Received: from mp.cs.niu.edu (mp.cs.niu.edu [220.127.116.11]) by library.wustl.edu (8.8.5/8.8.5) with SMTP id MAA23308; Sun, 22 Mar 1998 12:37:21 -0600 (CST) Received: by mp.cs.niu.edu id AA22061 (5.67b/IDA-1.5 for nepal-dist); Sun, 22 Mar 1998 10:42:31 -0600 Received: by mp.cs.niu.edu id AA22054 (5.67b/IDA-1.5 for nepal-list); Sun, 22 Mar 1998 10:42:29 -0600 Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 10:42:29 -0600 Message-Id: <199803221642.AA22054@mp.cs.niu.edu> Reply-To: The Nepal Digest <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> From: The Editor <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sender: "Rajpal J.P. Singh" <A10RJS1@cs.niu.edu> Subject: The Nepal Digest - March 21, 1998 (1 Chaitra 2054 BkSm) To: <NEPAL@cs.niu.edu> Content-Type: text Status: O X-Status: X-Keywords: X-UID: 259
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The Nepal Digest Sun Mar 21, 1998: Chaitra 1 2054BS: Year7 Volume72 Issue2
Martin Chautari Schedule for March 98
XP family in Nepal
On Virtual Sherpas by Melinda Pilling
Technological Leapfrog and the Race for Learning
Work in Nepal
International publishing on Nepal: translation
Nepal medical visit
NGO in NEPAL
Researching law/policy on incest in Asian countries
Letter to Bob Kinslow about Habitat for Humanity Program in Nepal
* TND (The Nepal Digest) Editorial Board *
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* +++++ Food For Thought +++++ *
* "Heros are the ones who give a bit of themselves to the community" *
* "Democracy perishes among the silent crowd" -Sirdar_Khalifa *
****************************************************************** Date: Feb 21, 1998 To: The Nepal Digest <email@example.com> Subject: Nepali News Source: The kathmandu Post
Hidden sex work can be voluntary or forced
By a Post Reporter
KATHMANDU, Feb 21 - The world's oldest profession "sex" has managed to lure
many a young woman in Nepal into its grip despite social stigma, public
disapproval, and fear of life
threatening diseases that come along with it.
So wide is its reach that even a remote district in far western Nepal is not
untouched. A recent
research done by an INGO shows that out of every 166 to 200 adult women in
Kanchanpur district, one is involved in hidden sex work. The research estimates
the total number to be
about 435 to 490 in that district alone. This number doesn't include Badi
and Deuki women
whose profession is selling sex.
Though sex workers, generally, don't come out in the open, they exist and
operate in hiding.
"A hidden female sex worker is a woman who has sexual relations with more than one man for money or presents. A woman who operates in hiding is not a Badi or Deuki and has not been trafficked," says Margreet Stolte, of ACTION AID, an international NGO. In such a case why do women indulge in hidden sex work? According to a research done in Kanchanpur by ACTION AID Nepal Western Regional Office, poverty was seen as a strong factor driving women into sex. The other reasons were: gender inequality, increased aspiration for living standards, lack of education, lack of alternative employment opportunities and sexual satisfaction.
Stolte says the "hidden sex work" can be both voluntary and forced. Even the
work has two categories. One is of those who intended to get into it and the
other is of those
who originally didn't intend to. However, as women sink deeper and deeper
in the whirlpool of
poverty, more and more women are getting into hidden sex work. Their inability
to meet the
basic needs of the family compels many women to embrace this profession.
The report published by ACTION AID gives cases of how women got engaged in this
profession. A 22 year old woman says she entered sex work because of the need
The woman who carried things to India for businessmen says, "The first time I
slept with a
businessman because of my need for work and he had the power to get me
continued as I had to spend night with other businessmen on every trip."
Considering the fact that sex work is ineradicable many suggest that it
be decriminalised. Sex
workers be allowed to operate in open. "This will at least relieve them from
the abuses and
exploitation at the hands of pimps and brothel owners," claim many activists.
But many women
activists are outraged and vehemently oppose this suggestion. They question
not only its
negative impact on society but also that this will degrade the status of women.
"If sex work is legalised then women will be reduced into a mere commodity," says Durga Ghimire, an active women rights activist. "This is a violation of human rights and we strongly oppose this idea." But many human rights activists don't see this as a violation of human rights. Anjana Shakya, of INHURED International, a human rights organisation, says, "If a woman enters it voluntarily it won't be a violation of human rights. We accept this."
Whether activists accept it or not this trade is flourishing. "Specially,
since the police and
politicians are giving it protection," says an activist. The research also
army men and local politicians besides others as regular clients.
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 11:18:09 -0500 (EST)
From: Lazima Onta-Bhatta <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Martin Chautari Schedule for March 98
Please announce and post the following Martin Chautari weekly discussion
schedule for March 98.
Martin Chautari is an open forum (meets every Tuesday, 5:30 pm, in
Thapathali, Kathmandu; tel:246065) and anyone can participate (no
You can talk to Pratyoush Onta (228850), Usha Tiwari (478130), Shizu
Upadhaya (420047), or Kumar Pandey (280676) (all of these are home
numbers) for further details about this forum and/or to suggest discussion
24 March 11 Chaitra (NOTE: Different Venue)
"Selling of Innocence" Film by Ruchira Gupta. Show and Discussion to be led by Ruchira Gupta at NEFEJ (Nepal Forum for Environmental Journalists) Hall, Thapathali; NEFEJ tel: 231991
31 March 18 Chaitra
Eviction in Kathmandu's Squatter Settlements: a Human right Issue
Lazana Manandhar and Masako Tanaka, Lumanti Support Group for Shelter
Department of Anthropology
phone: (607) 266-9231
Date: Sat, 21 Feb 1998 08:12:22 -0500
From: "Shauna M. Richert, MD" <email@example.com>
To: Ashutosh Tiwari <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: XP family in Nepal
I received your email appeal for Rajan Panthi from Arjun Karki. I have
sent the email to three XP researchers/experts, Dr. Busch and Dr.
Kraemer in the U.S. and Dr. Mezzina in France. I obtained their names
through the Xeroderma Pigmentosum Organization site on the internet. It
is an excellent site with contacts and information and support. I would
suggest that you put the Panthi family in contact with this organization
as that would likely be the most fruitful option, if you have not
already done so. The site address is http://www.xps.org
I wish them luck in their search. If there is anything else I can do to
assist, please let me know.
Shauna M. Richert, MD
Chief Resident Dermatology
University of Pittsburgh
Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 12:01:12 -0500 (EST)
From: Ashutosh Tiwari <email@example.com>
Subject: On Virtual Sherpas by Melinda Pilling
Author: Adams, Vincanne.
Book: Tigers of The Snow and Other Virtual Sherpas: An
Ethnography of Himalayan Encounters. Princeton University Press,
1996. ISBN 0-691-00111-1
Book reviewed by Melinda Pilling
UNDER ONE ROOF": Virtual Sherpas and Tourism
With all the hub-bub surrounding Visit Nepal Year 1998, Vincanne
Adams's Tigers of the Snow and Other Virtual Sherpas offers its readers
important insights into the effects of a tourism and foreign-aid based
economy on Nepali cultures. Unlike many ethnographers of the Sherpas,
Vincanne Adams is not concerned with recording the lifestyle of a
"vanishing" culture before it is swept out of existence by the forces of modernization.
Rather, Adams shows us how modern Sherpas--both "intrinsically
real" and "imaginatively produced"--emerge through relationships with
Western tourists, friends, and sponsors. In doing so, she presents
important questions about the role of anthropology in modernization
(which, she points out, isn't all that different from that of tourism after all). Tigers of The Snow and Other Virtual Sherpas encourages its readers to critically analyze relationships between Western tourists, anthropologists, and development workers and their Sherpa friends in
Adams's ethnography begins at the airport, where she is greeted by
a San Miguel beer advertisement featuring a huge beer bottle and can next
to a much smaller picture of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, who died shortly after
summiting Everest in 1993. Adams points out that in climbing mountains
"because they want to" Sherpas have become what Westerners desire--similar yet different, needy and deserving of aid, accommodating of change yet preserving the parts of their culture that tourists and anthropologists find so appealing.
Discussing the ways in which Pasang Lhamu's death has been used to
promote beer and tourism, Adams asks her readers to reflect on "who
authorizes the expenditure of life" in Himalayan mountaineering
expeditions and "who profits from it" (4). This is a question important
to pose in 1998, the year in which the virtues of tourism as a way to
revitalize the economy, promote development, and even preserve the
environment are being loudly proclaimed.
Never taking recourse to a simple notion of culture which would
locate it in a "native" population, Adams shows us how "Tigers of the
Snow," the Sherpas that Westerners have come to trust and desire, are
produced in the ever-elusive borderlands between the Himalayas and the
It is important to understand that Adams's ethnography is not an
ethnography of living, breathing Sherpas so much as it is one of "virtual
Sherpas," Sherpas more "Sherpa" than Sherpas themselves who, through
encounters with the West, have become possessed of super-Sherpa virtues.
This concept of the virtual Sherpa gains clarity and strength through
Adams's discussion of the modern (and modernizing) Sherpa industries of
mountaineering tourism, shamanism, Buddhism, development, medicine, and
Adams shows us how modern, virtual Sherpas come into being as
products of two related modernizing compulsions: the first, to become
like Western representations of Sherpas via mimesis; the second, to ensure
Western sponsorship and business through seduction. Adams claims that in
becoming what Westerners desire, virtual Sherpas create virtual
Westerners--rich, generous, and perfectly suited to the role of a sponsor.
Pointing out the mutuality of seduction, Adams argues that Westerners are
not the sole producers of sameness and difference.
Instead, she shows how the anthropological tradition of locating
"difference" in the others of the West upholds the neo-colonialist power structures of late modernity.
Herein lies the importance of Tigers of the Snow and Other Virtual
Sherpas to contemporary debates about development and foreign aid in Nepal.
Adams points out that the economy of tourism and foreign sponsorship
render Western interest a more salient influence on Sherpa culture than the
I would argue that this is perhaps true of all of Nepali
life, and that the huge promotion of Visit Nepal Year 1998 within Nepal
speaks to His Majesty's Government's recognition of this fact in its
attempts to seduce foreign investment, tourism, and aid. I want to end
this review by comparing the billboard image of Pasang Lhamu with which
Adams opens her ethnography of virtual Sherpas with another image, this one
taken from the front page of the Sunday, January 4 edition of the Kathmandu
The photo is of two Nepali girls riding on a float in the New Year's
day kick off parade for Visit Nepal Year 1998. The older girl, in the
foreground of the photo, is wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses. Behind
her stands a rather sullen-looking young girl in traditional costume. The
reader has the impression that the older girl, our thoroughly modern tour
guide, is showing us "Nepali culture" in the form of the discontent and
unmodernized younger girl behind her.
The caption reads: "UNDER ONE ROOF--the rapidly disappearing
Nepali culture shares a float with the all-conquering Western culture."
Adams's work makes it clear that Nepali modernity is constantly under
negotiation. If--as the Post photo caption smartly suggests--the
reduction of things Nepali to an ornament of a modern tourist economy is
the message of Visit Nepal Year 1998, it must be asked: who profits from
it? THE END
( Reviewer Melinda Pilling is a student in the Univ of Wisconsin Nepal
Program. This review appeared from the Kathmandu Post Review of Books
February, 1998, co-ordinated by Seira Tamang in Kathmandu.)
Book: Tara - A Fleshtrade Odyessy, Vikas Publishing, 1997
An Odyssey that Falters
A book-review by Sangeeta Gurung
"Tara - A Fleshtrade Odyssey'" by the American author Matthew S.Friedman is
set in Calcutta and tells us of the abduction of a young Indian girl, Tara,
her consequent 'introduction' to prostitution, and of her family's efforts to save her.
The author's strength lays in the contextualization of the story. It
is obvious he has done thorough research for this book and has
drawn on his experience in the field of international health. He
describes Calcutta slums using lexis that give us a vivid picture
of them in our minds.
Furthermore, the characters that make up Tara's family are easily
recognisable to those living in underdeveloped countries. For example,
there's Krishna- Tara's brother - the street child rooting around the
rubbish dump for objects to sell and eat, and Tara's father - the man from
the village trying to make it good in the city - but falling into a cycle
of poverty and drinking, and so on.
Friedman also gives us an idea of the
workings of a brothel - the brokers involved, psychological tactics used
to pressure their 'merchandise' (girls) into submission, client
preferences and manoeveurings.. .all of which give an insight into the
mechanisms and people connected and affected by the 'Fleshtrade'.
It is when Friedman enters into the emotional realm of the story, concerning the family's and Tara's feelings that his book falters. This is especially noticeable when Tara is involved. The reader feel somehow
uninvolved and distant, and more of an onlooker to the unfolding events - the reader is never drawn in. For example, during the rape scene (Tara's initiation into prostitution) instead of feeling outraged and shocked - we feel as though we're watching from a distance - safe and sound. This may just be a reflection of Friedman's ability as a writer.
Or it could be that Friedman as a man from a different cultural
background didn't feel himself capable of showing us Tara's feelings and
emotions during the rape scene. In fact Friedman goes into very little
detail - perhaps wisely staying away from an area where he might have got
himself into difficulties. But then one has to ask why in his
introduction, Friedman states that the novel "tries to capture what it is
like for a young girl with no sexual experiences to be taken from her
family and her community, and forced to submit to the will of the brothel
owners who care about nothing except making a profit". Clearly, his novel
fails in this endeavour.
It maybe due to this lack of emotional power that we feel detachment
to Tara's plight - a detachment which I feel is in a way dangerous. Women
trafficking is a serious issue which affects many of the families in Nepal
and India, and we - especially women - should feel morally outraged by the
story of Tara.
Instead of feeling outrage at
the injustice we see, we come away from the book thinking of it in terms
of a 'good story' and not as a book that sends a message to people.
The message should have been a very powerful one of how girls/women are
made to suffer against their will in the 'flesh trade'. Instead we read a good story that is informative about many things - Calcutta, the slums, and the workings of a brothel, etc - but ultimately lacks a certain emotional power which could have been used more effectively to really bring the Issues behind the story home in a far more emphatic way.
Perhaps the story-line itself is in a way responsible for the almost
detached quality of the book. How realistic is it to assume that once a
young girl from a very poor family goes missing that her family would go
to such great efforts to find her and bring her back home? Wouldn't it
be realistic to assume that they would appreciate the fact
that they had one less mouth to feed?
How feasible is it that a stranger,
especially living in an area like Calcutta, would lend Tara's father - a
pauper - Rs. 5,000 with the offer that he'd lend him some more if he
needed it to rescue Tara ? The characters seem almost too convenient - as
if they were there simply to push the story along in the direction the author required. This unrealistic quality in the story only aggravates the feeling of detachment concerning Tara's plight.
While the book is short and readable and gives us a good idea of
the workings of the 'Fleshtrade' without drowning us in statistics and
figures, it would not be the "heart-wrenching tale of love, life corruption
and evil" promised by the jacket cover of the book. THE END.
(Reviewer Sangeeta Gurung describes herself as harried working mother of
two children in Kathmandu. Her review is taken from the FEbruary '98 ko
The Kathmandu Post Review of Books, co-ordinated by Seira Tamang.)
INDIVIDUALS IN AN ETHNICALLY STRATIFED SOCIETY
A review of Steven Parish's "Hierarchies and its Discontents"
Reviewed by Jasmine Rajbhandary
Ethnopolitics is emerging as a subject of analysis in Nepal,
as it is elsewhere in South Asia. This of course includes a
re-visit to the role of caste in society and national development.
However, a majority of the existing analysis about caste, until
recently, was conducted by Western sociologists and anthropologists
and therefore presents caste and its hierarchy as being
representative of whole societies objectified as homo hierarchus (a
highly integrated and unified culture and structure where there is
little human agency/consciousness or a society which is one
Steven Parish in Hierarchy and its Discontents: Culture and
the Politics of Consciousness in Caste Society attempts to analyze
this concept of homo hierarchus formulated by Louis Dumont and
ascertain its relevance to South Asia through discussion about the
Newar caste system and untouchables in India.
In doing this ethnographic study, through person centered
research, Parish presents the multiple perspectives of some Newar people
in Bhaktapur and his interpretation of them. The interpretation of these
perspectives is largely a medium for his own critique and inquiry of
cultural hierarchy theories such as those of Dumont, Gadamer and Habermas.
Parish's central theme is that caste society is not homo
hierarchus, but instead one where diverse human actors exist and
have agency. By adding the facet of mental space and consciousness
of self and society to this analysis, he removes caste (or in fact
any system of hierarchy) from being a system without involvement of
This forces analysts to recognize the people in studied
societies as active actors and to include personhood construction
as an element of the development of societies and structures. He
states that hierarchy needs enforcing as well as an ideological
buttressing, but that necessity, hunger and survival are also
integral aspects of the continuation of the caste system. Humans
have to confront existence and so may be intellectually
inconsistent and constantly ambiguous regarding life and caste.
In addition to having agency and being diverse, Parish points out that, people also therefore have diverse consciousnesses about culture. This diversity is presented through perceptions of actors involved, regarding the origins and necessity of caste system, and the understanding of culture and human agency, as well as the conflict and dilemmas of moral order. He also states that this cultural consciousness is ambivalent as it varies according to contexts and therefore so does justice.
As such he states that
hierarchy and equality (justice and moral order) have an interplay
not just co-existence, and the politics of identity plays a crucial
role in this. Parish concludes that hierarchy and culture are l
not only full of consensus, but also discontents. Transformation
therefore begins in the politics of consciousness and the potential
for change originates in mental life.
Additionally, his postscript on the problem of power and achieving equality as well as his note on the implications of the term 'political unconsciousness' are clearly crucial readings for those oriented more towards action. The idea of agency is one which tremendously complements the move towards participation in development.
However, Parish admittedly, falls prey to his own criticism of presenting caste as an overwhelming issue, as he himself largely ignores another facet of personhood--gender. It is also surprising to find a chapter titled ' The Indian Untouchable's Critique of Culture', which discusses necessity as the single critique of culture limited to the untouchables, in a fashion similar to that which he criticizes Dumont of.
Despite these shortcomings, Hierarchy and its Discontents brings attention to the often ignored complexity of reality in a hierarchical system such as caste, as well as fresh insight into cultural critique of caste, its legitimacy and continued existence, through the perceptions of those in it. In a theoretical framework, what Parish attempts do, is present his understanding of the dilemmas of individuals struggling to live in and balance their lives in a stratified society created before his/her existence.
Such analysis is essential for a society as diverse as Nepal, but
needs to go beyond theory to ensure a true understanding of the
vast heterogeneity of the people here and the development of their
political consciousness. THE END.
(Reviewer Jasmine Rajbhandary is affiliated with INHURED International
International Institute for Human Rights, Environment and Development),
Name of the book reviewed:
Hierarchy and Its Discontents: Culture and the
Politics of Consciousness in Caste Society
By Steven M. Parish, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1997. 270 Pages.
Questioning "Nepali women"
An essay by Seira Tamang
Amidst the criticisms of foreign consultants and the lack of ethical
commitment of workers in the development field in Nepal, women-in-development
netris have hitherto remained relatively unscathed. Their very "Nepaliness"
and "womanhood" have given them the stamp of moral authority from and with
which to conduct their work.
The implicit assumption is that these particular women who
research, write papers and reports, and present their work at conferences
"authentically" represent not only the situations, but
needs and wants of their illiterate and less fortunate female counterparts
- an authority to speak "on" behalf of others by virtue of a mandate given by nature and the boundaries of a nationally imagined political community.
But, "Bonds of Sisterhood" aside, exactly how much in common does
a professional woman living in Kathmandu, sitting in an office, with a
maid at home and someone to make the tea at work, have with a woman
physically laboring in fields, factories, offices and other peoples'
The assumption that WID netris can speak on behalf of all
women living in Nepal, transcending ethnic, class, caste, religous
and age boundaries, is evident from the fact that their reports and
speeches contain not the smallest caveat concerning the relative
position of power and privilege from which they speak, which in
turn could cause a little doubt (among themselves or others)
concerning their findings and consequent policy prescriptions.
It is not surprising in this context that WID reports are
permeated by the authorial voice - from the position of power as "author",
these WID netris are situated above their work, writing about "Nepali"
women in need of development. It rests upon the shoulders of these
agency-driven netris to - in the staple WID formula - raise the
consciousness of their less fortunate sisters about the symptoms and
causes of societal oppression and to act as catalysts in increasing
awareness and organizing women for self help and self development - in
short, to help them "empower" themselves.
Ideas of "consciousness-raising" and "empowerment" are pervasive in
these reports and policy recommendations. Their facile use glosses over the
fact that the idea of consciousness-raising assumes several things at different levels, not the least being that, for example, young girls need to be made aware that it is their brothers who get to eat first, stay in school longer and receive proportionately larger percentages of family resources - a most problematic assumption.
When the awareness of the women under study is acknowledged,
differences of opinion and outlook from the researchers own agenda are
viewed as mainly reflective of different stages of raised consciousness.
Consciousness-raising therefore not only assumes a (italics)
consciousness that lies waiting to be changed, thereby ignoring the fact
that reality is continually changing and changes when practiced and
discussed, but denies the embeddedness of womens' experiences in an
complex and changing interplay of social, economic, and political factors.
The invocation of the ficition of "a Nepali mahila" submerges the
dimensions of class, caste, ethnicity, religion, and age fundamental in
the constructions of the different realities of different women, for that
of a single, collective Nepali, female reality engineered by an elite.
Thus while patriarchy, government indifference, socio-pyschological perceptions and the like, will be blamed in reports and speeches for the inability to turn general,
"appropriate" WID policy prescriptions into specific guidelines and implementable programs, the "appropriateness" of those policy prescriptions themselves are not questioned.
The fact that information garnered from interviews, surveys and
"participatory programs" that can only be participatory up to a certain level, is then filtered through the WID netris lens (configured from particular social, historical and political experiences), appears not to be pertinent to the construction of "appropriate" policies.
In this context, the lack of a singular feminist movement in Nepal (a fact often bemoaned) may point to the need for reconceptualization. What have been hitherto seen as scattered attempts to take up certain issues, may point to emerging forms of different (different)feminisms (italics). A rejection of an unitary consciousness and unitary feminism in Nepal is not to deny that women as women have no need to organize and fight against certain structured inequalities.
It is to say that more "universal"
principles need to be concretized through contextualization.
Whether it be issues of property rights, abortion, or "development"
in general, the experience of women in their specificities - their
very real historical and social contexts - must be understood. This
will further facilitate political strategies between women and
between women and men, in so far as it will not be biology that
"authenticates" and justifies grounds for struggle, but the manner in which we make political connections among different forms of struggles. THE END.
(This piece is an excerpt from an article due out in the journal of SINHAS (Studies in Nepali History and Society) currently in printing) Seira Tamang is a student of political science at the American University in DC, presently on her doctoral field-research in Nepal.)
Subject: Bikas (development) with a human face: An essay by Mary Des Chene
(Note: The co-ordinators of the Kathmandu Post Review of Books for the months of January, February and March are: economist Swarnim Wagle, social scientist Seira Tamang and electrical engineer Kumar Pandey respectively.)
Bikas with a Human Face
Bikas. Vol. 6, Issue 10, Asoj 2054. Published by Atmanirbhar Bikas Manch.
G.P.O. Box 7731, Kirtipur, Kathmandu. Price: Institutional: INGO: Rs. 40,
NGO: Rs. 30; Community-based: Organizations: Rs. 15, Individuals: Rs. 20.
by Mary Des Chene
>From the first issue, published in 2049, the semi-annual journal
Bikas has been an exception to the usual run of publications on development. This is a working journal that issues from the least populated district of NGO-land, call it Swadesh. There, a few home-grown organizations like the "Sustainable Livelihood Forum", publisher of Bikas, quietly do grassroots work, while the captains of the development industry gather at another 5-star hotel seminar to concoct the "grassroots" flavour of the month for international export.
I do not mean that Bikas issues from some idyllic region of
"alternative" development. On the contrary, it is precisely the strength of this journal that the Nepal it presents includes the struggles of the poor and disenfranchised, the agendas of the bikas and rajniti industries, and promising efforts to forge alternatives to mainstream development.
Its Nepal contains much suffering, much pretense and
profiteering in the name of alleviating that
suffering, and rays of hope in the form of creative resistance,
collective action and searching analysis. Unlike the storybook portrait
of a country comprised of the poor and their helpers too
often painted by development practicioners - a portrait in which
the uncomfortable subject of politics appears as a hazy backdrop and
the development industry itself
remains an unseen hand outside its borders altogether - this realistic
portrait gives Bikas a chance at serious discussion
of development. What has it done with that chance?
A great deal. While the format (columns, features, etc.) continues
to evolve in keeping with the editors' sense of relevance, Bikas has always
included the following:
i) feature articles that combine reflection on the
social philosophy inherent in various approaches to development with
grounded analysis of particular issues, ii) village profiles, often by a
resident, that bring out basic problems from a local perspective, iii)
sahitya/sanskriti sections containing critiques 'from below' and
expressions of worldviews not neatly encompassed within development plans
for the future,
iv) short articles meant to stimulate debate, ranging from
informational pieces on national issues to first-hand reflections on
experiences of doing development or being its target and, v) a running
commentary on the political-economic philosophy of mainstream development,
particularly as it is embedded in its vocabulary. The journal is worth
reading for any of these alone, but what Bikas does best of all is to bring
out interrelations among the above categories, sometimes by juxtaposition,
more often through explicit discussion.
Thus in the current issue (No. 10), Anil Bhattarai's lead article
on currently dominant conceptions of "environmental degradation" and the
economic assumptions and views about state's vs. people's rights embedded
in "mitigation" efforts, is a model of deeply informed analysis presented
in simple prose, and of a vast issue addressed without oversimplification
by attaching it to concrete realities.
That discussion is further grounded
by the profile of Nabalpur by a Majhi who has firsthand experience of
environmental protection meaning destruction of a way of life and
deprivation of one's livelihood. Three other pieces on what is meant, in
practice, by sustainable development, and on sustainable livelihoods,
complete the serious invitation presented in this issue to rethink the
basic values built into calculations of "success" in development.
Bikas never engages in the happy-talk so prevalent in development
circles, but neither is it monolithically critical. The article on the
Community Forest User Group law of 2049, which lauds its very positive
effects but is published now to create awareness of the possible negative
effects of proposed revisions to that law, is a good example of Bikas' role
as a clearinghouse for critical information (cf. articles on West Seti and
the Anti-Terrorist Act in this issue). And despite its critical agenda,
neither is Bikas a gloomy read. Sharad Paudel's brilliant "Chaturman"
series (issues 1-3,5), an ethnographic guide to "bikas culture" by a
sharp-eyed refugee from the mainstream development world, is devastating
and hilarious by turns.
The Chepang song in the current issue, its
celebration of Chepang gender relations punctuated by the spunky refrain -
"tell us now, how are we smaller than others?" - should give courage to anyone who struggles against global monoculture or localized forms of oppression. Sustained attention to Nepali women's and dalits' issues on one side, and to the contradictions inherent in international development practices on the other (e.g. Pant in this issue) bring readers constantly up against the chasm between human realities and aspirations, and global development trends.
Bikas has a political philosophy, one that should be lauded simply for being based neither on party directives nor profit motives. This alone makes it a shining example in the burgeoning print media, not to mention the development world. Delving deeper through reading, whether one comes to agree with that philosophy or not, any reader will have ample chance to be educated - that is, stimulated to think - by its clear, principled presentation.
Bikas has sought to be a forum for debate and sharing of information. Neither a fantasy forum for planners, nor a celebratory one for the damage-control brigade, but a place for serious, honest evaluation of the theoretical assumptions and realpolitik behind planning, and of on-the-ground realities, including the results of development interventions.
To that end, the journal's editors (Sharad Paudel joined
variously by Subarna Kapali, Sadananda Kandel, Kumar Singh Rai, and Anil
Bhattarai) and advisors (Mahesh Pant, Tikaram Bhattari, Ashok Maharjan and
others) have sought to keep the prose simple, and make it a forum for - and
as much as possible by - nitty-gritty hands-on community development
workers. In their own assessment, they have had only partial success. The
editorials of the first three issues recount the dismal lack of response
from NGOs, which evinced scant enthusiasm either for distributing Bikas to
their workers or for encouraging them to write for it. An editorial of 2051
pondered whether anyone but the editors think it's important to have such
voices taking part in discussion of development. That question remains
That Bikas isn't "the thing" to read and contribute to, from INGO board rooms to NGO field offices, speaks volumes about the development industry. Yet that neglect may not be entirely bad for the journal itself. The ever-present danger of appropriation and dilution that stalks growth in scale and prominence in print (and other) media, is probably yet greater when the subject is development - where the stakes for effective image management are so high.
I hope Bikas can survive to work against the grain,
reaching out to those who are targets of development and to development
workers troubled by dissonances between the plans they are instructed to
implement and the realities they see. Certainly the numbers of both are
legion. Where is the NGO that will make it its project to see that Bikas
reaches them and encourage them to become its authors? That is a
"sustainable development" project that could make a tangible difference! THE END
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 14:49:55 -0500 (EST)
From: Kanak Limbu <gs05kll@panther.Gsu.EDU>
To: The Nepal Digest Editor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Technological Leapfrog and the Race for Learning (fwd)
Technological Leapfrog and the Race for Learning!
A posthumous contemplation but something which I found particularly
fascinating in the domain of international policy or strategy. The reason
I bring up these points - is that in all developing countries there seems
to exist a win-win situation -or so we think! Developed countries like
the Triad are going about lending money to developing countries so that
they can catch up(in terms of infrastructure, standard of living, GNP
GDP,etc.)On the surface it looks cut and dried - healthy/wealthy economies
helping unhealthy/dire economies improve or come abreast through
low-interest loans and highly trained and qualified personnel in order to
put that borrowed resource to efficient and effective utilization.
However, there are hidden agendas on both players parts.
Developed countries(hidden agenda):
1) Future market potential. In order for developed countries to
successfully conduct operations in new markets(developing countries) they
require an infrastructure that is similar to theirs in order to realize
maximum potential market gains. i.e After the second war by rebuilding
Germany and most of Europe the US strategically positioned itself
for immediate and future markets for its gargantuous-sized
corporations. In Japan they helped create massive industries that would
be able to supply the enormous demands of the American market. Eventually
the common denominator that is economic infrastructure led to similar-type
markets, corporations to serve these markets, similar strategies
driving these corporations,growing GNP,GDP etc which
led to the term - The Triad.
Developing Countries(hidden agenda): 1) As discussed in class the agenda for developing countries is acquiring cheap capital and advanced know-how from the Triad - the race for learning! As discussed in class many developing countries want to leapfrog just like Japan and Europe did after the second world war and have the technological infrastructure/knowhow overnight. However, it does not seem to be working very well if hardly at all with most of the so called developing countries. There are many reasons for this but I would like to attribute mainly two reasons for this:
As we discussed in class culture is very important in formulating
long-term strategy principles. It must be noted that the Japanese and
German cultures were most similar to the US culture from day one. By that
I mean all three cultures had already proven enormous technological
potential in their ability to mass produce planes, ships, tanks,
rockets, prior to and during the war. They also had proven themselves in
conducting well planned and effective military strategy with a high
success ratio. So it comes as no surprise that with the inherent tacit
knowledge acquired before and during the war of strategy formulation and
mass production of high tech equipment that Germany and Japan could
quickly evolve and become like the US in no time. If one is going
to conquer the world its a given that one is going to make
ones'self completely capable to do it(what incentive!). However, for
developing countries without the benefit of what Japan and Germany
experienced it is almost impossible. Today most of the developing country
cultures harbour on extreme inefficiency, bureacracy, weak economic
infrastructure - they do not have the(war incentive?) head start that
Japan and Germany did. Therefore developing countries face an
insurmountable task ahead of them in trying replicate what Japan and
>From dinosaurs to man-on-the-moon. It happened in a period of millions of
years. Each generation bringing forth tacit knowledge from one generation to the next in order to bring technological improvements from one generation to the next in the order of evolution. No technological leapfrog here! In the same way both developing and developed countries must give crucial consideration in their hidden agendas of the consequences of their actions in trying to fast forward parts of the world to the present day without giving due consideration of the evolutionary stages in which different parts of the world do exist. For a long-term strategy technological leapfrog and the race for learning is very short-term. It is inevitable that eventually things will not work out for the Givers and the Takers. In short a no-win situation.
From: Carol Wing <email@example.com>
To: "'firstname.lastname@example.org'" <email@example.com>
Subject: work in Nepal
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 15:38:12 -0500
Hello and namaste.
My name is Carol Wing and I was referred to this email address by
friends of the Asia Institute of Technology.
I am looking to live and work in Nepal for a period of at least one
year. I would like to work (or volunteer) in either language or
agricultural development. I have been to Nepal, and can speak the
language on a basic conversational level. If there is any information
you can provide, or any place you can direct me to look, I would be
From: "steve donnet" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: International publishing on Nepal: translation
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 15:48:44 PST
International publishing on Nepal: translation
Dear Sir or Ms.,
I have found your e-mail address on the Nepal website. I am an editor in
an English-speaking business publishing company and edit a 100 country
resource book for the international traveler that we will publish
on-line this spring. I now have to translate about 90 basic terms into
42 languages, among which Nepali.
Searches in library are not so good in that dictionaries do not
translate such expressions as Stop!, foreign exchange, I am sick,
for example - which obliges me to have recourse to people like you who
are native speakers of the language and the country that are described
in my book. Would it be possible for you to spend 10-15 minutes of your
time translating the following terms into Nepali?
In case you cant do it, would you mind giving me the e-mail address of
a person who would be so kind as to spend a little time on it?
Thank you very much
(please write in roman characters - not in Nepali - like in "Dhanyabaad"
for "Thank you")
I am sick..................
Be (verb) ...................
Have (verb) ..................
How much? .................
Downtown (city center) ..................
Tourist information center...................
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 10:27:16 -0500 (EST)
From: Ashutosh Tiwari <email@example.com>
Subject: for TND and SB
(The following essay appears here with Bikash's permission. Bikash is an
MIT-educated energy consultant. He was also one of the Boston Nepalis
who was behind the organizing of the Hydro Nepal Forum at the 1997 Boston
Convention of the Association of Nepalis in the Americas (ANA).
Mega Dams, Mega Bucks, and Macroeconomics
An essay by Bikash Thapliya
The Karnali Chisapani project-arguably Nepal's crown jewel-has a
solicitor: Enron Renewable Corporation. This essay will argue-with the
premise that relatively massive capital inflow would be taking place
during construction and, in particular, after commissioning of the
project-that without radical changes in the current monetary and fiscal
policy measures to contain the resulting foreign exchange windfall, the
Nepali economy would inevitably be worse off than its pre-boom state.
This assertion will draw upon examples of macroeconomic management, or
lack thereof, of oil windfalls in Nigeria and Indonesia during the 1970s,
and the hydro windfall in Paraguay during the 1980s.
Higher GDP and a strong currency-the results that typically characterize
the beginning of such windfalls-would appear to be a politician's dream
come true. With higher incomes, people would be spending and consuming
more though not necessarily by being more productive. With a more
expensive Nepali rupee relative to the Indian one,
India-bashing nationalists would get one more chance to reaffirm their
brand of sovereignty.
Against this blissfully rosy world, why then bother about changing the
status quo of macroeconomic policies? That is because the above idyllic
scenario is flawed on two counts. First, the windfalls that took place in
these countries have been found to be temporary.
Without any change in fiscal and monetary policies, the inflow of foreign
savings increases money supply, which adds to demand, and because the
windfall will increase private income and government revenue, leads to
greater expenditure and higher inflation.
The rise in inflation results in reduces real consumption. Moreover, an
overvaluation of the exchange rate makes exports less competitive as
foreign buyers would have to come up with more of their currency to buy
relatively expensive rupee-denominated goods. This is a perfect recipe for
a trade deficit.
Once capital inflow dries up, so do revenues; but public expenditures are
hard to cut down. For example, government employees that may have received
bonuses during the boom years would not take the idea of having their
salaries sized down very kindly. Firing people hired during those
seemingly good years is also politically unpalatable in developing
countries where the state is often the single largest employer. These, in
turn, could precipitate a fiscal deficit.
The second problem is the crowding out of the non-booming tradable sector
and, potentially, the nontradable sector, caused by a shift in the labor
market. As the booming tradable sector (say, power exports from Karnali
Chisapani) sucks in labor from an already limited pool of skilled
workforce from a non-booming tradable sector (say, the carpet or garments
industries), prospects for productivity growth through the latter may
Once the windfall is over, it will be more difficult
to make any macroeconomic adjustments to revive a marginalized sector. It
is this decline in non-boom tradable production that turns a foreign
exchange windfall into a "disease", known to economists as the "Dutch
Disease". We first take up Nigeria as an example of failed macroeconomic
adjustment to contain its oil windfall.
During the first oil crisis, the Nigerian government spent all of its
windfall. Public investment, for example, rose from 4 to 30 percent of
nonmining GDP and the average pay for civil servants was doubled in 1975.
Much of the new found revenue was squandered on wasteful projects.
The second oil windfall only whetted fiscal appetites even more: between
1981 and 1984, the budget deficit averaged 12 percent of nonmining GDP.
Fiscal excesses exacerbated the tendency of export windfalls to create
inflation. Prices rose while the central bank kept the nominal exchange
rate fixed, so that by 1984 the real exchange rate had appreciated to
nearly three times its level in 1970-72. Over the decade ending in 1984,
Nigeria's non-oil exports fell almost 90 percent in nominal terms.
Nigeria's non-booming tradable sector, agriculture, suffered worst. From
1973 to 1984, agricultural exports fell by more than two-thirds, while
agriculture output per capita and total calorie consumption per capita
both declined. On the contrary, Nigeria's food imports increased by
fivefold. A classic symptom of Dutch Disease, Nigeria might have been
better off without its oil boom.
Indonesia took a radically different approach to tackle similar
circumstances. Throughout the boom period, the government was required to
balance the budget each year and, because all controls had been removed
from foreign exchange transfers, stringent management of the money supply
was necessary to protect foreign exchange reserves. These self-imposed
restraints limited the impact of windfalls on inflation.
The second policy was to devaluate the exchange rate enough to avoid real
appreciation. Consequently, between 1971 and 1984, non-oil exports grew by
over 7 percent a year and from 1972 to 1981, nonmining GDP expanded by
over 8 percent a year.
Paraguay, the last example, offers a less dramatic yet consistent set of
symptoms of the Dutch disease. Paraguay undertook the 12,600 MW Itaipu
hydropower projects during the mid seventies. Himesh Dhungel, in his PhD
dissertation on Macroeconomic Adjustments to Large Energy Investments in a
Small Controlled Open Economy: A Policy Analysis of Hydropower Development
in Paraguay, argues that the massive capital inflow intended to offset the
current account deficit created a false sense of macroeconomic stability.
After the boom, Paraguay dipped into recession with GDP growth rate
reversed from 10.8 to -2 percent. The annual average growth period in the
seven years following recession was a mere 3.8 percent compared to nearly
three times the rate preceding the boom.
The common thread that weaves through all the above examples is
government's ability to use two stabilization tools. One is the nominal
exchange rate which would have to be devalued against the tendencies of
market forces. The other is expenditure which needs to be reduced through
tight fiscal and monetary policies that also reduce inflation.
The resulting build-up of reserves in the central bank would have to be
"sterilized" through monetary policy (hiking up interest rates, for example) so they would be held as assets to be used during the downswings of the economy. Simplistic as they may seem, these prescriptions run counter to conventional wisdom. In the face of a boom, all the popular pressures are for more spending.
The Karnali Chisapani hydropower project promises just that kind of
windfall. One could argue, however, that the steady stream of revenues
flowing into the economy during the 50-year license period would eliminate
a windfall situation. I would contend that the economic dynamics taking
place in the tradable and nontradable sectors during and after
construction would be palpably distinct to characterize a boom.
During Karnali Chisapani's construction-spanning 4-6 years-approximately
$120 million is estimated to pour into Nepal's economy annually through employment of skilled and unskilled labor. The government would not receive an royalty payments from power exports during this phase.
The project would attract local people working in other tradable sectors
such as the garment and carpet industries to the extent that skills are
transferable and that this category of labor is fairly mobile. More
worrisome is Karnali Chisapani's crowding out of local hydropower
industry, tradable or not. A single massive enclave of capital investment
can easily choke the local labor market and, in turn, drive existing
institutions out of business.
After Karnali Chisapani's commissioning-according to Enron's own
projections-the Nepali government would receive annual export revenues
anywhere in the range of US$90-140 million during the first 15 years.
While this amount may appear to be a continuation of a "steady" stream
flowing into the economy, the sectors that were previously being
marginalized may not necessarily be the targets for rehabilitation once
the conduit for the new revenues shifts from the project to the finance
ministry. As a result, skilled and, in particular, unskilled laborers at
Karnali Chisapani may find no carpet or garment industry jobs waiting for
them after construction.
Between Nigeria's fiscal revelry and Indonesia's
save-for-a-rainy-day conservatism, it would be in Nepal's long-term
economic interest to channel those revenues to revitalize potentially
productive sectors. Ignore this and Nepal will be Nigeria in no time.
That said, Karnali Chisapani's windfall, if untamed, will manifest itself
at two levels-widening of the balance of payment deficit and
marginalization of labor- intensive sectors of the domestic economy. This
is one thing Nepali policy makers cannot afford to overlook. And the need
for political will to respect sound macroeconomic judgment has never been
so great. THE END.
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 1998 10:44:06 +0100
From: Bitte Linder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: New www-link
For your information our homepage has moved
and have a new address. The homepage is
mentioned in a contribution from Marko Ulvila at:
Can you update the address? The new address is:
The e-mail address for Daphne Thuvesson have a
small spelling mistake, the correct address should be:
Forests, Trees and People Programme & Network
SLU, Department of Rural Development Studies
P O Box 7005, SE-750 07 Uppsala, SWEDEN
Ph: 46-18-672001, Fax: 46-18-673420
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 01:38:04 +0000
From: john mason <email@example.com>
Subject: Nepal medical visit
A nurse from our congregation is planning to visit Nepal in about two
months, with a medical group, to deliver primary health care to remote
areas. We would like to create interest in this by posting one or two
travel posters (e.g. "Visit Beautiful Nepal) and I wonder if you could
email me a phone number for Nepal Airways, or the Embassy/Consulate that
might have a tourism promotion section.
I visited Nepal thirty years ago (!) and can provide a few artifacts,
but nothing to post on the wall.
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 11:27:03 -0500
From: Tara Niraula <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Rajpal Singh <email@example.com>
We, the undersigned currently living in the United States of America,
are profoundly troubled by the recent decision made by His Majesty the
King to grant prerogative to the minority members=92 demand for a new
session of the Parliament. This action, which was made over the Prime
Minister=92s earlier recommendation to dissolve the House in order to
call new election, has severely weakened our democracy by undermining the
position of the Prime Minister. As a result, the future of our
democracy may be in jeopardy.
We think that the Constitution of Nepal unequivocally provides no
discretionary power to the King. Therefore, we find the King=92s action
to be contrary to the letter and the spirit of our Constitution and
universally accepted parliamentary practices. Furthermore, this
unfortunate decision has shaken the faith of those who believe in
constitutional monarchy while simultaneously reinforcing the beliefs of
those who already mistrusted the monarchy.
At the same time, we also believe, as most Nepalese do, that our
political leaders have been living at the opposite spectrum of the very
principles and moral values they have been preaching to the people; they
have put their personal and selfish interests above that of the country
and its people. Unless our leaders reverse this order and pledge their
minds and hearts to living by the highest principles and ideals, our
democracy will be imperiled and our country=92s future will remain
Let no one mistake that the threat to Nepal=92s democracy is real and it
is posed by the right and the left. The actions (or lack thereof) of
our leaders of all persuasion since the Jana Andolan have helped to
embolden the attitude of anti-democratic forces in our country. If we
truly want to protect and nurture our fledgling democracy, our elected
representative will have to demonstrate better leadership. So far,
their leadership has been downright disappointing.
Tara Niraula Vijaya K. Sigdel
Arjun Karki Girija Gautam
Ramesh Dhungel Rajpal Singh
Cc: Hon. Mahanta Thakur, Minister, Communication & Information
Hon. Hon. Jaya Prakash Ananda, State Minister, Communication & Information
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 09:42:34 +0500 (GMT+0500)
Nepal Digest From: Jan Sharma
I chanced to see an article entitled Obstruction of a Due Process by Rajpal J.
P. Singh (8 February 1998). I was shocked and amused by the rubbish you people
generate about and on Nepal. The article is far from "clear, concise, and
unrefutable article. It should be a must reading" as you have mentioned. I found
it just the opposite. Let me explain why.
On the introductory part, I have little to say. Same for the constitutional
process in 1994 except that King Birendra supported the Prime Minister for his
request for fresh mandate. On the constitutional process in 1995, let me add
that the King again backed the Prime Minister for fresh mandate DESPITE the fact
that (a) special session was already summoned to oust the Prime Minister in a
vote of no-confidence; and (b) the Prime Minister had asked for the dissolution
to pre-empt his ouster by the House which was inevitable because of the minority
nature of the government.
Singh's lack of understanding begins from this point. He is wrong to emphasise
that the Supreme Court ordered the dissolution because the government was a
minority. To correct Singh, what the Court said was that a request for
dissolution by the Prime Minister is NOT unconditional, and that the House
cannot be dissolved so long as an alternative government is possible in the
existing Parliament. This does not happen anywhere in the world except in Nepal
where the Constitution was interpreted to suit the Nepali Congress and RPP. For
your information, the Supreme Court's decision to restore Parliament was
preceded by several rounds of meetings among Indian Ambassador K. V. Rajan,
Chief Justice Biswonath Upadhyay and leaders of the Nepali Congress and RPP
where the actual decision to restore Parliament was made. You cannot ignore
Coming to the constitutional process in 1998, what would the King do? It is a
dilemma anyone would face because of the wrong interpretation and distortions in
the Constitution. What was wrong if the King sought "opinion" on the matter on
which one - the request by Prime Minister for dissolution or request by 90
lawmakers for special session to vote out the government - should take
precedence in action. The issue is not whether a government is a majority or a
minority. The issue is: can Parliament be dissolved even if an alternate
government is possible?
It was no doubt an opportunity for the Supreme Court to correct its 1995
controversial decision. It did not. It based its opinion on the 1995 decision
and further elaborated to say that the special session should be called.
Nepal's main problem remains its survival as an independent country. India has
been launching naked interference in domestic affairs. Most of the leaders now
in power and opposition have benefitted enormously by India's financial and
political assistance. Since the return to democracy, India wants its dues back
in terms of favourable trade and water accords. During the eight years of
democracy, the most to suffer have been Nepal's political, economic and
bureaucratic institutions. These institutions have become so weak that they are
unable to defend, let alone champion, Nepal's national interest. If this is what
you guys in the comforts of the United States want to happen to the institution
of Monarchy, I have little or nothing to say.
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 14:32:25 +0100
Subject: NGO in NEPAL
I write you from France.
Could you help me please ?
A friend of mine would like to go in Nepal for an NGO but in France it
seems to be very difficult to obtain a possibility to do that.
So she thought that it could be easier to ask to canadian NGOs (or in
Nederlands or Belgium or Switzerland, or ...)if they can propose her a
solution. Could you send me adresses of canadian NGO (or in ....)
which operates in Asia (in Nepal by exemple) ?
She went once in India but now she cant use the same way to return in
Thanks a lot for your help.
From: "Govinda Mainali" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: re: please post in SCN and Put in TND
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 03:40:15 PST
Should we know?
Saturday 1998.Feb.07 night 11p.m.~ midnight,
there was a program broadcasted by Asahi Television about
Mr. Govinda Mainali*s case in japanese court and police.
The program showed Govinda, and some other
Nepalis lived with him in the same room were interrogated.
A Japanese OL (office lady) was murdered on March 8, 1997.
Unfotunately, Govinda also used to spent time in her room and
he also had her room*s key. The key was returned
by his friends on March 5(3 days before the murder)
(based on the TV Program).
Govinda was an overstay nepali from Ilam and was caught
by police (March 22)on overstay charges first and
later charged with the murder. Then police caught
Mr. Lila a fellow room mate and put in police custody.
Lila was told to sign on blank paper and asked to lie
by telling that the key was returned after the incident.
Lila was warned not to speak the truth with lawyer, mass media,
news or journalist and will be killed if he does so
(Lila was telling to Asahi TV reporter upon returning to Kathmandu). In return, Lila got a job through police request, which was highly paid i.e. for two hours work every day he was paid Japanese Yen 300, 000 per month for two months. Police had nice lunch with him at a restaurant in Tokyo. He was told by the police that he wil be given good job in future and he will also be given visa to come to Japan in future. Lila was also initially beaten on stomach, head, neck and tortured. Lila was admitted to emergency in police hospital and got some medicines. Asahi TV reporters found his statements were quite true when they contacted the Police Hospital in Tokyo. Lila got problem with his stomach pains. He finally returned to Nepal.
Its unfortunate that our embassies
around the world don*t help any Nepalis in problems, first, answer
is always don*t have enough budget. I don*t know what the Royal
Nepali Embassy is for. They at least had
to try to find nepali -japanese language interpreter, the Asahi TV
program mentioned that Mr. Govinda was first interrogated in
Japanese and asked to sign in Japanese which he understood nothing.
Later english-japanse and then hindi-japanese? Why Nepali
Embassy at Tokyo did not try to find interpreter in Nepali and
So, should this time also nepalis in this net protest these
misbehaves and we send mails to Nepali Embassy, Asahi
TV and Japanese PM as well as Amenisty International,
international news magazines and papers. I remember the problem
of Nepali in South Korea got enough attention when we had discussion
in this net. Japan is the top donor country to Nepal, and RNEmbassy
will keep silence.
In average Japanese police are very very good, if you can
communicate in Japanese. I never had any problem with them. But,
the case shown by Asahi TV was interesting why these nice
police are doing so bad to these poor nepalis? I leave to all of
you to decide. Personnally, I didn't know who is Govinda before the
TV program. I also don't know the persons mentioned in this posting.
I never met anyone and neither want to know anymore. Just thought
of reporting the TV Program to all of you.
The part of the home page by Amenisty Int., London is also listed below.
Asahi National Broadcasting Co., Ltd.
Zenkoku Asahi Hoso, Kabushikigaisha(Televi Asahi)
CATEGORY Media/Publishing:Broadcast Stations:TV stations
(terrestrial) ADDRESS 1-1-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo-106-10
The following part was withdrawn from
Govinda Prasad Mainali, a Nepali national
Govinda Prasad Mainali, a Nepali migrant worker in Japan,
was beaten, interrogated for long periods and denied access to his
after his arrest in March 1997. He was later charged
with murder, and risks being sentenced to death.
Govinda Prasad Mainali was arrested on 22 March 1997
because his visa had expired and taken to Shibuya Police Station in
On 30 March he was formally charged with staying in Japan
after the expiry of his visa but while he was in police detention he was
questioned about the murder of a Japanese woman in March 1997.
This happened despite the fact that it is illegal in Japan for police to
investigate a suspect for crimes unrelated to the original
charge under which they are held. The police interrogation continued for
several days running from early morning to late evening,
without translation into and from his own language. He told his lawyers
during interrogation he was pulled by the shirt, shaken, pushed, beaten,
######################### kicked and pinned against the wall behind a table.
On 22 April, one of Govinda Prasad Mainali's lawyers tried to
visit his client at Shibuya Police Station but was refused access by the
police who said that he had been sent to the Prosecutor's office
in connection with the murder case. On arriving at the Prosecutor's
office, the lawyer was refused access once again and
was told that Mainali was undergoing "voluntary" interrogation.
Three other Nepali men who lived with Mainali were called
to the police station for questioning about the murder.
They also said they
were threatened and beaten and signed statements in
Japanese which they did not fully understand.
Having signed these statements, the
three men were forced by the police to move to separate
addresses in an apparent attempt to prevent convenient
access to them by Mainali's lawyers.
Govinda Prasad Mainali was tried and convicted for remaining in Japan
after the expiry of his visa and on 20 May 1997 he was given a suspended
prison sentence. This sentence would normally have led to his
but instead he was then formally charged with murder and robbery.
Under Japanese law the death penalty is the maximum penalty for murder.
On 25 April, Mainali was moved to Tokyo Detention Centre where
he is currently held awaiting trial. He denies the charges against him
and his lawyers are seeking compensation from the authorities for
obstructing access to their client.
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 12:33:13 EST
Subject: Researching law/policy on incest in Asian countries
I'm a social work student researching laws and policies regarding incest or
other child sexual abuse in Asian countries, to be compared and contrasted
with laws and policies in the USA. I came across several interesting entries
in the Nepal Digest, but couldn't seem to connect with the text via the
Would you be willing to e-mail me any articles from recent newsletters about
this topic? I would be particularly interested in case studies of victims
(their recovery, etc.) and of abusers (their trial, conviction, sentencing, etc.) Also, any description of the actual written policy or law would be helpful.
Thank you for any info you can provide.
University of Iowa
e-mail address: BJCranmer@AOL.com
Date: Tue, 03 Mar 1998 16:10:05 -0600
From: "Padam P. Sharma" <psharma@Soils.Umn.EDU>
Subject: Letter to Bob Kinslow about Habitat for Humanity Program in Nepal
Representing Habitat for Humanity, BOB KINSLOE wrote:
> I am writing to you asking for your support for Habitat For Humanity
> International. I am traveling, at my own expense, to Kathmandu, Nepal
> in April 1998 in order to support the local affiliate. This affiliate
> has just started operations recently and has already started the first
> house with two more ready to go. Early support for a new affiliate
> proved in the past to secure its long tern success. With this in mind,
> am hoping for your generous support. Checks made payable to Habitat
> Humanity, Nepal can be sent to me at the above address. This donation
> is tax deductible. We have raised just over $1,000 US dollars so far,
> unfortunately only about 5% of this has come from Nepalese here in the
> USA, the rest is from my family and friends. I am hoping for more
> support from the Nepalese community here in the USA.
> God Bless,
Thanks for sending the information about your intended travel to Nepal
and your personal contributions to HH programs in Nepal. I commend you
for your initiatives and contributions.
I represent an organization called, "Empower Nepal Foundation" in
Minnesota. It is a network of Nepalis and friends of Nepal who pool
their resources to support people of Nepal improve their quality of
life. We are just beginning our organization development process. As we
focus on education, environmental restoration, and economic empowerment
Lack of housing and sub-standard housing is a quality of life issue in
Nepal. I have two basic questions for you before either myself
personally or through our network heed your call for money. First of
all, I would like to know more about the organizational linkage and
programs HHI has for Nepal. How are target areas and target recipients
selected? Who monitors the progress and effective utilization of
collected resources? What is your role and affiliation with the HHI?
Second, the use of building materials for a given ecoregion in Nepal can
be unfriendly to the environment. Thatch and mud huts in Tarai may look
substandard but they are ecologically suitable and comfortable for the
sub-tropical climate. Massive use of wood or bricks may put pressure on
denuded forests and cultivated land. Besides an environment to live
safely, a home in Nepal is also a symbol of status. Who are your
volunteer participants at the local level? Are these middle-class
land-owners who perceive thatch houses as substandard and want to build
a "pucca" building with your help? True homeless people in Nepal are
also land less. What are HHI's programs to find affordable houses for
You also indicate that expatriate Nepalis are not good contributors. Not
true. We are just a skeptic bunch.
Please have a good trip to Nepal. I would appreciate if you can write to
me when you return. I would be very much interested to learn about your
experiences and explore the possibility of us working together to bring
more resources to Nepal.
Padam Prasad Sharma, President
2000 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108.
From: "Kabindra Thapa" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 03 Mar 1998 17:00:56 PST
After more than half a decade, I recently had an opportunity to visit my
beloved home country Nepal. I got the impression that more things had
changed in Nepal in the last six-seven years than they had in the past
fifteen years before that. After I got back to the U.S., I thought
there may be hundreds of Nepalis who have not had opportunities to visit
Nepal for several years. I wanted to write about every major readable
and interesting incidents that took place while I was there. But later
I decided to write up brief positive and negative developments that I
had noticed on my trip. The following are my own observation and
interpretation of what I came across while in Nepal.
- Smoother major streets in Kathmandu and Mugling highway
- Clean bathrooms in Malekhu (on the way to Mugling)
- Stop lights in Thapathali
- Neon lights at night in Kathmandu
- Cleaner Thamel
- X-ray machine at Trivuban International Airport
- At least four new airlines
- A Convention hall in Baneshwor
- Lots of new hotels everywhere
- Easy E-mail access to people
- Up to thirty, maybe more T.V. channels available
- Some Visit Nepal Year activities
- FM radio stations
- Tens of new cinema halls (movie theatres) and countless actors and actresses
- Although crime seems much more rampant, Asia week ranks Kathmandu as one of the least crime ridden cities in Asia.
- Fewer cows on the streets
- Two way Bagmati bridge to go to Patan
- Private doctor's fee is relatively inexpensive (emergency treatment by a chest specialist for chest infection, cough, fever and medicine = RS.423)
- Several medical schools and 10+2 schools
- Abundance of taxis (yellows, whites etc.) and new meters in them
- Jawalakhel and naya Baneshwor area
- More devotees at Hindu and Buddhist temples
- While flying into the Kathmandu valley then flying over the Bugmati river (not Bagmati), one can view buffalos and children swimming in the river in harmony, a little further up, women are seen bathing and washing clothes in the same river. It seems as if they are holding up welcome banners for tourists visiting Nepal.
- Unbearable amout of dust in the air and opaque pollution
- Vikram Tempos all over Kathmandu
- Garbage piles all over including Tundi Khel ground
- Population growth, people every where
- Influence of Hindi movies and language all over Nepal
- Shortage of running water (in Kalimati, I was told that last time people saw water on tap was a month and half ago)
- One day in three weeks I was able to see the mountains in Kathmandu
- Due to shortage of water, too many wells in the back yards causing the
possibility of Kathmandu valley crumbling disaster
- More corrupt politicians and bureaucrats
- Unstable government
- Even people like North Korean Consulate dare smuggling into Nepal
- Murder of Father Gafney
- Higher demand for an I-20
- Nepali people going to Japan with Bhutanese passports
- In virtually every home at least one man is abroad (brain drain at its peak)
- Land value stagnant for the last couple of years (I do not know whether this falls under positive or negative)
- Belief among Nepali people that every residential house must be built with pillars, cement and other robust building materials
- Absolutely no planning on road or house building
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 12:59:22 +0100 (MEZ)
From: Sudarshan Tiwari <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have been recieving Nepal Digest since more than three years.
I have completed my PhD and going back to Nepal at the end of this month.
Therefore, I request to stop sending me further issues.
I thank to all TND members for providing many informations, news and
other related to Nepal. I wish all the best.
Date: Mon, 02 Mar 1998 13:56:36 +0000
From: Catharine Perry <Catharine_Perry@bc.sympatico.ca>
Subject: info please
I'm not quite sure whether I've come to the right place, but I'm looking
for information on Nepal and the best areas to visit. I'm going
trekking to Nepal in October of 1999 and I want to hear some ideas.
Please writ me back. sorry for being so vague. Any information would
be great! My name is Kaitlin: Catharine_Perry@bc.sympatico.ca
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 04:43:10 -0500
From: robert haxton <email@example.com>
Subject: A reunion!
I am trying to reach any of the Gurkha regimental associations in order to
rely this message. If you help I would grateful.
Mr. R. Haxton.
From: "Dal Bhat" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: a short story
Date: Sun, 08 Mar 1998 13:24:45 PST
If I remember correctly, as a child, the rumors about Murkuttae Bhut
had been very frightening. Now that I think about it, it was a deep
resentment that could not be explained. Oh yes, there were a lot of
"Bhut" stories that would send me diving into my bed to be covered by the protective power of the blanket. But Murkuttae was a different story. I remember vividly the first time I had the courage to inquire about them. I had asked my grandmother.
" What is a Murkuttae Bhut?"
" They are ghosts who have lost their heads, and they have eyes on their chests, and they ride horses, up and down that trail." she had said pointing towards the mountains in front of the house.
This had been a very revealing conversation. I had heard about a lot
of other kinds of ghosts, but every one of them had had a head on their
neck. The power of my imagination had always been to assign monstrous
faces, one after another, to these ghosts. Some had fangs to suck you
dry, while others had horns to get you in the stomach, and others just
were innocent looking to deceive you. There were also ghosts, with any
number of combinations, of eyes, mouth, nose and ears. Plus the ones
with empty faces. Still, every single one of them had a head. Murkuttaes
were in a class of their own.
There were a lot of nights, I could swear, I heard horse steps and the explanation I was given was always the same. Either it was "the neighbor riding his horse", yeah in the middle of the night, or it was my " very creative imagination". There were also a lot of nights spent pondering on the kind of existence these ghosts led. But after I grew up, I came to the realization, like every other educated rational being, that there were no such things as Ghosts let alone Murkutte bhut. It wasn't until much later that Murkuttaes became a part of my life.
Up to that point my life was pretty straightforward, I suppose. I went
through high school with the same determination and eagerness as the
next person. The constant emphasise on education, the moral obligations
to the bullies, the ever-present desire to be "cool" and the forever
evolving list of friends and enemies were all a daily routine. It was
also in High School that I learned the subtle pleasures of life, namely
drinking and smoking. Not only did smoking make you feel older and
wiser(very crucial), but with it came a certain degree of challenge and
adventure. Finally, after what seemed (then) like eternity, high school
days were over, and I became a college student.
So with a smoking habit, and an occasional taste for drinking I was
ready to face the challenges that would come my way. For the next seven
to nine years, my life saw more variety than the spectrum of Light..
>From being drunk to being sober to being high; from looking for the
"truth" to finding the "truth" to "what the hell am I talking about"; from "losing my religion" to "finding my religion" to again " what the hell am I talking about"; from "evolution" to " relativity" to " Quantum theory", it was all in there. From this big stew of depression, happiness, frustration, satisfaction and every other known and unknown emotions, I arose with a Masters degree, to make something of my life. I mean, to measure up my success materially.
Thus I entered the realm of Murkuttaes. It took me a while to figure
out what was happening to me, although the signs were there. I was
first aware of the constant pain in my neck and shoulders. That summer
when I tried wearing a "Topi" on my head, the one I had owned for a
while and which fit me perfectly, I noticed that it was a little too
big. Being a logical person, of course, I deduced that the hat probably
stretched a little. But then even my glasses seemed to have gotten
bigger. Shortly thereafter, I realized that my head was shrinking. I
panicked. What was even stranger was that no one else saw these changes
in me. This made me rattle a lot, trying to convince others what was
happening. The smaller my head grew, the softer my voice . My head
stopped shrinking, and it started withdrawing into my body. The pain
was immense. In no time at all my head had receded into my body. For
a while I couldn't see anything, but then my eyes emerged from my
chest. From then on, the only thing I could do, was watch.
No voice would ever come out of me. My destiny had forever been changed. Once in a while, at night, when I make my rounds,a child will hear me. With much curiosity and determination he will question my existence,and vow not to be me, but in the end he will probably be one of the Murkuttaes.
Forwarded by: Ashutosh Tiwari <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 8 Mar 1998 17:52:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Book review I
(What follows is from the January '98 ko The Kathmandu Post Review of
The literary B. P. and The Grocer's Wife
by Jayaraj Acharya and Swarnim Wagle
"I am an anarchist in literature through which I try to fulfil my
rebellious impulse, but as a democratic socialist in politics I am in
search of an agreeable political order. As I am one man in politics and a
completely different one in literature, ther e is no smell of politics in
While B.P. Koirala (1914 - 1982 AD) said this of himself, the then regime
saw things differently. The three decades from the early fifties to the
late seventies were that era of Nepali politics when the nation's psyche
was bifurcated into either supportin g BP or opposing him.
Politics revolved around one man who either commanded intense loyalty from
people willing to follow his orders, go to prison and die, or detestation
of the extreme from those who publicly demanded his execution. BP's
writings thus remained neglected as lo ng as he lived for purely political
reasons, albeit part of the problem has always been his literature itself.
In his quest for a better Nepal, he not only put forward a new political
vision but simultaneously ushered in fresh and hitherto untested style in
writing Nepali literature. As a dissenting intellectual, he surely had
second opinions about the way politics was handled but he also differed
vehemently with the traditionally accepted versions of ethics, society,
religion, philosophy and of course li terature.
BP's claim of his distinctly different existence in literature and
politics is only partly true, for his writings clearly indicate a
revolutionary persona that characterised his political life both in power
and out of it. He was an example of a person who
when disagreeing with the societal practices at large found himself in a position jostling against its often prized acceptances. At a time when the country was tied to conservative morality and antiquated values, BP championed a genre in literature that was the last candidate for popular appeal.
His debut short story in Nepali, Chandrabadan, published in 1935 not only
portrayed the agony of a widow and her frustrations with living but also
began a wave of bold experiments in story telling. There is a visible
influence of Sigmund Freud and inter national writing in his early short
stories but it was characteristic of the man to be Nepal-specific and pin
down any airy thoughts to earth. In The Colonel's Horse, for example, the
psychological workings of a sexually discontent woman is no doubt sensu
ously captured but by depicting the then accepted custom of unmatched
nuptials between men and women of big age differences, BP questions an
uneasy tradition. Similarly, the famous Faulty Glasses is a brilliant
exposition of a hapless sycophant in Rana Ne pal.
These three stories are typical of BP's style of writing that reflect
accurately the sense and direction of all his short stories which is,
perhaps, what has led to a charge seemingly hard to refute. Did he not
squander his literary genius by spending a d isproportionate amount of
time exploring the inner urges of women and men?
It really depends on how one reads his writings, but Jail Journal,
published belatedly for the first time four weeks ago, would be a powerful
ammunition for those who disagree with this charge. As a diary kept in the
sixties during BP's early years in jai l, he offers a highly personal and
intimate account of his interpretations of national and international
affairs, readings of literature and philosophy, interactions with people
who mattered to him and above all, a joyous look at the little things in
He took to novels only later when he was imprisoned for eight years after
being the first elected Prime Minister in the country's history. The first
novel written, Three Turns, records marked influence of existentialists
like Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sa rtre, but this influence decreases in
the subsequently written Sumnima - The Story of the First Kirata Woman,
Narendra Dai and Modiain - The Grocer's Wife.
The latter is a major departure from his alleged obsession with Freudian
psychoanalysis. Written in the Sundarijal Military Detention Camp over
three cold days in January 1964, it is the smallest of BP's novels that
poses perhaps the biggest of questions.
Taking an almost heretic swipe at the Hindu epic Gita, The Grocer's Wife looks at Mahabharata from the eyes of a young widow who lost her husband to the war. BP finds the war unjustifiable, and his bitterness is fed through a grocer's wife in the novel w ho tells a nine year old boy:
"Don't be great like the heroes of Mahabharata. Their greatness brought
the holocaust. If you aspire to be great - to be God - you bring ruin. So,
just be good. A good man."
The Grocer's Wife starts like any contemporary novel with a boy and a
family friend taking a trip on the Indian railways to the Bihari town of
Darbhanga. They meet Modiain, and the novel is slowly steered back to
history to tell the boy the story of Nari
living in the age of the Mahabharata.
This novel's simple message, "Be good, not great", may well have been BP's
own guiding philosophy in life. As a politician who did indeed preach and
practice armed revolution, the pacifist plea of the novel may be hard to
reconcile with his real life; but
as the London Times wrote in BP's obituary, he was a Fabian who resorted to violence only when every peaceful option was exhausted. The thrust of the novel, however, is broader with a look at forms of duty. The Gita assumes that the world is an illusion that makes life and death a meaningless phenomenon.
Because humans are mere instruments of god, their role is just to perform
duty with no desire of an outcome and with no passion involved. BP
disagreed with this approach. In Journal, he bluntly writes, "This
philosophy propagated by Gita smacks of emptine ss to me". If a duty is
worth performing, it is worth performing well. Use of brain then becomes
an imperative. But why should one be dissociated with the end result of
the duty so well performed? BP's question is, why should duties performed
rationally b e superior to those driven by passion?
In the war, Krishna convinces Arjuna that because life and death are
beyond their control, humans need not worry about who gets born and who
gets killed. As pawns of God they merely have to accomplish their duty.
Thus as a ksetriya, Arjuna's duty was to f ight and fight alone. From such
a high flying logic, Mahabharata is taken for granted and ignored for its
inhumanity. The reason BP is palpably agitated in The Grocers Wife is that
he is a humanist trying to conjure up an image of two million women just w
idowed by the great oriental holocaust.
BP's position was that the issue is not so much between duty driven by
passion and desire, or without. Essentially, the distinction that drew his
attention was really between good and evil. Gita does not deal with this.
All it says is, again, as godly too ls, it is not upon men to tell what is
good and evil. This is best left to the creator. With a teaching like
this, BP is prompted to go a step further and say that the Hindu
philosophy is basically an unworldly, god-oriented philosophy. Its focus
is not on life and living, but on salvation.
There exist sets of duality in this philosophy; body versus soul, worldly
versus unworldly and life versus salvation. In these conflicts, emphasis
is always on the second -- soul, unworldly and salvation. Because good and
evil is not considered to be a so cial issue, relevant to our everyday
living, BP says that the Hindu philosophy has no concern with the moral
norms set by the societies we function in. He says this religion is thus
With the Supremacy of Salvation persistently highlighted as being the
essence, Hindu philosophy is a philosophy of death, and a line from Jail
Journal sums up BP's opposition succinctly ("We need philosophy to live,
not to die"). One of the reasons why T he Grocer's Wife is so outstanding
is that it helps us see this in perspective, without compromising the
beauty of a romantic novel.
(Dr. Acharya is a professor at TU; Mr. Wagle works for the UN in
Book: Form and Function: A study of nutrition, adaptation and social
inequality in three Gurung villages of Nepal Himalaya By S.S. Strickland
and V.R. Tuffrey, Smith Gordon, London, 1997
Reviewed by Jagannath Adhikari
The relative importance of environment and genotype on the growth and
development of biological entities has been a controversial issue ever
since the laws of genetics were first propounded in the eighteenth
Form and Function attempts to make some contribution to this debate by
investigating the relationship between socio-economic inequalities on
physical form and its consequent impact on household welfare. It concludes
that there is a positive relationship b etween the variables. In other
words, the economically well-off households with better nourishment have
members with high anthropometric measures enabling them to have more
capacity for work, better productivity and good reproductive performance.
The latt er helps to perpetuate the physical form across generations.
At the very outset, this study poses two questions: what is the biological
significance of social inequality for humans? and what is the social
significance of biological variation in humans? To answer these questions,
Forms uses an interdisciplinary appr oach drawing conceptual and
methodological approaches from biology, physiology, human nutrition,
economics, sociology and anthropology. The discussion on conceptual issues
begins with widely discussed views of Malthus (on population problem in
food supply) and Darwin (on natural selection and survival of the fittest).
The authors consider Nepal to be an appropriate place for this kind of
research for two reasons: First, there is a hypothesis that people of this
country are "short but healthy". Thus, whether this small stature is a
result of adaptive response to energy deficiency can easily be examined
here; and Second, Nepal being a subsistence economy with limited
infrastructure and technology, direct effects of physique on working
capacity can be closely observed.
This study is based on a rigorous field research involving intensive
measurement of individuals through four seasons of the year in three
Gurung villages of Kaski (Khilang, Thak and Mohoriya). In addition to
various surveys conducted throughout the year t o cover seasonal, ethnic
and gender aspects, it draws heavily on previously done ethnographic
studies of these villages.
Regarding the "small but healthy" hypothesis, the study reaches no
explicit conclusion, and instead calls for more research covering
different groups of people and geographical areas. It argues that to test
this hypothesis, there should be a certain thres hold level of
anthropometric measures below which risks become exponentially high. In
this study, such a non-linear relationship was observed only in the case
of reproductive performance.
On the other hand, the authors also show that there is variability in the
relationship between individual physique and household socio-economic
status. They claim that this finding lends some support to the "small but
healthy" hypothesis which might have happened, they argue, because of
emphasis on the benefits of lineage survival (e.g. special care to
children during the nutritionally stressful season of monsoon) at the cost
of marginal deficiencies.
Given that human behaviour and socio-cultural norms play an important
role, association between different variables established by this study
may not be precise. There are several errors in data collection and
despite an intensive field study coupled by r igorous data analysis,
general application of the findings is questionable.
The study sites are not at all representative of Nepali villages, because
areas selected for this study were originally chosen by earlier authors
like Alan Macfarlane for a very different purpose of studying Gurung
culture and economy. Problems are also seen in the authors' categorisation
of households into two racial groups -- Mongoloid and non-Mongoloid. The
latter includes, in this case, Chetris, Brahmins and members of the
occupational caste. It is well known that there exist wide socio-economic
vari ations in the status of these groups.
Their coalescence into one socio-economic group would therefore certainly
lead to erroneous conclusions. This is a particularly sensitive issue for
research of this kind as it aims to study the effects of socio-economic
inequality on physique. The reason
given by the authors for including these groups into one is that their socio-economic status is significantly lower than that of the Gurungs. But this is an insufficient reason for not covering the wide economic and cultural variations within the non-Mo ngoloid group.
Despite weaknesses of this nature, the study makes practically important
conclusions regarding vulnerable households and individuals. It clearly
shows that non-Mongoloids in the study area are more vulnerable and
contrary to what is generally supposed, vi ctims of stressful seasons are
not children but adults. As a general recommendation, the study claims
that anthropometric measures can be used to identify poor households and
work out appropriate development interventions.Even though a deluge of
data and profusely used statistical terms reduce the readability of the
book, discussion of theoretical issues at length and constant
inter-linking between issues and empirical findings makes it a useful book
for those interested in human nutrition, social biology
and rural development.
(Dr. Adhikari is an author of "The Beginnings of Agrarian Change - a case
study in Central Nepal".)
Book: "In The Name Of Development: A Reflection on Nepal"
By Nanda R. Shrestha, University Press of America, Inc.,
Lanham, Maryland, USA, 1996. 231 Pages.
Reviewed by Krishna Gyawali
"Development stinks", wrote a contemporary development critic, Gustavo
Esteva, in one of his anti-development essays included in a masterpiece
The Development Dictionary. He probably smelt that stench after
encountering "the insidious side of contemporary
development" with its dehumanising, de-politicising and destroying
impacts on society, humanity, and nature. Not only has it destroyed
mutually supportive human relations, "commodified" the social setting, and
victimised marginal classes, but ironically,
it has also spread among those very victims a neo-colonial, Westernised mindset. It is now an industry, a lucrative business of "selling colonialism, consumerism and capitalism with a new face" by the developed West to the underdeveloped East. Developme nt is thus "a silent class war" between the haves and the have-nots and between nature and humanity.
This is how Shrestha's In the Name of Development concurs with
contemporary cynicism surrounding development. Coming as it does as a
sequel to the recently booming anti-development literature, the book makes
an irresistible reading for all those who were once enchanted by the
Mantra of Bikas but now find themselves disillusioned and betrayed, all in
the name of development.
The book is basically a collection of seven essays that combine to form a
highly interesting, and often personal, narrative on development victims
and their stories. An essay early in the book, Development Odyssey of
Colonised Mind, tells the author's sto ry of how a Pokhara-born "poor,
peasant boy" was flown to the US by a Peace Corps Volunteer to become a
geographer from Indiana in 1972, how he developed a "colonised mindset"
there, and then how he U-turned himself as a vocal and veracious critic of
the Western development ideology. But, as the author's friend tells him in
the Preface, he has failed to tell us how he could overcome that mindset.
Shrestha concedes that his narrative in the book is not from a neutral
observer but from "a self-made member of the domestic elite class", which
is no less responsible than the Western development agents/agencies for
The author is appreciably mindful of his contradictory life, his being an
outsider or a distant observer, and perhaps an "escapist critic" also, as
he left his "development-victimised" Nepal in his early twenties to live
in the victimisers' country, the U S, for good.
Little America in the Heart of Nepal, a curiously titled Chapter 2 makes a
fascinating reading. The Fort Durbar, elegant Rana palace across the
King's Palace is that Little America where the American (read white
foreigner) diplomatic and development corps
live and relax. But to the Author, it overtly expresses American power and material glory. He takes it as a symbol of "contemporary American practice of using space as a social separator from the natives".
Though a bit extreme in his abusing the white man's burden-type,
hypocritical role of Western development agents, Shrestha is just and
balanced when he equally attacks Nepali development elite's subservience
to such hypocrisy. His narrating an amusing sa rcasm on a bull brought by
the USAID experts from the US to crossbreed the low-milching Nepali cows
is fantastic. The bull, despite endless efforts by the experts, would not
mate with the native cows, because "as an expert, he did not come to Nepal
to wor k, rather to advise"! This little piece of joke speaks volumes
about the attitude of the richly paid Western advisors here who would
perhaps find a job in their countries not much better than a mid-level
The author depicts an idealistic nature of Nepalese agrarian life,
referring to the co-existent, complete and interdependent rural living.
But arrival of Bikas began to disrupt that social fabric, he complains. He
says that poverty was projected as an unf ortunate creation of the poor,
not as an inevitable outcome of growth-driven development and social
inequality. He sharply disapproves what he calls "a new Malthusian outlook
cursing the poor themselves for poverty while absolving the rich from any
obliga tion and responsibility".
In an anecdotal essay on prostitution, Shrestha convincingly describes two
nexuses responsible for female sexual oppression and prostitution:
religious-feudal (historical) and development-tourism (contemporary). Here
he ridicules market-based, capitalist version of "sexual labour for
profits", quoting a mid-seventies article by an ultra-feminist writer who
crudely described sex as work, implying that if paid competitively,
commercial sex is never a crime. Money has thus been the prime lubricant
in the "c ommodification" of women's bodies and sexuality, and thus
capitalist development and prostitution go hand in hand, the author
concludes. But he is cautious enough not to put the blame squarely on
capitalism, as religious-feudal nexus represented by the do mestic male
elite (their monopolistic say on virtually every sexual preferences such
as virginity, polygamy, adultery, etc.) is also equally responsible.
Pot goes pop on Kathmandu's Freak Street makes another interesting reading
where the author mocks Kathmandu's speedy fall to capitalist culture of
consumerism. "Here the temples and toilets can hardly be physically
separated", Shrestha very cruelly tells the truth. He however loves the
place and its people and has all his "feelings" towards their plight.
The book is concluded with seemingly provocative and outrageous but
deep-down optimistic and inspiring comments on Nepal's development future.
While first worrying that there is no visible fury among the poor and also
wondering whether the "revolution" ha s taken a back seat to a sense of
resignation, the author later surpasses pessimism and hopes for a massive
mass-awakening. He meanwhile devotes a sympathetic coverage to the current
People's War, trying to analyse it from a neo-Marxian perspective, but,
good for him, he is not an apologist of violence.
He rather prefers a structural change through Gandhian way of non-violence
and pursuit of simple, self-reliant, indigenous and eco-friendly
development. Here he even admires Mao's self-reliant model of economic
development, but discards his violence. Perh aps he is also near to BP
Koirala's socialist vision of simplicity and self-reliance, though he has
shied away from admitting it. Shrestha also respectfully recalls Prithvi
Narayan Shah's vision of self-help and strongly advocates his model of
frugality and self-respect for curing the country's present economic ills.
He seems to be in full accord with such contemporary development critiques
ranging from Shumacher' Small is Beautiful, Myrdal's Asian Drama, Graham
Hancock's Lords of Poverty, Catherine Caufield's Masters of Illusion, and
James Ferguson's Anti-Politics Ma chine.
Shrestha to me is conceptually in line with such popular post- modernist
writers from our part of the world as Rajni Kothari, Asis Nandy and
Bandana Shiva who firmly believe that each nation-state has its own
individual perception and priorities that can not be dictated by any set,
structured constructs determined at a global, macro theoretical level.
Shrestha's book is probably the first post-modern critique penned by a
distant "outsider". Although his disproportionate focus on anecdotes,
isolated incide nts and personal experience raises fear for it to be
dismissed by people who should take this work seriously, on the whole,
this book deserves a thorough reading.
(Reviewer Gyawali is an Under-Secretary at the Cabinet Secretariat.)
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