The Nepal Digest - June 9, 1999 (26 Jestha 2056 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Mon Jun 9, 1999: Jestha 26 2056BS: Year8 Volume87 Issue3

Today's Topics (partial list):

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 * TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
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*************************************************************** Date: June 2, 1999 To: The Nepal Digest <nepal@cs.niu.edu> Subject: Nepali News

Police looting government coffer Source: Awake Nepal

The police is virtually looting the government coffer. It is well know how much security the police is providing to the people, but one is shocked if one looks at the figure the police has spent in the name keeping peace and security. The police whose budget runs into tens of million rupees, has already gotten an additional Rs. 370 million in the name of security during the election. It has now told the government that if it does not get Rs.350 more, it would be difficult to provide security in the second phase election.This is no less than a black mailing. The government has provided the Election Commission with only Rs.340 million for the elections. The Commission has said it is short of Rs. 150 million. But there is little chance of the government giving the EC the additional fund. Similarly, the army has gotten Rs. 116 million for the election and the National Investigation Department is given Rs. 1.76 million for the election. Meanwhile, it is learnt that if the police is provided with Rs. 350 million it is demanded, the army will too ask for Rs. 40 million. The ‘leaders’ behind this looting is IGP Achyut Krishna Kharel and Home Minister. Police has also gotten hold of more than Rs. 2 billion in the name of fighting the Maoists after the Maoist insurgency began four years. However, no one knows how much money were spent in fighting them. In this year alone, the police has received Rs. 3 billion under regular budget, Rs. 2 billion for quelling Maoists and Rs. 370 million for election. It is trying to get an additional Rs. 350 million The money the country is spending on police is beyond the means of the country. It is now necessary to debate whether a poor country like Nepal can afford such an amount to the police and also where the money has been spent.

(Ghatana ra Bichar, May 5, Wednesday)

********************************************************* Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 10:31:36 -0700 To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> From: Mahesh Maskey <mmaskey@bu.edu> Subject: Remembering Parijat...

                    REMEMBERING PARIJAT....

[Baisakh, more than any other month, brings memories of Parijat. Every year in the memory of Parijat I have presented some of her own works, or some works written about her, to the TND readers. This time we remember Parijat through the poems of Ahuti, a poet who seems to walk the same path as was trodden by some of the heroic characters of Parijat's own unforgettable works.]

                "Song of the Hungry Ones"
                Mahesh Maskey and Mary Des Chene

Introducing Ahuti's collection of poems to readers, Parijat wrote:

"For listeners who hear his poems in his own voice and style, how moved, how touched to the quick and agitated they are rendered, this need not be asked of anyone. Truly, Ahuti's poems are spellbinding. Not to say this much would be an injustice to the poet.

Your tears I Will keep on the very mainroad where heart's beat walks Bagmati..... How many are the tears?

        (Bagmatiko Kinaarai Kinaar/ Along the banks of Bagmati)

Like glistening blisters on a palm, about to burst A pair of hungry, thirsty, gleaming eyes I cannot look

        (Samarpan/ Dedication)

I too may have stirred inside the small belly of a woman I too may have cried at birth, as if making a sign

Returning from quietly discarding me Somewhere in a rock crevice/Somewhere on cemetary's edge. I too may have tried to hang onto the skirttails of that woman

        (Tuhura Maanchheharu Aaphantko Khojimaa/
                Orphans in Search of their Kin)

If poetry seeks its own introduction, then the above words can be dispersed unhesitatingly. By affecting the state of mind, to compel humankind to look into the mirror of society... perhaps it is this very thing that is the duty of poetry. Poet Ahuti is fulfilling this duty through the medium of his own poems."

               (Parijat, Introduction, "Ascetic's Songs")

Agreeing with Parijat, it seems to us we can say this too, that Ahuti's poems not only speak for themselves, but in his hands, the poem itself becomes a medium for the rebellious spirit of humanity - giving it voice as it lives in the poet, awakening it where it sleeps in the listener. Identifying himself with the millions of famished and wretched of the earth, Ahuti sings the song of a different kind of ascetic in the poem,
'Ascetic's Song':

I wrote poems not to eat rice I planted my poems not in rice begging bowls set before glutted ones I planted poems in the foreheads of the children Glutted ones may say Not poem/not song I sang only slogans But the ravaged nipples of my mother's breasts bear witness I sang a new way of life What have I to fear? I sang the song of the hungry ones.

            (Tapasviko Git/Ascetic's Song)

Ahuti's ascetic does not seek to remove himself from worldly life but instead places himself right amidst its most evil manifestations. Renouncing personal security to brave the gun, placing his heart between its barrel and the hungry ones, he sings the songs of the ascetic-like discipline and ardor of those who dedicate their lives to transformation. He sings of a new way to be in the world:

And so in this time standing close by the martyr's grave Levelling heart's stem at the landed ones' gun muzzles To plant a moon just like pure gold in the foreheads of the children I sang the devotion of martyrs Sang a poem not to be left unsung Let the glutted ones say I sang not songs only slogans/not poems only rebellion But the ravaged nipples of my mother's breasts bear witness I sang a new way just like the victory of light What have I to fear? I sang the song of the hungry ones.

Not by withdrawing from society into solitary contemplation, but by walking among the people and feeling their wounds as his own, Ahuti's ascetic refuses to close his eyes to ease his own heart, refuses to sing false songs or silently bow his head before what is:

In such barbaric times standing close by the martyr's grave How can I sing false songs? Standing before erect Sagarmatha How can I, like a 'premature weakling' Survive by bowing my head?

It is not difficult to speculate that such a life would not be a bed of roses. Difficulties and defeats would abound in the path and even death may come before reaching the final destination. But the poet in Ahuti sings a death-defying song: "I scatter immortal seeds that sprout in thousands where one falls". Notice the similarity in the imagery of 'planting poems in the forehead of children' and, in another poem, 'distributing the flares of 'guintha' (dungcake coal)':

I, nature's beautiful lineage/ along with nature taking up truth's satchel In the satchel fire of dungcake coal/saying "awake sleeping ones" slowly slowly like the sun I'm hurtling toward brightness igniting wet logs and brush

While I'm walking on or fighting on in the war Searching for the morning or tearing apart the night If I fell/ if I died Or restless with hunger fell asleep on the pyre O! my beloved never bending Sagarmatha This satchel becomes your care/fire of dungcake coal your care Under shade of this sky/ in the palm of the earth Tomorrow, and the next....a hundreds years, let us even say - till the end To be the true sons and daughters of the earth To wash the pain of mankind with blood Or, let us say, to be enrolled in this just war Thousands of heroes and heroines/seeds of bodies of steel Keep on taking birth, keep on sprouting up Sagarmatha! this satchel/this fire of dungcake coal Hand it over to them/give them the care of it The morning I could not weave, give them the weaving of it

                (Guinthako Aago/ Fire of Dungcake Coal)

What makes Ahuti different from many of the contemporary writers in Nepal is that he not only is a skilled wordsmith, he makes every effort to live up to the firey messages of his poems. He has not only identified himself with the hungry majority of Nepal and the world at large, he has participated with all his energy in the struggle for a better life, and is making effort to touch the most dispossessed of Nepali society. In so doing, perhaps an activist-poet does not have adequate time for his literary creations. It has been long that we have read just a few new poems by Ahuti, not to talk of stories and novels. It is one of the well known rules of life that it demands the most from the ablest of people. Such people, faced with conflicting demands, often develop attitudes which reflect their priorities and compromises. A poem by Indian writer Katyayani, translated into Nepali and often quoted by Ahuti, perhaps accurately reflects his situation.

Could not build A peaceful, elegant study room. When it was time To write an excellent poem I was writing on walls, the slogans When it was time To write the most talked-about story Then too, I was writing the leaflets of agitation

                (Shokgeet/ Grief-song)

It remains to be seen how history will evaluate the literary contribution of talents like Ahuti, whose agitational priorities leave less time for literature. Besides his poetry, he has also established himself with his widely appreciated novel "Naya Ghar". With his poetry collection,
'Tapasvika Githaru' (Ascetic's Songs) he became the youngest winner of the Krishnamani Puraskar in the line of such names as Yuddha Prasad Mishra, Devi Prasad Kisan, Govinda Bhatta, Ninu Chapagain, Rudra Kharel and Khagendra Sangraula. While the quantity of his poetry may be affected by more pressing needs of the daily struggles of impoverished Nepali people, it is not difficult to see that it is in the writings of such poets that one can find the striving to hear the heartbeats of the labouring people that is the fountainhead of progressive literature.

Compared to the imaginative brilliance of many a talented writer who shy away from the task of joining their imaginations to the foundation of the everyday realities of the masses, such creations, though numerically small, may have a better potential to communicate to the more sheltered ones, the joy and pain, hopes and aspirations of the faceless makers of history. Giving a deeper meaning to revolutionary action as entailing a transition from student agitation and the sacrifices of urban political struggle, to unity with the labouring masses in the villages for carrying out socio-political transformation, Parijat posed a challenge to the heroine of 'Anido Pahad Sangai' in these words: "...A revolutionary life was laughingly speaking to her 'do you really want transformation? Either you accept me or reject me'."

It can be safely stated that Ahuti would be regarded as one of the few writer-activists who have accepted that challenge. If Parijat is correct, the literary creations of poets like Ahuti would keep on bringing to us, in new and varied forms, the meaning of revolution - not only in a political sense but the one that encompasses the multifarious dimensions of the socio-cultural life of the downtrodden and the marginalized. At a time when the lofty dreams of the 1990 people's movement are being smashed and corrupted by some of the leading parties of that movement, when politics have turned away from the plight of people to the perks of power, and when the literatii seem to have forgotten their duty to lend voice to the voiceless, perhaps writers like Ahuti can help us to realize why and how the hope resides in the vast majority of illiterate people of the lower depths of our society, why the economically poorest section of the Nepali people teems with the creative power for rebuilding the country, why they are capable of changing the face of the nation.

We remember Parijat as spring blossoms once again to the accompaniment of the hungry ones' song, beating if anything yet more loudly and insistently than at the moment of her death. It seems to us that, in this time, although a little disappointed in not getting enough from Ahuti's pen, Parijat would have been happy, and proud, to see a poet walking the same path as was trodden by some of the heroic characters of her own unforgettable works. And that she would wish now, as she did then, "May his poems reach to those characters he heralded in his poetry; may grasping of them not be narrow."

In this context, it should also be remembered that, no matter how passionate the defense of his poems by the poet himself, Ahuti can be accused of writing slogans, not poetry, in some of his poems. Such charges cannot be dismissed as coming only from 'the glutted ones', and they demand serious pondering by the poet himself. Tucked away within Parijat's praises and encouragements one often finds warnings as well, warnings about tendencies she saw that might lead an artist away from the fullest realization of his or her abilities - which for Parijat meant the fullest flowering of those abilities not just as art, but as a medium of social transformation. In her introduction, singling out a few particular poems, Parijat also reflected on slogans:

"Just as poet Ahuti is rich in pathos, to the same extent he is also rich in slogans. ..... In a few special situations slogans too come to be beautiful poems, but these poems are not like that. Sometimes I feel that if Ahuti had not been given a poetic cast of mind, perhaps he would have written only slogans. In these slogan-type poems his pen doesn't flow as it does in other poems. Does the poet realize this or not? My question...."

Poet Ahuti and ascetics like the one he portrays seem unlikely to be much worried by what the 'glutted ones' think of them. Nor should they be. But they will have to be sensitive to what fellow travellers read and feel in their poems and songs. They will have to be ever alert to see the contours of their own images reflecting in the eyes of those who, like them, strive to 'plant poems in the forehead of the children'. These sensibilities are vital not only for the sake of art, but for their own being and attitude as a medium of social transformation - as 'engineers of the human soul'. Except at those special moments noted by Parijat, slogan-like poems can drown out the song of the hungry ones rather than giving it voice. And rather than drawing people to the orbit of the gathering storm of fundamental transformation, they may induce them to shut their doors for fear of such a storm.

Whether Ahuti ever writes another poem on paper, though we hope for many, is not so important as whether he plants poems in the foreheads of the children as he walks through this wounded land. Those who carry slogans to the people are many. Poets, in Parijat's sense and agitational ascetics like the one of Ahuti's "Ascetic's Song" are few. Ahuti is one of those few who, as Parijat saw, combine talent and commitment in equal measure. We hope he will always continue to seek the path leading to the heart of the hungry ones' song. The path that Parijat saw he has the special qualities to tread.

Parijat. 2049v.s. Palm Blisters, A Pair of Eyes: Ahuti's Poems. Introduction to Tapasvika Githaru (Ascetic's Songs).

Ahuti. 2049 v.s Ascetic's Songs. poetry collection. Kathmandu: Chintan Prakashan.

A few more recent poems by Ahuti have appeared in the pages of such literary publications as Vipul, Kalam, Janamat and Bedana, and in Jan Ekata weekly and Mulyankan monthly.

Ascetic's Song
    - Ahuti
                [Translated by Mary Des Chene and Mahesh Maskey]

I wrote poems not to eat rice I planted my poems not in rice begging bowls set before glutted ones I planted poems in the foreheads of the children Glutted ones may say Not poem/not song I sang only slogans But the ravaged nipples of my mother's breasts bear witness I sang a new way of life What have I to fear? I sang the song of the hungry ones.

There in the contented one's dwelling development slogans blaring Here in the poor one's dwelling flames of hunger flaring Throbbing like a festered wound, painful life Hopes of a tasty scrap to eat in this life burning like blisters in the children's eyes There levelling guns at suffering ones' doorways haughty murderers getting intoxicated Here Mangali Chepang's daughter coughing in waves all the night long Development slogans fired like bullets slamming into her chest Numb from coughing all the night through Chepangi daughter able to cough no more/retching from her gut vomiting time and again Had there been a hot scrap for her stomach she too would be smiling a moon-like smile But unable to digest development slogans on an empty stomach What befell the wretched one! Scratching at her mother's lap/ surrendering life with two tear drops

In this time the yards of the suffering ones thus fouled Standing in tears how can I sing a song of contentment? At the word of courtiers to beat the drum on feet as if fettered by ankle bracelets How can I dance before the palace? Oh! How can I auction myself for a few coins?

And so, in this time Standing in tears of the suffering ones I sang poems of liberation/sang songs that plant a moon just like pure gold in the foreheads of the children Let the courtiers say I sang only slogans/sang protest But the ravaged nipples of my mother's breasts bear witness I sang a new way of life What have I to fear? I sang the song of the hungry ones.

There haughty murderers' gun muzzles singing songs of peace Here load-crushed aching spines absorbing bayonet wounds There the landed ones passing out promises of independence Here in the dark chamber of the torture house crushing my beloved friend Had doves of peace truly taken wing My friend's dreams too would be dancing in the sky like rainbows Had the flower of independence truly blossomed On my friend's lips too a thousand moons would be smiling But after songs of peace issued from murderers' gun muzzles False promises of independence slammed into a heart made cold and rough What befell the wretched one! Scratching at the ground passing blood clots from his mouth Bedecking his eyes with the morning's dreams he's surviving in the dark chamber like a seed in famine

In such barbaric times standing close by the martyr's grave How can I sing false songs? Standing before erect Sagarmatha How can I, like a 'premature weakling' survive by bowing my head? Oh! How can I forgive these evil ones? If unable to blare forth the call of the fresh blood stains on the shawl of a raped and wounded naked sister If unable to insert the vows of bayonet-wounded bloody hearts Why do I now sing a song? Why sing a poem? Why insult my own pen?

And so in this time standing close by the martyr's grave Levelling heart's stem at the landed ones' gun muzzles To plant a moon just like pure gold in the foreheads of the children I sang the devotion of martyrs Sang a poem not to be left unsung Let the glutted ones say I sang not songs only slogans/not poems only rebellion But the ravaged nipples of my mother's breasts bear witness I sang a new way just like the victory of light What have I to fear? I sang the song of the hungry ones.

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

*********************************************************************************************** Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 12:50:30 -0400 (EDT) Forwarded by: Ashutosh Tiwari <tiwari@fas.harvard.edu> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Subject: May reviews (fwd)

At the Margins of World Fiction by Manjushree Thapa

Old Women by Mahasweta Devi Seagull Books, Calcutta 1999 IRS 175

Mahasweta Devi's fiction stands in glaring contradiction to Salman Rushdie's suggestion, some years back, that India's best writing may be taking place in the English language rather than in the 16 other official languages of that nation. Bengali-language author of short stories, plays, and a novel based on the lives of Uttar Pradesh's tribal communities, Devi is becoming better known outside South Asia as more and more of her writing comes into English translation. Old Women, a coupling of two of her short stories translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, is the latest of Devi's translated work, and a valuable, eye-opening text for English readers of contemporary Indian fiction.
        "Statue," the first of the book's stories, begins with the decision, on the part of the Calcutta Secretariat, to raise a bronze statue of freedom fighter Dindayal Thakur in his home village of Chhatim. "Naturally," Devi starts off with her fine, understated tone of irony, "the people of Chhatim village didn't know this." It was a PhD dissertation that was responsible for this event - a dissertation that none of the thirty-odd literate people of that area would ever read. Playing off a wry, knowing voice with a harder journalistic style - and some lovely, lyrical passages - Devi unravels the story of events surrounding Thakur's death, and the reactions of those who knew him as his statue is brought into the village. In particular the narrative swirls around the reactions of seventy-eight year old Dulali, a woman widowed at eight, who was loved, in her youth, by the high-caste Thakur boy. Afraid of breaking caste and widow-remarriage taboos, Dulali refused to marry Thakur, and he met his death soon afterwards in his activities as a pro-independence activist. She was, of course, blamed for precipitating his death.
        Devi shows the aged Dulali, at the beginning, as a woman still paying dearly for the "mistakes" of her youth - marginalized by her own family, she is reduced to focusing, like an animal, solely on the task of survival: "When she dreams, she dreams crude dreams. In her dream she wears a whole cloth and eats a full serving of rice in a bell-metal plate. Every day. Only rice. No lentils, no vegetables. Only rice." Dulali's inner life slowly comes to life as she learns about the statue and recalls the events of her past. She becomes humanized in the course of Devi's narrative - and at the end, agrees to leave the village with a nephew, making the very break she had so feared to do as a girl of sixteen.
        The second story of the collection, "The Fairy Tale of Mohanpur," paints a similarly brilliant picture of a near-blind old woman Andi living in the absence of government, in the surplus of superstitions and myths. As in "Statue," the plight of her main character is depicted within its larger social, economic, and political surroundings, and so the story veers from Andi's various attempts at clearing her vision - snail broth, lotus honey - to the wranglings of the more powerful: local political "patty" members, contractors, doctors. And yet the story never loses its focus on Andi, and on her persistent, hope-driven will to see.
        The strength of Devi's writing lies not just in her knowledge of the marginalized people she writes about, and her powerful advocacy on their behalf, but in her sheer craft. Ethics and aesthetics are equal commitments for her. She uses, to spectacular effect, the omniscient point-of-view, which lets her depict the simplest plot development not just within the story's local surroundings, but in the broad context of the nation, and of global economic machinations - often imperial or neo-colonial in nature. It is the concreteness of Devi's language which allows her to keep her fictional world utterly vivid despite its complexity: the soil of Chattim is laterite, the price of rice is nine rupees per kilo, the local leader is Madan Khan, son of Badan Khan and father of Sadan Khan. Never does Devi resort to generalizations or simplifications, or to the well-meant but artless didacticism that can easily mar Marxist fiction.
       Spivak's translation reads, for the most part, very smoothly, with Devi's various tones ringing clearly through the text. Every now and then, a few American idioms and expressions remind the reader that the work is, in fact, a translation, and as such - in the words of Spivak's teacher Jacques Derrida - it is bound, at an ultimate level, to "fail." But the artistic "successes" that accompany these theoretical "failures" are spectacular, and Spivak clearly fulfills her responsibility as a translator to bring into wider circulation narratives of those at the very margins of society. Old Women is a book everyone interested in contemporary world fiction should read.

(M Thapa is a writer based in Kathmandu)

May 9 1999, Vol IV, No. 3, Coordinator Manjushree Thapa Nepali Poetry and the Globe by Prabodh Devkota

Selected Nepali Poems Translated and edited by Tara Nath Sharma Jiba Lamichhane, Kathmandu, 1999

Experiment, lab, test-tube...refugee, blood, death...the roaring of the bomb...the upheaval of human lamentations and cries.... Hello! Welcome to the world of modernity. I heard the sounds. I saw the people, but when I touched them, they turned out to be robots. A robot was searching for something...when I asked what, its response was-"I'm searching for my lost soul."
        Selected Nepali Poems, published privately by businessman Jiba Lamichhane, is a collection of seventy-five poems by fifteen Nepali poets, beginning with Laxmi Prasad Devcota and including Kedar Man Vyathit, Gopal Prasad Rimal, Mohan Koirala, Hari Bhakta Katuwal, Bhupi Sherchan, Vasu Shashi, Vairagi Kainla, Krishna Bhakta Shrestha, Vaneera Giri, Manjul, Krishna Bhushan Bal, Vishnu Vibhu Ghimire, Ashesh Malla, and Dinesh Adhiari. Reading the poems in the collection, readers can gain insight into the psychological make-up of the Nepali people, their socio-economic conditions, their love of freedom, their anxiety for the loss of humanity, and at the very core, their invocation for universal peace.
        A person can exchange him/herself with a robot, but how can a soul compromise? The soul is the soul...it cannot be made of metal. Though at the extreme heights of civilization, humanity tried to vanquish the universe, the soul defeated people. Humanity is now crying for peace; with lost souls, people have realized the mistake of their Faustian bargains, and they are searching....

I have not found my own way out of the image I am a man who does not believe in the sky's expanse
(I am a man absolutely unable to enjoy this robot life) tell me with which mind, Shall I enjoy to be your companion?
                                        (Dinesh Adhikari)

Treaties are made to be broken...bombs are produced to control the soul.... Suppressed silences are more powerful than voices.... The distant cries of refugees, the moaning of widows, when coming through concrete walls, become voices of revolt:

They say a soldier wins a battle You great fools! Who says a soldier wins a battle The soldier only wins the widows The soldier only wins the orphans The soldier only wins the lame human and this soldier has always lost within his country.
                                        (Bishnu Vibhu Ghimire)

Dreams of making a single dream is fragmented. In the grip of modern technology, human existence is questioned. Humanity is fraught with melancholy. Though Vaneera Giri urges human beings not to be sad, KB Shrestha again and again finds man living in death, says, "Life stinks like a rotten egg." While Bhupi Sherchan, using a metaphorical expostulation, makes a pungent satire:

as in the past the earth where I live is revolving I am the only one unfamiliar with the changes all around with the landscapes/with joys like the blind man forced to sit/on a revolving chair in the exhibition.
         Poet Hari Bhakta Katuwal can't bear all this panic, and so he says:

Better to have a mind made of iron neither does it cry in blows and counter blows....

In the intoxication of power, humanity has become a merciless ruler. Voices have started to rebel against tyranny. There are tumults of revolutionary thoughts:

Is he really coming mother? Yes my son he is surely coming spreading his flashing light like the morning dews with which he will fight against injustice.
                                        (Gopal Prasad Rimal) Yet there is hope. Human dignity can be reestablished, the earth can be a paradise. Kedar Man Vyathit writes:

 ...If levels are uneven let us employ a plane and turning this very land into an earthly paradise why shouldn't we ourselves become divine humans?

Humanity can destroy civilization but it cannot defeat nature. For modern people caught in the tangles of their problems, the great literary giant of Nepal, Laxmi Prasad Devcota, shows a way to escape. Nature, he writes, is the ultimate savior of human dignity:

Oh God! I am overwearied please make me a sheep. This trap over my head, which is my house this accursed thought/this sin of knowing this measure of inner heart
 ...this curse of having accountability Let me fight with horns/though not in the spiritual battles Let my death be easy/not as burning by an atomic blast
 ...My Lord let me have divine animal Please come to me and make me right now a sheep.

What is clear from Selected Nepali Poems is that Nepali literature shares many characteristics with modern global literature. The experiences of our poets are common experiences. They too are pursued by the ghost of modernity. They are anxious about the world and the decay of humanity. While reading the poems in this book, the reader can find his or her feelings and experiences expressed, no matter whether he is from Asia, Africa, or Europe.
        Words are power. They can console the panicked heart, celebrate joys, and many times in history, words have defeated great Sikandars and Alexanders. Art transcends borders, states, and ages. Poetry can do for us what religion, philosophy, and technology can no longer do. The value of literature is beyond measurement. By publishing this collection of Nepali poems in English translation, publisher Jiba Lamichane and translator/editor Tara Nath Sharma have contributed much to the field of literature. This book gives foreign readers great access to Nepali literature. The only lack is that the book should have included more female voices.

(P Devkota is a student at TU's Department of English)

May 9 1999, Vol IV No. 3, Coordinator Manjushree Thapa Helping the Poor by Anil Baral

Bipannatabata Muktikolagi Swabalamban Gramin Swabalamban Bikash Kendra, Kathmandu, 1998

       Do you believe that distributing small loans to the poor leads destitute, deprived and derelict rural communities towards self-reliance and economic development? One may refute or buttress this argument; but even those who do not accede to this statement will not be harmed by reading Bipannabata Muktikolagi Swabalamban, which espouses the notion of "small is beautiful." The book's hard-fought premise is that swablamban, or self-reliance, can be cultivated by providing small loans to the poor.
        The so-called bikase projects are center and power oriented, mostly revolving around long bureaucratic processes, and therefore failing to channel resources to the target people for whom the projects are really meant. Realizing the need of the time, the path of self-reliance chose a different perspective to uplift the poor by granting them all authority to design, execute and harvest the benefits of small-scale loans and projects. At the time the concept of self-reliance was put into practice in Nepal, today's bikase buzzwords like "empowerment" and "community mobilization" were totally unheard of. Our undying patience in waiting for a bikase panacea has shackled us to the belief that development is something that has to be brought from outside; this is the thinking of the common masses.
        Cultivating a sense of self-reliance among the downtrodden and destitute in a poor country like Nepal is of paramount importance. Successive five-years plans have not delivered the benefits of development to poor rural communities, and most development activities have been concentrated in urban centers. Notwithstanding decades of development efforts, the people have but extreme frustrations and plummeting confidence in their governance. They are trapped in vicious cycles of poverty that are very difficult to escape.
        Bipannatabata Muktikolagi Swabalamban argues that one can hardly breathe an air of respite from the few scattered past and present achievements of poverty alleviation programs run by NGOs and INGOs, and tries to depict the self-reliance program as the best option available to rural poor of Nepal. However, the book cautions readers about the objectives of the self-reliance program. Self-reliance does not aim at establishing a magnificent example, nor does it take rural communities to the pinnacle of development through radical change. Primarily, the self-reliance program consists of concerted efforts to generate I-can-do-it confidence among the poor. The program, a brain child of Dr. Devendra Raj Pandey, was born from the realization that people have to take initiative on their own for development. Therefore the self-reliance program has much to do with psychological factors and mental transformation. The main thrust of the program is that a change in mentality is key to transforming our perceptions of environment, behavior, and social conduct which spur economic development.
       Despite the difficulty of assessing the impact and achievements of the program on rural communities (since the effect has different levels and dimensions), achievements can be broadly realized in the economic sector, in social conduct and behavior, and in mental transformation. Improvements in economic and material gain at the individual level are quite visible and set off chains of similar efforts by others. Equally, deprived communities witness progressive changes in social ethos, perceptions, and etiquette. Apart from cultivating self-confidence, people demonstrate enhanced authority in the decision-making process. Above all, it is asserted that mental transformation is the most noticeable impact of the program, which remarkably subdues fatalistic attitudes in deprived communities and instead sows seeds of self-respect and confidence that people can plot their own destiny.
        The financial arrangements carved out by self-reliance program to run various activities are very interesting. The Rural Self-reliance Development Center has set up two types of funds: 1. Revolving Funds and, 2. Huasala (encouragement) Grants. The income-generating committee also sets up "local self-reliance funds" on their own initiative. In addition, an Akshya Kosh has been set up to collect funds from donors. Loans are granted only to members of the income-generating committee, with most deprived member receiving the first loans. Once the first member pays back loans, the second member in the priority line gets a loan and in this way the loan is revolved among members. The faster one pays the loans, the sooner one can get another one, and so there is always an incentive to pay back the loan in time. This fund-allocation mechanism, coupled with stringent requirements to become a grantee, insures against fund misuse.
        Reading between the lines, one can sense a deep-rooted rivalry between the self-reliance program and micro-credit programs. This is understandable, as both share almost the same mechanism to empower the rural poor. The book includes a subjective commentary on the program's 13 years of torturous journey, chronicling the ups and downs over the years.
        Just as any philosophical book raises more questions than it can answer, Bipannatabata Muktikolagi Swabalamban (though not philosophical) ends up posing some critical questions that need to be fully understood and addressed in the context of changing aspirations of our societies. Understandably, the main question is: what is the ultimate aim of the self-reliance program, and where should it end? Should it continue till all rural communities attain the status envisaged by the program, or should it set limited objectives and work towards meeting them? The self-reliance program purports to develop a self-reliant society; by the same token, shouldn't the program itself become financially independent without having to depend on foreign assistance? The book could serve a useful guide to those interested in studying the impact of savings and credit type programs in rural areas of Nepal.

(A Baral prefers to study diverse subjects from environment to economics)

May 9, 1999 Vol IV No. 3, Coordinator Manjushree Thapa Students and Politicians in '36 Saal ko Aandolan' by Ani Rudra Silwal

The uprising of 1979 has been forgotten by many probably because of the turbulence in Nepali politics since then. Not much research has been done on this topic. In one of the few works on the uprising, Nepal: A year of Decision, D. P. Kumar claims that the uprising was instigated by politicians who used the students as a mere fa=E7ade of their underground activities. In this essay I will argue that the politicians had very little involvement in the uprising. It was initially organized by students, and after the uprising caught momentum, the public participated to make it widespread. The politicians were not confident enough to participate actively because their strength had been weakened by Panchayat repression. Instead, they were observing the students with curiosity. I will divide the uprising into three phases and analyze this relationship between the students and the politicians.

Pre-Uprising Period (pre-April 6, 1979) After political parties were banned in 1961, all overt political activity was left to students, who became organized into unions directed by the political parties. These unions were banned by the New Education Plan in 1973, but they still functioned clandestinely, and remained directed by the parties. Politicians, therefore, were not unaware of the students' plans for the uprising, but they could not themselves initiate an uprising against the government because their party organizations had been crippled after eighteen years of persecution. B.P. Koirala was not happy about the students starting a political uprising because he thought such a movement would hurt his move of national reconciliation. Keshar Jung Rayamajhi did not favor starting mass protests either; his faction supported the King's move in 1961, and also the Panchayat system. Neither were other politicians convinced that students could do anything significant after seeing the fruitless demonstrations of 1972 and 1975.=20
        Students were genuinely dissatisfied with Tribhuvan University. They were continuously harassed by the government-sponsored Mandal which was the only legal student organization after 1973. Therefore union representatives of all the colleges of Kathmandu came together on their own initiative a few months before the uprising and collected demands that were mostly educational in nature, except for the demand for legal independent student unions. Students claimed that the Mandal did not truly represent them, and so they needed independent unions to voice their class interests. It was, however, evident that they wanted party activities to be legalized. It was of crucial importance that all unions approved these demands, because after the uprising began, the demands received the unified support of all the students.
        The former Pakistani Prime Minister, ZA Bhutto was executed on April 4, 1979. A few hundred students gathered to file a protest at the Pakistani Embassy in Kathmandu, but were cane-charged on the way, and arrested by police. Students found the excuse they were looking for. The following day, they proclaimed an uprising by handing to officials the demands they had already prepared.

The Uprising (April 7- May 22, 1979) An Action Committee was formed on April 9 headed by a troika representing the big student groups: pro-Congress, pro-Peking, and pro-Moscow. During this period the movement spread all over the country and to different sections of the society. Those demonstrations were called "student demonstrations," but since they were so big, it was not possible that they consisted of students alone.=20
        It was no surprise that protests spread so quickly, like a chain reaction. Almost all sections of society were discontented with the polity and its politicians. The students of most of the parties were unified, unlike in earlier demonstrations when they always nullified each other's energies. University students in the National Development Service backed the movement in rural areas. The government's negligence and delay in dealing with the students also gave time for the uprising to spread. Although the important political leaders were reluctant to participate actively in the uprising, or were imprisoned, or were placed under surveillance, party-sympathizers actively participated in organizing protests.=20
        The King, noticing the increasing proportion of the unrest, appointed a Royal Commission on May 2 to resolve the student issue. After negotiations with the Student Action Committee, the Commission fulfilled all demands, including the right to form unions and the disbanding of the notorious Mandal. The student movement had come to a logical end, so the troika signed an agreement with the Commission on May 21 and called off the uprising. If the political leaders wanted any more political concessions, they had to lead the next stage of the uprising. No politician was willing to do this because they simply did not have sufficient cadres or good party networks. Most of them felt that the concessions the students had won (to form legal student unions) were good enough to move to the next stage of opposition. However, to the surprise of these politicians, the uprising continued.

Last Day of the Uprising (May23, 1979)=20 Events took a serious turn on the last day of the uprising. Even after the Action Committee called off the protests, the strikes did not stop. On the afternoon of May 23, students gathered at ASCOL in Thamel supposedly to deliberate on the decision made by the troika two days ago. But the gathering became violent, and turned into a mob that enlarged quickly, and started grinding through the streets of Kathmandu. The army was called to scatter the mob that evening. There were several discontented forces that gave the uprising such a violent nature at this stage. The Mandal had been banned the day before and wanted to take revenge by creating disorder. The Mohan Bikram Singh faction felt humiliated because their name was not mentioned in the public announcements as a faction involved in organizing the uprising. The revolutionary Marxist-Leninist faction was not happy with the movement being called off. As I mentioned earlier, the student movement had triggered several other movements, and people behind those movements were not willing to stop the protests without their demands being fulfilled. Since the violence was going out of control, the King proclaimed on the following day a referendum that would allow all Nepalis to choose between an improved version of the Panchayat system and parliamentary democracy.=20

Conclusion The uprising started out as a planned protest by the student community. People of all sections of the society had grievances against the government, and they expressed them in the name of supporting the students. Although the prominent politicians supported the students' academic demands, they did not expect the outcome to be so overwhelming, and did not bother to participate actively. The uprising of 1979 has proved that students, and not only politicians, are capable of bringing political change. When there was no one in the country to speak up against the oppressive government, students stood up and lead everyone. The uprising, however, inextricably tied students to politics, instead of allowing them to concentrate on education. The tolerance of party-affiliated student unions was a direct consequence of this uprising. Since those unions were the platform for political parties to revive their network and activity, this uprising is also important to our understanding of processes behind the 1990 Revolution.=20

(AR Silwal is a student at the United World College in Norway)

******************************************************** From: "Jeet Joshee" <jjoshee@access.ced.uconn.edu> To: nepal@cs.niu.edu Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 14:15:44 -500

Dear Editor,

Please include the following information on ANA 17th Annual Convention to be held in Hartford Hilton Hotel, Connecticut, July 2-4, 1999.

Thank you.

Dr. Jeetendra Joshee Convention Chair

Letter From the 1999 ANA Convention Chair

Dear Nepali Friends and Friends of Nepal,

Your friends in Connecticut and the members of the convention planning committee are eager to welcome you in the ANA 17th Annual Convention to be held in Hartford, July 2-4, 1999 with a theme "Communities Coming Together". Most arrangements for the convention have already been completed. Hartford Hilton - our convention venue is ready to host us, many program sessions are already selected and is almost complete. Cultural program is looking good, soccer teams competing in the convention are being formed in many parts of the country, family fun activities are lined up, and activities for children are being organized. In order for you and your family to have fun and enjoyable time together, a grand buffet banquet with
"pakkaa Nepali khaanaa" is on the menu. All we need now is you, your family and friends. Please accept my personal invitation to come to Hartford and enjoy the festivities of the ANA Convention.

Below, you will find convention registration form, an outline of the program sessions being presented, and a tentative schedule of the entire convention. In addition, you will also find hotel reservation information and the directions to get to Hartford. Please pay attention to the room reservation deadline of June 26, 1999. Although I do not anticipate any problem with room availability, I urge that you book yours on time. Also, please do pre-register for the convention as soon as possible. It will make the lives of the members in the registration committee much easier. All of this information is also available at the ANA web site at http://WWW.ANA-HOME.ORG

In addition to being at the Convention, you will have plenty of other attractions to enjoy in and around Hartford. New England's largest - Riverside Amusement Park with awesome water rides and brain scrambling roller coasters is within half hour driving distance, Foxwoods and Mohegun Sun Resort Casinos are 45 minutes away, Mark Twain House, Wardsworth Athenium, and Bushnell Park are in walking distance from the hotel. Plus, Hartford Civic Center and the Mall are adjacent to the hotel for all your shopping needs.

Therefore, plan your July 4th weekend this year in Connecticut. Meet your long lost friends, get to know many Nepalis you have never met before, enjoy the cultural program, and engage in professional presentations and discussions.

If you have any questions or have suggestions for the convention please feel free to call me at 860-742-6854 or e-mail me at bandipure@hotmail.com. Looking forward to greet and meet you in July -

Yours Sincerely, Dr. Jeetendra Joshee Convention Chair

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ANA 17th Annual Convention
"Communities Coming Together" Hartford Hilton Hotel July 2-4, 1999

REGISTRATION FORM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Name(s): ________________________________________

Home Address: ____________________________________

               ________________________________________

Phone: (______) ______________ E-Mail: ___________________
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A. Membership and Convention
    Registration Fees # Total Amt.

           Family $60 N/A _______

           Individual $30 N/A _______

B. Life Member Registration $40 _______

C. Cultural Program (July 4) $5/person x ___ _______

D. Formal Banquet (July 4)
                      Adults $25/person x ___ _______

               Children 12 and under $15/person x ___ _______

E. Contribution for the Nepal Education
     And Cultural Center ________

    GRAND TOTAL $ ________
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Make Check or Money Order payable to ANA and mail with your completed registration form to:

Subarna Joshee 122 Sean Circle Coventry, CT 06238-1664

Any registration related questions, please call 860-742-6854 or e-mail to sjoshee@yahoo.com

(Association of Nepalis in the Americas is a non-profit organization)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ANA 17th Annual Convention July 2-4, 1999

Hotel Reservation and Directions to the Hilton Hartford Hotel

Hotel Reservation: You can reserve your room by calling the Hotel directly at 860-728-5151 or through central reservation at 1-800-HILTONS. A discounted rate for ANA Convention attendees will be $79/room/night. Up to 4 people in one room. To receive the convention rate you need to mention you are coming for ANA. All room reservation must be guaranteed by a major credit card. The reservation cut off date is June 26, 1999. At the cut off date, the hotel will release the unreserved portions of the blocked rooms for general sale to the public. So please make your reservations as soon as possible but definitely before June 26.

Air Travel: Bradley International Airport is 12 miles from the hotel and is served by most major airlines. The hotel has Airport Shuttle Service via Airport Connection, $11:00 one way, $21 round trip. After arrival, please go to the Airport Connection information counters located in the baggage claim areas. Do not go outside to look for the Shuttle. For further information about the shuttle please call 860-627-3400 with your flight information.

Driving Directions

>From I-84 Eastbound: (Danbury CT - Westchester County, NY)

Take Exit 49 (Ann and High Street) - Go straight to the 3rd light Make a right - the Hotel is on the right hand side Go past the Hotel to the first light and turn right This will put you on Church Street Go half a block to the parking garage and turn right into garage Immediately go to your right. This is the Hilton parking section. Take you peach colored ticket from the machine and bring that to the front desk to be validated. In the event that the Hilton section is full you may park in the public section.

>From I-84 Westbound (Worcester, MA - Boston, MA)

Take Exit 50 (Main Street) - Go straight to the 3rd light Make a left - the Hotel will be on the right hand side one block down Go past the Hotel to the first light and turn right This will put you on Church Street Go half a block to the parking garage and turn right into garage
(See above for parking information)

>From I-91 North and Southbound (New Haven - New York City - Springfield MA)

Take Exit 32B (Trumbull Street) - Go straight through the light at the end of exit Go straight up the hill and the Hotel will be on the right Go past the Hotel to the first light and turn right This will put you on Church Street Go half a block to the parking garage and turn right into garage (See above for parking information)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

ANA Annual Convention
"Communities Coming Together" Friday - Sunday, July 2 - 4, 1999, Hartford Hilton Hotel

TENTATIVE CONVENTION SCHEDULE

Friday July 2, 1999

3:00 PM - 9:00 PM Registration 5:00 - 6:00 PM ANA Executive Board Meeting 6:00 - 7:30 PM Buffet Dinner (Hosted by Nepali Community in Connecticut) 8:00 - 9:30 PM Poetry Festival and Competition (Hari Koirala, Min Gautam) 9:30 - 10:30 Entertainment

Saturday July 3, 1999

6:00 - 8:00 AM Early Birds' Jogging, Walking 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Registration 9:00 - 10:15 AM Aradhana and Opening Ceremony 10:30 - 12 Noon Session: How Can Nepalis and Organizations Abroad Help
                                Nepal (Padam Sharma, Veda Joshi, Arjun Karki) 10:30-12 Noon Family Fun: A Walking Tour of Hartford (Richard Pfau) 1:30 - 2:45 PM Session: Empowering Nepali Women (Bidya Ranjeet, Dev Raj
                                Mishra, Tika Gurung, Susan Hangenl) 1:30 - 2:45 Family Fun: Dantya Kathaa (Sita Koirala, Maya Mishra) 3:00 - 4:30 Session: Human Rights Issues (Rajendra Shrestha, Balram
                                Aryal, Kabindra Sitaula, Girija Gautam) 3:00 - 4:30 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Gathering (Richard Pfau) 4:30 - 5:30 Family Fun: Yoga Session 4:30 - 7:30 Soccer (1st round games) (Ganesh Basnet, Krishna Manandhar) 8:00 - 9:30 Children's Cultural Program "Ramaailo Saanjh" (Narendra
                                Ranjeet, Sita Koirala) 10:00 PM - 1:00 AM Dancing w/DJ

Sunday July 4, 1999

6:00 - 8:00 AM Early Birds' Jogging and Walking 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM Registration 8:00 - 9:00 AM ANA Business Meeting 9:00 - 10:15 Session: Youth Forum (Simon Dhungana) 9:00 - 10:15 Family Fun: Nepali Games (Krishna Shrestha, Kalpana K.C) 10:30 - 12 Noon Session: Issues of Intimacy - Communication Across
                                Generations (Geeta Pfau, Donald McLaughlin, Rajani Shrestha) 10:30 - 12Noon Session: Nepali Entrepreneurs, Deeds and Taxes (Suman
                                Timsina, Nic Thakur) 10:30 - 12 Noon Family Fun: Tour of the Cathedral, Rose Garden and Mark
                                Twain House (Richard Pfau) 1:30 - 2:30 PM Session: Education for the 21st
                                Century (Hari Koirala) 1:30 - 2:30 Session: Medical Issues Forum (Hari Sharma) 3:00 - 5:00 Soccer match final (Ganesh Basnet, Krishna Manandhar) 6:00 - 8:00 Formal Banquet Buffet Dinner 9:30 -11:30 Cultural Program "Rumjham" (Narendra Ranjeet, Sita Koirala,
                                Saroj Prajapati)

Monday July 5, 1999

9:00 - 10:30 AM ANA Executive Board Meeting

(Notes: Baby sitting service during banquet is available. Banquet buffet dinner is catered from a Local Nepali Restaurant)

See you all in Hartford on the July 4th weekend.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeetendra Joshee Convention Chair Center for Professional Development and University Conference Services University of Connecticut (860)486-3231 Fax:(860)486-5221 jjoshee@access.ced.uconn.edu

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