kathmandu Book Society
                     Proposed Bara Forest Management Plan
                     AIDS Bomb in the making!

 * TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
 * -------------------------------------- *
 * *
 * The Nepal Digest: General Information *
 * Chief Editor: RJP Singh (Open Position) *
 * Columnist: Pramod K. Mishra *
 * SCN Correspondent: Rajesh B. Shrestha *
 * *
 * TND Archives: *
 * TND Foundation: *
 * WebSlingers: Pradeep Bista,Naresh Kattel,Robin Rajbhandari,Prakash Bista*
 * *
 * *
 * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
 * *
 * "Heros are the ones who give a bit of themselves to the community" *
 * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" -Sirdar_Khalifa *
 * *
****************************************************************** Date: Sat, 04 Jan 1997 12:22:42 EST To: The Nepal digest Editor <> From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <> Subject: Prejudice II:The Story of a Riot

Let me tell you a story from my past. I'm now eighteen, no longer the target of my best friend's grandmother's prejudice in my Rajbanshi village in eastern Nepali Terai. It's sunset time over the ancient town on the banks of the Ganges, where I have lived on bread and water for the past few years. I have suddenly found myself at this beautiful, inauspicious, moment between day and night leading a mob of high caste college students to raid a lower caste neighborhood, half a mile east of the college. I'm the GS, General Secretary, of the hostel (a feat made possible partly by my last name, I must admit). I have fought against a gang of high caste ruffians, all from one caste, who had terrorized every boarder of the hostel I live in, high caste or low, although the lower the caste, the worse the consequences for the victim.

        Gambling, extortion, beating, drunken brawls, molestation, and nightly visits by prostitutes had become a common routine in the hostel, creating an atmosphere of terror for these parent- dependent, docile, studious teenagers, who came from both high and low caste homes, privileged and cautious, from far-flung areas. Whipped by their families into submission, they have, the book worms that they are, chosen the path of surrender to their fate. Fate would one day remove this tyranny; they had perhaps prayed and waited for release from this terror. Until now, they hadn't turned into victimizers themselves--at least not openly.

        Not long ago, having come from a tribal village in the Nepali jungles and lived in quiet anonymity, I, too, had been made a victim of extortion and threat from the gang that ruled the hostel. Like the others, I, too, had determined to surrender rather than struggle and break the disturbing peace--the principle of fate had unwittingly applied to my case as well, although since class nine I had prayed and questioned at the same time the vagaries of what they called God. A few years ago, I had gone to the crime-infested college, upon hearing from my high school teacher, the same caste that this gangs came from, about its reputation for learning--I had gone to seek enlightenment, you may say, on the banks of the Ganges.

        I had kept quiet and aloof from all this caste politics, caste terror, caste talk, caste eating, caste filth. When high castes treated the lower castes as sub-humans, I had shut my mouth. High caste students rarely spoke to fellow low caste students in the hostel I lived. They called them names behind their backs. "The Shudras have no brains. The 'sanskaar hins'! What can they say?" had been their constant refrain. (The word "sanskar" needs definition and exploration, but I'm not going to do it now). Face to face, they shunned them and refused to have equal transactions with them. But I never said a thing about this age-old discovery of theirs; I had gone there for enlightenment, high thoughts, not confrontation with stones and rocks--and vile earthly passions about inferior and superior breeds. Why bother? I had had enough already of that bastard Manu and his his twentieth-century proginies' invidious machinations. I had developed profound contempt for both highness of highcastes and lowness of low castes.

        My non-involvement reached such a point in the hostel that the fellow boarders of my class called me not by my given name but, derisively and for fun I suppose, by the name of the country I had come from--Nepal--meaning foreigner; they called me "Nepali." (They didn't know that "Nepali" was the family name of an untouchable caste in Nepal; if they did, they would have had more fun.) Call what you may, but I'm not going to dip my nose into your murky affairs, I said to myself and kept my peace and determined to suffer at the hands of the rulers of the hostel. But things had changed. I had been harassed, threatened, and finally extorted. The final act involved money, which I severely lacked. The events took such a nasty turn that I couldn't bury my head in the sand any more. If the wicked are free to commit their nefarious deeds, it's the moral duty of those who are victims of such deeds to rise and defend against wrong," I had said and drowned the aspirations for enlightenment and high thoughts into the dirty water of the Ganges, plunging headlong in the hostel's affairs just to avoid paying extortion money in the future. And now, between day and night, in the midst of this mob, I have found that I am in dire trouble.

        Now, I have unwittingly become the leader of a mob of high caste boarders, for which I had never aspired. When we set out from the hostel, I had agreed to accompany only after they pledged that we would find the rickshaw puller and question him as to why he had slapped one of our brethren, a whining Rajput devoid of his caste qualities, as they said about him afterwards. (There were brave Rajputs also. One, for example, in his megalomaniac moment slashed his palm and vowed by the dripping blood before all of us to kill the principal. He was later expelled from college; he then married the niece of an honorable politician of his caste. I hope that made him forget his vow.)

        But that hadn't happened--the promise they had given me at the time of leaving the hostel had been broken; a deligation of sensible, submissive high caste boarders, victims themselves not long ago of one-caste violence, had turned into a rioting mob. In their mob fury, they had forgotten that we had gone out into the neighborhood to investigate an assault on one of their brethren, to separate milk from water, to act as fact-finders. And those against whose atrocities I had struggled alongside to protect them and had the gansters expelled from the hostel, establishing a unity of strength among the bona fide boarders, low caste or high, had now suddenly taken over the crowd of these studious youngsters, and we hadn't even gone half ways to the lower caste neighborhood. These goons had hurled the first brickbats at the low caste houses; these houses huddled next to each other on both sides of the lane. The peace-loving, studious, soft-skinned sons of the noble-intentioned parents who had lived cowered by the goons not long ago, had taken a cue from their new commanders and started hurling rocks, had turned into a violent mob of high caste gangsters, led and incited by caste prejudice. The transformation from victims into victimizers had been quick, taking me by surprise and jeopardizing their and my life.

        It was not that this prejudiced mob I was leading had surfaced all of a sudden out of nowhere. Caste configurations had structured the whole college, from the principal to the orderly. (They said each university in the province, five or six of them, was controlled by one or another caste, which turned out, I later found, to be true). For example, the lower castes formed the core of the orderlies, gardeners, cooks, and so on, but there were some Brahmans also from a poverty-stricken region of the state who worked as cooks and orderlies; we all called these latter Panditji. Most of the faculty belonged to the four high castes, but only one high caste ruled the roost. The students of the same high caste captured, literally so, the college election, forcing--by beating, stabbing, and other forms of threat--to silence anyone who dared to contest a post and didn't belong to the caste. The most amazing aspect of this whole hoax that they called student election was the alliance of the Muslims with this high caste: they shared the spoils that their control over the affairs of the college brought.

        Similarly, in my hostel, which admitted students purely on merit
(discount the "special cases" the caste powers forced down the throat of the lily-livered Brahman Warden), high caste students never deigned so much as to speak to the low caste, and whenever they did, it was with condescension and back-biting. "What can a Shudra have to say about this or that?" (They said the same thing, though with less contempt and more for amusement, about a few lower caste faculty.) Out there in the world, the lower castes were in the majority, but in the hostel they formed the minority; they quietly finished their studies and got on with their lives. There was no question of any untouchable living there, even though the law allowed, even though Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar had done their jobs and entered their graves. During the years I lived in that hostel, I never saw an untouchable as a boarder. Such a person would face complete segregation and contempt from everyone else. Even a meritorious one-- and I had encountered numerous of them, from the most oppressed section of the Hindu religion- - lived with his fellow untouchables in ST, SC (Schedule Tribes and Schedule Caste) hostel, secluded and separated, beyond the walls of the college.

        So when I found this group of sensible boarders turned into a rock-hurling mob: all my fears surfaced and gripped my body and mind. Every muscle of my body twitched with fear; my forehead and clothes soaked with an apprehension of danger. I was neither brave nor morally prepared for this mob valor. Every single one of the mob was hurling stones and bricks, left and right. The most innocent lamb had turned into a frenzied tiger. What should I do? I told myself in panic. I had never exposed myself to such dangers so foolishly before, although dangers to my life had come my way numerous times before, some by others' machinations, some just by chance. But I had never contributed anything to their occurrence. The brick and concrete houses of tavern keepers, fishermen, barbers, weavers, carpenters, oil makers, and goldsmiths and blacksmiths on both sides of the lane was receiving a barrage of brickbats, rocks and obscenities from us--the whole muhalla of the low caste locals was stunned into silence. They turned off the lights and downed their shutters and closed their doors--and locked themselves inside--fast. Our obscenities rang high, echoed against the silent houses- -our sense of triumph unchallenged. But if they got together and charged, I thought, these rioting mobsters would be hacked to pieces like pumpkins. Not only all my work to create a unity among various castes in the hostel to achieve our common goal--learning--had gone up in smoke, I had become one of the rock-hurling, obscenity-shouting mob. I had jeopardized my life and limb. The men in the houses lining the narrow lane need do nothing; if they just got onto their flat roofs and hurled bricks from there down on us, every stone would hit us like a bullet and each one of us would be a quick corpse, I thought. And if they fired guns (illegal guns you could buy on the cheap), you couldn't imagine the consequences.

        Then I was seized by another terror, and the whole situation looked absolutely hopeless. What about those high caste rogues I had fought tooth and nail? They have taken over the mob now, and I have become its mere worker!. No escape, now, I said to myself. I rued the circusmstances that had made me cross the border and then cross the Ganges to come to this cursed place for study; I rued having ever broken my vow of silence in the affairs of the Indians; I rued having come out of the hostel at all. Why didn't I just barricaded myself into my room against all calamities? Clearly, they had duped me into a trap.

        The high caste goons against whom I, along with other high and low caste boarders, had run a campaign and undermined their authority and had them expelled from the hostel so we could study in peace had become the leaders, leading every move, co-ordinating every action, working up every sagging hand and heart of the marauding band. They brought out home-made handguns, knives, cricket bats and hockey sticks from no one knew where--and the ample supply of rocks and bricks of the gravelled road came as a blessing. It was indeed a free for all situation. Anybody could kill anybody, and nobody would know who killed whom.

        Was it a trick of these high caste hooligans to fool me into a trap and then do a job on us with the collective anonymity and immunity of this mob? Hadn't they taken out their frustrated fury outside the hostel in a near-war situation just a few months ago? The gang leader had hurled abuses at me in his dialect, "You black Babaji! Matherchod! You are the chief culprit! The brain behind everything that has happened here! Had it not been for you, these water-brains would have never dared to rise against us!" That afternoon, they had carried guns concealed under their sleeves--and their hockey sticks flashed in their hands.

        Only a war-ready situation inside by the boarders had evinced them the possible consequences if they pulled out their guns and dared use their sticks--and averted the situation. But now, out in the street, in a free for all situation, surrounded by enemy houses outside and enemy rogues as comrades in the mob--and darkness everywhere, I found myself totally exposed, from both low and high caste beasts. If I retreated and fled, the lower caste locals would spot and cut me to pieces; if I went along the warring mob, the high caste goons would stab, shoot, and avenge their diminished power in our hostel. And, to make matters much worse, I looked nothing like a wrestler nor a body builder. Ever since I had left home to study across the border in India at age eleven, I had vowed to let my tongue suffer so I could feed my brains.
        What should I do to protect myself? I told myself in panic. So I, too, bent down and picked up a brick and shouted, "Kill 'em all! Kill the bastards! Touch me, motherf . . .ers and I'll cut you like a cucumber!" I yelled again and again to no one in particular, pumping my lungs hoarse--and ran along the mob fearing for life, shifting my eyes from the houses to the person nearest me and back again-- anticipating a stab or a blow any moment, from any direction in that darkness.

        I tore through the frentic wall of the mob and grabbed my friend Chander's sleeves, recognizing him from his shape and voice. Chander had been a courageous Rajput who had lost his mother at age two--he had no memory of his mother whatsoever--and that had left, he said, a hole, a big vacuum in his life, which he physically felt day and night. With this good-hearted fellow, religious to a fault, I had set out to create peace in the crime-infested hostel. I shook him with both hands and whispered, "Listen, man! Let's keep together! Let's watch our ass in this melee and keep away from the rogues. Let's not lose our heads." He understood who and what I meant. We stuck together and headed back toward the hostel, on a faster trot, through the main road. Other boarders followed. In the hostel, I shouted, scolded, explained--and everyone seemed to understand.

        The next day, however, the whole section of the town we had attacked assembled and charged. They attacked--armed and planned. They had the whole night and the day for preparation and we had slept in peace. They came in large numbers, forming rows, like ancient warriors. They passed the post-graduate area, between their muhalla and the college, and headed toward the wall of the college. It was around ten; the sun was shining beautifully that winter morning. This time, all of us went, even some low caste boarders to defend ourselves. The battle had taken a different color. It was no longer one between high caste and low, but between the locals and the students. Both sides, though equipped with concealed guns, threw only rocks, which fell lifeless far short of where we stood or where they fretted and shouted obscenities. We waited for the police to arrive in the face of this ever-increasing mob. The police took its time and arrived and began to break the crowd. All of us returned to our hostels.

        This was just the beginning of a long caste war in the college. The battle between one high caste gangsters and the rest had taken clear contours now--between high castes on the one hand, with their educated manpower, wealth, and valor; and the low castes, with their numerical superiority outside the college, their budding awareness of high caste domination. The Mandal Commission had already given its report and the high caste students had already launched an all India agitation over job reservations for the backward castes. Although temporary unity in the hostel been restored, much more complicated and dangerous events occurred in the coming months. I had to put all my background and ideas to test in order to handled the caste situation that confronted me.

****************************************************************** To: Subject: Changing current e-mail address From: (RABIN B SHRESTHA) Date: Tue, 07 Jan 1997 20:35:54 EST

It has been very facinating to read TND regularly. I really admire for all of you on keeping TND alive. It is a lot of work but it is a good work, so keep it up.

My current address will be cancel very soon. So, I would really appriciate if you send me upcoming Nepal Digest and all matters in my new

                             New address:
                             Old address: Thank You. Rabin Shrestha

************************************************************* Date: Wed, 8 Jan 1997 02:37:48 -0500 (EST) From: To: Subject: submission to TND

Please include the following in the next issue of TND. I believe it should go in category 9-miscellaneous. Thank you, Ellie Skeele

Request for Help Translating Nepali Innoculation Records I have recently returned home to the US with my newly adopted 16 month old Tamang daughter. Needless to say, I am thrilled. She is a joy and seems to be adjusting to her new life very well. In Nepal I was given a record of her innoculations, all in Nepali. A clerk at my hotel tried to translate it for me, but I'm not sure if his information is correct. I really need to know what the document says. I'd greatly appreciate it if someone would offer their help to translate the Nepali into English. I could fax the document to you and you could then email or fax back the translation. In advance, I thank you. A comment on the Tibetan carpet debate, but please know that I did not read all the past postings on this issue. My daughter's birthmother works in a Tibetan carpet factory in Kathmandu. Her husband was killed about a year ago and she has been supporting four children, now three. She earns 400 rupees per square meter of carpet she weaves. It takes her approximately 40 hours per square meter. This is not even close to enough to support herself and her family. In the US, paying workers by the piece is illegal (I think). Because she is only able to earn such a measly amount, my bahini has been forced to give up one child and hopes to give a second to an American family soon. It broke my heart to gain the love of a child under such cruel circumstances and I am doing all that I can to help her improve her earning power so her family can thrive. I commend her courage in giving up her child so that she might thrive and have great opportunity. The owners of the factory live in a grand house right by the factory. They are not well-loved by the factory workers! Again, thank you for your help with my translation problem. Ellie Skeele

************************************************************** From: "Jeet Joshee" <> To: Date: Wed, 8 Jan 1997 09:19:47 -0500 Subject: Ambassador Thapa Speaks at UConn

Dear Editor,

I e-mailed you the following article back in December for publication in the Nepal Digest. Somehow it appears to have been misplaced because the last two TND which came out after I submitted the article didn't include it. Please include it in your next issue of TND. Thank you.

From: Dr. J. Joshee To: Subject: Ambassador Thapa Speaks at UConn Date sent: Sun, 15 Dec 1996

Dear Rajpalji,

Please post the following news article in your next issue of The Nepal Digest.

His Excellency Dr. Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Ambassador of Nepal to the United States gave a lecture presentation on "South Asia in the Global Economy: A Perspective from Nepal" at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut. Dr. Thapa spoke in front of some 100 plus faculty, staff and students in the Konover Auditorium of the Dodd Research Center on UConn campus. Dr. Thapa's presentation was sponsored by many departments at the University including Asian American Studies Institute, Asian American Cultural Center, Asian Faculty and Satff Association, South Asia Study Committee, Division of Extended and Continuing Education, Division of International Affairs, UConn Nepali Student Association and the Nepali Community in Connecticut.

Dr. Thapa used an analogy to describe the South Asia Region as a glass which could be seen either as half empty or half full. He said, some see us as half empty with too many religious, caste and communal conflicts. Governments in South Asian countries are unstable. Democracy seem to be struggling for a long time. There are too many social and economic problems within South Asian countries. He said that for foreign investors, specificaly the private sector, these communal conflicts and government unstability poses insecurity. It is difficult to build a trusting environment for investment.

However, on the other hand, Dr. Thapa mentioned that people see South Asia Region as a glass that is half full. This is a region where democratic priciples are praticed for a long time. These are countries which have tried to be self sufficient despite their internal problems. He said that people find us hard working. But yet, foreign investment is significantly lower in South Asian countries comapred to South East Asian countries. Dr. Thapa said that there is a lesson to be learned from how Soth East Asian countries have been successful to bring foreign investment in their countries as well as build their own economic infrastructure that is strong and prosperous.

Dr. Thapa, further speaking comparatively on South Asian countries and South East Asian countries, pointed out that one of the main reason South Asian countries have not been successful economically is becuase they have always tried to stick with the democratic principles and democratic governments despite the difficulty in the process. He mentioned that besides the Emergency rule period in India imposed by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, India has always been a democratic country. Given that there are tremendous problems within Pakistan's democracy with on again off again military rule, they have been able to elect a female prime minister twice and they are going to remain democratic. He said that Bangladesh was born due to democratic demands by the people and regional cooperation. Regarding Nepal, Dr. Thapa, referring to the Panchayat Regime, mentioned that it practiced a quasi-democratic form of government for a long time. The new fully democratic governments in the recent years have struggled for stability and better organization, but the country remains fully committed to practice democratic principles and values.

He went on to say that the above is not true for South East Asian countries. Many countries there have adopted a form of government that would provide economic gain by bringing in foreign investment but not necessarily exercise full democratic principles. He cited Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippinnes as examples.

Dr. Thapa expressed that he supports the idea of SAFTA which he thinks will be helpful for South Asia region. He Said that we need to learn lessons from ASEAN and APEC.

Answering to an audience question of whether we should look to experienced Western countries for nurturing and establishing effective democracies, Dr. Thapa said that democracy is really not a new phenomenon for South Asian countries. Actually western countries adopted some of the democratic principles from ancient hindu religious systems. He cited Rama Rajya as an example. What is true today, he said, is that western countries have been able to establish strong democratic institutions.

In an answer to another audience question of whether brain drain is a problem or not for the region, Dr. Thapa said that it is not a problem as long as people are contributing to their home countries from wherever they are in whatever forms they can. He mentioned that many Indians nationals living abroad have been influential in contributing to India's development.

In regards to world peace and hunger, Dr. Thapa shared the view that the world, especially the developed countries, shouldn't have to wait for the disaster to happen like the hunger in Africa and the killings in Bosnia.

Dr. Thapa called the Nepalis living here in the States the "true ambassadors" of Nepal. He said that he was quite proud to see so many of his fellow nationals in the faculty and in high professions. He expressed satisfaction to the fact that all Nepalis living here do have genuine concern and interest about Nepal.

After the talk program, a community potluck, hosted by Nepalis in Connecticut was held in the International House.

The above comments are based on my recollection of the event that happend last month. Therefore, it is not a complete account of everything that Dr. Thapa said in his presentation. I take full responsibilty of what is mentioned above. Additionally, I submit the above with permission from His Excellency Dr. Thapa.

Sincerely submitted, Dr. Jeetendra Joshee University of Connecticut

****************************************************************** Subject: Info on The Kathmandu Book Society To: Date: Fri, 3 Jan 1997 17:21:15 -0500 (EST) From: "Rajesh B. Shrestha" <rshresth@BBN.COM>

I think Pratyoush has already put up a notice about this on the Net through Lazima. But since I just got some free e-mail facilities (for sending stuff only!) for a few days, I thought I too would have this posted here. So here it goes:

Since April 1996, on the last Sunday of every English month, a bunch of us in Kathmandu have been writing and co-ordinating book-reviews and essays
(four to five in one issue) on page four -- the editorial page of other days
 -- of The Kathmandu Post. So far, the nine issues of 'The Kathmandu Post Review of Books' (TKPROB) have included 40-plus reviews and essays. [Aside: None of us work for the Kathmandu Post; it's just that we have a working relationship with editors of that newspaper.]

Anyway, since we all like buying, borrowing, reading books, and enjoy discussing and writing about them, the idea now is: Why not get together once in a while with literary critics, writers, publishers, book-sellers and fellow-readers in Kathmandu to talk SPECIFICALLY about books, their contents, their authors, and their consumption? We can call ourselves members of 'The Kathmandu Book Society' (KBS), and, without much fanfare, get started on this.

In fact, to start with, we can meet at Martin Chautary in Thapathali (phone: 246-065, behind V.S. Niketan High School) once a month, and later, seeing how the monthly meetings go, then meet every other week. The co-ordinators for the first few weeks would be Shailesh Gongal and Ashutosh Tiwari. As time rolls on, others too can take on responsibilities. Ultimately, the hope is that like 'The Kathmandu Post Review of Books', this Kathmandu Book Society too will have an independent, informal, yet reliably monthly life of its own.

What will the Kathmandu Book Society do?

1.Co-ordinate the publications of the monthly 'The Kathmandu Post Review of Books'. [The Book Society is also looking into the possibility of starting the publications of serious book-reviews in Nepali language in one of the broadsheet Nepali daily newspapers. Nothing's definite about this Nepali-page yet, but talks with newspapers are underway.]

2. Actively seek and encourage more people to write book-reviews and thought-essays for publications. [Books could be fiction or non-fiction, Nepal-related or not -- in Nepali, English or in any other languages. The only requirement, which could be waived in certain cases, is that a copy of the book be available in at least one bookstore in Kathmandu. As for the thought-essays, they could be pieces of social criticisms, analyses of
 trends, research articles of general interest and discussions of genres of various disciplines and so forth.]

3. Invite authors/publishers/book-sellers/readers and critics to talk about various aspects of the book industry in Nepal.

4. Get together with fellow-readers to critically discuss certain book(s) or certain authors.

5. Over time, the KBS, in collaboration with other groups that are already active at Martin Chautary, hopes to maintain a library of Nepal-related
 books, PhD dissertations, Master's theses, journal articles and newspaper clippings and so forth -- all of which will be of use to writers, researchers and academics.

6. Any other suggestions from TND/SCN community? Email them to Shailesh Gongal at

7. Membership in the Book Society is open and free to all, regardless of
 nationalities, age, politics, whatever.

8. On Sunday, December 22, 1996, the Kathmandu Book Society invited Mr. Anjan Shrestha of Kathmandu's Educational Book Enterprises to Martin Chautary in Thapathali to discuss the problems and the promise of
 private-sector publishing/book-selling in Nepal.

Now on to the nitty-gritty:

How can you -- the TND/SCN readers -- help The Kathmandu Book Society?

1.Write reviews and essays and send them for publication in the monthly Review of Books. You can e-mail your reviews/essays either to Lazima Onta-Bhatta at Cornell
( -- that's el oh one two) or to Bikash Thapliya at MIT
( [In fact, two of the reviews that were published in the December '96 edition of the Review of Books came from the US and the UK
 via e-mail!] Upon publications, all writers will, of course, get paid.

2.Send a copy each of your dissertations, articles, or books for the library. Send an e-mail to Lazime at ( -- that's el oh one two) if you need the postal address or contact persons for this.

3. Critically read the reviews and essays, as they get published on the last Sunday of an English month in the Kathmandu Post. That's about it.

Some members of the Kathmandu Book Society are: Pratyoush Onta, Mary Des Chene, Siju Upadhyay, Surendra Sthapit, Shailesh Gongal, Narayan Manandhar, Biresh Shah, Kumar Pandey, Sangeeta Bhattarai Pandey, and Ashutosh Tiwari. Others too are more than welcome to join us -- either through e-mail or when you are next in Kathmandu.

Next meeting of the Kathmandu Book Society: January 19 at Martin Chautary in Thapathali, Kathmandu.The book society will have a guest-speaker.



*********************************************************************************************** From: Date: Mon, 6 Jan 1997 19:48:52 -0500 (EST) To: Subject: Proposed Bara Forest Management Plan

KURA_KANI: The following article challenging a proposed FINNIDA-funded pilot project to privatize forest management in the Terai appeared in the Kathmandu Post on November 24, 1996. TND readers may be interested to follow or participate in the debate about this controversial project at the following website organized by the Forests, Trees and People Programme and Network:

Who will Benefit from the So-Called Bara Forest Management Plan?: Seeing the Forests for the Trees and the People

By Dr. N. Kaji Shrestha and Charla Britt, M.Sc.

        Over the past few years a FINNIDA designed and proposed forestry plan for a sal
(Shorea robusta) forest in Bara District has been on a bureaucratic back-burner, simmering away. This Plan proposes that 32,430 hectares of sal forest should be handed-over to a Finnish Multinational Forestry Company, Enso, in conjunction with three Nepali companies. Over a five- year period the "Company" would be charged with effecting management, and providing profitable returns to its investors and the Nepalese exchequer. This plan is offered as a "pilot project," with the goal of extending similar initiatives across the Terai belt -- incorporating, eventually, about 300,000 hectares of Nepal's last remaining hardwood forests. The proposed Bara project is a portent of things that might come. And, although, it appears that it will not be approved, the plan raises important questions about: cost/benefit analyses; differences between centre and periphery concerns in developmentalist initiatives; issues of sovereignty and control over national resources; and, the need for devising participatory forest management approaches for the Terai.
        Nepal was one of the first countries to promote community forestry as a central strategy of national forestry policy. The approaches explored in Nepal have become a benchmark for community forestry throughout the world. Within the revised frameworks of community forestry legislation (Master Plan for the Forestry Sector 1989, Forest Act 1993 and Forest Regulations 1995) and following the return to democracy in 1990, the acreage of forest managed by local users is expanding. Fifty-two out of the total number of 75 districts in Nepal are engaged in community forestry. At present more than 350,000 hectares of forest have been handed-over to at leat 5,357 user groups, with thousands more waiting for formal registration.
        Though community forestry occurs only in a few places in the Terai at present, there are examples of successful forest user groups. In Surunga, Jhapa District, a 1,000 hectare area of sal forest is being managed and protected by a user group. Based on their forest silviculture activites, they have accrued more than 4,000,000 rupees (US$70,000) in the user group fund, which they are using for community development projects. In Baghmare, Dang District, a user group has managed another sal forest for over a decade -- even predating user group registration. They have applied for permission to establish a saw mill, in an effort to create forest-based industries while meeting local needs. These and other examples should help to convince foresters of people's capabilities and commitment to forest management.
        IUCN-Nepal conducted the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed Bara plan. This assessment looked only at two alternatives: status quo and the proposed plan. Since we agree that there are problems with protecting government-managed forests in the Terai, it is no wonder that the proposed plan seemed a better option. However, given the prevalence of community forestry and joint forest management in South Asia, one has to question the usefulness of this narrow approach. The EIA acknowledges community forestry initiatives, but it neglects to elaborate because of "lack of data." We do not accept this argument. As noted, community forestry is working in parts of the Terai. These examples, if looked at more closely, could have provided sufficient baseline data for making projections. We believe that the exclusion of other possibilities is a major flaw in the assessment. The EIA provides an incomplete picture of viable options and, therefore, impacts.
        Proponents of the Bara Forest Plan argue that huge benefits will accrue to the people of Bara District and the Nepalese exchequer. The numbers floated are vast. They have succeed- ed in creating great expectations -- at least within the Ministry of Finance. However, these figures do not adequately answer local-level concerns, issues of social and ecological respon- sibility in forestry development, and questions about the legality of what is being proposed.
        Local people have not been consulted. Recently, a fact-finding team sponsored by a coalition of concerned persons went to Bara District to investigate what local people understood about the proposed plan. Very little was known. Some village leaders (a total of 22) had been told about the plan, during an afternoon meeting organized by Enso in Hetauda. But their inputs were not sought. It is clear that local people, some of whom (according to the terms of the contract) might be displaced, were neither consulted nor informed.
        In the project documents there are multiple references to "people s participation" and
"benefits" for local communities. However, these statements vary from document to document. The effect of the plan on local conditions and local people is unclear and gender-blind. A role for local people -- especially women -- has not been effectively elaborated. Furthermore, there is no guarantee in any document about what happens if the promises made by the Company do not materialize. There is a provision for a "Performance Review Forum." However, it is a proscribed
"gang of four" consisting of: the Company management & investors, HMG/Nepal, FINNIDA, and IUCN/Nepal. There is no mechanism for local representation.
        The contract outlines extensive provisions for safeguarding the Company's interests. But, again, there are no penalties mentioned if the Company does not fulfill its obligations. Instead, the Company will be given "full authority to manage the PROJECT under the rules established by this Contract, which for the duration of the PROJECT shall replace and be superior to the forestry regulations if there is any conflict between these Contract rules and the forestry regulations" (Anon. Contract: Final Proposal, June 1996: 5). How can rules for a project be superior to the acts and regulations adopted by the Nepalese Parliament and approved by Nepal's Constitutional Monarch?
        FINNIDA has said that it will suspend its aid to Nepal if this proposed plan is not accepted. Should FINNIDA combine aid to Nepal with a contract to a private company and threats to pull-out if this is not approved? Furthermore, the proffered joint-venture appears to be in name only, since there is no mention of the role of the Nepalese companies in the contract and two of the three companies have no previous experience in forestry development. There is no evidence that this joint-venture is not being used as a way to side-step the Nepalese constitutional provision that any agreement on sharing natural resources must be passed by a two-third majority in parliament.
        The Department of Forests also has reservations about the provisions for the free export of timber and designations for tax-free concessions to the expatriate staff working for a private business. These provisions, and the demand to issue the contract to the Company without following international standards for global tenders, would set wrong and dangerous precedents. Instead of making demands such as these, FINNIDA should be working with the Nepalese government to determine codes for guaranteeing social responsibility in business contracts, and mechanisms for enforcing these, especially for multinational corporations seeking entry into Nepal. As other studies have shown, contracts between multinational forestry companies and Third World governments can, and frequently do, go horribly wrong (Peluso 1992; Fried 1995; Mayer 1996).
        The proponents of this plan argue that they are proposing a "new mode" of forest management. Rather, there is nothing much new about this contract and the proposed management plan. This type of forestry has been proposed in colonial and neo-colonial spaces for centuries. Foresters have long lauded the potential of forests as catalytic agents for economic growth. They have claimed that industrial forestry builds important links between local and national economies, stimulating development. However, forestry-sector economic benefits did not "trickle down" to all levels of society in Third World countries. By the mid-1970s it was clear that problems of deforestation and rural poverty were interrelated and, in effect, exacerbated by traditional or so-called scientific approaches to forestry. Policies supporting community forestry have, in fact, emerged out of the failure of the industrial forestry development model.
        We believe that the proposed plan will undermine community forestry efforts in Nepal. These are the very same efforts which FINNIDA itself helped to develop, as an architect of the Master Plan for the Forestry Sector (1989). Given the top-down approach so far taken, we fear that the project will benefit a few -- while the local people will lose a very valuable resource which, given the opportunity, they could manage for their own and the whole country's benefit.
        FINNIDA should not walk-out on efforts to establish sustainable forest management regimes in the Terai. Instead of this project, we hope that FINNIDA might be prepared to support a forest management approach which combines the interests of local people with those of the Nepalese nation-state -- linking them on terms that are fair and built on principles of participation and informed understandings.
***************************************************************** From: (Manandhar Binaya NTC/Delhi) To: (Nepal Digest Send) Date: Tue, 07 Jan 1997 12:48:00 +0200 Subject: KHOJ_KHABAR

I am looking for

1. Subarna Man Malakar ( He has home in Bhurunkhel Kathmandu).

2. Nabin Dutta ( He was graduated from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, India )

If somebody knows their E-mail address please pass it to me

Best regards, Binaya Manandhar

******************************************************* Date: Sun, 05 Jan 1997 12:05:16 PST To: The Nepal Digest <> From: Kala Pandit <> Subject: Looking for Min Bahadur Bista

Dear Editor:

I would like to appreciate the voluntary service provided by all the TND staffs in keeping the Nepalese and Nepal loving people in a forum wherein everybody can share his/her thoughts, talents, current issues in Nepal and search friends/relatives around the globe. I hope this forum will continue forever.

I would request you to kindly post the following message in the forthcoming issue of TND.

Currently, I am looking for a person named Min Bahadur Bista, who comes from Pyuthan district. I heard that he must be somewhere in the west coast of the United States.

Bista jee: If you happen to see this message, please respond me. I am also a product of Mukti Vocational High School, Ratamata, Pyuthan.

Thanks. Kala Nidhi Pandit Graduate Research Assistant Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering J. W. Martin Laboratory, University of Idaho Moscow, Idaho 83844-2060, USA Fax # 208-885-8923/7908 Tel # 208-885-7098 (Work) 1204 South Main Street, Apartment # 505, Moscow, ID 83843, USA Tel # 208-882-8412 (Home)

*************************************************************** Date: Sat, 04 Jan 1997 12:00:18 +0100 To: From: Thomas Svensson <> Subject: Subscribe

Name: Thomas Svensson Adress:Nationsgatan 3, S-224 60 Lund, Sweden.

I am a horticulturestudent, only first year, who planning to go to Nepal for doing some kind of examswork concerning horticulture, Nepal, environment and economy. I am primarily intressted in information about different universities in Nepal and what this universities educates about. And I also would like to know more about TND, of course.

Bye for now. Thomas.

************************************************************** Date: Mon, 06 Jan 1997 04:49:38 EST To: From: Drew & Heidi Liscomb <liscomb@Logical.Net> Subject: Alison Hargreaves

Hi, I am interested in obtaining a copy of the article "Alison Hargreaves' famiy visits K2", published in The Nepal Digest, October 13, 1995 (30 Ashwin 2052 BkSm). Would you be so kind as to let me know what I need to do to get a copy? Please reply to"
        OR Heidi Sullivan-Liscomb 898 Third Avenue Lansingburgh, New York 12182

Thanks so much! Heidi

**************************************************************** Date: Tue, 07 Jan 1997 21:38:04 EST To: From: "Nima T. Sherpa" <NimaSherpa%2%MC@Manchester.EDU> Subject: (no subject)

Hi !
        I am a nepalese student from Manchester college, North manchester
 Indiana. I have seen the work you guys have done through the internet and was just wandering if you guys could make something like, names and address of the nepaleses who are in the state and using the web, something like that. Well anyway it's a good start and hope in future we could see some changes. Thanks. My address.

                                        Nima Sherpa
                                        Manchester college. 266
                                        North manchester, Indiana. U.S.A

****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 08 Jan 1997 12:27:46 -0600 From: Padam Sharma <> To: The Nepal Digest <> Subject: AUDS Bomb in the making!

Courtesy: India News Network Digest (Jan 08, 1997)
  AIDS bomb ticking fast on the Indo-Nepal highways

                            BIRGANJ, Jan 7 (IPS)

   This dusty and crowded border town between tiny Nepal and its giant
   neighbour to the south, India, might just emerge as one of the major
   centres for the spread of the deadly AIDS virus.

   Birganj, 120-km from the capital city Kathmandu, is land-locked
   Nepal`s busiest border checkpost: a steady stream of trucks carrying
   goods from Indian ports and manufacturers enter this Himalayan country

   And as they wait for clearance from customs officials, the truck
   drivers and their assistants relax at wayside eating places,
   frequenting the brothels that have sprung up clandestinely on both
   sides of the border.

   Experts worry that truckers could be among the largest carriers of the
   Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) that often leads to the fatal AIDS

   Harendra Kumar, 31, is one of the hundreds of Indian truck drivers who
   regularly haul goods-laden trucks to this trading outpost. He says he
   can`t remember how many trips he has made to Birganj since he started
   driving on this route between Calcutta port and the Birganj customs
   office, two years ago.

   Neither can he remember how many trysts he has had with sex workers on
   the roadside. Kumar has heard about AIDS, but does not know enough to
   want to practice safe sex. He seldom uses condoms, he said.

   A 1995 survey conducted on the major trucking routes from Nepal`s
   capital city to Birganj and Janakpur, two major border towns, found
   that most of the drivers and their helpers frequently visit sex
   workers, often without taking adequate precautions.

   Such ignorance on both sides of the border, say experts, could make
   border towns with large transport networks into major centres for the
   spread of the HIV. They say truckers may be passing on the virus to
   uninfected areas as routinely as they now ferry goods.

   ''The high mobility of transport workers and their ignorant attitudes
   towards AIDS represent a core group of potential transmitters of HIV
   to other areas,`` says a report funded by the AIDS Control and
   Prevention Project (AIDSCAP), an US-based agency.

   The urgency to check the spread of HIV is all the more in border areas
   where truckers from all over India and Nepal converge.

   The situation, according to Dr Kalyan Raj Pandey, director-general of
   Nepal`s health services, is alarming. ''The disease is
   epidemiologically believed to be in an early stage of transmission in
   Nepal,`` he said, while pointing out that in India the virus has
   spread rapidly in recent years.

   Since it was first isolated in Chennai nearly a decade ago, the number
   of HIV cases in India has jumped to an estimated three million. The
   World Health Organisation (WHO) expects the numbers to swell to over
   five million by the turn of the century.

   Nepal with its long and porous borders cannot expect to remain
   isolated from the epidemic. Already, the country is estimated to have
   around 10,000 HIV positive cases.

   ''Nepal`s long open borders and its close ties with India creates
   higher risks of cross border transmission of HIV,`` says Joy Pollock
   of AIDSCAP. ''Past research has shown that Nepal needs to target its
   anti-AIDS intervention activities towards major transport routes
   leading to the border,`` she adds.

   Ms Pollock cites an Indonesian study which demonstrated the catalytic
   effect an expanding but ignorant transport industry can have on the
   spread of HIV. She said the report showed clear links between the
   transport industry and commercial sex activity, which in turn leads to
   increased risks of HIV transmission.

   Much of these characteristics have already begun to appear in Birganj
   and the neighbouring border town of Raxaul in India. The two towns are
   the principal trading outposts, accounting for nearly 90 per cent of
   the overland trade between the two countries. Both have expanding
   transport networks and concealed but thriving brothels.

   ''Couple these with the ignorant attitudes of the trucking communities and their high mobility,`` says a health worker in Birganj,
''And we
   have a situation which could one day lead to explosion of HIV cases in other parts of the country.``

   Such fears have already helped organisations on both sides of the
   border to join hands in a ''unique partnership`` to combat the spread
   of AIDS in the trucking community.

   For the last 16 months, the Bhoruka Public Welfare Trust, a
   Calcutta-based NGO, and the general welfare pratisthan of Nepal have
   been pooling their resources to educate the trucking community at
   Birganj and Raxaul of the increased risks of transmission of HIV and
   other sexually transmitted diseases.

   ''The goal is to attempt to halt AIDS on the highways,`` says Dr Asha
   Rao who thought up the project. She thinks the time has now come to
   replicate the effort at other entry points on the Indo-Nepal Border,
   and also along India`s north-eastern border with Bangladesh.

   ''We are looking for a Bangladeshi NGO to work with us in the same way we have been working here with a Nepali NGO,`` Dr Rao said.

****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 8 Jan 1997 15:18:09 -0500 (EST) From: aiko <gs07aaj@panther.Gsu.EDU> To:

I must respond to the article from KTM Post of 1 January 1997.

It was with increased anger that I read the article from KTM Post re the increase in beer consumption of teen-age Nepali girls and the reporter's biased comments in reference to this rising phenomenon. The reporter - who I can guess was a man - asked how such "scandalizing" behaviour among the girls was increasing. My contention is this: because too many of us(both male and female) have been socially-constructed to regard beer and alcohol consumption as more acceptable for the male of the species than for the female, when the female of the species strives to increase its consumption to match that of the male's, then it is regarded as a
"scandal". Such females are looked on as "unladylike" or "being like a man" and not regarded as feminine or womanly. Why is it any better for a boy or a man to guzzle beer from a bottle, to become so intoxicated that he stumbles or becomes violently aggressive or commits crimes such as rape or murder? To put in another way: why is it socially acceptable for a male to guzzle and not a female? Many traditionally-minded people (and this goes for people everywhere, not just in Nepal) seem to think we women are like delicate flowers ready to wither and die if plucked too soon or too roughly, and we are physically unable to handle the rigors of alcohol. I can personally attest to the many times I joined in drinking during my younger, wilder days, and not once did I ever lose control of myself to the point blacking out; nor did I ever allow myself to be put in situations that could potentially turn dangerous to me. I never was taken to jail for DUI(Driving Under the Influence) because I always kept a part of my brain alert enough to know that if I could not drive after drinking, I would not and I would take taxi or have friends drive me. Whereas I have seen many men carted off to jail for DUI and have had to bail out many male friends because their "tender male ego" would not allow them to admit that they were too inebriated to drive, or they were too embarrassed to have a friend drive. Only after 2 or 3 or sometimes 4! DUI's did these men FINALLY GET THE MESSAGE and now they appoint a "DD"(Designated Driver)! Tell me who is the uncouth Australopithecus! The reporter went on to quote a (female) college student as stating: "Girls have to be more careful than boys in drinking beer as it may sometimes lead them to such a point where they won't get anything except molestation and rape . . ." It is EXACTLY this kind of thinking that so incenses feminists like myself; yes, girls who get drunk do get raped and worse, but what of the boys who do the raping and molesting? They are assumed to be "under the influence" as well and why should they be excused for being so when they commit such a heinous act? Society in general has a way of making the victim the victimizer. I don't excuse the girls losing control of themselves while drunk and I don't feel particularly sympathetic towards them should they find themselves in such a predicament. However, they should not be singled out and told that if they had been "nice girls" and had stayed at home such a disaster would not have befallen them. Boys must also be taught of the dangers of alcoholic drinks and of the consequences should they indulge in criminal activity while under the influence. Raising the drinking age will not deter drinking; look at the statistics in the U.S. and other nations that have a drinking age limit. Those underage will always find ways to get a beer or a bottle of whiskey or scotch just like ways can be found to get cigarettes(also forbidden to under-18's in the U.S.). It's time that society stop looking at females as completely different from males; we are just as capable of doing the SAME things GOOD OR BAD as men. Men - especially in extremely patriarchal societies like South Asian countries - need to understand that what goes for the women goes for the men. If young girls are to be looked on with askance for their increased alcohol consumption, then young boys need to be looked on with the same horror. I've personally seen the ravages of alcohol on some of my Nepali male friends and have been witness to the many fights that ensued as a result of alcohol. Seeing a lurching, drunken, bleary-eyed smelly alcohol-guzzler is not a pretty sight in a male or a female, and there is no dignity in having your head stuck in a toilet bowl vomiting your guts out for anyone of either sex!

On a final note: this is for Namita Kiran (I hope you see this msg): My husband Nirmal Joshi said he knows you, that you had gone to school together and says hello. He is from Dilli Bazar, Kathmandu.

Anne Aiko Joshi

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