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Nation Weekly October 31, 2004, Volume 1, Numbers 27 and 28 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-10-31

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CTOBER 31, 2004 VOL. L NO. 27 & 28
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'Ate wish y<xj Peace Pnospenty and Happiness during mis festive season and beyond, nappy Viiaya Dashami.
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Marco Polo Travels
Tel: 4247215 Ext. 112-115
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Putalisadak, Kathmandu
Tel: 4412017, Fax. 977-1-5539787
 18 Inadequacies In
By Dipta Shah in New York
A new leadership has taken nuanced approaches to entice the Maoists to negotiate
40 Blackout
By Sushmajoshi
Fear hangs like a low-grade fever over
the villages. Soon darkness will follow.
44 Fertilizer At Home
By Satishjung Shahi
An increasing number of Valley residents
are becoming environmentally conscious and turning their home garbage
into valuable compost
46 First To Go?
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
An important U.N. regional center that
has only been operating for a few months
may be pulled out of Kathmandu. Can
Nepal stop it?
48 Death In The Family
By Satishjung Shahi in Lele
The Khadkas' lives are slowly returning
to normal, but Dashain this year is filled
with a deep void
60 Fading Beauty
By Sunil Pokhrel
Illegal mining in "protected" forests in
the south of the Valley is destroying the
environment and people's lives
20 Diaspora Dashain
By Pragyan Subedi
As our far-flung community grows—in India, Europe, the United States and
elsewhere—people devise new ways of celebrating Dashain in their part of the
NECESSARY NOSTALGIA: By Akshay Adhikari in Brussels
THE VAGARIES OF DASHAIN:By Karuna Chettri in Washington D.C.
DASHAIN LAI LE! DASHAIN KUAI LE:  By Trailokya Aryal in Beijing
DASHAIN AT A DISTANCE: By Yubraj Acharya and Shalaj Tater in Philadelphia
MAKE-SHIFT TIKA: By Anil J Shahi in New York
BRINGING NEPALIS TOGETHER: By Alok Tumbahugphe in Pune
6         LETTERS
16    BIZ BUZZ
11 Unfettered Right
By Jogendra Ghimire
57 Gorkhapatra's
ByAshutosh Tiwari
58 If 1 Should Be
So Lucky
53 Thinking Out Of The
By Yashas Vaidya
Shrijana Singh Ymjan never wanted to
follow the beaten path
67 Pushed To The Back
By Sudesh Shrestha
With its talent pool, Nepal should finish among Asia's top non-Test playing
countries. It should start with holding
three-day matches at home.
7 8    LAST WORD
67 No Alternative To
By Bipul Narayan
The decision to allow Gurkhas the
choice of British
citizenship is too
little, too late j j
No American NGO
Nepal would like to thank you for profiling one of our staff members and highlighting our works in Jumla and Kalikot
through Midwest Relief and Rehabilitation Program ("Jumla Vision," by Pragyan
Subedi, October 17). We appreciate the
article as a whole but would like to clarify
the following points:
World Vision is not an American-
based NGO but it is an internationally
governed partnership organization with
international board members, drawn
from different parts ofthe globe, that have
equal voting rights. Our international
offices are located in Geneva and California and our Asia Pacific Regional Office is in Bangkok.
We appreciate Yuban Malla's leadership and contribution to the organization and our work in Jumla and Kalikot.
At the same time we would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of
all the staff members, the local community, our partners and donors for whatever we have been able to achieve through
the program.
Too Little, Too Late
decision to allow Gurkhas the choice of
British citizenship is a case of too little,
too late ("Halfhearted Welcome," by
Satishjung Shahi, October 17). There's
a tendency among the Gurkha communities in Nepal to treat everything Britain offers them as a huge achievement
and to regard Her Majesty's Government
as the ultimate savior. That points to a
deep-seated inferiority ingrained in the
Gurkha psyche—that the "white masters" can do no wrong. While I am personally no fan of organizations like the
Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen Organization (GAESO) especially their rhetorical war against everything British, I
have come to respect what they stand
for. They are at least speaking for a large
section of the Gurkha community who
feel betrayed by the British. It is only in
recent years, especially after the restoration of democracy in 1990, that the
Gurkhas could speak up more openly
about their grievances, and the Nepali
media took up their cause with a new
gusto. I would like to thank Nation and
especially Satish Jung Shahi for covering the issues related to the voiceless
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Election at gunpoint?
Deuba says, holding free and fair election now is impossible ("Polls at Any
Price," October 17, by John Narayan
Parajuli). Unless he wants the minimal
voter turnout and proxy votes to hit the
headlines. Anyone closely following the
events in Kashmir will tell you that the
elections there are just not a good example to follow.
The peace process isn't easy, either. Bringing the Maoists to the table
for any meaningful dialogue seems a
remote possibility without the government agreeing on constitutional
assembly, no strings attached. The
Maoists are unlikely to budge for anything less.
The appointment of Deuba clearly
showed the escapist attitude ofthe King
and his unwillingness to remain within
the bounds of constitutional monarchy.
When Deuba was restored as prime minister, he was bestowed with the onus of
holdings elections. He is at least supposed to "initiate the process" of elections by next April. In the event of his
failure to hold elections, Deuba is likely
to take full advantage ofthe leverage offered to him by the King (the prime minister need not hold elections but only
"initiate the process" for one by next
April). There is every possibility that he
will manipulate the royal caveat to his
liking. In any case, elections are just not
next government will come out of the
same mix of political parties? How different will the new government be,
than those of past 12 years? Not very
much, I am afraid. Without the Maoists
being brought to the mainstream politics, the elections will be fruitless. The
new government will again claim to
be the representatives of the people
even if the majorities shirk away from
What have we got to vote for after
all? Unless the old generation is ready
to make way and a fresh line of vision-
I ary leaders emerges, what is the use of
going to the polls to vote for the very
people who have led us into the current mess? And, what will we be trying
to prove by voting at gunpoint? That,
this is how a representative democracy
The only way out of the quagmire,
for now, is constituent assembly. I cannot understand why so many people
are vehemently against doing away
with our current Constitution, which
is seriously flawed and defunct, as has
aptly been shown by the events of, and
after, the royal takeover on October 4.
We can draft up a more inclusive constitution, which adheres strictly to
egalitarian principles, the bedrock of a
democratic society. Constituent assembly could be a good beginning. And
while so doing, we have to make sure
that the true power rests with the
people and constitutional bodies this
time, and not with a handful of interest groups, who claim to be the
people's representatives while they are
busy playing their own power politics.
And, no one should be sidelined in the
peace process, for all-round participation will hold the key to legitimacy.
The neglect of any of the quartet—the
Maoists, the monarchy, the political
parties and the civil society—may only
serve to fester the problem in the long
run. Lastly, the future of Nepal will
largely depend on how the King intends to define his role within a constitutional framework. Deep-rooted
suspicions will remain about his intent so long as he remains an active
Prakash Sharan Mahat is the
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs,
not assistant minister as it appeared
in the report "Halfhearted Welcome" (Vol.1, No.26).
S B Subba as the ex-chairman of
Bhutanese Refugee Repatriation
Representative Committee, not the
chairman, as it appeared in the report "Forgotten Souls" (Vol.1,
No.26). Bhampa Rai is the new
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nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
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Effective from 16 SEP - 31 DEC04
Flight No.
Days of
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 eek   Pictures
1. WE SALUTE YOU:Nepathya pay tribute
to journalists at Harmony for Humanity, a
concert ogranized by nepa—laya, the
band's promotion company
2. DASHAIN AAYO: A traditional ping, a
swing, being set up at Pashupati
3. THE RIGHT TO KNOW: Human rights
activists attend a fast-unto-death
organized by relatives ofthe "disappeared." They were demanding that the
whereabouts of those missing be made
4. AWARENESS: A street play on child
rights organized by CWIN at Patan
Sdurbar Square
5. COME OUT TO PLAY: Children affected
by the conflict at a picnic organized in the
Balaju gardens
photos: nw/SS and B Rai
^ ■- sit* w m w? fi&t w f? fa ytofff7^
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
 MAIDEN VOYAGE: Perhaps for the first time,
cameras and cameramen jostled inside the
Supreme Court where Nepali Congress
President Girija Prasad Koirala appeared in
response to a court summons for contempt of
 Unfettered Right
All public officials—even the most reviled ones—have right to due process law. The CIAA will do well
to understand that.
My last column, "Watching the Watchdog" (Vol.1, No. 25)
seems to have caused some ripples among the officials at
the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority,
the CIAA. I am happy to note that one of them, Phanindra Gautam, a
former colleague of mine at the National Human Rights Commission and
currently a senior law officer at the CIAA, responded with a full-page
article on these pages last week. He questioned my understanding of the
CIAA vis-a-vis the right against self-incrimination. The constitutional right
against self-incrimination that former Prime Minister Koirala, or for that
matter any other public official, enjoys against the CIAA summons, of
course, was the cornerstone of my argument in defense of Koirala.
This article elaborates further some ofthe issues I raised in "Watching
the Watchdog" and my position on issues Gautam raised last week.
There should be no confusion in anybody's mind that the CIAA, as a
constitutional authority entrusted with the powers to investigate abuse of
authority by public officials, has all the right to ask them to appear before it.
My concern regarding the current role ofthe CIAA is not to argue against its
exercise of this right It is to argue that because ofthe way the CIAA has gone
about its business, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for an individual to
assert his constitutional right to due process. That should be reason enough
for concern, and hence my call for the need to watch the watchdog, the
It should, however, not be mistaken that I was trying to advocate for
Koirala's case. That has been taken care of by some of the best constitutional lawyers in town. My argument is that even if Koirala decides not
to cooperate with the CIAA investigation on his property holdings, he
should still go to the CIAA, assert his right against self-incrimination and
force the constitutional body to take a decision regarding an un-cooper-
ating individual. Such a stance from Koirala, I hope, would force the CIAA
to think twice before taking shortcuts to investigations and detaining
individuals during investigations. With a lesser public figure, the commission could well be tempted to do otherwise. The concern, therefore, is
not for Koirala's right per se but for the rights ofthe lesser public figures
who should be able to use the right to self-incrimination without fearing
reprisals from the CIAA.
My fear, based on anecdotal evidence, is that if a potential accused
does not cooperate with the investigators, he is likely to be arrested
duringthe investigation. Investigators could cite a host of clauses provided in the CIAA Act while doing so. Take the case of former minister
Govind Raj Joshi. He was detained because, as Gautam states, "if he
were not detained, he may have caused adverse effect
on the course of investigation."
That does not explain Joshi's side ofthe story. I have
very little sympathy for Joshi but a former minister, who
was being hounded by the media, pursued by the state
machinery and ostracized by a substantial segment of the
political class, is unlikely to stand in the way of the CIAA
Gautam argues that the CIAA summons to individuals is in line with
the principle of natural justice, which requires an authority to listen to the
accused before condemning him. While I do agree with the principle, it
should also be noted that not so long ago, the CIAA caused the ouster of
the then Minister Sharbendra Nath Shukla from the Cabinet. His crime:
As a witness for RPP leader Rabindra Nath Sharma, he appeared before
the Special Court, where he spoke against the CIAA. The case was
illustrative ofthe fact that there are limits to the CIAA's "patience" when
it comes to hearing the "other side" ofthe story.
The concern about the CIAA's use ofthe principle of natural justice
is that while it is presented as an option, it is enforced like a compulsion. The implied message to a lesser-known public official: If you don't
cooperate, you will pay a price. It would be interesting to know if there
isa practice at the CIAA, for example, of informing those who appear
before it that they may decl ine to answer any questions and that such
a decision would be respected? My understanding is no. Does the
CIAA allow legal counsel to be present before and while takingstate-
ments from any potential accused? Any lawyer will testify in the negative. What percentage of suspects have asserted their right against
self-incrimination before the CIAA? Next to nothing.
Considering the powers that the CIAA enjoys under the Constitution
and the CIAA Act, public officials know that the CIAA could do a lot of
damage to an individual just by following the legal procedures leading to
prosecution, even if the ultimate verdict ofthe court does not go in the
CIAA's favor. It has the power to arrest the person during investigation;
the filing of a case bythe CIAA results in suspension of the official in
question; and the very public nature ofthe CIAA investigations makes it
impossible for anybody to come out ofthe ordeal squeaky clean.
The law does not provide that the CIAA can arrest a person who
declines to cooperate with the investigation. But the CIAA Act does provide
the constitutional body with discretionary power to determine the need for
such an action. It is in light of such elements of discretion that high-profile
figures—like Koirala—could be test cases to force the constitutional body
to use its authority wisely, thus setting a useful precedent.
Gautam is right that the fundamental right against self-incrimination
does not give anybody immunity from corruption charges. I neither argue
for one. In fact, the CIAA should be commended for its vigorous pursuit
of corrupt public officials. Still, it's not an unfettered luxury. While pursuing
the guilty, it is of paramount importance that the investigators pay maximum heed to the minutest of due process and constitutional protection
that every individual—no matter how hated and reviled—is entitled to.
That is the crux of my argument. □
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
Civil Conflict
by Auguste Rodin
The Notion of Nationhood
 ■■:■ . ■'
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■ ■ ■ ■
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fl- - -.
■ ^
omfort above
... after sunset,
waiting for the sunrise
tel. 668004548/80/83 I I
CITY OFFICE: Hotel Ambassador, Lazimpat, Kathmandu I tel. 4410432/4414432 I
ROYAL RIDE: Crown Prince Paras out for a ride on his motorbike
with a security contingent at Tinkune
New birth
Princess Prerana gave birth a son
on Sunday, October 10, at
Birendra Military Hospital in
Chhauni. The baby weighed 2.5
kilograms. The health of both
the mother and the baby is reported to be sound. King
Gyanendra, Queen Komal and
other members ofthe royal family visited the hospital.
Bhutanese call
A Bhutanese refugee delegation
to Geneva led by Tek Nath
Rizal, chairman ofthe Human
Rights Council of Bhutan has
asked the international community to exert pressure on Nepal,
Bhutan, India and the United
Nations Human Rights Commission to find a durable solution to the refugee problem. The
repatriation process that was to
begin on February 15 this year
has been stalled after refugees
pelted stones at Bhutanese officials in the Khudunabari camp
last December following provocative statements from the
Bhutanese officials. The Joint
Verification Team assigned to
verify the refugees' status had
concluded that 75 percent of
refugees in the camps are
Estate closure
Haifa dozen tea estates and tea
processing plants were closed in
Panchthar in the last few
months due to Maoist threats
and lack of transportation facilities. The Maoists forced the
Pathibhara Tea Garden in Oyam,
Panchthar to close down, alleging that Padma Sunder Lawoti,
the RPP leader, owned a share of
the business. Kantipur daily
quoted the manager of
Kanchenjunga Tea Estate,
Nirananda Acharya, as saying
that the Maoist act had upset
their efforts to declare the northern region of the district as an
organic tea zone. More than Rs.
80 million has been invested in
the tea estates.
Diesel seizure
The Rupandehi District Market
Follow-up Committee confiscated petroleum products worth
Rs. 100,000 while they were being transported illegally to India.
The committee confiscated more
than 14 drums of diesel fuel at
the Belhiya transit point. To control the illegal export of petroleum products to India, the government has limited fuel sales to
50 liters of diesel for long-route
vehicles and 20 liters for short-
route vehicles plying to India from
Nepal. In one month the committee has confiscated more than
3,010 liters of diesel that was being taken to India. A large number of trucks and buses enter
Nepal from India with empty
tanks to have them filled in
Nepal, as the price of diesel in
Nepal is lower by Rs. 7 per liter
due to government subsidies.
Media policy
In a new 11-point media policy
made public, the government has
banned all types of commercial
wall paintings and posters in the
Kathmandu Valley. The Minis-
After weeks of drama
and a war of statements between the
government and the Maoists,
the Maoist supremo
Prachanda on Friday, October 15, announced a unilateral truce for nine days, starting October 20 through the
festival of Dashain. In a statement issued to media houses, the
Maoists said they would postpone all their military action for now,
keeping in mind the wishes of human rights organizations and the
civil society. However, in the same statement, Prachanda warned
his cadres to remain vigil against "conspiracies and maneuvers" of
the present government. The Maoists have also accused the Deuba
government of failing to answer "clearly and concretely" the six-
point question they put to the government regarding its legitimacy
and its stand on constituent assembly.
try of Information and Communications stated that the decision was made to discourage
outdoor advertisements and to
divert the money used for these
forms of advertising to the media sector. Al media houses will
have to file an audit report every year, and publications will
not be allowed to use more than
40 percent of their total space
for advertisements. The government also decided to provide
Rs. 1.5 million immediately to
the Federation of Nepalese
Journalists to set up a fund for
the welfare of conflict-hit journalists. Another Rs. 100,000
will be provided to construct
FNJ district offices.
FDI in telecom
The government has invited
foreign investment in the telecommunications sector. It says
that Nepal's telecom policies
and laws are liberal and investor-friendly. Telecom policies
permit foreigners to have up to
an 80-percent share in investments in the telecommunications. The statement was issued
during an Israeli telecommunications conference held in
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 NRN Day
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur
Deuba assured Non-Resident
Nepalis, or NRNs as they are
better known, that the government is preparing a law that will
give them legal status in the
country. The assurance came at
a meeting between the prime
minister and representatives of
the NRN International Coordination Council. Non-Resi-
dent Nepalis have been saying
that without clear legal provision, it would be nearly impossible for them to invest in Nepal.
The NRN council also donated
Rs. 400,000 to Nepal Tuhura
Kalyaan Sangh in Krtipur.
SC deadline
The Supreme Court ordered the
government to submit information about individuals who have
gone missing after being arrested
by security forces. Deciding on
a writ filed a month ago by Babu
Ram Giri, secretary ofthe Human Rights Organization of
Nepal, the apex court ordered
the government to present the
details of findings by a committee formed to investigate the
missing cases. The petitioner in
his writ had urged the court to
issue an order to the government
to disclose the whereabouts of
all the missing individuals. The
government has already made
public the whereabouts of 204
persons said to have been missing. The investigation committee published a list of 126 additional missing individuals.
Drug peddlers
A team of the narcotics police
unit arrested Kapil Dev Mahato,
an Indian drug peddler, with
500g of brown sugar in
Kathmandu. Police arrested him
at Kalanki with the drugs at
around 6 in the morning.
Mahato is from Champaran in
the Indian state of Bihar. He was
on the police blacklist of drug
peddlers in the Valley. He was
nabbed after police launched a
special operation to locate him
by calling his pager. Seven others involved in drug smuggling
have been arrested in the Valley
during the first week October.
Mountaineering accident
Two Japanese climbers, Michio
Sato and Hideji Nazuka, were
killed in an avalanche as they were
climbing Annapurna I. The Japanese climbers had been reported
missing by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
They were caught in an avalanche at Camp I on Mt.
Annapurna. Sato was leading a
four-member team up the 8,091-
meter peak. The climbers' bodies
have been recovered. The other
two members ofthe team, Toshio
Yamamoto       and       Hideki
Nishimura, are reported to be
safe. The extent of their injuries
is unclear.
Security posts
The government has decided to
remove security posts from
schools and has asked the security agencies to comply. Security
forces have set up camps at various schools, mostly in conflict-
affected areas, following growing Maoist activities in schools.
The Maoist-aligned Al Nepal
National Independent Students
Union-Revolutionary has been
demanding the removal of Army
and police posts from schools
before sitting for negotiations
with the government. The government, for its part, has proposed that rebel students stop
strikes and other violent activities in educational institutions.
Women in uniform
About 500 women from a pool
of 800 applicants passed the
physical fitness qualifications for
officer-level positions in the
Royal Nepal Army. They now
have to compete with 1,100 male
qualifiers in tests of mental abil-
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
ity to qualify for the Army positions. This is the first time that
the RNA has recruited women
for non-technical officer-level
Landslide toll
Two members of a family were
killed and two others injured in
a landslide at Samkot VDC in
Dhading. Those buried in the
landslide were 56-year old
Somlal Tamang and his 9-year
old son. The landslide buried
them while they were sleeping
in a water mill at Sukekhola. The
injured were brought to
Kathmandu for treatment.
U.N. interest
The United Nations has
shown repeated interest in
monitoring a ceasefire if both
the government and the
Maoists agree and ask it to do
so. U.N. resident coordinator
for Nepal, Mathew Kahane,
told the Kathmandu Post that
agreements made at the time
of a ceasefire declaration should
be respected by both the sides
and should involve some monitoring mechanism. The United
Nations has expressed its concern about the adverse effects
of the ongoing conflict on
women and children and has
been calling on both sides to
respect the Geneva Convention. The Maoists have also
been calling for the involvement ofthe United Nations in
the negotiation process. Meanwhile, a temporary truce has
been called by the Maoists during Dashain from October 20
to 28. As we went to press,
the government had not
yet responded to the
Maoist move.
Mohsin, the government spokesman,
said that the government
would issue a collective response only after verifying the
veracity of the Maoist statement.
 Biz Buzz
World Record
Twelve-year-old Sagun Khatri set a
new world record for randomly
memorizing 100 objects. He demonstrated this ability to memorize and recall random objects before an audience
that included the minister for science and
technology, Balaram Ghartimagar, academicians, child specialists and journalists.
Sagun, an eighth-grade student at Little
Angels' High School in Hattiban, broke the
record of Justin Hartely ofthe United Kingdom. Hartelyhad memorized 75 objects in
2002. Sagun's bid for a world record will
be submitted to "The Guinness Book of
World Records," the global authority on
record-breaking achievements. The school
will send the videotape ofthe authentication test conducted on him along with all
relevant documents to the Guinness Book
to formally register Sagun's claim. If the
authorities approve, Sagun will also set a
record for being the world's youngest person to memorize so many objects. "Sagun
has demonstrated the ability to memorizing 100 objects and recall them in sequence, reverse sequence and at random,"
school principal Umesh Lai Shrestha said.
"His memory is sharp, and he can memorize the names of all 45 students of his
class without any effort." Sagun, who likes
playing lawn tennis and football, wants to
become a neurosurgeon or a scientist when
he grows up.
The Bank of Kathmandu has started banking
transactions in the industrial city of Biratnagar.
The bank has branch offices in Kathmandu,
Hetauda, Dhangadi, Nepalgunj and Pokhara.
With the start of services in Biratnagar, the bank
now has branches in all the five development
regions ofthe country.
The newest addition to Yeti Airlines' fleet, a SAAB
340B aircraft, arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport. The 36-seat aircraft is the third
acquired by Yeti Airlines since it started operations in September 1998 with DHC-6-300 Twin
Otter aircraft. Yeti Airlines now has the largest
seat capacity in the domestic sector and offers
a wide network of domestic flights. The company employs more than 300 people.
Hansraj Hulaschand, the authorized distributor
for Bajaj Auto, has launched the Bajaj Discover
DTS-I motorcycle in the market. The Discover
DTS-I has a 125cc engine producing 11.5
horsepower. The bike is available in four colors
and is equipped with an advanced feature
called the ExhaustTEC (torque expansion chamber) technology for the exhaust system that
improves engine torque at low
rpm and optimizes engine performance. The Discover is
priced at Rs. 105,900.
Hansraj Hulaschand is offering a "scratch and win"
scheme, with prizes of Rs.
4,000 to 10,000, on the
purchase of any Bajaj bike.
Cosmic Yingang Motorcycle Manufacturing
Company has launched the new CY 100-7
bike. The bike is targeted at city dwellers. Produced in Nepal, the bike has features like
self-start, gear display, fuel indicator, time
clock and lighted rearview mirror. It is available in three different colors-black, red and
blue. The CY 100-7 is priced at Rs. 67,500
with a two-year warranty, free replacement of
spare parts for a year, six free service visits
and a buy-back guarantee. Cosmic Yingang
has service centers throughout Nepal. A special Dashain offer of a zero percent down
payment and a free helmet is available for a
limited time.
Syakar Company, the authorized distributor
for Philips Electronics in Nepal, has launched
MiraVision Mirror TV, a versatile LCD display
integrated into a mirror. The MiraVision Mirror
TV uses a unique polarized mirror technology,
which transfers nearly 100 percent of light
through the reflective surface. The TV can be
installed on a wall or be used with a desktop
workstation. It can be connected to a laptop
or a PC with a special connector, enabling the
mirror to become an LCD monitor providing a
large display for presentations or for surfing
the web. It comes in sizes of
17, 23 and 30 inches.
The chancellor of Pokhara University, Prime
Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, nominated
Rajendra Khetan, executive director of the
Khetan Group, as a senator of Pokhara University. Khetan is the president of Nepal-Britain
Chamber of Commerce and Nepal Insurance
Association and will represent the private sector. He is also the honorary consul of Portugal
to Nepal.
Nepal will be participating in the telecom fair
Telecom Israel 2004 to be held from November 8 to 11 in Tel Aviv. The telecom fair will
serve as a platform to learn about advanced
technologies and outsourcing opportunities, to
enhance business ties and to explore third-
country markets.
Nepal has a 100-percent digital transmission
and switching system, and the government has
endorsed a new telecom policy for 2004, which
welcomes private investment in the telecommunications sector. The number of subscribers
wi 11 on ly be I i m ited to regu late the rad io spectrum, and an open license regime has been
implemented, said Suresh Kumar Pudasaini,
chairman ofthe Nepal Telecommunications Authority. Information and Communication Technology is one of Israel's leading economic sectors. The accelerated development and mobilization of information and communication technology in Nepal could play a vital role in poverty
reduction and speedy economic growth, said
Israeli Ambassador Dan Ben-Elizer. The GSM
mobi le phone technology being used by Nepal
Telecom was bought from Telerad, an Israeli
K-Too Beer and Steak House located in Thamel
has won a gold medal recognizing the high quality of service at the restaurant. The French Society of International Jury ofthe Quality of Life,
the general manager of Europe's Air Excel, Abu
Dhabi investment authorities and the deputy
managing director of Gulf Aircraft Maintenance
Company were amongthe judges. Export Manager Johnny Pier Ambrosini of Thompson-SCF
and Deputy Chairman Marie Christine Ambrosini
of The French Society of International Jury of
the Quality of Life awarded the medal to the
restaurant. To celebrate the award, K-Too is
offering a discount of 20 percent on lunch
and breakfast. On the festive occasion of
Bijaya Dashami, a 20 percent discount on dinner is offered to all Nepali guests.
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nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
A new leadership has taken nuanced approaches to entice
the Maoists to negotiate. Despite the appearance of
grandeur, inadequacies at the base level remain
During his recent visit to New
York, Minister Prakash Sharan
Mahat met the usual entourage
of dignitaries and diplomats. He also
upheld what some hope will become
tradition for future generations of qualified dignitaries from Nepal—to speak
to a gathering of students, professors and
future world leaders at Columbia
University's School of International and
Public Affairs (SIPA).
Last year, Foreign Minister and Am-
bassador-at-Large Bhekh Bahadur Thapa,
kindly obliged requests from Nepali students at SIPA and delivered an exceptionally articulate and well-rounded talk. The
discussion section that followed represented the full range of issues pertaining
to Nepal—from alleged human rights
abuses to the Bhutanese refugee crisis and
a very non-traditional explanation of the
origins ofthe Maoist insurgency (one that
resonated extremely well with the SIPA
This year, at requests from the larger
Nepali community members, Nepali
students at SIPA coordinated with the
South Asia Institute, which kindly accommodated Mahat into a one-hour question-
and-answer session at Columbia University. Mahat, following closely in his
predecessor's foot-steps, delivered an
exceptionally passionate speech on
Nepal's current plight through the prism
of the Maoist insurgency.
Mahat's exposition started off with the
definition of the Maoists as "terrorists"—
a term that Thapa craftily avoided a year
earlier—and he spent the larger part of
his time, describing in strategic terms, the
deceptive tactics the Maoists have continued to employ. Mahat delved into
much greater detail on Prime Minister
Deuba's past experience with the Maoists
and using this experience as a baseline,
justified the current government's caution and skepticism regarding immediate peace talks with the Maoists.
For the most part, Mahat delivered
an expected, although very impassioned,
speech about the suffering the Maoists
have brought upon Nepali citizens and
did an excellent job of outlining the
Deuba government's position on the insurgency. However, there were a few
inconsistencies in his delivery, clarification to which, could not be sought
owing to time constraints.
The first area of concern was Mahat's
insistence that future peace negotiations
be held in "secret," which contrasted
sharply with his resolve that there is no
alternative for Nepal other than a democratic establishment. Granted, such delicate negotiations do require some degree of secrecy, but there was no clarification on the degree to which democratic freedoms would be suppressed in
the name of negotiations. The lack of
clarity in this regard raised questions on
the issue of accountability should talks
fail and to whom the ultimate credit
would go if they succeed.
Audience members also wondered
what Mahat was exactly alluding to when
he claimed that measures were being
taken to bring the Maoists in for talks.
He offered scant details about what exactly was being done. There was also
confusion over Mahat's contrasting
claim at first that the Maoist leadership
was nowhere to be found, and later—in
response to a question—that no external
mediation was required as the government is in direct contact with the Maoists
because "they are everywhere."
 This was the easy part of the question and answer session and consisted of
queries delivered by those with genuine
interest in, but not completely attuned
to, internal affairs in Nepal. Successive
questions that focused on Nepal's internal political situation and the consequences on overall diplomatic efforts
were not as soundly addressed.
After an impassioned speech on the diplomatic efforts that the government is extending to resolve the Maoist conflict, Mahat
expressed a certain level of unease and discomfort when questioned on the measures
his ministry was taking to address a persisting conflict of interest in the Royal Nepalese
Mission to the United Nations. Mahat deferred answering a targeted question regarding the legitimacy ofthe current Nepali Ambassador to the United Nations (who allegedly is also employed by a UN. agency
and reaping the benefits of both his ambassa-
and the perks of his UN. employ
ment). Although the individual in question
was also present, he seemed incapable of defending his position. Non-Nepali members
of the audience were naturally shocked.
Further questioning regarding Nepali
Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala's
reluctance to join the current coalition also
drew sharp criticism from Mahat. He attributed Koirala's inability to put past differences aside to an overblown ego.
All in all, it was apparent that a lot
had changed in Nepal since last year
when Bhekh Bahadur Thapa spoke at
SIPA. A new leadership is holding the
reigns of power in Katmandu, nuanced
approaches are being employed to entice the Maoists to negotiate and this
government's position on the Maoists
as a terrorist outfit seems firm.
Less heartening was the realization
that despite the appearance of grandeur,
inadequacies in Nepali diplomacy at the
base level, remain unaddressed.  □
TRENDSETTER(above): Last year, the then Foreign Minister Thapa
went to Columbia University in New York to speak on his
government's position. The discussion that followed covered a
wide range of issues.
SUCCESSOR: Early this month, Minister Mahat, following in
Thapa's footsteps, delivered an impassioned speech outlining
the Deuba government's position on the insurgency at the same
venue. His speech impressed the audience, though some were
still left with questions unanswered.
 1.' W 8
As our far-flung community grows—in India, Europe,
the United States and elsewhere—people devise new ways
of celebrating Dashain in their part of the world
seem like an easily
transplantable festi
val. The rituals that
are held over the 10
days—from the
planting ofjamara to
the sacrifices of animals—cannot easily
be held in other lands. The festival itself
is so intrinsically connected to a particular time of year and, to some extent, to
the place, that Nepalis who have lived a
good part of their lives in Nepal before
moving to distant shores say that the fall
festival makes them deeply nostalgic. It's
the time of the year when you talk endlessly about the festivities and gaiety back
in Nepal. Take for example, one of the
major events celebrated during Dashain,
the harvest of the rice crop. That can
hardly be celebrated in Europe or the
United States.
Yet, the primary ethos of Dashain—
to spend time with one's family and to
reestablish bonds of kinship—has lost
none of its meaning. All over the world,
Nepali communities celebrate Dashain
with zest and in style. It is remembered
as that special time of the year when the
rains dry up and there is a nip in the air.
 Schools and colleges close, with an aura
of anticipation and excitement.
As our far-flung community
grows—in India, Europe, the United
States and elsewhere— people devise
new ways of celebrating Dashain in
their part ofthe world. For most Nepalis
abroad for the first time, trying to adapt
to a new culture and searching for a new
community to be part of, the period
around Dashain brings on a special nostalgia. Phone calls home make one
aware of the hectic preparations and
excitement of the festival and leads to
the feeling of being left out. To combat
the alienation, most Nepalis in cities
all over the world try to connect with
other Nepalis.
Nepali organizations help do this by
organizing parties and events where
people can come together and mingle.
In capitals, which usually have the presence of a Nepali embassy or consulate,
the diplomatic missions take the lead.
But however enjoyable such gatherings
may be, the characteristics of the festivities are fundamentally different from
celebrations back home.
Even in communities where Nepali
practices such as the planting of jamara
and the receiving of tika take place, the
values behind these practices have
changed over the years. Community
gatherings in other lands can't be purely
family affairs; what replaces family are
friends and their families. The ceremony
of pasting tika onto each other's foreheads
takes on a different meaning. In Nepal,
tika is placed by older members of a family onto the foreheads of the younger
ones as a blessing. There is a strict hierarchy and protocol in the ceremony. The
oldest member begins by blessing each
younger member. This is followed by
blessings from other members of the
family. Each takes turn according to seniority. That elaborate protocol is hard
to maintain in a foreign land where dis
tinctions based on seniority are much
less important.
Nepalis abroad, especially in the
west, have already imbibed cultural values that are egalitarian in nature. It makes
no sense for Nepalis without families to
have a hierarchy among friends who paste
tika on each other's foreheads. A lack of
protocol means that tika ceremonies are
held with less solemnity than in Nepal,
and with more lightheartedness and
Dashain for the diaspora is an opportunity to meet other Nepalis and celebrate their Nepali-pan. Writing about
Dashain in Kathmandu, Arun Gupto recently complained in a column in The
Kathmandu Post how all his friends
seemed to disappear once the Dashain
season set in. For them it was a time to
spend with family, not with friends. For
people like Gupto, whose extended families live outside the Valley but still choose
to remain here during the festivities,
Dashain can be lonely.
Not so for Nepalis abroad who are
willing to reach out. The lack of immediate family means that Nepalis of all
communities and age groups are welcome to Dashain festivities. It is an opportunity to celebrate and remember, an
opportunity to connect with newcomers and old friends alike. It is an opportunity to rediscover through each other
the characteristics they have each been
given by the homeland and share the traditions of home in a new world in new
"Did you get an invitation for the Dashain party from
the embassy?" a friend of mine asks me. "No," I reply.
Back home it's different; you can feel
it in the air, and the whole atmosphere
is painted with festival colors. Nothing
of that sort here. Apart from a few calls
from back home and occasional emails
from friends, nothing makes you remember. Now that he had asked me
about the invitation, I was thinking of
Dashain. There's one good thing about
all these diplomatic missions we have
abroad: They keep reminding you of
important events like Baiskah 1, the
King's birthday and now Dashain. I'm
sure there are lots of other good things
they do, but none affect my life as directly.
I didn't receive an official invitation
from the embassy for Dashain the previous year either, but then it was different.
I had just arrived, and I had no connections whatsoever—not an invitation by
somebody with any kind of influence.
Fortunately a friend invited my girlfriend
and me to the party. And it worked out
well. You see, it's different when you live
away from home. You miss all those small
pleasures of life that we are so used to at
home, like talking in Nepali, seeing
Nepali faces, enjoying khasi ko maasu. All
things that we take for granted at home
become something of a privilege, and
their memory overwhelms you with
nostalgia. The Dashain party brings
people together in a memory-sharing
"Does the embassy have your postal
address?" my friend asks me. "Of course
they have it!" I had gone there myself to
provide them with one last year, I remember. "Do they know that you're not
a refugee applicant here?" he then asks
me, which I am not.
Then he explains to me that political
refugee applicants from Nepal are not
invited by the embassy as they would
have something against the government.
It's just not possible to have those people
on the guest list at the Embassy of His
Majesty's Government. Well, I don't
have much to say on that, so I just acknowledge it. "They must have their
own parties going on somewhere then.
Maybe I should try to figure that out," I
Dashain for all of us Nepalis living
outside of Nepal means the same thing.
It's time to celebrate with the ones we
love and to have a break from our busy
schedules. It's a time to see the girls
and marvel at the way they look dressed
up in ethnic costumes. It's time to party
'til the wee hours of the morning and
dance to Nepali music and folk songs.
And for those without any sense of
rhythm, blame their awkward steps on
the jaar that DHL refused to mail from
Nepal. It's also the time when you ask
your friends to call in sick for you at
work because the foreign companies
have an NIH (Not Invented Here)
policy towards Dashain. It's time to forget—at least for a moment—about your
work, about family that you miss back
home; to forget all the mess in your
country, to forget the differences between you and others and after forgetting all these things, it's time to party.
It's time to get invited to put on tika,
show your cards skills in "marriage" and
believe that the weekend is going to be
a good one in a genuinely Made-in-
Nepal way.
"Ok I'll remind them that they have
to send you an invitation too," he tells
me. "But why don't you try to call them
yourself as well?"
He's suggesting to me that I should
say one of those, "Kahi? Haami lai ta maya
marnu bhayo jasto cha ni?" Now I am
wondering if that would be a good idea
and ask them to invite me. Now I'm considering whether I should have a backup
plan if the embassy invitation never happens to me. Pratibha is making aalu ko
achar. Sush is going out for a few drinks
after work. Ajaya has some friends coming over to his place. Everyone I know
has a plan for Dashain. And each has prepared for Dashain in his own way and
according to his convenience. Maybe I
should come up with a plan too.
Home was a place where you didn't
have to plan anything; everything just
happened. There were just too many invitations, and you had to come up with
excuses to refuse all but a few of them so
that you could have your own fun time
amidst family obligations. But here it's a
different story. Now that I'm thinking
of home and Nepal, I hope this year will
bring some peace to my country, and that
we will not have to wait for arrival of
Dashain for a ceasefire.
As for my plan, I have decided to place
a call to the embassy to ask them if they
still have a few invitations left so they
can put my name on the invitees' list and
post the invitation before Dashami. Just
can't let another Dashain slip away.   E
The only icon for Dashain worship in my Washington
home is a small, exquisite statue of Tara, the Tibetan goddess of compassion
Dashain weather outside!" says
my friend, as he calls me from
his cellphone while jogging in a nearby
park. "Of course it's Dashain weather,
silly, it's October!" I retort. In Washington D.C., Dashain stirrings start with the
advent of the fall season. As the sweat-
bath heat and humidity of summer give
way to bright sunshine and cool breezes,
I am unceremoniously prodded into a
month-long relentless nostalgia of
Unlike Christmas and its audio-visual onslaught of jingle bells—red, white
and green colors—reindeer and Santa
Claus, Dashain seeps into the very air I
breathe until it becomes one with my
moods. No jhilimili hustle and bustle of
Dashain shopping rush, nor the pet mut
ton in the backyard nor frantic visits to
the Devi temples, and yet the Dashain
feeling grows on me like wild weed
growing out its yearly cycle. The warm
sun on my back, the lazy evenings, the
changing fall foliage and the honking of
Canadian geese as they fly south across
the orange sky all symbolize my Dashain.
Every Dashain has been a series of
growing pains for me. The first year after my arrival in Washington, I tracked
each passing day, every new moon, every
full moon, and every celebration that I
remembered. My dog-eared bhitte patro
showed all signs of my compulsion—a
compulsion driven by the need to track
my family's life in Kathmandu. They
were futile attempts at controlling and
regulating my emotions through the
waxing and waning of the lunar cycle.
On the first Tika away, my parents called
to bless me in my inconsolable mood.
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
«&. Ji
 The blessings did nothing to empower
me; rather, I was drained, exhausted and
melancholic. I remember skipping
classes that day.
Eventually, my obsession with the
calendar waned with the challenges of
each college semester. Dashain was no
longer a major part of my calendar. Itwas
that particular time of year that prompted
memories of Dashain experiences in
Nepal. With clarity, I recall my mother's
aromatic cooking; my sister and I dressed
in our "new Dashain clothes" sitting
cross-legged waiting for my parent's
blessings; big, red, rice-vermillion-
mixed tika slowly sliding down our forehead to our nose; my father's flawless
chanting of the mantra; and the pungent
and yet aromatic fragrance ofthe incense
mixed with marigold flowers that
cradled the steady glow of the oil lamp.
Every strand of childhood memory meticulously nailed into the furthest recess
of my mind, filed but vulnerable to the
whims of my shifting moods. Like
Pandora's box, the Dashain of my childhood remains closed. Trapped within is
a potpourri of emotions simmering in
passive ripples. And, with a sudden pang,
I realize that the only icon for Dashain
worship in my Washington home is a
small, exquisite statue of Tara, the Tibetan goddess of compassion. She is radiant, illuminated by an oil lamp and
fragrant with sandalwood incense.
The rituals are minimal.
Dashain abroad is fascinating.
The Washington D.C. metropolitan area has a significant number
of Nepali people working or
studying here. Every year, a few
Nepali organizations throw
Dashain parties at the local
hotels or community centers. Such
events promise modern and folk dances
and a dinner consisting of masu, bhat,
alooko achar.. .and a good time. The young
congregate to "party" and mingle; the old
to connect and reminisce. On one particular occasion, I decided to go to such
a party hosted in Virginia. Sari and "rato-
tika" clad, I ventured, anticipating an
evening of festivities. The food was flavorful; the dances were entertaining and
the dancers beautiful. The mood was jovial, strangers made friends, friends met
old long-lost friends and people danced
to the Macarena. Despite the
companionability I felt cheerless with
every dance I danced. To make matters
worse, the friendly curiosity expressed
by total strangers with questions of:
"Where do you live in Kathmandu?"
"Whose daughter are you?" "What does
your father do?" "Are you married?" and
the mother of all questions—"What visa
do you hold?"—rankled on my nerves.
Exasperation marked the end of my public celebration of Dashain spirit. Since
then I have stuck to private parties at
friends' homes, where I helped to cook
up a storm, sang old forgotten songs, lip-
synced new Nepali and Hindi songs,
played cards and antarakshari, and danced
to folk songs I had never danced to before.
In recent years, Dashain has symbolized a period of mental cleansing for me.
In Nepal, I wasn't much of a temple-
goer during the Navaratri festivities; the
bloody scene of headless goats, chickens, ducks and buffalo calves had successfully removed the sacredness of the
temples for me. In Washington D.C., the
only temple I have visited on an impulse
is the Hare Ram Hare Krishna temple in
Potomac. However, in D.C,
Ghatasthapana ritual worship starts at
home at my little Tara's shrine. Mindfully, I attempt to keep the flickering
flame ofthe oil lamp burning until Tika.
While the wispy smoke of sandalwood
incense suffuses my home with my
mother's presence, peace sets in. Western stress triggers take a backseat, and I
feel more connected with my surroundings. On the auspicious Dashami, a few
close friends and I put tika on one another while making
earnest and hilarious
attempts to remember the Sanskrit
mantras of Ayudrona
Sute and Jayanti
Mangalakali. My parents' phone calls
no longer cause
me anguish. Finally, I have ac-
that the vagaries
of Dashain are
merely a state of my
mind and not of time,
place, rituals or
people.  13
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Dashain is a family holiday, but when you are far from home, the company of other
Nepalis is a good substitute
again when I really wish I were back
in Nepal. Partly it's because of the
upcoming midterms, papers and presentations, but mainly because of Dashain.
Beijing is a happening city, and there is
always something to do for entertainment all-year round. But when it's
Dashain time, all the Nepalis here think
of home, because we all grew up singing
"Dashain Aayo, Khaula Piula"—Dashain
has come, its time to eat good food. It's
probably the only time of the year when
Nepalis living outside Nepal think exactly alike, regardless of who they are or
what they have become. It's a time to
celebrate and think about home.
That's what makes the Dashain celebrations outside Nepal special. Everyone is sad that they are not in Nepal to
celebrate it, and, at the same time, everyone is happy to meet other Nepalis, eat
Nepali food and sing a song or two. The
only requirement to come and enjoy the
celebrations is to be a Nepali or a friend
of Nepal. No race, caste or class restrictions: truly an egalitarian celebration.
When my Chinese friends ask about
Dashain, my standard answer is: "It's
something like your Spring Festival and
Chinese New Year, when everyone is
expected to be home. It's notjust a festival, it's a time to renew the family bonds.
It's not only enjoying good food, it's
enjoying good food with your
family." They more or less understand
because, like our own culture, the Chinese culture puts a heavy emphasis
on family relations. And when they ask
me whether it is a Hindu or Buddhist
festival, I always tell them that although
it originated as a Hindu festival, it has
now evolved as a national festival. It is
not a Hindu festival anymore. It's
a Nepali festival.
This feeling that Dashain is a national
festival makes Nepal especially colorful
and festive during Dashain, and it makes
Nepalis outside Nepal want to celebrate
it with other fellow Nepalis. Mary Subba,
a Christian from Dharan who attends the
Guangxi Medical University in Nanning,
which borders Vietnam, has the same
view. "Its a national festival, so I am going
to celebrate it." She will be celebrating
this with some 80-plus future Nepali
doctors, eating Nepali food and singing
Nepali songs. A few rounds of card games
like marriage and call-break will, of
course, be included.   Suman Tiwari and
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
 his Nepali friends at Shanghai's East China
University of Science and Technology
too are excited about the Dashain celebrations. "We will be cooking Nepali
food, then going to various Nepali parties at other colleges. Then there is a
Nepali party at a Nepali restaurant, followed by a big party which almost every
Nepali in Shanghai is likely to attend."
But the students at Zhengzhou Medical
University in Henan Province have more
celebrations lined up than anyone else in
China. The sheer size of Nepali student
body—about 200—means they can have
not only parties but also sports events and
Nepali music concerts!
Nepalis in Beijing have fewer options. Unlike other cities in China,
there are only a handful of Nepali students in Beijing, and they are scattered
all over the big city. Only the Peking
University Medical School has more
than 10 Nepali students. Hitasha Shah,
a student at the school, plans to cook
Nepali food and play card games with
other Nepalis there. Other Nepali students at various colleges where there
are only one or two Nepali
students will have to wait for the annual Dashain Party at the Nepali Embassy in Sanlitun Lu to celebrate
Dashain. The embassy's annual party
is one of the few times that some of the
students get to meet each other. Hitasha
and her friends are eagerly looking forward to it. According to her, "It's not
the food, it's the chance to meet other
Nepalis that makes us go there."
Nepalis in China, from teenage students and post-graduate fellows to se
nior embassy staff, all have something
planned to celebrate Dashain. Although
everyone admits missing home and relatives, they are also excited to meet new
friends and renew old ties. Of course
there is no substitute for Dashain celebrations with one's family in Nepal,
but these celebrations outside keep
Nepalis connected to their Nepali
heritage. As for me, I have a small celebration planned myself. I will be taking my friends from China and elsewhere out for a Dashain celebration
the Chinese way, with countless sticks
of yang rou chuan'r (barbequed goat or
lamb meat on a skewer) and Beijing's
own Yanjing beer, the perfect cure for
the Dashain blues. Then I'll head to the
embassy's party, to celebrate the Nepali
way.  Q
Students at the tiny Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania
invite Nepalis from all over America to their Dashain party
October, almost two weeks before
the actual date of Dashain. More than
30 students in their late teens and early
20s meet, cook food, chat, sing and
dance. There is neither jamara on their
ears nor the fragrance of makhamali in
the room. And there is no Durga Puja
going on.
While the gloomy possibility that
the Maoists and the Army may not
call a ceasefire during the festival season clouds the mood in Kathmandu,
Dashain is being celebrated in a faraway land, at Swarthmore, a small liberal arts college in northern Pennsylvania. For the past four years, students, mostly undergraduates, have
been gathering at here to celebrate
This tradition started four years ago,
when a group of students attending
Swarthmore College decided to organize a small gathering for students from
nearby colleges. Of course many students who attend college and universities in the United States are from well-
off families and could have relatives,
close or distant, in America. But for
many, this gathering has been a relief
from homesickness.
As they gather to meet new people
and celebrate Dashain with daal, bhat,
masu and, perhaps, beer with Nepali
melodies in the background, many relate the celebration to what Dashain
symbolizes. "Dashain is a festival to
celebrate the victory of justice over
cruelty, valor over cowardice and
truthfulness over deceit," says Pranab
Lohani, a senior at Wharton Business
School at the University of Pennsylva
nia. Lohani has been to Swarthmore to
celebrate Dashain for the last three
years. He is not alone. Pukar Malla,
also a graduate of Swarthmore College,
has attended all the Dashain gatherings
at Swarthmore. He and other Nepalis
at Swarthmore organized the first
Dashain gathering three years ago. Ever
since, he has traveled long distances to
celebrate an occasion. Last year, for example, he traveled all the way from
California, a six-hour flight. The reason: "What better a place to celebrate
an important occasion than
[Swarthmore,] where I know and will
meet people important to me?"
Similarly, Bibhav Acharya, a junior
at Haverford College, considers
Dashain a time to forget sorrows and
misunderstandings and to enjoy the
company of others also far from home.
Referring to the broader practice of
Dashain, Acharya says, "Any distance, be
it physical or emotional, between family members is forgotten, and everyone
gets to enjoy everyone else's company
over some good food." Even if the
physical distance can't be completely
forgotten, coming together to enjoy
good company and good food is a great
reason to celebrate Dashain. This year,
there were nine freshmen in colleges
near Swarthmore. For many of them,
this was their first Dashain away from
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 The fact that the cost of food and accommodation is borne by the organizers themselves separates this event from
other Nepali gatherings in the United
States. "This is the most generous event
and the best social plan I ever heard,"
wrote Mandeep Shrestha, a freshman at
Moravian College, who plans to attend
this year's gathering. Despite the financial burden on the organizers, the desire
to be a part ofthe organizing team seems
to grow with every gathering. For the
last two years, the event has been organized not only by the students at
Swarthmore but also by students at Bryn
Mawr and Haverford, two nearby colleges.
Guest participation also marks this
gathering as different. It's not a traditional gathering where the hosts cook
and serve the food while the guests sit
and eat. The gathering starts with a brief
informal introduction, after which everybody starts chopping vegetables,
preparing rice or wrapping up the
momos. Perhaps this collective work
around a table helps the participants get
to know each other and make themselves at home. "Dashain [here] helps
us relate [our life here] to life back
home," says Servesh Tiwari, a graduate
student of computer science at Drexel
University. Tiwari arrived a day before
the gathering this year to help out with
the preparations.
One problem the organizers and
the participants face is the timeliness
of the gathering. The college's fall
break falls almost two weeks—sometimes even three—before the festival.
"It would have been more fun if we
had been able to celebrate it on the actual day," says Lohani. But there are
logistical issues with having the celebration on the real Dashain day. Organizing the event is often a strenuous
task, which entails taking approval of
the deans, reserving the space and making sure that there are enough rooms
for the guests to spend the night. All
these arrangements become easier
when many students leave during the
break and the organizers have less academic work.
Despite the event coming weeks early,
students enjoy it a lot. "We always look
forward to this [gathering]; it is the biggest event ofthe year," says Lohani. d
Dashain means extra phone calls home and a sense of
appreciation of my culture. But I have found it harder
and harder to hold ad-hoc Dashain celebrations.
student life in the United States 15
years ago; I was always very keen on
explaining to the "foreigners" the different aspects of Nepali life. Many did not
even know where Nepal was; and whenever I got the opportunity, I was always
eager to educate them about our country, our language, our culture and our way
of life in general. I am not sure if any of
my "students" were as eager to learn as I
was to teach, but I chatted along anyway,
always assuming they were interested.
Some might have been genuinely intrigued by what I had to say, but I am not
so sure about others. Unaccustomed to
the new way of life in the United States,
my naivety at the time about the idea that
people here actually sincerely cared
about others' lives was genuine, and perhaps misguided.
Dashain, at the time, therefore, meant
trying hard to improvise and hold makeshift Tika celebrations and explaining to
the "foreigners" what the red rice grains
on our foreheads meant. It was a moment eagerly awaited by checking on a
"bhitte pattro," sent from home to let
every other Nepali you knew know
when exactly was Dashain. Oh, yes! We
were a very small Nepali community
then—perhaps just over 200 even in New
York City, which is now a home to over
8,000 Nepalis—and almost everyone
knew everyone else. It was easier to hold
small but meaningful Dashain parties
with home-cooked authentic Nepali
food. Dashain also meant higher phone
bills—you not only called home more
during Dashain, but you would call almost everyone you knew to wish them
"Happy Dashain."
As the years passed, I have become
overwhelmingly overloaded with the
American way of life. I have come to accept the fact that life in the United States
is very mechanical—one almost feels
like a robot in terms of being entirely
consumed with daily chores of work and
other superficial aspects of living. Like
an American, sadly, may I add, I sometimes feel compelled not to worry about
aesthetics of life, but rather be hopelessly
consumed with worries about making
money and paying my bills. The weekdays to me mean nothing but work and
maybe a glimpse at the TV while taking
dinner; the weekends are reserved for
household errands to prepare for the following week, such as doing grocery and
laundry. I may catch a movie or make a
short trip to friends if I am lucky on some
weekends. This does not mean I like or
advocate this kind of life, but hey, this is
the only way of survival in the global hub
of capitalism.
So, what is Dashain for me now? The
extra phone calls to home remain the
same; and the feeling of nostalgia and a
sense of appreciation of my culture too
remain deep. However, I have found it
harder and harder to hold ad-hoc
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Dashain celebrations, particularly with
friends and family. Not everyone is off
on Dashain days (one would be lucky
if it falls on a weekend), and not everyone could care as much as they wish
about Dashain due to other obligations.
Even the Dashain parties are not fun
anymore—the large number of people,
ironically, has meant that the parties
have become more and more commercialized. The food is not authentic
home-cooked Nepali anymore—it's
usually Indian buffet catered from a
restaurant, with perhaps a couple of
Nepali items.
The DJ dance that follows most of
the parties include modern hip hop
somgs and Indian bhangras, with only an
occasional burst of Nepali jhyaure or pop.
And occasionally one has to encounter
unprovoked aggressiveness from young
zealots who have had a little too much to
Not all parties are unworthy,
though. I have been to some Dashain
parties that, along with the fulfillment
of all the necessary commercial attributes, made attempts to add Nepali-
pan by having Nepali cultural shows.
At one party, there was someone's old
grandmother putting Tika on every guest
at the door. Now, that was pretty impressive! Most importantly, though,
whether the Dashain parties are overly
commercial or not, or whether they
reflect true Dashain spirits or not, they
sure are very good excuses to catch up
with friends, or even just to relax one's
mind from the daily hustle and bustle
of American life.
As I have grown older and have developed a deeper sense of appreciation
of my roots, I personally have started
to grow some jamara and do the necessary poojas privately at home. I also try
to gather close friends and family for
an improvised yet a close imitation of
Tika celebrations every year. Dashain
has also come to be an excuse to play
few extra rounds of "marriage" with
higher-than-normal wagers and to indulge in merry-making with a few extra drinks. Other than that, I have begun to refrain from overly commercialized large parties; and there remains absolutely no yearning to explain what all this means to those who
are new to it, save someone's bides"
spouse or a close friend.
"Happy Dashain!" also sounds too
commercial and western to me, so
"Vijaya Dashami ko haardik mangalmaya
shuva-kaamanaa!" n
3Bn*&*m..-*,*«!**fc, ±, -*#«*E*4r*c
d*Br*^:T^*Vi t**o.w   .
Pulling together the khasi, the
bideshi Dashain isn't easy, but
year when one misses home
more than anytime else. There
is a difference between getting to celebrate the biggest Nepali festival at
home and having to limit the celebrations in a foreign desh. Granted that India may not be so far away from home
and our cultural and social relations
give us the bhai-bhai kinship, but when
it comes to celebrating one's festival,
there's no better way to do it than the
way it's done at home.
A Dashain without the customary
khasi ko masu, drinking, gambling and of
course the tika tab doesn't really feel like
Dashain. Let's face it, no matter where
you are in the world, come Dashain one
is bound to return to memories of post-
monsoon freshness, of clear fall skies
filled with kites (vying for supremacy);
shopping to appease the Goddesses; the
immortals immortalized in blood-
soaked statues; and the mortals who run
the household and dish out the goodies,
sel rotis, aloo ko acchar, khasi ko masu, and,
yes, chilled beer.
kotha and the kindred for a
it's worth the work
Those at home might ask, what's
the big deal with location? A lot. As a
Nepali it's perhaps a genetically acquired demand to want to celebrate
Dashain with the customary amenities. Not that it's an easy task trying to
maintain the customs in a foreign
land. Even with the current confusion
and chaos that has divided Nepalis,
the very thought of the festival of the
triumph of good over evil brings one
and all together. It doesn't matter
whether you're a Sunar or a Shah, a
Rana or a Rijal, a Thapa or a Tiwari.
Here you are just a Nepali with the
same nostalgia for home. Everyone
wants to go home for Dashain. Those
who can make it a point to go, even if
it's just for the day of tika. But it's not
as easy as observing the customary tika
rounds from elders and relatives.
Here one has to carefully plan for
the festival months before it actually
arrives. You can't be a stranger in a
strange land and expect to get a train
ticket home a day in advance. No
wonder, the closer the festival gets the
greater the anticipation. Students prepare weeks, if not months, in advance.
The very thought of spending a few
carefree days with family and friends
is enough to take away the brunt of all
the frustration that piles up during the
course ofthe term. The frustration of
those who don't do their booking on
time is clear. Add to it the desperation of fast dwindling funds, and it's
clear why it's worth the trouble for
Not being able to make in time for
tika may dampen the spirits a little, but
the Gods are gracious. We may not be
home, but at least the spirit to celebrate still remains. As the festival approaches there is a talk of having the
compulsory Dashain party. The local
student body the Nepalese Students
Association-Pune, is now busy looking for a venue to hold the grand
The challenge is that the members
demand to go whole hog. That means
cutting a khasi, and mind you, that's
not any billy goat, boka or bakhri for
you. Those are unworthy ofthe noble
taste of khasi our highland palates have
acquired. So here begins the problem
even before the celebrations. It's not
too difficult getting a boka or a bakhri,
but where on earth do we find a
proper khasi, the castrated goat that
forms an essential Dashain ingredient?
Thankfully there are hundreds, if
not thousands, of migrant Nepali
workers earning their livelihood here
as security guards and, these days, as
chefs of street eateries called "Chinese." It's not too difficult to come
across a Nepali here, and as for the
khasi, the word has been spread and
the dajus who operate the food stalls
have promised to look for a suitable
Now as for how many might attend the gala event, no one really
knows. We have always been known
for our indecisiveness, but this much
we know: The khasi will not go to
waste. After months of surviving on
chicken masala, to waste even a minute
morsel of the mutton would be a
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OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Places of worship during
1. Guheswori
2. Pashupati
3. Shankata
4. Taleju
5. Kalikasthan
6. Naxal Bhagwati
7. Bhadrakali
8. Banglamukhi
9. Maitidevi
10. Shova Bhagwati
11. & 12. Dakshinkali
13. Mahankal
All photos by Sagar Shrestha
and B. Rai
4    5
B^nJWI mn i-3> r;.
-     1
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
1. A DANGEROUS AFFAIR: Asnake charmer during Nag Panchami
2 & 7. A TIME TO PLAY: Young and old, alike, celebrate Dashain and
Tihar with various card and board games
3 & 8. A TIME TO LAUGH: Maha performing at BICC during Gai Jatra.
Children in a procession of Gai Jatra that marks the yearly festival to
mourn for the dead
4. PREPARATIONS UNDERWAY: A potter sells clay pots for the Dashain
The pots are used to grow jamara used on the day of the Tika.
5. LADIES IN RED: Women at the Risheswor Mahadev at Teku during
6. LOOKING SHARP: The Army prepares for the Phulpatibadai
Fear hangs like a low-grade fever over the villages. Soon
darkness will follow.
the most dangerous place in Nepal
at the moment. Anywhere else is
much better, as long as you don't get
caught in crossfire. And indeed as we
drive from Bharatpur to Hetauda, past
sunny fields of rice and cows ambling
lazily past rivulets of water, the conflict seems far from this idyllic land.
Except for a few stray Army units, the
road is free of any signs of militarization. A red flag stuck on a bicycle on
the side of the road did not belong to
any revolutionary but to a worker
from the Road Department whose gear,
on closer inspection, also included a
yellow helmet.
"Where is the conflict?" my friend
said. We had come expecting to find war
but found only bucolic peace. "Just wait
till you get off the highway" somebody
said. Well-seasoned fellow travelers entertained us with stories of almost-ab-
ductions they had faced in their travels
and warned us that the greatest danger
was the patchy nature of the command
network of both the Army and the
Maoists. Raw troops of both varieties
are the biggest dangers—well-trained
ideologues of either strain are not.
Travel in Rolpa and Rukum is hassle-
free because both parties control certain defined areas; as long as you inform
the relevant authorities you are coming, there is little chance for unforeseen
encounters. Places like Kavre, on the
other hand, have raw Maoist cadres with
little education wandering around, and
even the United Nations has stopped
its programs in that area due to the risk.
The first sign of conflict is the curfew, which in Hetauda starts at 9 p.m.
Uneasily aware of the big trucks filled
with unified command who had come
to guard the agricultural minister, we
hurry through dinner. An old friend of
mine tells me she likes the town and
finds it easy to live in, despite the bombings.
Stories of Army troops caught in
ambushes and ministers who barely escaped with their lives from big sieges
soon surface. "This is where the Lever
factory was bombed, that's the police station that was bombed," a local journalist
tells us matter-of-factly as he gives us a
tour. In one village, graffiti prominently
felicitates the "Prachanda Path." The graffiti demands punishment for the Bhiman
incident, in which 17 individuals were
shot in cold blood by security forces
while they were asleep. Fifteen ofthe 17
were Maoists; two were civilians. In the
villages, dozens of stories of extrajudicial arrests by the Army and of arbitrary
justice and policies ofthe Maoists soon
Most striking is the sense of fear that
hangs like a low-grade fever over the villages. Voices are lowered as people talk
about their fears of both parties. The
sense of being caught in a stateless void
is palpable. All state agencies have
stopped functioning outside district
headquarters. The police no longer go
into villages to investigate common
crimes: The community where a woman
had recently hung herself was told to
photograph the body and bring it to the
district headquarters. Domestic and civil
disputes are resolved at the local level
because people are afraid ofthe arbitrary
nature of state justice.
In remote areas the Maoists have demanded food, imposed a draft that asks
for an individual between age eight and
80 from each house and abducted people
to carry food and explosives. In one village, more than 50 men have been abducted for labor purposes. All eventually returned. The Maoists have started
to influence local community groups
 of all sorts, from Ama Samuhas to forestry management and youth groups. A
person felling a tree now has to pay a
Rs. 300 tax. Every bag of marijuana is
taxed Rs. 200. We meet the wife of a
man who was hacked with axes by the
Maoists, and we met people raped and
tortured by the security forces. The citizens' bitterness and disillusionment
with the Maoists is equaled only by
their loathing for state agencies and the
security forces.
RUSTIC ILLUSION: Villagers in rural
countryside bear the brunt of the
arbitrary decisions made by both
sides to the conflict
RED ALERT: Outside the Valley, Maoist
ambushes and attacks, like the bombing of
Nepal Lever (shown here), have cast a shadow
of fear on the local populace
Predictably, NGO culture flourishes
even under these drastic conditions.
English words like "facilitator," "focus
groups," "motivators" and "programs"
are common currency, and so is the thorough demand for civic and economic
accountability, which people ask for
from the field workers they perceive to
be dollar-guzzlers.
The Maoists have recently started
to tell people in Makwanpur not to
pay their electric bills. Anybody who
goes to the city to pay their bills will
have their arms and legs broken, the
Maoists promise. The man from the
electricity office is too afraid to go to
the villages, so there is no longer any
system to negotiate this basic service.
People who approached the NEA and
asked them if they could leave their
payment cards in the district headquarters have been told that this is not
possible. In one community I visited,
800 households will soon be cut off
from their electrical supply if they do
not go and pay the Rs. 40,000 that is
pending. If the NEA cuts off their
electrical supply, their mill will stop
working, and they will not be able to
grind their flour.
The Maoists have no system to provide alternative electrical service, and
the NEA is unwilling to consider different methods of payment. People in
this situation will have to live in darkness due to the arbitrary policies of both
parties. How do people cope in such
situations? In one village a couple of
women took me aside and told me the
Maoists had not threatened them. "Really?" I asked. They came closer and
whispered: "We go and pay it in the city,
and they don't know about it." Will the
Maoists not notice that certain villages
are still fully lit, and, if so, what will
they do in retaliation? Will the whole
country have to go dark before the
"people's war" is successful, or is this
just a localized decision from an area
commander who has a particular grudge
against that reactionary service known
as electricity?
History teaches us that civil wars
can often spiral into atrocities that border on the unbelievable. Let's hope
plunging Nepal into darkness will not
be the Maoists' contribution to their
country. □
The effect of the conflict will continue well after it has
ended with the economic cost directly proportional to
the length ofthe conflict
Maoists weigh the pros and cons
of entering into a ceasefire, they
would be served well to take into account the economic consequences of
continued conflict. Another few years
of conflict will be extremely debilitating for the economy and could potentially wipe out the achievements of decades of economic and social development.
In economic theory a country's economic growth is dependent on its in
vestment in human and physical capital.
The more a country invests in roads,
power plants, industrial equipment, irrigation, education and health, the more
prosperous it can hope to be. When a
country's investment in these productive resources declines,
the capital stock of the
country falls—reducing the growth potential of the country.
Unfortunately the story of Nepal
during the last several years has been one
of an utter neglect ofthe productive resources of the country Since the con-
flict intensified the government has been
unable to invest even in the development
and maintenance of new roads, hydro-
power plants and other infrastructure
needed to maintain the growth of the
country On the contrary vital infrastructure in different parts ofthe country has
been destroyed or has remained
underutilized due to the conflict.
The government has reduced expenditures on education, health and training, depleting the stock of human capital in the
country. The quality of
the government's meager investments in education and health has also
declined due to repeated disruptions and
extortion of government staff by the
Maoists. The government has run historically low budget deficits but at the cost of
higher development expenditure, which has
declined from about 9 percent ofthe national income in 1997 to 6 percent of the
GDP in 2004. Consequently public investment in Nepal has been well below the
level needed to put the country on a higher
growth path necessary to reduce poverty.
The cost of doing business in Nepal
has increased significantly due to the conflict; Maoist extortion, lack of security,
numerous bandas, blockades and shutdowns have made Nepal one ofthe most
difficult places to do business in the region. It is not surprising that new private
investments—both domestic and foreign—have come to a standstill in the
country. The investment rate as percentage ofthe national income declined from
21.7 percent in 1997 to 18.7 percent in
2004. In India, the current investment rate is over 25 percent and in
China over 40 percent.
These effects of the conflict
have combined to give the country
an average economic growth of 2.6
percent during the conflict compared with 5 percent growth in the
10 years preceding the conflict. The
loss is similar to that of other conflict-affected countries, which, on
average, have been shown to lose
2.2 percent growth for each year of
civil war. Nepal's per capita income, which is $270 in 2004, could
have been $300 if economic
progress had not been intercepted
by the conflict. The economic loss
is likely to become greater as the
conflict lengthens. If the conflict
lasts another five years, Nepal's per
capital income will be 20 percent
less than what it would have been
without the conflict. If the conflict
lasts another 10 years, Nepal's per
capital income will be 30 percent
less than what it would have been
without the conflict.
The effect of the conflict will
continue well after the conflict has
ended with the economic cost directly proportional to the length of
the conflict. Although peace will
reduce the costs of economic activity in various ways, it will not
reduce them to the pre-war level.
With peace the destruction of physical and human capital will cease,
reducing the depreciation rate on
capital back to its pre-war level. In
simple terms, what this means is,
for example, if a business owns a
car, the car will have a shorter life
during the conflict due to attendant
dangers than at normal times. The
disruptions in the economy through
bandas and blockades might also cease so
that there is a one-off increase in productivity. However, other areas of crucial importance to the economy are unlikely to
immediately revert to the pre-conflict
level. For one, there is only likely to be a
partial restoration of productive public
expenditures in areas such as education,
infrastructure, health and agriculture.
Military expenditure will be slow to decline: Demobilization will likely be delayed through fears of its consequences
COST OF CONFLICT: Many years will be
required before the country can recover
from the damage done to its infrastructure by the conflict, even after the
conflict ends
and the Army might have to be expanded
to include the Maoist rebels.
The conflict will also leave behind a
"culture of violence." A generation,
which has grown up amidst armed warfare, is likely to be significantly more
inclined to a life of crime and violence.
With little education or training, they will
be unable to contribute significantly to
the development of the country. Nepal
will end up as country with a huge
amount of unskilled and uneducated labor and a ramshackle infrastructure—
compromising the ability of the country
to development of internationally competitive industries. Democratic and social institutions weakened by the conflict are also unlikely to gain full strength
at once—resulting in huge economic and
social costs for the country.
What is at stake in the conflict is not
just the political throne in Singha Durbar
but the future of 24 million Nepali
people. The government and the Maoist
leadership must act to find an outlet—
and they must act now. □
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
An increasing number of Valley residents are becoming
environmentally conscious and turning their home
garbage into valuable compost
Dashain; crews work extra hard
collecting waste that is mostly
organic, leftovers ofthe parties and family gatherings ofthe almost 780,000 residents who receive city trash services.
The volume goes down after the holidays, but the problems remain. There's
a lot of trash, and it's expensive to col
lect and dispose all of it. A major portion
could be recycled instead.
Sixty-nine percent of the 896 cubic
meters of waste collected each day is
organic, and less than 10 percent of it
gets recycled into compost. Environmental experts say that more and more
people are now becoming environmentally conscious and are voluntarily turning their household waste into valuable
"People are willingly paying to have
their garbage collected from their homes
by private parties, which shows they are
becoming more aware of environmental issues," says Rajesh Manandhar, chief
of the Solid Waste Management Section
at the city's Environment Department.
"The street bins have not been stolen,
unlike the problems we had years ago."
Manandhar's department has been selling home composting bins for the last
three years in an effort to encourage individuals to recycle. They have sold over
800 of them, 200 in the last three months
alone, and the city has a hard time meeting growing demand.
"The response is tremendous," says
Ratnakaji Maharjan, who conducts the
Household Waste: 750 cubic meters per day
Commercial Waste: 75 cubic meters per day
Institutional Waste: 75 cubic meters per day
Street Waste: 75 cubic meters per day
Total: 975 cubic meters per day
Collection rate: 896 cubic meters per day
Percent of waste collected: 92%
[Source: KMC1
Organic 69%
Paper 9%
Plastic 9%
Clothes 3%
Glass 3%
Construction material 2%
Metal 1%
Rubber 1%
Others 3%
[Source: KMC1
tANDY BIN: Kathmandu's residents
re slowly warming up to the idea
of turning their garbage into
compost. The demand for plastic
compost bins is increasing
trainings on the use ofthe compost bins.
The training is required for those who
purchase the bins. The city last year decided to order these plastic compost bins
in bulk using an open tender to minimize costs. Buyers also get a set of gardening tools, a cloth bag, a bottle of microorganisms that speeds up the
composting process and a packet of free
compost. The city plans to sell 1,000 bins
by July 2005.
"Even foreigners and well-established Nepalis working in various
projects have been our clients," adds
Maharjan, as he explains how the bins
should be handled to produce good-
quality compost. "All your kitchen garbage is turned into valuable compost that
won't smell bad, if you handle it well.
Nurseries have been selling compost for
up to Rs. 25 per kilogram." People are
getting the message; there are several
inquiries each day.
In order to systemize the process,
now that demand is high, Maharjan notes
down the addresses of everyone interested in buying one of the compost bins,
and he calls them for training once their
Roadside Collection: 452 cubic meters per day
Door-to-door Collection: 259 cubic meters per day
Container Collection: 185 cubic meters per day
Total: 896 cubic meters per day
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
orders arrive. The authorities say the
training is mandatory. The city also does
a follow-up visit to make sure the bins
are being used correctly.
According to Indra M. S. Suwal,
chief of the city's Environment Department, the cost of the bin—known
as a sa:ga, meaning fertilizer pit in
Newari—is Rs. 1,072, but they are being sold for Rs. 750, after a donor-
sponsored 30 percent subsidy. NGOs
such as World Vision and CIUD are
also distributing compost bins in the
Valley. A few other private players have
started to conduct training on
composting at a nominal fee to meet
the growing demand. Participation in
all the projects is voluntary.
"The household compost bin project
has a success rate of around 90 percent,"
says Manandhar, who has overseen similar solid waste management projects for
the city. "Previously it didn't work out
well when we tried in a few wards of
Kathmandu. Our experience shows that
making the program voluntary increases
the rate of success."
Though household composting is
helpful, it will not be a total solution to
minimizing waste in the Valley. The environmental department's solid waste
management strategy through 2015 pre
pared with assistance from Japanese aid
agencyJICA focuses on mass composting
and large, centralized composting plants.
There are many steps, mostly not yet
addressed, before the city gets to that
"We lack in marketing, and we still
haven't looked into the economic side,
such as collecting compost from households and selling it," says Manandhar. He
offers the example of Amul Dairies in
India that collects milk from many farmers to make its dairy products. But before that can happen, the city has to encourage households to start. "You should
turn composting into a daily habit, like
brushing your teeth," says Manandhar. □
MAKE IT A HABIT: Manandhar
urges people to turn
composting into a habit
An important U.N. regional center that has only been
operating for a few months may be pulled out of
Kathmandu. Can Nepal stop it?
Ficials were celebrating U.N.
Day last Thursday in the Rose
Garden in the U.N. premises in
Pulchowk, few invitees present at the
annual function were aware of the war
going on sub rosa between the officials.
The battle is to hold on to the regional
UN. center in Kathmandu. Once complete, the regional center will be the largest U.N. regional hub Nepal has ever
The day before, it seems, the U.N.
Resident Representative Matthew
Kahane had been summoned to the Prime
Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry to explain why the government had
not been informed about the alleged
move to relocate the newly established
center to Colombo. Worse, some government officials even expressed shock
that the UN. officials should make such
an important decision without informing the host country U.N. officials have
cited Nepal's poor security situation as
the reason for the proposed relocation.
Kahane's office told Nation Weekly
that "due to the conflict in Nepal, the
discussion on relocation has started, but
no decision has yet been taken." One
government source says Kahane is as keen
to keep the center in Nepal as the Nepali
Though the news of the relocation
was first reported in the media early this
month, it was only last week that government seems to realize the gravity of
the situation. There is now a growing
realization that the relocation will be
damaging to both Nepal and the United
Nations. With the withdrawal of an important U.N. center, Nepal will be seen
as a country with serious security problems by other international aid agencies
' taker 2004
' 1
too. The United Nations will perhaps
look even worse—it will be seen as making a hasty retreat from a country in conflict while the bilaterals are staying in
bravely to aid Nepal's development.
Although the Prime Minister's Office couldn't be reached for confirmation about the Kahane summons, it is
clear that the UN. resident chief has
been notified of the government's displeasure. "All those who have a say in this
matter have been consulted," says
Minendra Rijal, the prime minister's
aide and NC-D spokesman. "The government is mobilizing all resources to
keep this office here." The center, when
fully staffed, would employ as many as
60 officials, half of them Nepalis.
The Kathmandu Regional Center,
which will oversee various UNDP
programs in 25 Asia-Pacific countries,
came into partial operation in July this
year. It was the result of an agreement
signed between the Thapa government
and visiting U.N. Assistant Secretary
General Hafiz Ahmed Pasha in February 2004. "The decision to develop
Nepal as the headquarters has already
been finalized and will be implemented from July 1, 2004," Pasha had
said during his visit.
The regional center will oversee programs in such areas as poverty alleviation, crisis prevention and recovery, and
HIV/AIDS. As a host nation, Nepal will
substantially benefit from the center that
will cost the United Nations a minimum
of $6 million annually. The UNDP has
acquired a building (that belongs to the
Sanchaya Kosh) opposite the UN. headquarters at Pulchowk for the center and
one-third of its staff have either already
been hired or have arrived from other
UN. offices outside Kathmandu.
There is already a smaller version of
the center, a Sub-Regional Resource Facility or SURF, which looks after nine
countries in South and West Asia. When
inaugurating the SURF in August 2001,
UN. official Pasha had lauded Nepal for
being "an outstanding partner and supporter of the United Nations for the last
four and half decades and a formidable
host of UN. agencies." The SURF also
serves as a backup to UNDP programs
in democratic governance, poverty eradication, environment and sustainable energy, HIV/AIDS crisis prevention and
recovery, and IT for development. Important as that is, a full-scale center would
be much more so.
Bangkok is only other Asian capital
to host a UNDP regional center.
Kathmandu was chosen partly because
SAARC, OXFAM and other organizations already have their regional headquarters here. Kathmandu also has an
appeal among the international staff as
an exotic and quiet destination, a feature
it is losing fast.
"The Regional Centre is a matter of
huge prestige for Nepal," says Ram
Sharan Mahat, former foreign minister
and leader of the Nepali Congress, who
had jointly inaugurated the UNDP
SURF with the U.N.'s Pasha in 2001.
Besides being the largest regional hub
of its kind, it will also provide high-paying UN. jobs to Nepalis.
Although UN. officials say that no
decision has been taken yet, they admit
that the escalating conflict in Nepal has
triggered discussions about relocation.
Concern about having the full regional
center in Kathmandu was perhaps
sparked by recent news about blockades, riots and bandas in the international media. It is not clear why Sri
Lanka is preferred over Nepal, where
peace is fragile, at best. The selection
suggests that high-stakes decisions are
being taken by people who have little
knowledge of ground reality and are
swayed mostly by the news about
Nepal's conflict. The talk of relocation,
if carried out, is likely to plant the first
seed of poison in otherwise cordial ties
between the United Nations and the
Nepali state.
Analysts are surprised that the United
Nations, which is supposed to be the
very bastion of development in Third
World countries, should be the first one
to throw in the towel, citing poor security. If anyone has to be concerned about
their safety in Nepal, say the analysts, it
is the bilateral agencies whose governments support the Nepal in its war
against the Maoists and not the United
Nations that is seen as a neutral party.
For now, the immediate concern is
whether the Nepali government's belated lobbying will stop the regional center from leaving. □
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
 : i
Kanti Rajpath from Satdobato in
Ring Road, head further south
toward Bajrabarahi and Chapagaon, follow a bumpy dirt track, and you will arrive at the tiny village of Devichaur in
Tika Bhairab. The biggest settlement in
vicinity is Lele. Another five minutes further up after crossing the Nallu Khola
and passing the Tika Bhairab temple
brings you to Champi and the two-story
mud brick and straw-thatched house
where the Khadkas live.
Ask any villager where the parents of
one of the 12 Nepalis killed in Iraq live,
and they will lead you to the house without much fuss. Everyone knows the parents of Ramesh Khadka, ever since the killings in Iraq on August 31. It has been a
difficult six weeks since. First the shocking news of the death of their child and
then the streams of visitors for days on end,
many of them to express their condolence
but many others curious onlookers.
The Khadkas' lives are slowly returning to normal, but Dashain this year is
filled with a deep void. They still remember how they had made fervent pleas
for the life of their son to the Iraqi captors and how all that went in vain.
"It is sad that this old father is having
to do the work his son was supposed to
be doing," says Jit Bahadur, father of
Ramesh, as he sits down on the pidi of his
house, just back from overseeing the rice
harvest at Bungajuli, a little further up the
hill. His white cap, worn during the
mourning period, is wet with the cool
afternoon rain.
"I will be returning this cap tomorrow when it will be 45 days since my
son died," says Jit Bahadur. "The pundit
says I will not have to undergo the customary yearlong mourning as Ramesh
was younger than me." His eyes welled
up with tears as he spoke to us of his son
when we visited him on Thursday October 14. Wiping off his tears, Jit Bahadur
says the end ofthe mourning ritual would
allow the family to celebrate Dashain
and perform otherpujas. "But Dashain is
not going to be the same as in the previous years," he says.
At a neighbor's house nextdoor, a goat
lay tied to a pole; the mood was festive.
The wooden shutters of a shop were be-
After their son's in Iraq in August, the Khadkas' lives are slowly
returning to normal. But Dashain this year is filled with a deep void
ing painted brown and school children
returned home from the last day of
school before the holidays.
At the Khadkas', all was silent except for the occasional rumble of
trucks passing in the nearby Kanti
Rajmarg. Loaded with gravel from lo-
cal quarries they were on their way to
The Khadkas have received Rs.
1,000,000 in compensation the government promised them. Ramesh's older
brother Sudarshan, one ofthe three remaining sons of Jit Bahadur, has been
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 promised a job by the Khetan Group as
have been 11 others, one from each of
the 12 bereaved families.
"Almost Rs. 200,000 was repaid to the
people Ramesh had taken loans from to
get to Iraq," says Jit Bahadur. "It would
have been better if Ramesh had died of a
disease or had stayed back and made a
living crushing stones. Such an end is
just very difficult for a father to go
Radha, mother of Ramesh, joined us
once she had finished sweeping the aangan
with a broom and packing the rice that
had been drying out in the sun. She had
just finished washing her granddaughter's
dirty feet and sat down with the young
child still on her lap.
"I haven't been out anywhere since
the incident and I just stay at home playing with this granddaughter," says Radha.
Her eyes presently turn watery, and she
wipes the tears with the sapko of her red
dhoti. "Only a few weeks back I saw four
boys in garlands, all my son's age, passing by as they left for work overseas. I
couldn't hold myself from crying."
There was another trauma since
Ramesh's tragic death in Iraq. Sudarshan
was threatened with arrest after the rioters vandalized the manpower company
that had sent Ramesh to Iraq on September 1. "It was Pralhad Giri who sold my
son. Giri's brother even charged
Sudarshan with inciting the riots, but at
the time ofthe riots, Sudarshan was making me drink water. I had fallen unconscious after hearing of Ramesh's death,"
says Radha, still angry with the manpower company that sent Ramesh to Iraq
and bewildered at charges leveled at her
All three remaining sons, the eldest
who is married, share the house that Jit
Bahadur and Radha live in. Two of the
Khadka daughters are already married;
Ramesh hadn't yet married.
"It feels good to share our sadness with
people," says Radha. She tells us how it
had felt good to talk to another family from
Dhankuta whose son too had been killed
with Ramesh. The family had visited the
Khadkas three weeks ago. The Khadkas still
get occasional visits and letters, from those
known and unknown, expressing condolences. The village chairman recently
handed over a condolence letter that had
been sent by Nepalis in Australia through
the Ministry of Labor.
"We will probably make a statue of
Ramesh beside the Tika Bhairav temple
with whatever remains of the money we
received as compensation," says Radha.
"The villagers say the labor minister has
promised he would be there to inaugurate the statue."
The Iraq incident will haunt the villagers forever. "It was terrible," says
Bhim Bahadur, who runs a small eatery
near the Tika Bhairav temple. His wife
adds, "It just seems like yesterday when
he [Ramesh] ate tarkari at my place. He
left for Iraq the next day."
An Indian Muslim who makes quilts
and lives in a rented room above Bhim
Bahadur's eatery nods in approval as he
holds a steel glass that has just filled with
rakshi. Bhim Bahadur looks at him: "This
chap did not come out of his room for
three days after the riots." It was Bhim
Bahadur who assured the quilt-maker
that he was safe in the village.
"It has been 13 years since I have
worked here. I didn't know I already had
so many friends," replies the quilt maker.
Everyone in the eatery burst out laughing. Q
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
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DATE: 30th October 2004 (Saturday),
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Thinking Out
Of The Box
When you are young," says Shrijana
Singh Yonjan, "you have a kind
of blind courage." That courage
carried Yonjan, then a college student in
her late teens, to Seoul, South Korea to
participate in the Miss University Contest.
For the student from Padma Kanya
campus, it was a whole new world in more
ways than one. Besides taking her to new
places, the trip was her first foray into the
world of glamour and the ramp, which were to become a
large part of her career. She remembers how she walked
into breakfast one morning in the course of the competition
in "pink tracks" and, to her surprise, came across the other
girls dressed in miniskirts wearing full makeup. For
someone not familiar with fashion—the only makeup she
knew until then being the gajal—Yonjan fared quite well,
winning the talent award with a Durga Bandana, a semi-
classical dance. With that prize she became the first Nepali
to win an award at an international pageant.
The experience influenced her life and probably shaped
her career. But when she took the plunge and boarded the
plane to Korea, she had little idea about what she was getting
into. "Yonjan recently undertook another new responsibility
as editor of the Metro Citypaper, formerly Metro. It was,
she says, "a plunge into the deep end ofthe pool." "Yonjan,
now in her early thirties, did not jump into the venture with
the blind courage of her college days. She gave the move a
lot of thought. She has experience in radio and television,
working for Kantipur FM and
Channel Nepal, but this was her
first opportunity to be in charge
of a newspaper. It was a big
decision for "Yonjan to give the
paper the long-term commitment required of an editor.
As the editor she's
brought in a new look for
the Metro Citypaper.
Aesthetics have always been
important to Yonjan. She
worked for years designing events and doing
choreography for the ramp or on the stage. She has also
worked on television programs, songs and an animated
music video. From those experiences she understands the
need to make things "look good." She explains how the
focus today is on the visual: in music, advertising and
everywhere. She is willing to turn things around, change
them and delve in the small details to get the aesthetic
sense she wants. An example is the new name, Metro
Citypaper, and a new logo, a simple white design against a
red background. She has given the magazine more eye-
candy—catchy colors, a new logo and new sections like the
"pic picks," a photo page.
 Yonjan has also started to change the content. She wants
Metro to be more than just a paper for "metrobaasis," She
talks about "revolutionizing the thoughts of thinking
people" and "giving people the outlet to express themselves
in ways they were reluctant to before." Time will tell
whether she succeeds. But what is certain is that she'll be
taking the road less traveled.
Doing things differently has always come naturally to
Yonjan. She was the director of the Entertainment Programming Department at
Channel Nepal, Nepal's
first satellite television
station, for a year and a
half during its formative
months. She was
involved in designing
concepts; training
presenters, producers;
and overall administrative management,
and she worked with
anchors and
producers who
were, she says,
"raw." The people
on the team were
new to television,
but so were the
ideas Yonjan pressed for—
issue-based talk shows,
musicals and programs on
beauty fashion and cinema.
Television programming was
homogenous then—the same
look and the same presentation. Yonjan set about doing
things differently. "Channel
Nepal brought glamour to
television," says Yonjan.
NTV struggled to catch up
with Yonjan's unique
She does things differently because she thinks
unconventionally and keeps
an open mind about new things. For example, she sees
culture as a dynamic thing: Each generation creates its own
culture. She isn't against tradition, as long as it remains
relevant to modern society If not, she would just as soon
they go: "For example, Rishi Panchami should be banned,"
she says. "That women need to wash off their sins 365 times:
The reasoning behind that is just absurd."
Her independence has much to do with her parents, late
singer, composer and musician Gopal Yonjan and Rinzin
Yonjan. She says they never discouraged her from anything
nor led to believe that being a girl restricted her in any way.
From her father, who she calls a genius, she
learned about hard work and the drive to
succeed. She recalls how he used to work
all day around, without even food. "Food
had to heated and re-heated again and
again," she says. "He didn't need to eat." At
the same time she learned about independence and self-confidence from her
mother, a working mom at a time when
most women stayed at home. The role of
the docile housewife held no interest for
mother or daughter.
Even with such celebrity parents,
Yonjan never felt as if she lacked any
attention from them. They were always
accessible, especially her father. She recalls
how when she was a child, her father used
to tell her stories he had made up. Yonjan,
now a mother of two, finds herself telling
those stories to her own daughters. The
kind of accessibility and the attention she
got is something she and her husband,
Navin Singh, try to emulate with her own
children—Navashree and Navita, aged
seven and five. Despite her editorial
responsibilities and often hectic days at
work, she comes home to help with her
daughters' homework. Yonjan knows there
are more important things in life than
work. □
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 uest Column
Gorkhapatra's Children
Fourteen years after the Jana Andolan, the Nepali media industry, despite its bravado and numbers,
is institutionally weak in many ways. It is still managed by people whose business model is all about
squeezing their employees.
Earlier last week, through a Cabinet decision, the government
unveiled an 11-point media policy. It said that the policy was
formulated as per the recommendations of a high-level team
headed by Mohammed Mohsin, the minister of information and communication. But to observers ofthe Nepali media industry, the policy
appears to boil down to throwing millions of rupees of public money at
private sector media houses and their organizations, and making the
movers and shakers of the so-called fourth estate dependent on
government's largesse, with an unstated hope that they will not bite the
hand that feeds them.
Sadly, without understanding the significance of what it means to be
on the government's indirect payroll, especially in these times when the
Nepali public needs a free press that remains skeptical of government of
any strip. Tara Nath Dahal, the chairman ofthe Federation of Nepali
Journalists, the FNJ, put out a statement welcoming the policy, adding
that "more needs to be done for journalists' welfare bythe government."
Similarly, Kantipur Publications, another beneficiary, had an editorial published in Kantipur in which it expressed profound gratitude to the government.
When media houses and their supposed leaders celebrate regulations that aim to reduce competition in their industry, much less think
about being entitled to pocket public money, you know that the boast of
the Nepali newspaper publishers that they are hallowed members ofthe
"fourth estate" amounts to no more than a flash of hypocritical rhetoric.
And any Nepali citizen can now ask whether the members ofthe fourth
estate are any different from most of our disliked ex-members of parliament who too had the government pick up the tabs for all sorts of
benefits that were above and beyond what was proper.
But let's flesh out these two specifics ofthe new media policy.
First, the government wants to ban all forms of outdoor advertisements. Why? So that advertisers have no choice but to use the
products ofthe big media houses as outlets to get their messages
across. That this regulation is unfair to ad agencies and their clients,
who are now deprived of choices to reach customers, does not
seem to have crossed Mohsin's mind. Yes, if the government
were genuinely concerned about the billboards being eyesores, then, it could raise the fees so that there would be
fewer of them. Alternatively, it could also work out other arrangements that municipal governments around the world have
done. But by banning them altogether, it only aimed to serve the
interest of big media houses, who, like any self-serving busi
ness, are eager to grab a favorable regulation for all its
worth. And they did so by giving Mohsin's gift a page-one
treatment last week.
Second, the government wants to double the advertisement subsidies to weeklies which, according to Pratyoush
Onta at Martin Chautari, number in hundreds if you count
registrations but 200-plus in terms of regular publication.
Moreover, the media policy callsfordonatingmillions of rupees to help
construct FNJ district offices and set up a welfare fund for violence-hit
Still, the question here is not what public services have been cut in this
poor country to pay for these subsidies. Nor is it whether it is the role of a
government to distort a competitive media market by doling out taxpayers'
money to prop up private enterprises instead of instituting rules that help
make the industry more developed and professional. Nor too is it whether
media professionals deserve such a special treatment from the government. It is whether any self-respecting media professional saw the carrot
for what it is: money in exchange for agreeing to toe the government's line.
Indeed, as Mohsin made it clear, any weekly that runs afoul of a government-interpreted code of conduct will not get its share.
Journalists never tire of saying that journalism is a profession (or, for
that matter, that the media is an industry) worthy of respect. But how much
respect does Nepali media industry can command from the public—or
from other professionals—when the higher-ups in that profession pull
strings to ward off market-based competition for ads and when talented
employees, clamor for more government handouts for things they themselves should be able to raise funds for, and are so insecure that they think
their dai ly bread needs to be protected by the government?
The truth, I suspect, is that 14 years after the Jana Andolan, the
Nepali media industry, despite its bravado and numbers, is institutionally
weak in many ways. It is still managed by people whose business model
is all about squeezing their employees (i.e. low pay, no insurance, no
investment in hiring competent people to gather and interpret news,
etc.) and being closer to the communication minister than about responding to the demands ofthe news marketplace. That is why it is no
surprise to see the media leaders dancing right into the trap that Mohsin,
an old Panchayati hand, laid out to buy their independence in the name
ofthe "11-point media policy." D
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
 If I Should Be So Lucky
There's nothing funny about not going
UTI. It's not another wireless-loop telephone company, thank
you, but is certainly wireless, loopy and the only callyou will be
getting will be the call of nature—or not, as is its wont. Hello, lost
in translation? Urinary Tract Infection (UTI, get it?) is what I'm going on
I was asked to give a "clean catch"
sample by collecting "midstream"
urine in a sterile container. The
urinalysis test showed the presence of
white and red blood cells and
bacteria. Bingo! I had UTI.
UTI is a serious health problem affecting millions of people each year
throughout the world, women being especially prone to it. One woman in
five develops a UTI during her lifetime, and there is one man out of 12
million in Nepal who has got it now. No, not you! Me. Yours truly.:-(
The average adult—like you and l-needs to pee a lot each day and
night. (Now that winter is just round the corner, the nocturnal urge to
purge gets positively annoying, when the real urge is to curl up under a
quilt, preferably with a loved one. Not good. Get out of that bed, pronto,
and tippy-toe to the loo!) It was the frequent need to drip, drip, drip one
fine, recent morning that gave me the first inkling that a call was getting
lost in the labyrinthine world of kidneys, ureters, bladders and urethra.
Every time I picked up the phone, it was getting engaged, disconnected,
forcing me to hang up. I felt bad all over: tired, shaky, washed out.
Instead ofthe river I dearly wanted to unleash, only a shrunken stream
was released. I also had a slight fever, which meant that the infection
might have reached the kidneys. That certainly explained the nagging
pain in the back and below the ribs. I knew I had to do
something quick. After all, I could not keep goingto
the loo every other minute, only to return full of bladder, all day long. I have a life, you know. Besides, my
YKK zippers were getting seriously fouled up. Makers
of Levi's, geta posse of cowboys WITH UTI next time
to test your jeans. What's the use of that tough image
you project if the zippers aren't?
So off I went to the NIC to meet the doctor. After
listening to my "urinary" woes (the poor, patient, gentle
Doctor-saheb), I was asked to give a "clean catch"
sample by collecting "midstream" urine in a sterile
container. The urinalysis test showed the presence of
white and red blood cells and bacteria. Bingo! I had
Normal urine, surprisingly, is squeaky clean, but
those highly motile micro-organisms, especially bac-
teria, which, along with viruses and fungi, form a nasty axis of evil, swim
out ofthe digestive tract and cling to the opening of the urethra and begin
to multiply, as they only know how. If you have diabetes, then watch it,
because any change or disorder that suppresses the immune system
raises the risk of a urinary infection. More women get UTI than men,
possibly because their urethra is shorter, allowing bacteria quick access
to the bladder from the nearby anus and vagina. For many women,
sexual intercourse seems to trigger an infection. Tough luck, fair ladies. In
men, obstructions—such as a urinary stone or enlarged prostate—or
medical procedures involving a catheter (ouch) seem to cause infections.
UTI meant that I had to dose up on 500mg of Ciprofloxacin twice a
day for a week. Bad, bad news. With me, as far as antibiotics are
concerned, the cure is far worse than the disease. The only silver lining I
can see, since the commonest advice given to prevent—or to help get
rid of—UTI being to drink plenty of water, as it helps to cleanse the urinary
tract of bacteria, is that my leg muscles are getting strengthened from the
frequent trips to you-know-where.
In the future, scientists may develop a vaccine that can prevent UTIsfrom recurring. A method being considered for women is
to apply the vaccine directly as a suppository in the vagina. Uggh!
To avoid similar indignities, I have taken a solemn pledge to drink
plenty of water every day; urinate when I feel the need rather than
resisting it; take showers instead of tub baths (Duh, where is the
water for such luxuries?); avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and
scented douches, which may irritate the urethra. Men, the last
one is obviously not for you, unless you happen to be a BDS
member. Ifthatisso, some of you might also consider wiping from
front to back to prevent bacteria around the anus from entering
the (imaginary) vagina or urethra. Ooh, I'm in real trouble here,
but, guys, ladies, I'm trying to be funny. Comprende? Don't take it
personally, okay? Anyway, I gotta split. That urge is now getting
rather urgent. UTI, I'm gonna shoot you out. Oh, only if I should be
so lucky! □
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 u/o/i\e|( if( (;o[((;ei\j
leitUr lDgjkhay;, prCetL poojaT
rachana, sapna, shcri. vidhci
accompanied byrusty Mik rijl„ fettt
in support of the
Circus Children Project
Date^ Sunday, October 31, 2004
Time: 1900 hrs
Venue: Dechenling Garden
Phone: 44E2158, 4416387
Ticketa: Ra. 750 includes buffet dinner
Illegal mining in "protected" forests in the south of the
Valley is destroying the environment and people's lives
of Kathmandu, is rich with natu-
Iral resources and once was rich in
natural beauty. No more. The hills surrounding Lele and the neighboring villages, Tika Bhairab, Devi Chowr and
Champpi, are barren due to the rampant
mining of stone for construction in the
Kathmandu Valley. The locals are angry
about how resources so close to them
are being picked by outsiders. The simmering dispute between the politically
backed, wealthy mine operators and the
locals will boil over soon unless the authorities act.
Prakash K.C, president of
Bagashowri Yuva Club, a local club established to protect natural resources of
the area, has started speaking out against
indiscriminate mining in the hills. He
says that the area has almost been turned
into a desert. "We cannot afford to waste
time to stop what is going on in our area,"
says K.C. "We will not let the mines run
if they don't comply with the environmental rules set by existing law." The
hills used to be full of kaliz, titra and
dhukur, recalls Ram Chandra, an elderly
local resident. "I don't see them these
days," he says. "Overpopulation and pollution have destroyed everything."
District officials admit that the mines
are not complying with the laws. They
say that they have taken note of unlicensed stone crushing plants and mines
and will act against them shortly. The
stone mines and crushers extend from
Chapagaon to beyond Tika Bhirab.
Prakash K.C. estimates that out ofthe 15
plants in Chapagaon, nine are unlicensed. For years, he says, the plants have
ignored public requests to control their
dust emissions.
The beauty of Lele and its hills are
being destroyed by the dust, deforestation, traffic and pollution. "The stone
mines may be a lucrative business for
' :iX^y'^T^
their operators," says Sunita Lama, a student and resident of Tika Bhairab, "but
the rising construction in Kathmandu is
causing increasing ecological degradation in Lele." The locals' anger is not
limited to the mine operators alone.
They say that government agencies know
about the destruction ofthe environment
and the encroachment of the government forest, but have done nothing. The
locals are upset with their VDC representatives too. Some residents accuse
them of serving the interests ofthe miners to fill their pockets.
While officials watch, tens of thousands of laborers work. The Nallu Khola,
which emerges from a gorge near Tika
Bhairab, was once a center of attraction
for visitors but is in a terrible state now.
The hillsides above the river have been
stripped for four kilometers. Loose mud
and rocks left behind have become a
danger to the villagers who live along
the gorge. Two families have deserted
their homes for safety; others are con
sidering doing the same. Monsoon land
slides in the area have increased consid
The miners and the
destruction are spreading.
Lele, Devi Chowr and
Champpi have seen an unprecedented increase in
mining operations. The
miners first offer good
money to a landlord
whose land lies near the
government forest. The
miners start to extract
stone from the land they
have bought but soon
move into the government forest. Forestry officials know of
this, but they lack the will or the clout to
move against the miners.
The problem started with a forestry
department decision some 30 ago that
granted permission to Purna Marvel and
Stone Factory to operate mines in the
national forest. After the locals' com-
The miners and the
destruction are
spreading. Lele,
Devi Chowr and
Champpi have seen
an unprecedented
increase in mining
plaints about the proliferation of mining, a commission headed by Shanti Ram
Joshi, joint secretary at the
Ministry of Industry,
Commerce and Supplies,
concluded that the mines
weren't complying with
the rules. More than a year
has passed since the report was prepared, but no
action has yet been taken.
More than 700 trucks
transport stones, gravel and
mud each day into the
Kathmandu Valley. The
government is collecting
taxes, and the mine operators are earning handsome profits. But the
cost of the damage to the environment is
being borne by the local people, whose
livelihood depends on the natural resources. If government officials don't act
to enforce the laws, the confrontation between the miners and the increasingly
irate locals could turn ugly, n
 CHY TTiisWeek
The Music of Dashain
Dashain is here and
Sukarma, the grouping of
Drubesh Chandra Regmi on
sitar, Atul Prasad Gautam on
the tabala and Shyam Sharan
Nepali on sarangi, is all set
to spread the word with
their enchanting music. The
trio will be performing at
"Ritushrawan," a bi-monthly
event organized by Mantra
Entertainment, this time at
the Patan Museum Court
yard, Mangalbazaar 5 p.m. onwards on October 30. The
show will consist ragas and
raginis of the season as well
as folklore from across the
country. Dance performances
will be an added bonus.
The entry fee is Rs. 500 with
20 percent ofthe proceeds going to Rotary Club of
Swayambhu. For information: 9841205297 (Sunanda)
or 9851051789 (Samir).
On the occasion of Dashain,
Umesh Shrestha, Hari Jung
Bomjon and Sudan Kumar
Singh have come together to put
on show their newest collection of art works. The exhibition, titled "The Expressions,"
intends to disclose and explain
social complexities. The artists
have also tried to explore the
magnificence of nature through
their paintings. At: Nepal Art
Council, Babar Mahal. For in
formation: 4220735.
Hamro Prayas
Art Exhibition by students of grades 6-10 ofthe Adarsha Vidya
Mandir. At the NAFA Gallery, Naxal. For information: 4421206.
The Faces of Time and Colors of Sensibility
Paintings by renowned artist and cartoonist Durga Baral. At
the Siddhartha Art Gallery. For information: 4411122.
Humongous Sagarmatha
Taste Pizza from sizes of 12",
15", 18", 22" to the world's
largest pizza, the humongous
SAGARMATHA 25" which
has just become larger. Special Dashain offer—10% off
on any pizza (for pickups
only). For information:
Dashain, Deepawali
Celebrate the festive season
at Radisson Hotel with 50%
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
off on food and domestic
liqors at the Fun Cafe. Date:
October 15 to November
15. For information:
Festival Offer at Tian Rui
Celebrate Dashain with 25%
off on food and items. Fixed
lunch @ Rs. 150 from 12 a.m.
to 3 p.m. For information:
Cine Club
Movie: Kundun(1997). Director: Martin Scoresese.
Starring: Tenzin Thuthob. At
the Alliance Francaise,
Tripureshwor. Date: October
Oktober fest
31. Time: 2 p.m. For information: 4241163.
Hamro Pani Dashain
Rotary Club of Himalaya
Patan, which celebrated
it's centennial year this
year, comes together
with SathSath to celebrate this Dashain
with the street children. Drama by
street children, tika
offerings and kite flying
will be the main attractions
At Khullamanch. Date: October 23.Time 10:00 a.m.
efc -^. I
■.   I    i ii  ■
Sizzling Chimney
The Chimney at the Hotel Yak and Yeti, offers
Sizzlers and Flambes this
autumn. Also your choice
of the finest duck, lamb
or cottage cheese; and
caramelized onions,
roasted garlic and sauces
to give your taste buds a
treat. Date: 8-24 October.
Time: 6:30 p.m. onwards.
Price: Rs.499- Rs. 1,199.
Dwarika's celebrates the Oktoberfest on
the last week of October to make you rejoice in a festive mood. You will be satiated with a brilliant blend of food and culture, where Nepali raksi and sekuwa will
be served along with international drinks
and grilled bratwurst. Venue: The Fusion
bar, poolside at the Dwarika's. Date: October 29. Price: Rs. 750 per person. Includes "Oktober fest-ival" dinner with
special cocktail of the evening or a glass
of beer. Also live music by Abhaya and The
Steam Injus from 7 p.m. onwards. Happy
hour 4-7p.m. Special 10% discount for
Heritage Plus members. Reservations
recommended. For information: 4479488.
All That Jazz
Presenting "Abhaya and the
Steam Injuns1' and the best of
jazz In Nepal at the Fusion Bar,
Dwarika's Hotel 7 p.m. onwards, every Friday. Entry fee:
Rs. 555, including BBQ dinner,
and a can of beer/soft drinks.
For information: 4479488.
Fusion Night
The Rox Bar welcomes everyone to be a part of the Fusion
Night. The rhythmic and harmonic beats of the eastern and
the western instruments will be
a treat for your senses.
Enjoy the Sarangi played by
Bharat Nepali with a well-
blended mix of western tunes
played by The Cloud Walkers.
Every Wednesday. Time: 6
p.m. onwards. For information:
Marwari Specialities
Every Saturday evening®
Shambala Garden Cafe,
Shangrila Hotel with a wide selection of vegetarian delicacies.
"Rusty Nails'' playing Blues and
Rock N1 Roll. Every Saturday live
@ The Jazz Bar. Time: 7p.m.
onwards. For information:
D.S. Mobile Phone Service
Shop No. 270, 2nd Floor, North Side
Bishal Bazar, Supermarket
Tel: 424-2186, Mobile: 98510-25562
'We. !Rg.pairAJIfKj.Tuts cftMoBiCe. fPfione
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
 Ramailo Saanjh
Dwarika's Hotel presents "Ramailo
Saanjh," where Ishwor Gurung with his
popular group Himalayan Feelings will
sbe performing a musical fusion of traditional and modern Nepali melodies.
Enjoy varieties of Nepali household delicacies like sa may a bajee, celroti,
bara, sekuwa, khasi ko kabab and haas ko
masu with an array of vegetables. Interesting mouthwatering dishes prepared on the spot by our master chefs.
A wide range of Nepalese spicy pickles with sweet temptations includ-
ingjulebi, panchamrit,juju dhau and the
renowned Dwarika's pharsi ko halwa.
Date: November 3. Price: Rs. 1200
net per person includes snacks &
dinner with live music. 10% discount to Heritage Plus members.
Time: 7-10 p.m. For information:
triple gift coupon. For information:
Pepe Jeans, Durbarmarg
20% off on half Shirts and T-shirts and
15% off on full Shirts and T- shirts. For
information: 4247691.
Metro Mall, Soaltee Crowne Plaza
Buy items worth Rs. 1000 and play for a
luck draw. The bumper prize winner gets
Rs. 100,000 and the second and third
prize winners receive Rs. 10,000 and Rs.
1000 respectively. For information:
UFO Clothing Store, Putalisadak
5% off on all items in display. For information: 4242195.
Central     Departmental     Store,
Up to 40% off on Ladies Shoes. For information: 4222028.
Big    Apple    Children's     Shop,
7% off on double gift coupon and 10%
off to discount card Members or
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Bhatbhatini Super Market,
5% discount on shoes and readymade
clothes. For information: 4419181.
Fashion World, Pashupati Plaza,
15-20% off on clothes and shoes. For information: 4222246.
Mesuca Store, Kamaladi
Upto 50% discount on variety of Mesuca,
Giordano and Crocodile items. For information: 4424191.
Bluebird Departmental Store
Purchase goods worth Rs.1000 and collect 10 points. Exchange the points with
a gift hamper of your choice. For information: 4228833.
Top Class, New road
Discount upto 50% in shoes and clothes.
For infonnation: 4246093.
entry fee. The final exhibition will be
organized in December 2004. A panel of
prominent photographers will judge the
best 12 photographs and they will be featured in WCN Annual Calendar 2005.
The first three contestants will be
awarded. The fund raised from the sales
of the calendars will be logged back into
the into the conservation awareness program, mainly for the research grants for
3 biological science postgraduate students for the year 2005. Deadline November 30. For information: 5524202 or
Women in Concert
The liveliest show in town, Women in
Concert-2 will leave all you music lovers breathless. Groove to the songs
played by Abhaya, Preeti, Pooja, Rachana,
Sheri and Vidhya accompanied by the
Rusty nails, Rajan and Peter. The pro-
Photography competition
Wildlife Conservation Nepal organizes
the WCN Amateur Nature and Wildlife
Photography Competition for amateurs.
Photographs should be submitted at
WCN with a standard 8X12 inches. No
ceeds from the show will go to the Circus Children Project. Venue:
Dechenling Garden. Date: October 31.
Time: 7 p.m. onwards. Tickets: Rs.750
includes buffet dinner. For information:
Just Devine Dashain
After a hectic day in office, relax yourself at "JackLives Here"- 1905 Kantipath.
Enjoy happy hours from 4-8 p.m. with
free snacks and 20% off on drinks. Also
buy one JD Cocktail and get one free.
Till October 31. For information:
Cine Club
Movie: Verite si je mens! 2 st/ang(2002).
Director: Thomas Gilou. Starring: Richard   Anconina.   At   the   Alliance
Francaise, Tripureshwor. Date: November 7. Time: 2 p.m. For information:
Drin...king Utsav '04
Drinks of all types at the Birendra International Convention Center. Date: October 15-19. For information:
For the Sixth consecutive year, Soaltee
Crowne     Plaza organizes     the
Soaltee Crowne Plaza Super Sixes 2004.
This year will witness a battle between
16 different teams— Nabil Bank, Indian
Embassy, British Gurkhas, Standard
Chartered Bank, Kumari bank, Himalayan Bank, ILFC, Gorkha Brewery,
Kantipur Publications, APCA publications, Space Time, Surya Nepal, Bhote
Koshi, Nepal Investment bank, Nepal
Merchant Bank and Soaltee Crowne
The tournament will be held for three
and a half days. This Six-a-Side tournament has been designed by the Cricket
Association of Nepal and the technical
aspect of the tournament will be supervised by professionals nominated by
Cricket Association of Nepal. Backed
by much fun and rejuvenation, you
would not want to miss this most sought
after event. Date: October 29 to November 1. Venue: Tribhuwan University
woow \\»-sr
IT     TTTT?»
Enjoy this Dashain with
Gome !
be a part ofJMaruti family !
ARUN INTERCONTINENTAL TRADERS,  Maruti Plaza, Thapathali, Kathmandu, Nepal, P.O.Box : 4869,
Tel : 4229086, 4229099, 4245361, 9841245937 ( UTTAM ), Fax : 977-1- 4225315, E-mail :
for  injured
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With its talent pool, Nepal should finish among Asia's
top non-Test playing countries. It should start with
holding three-day matches at home.
Ahead of the three-day match be
tween the UA.E. and Nepal in the
ACC tournament last Sunday, there
was not much to choose between the two.
Early this year, Nepal had forced a draw
against the desert emirates in the three-
day away match and had beaten Malaysia,
another Asian team aspiring for cricket's
big league, comfortably at home.
Then it all happened in a hurry. By
late Monday afternoon, that margin between the two was more than the length
of the Tribhuvan University Cricket
Ground, where the match was being
played. "Why did so many of us get excited about the prospects of a contest?" a
disappointed journalist remarked after
the lop-sided encounter.
The match had been billed as The
Showdown between Asia's top two non-
Test-playing nations. Given Nepal's poor
performance, particularly their rash approach to the game in the first innings,
more a appropriate slogan would have
been The Letdown.
Perhaps the most accurate promotional jargon would have been the Massive Gap between the Best and the Rest,
for it is now an indisputable fact that the
UA.E. are the standout team among
cricket's emerging nations in Asia.
The UA.E. won the match when
their bowlers, led by speedster Asad Ali,
demoralized the home team by wrapping up the Nepal first innings for just
64 runs. Ali, who had snared 9 wickets in
an innings against Nepal when the two
teams met in an ICC Intercontinental
Cup match early this year, picked up
seven wickets in the innings again this
"We thought it would be a tough
match against Nepal on its home turf
with a partisan crowd cheering it on.
Thanks to our bowlers who once again
performed splendidly our batsmen's
task was made a lot easier," said
Mohammad Tauquir, the UA.E. captain,
who  was   standing  in
Khurram Khan.
The UA.E., who made 209 in its first
essay, required just 39 runs in its second
innings after Nepal followed the poor
first innings total with 180 in the second. And it scored the winning runs without losing a wicket to end the game a day
early. The result has now confirmed the
UA.E. a final berth in the "Fast Track
Countries" tournament organized by the
Asian Cricket Council with the objective to enable the "second tier" cricketing
nations in Asia to adapt to the longer version ofthe game. Besides Nepal and the
U.A.E., Hong Kong, Malaysia and
Singapore are other teams in the fray.
Nepal and the U.A.E. will each play
Hong Kong in the final round-robin
In the wake of the debacle last week,
all sorts stories are doing the rounds. Was
it the newly laid pitch at the TU ground?
Or perhaps, was it captain Raju Khadka's
call to bat first, ignoring the pitfalls of
batting on a moist pitch and in morning
As far as the officials are concerned,
all the noise about the pitch is baseless.
Komal Pandey, a member of the Cricket
Association of Nepal, who was responsible for the pitch preparations, says that
the pitch was built as prescribed by the
ACC consultants. NZ Sport Turf Institute, a New Zealand company that specializes in cricket ground development,
monitors the ground development in
these emerging nations.
Nepal's coach Roy Dias is disappointed as any local cricket fan would
nation weekly |   OCTOBER 31, 2004
 be, but he says the pitch there wasn't anything in the pitch to complain about.
"It's just too easy to pass the blame
on someone else," says Dias. "At this time
of year, the pitch retains some moisture
early in the day. It was Nepal's lack of
exposure to these type of games more
than anything else."
Others are filled with more apprehension. They feel that the home team
lacked the heart to risk playing on a lively
surface. Despite being skilful, they are
woefully inadequate to adjust themselves
to the situation.
"Players wore an unsettled look even before the match," says a cricket critic, recalling
Nepal's poor batting in the first innings. "They
batted as if they were in a big fat hurry"
Nepal was always going to find it
tough after being bowled out cheaply in
the first innings. But it had a chance to
remain in the game, and possibly force a
draw, after a good opening stand between
openers Sarad Vesawkar and Shakti
Gauchan in the second innings. That
never happened.
There is hardly any doubt that Nepal
has enough talent. As Nepal competes in
the race on the "Fast Track" sports administrators have to heed to what renowned cricketers so often say, "There's
nowhere to hide in a longer version of
the game."
At the top level, all players are technically skilled, but it is your big-match temperament and ability to pace your innings
that will give you the edge in the longer
version ofthe game. Having a quick go at
the opposition may prove decisive, but a
good side can always bounce back in the
game at some stage. When both sides bat
for two innings, there is more than one
crunch situation; any weakening of resolve at any moment spells doom. Which
is why confidence is a prime ingredient
for success.
Still, if Nepal ever is to graduate to
big league cricket, experience will hold
the key. "The only way to become a
stronger cricket nation is to play on a
regular basis against stronger opposition," says Dias, "without relying on
of big-match temperam
in Nepa Ii cricketers, sa
critics, is one of the
reasons behind Nepal's
—cent poor showing in the
,atch against the U.A.E
ICC and ACC schedules." He also
suggests that Nepal should now be able
to set realistic targets for its own national development programs and measure the results on the field against
other countries at a similar stage of
Doesn't that require a new thinking
on the part of our cricket officials?
"Yes, indeed," says the president of
the Cricket Association of Nepal, Jay
Kumar Nath Shah. "We are meeting
shortly for a serious discussion over how
to arrest national team's inconsistency."
He believes one ofthe major drawbacks
facing the cricket team's preparation is
the lack of indoor facilities, which he
attributes as one of the factors behind
Nepal's poor showing.
For now, the officials have identified two major handicaps. First, the
cricketers lack facilities to train themselves, especially during the long monsoon layoff. The country's cricket association is currently holding talks
with the Sports Council to let the
cricketers make use of its
Satdobato facilities. Second,
plans are afoot to hold three-
day matches among the
country's six cricket regions.
But lack of good pitches outside Kathmandu has been a
major hamstring to the plans,
says Shah. First two pitches
outside Kathmandu will
soon be completed in
Birgunj and Kalaiya.
Kathmandu currently has
four pitches—one each in St.
Xavier's School and
Tribhuvan University and
two inside the Institute of
Engineering at Pulchowk.
Three more will be completed—in Bhairahawa,
Biratnagar and Dharan—in
another three or four years.
"We will have to make a
three-day league among the
country's six cricket regions a
regular fixture in domestic
cricket," says Shah. Until that
happens, Nepal's fortunes in
the longer version ofthe game
are bound to swing wildly,
like they did last week against
the UA.E. □
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Working Holiday
It's the festive season, but Miss Nepal
Payal Shakya hasn't made any plans for
Dashain yet. It's been a hectic time for
the beauty queen. She returned last week
from a 12-day trek to Lukla, Namche and
the Lake Inja in her role as conservation
ambassador for the World Wildlife Federation. Shakya was raising awareness
about global warming and shooting for a
documentary that is to be released in the
first week of November. In doing her
bit for the environment, Shakya missed
out on important dance training classes,
preparations for the Miss World 2004.
"I'll have to start my training sessions
right after Ghatasthapana if I am to fly to
China with confidence on November
6," says Shakya. "As I am not involved in
any sort of preparation for Dashain this
year, I feel no excitement about the festival. At this point it's work and only
work for mrJjm
October 9 was a day of triumph for Kamala Shrestha. She
became the first Nepali beautician to celebrate the silver
jubilee of her salon. The owner ofthe Siam Beauty Parlor
was official beautician at Miss Nepal 2004 and is well
known from her television ads and beauty tips. "I always
wanted to do something unique." says Shrestha.
"Though the job of a beautician was not a respectful
profession at the time, I still persisted." That persistence has paid off. On her silverjubilee she
was at the Blue Star Hotel displaying her hair-
cutting and hairstyling skills. "If I impart my
knowledge to the younger generation," she
says, "then many other quality salons will
sprout in the near future and will go as far as
Siam did."
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Seventy-two-year-old musician Shivashanker
Manandhar has over 3,000 songs to his credit,
and he acted in Nepal's first home production,
"Aama." Last week the legendary musician was
in the news again when he flew off to Mumbai
for treatment; he had been diagnosed with liver
cancer. Only five months ago, he would travel
on his bike to record his songs. Actors and
singers are collecting funds for Manandhar's
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 There are two sides
to every story.
There are always two sides to every story. Who's right
and who's wrong does not depend on which side you're
on. To a third person, there may not even be a right or
wrong, just a difference of opinion.
The important thing is to move on, change and adapt
while keeping your goals intact.
The Himalayan Times is not about taking sides. It is
about positively expressing the view of both sides.
The Himalayan
 Khula Man
Brand Man
Popstar Nima Rumba has been in the newspapers
a lot in recent weeks, but his music isn't the reason. Rumba is the brand ambassador for Shaka
Laka Boom noodles, Enticer motorcycles and SUBISU
Cablenet. Brand sponsorship has recently taken him to
places as far as Jhapa, Birtamod and Janakpur on
endorsement assignments. Rumba, whose father was a
lama, chose a singing career over his
family's thangka business. With six albums to his credit and regular overseas
tours, it is understandable why Rumba
is such a hot property in Nepal's advertising market. Satish Jung Shahi talked
to Rumba about the music scene, the
plague of music piracy and his lifestyle
as a popular singer.
Your schedule sounds busy.
I just got back from Janakpur from an
assignment with one of the companies I
am brand ambassador for. My wife, Seily
has been a great source of encouragement and has been very supportive in
handling the household chores, leaving
me plenty of time for music. The past
few years have been really good to me. I
am currently writing songs for my seventh album due for release next year.
How do you see the present music
There's been some sort of a revolution in
Nepali music in the last few years. It
wasn't like this when I used to perform
with my band, The Bass, at toles around
Swayambhunath back in 1990. At least
music has developed into a respectable
profession. Music companies are better
organized, and the publicity is huge. During my performances, I see people from
different age groups, from the very young,
just 5- and 6-year olds to families and even
the elderly. The music has reached everyone. It probably also has to do with
the boom in the media.
What other reasons could be fuelling
the boom?
Things were very raw when I came
into the scene. It was mostly youth
music, and we hit the right market.
We delivered exactly what the
younger generation was looking for.
It was all by chance, but we hit the
right chords. It was a big struggle
back then. A singer like me had to
battle for coverage in the press in the
earlier days. Maybe it was due to the
monopoly back then: Only those
singers who had better contacts were
getting covered. But as I said we got
a lot of support from FM stations,
television and newspapers later on.
So that turned out well, though piracy is another problem we still need
to overcome.
If listeners buy
pirated cassettes,
the companies will
go bankrupt along
with singers like us
Is piracy getting that bad?
"Yes. It is a serious issue that listeners need
to be aware of. The music companies,
even the ones I'm involved with, say so.
If listeners buy pirated cassettes, the
companies will go bankrupt along with
singers like us. Things will get better if
listeners stop buying pirated cassettes.
The music scene is finally big now after
years of struggle. Singers like me are
highly dependant on this profession. I
request we fight piracy together.
You came back from Hong Kong where
you were working...
Things have been good so far. My profession is now fulltime singing. Even
when I performed in Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom
and Malaysia, most of the audience
were Nepalis. I came back as I thought
I would do better as a singer back
You are known for your wonderful stage
performances. How do you see the audience from up there?
A supportive crowd is always a positive
sign. But one thing I keep in mind as a
performer is that the audiences are my
clients, and my duty is to entertain them.
I work very hard to make them enjoy
the moment and to give them their
money's worth. The crowd these days
don't come there to only listen to music but also sing and dance together and
have a good time. I can'tjust stand there
and sing; they would rather listen to my
CD at home.
How important are music videos?
They have become a really good medium to express our feelings and
reach our listeners. Music videos
have become a sort of a fashion, a
trend. Listeners expect to see singers on visuals and notjust hear them
on audio. Plus, it plays a huge role in
promoting our music in this competitive market. Also the Internet has
helped us reach out globally. I get
emails from as far as Dubai and
Sikkim. The music scene has grown
big indeed. □
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OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
 To advertise contact nation weekly      g±u    ^   ■£■    j
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nation weekly
 Unraveling The Insurrection
The how and why of the Maoist movement from the
best and brightest
If you can figure out the full causes,
career and consequences of the
Maoist movement in Nepal, you
have mastered knowledge about contemporary Nepali history and society"
states Pratyoush Onta flatly in his chapter in "Himalayan 'People's War.'" It is
obvious that at the current time, in the
midst of the movement, the perspective required to do that is hard to attain.
Little hard information of the movement is available. Most details about the
Maoist organizational structure and
goals are shrouded in secrecy. "Himalayan 'People's War'" is an attempt by
various social scientists to explore different facets ofthe movement by studying their effects on the society around
them. The 12 essays in this volume explore such themes as how a hospitable
climate was created for the growth of
the Maoist movement and why so many
people were attracted towards the
Maoist cause. The hope of the volume
is to gain a comprehensive picture of
the movement and the directions in
which it is headed.
Internal squabbling between the
mainstream political parties during the
past decade has been held in full view of
the public, as has the antagonism between the parties and the Palace. It does
not take a great leap of imagination to
arrive at the thought that the struggles
for power in Kathmandu created the
opportunity for the Maoists to
strengthen themselves. What is unclear,
however, is how exactly the Maoists
took advantage of the situation. A few
contributors to "Himalayan 'People's
War'" analyze the situation. Hari Roka's
intriguing assessment in the penultimate
chapter of the volume is the best.
The strategy of the earliest days of
the "people's war" was to attack only the
police and their posts but not the Army;
only the Nepali Congress, the ruling
party but not the other left parties. The
reasoning behind this strategy Rokal
says, was to make it seem as though only
the Congress party was under attack.
That the strategy was successful is evident from the fact that the power
struggles between the different mainstream factions were greatly exacerbated
after the growth of the Maoist movement.
Roka claims that both the CPN-
UML and the Palace provided the
Maoists with economic assistance in the
early phases of the movement. While
there is no concrete evidence to back
this argument, the Army's deliberate distance from the elected government and
multi-party democracy and their refusal
to confront the Maoists even when ordered to in July 2001 by the then prime
minister are compelling demonstrations
of the Palace's attempts to use the
Maoists against the government.
It is also evident that the Maoists have
been able to mobilize the populace in
ways the mainstream political parties
never could. "The ability ofthe [Maoist]
leaders to traverse geographical and social distances while mobilizing local
people must be seen as a lesson for many
persons in elevated formal political and
administrative positions," writes Joanna
Pfaff-Czarnecka in another chapter. Sara
Shneiderman and Mark Turin were able
to gain a firsthand look at such mobilization. Between 1998 and 2001 they were
living in Dolakha district, undertaking
research on the Thangmi people. While
other foreigners working in the area
were asked to leave when the Maoists
moved into Dolakha, Shneiderman and
Turin were encouraged to stay as their
interests were in research and they had
no connections to I/NGOs.
In their essay "The Path to Jan Sarkar
in Dolakha District," Shneiderman and
Turin provide a chronological account
of the local perspective of the Maoists:
From initial fear in 1997 when the
Thangmis first heard of the Maoists
through radio and newspapers, to cau-
Himalayan 'People's War': Nepal's Maoist Rebellion
Michael Hutt (editor)
Hurst and Company, London, 2004
Pages: 322
tious anticipation of their arrival at the
village, to acceptance of the rebels. On
July 23, 2001 the Maoists proclaimed the
formation of their Jan Sarkar, the
"people's government," in Dolakha district. The general sensitivity the Maoists
showed towards the population, the disillusionment with the state and its political system and the power that the
Maoist movement promised to the relatively depressed Thangmis are the reasons why many joined and others implicitly accepted the movement, say
Shneiderman and Turin.
Mandira Sharma and Dinesh Prasain
describe the attraction towards the
movement for rural women. The protection given to women against domestic violence, alcohol abuse and state
abuse are reasons why so many women
have joined the Maoist rank and file, they
say as are the aspirations towards cultural change held by women traditionally voiceless against the state. Marie
Lecomte-Tilouine describes in another
essay how the Maoists were able to gain
the support of the Magarant National
Liberation Front. Since the early 1990s,
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
Magar intellectuals have been vocal
about their desire for an autonomous
Magar state. From their perspective, the
Maoists only offered them an avenue to
fight for autonomy. For their support of
the Maoist cause, various ethnic organizations—Newa Khala, the Tamuwan
National Liberation Front and the
Tharuwan National Liberation Front, for
example—have been offered regional
autonomy by Maoist leaders once the
movement proves successful.
These overtures towards ethnic organizations reveal a contradiction within
the principles of the Maoist party.
Saubhagya Shah points out in his powerfully argued essay "A Himalayan Red
Herring?" that theoretically the Maoists
present ethno-national liberation as contingent on the resolution of the class
conflict. In practice, however, in the
mobilization of ethnic communities, the
class conflict takes a back seat, as the
Maoists have to promise autonomy to
The promise of self-determination
for minority groups is not unique to
Nepal. Mao himself proclaimed the
right to self-determination for minorities. Once the communists had taken
over China, however, they could afford
to disregard the claims that minority
groups made. But minority groups in
China amount to less than 10 percent of
the population. In Nepal there is no
majority group equivalent to the Han
Chinese. Nepal is a country made up of
minorities. If and when the Maoists
come to power, it will be difficult for
them to assuage or control the outburst
of demands for promised autonomy of
various groups.
Saubhagya Shah further claims that
there is another gap between Maoist
theory and practice. While they claim
intense nationalism for themselves,
and their rhetoric is anti-India and
anti-American, he says, they depend
upon India for their sustenance. Further, all the anti-Indian rhetoric has led
to no harm to Indian business interests in Nepal. While it is clear to all
that the Maoists have been using India
as an important base for a number of
years, Shah's claim that this shows that
they have links to and are supported
by the "Delhi Durbar" seem tenuous.
The India-Nepal border is notoriously
hard to regulate, and the mere presence of Nepali Maoists in India does
not seem sufficient evidence to prove
their connections to the Indian establishment.
There is much speculation in this
volume, but that is understandable in
the present context. The Maoists do not
even have a manifesto of action that lays
bare their plans. The most comprehensive Maoist-generated document is still
the 40-point demand of 1996, and that,
as Krishna Hachhethu writes, is merely
"an auxiliary item: it is an agenda provided for public consumption." In the
absence of hard information, any research on the conflict is welcome; this
book is especially so, with its diverse
selection of essays by specialists in different fields. This review is just a general outline of some prominent themes
in the book. There is a great deal more
worth reading. □
 We're endlessly efficient 365 days.
A  I   S   H  O   R
Y  A   £  T   H  A
Last Word
Farewell to Arms
Dashain is here. And with it
the ceasefire. Tens of thousands of people will now get to
travel home without fears of getting
caught up in the crossfire, though we are
not so naive as to assume that the temporary truce is a blank check for safety or
even that it will make everybody head
home. Neither is likely if past experiences are anything to go by. The festival
season in previous years saw the Maoists
extort unsuspecting folks who
had traveled home for Dashain,
and the security forces show total disregard for the spirit of a
mutually agreed truce. Yes,
ceasefire or no ceasefire, many
more Nepalis will never return
Anyone who has been a witness to eight years of continued
violence will be extremely wary
of temporary peace. For our part,
we are wary that many will dismiss the nine-day truce, starting
on October 20, as a mere annual
ritual that hardly holds any political significance. The conventional wisdom is that it's going
to be over once the country is
done with Dashain. We take a
different view. The fact that the
Maoists announced a ceasefire
at all is noteworthy. It shows that
they still don't consider themselves as out-and-out brutal guerillas, but a political force that
listens to the civil society and is
ever anxious to expand its popular base. That opening—that tiny
light at the end of an otherwise
dark tunnel—means a lot more than what
it may appear at the first sight. That tiny
opening offers a golden opportunity for
the government to reciprocate the gesture and see if the ceasefire can be extended from Dashain to Tihar and then a
little beyond. Every single life saved in
this needless cycle of violence will add
impetus to peace.
To quote Malcolm Gladwell's enterprising work "The Tipping Point"—
"Ideas and products and messages and
behaviors spread just like viruses do."
The enormously successful book documents how a number of brilliant ideas
started out with a small section of the
people willing to act differently from the
rest and how that behavior spread to others. The crux of the argument is that a
little change from a small group of
people ends up having a huge difference.
We are well aware that it's unfashionable
to talk about the prospects of peace at a
time when both the government and the
Maoists are deeply polarized and seem
to be drifting further apart.
Still, we hope the Maoist call for a
nine-day ceasefire, even assuming that
it's mere propaganda, will force the government to think outside the box. Something has to give and what better time to
start than Dashain.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
OCTOBER 31, 2004   |  nation weekly
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10/15/04, 8:56 PM


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