The Nepal Digest - July 1, 1999 (19 Ashadh 2056 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Tues July 1, 1999: Ashadh 19 2056BS: Year8 Volume88 Issue1

        H A P P Y I N D E P E N D E N C E D A Y ! ! !

Today's Topics (partial list):

        The Myth of the Spiritual East I
        Gurkha death
        Don't Dump the Personal, Please!

 ******************************************************************************
 * TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
 * -------------------------------------- *
 * *
 * The Nepal Digest: General Information tnd@nepal.org *
 * Co-ordinator: Rajpal JP Singh a10rjs1@mp.cs.niu.edu *
 * Editor: Pramod K. Mishra pkm@acpub.duke.edu *
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 * Co-ordinating Director - Australia Chapter (TND Foundation) *
 * Dr. Krishna B. Hamal HamalK@dist.gov.au *
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 * Anil Shrestha SHRESTHA@CROP.UOGUELPH.CA *
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 * +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
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 * "Heros are the ones who give a bit of themselves to the community" *
 * "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" -Sirdar_Khalifa *
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****************************************************************** Date: Fri, 25 Jun 1999 23:55:49 -0400 (EDT) From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <pkm@duke.edu> To: The Nepal digest Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> Subject: The Myth of the Spiritual East I

        The more I have thought about Prime-Minister K.P. Bhattarai's views about taking Nepal higher spiritually if not materially during his present tenure as chief executive officer of the government, the more amazed I have found myself--and incensed as well. But I have also come to an understanding that Mr. Bhattarai's views do not originate in the wellspring of his arduous life experiences alone. They originate in the public leadership of the non-Western world, and the history of West's relationship with it, particularly Asia. Frankly, the so-called Thirld World has so far been never represented by those whose images characterize that part of the world in the stereotypical images of Asia in the West. The Third World has been represented by the masters of the Third World, who actually employ the represented as their servants and workers but in whose name ask for foreign aids and loans and assert their moral rights, not always unjustifiably. In the colonial era, the mediators of cololinialism--the zamindars, the zamindars' children who, after education in the colonial system, became bureacrats, the maharajas, the Chiefs--ruled the Thirld World; and after decolonization, either the dictators or the educated elite became rulers, very often using the slogan of nationalism that had helped the process of decolonization. After colonialism, Cold War politics was equally responsible for the occurrence of this state of affairs. A genuine bourgeosie, much condemned and praised in the industrial West, historically never emerged in the non-Western world because of colonialism and Cold War, and the expedient alliances these historical events made with the indigenous masters to continue the wave of misery and oppression. Of course, there have been exceptions, such as M.K. Gandhi and all those who declassed themselves, gave up their aristocratic, middle class backgrounds and joined the millions in various political and personal gestures of commitment. Nehru, despite his socialist and secularist professions in public, was both an elitist and deeply caste-affiliated Hindu (see his defense of the caste system in "The Disovery of India"). So the masses of the Third World still reel in illiteracy, ignorance, hunger, disease and their leaders--whether they are the kings and dictators of the Middle East or elsewhere--in ill-gotten luxury. Genuine leadership has not emerged that could reflect the true interests of the majority in the Third World. And, to be frank, orthodox Communist regimes, too, have never truly reflected the genuine interests of the masses, because sooner or later they have turned into one-man tyrannies with their own heavy-handed bureacratic mafia structure from top to bottom.

        After the constriction of colonialism and Cold War, it is for the first time that time has come for a daring assessment of the affairs of the Third World, and its relationship with the Western world. And this opening also provides an opportunity for the emergence of unprecedented leadership, "vernacular," democratic leadership that reflects the grassroots in the non-Western world. But as things exit, the elite still rules the day.

        Now, the overwhelming concern of this elite political leadership of the Third World, like many traditional societies where nationalism remains the bread and butter of the aristocracy, has been to prove that there are ways in which it and their customs, manners, ways of life, are superior to the West, and the myth of spirituality is one of them. This is of course a psychological response to colonial (both European and othewise) and Cold War domination that ravaged the non-Western world's material wealth and destroyed its self-confidence. Among many myths that have fooled many all over the world, the myth of the spiritual East, one must admit, is one of the strongest, a system of psychological cushion that has become a hallmark of the disenchanted in the West and the elite in the non-West. On the one hand, it has engendered self-complacency, false sense of security, and a way to justify hold in the public domain among the educated middle classes from the so-called East; on the other, this myth has enabled some from the West to reinforce the status quo in the East even as they might have genuinely benefitted from some of its spiritual tenets. In other words, the myth of the spiritual East is one of the forms of orientalisms, on the one hand; and, on the other, it is the result of the violent history of one thousand years of colonial rule in South Asia. But this myth is only a myth, nothing more. Neither the East is more spiritual nor the West more material than particularly their last five hundred years of histories have made them to be. In other words, there is nothing intrisically spiritual about the East and there is nothing intrisically material about the West. Both have strong material and spiritual aspects to their societies that reflect their histories in the past millennium.

        When I find myself being congratulated for coming from the so-called world of spirituality, I take it as a euphamism for poverty, disease, hunger for the majority and unthinkable luxury--symbolized in regal palaces, nautch girls, harems, bevy of servants and of course fashionable gurus--for the top few who benefitted through out the changes in political regimes from ancient native and medieval kingdoms, European colonialisms and whatever legacies we have inherited now. And when, in the recent wave of criticism of European modernity, some South Asian scholars tend to throw the baby with the bath water and embrace uncritically whatever cultural forms South Asia or non-Western world has been left with (primarily the sacred and the spiritual), I frankly find it offensive. It is at these times that I tend to agree that much of the academic criticism of modernity, particularly where the East is taken as spiritual and the West and modernity as merely material, is the product of a bunch of English-school products of upper middle class backgrounds from South Asia, who have finally taken blind shelter in their cultural forms in order to have a semblance of self-respect in the face of demoralizing colonial modernity, particularly when they find themselves in the West. On the other hand, as long as they physically live in their own cultural domains, they are the ones who are unthinkingly snobbish about their English-school education and spoon and forks and dining tables. Of course, this assessement is a generalization, and of course there are many exceptions, but this nonetheless reflects the general tendency. But what such blind followers or haters of either the East or the West forget is that whatever cultural forms the East has inherited and is able to preserve has come down not in unmediated, pure form. The material history of the past, particularly the eventful thousand years, has shaped it and will continue to shape it in the future as well. And so to blindly adhere to whatever cultural forms there are in the East and say we are different and Eastern and so whatever we do is justified and is our way of doing things and not examine them critially as a product of history is to turn a blind eye to the processes of cultural formation and deformation that continue to occur in any society.

        In other words, the material is not separate from the spiritual nor spiritual from material. They constantly shape each other, produce each other, even though in this mutual shaping and reshaping the material could be said to be the dominant one. Just think what would have happened to Gandhi's homespun without the support of Birla's financial empire. But where one is emphasized at the cost of the other, the story remains incomplete and therefore suspicious--and detrimental. One needs to ask why only the spiritual is emphasized over and against the material? One needs to dig the pages and hearsay of history in order to understand this lopsidedness. When, for example, someone mentions the spiritual East to mean spiritual India, what immediately come to my mind are not only the images of ash-smeared, naked, dreadlocked fakirs and sadhus, but the cruelty of the village money lenders, the greed of the petty traders who worship goddess Luxmi in order to swindle, the deception and perfidy that suffuse kinship networks (family values) in North India, and, above all, the lies and deception of the majority of the spiritual workers themselves--as sadhus and fakirs, as pandas at Hindu holy places, and those Brahmins everywhere in South Asia who have chosen to corrupt the state machinery by occupying them. One needs only to see their hunger for material gains through power.

        Here I only offer a few examples of this greed for material gain in the spiritual East. If one examines the functioning of the Hindu monasteries, one finds that at one time or another, almost all of them are involved in some form of inheritance litigation in the courts, and if one examines the private conducts of the monks in many monasteries in matters of celibacy and spirituality, one is forced to conclude the two kinds of teeth of elephants, one to chew, another just for show. Another example comes from north India as well. There is an organization called the Union of the Dead in Uttar Pradesh that has come to news in recent months. The members of this organization have been fighting their battle to prove that they are alive and well. Declared dead for years, they have been agitating, demonstrating to prove their flesh and blood existence. At some time in the past, their kinsmen had connived with the state officials to declare them dead in government documents so that their relatives could then own their land and property. And now, the Dead have been waging an uphill battle to prove that they are alive and so entitled to what belongs to them. This is of course only one aspect of the Hindu family saga. Funny though it is, it only shows how material is the East. As one coming from the so-called East, I didn't know that my notoriety as a tough bargainer had already preceded me at the used car dealerships in the so-called material West. Wherever I recently went to shop around for the cheapest four-wheel legs, I was greeted, even before I could so much as open my mouth, with knowing smiles and frank words about my verbal and dramatic prowess in getting great deals just because I came from the spiritual East. So much of my spirituality with the used car salesmen of Ameria. And one can ask here, if Mr. K.P. Bhattarai was so spiritually inclined--yoga, meditation, and rununciation his staple diets--why has he been so desperate to become Nepal's prime-minister? He almost broke his party for this supremely material position, a position that may require one to order killing, among other materially important things. In this sense, Mr. Bhattarai appears to be similar to many of the Indian politicians who wear numerous astrologically empowered rings on their fingers in order to obtain ministerial berths in their governments. So much for spiritual enhancement for the sake of achieving STHIT PRAJNA in this world and salvation hereafter.

****************************************************************** From: Kalpana Sharma <kalpanasharma1@hotmail.com> To: a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu, aabhandary@hotmail.com, abishek@stny.lrun.com, Subject: Arun Sharma Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 19:33:17 EDT

Ahwatukee Foothills News June 23, 1999

SHARMA SENTENCED FOR MOVIE MOLESTATION By Doug Murphy, Staff Writer

Prosecuting attorney Stasy Knight-Click wanted a year in jail and lifetime probation as a sexual offender for Ahwatukee Foothills resident Arun Sharma. Defense attorney Jeffrey Ross asked for just six months in jail with the other six months suspended.

Knight-Click got her way. Judge Mark Aceto said simply,
"Mr. Sharma has a problem."

Sharma was charged with child molestation and two counts of attempted child molestation, stemming from incidents at a local movie complex where he would roam from theater to theater touching young girls.

Sharma pleaded no contest last month to a lesser charge of attempted child molestation, in return for the other charges being dropped.

While never admitting that he did anything wrong, Sharma told Aceto,
"I am terribly sorry for what I have done or may have done, but I am not a child molester."

Ross had contended that Sharma's touching was simply his way to having "human contact," something strongly disputed by the mother of one of his victims.

"He was touching (my daughter) for selfish sexual gratification," she told the judge.

According to Knight-Click and police records, if the sister of Sharma's last victim had not stood up in the Harkins Theater at Arizona Mills, yelled and followed Sharma out, he would still be out molesting moviegoers.

"We know there are other incidents," said Knight-Click, referring to a 1990 allegation that Sharma touched a then 14-year-old girl during a showing of the movie Pretty Woman in Oxnard, Calif. In March of 1998 Sharma was arrested after fleeing the Arizona Mills theater showing the movie Titanic.

Knight-Click pointed out that both movies attracted young girls. And now, she continued, "A lot of people are now very uncomfortable going to a movie theater and leaving an empty seat next to them."

Almost 50 letters were sent to Aceto by friends and family of Sharma, attesting to his character and community service. Aceto commented,
"In many respects he's a very good guy."

But Aceto went on to say that Sharma needed to admit that he has a serious problem. "He did this on a number of occasions and it's clear to me that he did it out of sexual gratification," said the judge.

Along with a year in county jail, Sharma will be on lifetime probation as a sex offender. Any violation of his probation could result in Sharma being sent to prison for up to 15 years.

"I will also order you not to go inside any movie theaters," added Aceto.

******************************************************************* Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 18:13:23 -0700 From: cry <crydelhi@giasdl01.vsnl.net.in> To: a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu Subject: emcm

APPEAL FROM INDIA The Following is an appeal from CRY India.

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****************************************************************** From: Greta Rana <greta@icimod.org.np> To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 09:36:49 +0530 Subject: Re: The Nepal Digest - June 26, 1999 (13 Ashadh 2056 BkSm)

One of your suscribers asked if there might be a similarity between Kathmandu and Chengdu because they both ended in du. Du means is in Newari ,Kathmandu refers to the fabric of the original house of wood. In the range of the Himalayas , you do find shared meanings to sounds and syllables. there is, for example, some remarkable similarities between the language of the Lao and the Newars of the Kathmandu valley.The Lao share similar ceremonies at approximate times of the year with the Newars of Dolkha. Read Harka Bahadur Gurung also for some clues to how such similarities occur. the mountains are only barriers to modern development expertise, it is amazing how far mountain people travelled before they were targetted for development. Incidently read Regmi's work on taxation in the 19th century in Nepal.It makes you wonder what we're talking about when we pontificate on difficult access and isolation-they sure knew how to get out and collect taxes. Greta Rana Senior Editor ICIMOD TEL: ++ 977-1-525313 FAX:++ 977-1-524509 web:www.icimod.org.sg

****************************************************************** From: Bhupendra Rawat <bhupenrawat@hotmail.com> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Parmendra Bhagat one oh one Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 08:43:26 EDT

Parmendra Bhagat has become a hopelessly confessional contributor. Under the bandwagon of racism, he now has one product to sell: himself, himself and himself. You'll be damned if you try to argue back: just keep your thoughts to yourself and scroll on and on. So much for dialogue and discussion. No wonder reading TND these days takes less than three minutes.

My sympathy for Bhagat's "original position" evaporated for good after I started reading stuff like: that Bhagat was up till 3 in the morning holding bull-sessions with his schoolmates in New York, and that he was going to visit another friend in California. And that he has friends in elite colleges everywhere on the planet. Wow!! What insightful pieces of knowledge that 1200-plus of us TND readers had to know? Don't we have better things to do than watch Bhagat be our Truman Burbank as in that movie "Truman Show"?

I say that because Bhagat seems to think that his life is so interesting, so unique and so fascinating that 1200-plus of us need to know/have to know what he does, who he talks to, who he writes letters to (we are even shown letters he wrote!), what kind of extracurricular activities he does, what his summer job is, what his post-college plans are and other such gripping supposedly masala-daar news.

Well, I can't speak for all TND readers. But, come on, give me a break!! As a TND reader, I don't want to be treated like a ten-year-old who's supposed to be gurgling in awe of Bhagat's various "accomplishments".

On a serious note though: When he first started contributing to TND, Bhagat had a legitimate observation: That, all else being equal, a dark-skinned -- and excuse my choice of phrase,
"madhisay-looking" -- Nepali citizen has less of chance of succeeding politically, socially and culturally in the so-perceived Nepali mainstream, which Bhagat defined as being dominated primarily by Kathmandu-based high-caste/high-class bahun/chettri/newars. Never mind that the same argument also holds true for the Rai, the Gurung, the Tamang, the Tharu, and other ethnic/racial groups in Nepal. Bhagat was waving his flag for the tarai-basis, and he alone seemed to have insights into that particular brand of racism.

In support of his assertion, Bhagat offered snippets from his own life, racist comments left by anonymous people on his web-site, and tied those up with political education honed in Nepal and liberal arts thinking sharpened at Berea College (which, in case you did not know, as Bhagat constantly reminfds you, is "the number on college in the South" ---- Bhagat's anti-elite sentiments, indeed!)

Anyway, Bhagat's central argument, though heated at times, was pretty clear and believable. If Bhagat had stopped then, and invited readers to share in their experiences too, TND discussions would perhaps have taken a constructive turn, and, had that happened, we would have learnt more about the extent of racism/ethno-centrism and other such stuff in Nepal. After all, most TND readers, it's easy to assume, ARE educated, aware and sensible bunch of people who are, at least in principle, against racism.

But, no. Bhagat had to have his own show. Perhaps thrilled by this new-found
"freedom of speech" on TND, he started going on a roll: Borrowing promiscuously from the African American history and Native American past, Bhagat started asserting kinship with oppressed people everywhere. A high-class bahun/chettri/newar from Kathmandu was a suspect: he even has an unpronounceable acronym for those hated elites (Never mind that Bhagat would later go on to embrace the very sons of those discriminatory elites as schoolmates and friends!!).

And his ranting and raving reached a fevered pitch. URLs dumped on TND all the time; links to every related web-site. And anyone who talked back to Bhagat (most of whom, admittedly, had stupid arguments themselves) was scolded and chided. We were going to learn about racism in Nepal, whether we wanted it or not. And Bhagat was going to shove it down our gullet.

It wasn't long before Bhagat loomed up as though he were Nepal's Martin Luther King, Jr. The high-class/caste Nepalis were collectively portrayed as that Police Commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama, unleashing snarling dogs at Bhagat's cherished causes. TND was no more just an e-zine: it became a battlefield between Bhagat and his mostly imagined enemies. Blood was everywhere; and most readers, it's safe to assume, threw up their hands and gave up reading TND -- which was becoming more and more infrequent anyway.

Soon, Bhagat realized that enemies on TND were just that: imaginary and uncooperative. So he mellowed a little, and changed the tune. Drawing upon his interest in economics, he started tooting the horns of free-market economics, and initiated a discussion on Nepal's economic performance. The discussion turned out to be a flop, with Bhagat exhorting readers to join him, with the readers typing the other way, despite there being a number of fine, young Nepali economists among us 1200-plus readers.

When discussions on economics went nowhere, Bhagat started to personalize his contributions all the more. And that's when he lost me totally: his bemused, often disagreeing, reader for the longest time. Bhagat became grateful to his old high school in Nepal; boastful of his elite connections of friendship; mindful of his mantra of "network relentlessly"; and shamelessly confessional about personal details, as though he were dating no other than Gywneth Paltrow.

>From self-appointed poster boy of "anti-racism", to the celebration of
trivial personal details, it's been quite a journey for Parmendra Bhagat on TND.

CONCLUSION: Bhagat's tactics are mostly polemical -- and, Ashtosh Tiwari, Pramod Mishra and others may agree with me, most Nepalis are simply not good at or even interested in engaging in polemics, at least not in public the way, say, they do on CNN's Crossfire. This may be one reason why Bhagat may be widely ignored (based on an unscintific and informal poll I took among my circles before typing all these here). So polemical tactics do make Bhagat an odd man out, regardless of his ethnic background.

It's obvious that Bhagat has a first-rate mind and is a fluent writer: but it's also clear that he craves the same stamp of elitism that he oh-so-disdainfully decries in others: Reading his postings, it's clear that he is simulatneously repelled by and attracted to elitism (howsoever defined), which in and of iteslf is not a bad thing. His claims about racism certainly ring true, but then again, everyone knows that he's no "madhisay" on a bike, peddling kauli-bhanta to middle-class homes in Kathmandu. That is why, his shoulder-rubbing with that
"mashisay" on the bike at times seems too calculated to serve his own purpose, and rings sort of hollow.

My sense is that Bhagat will pull out his Budhanilkantha and Berea credentials when those suit him well,and his tarai connections when those suit him well. Viewed in this light, his mantra of
"network relentlessly" sounds like a metaphor for opportunism for self-advancement and self-advancement alone, which, again, in and of itself is not a bad thing.

Bhagat seems to want everything: he wants to remain proud of his fatherland India while being equal in the eyes of all in Nepal. It is this dualism -- a case of what many perceive to be misplaced nationaism/patriotism -- that drives his opponents wild -- a fact he seems to relish. After alientaing most readers with this dualism, he wants their understanding, their support, their acknowledegments that, yes, racism does occur in Nepal. Funny, though everyone agrees that racism is prevalent in Nepal, not a single Rai, Gurung, Tharu, Magar or others have come FORWARD to lend support to Bhagat's central claim.

The reason is: despite his professed political aims, Bhagat is NOT interested in building up coalitions and networks. He exists to trumpet himself, and his own causes. Even some tarai-basi Nepalis have railed against Bhagat's tactics: Surely, it is not the case that Bhagat is the only one who's been right ALL THESE TIMES!

All said and done. if Bhagat's goals were to initiate a dialogue on race and racism in Nepal, it's safe to say that he has failed. The whole debate has pretty much been Bhagat and Bhagat and Bhagat, and I have learnt nothing new since his first couple of postings.

So, laurels to Bhagat for raising the issue of racismin the beginning; and darts and darts to for everthing that followed after. Of course, Bhagat, being Bhagat, will hit back at me: but that's fine.

Sincerely, Bhupendra Rawat bhupenrawat@hotmail.com

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 19:36:47 BST To: <a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu> From: "Jonathan Hawker" <jx@pobox.com> Subject: Gurkha death

SIR

I am a British television journalist. I am trying to discover whether = any information has been released in Nepal about the funeral = arrangements for Sergeant Balaram Rai, who was tragically killed in = Kosovo.

Any help would be gratefully received.

J. Hawker

****************************************************************** Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 18:11:50 -0400 (EDT) From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <pkm@duke.edu> To: The Nepal digest Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Don't Dump the Personal, Please!

Dear Paramendra,

=09Let me, first of all, say that I have been impressed by the energy and enthusiasm with which you have articulated your views on matters of public concern in TND. One may agree or disagree, hate or like what and how you say, but they have helped clarify the anger, hurt, and the consequent dangers that lurk in the unresolved issues of the Tarai, an area which needs more serious analysis from scholars and better attention from Nepal's main political parties. One may not like the way you have been voicing your concerns, but one must understand that your voice is only the tip of the iceberg of anger and sense of injustice, and wholesale irrational pride in the cultures (including dowry, arranged marriage, casteism, and fierce male chauvinism, etc., etc.) of the neighboring=20 states of India, that lies buried like a keg of explosives in the soil of=
=20 the Tarai. And today or tomorrow, a monster is bound to rise out of the=20 explosion of this keg if the mainstream parties and the dominant groups=20 in Nepal continue to offer lip-service and demonstrate intransigence and=20 arrogance adamantly. And then Nepal will join the community of Pakistan,=
=20 India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Yugoslavia, Rwanda and=
=20 many other nation- states with multi-ethnic, multi-lingual complex=20 populace and blind imitation of eighteen- and nineteenth-century European=
=20 idea and history of nationalism and nation-state, which was partly an=20 inheritance of colonialism. One may hate your views, and the=20 schizophrenic way in which they at times come out, but they reflect what=20 many in the Tarai think in their hearts but for various reasons choose=20 not to express. So in this respect, I must thank you for taking the time=
=20 and making your views public. As TND editor, I want more of your views,=20 better argued, better articulated, more well-reasoned and persuasive.=20

=09I have, however, been disappointed lately by the waste of TND space for the irrelevant materials you have been sending to TND, materials that do not relate to Nepal in any significant way nor make any point.=20 There is no relevance I can see, for example, posting about your New York visit or all the disconnected nonesense about America, free market system, and general platitudes about racism. Besides violating the confidence of the folks who hosted you and who may not want to see their names dragged in this way in public, there is no point, no public relevance of such a posting. It does not belong to TND. Who cares what you do or did or will do in your private life, how you spend your leisure, where you go during vacation, who you meet and so on? They may be of importance to you, like=
=20 the album of private memories, but as mere pieces of information, they are useless, worthless, and irrelevant for others. Because you are not a=20 star of some sort or a public person so people could be curious about=20 your personal habits and quirks, they are not worthy of even the=20 mudslinging tabloids. In scattered bits and pieces they don't make any=20 sense; they only lower your credibility as a writer and reduce whatever=20 persuasive power you as a writer possess even for those who are=20 sympathetic to your cause and want to see your arguments effectively=20 made. You, however, could have written a travel account of your visit to=
=20 New York and given us some knowledge of what it means for a person like=20 you to go to New York, meet the Nepalis of various linguistic and=20 cultural backgrounds in the metropolis, and how was it different from=20 your meeting them in Nepal. In what ways your visit affected your=20 established ideas about the Tarai, India, the hills, and within these=20 various ethnic, linguistic, and class groups.=20

=09I must say, however, that your narration of your experience in Budhanilakantha school sounds interesting, as I had told in private e-mail, and whatever you have written about would be of even more interest if you take the time and tell us the story of your years through the school. I would definitely like to know more. The more honest, the more concrete, the more unforgiving, the more detailed; the better. It will enlighten and inform people, if not entertain. We want to know what happened that your performance plummeted. What was the nature, sequence, detail of your conflict with the administration that caused this? Give us the details with disguised names that you think might expose some or paint them in bad light. It is the duty and responsibility of any writer, journalist, intellectual to tell the truth, nothing but the truth, no matter how unpleasant, bitter, and damaging to the school or any=20 institution that contains flaws. This is the democratic process.=20 Institutions and society won't improve and transform themselves if people=
=20 like you who have been through them won't tell the public what happens=20 within these societies and institutions. The trouble with countries like=
=20 Nepal is that those people who are honest and concerned keep their mouth=20 shut even after witnessing wrongdoing and injustice and corruption for=20 either fear or social comaraderie. Those who see wrongdoings but remain=20 silent for friendship, caste, kinship, and any other reasons are as=20 equally to blame as those who indulge in them. Such easy=20 harmony seekers are not going to do anything, no matter the political=20 system. You, therefore, owe this detailed account of your school=20 experience to the public, to yourself, to Nepal, and indeed to humanity=20 itself. If you want examples of this kind of writing, read, if you=20 haven't done already, Richard Wright's "Black Boy", Maxim Gorky's three=20 volumes "Childhood," "My Youth" and "My Universities," or Jean Jeanette's=
=20
"The Diary of a Thief." If you want more books of this kind that talk=20 about the writers' schooling, let me know, I'll send you a list. Some=20 other well-known examples in which writers critique their schools (these=20 are all English) read Rushdie, E.M. Forster, or Orwell's account of=20 their schooling in England.=20

=09Of course, the personal is important. What Rajpalji meant by the personal that is not important is the kind of personal that does not make any point, has no public significance, and is expressed merely to indulge in braggadocio, narcissism, and even exhibitionism. In this respect, I mus= t=20 point a general failing in Third World journalism: its sheer lack of the=20 personal story. There is hardly any human story in much of Third World=20 journalism about the lives of common folks who live far away from the=20 limelight; instead we are given only data, statistics--Three Dead in=20 Drowning. Bus Mishap Killed Forty. A Woman with a Child Jumped=20 in front of a Running Train. Five Unmarried Women Hanged Themselves=20 for lack of Dowry. A Man Bludgeoned to Death his Handicapped Son and then=
=20 Hanged Himself. A Woman Jumped into the Well. These and many=20 such pieces of news become data, facts, statistics run=20 hidden in the back pages of newspapers like obituary notices. No follow up=
=20 stories and human drama and the details of life as it was lived and=20 lost.

What are the human stories behind them? Nobody knows nor cares=20 to find out. What lapse of human dignity, what untold, unspeakable=20 miseries and suffering and injustice and play of emotions drove people to d= o=20 what they did or what brought the accidents, nobody wants to tell,=20 because those lives are not important. Common human life in the Third=20 World is cheap except when it belongs to some Maharaja. Who cares about=20 the servants, widows, crowded bastis and hovels and their day-to-day=20 goings on. Some European has to come down as an anthropologist to write=20 about them for their disciplinary studies or some writer has to come down=
=20 and write the City of Joy or serve as Mother Terasa. Who cares about=20 dowryless briddes's plights, or urchins and prostituties milling about=20 the streets! Not very often even their parents, particularly the=20 dowryless brides' parents. As long as my door is locked and secure, the=20 world and my neighbors may go to hell.

The Third World sees itself not only with the West's eyes but with its=20 own regal eyes--as statistics and ants. The third world is=20 used to being statistics, however--first in the hands of the cololinial=20 officials and evangelical missionaries, and then the development workers,=
=20 our present-day NGOs, and, all along the Western academics and many of=20 their disciplines. All these have their structural and institutional=20 limitations, and despite many structural flaws, one has to give some=20 credit to anthropologists for at least recording the lives of the common=20 people in the Third World. But the full stories also need to be told. =20 Too much academization of the Third World is something that has to=20 change; the lives of the people there have to be recognized and told not=20 just to find some patterns and systems to yield some sociological and=20 anthropological meaning but the hard-hitting effect of the existential=20 details as well. As long as the common people in the Third World remain=20 statisitics for the planners, developers, and vote getters, that world is=
=20 not going to change.=20

=09When I read interviews in the newspapers published from Delhi, Kathmandu and other places, they read as though both the person interviewing and the one interviewed were robots or machines, spouting questions and ideas and programs; life, hearts, human drama and story=20 that made those ideas possible are missing from them. Very little=20 relevant human detail is given to make the interviews interesting and go=20 with the ideas and facts. And when the details are given, they occur=20 only in cheap tabloids with sleazy materials and malicious intent. The=20 other extreme, of course, has begun to surface in the West. Monica Lewinsky and Princess Diana affairs are only two of the recent examples. What's so much fuss, for example, about Princess Diana? I don't understand this cannibalism. The newspapers, magazines, and televisi= on have begun to make her to be some goddess, which is the excess of the postmodern age that survives on ratings and sales figures. So go ahead and tell us all about your Budhanilkantha school experience in all its details. Pull no punches. And in the process you must be ready to expose yourself and go through the cathartic experience of painful, humorous, rageful telling. I am sure it will open many people's eyes.=20

=09But the broader question is, Why do you write? What are the objectives you want to achieve in making your thoughts public in written form? And what tools you have acquired in your college education in the=20 US and outside to achieve those goals? One of the reasons I have been whole-heartedly supportive of Rajpalji's efforts with TND is that I want young Nepalis (those who are post-1990 generation and have been fortunate enough to go to school and college) to get used to expressing their ideas in public differently from the way ideas were expressed under the culture of the Panchayat system. I want Nepal to be busily talking about itself and with itself and within itself and break away with the elders' habit of voicing only slogans and flatteries or, alternatively, maintaining the silence typical of the feudal culture. As the clich=E9 goes, it is not jus= t the soldiers who defend a nation or a community but the long-term security and conscience of a community and nation lies with the number and quality o= f=20 its poets, writers, philosophers, and artists.=20

=09Those of us who take the pains to write, troubled and inspired initially by whatever reason and source, need to ask the following questions: What does our writing do to ourselves and what does it do to those who read it? Does it shock them out of their complacency and settled ideas (if one thinks that they are complacent and possess such ideas), inspire them to rise above their stations in life, above their petty day-to-day rigmarole, interests, and selfishness; bring them to tears and purge their emotions and cleanse their hearts; arouse them to action, touch them so much so that they empty their tears, purses, spleens for public interest; inform them about the past, reveal the present and highlight the possibilities and pitfalls of the future? And, as one of the other goals of writing, indeed any art, does it amuse and entertain readers while achieving one or other of its many goals?=20

=09George Orwell, and, in imitating him, Joan Didion have raised some of the issues about writing in their essays called "Why I write." Joan Didion, the American writer that she is, makes a water-tight distinction between writing and thinking. And indeed in the West, a general distinction has existed between creative writing and scholarly writing, particularly since the nineteenth century with the rise in academization of intellectual pursuits; and people who practice these two kinds of writing are generally supposed to be two kinds of people with two kinds of tools and audiences. As a person coming from the ravaged, plundered, and humiliated non-Western world, I can't afford to buy this distinction. I must speak at once, if I can, to a worker, a farmer, an undergraduate, and a serious scholar, and whoever is willing to listen. In short, I disagree with Didion that writing of her kind needs to be separate from thinking.=20 I believe that one writes because one feels like writing, finds oneself writing, bursts at the seams with ideas and impressions to write.=20

=09But I do agree with her that one of the reasons why one writes is to impose one's "sensibility on the reader's most private space." In other words, by making one's ideas public in written form, one imposes oneself on others, saying, "listen to me, see it my way, change your mind." These are Didion's words, but George Orwell articulates the goals in a similar but more elaborate fashion. Orwell, born in the Bengal province of India of English parents (his father was in the Indian Civil Service), was a queer personality. An English man schooled in the infamous English public school system in England (actually they are private schools where generally English upperclass and Indian=20 Maharajas, including Nehru and Rushdie's fathers, used to send their=20 children for education and "breeding"), he naturally joined, after Eton, th= e=20 Indian Imperial Police in the twenties and went to Burma in British=20 India. But disgusted by the cruelties and invidiousness of imperialism,=20 which dehumanized not only its victims but also the victimizers, he=20 resigned only after five years. Many of these experiences he describes=20 in his novel "The Burmese Days." But before he wrote his book about=20 Burma, he shunned the English gentleman's life and voluntarily went=20 underground. He chose to live as a pauper in London and Paris, washing dishes and living in seedy corners. Out this experience was born his remarkable book "Down and Out in Paris and London." Fired by the idealism of the times, he, like many of his generation, went in 1936 to fight Franco's fascism in Spain but was soon disillusioned when Stalin compromised with the fascists and refused to help the international volunteers who were fighting with the workers for socialism. "Homage to Catalonia" captures his participation in the Spanish Civil War and its complexities. But he was equally scathing of the lies and deceptions of the Tory-dominated British press, who never wanted the British people to know what was really going on in Spain. Of course, he has his failings both as a writer and as a thinker, but Orwell's ideas about writing are wel= l worth knowing.=20

=09Although mainly known for his famous critiques of totalitarianism in "Animal Farm" and "1984," Orwell's essays ( particularly "Politics and t= he English Language" and "Why I write" about writing) have fascinated me for as long as I have known them. In "Why I Write," Orwell sets out four motives for any kind of writing. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend this relatively unknown essay. Besides the need to make a living, these are, for Orwell, as follows: SHEER EGOISM ("Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc. etc." And so on.), AESTHETIC ENTHUSIASM (Perception of beauty in the external world, in words, their arrangements, their sounds and effect on each other; and the desire to share this perception of beauty with others), HISTORICAL IMPULSE
("Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity"), and POLITICAL PURPOSE ("Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people's idea of the kind of society that they should strive after."). And, depending on the times, the circumstances of the writer's background, and other such factors, emphasis on any one or more of these motives could be more or less. About his own writing, Orwell says in the conclusion of his essay, "And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political [the word in italics] purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjective and humbug generally."=20

=09Now, what is the function of a writer who grew up in South Asia, particularly in Nepal, and finds himself or herself in an industrialized country like the United States. More particularly, what objectives and motivations one could have in this cyberage, in which audiences are spread over five continents but limited to the English language and the availability to Computer hardware and internet access? I can't get into the business of Third World intellectuals in the First world here, but I can say this that the function remains many of the same as outlined by Orwell. To ask what kind of world we ourselves want to live in and make for posterity. I don't say that every word one writes one has to breathe in peace and harmony (such easy peace and harmony seekers are either saints or fools or cowards and so useless for this complex and brutal world), but one must strive to express one's outrage in whatever way one can, sometimes to grab the world's attention, more often to persuade for transformation.=20

=09And of course everyone learns as one writes from kindergarten to a stage when one seriously thinks as a writer. One can't emphasize more thi= s learning process, a process whose dearth in the educational infrastructure in Nepal (which blindly both condemns and copies India) is conspicuous. =20 And because of this lack of opportunity, countless "mute inglorious=20 Miltons" roam the landscape without sharing their talent with their=20 countrymen. This is where nothing sort of a revolution is needed to get=20 Nepal out of the vicious clutches of Indian influence, which nobody talks=
=20 about, taking most often easy recourse to cheap nationalism which is but=20 another form of ethnocentric fascism.=20

=09So it is damaging for any writer to be self-complacent, but=20 unforgivable for an Third World undergraduate with First World=20 opportunities and of such energy and enthusiasm to waste=20 both his or her time and energy in posting material that has no relevance=
=20 whatsoever. But that is not to say that your New York visit can't be=20 turned into a piece of interesting writing, worthy of any audience. It=20 all depends on what you make of your material. Nobody is a born a=20 writer; one only learns through experience, observation, and=20 imagination. While talent may not be acquired, one can certainly learn=20 and enhance one's abilities. If you have already not done so, I would=20 suggest that you take a few more courses in advanced composition and=20 non-fiction writing before you graduate, besides writing for whatever=20 other courses you choose. I'm sure you will benefit from them, and I=20 have no doubt that you will be a good writer given your energy and=20 curiosity. In the meantime, keep on posting essays in TND that you will=20 be writing with thoughtfulness, judgement, and energy. I am sure you=20 have already been learning and will continue to do so through trial and=20 error. I hope that I have not been condescending to you, because what I=20 have said to you equally applies to me as well as to anyone who wants to=20 be a writer that I would like to read and care about. Best wishes.=20

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