Open Collections

Digital Himalaya Journals

Himal: The South Asian Magazine Volume 11, Number 12, December 1998 Dixit, Kanak Mani 1998

Item Metadata


JSON: dhimjournal-1.0364743.json
JSON-LD: dhimjournal-1.0364743-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): dhimjournal-1.0364743-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: dhimjournal-1.0364743-rdf.json
Turtle: dhimjournal-1.0364743-turtle.txt
N-Triples: dhimjournal-1.0364743-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: dhimjournal-1.0364743-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

 ,   %^    > ^V^%'       'C^Z^U
>TKjrJ;S f
(*   /      .':    "r*.:i
.,'■ ■
■ - -"ft    ■ ■"
■      -:V«.V
'    7~
Pa-'WM i ft
-'.ft. 5l.ft /" "ft
%$l->b\''       -'7
Vr-Sjfe-'''. ft,/-j*1 ft^-
^ »'^      !ft ft^ir^||Ml!;
»f ■■'"    ■-4pl :'■■■■■        ;■■ f ■ -,;   J />;:
.:--■":.-    .
■ .'■!
^Becenjber - 1998 >: tlfl2
. :  l:ft   ,""■■.—
Vol 11
No 12
Kanak Mani Dixit
Associate Editor
Deepak Thapa
Copy Editor
Shanuj V.C.
Contributing Editors
Afsan Chowdhury dham
Beena Sarwar lwore
Manik de Silva Colombo
Mitu Varma newdelhi
Prabhu Ghate new oat?
Suman Shakya
Anil Karki
Sambhu Guragain
Awadhesh K. Das
Anil Shrestha
Tripti Gurung
Roshan Shrestha
Chandra Khatiwada
Marketing Offices
Ajoy Biswas Dhaka
Tel: +880-2-812 954, 911 5044 (fax)
Media Soles Representative Karachi
Trans Indus Media (Pvt) Ltd
2nd Floor, Haroon House
Ziauddin Ahmed Road
Karachi 74200
Tel: +92-21-567 0081, 567 0085 (fax)
Himal is published and distributed by
Himal he Pvt Ltd
GPO Box 7251, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: +977-1-522113, 523845, 521013 (fox)
ISSN 1012 9804
Library of Congress Card Catalogue Number
88 912882
imagesetting at Polyimage, Kathmandu
Printed atjagadamba Press, Kathmandu
Tel:+977-1-521393, 536390
Cover shows composite satellite image
of me Siachen Glacier, image
processing by Earth Data Analysis
Centre, University of New Mexico.
Courtesy: Cooperative Monitoring
Centre, Sandia National Laboratories,
Albuquerque, New Mexico.
12    Frozen frontline
by Samina Ahmed &
Varun Sahni
22    High stakes
by Harish Kapadia
28    Siachen Science Club
3   Mail
Krishna's Corner
6    Commentary
Try them all
Bugle call
More than a name
Radical cheek
33 Briefs
On your mark, get set..get married
Moratorium on hartals
"Positively impressed"
Arming farmers
Don't miss this bus
39     Indian-American
by Sadanand Dhume
41     e-Patriot
by lav/id Laiq
44    Legacy of a lonely cross
by Dilip D'Souza
48 Mediafite
Si Arts & Society
Interviews with Deepa Mehta
& Naseeruddin Shah
by Rehan Ansan
Book Review
55     The Other Side of Silence
reviewed by Beena Sarwar
57     Borders and Boundaries:
Women in India's Partition
reviewed by Neloufer de Me
60  ^er^Xn^P&i %$bKCS*'
7 I    :
Himal Books, October 1998
Toni Hagen first set foot on Nepali soil in 1950, when Nepal was still 'forbidden' to outsiders. Starting from the Tarai plains, then still malarial, he
traversed Nepal's populated midlands, and up to and beyond the high
Himalaya. He walked a total of 14,000 km over nine years while carrying
out the first-ever reconnaissance of the country for the United Nations.
The Swiss geologist saw Nepal like no one had before him, and very fe
have since. He visited areas that are till today closed to tourists and observed so much of the country that has been overtaken by the march of
time. With the meticulous mind of a scientist and the rendition of a storyteller, Toni Hagen first published Nepal in 1961. This, then, became the
original book to introduce Nepal, in text and unmatched pictures, to the
world as well as to the administrators of the newly awakened country.
.Over time, as a development expert and a valued friend, the author has
been returning regularly to these mountains, hills and plains. He has seen
the country's transformation from a medieval-era state to a parliamentary
democracy, and the population's rise from eight million when he first came
to 22 million today. Toni Hagen has not been just a casual observer; he has
continuously engaged in discussion on issues that affect the people, such as
the merits of the prevalent development model, or questions of political
evolution and ethnic assertion.
There have been others who have since studied more thoroughly certain
areas and become better acquainted with various communities of the coun
the expert ol Nepal as a whole.
Toni Hagen's 14,000 km treks
Mail order your copy of Nepal by sending us the following details.
Name     ;	
Address :	
My cheque/DD No dated. [or U$......,..( _copies)
drawn on favouring Himal Association is enclosed herewith. [I
You can order your copy through AMEX,VISA or MASTER CARD.
Mail/fax/email the following card details to
Himal, PO Box 42, Lalitpur, Nepai/+977- 1-521013/,<hima!>.
I lAmex ■ Ivisa I [MasterCard Expiry date L J—I Month I—L
. Year
Toni Hagen's
Nepal: The Kingdom in tbe Himalaya
revised and updated with
Deepak Thapa
Fourth Edition, 1998
Himal Books, Lalitpur, Nepal
pp2SI (172 plates: 121 colour+Sl b&w)
U$ 60 (including postage)
This i 998 edition of Nepal is the
result of a unique transcontinental
collaboration between the Swiss
geo! ogi st-tu rned-devel o pmen t
philosopher Toni Hagen and Nepali
journalist Deepak Thapa, who is an
editor of Himal magazine in
Kathmandu Valley.This revised and
updated Fourth Edition includes
the original reports and photographs by Toni Hagen; at the same
time, it brings the reader abreast
with the changes the country has
witnessed and the ideas that have
evolved over the decades. An
impressive amount of new information is collected in this edition,
including up-to-date data and
discussion on matters as diverse as
history, deve lop ment, tourism,
agriculture, geography, ethnography, and the process of modernisation .The book ends with an essay
looking ahead, maintaining that
the country still has the potential
to deliver a fine quality of life to its
The earlier editions of Nepal
helped define Nepal to the world
for the last four decades.The 1998
updated and revised edition will
continue to do so for many years
SQ-QXS      fctfe pttMklKKg wing */ Ate
not-for-profit Himal Association, Lalitpur, Nepal.
Still in denial
Himal must be congratulated for
having the journalistic courage to
print frank articles like John
Fredericks ahout sex tralficking
(October 1998). We have heard
voices objecting. Objecting not to
the sorry state ol affairs, but
objecting to its being made public.
They say that this will reflect poorly
on the reputation of the country!
Where do these
people live? This
reputation has
already heen
damaged by the
denial ofthe
problem. Further
decline can be
avoided only by
addressing the
problem head-on.
just as alcoholics
can only be
healed if they
admit to their
dependency, it
must be admitted that the sex
trafficking problem exists before the
healing can begin.
Kurt and Pamela Meyer
i.os Angeles
Male chauvinism
With reference to "Sex and marriage
in Nepal" (September 1998), ii
seems to me that the male journalists fanning the flames of fear
induced by the Supreme Court
judgement can only be protecting
their own rights. Their
self-proclaimed concern about the
jeopardy to the rights of women
living in de facto marriages smacks
of selfishness and chauvinism. Why
can't they just be honest and confess
that what they are really scared of is
the idea of women ohtaining power
through property rights?
Nepali mens primary fear seems
to be their sisters' laying claim to
parental property. The fact that their
wives may compensate for any loss
in property since they, too, will have
property rights is irrelevant because
a man's pride does not allow him to
see his wife's property in the same
lighr as his own purfehycudi samparti
(ancestral property). Hence the
move to ensure that his sisters do
not gel a share of it.
Another hypocritical issue is lhe
proclamation that this verdict will
unleash Western-style promiscuity'.
It implies ihat men, knowing that
sex does nol mean marriage, will
have rampant sex. It takes two to
tango, otherwise the sex act is
called rape. Educating women
about the SC's verdict and its
implications would certainly be a
lot more productive and
beneficial to women's
rights than the existing
system that denies
females a fair go in life.
Even in this day and
age, men are reluctant to
share lhe sole right they
have lo parental property;
women only have the
privilege of taking what
their parents and brothers give them—a perpetual lower hand.
Perhaps if women owned
more properly, they could
make more decisions themselves
instead of always relying on their
fathers, brothers, husbands and
sons to decide what is good and
what is bad for them.
Jyoti Thapa
When bulls fight
Last summer, 1, as a Nepali, was
pleased, even proud, that two South
Asian countries, India and Pakistan
had the knowledge, skill and
discipline to conduct nuclear tests
succcssluliy. This misplaced pride
was mainly because I perceived the
hypocrisy ol countries such as USA
and Japan. I did not think that the
US, the only country to have
actually used the atom homb and
which continues to maintain a large
stockpile of nuclear weapons, had
any moral right to criticise India
and Pakistan. Japan's displeasure is
understandable, but its stance is
similar to the Buddhist priests who
preach against the killing ol animals
yet at the same time eat meat; even
as Japan speaks out against nuclear
weapons, it readily accepts the
protection of the American nuclear
All the same. I was also worried
of the possible effects any subcontinental or irans-llimalayan nuclear
war or accident would have on this
region. Should there he an atmospheric nuclear explosion in
northern India or Pakistan, radioactive matter carried by westerly
winds would settle on lhe Himalaya
and the Tibetan plateau, the source
Kf^5rWrte   COKrJEK.
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
,  "I
Vajra (literally—Hash
of lightning), is an
artists' condominium,
a transit home for
many, providing a
base during months of
hibernation and
creative inspiration.
Its isolation, graphic
splendour and
peaceful ambience,
make an ideal retreat
from the clock of
Kctaki Shelh
Inside Outside
I stayed a week al the
Vajra, by which time
I had become so fond
of il that 1 stayed
John Col lee
The London Observer
in Kathmandu,
the Vajra
Swayambhu. Dallu Bijvaswori, PO Box 1084, Kathmandu
Phone 271545, 272719 Fax 977 1 271695
 v^l'SFIsa S
of the major rivers ol Tibet, China,
Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and
Nepal. Nuclear radiation does not
respect political boundaries.
It is said that when two hulls
fight, they do not care ahout the
destruction they cause, Humans are
more destructive than hulls but
arguably more intelligent also.
However, the big powers are either
incapable or are unwilling to reflect
on the catastrophic and long-lasting
damage a nuclear war would have
on their neighbours. After all,
diplomacy and wars are about self-
interest, not altruism.
The Indian establishment, for all
its moral posturing, has turned out
to be no heller than the members of
the 'discharmcd' circle ol nuclear
powers. Certainly, there are Indians
(and Pakistanis) who oppose the
nuclearisation of the Subcontinent
and who have protested publicly.
Many have written well-argued and
perceptive articles denouncing the
tests and all that they imply as can
he seen in the contributions
published in Himal in the past few
months, including the most recent
one by Amitav Ghosh (November
1998). But these reflections are only
about India and Pakistan, and to
some extent, China and the West.
Little has been written on the effects
of the subcontinental
(and trans-Himalayan)
nuclearisation on
Nepal and other
countries. This is
extremely worrying.
Amitav Ghosh has
persuasively argued
that the targets the
Subcontinent's rulers
have in mind (in
developing nuclear
weapons) are iheir own
people. By keeping
quiet on the dangers to
the neighbouring countries, the
intellectuals participate, perhaps
unwillingly and unknowingly, with
the rulers they criticise, in the war
against lhe dominated.
I had expected a more sensitive
and imaginative response from
Indian intellectuals, who have some
of the finest brains in the world. But
Indians, no matter what their
ideology is, do not want to dialogue
with Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka," or
even Bangladesh. They would like
to talk to China, whom they fear
and envy, and perhaps with their
twin, Pakistan, whom
they would lecture to
rather than converse
with. Most of all, they
would like to be
engaged in conversation
with the West as equals.
This is why India is
trapped in the structures of discourse and
ways of thinking
dominated mainly hy
the West.
There is an urgent
need for us Soulh
Asians to iniiiale a dialogue among
ourselves as equals, to discuss the
effects of nuclear explosions on all
the countries of the region and
beyond and to think ol strategies
which will help us break away from
the dominant structures of discourse and ways of thinking.
Rajendra Pradhan
The rugged, unearthly beauty' of the "Rod ot the
World" its rich Buddhist tradition has captivated
countless travelers down the centuries. Open to outsiders
tor just over a decade now, travel here is still restricted
and your 'tour" has to be arranged by a local operator.
Nevertheless, a journey to Tibet truly surpasses one's
wildest imagination.
Discover the grandeur of this mysterious land on our
tixed-date (or private) departures. We have the trip to suit
your time & interests, from the classic 8-day overland trip
between Lhasa and Kathmandu to a 5-week journey
across the Tibetan plateau to the holy Mt. Kailash. Our
partnership with quality operators in Tihet ensures hassle-
tree travel and an unforgettable experience. Contact us
for more information on our original selection ot
adventures in the Himalaya.
Wayfarers Pvt. Ltd., PO Box 1209, ARCADIA, Thamel, Kathmandu.
tel (+977 1) 265 432, 264 851 fax 264 245 e-mail
wayfarers  -*"
let your spirits soar
 W'flislf il tTl$* ****** ¥•
**S$W*i51 Slit I ft.- » f ';.*■ I » Jr,
The accused oeing
taken to jail after the
IT IS no secret that what has kept Sheikh
Hasina going all these years was an uncompromising desire for revenge. All members of
her immediate family, except her sister,
Rehana, with whom she was on a tour abroad,
were killed on 15 August 1975. While her sister stayed away from politics. Sheikh Hasina
returned to Bangladesh in 1980 to take over
her father's party, the Awami League. And she
never gave up her mission to try the killers.
A few of them had actually confessed to
the killings. Part ol their bravado lay in the
fact they were protected by an Indemnity Ordinance promulgated in 1975, which was later
incorporated into the constitution through an
amendment. It was believed a two-third majority would be required to repeal the amendment, but Awami League lawyers successfully
challenged the case in the Supreme Court after the party came
to power in 1996 and
a simple majority
proved enough to remove the constitutional security blanket against the trial.
Most of the accused had left the
country almost
immediately after
Sheikh Hasina won
lhe elections, hut
there were some who could not or did nol.
After two years of trial, on 8 November 1998,
the District and Sessions Judge sentenced 15
army officers of various ranks to death by firing squad, and if the criminal code did not
allow for that, to be hanged to death.
Sheikh Hasina had triumphed in the end.
She never wavered once in her objective, proving once again ihat South Asian women who
enter politics have more steel in them lhan
most of iheir male counterparts. It was an
emotional moment when, while talking lo the
press, she choked upon recalling the death
by bullet of her youngest brother Sheikh
Russell (named after the Briiish philosopher
Bertrand Russell), who would have been 32
years old now if he had survived the massacre on that fateful day in 1975.
When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed,
the country was under a one-party rule. Tbe
way in which Sheikh Mujib died was dread
ful, but there were many who were also glad
to once again have a multi-party, multi-option society. Ihe right to disagree without the
fear of being punished has proved to be an
option without which socio-political constructs can't develop.
Having said thai, we can't forget that the
situation in Bangladesh seems lo defy improvement. The country is in such a bad shape
that it needs foreign aid lo help it learn to
manage governance. When governance he-
comes a foreign-funded, bureaucracy-driven
project monitored by a section in a ministry,
one must ask if money alone can inspire politicians to learn. It also automatically means
that Bangladesh didn't know better before and
that includes all previous regimes—that ol
Mujib, Zia and Ershad. That is a harsh statement, hut nevertheless a true one in donor-
driven Bangladesh. That is why lessons need
to be learnt Irom the trial and the peoples response to it.
The fact that almost everyone in Bangladesh welcomed the verdict means people
don't want a system in which laws are flouted.
It also means they want criminals, political
or otherwise, to be tried. And that doesn't only
mean criminals who commit murder but those
involved in corruption as well.
It took a daughter's determination and
political and legal authority to try a cluster of
killers. Bui so far no politician has been convicted ol corruption. Jusl as people don't approve of killing, they don't like corruption either. By passing judgement on a nearly quar-
tei-cenlury-old crime, a faint glimmer of rule
of law and accountability has been established.
If former prime minister Begum Khaleda
Zia ever comes to power again, she may also
try tbe killers of her husband. Gen Ziaur
Rahman. And that too will be as much welcomed by lhe people. But the leaders will be
misled if they think that the people's interest
is locussed on the victims only. The lact is
they are welcoming the process of trying and
punishing the guilty.
Thai is why Sheikh Hasian should continue with such trials. She should hersell reach
out and try tbe killers of Gen Ziaur Rahman.
She should examine other cases as well, including the hanging hy lhe Zia regime of Col
Taher, lhe liberation war hero whose insurrection propelled Gen Zia to power. She
should also initiate an investigation to find
out if the police killing of Maoist leader Shiraj
Shikdarm 1974 (.see Himal Sep/Oct 1997) was
carried out extrajudicially.
Not every killing which awails justice can
be as zealously pursued as was Sheikh Mujih's.
By trying the killers ol her lather, it has now
HIMAL   11/12   DECEMBER   1998
 51 £•*?'#   ■■
become Sheikh Hasina's sacrosanct duty to tiT
all killers.
FOR THE past two months the Sri Lankan
government, using the state media, has been
trying to pull off the impossible. They have
been projecting the terrible losses suffered by
the army at Kilinochchi, on the road to Jaffna
where an estimated 1500 or more soldiers
perished in Septemher, as a relatively small
price to pay for the capture of Mankulam, also
on the road to Jail na though at a more southward point. One justification provided was
that, in percentage terms, the LTTE had lost
far more than the army.
The Sri Lankan media has been forced to
put up with censorship by the military for the
pasl seven months. The country has known
censorship hefore, but it had mostly heen for
partisan political purposes and never before
have the armed forces been the censors. At
one level, what censorship has done is help
the government full the Sri Lankans' sense of
outrage and transport them to a fantasy land
where deleat is victory, and where the dead
are not "dead" but "missing".
These propagandist^ accounts are beginning to have an impact, but not in the way
the government would want it. Can the situation be really so bad? Would the government
lie so blatantly? The censorship ol news
coupled with government propaganda has
caused doubts to rise. This is true mainly Tor
people living in the cities, as, unlike iheir rural counterparts, most of them do not have
relatives at the northern front, nor do they
have access to the informal network of news-
gathering of the villages.
Indeed, one morning, an irate ex-soldier
called to complain about a story he had just
heard on the state radio. According to the
news item, tbe army's top brass had just heen
awarded the country's highest military awards.
Sounding very bitter, he said the government
must be living in a world of fantasy. The worst-
ever military defeat had taken place only two
weeks ago at Kilinochchi, and there were
thousands of weeping families across the
length and breadth ofthe country. And here,
ridiculously enough, the officers were being
decorated with medallions...
There arc other signs as well of the road
to doom that Sri Lanka is taking. The passage
of the SLR 12 billion (USD 180 million)
supplement to the already huge defence hud-
get was an event of major consequence, especially at this time of economic downturn. This
amount exceeds the entire budget for health,
but it was approved by the parliament with
hardly any debate. If not for some columnists
who wrote of this increase, it might not even
have been known. But no one complained.
Who wants to begrudge the soldiers at the
front the money anyway?
The indefinite postponement of the provincial council elections two months ago was
another significant event, justified once again
on the grounds of military necessity. And true
to the trend, the puhlic accepted the postponement without much debate. While the silence
on the part ofthe citizenry can he attributed
to the fact that they do not wish the massive
sacrifices of the soldiers to he compromised,
it is dislurhmg that, in the process, democratic
norms arc being steadily eroded.
The absence of effective democracy and
civilian rule in the northeast has not been
contested (and for good reason, many will say,
pointing to the presence of the LTIT.). The
military has heen the de facto ruler in these
parts for some time now. If anyone had had
any doubts on that count, by November those
doubts were cleared when the government
appointed a recently retired army general to
the governor's post in the northeast province.
What's particularly disturbing is that not only
the northeast, but also the south is coming
under lhe increasing influence of the defence
establishment. The country's priorities and
resources, it seems, are going the military way.
The military setbacks may make immediate elections unattractive to the government.
But the fact is the government is fast approaching a crossroads where it will have to choose
between rule by parliament or rule that is ultimately determined by the defence establishment. Any further postponement of elections
will he a clear signal ol the direction in which
the country is set to travel.
-Jehan Perera
WHEN, ON 17 November, a private members' day', the leader of the small opposition,
Saeed Manhais, stood up to speak in the ma-
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
jestic colonial huilding of the Punjab Assembly in Lahore, those in the galleries expected
a strong tirade against the government over
issues such as rising inflation, rampant lawlessness and a spree of extra-judicial murders
hy the police. Instead, the honourahle member moved a resolution to change the name
ol Rabwa, a sleepy town of 50,000 located
some 150 km south-west of Lahore. "In the
opinion of this house, the name of Rabwa
should be changed to 'Chak Dhaggian' or any
other name," went tbe resolution. And in an
unparalleled show ol solidarity, the move was
unanimously adopted by all 76 legislators
present in the House. The only objection came
from a minister who said that Chak Dhaggian
was not a proper name, so a committee was
formed to find another one.
The move came as a rude surprise lo residents oi Rahwa who came to know ol it only
the next day through news reports. They had
no idea a change was being considered, and
indeed the arbitrary decision was intended
only to provide sadistic pleasure to the
country's small but powerful religious lobby.
That is because nearly everyone in Rabwa he-
long to the Ahmadiya community, the religious sect that was declared a non-Muslim
minority by parliamentary act in 1974.
Most ofthe people of Rabwa migrated from
the Indian Punjab town of Qadian during the
Partition in 1947. Qadian is the birthplace ol
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, considered by the
Ahmadiyas lo be the Messiah promised in
many holy hooks of Islam, including the
Qur'an. When Mirza Ahmad proclaimed himself the new prophel of Islam towards the end
of the 19th century, many religious scholars
had denounced him and his followers for blasphemy, saying that there was no place for
a new prophel in Islam. For their part,
Ahmadiyas continue to insist that Mirza
Ahmad's position is in accordance with the
Most Ahmadiyas living in present-day India decided to move to Pakistan after independence. Though they settled in different
parts of the country, those coming from
Qadian decided to live at one place and create a new centre for the community. For this
the Central Ahmadiya Organisation bought
some I 1,000 acres of barren land and named
it Rabwa, a word from tbe Qur'an which means
high and fertile place. As the seat of the
community leader, called khalifa by the
Ahmadiyas, Rabwa soon became the new
Qadian in Pakistan, a focal point for tbe
Ahmadiya community, which claims a membership of three to four million in Pakistan
Ahmadiyas bad actively participated in the
formation of Pakistan. The first foreign minister ol the country, Chaudhry Zafarullah
Khan, was an Ahmadiya. (So was Pakistan's
only Nobel laureate, the late Abdus Salam.)
But contrary to their expectations, Ahmadiyas
soon became religious pariahs in Pakistan.
The movement, at times violent, to declare
Ahmadiyas non-Muslim started in the early
fifties, but successive governments stood firm
against the mullahs.
It took the lirst elected prime minister ol
Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to bow to the
religious lobby and sacrifice the Ahmadiyas.
Through the Second Amendment to the 1973
constitution Ahmadiyas were declared
non-Muslim. "Qadianis, or who call themselves Ahmadiyas, are not Muslim only for the
purposes of constitution and law," declared
the amendment. In 1984, Gen Zia-ul Haq took
the matter to even more ahsurd heights and
through ordinance disallowed Ahmadiyas
from calling their places of worship mosques
and Irom using certain specific symhols
of Islam.
Their calling themselves Muslim was made
a criminal ollence punishable by two years in
prison. Even quoting a line Irom the Qur'an
on invitation cards could land an Ahmadiya
in jail. The ordinance was given constitutional
status with the 8th Amendment to the Constitution in 1986, which started a whole new
chapter in the persecution of Ahmadiyas.
Their present leader, or Khalifa, Mirza Tahir
Ahmad, fled lhe country the same year.
Ahmadiyas are probably the most persecuted community in Pakistan. Dozens of
Ahmadiyas have so far been murdered by religious zealots and hundreds have been put
behind bars under the country's 'blasphemy
laws'. When it comes lo Ahmadiyas, so complete is religious apartheid thai all Muslims,
while getting official documents like the national identity card and the passport or getting registered as a voter has to declare that
they are not Ahmadiyas and do not consider
Mirza Ahmad a prophet or a reformer. As a
result, Ahmadiyas have heen disenfranchised.
There is not a single Ahmadiya representative in Parliament or any of the provincial legislatures. What is even worse, the media and
human rights groups oltcn choose to remain
silent on the issue of their persecution for fear
of a backlash from the religious groups. For
even a supporter for the human rights ol
Ahmadiyas can be dubbed an Ahmadiya, perhaps the most dangerous label to carry in
Going back to the re-naming of Rabwa,
Ghalib Ahmad, a spokesperson for the
HIMAL   11/12   DECEMBER   1998
. ""V-a
Ahmadiya community argued, "Rabwa is private property. How absurd it is that we can't
even name our own property and that too a
name which is not controversial and which
doesn't not hurt anyone's feelings."
But there is more in the attempt to change
the name than is obvious; it shows a deeper
malaise in the society. As the English daily.
Dawn, noted: The idea of changing the name
is an example of our tendency lo get passionately involved with non-issues and to recklessly drive our people deeper into mire of
bigotry and sectarianism. Il also shows how
the majority feels threatened hy such insignificant symbols of minority cohesiveness as
the name of a place."
-Zaigham Khan
SINCt 13 February 1996, when the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) launched their
People's War' in the districts of Rolpa and
Rukum in the mid-western hills of Nepal, the
insurgency has spread to nearly a third of the
75 administrative units ofthe country. Maoist
violence has come as close as to districts adjoining the capital, Kathmandu. Statistics of
lives lost during this period varies hetween
about 200 and 2000. However, neither the
Maoists nor the government bas been able
to achieve anything to justify such high
The Maoists are led by two Brahmins—
Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Comrade
Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai. Not much
is known about Comrade Prachanda except
for his background as a student activist during the late seventies when college campuses
in Nepal bristled with foreign agents of all possible hues. But Bhattarai, an alumnus of the
School of Planning and Architecture in New
Delhi, was a high-profile Kathmandu academician with plum consultancy assignments
before he went underground three years ago.
He has his family safely lucked away in England while he enunciates his interpretation
of Maoist ideology through party-funded
newspapers in the capital. For a while, he even
had a home page on the internet from his underground hideout when such a facility was
more of a rarity. These two gentlemen of
priestly class have everything to gain and
nothing to lose, not even their reputations.
no matter who wins the People's War.
The government does nol appear worried.
Contrary to claims, no sophisiicatcd weapons
have been recovered from the Maoists from
anywhere in the country. The insurgents appear to command little support and even less
respect in a society mired in religious orthodoxy and an ingrained fatalism. They also
appear to he resource-starved, apparent Irom
actions like looting the wages of workers from
a rural road project. On lhe other hand, the
government has almost total control over the
carrots—amnesty, incentives, offices, opportunities—and wields a huge stick in the form
of a relatively large police force. Just as the
Maoist leadership wants to prolong the confrontation, the government loo can afford to
wait and test ils resilience.
While each side wails for the other to
blink, the real losers are lhe people caught
in the crossfire. The secretary general ol
lhe Communist Part)' of Nepal (Marxist-
Leninist), a minority partner in the government, has claimed that more than 300 people
were killed in a recent police operation against
Maoists. Development works have come to a
standstill in the affected areas. Donor agencies have withdrawn projects, and embassies
have issued advisories against travelling in
these areas. Even the allocated hudgets have
remain unused as the local government units
had not been formed until recently due to
Maoist threats and government employees did
all they could do to stay away from their
postings in the affected districts.
The money set aside for a special development programme in these impoverished
districts for the current fiscal year is a paltry
NPR 80 million (USD 1.2 million). But even
so, the institutional arrangements to utilise
lhe money are yet to be worked out—months
after the announcement of the package. The
hills continue to burn even as the fire of insurgency has begun to spread to tbe southern
Tarai plains districts adjoining India.
In the aftermath of the much-vaunted police operation, the Maoists appeared to have
gone into hibernation and the police had
started to gloat over their apparent success.
Nothing to Ic&e:
Comrade Prachanda
and Baburam
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
With the onset of winter, however, the insurgency has begun, heating up again. Maoists
have started their 'Base Area Preparation Campaign' and the police have struck back with
equal ferocity. An escalation is likely.
Meanwhile, the intelligentsia and other
elites of Kathmandu Valley are indignant at
this disturbance to their merry money-making and blame the government lor being insensitive, incompetent and brutal, all in one
breath. The national media comments on
Maoist-related casualty figures with the nonchalance of rejjorting cricket scores. The government damages itself as it fights an enemy
it cannot see, while Maoists are killed by the
score in their quest for a communist republic
in an inhospitable social reality. This war, if it
can be called one, shall continue to produce
losers all around.
The first move in search of solutions has
to be made by the government. Local elections, despite limited participation, have been
a step in the right direction. Emergency relief
measures in the form of small, village-based,
labour-intensive development projects need
to be initiated without further delay. The offer of amnesty has to be implemented, and
implemented in good faith. The police deployed in these areas need to be given special
orientation to cope with the dangerous levels
of job stress. The government needs to acquire
credibility by prosecuting not only Maoists,
but also various other offenders who have
been getting away with a lot under the guise
of being police informers. Awareness levels
need to be raised by leaders of political parties visiting the affected villages. These solutions are simple to the point of being simplistic and are unlikely to end the confrontation
in a day, but the other option, bullets, is as
uncertain a solution.
Maoist cadres need to realise the futility
of an armed confrontation in a democracy
where politics permits alternative solutions to
the permanent problems of society. Their leadership may consist of hounds too old to learn
new tricks, but there is simply no escaping
the reality that retreating into the jungles
after hacking a few 'class enemies' can
never deter an elite steeped in the culture ol
Going for broke when it's the establishment that holds all the aces is not heroic, it's
suicide, a moral surrender. Social struggle
through political competition to fight the
common enemy of poverty, ignorance, unemployment and discrimination is still an option that deserves another chance both from
the government and the Maoists. t
Tamil cubs.
THERE IS no doubt that children are great
lighters. They are easy to indoctrinate and will
follow blindly where their heroes lead. When
children fight in a war, it is a sign of the complete breakdown of all things moral. Children
in armed combat are clearly vulnerable to
manipulation by adult soldiers and commanders. They often resort to joining the battle not
because of a burning desire to serve the cause,
but because they have few other options.
Some weeks ago, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar issued a severe
rebuke to the Director of UNlCEr in Sri Lanka.
UNICES1, the only UN organisation dedicated
exclusively to children, has a great track
record, and a web page that says that "recruiting children into armed forces or sending
them into combat situations of any kind
should be considered a war crime by the proposed international criminal court".
What occasioned the dressing down from
the foreign minister? After the recent battle
of Kilinochchi, 26 fighters of the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) surrendered their
arms. Many of them were under 15. Article
38 ofthe Convention on the Right of the Child
(CRC) states that children under 15 should not
be used in war. (The international community is now, albeit somewhat late in the day,
advocating an Optional Protocol to raise the
HIMAt   It/12  DECEMBER   1998
legal age for war lo 18.) In employing child
soldiers, the LTTE had clearly violated
children's rights and the Sri Lankan government wanted this to be obvious to everyone.
But L'NICEF refused to issue an official statement condemning the lttf.'s actions.
UNICF.F has many roles to play in Sri Lanka
at the moment. One of the most important is
ensuring that food, basic health care and essential supplies get to the about 300,000 children who live in LTTtftcontrolled areas like the
Vanni jungles. UNiCEFdid not issue a condemnatory stalemenl because it needs to maintain open lines of communication with the
Lt it so that supplies for children, bolh soldiers and students, can get through.
Olara Otunnu, the United Nations Special
Representative for Children in xArmed Conflict visited Colombo three months ago, and
brokered some commitments between the
government and the LTTli. These concerned
access to humanitarian supplies, return of displaced persons and the recruitment of child
soldiers. The LTTli gave their commitment nol
lo use children under 18 as soldiers, and nol
to recruit into their forces those who were
under 17. They also agreed to a small but important caveat: as a way to identify any violation ofthe three commitments, a monitoring
framework would be set up, to which lhe government also agreed. However, no one has yet
put the crucial mechanism in place.
Now, faced with the evidence of the Lite's
violation of the commitment it made, Colombo can't seem to decide who was responsible for the monitoring. The LTTE could
hardly have coordinated it from the deep
jungles in which they hide. The UN could
have come up with a monitoring process, but
the government is pretty touchy ahout what
it perceives as "undue interference" by international aid agencies. As the sovereign entity
in the negotiation process, the government is
responsible for coordinating monitoring efforts. Of course, had the government tried to
monitor the commitments themselves, the
mechanism would no longer have remained
completely neutral. The UN might then have
had to step in anyhow.
Guerilla warfare by definition is a hidden
war. Whoever monitors the ITTE's commitments is hardly likely to be able to conduct
troop inspections every morning and send
under-age cadets home. As there is no way
the ltte's commitments can be monitored,
why is UN1CLF so afraid that issuing a strong
statement would provoke the lit ii and deny
them access to the 300,000-plus needy children that they want to help? Surely the LTTL
would want all children (turned soldier or
not) living under its hattle-torn jurisdiction
to have lood and clothing?
t'NK.Li is a high-profile organisation and
its actions speak loudly. If UN1CLI- were to
publicly condemn the use of child soldiers by
the LTTE, it may dawn on the l.TTE's top
fundraisers in the West that the organisation
on whose behalf they canvass does not act
within international conventions. It would not
have been without precedent, as UNlCiil- has
extricated children from combat and assisted
demobilised child soldiers in hoth Rwanda
and Sierra Leone.
-Aruni John
What's New at Pilgrims?
Two Sandwich Shops and an Art Gallery!
r ilgn'ms' ff^tjtji Sandwich Shop
overlooking Nagpokhri
Hundreds of burgers ond sandwiches
representing the true toste and excellence of
European recipes.
Haiti prides itself on the strictest hygenic
conditions, best quality food, friendly and
charming cafe, efficient service, and a
convenient home-pack system.
Garden seating is coming soon!
Open daily 9 am to 8 pm. Telephone 415454
The Inner Eye Gallery
Exhibiting the works of renowned Nepali and Indian artists
The T-fatti S^ndwifih (3offee tounge
The perfect break after browsing the gallery and
Pilgrims' huge collection of books and gifts.
Both in Ana's largest bookstore
Open daily 10 am to 8 pm. Telephone 521159
I998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   If/12
 HIMAL   11/12  DECEMBER   1998
 Since 13 April 1984, Indian and Paki
stani troops have confronted each
other, eyeball to eyeball, for control ol
the Siachen Glacier and its approaches in lhe
eastern Karakoram mountain range, adjacent
to the borders of India, Pakistan and China.
The conflict has resulted in hundreds of casualties, caused more by adverse climatic conditions and harsh terrain than the occasional
military skirmish.
This is by far lhe longest-running armed
conflict between two regular armies in the
20th century. However, this is not a declared
war. India and Pakistan continue to maintain
full diplomatic relations with each other, and
have many other ties, including economic and
academic. Neither is this a conventional conflict: although both armies are conventionally
armed, weather, altitude, and terrain make this
uninhabitable region an unlikely zone of
armed strife.
The Siachen Glacier is one of the most
inhospitable and glaciated regions in the
world. Sliding clown a valley in the Karakoram
Range, the glacier is 76 km long and varies in
width between 2 and 8 km. It receives 6 to 7
m ofthe annual total of 1 0 m of snow in winter alone. Blizzards can reach speeds up to I 50
knots (nearly 300 km per hour). The temperature routinely drops to 40 degrees Celsius
below zero, and even lower with the wind chill
factor. For these reasons, tbe Siachen Glacier
has been called lhe "Third Pole".
This epithet, however, is misleading as it
focuses solely on the adverse weather conditions and completely ignores the deleterious
impact of altitude and terrain. The high altitude compounds the severity of lhe bitter climatic conditions. Base camp lor Indian forces
is 1 2,000 feel above sea level. The altitude of
some Indian forward bases on the Saltoro
Ridge ranges Irom Kumar (lb,000 leel) and
Bila Top (18,600 feel) to Pabalwan (20,000
feet) and Indira Col (.22,000 feci). Because of
the steep gradienl of the Saltoro Range, the
area is also prone to avalanches. These adverse conditions have direct consequences:
since lhe war began, only 3 percent of lhe
Indian casualties have been caused by hostile
firing. The remaining 97 percent have fallen
prey to tbe altitude, weather, and terrain.
Pakistani combat casualties are equally low
because troops are dug in. artillery lire over
mountain peaks is generally inaccurate (as
winds are erratic and difficult to predict in
such terrains), and infantry assaults are seldom made in the harsh climate and difficult
terrain. As with lhe Indians, most Pakistani
casualties occur because of the climate, terrain, and altitude. Pakistani positions are, lor
the most part, at altitudes lower than the Indian ones, tanging between 9000 and 1*5,000
feet, although some, such as Conway Saddle
(17,200 feel), which controls ingress to the
glacier are much higher. Onlhe other hand,
glaciers at the Pakistani frontlincs begin at
9440 feet and Pakistani troops are stationed
on steep slopes, exposed lo harsh weather.
The fight for the Siachen Glacier involves
territory claimed by both stales but controlled
by neither until the mid-1980s. The origins
of this armed conflict lie in the India-Pakistan dispute over the stale of Jammu and
Kashmir, in 1948, following an inconclusive
war, the areas ol ihe disputed stale that fell
under Pakistan comprised ofthe Northern Areas (Baltistan and Gilgil Agency) and Azad
Jammu and Kashmir, while India controlled
two-thirds of the territory including jammu,
Ladakh, and the valley of Kashmir.
A cease-fire line (ci I.) was established as a
result of the 1949 India-Pakislan agreement
that concluded the war in Kashmir. The Ci'l
ran along the international India-Pakistan
border and then north and northeast until
map grid-point NJ 9842, located near ihe
Shyok River at the base ol the Saltoro mountain range. Because no Indian or Pakistani
troops were present in the geographically inhospitable northeastern areas beyond NJ
9842, tbe ul was not delineated as lar as the
Chinese border Bolh sides agreed, in lhe
vague language thai lies al the root ol the
Siachen dispute, that the til extended lo the
terminal point. NJ 9842, and Thence north
to the glaciers".
Alter the 1965 India-Pakistan war. the
Tashkent agreement resulted in troop withdrawals lo positions along the 1949 en . No
attempt was made to extend the CPI. further.
Following Pakistan's defeat in the 1971 war,
the Shimla Agreement of 1972 established a
new Line of Control iioc) as a result ol the
cease-lire of December 1971. Ihe Siachen
Glacier region, where no fighting had taken
place, was left undelineaied. and again nothing was done lo clarify lhe position of lhe i.tx:
beyond NJ 9842. The l.oc" was merely described as moving from Ncrlin (inclusive to
India), Brilman (inclusive to Pakistan), up to
Chorbat La in the TutTok sector. "From there
the line of control runs northeastwards to
Thang (inclusive to India) thence eastwards
joining the glaciers.
Since ihe Siachen Glacier region falls
within the undelineaied territory beyond lhe
last defined section ol ihe i.OC, map grid-point
NJ 9842, Indian and Pakistani territorial
claims are based on their respective interpretations ol lhe vague language contained in the
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
 1949 and 1972 agreements. Pakistan draws a
straight line in a northeasterfy direction from
NJ 9842 up to the Karakoram Pass, while
India's line of claim moves north-northwest
from NJ 9842 along the watershed line of the
Saltoro Range, a southern offshoot of the
Eyeball to eyeball
Any attempt to analyse the Siachen dispute
and identify potential opportunities and
mechanisms for its resolution involves not
only mapping the geographical dimension but
also mapping the policy terrain of the two
disputant states. A look at Indian and Pakistani perceptions is equally essential since
these shape policies and preferences in both
For India, the Siachen Glacier is the wedge
of territory that separates "Pakistan-occupied
Kashmir" irom Aksai Chin, that part of Kashmir claimed and occupied by China. Siachen's
geostrategic importance lies in the fact that
its control would support India's defence of
Ladakh, Jammu, and Kashmir against Pakistani and/or Chinese threats. It would prevent
the outflanking of Indian forces in the Leh
and Kargil sectors and connecting the Aksai
Chin highway with the Karakoram jjass. Control over Siachen would enable India to keep
watch over the Karakoram Highway and the
Khunjerab Pass, while fortifying its position
in border negotiations with China.
Controlling the commanding heights is
crucial for India. Its significance stems from
basic infantry strategy: height confers a tactical advantage. Except at Gyong La, Indian
forces occupy and control the commanding
heights, and Pakistani military efforts since
1984 have been aimed at dislodging them
from these positions. This strategy puts Pakistan at a distinct disadvantage as Pakistani
forces have to carry the assault up steep terrain to the Indians, who have the much easier
military task of sitting light and defending
their positions.
But as long as Pakistan does not commit
its forces to an offensive against the Indian
positions, it is the Indians who are al the disadvantage of being deployed at much higher
altitudes. The Pakistani military has easier
land access to its posts as roads and tracks
have been brought up to Pakistan's lower base
camps over the years. On the other hand, in
order to block Pakistan's access to the Siachen
Glacier, India has no option but to maintain
its hazardous posts on the. Saltoro Ridge,
thereby exposing its forces to dangerous altitudes, weather, and terrain. India's strategy is
also extremely expensive in financial terms:
most of the Indian pickets and posts on the
Saltoro Ridge are maintained by air. Personnel, weapons, ammunition, fuel, and food are
usually flown in by helicopter, and occasionally para-dropped.
Despite India's declared position on the
Siachen dispute, there are different perspectives, concerns, and objectives in the Indian
policy community. Three are readily discernible: a) maintaining the deployment on
Siachen at all costs, b) negotiating a military
disengagement with Pakistan, and c) withdrawing Indian forces from the glacier, unilaterally if necessary.
The advocates of a negotiated or unilateral Indian wi thdrawal base their position on
several arguments. They argue that the disputed region is uninhabitable, and therefore
has no strategic value. Some believe that a
Siachen settlement could be the first step in
the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Others argue that the Kashmir and Siachen disputes can be unlinked, and that Siachen can
be resolved without compromising on Kashmir. They hold that the Saltoro Range is a killing field and that the much higher altitude of
the Indian posts exacerbates India's problems.
There is also the opinion that the financial
costs of India's Siachen operations represent
a huge waste of much-needed resources. Most
important of all is the feeling that the Siachen
conflict is a cruel, costly, and unnecessary war
that must be brought to an end.
Views like these are valid, but they do not
represent the predominant Indian perspective
on Siachen. Indeed, the very fact that the advocates of withdrawal are already convinced
that a resolution of the conflict is desirable
and possible makes them less important than
that section of opinion that opposes withdrawal but would consider a compromise provided certain conditions are met.
Subtle distinctions are Important among
Indian analysts and policy-makers who oppose a withdrawal of Indian forces from their
current deployment on the Saltoro Range.
Some are convinced that India must hold on
to Siachen at all costs. They argue that Pakistan is conducting a highly successful low-
cost proxy war in Kashmir, at considerable
cost to India. The only theatre in which India
is able to pay Pakistan back in its own coin is
on the Siachen Glacier itself, where India has
a distinct tactical advantage. No matter what
the cost, India must therefore stand firm. Any
compromise on Siachen would relieve the
pressure on Pakistan in the one place where
it really hurts and would thus be tantamount
to falling into a Pakistani trap.
Another hardline position is that India
must not withdraw from Siachen because its
occupation represents a major military victory for India. India won the race for the glacier, and now controls the commanding
heights on the Saltoro Range. Over the last
14 years, Pakistan has tried innumerable times
to displace the Indian forces, and has always
had to withdraw with severe casualties. India
has had to do nothing but sit tight and periodically repel a Pakistani assault. Any Indian
withdrawal will leave Pakistan with an open
door to the heights. Pakistan would gain in
negotiation what it has been unable to obtain
on the battlefield. Whatever the cost, India
must therefore stand firm and maintain its
current deployments.
The viewpoints articulated above may ap-
Pakistani military
mountaineers on
 TFrozen Wat
pear equally hawkish, with neither willing to
countenance an Indian withdrawal from the
Saltoro heights. However, a closer look reveals
significant differences between them. No
agreement with Pakistan that involves an Indian withdrawal would ever satisfy the policy
makers and analysts for whom the real value
of Siachen is that il is a bleeding ground for
Pakistan. In contrast, a resolution can be devised to meet the principal concerns of Indian policy-makers and analysts opposed to
a Pakistani occupation of the Saltoro heights
and Siachen following an Indian withdrawal.
The latter group would back a negotiated
Indian withdrawal provided it was convinced
that India could, with adequate warning, forestall any Pakistani attempt to move into posi-
rions vacated by India.
The key to an agreement on the Indian side
would lie in convincing as many hardliners
as possible within the Indian policy-making
community that an Indian withdrawal would
not be tantamount to handing Siachen over
to Pakistan, This implies that the Indian army
would have a major say, virtually amounting
to a veto, on any Siachen agreement. In terms
of Indian policy-making, the Siachen issue is
thus extremely unusual, because ordinarily
military institutions in India are firmly subordinate to civilian authority. However, the
memory of defeat at the hands of China in
1962 is very much alive in India, and no politician or bureaucrat is likely to interfere in
matters of professional military judgment.
In Pakistan's perceptions, the Siachen dispute
is relevant to the dispute with India over Kashmir, albeit indirectly. Pakistan claims that the
Siachen Glacier and its approaches fall within
the Pakistani-controlled and administered territory or Jammu and Kashmir, more specifically in the Baltistan district in the Northern
Areas. The claim that Siachen is a part of
Pakistan's Northern Areas is significant because Pakistan has, since independence,
gradually incorporated the Northern Areas
within the state, while maintaining that the
Northern Areas were never under the direct
jurisdiction of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in undivided India.
No steps have been taken, so far, to integrate the Northern Areas formally within Pakistan, but such a move cannot be ruled out
in the future. The anomalous status of the
Northern Areas provides Pakistan with the
justification, when the need arises, to separate the Siachen conflict from the larger dispute over Kashmir. Siachen is thus portrayed
as a regional issue by Pakistani officials as opposed to Kashmir, which, it. is stressed, is an
international issue.
Although the dispute over the Siachen region is recognised as a by-product of Parti-
lion, because the area was left undelineaied,
all Pakistani governments have claimed permanent administrative control over this "sub-
district" of Baltistan. They also claim that Pakistani administrative control has international recognition. For example, international
mountaineering expeditions to the vicinity of
the Siachen Glacier have obtained permission
from Pakistani authorities since the 1950s.
Cartographic international recognition for
Pakistani territorial claims is also cited, including several international atlases that show
the Siachen Glacier as lying well within the
Pakistani-controlled portions of the LOC.
Pakistan admits, however, that its claims
to administrative control did not translate into
actual physical presence. No permanent posts
were established due to the inhospitable terrain and harsh climatic conditions. Pakistan
was willing to accept the territory as no-man's
land until India deployed its forces in the
Siachen area in 1984. By Pakistani percep-
tions, this violated the spirit of the Shimla
agreement, which specified neither side would
resort to the use of force to resolve bilateral
The primary objective of Pakistan's strategy has been to drive the cost of occupation
high enough to force India to make concessions in any future settlement on Siachen. The
declared policy in Pakistan is equally consistent. As tiie Siachen Glacier and its approaches
are located within Baltistan, Pakistan will not
accept the status quo on Siachen since it views
India's military presence on the glacier and
its environs as illegal.
However, Pakistani policy-makers have
demonstrated a certain flexibility on the
Siachen issue, unlike in the India-Pakistani
dialogue on the larger dispute of Jammu and
Kashmir. Pakistan's refusal to negotiate its
basic demand for a plebiscite on Kashmir contrasts sharply with its willingness to consider
measures ranging from redeployment to
demilitarisation regarding the Siachen dispute—a recognition that the Siachen dispute
involves territory of little strategic value, but
which drains funds, manpower, and military
It is clear that, a unilateral Pakistani withdrawal can be ruled out because Indian forces
control most of the glacier's territory, includ
ing the high ground on two of its three major
passes. There are three policy options before
Pakistani decision-makers: a) to continue the
armed conflict, b) to sign an agreement limited to conflict containment, or c) to reach a
comprehensive and permanent settlement
with India. The adoption of any of these options depends on the perceptions, preferences,
and bargaining power of various sections of
Pakistan's policy-making community
Hardline elements, including influential
segments within Pakistan's military establishment and civil bureaucracy, favour a continuation of the conflict because India is perceived
as the aggressor. For this segment of Pakistani
opinion, a negotiated settlement is regarded
as an unnecessary concession. The military
stalemate is seen as favouring Pakistan because neither side can claim to have ousted
the other from the disputed territory. A more
important motive for continuing the conflict
is the desire to avenge the initial Pakistani
military reverses by seeing India bleed through
its comparatively higher human and financial
More moderate elements within the political leadership as well as in the civil-military bureaucracies favour a negotiated settlement. But even among them, there are concerns, based on a history of mistrust, that In-
Helicopter supply
lands on Indian side of
dia would*attempt to use a settlement to
• legitimise its claim over the disputed area. Any
agreement that alters the territorial status ol
i the Siachen region to Pakistan's disadvantage
would thus be opposed. This explains
Pakistan's rejection ol Indian proposals for authentication of actual ground positions prior
to'a withdrawal or the delineation ofthe Line
of Control beyond NJ 9842 along existing
ground positions in the Siachen region. There
would, moreover, be considerable internal
opposition to any settlement without adequate
safeguards—political and technological'—
ensuring that the disputed region does not become vulnerable to Indian encroachments in
the future. eyeball
Continuous negotiations have been held to
contain and resolve the conflict ever since the
outbreak of hostilities. As early as 1984 and
1985, flag meetings were held, with little success, between Indian and Pakistani sector
commanders. Since January 1986, several
high-level talks have been held between Indian and Pakistani delence and foreign secretaries as well as senior military personnel.
In 1989, an understanding to resolve the
dispute was reached. According to the joint
statement at the end of the defence secrelary-
level talks, "There was agreement by both
sides to work towards a comprehensive settlement, based on redeployment of forces lo reduce the chances of conflict, avoidance of tbe
use of force and the determination of future
positions on the ground so as to conform with
the Shimla Agreement and to ensure durable
peace in the Siachen area."
The two countries also came close to a
resolution in November 1992. At tbe sixth
meeting of the series, an India-Pakistan agreement was reportedly reached that envisaged
the mutual withdrawal of troops from key
passes to new positions, and the creation of a
"zone of complete disengagement" through
iroop disengagement and redeployment. Tbe
delineation of this area of "peace and tranquillity" would be "without prejudice" to the
known position of either side. The agreement
also reportedly included pledges by bolh states
to refrain from reoecupying vacated positions.
No new positions would he occupied in
the designated zone nor would any 'activity"—"civilian or military"—be allowed
within the designated zone. Time schedules
lor disengagement and redeplovment were to
be worked out lo the "mutual satisfaction'' of
both sides, followed by the formation of a joint
commission that would be responsible for
"delineation oi the Line ol Control beyond
NJ 9842". Until the area was formally delineated, monitoring mechanisms would be devised to prevent the occurrence of violations.
Apparently, either side could resort lo "any
means", including lhe use of force, in the event
of a violation of these commitments.
The two countries, however, not only
failed to implement these tentative agreements, but one or the other side denied that
any tangible agreement had been reached on
either occasion. The difficulty in reaching or
implementing any mutually agreeable proposal was due to a number of factors, ranging
from domestic political constraints to differences over the determination of redeployment
positions, the demarcation of the proposed
demilitarised zone, and ensuring the inviolability of such a zone. The significance of the
understandings reached in 1989 and 1992
cannot, however, he understated since they
identify potential areas of agreement and discord in any future agreement of the Siachen
With the resumption oi the India-Pakistani
dialogue in 1997, the Siachen dispute is once
again on the formal agenda of ongoing talks
(see facing page). While the outcome of these
negotiations depends on complex, intertwined, external and interna! determinants, a
future understanding of the dispute could take
any of the following shapes: a) an accord to
de-escalate hostilities, h) an understanding lo
disengage military forces, or c) an agreement
to demilitarise the area.
This taxonomy does not imply that the
three types of potential agreements would
necessarily be reached in sequence or even in
isolation from one another. Each type of agreement and its conflict management or conflict
resolution features will depend on several
broad principles or pre-conditions. Thus, levels of mutual trust and confidence and/or
mutuality of interests will determine both the
nature and the parameters of any polential
agreement. Another important precondition
is the degree of political will on the part of
authoritative decision-makers to reach a
peaceful, negotiated settlement ofthe dispute,
including (heir demonstrated ability or desire
to avoid intractable issues.
De-escalation. The primary objective ol an
accord to de-escalate would be to reduce the
chances of conflict, while ending active, hostilities in lhe Siachen Glacier region. Such an
agreement would include several eonflict-
manaeement mechanisms. The features ofthe
12   DECEMBER   I99B
 Icy relations
THE LATEST round of
talks between Indian
and Pakistani defence
officials held between
5 and 13 November
1998 in New Delhi faltered over the disputed
Siachen Glacier even as
both sides continued to
trade artillery fire that
claimed the lives of 13
soldiers from the two
countries in the week
leading up to the talks.
After three hours of
heated negotiations, Pakistan's defence secretary. Lt Gen (retd)
Ifthikar Ali Khan, turned down his
counterpart Ajit Kumar's oiler of a
cease-lire on the Siachen, demanding instead the implementation
of a nine-year old proposal for
military disengagement and the
re-deployment of military forces.
Kumar said Pakistan's proposals
were ''strange and bizarre" as it
wanted any cease-fire agreement
monitoTedby a "third party", a proposal New Delhi strongly rejects in
what it has been insisting is a bilateral dispute. The defence secretary
said India's priority was to address
the "existing ground reality" dominated by daily exchanges of fire and
ambushes by Pakistani patrols on
Indian pickets. He said India's
proposed cease-fire -would defuse
the "atmosphere of confrontation"
and in time could be followed by
talks on disengagement and troop
re- dep loyment
For its part, Pakistan said a
cease-fire agreement would only
"freeze" the current situation, not
lead to peace or troop disengagement and would thereby provide
India the opportunity to consolidate
its position. "It is a very difficult and
complex situation. It will take
time," said Gen Khan.
Pakistani officials also denied attacking Indian posts in Siachen nine
times over the past month to gain
1998  DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
All smiles before the talks: Gen Khan and Kumar.
tactical advantage ahead of
the talks. Theyrsaid "normal shooting" may have taken place but no
"unusual activity" took place at
Meanwhile, Indian officials said
their attempt in the talks was to
"set the record straight" in what has
"Inaccurately" been referred to as
the Siachen conflict. Their view is
that India's positions are on the
Saltoro Ridge while the Siachen
Glacier is further to the east. "The
posts sited on Pakistani maps do
not tally with those on Indian
ones," said one.
As a former brigade commander who served on the glacier said,
"Siachen is way behind India's front
line." According to him, India had
been on the Saltoro Ridge since
1987 and Pakistan's refusal to accept the ground position is behind
the impasse in the peace talks.
Between 1986 and 1997, six
round of talks on the Siachen
have been held. The November
meeting followed peace talks in the
Islamabad in October, the first
since both sides conducted nuclear
tests in May. The seventh round,
too, proved inconclusive but the
two neighbours have agreed to continue talking about the Siachen
during the next round, the
dates lor which have yet to be
announced. fb
-Rahul Bedi
TOURS, the Leading Tour
Operator in Nepal unfold for
you the inner secrets &
mysteries of these fascinating
land, people & culture - so
different from anything you
have ever imagined	
For details contact:
P.O. Box 724B, Tridevi Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 249140,250611, 250748
Fax: 977-1-249986 / 250747
E-ma i I: ka lderi@li bet.wlink. com .np
Website: httpi/fWww.n'
 Did you knowP
'..-■ A quarter of the world's
■■children live in South Asia.
Only one in two complete
primary school.
Two in three children
are malnourished.
One in ten die; before their
fifth birthday.
Half the world's maternal
deaths occur in South Asia.
Find out about these facts and more in
The Atlas of South Asian Children and Women is designed to
provide insight into human survival, protection and
development in one of the world's most complex regions. The
Atlas helps policy makers, development workers, researchers
and readers in general to understand the extent of South Asia's
complex problems of human survival and development.
The Atlas is illustrated with more than 100 pages of ful I colour
maps, charts and graphs that provide the most recent data from
the seven countries of South Asia at national and sub-national
levels. The accompanying text assess, analyze and suggest
remedial action -forthese key components:
* The poor rates of survival, growth and development of South
Asia's children and women;
* The. inadequate access to food, health and care for the
majority of women and children;
* and South Asia's potentially adequate, yet often underused,
human economic and organizational resources.
Previously, no single reference source has compiled this wide
range of official data on South Asian Children and Women.
This comprehensive publication wdi also help to identify statistical gaps and inconsistencies that can be remedied hy I Hitherresearch efforts.
The Atlas of South A tan Children and Women is: prepared hy
the UNICEF regional office for South Asia, In collaboration
with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.
UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia
P.O.Box 5815, Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone: +977-1-4 i 7m2 Fax: +977-1-419479
Email: atlas @ .np
This Atlas of South Asian Children and Women is marketed in
South Asia by Himal, The South Asian Magazine published
Irom Kathmandu, Nepal
Parlies interested in distributing the atlas in any South Asian;.:
city may contact:
Himal, GPO Box 7251, Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone: +977-1-523845,522113, 521013 (fax)
Email: himalmag@mos.c(»
How to avoid
putting on
Thunderlight is
a lightweight,
constructed of
rugged 5 Ply
fabric with
reinforced body
and shoulders.
And it weighs
only 20
during your next vacation.
When it comes to the topic of weight,
climbers are rather sensitive people.
They put on one teeny tiny extra
gram, and suddenly they become
severely depressed.
Which is why at Marmot, you might
say we're constantly battling
the bulge.
Take for instance our new
Thunderlight jacket. It weighs in at a
profoundly economical 20 ounces.
And that's with the PitZips™, the
roomy Angel-Wing movement™,
and the big, helmet fitting, roll-up
Constructed with solid 3 Ply
Gore-Tex® fabric and reinforced in
all the blowout-prone areas, it's
guaranteed not to spring a leak, rip,
tear, fall apart, or anything else that
may ruin an otherwise perfect
Because up around 8,000 feet, you
start to redefine what's truly
important in your life,
To lind out more, get a catalog, or for
dealer information, call us:
(707) 544-4590. E-mail us:
Or visit us on-line:
http ;//w w w.Marmot. com
Marmot". For Life.
 accord could specifically include restrictions
on any quantitative increases in weaponry, and
an agreement to refrain from aggressive
behaviour such as offensives to occupy new
territory or to dislodge rival troops. The agreement could also prohibit either side from lor-
tilying its presence in the disputed region by
inducting new military units.
Disengagement. An agreement on military
disengagement could incorporate many of the
clauses of an agreement specifically aimed al
de-escalating hostilities, including confidence-building measures such as prior notification of overflights and flag meetings between Indian and Pakistani sector commanders. Such an accord would, however, move
front conflict management to conflict resolution since it would demonstrate the willingness of hoth parties to find a more comprehensive solution to the dispute. It could also
serve as a continuum from cease-fire
to demilitarisation should the political will
Relocating troops to minimise the chance
of conflict implies both a gradual reduction
of forces in forward positions and an incremental dismantling of forward pickets and
observation posts. Forces would then be redeployed and repositioned in agreed upon
areas. Other measures could include a limitation on overflights. While artillery batteries
at the various posts and positions could remain in place, an agreement for military disengagement could envisage gradually downgrading weapons systems, including removing sophisticated military systems such as
surface-to-air missiles.
Demilitarisation. The demilitarisation op-
lion is the most comprehensive solution for
the Siachen dispute. It would require, as essential preconditions, an immediate cessation
of hostilities and the prevention of any potential re-occurrence of armed conflict. The
creation of a demilitarised zone would cause
the complete withdrawal of all military presence on and in the environs of the glacier.
Such a withdrawal would be accompanied by
the destruction of bases, pickets, and observation posts, the removal of all military hardware from the disputed area, and a prohibition on aerial patrolling and reconnaissance
by either side.
The agreement would also include a commitment on both sides to refrain from reoc-
cupying vacated positions. Another confidence building measure could be the use ol
hotlines between force commanders as well
as senior personnel at military headquarters,
including Directors-General of Military Op
erations. Above all, an appropriate regime of
monitoring technologies and verification procedures would be identified and instituted to
ensure the viability of the accord.
Hostile climate
After years ol hostilities, neither India nor
Pakistan are any closer to achieving their
stated objective of acquiring control over the
disputed territory through the use of force.
Policy-makers in both states have begun to
examine the possibilities of a negotiated agreement, partly as a result of lhe military stalemate and partly because ofthe mounting costs
of the conflict in terms of lives and money.
The Siachen dispute covers territory of little
strategic importance for either state, while it
serves as yet another irritant in the uneasy
relationship between India and Pakistan.
A peacefully negotiated settlement ofthe
Siachen conflict appears especially logical
since the glacier's inhospitable terrain will
continue to deter Indian and Pakistani attempts at acquiring military predominance.
At the same time, an agreement on Siachen
will nol impinge, either militarily or politically on the position of either side in the resolution of their other, more major differences.
A settlement of lhe dispute would, however,
reduce bilateral tensions, thereby improving
the climate for future steps towards peace.
Specifically in the context of lhe Siachen dispute, even a policy option that merely reduces
hostilities would serve as a first step towards
the conclusion of a more comprehensive
S. Ahmed is a specialist on South Asian security
and a freelance journalist based in Islamabad,
V. Sahni is Associate Professor in International
Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, blew
Delhi, and Research Professor in international
Studies, Centre for Economic Research and
Teaching, Mexico City. This article was adapted
from Cooperative Monitoring Centre, Sandia
National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New
Mexico, Occasional Paper/1 "freezing the Fighting: Military Disengagement on the Siachen
1998  DECEMBER  HIMAL   11/12
 High stakes
by Harish Kapadia
How many deaths will it take till he knows/that too many people have died?
The answer; my friend, is blowin in the wind. /The answer is blowin' in the wind.
-Bob Dylan
]l is commonly believed that prior to the
beginning of the conflict in 1984, the
Siachen Glacier had been lying in quiet isolation. Given the inho.spitahle climate of this
region, such a helief is understandable, hut it
is one that is far from true. The glacier has
had visitors for a long time, bolh local and
In the valleys to the west ol the glacier live
the Baltis, who have an interesting story 10
tell about the Siachen Glacier, which they
know as Saichar Ghainri. The story goes that
there used to be a small Yarkandi village at
the entrance of lhe Teram Shehr Glacier (see
map on pg 24), where the Yarkandis mel the
Baltis for trade. (The Workman couple—more
on them below—found the walls of such a
settlement in 1912). lt so happened thai once
some of the Yarkandis descended lhe Ghyan
nala and abducted a Rai ti woman lo their glacier village. Desiring revenge, (he Baltis soughl
the help ol a lamous mullah. Telling them to
place it on the Bilalond la (pass), the mullah
gave them a (awi^ (amulet) whose power
would punish the Yarkandis. His instructions
to the Balti villagers were to return via the
Nubra valley after placing the tawiz. But the
latter disregarded the mullah's instructions
and relumed the way they had come. Soon a
great storm hit the Siachen Glacier and caused
great destruction. It is believed the storm
would have destroyed everything in lhe glacier had the mullah's directions been followed
As il was, the destruction was nol total and
lhe wild roses that grow in plenty near the
snout of the glacier and in the lower valleys
were spared. It is these roses which give the
Siachen Glacier its name: Siachen—the Place
of Roses (in the Balti language, 'sict" is "rose"
and '7het7 is "place of).
Beginning wiih W. Moorcroft, who passed
near the glaciers snout in 1821, the existence,
length and location of the Siachen Glacier was
a matter ol much speculation among Western explorers during the colonial period. In
1848, Henry Starchy became the first Westerner to discover "Saichar Ghainri" ("ghainri"
is "glacier" in Balti); he ascended it for two
miles from its snout in the Nubra valley. E.C.
Ryall of the Survey of India sketched the lower
part of lhe glacier in 1861, and ascribed lo il
a length of 16 miles.
During his lamous second Karakoram
journey in 1889, Sir Francis Younghusband
(then Colonel Younghusband) approached the
area from the L'rdok Valley. He was seeking a
crossing into the Subcontinent Irom Central
Asia. Following a side valley of the Urdok
Glacier, he reached the Turkestan la. Looking
down at the Siachen Glacier from lhe north
he felt this pass, and nol Bilafond la as it was
then believed, was lhe main axis ol the
Karakoram. In other words, Younghusband
thought thai lhe axis along lhe Turkestan la
(along with the nearby Indira Col) was what
separated South Asia from Central Asia.
Defining the actual axis thus meant that several square kilometres of territory would be
added to British India al the expense of Chinese Turkestan (now Xinjiang province).
Younghusbands explorer's instincts were correct, but since this was still uncharted terrain
he could not be sure.
Younghusbands belief was confirmed in
1909 by T.G. Longstaff, who, along with
HIMAL   11/12   DECEMBER   1998
 Arthur Neve, and Lieutenant Slingsby, was the
first to traverse this great glacier. At first, they
crossed over the Bilafond la (or, Saltoro pass,
as Longstaff called it then) and named the glacier in the east Teram Shehr (Destroyed City)
in keeping with the legend of the mullah
which was narrated to them by their Balti porters. The peaks diere were named the Teram
Kangri group. They then retreated by the same
route and went down the valley and approached the Siachen Glacier via the Nubra
valley. Longstaff climbed up from the Siachen
snout in the south and observed the same
peaks as he had identified from the Bilafond
la. This was conclusive proof of the length of
the Siachen Glacier and the actual location of
the Turkestan la—an important discovery as
it established the true dimensions of the
Karakoram. What he wrote in his book This
My Voyage is quoted often:
Younghusband was a true prophet. Col
Burrand of the Survey had suspected the
truth. The. avalanche-swept pass, whose foot
Younghusband had reached 20 years before,
was on the main axis of the Karakoram range
which thus lay miles farther north than had
been believed. We had stolen some. 500 sq
miles from the Yarkand river systems of Chinese Turkestan, and joined it to the waters
ofthe Indus and the Kingdom of Kashmir.
The next important explorers to visit the
Siachen Glacier were the famous Workman
couple. Fanny Bullock-Workman and William Hunter Workman were Americans who
had a special interest in the exploration ofthe
Karakoram, and they focused their attention
on the Siachen Glacier in they^ears 1911 and
1912. Entering via the Bilafond la, the
Workmans camped on the glacier with a large
entourage of porters and two Alpine guides.
This group spent more than two months on
the glacier and they climbed many peaks and
visited almost all the corners of the upper
Siachen, Grant Peterkin, a surveyor attached
to this expedition, surveyed the glacier thoroughly and named a few peaks, including
Teram Kangri, Apsarasas and Ghent. Names
like Sia la, Junction Peak, Hawk, Tawiz and a
few others were given by this expedition. It
was the Workman expedition which visited
and named Indira Col (col=lowest point on a
ridge) after the Hindu goddess, Laxmi, one
of whose many names is Indira. (The general
supposition that this col was christened after
Indira Gandhi, prime minister when Indian
troops captured the position in 1984, is erroneous.)
In 1929, Dr Ph. C. Visser of the Netherlands, on his fourth trip to the Karakoram,
explored the two Terong glaciers and the
Shelkar Chorten glacier which were unknown
Author poses on Indira
Col West (5840m).
This is the divide
between South and
Central Asia. Peaks in
the background are
around tbe Urdok
Glacier in the
Sbaksgam Valley,
ceded to China by
Pakistan. (See map
1998  DECEMBER  HIMAL   11/12
 Frozen War
till then. In his group were Rudolf Wyss and
Khan Sahib Afraz Gul of the Survey of India,
who stayed in th* Terong Valley and completed surveying and naming the main peaks
in the lower part of this great glacier. In the
same year, the Duke of Spoleto expedition
(Italian) crossed the Karakoram by the
Muztagh pass and reached the Turkestan la
from the north. They descended from the
Turkestan la after discovering the Staghar and
Singhi glaciers.
The survey and exploration of the Siachen
was completed a year later by
another Italian, Giotto Dainelli.
Recounting his journey upto the
Teram Shehr glacier junction
through the Nubra valley in the
Himalayan Journal, Dainalle
...thus reaching the Siachen
tongue with all my baggage, a
caravan of seventy coolies and
six and a half tons of food for
the men, carried by an additional caravan of ponies and
supplementary coolies. On the
9th of June—exactly two months after my
departure from Florence—I was heading for
my first depot up the glacier. I hope my English colleagues will appreciate this rapid-
it}' of execution, which I consider a record!
(Compare this with present timings—one
can reach the glacier's snout within three
days from Delhi without taking even a
single step on foot.)
Dainelli, with a Miss Kalau as his only
companion, stayed at the Teram Shehr junction and carried out various geological surveys.
He could not return by
the same route due to
flooding ofthe Nubra valley in the lower reaches,
so he crossed over to the
Rimo glacier in the east
by a 6200 m pass which
he named Col Italia.
World War II, and the
turmoil of Indian Independence that followed,
put an end to all activities
in this area for a few decades. With the India-
China War of 1962, the
entire area became "restricted'. Restricted even
for Indian climbers, although it is known that some parties from
Indian security agencies did visit Bilafond la.
The ambiguity about the exact delineation
of the border is behind today's conflict. The
1949 India-Pakistan agreement demarcated
the cease-fire line as extending up to the point
known as NJ 9842 near the Shyok River, after
which the line moved "thence north to the
glaciers", leaving the boundary vague (see
preceding story for details).
The one opportunity to do away with this
uncertainty came during the 1972 Shimla
talks. It can be safely said that there may not
have been any fighting on the Siachen if, during those talks, Indira Gandhi had pressured
the Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto to agree to demarcate the borders along
the Saltoro Ridge, as is the situation today A
desperate Bhutto had pleaded with the Indian
prime minister that he be trusted to do this at
a later date, as he did not want to antagonise
his generals. "Aap mujhpe bharosa kijiye (Trust
me)," he is reported to have said.
Even as the ambiguity about the hne of
control remained, however, between 1972 and
1983 Pakistan promoted and permitted many
foreign expeditions on the Siachen Glacier.
These expeditions, accompanied by Pakistani
HIMAL   11/12   DECEMBER   1998
army liaison officers, generally crossed over
the Gyong la, Bilafond la or Sia la to enter the
glacier, and climbed many peaks on the
glacier. These climbs set the ground for
Pakistan's claim to the glacier. It has to be
noted here that, apart from the 'political statement' these expeditions made, the teams were
able to make explorations and climbs of the
highest order.
During this same period, the Indian army
also sent three expeditions to the glacier. Two
of these were led by well-known climber Col
N. Kumar; these expeditions reached Indira
Col and climbed several other peaks, including Saltoro Kangri and Teram Kangri. The fact
that these expeditions (1978,1980 and 1981)
took place was made public only in 1983. The
Indian government made an attempt to pass
them off as mountaineering ventures but their
actual intentions were pretty obvious.
However, maps soon began to be published in Europe showing the extended line
of control joining the Karakoram Pass in the
east following the Pakistani claim. These maps
conceded the entire Siachen Glacier to Pakistan, and showed Pakistan and China sharing a long common border to the east of
Then in 1984, Pakistan gave permission
to a Japanese expedition to attempt Rimo, a
peak located in a side valley east ofthe Siachen
and overlooking parts of Aksai Chin. Such an
expedition would have linked Pakistan-controlled Kashmir with China, along the historic
trade route that leads to Chinese Turkestan
over the Karakoram Pass. The Indian army
decided to take action to prevent the expedition from proceeding, and thus began the
Siachen imbroglio.
Soon after India occupied positions on the
glacier, the first Indian mountaineering expedition arrived in the Siachen to counter the
policy adopted by Pakistan in the past. The
next year, in 1985, an Indo-British expedition
(led by this writer with Dave Wilkinson) was
given permission to climb Rimo peak, approaching it from the Nubra valley in India.
Their success and the international publicity
generated created awareness that the area was
controlled by India. An American team followed in 1986 and reached the Indira Col.
(There was one more, chance for peace
over the Siachen Glacier when Gen Zia-ul Haq
and Rajiv Gandhi agreed to a cease-fire. Tensions on the glacier eased but not so domestic political tensions, particularly in Pakistan.
Benazir Bhutto, then in the opposition,
marched the streets with bangles on a plate
for Pakistani generals. "Wear these bangles if
you cannot fight on the Siachen," she taunted.
Unfortunately for peace in Siachen, Gen Zia
was killed in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir
came to power the next year and hostilities
resumed on the glacier. One of her first official acts was to visit the Pakistani side near
the Siachen Glacier. Peace has had no chance
after that.)
Mountaineering on the main glacier ceased
until 1996, when an Indian team from
Bombay, again led by myself, arrived on the
glacier with full clearance from the Indian
government. The expedition first climbed in
the Terong Valley but was not allowed to proceed to the upper glacier. Someone in the army
hierarchy had decided not to allow the team
to go further. This reflected rather poorly on
the Indian army. However, after protests and
a critical report, the situation was rectified
within a year and it was decided to allow Indian mountaineers on the glacier.
In 1997, an Indian women's team (led by
Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb
Everest) traversed the glacier and stood on
India Saddle, a point some seconds north
of Indira Col. And earlier this year, our
Bombay team returned to the glacier to complete dreir unfinished venture. This expedition reached Indira Col West (5840 m), India
Saddle (6000 m), Turkestan La (5810 m), and
made the first ascent of a peak on the Teram-
Shehr Plateau, Bhujang (6560 m). The team
also named some high peaks on the Teram
Shehr Plateau, including one in honour of
Khan Sahib Afraz Gul, the Indian surveyor
mentioned above. Indian climbers had finally
arrived on the glacier.
Rare rose
For the past 14 years, soldiers of the Indian
Army have been in the Siachen. The army lives
on the glacier under a severe resource crunch.
Supplies are taken up by helicopter but there
Parachute doth
camouflage of an
Indian post.
1998  DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
 Manufacturer and
exporter of
metal handicarfts &
handmade Nepali paper.
We sell -Thankas, Woodcraft
Crystal Items, Silver Jewellery
Location: Chh-3-718, Nava Bazaar
Mai, Address: gSS|S,       ,
Tika Travel & Tours Pvt I hi
'W   A
trough *^^£"f<*
mail (post DarcQh LI      9 ' S6a car9°> a'^ea-
Safely and Guaranteed.
P.O.Box 374^    km.      ™"M-'™ « NUVtKS
p*°Wi£ ^r-^srrs-«««i
is always a shortage of air transport, sometimes even to bring down the injured. Under
such circumstances it is hardly surprising that
the glacier is under severe environmental
Much of the garbage is put into crevasses
or dumped on rocks and snow. In winter, all
this is covered under a thick layer of snow
and the entire area appears like a beautiful
white sheet. But come summer, all the cans,
drums and human waste come to the surface
and litter is seen everywhere. The worst offenders are the tetrapacks in which fruit juices
are delivered on the glacier. These aluminium
packs, which cannot be burnt or destroyed,
line the routes which are traversed by the army
and are a major eye-so re. The army cannot
bum the garbage on the glacier, and neither
can it destroy it there, much less bring il down.
The weather pattern in the entire area of
Ladakh and the East Karakoram is also changing; whether it has anything to do with the
ongoing war in Siachen cannot be ascertained
yet. The East Karakoram is no longer a rain
shadow area and receives several inches of
rainfall. The Siachen Glacier snout itself has
receded by about 800 metres in the last 13
years. The glacier looked barren and without
snow cover during our 1998 expedition. The
Terong glaciers, particularly the North Terong
Glacier seemed to be receding fast and most
of the ice-penitents and lakes had disappeared
during the last decade. Icefalls in the Safina
Valley (which we had crossed in 1985) and
the Shelkar Chorten Valley seemed more broken and difficult.
The rose plants, too, have suffered. Many
were cut and their stems used as decorative
pieces and even as tent-pegs. After I drew the
army's attention to this destruction, the military authorities gave assurances that the rose
plants would henceforth be declared a rare
species and no harm would be done to them.
When this happens it could set the stage for
full environmental protection of the glacier.
Some serious thinking about the environmental concerns on the Siachen Glacier needs
to be done. The war has taken a heavy toll of
men and material on both sides. It is an impasse in which no side seems to be gaining.
Soldiers face each other, both sides have artillery (though the rarefied atmosphere makes
nonsense of ballistic data), millions of rupees
are spent daily to maintain these forces where
causalities due to the altitude and cold are nine
limes higher lhan those due to combat (an
estimated USD 2 million is spent daily by the
two armies on the glacier).
Perhaps the time has come, to end such a
stalemate. A possible solution was mooted in
the Himalayan Journal in 1993 by Aamir Ali,
an Indian living in Geneva: persuade India
and Pakistan to withdraw their armies and establish an "International Park of the Rose".
Such a park can be placed under the guardianship of the United Nations and the International Union of Alpine Associations, or, by
including the territory held by Pakistan, it can
be administered jointly by India and Pakistan
as a transnational park. But this is a matter
for the governments of India and Pakistan to
consider. As a mountaineer and lover of this
glacier 1 can only hope that steps are taken
soon to conclude this never-ending war and
save the beautiful Siachen.
The mullah, whose tawiz which destroyed
the glacier in the first instance, had made another prediction: if, due to human folly, the
storm did not cause total destruction of the
glacier, another 'storm' may visit the glacier
in a century to complete the job. This war
seems to be fulfilling his prediction. A
Bombay-based mountaineer H. Kapadia is Honorary Editor ofthe Himalayan Journal and author of several books on the Himalaya. He is at
present working on a book on. the Siachen Glacier, among other projects about his Himalayan
Siachen rose.
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
Siachen Science Club
by Kent L. BMnger
Indian military
ftith only slight adjustments in the
cease-fire line after subsequent
wars, the division of Kashmir has
continued for five decades. And since 1984,
the state's Siachen Glacier region has become
a 20,000-foot high battleground between India and Pakistan.
There are differing views on the military
significance ofthe Siachen Glacier, but tbe dispute has an undeniably strong political significance. However, as India and Pakistan have
worked to reach agreement on many issues
over the years, Siachen has been discussed as
a potential location forcooperationby the two
sides through disengagement of troops from
the region. In 1989 and again in 1993, a settlement on the issue was nearly reached. The
high cost in financial and human terms of
continuing this confrontation make il an excellent candidate for cooperation while
minimising strategic or military disadvantage.
Many factors will influence a resolution
of lhe Siachen conflict. While political will is
the predominant factor, it will be affected by
other issues too. The desire to reduce human
suffering and to save money are two other
important factors that justify resolution.
Mechanisms which provide assurance that the
terms of an agreement are met will be required
in order to support political will. These
mechanisms may include monitoring systems,
inspection regimes, and cooperative projects,
all of which can help ensure compliance with
whatever agreement is made.
The concept introduced here is to substitute a scientific presence in the Siachen region for the military one. The goal of establishing a "Siachen Science Centre" would be
to satisfy the requirement for a national presence in the area that would help ensure thai
HIMAL   11/12   DECEMBER   I99B
 the terms oia military disengagement agreement are met, while advancing the cause of
science in many fields. The project could be
conducted cooperatively by Indians and Pakistanis but with the possible participation of
other regional and international participants
and sponsors.
The Siachen Science Centre would consist ol a scientific research facility within a
designated zone in the Karakoram Range. It
would consist of a base camp with the potential for outlying field sites where scientific
instruments could be placed. Creating
smaller-scale outposts in the vicinity of the
base station is also possible. The centre would
he staffed by scientists, engineers, and technicians conducting research, along with necessary support staff, which could be ol bilateral, regional or multinational mix.
The location high in the Karakoram Range
in the western part of the Himalayan Mountains offers many advantages as a base for conducting scientific research. Depending on the
location ol the facility, it has the potential to
be the highest altitude manned research station in the world. That fact, coupled with its
isolated location, unique geology, and geographical position, would make it a special
location lor research.
Astronomy: The high altitude of the
Siachen Glacier would enhance astronomical
research high above much of the earth's atmosphere. The remoteness of the location, far
away from sources of light pollution, is an advantage for astronomy
Geology: The potential to increase geological knowledge about this region is great. A
more detailed understanding of rock origins
as well as plate tectonic movements could be
developed through systematic study of local
rock outcroppings. Palaeontology studies of
fossil records in the area could further define
the geologic history of the area.
Atmospheric Sciences: Atmospheric science would benefit Iroin a more comprehensive study ol weather patterns in the complex
terrain of the Himalaya. A series of meteorological stations could enable more accurate
weather forecasting. A study of atmospheric
and ice-bound pollution could also provide
useful information on global as well as regional pollution concerns.
Glaciology: Glaciology studies can provide
insight into climatic variations throughout
history. Snowfall and glacial melt provide the
source of rivers such as the Indus. Therefore,
hydrologic studies may provide insight into
relationships among snowfall, glacial activity,
and river (lows in critical water resources.
Life Sciences: Biological and botanical
studies of life in this high, harsh environment
would also add to the collective body of .scientific knowledge.
Physiology: Controlled physiological
studies of the effects of high altitude on humans are possible in this high-altitude laboratory. This could lead to improved methods
for preventing high altitude sicknesses and for
treating those who suffer from them.
Psychology and Behavioural Sciences: Investigating the effects of a multinational group,
working together for prolonged periods in this
hostile climatic environment would be a valu-
ahle study.
In addition, engineering knowledge could
be gained from the deployment and operation of such a science centre. Lessons will be
learned in the design, deployment, and operation ofthe severe climate shelters needed.
Many of the communications and logistical
issues associated with supplying and maintaining a remote installation would provide a
chance to add to knowledge and demonstrate
cooperation on these subjects.
The centre can also serve as a lest bed for
characterising and operating monitoring systems in a severe environment. One can even
envision a Siachen Worldwide Website that
could include information Irom the glacier.
The Australian Antarctic Division has such a
capability on their Internet site, in which
photographs and current weather conditions
at their Mawson Station in the Antarctic can
be viewed.
There are nearly endless possibilities for
research and monitoring opportunities in such
a centre. The topics listed ahove are only intended to be representative of those that may
be of interest to South Asian countries. Establishment of such a centre could include a
research hoard that could accept proposals for
those wishing to pursue scientific or technical projects in the glacier environment.
While the concept of cooperative scientific research may he new for South Asia, there
are many precedents lor different features ol
this proposal. There is an extensive history of
people working together in confined spaces
in hostile environments. These include remote
outposts such as lighthouses, radar sites, and
military outposts (including the Siachen itself). Commercial enterprises, such as mineral and oil exploration, often include the establishment of remote outposts to develop and
operate mines or oil fields. Cold weather oil
production stations, such as the one in
Prudhoe Bav, Alaska, present another precedent from which to draw experience in designing, building, and operating the needed
equipment and facilities. Other candidate
1996  DECEMBER  HIMAL   11/12
A model for Sidchen?
AJMfc: Ocaan
Article I
Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be
prohibited, inter alia, any measures ol a military nature, such as the
establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of
military manoeuvres, as well as the testing of any types of weapons.
The present Treaty shall not prevent the use of military personnel or
equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purpose.
Article IV
1. Nothing contained in the present Treaty shall be interpreted as:
a renunciation by any Contracting Party of previously asserted rights
of or claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica;
a renunciation or diminution by any Contracting Party of any basis
of claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica which it may have
whether as a result of its activities or those of its nationals in Antarctica, or otherwise;
recognition or non-recognition of any other State's right of or claim
or basis of claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
2. No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force
shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to
territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in
Antarctica. No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim, to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica shall be asserted while the present Treaty is
in force, (emphasis added)
Article VII
In order to promote the objectives
and ensure the observance of the
provisions of the present Treaty,
each Contracting Party whose representatives are entitled to participate in the meetings referred to in
Article IX of the Treaty shall have
the right to designate observers to
carry out any inspection provided
for by the present Article. Observers shall be nationals of the Contracting Parties which designate
them. The names of observers
shall be communicated to every
other Contracting Party having the
right to designate observers, and
like notice shall be given of the termination of their appointment.
Each observer designated in accordance with the provisions of
paragraph 1 of this Article shall
have complete freedom of access
at any time to any or all areas of Antarctica,
All areas of Antarctica, including all stations, installations, and
equipment within those areas, and all ships and aircraft at points of
discharging or embarking cargoes or personnel in Antarctica, shall be
open at all times to inspection by any observers designated in accordance with paragraph 1 of this article.
Aerial observation may be carried out at any time over any or all
areas of Antarctica by any of the Contracting Parties having the right
to designate observers.
Each Contracting Party shall, at the time when the present Treaty
enters into force lor i Reports from the observers referred to in Article
Vil ol the present Treaty shall be transmitted to tbe representatives of
the Contracting Parties participating in the meetings referred to in
paragraph 1 ofthe present Article.
Article X
Each of the Contracting Parties undertakes to exert appropriate efforts consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, to the end
that no one engages in any activity in Antarctica contrary lo the principles or purposes ofthe present Treaty. Thisfacililate the exercise of
their lunctions under the present Treaty, and without prejudice to the
Pacific OcMd
respective positions of the Contracting Parties relating to jurisdiction
over all other persons in Antarctica, observers designated under paragraph 1 of Article VII and scientific personnel exchanged under subparagraph 1 (b) of Article 111 of the Treaty [relating to exchange of
scientific personnel between expeditions and stations!, and members of the staffs accompanying any such persons, shall he subject
only to the jurisdiction of the Contracting Party of which they are
nationals in respect of all acts or omissions occurring while they are
in Antarctica for the purpose of exercising their functions.
Without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article,
and pending the adoption of measures in pursuance of subparagraph
1 (e) of Article IX, the Contracting Parties concerned in any case of
dispute with regard to the exercise of jurisdiction in Antarctica shall
immediately consult together with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable solution.
Article IX
1. Representatives of the Contracting Parties named in the preamble
to the present Treaty shall meet at the City of Canberra within two
months after the date of entry into force of the Treaty, and thereafter
at suitable intervals and places, for the purpose of exchanging information, consulting together on matters of common interest pertaining to Antarctica, and formulating and considering, and recommending to their Governments, measures in furtherance of the principles
  and objectives of the Treaty, including measures regarding: use of Antarctica for peaceful purposes only;
facilitation of scientific research in
Antarctica; facilitation of international scientific cooperation in Antarctica; facilitation of the exercise
of the rights of inspection provided
for in Article VII ofthe Treaty; questions relating to the exercise of jurisdiction in Antarctica; preservation and conservation of living resources in Antarctica.
3. Reports from the ohservers referred to in Article VII of the
present Treaty shall be transmitted
to the representatives of the Contracting Parties participating in the
meetings referred to in paragraph
1 of the present Article, [para 2
Article X
Each of the Contracting Parties
undertakes to exert appropriate efforts consistent with the Charter of
the United Nations, to the end that no one engages in any activity in
Antarctica contrary to tbe principles or purposes ofthe present Treaty.
This article reinforces the underlying intent that all efforts be made
to meet the spirit as well as letter of the Treaty.
Article XI
1. II any dispute arises between two or more ofthe Contracting Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the present Treaty,
those Contracting Parties shall consult among themselves with a view
to having the dispute resolved by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement or other peaceful means of
their own choice.
2. Any dispute of this character not so resolved shall, with the consent, in each case, of all parties to the dispute, be referred to the International Court of Justice for settlement; but failure to reach agreement or reference to the International Court shall not absolve parties
to the dispute from the responsibility of continuing to seek to resolve
it by any ofthe various peaceful means referred to in paragraph 1 of
this Article.
 programmes Irom which to gam knowledge
useful in establishing a Siachen Science Centre include naval submarine programmes and
the US and Russian space station and space
shuttle programmes. However, the most applicable precedents for establishing a South
Asian centre in the Siachen area are scientific
stations and outposts in the Arctic and the
International efforts for cooperative Arctic research include examples of land-based
stations, ship-based research, ice-based monitors, and remote-transmitting buoy networks.
The land-based stations are established in particular countries but have scholars and advisory boards that represent international participation. One example is the Arctic Centre
in Finland, which has an advisory board
of 1.3 members representing nine countries.
A decision to deploy national research
stations at Siachen could be addressed in a
similar fashion.
Another cooperative example is that of the
International Arctic Buoy Programme that
maintains a network of automatic data huoys
in the Arctic Basin to monitor pressure, temperature, and ice motion. The programme is
funded and managed by eight countries, and
over 24 international research institutes participate in data collection and assessment. The
Siachen area could provide a similar opportunity to engage a variety of internalional participants in a similar cooperative research
Particularly pertinent to the Siachen issue
is the precedent of the Antarctic Treaty of
1959. The treaty set aside the entire continent
for peaceful scientific use only and outlined
the requirements for successful coexistence
on the continent.
Since its entry into force in 1961,39 countries, including the seven original claimants
to portions ofthe continent, have become signatories to the treaty. Under the terms of the
Treaty, all claims are held in abeyance for the
term of the Treaty and no new territorial
claims can be submitted. India is one of the
state parties to the Treaty having signed it in
1983. The Indian Department of Ocean Development coordinates and executes the national Antarctic programme and maintains stations including one at Maitri Antarctica
(70°45ftS, 1 P44E) which is operated throughout the year. The Pakistanis, although not signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, maintain the
Jinnah Station in Antarctica through their
National Institute of Oceanography.
The Antarctic Treaty bans any military
activity in the defined area and prohibits
nuclear testing. Il limits national programmes
to those of scientific research and ensures the
free exchange of information and scientists
among, countries. Inspection rights are
granted to lhe facilities and operations of other
countries with a presence on the continent.
Provisions are made to have an open skies
regime, enabling aerial observation at any time
over any and all areas ofthe Antarctic by any
of the Contracting Parties that have the right
to designate observers. Regular consultative
meetings of lhe signatory states arc held and
disputes are resolved by peaceful negotiation
including use of the International Court of
Currently 25 nations maintain a lull-time
presence on tbe continent. As of today the
treaty has been in force lor 37 years and represents one of the great accomplishments of
international cooperation. Research in the
Antarctic is pursued in many of the scientific
disciplines suggested for the Siachen Science
Centre. In the case of astronomy, lor example,
the Advanced Telescope Project (atp) and
South Pole Infrared Explorer (SPlRliX) project
collect information on the astronomical qualities of the region and study faint slars and
While not a perfect model for South Asia,
there are many features of the Antarctic
Treaty that might be considered for application in Siachen. Some of these include
demilitarisation ol the area of concern, dedication of the area to scientiiic research, establishment of research cenlre(s) that share information and are open to joint inspection,
deferring resolution ol territorial claims, and
resolving disputes through peaceful means.
Resolution ofthe Siachen Glacier dispute
will require both political will and the monitoring and confidence building measures necessary to ensure compliance with agreements
reached. The political will to address issues
of conflict in South Asia is growing as India
and Pakistan begin the second half of their
first century of independence. The governments of India and Pakistan appear interested
in establishing increased dialogue and cooperation. The conflict over the Siachen Glacier
now appears to he a good candidate for such
cooperation. A Siachen Science Centre may
offer one piece of the solution.
K.L Biringer is Principal Member ofthe Technical Staff, Cooperative Monitoring Centre,
Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico.
This article is adapted from Cooperative Monitoring Centre Occasional Paper/2 "Siachen Science Centre: A Concept for Cooperation at the
Top of the World".
1996   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
 'By far the best deal in the inexpensive range of hotels'''
Frommer s Nepal.
Kunsang's personal service matches four star
quality for a trusted and comfortable stay
- on a quiet lane, situated conveniently in the
heart of Thamel
- business and travel centre (e-mail, lax, private
phones, trekking, raffing and safari)
- satellite TV, safety deposit, air-oonditioning,
elevator and luggage storage
- bath-tubs with 24 hr. hot shower, rooftop
garden and friendly staff
P.O. BOX 9432.
15*6.21774S, Fax: 977-1 J1WS.1
I:-mail tX'/Lft" whnk ..mi up
lHlp:;nieinbers   Hotel l:\c-ekio
Our Activities:
GPO BOX: 11829
PHONE : 424456/414657/424732
FAX: 977-1-424732
PO. Box IS145
Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
.   Fax: +977-1-351155
r',.k.V„., [u.     Email:
Unique Adventure International
7"■   -VS
t^   ')     "■    ft %
7-        \             N Vf*
°^d3vbb^^     x^
r  # y:
fc   a                    ■*:
b ,     * »^   .
m~',.     ■■■■■  *,*                                 «::. ■
IrM    ^rWE^J
Unique Adventure International is a team of professionals with more than a decade's experience in the tourism trade & we offer you unique opportunities to enjoy
yourself. We specialize in nature and cultural tours, trekking, climbing, wildlife excursions, river rafting and ticketing. From the rivers up to the high Himalayas, we take
care of you with a new experience in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal. We provide you with all kind of trek and
tour related services in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.
We believe in quality service.
Unique Adventure
International (P) Ltd.
RQBox 10849,Thamel. Kathmandu Nepal
Tel: 428912 Fax:+977-1-423958
 &£„ j; '"*' ' f # -i1.';
On your mark,
get set...
get married
HE IS getting on my nerves,' said a
young unmarried Pakistani woman.
She was referring not to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's recent resort to
military courts in Karachi and Sindh.
but to the prohibitions on marriage'
he chose to impose through a notification issued in late Novemher.
The new order, as originally reported in the press, said that all marriage ceremonies for the next three
years will have to take place in the
period hetween two of the five daily
Muslim prayers of Asr and Maghrib.
The Asr prayers are said in the late
afternoon and the Maghrib prayers at
sunset. Effectively, it leaves people—
depending on the time of the year
they choose to get married—between
one to two hours in which to get it
over with.
The order made an allowance for
weddings lor which invitation cards
had already been sent out, hut strict
implementation is planned for after
the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr in
the third week of January. A day after
the notice was issued, a spokesman
clarified that the government did not
intend to restrict wedding times to
between lhe Asr and Maghrib prayers,
adding thai "all" it wanted was to
ensure ihat wedding ceremonies were
held before sunset.
The new ordinance is the second
in Sharif's campaign to use slate authority to transform the traditionally
lavish marriage ceremonies into
simple affairs. He had ordered a
two-year ban on serving food at weddings just a month after coming to
power in 1997. (The ban is lo end in
March next year but an extension is
likely.) The new order took people by
surprise since there had been talk that
even the earlier one would be watered
down and that at least one dish would
be allowed to be served at wedding
In the two years since it was imposed, the food-ban has been implemented selectively. Where the enforcing authorities have been strict, usually in the case of the lower and
middle class marriages, even bridegrooms have ended up spending their
wedding nights in the lockup. On the
other hand, people with influence
have been openly flouting the law.
The less powerful have had to resort
to more discreet methods for entertaining marriage guests, such as using the basemeni of banquet halls and
restaurants lor 'underground marriage parties. There have also been
instances where the whole lot of
guests were taken to posh diners under the garb of'routine clients'.
The new order is obviously an attempt to restrict wedding ceremonies
to a period of the day when il would
be difficult for people to break the law
under the cover of darkness. However, the difficulties that the new ban
can cause are unlimited. What, lor
instance, if the poor guy and his
baraatis (marriage procession) lail to
turn up within the time prescribed for
the holy ritual hy the slate? Will he
have to wait lor the next day, or what
could be even more frustrating, fix an
altogether new date for the marriage?
And what il it happens all over again?
Those beginning to feel the weight
of the 'reformist' Sharif ideas are wandering what the prime minister may
be contemplating next. Instructing
people w horn to marry and whom not
to? Placing restrictions on couples,
asking them not to see each other
before they are 'legally' and 'religiously' declared man and wife? Limiting the number of marriages in a
family—in case population control
manages to surpass other important
issues on the government's list of priorities? The possibilities are endless.
The question now being asked is
iT the army will be given lhe job of
seeing that the new marriage order is
heing followed. Such an arrangement
would be in the fitness of things. If
armymen can hold courts to punish
terrorists in Karachi, if they can build
roads in Lahore, if they can remove
encroachments in cities, if they can
be asked lo supervise entry tests to
colleges in the North West Frontier
Province, supervising marriages will
be but a small matter.
-Asha ar Rahman
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
 Moratorium on hartals
seriously they are to take the ruling
Awami League's recent call that
hartals be banned permanently, a call
that*enjoins upon the opposition
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to
announce a similar ban too. Considering that the Awami League (AL)
had used strikes—often lasting for
days—to create an impossible situation for the BNP to provide any
real governance, the scepticism is
The AIjs call came after a three-
day hartal called by the bnp protesting what il called an attempt on the
life of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia
while commemorating 7 November
at a mass meeting. That was the
day in 1975 when a military uprising
had swept her husband, the late
Gen Ziaur Rahman, to power. Although Gen Zia was killed five years
later, 7 November has always heen
observed as a 'Day' and even former
president Gen Hussain M. Ershad,
who was not in any way connected
with the event (he was at a defence
college in India at the time), kept
up the tradition. But Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina would have nothing
to do with anything connected with
Gen Zia. She decided instead to
move the 'Day' forward and declared
3 November to be National Mourning Day. On this date in 1975 four
AL leaders had been killed in jail;
the party had been ousted out
of power with the assassination
of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman some
months earlier.
Between celebration and mourning, this year's 7 November BNP meeting was disrupted and Begum Zia had
to leave the venue in a hurry, finding
her way through a mist of tear gas.
The next day, 8 November, was the
day the judgement on the murder of
Sheikh Mujib and his family was to
be announced and it passed without
event. But even before Sheikh Hasina
could properly celebrate the verdict
against her family's killers (see pg 6),
the BNP called a two-day hartal beginning 9 November to protest against
government policies in general but
specifically against what it saw as an
attempt on Begum Zia's life.
The strike turned out to be violent and a number of activists from
both sides were killed. So, as protocol demands, Begum Zia extended her
hartal call for another day Dhaka citizens felt that winter had finally arrived. Summer, it is generally observed, is too hot for serious street
Having herself called so many
hartals in the past, Sheikh Hasina is
well aware of their potential. She
therefore declared that, the AL would
never call a hartal and asked the BNP
to follow suit during a meeting with
national media leaders.
Khaleda Zia didn't make any immediate comment but one of her old/
new party leaders Moudud Ahmed,
ex-BNP minister under Gen Zia
before deserting the bnp for the Jatiyo
Party Q?) of Gen Ershad, under
whom he served as vice president of
Bangtadesh, and again a BNP leader
after losing both his seats in the 1996
parliamentary elections, immediately
responded to the press.
Barrister Ahmed would know
about hartals. As aJP leader he himself was ousted by a hartal that
stretched on ad infinitum. He said that
the hartal call was acceptable provided the AL compensated for the loss
incurred to the national exchequer
due to the total 173 days of hartal
called by the AL between 1991
and 1996. (The BNP calculates that
amount to be BDT 519 billion/USD
10.8 billion) He also said that the AL
should resign within a month and call
for mid-term polls.
Newspaper polls have shown that
over 75 percent of the people support
the joint moratorium on hartals. And
while most people haven't taken the
matter too seriously, everyone knows
that pressure to swear off hartals is
on from both within and without. It
may be possible to ignore the public
opinion of the Bangladeshis themselves, but foreign buyers and investors aren't as accommodating. Bangladesh is facing pressure to end this
method of politicking. At numerous
international investors' fora it has
been said that the conflict between the
two leaders is the main cause behind
lack of investor interest. The parties
will have, to do something to show
that they aren't going to shoo investors away
With this year's floods having
damaged USD 4 billion worth of resources, and pressure mounting on
the ready-made garments and frozen
food sector—the country's two main
exports—the politicians will have to
respond somehow and with something.
HIMAL   11/12  DECEMBER   1998
SINCE FLEEING Bhutan more, than
eight years ago, around 100,000 Lhot-
sampha refugees have been surviving
on hope, willpower and the largesse
of Western aid agencies in UNHCR-run
camps in Jhapa in south-eastern Nepal.
Talks between Bhutan and Nepal have
so far been unsuccessful, and India,
through which the refugees streamed
into Nepal, has refused to be drawn
into the matter, insisting it is a hilateral matter.
A joint ministerial committee
formed in July 1993 reached a deadlock in early 1996. However, recent
reports suggest that. Bhutan and Nepal
are inching closer to a breakthrough.
Both sides are keeping their cards close
to their chests as January 1999, when
foreign ministers of the two countries
will meet in Kathmandu to discuss re-
THE LAWNS of the United Nations
Sculpture Garden now has a life-size
7000-pound bronze African bull
elephant, a joint gift from Kenya,
Namibia and Nepal to promote the
cause of wildlife awareness. But some
days before the sculpture was to be unveiled on 18 November by Secretary
General Kofi Annan, Nepal's permanent
representative to the UN, Narendra
Bikram Shah, decided that the elephant
was too well endowed. Reported the
chairman of the group that had funded
the sculpture, Hans Janitschek: "I received a call from the ambassador from
Nepal, who said: 'The penis is enormous. We brought in an expert to look.
There has to be a surgical operation.'
Where this expert came from I do not
This led to a meeting at Under-sec -
retary General Alvaro Desoto's office.
The solution was ingenious: plant some
bushes to hlock the view.
patriation of the refugees, nears.
Patralekha Chatterjee met Francois Fouinat, Director, Asia and the
Pacific, Uniled Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New
Delhi and talked to him about the
Lhotshampas and other refugee groups
in South Asia. Fouinat was on his way-
back to Geneva after a visit to Nepal
and Bhutan.
• On his assessment of the situation of
the Bhutan refugee crisis:
This has been our concern for a
number ol years since UNHCR has been
helping the refugees in the camps in
Nepal. We are as interested as anyone
else to see if there can be a solution to
this prohlem because the relugees have
been living in the camps for so long.
The fact that so many people continue
to live in camps is obviously something nobody likes.
It was with a lot of expectation that
I undertook a visit lo Bhutan and Kathmandu. And I must say thai I was
positively impressed by what I noticed
to be the determination of the new-
government in Bhntan to bring about
a solution to the prohlem in the bilateral framework lhal has been established to negotiate on this issue with
Nepal. 1 conveyed my impressions to
the Nepali authorities. 1 hope some
positive developments will take place
soon between the two countries aiming, or at least beginning, to find a solution to this long-standing and difli-
cult issue.
• On the constraints ahead:
I suppose the fact that this question has been stalled for so many years
suggests there are no easy solutions.
Tbere are so many dimensions and as
people dealing with relugees. we are
also of the opinion that this is not a
simple and easy situation and it will
need a combination of political deler-
mination, understanding and sensitivity to reach a solution.
• On the condition of the refugees:
It !■» si SSI'S
As far as refugee camps go, these are
among the best looked alter.
• On India's role:
There seems to be a feeling on both
sides that the bilateral approach is
what they will be following.
• On whether Asia's financial crisis has
affected i.wr's attitude towards refugees
in the region:
To some degree. The lact that"eco-
nomic activities are diminishing in the
region means that the most vulnerable
fringes of the workforce which are
probably the illegal immigrants are
being targetted. This is an accepted development. The problem is that, sometimes, among these most vulnerable
fringes, you find people in a refugee
situation. They are refugees but have
not gone through the former channels.
This is what we call mixed migration.
Take the case or Malaysia and Indonesians. When you are repatriating
thousands ol illegal immigrants, there
is always a possibility that a few among
them who need genuine protection
also get mixed up in the crowd. This
is a problem because movements of
people are taking place in the Asia-
Pacific region in a large scale across
• On the situation of the Sri Lankan refugees in India:
Repatriation has stopped since 1995
and right now, there is no immediate
prospect of resuming repatriation.
• On the Rohingyas and the talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh:
I think we are now seeing the end
of this long-festering problem. Two
hundred and thirty thousand out of
the 250,000 refugees have gone back
safely to Myanmar. The remaining
20,000 should he also returning home
• On their safely:
One of our largest operations is in
ihat region. There is a lot of international staff and activities to monitor
their situation and also to help the
relugees to reintegrate.
• On politico/ obstructions to unhcr
activities in Myanmar.
No, I don't think there are any.
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
Arming farmers
THE RECENT proposal to set up an
armaments factory in Sri Lanka to
supply firearms to farmers to protect
themselves and their crops against
wild animals (read elephants), raises
more problems than it solves. It also
comes at a time when elephants are
being slaughtered indiscriminately in
the country—eight were killed within
one week in September, Implementing the proposal would encourage
more such killing, or maiming
of wildlife, while creating a community of armed men and women who
can hecome a menace to society,
especially during festivals when, fortified with alcohol, people usually take lhe law
into their hands to
settle old scores
and resolve family
This is not to
discount the problems faced by-
people living close
to wildlife. Parks
and reserves are
not insular, and
wildlife, especially
elephants, spill
over and frequently roam outside the borders.
Elephants can easily destroy a year's
staple food crop of
a peasant family in
a single night, and
at limes lhe destruction includes
death of family members. Unless such
losses are compensated for adequately
and promptly, larmers will continue
to call for killing wildlife thai pose a
threat to them.
Since competition for natural resources is a fact of life, the number of
animals any conservation area can
support depends on how much the
people are willing to tolerate these
animals. Many fanners have already
lost iheir patience with the marauding elephants in lhe face of mounting
losses and absence of relief from the
authorities concerned. In many rural
areas, there are no protective fences
to keep wild animals at bay, and farmers have to stand 24-hour vigil; during the cultivation season, the vigil
can extend for three or four months.
This is a serious drain on a family's
lahour and health.
But the solution hardly lies in arming the farmers. Instead, efforts have
to be made to figure out why so many
elephants are heing killed in Sri
Lanka. Many of the elephants thai fell
victim to the fanners were tusk-less
bull elephants. These are killed neither for the ivory (which they lack)
nor for the meat (elephant meat has
never been popular in Sri Lanka). Instead, as well-known Zimbabwean
conservationist Graham Child points
out, the real cause may lie in the way
the farmers perceive the value ol elephants. The average Sri Lankan finds
nothing worthwhile in having elephants around. For many who live
next to protected areas, elephants are
a curse, and their killing akin to the
removal of pesis.
A combination of high human
population growth and the declining
fertility of land has led to increased
encroachment and degradation of forests inhabited by wildlife. It lakes
about five square kilometres of land
to support an elephant in the wild.
By that reckoning, the 4000-odd elephants estimated to be in Sri Lanka
need almost a third ol the country's
land area to survive. The existing protected areas cover only
2.5 percent of the land area,
enough only for 1600 el-
One ofthe ways to mitigate human-elephant con-
- flicts is to encourage sensihle land
use, and to ensure that
osses caused by elephants
are promptly and adequately
compensated. For people
who face the many prohlems
associated with poverty, elephants must surely be a luxury
a luxury that they cannot afford.
So far, the amounts paid as compensation have been much loo inadequate. The Department of Wild-
ife Conservation, after receiving USD
5 million through the Global Environmental Facility, is now negotiating a
further loan of USD 40 million. Bui a
substantial amount of these kinds
usually go to expatriate consultants.
If only a portion of these financial resources were spent to improve the
lives of people affected by elephant
depredations, it may be possible to
enlist their support in reducing the
slaughter of elephants.
The other option, arming the
fanners, can only he a prelude lo disaster.
-Charles Santiapillai Jayantha Jayewardene
HIMAL   11/12   DECEMBER   1998
 Don't miss this bus
IT WAS at a meeting in New York in
September this year that the prime
ministers oflndia and Pakistan agreed
to establish a roadlink across the
Wagah border. But, despite many
rounds of top-level talks between officials ofthe two countries, the New
Delhi-Lahore bus service, described
as "one of the few areas ol convergence ol views" in the bumpy dialogue process, has yet to get off
the mark.
A luxury hus carrying 50 passengers did leave New Delhi on 6 November for its 526-kilometre journey.
But it could not cross over as, the Indians claimed, nobody was there to
receive them. Pakistan, for its part,
clarified thai lhe delay in launching
the New Delhi-Lahore bus service was
due to "bureaucratic problems holding it up", and not because of Pakistan ''dragging its feet", as charged hy
Indian officials.
The bus service is not simply what
defence experts would call a confidence building measure'; it is a matter ol great human interest. The emergence of nation-states in the Subcontinent after the departure of the British put in place unique demographic-
patterns, such as the presence of
transnational ethno-lingual and religious communities.
South Asian Muslims, who make
up nearly half the followers of Islam
worldwide, are almost equally distributed in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Punjabis are spread over many-
parts oi India and Pakistan, besides
the two Punjabs, Villages and towns
of Pakistan's central Punjab are
packed with people from Jullandhar,
Batala, Amhala, Amritsar, Hosbiarpur,
Gurdaspur and many other parts of
what are now in the Indian slates of
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and
Punjab. The family of Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif are originally from
around Amritsar and so strong are
their memories thai they have named
their new housing settlement near
Lahore after the village tbey left hehind in India. For that matter, former
Indian prime minister Inder Kumar
Gujral wras born in Jhelum, now in
Sindhis inhabit the most compact
desert in the world, the Thar, stretching across the borders ol the two
countries. Kashmiris are divided
along the two sides of the Line of
Control. Most of Sikhism's holy places
are in Pakistan as are shrines ol
many revered Muslim saints in India.
The urge to travel to meet separated families, nostalgic neighbours
and old friends is strong. But mutual
suspicion and a history' of unflinching animosity have never allowed
normal means of travel lo become a
routine affair. Tough visa regulations,
an airfare that is too high for most.
Indians and Pakistanis and the
Samjbota Express train that runs hetween India and Pakistan twice a
week, fail to ease off the pressure ol
long rows of would-be travellers outside the diplomatic missions of the
two countries.
That is why many in Punjab and
elsewhere had welcomed the news of
the start of the three-limes-a-week
bus service across Wagab. But the
proposed Delhi-Lahore bus service
ended up where all good intentions
to improve Pakistan-India tics usually
do: nowhere. There is a view that easing cross-horder contact will facilitate
terrorism, implying that tough travel
restrictions (in place now) will curb
it. One has only to look at the situation in both countries to see how unfounded this argument is. On the contrary, such projects of great public
interest are more likely to help cool
down sentiments of hostility. This is
an issue the parliamentarians of lhe
two countries (who themselves do not
need visas to travel across) must lake
up and pursue to make a difference
to the lives of thousands ot ordinary
citizens who wish lo see old faces and
"Why f look forward to this bus
service is because of the comfort that
my 75-year-olcl lather will have in
travelling to his native village in the
hills of Himachal Pradesh. For, in any
case, the old man has to take a hus
after getting oil the train," said a
young Punjabi bureaucrat,
Tbe nostalgia lor the places where
they were born and brought up before they chose to migrate is widespread, especially among the older
generation. Said one of litem summing up lhe sentiment: "We have our
dead huried there."
-Najum Mushtaq
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
 Can you afford to trek without a
The proven and reliable Porrabte Altitude Chamber
(PAC) is an affordable temporary treatment for Acute
Mountain Sickness (AMS). It can mean the difference
between survival and death in difficult situations.
•*Low price (U$ 1,000 plus freight)
* Low weight - 8 kilogrammes
• Easily used and repaired
Wri/vr <7i-m<d//u- jbwm t/ie mattu&irJwwit
International phone: 613 5339 3103    International las: 613 5338 1241
Email: Web:
Hotel Gorkha Land
• All rooms of internalional
standards with CTV, attached bath
and 24 hrs running hot and
cold water
• Group rale (15 paying persons or
more) a special discount available
• Laundry service same day
• Free luggage store
• S T D, I S D, FAX service
• Call back collect call
• Doctor on call
9 Mailing service
• Car, van. bus, rental service
• Roof-top garden
• Restaurant & bar
• Free transportation from
airport to hotel
Trekking, Rafting, Jungle Safari, Air
Ticket, Inl'l & Domestic, Mountain
Flight, Hotel Reservation in Pokhara,
Dhulikhel and Nagarkot
Hotel Gorkha Land
Naya Bazar, Kathmandu, Nepal
1. Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of
Kathmandu Valley: Vol. I Text, Vol. II Plates,
Mary Slusser, Reprint Edition
2. Food, Ritual and Society:
A Study of Social Structure and Food Symbolism
among the Newars: Per Lowdin
3. Moran of Kathmandu:
Priest,   Educator   &   Ham   Radio   'Voice   of   the
Himalayas': Donald A. Messerschimidt
4. Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom:
The  politics   of  culture   in  contemporary  Nepal:
Edited by Gellner, Pfaff-Czarnecka & Whelpton
5. Dictionary of Nepalese Plant Names:
Keshab Shrestha
The Arrow and the Spindle:
Studies in History, Myths, Rituals and Beliefs in Tibet:
Samten G. Karmay
7. Contes et Legendes de La Vallee de Kathmandou
Nepal: Keshar Lai
8. The Nepalese Caitya 1500 years of Buddhist Votive
Architecture in the Kathmandu Valley:
Niels Gutschov
9. Tourism  and  Development Science &  Industry
Interface: Ramesh Raj Kunwar
Buddhism in Nepal (465 BC -1199 AD):
Naresh Man Bajracharya
Journey to Enlightenment the Life and World of
Khyentse Rinpoche Spritual Teacher from Tibet:
Photographs and Narratively: Mathieu Ricard
Power Places of Kathmandu:
Hindu    and    Buddhist    Holy    Sites    in    the
Sacred Valley of Nepal:
Photographs by Kevin Bubriski, Text by Keith Dowman
P.O. Box No.: 528, Kantipath, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel: +977-1-255444, 227711, 245570 & 249555
Fax: +977-1-255921
We accept
Visa, Master Card & American Express
f ,*N w s ^i
'^   ^   J^fti  |L:  ft    %   0
"Asian" in America means
Chang, not Chakravarri;
Kong, not Kumar.
by Sadanand Dhume
Everyone has a vice. Mine is email,
or, more specifically an on-again
off-again addiction lo the listserve of
the South Asian Journalists Association. The list hosts a collection of journalists, academics, activists and students, most of whom submit to a daily-
barrage of junk email without having
the excuse of living in boring old
Princeton, New Jersey, with an
Ethernet connection in the bedroom.
The SAJA list is home to some ol
the most momentous Indian American debates of our times. Did Madonna insult Hindu culture by wearing a bindil Should Taco Bell he sued
for giving a pious man a beef burrito
when he asked for a bean burrilo?
Should fa! white women in Queens
be allowed to use mehncli- Only rarely
does an Indian American political is
sue rise above the din of outrage over
insulted gods and stolen customs.
One recurring distraction is lhe de-
bale over whether Indians belong in
the Asian American movement.
A small hut vocal minority of Indian Americans wants our relatively-
young community to become part ol
the well-entrenched, well-funded
Asian American movement. They argue that piggybacking allows Indians
lo use Asian American cultural and
legal institutions, freeing scarce resources for other activities (such as
protesting mehndi abuse). They say
the political clout of 10 million Asian
Americans added to 1.1 million Indians will help us lurther our shared interests in immigration policy, prevention of hate crimes and stereotyping
bv lhe mainstream media. Some in
sist that Indians have no choice but
to join the Asian American movement
simply because the United States census counts Indians as Asians.
Fortunately, Indian participation
in the Asian American movement is
doomed to remain the Ford Edsel of
ethnic politics, an embarrassment
best forgotten. The sooner Indians
and Asian Americans learn to accept
this, the sooner they will realise ihat
an amicable parting is better for both
sides lhan a shotgun wedding. Indians will be forced to forge a coherent
identity of their own. Asian America
will be rid of a large, unwieldy group
whose commitment to an Asian identity is watery at best and confused at
What Indian Asian Americans
(even the term sounds awkward)
don't understand is that political
power and cultural recognition are
never won hy getting others to fight
your battles. Thejews, the Greeks, the
Armenians and the Irish have learnt
this lesson well. Whether Indians like
it or not, Chinese, Japanese and Koreans will always define lhe mainstream Asian American movement.
Instead ol allowing Indian Americans
to integrate into mainstream America
and claim a slice ol the American pie,
the Asian American movement asks
us to fight for the crumbs ol the much
smaller Asian American pie. Indians
should remember that nine limes oul
of ten the token Asian American political appointment will go to a Chang
before it. goes to a Chakravarti, to a
Kong hefore a Kumar.
Ethnic elephant
Asian American expansionism naively hopes that a hastily constructed
identity, or worse, a US government
census form, can replace ties hiult on
a foundation ol shared culture,
ethnicity and historical experience.
This defies common sense, lt is
ludicrous to expect a refugee from
Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to feel
some magical affinity towards
his Singaporean neighbour, or for
Maldivian taxi drivers to discover that
they have a lot in common with Japanese sushi chefs. Ethnicity is lhe el-
epbant in the room thai must be acknowledged. East Asians are bound
bv racial ties and, to a lesser degree.
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
A    S
a m e e
ks h
b 1
1 c a t 1 o n
A social science journal featuring:
•    research articles in economics, sociology, political
science and other emerging disciplines
scholarly commentary on topical developments
in-depth reports on people's struggles
regular columns by eminent social scientists
book reviews
weekly statistical updates on the Indian economy
analytical review of company performances
monthly review ofthe money market
Special Issues
• Review ot Political Economy
• Review ot Women Studies
• Review or Labour
• Review of Agriculture
• Review of Industry and Management
Subscription  Rates
Inland (ine
tiding Ncjjal and HI
Or. Indian /-vfift^.
Six nu.Hu
is     One year
Two years
Individuals                   350.
Concessional Rates
Teachers/ Researchers
Utnnual mie> in ftft S/
Air Mail
: Mail
Pakistan. Bangladesh & Sn Unka       80
USA, Canada. C'K. Europe. Jjpati,
New Zealand, Australia and Russia    1 50
All other countries 100
Institutions  Individuals
65 30
* Concessional rates are av-ailable only in India. To avail of concessional rates, certificate from relevant institution is essential.
1 Remittance by tnoney order/bank draft/postal order requested. Please add Rs 14 to outstation cheques towards bank collection charges.
All remittances to Economic and Political Weekly, Hitlkari House, 284 Shahid Bbagai Singh Road, Mumbai 400001
Phone: 269 6072/73, Fax: (022) 269 6072, Email: epwI&ibakti.ncK
UPS offers door to door delivery service for packages and documents. More
easy, economical and competitive alternatives for air freight world-wide.
Speedy, efficient and customs brokerage clearance. You can track your packages for instant delivery information through internet at for int'l
packages and for India packages.
Guaranteed, On time, Every time door to door.
No one can compete like we do.
United Parcel Service
Pradarsani Marg, P.O.Box: 4417, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel: 230215,241100,241122, Fax: +977-1-225915
Thamel: 423300, Pokhara . 24010, E-Mail:
As sure as taking it there yourself
fit Ka 13
by cultures with roots in Confucianism. Indians don't share this with
them. When I stroll through Jackson
Heights, Queens, home to cheap
curry houses and Fashions imported
from Bombay, 1 feel an immediate
sense of belonging. In Chinatown 1
am an outsider, unable to penetrate
the blank stares of the shopkeepers
or to make sense of the dillerence
between Mandarin and Cantonese.
Despite claims to the contrary,
there is little that Indians share with
East Asian Americans that we do not
also share with other immigrants.
Mexicans and Arahs also face racial
discrimination and glass ceilings.
Many Latin Americans and Africans
come from sexually conservative
male-dominated cultures. The work
ethic is prized hy Jamaicans. Russian
kids feel pressured to perform well in
science and mathematics.
Unlike our Vietnamese, Korean
and Chinese counterparts, recent Indian immigrants often speak fluent
English and understand the working
of a functioning democracy with a free
press. Moreover, Indians have not
shared the suffering that marked the
early Asian experience in this country. Unlike the Chinese, we didn't
come here to huild the railroads in
California. Unlike the Japanese, we
weren't interned in prisoner of war
camps during World War II. The first
significant wave of Indian immigrants
came here in the 1960s, when the
most important battles of the Civil
Rights movement had either heen
won or were about to he won. Eor the
most part, these pioneers were educated professionals: doctors, engineers and professors. You don't earn
the right to hold a grudge against
white America by sticking needles
into overfed kids in Tennessee or
teaching Physics 101 to bored undergraduates.
Identity begins at home
You may ask why an Asian American
identity must come at the expense of
an Indian American identity. Why
can't we be both Indian American and
Asian American? This is a valid question, but it ignores one crucial fact:
Indian Americans have yet to forge a
coherent identity of their own. Cut
loose from tbe Subcontinent, we have
E-MAIL, Internet, and worldwide websites are showing up the sad confu-.
sions of the great Indian middle class nationalist who goes ballistic about
the power and glory of his motherland while sitting in front of his "computer screen in California's Silicon Valley or in a gloomy apartment, in New
Jersey. Having satisfied his consumerist cravings and being overcome with
syrupy nostalgia about a country which is at least 10,000 miles away, the .
Indian professional or businessman living in the United States can afford to
wax eloquent about Sanskritic civilisation and nuclear achievement. The
problem is that very few of his white American neighbours or colleagues
are impressed by either Sanskrit or the Pokharan explosions and the nearest Indian friend is not readily available for a morale-boosting chat.
Solace is at hand and the patriotic US-Indian can now broadcast to the
world his paranoia and his yearning for India's greatness with a click of his
computer-mouse. A typical example is an e-mail letter sent by an Indian
living in Texas to India Today soon after the May 1998 nuclear tests: "...India made the right move by proving its nuclear capabilities. A weak India
surrounded by powerful nuclear weapons states is a sure recipe for subjugation and the demise of the world's largest democracy. Now that India has
shown the world the 'stick', it will have to work on the 'carrot' to maintain
Ignoring the daily drudgery of hundreds of millions of labouring children, women and men. in India, the US-Indian zips his e-mails to English-
language dailies or weeklies in Delhi or Bombay, exhorting their readers to
keep the faith and work for the ahstract glory of the motherland. The Indian back home is routinely berated for his lack of patriotism by the Indian
sitting in Los Angeles, Houston or New Haven.
Indian periodicals are deluged with e-mail letters to the editor from Indians living in the West, particularly in the United States. These letters are
usually hyper-nationalist in tone and aggressively defensive about the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They often suggest that the lower castes and
the religious minorities are to be despised or feared.
The recent rash of violent incidents in the Indian states of Gujarat,
Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh directed against Christian clerics and institutions by the BJP's sister organisations has not resulted
in any significant condemnation by the US-Indian who half-believes that
Christian "missionaries" have invited these attacks on themselves. The US-
Indian has not yet realised that such attacks could lead to a backlash by
white Christian fundamentalists against Indians living in the US, especially
now that these assaults have been widely publicised by the US media.
Nor does the US-Indian notice the hypocrisy of vehemently promoting
the grandeur of ancient Indian texts and traditions, of which he has no
deep knowledge, as he has most likely been educated in India in schools
and colleges run by Jesuits or other Christian orders while his children are
now attending schools in the US which are as American as apple pie.
For this breed of middle class, upper-caste US-Indian, the debacle just
suffered by the BJP in the November elections to the local legislatures of
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi could be most puzzling. It would be
extremely difficult for the US-Indian to acknowledge that about 80 percent
of Indian voters belongs to the labouring classes and to the so-called lower
castes. The price of food and the quest for social and economic dignity are
far more crucial for that 80 percent than the jingoistic flag-waving and the
abstract motherland-worship propagated by the BJP and its electronic warriors overseas.
-Jawid Laiq
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
 QATAR AIRWAYS     4ijr-nll
Excellence in the sky
Four weekly flights from Kathmandu on Sunday,
Monday, Wednesday & Friday to Doha & London
With convenient connection to
Middle East, Europe and USA
■ sales enquiries, please call your Travel Agent or QaL
Tel: 257712, 256579; Fax: 227132
Dox 4163, Kathmandu, Nepal Fax: +97,
Price US$ 195 per person
What's included
Transfers, Flight Certificate &
Sumptuous breakfast
Call your travel agent now or contact us directly at.,.
P.O.Box. 1273, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 424131, Fax: (977-1-) 424157 E-mail :
L   Website :
divided ourselves hy region, language
and religion. To look without before
first dealing with divisions within is
tantamount to jumping ship. Why
force-feed a feeling of kinship toward
Japanese Americans when there remains such a wide gap between
Tamils and Gujaratis? Between Hindus and Muslims. Between recent arrivals from India and those who arrived via the sugar plantations of
Guyana or former British colonies in
Africa. And between Indians horn in
the United States and those born in
The seamy truth of the Indian infatuation with Asian America is that
it offers an easy alternative to Indians
vaguely ashamed of their origins.
Until recently. East Asia was home to
the greatest post-war economic
miracle since the Marshall Plan put
Western Europe back on its feet. Cars
are made in Japan, computers in Taiwan, vacuum cleaners in Korea and
toys in China. India is where Mother
Teresa goes to save souls and Strobe
Talbott goes to save the world from
nuclear holocaust. When was the last
time an American child was told to
finish his peas because children were
starving in Japan?
Contemporary American identity
politics teaches us two things. First,
that the most powerful ethnic interest groups are huilt on shared ties
of history, customs and culture, or
at least the perception of such
shared ties. Second, that successfully
mobilised groups often retain some
affinity with their country of origin.
(Israelis, Greeks, Poles, to name only
a few.) The Asian American movement fails both these tests. Primordial
ties are conspicuous by their absence.
The interests of our countries of origin are often in direct conflict. China,
for example, practically created
the Pakistani missile and nuclear
programmes. The fuzziness of an
Asian American identity prevents us
from influencing US policies on trade
and proliferation that affect our families in India.
Indian Americans will achieve
political and cultural power only
when we learn to acknowledge our
weaknesses and build upon our
strengths. Our weaknesses include an
inahiltry to move beyond petty re
gional and religious divisions and an
unwillingness to accept that though
many Indians are doctors and architects, many also drive taxis and wait
on tables. Our strengths lie in our
relative affluence, strong cultural ties,
educational achievements, geographical concentration, rapidly growing
numbers and large representation in
key sectors of the American economy
such as software and medicine.
Fostering a stronger Indian American identity does not mean quarrelling with the Asian American
movement, hut choosing allies depending on the issue at hand. We
ought to draw a firm line between
cooperation and cooption. In the final analysis, this is ahout making
choices. As an Indian, I choose
Shahana Azmi over Gong Li. Vikram
Seth over Amy Tan. Vadas over
wonton soup.
5. Dhume is an Indian American living
in Princeton, New Jersey, who has written for the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Earth Times and Little India. A version of this article appeared
in A Magazine: Inside Asian America.
Send payment in local currency in favour of our subscription agent.
Sri Lanka
The Netherlands
U.K. & Ii-el.unl
North An
Local Subscription Agent
International Book Agencies Led., 61, Molijheel C7A2nd floor, Dhaka. Tel :t 880-29-956
General News Agency Pvt. Ltd.. 23/90 Connaught Circus. New Delhi 110001.
Tel:.91-1-752 9365/777 0536
Asiaice Book Shop, 1/44 Chandhanee Magu. PO Box 2053. Male. Tel: .960-32-3424
Himal Inc. Pvt. Lid.. GPO Box "251, Kathmandu. Tel: .977-1-52.5841/522113
Translndus Media (Pve) Ltd.. 2nd Floor, Haroon House, Ziauddm Ahmed Rd..Karachi "
Tel: .92-21-567 0081-4 Fax: .92-21- 56" 0085
Lttke House Book Shop, 100, Str Chitiatupalam, Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo-2.
Tel: ,94-1-432105/430581/430562
Indra Ban. 12, Norfolk St., Paddington 2021. Sydney. Fax: +61-2-635 3207
Empatinii AB, Box 26159, 100 il Stockholm. Fax: .46-8-141088
Edi Muhlemann, Mwtiwce, II, CK-3098 Konil. Fax: .41-31-971 S065
Frans Meijer, Zsvanenburgwal 278. 1011 JH Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  F:ix: . 51 -20-
JoiiGiri (Ref: H). 221 Ashly Gardens, Emery Hill Street. London SWl 1 PA. Tel: .44-IT
Suedasien-Buro, Redaktion 'Suedasien'. Grosse Hehnstf, 58. 44137 Dortmund Tel: .49-
Barhara Bella tV Associates, 500 Sansome Streer, Suite 101. PO Bu\4707SS, San Francis.
CA 94147. Fax: .1-115-966 7860
05.8-1/955 1.308
625 6690
'1-582 9355
2.51 -156 63J
Subscribers sending payments directly to the kathniatidii office from cottntties other I lull Nepal and India should do so at the rate quoted lot
cheque in L'S Dollars/GB Pounds drawn in ftvmiroi Himal Inc. Pvt. Ltd.' at Circulation Department, HIMAI   GPO Box No. 7251. Klthllll
Nate:       Subscriber-,   who  \sish   id  pas   through  AMEX.  VISA  or  MAS I 1- K  CARD  can   fax.'
.977-1 -521013/<hiiiia]>. 1 for AMEX cards please include coniact phone numbe
details  directly  it:
Elsewhere' hy demand sir.iit/
and ti. Nepal.
Kathmandu  office .-t!
 Legacy of a.
Dilip D'Souza traces his mutated connection with Portugal.
"n the windswept northern coast of Namibia, in a desolate spot reached after
several hours along a desolate highway, one conies across a huge colony of seals.
One afternoon some years ago, 1 stood there, looking in wonder, awed by the sheer
numher of animals, by the fleshy, quivering, noisy mass that stretched from my toes
into the spray-misted distance. The place is called Cape Cross, a name about which
I was only mildly curious then.
I have since regretted that lack of curiosity. The seals were interesting and photogenic, true, il smelly. But if I ever go back, I might spend less time gazing at them.
I might instead stroll over to gaze at the object thai gives their home its name: Cape
In 1485, Diego Cao, a Portuguese sea captain, came ashore and erected a cross
here. The Portuguese had a tradition of erecting wood or limestone crosses wherever they landed. They were symbols of Christianity, visible prool of possession of a
piece of land. But they were most useful as landmarks lor passing ships. To his
successors on those nearly virgin sea lanes hugging the Alrican toast, Cao's cross
was a sign that the Portuguese had safely reached that far down the coast.
By the late 19th century, the original cross was crumbling. The Germans, colonial masters of South-West Africa as it was then known, removed it to a Berlin
museum. In 1895, they brought a replica of the original from Germany and erected
it at the spot. That replica is what stands at Cape Cross today-
Quest Tor India
When Diego Cao erected his cross, he was just the latest in a series of Portuguese
adventurers who had been pushing further and further soulh. They had sailed beyond several points that had each, in turn, seemed like points of no return: Cape
Bojador, the River Ouro, Guinea, Angola, Cape Cross. Sailing south, they had something very definite in mind. They were looking for the point where the Alrican
coast would turn decisively east, lor what such a turn would almost surely mean—
the sea route to the Easl. To India. Once they rounded Africa, these seafaring heroes
were sure, only open sea would separate them from the riches ol India.
Sure enough, Bartholoinieu Dias sailed past Cao's cross in 1487 and soon lound
the coast of Africa swinging east, lie had rounded the huge continent, but his men
had had enough of fierce storms and forced hnn lo return to Portugal. "He had seen
the land of India," wrote a historian of the time, hut "he did nol enter it".
In 1497, another Portuguese sailor struggled around Africa's southern tip and
set his sails to ride the winds north and east. From Malindi in preseni-day Kenya,
an Arah pilot guided him across the Indian Ocean. And on 20 May 1498, after
12,000 miles and 316 days al sea, Vasco da Gama touched land near Calicut, Thai
day changed an entire regions history. Il is now also a subject oi much controversy,
but of ihat, more later.
Vasco da Gama might never have reached Calicut if not for the cross that stands
HIMAL   11(11   DECEMBER   1998
lonely cross
firm on a lonely Namibian shore. As for me, 1 feel a very personal connection lo
Cape Cross. In an odd way, I would not be who I am if Cao had not erected his
cross: in fact, millions of Indians would not be who they are. And that's why. on my
next visit to Cape Cross, the cross might interest ine more than the seals.
Old and new
The story of da Gama's great voyage is really the siory of the Caos and the Diases
before him: brave men who pushed the boundary of Portuguese discovery ever
southward, outward, from that little country in the Iberian peninsula. It is amazing
that this tiny slice of Hurope produced such a stream of courageous explorers, as
well as kings who believed in and backed their efforts.
Prince Henry the Navigator (d. 1460) is credited with being the catalyst behind
Portugal's exploration of the world. But il was really under John II (r. 148f-f495),
that Portugal's age of seafaring glory began. John dispatched Cao and Dias on their
voyages and set the stage for da Gama's later success. Together, these men turned
Portugal into the prime maritime power of the era.
With that kind of intoxicating history, one cannot help think that Portugal must
have heen an exciting place to live in 500 years ago. It's easy to imagine late 15th-
century Lisbon as a roiling, thrilling city, flush with comings and goings and news
of the latest expeditions. Surely few other cities could have matched the heady
sense of adventure Lisbon must have been drenched in then.
Late 20th-century Lishon carries few signs of those stirring times. It looks and
feels like the other European capitals. There are plush Cartier and Gucci boutiques,
upscale restaurants, even a tiny Metro wiih the obligatory schematic map. Frenetic
construction is everywhere: spiffy new buildings, dramatic new Metro stations on
an ever-expanding network and so on. To the jaundiced eye, it is missing a certain
spirit, perhaps even an identity. Lisbon seems much less unique today than it once
must have been although this criticism is unfair considering the changed times.
Still, one does get a feeling in Lisbon of yearning, a sense that Portugal wants
back that heady feeling of world leadership that Vasco da Gama had brought. Tired
of being known as Europe's perennial poor cousin, Portugal seems to be saying,
"Let's reclaim thai place in the sun we once knew." The sprucing up of Lisbon is a
sign of that.
An even more visible sign attracted multitudes to its riverfront site through the
summer of 1998. Lisbon deliberately bid lo host Expo 98 this year, 500 years after
da Gama reached India. Even its theme, "Oceans", is a reminder of glories past.
Grand words lumblc over the event: "lhe Portuguese language, an ocean ol cultures", "The greatest ever Portuguese cultural event, al tbe turn ofthe millennium,
in which Portugal seeks to discover a new face, highlighting its multicultural vocation" and on and on.
Expo 98 was a flashy, colourful, techno-dazzle affair. The architecture was
end-of-millennium futuristic, the fountains innovative, the pavilions full of
whiz-bang wizardry. The ticket-checking machines were so smart, they needed people
to monitor how they performed. A gorgeous new bridge over the River Tagus put
you right at the site. It's name? Naturally, the Vasco da Gaina bridge.
All that jazz could not unfortunately make up for a definitely underwhelming
experience. The crowds were staggering. Lines to enter popular pavilions snaked
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12 *I
Clockwise from top: seals laze about at
Cape Cross, Namibia; Rachol Seminary
in Goa showing Portuguese influence;
palace at Sintra near Lisbon built by
various kings over many years in
different styles; strange creatures on
tricycles at Expo 98. Pictures by author.
HIMAL   11/12   DECEMBER   1998
for hours. The hordes meant that outdoor seating was at a premium; seating in
shade practically non-existent. Razzle-dazzle, Expo style, has no place lor trivialities like trees or shelters lo offer shade. With Lisbon's blazing summer sun beating
down, with the long distances to cover on foot, finding a pavilion with a tolerable
wait to enter was itself a draining exercise.
Things improved very little once indoors. ''Puerile" was the word that came to
mind. The "Knowledge of the Seas" pavilion was plastered with quotes—phrases
simply lifted from the notebooks of Portuguese sea captains, no thought given to
significance or relevance. In a similarly simple-minded way, displays showed that
some things float, some things don't. The frame of a large wooden caravel dominated one hall. Inexplicably, il was upside-down. Nearby, a little visited pavilion
had several poems from Portuguese-speaking countries, with English translations
alongside. Astonishingly, the poems were translated word-for-word from the Portuguese. In English, they made no sense.
U that was how Lisbon planned to attract the world's attention all over again, it
was a shame the effort was so mediocre. Built this way, Diego Cao's cross would
have crumbled long before the late 1800s. Vasco da Gama's ships would have collapsed well before rounding Cape Bojador in present-day Morocco, once a major
milestone in the trip along Africa's coast. The sea route lo India would never have
been found.
And, almost certainly, my name would not be what it is.
Goa's uniqueness
Those the Portuguese converted in India were given Portuguese names: Sousa, da
Cunha, Ferreira, da Gama and others; though over the years, some mutated into
forms nol seen in Portugal, like D'Souza. Personally, 1 have little use for religion;
neither do I speak any Portuguese. Bui it was on my trip to Portugal that 1 realised
and comprehended that, in a real sense, without Portugal, without Vasco da Gama,
without that cross in Namibia, I would nol be who I am.
Beginning with Afonso de Albuquerque's conquest ol Goa in 1510, Portuguese
influence on the west coast of India waxed and waned for centuries. But Goa remained a Portuguese colony until 1961, a full 14 years after the British left India.
There's a significance lo that presence that has been somewhat muddied in the Goa
of 1998, the 500th year since Vasco da Gama's landing. An angry debate has raged
in Goa over da Gama's legacy (see Himal January i 998). Should Goa celebrate, or
even observe, the 500lh anniversary? After all, Vasco da Gama brought the catastrophe of colonialism to India and lhe resentment is keenly fell.
Just before the Indian President K.R. Narayanan left on a recent trip ihat took
bitn lo Portugal, Goa's Deshpremi Nagrik Samiti (Patriotic Citizens Committee)
wrote to ask him nol lo "fall prey" to any moves by Portuguese authorities to get
him to pay tributes to "their hero", Vasco da Gama. Others urged him nol to participate in the Vasco celehrations, not to visit the explorer's grave in Lisbon's Mosteiro
The language the Samiti used certainly speaks ol real enough sentiments. But
consider what Dinar Camotim, Professor of Civil Engineering at the Technical University ol Lisbon, himself of Goan Hindu descent, pointed out one evening in a
Lisbon har: Goa owes its very existence, its identity, to Vasco da Gama. If it had not
been for him, those 3700 square kilometres would have formed jusl another stretch
of Maharashtra or Kamataka. Nothing would distinguish it from those states.
Certainly, the colonialism that Vasco brought caused harm that still haunts us.
But it happened. Colonialism was disastrous, but history is hardly good or bad: it
happens. In this case, for belter or worse, it also gave many ol us in India a certain
uniqueness, a certain something to set us apart from the crowd, lt may not be much,
it may not matter much, it may nol even be worth a thought. But it is there.
I can't speak for anyone else. Lor me, that's enough to make a second trip to
Cape Cross worth contemplating.
D. D'Souza is a computet scientist based in Bombay.
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12 47
 ^.. ■	
"Celebrity Weekends withjay Leno", announce the billboards as I head out towards New Delhi's IG1 airport. Another says, "jay Leno Strips Clinton". This is what the
world has come to: American talk show hosts talking nothing about events that should least concern an Indian are
apparently goad enough to advertise in "Hamara Bharat
Mahaan". Globalisation proceeds.
We have, seen many
graphic images from Indonesia recently, of the
storming of police barricades, tear gas shells exploding, and people dying
on the streets. Bangladesh,
too, hosts such riot scenes
during the habitual
hartals, but we hardly get
to see it. - BTV screens are
occupied otherwise. This
is where, print media steps in. Here is an image from The
Daily Star of riots in Dhaka's North South Road. Now don't
you think print has some purpose?
cuddly babies from the computer stock.
The Gross National Happiness, concept floated by King
Jigme, and flogged for all it was worth by Kingjigme, has
now been picked up by Jigme Thinley, the prime minister
equivalent, of Druk Yul. Appearing before the "UNDP Millennium meeting in Seoul" in late October, Mr Thinley
The Ambassador of India to Nepal, Shri K.V. Rajan, held
ah alumni party in Kathmandu on 20 November. This
was to be a get-together of "Nepalese alumni of Indian
academic institutions". There was a big crowd at the India House grounds alright, but that was only a drop of
Nepal's India alumni. More than half of all educated
Nepalis probably have their degrees from Indian universities, and a signiiicant number make do with fake certificates from Bihar. How Mr Rajan distinguished between
the various alumni in his invitation list is anybody's guess.
Anyway, T have never heard of an alumni get-together that
encompasses an entire country
Message at Felicitations
Et-mi ufcour lu/arfssinl suu Ik r*acli atrt in where Lftu saerfd nj-iatiol
imr Hitrslklp is, vre uime ti>gei lier--b(Hrj. ^aaeh and mind- in prayers
' l*Eiciluti<nis dcitrn t-trl m Lhe *t]l-bdn£4rf
Our ItoJi ^.i King,
tin tht mwt ii«asLn-4i ofthe
il™ annh crsarv of thu nJorimis tilrllntny flf our Umk flyal |n>.
May the ctwfrasl Musing* ni in*
Trhjkfinn uniHlte must surma bunriklians oF nor land shower ultras
imf visionary mnuurth as i\t kflds nu r toutiiiy w Ui* (Irt-nms
14IMJ proi»v:'■-■-!':■-■-■■■.:.--:. i!i.ll:-i:ii:r.;n.
H lllfSS I
r  0i.::\. ■"-.•. ;.  :-i:t\ i|-:i.: I"- -■"_■ I-- -
I do nol mind the
principal, staff and
students of Sherbutse
College in Bhutan expressing their deepest
admiration for His
Majesty Jigme Singye
Wangchuk on his
43rd "glorious birthday", nor their wish
that the "choicest
blessings of the Triple
Gem and the most sacred benedictions" of
the land be showered
"eternally on our visionary monarch as he leads our country to the. dreams and promises of the next millennium".
In its cloying obeisances, this is not much worse than the
Indian Railways' full-pagers extolling the virtues of
Railway Minister Nit.ish Kumar. What I would request
the Sherbutse folks to do next time around is to please,
please consider employing a graphic designer other
than using awful fonts and images of balloons and
made remarks that could only be taken without, a smirk
by New Age acolytes bedazzled by the Shangri La that
Bhutan projects itself as. It has always been the conviction of King Jigme, said Mr Thinley, "that the ultimate
purpose of government is to promote the happiness of
the people". I am sure that this was the case with all governments, from the Fifth Republic to the Third Reich. Said
Mr Thinley, "While the primary goal of development is
happiness, the very subject finds little mention in development plans and programmes." Have to disagree in totality: the ultimate goal of all development programmes,
anywhere, is happiness. Essentially, Mr Thinley's GNH index seems to ignore die fact that economic well-being is
lhe real source of happiness, in Bhutan or in the Dooars.
In essence, the GNH principle reads like an unlikely take
off on the Asian Values debate that raged in Southeast
Asia for a while and which is already passe. The Bhutanese
riding elite's theory seems to be that as long as
IS the people are happy, why should they be made
unhappy with political freedom?
In Fraj*r£ snrt dulicaUuit
Sherubtse College
I am always very pleased to read saarc press releases. Such as this one, titled Saarc Visa Exemption Scheme Expanded, which is very nice in telling me thai reps from the seven member-countries met in an Expert Group, and that they had
held "detailed deliberations" resulting in a "number of recommendations" for "streamlining lhe
procedure". I am also told that the Visa Exemption Scheme was "initiated lo promote close and
frequent contacts among die people of the SAARC
region" and that 20 new categories were added
to the existing 21 categories. What the press release does
not tell me is what were the 20 categories which were
The biggest con on the Indian public was carried out the
morning after lhe Leonid meteor shower peak of predawn 18 November. We all know that the air show was a
dud, of course. For the papers, the timing of lhe showers
HIMAL   11/12 DECEMBER   1998
 was most awkward, not allowing time for witnessed accounts.
So most seemed to have decided
to fake it. Take the piece hy
Seema Singh of The Times of India, which was given banner
treatment on page one, "Spellbinding spectacle of meteor
shower". She wrote in a way that
the unwary would think of it as
live reporting, whereas the sentences were couched subdy that
you could never really accuse
her of faking it. There was one
slip, however, when Singh reported that "Hundreds of
thousands of people across the country watched the brilliant show". Meanwhile, with no pictures that could he
used to show off the much touted Leonids, most editors
fell for time-lapse photography of the stars taken over
Chiang Mai or the Great Wall, of China. What millions of
newspaper readers in India got to see were simply stars
making a streak across the sky because the camera was
kept on a "B" setting. Wake up, editors.
upliftment. All you are required to do is to send in
a couple of hundred
dollars for "your own
individualised laminated
plaque or shingle". This is
apparently a scam that
works particularly we'll
with South Asians from
all over, so exalted is their
view of themselves for
having done so little for
"society's upliftment".
(The accompanying ad
congratulating Mr Golcha appeared in the Kantipur daily,
placed there by the duly impressed Marwari community
in Kathmandu.)
Remaining with The Times of India, see what kind of copy
gets through when you now have a newspaper run
from the marketing
' am correct, your
paper is like Ganett—
publishers of USA
I Today — in terms of
preach across the nation,
bit also has prestige like
J The New York Times,
1 correct?))
"If I am correct, your    | desk ,rat^than
J -     "' » the editors. An in
terview session with
the chief executive
of the Gallup Organisation, James K.
Clifton, about the
group entering India has him telling
the Times reporter,
"If I am correct,
your paper is like
Ganett—publishers of USA Today—in terms of reach
across the nation. It also has prestige like The New York
Times, correct?" Not only is this note carried in the text of
the interview, it is also unblushingly carried as the single
blurb of the piece. This reminds me of an editor of the
TOI, when it still had an editor,
saying, again unblushingly, that
his was the second-most important job in India, after the prime
Managed a sneak view of Singapore while in transit, and
realised yet again how awful it is that this Westernised
Southeast Asian city-state (which pompously calls itself a
"nation") has not retained its true original name,
"Singhapur". If only names had something to do with affluence, imagine where Gorakhpur and Muzzafarpur
would be today! It is the Han work ethic that has elevated
Singhapur, whereas, in the Indo-Ganga maidan, we are
like that only.
In Singhapur, you will be glad to know, at least one thing
is outright boring—the newspapers. Take The Straits
Times, whose anchor story with a massive colour photo
to go along with it on 30 November was, and I am not
kidding, "Award for widow who's .'best mother'"! Apparently, Madam Quan Poh Eng was only 37 when her hus-
ba4id died 27 years ago, leaving her with six young children to bring up. She "pulled herself together", coped,
became a hawker, and in November 1998 was honoured
with the Best Mother Award from the Bukit Timah Community Development Council district. I do nol know
which is belter, to have clean chewing-gum free sidewalks,
or to be forced to read news such as this.
f   Wfa HORf   ^
Nepali industrialist Hulas Chand
Golcha is the latest to fall for it,
the Man of the Year Award,
presented by the make-believe
American Biographical Institute,
which tells unsuspecting individuals who have grandiose views
of themselves that they have been
selected to the high position for
their commitment to society's
ft per Tftasr jrt*rE4nT+r atsn
■a4tb V^Z - • :■:-! -=n "TftFJ Tfl \r.i-T. ivpll
■iJkiRhw cTrTrarfiSasT tfferzqr.gpa a*! =$mi
(MAM OF THE ¥£41*1908)
*arfircni TOnto -jiMv^iir jtffewtfiw 4-jH-H.t! «mt ffrt
Mr. Tjknn '■•r-
Mr hshu fcjj V>»
MlvSIr Jumripi NiHu
MiWr SrrrhmrJ rYihrU
MnAfr. Ij.tb lumc Bapa
HivMr <V|il»f 0»je i>ui;i
Mrc'Mi. Anuritil BnJ
ItfM Kpji Sr«ft Tftcrr^. MivMi
WjmW Vtrti SiiVi Saw* HWHt
Ui*W Xtuii 1KJ4 Btuu MisiMr.
Ui ■-* Vest Snp SriB* MlS&lT.
HivM ft'dsp Baa Hii'Mr.FiendsBai
Mivl* Atfwt fta¥u
The "international news" in The Straits Times can get
slightly interesting, something which it holds in common
with its rather ragged Nepali counterpart,
Tfte Rising Nepal. And so here's a headline,
"Non-govt bodies under scrutiny for foreign links". The story is about how the Malaysian Home Ministry is checking the
background of several NGOs for activities
which threaten national security. So, it is
not merely in South Asian states, from Pakistan to India to Nepal, where the custodians of the establishment are worried
about the ability of NGOs to muddy the waters. And to this they bring in the fear of
the foreign hand. It is outmoded, this fear
orforeign funding, unless it is from the CIA,
- Chhetria Patrakar
1998  DECEMBER  HIMAL   11/12
b/J^bJ^    **/: b*>
*\* **^ft
It is often the
we do, that we are
most for.
TEL: 4167.76,416340. 414766
FAX: (977-1-) - 413614, 472390
e-mail: garuda @, np
URL http://www.!
"Kat^mnHdu7i. mtet tdicdte $co&
atone, <m "*7tfkt ndated tedject"
Amazing range of books on Tibet
available at:
Tibet Book Store
Exclusive distributor & outlet for library of
Tibetan works & archives
Tridevi Marg, Thamel, Post Box No. 1485
Kathmandu, Nepal, Phone No. 415126
* Dharma Books from Local & International Publisher
* Books On Tibet, Nepal, India & Himalayan Regions
■    Travel Books • Maps • Cards • Incense • Music Tapes
* Stationaries, etc. • New releases added every week!
* Cenlralty located nexl lo immigration office with
parking facility opposite TBS!
Visa, Master, JCCB Cards and
Worldwide Mail Orders Accepted.
Now welcome to Tibetan Handicraft Emporium
at Boudhnath, below Hotel Tibet International
We are proud to say that
our cargo service is the
most reliable, efficient
and professional.
We offer you the
best service
Our services:
» All packaging /safe storage
* Customs clearance
» Transportation / pick-up &
■* All necessary documentation
■* World-wide Air/Air, Air/Sea &
Road/Sea cargo service
* With most reasonable rates
* Guaranteed friendly, helpful & efficient
* Time lo time shipment information
P.O.BOX: 8973, NPC 199
TEL: 247316, 231687 FAX: +977-1-242500
A brand new and also one of the fin-
^fl est three star hotels in Kathmandu.
The Hotel Tibet (P) Ltd is very conveniently located in Lazimpat just behind
the French Embassy and walking distance to all the major airline offices,
banks, shopping centres, immigration office and Thamel.
With well-appointed 55 rooms and suites having all the
basic amenities for a deluxe class hotel, it is a perfect place for
guests of every category - be it simply holiday, trekking, pilgrimage
tours or visitors of the nearby embassies, We are here to provide
them with full value for money and of course our personalised
service to ensure repeat visits.
The Himalayan Restaurant in the lobby level serves fine
Tibetan, Nepalese and Continental cuisine. The Lobby Bar where
you can enjoy after a hectic day with your favourite drink while
listening to soft music.
a inn,nd
P.O. Box 7956, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 429085/86/87/88 Fax: 00977-1-410957 ,    _,--,,_..,
Email: ^EMUEI^
Internet: mm.
 iris a Still
S ftft
Interviews with Deepa Mehta and Naseeruddin Shah by Rehan Ansari at the Toronto Film Festival.
"There is film being made that is not
'Bombay' and not Western'"
-Deepa Mehta
Toronto-based Indian director Deepa Mehta emigrated to Canada in
1973 and made her first film, Sam and Me, in 1990. Two years later,
she went on to direct Hollywood stars Jessica Tandy and Bridget
Fonda in Camilla. After her stint in Hollywood, Mehta set about
making the first movie in her trilogy of Fire, Earth and Water. Fire
(1996), ahout the transgressive relationship between two sisters-in-
law in a middle-class Delhi household, received much critical acclaim though it ran into problems wiih the censor board in India.
The film was released in India only last summer:
• There were six films at the Toronto
film festival that had South Asian, hut
mostly Indian, talents. Is this a promising sign ?
1 would not say "promising". Next
year there may not be six films
with South Asian content and talent.
But it is inspiring. Speaking from
a personal point of view I see the
evolution of a hybrid filmmaking.
There is film being 4nade that is not
'Bombay' and not 'Western', and I
mean that in all aspects of film. In
terms of talent, production design,
how the director deals wiur actors and
characters have a sensibility that is no
longer one that comes out of Indian
• What does this sensibility allow you
to do?
I can he uninhibited about subject.
Whether it is about choices for
women (Fire) or Partition (Earth) I
did not have to think ahout the repercussions as I would have in India.
Nor did I have to wonder about the
Aamir Khan and Nand'sta Dos in Earth.
censor hoard. That heing said, the
Indian censor board has passed Earth
without a single cut. So you never
know. The film will be released in
India on 5 November. I wish it were
being released in Pakistan simultaneously.
• How did you come across Partition
as a subject?
I have always thought about it. I
grew up in Amritsar and my father
went to Government College Lahore.
So 1 grew up with the disillusionment
of Partition. Sectarian war, as a sub-
fls & Society
ject, fascinates me. So when I came
across Bapsi Sidhwa's book, where a
Partition story is told irom the point
of view of a child, I loved it.
• Who did you imagine were the audience oj the film ? h is a melodrama, and
a love story starring the popular
Bollywood hero Aamir Khan. Will it
cross over to the West?
I did not think of an audience
when 1 made the Him. It is a personal
enterprise. The film has very little
English in it. I decided that the film
be mostly in Urdu, Punjabi and
Gujarati hecause 1 could not imagine
the characters speaking English.
Nobody knows Aamir Khan
outside the region. Who has seen
[Khan's] Ghulam in the West? But I
want everybody to see the film. Most
people in the West have seen Gandhi
and have no clue about Partition and
the other side of Independence.
I think calling the film melodrama
is a put down.
• I was referring to your idea of hybrid
filmmaking. Earth has a love story,
songs, and Aamir Khan but at the same
time the film leaves you with an unresolved crisis unlike conventional melodrama. Did you think of Lahore as a
I wanted to shoot the entire film
in Lahore. We applied for permission
al the Ministry oF Information but did
nol hear from them. Simply did not
hear from them. This was last August
[1997] and 1 had to start shooting by
• Naseeruddin Shah says that expatriate filmmakers and writers lack an intimacy with the Indian subject.
I have spent half my life in India.
I grew up in Delhi. But do you have
to live in India to he insightful about
India? A lot ol people talk about this
issue of being m or out. It may have
to do with insecurity.
• What is your next project?
Water. 1 am putting my passion ol Fire
and Earth to rest. It is set in the 1920s
in Banaras. I am -writing the screenplay myself.
You don't hear of writers and painters
worrying about their audience"
-Naseeruddin Shah
"Naseer!" The man yelled from two feet away from
us. "Who would have thought I would run into you
walking up Yonge St!" This was a South Asian man
running into Naseeruddin Shah and myself as we were
walking to catch a film at the Toronto Film Festival.
"I have seen your films and they have been so important to me," he says.
Before we ran into this man I was thinking of writing for a Toronto newspaper and introducing
Naseeruddin Shah as India's Dustin Hoffman, or the
thinking person's Indian actor. 1 felt the insanity of
meeting him in a city where nobody knew him, and
living in another city (Lahore) where nobody can meet
him (or, more importantly, see him perform on stage
as in Mahatama Versus Gandhi, which has just completed runs in Bombay and Delhi). Naseer signed the
man's package and allayed my panic.
Naseeruddin Shahs roles in Shyatn Benegal's movies made him an icon of the Indian New Wave Cinema ofthe 70s. For me, a kid growing up in Karachi,
his images were memorable because they did not adhere to formula. But these films were not popular-your
local videowallah still refers to them as 'art films'.
However, the "Ghalib" Naseer played for Gulzar and
Doordarshan crossed over into the popular imagination, and that includes the imagination of Pakistanis
between Karachi and Mississauga, Ontario, whose local videowallahs keep only the Bollywood potboilers.
Naseeruddin Shah was at the Toronto Film Festival showcasing two oj his premiered films. I had a
chance to talk to him about Such A Long Journey
and Bombay Boys in the context of international productions having Indian talent behind them, and to address questions of audience, expatriate writing, political art, Pakistani cinema and the film he wants to make
on Gandhi.
In person, Naseer expresses the same kind of anger,
disillusionment, humour, frustration and compassion
that we have come to expect from his screen performances. It seemed a strain on his voice to talk. He neither smiled nor nodded. None ofthe usual gestures gave
him away. I would sharpen a witticism, wait for an
opening and only then would I get a smile out of this
oyster. One another thing, his speech retains the angli-
cisms ofthe 60s. Like my father he can say: "Tell that
Charlie to bugger off."
HIMAL   11/12   DECEMBER   1998
 iris & Society"
• What did vou think of Deepa Mehta's
Did not like it. Is there no other
suhject for these filmmakers? Is there
nothing they can show irom contemporary India? I know Partition is the
most important subject, hut the way
Earth and Train to Pakistan treat it, it
does not move me at all. Three pages
of Manto tells you what you want to
Earth is melodrama. It is the use
of the Indian formula film genre to
tell the story of Partition. What 1 like
is that Earth kept within that formula.
Earth is also Hollywood formula.
The sex scene was more important
than the scenes of partition violence.
Cinema cannot serve a didactic purpose. It cannot change the world. Cinema is not art either. I think an artist
as a lilmmaker comes along once a
century. The best cinema can do is to
give images of the contemporary.
• What about the Indian cinema you
were part of in the 70s?
The so-called New Wave Cinema
of the 70s was not art. It was not a
movement. It was a group of
people. These filmmakers
wanted anything but a formula film. So a lot of films
were applauded that did
not have merit. And they
all lost money. So that now
if you want to make a film
off the beaten track
you will have a hard
time because ofthe
memory producers have of those
These days
Mani    Ratnam
does well with finding the balance between the art and the commercial.
• You want to make a film yourself now,
based on the play Mahatma Versus
Gandhi. For a person who claims to not
be interested in politics this is one hell
of a subject. To put together a film of
this hind you will have to pursue it zealously.
(Cracking a smile) I am interested
in Gandhi the private person. Obviously his public life affected his private but 1 am interested in Gandhi the
father. This is an area about which
little is known. And it is not talked
about. The play is about a father and
a son, and 1 am interested in il because I had a difficult relationship
with my father.
• What do you think of this international South Asian, hut mostly Indian,
cinema-making you are watching in
Toronto? Indian novels are being made
into films by Indians, or in collaboration with Indians. Will there be opportunities for roles, and storytelling ofthe
kind you prefer?
These writers and filmmakers are
expatriate. They lack an intimacy. In
the film Such a Long Journey, though
the story is based around 1971,1 feel
there is such a distance from the
Bangladesh War. 1 still felt 27 years
away from it.
■ Give me another example of this lack
of intimacy.
For example, in Bombay Boys,
the   Naveen  Andrews  character
should have become a Bollywood star,
and we should have seen what happens after that. But these expat filmmakers are not familiar with
the industry, have not
grown up with that—
they would not know.
• So what would you have
done if you were making that
There are these three
expatriates who
come to Bombay
in search of
One of them
linds out
that he is a
mediocre musician, another finds his
brother. The third stars in a film,
which is a hit, but leaves the film
world at the. end ofthe movie. I think
he should have been shown to have
found stardom. Wbat happens to
people who have talent, or no creative
urge at all, when they become
stars in Bombay? They actually believe people love them. Mr Bachhan
(Amitabh) to this day doesn't understand why his films are failing. How-
can people not love him? It does not
even occur to him that he may be giving a sub-standard product. Govinda
the character is Govinda the person
off-screen. But you have to he from
the industry to know this.
• Perhaps these expatriate filmmakers,
as you call them, are figuring out their
You don't hear of writers and
painters worrying about their audience. There are very few writers writing in India. These people you hear
of are all outside.
• What ahout cinema in Bengal or in
the South?
Telugu cinema is very big. They
have big budgets and innovate on the
formula. But it is impossible lor me
to act in the languages of the south. I
tried. I had to repeal numerals for dialogue: ifeces bees chahees satees ikees.
And their be dubbed over.
• What about playwrights?
We do theatre in Bombay in
Gujarati and Marathi and Hindi. But
it is mostly Beckett, Ionesco, Pinter
and Brecht. 1 wish we did plays written by Indians but there have been,
say, three Indian plays written in the
last 50 years. It is difficult.
The censors are terrible. You cant
show corrupt officials. The kind of
satire 1 saw in the Pakistani show
Fifty/Fifty ofthe late 70s would be impossible in India.
• Have you seen Pakistani films?
Yes, some from the 70s. Nadeem
was a good actor. What are Pakistani
films like these days?
• Formula films reign. Though the pace
of Urdu film production has picked up
over the last couple of years. Which
means less rape and violence. The formula in Pakistan was the Maula Jat formula, it sired hundreds of Punjabi
clones. They crowded out everything.
Yes, the formula film. It's the
Sholay syndrome. What happened to
• He was part of it. fudging from cinema hoardings I remember from the
mid-80s he tried his hand at playing the
angry middle-aged man. He lives in
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
Try us and see the difference !
We may not be the biggest but we
provide the best service that a
trekking company can provide.
/^>   Nepal Valley Trekking (P) Ltd.
h^/^A G.P.O. Box 5535. Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: +977-1-420704 Fax: +977-1-413707
The prestigious flagship
publication of lhe World-watch
Institute, Washington is
available for the firs! time in
India at aspecial price
(Pb Rs I 75/-)
by K.N.Panikkar
(PbRs.125/- )(Hb Rs.225/-)
by Jayanl Leie
A dialogue among environmentalists, scientists and
Earthworm Books Pvt Ltd
Xy&o2\     ' ^ Appadurai street
-*      Thiruviilluvar Salai
Teynampet, Chennat. 1 fi
Tamilnadu. India
New release
tour Arguments for the
Elimination of Television
320pp.(1998 )Rs. 190
By Jerry Mander
■ Its problems are inherent in
the technology itself and
are so dangerous to
pcr-sonal health and sanity,
ie the environment, and
to democratic processes
that TV ought lo lie
eliminated forever
■ A total departure from
previous writings about
television, this book is
the first ever to advocate
that the medium is not
Order from:
The Other India Bookstore
Mapusa, Goa
Advenrures of a Nepali frog
A UOvd adventure for
children of ail oges.
%ato 'Bangala %ita$
Patofi Df>ok(7, 5ridiirbcr fcile. Labtpw
MfljImE A«rMs: P.O flp. 41. Nepet
ti. +977-I-SZ16U. fm:+1?7-l-SHQt3
A leading TREKKING &
TOURING company in the Himalaya
lien Trek * sprrifttitie
i ftvih. infill
Itv srMtlu}
mil tfttiihti ttttt
(ippnxn h m i
tight ftftiipi>n'i}
\htcr tW2
shtUhl BIlllTiMl
highly nlifthit-1
nt-rsoutifir.eii svr\U
ttittttl: et'tittvkti'*
Fm: (MW77 / 14IMIK Tel: 424 Ui. 424 UJ
P.O.Box ti4)H Victim/. Kiilhmmulii
/4 utUque
filft&C fill   &*£
Hotel Bharat
rrW 7*;' %t4&uno«t
Phewa Lake Side, Pardi, Pokhara I 7, Nepal
Tel: 61-26495
Are you ready
Specialist in tours and treks in Nepal, Tibet
including holy Mount Kailash, Sikkim,
Ladakh & Bhutan.
Knrnali Excursions (P) Ltd.
P.O. Box: 4583, Thamei, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 430383, 257748 Fax: +977-1-410583
JtfuCC- service trailing and travel company
A centrally located hotel offering
traditional Tibetan hospitality.
Well-appointed guest rooms with
multi channel TV,telephone and the
only rooftop restaurant in the
valley.Come feel the warmth of
TIBETAN hospitality	
Tibet Resort
Lakeside. Pardi. P.O.Box No, 101 .Pokhara. Nepal
TIBET Tel: +-977-6I -20853. 21553 Fax:+977-125206
nmB.iqp  Email:,np
^>kanqrtlas vioe.* jcuvn&ys.
/(K    -High/ketiHtaln
Qftft WdW
Rafting, treks & expeditions,
Tibet and Bhutan tour
Including Mt. Kailash Trek.
P.O.Box JO! 15. Thamel, Kathmandu
Tel: 425770 Fax:+977-1-425769
E-mail: 4nountam(
 infill Revi&w
Separated at birth
Dayawanti/Ayesha could easily be
a character out of a Gabriel
Garcia Marquez novel. So could
her son Ranamama, and his sister
Subhadra. But this isn't fiction and
they aren't characters in a surrealistic
setting conjured up by a master
writer. Urvashi Butalia draws upon
their stories—of her grandmother, her
uncle and her mother—to start off her
insightful work on the Partition from
the point of view of the people who
lived tt.
The Other Side of Silence is an attempt to deal squarely and honestly
with one of the biggest traumas of
history from a perspective that is traditionally ignored when examining
the division of the Subcontinent in
1947, tbe accompanying displacement of 12 million people, tbe massacre of an estimated 200,000 (the
contemporary British estimate) to two
million (a later Indian estimate)
people, the slaughter that "sometimes
accompanied, sometimes prompted
their movement".
'As always," writes Butalia in the
first chapter, "there was widespread
sexual savagery: about 75,000 women
are thought to have been abducted
and raped by men of religions different from their own (and indeed sometimes by men ol their own religion)."
A major point in the hook is the issue
of wotnen being seen as the repositories of honour and 'property'. The
writer delves into the state recovery
programmes, in which social workers were given lhe task of tracking
down and bringing back Hindu
women to India and Muslim women
to Pakistan, sometimes against the
wishes of the women themselves.
Children, however, were often allowed to stay behind il they had been
abducted, or were the result of mixed
marriages or illegitimate unions—although girls of 13 years or older were
considered women.
Herself the product of a family of
'Partition refugees', Butalia makes the
journey back into that traumatic period through interviews, starting with
those closest to her (Subhadra. her
mother, and Ranamama, the uncle
who stayed behind in their ancestral
Lahore, just 20 miles inside the Pakistani Punjab border) as well as of
those she encounters quite by chance,
like the auto-rickshaw driver with
whom a casual conversation turns
into a deeper dialogue, and the beggar woman who had come from a
small village in (now Pakistani)
Punjab and ended up on the streets
of Delhi.
Concluding his narrative of the.
harrowing journey from Pakistani
West Punjab to the Indian side,
Rajinder Singh, the auto-rickshaw
i          ' wm
mA   OTbbj^EfA   %
The Other Side of
i;y Urvashi Butalia
Villi rig, New Delhi,
INR 295
reviewed by
Beena Sarwar
driver, tells Butalia: "We saw a train-
load of Hindus had been killed and
in Dera Baba Nanak, a trainload of
Musalmaans who had come from the
direction of l.udhiana had been
killed... they killed each others
people... When we got to Dera Baba
Nanak, they said to us, you have come
home. But we thought, our home was
over there. We have left it behind.
How can this be home?" Butalia does
not comment on straight narratives
like these, allowing the interviewees
to just speak in their own unstructured, rambling manner, to allow the
readers to draw their own conclusions, much like the way she herself
"In this wav, 1 moved Irom one
person to another, one story to another, and collected stories, almost
randomly." This method has its limitations, as the author herself admits,
hut it has also given her a great deal
of freedom, including that of structuring the hook in an unconventional
way, which is how she felt most comfortable, given that the interview's do
not fit any particular pattern. Some
ofthe stories are threaded through the
chapters, through references and
quotes, while the lull text of the interview is provided elsewhere. And
through it all is Bulalia's own non-
judgemental voice, questioning,
analysing, reflecting.
In addition to interviews, Butalia
draws upon diaries, memoirs, newspaper reports and documents like
enquiry commissions, letters, pamphlets and books. From these emerge
lhe many different 'voices' of Partition, interspersed with her own distinctive voice.
Although one of the hook's limitations is the writers lack of access to
people on the Pakistani side of the
border (barring Ranamama), the interviews given by people in India
could well have been given by people
in Pakistan. There is no 'good' or 'bad
guy' here—just ordinary people, victims of traditions, circumstances, economic problems, swept along by a tide
they didn't understand. But they are
not always victims. The hook is also
an attempt to come to grips with
the phenomenon of "ordinary peaceable people" having "driven their
neighbours from their homes and
murdered them for no readily apparent, reason than that they were of a
different religious community".
Torn beiween the "desire to he
honest and he careful", the writer
finds no easy answers, but then, she
is wise enough not to expect any. And
she does manage a fine halance between honesty and treading with care.
Although much is left unsaid, it is
clear that the motive behind with-
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
The Explore Nepal Group
BH&™ GWffl
Jitili I] 1
One of the finest and exclusive
Nepali restaurant which
serves traditional cuisine.
Located within the heart
of Dilii Bazar, an old
historical building restored meticulously and
converted into fascinating res- ^,... iw..
taurant with intricate decor, subtle settings and comfortable ambience within nostalgic atmosphere. Traditional
folk music and dances performed in full costume each
evening over savory meals. Bhojan Griha is open every
day for both lunch and dinner.
Instant reservation can be made at:
Bhojan Griha
Phone: 416423, 411603 Fax: +977-1-243250
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp
24 Bedded Luxury Safari Tented Camp
"Birds of Paradise"
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp
P.O. Box 536. Kamaladi, Kathmandu
Phone: 247081, 247079. 248942 & 226130
Fax: +977-1-224237 & 243250
E-mail: explore©
• Boaiing * Fishing • jungle Hikes * Jungle Drive
1 Cultural Excursions • Photographs • Sun Bathing • Swimming
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp- the very luxury safari tented camp within
Koshi Wildlife Reserve offers a unique chance lo experience and view
almost 400 species of bird life and some of the rare endangered wild
games on the most peacefuland relaxing settings found anywhere In
Still unexplored and remote, the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve first
gazetted back in 1979 was mainly established to protect the last of the
remaining rare endangered wild water buffaloes. Today the reserve
extends and the vast expanse of water formed by lhe
barrage has created marshes, iagoons, and mudflats which has favored
to create one of the best and finest bird sanctuaries in Asia.
The camp with 12 large deluxe safari tents with comfortable twin beds
has simple but modern toilet amenities including hot and cold shower,
restaurant with fully stocked Bar.Simple but tasty Nepali and western
cuisine is served on ail occasion. An excellent alternative for nature
lovers who have already visited Royal Chitwan National Park and Royal
Bardia Hunting Reserve.
Special offer for local resident end expatriate. For further information and
reservation contact:	
77\fi7   Kantipur Temple House
A unique property has been created within hearty
of Thamel, Jyatha Tol for visitors who always v       r
appreciate and love the art & culture of
Kathmandu Valley. Kantipur Temple House
has been built with typical architectural
blend of ethnic Newari Temple at
the center of cultural environs of
Thamel Tol, where for centuries
ornate temples and curious street
shrines have thrived to this day.
Kantipur Temple House has 32
rooms all delicately furnished in
true traditional decor with simple
but modern amenities, cozy
restaurant and roof-top terraced
garden with picturesque views of
Royal Palace against the back
drop of mountains beyond the    ."'
northern horizon. A true cultural
experience with warm hospitality	
For reservation and inquiry contact:
Kantipur Temple House
Jyatha Tol, Post Box 536
Phone:250131, 248942
Fax: +977-1-250078
One of the major airlines of Europe has started direct flight from
Vienna, Austria to Kathmandu, Nepal since 24th September 1998.
The Airbus (A310-324) with 213 seat configuration arrives 11:40
hrs. and departs 1300 hrs twice a week.
Austrian Airlines has excellent connections for both Europe and
USA with impeccable inflight services.
For details and inquiries contact:
Austrian Airlines
GSAThe Explore Nepal Ltd.
P.O. Box 536, Kamaladi,Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone: 241470, 247078 Fax: +977-1-243250, 224237
*Note: No Saturday fliabts from December '98 till February '99
OS444-I Thursday       KTM VIENNA 1200 1900
OS4446 Saturday        KTM VIENNA 1200 1900
FLICHTNO                 DAY              FROM 7V DEP ARR
OS4444                        Thursday       KTM VIENNA 1300 1900
OS444* Saturday        KTM  VIENNA 1300 1900
5 v i
holding details is sincere There
is throughout the book a rare sell-
questioning, a conscious attempt to
place people at the centre of events,
to avoid passing judgement or theorising. Many of the insights provided
by the writer are therefore all the more
Starting with her own family,
Butalia finds that there are man)' layers lo a perceived reality because
people prefer to gloss over or forge I
what happened. The complexities of
family relationships can bring people
close, or push them apart. In the case
of her mother and uncle, the writer,
during the course of her research on
the subject of Partition, acted as catalyst and brought them together again
in the lamily house in Lahore, hridg-
ing decades of silence and suspicion.
But, things are not as simple as
they seem. The layers of distrust built
up over the years still remain in this
fascinating human story in which you
suspect a great deal has heen left unsaid because of the writer's strong
sense of ethics and the compulsion
to protect those she has interviewed.
What is stronger, the ties of religion, or of blood or of land? Shockingly, the uncle who stayed behind in
Lahore confesses ihat his new family
(alter Partition, he married a Muslim
and converted to Islam) are strangers
to him and distrust him because ol
his Hindu origin. His children, he
says, tolerate him only because ol his
house—the collateral which was instrumental in enabling him to marry-
in the first place. When he meets his
niece Urvashi, after she seeks him out
on a visit to Lahore, the poignancy of
his situation is revealed when he says,
it is the first time i am speaking to
my own blood."
What ahout his lamily, she asks.
"They are your hlood, not me". "No,"
he said, "lor them I remain a stranger
You, you understand what it is I'm
talking about. That is why you are
here on this search. You know. Even
i) nothing else ever happens, I know-
that you have heen sent here lo
lighten my load."
It is this encounter that triggers
off Butalia's determination 10 complete the book, as il strikes her how
many more people like him have lived
ali their lives with silences, and why,
given these silences, "we, who had
studied modern Indian history in
school, who knew there something
called the Partition of India that came
simultaneously with Independence,
had never learnt ahout this side of it?
Why had these stories remained hidden? Was there no place for them in
history?" Substitute "Indian history"
for "Pakistani history" and the question remains as valid.
Il is not just Ranamama who has
been silent for some four decades. As
Damyanti Sahgal, the dedicated social
worker whose story figures largely in
Silences, talks to the writer, details of
her experiences come as news to her
own sister Kamla. Damyanti's story
also comes across as a microcosm of
the story of so many women whose
lives were disrupted by Partition. Her
account is significant for another reason: her insights and descriptions are,
as the writer points out, "particularly
valuable in retrieving the history of
such violence—rape, forcihle abduction and marriage, and a further violence of the kind perpetrated hy the
Slate in its relief and recovery operation".
Butalia's own questioning includes
what to leave out and what to put in.
and even, indeed, whether she is on
the right track. The questioning is
reinforced when she was asked over
and over again: "Why do you want to
know this? What difference will il
With the same rare spirit of
sell-questioning, Butalia admits that
her own identity (middle class,
Punjabi, half-Sikh) would undoubtedly have a bearing on the way people
responded to her. "What value then
ought I to place on their memory,
their recall? Often, what emerged
from the interviews was so bitter, so
full of rage, resentment, communal
feeling, that il frightened me." Nevertheless, she pushed on. -'simply because it meant so much to me"—an
intensity thai comes across in no uncertain terms in this sincere and em-
pathic work.
Women of the Partition
Borders and Boundaries: Women in
India's Partition is a timely book
for all of South Asia. For the chilling
stories of violence perpetrated during
the partition of India and Pakistan in
the name ol religion, nation, property
and territory, and how women, their
lives and bodies hecame objects on
which this violence and claiming w-ere
played out, have lessons lor countries
negotiating their own partitions and
The authors document and analyse the testimonies of Hindu and
Muslim women who were victims of
partition violence as well as of those
who worked at refugee homes and repatriation services. Women's experiences have hitherto heen marginal,
used in the official histories of the
period. While the issues surrounding
partition violence against women
were widely discussed in the Indian
parliament before the Abducted
Persons Act in 1949, the authors
make clear that the Indian State was
acting in this instance not so much
for the welfare of the women themselves but as a henevolent state rescuing its citizens from the enemy
'Other'—Muslim Pakistan. Women
were pawns in the construction ol
each nation and state.
Documenting and analysing the
experiences ol women of that period
is therefore a particularly significant
project: the testimonies ofthe women
who bore the brunt of rape, displacement, destitution and who sacrificed
themselves as symbols of their families' honour challenge the rhetoric of
nationalism and statehood. They affirm that men and women are constructed as citizens of the nation state
in very different ways.
1998   DECEMBER   HIMAL   11/12
henry visits his old friend sen pinochet in
hospital to see if he could use his considerable
diplomatic skills to get him (pinochet) safe haven
at langley but henry discovers to his dismay
that some Cambodians in Vancouver already want
him (henry) extradited to canada as well
 and you thought you'd seen it all !
"     *P^        :*^%,'
The Hanging Bridge at Rangamati
The colourful tribes
The blue waters of The Bay of Bengal
The unspoiled nature
The traditional tribal flair
The Royal Bengal Tiger
You haven't seen anything till you've experienced the sights,
the sounds and the wonders of Bangladesh.
So what are you waiting for?
Discover it on:
Your home in the air
Casino Nepal
5oaltee Compound
iTahachal, Kathmandu
Tel: 270214,271.011
mail: rip
Casino Anna
Hotel de L' Annapurna
Durbar Marg
Tel: 223479
E-mail: casanna@mos,
Casino Everest
\ Hotel Everest
i New Baneshwor
'Tel: 488100
Casino Royale
Hotel Yak & Yeti
Durbar Marg
Tel: 228481
■mail: -
We b s ite: http :/A/vww. ca s i n os ne p a I. co m


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items