The Nepal Digest - July 28, 1994 (13 Shrawan 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Thursday 28 July 94: Shrawan 13 2051 BkSm Volume 29 Issue 5

Today's Topics:
 

        Topics not printed due to time constraints.
 

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  ***************************************************************************** Date: Thu, 21 Jul 1994 17:34:07 EST From: tilak@maple.circa.ufl.edu To: Nepal@mp.cs.niu.edu

Dear friends,

     I got some comments on my letter regarding my collection of articles 'Perspectives on Christianity'. I really appreciate your comments on my letter. Instead of answering individually please allow me to use this forum of 'Nepal Digest' to respond. I take many of your points very well, however I need to clarify a few things. I am not a religious person. To me religion is simply a component of our culture. In my letter I did not write any thing about Hinduism one way or the other. So my letter could not be construed to be biased toward Hinduism (neither against). I believe ours is a multicultural and multireligious world, and we should live with mutual respect toward all. I am a proud Hindu, that also means I respect all others. However that does not mean I will play dead and let some crazy christian fundamentalists insult me or our heritage. I believe 'all good people will go to heaven and all bad people will go to hell, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, age and of course religion'. You may like to compare that with christian doctrine -'All christians, no matter how evil, will go to heaven. All the others, no matter how virtuous, will go to hell'. 'Extra ecclesiam nulla salus - there is no salvation outside church'. Here in lies the problem.

     I need to tell you the incident which prompted me to write the letter. A few years ago, I was invited to 'The First Baptist Church - Orlando, Florida', to listen to a lecture on 'Hinduism'. This is one of the biggest church I ever saw. The programs presented here are nationally televised and I believe carry heavy influence in the American society. What they taught about Hinduism there is most unbelievable. According to these enemies of Galileo - "Hinduism is created by Satan to counter christianity ... The mantra evokes the names of demon Gods ... The main theme of Hinduism centers around the endless rebirths
... Karma marga is the way to do nothing ... Hinduism is no good because there is no blood atonement and no salvation by grace, and no hope ... India, source of Hinduism, is poor ... Westerners go to India to see Gurus, and often never returns ... Jim Jones cult leader is typical of Hindu devotion ... Hindus force destruction of the family units ... Celibacy is often demanded - results 40 % divorce rates ... Gurus often leads wholesale sex orgies ... Females must serve males, and only males get salvation
... Children are separated from parents ... Gurus are diabolically hypocritical ... There is no sin. Morality is relative, all is O.K. ... Law of Karma teaches that present evil must be ignored ... Yoga is the link to the occult world". They were also showing a documentary called 'Gods of New Age', with footage dealing with poverty and ignorance in India and Nepal, and playing up as Hinduism. I have collected their printed
'Notes'. If any body is interested please let me know, I shall make them available. This kind of program is not a single incident. There is a organized and powerful movement within church to discredit Hinduism and to convert hindus to christianity. Let me quote Reverend Patrick Robertson, the premier television evangelist, ex-presidential candidate and leader of powerful religious right in USA, "In Nepal they teach that evil men come back as dogs, so they beat the dogs unmercyfully ... Reincarnation is a Hindu concept that has been totally discredited ... Meditation, Yoga etc. are ways to touch demons ... Demons lurks behind the Hindu and other oriental religions". Let me quote Professor H.Wayne House, "Since the resurrection of Christ is a highest attested fact of history, then reincarnation is a lie". As a comparison, do we teach bad things about other religions in our temples ? It is not only an issue of religion. This is how public opinion and perception against people of a particular religion or race is created. It is a slow process, neverthless very powerful and devastating. Holocaust is not a creation of an individual.

     Contrary to the assertion of some of you I did not write anything against Jesus, and let me express my deepest appreciation of him loving all the poor and destitutes. However let me also point out his shades of chauvinism when he said "It is not right to take the children's (Jews) food and throw it to the dogs (Gentiles) (Mark 7.27)"; and that his prophecy "There are some standing here that shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God coming with power (Mark 9)" evidently did not pass. The crucial issue is that the present church activities have very little to do with taking care of poor and destitutes. Such activities are merely a window dressing. Churches are simply institutions to hold on to and propagandize, not contemplate, their respective doctrines. And the doctrine happens to be that if (only if) you are a christian, then all your sins are forgiven and after death you go to heaven. Their fundamental motivation is their imperialistic desire to impose their religion on to others, and to convert natives by any means. Such desire is the result of their basic intolerance and disrespect of other cultures and religions. A quick study of their history would tell volumes of their behavior. As per the definition of 'Christ or Messiah' please refer to any of the Jewish or Christian theologians. The
'Perspectives on Christianity' is simply a collection of writings from authors of different background. I presented them merely as a tool for better understanding. If any body is interested to know the sources of the different statements, let me know. I will make them available.

     Regarding some of your questions on inconsistencies in stories like 'Swasthani', 'Mahabharata' etc., I did not write them, so I would not care to defend them. As far as I am concerned they are simply myths and legends, and to be treated merely as such. If you think, they may have some bad influence (along with good), then I am with you. However I must point out that in our society no body goes around thumping books like 'Swasthani' and try to force 'the teachings' on to every body like Bible thumping Christian preachers do. Hinduism, like democracy, is a market place of spiritual ideas; and like US constitution (or Nepalese) guarantees free thinking; but does not, unlike Christianity, espouses only a particular paradigm and doctrines. Any ideas or doctrines has to stand on its own merit. Bad ideas or doctrines will die natural death in due course of time. We do not have to resurrect a dead and gone bad idea. Only eternal truths
(Sanatana) will survive the test of time (Kal). Perhaps you might like to contemplate, not believe, the teachings of Upanishad, Gita, Buddhist sutras, or for that matter Christian doctrines.

     Once again, let me express my respect to all religions, and that my letter is merely my response to the aggression of churches against the Hinduism/Buddhism. It remains an open challenge to any sundry Christian (or any other kind) bigots that God, if exist, is not a monopoly of any religion or people.

     Thank you very much. Sincerely yours, Tilak B. Shrestha.

************************************************************* Date: Sat, 23 Jul 1994 14:20:00 EST From: tilak@maple.circa.ufl.edu Reply-To: tilak@ufcc.ufl.edu To: Nepal@mp.cs.niu.edu

Dear Subas,

     Kudos for your effort to present an aspect of our Nepalese history. Please allow me to present some of my thoughts. Perhaps, as you wrote, 'influential' is better term than 'great', since the term 'great' normally means good. I have difficulty in applying unqualified term 'great' to King Mahendra and Mr. Surya B. Thapa. I agree with you that King Mahendra was a true nationalist, and I would like to mention his achievements like promoting nationalism in our society, east west highway, land reform, Nepalese law reforms, etc. However we also need to note that he is the person who single handedly relegated democracy in Nepal. He crushed democracy and imprisoned legitimately elected government of Nepalese people. Then Nepali Congress had own almost three fourth of the popular vote. We are still suffering from his creations of Panchas, Panchayats, and Mandales (No disrespect to the traditional Nepalese institution of Panchayat) to disenfranchise democratic right of the Nepalese people. The net effect of the Panchayat system was to deprive off our society a whole generation of social and political leaders. As per Mr. Surya B. Thapa is concerned he is merely a puppet. To see a puppet as a distinct personality is simply an illusion. I believe, to put a master and his puppet in the same bed would make both squeamish. Last but not least, what about Sarvamanya Loh Purush Mr. Ganesh Man Singh ? Perhaps you might like to consider him as one of the truely great sons of Nepal.

     Regards. Sincerely yours, Tilak B. Shrestha.

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Sat, 23 Jul 1994 16:40:31 EST From: tilak@maple.circa.ufl.edu To: Nepal@mp.cs.niu.edu

Dear Editor,

        Please refer to the letter by Mr. Prakash Bhandari dated July 8, 1994 on the subject of women in Hinduism. Perhaps you should edit out his offensive and foul language. I am not objecting to the content of his letter. That is his personal opnion and he is free to have them. My request is simply to keep any debate and the forum of 'Nepal Digest' in good taste. I agree some of the pointsMr. Bhandari, but amazed by his statement 'I would not let my wife do it..' by such a proponent of women's right. By the way what is the connection between women's position, SLC result and enslavement of our sons, daughter and wives ?

        Thanks and regards. Sincerely yours, Tilak B. Shrestha.

**************************************************************** From: Abi Sharma <Abi@fraser.sfu.ca> Subject: Proposal regarding the G. election To: soc.culture.nepal@sfu.ca Date: Sun, 24 Jul 1994 14:00:27 -0700 (PDT)

   A Proposal on the Civic Education program Regarding the Coming
                    General Election

1. Introduction
   The abrupt dissolution of the House of Representatives in Nepal by the king declaring the mid-term poll has brought the country to a serious political and constitutional crisis. The king has also entrusted prime minister Koirala to hold the election. This action has evoked widespread public criticism and protests.The critics of the aforesaid action are of the opinion that the Article 42 of the constitution has been totally overlooked. This has deprived the dissolved parliament from the parliamentary exercise in seeking the alternatives to form another govt. while the PM had resigned. One of the main criticisms is that instead of leading the country according to the peoples' mandate expressed during the 1990 Jan aandolan, the govt. got involved in rampant corruption and irregularities. As a result, the public has been expressing its discontent vehemently through various forms including street demonstrations. These protests have been organised both by a faction of the ruling Nepali Congress and the opposition parties. The crisis, in sum, pose a serious threat for the fledgling democracy in Nepal. The need to protect and promote democracy in Nepal is greater now than ever before.

2. Rationale
   During the 1991 general election it was very essential to help the people educate themselves about the importance of democratic rights and active partHicipation in it. Similarly, the dissemination of information about the constitutional rights and practice was also equally important. After decades of the autocratic Panche rule when the multi party democracy was established the country was in need of various democratic institutions and expertise. Among them, though still young, some organisations had launched the voters (civic) education campaign which had proved to be very beneficial. Although the campaign was not sufficient enough to cover all necessary aspects of civic education and awareness, it has gathered some valuable experiences. These experiences show that without the wider, deeper civic education campaign peoples' active participation and expression of free will and free choice is not possible in Nepal. It is especially when there are only 40 percent of the population is literate and the women literacy is even under 22 percent.

Moreover, many new issues relating to the organisation of free and fair elections, functioning of the Parliament and the government, interpretation of the constitutional rights of the people and the Council of Ministers and running of public administration in a multiparty system have come up during the past three years. These issues have somewhat confused the people in general regarding the efficacy of the multiparty system and plularity. The declaration of the midterm {_poll and the division in the ruling party and the nation-wide debate on the constitutional question ralating tothe dissolution of the House of Representatives have furtheraggravated the confusion among the people. Nation-wide civic educaion campaign, therefore, is essential to eliminate such confusions from the minds of people about the multiparty democracy and enable them to participate actively in the forthcoming general election. The question of civic education is interlinked with the question of empowerment of the people. The lack of education of the importance of civil and political rights among the people has always been a hurdle on the path of development of democracy in Nepal

The mass media,e.g. newspapers, TV and radio, is not accessible to the overwhelming majority ofthe Nepali people. More than 90% living in the rural areas and about 50%, in general, live below the povertyline according to the official estimation (the world bank's is 71%). The mobility of the people is extremely difficult due to the poor condition of public transport system. The political parties, especially those which lack the commitments and accountability to the people, often try to take advantage from these weaknesses. It makes the question of free and fair election very complicated and difficult and people find themselves in a difficultposition to cast their votes independently. This sort of situation is very unfavorable for the institutionalisation and consolidation of the young democracy. The country has bitter past in this regard. The civic education campaign, therefore, has been a part and parcel of elections in Nepal. In the absence of such programs the election would be a luxury exercised only among }ithe powerful sections of the society who are not much concerned about the grassroots democracy and empowerment of the people.

3. Objectives
   a) To disseminate information and impart knowledge among the
      public about the importance of civil as well as the
      constitutional rights, to strengthen democracy.
   b) To help the people about the importance of free and fair
      election to insure their effective participation in it.
   c) To increase awareness among the people about the institu-
      tionalisation of democracy through the exercise of their
      rights in an independent way.
   d) To discourage the irregularities and use of unfair means in the
      election promoting the public vigilance.
   e) To contribute in achieving fair, free and peaceful election.

Most of us Nepalis living/studying/working here in N. America have heard of/known of/ talked to the people/organisations who have been active in North - South solidarity movements through various programs and participations. A good example of this is also in the areas of civic eleciton education programs and obsevations. Such programs have proven very effective whether in Africa, Latin America or Asia. Namibia, S. Africa or El Salvador, Chile are just to name a few. There is growing awareness in this regard also in the forth coming presidential election in Mexico, particularly after the Zapatista movement began, where electoral fraud has kept the ruling party continuously in power for decades.

In these circumstances, we together with an organisation in Nepal have worked out a proposal mainly in two areas to help in (1) civic electoral education programs through various means and ways, e.g. indigenous cultural programs (2) election observation programs.The work has already began in Nepal in this respect.Among other things needed is of course financial support. We are delighted to learn that many individuals/groups have already began their initiatives to raise funds and supports whatever they can in places like India, HK, Japan and Europe. We believe, we too can do something about it here in N. America.

Let's talk to friends, students, professors or any liberal/progressive individuals/organisations willing to listen or interested in participating in any way. Even just a talk will produce an awareness and moral support for the cause. It is another opportunity to all of us to contribute to build a better Nepal. Together we can make a difference. We are open to and invite any suggestions, criticism or participations as long as it serves its purpose.If interested in getting more info please contact me at
(604) 738-1397, ( Tel & fax). or fax (604) 737-7647. or e-mail to abi@sfu.ca

Thanks. abi

*************************************************************** Date: Sun, 24 Jul 1994 16:27:43 -0500 (CDT) From: Padam Sharma <sharma@plains.NoDak.edu> Subject: Article To: Nepal Digest <nepal@cs.niu.edu>

  Glimpses from our Neighbors ...I. Darjeeling.
  by Padam Sharma
  
  For every two Nepalis inside Nepal, there is at least one in India of
  which probably 75% live in Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan. Under varying
  adversity of immigrant subsistence, they have made significant social,
  political and economic progress (except for Bhutan) in their respective
  geographical niches. Besides general socio-economic cross-boarder
  interdependence, most of the households in bordering districts of Nepal
  (east-west-south) have their blood relatives in adjoining districts of
  India. Our Nepali neighbors in India have one advantage over us. They
  have gained more experience of democracy (however participatory the Indian
  model may be). I will try to narrate my perspectives on our neighbors in
  the hills because the socio-political culture of Nepalis in India has a
  direct bearing on Nepal, Nepali culture, resource management, and of
  course, the tricky issues of citizenship, ethno-centric struggles, and
  the problems of refugees.
  *****************************
  KALIMPONG in Darjeeling: Frustration with self-rule!
  
  Most of you know Darjeeling which is a city as well as an administrative
  district in West Bengal state of India. Within Darjeeling district, at
  about 4000 ft above MSL, Kalimpong is a city of about 50,000 people as well
  as the eastern sub-division adjoining Bhutan. Kalimpong, can be reached
  from Nepal via Siliguri, the next big town in Terai (plains) of India.
  
  Usually, the trip involves taking a taxi from Kakarvitta (east end of the
  East-West highway in Jhapa) to Siliguri and a bus or a jeep from Siliguri
  to Kalimpong. A direct bus service from Panitanki to Kalimpong is often
  available. The bus route passes through Siliguri which is a strategically
  located, very busy and growing bottle-neck city with its transport industry
  supplying goods to Sikkim, Bhutan, Assam, and Nepal. All that tea from
  north-eastern India passes through Siliguri. Contrary to Nepal, the
  mountainous roads from Siliguri to Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Gangtok are
  very well maintained.

  The reason I am describing Kalimpong instead of Darjeeling is two fold.
  First, I grew up there and most of my relatives are still there. Hence, I
  have a special personal attachment with Kalimpong. Second, and the most
  important, reason is that Kalimpong offers a microcosm of rural Nepali
  setting (with its constraints and successes) which could be a model of
  rural development for hills of Nepal.
  
  While Darjeeling is a favorite tourist destination with tea gardens,
  private schools and colleges, Kalimpong is agrarian with its rice
  terraces, a few private schools and Indian military installations.
  Darjeeling is famous for its tea; Kalimpong is less famous for its flower
  industry. While Darjeeling is culturally hip, Kalimpong is simple.
  Darjeeling has a showbiz personality; Kalimpong has character.
  
  The population of Kalimpong is about 90% Nepali with the rest
  comprising of Nepali speaking very friendly Biharis, Marwaris, Tibetans,
  Chinese, and the ever-stiff Bengali bureaucrats. In its golden days,
  Kalimpong was prosperous with its strategic location in the wool-trade
  route between India and Tibet. With Chinese take over of Tibet in 1959, the
  wool trade collapsed and Kalimpong lost its glitter. The serenity of the
  music of the caravan of donkeys transporting goods between Kalimpong and
  Tibet was then replaced by the noise of the convoy of gas-guzzling, green
  fatigued, Shaktiman monsters (Indian Army transport vehicles).
  
  Historically, I was told that Kalimpong subdivision belonged to Sikkim
  while Darjeeling (originally part of Sikkim) subdivision was conquered by
  the expansionist Gorkha army. From Sikkim, and Nepal, the British
  consolidated the present boundaries of Darjeeling district and linked it
  with West Bengal for their need of a summer capital.
  
  During Indian independence, again I was told that, Damber Singh Gurung the founding
  leader of the Gorkha League which represented the interests of Nepalis in
  Darjeeling district went to Kathmandu to offer a possible linkage of
  Darjeeling with Nepal. The then Rana regime, scared of India and the
  elites in Darjeeling, gave a cold shoulder to Mr. Gurung.
  
  With passage of time and growth of post-independence political culture, the
  Gorkha League disintegrated and Darjeeling district was represented in the
  Indian Parliament sometimes by Congress and other times by Communists. One
  MP of special note was Mr. Ratan Lal Brahman (Maila Baje) of CPM (Communist
  Party - Marxist) who caused a stir in the Indian Parliament by insisting on
  speaking and taking oath in Nepali. Whatever party they belonged to,
  Nepalis in Darjeeling were united to have Nepali language enlisted as one
  of the main languages in the Indian Constitution. It was a common and
  symbolic goal of struggle for cultural identity.
  
  Politically and economically, the people of Darjeeling district were always
  short-changed by the state government in Calcutta and the central
  government in Delhi. Due to lack of clout in state and the center, they
  did not get proportional appropriations for district development programs.
  People were educated but unemployed. Whenever there was a vacancy in the
  next door post-office, bank, or other government agency, the appointees
  came directly from Calcutta.
  
  The frustrations were also fueled by the emergence of Sikkim (more on
  Sikkim later) as a separate state with about 5 times less population than
  Darjeeling and getting about 10 times more appropriations from the Central
  government. Consequently, Darjeeling struggled with the Marxist government
  of West Bengal for independent Gorkhaland and asked for direct
  administrative linkage with New Delhi. With increase in militancy among
  the agitators and its violent suppression by the Indian paramilitary
  forces, the Gorkhaland movement did not sustain and a compromise was
  reached for a semi-independent Hill District Council still under the
  supervision of the state government.
  
  With the new format, the hill districts received some autonomy in paper but
  the appropriations did not increase. All the youths who gave their energy
  (some of their friends gave their life) during the Gorkhaland struggle did
  not get any rewards. They got more frustrated and agitated. As a result,
  Subash Ghising, the architect of the Gorkhaland movement lost his
  leadership cool. The Ghising leadership and its entourage now thrives on
  threats of intimidation to the general public by his cadre of political
  thugs. Recently, with his intimidation tactics, Ghising foiled the
  Panchayat elections (a decentralized rural development authority) in
  Darjeeling for fear that he will further loose his clout.
  
  It is interesting to note that by asking for self rule, ordinary
  citizens in the villages of Darjeeling district lost their opportunity
  for decentralized self-government. In summary, Nepalis in Darjeeling
  district are more desperate and depressed than ever before. Consequently,
  more and more educated people are looking for jobs and entrepreneurial
  opportunities in Sikkim and Nepal.
  
  Let me come back to the potential of Kalimpong as a model for rural
  development in Nepal. Similar to middle hill settings of Dhankuta or Illam
  towns in eastern hills of Nepal, Kalimpong produces rice, maize, millets
  on bench and gently sloping terraces. Besides the traditional agricultural
  crops, farmers in Kalimpong (depending on proximity to the town) produce
  fruits, vegetables and milk. The agro-ecosystem is self-sustainable with no
  apparent pressures on adjoining forest areas.

  Except at road construction sites, there are no visible signs of landslides.
  All local streams and adjoining areas of downstream river and old
  landslides are covered with trees and bamboo. All the steep slopes and
  walls of sloping maize terraces are covered by fodder trees or grasses.
  A multi-purpose grass locally called `amliso' (whose floral tassel
  is collected and dried for kucho (indoor sweep), the green leaves are
  fed to animals, and stalks are used for fencing, stakes and fuel) has
  significantly increased in acreage over the last three decades.
  
  The most significant stabilizing factor and driving force for the rural
  economy of Kalimpong is its efficient market system. Farmers from far and
  near villages bring their produce on their backs twice a week during the
  bazaar. The market allows the farmers to take a risk of self-retail or
  selling the produce to middle-merchants. Nobody returns home with unsold
  products. Farmers can sell a produce as small as a left-over piece of
  pumpkin to as large an item as the holy cow. The market culture allows an
  orthodox Bahun to sell his unproductive cow (alive of course) to the Muslim
  butcher without feeling guilty about doing so.
  
  The main success story of Kalimpong is its flower industry. According to
  my floriculture book (that I read in 1969), India exports about $5 million
  dollars worth of flowers abroad from Kalimpong alone. The business is
  sustainable and booming due to rapid emergence of affluent bourgeois in
  Indian metropolitan cities. The main species exported through a network of
  privately owned nurseries are gladiolus, orchids, and indoor cacti. The
  market infrastructure is so efficient that a cut-flower of gladiolus
  harvested early morning in Kalimpong is sold at Connaught Place in New
  Delhi in the afternoon. The silk-worm cultivation is another agro-industry
  that has taken its root in Kalimpong.
  
  Let me site an enlightening encounter I had with a high-school dropout
  friend of mine. As most of the high-school dropouts do, he joined the
  Indian army, sustained an injury during duty and was discharged. He came
  home and took over the cultivation of about 0.5 acre of dry-land
  agriculture (corn-millet-pulse mixture during summer) with about two
  terraces of rice paddy from his father. It was not enough for his growing
  family's subsistence. He got a job in a local hospital, and in his spare
  time, he gradually converted his land into a vegetable-fruit-flower-animal
  system. Instead of rice, corn and millets, he started growing early
  varieties of vegetables to beat the market. He contacted flower nurseries
  in Kalimpong and got a contract for growing gladiolus bulbs and cut flowers
  to their specifications.
  
  In two-three years, he had enough money to buy a highly productive (15
  kg/day) jersey cow. Now he sells milk, makes compost, and has completely
  stopped using chemical fertilizers in his vegetable and flower garden. He
  quit his job and now manages the farm with a few regular hired hands.
  When I visited him, he had cabbage in his garden which were too late for
  harvest. He said, "I don't send cabbage to the market when every body else
  does. They sell at less than Rs. 1 per kg. I feed it to the cow and make
  compost with the left over leaves; it is more profitable than buying the
  feed."
  
  Obviously, he is a success story and there are not many of those. On our
  further discussion, he was almost philosophical, " The key to breaking the
  cycle of poverty in the hills is learning how not to plant rice and maize
  or millet as an annual ritual". Is not this the gist of simple sustainable
  rural development solutions that the Harvard-Stanford-Cornell pundits are
  failing to advocate despite billions of dollars spent in rural development
  projects in Nepal. Perhaps, the message is not getting through due to the
  westernized paradigms and the language barrier of multi-variate socio-
  economic models.
  
  In summary, Kalimpong offers a unique learning place of rural production
  and marketing infrastructure run by the Nepalis that can be adapted in
  Nepal. It also offers a demonstration of productive watershed management
  system for optimum sustenance of the ecosystem. Nepal can look for answers
  to its production and environmental problems not in the west or the
  far-east but in its own neighborhood.
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