Return-Path: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Received: from mp.cs.niu.edu by library.wustl.edu (5.0/SMI-SVR4) id AA16049; Fri, 17 Jun 1994 18:40:54 +0600 Received: by mp.cs.niu.edu id AA04743 (5.67a/IDA-1.5 for nepal-dist); Fri, 17 Jun 1994 17:44:14 -0500 Received: by mp.cs.niu.edu id AA04738 (5.67a/IDA-1.5 for nepal-list); Fri, 17 Jun 1994 17:44:11 -0500 Date: Fri, 17 Jun 1994 17:44:11 -0500 Message-Id: <199406172244.AA04738@mp.cs.niu.edu> Reply-To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@mp.cs.niu.edu> From: The Editor <email@example.com> Sender: "Rajpal J. Singh" <A10RJS1@mp.cs.niu.edu> Subject: The Nepal Digest - June 17, 1994 (4 Ashadh 2051 BkSm) To: <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> content-length: 39873 Status: RO X-Status: X-Keywords: X-UID: 19
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The Nepal Digest Friday 17 June 94: Ashadh 4 2051 BkSm Volume 28 Issue 5
1. Letter to The Editor - Promod K. Mishra
Little Ones Love to Hate India
I. Social Issues
Shifting Roles of Women (Vedic Days and Now)
Libraries in Kathmandu
Any info on ANA in DC?
Looking for Anil - Sunita
Yatra Barnan - Re: Glimpse of Nepal Part V.
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****************************************************************** Date: Wed, 15 Jun 1994 14:09:56 EDT To: "Rajpal J. Singh" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Forwarded by: Sirdar_RJS_Khalifa <email@example.com> Subject: Analysis - Shifting Roles of Vedic Women
THE SHIFTING ROLES OF WOMEN IN THE VEDIC AND EPIC ERA
By: S.P., Massachussettes, USA
The pillars of the Hindu religion as we know it now are probably the
world's greatest epics - The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. Passed down
from generation to generation for centuries in the Hindu society, these
influential literary works have molded and guided the people of the Hindu
religion even to the present day. The heroic story of the Ramayana
concerning the chivalrous hero Rama and the elegant heroine Sita are
across the lips of every child raised in a Hindu family. Even though
these mighty epics appear as the basis of the religion, one must not
forget the periods that preceded it; the Vedic Era, when Hinduism emerged
as the leading religion of south east Asia.
The leap from one era to the
other witnessed many transformations in the ideals and expectations of
the religion, especially with regards to women. The epics reveals much
more in regards to women and the direct stories about the situation the
they faced in those days provides a better understanding about the way
women were treated. But this vast amount of knowledge confuses us as to
the development of the position of the women in the Hindu religion: did
they experience more or less freedom in comparison to the Vedic Era?
The stories in the Epics took place during the Vedic era, the tale of
Rama occurred before the war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The
Ramayana was written down between 200 BC and 200 AD . The Mahabharata was
written between the period of 850 BC and 400 AD. Therefore its perception
of women varies throughout the Epic.2
Sita, the goddess of field furrow
in the Vedas, is portrayed as the daughter of the earth who is ever
faithful and loyal, spiritually, emotionally and physically, to her
husband Rama in the Ramayana. She abandoned the comfort and luxuries of
the royal palace to accompany her husband in his banishment to the
forests for a period of fourteen Years. Her entire life and reason for
living is only her one idol Rama who she worships as her deity. Such is
the role model of the Hindu women.
The Vedas talked of wives as
"dampati", partner of the husband. But the impression of Sita provides is not one of equal relationship but more one of servitude. She worships her lord even after being publicly humiliated and rejected proceeding the slain of Ravana. Only after an "agnipariksha"- fire test- is Rama convinced of her purity and willing to accept her once again. But even then, what bravery did Rama show by turning away a woman who had forcefully been abducted against her will? Was is not his duty as a husband to welcome her with open arms even if she had been ravished and over powered by a being of much greater physical strength? Here is Rama, the same one who absolved Ahalya from the curse of her husband for being wrongfully tricked into the arms of Indra, condemning a pitiful soul for a crime that would have been beyond her ability, and yet he is worshipped as a god, praised as the ideal model of humanity and loved by all.
The Rigveda mentions the sympathy Indra had towards ruined women. They
were not to be scorned but pitied and taken care of as they were victims
of crimes against their will. But the Ramayana presents a hero who does
not desire to raise the ruined Sita, his own wife. The story of rishi
Gautama also illustrates the same view: he curses his wife after she is
falsely tricked into believing that Indra is her husband and ruining her.
Ahalya, the rishi's wife, is first victimized by the powerful Indra and
then instead of finding refuge in her husband's arms, she is faced with a
curse for a deed that was not her wrong doing. It would seem that the
Epic Era was not very sympathetic to defenseless women nor very
forgiving. Also the compassionate Indra has transformed into the very
being he condemned- one who takes advantage of a venerable female.
So was it that the female species were regarded expendable? Were they
mere objects that could be thrown away when the husband felt he had no
need of her any more? There are definitely passages in the Mahabharata
where kings offer rishis gifts of hundreds of women slaves. Dhritarashtra
proposed to give hundred female slaves to Krishna as a token of his
regard for him.
Such activities were carried out by the most prominent
and renowned of kings. Also the presentation daughters to serve and
please sages was not uncommon as can be observed in the case of Kunti
where her father sends her to please a rishi greatly angered by him. She
is able to calm him down and please him greatly with her services. King
Harishchandra sells his wife in the market because that he believed
Taramati was his property since she was his wife. As for Draupadi, when
Yudhishtira loses her while gambling, she does not pose him the question
as to whether he considered her property, instead she asks him whether he
had waged her after losing his own freedom in the bet.
But the Mahabharata also tells us how the assembly started to hiss loudly when Yudhishtira staked Draupadi. Plausibly the ownership of the wife by the husband was recognized but not respected in society. The Ramayana teaches that no greater gift is there than a wife. But the phrase gift to a man gives the impression that the wife is merely an object to provide happiness for the man. Equality in the marriage appears to have disappeared.
Such use of women as property is not observed in the Rigveda. Even the
selling of a bride or purchasing of a groom is highly disrespected. It
would appear as if the liberation of women went down hill during this
era. But such a conclusion can easily be argued. For the first time
polyandry is exemplified in these stories. Draupadi herself had five
husbands, Kunti bore sons from four different gods and Madri by two gods.
All three women are highly respected and considered as truly great female
models of power, grace and "patibrata"- husband worshipping. A society
that excepted a women loving more than one man must undoubtedly have been
very accepting of the liberties and independence women might have sought.
The five Pandavas were regarded as handsome and gallant, they definitely
would not have had a problem wedding a women of high birth and beauty,
yet they all chose to be the husband to the fair Draupadi, it did not
bother them that each one of them was not the only single idol of her
love. But ironically the motive by which this arrangement was made
contradicts this feeling once again. Keeping their mother's word, they
divided Draupadi amongst themselves as if she were an object. This
situation arises when Arjuna announces to his mother that he has brought
home a prize that he so skillfully won.
It is true that he was able to
receive Draupadi's hand by completing a difficult and skillful task, but
she was not a prize that he won because it was Draupadi's swayamvara; she
had the right to chose her own husband. Arjuna only proved himself
worthy, Draupadi herself made the true decision. She could have married
Karna who could have also performed the same task, but she denied him
permission to participate. Then did not Arjuna degrade Draupadi by
claiming her a prize and did not Yudhishtira further insult her by
carrying out their mother's wish by treating her as if she were a prize
One could believe that women gained more liberty after the Vedic age to
do things that were not permitted to them before, but it would also
appear as if the respect society placed upon then decreased. In the Gita
Krishna said, "Even those who are born of the womb of sin - women, Vaisas
and Sudras too - if they resort to me, go on the highest way."4 A god has
degraded women to the lowest of positions. But today we do worship these
same women even though we are unsure whether the same respect was given
to them during the Epic age. The puja of the Panchakanyas (five maidens)-
Draupadi, Kunti, Tara, Ahalya and Mondodary. All five women had more that
one man in their lifetime. Yet paradoxically we worship them as
This brings me to the question of the virginity of women in this age. The Rigveda does not talk about the requirements of a women in terns of sexual purity at the time of marriage. It is oblivious as to what the expectancy of where the boundary was drawn in the premarital relationships. Sons of unwed mothers was not desired but such women were pitied as they were considered defiled. But the Epic era seems more adamant to ensure that newly wed brides were virginal and untouched by another man. Both Satyavati and Kunti had become mothers prior to their marriages, both had thrown their child into the water and kept it a secret from everybody. And both had become willing of the union with the father of their child only due to the fact that they had been promised maidenhood after the union was over. Most likely both women would have refused no matter what consequences if the rishi Parasara (in the case of Satyavati) or the sun god (in the case of Kunti) had not offered them this purity following the birth of the child.
Virginity and the need to be married for men has still not been mentioned
in the Epics, it was only enforced on the women. This change from the
Vedic Era where marriage was encouraged but not required or forced to the
necessity of a "pure" bride eventually resulted in the introduction of
child-marriage into vogue. But the Epic Era does not yet witness this
since all the heroines, Sita, Draupadi, Kunti, etc., were grown mature
women at the time of their marriage.
The Mahabharata informs us that it was the sage Dirghatama, who laid it
down that women ought never to remain unmarried in future. Subhru was the
daughter of sage Kuni. Her father wanted to give her in marriage, but she
would not consent. She remained unmarried for all her life, practicing
severe penance. At the time of her death, however, she learnt to her
great surprise that she could not go to heaven because her body was not
consecrated by the sacrament of marriage. With great difficulty she then
induced sage Sringavat to marry her, stayed with him for a one night and
was then enabled to go to heaven.5
The requirement for a women to be married caused anxiety amongst fathers. It is said that when Sita came of age, kind Janaka was is a mental state similar to a beggar who had lost what little money he had. Even a man of noble birth and accomplishments had to endure many insults if he was the father of a daughter. This unnecessary pressure on the family caused daughters to be unfavored. When Draupadi had a daughter, named Sikhandini, she was transformed into a son, named Sthuna, by Yaksha who did it from the desire of doing her good.6 In the Ramayana, when kind Dasharath had no children he prayed to the sun god for a son, not just any child. Kunti asked all the gods she had summoned for a son, she did not have any daughters.
In both the Vedic and the Epic era, sons were favored but the Vedas does
not testify to the lamentation of the birth of a daughter. The Epics
describe the daughter as the root of all evils and misfortunes. But there
were some who pointed out that patricides have been a monopoly of the
male sex; no father is ever known to have been liked by a daughter either
to history or to legend. There are cases on record where daughters like
Kunti and Lopanudra have saved their parents from dire calamities. In
Marriage it is the daughter and not the son who enables the father to get
the great merit of prithivi-dana or the gift of the earth. She is thus
really better than the son.7
For the first time though, society is exposed to profit of having a
daughter instead of a son. But most likely it can be assumed that this
theory did not prevail in the practical society considering the fact that
the cost of marriage was great and the pain of giving a child away was
The Vedas do not encourage the performance of sati. Passages in the
Rigveda encourage the widow to leave the side of her dead husband and
find another life partner amongst the living. The Epics do not advocate
sati but women who have committed it are definitely highly regarded. The
most famous is the sati of Madri. Her devotion to her husband is praised
and immortalized and such a role model in society might have encourage
such a practice amongst women of high birth and nobility. But Madri's
sati was not one that was encouraged. She was asked by rishis and other
not to go ahead with it. Most of the wives of Krishna, the incarnation of
the god Bhishnu, threw themselves on 3 funeral pyre on hearing the death
of their husband. But not all great women followed this fate. All widows
of the great Mahabharata battle all lived on to perform the death rituals
of their husbands.
Sati may have come into vogue after this period inspired by the great women in the Epics who had chosen to follow their husbands even in their death. Though both the Vedic and the Epic age did not promote such customs, it seems that the Epics practiced it more often than the Vedas. One of the reasons that may have promoted this is the status of the widow. The Rigveda encourages the remarriage of the wives, especially if she does not have any children. Remarriage is not a common custom in the Epic. Both Tara and Mandodary married their brothers-in-law after the death of their husband, but this is not one of the most popular and well known facts of the story. The fact that one woman was a money and the other a rakshasa suggests that such a custom was only practiced amongst the lower society. The Mahabharata does not even mention any such act at all. The dependency of women on their husband and the inability to find a new husband after the death of the first one left the life of the widow a very undesirable and cruel one. The choice of death with such honor instead of the harsh life with no one to look after her, especially if she did not have any sons, did not seem such a vile decision. So even though the Epics did not promote the burning of women, it may have paved the way towards it for the following centuries.
The occupation of women is one factor to be greatly considered. In the
Rigveda, Kasakritsnas and Upadhyayas (as explained in earlier
paper,"Women in the Vedic Age") are present in society who contributed to
the education of society. The education of women was a necessity for
marriage and even though not all women became scholars, they did have the
opportunity to seed a life of study and knowledge. But the Epics very
rarely mention any lady scholars at all. There is no mention of the
schooling of any of the heroines as there is of all the heroes.
In the Vedic age, women were are observed performing sacrifices and
As Sanskrit became the exclusive language of ritual and the performance
of Vedic sacrifices became increasingly
complicated, the number of Years required for proper initiation into the
Vedic rites increased. It consequently became difficult for girls to
absorb the requisite Sanskrit hymns and associated lore during the period
of their Upadhaya preparation. High class women began to fall behind men
in knowledge of the Vedas.
Kunti had the ability to summon any god. But this skill that she learned
was not obtained because her parents had sent her to acquire knowledge
from a learned acharya. She had gained this power by pleasing a rishi who
won by her service had taught her this skill.
In one part of the Mahabharata, women are said to be sex crazed. They
cannot be trusted and seeking more than one man is in their nature. The
Ramayana states that they are unstable and restless. Also one cannot help
but blame a women for all the sufferings and pain brought about in the
Ramayana and the battle between brothers in the Mahabharata. But is this
a negative portrayal of women and her destructive nature or is a display
of the power she had over matter of a man's emotions, politics and the
affairs of the state? They were not allowed in the Sabhas and it is hard
to predict whether women had any hand in the politics of the Vedic time.
But it is evidently clear that the women in the Ramayana and Mahabharata,
though not directly involved in the government, had a strong position in
the movement of the state. They appear to have gained more publicity and
importance in an indirect fashion. In the Ramayana it is mentioned that
it was desired that Sita take the thrown following the banishment of
Rama. Bhishma advised Yudhishthira to sanction the coronations of the
daughters of those kings, who had died in the war and left behind no male
The difference of status for women in the Epic and the Vedic age was
brought about by certain social and political changes. In the Vedic Age
the greatest kings, like Sudas, were but renowned warriors and leaders of
hosts, owned cultivated lands and herds of cattle like other people, and
were of the people. On the other hand, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata
are legends about great kings who ruled illustrious lands and about a
struggle for power. In place of petty states carved out by sturdy
fighters in the land of the Indus, we find populous and spacious kingdoms
ruled by august sovereigns in the valley of the Ganges.
purpose of the epics was to teach new codes of behavior based upon
Brahmanic and Kshatriya values, including the rights and privileges of
kingship and a cataloging of the different caste dharms. The main
characters involved in the Epics are the kingly class- the Kshatriya
worriers. The other social classes and women bad very little to do with
the politics the two Epics and focused around.
The position of women in the changing society of the Vedic Era and the
Epic Era is very hard to explain. In some ways it would appear that their
situation deteriorated severely and in other it would seem that this was
the period in the history of the religion that women have gained the most
power. An argument can be made for both cases and the liberation of women
increased in certain respects and decreased in others. Women played a
very significant role that affected great empires, but they were also
much more restrictions than during the Vedic age. But one thing is obvious, that these ages saw the most glorious days for women in the Hindu religion.
1 Lynn E. Gatwood, Devi and the Spouse Goddess, Maryland: The Riverdale
Company Inc., 1985, p.53.
2 Benjamin Walker, The e Hindu World, vol. I & II, New York: Frederick A.
Praeger, Publishers, 1968, p.9.
3 A. S, Altekar, The Position of women in Hindu Civilization, Motilal
Banarsidass, Delhi: Varanasi: Patna, 1973, p. 213.
4 Mildreth Worth Pinkham, Women in] the Sacred Scriptures o Hinduism, New
York: AMS Press, Inc., 1967, p. 167.
5 Altekar, p.33.
6 Ibid., p.l47.
7 Ibid., p. 6.
8 Gatwood, p.37-38.
9 Altekar, p. 185
10 Romesh Chunder Dutt, e Civilization o of India, London: Ballantvne,
Hanson & CO., p.15.
11Gatwood, p. 53.
- S.P., Massachussettes, USA
To: The Nepal digest Editor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 94 15:07:37 MDT
From: Don Messerschmidt <email@example.com>
Subject: Libraries in Nepal
Dear Pramod. Namaskar. Halkabar ke cha?
I just read your note to the Nepal Network regarding the lack of
libraries in Nepal, and the special "plight" of your American-educated
children needing library facilities... The following might be of help to
you (feel free to forward this whole message to the Nepal Net):
In Kathmandu, opposite and down the hill a bit from the Himalayan Hotel
(Patan side) on the second floor of a building, there is the large-volume AWON LIBRARY. This library is a relatively inexpensive (nearly free) service to Nepalese and expatriates. It is run on a purely voluntary basis, mostly by Nepali volunteers. Its books are mostly gotten from donations of interested and concerned people. The library has thousands of volumes (mostly paperbacks), in every category: literature, history, travel, biography, mystery, adventure... and a HUGE children's book and magazine section.
The rules of joining and using the AWON LIBRARY are easy. Family (or
individual) membership costs Rs.100 or perhaps a little more (I've
forgotten, and it has been many years since I joined). You can join in
several categories -- individual and family, and local and "out of
valley". If you life in Biratnagar, for example, you can join the
Kathmandu AWON Library and check out books for up to 3 months to be taken
and read "out of valley" (they are marked "OV"). If you live in the
Kathmandu Valley, and use the books there, I think you have a month's
time on each item checked out.
AWON Library is a tremendous service to the community. On Saturdays it is
packed with patrons (mostly Nepali)... it is very busy. Turnover is huge,
as is the number of volumes.
It is worth checking into, for you and your family. Good Luck.
- Don Messerschmidt < firstname.lastname@example.org >
(formerly on contract to the Inst. of Forestry, Pokhara (1989-93)... 31 years in and out of Nepal)
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 1994 18:54:43 EDT
To: The Nepal digest Editor <email@example.com>
From: "Pramod K. Mishra" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Hindi on the 'phone
I agree with much of what Mr. Bista has to say about the Hindi voice one
gets while calling Nepal. But my reasons are slightly different. While
Mr. Bista fears Nepal would be gobbled up by India (maybe his fears are
not entirely unfounded), I fear that because the routing of the
international call to Nepal from the United States is done through India,
I may not get through to the party waiting for my 'phone call on the other
side of the globe. In fact, this has happened many times and it happened
even last night. I kept calling and the recorded message kept telling me
in Hindi, which, I must confess, understand, read, and write quite well.
The otherwise pleasing language of the Hindi filmy songs--Main Aawaaraa
Hoon--and Ghazals soon became cacophonous and zarring. I must say my
heart beat paced up a little; sweat drops broke through my forehead and
armpits, for without my realizing it had struck midnight! Finally, I
called my MCI customer service and asked in a patriotic tone, evincing
complete ignorance of the Hindi language, as though I had in any of my
previous incarnations never heard of a word of the language. The
superviser, not just the poor operator, mind you, told me in a quite
befuddled voice: "Well, Sir, maybe the satellite link is through that
country which you are talking about." I said, raising my irritation a
little, "Now what can you do? I'm mad; I've been calling for hours, and
my parents must have been waiting on the other side at the public 'phone
booth, where they have reached after a three-hour-walk through knee-deep
mud puddles and what not." "Well, Sir, I can't help you," moans the
voice, as sweet as honey.
Now, what can be done? Calling the local company, I don't think, could
help, as Mr. Manandhar has suggested, but we can try. I think the problem
is not merely one of "ideology," but also of asking the right to have a
separate, more relaxed satellite route. Certainly, we don't want to join
the crowd, but the capitalist machine runs on only one gas: that is,
supply and demand. Let us find out some practical solution by calling
wherever it's possible, so that we may get easy access to our friends and
family in Nepal; so that our sweet taste for popular Hindi songs may not
turn bitter; so that we, the foreign educated ones, may not easily give in
to our jingoistic selves. Let's try to fix the problem and see where we land.
From: email@example.com (Dileep Agrawal)
Subject: conference in DC
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 1994 21:22:16 -0400 (EDT)
I would really appreciate it if someone can forward me info on the
conference to be held in DC during the 4th of July weekend. Thanks.
From: "Khatri, Sanjay" <firstname.lastname@example.org.NCR.COM>
To: 'nepal' <email@example.com>
Subject: Comments on P. Sharma's "Glimpses..."
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 94 11:08:00 edt
Once again, thanks for the recollections of your visit, Mr. Sharma. The
objective analyses of the three political forces was objective and candid.
The pros and cons were well sumarised, but I would like to know if the conclusions you drew were based on the analyses or did you have more to work on?
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 1994 11:42:21 -0400
From: Isha Sharma <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: (fwd) SOUTH ASIA NEWS FROM DHAKA
SOUTH ASIA: LITTLE ONES LOVE TO HATE BIG INDIA
DHAKA, (June 10) IPS - In Bangladesh, they are burning Indian saris, in
Nepal there is talk of stopping Indian-registered cars. Sri Lankans are
deeply suspicious, and even in the tiny Maldives there is subsurface
wariness about India.
But Indian consumer goods flood Dhaka markets, Kathmandu is overrun with Indian tourists and traders, Sri Lanka's trade with India is booming and in tiny Male Hindi film songs blare out of music shops.
India is Big Brother -- and its South Asian siblings love to hate him.
India-bashing is a rage in the sub-continent these days. And nowhere more so than in Bangladesh where the whole western section of the country is drying up because India has diverted the Ganges River.
Under a 1977 agreement, the Ganges barrage at Farakka on the Indo-Bangladesh border is supposed to let enough water through for Bangladesh's needs. But this year, as during every dry season, the Ganges is little more than a creek.
"Farakka is a life-or-death issue for Bangladesh with immense repercussions on its fragile economy and ecology," says Iftekhar Zaman of the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies here.
Given India's crucial support for Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971, it must have taken a lot of dismantling to bring mutual ties to their present level.
Since it affects a basic need like water, Ganges-sharing has become the core issue in Indo-Bangladesh relations. Says Zaman: "Farakka is so symbolic that it has a political dimension as well."
But there are signs that New Delhi's decision-making elite may have realized that Bangladesh was unjustly treated, and that squeezing the smaller neighbor may be counterproductive.
Even if the Farakka barrage is removed, however, Bangladesh would still get only a trickle because upstream Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar remove up to 68 percent of Ganges water before it reaches the Bangladesh border.
India has proposed a link-canal to bring water from the Brahmaputra River to augment lean-season Ganges flow which would traverse northern Bangladesh, but Dhaka has opposed it.
Some Indian analysts warn that the water row may turn even sympathetic politicians in Bangladesh against New Delhi.
"Those to be blamed are the faceless bureaucrats and unthinking ministers in New Delhi for whom the answer to problems with our neighbors is a display of muscle," writes political commentator Ajit Bhattacharjea in New Delhi's Pioneer newspaper.
For hapless Bangladesh, if it is not lack of water it is too much of it. Annual floods, like the deluge of 1988 which submerged three-fourths of the low-lying delta country, bring colossal damage.
But India has blocked Bangladesh's attempts work towards a basin-wide flood-control plan to include upstream Himalayan countries Nepal and Bhutan. New Delhi would rather work one-on-one with neighbors.
Water is also a sensitive issue in India's ties with Nepal, where public perception is that New Delhi has bribed, cajoled, and wrested concessions from Nepal on every major river project so far.
Nepal's left opposition is using this popular anti-Indian theme to bash Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's Nepali Congress government, which it says has "sold out to India."
"The sense of Nepali nationalism has never been so hurt and goodwill towards India has never been at such a low ebb," says Ganesh Raj Sharma, a senior Kathmandu-based advocate.
To make matters worse, in March a posse of Indian policemen carried out a botched raid on a house in a well-to-do Kathmandu subdivision without realizing that they were in another country. Publicity about the raid confirmed the average Nepali's hunch that India has always been a bully and ignited another anti-India flare-up.
Sandwiched between China and India, Nepal has historically tried to steer an equidistant path between its giant neighbors.
But when Nepal tried to buy Chinese arms for its military in 1989, India closed its borders and strangled Nepal with a 16-month economic embargo. Landlocked Nepal's claim for better access to the sea and a more open market for its products in India was never addressed.
Another chronic sore is the 150 Indo-Nepal treaty which Nepalis say is unequal and signed with Nepal's former feudal rulers. Nepal thinks provisions in the treaty will allow their country to be swamped by Indians.
"Things are going from bad to worse and one day it is going to blow up in our faces," warns Rishikesh Shaha, Nepal's former ambassador to the United Nations who favors a multi-purpose identity card for all Nepalis to keep tabs on cross-border migration.
None of India's little neighbors share a contiguous border with each other. This has helped New Delhi's policy of bilateralism. But, as one Dhaka-based editor put it: "You don't see that magnanimity in India that should come from its size. You see only pettiness."
The little countries envy Pakistan, which they regard as the only one that can stand up to India and they know that even jointly they cannot do the same.
For Anirudha Gupta, professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, this explains why both Hindu/Buddhist Nepal and Sri Lanka would rather fraternize with Pakistan than India.
"In building such a fraternity the smaller states can show the measure of their independence of India," Gupta writes.
India's backing for Sri Lankan Tamil separatists and its military interventions in Sri Lanka and Maldives in 1988 have also sharpened security concerns among the neighbors.
Nuclear-armed India with its medium-range ballistic missile and blue water navy wants to be a world power. It wants to play with the big boys in the block and is impatient with sniffling little brothers who keep tugging at its trousers.
India's gravitational tug of culture and history, instead of binding the countries together with a sense of common heritage, seem to have done the opposite. Nepalis see themselves as being less landlocked than
"India-locked". And Bangladesh has tried to assert a different Bengali identity from West Bengal.
Even Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which do not have land borders with India feel the tug, and look increasingly to Southeast Asia to diversify trade and investments.
What has not helped is that opposition parties in the nascent democracies of Nepal and Bangladesh have used populist anti-Indianism to strengthen their political base.
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 1994 12:59:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Sunita Rajouria <email@example.com>
Subject: ANIL SHRESTHA of CORNELL
ANIL SHRESTHA ASKED FOR MY ADDRESS EARLIER.
I HAVE EMAIL NOW. CALL ME AT firstname.lastname@example.org
From: email@example.com (Gopal Shah)
Subject: Keep up the good work
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 94 16:39:33 EDT
I would like to thanks Mr. Padam Sharma for his recent articles about Nepal.It was really well written.We all would like to see clear picture of Nepal in details not just politics.His observation about the roads,daily life,pollution and politics of Nepal is very touching.We would like to see such articles in future again.Mr. Sharma may share more thoughts about Nepal.
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