The Nepal Digest - January 27, 1998 (14 Magh 2054 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Tues Jan 27, 1998: Magh 14 2054BS: Year7 Volume70 Issue4
  Today's Topics:

       Horse before the Cart
       The Problems of Christianity
       Religion and Related Subjects
       Contribution for next digest
       Travel, Trafficking, Women and Poverty
       Children's Aid Society
       Books on Nepal: A new resource on the web
       Bagha Chal
       Women, Tourism and Trafficking
       Trying to locate e mail for Earl Kessler
       A short story(KATHA)
       News from Canada - TND Canada Chapter
       An essay from the Kathmandu Post Review of Books

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************************************************ Date: January 26, 1998 To: the Nepal Digest <tnd@nepal.org> Subject: Horse before the Cart

Source: People's Review: January 22-29, 1998

Body-politick: Putting horse before the cart BY PRAKASH DAHAL

A week-long political suspense climaxed in the constitutional monarch's seeking opinion on constitutional intricacies, arisen due to Prime Minister, Surya Bahadur Thapa's recommendation for the dissolution of the parliament and fresh poll, from the Supreme Court. To do so, His Majesty King Birendra, invoked Article 88 (5) of the democratic constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal. Article 88 (5) states,' If His Majesty wishes to have an opinion of Supreme Court on any complicated legal question of interpretation of this constitution or of any other law, it shall upon consideration on the question, report to His Majesty its opinion thereon'.

The Supreme Court is expected to offer its opinion to the constitutional monarch in a week or so.

Whatever opinion is eventually churned out as an outcome of interpretational tugging & twisting of the constitution in Supreme Court, the constitutional monarch will perhaps take heed of the opinion of Supreme Court and act on it.
  This would, no doubt, put the constitutional monarch as fair and impartial in the eyes of some who are extremely vexed with the warring political parties' perpetually locking horns with each other by clinging to their own line of interests.

Practically, the common folks with no political prejudices what-so-over, see the monarch's decision in seeking counseling of Supreme Court, prior to making any declarations, as both rational and judicious, though their argument is not the one dug out by fathoming deep into constitutional undercurrents, its spirit and expectations in the light of multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy.

However, this surfacial interpretational theory doesn't apply to the endorsement of King's move by the opposition, the CPN-UML. They hailed the King's move out of the necessity of their interest, though they clearly perceive where the things have sounded anachronistic. However, in their case, its their exigency of interest eclipses their wisdom.

With the common mass, they press ahead with the simple arguments that the King's declaration would have been controversial whatever side it had swung. And, to avoid being dragged into mires of controversy, the monarch made a wise decision by opting for Supreme Court's opinion.

It sounds no irrational, if and when, the political parties' ostrich-like attitude are taken into account. Because, the past precedents have shown that no political parties have been capable of rising above their partisan interest. For them, the constitutional provisions may have different meanings depending on one's power of interpretation.

Nevertheless, the conflicting constitutional tangle at the moment is whether the constitutional monarch should act on the advises of the Executive, the Prime Minister, or it should seek the Supreme Court's- the Judiciary's- counseling before coming to a decision on whether to heed or unheed the Prime Minister.

In a simple and straight forward manner, one may be tempted to ask if the present constitution of the democratic Kingdom of Nepal guides the constitutional monarch to listen to the Executive and act on his advises or summon Judiciary for opinions on matters pertaining to the Prime Minister's recommendations. Because the new precedent which has been set by the monarch's summoning of the Supreme Court for its opinion on the political issue will, from now onwards, is feared, by democratic forces, to reduce the role of the Executive.

If we are, as is often stressed by Congress politicians and a few constitutional experts, to roll the wheels of our democratic system on tracks of West Minister style parliamentary system of governance, then we have, perhaps, wrongly put the cart before the horse. Because, the precedent in British Parliamentary system has been that the Prime Minister remains the chief and the only trusted counselor of the constitutional monarch.

Even in the present constitution of the democratic Kingdom of Nepal, it is clearly laid down that the Prime Minister shall be held accountable for actions initiated by the constitutional monarch at his recommendation. Apparently, the theory is based on the spirit that the constitutional monarch does no wrong as the wrong doer, if and when deemed so, is the Prime Minister as the administrative chief who made the recommendation.

Going by this theory as enshrined in the constitution, the monarch would have constitutionally been above all the controversies had he taken heed of the Prime Minister and dissolved the parliament. If and when done so, there would have been no basis constitutionally for shedding venom against the monarch or rinsing dirty linens on his head. And even if those disgruntled with the declarations tried to kick dust against the monarch, they would have been reprimanded by the people at large.

In Prime Minister, Surya Bahadur Thapa's case, the monarch has deviated from the earlier precedents and set a new precedent wherein he can seek opinion of Supreme Court and may dispense with the Prime Minister's recommendation.

By this new precedent, the Prime Minister's recommendation is no longer obligatory to the constitutional monarch.

Earlier, the Prime Minister's recommendations could be challenged at the court, if and when found faulty and unconstitutional, hence, room for legal remedy remained. However, with this new precedent, no declarations of the monarch could be challenged at the court as he does so on basis of opinions sought from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has least chance of playing contradictory role as it may not go against the declarations made by the monarch on the basis of its opinions.

Apparently, the Supreme Court's role as the ultimate remedial platform has been rendered ineffective.

This apart, the crux of major contention lies in the monarch's trusting Judiciary and unheeding the Executive.

Few fear that the monarch's initiative has upset the balance of power as defined by the democratic constitution?

By heeding Judiciary and acting on its recommendations, the constitutional monarch is suspected of defining a new role for himself different from what has been carved by the country's constitution.

Equally, a few others contend that the monarch's action has rendered the Judiciary more powerful practically, if not constitutionally, and the Executive has been dwarfed.

By making Judiciary more powerful than Executive, many fear that the democratic exercises may be derailed.

Whether or not the political tangle followed by the constitutional intricacies, either way it resolved, contribute to healthy evolution of parliamentary democratic exercise, is something dreaded by many.

The question is whether or not we will succeed in taking on the model of British constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy which the country's constitutional experts and democratic politicians are repeatedly driving at.

More than any thing, has the monarch's decision to seek Supreme Court's opinion on Prime Minister's recommendation been hailed and made him popular?

Will things done without or against Prime Minister's recommendation not directly drag the monarch into the controversy of power politics? If and when such practices take place, can the monarch remain above the political controversies? And above all, has or hasn't the King's recent move sown seed of suspicion in the mind of populace? If so, hasn't the move eroded the monarch's rapidly growing popularity?

These are the questions which hang by many tongues and debated in every nook and corner.

******************************************************** Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 12:08:08 -0500 (EST) From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <pkm@acpub.duke.edu> To: The Nepal digest Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> Subject: The Problems of Christianity

By Jason Ritchie

(Jason Ritchie is a freshman at Duke. He grew up in rural Appalachia in Kentucky. He wrote this essay for a course called "Globalization and Cultural Changes.")

        When I was 16, my father disowned me because I refused to live an acceptable Christian life. At that moment, my anxieties about Christianity--with its contradictions, its unanswered questions, its meaningless rituals--were solidified with personal experience, and I realized the truly destructive potentialities of Christianity.

        Since his mythical resurrection nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ's legacy has been one of conquest, domination, repression, and intolerance. While Christians have, at certain points in history, made positive contributions to humanity, their sum effect on the course of human events has been mostly negative. In the words of philosopher Bertrand Russell, "the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world"
(27). And so it is my hope that popular anti-Christianity sentiments, generated by an unbiased historical perspective and a rational approach to its human consequences, will develop and ultimately rid our collective mentality of every vestige of Christianity, so that pain and destruction will no longer be inflicted in the name of Jesus Christ.

        Many have asserted, and will continue to assert, that Christianity is no more dangerous than any other religion. However, inherent in Christian philosophies is the desire to convert more followers. "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you," says Christ in the New Testament (Matthew 28: 19-20). Christians have overwhelmingly accepted this commandment, and with this acceptance comes the necessary assumption that Christianity is somehow superior to all other religious philosophies. This spirituals and moral arrogance, though common among other religious groups, forms a volatile marriage when coupled with the Christian responsibility to bring "light" to the unenlightened.

        "In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion," specifically, Christianity (Russell 21). One might further add the conquests and slavery to the list of historical tragedies for which Christianity, at least some degree, is responsible. "At the time when America was first colonized, the opinion was widely held that the inhabitants of an infidel nation could be rightfully made slaves by those of a Christian nation," argues scholar Marcus Jernegan, in his study of slavery in the United States (504). But Americans have certainly not been the only group of Christians to commit such atrocities against foreign peoples and justify them with their religion. The Spanish and other Christian European nations did it in their conquests of the Americas.

        Should one still accept the Western myth of the conquests as a mission of nobly enlightening the savages, I would advise reading historian Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" (New York: Harper Collins, 1995); chapter 1: "Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress." In it, he provides an excellent and well-documented chronicle of the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas and its disastrous consequences for the people who lived there.

        With an explanation for colonialism which seems very similar to Jernegan's for slavery, E. V. Walter, in "The American Political Science Review," writes, "The Fathers of the Church agreed that an advanced religion was a civilizing force, and Christian writers perennially have conceived one mission of Christianity to be the taming of the barbarians"
(653). With this as their moral justification and profit as their motive, Spanish clergy and soldiers Christianized the New World four hundred years ago, and in the process annihilated entire populations of indigenous groups.

        Anti-Semitism is yet another evil which may be attributed, in large part, to Christianity. "The roots of anti-Semitism date to the 12th century when the universality of Christianity, which emphasized its inclusiveness, was coupled with resentment toward those who chose to remain aloof from it," according to Jewish historian, Howard Zukier
(1110). The most commonly cited manifestation of this anti-Semitism is the Nazi Holocaust, which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews before evoking sympathy from Christians within Germany and around the world. Some go far enough to argue that "fascist movement in Europe prior to World War II," which ultimately resulted in the Holocaust, "were led by . . . Christians . . . who merged religious emphasis with nationalism and severe discrimination" against Jews (Swomley 3). Simply stated, Christians will always hate Jews as long as they are taught that their savior, Jesus Christ, was killed by Jews.

        There is a great deal of irony in the Christian roots of anti-Semitism, for Christianity itself is rooted in Judaism. Bertrand Russell's chief complaint with Christianity, the "intolerance that spread over the world with [its] advent," further adds to this irony. Christian intolerance, Russell hypothesizes, stems from "the Jewish belief in righteousness and in the exclusive reality of the Jewish God" (37). However, spiritual arrogance alone, a in Judaism, becomes dangerous only when an obligation to change--or convert--the rest of the world is added to it, as in Christianity. For a religion, meaningless as it may be, to be truly valuable, it should provide positive benefits for its followers, without many negative consequences for its non-followers. Therein lies the problem with Christianity, as opposed to religion in general: Christianity cannot peacefully co- exist with other religions.

        Despite all this, two groups have suffered at the hands of Christianity more consistently than any others: women and homosexuals. The anti-women's rights and anti-gay rights movements in Western societies, the leaders in those social movements, are saturated with Christian dogma. The Holy Bible, the foundation of Christianity, explicitly condemns homosexuality; the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, for instance, are "rained down" upon with a "sulfurous fire" by God because of their blatant homosexuality. Bolstering the Bible's sexist motif, Lot offers his "two daughters who have never had intercourse with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please,{ he says to the unholy Sodomites (Genesis 19: 8, 24). The Bible relegates women solely to the duty of serving their husbands: "To the woman [God] said:
'I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall be your master.'" (Genesis 3: 16). The direct result of this sweeping condemnation of homosexuality and rejection of gender equality has been the oppression of women and homosexuals by Christians exercising their said moral superiority. When Christianity was at its height of popularity, women had few of the rights held by men (the rights to vote and own property, for instance), were commonly abused, and were forced to live in complete submission to the male sex. The Victorian and Puritan eras, unarguably the most fanatically Christian periods of British and American history, are typical examples. Homosexuals, then and still today, have few of the rights cherished by heterosexuals (the right to marry, the right to fair employment, etc.) and are frequently harassed and even murdered, all with the overt sanction of the Holy Bible.

        the bitter attitude of Christianity to women and homosexuals may also be due, in part, to its negative attitude toward sex in general--"an attitude so morbid and so unnatural that it can be understood only when taken in relation to the sickness of the civilized world at the time the Roman Empire was decaying. . . . By making marriage indissoluble, and by stamping out all knowledge of the "ars amandi" (one of the erotic compositions by Ovid, the most distinguished poet of Augustine Rome), the church did what it could to secure that the only form of sex which it permitted should involve very little pleasure and a great deal of pain"
(Russell 27).

        Christianity has given us such historical tragedies as the Crusades, the Conquests, and the Inquisition; it has been a sources of intolerance of all sorts--homophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism; and it has been used to justify the murder and enslavement of non-Christians. It has devastated human lives on individual and global levels. Policies have been dictated and minds have been ruled for too long by Christianity and its sanctimony. But how can we possibly rid ourselves of a way of life which is so important to countless individuals? Is there a solution to the age-old problem of Christianity?

        Attempts have been made in the past to destroy religions by making worship illegal or censoring religious speech. However, tactics such as these are equivalent to the unconscionable as those used by Christians when forcing other to accept their religion. An effective anti-Christian movement will be subtler, less assertive; that is to say, the same social conditioning which has millions of Christians could produce millions of people enlightened to the evils of Christianity.

        The first step is to revise our histories, which portray Christian conquerors, who have in fact perpetrated the gravest of crimes, as heroes. The United states, for example, honors Christopher Columbus with a holiday in his name. Few realize, though, that Columbus supervised the mass murder of half the population of the island of Hispaniola, the first on which he landed. Our perception of history molds our perception of the present. Were people fully aware of Christopher Columbus's historical significance, he would be reviled as a monster, not honored with holiday. Just the same, were people fully aware of the tragedies committed throughout history in the name of Christianity, they would be less likely to subscribe to its tenets and more likely to view them with skepticism.

        Furthermore, the laws of Western societies, which are constantly transmitting cultural values to other societies, must not reflect an homage for Christianity, but for the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality. The United States, in particular, was founded on very Christian values; and many of its laws still reflect those Christian values today. In many states, homosexual intercourse is illegal, the explicit reason being Biblical. Abortion remains strictly regulated in most states, often to the point where it is inaccessible to those women who need it; Christian dogma holds that life begins at conception, making abortion, under any circumstances, a sin. Christianity is reflected in every governmental aspect of the United States, form its currency ("In
[the Christian" God We Trust") to its opening prayer in the Senate each morning. The indirect result is that people--not just Americans--are taught, by their government, that Christianity is the paramount guide for running a nation, or living life.

        Some sectors of society, despite the government's lag, have already begun the task of combating Christianity's influence--the artistic and intellectual communities, in particular. Popular films, books, music, and other art forms no longer reflect only Christian traditions. Instead, they acknowledge the value and beauty of many non-Christian traditions and the devastating effects Christianity has had on those traditions. Intelligentsia has responded, as well; cultural sensitivity in higher education is at its highest ever; with this, the once pervasive pro-Christian attitude is eroding.

        Our goal, nonetheless, should not be to eradicate Christianity, for it is impossible to eradicate any philosophy. We should simply acknowledge the contradictions and fallacies in Christian ideology, and seriously weigh its benefits and costs to humanity. Is the peace a few might glean from a blind belief in Christianity worth the massive pain which has ben, and still continues to be, inflected on human beings because of it? When and if people begin to ask these questions, Christianity will self-destruct and mankind will be free of one of its remaining bastions of intolerance, domination, and suffering.

        It may be too idealistic to expect that to happen. But I will continue fighting, in the name of those who have suffered at the hands of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit; for I, too, have suffered.

Works Cited:

Jernegan, Marcus W. "Slavery and Conversion in the American Colonies." The American Historical Review 21.3 (1916): 504-27. Russell, Bertrand. "Why I am not a Christian" and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. Ed. Paul Edwards. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957. Swomley, John M. "New-Fascism and the Religious Right." The Humanist 55-1 (1995): 3+ Walter, E. V. "Power, Civilization and the Psychology of Conscience." The American Political Science Review 53.3 (1959): 641-661. Zukier, Henri. "The Essential 'other' and the Jew: from anti-Semitism to Genocide." Social Research 63.4 (1996): 1110-45.

****************************************************************** Date: Sat, 17 Jan 1998 19:13:04 -0500 To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu From: Captive Daughters <captive@cloud9.net> Subject: Contribution for next digest

Hello. I would like to post a response to Bijaya (Bijaya Rajbhandari, brajbhandari@unicef.org), who wrote a letter in the January 18 issue of the Nepal Digest:

Dear Bijaya,

As a representative for Captive Daughters, an NGO dedicated to ending the sex-trafficking of girls, I would like to challenge some of the points you make in your letter.

Let me preface my remarks by saying I have traveled to Nepal-- and spent time in remote areas where the practice of girl-trafficking is common. I have also done development work, and understand that poverty can lead human beings to do desperate things. I do not, and never will, accept this as a reason or excuse for denying the basic human rights of individuals by governments and government operatives (police, army, etc.).

I must take issue with two of your points. First, that the practice of girl-trafficking has no cultural roots in Nepal.=20 And second, your suggestion that HUMAN RIGHTS should not be considered the highest ideal for Nepal's society.=20 I would like to first quote from a publication that I obtained while in Nepal: Red LightTraffic-- the Trade in Nepali Girls, by ABC Nepal (an organization working to fight girl-trafficking and AIDS):

"For a century of isolation, roughly between 1850 and 1950, Nepal was ruled by a feudal family-- the Ranas-- who called themselves the 'Kings.' The Ranas used to pursuade their servants and courtiers to entice young girls from their communities to come to their palaces and serve them as maids. If these 'maids' were 'lucky' they could be anything from a concubine to a
'queen.' A Rana prime minister and prince could have thousands of maids, hundreds of concubines and a dozen 'queens.' As we shall see, even though Nepal is now a democracy, this tradition of sale and migration as sex workers continues."

>From Back Home From the Brothels, by Gauri Pradhan:

"History is witness. Many facts and figures are with us which reveal that among many victims of socio-economic, cultural and political structures, women and children are the most vulnerable ones. The crime and exploitation against women and children is increasing every passing day in changing forms and nature. Despite victories in the struggles against tyranny which resulted in restoration of human rights and democracy, the condition of women and children has basically remained unchanged=85=85. In Nepal, we=
 have a long history of wars and struggles for sovereignty, democracy and human rights. Many people in Nepal have sacrificed their lives for the cause of democracy and human rights, as a result of which democracy was restored siz years ago. However, feudalism, fatalism, and imperialism have always remained as the stumbling block for the development of Nepali society. =85 I= n such a situation it is natural that people have to be the sufferes. Of them, women and children are the worst cases."

I would like to emphasize that these are quotes from Nepali authors. There are many, many Nepalis who recognize that girl-trafficking -- and all these crimes against the basic human rights of women and children are unnacceptable, and many organizations in Nepal are dedicated to educating the public about this practice and stopping it. There is no cultural root cause which makes Nepalis more indifferent to human rights than other people-- but culture and society have been such that in Nepal, women to this day are devalued as human beings, and continually denied their basic rights and freedoms. This attitude towards women-- in place for hundreds of years-- leads to a modern situation where the selling of one's own child into sexual slavery is considered an option in situations of poverty. I might add that daughters are given or sold to traffickers sometimes not because of extreme poverty-- but simply because individuals are greedy for more material goods and income.

Next, I would like to point out that if human rights are not considered the highest ideal for any society-- what is left? Without basic human dignity and freedom, democracy cannot survive. The lessons of history in nation after nation are clear. And, even in these modern times-- those countries which continue to deny the basic rights of their citizens flounder in a morass of political instability and human suffering.

Whereas I agree with the author that one should encourage tourism in Nepal as a way to lift the country out of economic stagnation-- I also urge all Nepalis to prioritize basic human rights for all citizens, especially women and girls who have traditionally suffered from lower status. Perhaps, since tourism is the only viable economic base in Nepal right now-- many see this is the only point of leverage in calling for human rights reform. One cannot blame human rights activists for recognizing the value of this approach.

 I know these are high ideals-- but there are many of us dedicated to seeing Nepal move into the future as a modern, democratic, and economically prosperous nation. It will never happen as long as the rights of women and girls is seen as a superfluous issue. I urge you to look at this as a first step-- not simply as something that will happen LATER when the country is already economically stable.=20

Sincerely, L. Lagerlof Captive Daughters 10410 Palms Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90034 888-300-4918 captive@cloud9.net http://www.captive.org

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 22:37:11 GMT To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu (The Nepal Digest) From: wings@gn.apc.org (S Barton) Subject: Travel, Trafficking, Women and Poverty

Dear Bijaya,

In reply to your post, I sent my e-mails against girl-trafficking after I had studied the Web Site Nepal Travel Trekking and Trafficking and its links to other sites dealing with trafficking and violence against women.

I agree about the poverty and remoteness of Nepalese vilages because I have trekked many times and seen it for myself. However I think the real underlying factor is the devaluing of female lives. I don't want to offend you by saying this but I think that as long as people shift blame onto other causes and away from this undervaluing of human lives, the problem will continue.

As I said in my first post, I never overlook the good nature of most Nepalis, but I don't think many authorities in Nepal do care sufficiently about the rights of the girl child. You yourself mentioned corruption.

>Even if there are police, they are not willing to do a lot if the
>kickback is better than that.

In other words, these police do not care about these trafficked girls but about illegal money. That is not the proper function of a police force. If the police are more influenced by bribery than by their duty to innocent Nepalese citizens, then how can law be enforced?

I wrote about financial issues because I thought that money is the one thing officialdom understands better than any other and it could motivate people in high places more effectively than reminding them about human rights.

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.

Finally, I mentioned sex offences committed against tourists themselves. I'm sure, as Helen Brown says, these men are a minority and most Nepalis are appalled by this breach of trust. One of the letters on her web site says as much. As long as the problem persists, it seems to me to be a very good reason indeed for refusing to visit Nepal during VNY '98. To have a healthy flourishing tourist industry that will bring the maximum benefit to a poor country, it must be made as safe as possible for all its visitors, both male and female, otherwise some will stay away. You did not mention this at all.

Although I mean no offence, actually I found the remark about sanitation quite irrelevant in this context.

I agree that the poverty of Nepal is a serious problem, but how can a country make progress while half its population and even some of the visitors it needs can be subjected to such inferior treatment just because they are female?

S Barton wings@gn.apc.org

********************************************************* Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 13:34:50 -0500 From: Ruth Gyure <rgyure@cloud9.net> Subject: Children's Aid Society

From: THE CHILDREN'S AID CENTER, Kathmandu Nepal
"BAL SAHAYOG KENDRA"

R. Gyure, U.S. Representative rgyure@cloud9.net

914-834-4301 (leave message and your call will be returned)

Greetings friends,

Many of you know about the Children's Aid Center, and have been involved in supporting our efforts. Thank you! I would like to take this opportunity to reach out again in an attempt to find a few more sponsors for 1998.

I became involved with this organization because of my own personal commitment to the children of Nepal. My interest in this tiny country began when I traveled there in 1996 and 1997 to adopt a child. That adoption is still "in progress," and in the meantime, I have found this means of helping other children who are too poor to be able to attend school.

Sponsorship allows our program to buy books, uniforms, and pay school fees. Education is the key to providing dignity and freedom to children trapped in desperate poverty. Children who learn to read are much better equipped to support themselves later in life, and much better protected from forms of exploitation such as sex-trafficking and forced labor.

During the first year of operation (1997), the Children's Aid Center took on the sponsorship of ten children: five in the Kathmandu area, and five in the region of Sindhuphalchowk. When I first saw the pictures of these ten children in their new, clean school uniforms-I felt very proud. We did the best we could for all ten children-- even though I was able to find only 5 donor/sponsors last year. This year, we would like to have a sponsor for each of the children-- so we can be assured that each child will have enough. Hopefully, if our program is successful, we will be able to provide opportunities for 5-10 more children in the near future.

I hope that you will consider sponsoring a child for one year, and will make the commitment to continue sponsorship until the child has
"graduated" from the top level of classes. An important goal of our project is to support and encourage the children to finish school. Once finished, the sponsored children will also be given assistance in seeking scholarships for higher education, job training opportunities, or employment in cooperatives and businesses.

Sponsorship for one year is $75.00, for the basics. A sponsorship of
$125.00 allows us to provide for all the child's needs. This small amount of money goes a long way in Nepal-- and can really make a difference to a child. Our organization is small-- so administrative costs are extremely low. The volunteers in Nepal donate all their time, as do I. An accounting of our expenditures and income is available upon request. Your donations are 100% tax deductible, as the money is accepted into a registered 501c here in the U.S.

If you know of anyone else who might be interested in sponsoring a child, or making a general contribution, please let me know. I will send them a brochure and information. Finding those few more sponsors this year is very important to me-- and I hope that with your help I will meet that goal.

Very sincerely, R. Gyure,

On behalf of Bal Sahayog Kendra, the Children's Aid Center:

Mrs. Priyambada Thapa, President Mrs. Sumira Pradhan Mrs. Chandika Joshi Mrs. Ivy Rizal Mrs. Uma Giri Mrs. Ila Upadhaya Mrs. Asha Sharma Mrs. Shashi Ojha Mrs. Saroj Adhikari Mrs. Mandira Mainali Mrs. Tara Shrestha

********************************************************* Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 13:38:31 -0500 From: Kamal Upadhyaya <kpu1@psu.edu> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: Harsha Raj Gautam!

I am trying to get in touch with Harsha Raj Gautam in Australia. In the event any of you happened to be in touch with him please pass my e-mail address to him. My e-mail address is: kpu1@psu.edu

Gautamji i tried to send you e-mail after I moved to Pennsylvania. But it did not pass. If you get this message send me an email ASAP.

Thanks. Kamal P. Upadhyaya

************************************************************** Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 07:16:38 From: Vedams Books International <vedams@vedamsbooks.com> To: tnd@nepal.org Subject: Books on Nepal: A new resource on the web

Dear Sir/Madam:

Warm greeting from India.

WE would be most grateful if you could visit our website at http://www.vedamsbooks.com

We have featured books on Nepal in our History and Politics Economics and Anthropology. Ours is the only website from India which features detailed descriptions of books including the table of contents.

We extend an academic discount of 30% and free airmail delivery of books.

If you find it appropiate, may we request you to provide us with a link to the impressive collection you are maintaing on Nepal on the World wide Web.

I look forward to the pleasure of hearing from you.

Sincerely, achal madhavan Vedams Books International 12A/11 W.E.Area, Post Box 2674 New Delhi 110 005, India Fax: 91-11-574 5114 http://www.vedamsbooks.com

****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 01:33:08 -0500 (EST) From: Craig Justin Sopata <sopata@ecn.purdue.edu> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Bagha Chal

Hello, I am a student at Purdue University in the United States. I study elelctrical engineering. Lately, I have been playing the game now with a friend mine and we can't for the life of us figure out how the tiger is supposed to win. If you could enlighten me on a possible strategy or a contact who could help us out.

Thank you very much. Sincerely,

Craig

*************************************************************** Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 14:49:44 GMT To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu (The Nepal Digest) From: carin@gn.apc.org (H Brown) Subject: Women, Tourism and Trafficking

Dear Sir,

I read Mr Bijaya Rajbhandari's post in which he puts more emphasis on the economy than on human rights and stressed the importance of tourism. I believe the underlying problem of trafficking is the lack of importance attached to girls and women as human beings and disagree that the economy can be separated from issues of human rights.

What efforts does the Nepalese Government make to eradicate trafficking by studying its root causes? Mr Rajbhandari did not mention the abuse of tourists at all. As my web master and I state on our web site, currently a minority of sex offenders are spoiling the tourism industry for others. I have no reason to believe that the government that approved Visit Nepal '98 bothered to remove sex offenders from tourism. If a sex offender is excluded from tourism, that immediately creates a job vacancy for a more trustworthy person and, as I have seen for myself, countless dependable Nepalis would be only too glad of such opportunities. In the long term, safer tourism leads to more employment...

One reason we targeted this issue is because it helps to establish the link between women's human rights and economic growth. This leads on to action against 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.

***************************************************** Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 08:52:26 -0600 To: nepal@cs.niu.edu From: "Alan J. Steinberg" <alanjesq@steinberglaw.com> Subject: Trying to locate e mail for Earl Kessler

Read the following in the Nepal Digest where I found your addresses:

Small and Market Town Development: this was the idea he had put

      into the budget speech. It is apparently because of work that Earl
      Kessler of RHUDO did with him last year. He also likes the model
      village program to uplift backward villages. as part of the Nepal Digest. Also recently Mr. Kessler was featured in the Wall Street Journal. I just wanted to e mail a congratulations to him. Do you know if he has an e mail address???

Alan J. Steinberg J.D. L.L.M. Steinberg & Steinberg L.L.C. Attorneys at Law 655 Craig Road Suite 338 Creve Coeur (St. Louis) Mo. 63141 Tele: 314 994 9400 Fax: 314 994 0003 Visit our web site: http://www.iwc.com/steinberg

********************************************************** From: "Dal Bhat" <dukku@hotmail.com> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: A short story(KATHA) Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 11:59:58 PST

                       The Shopkeeper
 
   Although the shop looked very small, there were a lot of items. The wooden compartments towards the front of the store held grains, behind which sat the shopkeeper, on a raised platform. On one side, hung from the ceiling, was a balance used for weighing. The walls were lined with shelves, full with a variety of items, from Dettol soap to Bournvita. Everything was arranged very neatly, and every space was utilized efficiently. A small area on the upper shelf had been converted into a shrine, which had pictures of Shiva, Laxmi and other Gods whom I could not recognize from my vantage. There was always the soft smell of incense, which were lit every day in the shrine. Every time I bought something there, I could not help but wonder how the shopkeeper managed to reach everything in the store without even having to get up. He knew every detail of the shop, and he was the center of it. This was his shop.
        The shopkeeper was probably in his forties. His hair had started to show shades of gray. He had very powerful eyes, for he could read even the smallest labels on any of the shelves. He had been known to be a quite man. His home were the two rooms behind the shop. As far as anybody knew, he lived alone. He did have some relatives who visited him once in a while, and there were times he closed the shop for days to go somewhere.
         During the many times that I visited the shop, I never even bothered to ask him his name. Apart from the usual customer/shopkeeper talk there was not much that could be said. However I did start to notice that (whenever he was not tending to a customer's need) he would pull out a book and start writing. I thought he was probably keeping track of the daily sales, but he was writing way more than what he could have possibly sold. Three months passed and he was still writing with the same intensity and passion. I was dying to know what he was writing about. He was probably complaining about his neighbor, his home, his country, the leaders, the politics they were part of, the missed opportunity, the uncertain future, the lack of respect for others, the way pedestrians walked, the way people drove, the speed at which things moved, police,
"Nepal bandh", beauracracy, inflation, unemployment, economy, pollution... After all, there is a lot to complain in and about Nepal. Something is always wrong, so he is also another guy writing out his frustrations. No. What was he writing? So one night I made up my mind, that the following morning I was going to ask him. When I strolled casually up to the shop, I was pleased to see that he was still writing. As I stood in front of the shop, he looked at me and started to put away his book. Instinctively, I said "No, No. You don't have to put that away. I am just going to ask you a question." He responded in silence.
"If you don't mind." I added.
"What are you writing? I mean I see you write, always." He paused, smiled and handed me the book. I took it, opened the cover and started to browse. I flipped a few more pages, and then some more, till I got to the end. I looked up at him. He was still smiling. He had filled countless pages with just three words, written over and over.
" OM NAMA SHIVAYA", the eternal mantra, meaning I respect/bow to the self. He still believed in himself.

*************************************************************** Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 13:57:00 -0500 (EST) From: BIPULENDU NARAYAN SINGH <singhb@wabash.edu> Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - December 28, 1997 (13 Poush 2054 BkSm) To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu

To,

        The editor
        The Nepali Digest

        Dear Sir/Madam,

                     I am a (ex)-Budhanilkantha School student currently
 studying at WabashCollege. I happened to recieve a copy of the Nepali digest(December) through a friend of mine and was very impressed by the level of debate that was going on there. The discussions on the validity of financial assistance to budhanilakantha school was specially very interesting to me.

Having worked for the Kathmandu Post as a reporter for about eight months before coming to the US, I myself have a lot of interest in journalism. I would be very grateful if you could acquaint me with the procedures required both for contributing to the digest and recieving a regular copy of the digest.

Thank you Bipulendu Singh

*************************************************************** From: "Anil Shrestha" <SHRESTHA@CROP.UOGUELPH.CA> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 09:34:13 EDT Subject: News from Canada

To: The Editor, The Nepal Digest From: Anil Shrestha, TND Canada Correspondent Subject: News on the Everest "Clean-up" Expedition

The TND-Canada correspondent had an opportunity to attend a seminar/slide show titled, "Everest Environmental Expedition 1998." The seminar/slide show sponsored by The University of Guelph Outdoor Club and Hikers Haven, Guelph was presented by Mr. Jamie Ross at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The seminar was attended by approximately 160 people, which by usual standards was a huge attendance thus displaying the interest of the Canadian people in Mt. Everest and Nepal. The seminar was well Jamie Ross, originally from British Columbia, Canada is a graduate student at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario. He is the Research Coordinator and Base Camp Manager of the "Everest Environmental Expedition 1998." Jamie explained that this expedition is different from all other expeditions as they will be ascending Everest with a different mission, which is to "cleanup the Everest region and to set a trend for such missions." The expedition consists of 14 members all of ! whom except Jamie, are fromI What follows are some points that came up during a discussion with Jamie after the presentation and we would like to open this discussion to our TND readers and we welcome your opinion/comments. A Visiting Scientist from Nepal at the University of Guelph, was also present during the discussion. We have often read about the problems of trash in the Everest region and have often wondered about solutions. The solutions however, are not easy. Who should be responsible for the cleanup? The Nepali Government who charges $10,000 for each person climbing Everest? Should the government spend some money generated from the expeditions for the cleanup? Is anyone aware where this money goes? Hopefully to the development of the country. Should a portion of it go to the development of the local region? If the climbers pay a climbing fee of $10,000, do they have the right to expect some services from the Nepali government? Or should they be held responsible for bringing down the garbage they take up? Is it ethically and morally right to ask them to do this? If yes, should the government make it mandatory for the teams to include some members who will help in bringing down this trash? If the trash is brought down, what should be done with it? Dump it in Solu? Recycle it? Airlift it? Does the Nepali govNepal's economy relies a lot on tourism, but are the tourists eroding the local culture of Nepal? If they are interested in local culture and norms what could the local people or the government do meet the expectation of the tourists? Should the tourists be issued some code of conduct to help preserve the local culture? What could some of these norms be like? What programs should be implemented to preserve the local culture? During the discussion, it was expressed that maybe the Nepali government should channel some funds generated from the climbing to cleanup efforts. The infrastructure of the area should be developed, prices of goods should be standardized so that tourism does not create inflation in the areas, sanitary and sewage facilities for tourists and local people in these areas should be developed, reliable weather bulletins based on long-term data and weather warnings should be issued. Some of the fund generatedBased on discussions, can TND readers present some plan of action to the Nepali government? As we all know (or maybe not) that this is "Visit Nepal Year," is it worthwhile to prepare such a plan or make a list of suggestions to the Nepali government?

******************************************************* From: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@fas.harvard.edu> Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 00:46:39 -0500 (EST) To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: An essay from the Kathmandu Post Review of Books (Dec. '97)

The Right to Basic Primary Education by Bimal Phnuyal

Not only does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) affirm people's right to free elementary education, the Constitution of Nepal (1990) also declares that the state shall make necessary arrangements to safeguard the rights and interests of children and shall ensure that arrangements for free education be made [Art.26(8)]. Thus, both national and international arenas have unquestionably recognized the State's responsibility for the basic primary education of all children. It is in this context that the right to basic education can be raised meaningfully.

Following its commitment to provide primary education for all by the year 2000, which it made at the World Summit on Children held in New York 1990, the Nepali government, or rather, successive governments, have introduced some new initiatives in this regard. Through the formation of a national-level Education Commission and similar task forces, attempts have been made to enrich the discourse on the issue and adopt policies accordingly. However, consultation processes so far have been restrictive, confined to the involvement of educationalists, primarily, and other high level professionals.

BPEP BPEP (Basic and Primary Education Project), based on the basic education master plan, has been the major intervention in primary education in recent years. Noteworthy, especially in the context of the donor-driven nature of the Nepali state, is that BPEP was born under the joint midwifery of major development donors including the World Bank, ADB, DANIDA, UNICEF, JICA and UNDP, in addition to the Nepali government. The major objective of BPEP has been to enhance access to basic and primary education, and to bring about improvement in the quality of primary education across the country.

Experiences since the launching of BPEP (1992 to date) generate some key questions for the discourse on basic education as a fundamental right of children. The purpose of this article, however, is not to evaluate the impact of BPEP. Rather, an attempt is made to share some critical observations on the issue of education as a right, within the specific socio-political complexities of Nepali society.

Power and Education Educational development is a political process. Lack of access to basic education is not a matter of political neutrality; rather, it is a manifestation of the evolution of social power dynamics. Why, for instance, do fewer girls go to school than boys? Why are children from Brahmin, Chhetri and Newar communities more likely to complete their school education and acquire higher education, as compared to children of Magar, Tamang and Dalit groups? Why do the majority of children from high-level bureaucrat families and the business community study at private English medium schools, whilst children from landless or small-land holders are unable to attend "free" government schools?

Not only do lines of class and ethnicity stratification impact on Nepal's education record, so do those of gender and region. To a large extent, these stratifications are overlapping. Those Nepalis denied access to social resources (particularly the poor, women, dalits, the janajati and residents of remote areas) are also deprived of their fundamental rights. They cannot afford to attend school. Most of their time and energy is spent on meeting their daily needs of survival, as the majority are landless or virtually landless, owning no means of production. These people rely upon their meagre labour wages for a livelihood. Besides such economic factors, socio-cultural relationships also perpetuate their marginalization.

In this way, literacy and illiteracy are about politics. The given social stratification in a particular setting determines the fate of most of its people. However, change is possible. Access to literacy and education can contribute to the positive transformation of these stratifications. As a result, the state's responsibility for basic education is all the more critical.

Recent statistics reveal that there have been increases in the number of schools, rates of enrolment and attendance as well as the number of trained teachers. This notwithstanding, the trend points to persistently low enrolment rates among economically poor groups and girl students, and the same is true for children of dalit and janajati communities. Furthermore, net enrolment ratios are much lower than gross enrollment ratios among the latter group. This means that those children who enrol are very likely to repeat classes and, eventually, dropout early.

There are clear links between these matters of power and people's participation in decision-making processes, and the quality of teaching and the learning environment. Nepalis from the poor and marginalized groups participate minimally or not at all in the management of their children's schools. Though they are encouraged to contribute voluntary labour during school-building, they are seldom consulted during strategy-development concerning the quality of their children's education.

In the present political setup, the power to recruit, train, supervise and evaluate school teachers is concentrated in a single bureaucratic authority. As a result, teachers are solely accountable to this administrative body. Maintaining the authority's good humour, not actively encouraging community participation, is the bottom line of Nepal's education system.

Since the restoration of multi-party democracy, an important amount of power has, theoretically, been transferred to the local community: now Nepalis can decide, for instance, to acquire primary education in their mother tongue. Other provisions have been made for people's participation in decision-making processes, but persistent resource shortages continue to hamper effective implementation of these policies.

What next? Above all, it is essential that people be made aware of basic primary education as a fundamental right. Concerned authorities, various cultural institutions, political and elected bodies, parents and community groups, indeed, the whole of civil society, needs to be mobilized in this endeavour. This awareness is the foundation of the power of poor and marginalized groups.

The role of the media and the maturing NGO sector is crucial too. NGOs have already gained significant experience in running alternative non-formal educational centres in certain pockets of the country. Results so far prove that this approach can contribute meaningfully to methodological innovation, among others. However, since the impact of NGO activities rarely graduates beyond micro-level experimentation, the challenge of the nation is to re-orient the whole system.

As a political-economical issue, the issue of children's education needs to be integrated with the empowerment process of the poor and marginalized overall. In this, effective participatory approaches to adult literacy have a crucial role to play. By means of various education and interaction processes, adults can become capable of analyzing their problems, improve their skills and knowledge, develop their bargaining power and decide on alternative courses of action.

It is also important to institutionalize basic primary education as the State's responsibility. Basic quality education must be made free and available to each and every child. Ongoing privatization of education is further deepening the gap between social groups, and should be challenged urgently. Basic education should not become a commodity that caters only to the needs of the rich and powerful who can afford it. The State needs to ensure that children, irrespective of class, ethnicity and gender, have access to quality basic education.

As the Koboswa Declaration (ACTIONAID 1997) has put forward, the approach of NGOs in the above context should be to enable people to access education rather than provide that education for them. This should be our approach also. For Nepal's education system today, it is not enough to make a quantitative shift. What we require is a permanent change in the situation, more decentralization of authority and power to the people. Only this will lead to positive social transformation.

(Mr. Phnuyal is working on REFLECT. This essay originally appeared in the December '97 ko Kathmandu Post Review of Books. Co-ordinated and edited by Ms. Shizu Upadhya)

Review of a book
---------------------------------------- Book title: Social Life in Nepal: From Tradition to Modernity Author: Govinda Maskey Publisher: Anmole Publications, 1996
---------------------------------------

In the name of modernity

by Tim Whyte

Social Life in Nepal: From Tradition to Modernity provides a welcome study of the first quarter of the twentieth century. Maskey argues that the often neglected era marks the most important period of Nepal's modernization. In this regard, the book is a well-researched and useful counterweight to the emphasis that most histories (and indeed popular wisdom) have placed on the opening-up of the post-1951 period. The book traces Nepal's first bout with 'development', under which, lest we forget, Chandra Shumshere introduced the first mechanized transportation system (the Tarai railway and the ariel rope-way to the Valley), a new postal and telephone service and a number of extensive infrastructure projects, focusing especially on canals and bridges. Maskey focuses on four areas of social reform: slavery and bonded labour, sati, the position of women and education. At least three of these areas potentially have relevance in Nepal's continuing search for development. Although he casts it as a social history, Maskey has given us a detailed history of social legislation. His particular interest is in Chandra Shumshere's reforms and their historical context, and not simply in the social context of the day.

The book raises a series of important and fascinating questions about the relationship between social legislation and society. Let me give as an example his treatment of slavery, the area of Nepali history with which I am most familiar. In his chapter on slavery and bondage, Maskey briefly considers the
"Conditions of Slaves". He writes that slavery was a social evil, depriving people of "the dignity of manhood", noting that slaves were often sold as children. He also quotes Francis Hamilton (Buchanan), who came to Nepal in the beginning of the nineteenth century, that all female slaves in the valley were prostitutes. Yet, concludes Maskey, "The slaves were said to be well-fed, well-clothed, kindly treated and contented with their lot. They were more or less domestic servants and in some families the older slaves were shown great consideration." This latter opinion is based, apparently, on the letter of a British Resident in Kathmandu.

Most of Maskey's discussion on slavery (18 out of 21 pages) concerns the history of laws regulating and eventually abolishing slavery. Maskey thus manages to separate the legal and social reality of slavery. The book's interest in slavery is in the government's attempts to undo it. Thus, despite Maskey's early contention that slavery was "the outcome of factors deeply rooted in the economic and social fabric of society" and despite his detailed legislative history, we are left with limited knowledge of the substance and culture of slavery in Nepal. Is, as Maskey suggests, slavery's main legacy to the country its legal non-existence? What constitutes a history of slavery? That Maskey's interest is limited to emancipation - the fall of another backward 'tradition' - is understandable perhaps, given that the focus of his work is the transition to 'modernity'. Unfortunately, the perspective informs nearly everything written on slavery. Social Life in Nepal should encourage us to think about whose history we are writing.

Maskey's administrative history also raises questions about how we use analytical terms such as
'modernity', 'tradition' and 'reform'. The book changes the image of a 'traditional' Nepal opening its borders and 'modernizing' after 1951, yet the story - "From Tradition to Modernity" - remains essentially the same. If Maskey can move the advent of 'modernity' back to the early twentieth century, maybe we can begin to question the meaning of historical change in general. 'Nepal' has been changing since people first settled the Kathmandu Valley, or, if we are to believe an earlier historiography, since a god first drained a lake there. The question perhaps should be what the nature of the changes were and for whom. This is where the idea of a transition to 'modernity' becomes complicated. Terms such as 'traditional' and 'modern' have no meaning in and of themselves: each is a relative term that derives its meaning from its opposition to the other. This is not to say they have no use for history. Clearly, the vision of a transition "from tradition to modernity" has occupied the political and social imagination of Nepal throughout the twentieth century. But, we must be clear on what we are researching: the transition to
'modernity' itself or the creation of and belief in 'modernity'.

Maskey generally avoids such distinction, but he does broach the latter subject in his discussion of the Rana's motivations for reform. He suggests that Chandra's interest in modernization stemmed not from a social conscience, but from a desire "to immortalize himself as a great reformer in Nepal". The international climate - the rise of Japan and the British colonial government's development projects in India - and his Western education provided the script and costumes for the historical actor to seize the day. Does this sound familiar? It should, for the history of modernity - and Maskey's book - has considerable relevance for the arguments over Nepal's current and seemingly perpetual un-state of development. The irony of history is that the uncritical acceptance of the idea of 'reform' continues Chandra's great play today.

(Tim Whyte is an advanced student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, USA, currently writing a thesis on slavery in the Himalayas. This essay first appeared in the December '97 ko Kathmandu Post Review of Books, that particular issue co-ordinated and edited by Ms. Shizu Upadhya)
        

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