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Nation Weekly May 23, 2004, Volume 1, Number 5 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-05-23

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MAY 23, 2004 VOL. 1, NO. 5
ISSN 1811-721X
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16 Policing The
ByPrakash Sharma
| Conservationists are nervous
that Nepal's sterling conserva-
| tion efforts—revival ofthe
one-horned rhino, for one—will
continue to take a backseat for some
time due to overwhelming security
concerns and political uncertainty.
24 Does Anybody
By Satishjung Shahi
Deportations of Nepalis workers have
almost become a routine affair: angry
newspaper headlines followed by the
customary silence.
26 The Lunch
Hour Rush
By Tiku Gauchan
t •t- Kathmandu is literally littered
J with eateries. That's good news
"■*■_ for office workers.
18 The King and Them
By Suman Pradhan
While the stalemate over the choice ofthe new prime
minister may eventually be resolved one way or another,
the inordinate delay clearly underscores the King's
fundamental lack of trust ofthe parties.
11 The Gall of Gallup
By Yubaraj Ghimire
Why don't pre-poll and exit poll
surveys quite work in India unlike in
western democracies? Casting of vote
in the west by and large reflects
individual choice. In India, and in the
region in general, the individual vote
is still part of a larger 'deal'.
28 Leaders Classified
BySwamim M\hgle
Public intellectuals with formidable
mass support, charismatic and incorruptible: these are the progressives
who are as much at ease in the fishing
villages of Saptari as when sharing
lobster meals with statesmen in Oslo.
This league of leaders, epitomized by
BP Koirala, could have included more.
34 Diversity Unchained
By Ujol Sherchan
The 1990 Constitution was designed to
perpetuate the monolithic Hindu state as
a check against the competing demand of
the 'Diversity' In this respect, the
democracy ushered in 1990 has not been
democratic enough.
36 Bush Begone!
By Samrat Upadhyay
I've called America home for the last
20 years, but since George W. Bush
took office in 2001, and especially
after 9-11, I've lived in a political
30 Who Art Thou?
By Sushma Joshi
The excitement of installation lies in its
novelty, its use of mixed media and its
daring breakage of narrative. In
Kathmandu, installation is still a new art
form, still in the act of destabilizing the
supremacy of painting.
32 Ram Man Dai
BySanjeev Uprety
fRam Man Dai's search for
an all-purpose medical
panacea began in 1960 when
he started experimenting
with various combinations
of ghee, local herbs like saldhoop and
gokuldhoop and fitkiri to create
Himali Malam.
Nation Weekly, The Media House, Tripureshor,
Kathmandu, Nepal (Regd. 113/059-060).
Tel: 2111102,4229825,4261831,4263098
EDITOR: Akhilesh Upadhyay
COPY EDITOR: Tiku Gauchan
STAFF WRITERS: Sushma Joshi, Satish Jung Shahi
PHOTOGRAPHER: Sagar Shrestha
DESIGNER: Raj Kumar Shrestha
Sarita Gautam and Rameshwor Ghimire np
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All Rights Reserved. The reproduction of the contents of this
publication, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the
prior consent of the publisher.
Vol. 1, No. 5. For the week May 17-23, 2004, released on May 17
What Next?
After 11 Tumultuous Months In Slngha Dubai
'Nation looks good but
you will do well not to
ignore issues outside
Kathmandu J f
We prefer to receive letters via e-mail, without
attachments. Writers should disclose any connection
or relationship with the subject of their comments.
All letters must include an address and daytime and
evening phone numbers. We reserve the right to edit
letters for clarity and space.
Fax: 4216281
Mail: Nation Weekly
The Media House, GPO 8975, EPC 5620
Tripureshor, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Nation Weekly, The Media House, GPO 8975
EPC 5620, Tripureshor, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 2111102, 4229825, 4261831, 4263098
Fax: 4216281
Business news finally
despair whether Nation was ever going to do anything remotely related to
"business." The article by Satish Jung
Shahi and Tiku Gauchan on how remittances have fuelled the construction boom in the Valley is timely and
interesting ("A House for Mr. Pathak,"
Remittance, May 16). As the article
points out, little colonies have
sprouted on the outskirts of
Kathmandu and many of these settlements have now developed into a world
in themselves. Dhapasi, Sitapaila, Tikhe
Dewal and Kusunti, for example, have
clusters of houses not just on the
fringes of Ring Road but even quite a
distance away and the neighborhoods
are ever expanding. What the article ignores, however, is similar construction
booms in cities, towns, and tiny highway hubs all over Nepal, particularly
in Tarai—along the East-West Highway,
for one. Then in Biratnagar, Itahari,
Dharan, but also in Chandranighapur,
Lalbandi and Birtamod. A lot of these
houses are built on remittance money.
Whatever little I have seen of Nation
so far looks good but you will do well
not to ignore issues outside
Kathmandu. After all, you have very
correctly raised issues of inclusion in
your paper.
still hoping to return home to Nepal
some day, you should also keep in mind
the tens of thousands of other Nepalis
who are building our houses—and
dreams—in our adopted country. I hope
some day you will have time to write
about us—and our children. We still are
very much Nepalis, though we don't
send money home.
Uprety's compassion
Arts & Society pieces. His humane treatment of ordinary characters reminds me
of celebrated writer Joseph Mitchell's profiles in the New Yorker magazine. Just like
Mitchell, Uprety elevates what could be
boring renditions of marginalized lives by
highlighting the alienated man's will to
survive in the face of overwhelming odds,
and still come out a better human being.
Both the Pheri Jogi ("Not Coming Back
Again, "Arts & Society, May 2) and Buddhi
Thapa ("The Sky in his Eyes," Arts & Society, April 19-25) maintain a faith in the
greater common good despite upheavals.
Uprety's distillations from such narratives
read like compassionate yet earthily funny
documentaries made by an ace director. I
guess some people do possess the third
eye after all.
Thank you
magazine I have been looking for.  I like
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 your "Picture of the Week" section and
book reviews. The political issues are well
covered and there is ample room for those
who aren't interested in politics. A
thumbs-up to the Nation's team.
("More Matter With Less Art," by Ajit
Baral, May 16) was a welcome break.
Indeed, the plays hosted by the International Theatre Institute at Gurukul gave
many of us the opportunity to see entirely different types of plays. Probir
Guha's Alternative Living Theatre was
obviously the star attraction. Committed theatre artists like Sunil Pokhrel do
deserve their share of public adulation.
Thanks Nation and thanks Ajit Baral.
web editions for the last two weeks. As
a Nepali who has spent most of her life
outside the country, news from home
gives me a sense of where I come from.
In the last few years, almost all the major newspapers have been out there for
the asking. Nepalnews started the trail
and you are now the new addition. I
happily admit that I owe my knowledge
of Nepal's politics solely to the Internet
and I don't claim to understand much.
Politics in Nepal seems to have changed
beyond imagination overnight. But I at
least have a handle over larger trends
now. Thanks.
commendable job. You offer balanced
and analytical contents—arguably there
has never been a better time to do so.
Keep up the good work and give us more
thought-provoking reports and articles
on wide range of issues including news
and views from the diaspora like "New
Nepali Dream" (by Yubaraj Acharya, May
We're committed
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nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
the story
the news
 THE      WORLD'S      BEST      CLOTHS
Putalisadak, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel. 4412017, Fax. 977-1-5539787
The Gall of Gallup
Why don't pre-poll and exit poll surveys quite work in India unlike in
western democracies? Casting of vote in the west by and large reflects
individual choice. In India, and in the region in general, the individual
vote is still part of a larger 'deal'
Polls outcome at times throw surprises, especially in countries
where voting is influenced by factors other than politics or issue-
based commitment. The outcome ofthe Indian poll is a classic
example. Not only did it surprise the media channels who had spent
huge sums of money in conducting opinion and exit polls, it apparently
injected a sense of complacency among the projected winners and
demoralized the 'losers.'
Opinion polls on a national scale was first conducted in India by
Pranoy Roy for India Today way back in December 1984. The polls
accurately predicted unprecedented victory for the Congress Party led
by Rajiv Gandhi who was riding high on a wave of sympathy sweeping
across the country after the assassination of his mother Indira Gandhi.
Ever since, opinion and exit polls
have become an integral part of pre-
electoral exercises, but they have
not always been accurate. Whenever the poll results have tallied with
the opinion or exit poll figures, the
factors behind the final outcome
have emerged differently from the
ones projected during the pre-poll
survey. But such opinion poll and
exit poll exercises are known to have
influenced those who are not committed to any party ideologically or
otherwise. And numbers of such
voters run in millions in India.
Some Congress and non-BJP
leaders raised this issue in the form
of disapproval when the final tally ran
counter to almost all the exit polls. In
the final count, the Congress and its
allies cornered more seats—although short ofthe magic figure of
272—far ahead ofthe BJR They accused the media of trying to create an artificial euphoria in favor ofthe
BJR Atal Behari Vajpayee resigned promptly conceding defeat and with
no sign of return to power in the near future. But the opinion poll conductors will continue to get censored.
In fact, some people had tried to seekjudicial intervention to stop exit
and pre-poll surveys on the plea that it would influence voters. But the
Supreme Court decided not to issue any dictate in the domain ofthe
media and research groups.
Why don't pre-poll and exit poll surveys quite work in India unlike
in western democracies? Casting of vote in the west by and large
reflects individual choice. In India, and in the region in general, the
individual vote is still part of a larger'deal.' Even within the family, it's
influenced by men and other patriarchal phenomena. Those who
defy this will not admit to others that they voted for someone out of
free choice. In some cases, the 'mukhiyas' or traditional leaders
even issue 'dictates' in the areas of their hold, and defiance is not an
Exit polls and pre-poll surveys enlist what they have been 'dictated to do,' rather than who they have voted or would be voting for.
Along with this controversy, erosion in credibility of the poll surveyor
is something that will continue
to cast shadow on their future
business prospects. They will
also continue to get grilled both
by losers and winners notwithstanding their projects. The
Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition—the National Democratic
Alliance (NDA)—had begun
demonstrating overconfidence
even during the electioneering,
under the false notion that the
'India shining or feel good factor' had cast a magic spell on
the voters, and that 80-year-old
Vajpayee would lead the country for another five-year term. In
the absence of such a prediction, the BJP leaders would have
I perhaps tried to assess the
g people's mood through party
network and other agencies
which could have been much
more objective and closer to the reality.
On the other hand, the polls prompted the Congress Party to put an
extra effort to improve their prospects. It will be difficult to say how much
this 'warning factor' worked, but the Congress Party even with a mix of
jibes will continue to thank the surveyors.
(Ghimire is the Editor ofSamay)    □
nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
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• Individual Excellence,
• Culture of Living for the Sake of Others,
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Peace rally
The Samata Party attempted to
organize what they called a
peace motorcycle rally during
the second day ofthe five-party
called Nepal Banda on May
11. But the rally turned violent after the five-party cadres
burnt three motorcycles and
beat up some rally participants
at Bhrikutimandap.
Later, the Tata Mobile that
Samata President Narayan
Singh Pun was using that day
had onboard wooden boards
and bricks, apparently to hit
back at the assailants. Pun, a
member ofthe Royalist government headed by Lokendra
Bahadur Chand, hit the headlines after the ceasefire last
January Pun, it turned out, had
been a go-between in the pre-
ceasefire Palace-Maoists talks.
New Machindranath
The builders of the Rato
Machhindranath that ominously fell last month have
their task cut out. They are
trying their best to get the
chariot up and running by
June 4, the deadline set by the
priests who say it is inauspicious to pull the chariot for
quite a while after that date.
The builders then will have
to wait as long as August 31 or
September 5-other auspicious dates-for the annual
chariot-pulling. The Guthi
Sansthan that oversees the
Machhindranath festivities
estimates that the reconstruction will cost an additional Rs.
Civil servants on strike
It's the civil servants now. Taking cue from political parties,
civil servants came out on the
street against the outgoing
Prime Minister Surya Bahadur
Thapa government and regression. Singha Durbar looked
empty with only a few secretaries sitting tight in their office.
Even payment booths of Nepal
Water Supply and Nepal Electricity Authority remained
closed. This is one ofthe rarest
times that the civil servants have
participated in a street protest
against their own government.
Trekking hub
Maoists targeted a tourist
hub, Ghandruk, killing two
prominent locals. Sixty-year-
old Dilman Gurung was the
president ofthe Hotel Owners Association in the area and
31-year-old Ishwore Gurung
ran a telephone booth and
cable television. The killings
occurred on the day the
Maoists had announced a
blockade of the Ghandruk
area. Tourism operators fear
the Maoist action could hit
tourist arrivals in the area
hard. Popularly identified as
a launch pad for the
Annapurna circuit trek,
Nepal's prime trekking destination, a number of hotels
in the Ghandruk area have al-
ready closed down amid
widespread extortions.
Stop the attack
Amnesty International
has urged the
Maoists to stop attacking civilians and targeting
aid agencies. There has been
an increase in the bombing
and ambushing of civilian targets as at least 14 civilians have
been already killed by Maoists
since the beginning of May,
the rights group said in a statement. It also expressed concerns over alleged mass abductions by the Maoists and
called on the Maoist leadership to order an immediate
halt to all attacks on civilians
and uphold Geneva Conventions. The London-based organization also expressed concerns at reports of threats by
the Maoists towards aid organizations. Ten major bilateral
Sahid Smarak standings
Three Star Club leads the
current standing along with
the most number of goals
scored (16) during the ongoing Sahid Smarak Football
League. The Mahendra Police Club is second in the
table with 12 goals but has
conceded none. Both the
teams have won all five
matches played so far. By the
time we went to press, the
Brigade Boys were at the bottom ofthe league table. It had
conceded 18 goals in total.
LIVING LEGENDS: Singers Prem Dhoj (L) :
share a light moment at tha Image Award ceremony
donors last week suspended
their programs in five districts in Far West and Mid
West-Kailali, Jumla, Humla,
Mugu and Dolpa. Canada,
Denmark, England, Finland,
Germany, Japan, Norway, the
Netherlands, Switzerland
and the European Union
said in a joint statement that
the Maoists had issued
threats against a number of
development agencies.
Highland marathon
The second Tenzing-
Hillary Everest Marathon
will take place on May 29.
The 42-km race starts at
Everest Base Camp and the
finish line is Namche Bazaar. The event is open to
all runners (you need a
doctor's bill of health to
participate). Last year, the
marathon took place on
May 19 but from this year
on the event will be held on
May 29, the date of first
Everest ascent. The event is
organized by Himalayan
Expeditions and the entry
fee for a foreigner is Rs.
1,000. Nepalis are waived
the fee.
MAY 23, 2004   | nation weekly
 Walking to exams
The two-day banda last week
was especially harsh for some
115,000 eleventh graders,
most of whom had to walk to
their exam centers. On
Wednesday, after the five-
party alliance refused to waive
off the day's banda, hundreds
of youngsters decided to either walk or cycle to one of
the 56 centers in the Valley.
Cement shutdown
Udayapur Cement Factory,
Nepal's largest producer of
cement, closed down due to
the unavailability of limestone. This happened because
the ropeway that was being
used to haul limestone broke
down. Spare parts for the repairs have to be imported
from Germany.
Poll spillover
India's general elections were
not followed with as much
interest as in the past by
Nepalis, who were caught up
in a fresh bout of political instability that started with
Prime Minister Surya
Bahadur Thapa's resignation.
Observers, however, were
quick to point out one interesting parallel: Thapa's fall
came almost together with his
counterpart Atal Behari
Vajpayee's, though amid
entirely different set of
circumstances. Others were
quick to point out Nepali
King Gyanendra's—growing
ties with India's saffron brigade and asked how BJP's de
parture would be viewed by
King Gyanendra. Most observers however were of the
view that Indo-Nepal ties
will remain unchanged whosoever comes to power in
New Delhi.
Faster Internet
Subisu Cablenet's subscribers
will, within the next week, be
able to connect to the Internet
through the same cables that
bring TV channels into their
homes. That is, if they subscribe to Subisu's cable
Internet services. Cable
Internet, at its lowest bandwidth, is still twice as fast as
the conventional dial-up system commonly used in
Nepal. Subisu Cablenet,
which primarily provides
cable TV service in the
Baluwatar and Thamel areas,
will soon extend its network
all the way upto Patan. Subisu
obtained its cable Internet license from Nepal Telecom in
December last year and competitors Space Time Net got
theirs soon after. Space Time
Net is primed to start cable
Internet services too. Subisu
will charge Rs.2,200 per month
for its Internet services.
More planes in
Flight JA 9W 4107's landing
in Kathmandu last Saturday
marked the beginning of Jet
Airways services in Nepal. Jet
Airways, a private Indian airline company, will have daily
flights between Kathmandu
and Delhi. One-way tickets
for the economy class will
cost Rs. 6,824 and Rs. 8,856
for business class.
Euro 2004
Euro 2004, sponsored by
Carlsberg, brings 16 European teams together next
month. The event already has
Nepali football fans excited.
Hosts Portugal and France,
second in FIFA ranking after
Brazil, are hot favorites. The
free-flowing Dutch team
could be a wildcard in the
quadrennial tournament.
Nepali football fans, however, are expected to root for
England, thanks to the English Premier League's increased popularity in Nepal.
ESPN and Star Sports will
beam the matches live while
it is not yet clear which ofthe
local television network will
get the broadcasting rights.
Another Thapa
ANFA plans to sign up former
Indian international, Shyam
Thapa, as coach for Nepal's
youth teams. ANFA president
Ganesh Thapa plans to rope
in Shyam (no relations) by
the end of this month, according to the Himalayan
Times. The contract will last
for four years. Born in Gulmi
in 1948, Shyam Thapa started
his illustrious career with the
Indian football giant East
Bengal in 1966. Nepal is also
on the lookout for a foreign
coach for its national team.
Nepal finished sixth in the
SAF Games early this year, its
worst showing in the regional Games.
DIPLOMATIC LICENSE: UN vehicles ferry their employees during the banda last week
nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
Conservationists are nervous that Nepal's sterling conservation efforts—revival of the one-horned rhino, for one—will
continue to take a backseat for some time due to overwhelming security concerns and political uncertainty
Last month, security forces at
Tatopani made a huge seizure of ti
ger skins from a Tibet-bound
truck. Many quickly remembered three
major hauls made at the border post between 1989 and 1999: elephant bones
weighing 1,040 kg, and 115 of kg and 218 kg
of shahtoosh, a fine wool extracted from
necks of Tibetan antelope or the Chirus.
The news however got drowned
amid the din of street protests in
Kathmandu where wildlife officials voice concern that the poor security situation has contrib-
uted to growing instances of poaching and
possibly growing volume of trade in animal
parts, too. They and
other conservationists
are nervous that Nepal's
sterling conservation efforts-revival ofthe one-
horned rhino, for one-
will continue to take a
backseat to overwhelming security concerns
and political uncertainty.
"When we have a
deep political crisis in the
country," says a senior official at the Department
of National Parks and
Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), "the
traders become active. They find new
tricks and discover new routes." And when
15 people are dying each day, deaths of animals draw far less attention.
Kathmandu has
become so
infamous for the
trade of parts of
species that shops
openly sell coats
made from
leopard, tiger and
snow leopard
While documents show that almost
all the border points between Nepal
and India have recorded illegal wildlife
trade of some kind or another, in the
north, the trade is concentrated in
Darchula, Taklakot, Lo-Manthangs in
Mustang, Sankhuwasava, Taplejung and
And despite frequent seizures, like
the one in Tatopani last month, the economics of demand and supply continues to fuel the trans-border trade. Oriental medicines made
from tiger bones and
other animal parts are
widely consumed in
China and in places
with large Chinese
communities the world
over. The contrabands
are said to provide remedy for a wide range of
problems; the tiger
bones and rhino horns
are believed to work as
Oftentimes, wildlife
watch groups say, the
illegal traders operate
in the guise of regular
trans-Himalayan traders.
"Lhasa is a major
center for the trade in
in wildlife goods and
in Sigatse the trade is thriving," says
Mangal Man Singh, a journalist, whose
new book, "Trading for Extinction,"
documents the movement of animal
parts from Nepal to Tibet.
From the market to the jungle, it's a
long chain of command. Poachers, who
are active in and around the protected
areas, target everything from the one-
horned rhino in Chitwan and Bardia to
the Royal Bengal tiger to the Himalayan
bear to different species of deer. The
contraband then passes different layers
of middlemen before it hits the road. At
times, Nepal is just a transit.
"The main problem," says Shakya,
who heads the Kathmandu-based Wildlife Watch Group, "is that Nepal shares
porous borders with India and China."
While officials and experts may decry
the movement of animal parts, stopping
the trade is a very complex affair. The
other problem is the lack of awareness
about wildlife contrabands among offi-
cials-the police, and officials with the
forest, customs and security agencies.
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
ur uijjj:j/j£j
Smuggling techniques are ever
changing and police and customs officials have little experience in monitoring illegally
traded wildlife products. Evidences suggest the officials are
largely unable to detect the illegal trade due to lack of training on identifying the smuggling techniques like the concealing of musk pods in butter
vats or the inserting of tiger
bones in cigarettes.
"This lack of knowledge has
meant that trade in wildlife is
going unabated," says Shakya,
who insists that trade is "going
right under the nose of law enforcement authorities" in some
posh neighborhoods ofthe capital. His book lists areas where
wildlife traders are operating
and how the trade is thriving.
Kathmandu, according to
Shakya's new book, has become
so infamous for the trade of parts
of different endangered species
that shops openly sell coats made
from leopard, tiger and snow
leopard skins. Such shops-in
Thamel and on the premises of
fancy hotels-also sell python
skin handbags and shoes, and
ivory-carved bangles. It's been
14 years since the government
banned the sale of such wildlife
Nepal already has at least four legal
regimes discouraging and banning such
trade, says a wildlife expert preferring to
remain unnamed. "But the law enforcement mechanism is so ineffective and
corrupt that the smugglers easily make
it through the border points no matter
who guards them," he says. You can, for
example, wrap a shahtoosh shawl and
pass through the Tribhuvan International
Airport undetected.
Deputy Director at NPWC, Narayan
Poudel admits policing wildlife trade can
be costly and complex. "We are working
to chalk out a new strategy to stop the
illegal trade via Nepal. But we need
highly skilled, sincere and motivated informants. And we need plenty of financial resources for that." That is a luxury
wildlife officials are not going to enjoy
i anytime soon,  n
  While the stalemate over the choice ofthe new prime minister may
eventually be resolved one way or another, the inordinate delay
clearly underscores the King's fundamental lack of trust ofthe parties, particularly their leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal and Girija Prasad
Koirala. On the other hand, the delay has already heightened suspicions among political parties that the Palace is not going to let go off
its executive powers anytime soon, and even if it does, it won't be
;y for the parties to keep them
^—^^   ^ ^^^     an otherwise uneventful Tuesday
^j    ^^^Br  ^B   tne ^irst ^ °^tne tw0_day banda
M I called by the five-party alliance last
m      WI week,   the   Western   Gate   of
^^^^^^L ^^ Narayanhity was abuzz with activities. King Gyanendra had summoned former Prime
Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, leader of the Rashtriya
Prajatantra Party (RPP) Pashupati Shumsher Rana and
leader of the splinter Nepal Sadbhavana Party Badri Prasad
Mandal for separate audiences. Journalists and photogra
phers waiting to hear from the Royal
invitees jostled for space and sound bytes
as the trio emerged one by one to air
their opinion. The King is not averse to
a joint meeting with the five parties, they
said. He would soon call them for just
such a meeting. The next day, it was the
turn of Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Marich
Man Singh Shrestha and Kirtinidhi
Bista—all former prime ministers.
Again they emerged from the Royal Palace to say that a resolution ofthe current
stalemate was just round the corner.
But the corner kept moving away all
of last week. By the time we went to
press, days after the resignation of Surya
Bahadur Thapa, and numerous meetings with contenders, spoilers and advisors, the King would not bring himself to do the one thing the political
parties wanted: call them for a joint
Outside Kathmandu, there were
ominous signs that the Maoist rebellion
was turning increasingly violent. The
rebels made numerous strikes—in
Bhojpur, Dhading, and Mainapokhari—
killing more than a dozen security personnel and at least six civilians, perhaps
to capitalize on the fluid political situation.
While the stalemate over the choice
ofthe new Prime Minister may eventually be resolved one way or another, the
inordinate delay clearly underscores the
King's fundamental lack of trust for the
parties, particularly their leaders Madhav
Kumar Nepal and Girija Prasad Koirala.
On the other hand, the delay has already
heightened suspicions among political
parties that the Palace is not going to let
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 go off its executive powers anytime soon,
and even if it does, it won't be easy for
the parties to keep them.
The gulf between the Palace and the
parties was evident all week. The
Palace's various emissaries made
known that the monarch is averse to the
18-point demand put forth by the parties as their precondition to meeting the
King. Their demands include bringing
the Army under the purview of parliament, giving no discretionary power to
the King, and cutting down Royal privileges and perks.
The Palace emissaries also told in no
uncertain terms that the King is averse
to appointing either Nepal or Koirala to
head the next government. "I think the
King would like the parties to put forth
names other than Koirala or Nepal," says
a RPP leader who is close to the Palace.
"He doesn't trust the duo."
The five parties, who've overcome
initial grumbling and remain united as
of now against a common adversary, want
to hear none of that. "It's not for the King
to select the prime minister," asserts
Amrit Bohara, the CPN(UML)'s powerful Kathmandu Valley coordinator and
the party's Standing Committee member. "This is what we are fighting for. He
should call the five parties and hand over
power to the prime
minister selected by
the parties."
In the first few
days after Thapa's resignation, the five parties, which have been
spear-heading an
anti-King movement
for the last one year
were hopeful that
they would be asked
to form the next government. The party leaders even met at
Koirala's residence in Maharajgunj on
Wednesday to forge a common agenda
to discuss with the King. But the exercise proved futile.
The five parties,
who've overcome
initial grumbling,
remain united
against a common
By late Thursday, as it became clear
that the Palace was intent on dragging
out the stalemate, the parties were in
full battle mode again, ordering their
supporters and various affiliates to "intensify" the street protests to force the
King's hand. "Only a few days ago, I was
summoned by my
top leader who
asked me to tone
down the street agitation to create the
space for reconciliation with the King,"
says a student leader
who asked to remain anonymous.
"But now the same
leader is ordering
me to intensify the
At this point in the crisis, both sides
are playing a risky game. As the nation
awaits a new government which can
strike peace with the Maoists, many ana-
nation weekly |  MAY 23, 2004
 vwer a
Ng pal Investment Bank
^ Debit Card
'444-5302,444-5303 or visit your nearest branch office.
It has how become
the Nepal Investment Bank debit card.
A card that works like cash and stands in as your ATM
card. Besides, debit card is far safer than carrying cash.
Your NIB debit card will ensure that you have Kathmandu
in your wallet.
; time   in   IXIe
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 lysts think the Palace appears to be following a strategy of divide and rule.
Much like his father did in the early years
ofthe Panchayat, King Gyanendra, these
analysts say, seems to be trying to wean
away politicians from the opposition.
As a result, the Nepali Congress has
become increasingly suspicious of its
one-time star, Speaker Taranath
Ranabhat, who hasn't helped himself by
questioning the parties' movement. "As
much as I respect him, I don't think he
can have the backing ofthe party now,"
says Dr Ram Sharan Mahat. And there
are other supposed fence-sitters, such as
K P Sharma Oli of the CPN(UML),
though Oli himself denies it, saying he
wants to be more a leader of the party
than of a Royalist government. There is
also talk of a technocratic government
comprising former Supreme Court justices.
While these maneuverings go on, an
early equation which seemed to be developing between Deuba's Nepali Congress (Democratic), the RPP and UML,
also seems to have hit a snag. Though
RPP's Rana is trying hard to forge the
alliance, the UML doesn't seem to be in
the mood now, especially since its mass I
of cadres are dead against any splitting of |
the five-party alliance.
"This is not about who becomes the prime minister," asserts Rajendra Rai,
the president ofthe UML's
student wing ANNFSU.
"It's about where sovereignty lies. The five parties
have remained united and
they will continue to be
This leaves Deuba in the
contention. As it was his
government which got
sacked in October 2002,
Deuba has long since argued that the King must restore his government if the
"regression" is to be corrected. But in recent days,
he has changed his tune.
Deuba now says if his government cannot be re-instated, then he has no problems with an all-party government as is being demanded by the five parties,
in effect putting more pressure on the
King to compromise.
But the King does have an ace up his
sleeve in the form of Krishna Prasad
Bhattarai. Ever since Bhattarai met the
King last week, rumors have been circulating that he could be picked as the
next Prime Minister. Indeed, even the
Deuba Congress is not averse. "We
haven't discussed it formally in the party
yet, but we won't have any objections if
Bhattarai is made the Prime Minister,"
says Dr Mrinendra Rijal, the press and
publicity chief of the NC (Democratic) .
If the King is seeking to cut down
Koirala and Nepal down to size,
Bhattarai offers the perfect opportunity.
As a widely revered senior Congress
figure who ably led the country during
the difficult transition from Panchayat
to democracy in 1990-91, his appointment, if it happens, is certain to put the
Congress in a bind. They can't publicly
oppose him since he is one of their own,
and they can't support him either because he has not been nominated by the
five parties.
This leads to the ultimate question:
will a Prime Minister nominated by the
King, even if it is someone ofthe stature
of Bhattarai, be able to
bring the parties on a
track of reconciliation
with the Palace? Perhaps
not. For, as the five parties have maintained
throughout, they are not
against any individual but
against giving the King
the right to make executive appointments.
The parties have it
simple. Says Bohara ofthe
UML, "What we want is
that the King should nominate a prime minister selected by the five parties.
That Prime Minister will
form an all-party government, which will then revive the Pratinidhi Sab ha,
make peace with the
Maoists, discuss amendments to the constitution
and only then hold elections based on the new
constitution."    □
nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
■/- «t'; -
.-. ▼■
JOB SEEKERS: Long lines in front of the
Egyptian Embassy for visa interviews
Deportations of Nepalis workers have almost become a
routine affair: angry newspaper headlines followed by the
customary silence
Fifty-four Nepalis made headlines
last week and for all the wrong rea
sons. All were deported from Malaysia on charges of holding fake visas.
Possible casualty: a bilateral labor accord
to be signed by Nepal and Malaysia. Malaysian authorities now say that the accord will materialize only after the visa
scam is resolved.
Back in Nepal, the government has
responded by locking up all those deported as it busted a visa racket at the
Malaysian Embassy in Kathmandu,
though Malaysian officials continue to
deny any kind of involvement of their
staff. For their part, the manpower agencies, who handled the documents for the
Malaysia-bound Nepali workers, maintain the documents are legal and that the
workers didn't know their visas were
fake. Trade unions are furious.
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 "This is only one harassment that
Nepali workers have to go through," says
Bishnu Rimal, secretary-general of General Federation of Nepalese Trade
Unions, GEFONT "In most cases, the
government is caught unawares even
weeks after newspapers report of
Nepalis' trauma in foreign countries."
To officials, it has all become almost
a routine affair. Deportation of Nepali
workers, angry newspaper headlines and
the customary silence.
On February 7, 45 Nepalis got
stranded at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport while they were trying to
enter Malaysia, where laws require local employers to be present at the airport to claim responsibility for incoming foreign workers. Three months on,
government officials in Kathmandu still
offer no explanation when asked why no
one showed up at the airport to receive
the hapless Nepalis.
Nepal now has an embassy in Kuala
Lumpur and another one close by in
Bangkok but that hasn't helped matters
much. GEFONT's Rimal adds, "The government as usual is parroting the same
words—that they have akeady read the news
in the press. But what are they doing?"
Hopes were high in early 2001, when
Malaysia put Nepal among its top labor
suppliers. Others in the list include Cambodia, India, Kazakhstan, Laos, Myanmar,
Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. The then Minister, Palten Gurung, flew to Kuala
Lampur to convince Malaysian authorities to open up an embassy in Nepal to
make things easier for Nepalis headed
for the East Asian country. Last year,
Malaysia started providing a 14-day visa-
on-arrival to Nepalis.
The number of Nepalis working in
Malaysia has gone up ever since and is
7. "    '       r
r,     *    iM I     I 1
estimated to be above 100,000, though
the last government figures stand less
than 500. Still, most Nepalis in Malaysia, as in neigboring Singapore, are said
to be working illegally—mostly in construction, farming and in shopping malls.
This partly explains why the Nepali
workers get into trouble. Though a legal
provision requires prospective workers
to obtain permission from the Department of Labor, there are many who reach
East Asia without putting anything on the
government records, officials say. The
remittance from the region, including
Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan and Macao,
in 2001 was estimated to have reached
over Rs. 23 billion, according to government records.
Qatar Airways and RNAC last April
introduced direct flights to Kuala
Lampur in view of the growing numbers of Nepalis traveling to the region.
Both Qatar and RNAC now fly to Kuala
Lumpur two times a week and tour operators say the flights are running full
with group seats booked by manpower
companies. With the country's security
situation in dire straits, the figures are
bound to go up.
Disturbingly, the number of labor
problems has also sharply increased.
Most complaints include difficult job
conditions and exploitation by middlemen. Many ofthe Nepali workers who
go abroad are not well versed in the rigorous paper work and legal procedures
that foreign employments entail, says
Ganesh Gurung, executive chairperson
of Nepal Institute of Development Studies that has carried out research works
on migrant workers.
Groups of Nepalis following a single
"leader" are common sights at the airports of Bangkok, Kuala Lampur, and
Doha. "Most of them are flying for the
first time," says Rimal of
GEFONT. But the hardship
does not end here.
Most workers take up difficult jobs and work under the so-
called '3-D' conditions—difficult, dangerous, and dirty—and
they are willing to do anything
for a meager income, says a study
Though the government
made an important decision a
few years ago to post Labour
Attaches in places where more than 5,000
Nepalis are employed, the decision
hasn't translated into action yet.
The Foreign Employment Act 1985
has been amended twice in 1989 and 1998
to clearly define the role of foreign employment agencies in order to avoid
problems for workers. A 2000 study
points out that the Act has focused only
on the control and regulation side of foreign employment while ignoring the all-
important issues related to the welfare
of migrant workers.
"The precise role ofthe Department
of Labor, the Royal Nepalese Embassies,
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commercial banks, immigration and the police need to be clearly demarcated," says
Gurung of Nepal Institute of Development Studies. "It will take a lot of time
but something has to be done right away
to avoid the kind of fiasco that took place
in Malaysia recently."    □
nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
There are thousands of professionals who lunch out regularly Kathmandu, after all, is literally littered with eateries.
That's good news for office workers
Prasanna Banskota and his colleagues
at Lumbini Bank eat out almost ev
ery working day. When the 31 -year-
old supervisor in the bank's credit department wants to pick a place for lunch,
he has a plethora of choices before him.
The bank is located bang in the heart of
Kathmandu's restaurant district—
Durbar Marg—and everything from Hot
Breads and Delicatessen to Dudh Sagar
is open game.
And even though summer is here,
when conventional wisdom cautions
against eating out, Banskota says he will
not forgo his lunch-about-town. Last
week's record-breaking temperature
highs hardly broke his habit and the continuing heat wave will probably do nothing to blunt his appetite.
There are thousands of professionals
like Banskota who lunch out regularly.
Kathmandu, after all, is literally littered
with eateries. That's good news for office
workers. And the fact that office workers
turn out in droves to haunt restaurants,
chiya pasals and momo-joints during their
lunch break is good news for the restaurant industry too.In these troubled times,
the lunch-hour is what keeps the popular
restaurants in business. Shiva Ram Khatri,
the owner of Bagmati Sweets in
Tripureshwore, figures that the lunch hour
crowd makes up more than 70 percent of
his clients.
Try to find a table at the Downtown
Restaurant in Pulchowk between noon and
2 p.m., and you'll probably have to cool
your heels while the early birds finish their
meals. Across town at Everest Momo Center in Naxal, you may be relegated to sitting with your momos on a bench parked
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 outside the eatery, for want of available seats
inside. At the Amazone restaurant near
Durbar Marg, be prepared for a scramble
from the parking lot to the tables if you
want to enjoy their pork curry and rice.
Why this mad rush during lunch
hour? Maybe it's because, increasingly,
the typical eight-hour-day at the office
seems to be packed with more than 24
hours worth of work; and lunch hour is
the only time when you can let it all hang
out. Meeting deadlines, putting up with
clients' demands, and making sure all
your ducks are lined up in a row just like
the boss wants it can be taxing. So to compensate, office workers need to indulge
themselves. "What better way to indulge
yourself than through your taste buds?
As it is, there is nothing else you can do
that is as much fun in the span of an hour,"
says Ravi Shrestha, an executive at
Amadeus, a French firm with its country office in Kamalpokhari.
It's not just the young upwardly mobiles who find reprieve at their watering
holes during high noon. Everyone—government employees, middle-aged small-
scale business owners—all cherish their
afternoon time out. Sushil Shrestha, proprietor of Wallstreet Money Changer at
Thamel sees lunch time as an opportunity to sample new fares offered by the
many restaurants in the tourist district.
And no, he says, it doesn't bother him that
he spends quite an amount during lunch
even when businesses like his may not be
doing so well these days, given the lower
turnout of western tourists post-1996. At
Bagmati Sweets, government employees
who work at the Agricultural Development
Bank and National
Sports Council line all
the benches. Bagmati Sweets, where one
can enjoy a puri, tarkari and jalebi meal
for Rs. 15, is a major crowd-puller. These
government employees would rather eat
here than bring lunch from home.
Bringing lunch from home is a no-
no for the young upwardly mobile crowd
too. Other than a wallet and a mobile
phone, carrying anything else would be
a hassle. For the young upstarts at private
companies like Lumbini Bank, who earn
around Rs. 11,000 a month, spending
more than Rs. 2,000 on lunch alone is not
exactly a wise choice. But many of these
graduates come from affluent families,
and spending such amounts on lunch is
no great shakes. Most live with their parents and don't have to worry about paying for rent and utilities.
"Everest" has
become a generic
tag for momo
In fact, there seems to be a trend catching on among the smartly attired young
office workers. Ravi Shrestha, for example, often meets up with friends who
work in other offices, and together on
their motorbikes, they
zip to various restaurants spread across the
town. Depending on his
mood, you might find
him at a Newari-food
restaurant in Sorakhutte
or riding all the way to
Patan to try bara near Krishna Mandir.
Rajesh Ranjitkar, who works for Lomus
Pharmaceuticals in Lazimpat, makes it a
point to swing by Everest Momo Center
in Naxal at least six or seven times a month
during his marketing runs.
Loyal customers like Ranjitkar have
kept Everest Momo Center in Naxal
thriving. Started 15 years ago, Everest
Momo today dishes out at least 400 plates
of momos a day. With a plate of momos
costing Rs. 20, the eatery is a hit with
office workers. The restaurant is so
popular that its brand name, "Everest,"
has become a generic tag that's been
adopted by other momo restaurants,
much like Xerox signifies photo copy
The more upscale restaurants are
doing well too. Pulchowk's Downtown
Restaurant, located in prime INGO-
land, is now almost three times the size
it was 14 years ago when it set up shop. It
has expanded not once, but twice, to
keep up with the customer flow With
the security checks and commuter
hassles at night, there is less of family
night outs happening, and the lunch hour
is a blessing for the restaurant owners.
The talk is the same all around town.
You only need to see the number of
white-coated doctors at Tidbits near
Teaching Hospital, the people queuing up
at the samosa shop inside the bahal near
Tip Top Tailor's or try to get a leg in at the
sardine-packed New Dish in
Khichapokhari to figure out that the lunch
industry is on high gear. Like most ofthe
urban populace elsewhere, the lunch-
crowd proves that to enjoy your downtime during a hectic day, feed your basic
instinct. The lunch hour rush will not let
up, economic downturn or not. Like
Prasanna Banksota says, "No matter what,
we have to eat well. And that's that."    n
 Writing on the Wall
Public intellectuals with formidable mass support, charismatic and incorruptible: these are the progressives who
are as much at ease in the fishing villages of Saptari as
when sharing lobster meals with statesmen in Oslo. This
league of leaders, epitomized by BP Koirala, could have
included more. The leaders who come close are Madan
Bandari, Subarna Shumsher and Ganeshman Singh
Whoever the new Prime Minister,
the rot in governance appears so
grim that any immediate difference in quality will be marginal. But
that's less of a point. A larger issue today
is about creating and nurturing real
people's rule in a peaceful Nepal; en-
cluding the recent five-party posturing,
have been about getting closer to such a
resolution. How, then, are our "people's
rulers?" What are their defining characteristics? Can this stock teach anything
Here's a citizen's report card:
Grade C (4 out of 10): Leaders in
this grade were in office, but never really in power. Their authority was derived from the Palace, which has run
the kingdom for 40 ofthe past 54 years.
Type I—Matrika Koirala, Tanka
Acharya, Kirti Nidhi Bista, Lokendra
Bahadur Chand—were decent people.
But they were picked for being weak
and loyal, to maintain the status quo,
which they did to the best of their ability under their patron's shadow. The
Type II—Tulsi Giri, Surya Bahadur
Thapa, Marichman Shrestha—were
stronger, but less honest. Zealous in
their pursuit of protecting their regime
at any cost, they compromised on principles and dived deep into the murky
waters of realpolitik. How would the
unsullied Giris and the Thapas ofthe
1950s have evolved if they hadn't joined
the Panchayat? The problem in politics is we can rarely resort to counter-
factual logic.
Grades B (6 out of 10): These leaders resent the Palace's hold on to absolute power, and have fought to transfer
sovereignty from the crown to the
people. Better democrats in theory than
in practice, they nonetheless fight elec-
suring that ordinary folks from Rautahat
and Dadeldhura get to rise, fall or stagnate in public life, and govern only with
the mandate of those being governed.
This is how it was supposed to be since
1952, when Matrika Koirala, born into
privilege, but not nobility, became the
Prime Minister. Although the idea of
thrusting leadership upon men (rarely
women) by the accident of birth is dated,
there has still not been a conclusive resolution of this issue in Nepal. Benignly
interpreted, events in 1990 and after, in-
useful to future leadership? Or, are we
doomed like the Nepali proverb.joonjogi
aayepanikanaichireko (all fakirs have their
ears pierced)?
tions, mingle with the masses, and
claim to represent their interests best.
While they erred gravely when they had
their chance in the 90s, their badge of
honor remains their willingness to
subject themselves to constant voter
scrutiny and battering. As the King's
experiments of the past two years
showed, the technically competent or
the morally upright can be handpicked,
but without a popular base to land on,
they are like hot air balloons at the
mercy ofthe slightest gust of wind.
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Type I leaders of Grade B had integrity and intellect, and they compensated
their lack of mass-appeal with strength
of character. Manmohan Adhikari and
Krishna Prasad Bhattarai belonged to this
group. Ramchandra Poudel would like
to be an heir of this pedigree. Notwithstanding a series of misjudgments that
his peers say has cost him credibility,
there used to be a time when Taranath
Ranabhatt was also one of them. With
limited support among cadres though,
the elevation of Type I to the top is always conditional on their shaky dependence on the
Type II and the
Type III. This is
where it gets
dodgy. The Type
II are people
like Sher
Bahadur Deuba
and Madhav
Nepal who
popular constituencies, are
educated and
exposed to the
world—but are
Shailaja Acharya,
Mohan Bikram Singh,
and Rajeshwore Devkota
are fun to watch but
practically worthless
Grade F (2 out of 10). This is a depressing wasteland. Populated by the occasionally brilliant, leaders here are voluntary exiles in cloud-cuckoo-lands.
They sulk all the time, and relish being
counter productive. At the better end of
this grade are assorted Puritans like
Shailaja Acharya, Mohan Bikram Singh,
and Rajeshwore Devkota whose outbursts are fun to watch, but practically
worthless. On the left end of the spectrum are the violent types like Pushpa
Kamal Dahal. They evoke anger and despair in people who would like to see
them do better.
Grade A (8 out
of 10). Public intellectuals with formidable mass support,
charismatic and incorruptible, these
are the progressives
who are as much at
ease in the fishing
villages of Saptari as
when sharing lobster meals with
statesmen in Oslo.
Epitomized by
Bishweshor Prasad
Koirala,    Madan
ultimately mediocre in the art of wholesome leadership. Kunwar Indrajit Singh
would have belonged to this group, and
so does Pashupati SJB Rana. The Type
III, strong and resolute, too, lead constituencies that are forces to be reckoned
with, but they are less worldly—a handicap if and when they actually make it to
the top. Also vulnerable to venal, damaging blunders, Type B-III is best resembled by Girija Prasad Koirala. Possibly, Bamdev Gautam and Khadga Oli are
lesser approximates.
Bhandari could very well have made it
if death hadn't intervened. Subarna
Shumsher and Ganeshman Singh almost make it to this league, the latter
for his courage and sheer sense of purpose.
Miracles rarely happen—emergence of national saviors in shining armor breezing through Putali Sadak is
as illusory as the sighting of the Yeti.
But we can create systems that help
today's student leaders, who in all likelihood will grow to occupy major pub
lic offices tomorrow, become more effective players. Largely non-
Kathmandu males from caste, as well
as ethnic, middle-income groups, educated in public colleges, these young
leaders already resemble their Grade
B siblings. Our civil society's hope and
duty are to help them graduate from
Grade B to Grade A, nudge them
through sustained pressure to avoid
unlawful trappings of public office like
corruption and patronage. This stain
avoided, there are many good elements
they could pick from each of our past
leaders. Like dining table etiquette and
good reading habits, some worldliness
can always be acquired. What seldom
works, however, is the edict: "Thou
Shalt Behave Better." Our new leaders
will thus need the integrity to design
party rules, constitutional limits, and
legal codes for institutional check-
and-balance to self-police their errant
The Bhaktapur leader Narayan Man
Bijukchhe once remarked after seeing
idealists ofthe 80s easily turn corrupt in
the 90s: "We used to be honest, but it
seems, that was only because we didn't
have opportunities to be dishonest." Let
us not hope that today's grandkid politi-
cos will be better than their grandpas.
Let us—the cliched civil society—help
ensure they are.    □
nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
 Arts   Societ
Who Art Thou?
The excitement of installation lies in its novelty, its use of
mixed media and its daring breakage of narrative. In
Kathmandu, installation is still a new art form, still in the
act of destabilizing the supremacy of painting
Big signboards painted on fabric
greeted the viewer with this ques
tion last week in Babar Mahal
Revisted: Who art thou? Usually, the
answer would be: Thou art part of the
expatriate crowd, the upper middle class
and the poor journalists who frequent
the openings at the Siddhartha Art Gallery. This gathering, fortunately, was a bit
more mixed—it had attracted a substantial number of people from the Nepali
art world, along with little girls decked
out in fashionable outfits who had come
to view their cousin's art opening.
Sujan Chitrakar, the artist, has published an entire text to accompany his art-
mation. In between, they thought long and
hard about the question of life, which
seems to have led them to the "mystery of
man" as envisioned by Fyodor
Dostoyevsky Even Dostoyevsky however,
might have been alternatively baffled and
amused by what his words had inspired.
The final art products, which must be seen
to do them justice, are polished, technically sophisticated and full of the chutzpah that would make them equally at home
in New York City as they do in Kathmandu.
The excitement of installation lies in
its novelty, its use of mixed media, its daring breakage of narrative. In Kathmandu,
installation is still a new art form, still in
the act of destabilizing the supremacy of
works. The text, titled "Utopian Introspection: Random Expressions within
Defined Periphery" is heavy reading, but
as you read along you get flashes of insight,
kind of like a hammer hitting a nail on the
head. Sujan Chitrakar, along with colleagues Salil Subedi, and Saroj Bajracharya
seemed to have spent a lot of time introspecting in front of mirrors, musing on
the concept of nails and hammers, and arranging votive earthen diyasin perfect for-
painting. In western countries where art
has fallen over the edge, climbed up and
mutated every season since then, installation itself is starting to take on a dated look
and feel. Walking through a gallery in New
York City, one starts to see installations
that evoke deja-vu of a genre, like seeing
yet another Monet inspired painting on a
McDonald's wall.
Paintings may be "sooo last season!"
but in spite of it all, old media (paint and
canvas, photographs, film) are here to
stay. Perhaps the reason why traditional
media has stuck around for so long is its
coherence, and accessibility. The challenge with installation, as with any other
art form, is to capture this magnetism
that keeps certain media like paint, photography and sculpture solidly entrenched in the popular imagination.
The other challenge is more difficult—indigenizing a borrowed form.
Chitrakar makes liberal use of recycled
tinned milk cans as prayer wheels. In a
corner ofthe gallery, one can find a panel
pasted with objects that inspire memories—trinkets and junk one can only find
in Nepal. As a viewer, I wished there
had been more of these playful, juxtaposed forms that play with the notion of
Nepal and Nepaliness, and less of the
shiny hammered and nailed works that
carry the stamp of generic transnational
art that fill the main gallery.
The enthusiasm of the artist dispels
any confusion. Sujan Chitrakar is direct,
engaged and intense as he talks about his
art., an online
website that is part of this exhibit, is a
satire on how meditation
is being commercialized
and being brought
straight to the home, like
take-away food. His
mixed media work include within them symbols of four religions—
Islam, Hinduism,
Christianity and Buddhism. He feels it is important to be introspective, and create an Utopia
within oneself, and not
look outside for this divine place. He wants to
share this idea with his
A work of art is the interface that allows a viewer to commune with the
thoughts and ideas ofthe artist, its creator. Like "Being John Malkovich,"
Chitrakar's Utopian Introspection often
gives the viewer entering the caverns of
his thoughts more than they bargained
for. Taking the advice ofthe artist then,
perhaps the best thing to do after a viewing is to sit down, take a deep breath, and
introspect.     □
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
  Arts   Societ
Ram Man Dai
Ram Man Dai's search for an all-purpose medical panacea began in 1960 when he started experimenting with
various combinations of ghee, local herbs like saldhoop
and gokuldhoop and fitkiri to create Himali Malam
Ram Man Dai is 76-years old. Born
near the temple of Pashupatinath,
he comes from a family of bhandaris
who have been assisting the bhattas, the
main priests of Pashupatinath for generations. In addition to fulfilling his obligations as zbhandari, the last 40 years of
Ram Man Dai have been consumed by a
singular passion: that of preparing
Himali Malam, an all-purpose ointment
which, he claims, cures diseases ranging
from itching skin to indigestion. In addition, Himali Malam cures sleeplessness, reduces tension, strengthens heart
valves, purifies blood, heals warts and
rashes, prevents premature ejaculation
and induces energy and hope to the tired
and depressed minds.
Ram Man Dai's search for the medical panacea began in 1960 when he started
experimenting with various combinations of ghee, local herbs like saldhoop
andgokuldhoop mdfitkiri to create Himali
Malam, a white ointment that could be
applied externally to the body or could
be swallowed with water to heal inner
malfunctions. Encouraged by Narahari
Acharya, the well known if slightly controversial spiritual guru and an interpreter of ancient Sanskrit scriptures,
Ram Man Dai's experiments continued.
He added the golden dust of a specific
type of shankha to his connotations and
worked late into the night to perfect a
cure that would heal everything from
high blood pressure to faulty kidneys. It
was only in 1970, 10 years after he first
began his experiments, that Ram Man
Dai felt confident enough to go public
with his invention.
Mostly optimistic in his outlook,
Ram Man Dai has recently turned into a
bitter, disgruntled person. In his apartment near Kailash Umakunda temple
near Guheshwori—the place where he
first began the experiment leading to the
production of Himali Malam—he explains how his family house near
Pashupatinath was taken over by the
municipality without any compensation.
Ram Man Dai, a proud descendant
of the bhandaris and the inventor of
Himali Malam, is now forced to live in a
rented apartment with his wife and two
daughters. "I spent my entire life trying
to perfect the technique of Himali
Malam to help the people of this nation,"
he complains bitterly. "Is this a way to
reward common people like me who
dare to dream not only for themselves
but for the entire country? The politicians and leaders of this country lack real
energy and vision, they are often impotent and incompetent."
He goes on to describe how during
his experiments he realized that the human body was a collective whole rather
than a collection of individual parts. The
important thing was to find a cure for
the total human being. The diseases of
the heart were related to the malfunc
tions of bowels and kidneys. Skin ailments were the consequences of faulty
blood and digestive systems. He then
extends his metaphor to point out how a
holistic approach to solving problems
seems to be lacking on the national level
as well: Opposed to the "holistic" approach of people like Ram Man Dai, the
leaders and policy makers ofthe nation
were trying to seek temporary solutions
to the national problems ranging from
poverty to terrorism to bad governance.
One singular permanent solution to the
national ailments was yet to emerge.
He keeps up his rant as he walks
around Pashupatinath. But when he
nears a small pond within the Kailash
Umakunda temple complex, Ram Man
Dai brightens up and a warm toothless
smile lights up his creased old face. His
innate optimism and sunny outlook towards life is returning. This, after all, is
the place where his journey began, the
site where he first mixedgokuldhoopwith
r-^^^^^^— ghee and dreamed of
creating an ointment
that would heal both
body and mind. He ex-
plains how, afterthees-
tablishment of multiparty democracy in
1990, he departed
slightly from his earlier practice of preparing a singular ointment for all diseases by
trying to make medicines that would heal
specific diseases. The
national atmosphere
of widespread enthu-
5j siasm and hope provoked the creator
within him, leading him to experiment
with new materials.
"In the last seven years or so I have
worked hard to invent a new medicine,"
he says. "An energy boosting tablet that
improves memory and concentration,
cures impotence, and increases sexual
pleasure. I am hoping that politicians,
businessmen, leaders and other powerful and rich people ofthe community
will come and buy my tablets. If they do,
then my hopes of building and living in
a house of my own once again might
come true."    D
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Pail of the Came
. J
Official Sponsor of Euro 2004
To win attractive prizes log on to
 Through the Looking Glass
Diversity Unchained
The 1990 Constitution was designed to perpetuate the monolithic
Hindu state as a check against the competing demand ofthe 'Diversity.'
In this respect, the democracy ushered in 1990 has not been democratic
The Nepal Development Forum 2004 is over. Mind if I propose a
Nepal Diversity Forum in a country where the only diversity focus
many Nepalis have known in the last few years is the Diversity
Lottery? Here's why.
"Unity in Diversity," which underpinned the divide-and-conquer strategy ofthe past regime, is no more. The 1990 Jana Andolan undid all
that. It, for instance, unchained 'Diversity' from the shackles of stifling
'Unity' by opening the floodgate of pent-up frustrations and desires of
the peoples, which continue to find more visible expressions in a proliferation of civil society, media, political parties, street demonstrations,
and clamors and demands for rights of all sorts.
However, the multiparty system that rode to power on the back ofthe
democractic movement for over a decade singularly neglected the agendas ofthe 'Diversity,' or ofthe peoples, thereby creating an opening for the
Maoists to hijack them. This partly explains the ascendancy ofthe Maoist
movement. Not surprising, given the gross under-representation of janjatis,
adivasis, dalits, women, and minority
groups (who together comprise over
eighty percent of the population) in
the Nepali polity: the government, civil
service, and civil society.
Marginal ization or exclusion on this
scale is nothing new. The attempts of
past rulers or the emerging modern
state to 'unify' diverse peoples of var-
ied races and of even more
ethnicities, tribes, cultures, languages,
and religions under one monolithic
Hindu structure under one hereditary
king through conquest, thedraconian
Muluki Ain, and the Panchayat system had exactly the same effect.
In actuality, the 1990 movement
was a power struggle between the upper-caste leadership ofthe political
parties, and the rulingThakuri King. A
twin achievement of this movement—
multiparty democracy and constitutional monarchywith army on its side—
has been a convenient power-sharing arrangement, a compromise. The
Constitution was designed to perpetuate the monolithic Hindu state as a
check against the competing demand ofthe 'Diversity.' In this respect, the
1990-ushered democracy has not been nearly democratic enough.
Against this backdrop, the multiparty system dominated by Nepali
Congress and CPN (UML) could hardly be expected to function prop
erly, much less carry out far-reaching political reforms that entail sharing or devolving of power, or modifying the power structure to be more
accommodating. What it instead did while in power was replicate the
structure of its predecessor—the Panchayat system—characterized
bythe exclusive dominance of upper-castes in the government and
civil service as well as its twin culture, nepotism and corruption. Today
the multiparty system is atoning for its sins on the streets, and increasingly realising that without the support of the peoples it is difficult to carry the day. Politics is unforgiving that way: what you couldn't
secure for all or denied others, you can't keep for yourself for very
long either.
Although the Nepal Development Forum is over, donors can still use
their clout to push for the creation of a more inclusive and sociallyjust
Nepal. They can do this, for instance, by constantly pressuring the
government to undertake reforms so that it, and the civil service increasingly reflect the sociologies and demographics—the diversity—of their
beneficiaries at all levels. They can likewise pressure the civil society
institutions, including the NGOs, and
the grassroots organizations, that
they routinely fund. Truth is: the dominant structure and the culture surrounding it—the marginalizing
forces—have a tendency to replicate
across the polity and at all levels, and
have. The donors can check this disturbing trend by calling for diversity
policy wherever possible. This can be
a good first step.
Moreover, the Nepal Diversity
Forum can serve as a non-partisan
platform to bring the disparate disadvantaged groups or any other social group together as a unified voice
to influence mainstream political
debates. Truth is: the elected governments ofthe past didn't address
their issues, and there is little reason to expect them or the Palace-
appointed all-party government to do so. And the Maoist leadership
is only interested in using them as cannon fodder. Therefore, this is
no time for these groups to continue to be islands onto themselves,
or lone cowboys. Instead, they can come together under one umbrella to amplify their clamors and demands for what they have been
denied for too long. They must come together in a show of-you
guessed it-the peoples' version of 'Unity in Diversity.'    n
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 CITY:ThisWeek :£L
Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Lazimpat Gallery Cafe,
For information: 4428694.
True Romance, May IS
'True Ftamanoe'' ts anything but
your typical lowe story. After all,
when you have a movie based on
a script v.Tftten by Quentin Tarantjno
(of *Pulp Fiction"and "Reservoir
Dogs" fame), yo.j know you are in
for a quirky, vdent, high-energy
dranra where love has to be found
somewhere between ihe llashirg
film-frames. In "True Romance,"
Clarence (Christian Slater), and
Alabama {Palncia Arquette) are
newiyweds for whom t"ioneymoon
means runni ngfiom both the
DetoiL mob and the police.
The unnamed protagonist of
"Fight Club," played by Edward
Norton, is the archetypal yuppie
with a nice but boring Irfe. To
escape his 9 to 5 existence and
let off steam he joins therapy
groups. But when fie meets Tyler
Durdcn, played by Brad Pitt,
Norton discovers real therapy.
Durden takes hirn on a wld nde of
rebellion both against the self and
society. A great movie to help
you rewire your safe-concepts
Fun and Food
Organized by UN WO to help
the underprivileged. Date:
May 22-Venue: Hyatt
Regency, Baudha,
For information: 4491234-
All That Jazz...
Presenting "JCS Trio" & The
Sest Of Jazz In Nepal, Venue:
Fusion Bar. DwariKa's Hotel,
Time: 7 p.m. Price; Rs. 555
(includes BBQ dinner, a can
of beer/soft drinkj. Every
Friday. For information;
Drum Circle
Bring yourdjembe, madal,
dholakorjusta plain gourd
shakcrand jam with Bobby
Gurung and Sanjay Shrestha
Venue: Moksh.
Every Tuesday 7p.m.
Entry fee: Rs. 150.
GALLERY 9 'Transrormafjans": Ah
exhibition of paintings by Sushma
JosW. Opens May 25.
Afternoon Jam
The best of R&B and House-
Venue: Club Platinum, Hotel Yak
&Yeti.Time:2p.m. -7 p.m.
Attire: Smart Casuats. Every
Saturday Entrance: Rs. 300
{Ladies), Rs. 400 (Gents), Rs.
500 {Couple),
"Faces and
of Nepal"
Photo exhibition at the same
venue on Gender, Sexuality and
Discrimination, Event hosted by
the Blue Diamond Society: Till May
23.For information: 4428694.
"Utopian Introspection": A multimedia Exhibition by Sujan
Chitrakar. Till May 28. For information: 4218048.
Buddha": Photographs by
Godam Choi. Till May 20. For
information: 4441689,
A selection of Mani Lama's
photos is being exhibited at
the Saturday Gate, Boudha.
Lama is one of the most
well known senior Nepali
photographer. He learned
his art in the United States
and teaches photography-
as-visua I-anthropology to
American students from
the Urifversily of Wisconsin and Cornell University
at his studio in Lazimpat,
Lama has also been working as a photographer for
most of the INGOs in
Nepal for decades. Saturday Cafe lies adjacent to
the Boudhanath Stupa, occupying three floors of
space. The first floor also
serves as a boutique within
the cafe. For information:
ration weekly | MAY 23, 2004
 Sense   Nonsense
Bush Begone!
I've called America home for the last 20 years, but since George W.
Bush took office in 2001, and especially after 9-11, I've lived in a
political nightmare
All right, I'll come clean. I'm interested in the Abu Ghraib prison
scandal because I see a ray of hope: George W. Bush might be
gone in November presidential elections. It's not that I don't feel
for those prisoners—hooded and wired for potential electrocution, dragged
on a leash, performing mock fellatio on their colleagues, cowering naked
before vicious dogs—but I had depleted much of my compassion on
earlier images, shown on alternative U.S. media, of injured and dead
Iraqi civilians when the "shock and awe" invasion began last year. Now
my compassion has taken a backseat to the galvanizing possibility that
we might get rid of this president once and for all, and the United States
could end this nightmare and start to heal.
I've called America home for the last 20 years, but since Bush took
office in 2001, and especially after 9-11, I've lived in a political nightmare. I'm tired of this president's manipulation ofthe post 9-11 fear
among Americans, most of whom are very nice people, with great openness and honesty and integrity. I'm tired of a president who pronounces
"nuclear" as "nucular," who says he gets his political advice from the
Great Father above. I'm tired ofthe so-called Patriot Act that treats all
immigrants as potential terrorists. I'm tired
of a president who expresses "deep disgust" at the photos, then in the next
breath commends his defense secretary
for doing a "superb job." Before the
prison abuse scandal, it seemed that
many Americans would go wherever Bush
would take them, not asking questions.
Those who dared to challenge were called
unpatriotic or traitors.
There's a thing in America called "supporting our troops." You see banners with
this slogan hanging outside store windows. Churches that dot the midwestem
town where I live declare: Jesus is the
Son of God We Support Our Troops. The
words emerge from the mouth of politicians like Vedic incantations. Even those
vociferously against this war feel compelled to support the troops, "This war is illegal, immoral, and wrong. I
oppose this war, but I support our troops, those brave men and women
of our military who give up their lives for our freedom."I don't know what
"support" means anymore. How can you be against the war, but support
the troops (and by extension what they do)? The opposite is even more
baffling: how can you support your troops by sending them to die for a
dubious war, letting them think that they're fighting to "liberate" the
The prison photos have changed the American mood—you can smell
it in the air. There's horror at the thought that Americans could inflict such
acts on the very people they'd gone to set free. A recent poll has nearly
80 percent Americans upset bythe photos. Even members from Bush's
Republican party are now casting doubts about the war's success. Sad
that it's taken this longfor the reality of this bloody misadventure to sink
in. Sad that no horror and furor arose when Iraqi civilians were bombed
out of their bazookas before Baghdad fell. Blame the mainstream media, which deliberately chose not to show those images. One prominent
television anchor said showing images of Iraqi civilian casualties, now
surpassing 10,000, would be "tasteless." Embedded journalists, who
used the language ofthe military and frequently referred to Iraqis as
"enemies," further blurred the line between reporting and propaganda.
Military analysts, on the payroll ofthe television channels, presented
precise detai Is of attacks and counterattacks and offered strategic advice on how to win the war. An Orwellian nightmare.
But the truth is emerging, in snapshots of torture so vivid and compel-
lingthat it's hard not to make comparisons to the images that helped
end the Vietnam war, another "quagmire" that haunts America today: a
young girl screaming bumingfrom Napalm, a Vietnamese general about
to shoot a man at point-blank
range. The deceptions of
^P   I1 IVI '       ■( Bush's government keep pil-
¥■    ^Jll 'Jt- ing up: no weapons of mass
_"    "If       t        t^^m     destruction, no mission ac-
J1' V^H^^^     complished, no direct Al
,W^HI Qaeda link, no happy and forever-grateful Iraqis, a stupendous war budget ($150
billion by next year). And now,
photos of torture and laughing, thumbs-upping torturers.
During the Bush-Gore presidential debates in 2000, I
recall a moment in the Cleveland hospital where my
daughter was born. Having
just brought dal-bhat from
home for my wife, I paused
to watch the debate on television in the hospital lobby, and I remember
thinking: I hope my daughter will not emerge into her birth country with
Bush as her president. I had an intuition, just looking at his face, that
he'd degrade America.
My intuition has come true. And now I find myself praying to my Great
Father above, good old Pashupatinath (who I'm sure has broad global
authority) that come November, Americans will whisper to Bush, "Dumbya,
you're fired."    □
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
Vacancy Announcement
The International Committee ofthe Red Cross (ICRC), an
independent humanitarian organization whose mandate is to
provide protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict
and internal disturbances has regularly vacancies for:
Your tasks
■ Oral interpretation: from Nepali to English, and English to
Nepali during confidential interviews with persons detained in
prisons, ICRC institutional dissemination and visits to families
of detainees
■ Written translation: translation of written Nepali (newspaper
articles, correspondence, etc.) into written English
■ Analysis and reporting: analysis of conditions of detention,
general situation and other matters relating to the ICRC's
Selection requirements
■ Ideal age: 25 to 35
■ Either single or prepared to accept an unaccompanied
posting of at least one year
■ University education or 5 years of professional experience
■ Excellent command of English, French an asset
■ Familiarity with word processing and spreadsheet software
■ Driving license (a license for automatic-transmission
vehicles only is not sufficient)
Your Profile
■ Strongly motivated by humanitarian work
■ Open-minded and adaptable, able to work in a team
■ Neat appearance, good speaker, well-developed writing
and summarizing skills
■ Able to work under pressure in a potentially dangerous
■ Ready to travel to remote areas all over Nepal on a regular
What we offer
■ An opportunity to help the victims of conflict
■ Engrossing, rewarding work in unusual situations
■ Ample support in integrating into the new working
How to apply
Interested candidates are invited to send their CV with a cover
letter, a recent photograph, copy of certificates, a contact
telephone number and the ICRC application form (available on
the website ) to the following address:
Laurent GISEL
Deputy Head of Delegation
International Committee ofthe Red Cross
Meen Bhawan, Naya Baneshwor
G.P.O Box 21225, Kathmandu
Phone: 4482 285/4492 679
Design various print publications
published by the organization.
Efficiently market the various publication and
services offered by the organization.
■Ascription to the publications
)acTive and energetic candidates
.perience in similar field are preferred.
Interested candidates call 2111102 or
(Enclose CV and covering letter)
career opportunity
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nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
No Longer A Voice
In The Wilderness
Long before the western media started splashing
stories of American abuse in Iraq, people like
Milan Rai were spearheading the anti-war
movement in Britain and the United States. His books,
"War Plan Iraq," "Regime Unchanged" and
"Chomsky's Politics" have been hailed
by academics as required reading for
anyone who wants to understand
today's wars. "War Plan Iraq" has sold
more than 20,000 copies and had been
translated into eight languages. In 2002,
BBC World Service's web site ran a
series of Rai's anti-war columns. His
work has been published and discussed
in The Times (London), the Japan
Times, and the American political
weekly, Counterpunch. Rai, who was
awarded the Frank Cousins Peace
Award for Research by the Transport
and General Workers Union in England in 1993, was one ofthe first activists to break the sanctions against
Iraq by taking medicines into Baghdad.
He talked with Sushma Joshi of Nation
Weekly about his work on Iraq, and his
impressions of the similarity of the
situation in Nepal. He lives in Britain.
What similarities do you see between
Iraq and Nepal's present situation?
There are lots of parallels. In my book,
I write about how the Iraqi armed resistance has been fueled very largely by
feelings of revenge of unpunished killings by occupation forces. I don't claim
to know a lot about the situation in
Nepal—I don't follow events closely
here. But I feel there are a lot of similarities here. In both Iraq and Nepal,
you cannot take the U.S. government's
commitments to freedom and democracy at all seriously.
What changes have you seen since
the last time you came to Nepal?
I was last here four years ago. There's a
lot more militarization and urbanization. The atmosphere is very brittle.
You've advocated non-violent methods of resistance for Iraq and Britain.
What would you suggest for the current political situation in Nepal?
My sense of it is that there are much more
opportunities to be explored, like non-violent interventions for justice and freedom.
You've written a book with Noam
Chomsky, one of the most well-known
leftist intellectuals of the west.
Do you have a personal relationship
with him?
I asked him if I could use an essay by
him, and he agreed. I wouldn't say it's a
very personal relationship. I have met him
four or five times. I interviewed him for
my first book "Chomsky's Politics."
I feel there are a lot of
similarities here. In
both Iraq and Nepal,
you cannot take the
U.S. government's
commitments to freedom and democracy
at all seriously.
What were your impressions of him?
Chomsky is one ofthe great minds of
our generation. I was not just influenced, but revolutionized by his ideas
on a whole range of issues. On a personal level, he's an incredibly unassuming and approachable man. We have a
culture of celebrity. We treat some
people as superhuman and some as less
than human. He doesn't have that to
tuns MJtiHir 1'jf.p.
You've been regarded by the Nepalis
as one of their own, even though you
have concentrated your activism and
spent most of your life in Britain.
I felt a sense of inferiority as an Asian
when I was young. Fortunately, I got over
those feelings. Reading about the
achievements of other Asians helped me
in this process. It is important to identify with the people you respect.
Which experiences helped you to get
over your internalized racism?
I read the autobiography of Malcolm
X, which helped me to find my own
path. A book about the Chinese Revolution called "Red Star Over China"
was also very influential to my development. This book talks about the
time before the revolution took off in
China. Obviously the Chinese revolution has problems, but one can learn
a lot from it.
Has the western notion of Iraqis
as "terrorists" lessened since the
war began?
Since the war, there's been another
current—anger and bewilderment
from people who don't understand
why Iraqis are fighting the coalition
forces. People are feeling a bit stuck
about how to respond. There are pro
and anti-war people on both the Left
and the Right. There is a very confused
picture in the west regarding Iraq. If
the war continues, the potential costs
to the Iraqi people and the wider world
could be quite high. Now the United
States is putting a "sovereign" Iraqi
government at the end of June. It's a
new mode of controlling the country,    n
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Maoist Movement of Nepal: A Selected Bibligraphy
Writings on Nepal's
Maoist movement
have kept pace with the
history of the insurgency. Some writings
precede the movement
and serve as a context for
studying Nepal's contemporary political history. All these writings, in vari
ous languages, lie scattered in periodicals, books and reports. "A selected Bibliography" brings together key writings
from English and Nepali from various
sources, including the Internet. It provides a basis for works by future researchers and writers concerned with
the movement and Nepali politics in
Trading For Extinction
Despite Nepal's obligations to pro
tect its wildlife under the Convention on International trade in Endangered
Species of Wild flora and Fauna (CITES)
, shatoosh from the endangered Tibetan
antelope safely land in the United States,
Europe, the Middle east, Hong Kong and
Australia. A number of traditional Asian
medicines (Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic
and Yunani) continue to be manufactured from wildlife products like musk
pods, bear gall-bladders, tiger bones and
other animal parts. Similarly, rhino-
horns, ivory and crocodile skins reach
wealthy consumers in the Middle East
and Japan.
The Nepali media has covered a
number of anecdotal stories relating to
wildlife trade, but there
has been no systematic
pursuit to disseminate
factual information
through investigative
journalism. It is heartening to see a journalist
like Mr. Mangal Man
Shakya create a niche for wildlife reporting by undertaking dangerous journeys
to remote areas and inside the secretive
circles of trade links to investigate the
workings ofthe trade. This experience
has enabled him to come up with "Trading for Extinction," which should prove
an important point of reference for conservationists.
Conflict, Human Rights & Peace
The National Human
Rights Commission
(NHRC) came out
with its publication,
"Conflict, Human
Rights & Peace: Challenges Before Nepal"
on January 21. Edited by
Dr. Bipin Adhikari, the
book features a compilation of articles and papers presented in
a lecture series organized by the National Human Rights Commission in
2003. The book is dedicated to the human rights leader late Rishikesh Shah.
Prominent contributors to the book in
clude the Assistant Secretary General to the
United Nations Kul
Chandra Gautam, international scholar
Johan Galtung and the
former Resident Representative of the
UNDP in Nepal, Dr.
Henning Karcher and
the NHRC's Sushil Pyakurel. The book
also analyzes the international experiences of conflicts in Guatemala and Sri
Lanka and draws pertinent lessons from
these experiences amid the ongoing conflict in Nepal.
Singer Nalina loves short stories and
popular magazines. She wants to read
longer works but her hectic schedule-
studio recordings and live shows-do not leave
her with much reading time. She says she'll
probably have to start reading in snatches soon,
to catch up on the books she wants to read.
Favorite short stories:
Bhenajuko Sweater, Jhagadako Okhati
Favorite book:
Basai, Muna Madan
Favorite writers:
Bal Krishna Sama and
Bhimnidhi Tiwari
Preferred reads:
Mostly magazines-Wave, Aaaha Sangeet,
Mystic, Samaya, Himal, Nepal
Currently reading:
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Earliest reading memories:
Tintin, Archies, Chacha Chaudhary,
Betaal comics
nation weekly |   MAY 23, 2004
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A Suitable PM
King Gyanendra and the political
parties have been at loggerheads
ever since he dismissed the
elected government of Sher Bahadur
Deuba in October 2002. If anything, their
subsequent meetings have only made
matters worse. The story is: the King listens patiently to party leaders, explains
to them that he is deeply committed to
multiparty democracy, and even has some
of them leave Narayanhity with the happy
thought that they are the King's choice
for the new prime minister.
But as it has so far turned out, the
King does not seem to be taking them
seriously. On two occasions—once after the sacking of Sher Bahadur Deuba
and later after Lokendra Bahadur
Chand's ouster—he pointedly refused to
anoint the five parties' prime minister-
designate after what looked like numerous rounds of cordial talks with the leaders.
So this time round
when the King invited
party leaders for talks
to the Palace after
Surya Bahadur
Thapa's resignation,
the five-party alliance
quickly set their conditions. First, the
King has to make a
public announcement
that sovereign rights
have been handed
back to the people,
and second, they are
not going to meet the
King separately (and
fall prey again to his
seemingly divide-
and-rule game plan).
Critics of the political parties offer
an interesting spin to the story. The rationale behind meeting various personalities is simple: keep the irate politicians engaged in a guessing game even as
the King looks for ways to resolve the
insurgency. The thinking seems to be that
for the people suffering from years of
violence, it wouldn't matter who is in
Singha Durbar so long as they got what
they wanted—peace. Return to normalcy
holds primacy over democracy. And the
plan seemed to work when the Chand
government pulled off a ceasefire, taking everyone, including the political parties, by surprise.
But the fact is even though non-representative governments can take tough
measures, their hands are tied when the
status quo is threatened. The ceasefire
collapsed last August when the government refused to give in to the Maoist
call for a constituent assembly. In hindsight, it was never possible for the Thapa
government, appointed by the King, to
even discuss a constituent assembly and
open the proverbial Pandora's Box,
though an increasing number of Nepalis
now say constituent assembly is a progressive move. This could be why the
Palace fears the return of rule by the sovereign people. But perhaps the more sensible thing for the Palace to do is to court
the political parties and present a united
front against the republican calls made
by the Maoists. That remains a possibility even now, but who knows what will
happen when the students' rallying cry
against the monarchy is taken up by the
parties themselves.    □
MAY 23, 2004   |  nation weekly
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The Resort, Windy Hills,
Nagarkot, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Tel:6680045-47/80/83 I Fax:6680068
Hotel Ambassador, Lazimpat,
Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel:4414432, 4410432
E-mail: ambassador@am


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