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The Nepal Digest Thursday July 16, 1998: Shrawan 2 2055BS: Year7 Volume76 Issue3
Today's Topics (partial list):
Racism in Nepal - Ongoing Discussions
Info on SouthAsian Search Engine Directory
Re: Sports in Nepal
Re: What Kind of Leaders
Indo-Nepal Border and the state of Bihari Nepali
Dr. Stephen Mumford
Understanding our "chimeki mitra-rastra"
Why strengthen medical system in Nepal ?
Amnesty International news release: "Police shoot in cold blood
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********************************************************************************* Date: Tue, 14 Jul 98 09:40:12 EST From: "Paramendra Bhagat" <Paramendra_Bhagat@smtpgtwy.berea.edu> To: NEPAL@cs.niu.edu Subject: Racism in Nepal - Ongoing Discussions
"Racism is not a black problem. It is an American problem."
- Colin Powell
Thank you Nepal Digest for providing the venue for these discussions and thank
you Ashutosh Tiwari and Prakash Bhandari for your words of support. When people,
through their dastardly words, make you feel like a dartboard, it is more "the
silence of your friends than the words of your enemies" that hurt, to quote Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Now I would like to invite those who disagree with me,
Ashutoshji - who I got to meet for one long evening not long before I came to
Berea College, KY, for my BA in September 1996 - and Prakashji into this string
of discussions. Tell us how and why you disagree. I want to understand your
position. And I wish to do it right here on this Digest forum. Time to come out
of the closet, guys!
Some of my assertions-
(1) Nepal is basically a racist-sexist country, but primarily a racist
country, just like maybe every other country on the planet, not that that
universality excuses the native racism in Nepal. There is much cross-ethnic
animosity and ill-feeling, but the hatred of the Terai peoples surpasses all
such cross-ethnic micro-racisms-casteisms. The Indophobia that the country
suffers from is expressed in the form of a systematic, institutionalized
hatred of the Terai peoples who "look Indian" (to me the hill folks are the
ones who "look Indian." Compare them with the Indians in Darjeeling and
Sikkim or the newly created Uttarakhand state of India.)
(2) The myth that the Terai is rich. Go beyond the towns. Go to the villages. Go
to the mushars, the chamars, the poor. I really would not like to walk this
poverty leg of the argument because the entire country is poor. The number
one problem is most people in Nepal are hungry, not poor, but outright
hungry, Terai or no Terai, hills, mountains, wherever. But even if you buy
the myth, that does not excuse racism. Racism is not a wealth problem, but
an attitude problem. If the twin disease of sexism were a wealth problem,
the CEOs of big companies or the First Lady of the United States would be
beyond the reach of sexism. Not true. Message: keep the racism discussion
away from the poverty discussion.
(3) What do Budhas want to talk about? My final three years at Budhanilkantha
School have been the loneliest, unhappiest years of my life to date for one
and one reason alone: my personal experiences in institutional racism. I
once read about US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that when he was at
a boarding school, his fellow students (white) would shout at him during the
after-lights-out-hours: "Hey, Clarence, smile, so we can see your teeth!"
Well, I had a classmate from Siraha who every Budhanilkantha student I know
knows. That smile-so-we-can-see-your-teeth treatment went his way. I don't
know of very many Budhas, and, for that matter, very many Kathmanduites, or
very many pahadwasis, who I have not seen capable of casually using the
word MADISE. To call a Teraiwasi Madise is to call an Afro-American nigger.
The n-word in the US has an equivalent in Nepal: the m-word. Hatti baliyo ki
hatti chhap chappal baliyo. Ustai ustai ho nanu.
(4) Nepal is my fatherland. But I proudly declare India to be my motherland. My
mother's side of my family is Indian. My sister is married to an Indian.
Half my relatives are Indian. I hold the citizenship of Nepal, but I declare
Mithila, the cultural homeland of the 30 million Maithili-speaking peoples
spread out in south-east Nepal and north Bihar, India - for whom my hometown
Janakpurdham is Jerusalem - to be my cultural homeland. South Asia will go
the way of the rest of the world toward an economic union. I don't know
when, but I know for sure, yes. As someone who was involved in active
politics in Nepal in the years between high school and college with the
likes of Hridayesh Tripathi - I am an Amitabh Bachchan fan in HIndi films, a
Tripathi fan in Nepali politics - who is a Political Science major at the
number one liberal arts college in the South, and whose strong desire to
speed up the South Asian economic union process in whichever modest capacity
he may be able to in future (not necessarily by running for public office in
Nepal) for two reasons : (1) that is the sensible thing to do to lead South
Asia as a whole to unprecedented levels of prosperity, and (2) I have given
up on the "Sadbhavna"-solution to racism in Nepal...you have got to move
beyond the constricting borders of Nepal.
(5) Let the racists who form the political establishment in Nepal wake up and
change their attitudes or be pushed aside in due course of time. The thrust
of globalization is unstoppable, with all the associated political
(6) As for the use of imageries of female bodies by some anonymous racist in his
posting on my homepage....right now I am taking a summer class on American
Film. Not long back I wrote a paper. I would like to quote some from there.
Blacks are presented as "dependents of white paternalism and relegated to the
political status of children." (Guerrero 19) With an overt racist Woodrow Wilson
in the White House who, as a historian portrayed the emancipated blacks as
"idlers," wretched in comparison to the black servants of the "good old days" of slavery, who could become "insolent and dangerous," and Reconstruction as a policy that "put the white South under the heel of the black South" and that finally provoked the organization and actions of the Ku Klux Klan, depicted free blacks after Emancipation as outrageous in behavior, (Guerrero 11) when Jim Crow segregation was gnashing its teeth, lynching was rampant, mob violence, murder, and oppression against African Americans intense, the climate bloodthirsty, and the Hays Office Code that "prohibited scenes and subjects which, however distantly, suggested miscegenation as desirable, thereby building a color barrier in Hollywood's dream worlds as rigid as the color line in America's real world.... By casting the issue of racial mixing in black and white terms, the Code proclaimed an assimilationist ideal for European ethnic groups and a segregationist ideal for the 'colored folks'" (Guerrero 18), is it surprising that the audience of the times pushed the Birth to a huge commercial success? The portrayal of the blacks in the Birth was a mirror image of the society of the times.
The politics of race and sex is inseparably interwoven. Hence, any discussion
of the black race brings into discussion also the depiction of the white woman
who is presented as the white man's property that runs the risk of possibly
being stolen away by the black males. The mulatto mistress of the white Senator
Stoneman - the blacks do not think for themselves, of course, but they do have a
misguided white father - with dreams to rise "above her station" is a menace
who can be held solely responsible for the Civil War, never mind the national
distress over the slavery issue. People were willing to die in battle rather
than change their mind over the slavery question. There was a similar thrust in
the "right" direction when the nation gave great attention to the race relations
issue during the second World War that makes one wonder if it takes a war each
time to keep the train of racial reconciliation moving.
The white women, shown to be another weak group parallel to the blacks, wait for
white men to come back from the front and they weep and mourn with the children.
Mothers and sisters wait back home to welcome the gallant fighters who go out to
preserve the honor of the White Womanhood. The younger women are equated with
birds and squirrels, depicted as sex objects. True to the spirits of her
"tribe" the white woman is shown to prefer to "jump off the cliff" rather than lose her honor to a "brute Negro."
Thomas Dixon, the author of the novel on which the movie was based wrote that
"(The Birth) tends to prevent the lowering of the standard of our citizenship by its mixture with Negro blood. I am not attacking the Negro of today. I am recording faithfully the history of fifty years ago. I portray three Negroes faithful unto death to every want and two vicious Negroes, misled by white scoundrels." (Lang 166)
D. W. Griffith, the director, himself claimed the movie to be "the authenticated
history of the period covering the action of our plot. We show many phases of
the question and we do pay particular attention to those faithful Negroes who
stayed with their former masters and were ready to give up their lives to
protect their white friends. The attack of the organized opponents to this
picture is centered upon that feature of it which they deem might become an
influence against the intermarriage of blacks and whites" and goes on to
describe the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
"a prointermarriage organization." (Lang 168)
(7) Some of the girls - by now I guess women ! - I met while a student at
Budhanilkantha were some of those rare schoolmates I had who did not exhibit
racist attitudes towards the Terai. I am saying this for the record.
Date: Tue, 07 Jul 1998 02:53:24 +0530
From: Mary Des Chene <email@example.com>
Subject: 6 August protest of nuclear arms in South Asia
Following is an essay and a request from documentary film maker, Anand
Patwardhan, to join in organising a South Asia-wide (at least) protest
against nuclear weapons proliferation on 6 August. Please help to pass this
around in Nepal (and wherever else you can), and especially to those who do
not have e-mail access.
Mary Des Chene
one sub-continental (could be worldwide depending on our reach) common
minimum action plan that is gathering momentum is that on august 6 we will
all make and wear a white ribbon on our hearts (make a bow or a loop from a
strip of any white cloth ) in memory of hiroshima and in protest against
one advantage of this symbolic act can be that tv and camera crews
(CNN,NDTV,Zee,etc)can be alerted to cover people in many cities and countries all doing a joint memorial and protest action. can u please spread this message far and wide in every possible way and share ideas about how to do it. time is running out, so we need to move fast. bye, love, anand
CTBT Bogey: Red Herring of Nuclear Nationalism
In recent times one of the few issues to have united left and right, secular
and fundamentalist, is the understanding that India must refuse to sign the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). As the CTBT appears to favour those
who have already amassed and tested their atomic devices (the USA, UK,
France, Russia and China) over newer aspirants of the nuclear club ( India,
Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Iraq and other threshold nuclear powers), anybody
who argues in favour of its signing is branded as an American stooge.
Perhaps some anti-imperialist credentials, whatever these are worth today,
are in order. For one thing, I must be one of a handful of Indian citizens
to have spent time in an American prison for the act of opposing America's
In 1970 as a student in Boston, I became a part of the anti-Vietnam War
movement and was arrested for peacefully protesting the war. We blocked
traffic outside the gates of Raytheon Corporation known to be a manufacturer
of deadly anti-personnel weapons such as grenades filled with plastic
pellets that could not be detected by an X-ray machine.
In April 1971, during a peace march to Washington DC which culminated in war
veterans throwing their medals back at the Pentagon, I was part of a 200
strong group that linked arms and marched towards police barricades. We were
beaten, gassed, and finally arrested and charged with attempting to "break
police lines". As a non-white and a non-US citizen I was singled out for
special treatment, stripped, searched and abused. The authorities noted my
passport and visa number and threatened to send me back "where I came from".
The camaraderie that formed between the protesters over the next few days in
custody was worth it all. I got to meet many anti-imperialist Americans.
One was Dave Dellinger, a long term pacifist who had been the prime accused
in the Chicago 8 Trial along with Abbie Hoffman and the Black Panther, Bobby
Seale. Another was a much loved author of child-care books, the eighty year
old Dr. Benjamin Spock. My Sociology professor was amongst those arrested.
I graduated, spent a further six months working with Mexican immigrant
workers ( Cesar Chavez's United Farmworkers Union ) and returned to India.
This was meant to be a brief preamble to my CTBT argument, but perhaps it is
just as well that I spelt out where I am coming from and why I cannot divide
the world into pro and anti-American, or pro and anti Indian or Pakistani.
Today the counterparts of Vajpayee, Advani, Fernandes, and Abdul Kalam are
being felicitated in Pakistan while brave voices of peace and dissent
continue to speak out for sanity in both countries.
It is true that the CTBT is not fully satisfactory because the big powers
escaped the chance and the responsibility of declaring a time bound schedule
for total nuclear disarmament. But in that it says "Thus far and no further"
with regards to nuclear testing, the CTBT applies to all nations equally. It
could have been better than a mere test ban treaty, but it is still a
necessary but not sufficient first step. To reject it is to reject a
consensus that was arrived at with great difficulty at a time when the
nuclear clock is ticking.
There are plenty of nuclear hawks in America like Jesse Helms and other
lobbyists of the military-industrial complex who have always opposed
America's signing of the CTBT. Republican leader Newt Gingrich's support for
the Indian tests may have come from such an agenda. They would not only like
to see America resume testing, they would like to keep selling American
military and nuclear technology in the markets of the world. Tragically
India would emulate such "greatness". There was no more shameful aftermath
of the Indian nuclear tests than an announcement by Defense Minister
Fernandes (it is useless to dwell on the fact that in 1974 this man was an
opponents of the Pokhran test ) that defense technology would now be
shared with private industry to create opportunities for nuclear exports!
CTBT then is not an American plot but a multi-lateral agreement signed by
all the countries approached other than India and Pakistan. And Pakistan has
long stated that if India signs, so will Pakistan. Indeed if India and
Pakistan do not sign, given that the treaty is dependent on full consensus
and not on a vote, the treaty will become null and void, fuelling another
international arms race. So Greenpeace, an organization that has long fought
against American, French and other nuclear weapons and tests believes CTBT
to be a necessary but not sufficient first step. The Hibakusha ( Japanese
victims of the American atomic bombs) believe the same. Hopefully no one in
their right mind will accuse the Hibakusha of being pro-American.
The BJP and the Hindutva brigade have used machismo and nuclear nationalism
as a passport to power. This is not forgivable, but it is consistent and
predictable. Their whole existence is predicated on recreating a hated
"other" and their self-esteem depends on delusions of greatness and a rejection of the "effeminate" and the "debilitating".
What of the secular and Left forces? They have raised their voice against
weaponization but the fact is that if the Indian government had signed the
CTBT last year (before the BJP came to power) , Pakistan would have been
forced to follow suit and our region and the world would have been ten tests
safer. Unfortunately the Indian Left which could have influenced Prime
Minister Gujral to sign CTBT, did the opposite, perhaps because the Left did
not want to be left behind on the "nationalist" bandwagon but primarily
because nuclear weapons are seen as a tactical rather than ethical issue.
This preference of the "materialist" over the moral overlooks the fact that
most of us began to identify with the Left precisely out of a moral
conviction, to make the world more just, more peaceful and more humane.
The Hibakusha have no such ambivalence. They know what the bomb does. They
know that nuclear weapons are not bargaining chips. You cannot say no to
other nations' nukes if you have your own.
America is the only nation in the world to have used weapons that no human
has the right to use. America continues to be the biggest weapons-monger in
the world, nuclear and otherwise. Yes the Americans have no right to lecture
us. But we should not need a lecture to know what every child knows, indeed
what Vajpayee knew when he was a child, what Fernandes knew in his youth.
Opposition to weapons of mass destruction cannot be a matter of tactics. It
is an ethical imperative without which we cannot but betray the human race.
Let us disarm unilaterally. Without waiting for America. Without waiting for
China and Pakistan. In the present atmosphere of nuclear nationalism it
will take courage to revive the spirit and language of internationalism.
Anti-nuclear people of the world unite! We have nothing to lose but our
bombs. And a world to gain.
How much cleaner the air already feels as we utter these words.
1 July, 1998
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 22:35:39 -0500
Subject: Info on SouthAsian Search Engine Directory
Southasia.net offers links related to India Pakistan Bangladesh Sri Lanka
Nepal Maldives Bhutan and Afghanistan.
You are invited to submit an entry for your web site - pages to the
SouthAsian Search engine and directory.
Please visit http://southasia.net and click on ADD URL.
You may also visit to find any info on South Asia anytime.
You are not on any list and this email is sent becuase of your interest in
If you receive this in duplicate by error kindly forgive us, nontheless you wont get any
further email from us.
Best regards / southasia.net
Date: Tue, 07 Jul 1998 10:16:50 +0530
From: "F. A. H. ('Hutch') Dalrymple" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: editor Contributions <email@example.com>
Subject: attached poem
KUWAKO BANG! (suggested by P.P. Sharma)
Frogs in a little pond,
To by too!
Frogs in this little pond,
Don't know how 'two' do!
These froggies lacking
'To' things, or more Run around making others sore!
No knowledge of life
Beyond the pond,
They don't even know there is a wand!
They bite each other,
On a spree.
They grab the leg,
That tries to get free!
Of this muddy hole:
'The Tank of the Serpent.' Kuwako bang, bang, bang!
F.A.H. ('Hutch') Dalrymple
Lazimpat, Froggieville, Nepal
Date: Wed, 08 Jul 1998 13:22:03 +0530
From: "F. A. H. ('Hutch') Dalrymple" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: editor Contributions <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Sports in Nepal, July 7, 1998, issue, The Kathmandu Post
1) "World Cup and NTV's howlers" by Arun Gupto
Having a many-year career in sports broadcasting in the U.S. (ABC, NBC,
ESPN), I can sympathize with Mr. Gupto's protestations vis a vis
interruptions of the telecasts of major sporting events, in this case
the World Cup! If this would have happened in the U.S., NTV's telephone
switchboard would have lite up like a Christmas tree!
In the U.S. there's the famous 'Heidi,' case in the early 1970's where
NBC cut away before the end of an American football game to begin a
movie entitled, 'Heidi.' It took them years to live that down.
No, I too can't understand why NTV would 'cut away,' to news in the
middle of a World Cup Match, except that they're government run, the
viewer being secondary in importance (vis a vis commerical television,
where the viewer is 'God').
I have a Nepali friend, Prakash Karki, who works at NTV and I shall make
a point of asking him!
But, the only thing I can think of is that news is their priority and it
goes on the same time day in and day out (because of a following, like
the politicians) the World Cup be damned!
What's bad about this from a sport's fan perspective is that something
of significance could happen in the game during the news, like a pivotal
goal, that they would miss. I wonder what NTV planned to do in this
case...? But, there are ways to deal with these situations.
Secondly, Mr. Gupto's gripe about text on the screen... Whether it
should say 'World Cup Match,' or 'live telecast.' I suppose NTV didn't
want to call attention to the fact they were cutting away from a 'live
telecast,' for the news. They didn't want to keep reminding the viewer.
The ideal text, from a producer's standpoint, would be a combination:
'This live telecast of the World Cup matches is being sponsored by...'
2) "What Ails Our Sports," by P. Kharel
Sports, in any country, has to have a high priority to generate the kind
of funding and effort it takes to field a world-class team (in whatever
sport). Obviously that's not the case in Nepal.
>From a casual glance it looks like football and table tennis are the two
favorite sports here. But, to have a world class team in either requires the will of ambitious people!
I have wondered, however, why in the 'abode of snow,' that winter sports
(like skiing) have not been developed in the 'Switzerland of Asia?'
Besides providing tourist facilities and revenue it seems to me that
Nepalis might excel in winter sports.
I raise this issue because I have the temerity to propose Nepal host the
2,014, Winter Olympic Games. When I mention this to my Nepali friends
they shrug if off as absurd and impossible! Thus, you have the answer
to the question posed, 'What ails our sports?'
It's not what ails sports here in Nepal, but what ails the culture as a
whole: a negative, can't do spirit!
It seems to me just about everything is impossible in Nepal, like
providing regular clean 'tap' water and electricity to the populous!
I'm about to attempt to bring the U.S. Table Tennis team here to compete
with the Nepal Table Tennis team in a benefit match... We'll see if this
is impossible too...?
F.A.H. ('Hutch') Dalrymple
cc: The Nepal Digest
Subject: Re: What Kind of Leaders
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (AikoAnne Joshi)
Date: Thu, 09 Jul 1998 18:37:00 EDT
While I can understand and appreciate "Hutch's" unbounded enthusiasim for
Nepal, and his efforts to encourage Nepali people there to take matters
into their own hands, I also would urge him to come down from the clouds
a bit and take a hard look at the histories of the US and of Nepal; and
not only the histories, but the cultures and outlooks. Because what may
work for an American raised on Horatio Alger stories, would not
necessarily work for a Nepali. I hesitate also in the way Hutch makes
his comparisons between Nepal and the US. It smacks of benevolent
imperialism, and Nepal does not need that! For example, in stating that
he has "discovered" that "since being in . . .Nepal for four months", he
has found a sense of "negativity, fatalism, depression and hopelessness
in the Nepali psyche. . . .Americans don't have that problem. . . .We
believe we can change anything, anytime for the better." I have to
shudder at this choice of words; this is what imperialists said as they
tramped their way throught Africa, Asia and Latin America: the "natives"
are pretty ignorant, but WE the conquerors know better, so we will take
care of things because WE are so much more civilized. . .! Hmmm. . . .
First, let me point out that there are many groups IN THE US who do have
a sense of negativity, fatalism, depression and hopelessness, and have
had it for centuries. Native Americans are perhaps the biggest examples,
as are African Americans. Of course, not ALL Native Americans or all
African Americans feel this way --- the same goes for Nepalis. But
generally, comparatively speaking, these two groups have had such a
horrific history in the US, that even to this day, many of the people are
caught up in this cycle of hopelessness and negativity. Hispanic and
some Asian groups also are caught up in this. Perhaps the most poignant
Asian group are the Hmong hill people of Laos. Promised autonomy from
the Communist Laotian government if they helped US armed forces, the
Hmong fought fiercely for the US propaganda machine during the Vietnam
War. What was their reward: Betrayal and abandonment. When the fury of
the victorious Viet Cong was turned on them, the Hmong received virtually
no assistance from the US. Thousands were relocated to the US, to the
Southeast (I believe the state of Georgia has the largest number of
them), and then left to essentially rot on welfare. An anthropologist at
my university who has worked with Southeast Asian refugees for years, has
stated that the suicide rate among the Hmong is terrific.
Yes, 90 % of the time, if one is of an Anglo-Saxon or Western European
descent (the Irish and Italians were probably the most picked on of all
the European groups in the US, with the exception of East European Jews),
then "Horatio Alger" would apply! ("Pull yourselves up by the
bootstraps" was what Reagan is quoted to have said --- loose paraphrase;
actual comment not known --- and thus began the worst deficit decade the
US had ever known since post-WW II, with downsizing of companies and
homelessness increasing. I am NOT a Clinton fan, by the way! Shudder!)
As for John Wayne. . . .he was the EMBODIMENT of white, patriarchal,
"christian" hero out to rescue fellow Americans from all the unwelcome riffraff within the US: i.e., Native Americans, Asians and Mexicans In short, anyone not caucasian and euro-centered. The biggest piece of propaganda film he made was "The Green Berets", a "feel-good" patriotic tribute to the imperialist-capitalist entity called the USA.
I do not dispute Hutch's desire to stir the fires under Nepalis to try
and help them in some way. I commend his actions of re-locating to
Nepal, and can appreciate his very positive efforts to do what he can. I
think the best thing he did was to drum up support for the family whose 3
out of 4 children were stricken with a deadly form of cancer. I also do
not doubt that he will be able to mobilize truly concerned citizens of
Nepal to try and improve the lives of its people. But pumping folks up
with positive rhetoric will not put food on the table, provide
much-needed education, help AIDS-stricken ex-trafficked girls and women,
create much-needed real jobs.
He is sooo right when he writes that Nepal needs leaders, not
politicians. I think that goes for any nation. But until the masses
truly understand what "democracy" means and what it entails, there can be
no true "democracy". And how can the majority of the masses understand
such a concept when the literacy rate is only about 45-46%, and many live
in deep isolation, and women are pretty much kept uneducated and ignorant
of anything socia-political?
Hutch, keep up the enthusiasim, but perhaps with a good dose of
practicality! When I come to Nepal, I hope to meet up with you, because
I think you are a remarkable person.
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 1998 15:48:59 -0400
From: Andi Como <email@example.com>
Subject: Indo-Nepal Border and the state of Bihari Nepali
News involving Indo-Nepal border often meet the headlines of the
newspapers and the magazines in Nepal, more so frequent in the recent
months due to the "Kalapani crisis (in which Nepal has accused India for
encroaching a piece of her border-land)." Unfortunately, a very few
articles make any attempt to put the issues of Indo-Nepal border in a
historical perspective. Below is an article by the title of "Indo-Nepal
Border and the state of Bihari Nepali" which I have written as a
to the letter to the editor entitled "A typical Bihari town in Nepal"
published in the July 4th issue of "The Kathmandu Post," an English
from Nepal. My article attempts to put both Indo-Nepal border and the
people residing around it (i.e., the Terai people) in a historical
perspective and makes a critical approach to their evolution, the
of settlement & migration, and the confusion surrounding them. The
aims to increase the awareness of the history of the evolution of
Indo-Nepal border, highlight the plights of the Indian origined Terai
people as well as pacify the growing anti-Indian sentiments in Nepal.
The letter to the editor appears first and is followed by my response.
A typical Bihari town in Nepal (The Letter to the Editor, "The Kathmandu
Post," July 4, 1998)
Your news "Residents of Morang afflicted with influx of Indian migrants"
(June 6, 1998), made me remember my first visit to Biratnagar. Anyone
visiting Biratnagar feels that we are somewhere in a typical Indian
The number of Biharis and some other Indians over there outnumber
Nepali citizens. One can't but feel 'a foreigner in his own country.'
no man's land between Sima VDC of Morang district and Jogbani of India
virtually become Indian land.
The day is not far off when India will begin to claim almost all border
towns as their own as they are doing to Kalapani at present. It is all
because of the lack of political will and strong power at the centre,
highly corrupt nature of our people and la ck of the sense of love for
Go to a rickshaw stand in Biratnagar and you will find 8 Indian
rickshaw-pullers out of 10 giving tough competition to native
rickshaw-pullers throwing them out their jobs. In the market, shops,
cinema halls and almost all business are owned by Indians.
The minibus that took us up to the border check post was owned and even
driven by an Indian driver and a khalasi speaking Hindi. When he asked
the fare from Nepali passengers he would speak Hindi only. I was alarmed
and saddened to find this state of affairs in this border town of Morang
During my visit there, one of my friends told me that even skilled and
non-skilled labourers come to work in factories from across the border
the Indian side in the morning and go back to their homes in the evening
as if Nepal lacks manpower.
Here we must not forget that most of the key industries, factories and
business houses belong to Indians. It's high time Nepali citizens
asserting their rights firmly concerning the unity, integrity and Here
must not forget that most of the key industries, factories and business
houses belong to Indians. It's high time Nepali citizens started
asserting their rights firmly concerning the unity, integrity and
sovereignty of the country.
Political sovereignty alone is not enough. What is the use of political
sovereignty when we are socially, academically, and culturally conquered
by others? But who cares a fig about such things when we are mad about
Hindi songs and films. We are blindly aping western culture and trying
speak English as though we are ashamed to disclose our identity. Worse,
there is no dearth of such politicians in our country who make merry
India or Pakistan blasts a nuke bomb. What can we expect o f them
regarding the border issues and our own sovereignty.
Karna Lama Karki,
Birtamode, Jhapa, Nepal
Indo-Nepal Border and the state of Bihari Nepali
This is a response to the letter to the editor "A typical Bihari town in
Nepal" (July 4, 1998). The author appears to be startled on his first
visit to Biratnagar, a border-town, which he symbolizes as a "typical
Indian Bihari town." He further agonizes over his feeling as "a
in his own country" where, according to him, Biharis and other Indians
outnumber "genuine Nepali citizens."
Let me begin with a few comments on some of the phrases the author has
used to convey his reactions. His feeling as "a foreigner in his own
country" on his visit to the border-town of Biratnagar, first of all,
signifies his ignorance of the geographical and ethnic diversity of
His sense of his country appears to me of what many westerners imagine
Nepal looks like -- a mountainous country with high-peaked Himalayas and
fair-skin people mostly of Mongoloid as well as Aryan races. Like
westerners, the author seems to be unaware of the vast fertile plain
of Terai where many dark-skin Indian origined Nepali live. He, like
of the other "hilly" Nepali, seems to perceive these dark-skin Indian
origined Nepali (most of which are ethnically Biharis, i.e., their
ancestors were from the Indian state of Bihar) as "foreigners,"
ignoring their centuries old history and legal Nepalese citizenship.
notion of the "genuine Nepali citizens" therefore inadvertently fails to
encompass the one fifth of the Nepalese population which is of Indian
When the author talks about his feeling as a "foreigner" in Biratnagar,
reminds me of one of my friends who hailed from a village in Terai,
himself a Bihari by ethnicity, and whose ancestors migrated to Terai
Bihar for over a couple of centuries ago when the most of Terai was
a forest and heavily infested with malaria. A very few "hilly" Nepali
dared to settle in the plains of Terai. My friend enrolled in a school
Kathmandu as a child. His experiences in Kathmandu were horrible. Over
duration of ten years of his schooling in Kathmandu, he had to endure
countless encounters of racism and harassment from his colleagues,
public and even his teachers, often by the use of such popular
and racist remarks as "dhoti," "Madhise," "Kaale," etc. Not only he, but
also his parents on their trips to Kathmandu had to face similar
of harassment by general public in the bus parks and other places around
Kathmandu. It is hard to imagine what psychological impacts these events
might have had on the young mind of my friend. However, it is evident
that his bitter experiences in Kathmandu have left him wondering about
"identity." He still questions himself, who really is he -- a Nepali or an Indian? I am sure he felt more of a "foreigner in his own country" than
the author felt in Biratnagar.
Let me now present a brief history of Terai and its Indian origined
inhabitants. I think the lack of an adequate historical knowledge of
area and its people have mainly led to the current state of confusion.
>From what I have read and been told, just a couple of centuries ago the
most of Terai was occupied with dense forests, wild animals and was heavily infested with deadly malaria. The only people who dwelled in Terai were the native "Tharus." They are still dominant in certain districts of Terai. The Biharis and other Indians, pushed by the dearth of farm-land
in their home states, started inhabiting Terai by heavily deforesting
Most of these Indian origined Nepali were from the neighboring Indian
states, majority of which were from Bihar. The Marwadis, the inhabitants
of the Indian state of Rajashthan, didn't appear on the Nepalese scene
until about the middle of this century. Unlike Biharis and other Indian
origined Nepalese who own farm lands and came here relatively earlier,
Marwadis are business people and therefore dwell mostly in the cities.
The majority of "hilly" Nepali didn't migrate down to the plains of
until malaria was fully under control. Again, this happened primarily
during King Mahendra's tenure (the father of the present King whose
began around the middle of this century). Favored by the eradication of
malaria and "special privileges" by King Mahendra's administration, many
"hilly" Nepali started inhabiting the plains of Terai, several of which
became the noted "landlords" possessing even more land than the
traditional Bihari landlords of Terai. During the last couple of
centuries, many people both from the neighboring Indian states and the
hills of Nepal have settled in Terai heightening the rate of
deforestation. The present day Terai represents a blending of "hilly"
"Bihari" people as well as other Indian origined immigrants. Given the open border of Nepal, migration of Indians to Nepal in search of economic opportunities is still rapid, unchecked and uncontrolled.
What should be noted in this process of settlement and migration of
Indians to Terai are the context and the timeline. When the first
migration of Indians took place, there was nothing like the present day
"border." Although the Kingdom of Nepal was recognized by the British, the then rulers of India, there was no distinct and rigid demarcation of
the border that separated Nepal from India. For the British as well as
most of the Nepali, the consciousness of a nation-state was limited
primarily to Kathmandu and other hilly parts ( Note that until recently
for many village dwellers Kathmandu was synonymous to Nepal). The
and the then rulers of Kathmandu (or Nepal) cared less of Terai which
thought was hardly habitable. Since there was no distinct border, there
were no custom-posts between Terai and Indian states and people could
easily in-between them. The only custom-post or similar entity, I
was at the entrance of the capital valley Kathmandu, i.e., at Thankot
(and may be at Dhulikhel too) whose function was to regulate or keep track of
the people who entered into then Nepal, i.e., Kathmandu. I think the
custom-office at Thankot existed until recently and issued sort of visa
them who entered into Kathmandu!
It's been not that long when the "official" demarcation of the border
between India and Terai took place and the Indian origined citizens of
Terai were persuaded as well as required to have Nepali citizenship. It
should be noted that though the "Sughauli Sandhi (a treaty signed after
series of war between the Gurkhas and the British way back in the 19th
century)" defined the territories of Nepal, the implementation of the
present day border was not rigid until the middle of this century.
Further, the area of Terai expanded after the British rewarded then Rana
rulers of Nepal for their assistance in the suppression of the "Indian
Mutiny" of 1857. This expansion certainly put a segment of Indian
population into the Nepalese territory that otherwise would have been in
India. This certainly explains the close ties of the Terai people with
people of the neighboring Indian states that I'll explain little later.
Again, the requirement of Nepalese citizenship is such a recent
that the grandmother of my above mentioned friend obtained her
just ten years ago at the age of eighty! According to him, there are
numerous poor and illiterate old people in his village who were unable
obtain citizenship due to lack of money (to take a photograph or to go
the district headquarters in some cases) or awareness. It surprised my
friend when he found out that those old people were barred from the
security or elderly benefits granted by the Communist Government a few
years ago because they didn't have their citizenship! I pity on those
people who were born in Nepal, probably their parents might also have
born here, and yet they were not recognized as Nepali citizens just
because they didn't have the piece of paper called citizenship. They are
not Nepali because they don't look like the so-called "genuine Nepali."
Had they been from the hills, few people would have doubted their Nepali
nationality. Obviously, millions of Indian origined Nepali are facing
Now let me shed some light on the close ties of the Indian origined
people with the people of the neighboring Indian states. Like the author
of the letter to the editor who was shocked by the Indianness of
Biratnagar to such an extent that he symbolized Biratnagar as a "typical
Bihari" town, anybody visiting the border towns and villages will
experience similar Indianness in them. In fact the whole of Terai,
is just 17% of the total area of Nepal, appears as a "natural" extension
of the neighboring Indian states of Bihar, U.P., and West Bengal with
common ethnic origins, religions, culture and languages, separated
clumsily by an artificial line of national boundary. For example, the
people of Janakpur area are dominantly Maithili speaking whose cultural
origins spring from the ancient Mithila Kingdom located just on the
side of the border at the present day Bihar. In fact, Janakpur, the
is supposed to be the birth place of the Sita, the heroine of the Hindu
epic "Ramayana" . Similarly, Bhojpuri speaking Biharis are found on the
either side of the border of Birgunj area. Likewise, the Muslims of
Krishnanagar represent an extension of Muslims of the neighboring U.P.
fact, all border towns and villages of Terai represent the similar
traits. These people have so intricate ethnic, linguistic, religious
cultural ties with the people of the corresponding Indian states that
feel more close to them than to other "hilly" Nepali people. It is
evident, for instance, from a high number of matrimonial ties between
people on each side of the border.
The only differences in the culture and polity of Terai were brought by
"hilly" Nepali who later migrated to these areas. These "hilly" Nepali don't differ much from Indian origined Terai people with respect to religion, culture or traditions. The only things they differ at, though slightly, are language and ethnic origins as well as race. The Nepali language (which itself is a daughter of the Sanskrit language along with
Hindi, Maithili, or Bhojpuri) has been increasingly popular in Terai due
to the contacts of the "hilly" Nepali with the Indian origined Nepali
coupled with the state policy of compulsory teaching of Nepali language
the schools (This was one of the major administrative policies of King
Mahendra populalry referred as the process of "Nepalization" of Terai
people). Prior to these contacts, the Indian Terai people didn't
understand or speak Nepali. Even today, only those who go to schools in
Nepal or are in close contacts with Nepali speaking population can
understand or speak Nepali. Thus, the dominance of Hindi or other
languages shouldn't surprise anyone as it surprised the author in
Biratnagar where he found bus conductors and other people speaking
Further, the Mongoloid race of some "hilly" Nepali and their slightly
distinct culture and ethnicity have brought diversity in the polity of
Terai. It should be noted here that many so-called "genuine" Nepali
India and Indian origined Nepali for "encroaching" their culture. Their
blame is true to a certain extent given the huge popularity of Indian
movies and songs in Nepal. However, it should not be referred as an
"encroachment" because the popularity of Indian songs and movies as well
as TV serial such as "Ramayana" and "Mahabharata" is due to the
similarities between Indian and Nepali culture and language, both of
have origins in the ancient Indo-Aryan Hindu culture and language.
Although the majority of the polity of Nepal living in the higher hills
and Himalayas are rather different from Hindu Indo-Aryans since they
belong to the Tibetan-Buddhist culture (many of them migrated to Nepal
after the Chinese occupation of Tibet in the 1950's) as well as are of
Mongoloid race, they are in a smaller number in Terai. The only group of
people therefore should worry about the cultural "encroachment," if any,
is this Mongoloid-Tibetan group and not the Indo-Aryans. Talking
about cultural "encroachment," it appears to me that it is the "hilly"
Nepali, who though inhabited Terai only after Indians, have "encroached"
the culture of Indian origined Terai people by forcing them to the
compulsory education of Nepali language and making Nepali as the only
Now let me comment on the current problem of rapid and unchecked Indian
migration to Nepal. Before wondering why Indians come to Nepal for
it should be remembered that it is legal for a Nepali to work in any
of India without obtaining a work permit and the vice versa. The author
of the letter to the editor was amazed by the influx of Indian workers
pouring through the border into Biratnagar for employment opportunities.
What he failed to mention was the similar influx of Nepali workers, both
so-called "genuine Nepali" and Indian origined Nepali, who occasionally
(sometimes seasonally) go to India for the employment opportunities. In fact, just the number of Non-Resident Nepali in India (Nepali in India who were born in Nepal or are descendents of them), excluding the Nepali seasonal workers in India, surpasses the combined number of Non-Resident Indians in Nepal, seasonal Indian workers and Indian origined Terai people! Have we ever thanked Indians and the government of India for providing employment opportunities for such a larger population of our country? Again, Non-Resident Nepali are treated as equal citizens in India. Shouldn't the Indian origined Terai people, who are in fact born in Nepal, deserve the similar treatment?
Whatever the so-called "genuine" Nepali feel or say about India and the
Indians, it is obvious that Nepal cannot develop unless the neighboring
border states of India -- Bihar, U.P., West Bengal, and Sikkim -- first
develop. Even if Nepal develops independently, the development will
naturally be diluted by the huge influx of Indian immigrants from the
neighboring states. In short, Nepal cannot develop unless India
India must take the lead in development and Nepal should follow the
As for the current problem of the influx of immigrants from Indian
towns to Nepal, no simple solution exist to this complex problem. The
rapid Indian immigration may be regulated by "tightening" the border,
i.e., by requiring passport and visas, or the whole notion of immigrants
can be eliminated by "eliminating" the border between Nepal and India,
i.e., by the political unification of Nepal to the Indian Union (in the
manner similar to all other distinct and different states of India which
have united under one federation thereby preserving their uniqe "state"
identity while adding a separate "national" identity to them). Which
course should Nepal follow or which is viable, I leave that for further
MC Box 3670
Middlebury, VT 05753
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 08:59:11 +0530
From: "F. A. H. ('Hutch') Dalrymple" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: editor Contributions <email@example.com>
Subject: two responses to two articles, one on 'population' (July 10th), one on the HDR,'98 (July 9th)
1) Re: population
Think about this... Every year another 780,000 mouths to feed in Nepal,
a country that can't even support the people it has already (saw two
children eating out of the garbage in Maligaon, the other day). Think
To me, there is only one issue worth discussing: over-population
chasing scarcer and scarcer resources (eventually there will be wars
over air). All other issues pale in comparison, as all other are caused
(ultimately) by this one single, overriding issue!
We have got to slow the birth rate down voluntarily or ultimately it
will come to forced sterilizations.
One only has to travel to China (to the north), or India (to the south),
to see the enormity of the situation! Nepal is 'sandwiched' between
three billion, or half of the world's population!
And if we don't deal with this now, I'm afraid I'm forced to believe, as
someone once said, 'There is infinite hope, but not for us (humanity)!'
F.A.H. ('Hutch') Dalrymple
2) re: 'Who would read your report?' 'Who will read your column?' I
have done both!
I was one of those that bought Nepal, Human Development Report, 1998,
for 300NR, because I'm researching an article I'm writing entitled,
"This thing called 'Development;' this word, 'sustainable.'"
And I have waded through the ponderously ornate academic writing
(style), of this 'Report' on 'Human Development.' All I can say is wow
(that I got through it)!
The word 'development,' is used 1,438 times. The word 'sustainable,'
(the current Nepali 'buzz' word) 914 times. But, then there are words like: usufruct, near-monopolisation, multicollinear, autarchy, and one of the author's favorites, 'disaggregation.' (Note: Authors, if you're going to use words like these have a glossary.)
Obviously, this 'Report,' wasn't supposed to be read, but studied!
But, I could have saved them much time, effort, and money (however
unwanted). It doesn't take a 'brain surgeon,' (or academicians) to
figure out what's wrong with Nepal!
P.S. I did appreciate, in this 'Report,' however, the 'sidebar' on
Nepali poetry, and some historical background to the 'csoa' (how's that
for a word?). No doubt... I will quote from this 'Report' in my own
Subject: Dr. Stephen Mumford
Forwarded by: firstname.lastname@example.org (AikoAnne Joshi)
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 22:25:18 EDT
Quinacrine, a chemical with possible carcinogenic and other side
effects, has been creating controversy in India as activists protest its
use as a sterilization method for women by private medical practitioners and the NGO sector. Quinacrine is seen to be appropriate for areas where trained medical personnel and facilities are not widely available due to its quick and easy implementation. Quinacrine trails have taken place in 19 Third World countries - currently, it is in use in all countries in South Asia.
The chemical is promoted by doctors like Elton Kessel and Stephen
Mumford, both of which run NGOs based in North Carolina, US, and who
have been known to equate the security of the First World with the
population control of the Third World. They are also known to have ties
to anti-immigration groups which have been criticized for their racist
The lack of follow-up of the women involved in these trails make it
difficult to get accurate statistics on the women's health after the
sterilization. Ministries of health and ethical committees all over the
world, including the Chilean ministry of Health and the Indian Council
for Medical Research (ICMR), have come under fire for their involvement
in these trials. The ICMR seemed to have turned a blind eye to the many
medical practitioners who publicly claim to have sterilized thousands of
women with this method. The Supreme Court of India has been approached by a public interest litigation brought by the All India Women's Democratic Forum and the faculty of Social Medicine in Jwaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
In South Asia, more and more of the funding for the health sector are
being re-allocated to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which are
seen to be more efficient than government institutions. The sources of
development funding in South Asia are diverse - these include donors
from the North who are active advocates in the population control lobby.
The heterogeneous nature of NGOs and their activities, and the present
lack of monitoring of these activities make unethical medical trails and
population control possible on a scale that can no longer be ignored. The move of the NGO sector to provide basic health services make it imperative to develop guidelines with which their activities can be monitored and made accountable to their 'target populations'.
Quinacrine Sterilisation Trials: A scientific scandal?
Mohan Rao, Economic and Political Weekly, March 28, 1998
Listed below are
also some websites which report on Quinacrine use and abuse in India and
I also list the website of Ob-gyn Net, which has an article written by
an Indian doctor extolling the virtues of Quinacrine. A recent email I
sent them reminding them that Quinacrine has now been banned in India
elicited a polite response from the editor, who promised to put a note
on with the article, but this has so far not happened. You might want to
follow up on it if you are interested.
Co-ordinator in South Asia
Global Reproductive Health Forum
INDIA BANS CONTROVERSIAL FEMALE STERILIZATION DRUG
NEW DELHI (CWN) - The Drug Controller of India pledged to the federal
Supreme Court on Monday that Quinacrine, a controversial drug
used for female sterilization, will be banned in the country and those
distributing the drug will be prosecuted.
The assurance from the head of the Indian government's drug policy
enforcement wing came after a petition by women's organizations and
religious groups demanding a ban on the "dangerous" drug. Women's
advocates have alleged that more than 30,000 Indian women have been
given the drug without their knowledge and consent. Quinacrine has not
been approved by any regulatory body in the world but is being used
on a trial basis in 19 developing countries violating WHO regulations.
The Indian Council of Medical Research first started trials of the drug
in 1992 but due to a high failure rate and side effects like mutation of
cells and ectopic pregnancy abandoned the trials. However, women's
groups and health activists point out that at least three women have
died after the drug was administered to them even as unscrupulous
private practitioners and non-governmental organizations promote the
drug as a "cheap, easily available, and safe method of contraception by
doctors with vested interests."
The Population Research Institute has a good article at: http://www.pop.org/reports/ftc797.html
Women at risk : Quinacrine sterilisation, a practice that defies
accepted international norms, continues in India: NALINI VISVANATHAN AND
MOHAN RAO (http://www.the-hindu.com/fline/fl1419/14190940.htm)
Women are guinea pigs on contraceptive trails (Sunday Times, a Times of
India news report)
http://www.obgyn.net/ENGLISH/PUBS/ARTICLES/kini_art.htm: Please write
and let the editor of this publication know that this article has become
outdated, and needs some revisions and supplementary information.
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 08:40:17 -0400
Subject: for TND
Can someone explain to me in detail the difference between the Nepali
"aptaaro," "mushkil," and "garo" (or "gado") (my English spellings may not be perfect)
I think they each mean "difficult" or "awkward" in some way, but to me the
differences are subtle. When is one word used and not the others? Thanks.
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 17:28:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Understanding our "chimeki mitra-rastra"
From: Vijay Prashad <email@example.com>
Treasonable People: the Jang Parivar in India Today
The leopard does not change its spots. The BJP promised to be the vanguard
of cultural intolerance and that is just how it acts as it ends its first
hundred days in office. From Bhopal, a RSS paper (411/RO3003; 11/RSS CO3)
finds its way into the public domain in late May. Some of its points need
to be reiterated. It tells us, not surprisingly, that RSS members must
continue to win "back Awarnas and backwards to fight against Muslims and
Ambedkarites." Further, that "promotion of Hindutva among officials to be
Equally alarming is its assertion that it must promote
"Hindutva among doctors" and ensure that "chemicals disposal of expired and specious drugs to Awarnas, tribals and muslims." There is a hint of Nazi science in this particular point, one that is equally familiar to the US wherein the state routinely conducted tests of hazardous materials on black Americans. The RSS circular continues in this vein for 34 points, each one vile and vicious. Point 18 tells the RSS volunteer to intensify
"propagation of superstition in awarnas and backward areas," for which "use of Sadhus and Babas to continue." Indeed, if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the RSS-BJP "Jang Parivar" (as Harsh Kapoor has so happily renamed it) has demonstrated its seriousness about this treasonable agenda.
Certain kinds of ritual are encouraged, whereas other forms are to be
denigrated. The BJP government, in a bid to increase liquor stores and
bars in the city, attempted to denotify Christian Churches in the city
(since, as Sahib Singh Varma's government argued, liquor, the sacrament, is consumed on the premises). Concerted action by the Left Front and by the Archdiocese prevented this travesty.
In the context of Delhi, there is
something perverse about the attack on Christian ritual, just as neo-Hindus
make for themselves more and more temples with valet parking, more
pilgrimages that allow the healthy (not just the infirm) to avoid the
penances of the flesh (such as walking to the holy spots), more Godmen who
preach selfishness and avarice (the descendants of the Bhagwan Shree
Rajneesh who once said that there are many Gurus for the poor, so he will
minister to the rich). Consider ISKCON's "Glory of India Vedic Cultural
Centre" temple in New Delhi, inaugurated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee in early April 1998.
In this temple, eight robots recite the scriptures and enact scenes from
the mythological stories sanctified by the New Hinduism of Hindutva (The
Age, 11 April 1998). There is a vulgarity to this kind of ritual, one
that basks in wealth and power and avoids the morality of justice. Godmen
travel the countryside in air-conditioned Contessas and Astras, enjoying
their tryst with the BJP in government.
The vulgarity emerges even more callously when the VHP promises to build a
"temple of strength," a shakti peeth, at the Pokhran nuclear test site. Ashok Singhal, supremo of the VHP, told a gathering in Bhubaneswar that the VHP plans to build such a temple and organize religious fairs at the site on Buddha Purnima, the birth anniversary of Buddha. That day, again callously, was chosen by the Indian government to test nuclear weapons both in 1974 and in 1998.
We trace many of our traditions of nonviolence (ahimsa) to the Buddha,
even if erroneously, so that it is a special insult to his memory that the
nuclear tests are offered to him. Of course, Buddhism is hardly the
essence of ahimsa, a fact well-known to its victims in Sri Lanka (where
influential monks joined the semi-fascist regime in targeting Tamils
during the 1980s) and in Burma (where the orthodoxy retains an unsavory
pact with power). Nevertheless, to anoint nuclear jingoism with religion
continues to do a disservice to religiosity and to its moral claims.
"India was a nation ruled by a bunch of hijras [eunuchs] in the past," said Singhal, and the tests are an "emphatic assertion of Hindu pride"
(India Abroad, 29 May 1998). Religion, for people such as this, is a macho and arrogant ethics, not one that is wedded to the project of social justice.
If Pokhran '98 was Hindutva's calling-card in the international arena,
Ayodhya '92 played this role at home. But in 1998, the small town in UP
continues to be the focus of Hindutva. On 23 June 1998, the head of the
RSS pointedly noted that a temple to Ram must be built in Ayodhya as soon
as possible. This came ten days after members of parliament of the Left
Front visited the town to find ongoing construction work towards the
temple; they also noted that similar work was on hand at places like
All this is going on about 1.5 kms from the destroyed
Babari Masjid and it is "constantly supervised and monitored by the VHP and
the RSS" (People's Democracy, 21 June 1998). When the Left Front deputies
departed from Ayodhya, the VHP made a big tamasha of purifying the area
with Ganga water (Asian Age, 20 June 1998). Point 20 of the RSS Bhopal
circular is direct: "attack against communism/Communist. Awarnas/Shudras
to be used."
Purifications are not just held to erase the presence of the Left Front.
BJP minister of social welfare, Mrs. Prem Lata Katiyar and her son, Pappu
Bhaiyya, attempted to erase the stain of dalits in March 1998 when they
went on a rampage against them in Mahipalpur (UP).
The shadow of Ghatkopar
(the July 1997 massacre of dalits in Maharashtra) is not far in all this. The desecration of Ambedkar's statue in that Bombay locality was followed by at least one similar event in Amravati (Gujarat), a dynamic itself propelled by the anti-Mandal and anti-Ambedkar University movement fashioned by the Jang Parivar. Incidentally, the use of Buddha to justify nuclear jingoism is another act of condescension towards dalits, for many of whom the Buddha is very special indeed.
These are the emblems of the anti-dalit movement; the sustained
exploitation of the dalits and the lack of any reforms on the Jang
Parivar's agenda once more demonstrates their Suvarna supremacy. With
"caste" reappearing as a category in the 2001 Census, there is now even talk of identity cards with one's caste represented on it. Pink triangles and yellow stars, anybody?
The rituals of the present are mainly secured through interpretations of
the past. Therefore, the Ayodhya imbroglio was conducted as a fight over
history, as revenge for imputed historical wrongs. The consolidation of a
kind of syndicated Hinduism is also a fight to erase the forms of
ecumenical worship in the past.
To continue the war over the past, the BJP has filled the Indian Council
of Historical Research with its own unabashedly communal people. On 1
June 1998, not to be undone by Pokhran II, the phlegmatic Murli Manohar
Joshi (Union Human Resource Development Minister) rearranged the council
and altered its charter to give "a national direction to an objective and
national presentation and interpretation of history." The language is so
bland that one can read anything into it. In context, however, we know
that the Jang Parivar uses "national" to mean "Hindu" (and therefore, not
secular) and "objective" usually means what they like. The fracas over
the ICHR continues, with the Left Front again in the lead. Irfan Habib,
onetime Chairman of the ICHR, said last year that there are two tests to
good historical research. One is "the technical aspect of history,
particularly that of testing and evidence." B. B. Lal, one of the new
ICHR members and notorious Hindutva archeologist, refuses to share his
research data, one of the simplest tests for a democratic History. The
other aspect, for Habib, is that of values, for History, like any human
science, is imbued with ethical standards. That these are now to be those
of Hindutva requires a strong challenge from anyone who trusts in
secularism in general (Hindu, 8 January 1997).
Achin Vanaik's 1997 Communalism Contested (Sage) offers some useful
pointers for a fight against the Jang Parivar. Writing before the BJP
capture of state power, Vanaik reminds secular progressives not to put all
our energy into the preservation of the secular character of the state.
That is important, but it is not the only site for the progressive
movement. He notes that we must fight to reduce the role of religion in
society, to conduct the secularization of society. This process of
secularization, Vanaik points out, does not imply that one holds an
anti-religious position (p. 203).
Rather, it pushes a democratic agenda, both in its institutional form
(social and gender equality, economic progress in civil society and actual institutionalization of greater democracy) and in its ideological form
(the discourses of democracy, welfare, equality). Given this agenda, religious systems must "learn their place in this new dispensation." Religions "have no inherent dynamic leading them to endorse or practically reinforce modern principles of pluralism and democracy. The world religions are historically shaped entities bearing the marks of that shaping. But this does not mean they are incompatible with these modern principles." Quite the contrary, it is the role of the secularist to engage with religious systems, not to show their "inherently tolerant" nature (an essentialist claim), but to fight to make them democratic and pluralistic if they are to be relevant in the modern world. Our fight against the Jang Parivar might be best forged along this axis, one that leads necessarily to a cultural politics as it does to a political culture wedded to ceaseless struggle against the vitiated agenda of these treasonable people.
Assistant Professor, International Studies
214 McCook, Trinity College, Hartford, CT. 06106.
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 19:12:09 +0000
Subject: Himal Magazine
HIMAL'S "ANTI-NUKE ISSUE" NOW AVAILABLE ON THE WEB
The July 1998 issue of Himal ( the South Asian magazine) is an
exclusive compendium of the most persuasive articles to come out in
the Subcontinental press questioning the rationale of the
India-Pakistan nuclear blasts of May 1998. The issue can be viewed at
Himal's website <www.himalmag.com>. (The editors write "...we did not
feel a need to present the pro-nuke arguments for the simple reason
that we do not agree with them.")
The special issue includes the following:
* commentaries from Himal editors in Kathmandu, Delhi and Lahore,
including review of press and public opinion following the blasts. The
lead commentary is titled "The Indo-Pak Bomb".
* articles by Achin Vanaik, A.H. Nayyar, Ashis Nandy, Eqbal Ahmed,
Giri Deshingkar, Kanti Bajpai, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Praful Bidwai, Shiv
Vishwanathan, Sayed Rashid Naim, Zia Mian and others.
* full listing and complete texts of the sixty-plus articles reviewed
in making selections for the anti-nuke issue. (Articles received in
hard copy are not included.)
* a Cartoon Kiosk showing Himal cartoons on the nuclear competition.
The website includes a form to order the anti-nuke issue as well as a
copy of the specially prepared "BUDDHA DOES NOT SMILE ON SOUTH ASIA
ANY MORE " poster.
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 03:28:00 -0400
From: Arjun Karki <Arjun_Karki@brown.edu>
Subject: Why strengthen medical system in Nepal ?
Although most of you are aware about the goals of America Nepal Medical
Foundation (ANMF) and appreciative of its efforts to realize those goals,
there are people among us who are still somewhat skeptical of the very
raison d'etre of ANMF. In this context I thought I better share with you a
note that I received from a physician of Nepali origin just recently.
As you will see, even though you (as a person of Nepali origin) have
managed to have the access to a best medical care system in the world both
for yourself and your immediate family members, should anyone of your own
relatives in Nepal get sick, by and large, they will still have to depend
on the quality of medical services available today in Nepal . Same is the
situation, if not worse, for your friends and neighbours. At the minimum,
the medical system in Nepal should be capable technically and efficient
functionally if we want to have a quality medical care
services in Nepal. There is a long way to go to make the current medical
system in Nepal both capable and efficient. ANMF believes that transfer of
useful/relevant technical know hows is one way we can all help Nepal to
strengthen its medical system. The on going ANMF projects on shipments of
books/journals, organization of CME programs and collaboration with other
like minded groups are initiated precisely in this spirit. So we need to
work hard to realize this sacred goals of ANMF for the benefit of
our own loved ones in Nepal, if not for other compatriots less fortunate
than ourselves. Thank you and god bless you all.
I found your e-mail address in the internet web page of the America
Nepal Medical Foundation. I am a resident in Head and Neck Surgery
(ENT) at UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA. My family is in Kathmandu.
I write to you with a request.
My mother needs thyroid surgery (most likely subtotal thyroidectomy).
Naturally, I am concerned and am wondering if you know of an experienced
thyroid surgeon in Kathmandu. I have even considered bringing my mother
to Los Angeles, but the cost is prohibitive. However, I would like to
be convinced that she will receive proper technical expertise in
I would appreciate any help you can provide in this regard. I look
forward to hearing from you.
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 1998 11:07:25 EDT
Hello there; I am a young stamp collector. I have not been able to find very
many used stamps from Nepal. I would love to add some to my collection. I
realize this is no doubt an unusual request but I just thought I would ask
with the hopes that maybe I could get lucky. I found you on a page which lists
Nepalese Nationals living or studying abroad. Even if you have stamps from
other nearby countries that would help me. Stamp collecting is a fun hobby
and one of the things I enjoy in my spare time. I thank you for your time and
hope I might be fortunate enough to hear from you. Most sincerely, Alan
Gorton. 8409 N.E. 140th Court. Vancouver, Washington 98682 USA.
Date: Wed, 08 Jul 1998 19:04:40 BST
Subject: Amnesty International news release: "Police shoot in cold blood
as 'Maoists are flushed out', 8 July 1998, AI Index: ASA 31/02/98
News Service 132/98
AI INDEX: ASA 31/02/98
8 JULY 1998
Nepal: Police shoot in cold blood as ?Maoists are flushed out?
The Nepalese Government should act now to ensure its police force stops=
disappearance? and the arbitrary detention of suspected members of the=
Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Maoist), Amnesty International said tod=
Police have shot civilians in cold-blood -- in the name of ?flush=
out? armed members of the CPN (Maoist) from their jungle hide-outs -- w=
enjoying absolute impunity,? the organization said. ?It is crucial that=
Government of Nepal brings those responsible to justice. This would sen=
clear message to its police force that these grave violations will not =
Amnesty International also asked to visit the country to investiga=
the deteriorating human rights situation which has reached alarming lev=
mainly in the Mid-Western region of Nepal.
The police operation, reportedly started on 26 May, is apparently aimed at armed activists of the CPN (Maoist), who have been waging a people?s war? since February 1996. However, many civilians have been a= mong those killed and police seem to have resorted to deliberate killings of= armed members of the CPN (Maoist) as an alternative to their arrest. Members of the CPN (Maoist) have also been responsible for deliber= ate killings of people they consider to be enemies of the ?people?s war?
(including members of mainstrain political parties) and other grave hum= an rights abuses.
Of course the government should be able to secure law and order i=
Nepal,? Amnesty International said. ?However, if there is evidence of
people being responsible for communal activities, then they should be
arrested, charged and brought to trial, not tortured or deliberately
Amnesty International has received reports that the police have
unlawfully killed at least 36 men and women, including civilians, in th=
following districts: Rolpa (eight), Jajarkot (12), Salyan (seven), Dang=
(four), Sindhupalchok (two), Gorkha (two) and Tanahu (one). In one incident reported from Sakla, Jajarkot district, on 6 June,= as many as nine civilians were killed during a religious festival which wa= s running throughout the night at the local school. At around 5am, a grou= p of around 45 policemen reportedly surrounded the area and started shooting= randomly at people dancing in the compound. Among those killed were two= women, a teacher and a health worker.
The bodies of those killed were allegedly disposed of by the polic=
the spot by burning them in a toilet pit. A fact-finding mission by a g=
of local human rights organizations was told by the local authorities t=
the police operations were being directed from the capital and that the=
were not able to comment.
Police authorities in Kathmandu admitted at a press conference on =
June that 44 people have been killed but alleged that they were members=
of the CPN (Maoist) who were engaged in armed opposition and were killed during armed confrontations with the police. They deny that any civilia= ns were among those killed by the police.
There have also been several reports of ?disappearances?. Among th=
currently remaining unaccounted for are Mohan Prasad Oli, a teacher fro=
Dhakeri, Mahatepuri village, Banke district, who was taken away from hi=
home on 12 June by seven or eight police commandos travelling in a whit=
van. In addition, Lal Bahadur Puna and Hari Narayan Shah, two people wh=
were badly injured in the shooting at Sakla, and later seen being taken=
away by helicopter, remain unaccounted for.
The CPN (Maoist), which is ideologically close to the Communist Party o=
Peru (Shining Path), has reportedly been responsible for the deliberate=
killing of civilians, including members of mainstream political parties=
particularly the Nepal Congress Party. There have also been reports of
harassment of human rights activists both by the police and the CPN
On 14 June, Gopal Siwakoti Chintan -- a well-known human rights
activist and Executive Director of the International Institute for Huma=
Rights, Environment and Development (INHURED) and Secretary General of =
Nepal Concern Society, another non-governmental organization -- was
arrested by police from the office of the latter organization. The poli=
officers also confiscated audio and video cassettes of interviews condu=
with victims of human rights violations and of seminars organized by th=
Nepal Concern Society.
Gopal Siwakoti Chintan was detained under the Anti-State Crimes an=
Penalties Act, 1989 until 24 June, when the court released him due to l=
of evidence. Police are however continuing their investigations and Gop=
Siwakoti Chintan has been informed that he may be called for further
Earlier this year, on 26 February, Hem Raj Khatri Chhetri, village=
development chairman of Tharmare village, Salyan district, was killed
together with two others when they verbally contested the police's
intervention to disperse a public event. They were beaten and then shot=
in cold blood. An appeal to the then government to establish a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into these killings remains unanswered.
Several human rights activists in the Mid-Western region have also=
complained of intimidation by the CPN (Maoist). Apparently, they have b=
pressurized by members of the CPN (Maoist) not to report human rights
abuses committed by its members.
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