The Nepal Digest - July 16, 1994 (5 Shrawan 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Saturday 16 July 94: Shrawan 5 2051 BkSm Volume 29 Issue 3

Today's Topics:
 

        1. TAJA_KHABAR:
                    News From Nepal
           
        2. KURA_KANI:
                     I. Social Issues
                            Women in Hinduism

                    II. Education
                            Comments on SLC

 
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  ***************************************************************************** Date: Wed, 13 Jul 1994 14:29:40 EDT To: The Nepal digest Editor <nepal-request@cs.niu.edu> From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <pkm@acpub.duke.edu> Subject:

Dear Editor,

     At this time when every Nepali and well-wishers of Nepal are concerned with the political tumult in Nepal and its potential hazards, I must keep quiet about it (everyone has his or her rightful opinion and is fortunately talking) and continue my conversation in this letter about the upbringing of a female child in the Hindu society of Nepal.
     A Hindu goes in a lifetime, like the follower of many other religions, through the rites of birth, weaning, initiation, marriage, and death. We have seen what welcome a female child receives upon her birth in a Hindu household. Said and unsaid expectations and guidelines and disguised discriminations that characterize a female child's growing up with her family members. These guidelines and expectations the grown-up family members gather from various sources: the village priest who provides precious jewels from the scriptures (the eighteen Puranas, the two Epics, the Upanishads, the six Shastras, the Shrutis [the Vedas], the Smritis [Manu and Yagyabalkya for us]); the family traditions, depending upon the caste, wealth, and the status of the family (clan or Khandan) the parents identify themselves with; and the political situation in the country. The last two sources are intertwined. Remember how Jang Bahadur, after assuming power, brought about a number of changes in order to prove himself and his Kumar clan superior to other so-called Eastern Chetris? He established a convention of not marrying into these politically relegated families, creating a brand of the Nepali language heavily flavored by Persian, the court language of the Mughals in India, and importing their court culture, and changing the last name of his clan from Kumar to Rana, again an Indian imitation, although Hindu this time (see Pramod Shamsher's Insider's View on this).
     The political changes have had a tremendous impact on Nepal's social structures. During the Rana rule, the once powerful self- contained Chetris began to emulate the Ranas; and even the Brahmins, heavily Sanskritized otherwise, began to parrot the Persianized language of the Rana Court. The ruling Ranas--the embodiments of power, wealth, tyranny, and ignorance--became the supreme exemplars of everything high and covetous for the Nepali people. The social and cultural situation did not change fundamentally even after the change of 1951 (2007 B.S.). In fact, what was oral, assumed, primitive became written, wore the mask of democracy, and became sophisticated. You should have lived in towns and villages outside the Valley to see how the middle class, upward-mobile Chetri and Brahmin families scrambled to sniff and snoop the latest of social and cultural fads among the powers-be in Kathmandu.
     A middle and lower class Nepali family born in a village either in the plains or in the hills forsook his or her ragged, sun-drenched, rain-soaked, fragrant Nepali language in favor of the more classy courtly language, using euphemism rather than the real words for eating, sleeping, washing, and all other basic functions, commodities, and needs. The whole family began to dress and conduct itself, in life or death, in the manners of the courtiers in Kathmandu. In fact, the whole country was in a mad rush to be a country of courtiers, the speakers of euphemism and slogans. During the thirty-odd years of the Panchayat system, many things happened, but one thing that will stand out in the mind of a cultural historian (one who does not have an eye on an ambassadorial chair) is the gradual but firm rooting of constitution-sanctioned feudalism of a hitherto unheard of kind. Hinduism here became subservient; political forces gained an upper ground, albeit in the name of God, religion, and race.
     Now the real initiation ceremony of a young man or woman took place not by the sacred fire (the Yajna) or in a dark, hidden corner of a neighbor's house, but on the sunny days of Panchayat festivals, when as a school boy or girl in school uniform, or as a neophyte government official or a college professor in national uniform worn once or twice a year, he or she marched in the name of God, the King, and the country. You could have seen how maligned the poor, innocent leg-tight bottom-loose Nepali trouser and lace-filled long shirt had become in those days because of its identification with the system. Otherwise, the age-old initiation ceremony in a Hindu family amply indicates how a female child is raised to fall and lose her way and a male child is brought up to conquer the world.
     Those of us who come from the so-called upper castes know very well that on a certain day during our teens, or even before in some cases, our hair is shaved, our bodies dressed in loincloths, and we are made to beg--the trivial pursuit. This begging, mind you, is different, far more symbolic and trivial than the real begging of those who subsist on it. Anyway, at the end of the ceremony, we are given a white thread to wear as a symbol of rebirth. That is why, the upper castes are called the Dwija, the Double Borns: once from the mother's womb into this dark world and the second time from this darkness of ignorance to light, from falsehood to truth, and from death to the path toward immortality (Tamsoma jyortirgamaya; mrityomamrit gamaya; asadoma sadgamaya). This second birth for an upper-caste Hindu male child is by far the more important than the first one. This birth paves the way for knowledge, the knowledge both of the Shaastras and shastras (both of books and of weapons).
     The same ceremony takes place in the case of a female child. This ceremony, however, is not celebrated openly and joyfully, inviting friends and family, but is kept hidden, secret, hushed up, held in the murky corner of a neighbor's house. Everybody is ashamed of nature's this unavoidable shamful imposition. (I have already referred to this shocking event in a woman's life in my earlier letter.) The Double Born ceremony, on the other hand, is public, widely advertized, happily celebrated, moral boosting for the neophyte, leading only up, up, and up; whereas in the case of a female child, her initiation is nature's unavoidable burden, traumatizing, making her understand once and for all that it's not only nature but more so culture that has cheated her, that now onwards she must dwell within the bounds of prescribed restrictions, and that after this initiation her only destiny is to prepare herself, day and night, sleeping and waking, for the institution--in whose founding, maintenance, choice she will have no major say-- namely, the institution of marriage.
     In fact, among certain Hindu groups in Nepal, a young female child is early on married to a fruit as an initiation ceremony. On this occasion, though, widespread feast is held, and all the neighbors and relatives are invited to take part and feast. Well, I am all for feasts and carnivals. In fact, I at times wish life were an unending ritual of feasting and carnival. But the underlying cultural message behind this initiation ceremony is the same: a female child's ultimate destiny is marriage, not knowledge, nor name and fame, but marriage and household and the perpetuation of the species without getting any real credit for it. That's why at one time, literally following the scriptures, Hindu female children were betrothed in childhood and married as soon as they had their first menstruation.

********************************************************************** Date: Mon, 11 Jul 1994 19:39:18 -0400 To: nepal@cs.niu.edu From: rajendra@coos.dartmouth.edu (Rajendra P. Shrestha) Subject: Parliament dissolved, new elections for Nov.13

Headline: Parliament Dismissed, New elections for Novermber 13

        KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- King Birendra of Nepal Monday dissolved the 205-member house of representatives and called for midterm elections on November 13 as recommended by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, a communique issued by the royal palace said.
        The King asked Prime Minister Koirala to continue heading the caretaker government until the elections were held.
        Koirala, who is Nepal's first democratically elected leader in three decades, submitted his resignation to King Birendra on Sunday after he lost a vote in the legislature as 36 dissident members from his party stayed away from voting.
        The communique issued by the royal palace said `` King Birendra has expressed the hope that Prime Minister Koirala will successfully carry out the task of holding elections in a free, fair and impartial manner.''
        Koirala's government was defeated in a vote endorsing its policy outline for the next year.
        Koirala in his recommendation to the King said he did not see the ``possibility of a stable government in a situation when the policies and programs of his government were defeated by an unholy alliance.''
        The King rejected the Opposition parties demand that they be given a chance to form the government.
        ``A defeated prime minister has no right to ask the king to dissolve parliament and call for midterm polls,'' said Manmohan Adhikari, president of the Communist Party of Nepal, the largest opposition group.
        But he admitted that the communists cannot claim power if the leaders of the Nepali Congress patch up their differences.
        Koirala's recommendations were not binding since they were made after he quit and he was not prime minister at the time, Adhikari said.
        However, legal expert Ganesh Raj Sharma said Koirala's recommendation was valid. ``In a democratic society, the head of state acts on the advice of the prime minister,'' he said.
        Prime Minister Koirala alleged that there was a ``conspiracy'' to remove him from office, but did not elaborate.
        Speaking to a group of supporters at his residence, he demanded disciplinary action against the 36 party dissidents who stayed away from voting.
        Nepali Congress dissidents said the groups could unite if Koirala quits as party leader, said Chirinjibi Wagle, spokesman of the dissident group.
        ``We want the Nepali Congress groups to unite and form the government under a new leader,'' Wagle added. ``There is no need to dissolve parliament. Koirala has no moral right to recommend dissolution.''
        Meanwhile, the powerful Public Accounts Committee of parliament has levelled charges of corruption against Koirala, supporting allegations by the party dissidents.
        The committee claimed that Koirala pressured Royal Nepal Airlines to appoint a London-registered company as its sales agent for Europe, costing the state-owned flag carrier losses of about 10 million dollars a year.
--------------------------------------------------------------
         KATMANDU, Nepal (Reuter) - Nepal's King Birendra has dissolved parliament and announced elections for November 13, the official Radio Nepal said Monday night.
         The radio, quoting a royal palace communique, said the king had dissolved the 205-member house of representatives and announced the election date.
         The king earlier consulted constitutional experts as politicians pressed him to ignore outgoing Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's demand for early elections, officials said.
         They said Birendra, a constitutional monarch since a 1990 pro-democracy campaign ushered in the first directly elected government in the kingdom, was listening to both sides before giving his verdict.
         Koirala resigned Sunday after his ruling party lost a crucial vote in parliament.
         The radio said Koirala had an audience with Birendra, tendered his resignation and suggested the dissolution of parliament.
         The Nepali Congress Party led by Koirala suffered a parliamentary defeat on a vote welcoming King Birendra's address outlining government policies.
         The Nepali Congress has 113 deputies in the 205-strong Pratinidhi Sabha (house of representatives) but 38 dissident members abstained and the party could muster only 74 votes in favor, while 86 deputies voted against.
         Leading the campaign against early elections proposed by Koirala was his Nepali Congress foe and party president, Krishna Prasad Bhattrai, who had asked Birendra to retain the Congress government with a new leader.

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Mon, 11 Jul 1994 15:33:34 PDT To: a10rjs1@cs.niu.edu From: doshi@ee.ubc.ca (R. D. Doshi) Subject: Email adresses

Dear Editor,

I enjoyed and benefitted from reading the TND. I congratulate you and others involved in the TND. I am returning to Nepal from Canada after completing my assignment of visiting professor at the UBC. On the way back I am visiting San Francisco to attend the Power Engineering Society Meeting, Hong Kong and Singapore on the route. I would like to request you to help me getting email addresses of some Nepalese in those cities provided it does not infringe with their privacy. With best regards,

Dr. R.D.Joshi

********************************************************************** Date: July 12, 1994 To: nepal@cs.niu.edu From: del@synnet.com Subject: More on Equal Rights for Nepali Women

Apropos of recent discussions of equality for women in Nepal: Near the beginning of the new Nepali Constitution, it states that Nepali men and women should be equal before the law. Then, just a bit later, the Constitution states that citizenship shall be granted automatically to a foreign woman who marries a Nepali man, but NOT to a foreign man who marries a Nepali woman. That shows you just how far the commitment to equal rights went with the framers of the Constitution. It also shows you a thing or two about the framers' ability to create a document that was internally logical and consistent.

Del Friedman

********************************************************************** Date: Wed, 13 Jul 94 11:18:36 EST From: kabi.khanal@anu.edu.au (Kabi Raj Khanal) To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: Taaja Khabar

King Birendra has dismissed the parliament and has ordered for the election in Nov.13. Girija will continue as care taker PM till the election. The opposition is against this decision. There were many demonstrations in and outside Kathmandu against the Royal decision. Bhattarai was demanding for NC government led by another leader. Maale was demanding to form the government under their leadership. However, there is another election in Nov.13 !!!!!!!!!!!!! Source: BBC, AP, AFP, Reuter and for more pls see Nepal Home Page. Kabi Raj Khanal ANU. (kabi.khanal.@anu.edu.au)

********************************************************************** To: Nepal@cs.niu.edu From: NURMSB@NURSE.EMORY.EDU Date: 13 Jul 94 09:52:35 EST5EDT Subject: Letter to the editor

To the editor:

I am writing in response to a piece in the Nepal digest titled "Why do [sic] Nepal get female American Ambassadors?

The author is showing the blind sexism that I encountered so often while living in Nepal. The merits of the ambassadors seem to make no impression upon him, he judges them only by their gender. The United States, like Nepal, still suffers from the burden of discrimination based upon gender. Few women rise to positions of power and authority, despite years of hard work and outstanding qualifications. Those that do reach top positions, whether in private industry or political life, have overcome obstacles that their male counterparts have not encountered. This process, while limiting the advancement of women, means that those few who do reach the top are eminently qualified to be there.

When people are judged by characteristics such as gender, caste, religion, national origion or race, rather than by their individual merits, it is not only the individual who loses. The women who is excluded from a job because she is a women loses the chance to advance herself and provide a secure income for herself and her family. The business that discriminates against her loses her skills and talents that might have been used to enrich and expand its operations. The nation that tolerates and encourages such discrimination allows its most valuable resource to waste away unutilized.

M. Bardsley

********************************************************************** Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 00:47:46 -0400 To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: Thousands demonstrate in KTM against King and PM From: rajendra@coos.dartmouth.edu (Rajendra P. Shrestha)

Headline: Nepal faces political crisis as thousands protest Source: Agence France Presse Dateline: Kathmandu, July 12

   Nepal faced a severe political crisis Tuesday as thousands of protesters took to the streets calling "unconstitutional" King Birendra's dissolution of parliament and order for snap elections.

   Nearly 5,000 leftist youths, students and Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist and Leninist (NCP-UML) activists held demonstrations at the Marxist town of Lalitpur, known as the satellite city of Kathmandu.

   Another 4,000 protestors took to the streets of Narayangadh, south of here.

   The demonstrators raised slogans such as "down with King Birendra and down with traitor Girija" and called their actions
"unconstitutional".

   The Nepalese parliament was dissolved late Monday evening and mid-term polls were announced for November 13.

   The King had taken the decision on the advice of Prime Minister Koirala, who resigned Sunday after losing a curcial parliamentary debate on his government's annual socioeconomic and political programme.

   The king has asked Koirala to continue in office until elections are held, which he asked the prime minister to oversee, the radio here said.

   The radio said: "His majesty, the king, hopes that the forthcoming parliamentary general elections to be held November 13 will be free and fair for all."

   The king's decision has apparently angered all the major political parties in the 205-seat house of representatives.

   Eighty-six members, including the leftist groups, had voted against the Koirala government's annual programme on Sunday, while 43 other members were absent during he vote, a parliament source said earlier.

   The 36 NC dissident MPs were among 43 who abstained from voting on Sunday, prompting Koirala to step down after being defeated.

   Madhav Kumar Nepal, the general secretary of the NCP-UML, said, "We cannot agree with the king's decision made on the advice of a minority prime minister."

   "We will move to the streets to protest and compel the king to make him change his decision."

   The NCP-UML claims to be the largest party in the 205-member house of representatives after the split of the Nepali Congress (NC) -- Nepal's largest democratic party.

   "We want a coalition interim government if ... the snap polls have to be held," he added.

   Meanwhile, the NC Central Working Committee (NCCWC) is holding an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss the political crisis in the country, a committee source said.

   The president of the NC, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, said: "I was never consulted by Prime Minister Koirala before he advised the king to dissolve the parliament and hold snap polls on November 13.

   Jagannath Acharya, a former cabinet colleague and one of the 36 dissident members of parliament, told AFP: "The planned snap polls cannot be held on November 13 in view of Nepal's geophysical conditions."

   "To hold polls in the month of November is not suitable from many aspects. First of all, it is not suitable for peace and security reasons, from the economic point of view and from the weather's point of view," he said.

   "The king should not have acted so hastily on the advise of a most unpopular prime minister, who has already lost his identity in the parliament."

   The politburo of the NCP-UML is also holding an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the political situation and its future programmes.

********************************************************************** Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 19:08:29 -0400 To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: More demonstrations, UML to boycott meeting with PM From: rajendra@coos.dartmouth.edu (Rajendra P. Shrestha)

Headline: Communists demonstrate against dissolution of Nepal Parliament Dateline: Kathmandu, July 13

   More than 25,000 communists from different factions took to the streets Wednesday to denounce the Nepalese king and prime minister for dissolving parliament and calling mid-term polls.

   Riot police stood by but did not intervene as the protestors marched through the capital. Six government vehicles were damaged during the protest, witnesses said.

   There have been other protests around the country since the king announced Monday that parliament would be dissolved and elections called for November 13, a move which angered all major political parties.

   The king made the decision on the advice of Koirala who resigned Sunday after he lost a crucial parliamentary debate on his government's annual socio-economic and political programme.
-------------- Headline: Communists reject poll meeting with PM Dateline: Kathmandu, July 13

   Nepal's leading opposition party said Wednesday it was boycotting a meeting called by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to discuss mid-term polls scheduled for November 13.

   "We will not honour the call of a prime minister who does not have constitutional validity," said Man Mohan Adhikari, chairman of the opposition Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist and Leninist
(NCP-UML).

   Nepal's king dissolved parliament Monday on advice from Koirala, who resigned Sunday after losing a crucial parliamentary debate on his government's annual socioeconomic and political programme.

   The king has asked Koirala to continue in office until elections are held which he asked the prime minister to oversee.

   Koirala had invited Wednesday representatives of all political parties in the country for discussions with the government as to how the polls could be conducted fairly, freely and impartially, the state radio said, quoting a press release from the prime minister's office.

   Observers here say there is a great possibility of serious political agitation in the country if the king does not remove Koirala and form a new government represented by all the major political parties and then hold elections.

   [Meanwhile Xinhua reports that Ganesh Man Singh, who is still in hospital recovering from his fall, has expressed "sadness" at the dissolution of parliament and mid-term elections. He said this while meeting Madhav Kumar Nepal, secretary-general of UML, at the hospital.The 36 Nepali Congress MPs who engineered Koirala's defeat has called on Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, president of Nepali Congress, to take actions against Koirala for recommending the dissolution parliament without consulting the party. Meanwhile pro-Koirala members of the Congress in various districts have been calling for disciplinary actions against the 36 MPs for abstaining in the crucial vote.]

From: <C31CC@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU> Subject: Views on the ANA Convention Date: Fri, 8 Jul 1994 12:04:08 EDT

THE FOLLOWING IS MY RESPONSE TO HARI SHARMA, THE FOUNDER OF ANA. I FELT THAT I SHOULD SHARE THIS WITH THE REST OF US HERE AT SCN:

Dear Sharmaji,

Overall, the ANA convention was a success (even though the fuller extent of suc cess was deprived by the rowdy behaviour of the young beer-drinkers, and the irresponsibility of the parents with small children).

Although this was the first time I had attended ANA convention, I made the foll owing observations:

a) The forums were full of information, and the speakers were distinguished in their fields; only that no one was there to listen. I observed that on average only about 15-20 people sat and listened to the forums. Most were busy sociali zing and watching the world cup in the student lounge.

b) A few of the programs were cancelled because of the Arun III conference. While I do not blame the ANA for the unexpected arrival of speakers all the way from Nepal due to which the other programs had to be cancelled, ANA does have one fault: The least it could have done would have been to confer with the speakers of the cancelled programs before cancelling them: they I am sure had prepared their speeches beforehand and were looking forward to speaking. After all, it is a common courtsey to inform the participants before cancelling any event.

c) Although I admire the courage of such young children in putting up the child rens' programme, it seemed that there was no discretion: anyone who could play
'Greensleeves' on a blinking-light keyboard, could be on the stage. However, I would like to commend the ANA on a tremendously entertaining Adults' program.

I felt that most of the participants were there to socialize and not to listen to the speeches. Boys were busy flirting with girls and vice-versa. More discussions could be heard in the lounge in personal matters. I believe it would be better in the future if such a program was defined as being social, and contain more socializing time, and would hold less forums so that the speakers(distinguished and well-prepared) would not be dissapointed at the low-turnout. Maybe it could be held during Dashain-Tihar, so that people would get to talk with each other; and maybe, floors could be set up to play cards!

--Pradeep Bista, New York

************************************************************* Date: Fri, 15 Jul 1994 15:57:11 +0200 From: Stephan Nickell <nickell@godot.iwr.uni-heidelberg.de>

I'm studying Physics in Heidelberg, Germany and I'm very interested in Nepal. I was there 3 years ago and I want to stay another month in Kathmandu this year



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