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Nation Weekly April 19-25, 2004, Volume 1, Number 1 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-04-25

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25, 2004 VOL
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Team Nepal
Cover Story
16 14 Years Later
Party protests aren't getting anywhere but that doesn't
mean people are happy with the status quo. The sooner the
King and parties make peace, the better.
Market pundits say
I consistent display of
[ quality is the key to
attracting bigger
22 Ominous Rumbles
There are signs that the Indian
position against the Maoists is hardening. And it's as much due to the alleged
Maoists attacks against Indian vehicles
and nationals in Nepal, as it's due to
India's growing realization that the
Maoists can be a serious trans-
boundary menace.
24 Hushed
The King appealed to
all parties to help
organize elections.
His lofty ideas,
however, don't seem
to impress political heavyweights.
26 Song of
By Swarnim Wagle
In this day and age, why should we be
beholden to norms, institutions, and
symbols in our statecraft in a manner
that gives the impression that what we
are holding on to, if let gone, would
violate all sanctity?
9 Rebels With a Cause
By Amanda Snellinger
In Nepal, vandalism is physical evidence
of what the current government ignores:
the stalemated political situation and
lack ofjustice. And it shows that people
are not currently interested in the state,
or at least not in state property
32 When Rights
Go Wrong
Byjogendra Ghimire
Human rights advocates put the
security forces and the insurgents on
the same moral and legal plane; and
though they blame both the parties,
they especially up the ante against the
security forces.
34 Anthropology and
By Sondra L. Hausner
Together, anthropology and
development might be able to break out
of their isolated states, and actually help
Nepal improve its social and economic
6      LETTERS
12   NEWS
Art & Society
28 Phalano
The Everyman: For readers tired of the
same old write ups in the papers
everyday, K.C.'s flashes of insight into
the Nepali ethos provide both a
welcome break and a catharsis: they
offer a glimpse of the way things are and
for once people can laugh at the expense
of the high and mighty
30 The Sky in his Eyes
By Sanjeev Uprety
For Buddhi Thapa the entire universe is
a play of vibrations; energies that
pervade not only solar systems and
galaxies but also run through each leaf,
each blade of grass: a mystical motif that
forms the basis of his spiritual
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 JungShahi
PHOTOGRAPHER: Sagar Shrestha
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CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Nripendra Karmacharya
SUBSCRIPTION: Ashish Bhattarai
PUBLISHER: The Mirror Media Pvt. Ltd
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PRINTING: Variety Printing Press, 4278869
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.
E-mail: subscri
Nation Weekly, The Media House, GPO 8975
EPC 5620, Tripureshor, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 2111102, 4229825, 4261831, 4263098
Fax: 4216281
After five months of planning, we are finally hitting the
stands, with a certain degree of apprehension about our
market prospects but a great deal of excitement about how
we are going to approach our news coverage.
Perhaps the question we have been asked most is: is it the right
time to start a new venture, and a newsmagazine at that? We really don't know. We have got into the business with the spirit of a
venture capitalist. We are starting out with a five-member editorial team but have set high standards for ourselves. We are a small
newsmagazine with an overwhelming purpose: to help our readers make sense of these extremely confusing times. We will try
our best and let you decide whether our efforts have been good
Nepal's media market has become very crowded in recent
times. We are encouraged by the fact that scores of young people
have made journalism their full time career ever since Shyam
Goenka started Kantipur Publications in 1992, when just about
everybody dismissed his efforts to start a private media house as
a bad business move. Kantipur defied all naysayers and went on
to write its own history—perhaps the greatest success story of
post-1990 Corporate Nepal. In doing so it unknowingly served
one huge purpose that Mr. Goenka may never have thought of:
it pushed press freedom to a new height and secured the rights
for generations of journalists to come. And that has only come
about the hard way. To be sure, Article 13 of the 1990 Constitution guarantees press freedom, but that doesn't mean a thing
unless it is established through rigorous exercise. The Constitution has guaranteed a lot more, but you only have to look at
the mess around you to appreciate the remarkable development
of Nepal's media.
No matter what, we are firmly convinced that press freedom is
here to stay. And in similar vein to the spirit that defined the early
years of Kantipur, we would like to think that good journalism is
also good business. As for the crowded media market, we say: Let
a thousand flowers bloom.
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
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 anda Snellinger
Rebels With a Cause
ff    r
at are the legitimate forms of protest in a democracy? At
present this is a valid question in Nepal. The Nepali people
have become familiar with techniques of public protest that
many different factions have exercised in the last 14 years. So as the
students proceed in typical fashion, the public is not shocked, although
they may be slightly inconvenienced. Of these different forms of protest,
the one that has fascinated me of late is the vandalism that the students
are engaging in as an extreme-as well as extremely efficient-tactic.
One may wonder, as I have, whose attention they are vyingfor. How
does destroying public property further their cause? And on a more
abstract level, what does this all symbolize? I am surprised to find that
students don't expect to gain the current government's attention with
these displays. I had it explained to me in cynical fashion by a student
leader that the current government's actions are so shameless that
such forms of protest don't even faze them, much less move them
toward restoring democracy.
The government does not listen even if thousands come into the
street; they certainly won't listen to the smashing of bricks and glass, or
smell the burning of tires
and effigies. But the
people hear it, smell it,
and reroute themselves
to avoid airborne bricks
and raised lathis.
What does the public
think of such exhibitions of
force? Wei I, for every ve-
hicle destroyed, a new
one must replace it, and
during the replacement
process, the politicians
have a new opportunity to
swindle the public through
theircorrupting, non-transparent practices. It also reemphasizes that security is a faint memory with
a dubious future, both inside and outside the Valley.
The students understand this fact and they realize that they lose
legitimacy in the eyes of the people by carrying on as hoodlums, yet
they continue. As a student leader admitted this to me, he swiftly
countered his own analysis by claiming that the students' acts are not
unsolicited—the police brutality began the cycle of destruction. This
state violence laid fertile ground for the environment of student vandalism. From this perspective, vandalism can be contextualized within
an all too common trend in Nepal: at each display of power, the other
side ups the ante.
I have also heard the justification that if the current government does
not follow the law, then why should the students? They should not be
held accountable to a legal system that was rendered futile by a series
of unconstitutional acts. So if Nepal falls into a state of complete anar
chy, I would like to make the claim that the root cause can at least be
dated to October 4, 2002.
Acts such as vandalism cannot be analyzed within a moral sensibility.
It is neither right nor wrong but a reaction that tangibly signifies the
systematic flaws of society. In Nepal, vandalism is physical evidence of
what the current government ignores: the stalemated political situation
and lack of justice. And it shows that people are not currently invested in
the state, or at least not in state property. These sorts of self-destructive
protests happen all over the world.
Thinking about this within my own national context, I am reminded of
the littering and high crime rates in low-income neighborhoods in cities like
New York. Many people have not been given reason to trust the state; they
are jaded by a history in which their voices were suppressed. So rather
than participate in a legitimate democratic process that was set up for
them to airtheirfrustrations, these frustrations manifest in counterproductive ways that reduce the
quality of life in their community.
Currently in Nepa
people don't even have a
democratic system in
which to dispute the political situation legitimately,
so vandalism comes as no
At least here, it is not
directed at the private citizens but rather targets the
source of the frustration:
the state. These state vehicles represent a history
of corruption, first by the Panchas, then by the political parties, and
now, again, by the Pancha leaders.
The students are the new generation and their acts of semantic and
physical destruction are more than just a testament to their rage—they
are opening up a new space in which they can publicly criticize the
current government, which may lead to change. Perhaps the destruction of a faulty government's vehicles today will be the destruction of
those faults tomorrow. And those who are responsible for destruction
today may be responsible for creation tomorrow. Unfortunately, there is
no one who has enough legitimacy in Nepal to manufacture any consent in favour of or against the students, so the non-political public will
continue to be passively cynical until something much larger than vandalism happens.
(Snellinger, a Ph.D. student from Cornell University, specializes in
Nepali student politics.)    n
 T^e ruby-bearing occurrences
may be founb in tl?e northern
D^abing District of central
Nepal. T^e doumar anb Kuyil
deposits are tl?e two largest
deposits anb tl?e enbs of a geologic
c\)dm t(?at includes more tl?an a
dozen smaller deposits.
Hotel Ambassador, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 4442939 Fax: 4422130 Email:
Protest politics
It has been over two weeks
since the revamped and
increasingly violent new
round of the five-party
protests started—supported
by unions representing
everyone fromjournalists,
human rights activists,
teachers and even the RPP
and Maoist supremo
Prachanda. The NC
(Democratic) led by Sher
Bahadur Deuba is the latest
addition to the ongoing stir
although the Nepali
Congress does not want the
splinter party to join them
on the streets. Meanwhile,
the Home Ministry has
declared key areas off-limits
to public gathering. Even
King Gyanendra's return
from Pokhara and his New
Year's Day request to parties
to commit themselves to
elections haven't changed
Baidhya's Indian links
Mohan Baidhya, the Maoist
leader arrested in India on
March 29, says that the
Maoists have a working
relationship with the
Kamatapur Liberation
Organization, a rebel outfit
active in Assam and West
Bengal. The KLO is fighting
to carve out a separate
Kamtapur State comprising
six districts in West Bengal
and four districts in Assam.
Baidhya, reportedly the
second in command after
Prachanda in the Maoists
ranks, was arrested in
Siliguri. He will be pro
duced before the court on
April 22.
Nepal on top
Nepali youngsters successfully defended their title at
the recently concluded 2nd
AFC Under-14 Football
Festival held at Dashrath
Rangashala. With a total of
183.86 points Nepal
remained a comfortable
51.42 points ahead of their
closest rival, India, at the
tournament's end. In their
last match Nepal held India
to a 1-1 draw. The football
festival featured six nations:
Nepal, India, Pakistan,
Bhutan, Uzbekistan and
VAT lottery
To encourage consumers to
demand VAT bills and
businesses to register with
the VAT office, the government has decided to extend
their VAT lottery scheme
across the country. The
earlier scheme, run within
the Kathmandu Valley, has
been in place since January.
Customers can now win up
to Rs. 100,000 by submitting
their VAT bills. Winners
will be picked in a lucky
draw every month. There
are 10 VAT collection
booths in Kathmandu and
others will soon be set up in
Birgunj, Biratnagar and
Pokhara. VAT revenue
currently makes up 2.9
percent of the country's
Mission Nepal Telecom
The state owned Nepal
Corporation has opened
itself to private investments
and turned into a company.
It will now be called Nepal
Telecom. The company
plans to float shares that the
general public can buy. The
company will also reorganize its management,
provide added incentives to
its employees and upgrade
its communications
Army's new spokesman
The Army has brought in
Brigadier General Rajendra
Thapa to head its public
relations department. Col.
Deepak Gurung, who
headed the department
earlier, will now assist
Brigadier Thapa. Thapa is
also a renowned song writer
whose compositions have
been sung by such famous
singers as Narayan Gopal
and Aruna Lama.
RNAC's woes
Royal Nepal Airlines
Corporation has cut down
its international flights after
the corporation's plans to
lease a replacement aircraft
for one of its Boeing 757's
failed. Of the two bigjets
that the airline owns, one
has been grounded for
routine maintenance and
will remain off-duty for
two months at least. RNAC
currently flies to 10
destinations in seven
Easter crackdown
Easter revelers in
Tundikhel had their
celebrations cut short when
Samuel Sodemba and Isu
Jung Karki, both members
of the Easter festival
organizing committee,
were arrested from Khula
Manch. The police say that
revelers broke the
government's ordinance of
disallowing gatherings in
riot-prone zones while the
revelers say that the police
had given them the go-
ahead to congregate at
Manisha miffed
Actress Manisha Koirala,
who was in the capital last
week to participate in a
walkathon organized by the
Rotary Clubs of Nepal,
voiced her reservations over
the party protests. She said
that she supports the King's
call for elections. Koirala,
however, bemoaned the
police's manhandling of her
granduncle Girija Prasad
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
 Mayor mania
Kathmandu's Mayor Keshav
Sthapit has made it into the
first short list of the "World
Mayor 2004" competition
being held by the web-portal Eleven
Mayors from 60 cities around
the world were selected for
the short list on the basis of a
web-based survey. Sthapit is
ranked seventh among the 11
mayors picked so far. Sthapit,
who is known as Demolition
Man among his critics for
razing settlements to clear
space for building projects
and road constructions, could
certainly use the positive spin.
Army's new spokesman
The Army has brought in
Brigadier General Rajendra
Thapa to head its public
relations department. Col.
Deepak Gurung, who was the
Army's spokesman earlier,
will now assist Brigadier
Thapa. Thapa is renowned for
his song-writing skills and his
compositions have been sung
by such famous singers as
Narayan Gopal and Aruna
City's new dump
In the next four months
garbage from Kathmandu and
Lalitpur municipalities will
probably get hauled all the
way to Sishdole in Nuwakot.
Sishdole is only a temporary
site and will be in use until
the slated permanent site at
Okharpauwa becomes
functional. Kathmandu city
authorities last week said
that the blacktopping of the
20-km road that leads to
Sishdole, northwest of
Kathmandu, is almost
complete. Kathmandu and
Lalitpur together generate at
least 400 tons of garbage
Malinowski's murky recall
U.S. Ambassador Michael
Malinowski has been
recalled by the U.S. State
Department some eight
months before his term
expires later this year. The
Kathmandu Post, which
broke the news last week,
said the recall "has nothing
to do with the U.S. policy
per se but the way
Malinowski 'presented' the
U.S. stance in the current
triangular conflict (between
the Maoists, parties and the
King)." By the time we
went to the press, it was still
unclear what had led to the
U.S. envoy's unceremonious recall. A diplomat told
Nation Weekly, the friction
between Kathmandu-based
European missions, who
envision a bigger role for
political parties, and the
U.S. Ambassador who
thinks otherwise was "an
open secret." He said he
wasn't sure whether it was
"the Ambassador's hawkish
policies or his abrasive ways
with the Embassy staff" that
had led to the recall.
Press attack
Police arrested dozens of
journalists on Thursday
before releasing most of
them later in the day. Many
of those arrested were senior
journalists associated with
Kantipur Publications and
Kanitpur TV Most of them
were arrested at Bhirkuti
Mandap, Bhotahityand
Bagbazaar where they were
covering the street protests.
Taranath Dahal, president of
the Federation of Nepalese
Journalists, has called the
incident "a naked assault on
press freedom."     □
)L: With the new
school session starting last week
parents had their work cut out
Nepal's national team finished sixth in Pakistan, their
worst showing in SAF Games, but football boss Ganesh
Thapa insists our younger footballers are the best in the
region. Still, like any other football fan, he rues about
Nepal's empty stadiums
One person who never tires of talk
ing football is Ganesh Thapa,
perhaps Nepal's most prolific
goal-scorer ever and now the president
of All Nepal Football Association.
As the chief football overseer in the
country, give the ace striker credit again
for netting some golden goals. None
more promising than the world governing body FIFA-funded Goal Project,
which is also supported by local sponsors. If all goes well, the million-dollar
pilotprojectwill help setup football academies in 30 districts in Nepal to train 1,000
young booters—easily the most ambitious football program ever undertaken
in the country to tap budding talents.
All this may suggest that the future of
the country's number one spectator sport
(though it seems that cricket will soon
bump football out of the pedestal) is secure. But these exciting developments
mask a number of ills that plague the
game. And no one is more keen to discuss them than Thapa himself
"Looking back, it is difficult not to
feel a huge sense of loss," says Thapa,
recalling his own glory days as a
footballer. "Even a league match used to
have packed galleries in the 1980s."
Barring a few games, football
matches even in the capital are now
watched by small crowds. The final
rounds of the Khukuri Cup, with the
country's 20 best teams vying for the top
slot and Rs 200,000 in prize money failed
to attract the football-crazy crowd one
took for granted 20 years ago. Clearly,
the clubs have lost their fan base.
For the world's number one spectator sport, Nepal's near-empty stadiums
are an undeserved sorry sight. There
must be a way out here.
Many insist that the ANFA should
be accorded a high priority to ensure
quality participation. Others suggest a
media-sawy approach to market the
"Soccer enthusiasts who are getting
used to viewing top-class fares on TV in
the comfort of their couch don't want
to take the trouble of going to the stadium to watch low-grade matches," says
Mukunda Dahal, a journalist who has
been covering sport events for more than
a decade. "Tournaments with big outfits
not only attract spectators but the exemplary skills put in by the players also trig
ger the imagination of the youth." Not
all the national leagues around the world
can match English Premier League in
skills and yet many of them have a sizeable fan base.
Consistent display of quality and
competitive football is the key to attract
bigger crowds. Market pundits say the
spectators will head back to the stadiums once Nepali footballers start excelling in the international circuit. Look at
the way the Koreans and Japanese now
follow their national teams.
There was so much hope in 1999
when Nepal hosted the 8th South Asian
Federation (SAF) Games. Tens of thousands of Nepalis—many of them hardly
regular football fans—turned up to cheer
the home team. But fans will faithfully follow a losing team for only so long. Nepal's
national side must admit that they have
been famously inconsistent. No one expects them to beat South Korea, Oman, or
Vietnam in the Olympic qualifiers, but
how do you keep fans excited over a team
that fails to put up a decent fight once in a
while? How does one justify Nepal's pathetic performance in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship just
concluded in Pakistan? Nepal couldn't
post a single win.
Thapa, who has quite a reputation in
the sports circle for taking active
(meddlesome, according to some) interest in every single thing that's associated with the country's football, almost
swears that he is not sitting idle.
'We are deeply troubled ourselves over
our performance in Pakistan. Overall, our
football is certainly better than the rest,"
he says, "except maybe India's." To make
his point, he offers Nepal's standing in age-
group competitions. Our Under-19 team
is not only ranked among the top 16 in Asia
(out of 45), it's the only team from the South
Asian region to qualify for the 2004 Un-
der-20 finals. Likewise, the Under-14boys
are the best in the region as evidenced by
Nepal's performance in the six-nation
Football Festival that concluded in
Kathmandu last week.
"Still, to arrest the decline of the senior side, we have increased the number
of tournaments, including Nepal's participation in international matches," says
Thapa. "We plan to qualify for the Under-17 World Cup in five to six years.
That's our overarching vision."
APRIL 19-25, 2004   |  NATION WEEKLY
 Consistent display of quality and
competitive football is the key to
attract bigger crowds.
The number of tournaments has increased. The Martyrs Memorial Tournament (Nepal's longest running league)
finally seems to be running on track. The
Khukuri Cup has become a regular fixture and a number of other tournaments
are being held outside Kathmandu. But
many feel that numbers alone don't guarantee good football. The key is to translate ANFA's high-pitched ambitions to
reality. But where does one begin?
"ANFA should come up with a
double-leg football league if we are to
climb up the international ladder," says a
former Nepal international footballer,
who has played professional league in
Bangladesh and India. Such a league has
already been endorsed by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA).
To further bolster the league structure, there are other strategies: the
ANFA could work out a system that is
widely practiced in most football-playing countries—allocate a certain percentage of tickets to participating clubs
in the leagues, instead of providing
them with limited cash incentives.
Each of the 12 premier division clubs
in the Martyr's Memorial League, for
example, gets Rs 50,000 from the
ANFA for preparations each season.
Many find the current league a lackluster affair with a handful of clubs fighting for a title and others as mere also-
rans. "It requires a complete restructuring—from regulation on players' transfer
to providing incentives to smaller clubs
in order to make the competition exciting for the paying public," remarks
Sanjeev Mishra, president of the first di
vision side Kathmandu Club which routinely loses its promising players to richer
clubs like Three Star, RCT and MMC.
The key here is giving the game a
higher profile and corporate houses
could play a vital role towards that end.
Any market analysts will tell you
football's future in Nepal hinges as
much on good marketing off the field
as it does on the team's on-field performance. It's not just his skills that have
made Sachin Tendulkar an icon in India. An extremely well-oiled corporate
machine has gone behind the branding
of Team India.
'ANFA has to take an imaginative step,
taking a cue out of the success achieved
by other countries," says Tashi Ghale,
who once served as vice-president for
the ANFA. "You don't have to go too far
to see changes. Just look at the strides
made by Maldives over the years."
The tiny island-nation, with a population of just over 300,000 introduced a
semi-professional league a few years
back. The result is all-evident: Maldives
is ranked 27 slots above Nepal's 169 in
the FIFA rankings.    □
 Party protests aren't getting anywhere but that doesn't mean people
are happy with the status quo. The
sooner the King and parties make
peace, the better.
Tyou read mainstream newspapers and listen
■ to private FM stations, the five-party anti-
Igovernment demonstrations may seem like
they are growing with each passing day. Screaming headlines tell you about the thousands of protestors marching in Kathmandu demanding restoration of a representative government. And accompanying news photos show demonstrators
testimony to the highhandedness of an undemocratic regime.
And yet, strangely, what is portrayed in the
newspapers is far removed from what's happening on the streets. Except for the area around
Bagbazaar in the heart of Kathmandu, the mass
of demonstrators fighting to roll back "regression" in recent days are nowhere to be seen in
other parts of the city. Most Kathmanduites seem
snug in their daily lives, living a routine that is
cut off from the protests and rioting in and
around Bagbazaar. Frequent bandas and a never-
ending series of street protests—they only lasted
for two months in 1990—seem to have satiated
the public appetite for mass demonstrations.
If the five parties—Nepali Congress,
CPN(UML), Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi
Devi), Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and Jana
Marcha Nepal—had hoped that these protests
witnessed in 1990, they must be clearly disappointed. Since the first few days of April, when
 p .»
- :
the turnout was in the tens of thousands,
the number of demonstrators around
Ratna Park has gone down considerably.
And those who are there are almost invariably party activists, not the common
citizens the parties had hoped to excite.
"There seems to be a disconnect from
what's being reported in the newspapers
and what's happening on the streets," says
Angie Krysiak, an anthropology student
from the University of Wisconsin who
has closely followed the protests. "The
newspapers definitely seem to be exaggerating the movement."
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The year-old five-party protests gathered steam when the current round of
demonstrations took off with a bang on
April 1. For a few days, the parties managed to amass a sea of humanity in the
heart of the capital, protesting King
Gyanendra's seizure of political power
in October 2002 and demanding the formation of an all-party government. Some
of these demonstrators came from as far
away as Dhanusha, Jhapa and Gulmi.
On some days, like on April 2,3 and
4, the protests turned violent. Surging
demonstrators tried to smash through
the security perimeters and march towards the Royal Palace and Singha
Durbar, only to invite stern police action. Demonstrators were brutally
beaten and tear gas shells and rubber
bullets were fired indiscriminately into
crowds. Protestors resorted to pelting
stones at the police and vandalizing cars
and motorcycles. So far more than 1,000
protestors and dozens of policemen have
been injured, some seriously. More than
5,000 protestors have also been arrested.
The joining in of civil-society groups
like the lawyers, journalists and teachers
in the movement, did make it seem like
the ranks were about to grow bigger and
But that hasn't happened yet. Even
the planned "huge" demonstrations by
the five parties on April 15 fell flat. The
reasons could be many, but a couple of
them stand out
First, after the initial bungling, the
government changed tactics, ordering
police to show restraint in the face of
protests. Senior officers could be heard
yelling at their subordinates not to use
excessive force. When protestors pelted
bricks and stones from Padma Kanya
Campus, a senior Valley Police officer
was heard saying, "Don't throw the
stones back. You are policemen. Show
restraint and professionalism."
Despite stray incidents, the security
forces so far have by and large shown
remarkable restraint, although the arrest
Thursday in the capital of dozens ofjour-
nalists covering the protest could mark
a turning point.
The Home Ministry has declared key
areas off-limits to public gatherings in a
bid to pre-empt angry mass protests.
Home Minister Kamal Thapa justifies it
as an attempt to check Maoist infiltration into the movement. The strategy has
worked so far: demonstrators are finding it increasingly difficult to gather at
one single place.
The second, and a more important
reason, is symbolic. It's been 14 years
since the 1990 Jana Andolan was successfully launched against the hated
Panchayat. Most Nepalis do support
democracy, all right, but years of political instability and an imperfect era
3T: Police take
UML leader K P Oli in custody
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
 of multi-party democracy has made
them wary of the leaders.
Consider just how changed the situation is today. It is no longer a docile
King Birendra who reigns from
Narayanhity There is no longer 30 years
of pent up public frustrations to fuel a
popular movement. If anything, many
Nepalis are still angry at the party leaders for not delivering the goods.
The international scene has changed,
too. While in 1990 new democracies were
sprouting all over the world as the Cold
War came to an end, today, the "global
fight against terrorism" means Nepal's
democratic struggle is seen as a side bar
to its larger fight for survival against the
The biggest difference is that the anti-
Panchayat demonstrations were not
split between the parties and the Maoists,
as it is now. And there is no charismatic
leadership to whip the crowd. Leaders
like Ganesh Man Singh and Madan
Bhandari, who became icons of the 1990
Movement, are nowhere to be found
today. As one observer puts it, "There is
There is no longer 30 years of pent up
public frustrations to fuel a popular
movement. If anything, many Nepalis
are still angry at the party leaders for
not delivering the goods.
no single political personality the demonstrators can rally around. Almost all
the leaders have either lost their stature,
or just don't have any stature to inspire
the common man."
All this means the current anti-government protests is being seen not as
an agitation to restore democracy, but
as a movement led by the same old corrupt politicians jostling for power. "I
could have easilyjoined the movement,
but I ask, what purpose will that serve,"
says Rajesh Shrestha, a shopkeeper in
Lazimpat who was active in the 1990
movement. "I don't want to be supporting the same politicians who made
this country such a mess."
Without public participation in the
demonstrations, the parties are finding
it difficult to sustain the movement.
Does the situation call for a new strategy? Isn't the movement against "regression" too vague a goal for an apathetic
"We will continue the protests until
regression is defeated," says Madhav
Nepal, general secretary of the CPN
(UML). "We are certain that more and
more people will join the movement."
While the movement does seem to
be fizzling out now, the potential for a
rebound is still strong, especially if the
government miscalculates. The use of
pro-government groups and plain-
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 "All the constitutional forces must work
together to bring the country back on
track. No matter how much the parties
are hated, they do represent a large
section of Nepali society."
clothes policemen to disrupt the protests in the initial days almost led to an
explosion. And the recent move by the
Home Ministry to isolate and prosecute
Jana Morcha Nepal's leaders and activists could lead to a popular backlash.
Some analysts believe that instead of
waiting for the government to make mistakes, the parties could help themselves
by instituting some drastic changes in
their message and the messengers. But
that is probably asking for too much.
"It is unrealistic to expect the parties
to change leadership in the midst of a
larger fight against the monarchy," says
Krishna Hachhethu, a political analyst
associated with the Centre for Nepal and
Asian Studies. "They will first need to
win back power before attempting internal reforms."
But since the movement is not
gathering steam, the parties could
become desperate. The Maoists, the
wildcard in the ongoing political
struggle, have already positioned
themselves to take advantage of the
parties' frustrations by actively courting them in their fight for republican goals. The parties are understandably wary of the rebels whose participation in the movement could
give the government a pretext to use
overwhelming force. Hence the order that went out from the party leadership to ensure that the demonstrations remain peaceful during the
three days of the Maoist-called Nepal
banda on April 6, 7 and 8. "We do not
have any common platform with the
Maoists and we don't plan on having
businessmen protest against the
party protests
any in the future," asserts Dr Ram
Sharan Mahat, a senior leader of the
Nepali Congress.
Meanwhile, the target of the agitation, King Gyanendra, has followed a
smart strategy. After waiting out much
of the protests touring insurgency-hit
Western districts from his base in
Pokhara, the King, since his return to the
capital on April 10, has continued to ignore the protests. He pointedly failed to
even mention the demonstrations in his
customary New Year Message on
Baisakh 1 (April 13).
But the King could also be misreading the nation's mood—-just as the
parties are doing. The people may not
trust the parties and their agitation, but
they don't necessarily view the monarchy in a favorable light. The sooner
the Palace realizes this and makes peace
with the parties, the better it is for the
"In the end, all the constitutional
forces must work together to bring the
country back on track," says a diplomat.
"No matter how much the parties are
hated, they do represent a large section
of Nepali society, and it would be wise
to get them on board."    □
here are signs that the Indian position against the
Maoists is hardening. And it's as much due to the
alleged Maoists attacks against Indian vehicles and
with India's rebel outfit, the Kamtapur
Liberation Organization (KLO) to wage
terror in India's West Bengal and Assam,
according to the Indian newspaper Telegraph.
The news of Nepali Maoists joining
hands with Naxalite outfits in India,
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were reported
as far back as 2001 when they formed a
unified organization, the Coordination
Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations (CCOMPOSA).
The umbrella group then began to
spread out through the People's War
Group (PWG), which started with the
Naxalbari movement in West Bengal.
The PWG is active in Andhra Pradesh,
Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The
Maoist Communist Center (MCC),
nationals in Nepal, as it's due to India's
growing realization that the Maoists can
be a serious trans-boundary menace.
On April 3,18 Indian oil tankers were
torched near the Nepal-India border in
Dhangadi. A day later, Maoists set ablaze
an Indian truck on the Siddhartha Highway On April 5, the Maoists issued "Quit
Nepal" notices to Indian businessmen
based in Gularia, Bardiya.
Many see these attacks on Indian property and nationals as retaliation against the
arrest of Maoist politburo member
Mohan Baidhya in Siliguri, West Bengal
last month. Not surprisingly, the Indian
External Affairs Ministry has reacted
strongly and asked Nepal to prevent anti-
India activities in its territory
On April 9, the Indian Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Lai
Krishna Advani during his election speech
in Jharkhand raised concerns over the
possibility of unified attempts by Nepali
and Indian Maoists to spread terror in the
region. "Following political instability in
Nepal lately, Maoists of that country have
started trying to infiltrate into India to
increase Naxalite activities," said Advani.
Less than a week later, he made similar
comments in Orissa, adding that India
would take all measures necessary against
Nepali Maoists.
There are reasons for New Delhi to
be nervous. Nepali Maoists are believed
to have forged a "working relationship"
On April 9, Lai Krishna Advani during
his election speech in Jharkhand
raised concerns over the possibility of
unified attempts by Nepali and Indian
Maoists to spread terror in the region.
also a part of CCOMPOSA, is active
across Bihar.
Last October, Andhra Pradesh's Chief
Minister Chandrababu Naidu escaped a
landmine attackby the PWG. Like the radical leftists in Nepal, the PWG has also declared its own' Aadhar Chhetra" in Andhra
Pradesh. And much like Nepali Maoists,
the Indian rebels have started targeting security forces and candidates for the general
elections that begin this week.
On April 7, the rebels killed 26 policemen in ajharkhand landmine explosion, an attack reminiscent of Nepali
Maoist tactics. Most recently, in a show
of solidarity Nepali Maoists have called
for a poll boycott in India.
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
 "The recent concerns raised by India show that New Delhi is now taking a harsher stand against the
Maoists," says Shyam Shrestha, editor of Mulyankan monthly. "Obviously, Indians are in no mood to allow Maoists a free lunch in their territory."
Many Nepalis always believed that
a number of senior Maoist leaders
were taking refuge in India, at least
intermittently, but it became public
knowledge when CPN(UML) General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal
blew their cover. He publicly declared
that he had held a secret meeting with
Maoist supremo Prachanda in
Lucknow last November. Earlier,
many people would either question
or dismiss claims in the media that
similar meetings had taken place in
Siliguri and Noida, near New Delhi.
India's response to such claims, until
recently, has been routine: it was doing
its best to curb the mobility of Nepali
Maoists in its territory but given the
country's huge size and own share of security concerns, it wasn't always possible
to police the Maoists. Interestingly, New
Delhi had declared the Maoists terrorists even before Nepal outlawed them in
November 2001. Indian envoy Shyam
Sharan has gone on record to claim time
and again that Nepali Maoists have links
with Maoist groups in India, including
the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC)
and the People's War Group (PWG).
His thesis has been corroborated by
former Maoist commanders. According
toJaya Bahadur Gharti, who surrendered
to the security forces last July, Nepali
Maoists received training from PWG and
MCC guerillas in 1998,2000, and 2001 in
Rolpa. Last month during the Beni en
counter, the Army for the first time got
hold of an AK-47 rifle suspected to have
been imported from the PWG.
'As we moved further up the hills away
from Beni, the locals told us some of the
Maoists involved in the Beni attack were
using language they could not understand,"
says Bimal Chandra Sharma oflNSEC who
visited the scene days after the March 20
attack to prepare an on-site report for the
human rights group.
Nepal is most anxious to get its hands
on two Maoist leaders who are currently
in Indian custody—Baidhya in Siliguri and
C R Gajurel in Chennai. Gajurel, who reportedly heads the Maoists foreign relations division, was arrested with a fake
British passport at Chennai Arport while
he was on his way to London last August.
Two other Maoist central committee
members, MatrikaYidav and Suresh Ale,
were handed over in February
Gajurel remains in Indian custody
facing charges. The court ruled out his
handover after Gajurel insisted that his
life was in danger in Nepal.
"In Baidhya's case, India has already
gathered enough evidence that he had
established contacts with the People's
War Group and other organizations declared terrorists by India," observes
Kantipur's Jhapa-based reporter
Chintamani Dahal, who has been travelling across the border to Siliguri to follow investigations on Baidhya. "His
handover might be delayed for a while."
Baidhya is considered the main ideologue
behind Prachandapath, the Maoist roadmap
to republicanism. Many also see him as the
guru of Maoist chiefPrachanda. Along with
Baburam Bhattarai, the three are said to constitute the Maoist troika at the top.
For their part, the Maoists have tried to
give their own spin to Baidhya's arrest, calling the Indian action a part of a controversial deal involving exchange of land and
water between the "feudal lords" of Nepal
and India. Both New Delhi and Kathmandu
have chosen to remain silent on the arrest,
though Nepali authorities say they have initiated a legal process to extradite Baidhya
but details are hard to come by
Once the elections is over, New Delhi
is expected to take up the Maoist issue
with a renewed urgency. "It's time too,"
says Shrestha of Mulyankan magazine.
"Otherwise, India would be seen as taking a double stand as in the past."    □
NATION WEEKLY |   APRIL 19-25, 2004
t's been a week since the Royal Couple left for
Kathmandu. And all the public attention has once again
shifted back to the daily street protests in the
capital. But it was quite an event
while it lasted: for 17 long days the
Western Region played host to an
extravagant abhinandan and the problems of Kathmandu seemed a world
To be sure, royalties have never been
an uncommon sight in this city. The
Ratna Mandir Durbar, which stands on
the shore of Lake Fewa, bustles with
routine royal visits. And it was here that
poet Kshetra Pratap Adhikari composed
his famous line, "Chautarima Raja
Bhetiyo" after spotting King Birendra
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
 The King appealed to all parties to
help organize elections. His lofty
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under a tree, walking around like a commoner.
But even weeks before the current
visit, Pokharelis knew this one would
be more than a casual out-of-the-town
trip for the Their Majesties. And so it
turned out. At a March 28 civic reception, King Gyanendra announced elections in an extremely volatile political
backdrop: a year and a half of non-representative government, a bloody insurgency, and with the city's own lifeline,
the tourism industry, on the brink. He
issued a salvo to political parties to seek
a fresh mandate.
"I appeal to all the concerned parties
to help us organize elections in 2061
B.S.," the King said in his address at the
local stadium, as thousands converged
from nearby districts to see their new
King and Queen. He made a call to end
violence and terrorism so that the nation could move in the path of prosper-
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while the nation is reeling. Here, people
have no time to put coffin on corpses."
But the reception did inject some life,
at least for a while. Take 72-year-old Som
Bahadur Gurung, of Balkot village in
remote Parbat district, for instance. He
had come to see the King and the Queen,
though it didn't quite turn out that way.
The former policeman also broughtwith
him some petition letters to pass on to
the King in the hope that his woes would
be addressed. Gurung, who stands 5 feet
3 inches and wears daura suruwal and
topi, was just another poor villager in
the 20,000-strong crowd from 16 districts, many of whom had been bused
and trucked from across the region, defying the Gandak region banda called by
the Maoists.
Interestingly, everybody present at
the Pokhara stadium that sunny afternoon
had a petition. The Mayor of Pokhara
Sub-Metropolitan City, Harka Bahadur
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Shah who cared so much about his people."
But at least in the eyes of political
workers like NC's Sharma, the King
doesn't seem overly concerned about
"correcting" himself. So much was evident during his stay in Western Nepal.
Like his late father during these visits,
King Gyanendra, 57, was keen on reaching out to residents of villages and towns
across the region, including the people
of Beni, who had only a week ago witnessed the worst carnage in nine years of
"people's war."
Many people here recollect what his
brother King Birendra did after his
Pokhara visit in the spring of 1990. At the
height of thejana Andolan, he consulted
party leaders and the rest, as they say, is
history. The civic reception has been
momentous all right but the residents of
Pokhara are still hoping for a lasting peace.
The street protests in Kathmandu, 200km
away, are disturbing.    □
 Swarnim Wagl
s one of the first Asian leaders to visit Victorian England
in 1850, Jung Bahadur Rana, who became de facto
emperor of the central Himalayas at the age of 29,
insisted that he be given a 19-gun salute
(higher than the 17 reserved for princes
from the plains). A rare treatment not
assured for all guests of England, this was
next extended to his cousin Chandra who
collected his honorary doctorate at Oxford in 1908—a degree in Civil Law that
was also given to Bill Clinton 87 years
later. Jung and Chandra, the notable of
Rana rulers, kept this land unconquered
by sending as many hill men as necessary to fight the white man's wars. And
in doing so, gave the British one good
reason not to wage an expensive mountain invasion.
Technically, thus, we were never
colonized, but Nepal did not even have
its   own   national   anthem   until
Ram Mani Dixit, advisor to Chandra
Shumsher, writes in his "Purana
Samjhana" (from where this story is
taken) that he then recruited his poet
friend, Chakrapani Chalise to construct
Nepal's own anthem. Like a dependent
Consultant, eager to please his benefactors, Mr. Chalise enquired what "angle"
he needed to pursue for his compositions. He was told they needed to be
grand odes that felicitated the Shah King
and his Rana Premier, "pure Ksetriyas
who ruled Nepal, home of the brave
Gorkha race." An Indian gentleman from
Rajasthan, M. A. Pathan, who was in town
upon invitation by Chandra Shumsher
to serve as Nepal's bandmaster, then put
music into Mr. Chalise's words. Thus
We have come full circle. The
cacophony of orchestrated
felicitations of the King is growing.
Chandra's final years. "God Save the
King," the English anthem, was played
in the "independent" kingdom. And it
would be played at the oddest of hours,
for random pomp and amusement,
much to the inconvenience of the poor
British ambassador resident in
Lainchour. He had to stand up, no matter what he was doing, whenever he
heard his native tune practiced in
Tundikhel. In a sparsely populated, traffic-free Kathmandu of the 1920s, much
was seen and heard.
was born the infamous "Shrimana
Gambhir"—a sycophantic mess that still
stands as our national anthem.
The progressive drafters of the 1990
constitution thought they had reduced
the King to his proper size. They thought
so on the strength of Articles III (hint:
sovereignty lies in the people, not the
monarch) and XXXV (hint: the monarch
makes no mistake, for almost everything
he does is upon the advice and instruction of the elected prime minister). The
drafters also thought reaching out fur-
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
 NATION WEEKLY I   APRIL 19-25, 2004
ther to reform the Army, reducing royal claims
on the exchequer, and dismantling iconic remnants like the national anthem, would be an
unnecessary stretch on their mandate. Justice
Biswonath Upadhyaya was right to be benign,
but not everyone was happy. The extreme leftists that included today's top Maoists wanted to
go all the way. They even goaded their ally
among drafters, Nirmal Lama, to break rank. In
those chaste times, however, even the rebels
were restrained.
Thirteen years on, we have come full circle.
The cacophony of orchestrated felicitations of
the King is growing. In the remote district of
Mustang early April, this columnist witnessed
preparations for the King's Jomsom felicitation.
Marshalling every single resource of the poor
state in the poor district, from the Army and the
CDO's office to the line ministries, ethnic leadership, and even airline agents, it was unclear
how these costly tamashas could possibly gratify
the King. In these events, the King routinely
refers to the "glorious tradition of the Shah dynasty reigning in accord with the wishes of the
people." This desire to locate a glorious past
that probably never existed is puzzling to students of history. Of the 10 Shah kings after the
great Prithivi Narayan in 1775, hardly three made
any lasting mark. There simply is no consistent
record on past royal glory notable enough to be
evoked to justify active royal roles today.
The political parties have vowed to redress
"political regression" definitively, especially
the violation of the two articles cited earlier.
And they should. But as custodian of state religion, language, and armed forces, the House
of Gorkha is in equal need of shedding its baggage of "cultural regression." In this day and
age, why should we be beholden to norms,
institutions, and symbols in our statecraft in a
manner that gives the impression that what we
are holding on to, if let gone, would violate all
Instead of basking in the nostalgia of absolute authority, the institution of monarchy is
always better off seeking new legitimacy
through deeds and gestures that are social, not
political. A harmless point to start would be to
encourage the replacement of icons like the
national anthem that have inglorious origins. It
is after all an unusual song loaded with symbolism of where sovereignty rested in the yesteryears. There is, of course, one more reason. The
most striking adjective that describes the king
in the anthem is "Prachanda." And this has long
been famously co-opted by a bearded man from
Chitwan who is not exactly friendly to either
the crown or his state.    □
 Art   Socie
The Everyman
A picture may speak a thousand
words but cartoons sometimes
say even more. Rajesh K.C, the
cartoonist at Kantipur, has been churning out 'Gajab chha ba," his single-panel
funnies, for more than a decade now.
Last week, K.C. was honored by the
Creative Communication and Research Center, a media institute, for his
contribution to society through his cartoons. What are his contributions? For
readers tired of the same old write ups
in the papers everyday, KC's flashes of
insight into the Nepali ethos provide
both a welcome break and a catharsis:
they offer a glimpse of the way things are
and for once people can laugh at the expense of the high and mighty.
Just how does one come up with the
laugh lines so consistently? "I don't really know," says KG "I keep abreast with
the politics and general happenings and
from my readings I create a theme and
play with that until I have the cartoon in
my mind. By the time I hit my work-
desk at Kantipur in the evening, the cartoon is well set and it's time to work on
the caption. I have to create a caption
that everyone will understand and at the
same time it has to pack that punch."
"Rajesh is essentially a funny guy," says
colleague and friend Bikash Rauniar, in
an attempt to explain how K.C. creates
his art. "He seems to have this knack for
noticing the humor in everything. And
when he's talking to you his mind seems
to be constantly thinking about absurd
situations that will later appear on his
And all the pondering and planning
definitely work in the end. K.C.'s cartoons pack a punch and the laughs they
generate prove his success. William
Carlos Williams once wrote, "It's difficult / to get the news from poems / yet
men die miserable every day/for lack of
what is found there." And just like good
poems are able to convey what the media can't, KC's cartoons by giving voice
to the everyman—the everyman who is
above petty party politics and political
grand designs—render a democratic service. His cartoons afflict the comforted
and comfort the afflicted.
(See Cartoon)
1. Phalano: The Nepali everyman.
He's a mute observer (notice his zipped
lips) bewildered by the absurdities in
the country. In most panels he appears
to be excluded from the situation depicted, as if to imply the exclusion of the
common man from the political processes in Nepal's "democracy."
2. State of the nation: In tatters.
3. The press: Newspapers with axes
to grind, yet working in a state that restricts them, produce the strange concoction that is Nepali news. And with
reports on death scores, political intrigues and the shenanigans of corrupt leaders hogging
newspages, readers don't have
much to look forward to. Yet
hope springs eternal and as exemplified by the man reading
the paper, people still look to
the media for signs of redemption.
4. Political speak: Political figureheads have a knack
for turning every event, even
catastrophes, into occasions
for political gain. "Pidit"
means anyone who's been affected by some
sort of setback Much to the delight ofmin-
isters there are any number of pidit
people—victims of the ongoing war, victims of natural disasters—whose cause the
politicians are more than happy to take up
in order to further their own interests.
5.The caption: It ties together all the
elements that make up the panel and hits
home the absurdity depicted: while the
husband's hoping for a windfall (the
newspaper headline states that ministers
will donate their 15-day earnings to pidit
people), his wife knows better. She
points out that what the victims will get,
if anything at all, is not the money that
politicians actually make by way of
bribes and shady deals but 15 days' worth
of their government salary,    n
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APRIL 19-25, 2004   |  NATION WEEKLY
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 Art   Socie
The Sky in
his Eyes
Buddhi Thapa's exhibition of paint
ings at Nepal Art Council that con
eluded last month presented three
major themes that have haunted the artist for most of his career: ethnic portraits, depictions of Mother Nature, and
spiritual quest. Thapa says that his spiritual paintings have their genesis in his
childhood experiences of gazing at the
starry skies. Growing up in Nagaland as
the son of a Nepali soldier in the Indian
army, Thapa used to spend countless
hours gazing at the sky, wondering what
lay behind its blue shell.
In the late 70s, his love of art took
him to the Government Art College in
Calcutta from where he completed his
BFA. Somehow surviving on an exceedingly low budget, Thapa read books and
painted. He was completely broke by the
time he acquired his degree. He lingered
at the hostel for one more year before
the authorities decided to expel him
from their premises.
On the night of December 24,1983,
as the hostel authorities were looking
for him everywhere, he hid himself on
the hostel roof and gazed at the sky all
night. Midnight arrived and passed.
Hungry and cold, Thapa still continued
to stare at the skies. After 2 a.m., the position of the constellations in the sky
changed, and the entire starry map of the
sky turned upside down. Buddhi continued to gaze, however, wondering what
had gone wrong with his career, why the
map of his own life had turned upside
down to leave him poor, lonely, and entirely without prospects.
The next day brought better luck.
As he was contemplating suicide near
the Hoogli River, Buddhi received a
note from Mahendra Moktan, his onetime friend from Sikkim who was also
a filmmaker. Moktan's marriage was
foundering and he wanted Thapa to
paint a portrait of his wife in order to
please her and revive his marriage. It is
through Moktan's connections that
Thapa received a commission from the
Sikkim government's Tourism Department in 1985 to draw ethnic portraits. The next few years was a period
of intense creative activity as Thapa
painted ethnic images that were suffused with his own emotions and desires. He also painted mandalas and the
cosmic maps of the universe, trying to
memorize the spiritual visions that
sometimes overwhelm him as he gazes
at the open skies.
cellent view of the mountains and the
"Art is not only my profession but
also my only passion," says Thapa. "I'd
rather live and sleep by the side of footpaths than work at anything else." He
speaks of his two major desires that remain unfulfilled. The first is his dream
of getting married. Thapa, 50, is worried that time is running out, and he is
getting increasingly lonely as he gets
older. "Not only do I need to find a
woman who will match my age but the
'vibration' between us needs to work,"
he explains. For Thapa the entire universe, after all, is a play of vibrations;
energies that pervade not only solar systems and galaxies but also run through
each leaf, each blade of grass: a mystical
motif that forms the basis of his spiritual paintings.
"My next major dream is to paint my
spiritual visions upon large ten-by-ten
Thapa has been coming to Nepal
for solo exhibitions and other art related work since 1985, and has also
found a semi-permanent home at one
of the studios of the Nepal Association of Fine Arts at Naxal. Among all
other artists who have individual studios at NAFA, Thapa probably spends
the most time in the building. He diligently paints in his rooftop studio day
in and day out, by the side of an extended stone roof that provides an ex-
frames," he continues. "But how can a
poor artist like me hope to draw such
colossal paintings without someone
sponsoring me? The walls of my studio
at NAFA are not large enough to hold
such big frames." Thapa's dreams are
very simple. He is not ambitious enough
to crave grand worldly successes or
make a big name for himself as a world
famous painter. He wants to marry, raise
a family and paint his art on large canvasses.    □
APRIL 19-25, 2004   |  NATION WEEKLY
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lJiuj i Hup^l Bhiirbi! Libni-y. rnAl" Build rg
 Jogendra Ghimire
When Rights Go Wrong
he popular human rights discourse in Nepal has turned
unacceptably simplistic. It begins with the assumption that the
Maoists and the security forces stand on the same moral plane
and that both are equallyjustified—or not sojustified—in whatever they
are doing. This offers an easy exit to an extremely complex debate: civil
society leaders start out with knee-jerk condemnations of the security
forces and make sure that they also call upon the insurgents to respect
the rights of innocent civilians. Political correctness and the desire to
sound "objective" presumably lead them into a framework of analysis
that doesn't go beyond this routine.
When Maoists gunned down dozens of security personnel in Bhojpur
and Myagdi, and took dozens others hostage for weeks, the response of
the civil society leaders was even more questionable. Few condemned
the attacks on the two district headquarters. More than anything else,
didn't the fundamental Maoist philosophy that condones violence need
to be questioned outright?
To be fair to human rights advocates, it is understandable where their
framework of analysis and accusation comes from. The state has always
been treated as the principal violator of citizens' rights. Human rights
organizations, many of whom have now become influential players in
international discourse, were
founded in the background of,
and to raise voices against, dictatorships. They grew in stature while opposing the regimes
of Augusto Pinochets and Pol
Pots. Their modus operandi:
shame states into behaving.
Nepal's current state of affairs,
however, is rather complicated.
First, how do you put a non-
state party—Maoists in this
case—on a leash? Is strict
adherence to the classic human rights model the right way
to deal with issues of morality
and ethics? Does the cliched
state-centered human rights
advocacy allow us to assess,
analyze and understand the questions associated with human rights
abuses? Is it enough to merely call upon the insurgents to respect the
rights of the citizens? Have we not reached the stage where even the
non-state actors have to be told to adhere to international human rights
A better appreciation of the human rights situation is possible if the
civil society is willing to conduct a dispassionate analysis of the moral and
ethical foundations upon which the activities of the Royal Nepal Army
and the Maoist insurgents are based; the way they target their enemies
or perceived enemies; and the degree and nature of human rights violations that each can be held responsible to. Towards that end, there are
a few questions that beg answers.
First, is this a war that the Army initiated? Second, does the Army
have a well-thought out plan of action that encourages and condones
killing, maiming and torturing of civilians, or even the armed insurgents?
Is it possible that barring some cases, most civilian deaths attributed to
the Army occurred not because of its excesses but despite its best
efforts to minimize casualties? Third, is our notion of fair play really fair
to the security forces: can we put the cold-blooded killings of Krishna
Mohan Shrestha, Gopal Giri and Ganesh Chiluwal on the same plane
as the deaths in encounters? Fourth, if an international war crimes
tribunal of some sort were to be established in Nepal, who is more likely
to be found guilty of crimes against humanity—the Maoist leadership
or the Army?
We may like to fudge the issue for as long as possible but from both
moral and legal standpoints the Maoists are on the wrong side of this
debate—their claims as champions of the downtrodden notwithstanding. There are qualitative differences between the
killings of the youth collecting
donations on a national highway at dawn, which was clearly
based on false intelligence reports, and the killings of a
former lawmaker or of Chiluwal
who came out vocally against
Maoist atrocities. This however
is not to condone rights violations by the Army. In fact, recent events have shown that
its human rights record as a responsible institution leaves a lot
to be desired. My problems start
when human rights advocates
put the security forces and the insurgents on the same moral and legal
plane; and though they blame both the parties, they especially up the
ante against the security forces.
Given the vicious cycle of violence, and the confusion among
Nepalis over allegations and counter-allegations of human rights
abuses, it is important that human rights workers lead from the front
by adding rigor to their treatment of the human rights debate.
(Ghimire is former Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission)
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
Siddhartha Art Gallery,
Babermahal Revisited.
An exhibition of photographs by
Wayne Amtzis. "Street Life" includes
Wayne's presentation of black and
white photos from the late 80s and
early 90s depicting life in Kathmandu.
KMC Wards 1,30 and 31 are hosting a
month long Rani Pokhari Festival to
raise funds for the three wards. Festival
features: rafting on the lake, photo
exhibitions, live music, food stalls and
consumer goods stalls. This is a rare
opportunity to explore this historic
lake-site, built by King Pratap Malla in
1667, which otherwise opens to the
public only once a year on Bhai Tika.
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"Still Life" is his recent work in colour
with found objects. Together, the
photos portray two ways of seeing—
witnessing and expression. During the
inauguration on April 15, Wayne read
"Bloodscript" from his series of poems
based on the current situation in
Nepal. This is the 3rd exhibition by
Amtzis at the Gallery. Till May 3
For information: 4414607.
Lazimpat Gallery Cafe
"Samadhi: Ajourney through Sri
Lanka" by Prakash Chandwadkar. Till
April 26. For information: 4428549.
Lotus Gallery, Thamel
3rd Annual Contemporary Art Exhibition by 8 Tibetan masters. Till April 25.
New Orleans Cafe, Thamel
New temple wall exhibition of
Tibetan modern art. Till April 20.
Caravan hall, Summit Hotel
Exhibition of Tibetan Thangkas,
pashminas and statues. Till April 30.
For Information: 5550415
Earth Day Celebrations
April 19—Talk program and quiz at
City Hall.
April 20—Art competition at Paropkar
High School
April 22—City-wide tree plantation
drive, exhibitions and culture program.
Lazimpat Gallery Cafe
Admission: Free; Time: 7:00 p.m.
For Information: 4428549
April 22: The Mexican
In this romantic comedy Jerry Welbach
(Brad Pitt) needs to negotiate two
important events: his girlfriend
Samantha (Julia Roberts) has dumped
him and a mobster boss has ordered
him to retrieve an antique pistol, "the
Mexican," which has seen a history of
murders. A well-plotted entertaining
ride all the way
April 20: The Man on the Moon
Two-time Academy Award-winning
director Milos Forman teams up with
Golden Globe winning screenwriters
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
in this movie on the life of enigmatic
comedian Andy Kaufman. Jim Carrey
is in his element portraying the antics
of the eccentric genius that was
Inter Cultural Film Society
ICFS presents "Ithihas Jitneharu Ko
Laagi," a documentary by Pranay
Limbu and "Bheda Ko Oon Jasto," a
documentary by Kiran Krishna
Shrestha at Nepal Tourism Board,
Bhrikuti Mandap. The former
portrays the changes in the Nepali
music scene, as represented by Kuber
Rai and Dhiraj Rai and the latter
search for the source of folk tunes.
April 25; Time: 5:30 p.m.
Film Club, Baggikhana, Patan.
Satyajit Ray Special: Film club
presents a collection of famed Indian
director Satyajit Ray's movies. Till
April 26
Anthropology and
oth anthropologists and development-walas have been part
of Nepal's bidesi world since the early 1950s.  But each
group has its own language and culture, and there has
rarely been an overlap of their social worlds. This is somewhat ironic,
because both groups precisely deal with social worlds: the academics
studying social structures and meanings, and the development-walas
trying to figure out how to help disadvantaged groups.
Western anthropologists may seem a strange species to Nepalis. We
speak South Asian languages. We ask a lot of questions. We watch what
people do, and many of us, wittingly or unwittingly, imitate what we see.
But we are also undeniably Western. We ask questions like, "Why does
that happen?" and "What does that event mean to you?" when most
people in Nepal feel that things happen the way they do for reasons that
are largely inexplicable, and that the question, "Why?" doesn't really
mean very much. Although many anthropologists develop close friendships with people with whom they work—often over long
periods of time, and quite devotedly—it's not always
clearwhatthey really have to offer to Nepal. We
spend mostof ourtime writing articles and books
that end up in university libraries, often in an
academic language that isalmost impenetrable.
Development-walas have a different reputation. They clearly have access to a great deal of (
money by global standards, let alone by Nepali 1
standards. The inequities of development work
are glaring: the cost of a single Pajero could rebuild
the entire infrastructure of any one village. And
nobody even dares think what an enormous salary paid professionals must be getting.  All too
often, development-walas have very little idea about
how Nepali society works, especially outside of
Kathmandu. Most friendships exist within the development world itself, rather than between development-walas and the people they purport to assist. The idea that people in such a vastly different
category would have any idea about how to help people whose lives they
know so I ittle about, seems rightly suspect to Nepal is.
Both of these impressions are based in reality to some degree, but
both are also quite one-sided. Those books and articles that anthropologists produce are the sole stuff by which they get jobs or earn grants
to return to Nepal. Anthropologists usually make very little money, and
the status of academic life in the West—especially in the United States,
where most of the anthropologists on Nepal are based—is very low
indeed. (There is a saying in the United States: "Only in academia is the
competition so stiff for stakes so low.") Nobody really listens to what
anthropologists have to say: just look at American foreign policy under
President George W. Bush, at how little the State Department knew
about life in Iraq, or at the upcoming presidential campaign, in which
Democratic contender John Kerry is angling for presidency on the basis
of any foreign experience at al I. There is a cohort of scholars who know
a lot about Nepal, but policymakers rarely listen to them.
And on the other side of the equation, most development-walas
actually do care a good deal about the countries in which they work, and
about reducing poverty in the world. Theywould like to be able to direct
development money to the right places. But the bureaucracies under
which they are forced to work are huge, expensive, and time-consuming.
People are still having the dinner table conversations I overheard as a
kid: they know that most of their projects are missing the mark,
and they feel exasperated by their inability to
, change the larger systems to which they are
But together, anthropology and development
.  might be able to break out of their isolated states,
I and actually help Nepal improve its social and
I economic conditions. If development-walas were
I to heed what anthropologists know and write about
I power, ethnicity, religion, gender, state structures,
I and cultural systems in Nepal, they might be able
I to design and implement better projects. Doesn't
I it follow that to help disadvantaged groups it might
I behoove a development planner to know how
r those groups function? With clear, culturally-based
information about people's lives in different parts
and for different groups in Nepal, development projects could actually
reach people who need access to reproductive health care, drinking water,
good schools and education facilities, and real livelihood options.
And if anthropologists start tel I ing development-walas what they know,
they will be using their knowledge to contribute to Nepal in ways that
reach far beyond the ivory tower. Studying social groups can give people
in the development world, who have access to real power and real
money, the information they actually need. There's a recipe in here for
togetherness that has taken ha If a century to come to fruition. And the
way committed foreigners can best help their adopted country relies on
the marriage of these two social worlds: anthropology and development
can help each other, and together may be better able to help Nepal.    □
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
 Unsung Heroes
When Paul Therouxwas still an emerging young writer, his mentor V. S.
Naipaul used to tell him that no matter
what, a good writer was bound to get
noticed. But not every good writer is
fortunate enough to be appreciated. A
talented young writer, Mahesh Bikram
Shah has been writing wonderful short
stories for literary magazines like
"Samakalin Sahitya," "Madhuparka," and
"Garima" for nearly a decade and yet his
name scarcely gets a mention in the
Nepali literary world.
Some of Shah's formerly published
stories have been compiled in books:
"Sataha" (2053), "Shipahiki Swasni"
(2059) and the most recent, "African
Amigo." 'African Amigo," which takes its
title from a story in the collection, contains 15 stories published over a period
of six years. Although these stories have
different scopes and locales, a common
thread runs through most: his concern
for the poor and hungry. Shah works the
cruelty and insensitivity that poverty,
hunger, pain and suffering breed in village people, into his fictional characters
so movingly that he would put most
Marxist writers to shame.
Shah writes in the style reminiscent
of 19th century writers like Guy de
Maupassant and O. Henry. His stories linger on with little of interest happening till
the last one or two paragraphs when he
gives them a twist and ends them on an
emphatically high note. His endings foreground human pathos so beautifully that
the reader cannot help being deeply moved.
"Charaki," a story about a family that
needs to marry off their daughter, probably captures best the overriding theme
in Shah's work. In the story, men come
to seek the daughter's hand, but the suitors won't marry her until the parents
give the cow, Charaki, as a dowry. The
family depends on the cow for a living,
and anxious though the parents are to
marry their daughter off, they can't afford to give the cow as dowry or sell it
off to cover dowry expenses. Unable to
get married the daughter commits suicide. The parents rush to where she is
lying dead, and weep. Outside, the cow
cries. They fear the cow is also dying
and rush to the cowshed, only to see the
calf suckling on her mother's udder. Father ties the calf to a pole and starts milking the cow. Looking at the bucket filled
to the brim, he smiles. Seeing him smile,
Mother also smiles while the daughter
lies lifeless inside.
Although most of Shah's stories work
pretty well, at times they fail to pick up
and fizzle out. The reader who keeps on
reading his lingering narrative expecting
the stories to come to life can feel disappointed. And while Shah does add a fresh
voice to Nepali literature by bringing both
foreign locales and provincial settings and
dialects into his stories, his foreign settings sometimes seem generic. In stories
like "African Amigo," "Mrigatrishna" and
"Chilian," the reader cannot quite relate to
the locales. But does this matter when he
quite successfully brings foreign complexities into these stories and makes us
relate to, or at least feel sympathetic towards, his characters' sufferings?
"Chitrakala Nirupan,' written by Mukesh
Malla, a painter and art critic, is a collection
of 29 interviews and essays on contemporary Nepali artists. Although it is not an extensive writing on 20th century Nepali art,
it is a good introduction for laymen about
the artistic traditions of Kathmandu. The
book developed out of Malla's visits to various exhibitions and covers a wide range of
senior and young artists whom he interviewed, mostly on location.
The book reflects the tradition and
works of master craftsmen as well as artists of the margin. There are interviews
with veteran artists like Amar Chitrakar
and Kalidas Shrestha, both of which were
taken 13 years ago. From the interviewwith
Shrestha we learn how Bhajuman's trip to
England with Junga Bahadur Rana exposed
the artist to the world of oil painting, and
how Bhajuman on his return introduced
the art in Nepal. The book also has interesting stories about how the artists learned
their craft and how they live their lives: for
example, there is a story about how
Manoharman Pun used to sell traditional
drugs as a hawker and ran a tiny pub in
Darjeeling before he started painting. The
essays also examine the different educational backgrounds of the artists: for example, did you know that Urmila Upadhya
was educated at the esteemed Lecole de
Beaux Art in Paris? The book is packed
with interviews with contemporary painters like Batsa Gopal Baidya, Shashikala
Tiwari, Ragini Upadhyaya, Manohar Man,
"Vbgendra Dangol, Uttam Nepali, Kiran
Manandhar, Shyamlal Shrestha, Hiralal
Dangol and Ramanandajoshi.
"Chitrakala Nirupan" is a text from
the margins in an age of glossy, mass-produced books. The Nepali market has
dozens of small-scale publication houses
which print books of poetry, fiction, essays and criticisms. Such print houses
have contributed immensely to our reading culture even when western books on
everything from politics and globalization to movies and art are available everywhere. Books published by such humble
presses may lack the fashionably critical
theories usually found in books published by big houses, but they brilliantly
carry on the tradition of locals writing
about locals. They document the cultures of a nation and invite readings.
By Arun Gup to    d
 Khula Mane
The Longest
Period of Unrest
Political parties have once again taken to the
streets and the riot police are out in full
force. As the turn of events in the past
weeks show, the police have no permanent friends
and foes: former Home Minister Bamdev Gautam
himself received a bloody blow during the street
protests. Sushma Joshi of Nation Weekly talked
with Deep Rana, an inspector at the
Nepal City Police Office at
Bhrikutimandap, about his experience
patrolling political protests and the
challenges of hisjob during what he
calls the longest period of unrest in
Nepal's history
How long have you been
working at this beat?
I joined the City Police Office a year
ago. You know what it's been like the
past one year with strikes and protests.
So I have been going out on the streets,
and work to control the protests.
What was the toughest
moment you faced?
There was a big protest in May 2003, and
it got out of hand. During protests,
certain areas like the Palace and Singha
Durbar are closed off to the public.
Bhadrakali was also cordoned off Then
protesters forcibly tried to enter. I was at
the front trying to stop them. Then this
little protestor grabbed my walkie-talkie
and ran. I ran after him. He fell down,
and my walkie-talkie fell on the ground.
I was intent on retrieving it, and fell on
top of him. When I was down, all these
people started to kick me on the neck.
When my boys saw what was happening
to me, they couldn't hold back and went
in and started to beat people up. Lots of
politicians got beaten up that day
What were the consequences
of that event?
The DIG, Arjun Narsing, interrogated
me about what had happened. I felt
like I was at the Hague Tribunal, and I
was Milosevic. I explained the
sequence of events, and was allowed to
What are your main challenges
in this kind of work?
My cadres come straight from the
villages. They arrive in the city, and
have these plastic changes in
lifestyle. They have a lot of stress on
them. We have really good briefings— we tell them to make the
protesters run by scattering them, or
by beating them on the legs rather
than hitting them on the head. But
political parties don't have much
credibility in the streets. People will
actually come up to the police and
urge them: "Beat up these corrupt
leaders. They deserve to have a good
beating. It makes the boys feel they
are justified in their actions.
There is a rumor that businessmen
in Bagbazaar and Putalisadak are
trying to ban political protests in
their neighborhood.
Business has gone down 15 percent
in Bagbazaar and Putalisadak. The
protests have been happening for a
year now—this is the longest
period in Nepal's history in which
a political movement has been
going on. In 1990, it was over in
two months. I've been on the
streets, and I've seen it all—it used
to be around 5,000 people, and now
it's no more than 2,000. People are
fed up.
Inspector De
Do you know the student leaders?
I have a cordial relationship with
them. If I see them on the streets, I
ask them to control their boys, and I
control mine. It makes it easier to do
the job.
When violence happens,
who instigates it?
None of the incidents this past year has
been provoked from the police's side.
The student leaders themselves have
praised us for our tolerance. We are
trained from the beginning to be good
to the public. Of course, it also
depends upon the cadres. If there's a
cadre with a UML affiliation, and he is
sent out to control a Nepali Congress
rally, he might see somebody who he
knows and against whom he has a
grudge, and decide to beat them up.
That happens.
What are your personal thoughts
on the political movement?
Multi-party democracy should happen,
but political parties need to take the
time to analyze what went wrong for
the past 10 years. They need to do some
Are you afraid when you're
out on the street?
In the beginning, I used to feel not fear,
but anticipation when I went out on
the streets about what might happen.
But now I've seen the worst of it. I've
been stoned so many times the
dhunga-muda feels like dal-bhat
now.    □
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
ii-cr kj f**i-p ■***-
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Durbar Marg, Kathmandu Ph. 4221454
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 Last Word
Share in the celebration of Lord Buddha's birth in a idyllically peaceful
setting, 98Kms away from the bustle of Kathmandu.
I       Choose to venture on a day hike, canyoning, rafting, climbing .
atmosphere to make your stay wonderful
The    Borderland
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New Year,
Old Problems
Even by Nepal's recent standards, 2060 was extremely
messy. After holding out perilously for seven uneasy months, the
ceasefire finally collapsed. The toll in
the "people's war" galloped beyond the
10,000-mark. Once the peace process
foundered, it was clear that Nepal was
going to slide into a vicious cycle of violence and revenge killings. And events
since then are an indication that there is
more in store for the country.
Each time a ceasefire breaks down, the
task of putting together another gets that
much more difficult, simply because the
parties to the conflict
will approach the turn
of events with the
knowledge that previous attempts
reached nowhere.
And the public,
whose concern for
peace will remain
central in cementing
any peace process,
becomes apathetic to
the peace process.
For almost eight
months now, both
the security forces
and the Maoists have
been trying to score
needless points over
the other in an
unwinnable war. Abductions, extra-judicial killings, rape, torture and arbitrary
arrests have become so rampant that it is
almost impossible to keep track of them.
And it is notjust the number game that is
confusing (such as the wildly contradictory casualty figures given by the two
parties on the Beni encounter last
month). Even the human rights debate
is getting extremely polarized.
At the ongoing annual meet of the UN
Commission on Human Rights, Switzerland is sponsoring a resolution that would
bind Nepal into improving its human
rights record. India and the United States,
on the other hand, are expected to block
the resolution. The United States views
Nepal's Maoist problem through the
prism of its global "war against terrorism," and India, which has never liked
the international community's pronouncements on Kashmir, would like to
see Nepal resolve the Maoist issue without outside intervention.
We understand U.S. and Indian concerns but we think more along the European line. We urge both parties to the conflict to ensure accountability for their actions. We condemn the Maoists for using
child soldiers in the conflict and security
forces for not applying enough restraint in
their counter-insurgency measures. We welcome the Army's recent admission that
Doramba was a mistake, and the various
actions it says it has
taken against offenders. But such acts of
redemption have
been few and far between.
We call on both
the parties to sign a
Human Rights Accord with commitments to respect international human
rights and humanitarian norms. Toward that end, we call
on the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights to provide its good offices to offer technical assistance to the National Human Rights
Commission in monitoring and investigating the situation of human rights in our
country torn apart by the present conflict.
We fear that unless the gross human rights
abuses committed by both the security
forces and the Maoists are quickly stopped,
the spiral of violence will balloon out of
control, if it has not already, and any possibility of reconciliation will be pushed back
that much further. We want to restore sanity while there is still time. Thatwill make
it all the more easy to rebuild the country
when the time comes—something we
hope will happen sooner than later.    □
APRIL 19-25, 2004   I  NATION WEEKLY
The Resort, Windy Hills,
Nagarkot, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Tel:6680045-47/80/83 I Fax:6680068
Hotel Ambassador, Lazimpat,
Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel:4414432, 4410432
Nagarkot    Resort        E-mail: np


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