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Nation Weekly January 2, 2005, Volume 1, Number 37 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2005-01-02

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20 Unwelcome Refuge
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli in Damak
The presence of a large number of Bhutanese refugees is still a sensational
national issue, but the social and economic repercussions at the local level are
not. They should be.
11 Go Listen
By Suman Pradhan
38 The Journey Ends
34 2004 in Pictures
46 Chinese Wonders
By Kumud Nepal
A flood of inexpensive but good-
quality Chinese imports has changed
Nepali lifestyles
48 Dirty Nexus
^      ^     By Sudesh Shrestha
^JfL   J^±  Sports reeks of
^^1 iyS corruption.
^^■1 ^^P* Unsprisingly it
extends beyond
Nepal's borders.
18 House
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
The reinstatement of
the Parliament is now
widely viewed as the
least difficult exit
toward resolving the political crisis.
The prime minister and Palace remain
strongly against it.
26 Stay Put
By Biaswas Baral and Koshraj Koirala
The five-year tenure of the members
of National Human Rights Commission will end soon. Political parties are
calling for their terms to be extended.
Donors agree and are also in favor of
raising the commission's profile.
28 A Great View,
but is it Safe?
By Dhriti Bhatta
_^_^i^_  Dharahara is finally
opening for the public,
but can its 176-year-old
foundation withstand the
load of thousands of
visitors? Its new managers
^M        I  are confident.
42 A Dream
By Veneeta Singha
The aura and the legacy
of Boris make the
Chimney unique among
the restaurants serving
fine cuisine in Nepal
44 In the Doldrums
«   By Biswas Baral
The Nepali film industry is
going through the toughest
I     phase in its short history
*-■* s
Si  3*1*1 ">
55 s
■■The world has to
know what's
going on in Nepal ■■
Missing Kashimirs
was screaming hoarse over the Pugwash
conference on Kashmir, you quietly and
brilliantly, reported of Kashmiris missing from Kathmandu ("Missing From
Kathmandu," by Satishjung Shahi, Dec.
26). Good job. More than once, you have
stood up for the minorities.
"Involuntary Disappearances" was
timely (Dec. 19). It came out while a
number of high-profile foreigners
were visiting Kathmandu, not least the
U.N. Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances. The
world has to know what's going on in
Nepal. You come across so much chilling data about Nepal these days that
you lose your ability to be shocked.
But one fact is still shocking, very
shocking: That for the last two years
Nepal has been leading the world in
disappearances. I, for one, have never
felt so insecure and uncomfortable as
I have in the past one year. I fear for
my family members, my friends, and I
fear for myself, all the time.
Bonding with Nepal
Dashain issue, "Resham Phiriri and the
Music Man" (Dec. 19) once again
showed how much Karuna Chettri remains connected to Nepal, all this while
she tries to build her new life in the
Untied States. No matters what those in
Nepal would like to think, like Chettri
I share a strong bond with Nepal and
that will never go away. During my infrequent visits to Nepal, I hear very insensitive comments about my lost
"Nepalipan," that I have have forgotten
everything about Nepal and Nepalis.
Nothing can be more absurd. I don't
want to generalize but I have seen countless Nepalis living aboard turn more
Nepali than they were at home. You can
put me on the list.
Sports politics
sports page and I found your article on
Nepal's supposed preparations for the
South Asian Games in Colombo in August 2005 particularly intriguing ("Colombo Countdown," Dec. 19) Are you
getting carried away by the blusters of
Nepal's sports officials? Trust me, they
are like any other official: They talk big
but seldom follow up on their impressive promises. Unless the private sector comes in to help, Nepal's sports fraternity is unlikely to shake off its lethargy. There will be success stories no
doubt but that's purely due to the individual athlete's sheer determination.
Can you imagine how long the National
Sports Council and the National Olympic Committee have been fighting for?
Do you think they care about the athletes' well being? The feud started
months before the Athens Olympics and
will in all probability continue right
through the next Olympics in Beijing.
I can't see any Third World administra-
JANUARY 2, 2005   |  nation weekly
 tor or politician relinquishing his position for the greater good. Maharastra's
political heavyweight, Sarad Pawar.
came so close to capturing the Board of
Control for Cricket in India, the BCCI.
and you don't need to try too hard to
find out why he wants to get involved.
Indian cricket has never been so big.
flushed with sponsor money, high gate
collections and extraordinary levels of
money to be made through broadcast
rights to TV channels. These people
will go to any length to serve their personal agenda. Wish they would serve
sports with as much zeal once they have
the job.
Kunal's writing
Kunal Lama's three articles on his
Jomsom treks that you featured for
three straight weeks. Thanks. I now
have a humble, outlandish to some,
suggestion to make. I would put
Lama's English writings alongside the
very best I have seen from Nepalis; I
would as a matter of fact like to see
him try his hand in English fiction.
He seems to have an eye for details
and an amazing wit to boot. This in
fact brings me to two other articles I
recently read in your magazine with
much amusement—"Hope for Nepali
Fiction" by Ajit Baral (Dec. 19) and a
subtle rebuke to Baral the following
week, "The Limits of Language" (Dec.
26) by Aditya Adhikari. Lama seems
to be as fine a writer as Samrat
Upadhyay who finds copious mention
in Baral's article. I know comparing
writers is stupid; Lama's dense prose
is no less readable than Upadhyay's
sparse prose, for example. I mention
Samrat Upadhyay here, not to belittle
his literary achievement, but because
he is the only Nepali writing in English to have received some critical
Cruelty against animals
Thank you Jagdish Aarohi for highlighting the plight of thousands of animals
sacrificed in a cruel, unorderly manner
at the Gadimai "festival" ("Beastly In
stinct," Guest Column, Dec. 19). You assume that this year around 25,000 animals lost their lives, but we fear that
50,000 might be more accurate. Someone should estimate how much money
the over seven million "devotees"
spent and how many Bara children and
displaced people would benefit from
this amount. Sacrifices often
strengthen the vested interest of those
who benefit from superstitious beliefs
and rituals and drain the resources of
the poor and needy.
Apart from wasting money and endorsing cruelty against innocent animals, another important issue to consider is Gadimai's danger to public
health. In 1994, Gadimai, through unchecked import of thousands of livestock from India, brought PPR or Goat
Plague to Nepal, affecting 63 out of 75
districts, killing an unknown number
of goats and seriously affecting the
health of consumers. We now have a
Meat Act, protecting animals from
cruel slaughter and consumers from
infected meat, but how come it's business as usual at Gadimai?
Cruelty against animals harms
society as a whole; it signals and normalizes insensitivity in children
who can become numb to the suffering of living beings. It is also
known to influence certain people
to commit violence on other humans. While in Dachau, Jewish author Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz, observing Nazi atrocities, wrote: "I
think that men will be killed and
tortured as long as animals are killed
and tortured... Because killing must
be trained and perfected on smaller
objects, morally and technically... [If
we overcome] our own trends towards smaller violence and cruelty...
the day will come when it will be
easy for us to fight and to overcome
even the great cruelties."
How long will we have to witness
the blood-stained fields of Gadimai to
realize that in order to have peace, we
must oppose cruelty, big and small,
against any living being?
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nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
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woman dancing to the traditional
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nation weekly/Sagar Shrestha
Go Listen
The prime minister should break his self-imposed exile and venture outside the Ring Road
P.rime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba should learn a trick or two
from the Rajparishad. Here's what the Rajparishad did over the
past year: It held regional meetings all over Nepal, including
Kathmandu, to "listen to what the people wanted to say." Obviously, it
has concluded that the people want an active monarch. And so that's
what the Rajparishad is gearing to recommend to the Palace, backed as
it were bythe people's wish.
Think what you will, but you have to give the Rajparishad grudging
respect for demonstrating political acumen. Its members know that their
recommendation will carry more weight if it is deemed to be the wish of
the people, hence the staged regional jamborees.
There isa lesson in this for Prime Minister Deuba. Though starting on
a promising note seven months ago, his government has of late come to
embody the proverbial lame duck. It seems stuck in a no-man's land,
unable to decide on future course or strategy.
One way out of this logjam would be for the Maoists to miraculously
agree to peace talks bythe Jan. 13 deadline. But that hope is receding,
given the Maoists' aggressive escalation of violence and repeated
rejections of peace talks. The other alternative is to either revive the
1999 Parliament or call fresh elections. The prime minister has already
chosen the latter, ignoring the advice ofthe opposition and civil society
Sources close to the prime minister tell us, it's not that Deuba is
loathe to advise restoration of Parliament which he himself dissolved in
2002. But he'd rather have the Supreme Court revive it, both as a
face saving device, and more importantly, as a check on Article 127.
The prime minister, it is said, lives in mortal fear of being dismissed
again under the same article were he to recommend revival ofthe
1999 Parliament.
This is where the lessons from the Rajparishad come in. The Constitution may not mandate a specific political role for the body, but it
also does not bar the Rajparishad from holding nation-wide meetings.
Its members were simply astute enough to utilize this loophole to their
But the prime minister needs no such loopholes. The Constitution
in fact envisages the prime minister as the King's principal advisor on all
matters, whether it be politics, security or state affairs. The prime minister can, if he so chooses, give any advice to the King which ought to
be binding on a constitutional monarch. He could, in theory, even
recommend Parliament's revival.
But the prime minister's fear is getting in the way. His fear of dismissal if he were to recommend revival ofthe 1999 Parliament needs
to be dealt with in a manner that gives both him and the Palace a face
saving way out. For that to happen, however, any such recommendation bythe prime minister must be seen as having the people's support.
Why not, then, hold regional "listening tours" to gauge the people's
support? Just as the Rajparishad held regional meetings to hear the
people, the prime minister too can hold regional oranc/ia/-wise meetings to hear the people's voice.
Draw up a schedule, publicize the dates, venues and events. Break
the walls of this self-imposed prison inside the Ring Road and tour the
country. Ifthe other political parties—governing or opposition—were to
support the prime minister's listening tours, then there is no doubt that
these tours would be a success.
Ifthe people want an active monarchy, let the prime minister hear
that. But if they want a constitutional monarchy and revival of the
1999 Pari iament as opposed to new elections—which I presume most
want—let him hear that too.
Armed with the people's mandate, the prime minister could then
make the necessary recommendation to the Palace. The Palace wil
have to decide whether it wants to accept recommendations from the
prime minister or the Rajparishad. Both sets of recommendations are
deemed to be based on the people's wishes. But only one carries the
legitimacy provided bythe Constitution. Let the Palace make its judgement call.
This may sound a little too confrontationist to some. Forcing the
Palace to choose between the two sets of recommendations is upping
the ante, some might say. But that's missing the point. The people's
recommendations, presented through the prime minister, can only
strengthen the bonds between the Palace and the people. It need not
drive them apart but rather could serve as the bridge to bring them
closer. □
nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
Civil Conflict
by Auguste Rodin
The Notion of Nationhood
£)hondup ^Khangsar
Tridevi Marg, Thamel   Opp. of Sanchayakosh Building
Tel: 4416483,4417295    E-mail:
Insurance growth
Insurance business has increased by 30.5 percent.
Beema Samiti, a regulatory
body of insurance sector in
the country, said that the premium has reached Rs.4.6 billion in the fiscal year 2003/04.
which was only Rs.3.72 billion in the last fiscal year. The
growth is mainly in the industrial and automobile sector. Increasing conflicts and
incidences like Sept. 1 vandalism have encouraged
people to get their businesses
and private property insured.
The insurance sector contributes 1.68 percent to the
country's Gross Domestic
Maoists blockade
Starting from Dec. 23.
Maoists called for an indefinite blockade of Sunachuri-
Hetauda section of the
Mahendra highway
Nagdhunga-Benighat section of the Prithvi Highway
and Naubise-Bhaise section
ofthe Tribvhuwan Highway.
Earlier, they torched 18
trucks on Wednesday, Dec.
22, at Kharanga in
Makawanpur district on
Mahendra Highway. The
blockade led to the shutdown of transportation, and
suspension ofthe educational
and business activities in
Bara, Parsa, Rautahat.
Makawanpur and Chitwan.
Hydro on hold
Nepal Electricity Authority
(NEA) suspended the construction of Mid-
Marsyangdi for an indefinite
period as advised by the
German consultants.
Fischner. Contractor
DDC-JV, another German
company, stopped the construction works four
months ago due to Maoist
threats. Maoists had demanded that the Army deployed to guard the project
be withdrawn. Construction works started in 2001
and was to be completed in
December 2004. But only 45
percent of the works have
been completed so far.
NRB governor
Government formed a
three-member committee
chaired by Deputy Prime
Minister and Finance Minister Bharat Mohan
Adhikari to recommend
three candidates for the post
of Governor of Nepal Rastra
Bank (NRB). Other members include Dr Badri
Prasad Shrestha, former finance minister, and Ganesh
Bahadur Thapa, former gov
ernor of the central bank.
The tenure of the sitting governor, Dr Tilak Rawal, ends
on Jan. 29, 2005.
Court verdict
Chinese news agency Xinhua
reported that in the second
trial the Higher People's
Court of Tibet sentenced
Ravi Dahal to death with reprieve, Ishori Kumar
Shrestha to life imprisonment and Rewat Kumar Dahal
to 10 years' imprisonment
with the confiscation of all
their personal properties.
Earlier on May 30, Rabi Dahal
and Ishwori Kumar Shrestha
were sentenced to death
while Rewat Dahal was sentenced to 15-year imprisonment by the Lhasa
Intermedaite Court after the
first trial. The Tibet Police
had arrested them with 29.85
kg drugs in Khasa.
Plant Bombed
The district headquarters of
Bajhang has been cut off from
power supply since Sunday
Dec.19 after the Maoists
bombed the hydropower
project at Selaghat of Bajura
district. The 200 KW plant
was also the only station supplying electricity to the remote areas of Bajhang. Property worth over Rs.5 million
was destroyed in the explosion but there are no reports
of human casualties. It was
the second attack on the powerhouse.
IMF warning
International Monetary Fund
(IMF) has warned the government to fulfill its commitment
to maintain financial discipline
and pursue reforms if it wants
to receive future assistance under the Poverty Reduction
Growth Facility (PRGF) program. IMF has expressed serious concerns over soaring general expenditure, especially on
security, lack of progress in
privatization programs and delayed action against willful loan
defaulters. The mission enquired the government about
the massive financial losses incurred by Nepal Oil Corporation.
UML decision
The central comettee meeting of CPN-UML decided
not to withdraw from the
government despite pressure
from the party cadres and sister organizations. The party
has urged its representatives
in the Deuba cabinet to be
more proactive in decisionmaking process. It said that
the four parties in the government had agreed on the
election of the constituent
assembly, which has also been
the demand of the Maoists,
and therefore, the party
should not pull out. It also
said that the party is open to
the prospect of the revival of
the dissolved House as an alternative to finding a solution
to the problem. The UML
meet lasted nine days.
Royal Visit
King Gyanedra's visit to India was cancelled at the last
moment because ofthe death of former Indian Prime
Minister PV Narasimha Rao. Indian Embassy in
Kathmandu said the new schedule would be announced at
the earliest. King Gyanendra and Prime Minister Sher
Bahadur Deuba have sent separate condolence messages to
President APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh. Rao died in New Delhi of heart attack. He was 83. He
was hospitalized at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences two weeks ago.
JANUARY 2, 2005   |  nation weekly
 A Maoist roadblock in
Dolalghat, Kavrepalanchowk,
on the Arniko Highway
Valley blockade
The Maoist blockade of all
major highways leading to
the Valley started on Thursday, Dec. 24. A day before,
the rebels had torched 18
trucks bound for
Kathmandu on the
Mahendra Highway in
Kharanga, Makwanpur.
Minister of Information
and Communications
Mohammed Mohsin, the
government spokesman,
said that the government
could be forced to declare
a state of emergency if the
Maoists continued with
their indefinite blockade of
Kathmandu. In response to
the blockade, a Cabinet
meeting formed a committee under Deputy Prime
Minister Bharat Mohan
Adhikari on Friday, Dec. 24.
to ensure the smooth of essential items into
Kathmandu and other major cities.
U.S. quotas
The U.S. government offered
Nepal an extension of a bilateral agreement that gives
Nepali garments and carpets
duty-free market entry into
American markets. The current agreement will expire on
Jan. 1, 2005. The Ministry of
Commerce has said that it will
answer after consultations
with the concerned entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs,
however, aren't happy that the
agreement requires the materials used for the production of carpets and garments
to be made locally or imported from the United
Suicide probe
The National Human Rights
Commission will investigate
the suicide of Sadhuram
Devkota, alias Prashant, in
Army custody. The 27-year-
old Prashant, who was a senior Maoist leader in the Valley, was arrested on Nov. 4.
He allegedly committed suicide inside his cell in the
Balaju barracks on Dec. 19.
Human rights groups have
demanded an independent
investigation into the incident.
Peace call
The U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan called for a
quick end to the fighting in
Nepal. Annan said that the
conflict was undermining
democracy and seriously
hindering developmental
activities. He also expressed
deep concern at the continuing human rights violations. The general secretary
has called for an urgent cessation of fighting and the
initiation of a dialogue between the government and
the Maoists. While the
rebels have said that they
will participate in peace
talks if the United Nations
or another credible international organization is involved, the government has
rejected such proposals of
third-party involvement.
General Secretary Annan
said that he was ready to assist in such an effort to bring
together the warring parties.
Mass resignation
Nearly 300 employees of the
municipalities of Bharatpur
and Ratnanagar and ofthe district development committee
in Chitwan resigned en masse
on Friday, Dec. 24. They relented to continuous pressure from the Maoists to do
so. The secretaries ofthe village development committees in Chitwan had already
resigned three weeks ago following similar threats from
the rebels.
Arrest warrant
Bharatpur Inland Revenue
Office issued an arrest warrant for Mathura Prasad
Maskey, the owner of the
Chitwan-based Shree Distillery. He has been charged
with embezzling more than
Rs.2 billion. The anti-corruption watchdog, the CIAA, had
found Maskey guilty of em
bezzlement and directed the
revenue office to arrest him.
Maskey has not been seen
Human cost
In the course of the nine-
year-long insurgency.
10,832 people have lost their
lives, according to Informal
Sector Service Centre. Of
those killed, 7,080 have been
killed by the state and 3,753
by the Maoists. Over 1,600
security personnel have
been killed during the
course ofthe conflict. Since
the breakdown of the peace
talks in August last year
alone, 3,800 people have
died. The center also said
that an average of eight
people die due to the conflict every day
Football tournament
The six-team San Miguel International Football Tournament featuring teams from
Nepal, South Korea and India kicked off on Friday
Dec. 24, in Dasharath Stadium. The tournament features two top Indian clubs.
Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. In the opening match.
Nepal Blue, one of the two
Nepali teams participating
in the tournament, beat
Hannam University of South
Korea. Mohun Bagan is playing in Nepal for the first
time since 1980 while this is
East Bengal's second visit to
Nepal since 1996.
nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
Biz Buzz
BBC online in its South Asian edition
put Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala,
Nepal's first elected prime minister,
among the region's 16 greatest leaders. On
its three-day long online poll that ended on
Dec. 23, a total of 33,5422 votes were cast.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding president of Pakistan, won the poll with 39 percent of the votes, closely followed by Mahatma Gandhi from India who got 31 percent. Other South Asian leaders listed among
the 16 were Atal Behari Vajpayee, Indira
Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Subash
Chandra Bose from India; Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
and Zia Ul Haq from Pakistan; JP
Jayawardene, Chandrika Kumaratunga and
Sirimavo Bandaranaikefrom Sri Lanka; Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman from
Bangladesh; and Ahmad Shah Masood and
Zahir Shah from Afghanistan.
The list had at least two representatives
from all other chosen countries, except Nepal.
BP Koirala—who was responsible for the
ouster ofthe Rana oligarchy in 1951—was
chosen as Nepal's first democratically elected
prime minister in 1959. BP was apprehended
and imprisoned only a year later when King
Mahendra took over absolute power and
banned all political parties. He was also the
founding president of Nepali Congress.
Koirala, also a litterateur, has written several books. Tara Nath Sharma has recently
translated "Sumnima,"a literary classic, into
English. Among BP's other acclaimed works
are "Jel Journal" and "Atmabritanta." The
former is an account of his life behind bars
after his arrest in 1960, and the latter his
autobiography. Koirala died of throat cancer
in 1982.
Chitwan Festival is being organized in
Narayangadh from Jan. 9 to Jan. 16. The
eight-day festival aims at promoting
tourism in the district. It also hopes to
explore the market for agro-products
and boost the local trade. 300 stalls with
a wide range of products will cater to an
estimated 200,000 visitors. The festival
will also feature cultural programs and
animal exhibits. Around 80 million rupees is expected to be generated during
the festival. Narayangadh Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, District Development Committee of Chitwan.
Ratnanagar Chamber of Commerce and
Industry and Bharatpur Municipality are
jointly organizing the festival.
Industrialists and the business community have criticized the latest attempt of
Nepal Bank to recover bad debts from
the black listed 'willful defaulters.' The
bank's decision has been reproached by
the industrialists who believe the action
will further deteriorate the investment
climate and slowdown other economic
activities. The Federation of Nepalese
Chambers of Commerce and Industry
has also strongly condemned the new
The Advertisement Agencies Association of Nepal (AAAN) will now on be
known as the Advertising Association of
Nepal (AAN). The tenth general meeting ofthe organization agreed on the new
name. The change has been made to incorporate within the advertising community more people and stakeholders,
directly or indirectly concerned with
advertisements, Bhaskar Raj Karnikar.
the president of the association informed. The organization also announced the launching of a Tele Award
that will felicitate the people and agencies involved in the development and
promotion of advertisements on television. The award ceremony will be the
second biggest program of ANN after
the Crity award.
S. R. Drug Laboratories, one ofthe leading pharmaceutical companies in Nepal,
has introduced a new line of drugs in the
market. The company manufacturers
cardiovascular, diabetological and
sychotropic medicines; along with the
conventional anti-microbial, gastro-
entrological, anti-spasmodic and hematological drugs. The company has 50
drugs in the market but is preparing to
unveil 40 more.
Account holders at Laxmi Bank will now
be able to pay their phone bills with ease.
The bank has made an agreement with
Laxmi Bank Limited
Nepal Telecom to allow its customers
to pay telephone bills through their individual accounts in the bank. The bank
will make monthly payments for its customers on appropriate dates and will
deduct the amount charged from the individual accounts.
Butwal Chambers of Commerce and
Federation of Nepal Chambers of
Commerce are jointly organizing
Butwal Trade Fair, 2061. The 10-day fair
will get underway on Dec. 24. There
will be individual stalls for agricultural
products, automobiles, consumer
goods, cultural artifacts, handicrafts,
information technology items, food
stuff and leather apparels. There will
also be a tourist information center and
an art gallery with paintings depicting
different life stages of Gautam Buddha.
The local hotels and restaurants will
provide a 10 percent discount on food
items and a 25 percent concession on
JANUARY 2, 2005   |  nation weekly
 lodging during the fair. This is the fifth
Butwal trade fair; the first one was organized in 1999.
Pashmina industry saw a 35 percent hike
in the export of its products in the first
three months of the current fiscal year.
Sales for the same period last year were
around Rs.16 million while export this
year has brought in Rs.21 million.
Pashmina is the pri- mary export
product of
Nepal. Only 5 A
percent of I
pashmina products are utilized inside the
country. The United Sates alone accounts for 20 percent ofthe international
sales. Countries like the United Kingdom, Germany Switzerland, Canada,
France, Italy and Japan are other chief
importers of Nepali pashmina.
The 16th annual general meeting and
the first national convention of Nepal
Gold and Silver Dealers' Association,
NGDSA, has re-elected Tej Ratna
Shakya as its president. Professor
Subarna Shakya administered the
elected president the oath of loyalty.
Gyanendra Shakya, Buddhi Bahadur
Gahatraj and Buddhi Bahadur BK have
been elected the Regional Vice Presidents for central, western and mid-
western development regions respectively.
The Inland Revenue Department has
collected 38,533 revenue bills in the last
five months under its 'Consumer Conscious Program'. On Dec. 22, it also announced a lucky draw winner for the
month of Mangshir. The revenue department has allocated prizes for the people
submitting revenue bills to the government on time. The first prize is worth
Rs.100, 000. The prize program is an effort to encourage people to pay revenues
on the products they buy.
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nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
The reinstatement of the Parliament is now widely
viewed as the least difficult exit toward resolving the
political crisis. The prime minister and Palace remain
strongly against it.
Pratinidhi Sabha in 2002 caused
the present political brouhaha:
Wouldn't reviving it end the crisis?
That's what an increasing number of
people think. Everyone agrees that elections would be the best—though the
hardest—way to go about resolving the
current crisis.
The political parties, whose consent
to and participation in polls would be
crucial to their success, doubt the
government's ability to hold elections.
So the revival of the Parliament is being
hotly debated. Some, notably the Nepali
Congress, claim it's the only way to end
the crisis. The government has resolutely
refused to discuss the issue, but even
those who don't relish the prospect
think that it may be the only option left
that would be acceptable to all—that is.
except the Maoists and the Eng. Would
reinstatement really work, and how
could it happen?
"There is no provision in the Constitution for the reactivation of the lower
house," says former speaker and member
of the constitution drafting committee.
Daman Nath Dhungana. "But such an arrangement can be made through a political settlement." There's a little hitch. The
lower house has outlived its mandate: Its
five-year tenure expired early this year. Any
 reinstatement would hinge on extending
its term, also clearly extra-constitutional.
Even so, steps that would not be legally
correct could be politically popular. Even
legal eagles are in favor of reviving the
lower house; the concerns for constitutional niceties are almost secondary
A delegation from the Nepal Bar Association met the Chief Justice Govinda
Bahadur Shrestha recently, apparently in
an effort to lobby him to give the pending petition for reinstatement a speedy
hearing. "All parties should come together and restore the dissolved Parliament to revive a political process," says
Nepal   Bar   Association   President
•Alii-Hit J
Shambhu Thapa. The association has
been advocating reinstatement. Its argument is that the Parliament is the only
legitimate institution that can discuss the
core issues of constituent assembly and
a new constitution raised by the Maoists.
Proponents of reinstatement believe
that once the lower house becomes functional again, a clause could be inserted
in the present constitution to allow for
the election of a constituent assembly.
Even the framers of the present statute
see this as a possible outlet to the crisis,
one that has the potential to resolve the
Maoist problem. "Parliament is the only
legitimate institution to strengthen political force," says Nilambar Acharya, one
of the drafters of the 1990 Constitution,
"and it must be restored to initiate negotiations with the Maoists."
The clamor for reinstatement is most
certainly gaining momentum, and not
just among the political parties. The international community is also articulating it. British special envoy for Nepal.
Sir Jeffery James, clearly said that reviving the house could be an alternative.
The European Union's Troika is said to
have thrown their weight behind Sir
James' suggestion. The international
community has, so far, been divided on
their policy towards Nepal, but their positions are converging. The motivating
force is that it is becoming increasingly
nervous about the situation here; the early
hope that a strong Army could put the
Maoists on the defensive is now tampered with caution.
The international community is most
anxious to see democracy put back on
track through elections but realizes just
how hard it will be, given the fragile security situation on the ground. Sir James'
circumspect comment will carry a lot of
diplomatic weight.
But the political parties still need to
work out some kind of consensus on
how to proceed. Proponents of reinstatement still do not have a common
plan. Indeed, many who agree on the
subject are barely on speaking terms. The
CPN-UML, a partner in the governing
coalition and now increasingly in favor
of revival, wants the Supreme Court
to do the job. But few legal experts
think that the apex court will go so far
as to issue a politically correct but legally indefensible verdict.
"There is a legal difficulty," says
Bharat Bahadur Karki, professor of law
at the Nepal Law Campus, "but let's
wait and see how assertive the judges
want to be."
High-powered political figures say
there is another way out if the court
declines to order the reinstatement. A
political conference of all parties to the
conflict can bring the lower house back
to life, says former Speaker Dhungana.
But, he argues, this has to be for a specific purpose and a limited period.
Not everyone agrees, and even
such a limited session could be problematic. The most important question
is what role the King would play in
such a situation. Could a parliamentary session without legal standing
bypass the monarch? Doing so would
assert the supremacy of the elected
representatives but might spark a
deeper crisis, if the King has greater
political ambitions. Analysts say it all
depends on whether the Eng is clear
about confining himself to the walls
ofthe 1990 Constitution. There are serious doubts, though.
Defiant Deuba
For its part, the Deuba government
has resolutely refused to consider the
reinstatement issue, perhaps because
ofthe Eng's position against the idea,
and also because Deuba loathes seeing Girija Prasad Koirala return to a
position of strength. "The prime minister has already said," says Minister
for Law Justice and Parliamentary
Affairs Tek Bahadur Chogyal, "that
there is not going to be any reinstatement."
Some analysts, who otherwise support the idea of putting the political
parties in the front seat, wonder how a
revived Parliament would be any different from those that existed prior to
the dissolution. The parties, after all.
failed for years to get a handle on the
Maoist problem. Even so, an increasing number of people now believe that
having a Parliament of any sort is better than having none. Unfortunately
the discussion is generating more heat
than light; confusion still abounds.
Unless the Supreme Court rises up to
the challenge, that is unlikely to
change.  □
 The presence of a large number of Bhutanese refugees
is still a sensational national issue, but the social and
economic repercussions at the local level are not. They
should be.    by john narayan parajuli in damak
  It's five in the evening. The blow
ing dust has barely settled down
in the streets of Beldangi-II as
Rup Narayan Timilsina, an 18-
year-old refugee perched on a
straw mat outside his dilapidated
hut, spins a heap of cotton into
thread. "This is a boring task" he says, while
his mother Hari Maya Timilsina roasts
maize indoors. A little later she comes
out to find out who is quizzing her boy
"They don't pay us much," she says, referring to the local traders for whom the
Timilsinas make the thread. "It comes to
just Rs.60 per kilogram." It takes more
than 20 hours to make a kilogram of
thread, she says. She hates the low wage,
though she wishes she had more of the
work to earn a few extra rupees for her
So do many of the local people. But
their complaint is more about the refugees than the employers. Residents of
Damak and villages adjoining the camps
feel that the refugees are robbing them
oftheir work and rightful wages. A local
normally would charge Rs.80 for a day's
work, but refugees can be hired for as
little as Rs.40 to do the same work. Often, the tension between refugees and
locals comes to a head, culminating in
violence. But this longstanding feud has
received little attention in the national
media; local leaders say there has been
no serious effort by the agencies taking
care ofthe refugees to address the issue.
Though Nepal-Bhutan bilateral politics almost always hogs the limelight,
the economic and social side-effects of
the refugees' presence, in particular the
growing animosity between the host and
the refugee communities, doesn't seem
to be part of the national discourse on
refugees. Both refugees and locals point
out that the presence of so many refugees—there are roughly as many of them
as there are local people around Damak
Jhapa's largest municipal center—makes
problems inevitable.
"The refugees are taking away all our
work," says Prem Bhandari, a teacher at
the local Dhukurpani High School,
which lies barely four kilometers away
from the Beldangi camps, the largest refugee shelters. "Our people who eke out
their livelihood as wage-earners have
been displaced."
People from Damak Municipality,
which houses three camps with more
than 50 percent of all the Bhutanese refu-
.111'.. •
•?:. ",'
insists that refugees should not work
outside the camps
y  *1r
 GIVE AND TAKE: Refugees
trade locally
gees, have left home to work as laborers,
says Govind Kattel, a local. Though there
are no statistics available on the labor
flight, the degree of displacement of
these low-skilled workers from areas
that have hosted
refugee populations
is alarming, according to Dhan Prasad
Tiwari, district secretary of the All
Nepal National
Free Student Union.
The problem is that
refugees equal or
outnumber the host
population. These
refugees, who are
also supported by the
UNHCR and other
aid agencies, are
willing to work for
lower wages. Locals
are then left with
only two choices: To
accept the lower
wage or go elsewhere. This harsh
choice faced by the
locals doesn't make
the refugees particularly welcome, especially among the
low-income groups.
When asked, a
UNHCR official
says his agency is
aware that refugees
are working outside
the camps but is not
sure how many. "It would be in
everybody's interests if refugees are allowed to work in certain areas," although
he insists that "refugees are not allowed
to work under the rule." A local politi-
Thinning Out
After almost one and a half decades
of diplomatic stonewalling by the
Bhutanese, Nepal's patience is "thinning out." Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat vented his frustration at the lack of progress in the Nepal-
Bhutan bilateral process intended to resolve
the refugee stalemate. "The process has been torturously slow,"
he said. The minister was uncharacteristically undiplomatic when
he spoke at a UNHCR seminar in Kathmandu earlier this month:
Mahat unequivocally blamed Bhutan for the delay in repatriating
the refugees. But the minister refused to say when Nepal's patience would completely run out. "I will let you know when that
situation comes," he said.
Privately, Nepali leaders have given up hope that any significant
number of refugees will ever be repatriated. Although UNHCR officials still say publicly that the bilateral process must take its course,
they also seem eager to discuss the other two options: local integration or third-country resettlement. "Let's get done with the bilateral process first," says a foreign ministry official.
Meanwhile, also in early December, a coalition of half-a-dozen
international human rights and humanitarian organizations asked major
donors to Bhutan and Nepal to take immediate and decisive action.
The coalition wants Bhutan to be held accountable for its international
obligations and also to ensure that the refugees are able to return to
Bhutan with full citizenship and other accompanying rights. New York-
based Human Rights Watch, along with otherorganizations, has asked
the donors to reconsider their supportfor Bhutan. □
HARD LIFE: Refugee
children at Beldangi II
 cian told Nation Weekly, "We provided the refugees with space and assistance on humanitarian grounds, but
it's now posing serious economic and
social problems for us." He asked not
to be identified, an indication of the
sensitivity ofthe issue and his own ambivalence over the presence ofthe refugees, all ethnic Nepalis.
When the first batch of refugees arrived here in November 1989, it was
the local residents who took the initiative to help them settle along the
banks of the Mai River. "At the beginning it was really hard to provide assistance to them," recalls Narad Muni
Ghimire, former deputy mayor of
Damak Municipality, who rushed to
the aid of the desperate. "They were
fleeing persecution, so it was incumbent on us to help them," he says. Many
debate over the fate of the
refugees continues
Refugee Aid
^^■CHO, the European Commission's Humanitarian Office, recently provided two
^^ million euros to feed the Bhutanese refugees. The World Food Programme, the
i^i^H WFP has already procured food, and the first few consignments have already
arrived in its food depots in the refugee camps. The WFP says the food will be sufficient
to feed the refugees for four and a half months. "ECHO has been one ofthe major
donors to the refugees," says a WFP official. And its assistance is crucial in running the
whole refugee operation. It provides more than 35 percent ofthe total assistance. The
funds from ECHO will enable the WFP to supply almost 5,000 tons of rice, 700 tons of
pulses, 300 tons of vegetable oil, 1,200 tons of fresh vegetables and almost 400 tons
of other food commodities. Nepal provides$100,000everyyearforthe refugees. Q
of the children didn't survive the cold
nights ofthe first year, he recalls.
Later, the UNHCR stepped in.
Many locals still hold a grudge against
the U.N. refugee agency and the
Nepali government officials; the residents of the neighborhood were
never consulted when the refugee
camps were set up in their midst. In
1993 they did protest against the large
refugee resettlements in their neighborhood. They feared that the presence of tens of thousands of refugees
would strain local resources. After
assurances from the UNHCR and
government officials of proper funding to build and renovate the local
infrastructure, the overt opposition
to the refugees receded. But the issue never went away completely;
tension continued to brew slowly.
Three months ago, the locals rallied
outside the camps in Beldangi calling for an effective ban on refugee
movement outside the camps. The
protest came about after officials of
the Humse Dumse Community Forest that borders the camp were attacked by a group of refugees who
had sneaked into the forest to collect
wood. When forestry officials confronted the refugees, the refugees attacked them as well. The police arrested some ofthe offenders, but this
failed to placate the locals.
JANUARY 2, 2005   |  nation weekly
The number of criminal complaints filed at the Area Police Station
in Damak has gone up steadily over the
last few years. Locals attribute the rising crime rate in areas near the camps
to the free movement of refugees.
Pick-pocketing, burglary and even incidents of arson and murder have become commonplace. Most of those
arrested turn out to be refugees, say
police officials, but often the brains
behind the crimes are members of local criminal gangs.
The locals offer a laundry list of
complaints against the refugees; many
of them sound like barbs between two
neighbors whose relations have gone
sour. Some locals claim that refugees
have caused environmental degradation
and pollution. They blame the camp
inhabitants for rapid deforestation:
The issue has been one of the most
contentious points between the two
communities. UNHCR officials have
had to frequently step in to maintain
calm. These officials accept some of
the allegations but insist that they have
been encouraging both the refugees
and the locals to resolve the dispute
through talks rather than violence. The
UNHCR wants both communities to
resolve their differences, but the list
of complaints runs long. "People living in the vicinity ofthe camps are vulnerable to the spread of communicable
diseases," says Govind Kattel, a health
worker. "There is so much pollution
that it could spread to the neighboring
But not everyone is unhappy with the
refugees. Many feel that they have contributed to the local economy by providing cheap labor and that they are after
all ethnic Nepalis. "The presence of refugees has been very helpful for development activities in the region," says
Abhiraj Dulal, a resident of Dhukurpani.
just outside the Beldangi camp. "One can
see so much construction work going
on. This would have been different if
the labor costs were still high." Many
like Dulal feel that refugees have given a
lot of business to the local residents and
has been covering the refugee issue for a
long time, says, "Locals feel that refugees
earn their livelihood without doing anything, while they have to earn their living
through sweat and blood." More than anything else, it is this perception that fuels
discontent among the locals.
"There is conflict," admits a UNHCR
official, "but there is also communication."
Though the officials from the U.N. refugee agency seem confident that the conflict
will not get out of hand, they are worried. A
little more attention to the issue might help,
but health worker Govinda Kattel laments
that the policy makers and the national media
have given scant attention to the local dynamics. "They are obsessed with the political cause-and-effect cycle," he says.
that the injection of funds in running
the camps has had positive effects on
the local economy "It's not that everything is down and out," says former
deputy mayor Ghimire. 'A lot of development works has taken place."
While that is true, the refugees are unlikely to find again the warmth ofthe early
days among the locals here. The love-hate
relationship has, in fact, been further complicated due to fears that the refugees may
wind up settling here permanently There
is a general feeling that refugees are getting special treatment: From the outside,
the camps often look like privilege islands. Gopal Gadtoula, a journalist who
After 14 years, Kathmandu and international agencies responsible for the welfare of the refugees still skirt the issue of
the socio-economic fallouts of hosting a
large number of refugees on the local
population. And how the refugees themselves are feeling the pinch. Both communities certainly deserve better.
The irony however, is that political
rhetoric on the country's most enduring foreign policy crisis never ceases to
make the headlines. "We have been put
on alert by some ofthe clashes [between
locals and refugees]," concedes the
UNHCR official. So where is the national attention? E
nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
The five-year tenure of
the members of National
Human Rights Commission will end soon. Political parties are calling for
their terms to be extended. Donors agree and
are also in favor of raising
the commission's profile.
Human Rights Commission,
the NHRC, will soon complete their five-year term, which they say
has been extremely difficult but rewarding. The commission was set up in May
2000 amid worries about a fast-deteriorating human rights situation. Since then
the five-member commission has done
a fine job of documenting and highlighting human rights abuses by both the
Maoists and the security forces. There
are now worries about how new members will be nominated. The three-
member committee that selects them
has a missing link itself: Without a sitting Parliament there is no leader of the
opposition, who is supposed to serve on
the selection committee with the prime
minister and the chief justice.
Political parties and human rights
workers are all for extending the tenure
ofthe incumbents for a second term. "In
the absence of Parliament, the executive
body ofthe government can exert undue
pressure on the nomination process," says
Sushil Pyakurel, a member of the commission himself. "This poses a valid question: 'Can the selection be impartial?'"
The commission has come down
heavily against rights abuses, and the government has been on its receiving end
on more than one occasion. In 2004 the
commission investigated 20 serious cases
of rights violations by the security
forces. The political parties seem especially pleased with the commission's
performance and most worried about
who would appoint new members.
"The members of the NHRC were
selected by an elected parliament," says
Amik Sherchan, president of the Jana
Morcha Nepal. "No one, therefore, has
the authority to dismiss or appoint the
members except an elected parliament.
The best option before us is to let the
old members continue until there is a
new Parliament."
According to the Human Rights Act
1997, the commission is accountable to
the Parliament, which receives its annual report. "In the current state of affairs, extending the tenure ofthe incumbents is the only way out," says Nepali
Congress spokesman Narahari Acharya.
Human rights workers fear that the
rights situation would take an immediate nosedive in the absence of a reputed
body that commands wide respect for
its impartiality, both inside and outside
the country. There are widespread apprehensions that the government would
handpick the new commissioners with
the intent of defeating the very purpose
of having a human rights watchdog—to
watch the government.
The donors are all for strengthening
the commission and raising the profile
ofthe human rights regime in the country. The U.S. Senate recently approved
an appropriations act that lays out con-
 ditions, mainly based on human rights
issues, for providing aid to Nepal.
The EU team that visited early this
month made no attempt to hide its displeasure over the poor human lights situation
in the country It reminded all sides that
they have obligations under both Nepali
and international law. It said that it was urgent that both sides to the conflict should
sign human lights accords as a first step toward curtailing the indiscriminate and arbitrary violations. It voiced solidarity with
the NHRC and the human rights movement in Nepal, and it made a point of emphasizing that recent intimidation and harassment of human lights defenders were
unacceptable. "The EU attaches importance
to the continued independence, effectiveness and legitimacy of the NHRC," it said
in a statement.
The EU also welcomed the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding
between Nepal and the United Nations
Office ofthe High Commissioner for Human Rghts, stressing urgent, targeted and
concrete measures to address the systemic
culture of impunity and to implement the
government's human lights commitments
made last March, when it guaranteed to provide its citizens a wide range of civil and
political rights. "The National Human
Rghts Commission must be given free and
unhindered access to all places of detention
without the need for prior notice," the EU
Despite all the outside support for the
commission, some rights activists allege
that NHRC has not done enough to probe
certain issues. They charge that NHRC has
repeatedly yielded to government pressure,
for example, when it failed to bring out an
impartial report in the case of Hem
Narayan Mandal, a CPN-UML worker
who was allegedly gunned down by the security forces in Siraha. The investigation
was later handed over to the police.
But the government has been the sharpest critic ofthe NHRC, often accusing it of
being soft on the Maoists. Former Prime
Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand even
established a separate human lights body
the Human Rghts Promotion Center, to
counter the NHRC. At a Human Rghts
Day function early this month, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said, "Our human rights activists are only critical of the
state. They do not dare to speak against the
violations by the Maoists, out of fear."
Analysts say the prime minister's wrath
is natural given the dismal record of human
rights of the security forces. Reports say
that many arrested under the Terrorist and
Disruptive Activities Punishment and
Control Act, now turned into an ordinance,
are detained in Army barracks and subj ected
to repeated torture. The Army vehemently
denies the allegations. Incidents like extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances have increased during the last two
years. The NHRC and other human lights
organizations have found it difficult to get
access to the detainees and to monitor the
situation inside the detention centers.
Since the dissolution ofthe Parliament
about 60 ordinances have been promulgated.
Most of them are related to security and
activists believe they are chiefly to blame
for gross violations of human lights in the
country Fearing that the situation would
spin out of control, the NHRC issued a
call in November 2003 for UN. rights experts to visit the country But under UN.
rules, its representatives can visit a country
only when the concerned government signs
a memorandum of understanding with it.
The Nepali government recently did so;
this paves the way for the NHRC to seek
technical assistance from U.N. human
rights bodies.
Early this month, members ofthe UN.
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances were in Kathmandu
to assess allegations of human rights violations, particularly involuntary disappearances. Warnings of three prominent international human rights organizations—Amnesty International, Human Rghts Watch
and the International Commission of Jurists—about rights violations perpetuated
by both the government and the Maoists
followed. "We want the NHRC to have a
high-profile presence," says a western diplomat. "This is important to stop Nepal
from going on a free fall."o
Dharahara is finally opening for the public, but can its
176-year-old foundation withstand the load of thousands
of visitors? Its new managers are confident.
man grass blended with more
than 25 varieties of shrubs and
trees inside Dharahara offers a fresh
look. It's four in the afternoon and Amar
Bahadur Thapa, the security guard, is
busy explaining to walker-bys that they
aren't allowed in. Meanwhile, 11 workers with shovels, spades, hoes and peaks
are busy unearthing a bare muddy
ground. Ritu Nursery has been contracted for the maintenance ofthe 25,000-
square-feet garden inside the Dharahara
After years of wrangling, Kathmandu
Municipality has finally leased the
Dharahara premises to the private sector. Controversies aside, the Dharahara
premise is destined for a new look. According to Sanjeev Tuladhar, the chairman of Sidewalker's Traders, who have
just closed a 20-year lease on the property, a total of Rs.15 million will be invested on the renovation. The sum will
also cover the embellishments and the
building of tourist restrooms. The
Sundhara Water Sprout will also be renovated. During the construction local residents and tourists will be allowed to enter the premises and also climb the nine-
storied monument from January 2005.
But the big question is: Can
Dharahara, with its 176-year-old foundation, withstand the visitors?
General Bhimsen Thapa built
Dharahara, also known as Bhimsen
Stamba, in 1825. But, after an eight Richter earthquake in 1934, the nine-storied
Dharahara collapsed leaving behind only
five stories. Two years later, the erstwhile
Rana prime minister, Juddha Shumshere.
reconstructed the 203-feet monument,
with a circular verandah on its eighth
and a shivalinga on the top floor.
Formerly, a bigul was played to transmit military signals and other official
information. And people gathered there
during important events like the death
of a high-ranking official. Hence, basically meant for military use, Dharahara
was never opened for the general public until 2007 B.S. After the end of the
Rana rule, Dharahara opened for the first
time to the public.
"It was a chilling windy day," recalls
Geeta Krishna Kharel, a resident of
Gyaneshwore who entered the monument with his friend, Gaganendra
Bahadur Singh, around 46 years ago, at
the age of 14. "We had to pay around 20-
25 paisa at the door before entering the
tower along with five or six other
people." After scaling each floor, Kharel
remembers looking out of the circular
openings on the walls, and getting
scared seeing himself up so high from
the ground. But the scariest part ofthe
climb, Kharel says, came when he entered the verandah. "I was very scared
to look down," says Kharel. "The
Kathmandu Valley looked beautiful
from such a high altitude, but, the fast
blowing wind hitting on my face left
me terrified."
Although there is no written evidence, hundreds of visitors like Kharel
must have entered Dharahara during
its opening for the 10-year period. The
reason behind closing it again, irrespective of the public enthusiasm to
enter the monument, remains undiscovered. However, according to many
elderly people, the vulnerability ofthe
old structure must have been the primary reason behind the closure. "After people were stopped from entering Dharahara, there was a hue and cry
about its foundation being weak to
 hold visitors," says 90-year-old Sarada
Prasad Sharma. Unlike the modern
buildings built on pillars and with cement, this Neo-Classical monument
is basically made up of bricks and bajra,
a mixture of lime; surkhi, powdered
brick; and the binding agent, chaku.
But ask Nhuchhe Narayan
Maharjan, a structural engineer, who
has been engaged in the field for more
than eight years, and he will immediately come up with his own mathematical reasoning showing how
Dharahara can still withstand a group
of 15 people of about 65 kilograms at a
time. Maharjan's Consulting Struc-
tures Engineer is the
official firm looking
after the feasibility of
the structure. "Before
all the feasibility tests.
even I was quite unsure about whether
the   old  monument
can carry hundreds of
people," says
Maharjan. "But after
carrying   out   more
than a month-long observation     on     the
structure     of     the
monument, we are
now convinced that
it still has the capability to entertain a
large crowd."
According to
Maharjan, other than
the outer three-inch
plaster, which has
worn away a bit, perhaps due to the rain
and sun, the inner
foundation of
Dharahara, is solid.
Even with such
convincing details,
however, Safalya
Amatya, the former
director of the Department of Archeology refuses to trust
that Dharahara's
foundation is strong.
"This is just trying to'
commercialize Dharahara," says
Amatya. "How can a tower that was
only meant to hold a few military officials carry thousands of people today? Dharahara unlike the
Kutumbminar of Delhi and Eiffel
Tower of Paris, which were originally
constructed to let in people for scenic viewing, was constructed only for
military purpose."
Also Gyanendra Tuladhar, the
former adviser of the Culture, Heritage and Tourism Department under
the Kathmandu Municipality is against
privatizing a cultural site such as
Dharahara and staking people's life
without proper verification ofthe details presented by the lessee. "If the
Hanuman Dhoka can be properly
maintained by the municipality itself then
why not Dharahara?"
asks Tuladhar.
Navin Pokhrel, a research officer at the
Nepal Tourism Board,
though also skeptical
about the structural
constraints of
Dharahara, is happy
about the monument
being leased to the private sector and opened
for general public. "I
certainly would like to
know how it feels to
enter the monument
that I've grown up seeing," says Pokhrel.
"Structural dilemma
aside, opening
Dharahara will mean a
boom in domestic as
well as international
An official at the Department of Archaeology who doesn't want to
be named is pretty optimistic about the opening. "Ifthe lessees don't
go against the norms of
the Archaeological Department and verify the
structural feasibility accurately, then using
Dharahara to earn
money for the country
should not be a problem."
For now, Sanjeev Tuladhar and his
team, including engineer Nhucche
Narayan Maharjan and architect Navin
Tuladhar are confident about what they
have concluded through their studies.
"When it comes to natural phenomenon such as earthquake, we can't predict anything," says architect Tuladhar.
"But as for our findings we are confident." In order to win the confidence
ofthe general public, the Sidewalker's
have already insured Dharahara for
Rs.100 million. In addition with the
tower, the National Life and General
Insurance has also insured each individual entering into the tower for
Rs.100,000. That's a good beginning.  □
,   1
__C:;  |I
,.]      fl
1 1
i ■
■■ ■'
K^l ^
... after sunset,
waiting for the sunrise
tel. 6680045-48/80/83 I I
TY OFFICE: Hotel Ambassador, Lazimpat, Kathmandu I tel. 4410432/4414432 I
tel. 6680045-48/80/83 I I
CITY OFFICE: Hotel Ambassador, Lazimpat, Kathmandu I tel. 4410432/4414432 I
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epal's Leading
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 2004 in Pictures
 The infamous international criminal
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A    life imprisonment on Aug. 12
JANUARY 2, 2005
Get Telephonic
Opinion Free
24 hours / 7 days
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Sponsored by Lions Club of Kathmandu Bag Durbar at Life Care Hospital, Tel: 4255330
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On to Beni, then!
I was really looking forward toa long soakinthe hot spring. It was not
that I needed a bath; after six days of tough-ish walking, it was my
sore muscles that were demanding a bitofTLC. It was darkening
and already four in the afternoon when I decided to visit the hot spring.
The Tatopani hot spring consisted of two stone-lined shallow pools fed
by an underground source. The first pool was very hot at 50° C; the
second had been cooled down to 40° C. After a quick wash under an
outflow from the pools, I gingerly lowered myself into the hot water: toes
in first, then the feet, the legs—ouch! steady!—waist in, then up to the
neck. Boy, did it feel great to let the heat and steam work their magic on
my tired body. All around me, a good number of trekkers and a few locals
were in a similar state of grimacing ecstasy. Itwas quite a surreal sight to
behold: bleached, white bodies turning pinkjuxtaposed with wrinkling,
brown Nepalis. Some had ordered beers from the nearby kiosk. The
mood was mellow, the voices hushed, the eyes drooping when a beau
tiful Nepali girl dropped her clothes and, clad only in a thin sarong and a
bikini top, gracefully slid into the pool, water nymph-like. You should
have seen the men jerk into action! The girl in question turned out to
be the village belle. For the next hour or so, she nonchalantly lingered
in the shallow waters, a slow, wide turn other head here, a demure
lowering of her eyes there, lost in the pleasures of the hot water
steaming over her wet body, seemingly oblivious to the vigorous desires she was churning in the thoughts of men who were, by now,
helplessly in love with her. She was a class act: no cheap flirting,
glances or exchanges of words. And she never smiled. As the twilight
gathered, she carefully rose and disappeared. Mirage muddled, the
men hauled themselves back to reality and to the raised eyebrows of
their female friends. Almost in unison, they got up, collected their
belongings and headed back to their lodges. It was time for dinner
anyway. The lights had come back; the dining room was heaving with
hungry souls. Tomorrow, the descent to Beni awaited, marking the
end of my trek.
The walk to Beni was not spectacular in anyway. Some bits ofthe
trail—especially those overhanging with drippy, droopy grass, carved
into the sides of cliffs—were steep, stony and slippery. When we
reached Beg Khola, the trail widened out unannounced and looked
suspiciously like a highway in the making. Itwas; in fact, Royal Nepal
Army is soon to restart work on the Beni to Mustang highway. Tractors
and wheezing four-wheel drive vehicles noisily and dustily drove past
us, crowded with passengers and their crude cargo. Just as I thought
that the trek had lost its romance, an encounter with a charming old
man in Rakhu rescued the day for me.
Stopping to sample a plate of aloo dum, I spread out my map to
see how far we were from Beni. As I did this, I noticed an old man,
togged up in a crossover shawl
of the Gurungs, peering dimly
over my shoulder. His apparent
ability to read English led me to
ask him if he had been in the
paltan (army). He instantly
straightened up and said yes,
he had been in the Fifth Gurkha
Regiment of the Indian Army,
which he had left a long time
ago when his hearing got impaired from an ear infection. As
we idly chatted, he curiously
asked me if I had binoculars.
When I wondered aloud why, he
said, oh, there is a certain buti
(herbal plant) I need to see on
the cliffs yonder. What buti?
Shilajit! He turned out to be a
rare shilajit harvester, a dangerous work involving cliff-climbing
on dangling ropes. When I mentioned Dabur shilajit capsules
(which I take daily), he scornfully dimissed them as tainted with tar and not fit for human consumption! But with bad hearingand failing eyesight, he had stopped
harvesting shilajit. I got the sad feeling he wanted to remind himself of
what he was capable of once, not what he could do now.
Warmed up bythis encounter, I marched to Galeshwore, only to
hear the alarming news of a Dhaulagiri banda the following day. I
immediately hopped on to an ancient jeep and rushed to Beni. Not
wanting to get stuck there, I reserved a taxi at a considerable cost to
whizz me to Pokhara. Two-and-half hours later at 7 p.m., I was by the
Lakeside at the Hotel Barahi. My idyll in the hills was over, n
JANUARY 2, 2005   |  nation weekly
 Cashmere Company
Tel: 977 1 4436 315 Fax: 977 1 4439 678
E-mail: Website:
Hours: 9 AM - 6 PM everyday
 For insertions: 2111102
8 p.m. onwards. For information: 424-8999
Impression of Nepal
Victor Klenov in association
with Hotel Shangri-La presents a photo exhibition "Impression of Nepal." Date:
Dec. 25-28. Time: 11 a.m. onwards. At the Shambala Garden. For information: 441-
New Year in Dwarika's
Dwarika's symbolizes Nepal
and its heritage and it is the
ideal place where you can re-
flecton2004andsetyour sights
on 2005. Dwarika's New Year
Eve celebration includes live
cooking stations from around
the world and a live musical
performance by the sensational
pop diva Abhaya and her smoking "Steam Injuns" band. Date:
Dec. 31. Time: 8 p.m. onwards.
Price: Rs.3500 per couple.
Rs.2000 for singles, includes a
welcome drink, New "Year's
Eve dinner and dance with the
Freedom Zone
The four ways
to let your hair
down this New
"Year's Eve. Zone
1:   Decheling
Garden,   pre-
partywith Rasa;
Zone 2: J Bar, electronic room.
DJ Rav4 feat. House & Trance;
Zone 3: Himalayan Java, main
room, DJ Sickfreakfeat. latest hip
hop/club remixes and Zone 4:
The Spirit Of Christmas
Sensational and sumptuous
Christmas goodies are laid out at
the Hyatt Regency to celebrate the
spirit of Christmas. For information:
Nepali Platter
At the Radisson Hotel every
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and
Sunday. Come and enjoy this special moment in the festive season.
The scheme applies to Royal Stag,
Ultimate Gin and Ruslan Vodka.
Time: 6-8 p.m. For information:
Java Terrace, Chillout Lounge.
Date: Dec. 31. Time: 8p.m. onwards. Price: Rs.1600, inclusive
of dinner, snacks, two complimentary drinks. For information:
Just Divine Nite 3
Enjoy the New Year's Eve
Edition of the most popular
party in town. Date: Dec 31.
Time: 9 p.m. onwards.
Venue: Jack Lives Here.
1905 Kantipath. Price: Rs.
500 per person.
Jukebox Experience
The jukebox experience with
Pooja Gurung and The Cloud
Walkers every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at the Rox Bar.
For information: 449-1234.
Seasons Specials
Exotic Thai, sizzlingtandoori, traditional Nepali and Italian cuisine,
daily for lunch at the Shambala
Garden Cafe, Shangri-la Hotel.
Date: Dec. 1 onwards. Price:
Rs.450 per person, includes a
bottle of mineral water or a soft
Tickling Taste buds
Barbeque every Friday Evening.
Att he Shambala Garden Cafe,
Shangri-la Hotel. Time: 7 p.m.
onwards. For information: 441-
All That Jazz
Presenting 'Abhaya and the
Steam Injuns" 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: 447-9488.
Fusion Night
The Rox Bar welcomes everyone
to be a part ofthe Fusion Night.
The rhythmic and harmonic beats
of eastern and western instruments^—a treat for the 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:
"The F *e for the
e you ever had'
Near Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat,
Kathmandu, Nepal
tel. 4413874
Parking facilities available
nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
 CITY ThisWeek
The metry inifdu? uimrt are t-Jsrk igon aal The K4*tiu;u Hotel » buN-finn wjfi a1 tiMtki during thK feliw w-htm fur thh
Chriums* and New Year, as die nrimiL ihr huic1, lw iSrrti detijed
up umur «^qs'jl if it u- A Li |j-1 Ibimutm iitr Iw l«u pm <ip to ijV
nirJdJf vi the totiy it** with a coois? r fur dispikvinj: Cbihnrta*
pitiidijiv Nr4«h nJ pMTKi. hraibr dwp lay* anr ■« *i|* l^trySKip
-'1 ,i\ die Splash, one itf the main halti. Fur ihtdiscerningttsac
budi n|' In vahbtd pMfOM il»r preniieT rfujiumt »i die haul,
The QQfa 5jr fr Hum., will serve i watderfid New Year tec,
Ii -hi-nns up ja. urntiidMe ubtr iT?Mrl menu .uu^d juii \-.h
the hi>]rJj> kiw Fi* cAcj*^'*, the Rriraan fetey Shop H-is
nuiiLurnui i'4ke*H pJiVtnc, bttBtlX -hhI |iuJdi|ip -Hid etpreulty
craned hinijwrs on diTfr. ^U, y™ Join wjpt in mii* this op- ty. -isi yra1 'Jill I Jet 3]. lor mfomuluvi. 441>I SIM
'I'lrr   imunf   Hints.   SuihlMJ
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Efjliidm Ra: c\\\ fed ; Cptd or y>
pflikti ul J ni-«ip rJubn     .  H 1
Siddhartha Art (;. 11lrv   Tht>.r
ii  tfBiriqg jitu'    in
:njii.iij_: hilt-
t nid--,'k- trim in L'ltu MittiVrr Sh-iH ttld SfTOU Muslin.
Piwhiujrjiig: ii lint rvty. Tlicw: yoLlivp prijiutilk. .: ilTJ-
l lv,       ll     I,"   -"III   . I II. I I twtr, Cui'H.i   :' i   v.- , j M , •   mi Mjjjar-!ilimp bit LL'lJjcr-
iphV Hi --^nk. DjI llihjditr
ftjji hi* Jcfi^tcd rhe" tutciral her^a,-:.: -..:' Nep»l;
■ ■'.■■  I us he r w.irk niilnrHrrd Ivy irticKKt ink!    ull B    MnJ
Sushmi Shaky., iwpriw* the Unvrn will] L'kllirn-j tfffij*-
■■ iv ui pii'iutrt dutim. ..-iiii-mii in Aim gbtiti
w WTlnrtiie die New Yfar.
J:«S. The CJS xi due Ihtic
ReprfttV will wrvr A ^priiij!
NfVi ftar''* Ewe duiner widi
%p*Tii,liiijt winr ami nolle
CLtckiails. The l^u Rtatarant
■..II *Wi ffuurr *ii taidlwuvc
m;aloud menu with cfaajH-
pagpe. TJkt ddomdan of T3ie
("ifr ind ROM ttn-tniiinl will
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I>j*rr- Drt. 31, f-nr icu'mtMU'
Sinners In Hemen
FihE-.vutjdi; in admire iVh.
ion ihniw, Kaun t:.-uturr.
where the umdeK anil he
watknM,i aiiiLHt^diC mnip ul Uil
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Bw   I iiiii l Is'iile (.louuaie till
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JhtAJARV 2. 2009  |  iujAob (fr^lsli,
Dream Reawakened
The aura and the legacy that Boris has left behind make the Chimney unique among
the restaurants serving fine cuisine in Nepal
The New "Year is around the corner and the Christmas
festivities are underway. Bells and mistletoes hang on
the windows. Golden pinecones sit next to salt and
pepper shakers. A grey haired waiter is placing logs in the
fireplace and the chimney in the middle shines with its own
story to tell.
Bishnu Bijel, the waiter, learnt the tricks of the trade
from the legendary Boris Lissanevitch. Bishnu has been
around since the grand old days ofthe Royal Hotel. Sunken
cheekbones, but wearing a merry smile; there is so much to
talk about him. He looks pensive and his eyes are wistful for
the days gone by. "Yet he smiles again and brings a glass of
water. He exudes hospitality and warmth. Boris—restaurateur, hotelier and pioneer of tourism in Nepal—has trained
him well. Boris was commissioned by the government to
set up the country's first luxury hotel to accommodate
British royalty. He also invited the first tourists to the
country, paving the way for the tourism trade that flourished
even after him. His friendship with the late King Tribhuvan.
who frequented his club in Calcutta, later won him entry
into the social scene of Kathmandu, which he lit up delightfully.
The Chimney restaurant as it stands now was built
painstakingly from ruins. It is a part ofthe luxury hotel Yak
and Yeti. The hotel is built on and around the late Bir
Shumshere's Lai Durbar. Boris, often called the father of
tourism in Nepal, lived upstairs with his family and  entertained guests like a king. Ambassadors, ministers—they
came regularly to the restaurant and the word spread that the
Chimney served the best food in town. There is an old
world charm about Bishnu and the restaurant—of the days
of fine dining and gracious living. Boris came to Nepal with
the Ballet Russe and his name is and will always be associated with the dazzling social landscape of Kathmandu in the
1970s and even earlier. He has probably single handedly
changed the face of Nepal's modern gourmandizing culture.
He opened the Chimney in Kathmandu when restaurants
were but meager establishments and fine dining was but a
JANUARY 2, 2005   |  nation weekly
 dream. Y)u can read about
the legendary Boris in
Michel Pissel's "Tiger for
Breakfast." A museum has
been built in his name in
Odessa, his hometown, in
The restaurant takes its name
from the chimney on the open,
handcrafted, copper-shafted
fireplace. Boris brought not only fine
dining and entertainment to Nepal
but also left his mark on the Nepali
hospitality industry. Bishnu recalls how
Boris would give personal attention to
the guests. Bishnu has now emulated the
great master himself. Prince Charles.
Imelda Marcos and other dignitaries have
been spotted in the restaurant.
Each year the chimney is lit to mark the
onset of the winter season; this year it was
lit by Valery V Nazarova, ambassador of
Russia. Boris' dream has been reawakened
this year with the revamping of the menu and
the return of some of his specialties such as the
Russian borscht and the flaming baked Alaska
The restaurant is famed for its delectable
menu, but also for its warm ambience, some of
which it gains from the chimney, the fireplace and
the gathering around it. The fire and Crepes, a la
Boris, warm up chilly winter nights. Bishnu makes
sure that every evening is a memorable one.
The palate-teasing delicacies on the menus are well
known, both in Nepal and abroad; a stop at the
restaurant is seen as a must for any visiting dignitary.
The aura that the restaurant has about it gives it a unique
place among the restaurants serving fine cuisine in Nepal
The menu enlists all kinds of food items. Choices
range from tasty appetizers—including the Himalayan
Parma Ham—to the soups and
the famous Russian borscht.
There is a rich selection of
fish, meats and poultry, along
with a range of other vegetables dishes. Then come the
desserts. The savoir-faire with
which Boris entertained his
guests lives on in the menu,
the food and the restaurant.
The Chimney becomes the
dining place of the eminent,
as Boris had always dreamt.
Bishnu with his welcoming
persona has his own role to
play now.
nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
The Chimney and Boris'
legend come alive every
evening as Bishnu lights up
the chimney. He has seen
and met many eminent
personalities yet he talks
mostly of Boris. He is eager
to tell the story of the
Chimney but is also determined to keep alive its true
spirit. The restaurant is
inviting, as Bishnu is
welcoming. The food speaks
for itself but one must pay
homage to the man behind
the dream. It is a dream like
no other, and it lives on in
Bishnu's endearing story. □
 A BBpB**BS£as'
The Nepali film industry is going through the toughest
phase in its short history
States was aghast when he spotted Karishma Manandhar outside
an immigration lawyer's office in New
York. "What on earth is Nepal's most successful actress doing during her movie
tour to the United States?" he wondered
with his friends. He soon found the answer: Manandhar's Rs.8 million
"Babusaheb," which she had also produced, had bombed at the box office. Apparently she had had enough of Nepal.
Manandhar is not the only cinema artiste to leave Nepal due to the dismal state
ofthe film industry The west has recently
lured such established actors like Saranga
Shrestha, Gauri Malla, and Rajaram Paudel.
who join the trailblazers like Karishma KC
and Saroj Khanal. Indeed, Bhuvan KG.
who is past his prime, and Rajesh Hamal
seem to be the only big-league survivors.
The film industry has taken a nosedive
in the last couple of years. The fall in the
number of productions is alarming, and
several of the movies that have come out
have bombed at the box-office. There has
been an exodus of top actors from the country; those who remain are struggling.
Cinematrix in Tripureshwore—one of
the two digital studios in Kathmandu—
once used to be teeming with the superstars ofthe Nepali films. These days they
are hard to spot, and the studio seems
largely vacant. During 2001, its peak year,
it processed around 50 films. For the last
couple of seasons it has only been doing 8-
10 films. This year it expects the number
to come down to 4-5 films.
The insurgency seems to have taken
its toll on the film industry. Due to the
lack of security many cinema halls across
the country have closed down: Twenty-
six of them along the major highways have
ceased operation. The lack of security has
hurt the remaining theaters too. Where
there used to be three shows daily, most
halls are only running two now.
In 2002,50 Nepali films were produced.
A year later the figure had plummeted to a
dozen. The industry had a turnover of
around Rs.200 million a few years ago: The
figure is around Rs.40 million now. These
days Cinematrix has to sustain itself by doing post-production work for advertisements and documentaries; television serials are its chief source of income now
There are around 450 movie theaters in
the country, and the average hall has 700
seats. But almost all are playing to empty
galleries. Five to 10 percent occupancy rates
are typical. A film collecting Rs.2.5-3 million inside Kathmandu used to be classified as a hit, but these days, movies making
a tenth of that are counted as blockbusters.
Raj an Panta, who handles marketing
and administration at Cinematrix, asks.
'When people's main concern is security how can we expect them to go out
and enjoy the movies? Entertainment is
the last thing on people's minds today."
Surprisingly, though, the market for
the foreign films remains largely unaffected. The hackneyed storylines and underdeveloped plots in most Nepali movies may be one reason why they are not
attracting the masses of yesteryears.
Producer-director Ashok Sharma.
who is the general secretary of the Nepal
Film Development Corporation, looks
at the problem differently. He says that an
average Nepali film has a production cost
of Rs. 3-4 million but has to compete
against Bollywood movies with at least 10
times that budget. When there is less
money, quality is invariably compromised.
Producers and directors bear some responsibility he says, but there are too many
other variables to take into consideration.
Chief among them is the mass departure of the main audience for Nepali
films, young people in the villages and in
urban centers. The declining audience is
directly affecting the film industry. 'A major portion of our audience is now chopping onions in Qatar and Malaysia," says
Sharma. "The industry is having a hard
time filling the void left by them."
Even films like "Caravan,"
"Numafung" and "BhedaKo Ooon Jasto,"
which have received critical acclaim, have
only been "media hits," Sharma claims.
"Even when interesting, out-of-the-box
movies are produced, the audience
doesn't come to the theaters. What can
we do, then?" he asks. "The only way the
Nepali film industry will revive is if audiences go and watch the movie. If the
halls are full, we will have bigger budgets,
and with bigger budgets, better movies
will invariably come out."
The Nepal Film Development Corporation is doing its bit to help. A system
of keeping visual archives has been put in
place, a film library is in the offing, a screenplay competition and a film festival are
scheduled for 2005 and work documenting the history of Nepali films has began.
The government seems willing to
pitch in too. It has given a tax concession
to Nepali films, raw stock facilities of production equipment have been improved
and the duty on the import of the filmmaking equipment has been lowered. A
shooting studio is also on the cards if the
corporation gets foreign donors.
Still, the future of the industry looks
gloomy. Theatre-shy audiences will be
hard to coax back. And with the exodus of
youth continuing and the state ofthe country deteriorating further, people like Panta
see little hope.
Sharma remains optimistic, though.
"We should make movies aiming at an international audience; then we will have
to make good movies," he says. "And
though the situation is dismal now, we
are not distraught and hopeless."
As for Manandhar, who was recently
in Nepal, she says she has gained respect
for all professions, big and small, while in
the United States and that she is ready to
do menial jobs when she returns. Sadly
that may be the best advice for all starry-
eyed Nepali actors. □
Chinese Wonders
A flood of inexpensive but good-quality Chinese imports
has changed Nepali lifestyles
Dharahara was being newly
painted. The workers hung at
dizzying heights, their lives
depending on the long ropes that ran
down along the white plastered nine-
story tower. It was a dramatic sight, but
not many people were looking up. Attention was centered instead on the piles
of clothing that lay along the teeming
"Two hundred, jackets for two hundred!" a hawker was shouting at the top
of his voice. Nearby, some policemen
were bargaining over a navy blue cardigan. "Chinese pants, hajur. Can't give
them to you for Rs.150," another hawker
explained to a customer. Dozens of vendors and hundreds of shoppers filled the
area around the tower, turning it into an
impromptu Chinese market. Winter
jackets and pajamas were the biggest sellers.
"I come here regularly, mostly to sell
Chinese jackets," said Govinda Karki,
who was wearing a brown woolen cap.
It was just past 4 o'clock and getting
chilly. "I also sell Nepal-made jackets,
but people are more interested in buying Chinese," he added.
Goods made in China, once the sole
preserve ofthe National Trading Corporation and a few big stores, are now sold
all over town. There is no official merchandise and no popular brand names,
but the merchandise is still wildly popular. Karki said he makes a daily profit of
Rs.400 from selling jackets.
It's not just clothing. There are all
sorts of Chinese products available. A
little further down the road, in the dark
alleys of Mahaboudha behind Bir Hospital, about 500 people come everyday
for TVs, calculators, household utensils
and electrical appliances, as well as
clothes. The attraction is the same for
everyone: the wide
range of inexpensive goods.
"This place isjust
amazing, "said
Shirish Pandey, a 19-
year-old high school
graduate currently
learning multimedia. "I generally
come here to buy
graphic software,"
he said. Pandey has
been buying a lot of
stuff from Khasa Bazaar lately, mostly pirated CDs. The easy
availability of software worth thousands of dollars for
 just Rs.60 has convinced Pandey that it is
"the best shopping center in the Valley."
Pandey, who comes here at least twice
a month, related his experience of having seen people of all ages, from children to the elderly. "People want cheap
stuff, and quality doesn't really matter
for lots of things we buy. So this place is
suitable for people seeking products at
really low prices."
Inexpensive no
longer has to mean
poor quality. Consumers say that
most Chinese
goods are worth
their price. Salesman Raju Shrestha
has been trading
in electrical appliance for the last
five years. His
store has wide
range of goods—
radios, walkmans.
speakers, calculators, TV remote
controls and telephones. The
phones cost between Rs.175 to
Rs.900, while Japanese sets of same
quality cost from Rs.1,500 to Rs.2,000,
said Shrestha. Chinese goods, he explained, are as good as any, and many
consumers are looking specifically for
Chinese products.
Chinese goods have changed people's
lifestyles. Kale Pahari from Badikhel
VDC near Godavari is happy that he can
listen to FM radio in his remote village.
"In our childhood, only the Lahures
used to have transistors. Information,
news and entertainment were out of
reach [for other people]. But a Rs.120
radio I bought in Bhrikuti Mandap last
year has made the world much smaller
for us," the 58-year-old said. "Old people
like me would die of cold if Chinese
clothing was banned," said Ram
Neupane, who runs a teashop in the same
Chinese markets cater to everyone.
With a Casio calculator in hand, Sourya
Subedi, an eighth-grader at a public
school, was searching for cheap pens at
Mahaboudha. His stationary budget for
the year is Rs.300. His elder brother's
good experience with a Chinese camera, which worked well for years, convinced him of the good value of Chinese
The Chinese stores do especially
good business during the wedding season. The Gift Shop in Mahaboudha was
flooded with people last month. Big sellers: sleek photo albums for less than
Rs.100, attractive sets of china for less
than Rs.200 and colorful electric lamps
for Rs.300Then there are the indispensable rice cookers, which can be had for
as little as Rs.600. Indeed, Chinese goods
dominate almost every sector of the retail market. From clothing to kitchen
utensils, Chinese goods have enriched
ordinary Nepalis' lives.
The effects of the influx of Chinese
merchandise go beyond the obvious.
Quite a few people believe that the success of Nepali folk songs over the last
few years is due less to the recording
quality or talent of the singers than to
affordable Chinese radios and cassette
players. At a time when the film industry is in a downward spiral due to low
attendance in theaters, Nepali viewers
are watching more foreign movies at
home on cheap VCD players.
Chinese goods are no longer a barometer of one's social standing. They
have universal appeal, as Karki at
Dharahara said: "All kinds of people buy
my jackets." □
Dirty Nexus
Sports reeks of corruption. Unsurprisingly, it extends
beyond Nepal's borders.
It's been four months since two of
the country's most powerful sports
bodies promised in public to bury
their hatchet over who controls the
Olympic purse.
Following the mediation by Minister of State for Sports and Education Bal
Krishna Khand, the two factions of the
Nepal Olympic Committee, the NOC,
one led by Rukma Shumshere Rana and
the other by Kishore Bahadur Singh
looked all set to put behind the nasty
power struggle.
"A page had been turned," Rana declared in August even as the Nepali contingent was leaving for the Athens Olympics. 'We've put aside all our differences
and joined hands for good."
Rana had also assured the officials
and athletes that the joint Olympic committee, a merger of the two separate
groups headed respectively by him and
Singh, member secretary ofthe National
Sports Council, would soon be endorsed by the International Olympic
Committee, the IOC.
Unfortunately, the moment never
arrived. The situation only exacerbated
after the Athens Games. And the power
struggle over the control of Nepal's sport
fraternity continues. The clash of egos is
nauseating enough. Now either group is
plotting to pull the rug from under the
feet of the other.
But why does someone like Rana,
to whom pelf is just a four-letter word,
so desperately want to hold on to the
Olympic committee? Why is Singh so
hell-bent on ensuring that he does not
get it?
"It certainly is not for the love of
the game," says one disgruntled former
national athlete, discussing who motivates the two clashing titans. "That concept is for poor fools like you and me."
Of course, the perks of the office
are extremely alluring. Thanks to the astounding amounts of money being
poured in by the IOC. Nepal's Olympic committee gets about $50,000 annually to cover administrative costs, plus
thousands more through the Olympic
Solidarity Fund, which goes toward assisting the poorer countries to keep the
Olympic movement alive.
The fighting started 18 months ago
when the government dissolved the
NOC following controversial elections.
And it set up an ad hoc NOC under
A great deal has already
been spoken and written on
the debacle. A lot of it was
a brilliant exercise in
passing the buck. The
NOC was pilloried
not for the debacle
but over an alleged
financial irregular-
More piquant
details of financial
irregularities have
surfaced.     The
tales of sleaze are
only so damning.
And   strangely
those tales are
coming from beyond the boundaries    of   Nepali
"Rana   has   embezzled the IOC fund,"
Richard Morley told a
press conference recently.
Interestingly    enough,
Morley, a British millionaire, had led his adopted
son Jayram Khadka to the
Winter Olympic Games at
Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002
as ski coach, representing Nepal Ski Association that was headed by Rana. The
participation was carried out without the
sports council's approval.
Khadka, albeit through controversial
channel, competed in 1,500-meter crosscountry sprint, to become the first
Nepali athlete to participate in the Winter Olympic Games.
According to Morley, NOC had received at least $32,000 in IOC funding
for the team's preparation and participation in the Games. "Out of that, I've
enough evidence to prove that Rana has
embezzled $8,000," he told reporters. He
also accused Rana of spending the
 amount to fund Rana and his wife's trip
to the United States. "I've even met with
the prime minister and sports minister
and informed them about the incidents,"
Morley claimed.
Rana, however, denied the allegations. "They are without foundation," he
said but declined to make any further
It is not as if questions, often inconvenient and indefensible, have risen only
this time. Ignoring widespread protest,
NOC in the past has ferried officials to
Olympic Games on seats allocated to
"Rana   has   betrayed the entire
sports community," says Lok
Shahi, treasurer of the
NOC.  But
he frets even
more over
EGO CLASH: Singh (left) and Rana
the fact that people who command
thority in the government are simply
helpless. Shahi explains when
people like Rana hold ties with      /
international officials, there's
little those inside the country can do.
"Organizations like IOC
and FIFA run international
programs through their own
statutes. The problem will
not be resolved until government authorities get used to
the ways of international sport
federations," says the former
ANFA general secretary, hinting
at the failed bid of the Ministry of
Education and Sports to bridge the rift
between two of the country's most
powerful sport bodies. The ministry
had suggested fresh elections to revamp the NOC administration.
Go back a few years and turn over
the sports pages. There are enough examples that would explain how the international sports federations are being run. And they are sleazier
than you can possibly imagine. They are institutions   notorious   for
groupism, shifting loyalties, changing equations and backroom
maneuvers; polemics eventually becomes irrelevant.
In   2002,   six
IOC     members
were      expelled
while four others
were forced to resign for the involvement in the
Salt   Lake    City
bribery scandal. It
dealt a fatal blow
to   the   Olympic
ideal. A detailed
investigation into
the allegations revealed that the Salt
Lake City Games organizers had spent
more than $10 million
avishing gifts on the members to win precious votes to
J      stage   the   Winter   Olympic
Games. The tradition of IOC
members visiting bidding cities has
been dropped since.
Likewise, there are enough reports
suggesting FIFA elections in 1998 too
were rigged. The allegations appear in
an explosive book "How They Stole the
Game" by British author David Yallop.
Twenty leading figures in world football allegedly accepted a million dollars in bribes to "fix" the election held
at the Meridian Hotel in Paris for the
game's top job. But FIFA never called
for the investigation because too many
people implicated in corruption going
back 25 years are still in positions of
power. And those powerful men, in
turn, do everything in their power to
see their henchmen at member countries.
In the light of all these things, it
looks more difficult to see a positive
change in countries like Nepal. The IOC
funds could have been best used for the
development of Nepali sports as the government is already outstretched with its
resources to meet escalating security
Apparent however is a state of confusion, as people holding powerful position at sports bodies keep enjoying political clout. As a result, the associations
and federations, formed with the express
purpose of serving and promoting the
practitioners of sport, are slowly losing
their relevance. And configuring the
power equations within Nepal's sports
sector seems a daunting exercise even to
the most analytical of observers. □
■■*   0)
0   CD
9- -Q
Riding High
It was her song "Kina Kina" from her first album "Priyatam" that won her the Hits FM Best
Female Vocal Award seven years ago. Since then,
there has been no looking back for NALINA
CHITRAKAAR. She received the prestigious
Chinnalata Puraskaar in 2003 and the Hits FM
Music Award in 2004. On Dec. 18, Chitrakaar
also became the first female to bag the Icons
Award-2004. She entertained the crowd present
at the awards ceremony with 13 of her most
melodious numbers. "This is just the beginning," says Chitrakaar. Well, we can certainly
expect more.
RAMESH BUDHATHOKI clinched the Himalayan Bank Cup for Mahendra Police Club on Dec.
18 with his 77th minute goal. The final goal against
the Three Star Club also won him the top scorer
award. He had seven goals in the four knockout
matches. The skipper, who joined the national team
as an Under-17 player 10 years ago, remains humble
about his achievements. "I didn't expect to be the
highest scorer," says Budhathoki. "I must really
thank my luck." Budhathoki is already back on the
field for the San Miguel International Cup that
began on Thursday, Dec. 23. He is warming up in
style for the SAAF
i Championship to be
)held in Pakistan in
Costly Ad
"I pleaded before the organizers to spare my
French beard," saysSURAJ SINGH THAKURI,
producer and VJ at Kantipur Television. "But
unfortunately they wanted a clean shaved
model." Shot at Jim Corbett National Park in
India, Thakuri's latest Shikhar Lights ad without
his signature French beard, however, is making
waves. What does the environment science
student say about provoking others to smoke? "If it
wouldn't have been me, it would have been someone
else," says Thakuri. "Smoking depends on individual
will, not on any person's appearance in an ad." No
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Radio City
Gopal Jha is a man who takes his job—radio
broadcasting—seriously and expects others to do
the same. He is also someone who likes to take
up challenges. Starting as an program assistant in 1996
with Kantipur FM 96.1, he rose through the ranks t
become the station manager in 2002. He now has a new
job and a new task at hand as the station manager
for Nepal FM 91.8, the newest FM station to hit the airwaves of Kathmandu.
Jha has the tough job of carving a market
for the new station. The competition is
tough with 14 FM stations in the Valley
alone, and two more to soon begin operation. He also has another obstacle to
overcome—the homogeneity in the programming. Yashas Vaidya spoke to the
Jha about the new station, the challenges
and radio broadcasting.
There are 40 FM stations in Nepal, 14
in the Valley. One too many?
There is place for many new stations—
why only 40, why not 400? The problem
with the stations is that there is a lack of
identity—a sort of identity crisis. They're
the jack of all [trades], but the masters of
none. Every station should not try to do
For a startup like yours, the question
must be—will you succeed commercially?
We will certainly. We are different from
other stations. Ours is a news-based station. We give more news, more information. We've got a lot of news, hourly
Is that how you plan to differentiate
yourselves from the rest of the crowd?
We're also different in terms of programming. We play more music, talk
little, very little, a lot less than in other
stations. In most FM programs, the presenter talks between songs and simply
keeps on talking. We give news, and then
just music. And in small intervals in
between the presenter gives small bits
of information. Ifyou give information
as in news and ifyou give good music,
it is possible to keep the listeners
You seem to have a problem
with radio jockeys talking a lot...
Yeah. Who cares about gossip? Who
cares about what you did in the morning and what you ate? Who has the
time? It will soon be 10 years since FM
radio started in the Valley. It's time we
gave people something new. There is a
need for more innovative programming. We've had enough of "live entertainment." It's programming done
without any homework whatsoever.
What about the integrity of such a presenter and the station? Ifyou keep on
doing the same thing always, how will
you survive?
It will soon be 10
years since FM radio
started in the Valley.
It's time we gave
people something
Why do you think such a
problem exists?
It [Good programming] takes time and it
takes work. There are so many issues that
can be brought up. I think the lack of
trained manpower is also one reason.
There are a few people with training. But
the majority [ofthe presenters] don't have
any background in broadcasting. There
isn't a school of broadcasting like those
in the United States, Canada, Germany
and so on. Even in the college where I
teach broadcast journalism, that part is just
a small part in the mass communication
degree. RJs, presenters don't seem to
know the ethics of broadcasting.
What are the ethics of broadcasting?
How should one speak? To what extent
should one speak? How open should one
be? What should one speak? It's the
broadcaster's duty to know this...
They're [the presenters] are not responsible at all.
Well, your station has also built a strong
network with stations outside the Valley...
Yes, it is a relatively new thing for Nepal.
Networking among radios was already
big in the United States in the 30s and
40s. Nepal FM has nine partner stations
outside the Valley. We provide them with
news we have prepared and they in turn
give us local issues outside the Valley.
It's a two-way flow.
Why should tits bits from outside the
Valley interest listeners in
Kathmandu's population has increased
rapidly in recent years. And that is not
due to the indigenous population here.
People have come from different parts
of the country to Kathmandu because it
is a relatively safe place. So, for example,
for someone from Surkhet, it would be
very interesting if we could talk about
issues that concern him. □
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nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
 Development Crisis
The Nepal Development Report 2004 is a reminder of
the host of problems before the country. However, by
failing to address the Maoist conflict directly its relevance
is limited.
The third Nepal Development Report is most importantly a reminder of the ills facing the country. At a time when almost all the press is
devoted to the ongoing conflict, it is easy
to look back at the period before 1996 as
a better time and forget about the severe
problems our
is to say, why the majority of Nepal's
population are so estranged from the
sources of power, without the ability to
take initiatives in the transformation of
their own lives. Like many other development efforts of the recent past, the
emphasis is on creating conditions
where the poor can take action to change
their own lives, instead of relying on resources  and help
Report 2004
Empowerment and Poverty Reduction
country faced then.
This report is a
timely reminder
that those problems
too haven't gone
away and have only
become more severe as a result of
the conflict.
Published by
the United Nations
Development Program, the report
has been drawn
from the efforts of
a large team of
Nepali academics,
civil society members and independent researchers.
The core team includes Sriram Raj
Pande, Bikash Sharma and Dilli Raj
Khanal. Though published by the United
Nations, the report is anxious to draw
attention to the fact that the views expressed are of the diverse team of independent authors and not those of the
UNDP or the government.
To attempt to answer why Nepal's
level of development remains among the
lowest in the world and to find adequate
changes in policy and attitudes, the previous Nepal Development Report of
2001 focused on the role of good governance in creating conditions for economic growth and equity. The present
report focuses on "empowerment." That
Nepal Human Devlopment Report 2004
Empowerment and Poverty Reduction
United Nations Devlopment Program
PAGES: 187
from the government or NGOs.
Here, empowerment is divided into
three categories:
economic, political
and socio-cultural.
Through a series of
chapters, various aspects of government policy and intervention are analyzed to understand
why so many efforts
haven't been as successful as they
should have.
Besides presenting a list of the failures of development efforts in the past, the report claims
to have made "significant contributions
to current attempts worldwide to chart
the changing dynamics of human development." The first of these is the establishment of the Human Empowerment
Index, the HEI. While there have been
other mathematical methods of measuring the developmental situation of regions, such as the Human Development
Index, the Human Poverty Index and
the Gender Empowerment Measure, a
single measure to include all these different factors, the report states, hasn't
been found. With the HEI, the hope is
that a measure has been found for a ho
listic approach that captures various aspects of "human empowerment."
As can be expected, there is a great
disparity in the values of HEI between
the different regions of Nepal. At the
district level Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Kaski
and Morang enjoy the greatest levels of
empowerment—between 0.6 and 0.7.
Mugu, Humla, Dolpa, Rolpa, Jumla—
all in the Midwest—and Bara have the
lowest levels—less than 0.3. Medium
levels of empowerment are stated to be
0.5-0.7 and high levels above 0.8. None
of Nepal's districts falls under the high
levels of the HEI.
The second "significant contribution" the report claims to make is a study
of various social mobilization practices
undertaken throughout Nepal by various NGOs, INGOs and the government. Indeed, the chapter "Empowerment Through Social Mobilization" is
JANUARY 2, 2005   |  nation weekly
the most important one in the report, as
it is the only section where original research has been done. Various organizations have made efforts to change the
mental attitudes and relationships within
communities in order to make people
throughout Nepal more capable of effecting changes within their communities. The objectives of these efforts have
been to change the self-perception of
people as passive receivers of aid so they
can contribute to the development of
their own communities. In Nepal this
has been done by means of Social Mobilization Agencies and Social Mobilization Committees supported by external
organizations. This evaluation of the
strengths and weaknesses of such efforts
will be useful to the various donor agencies, NGOs and INGOs working in this
Throughout the country it was found
that among the different aspects that are
important for the health of grassroots
based development efforts, trust and solidarity between members and their in
volvement in the decision making
process were relatively high. The aspects where much improvement is
needed are accountability and transparency. Though social mobilization
efforts contributed significantly to
human progress in Nepal, there are
still areas where much improvement
is still desirable. In particular, the
greatest problem in these groups
seems to be the persistence of the exclusion of the very poor. Most organizations still haven't developed
mechanisms to ensure the inclusion
of the lowest-status groups.
The sections "Barriers on Empowerment" and "Empowerment of
Women and Disadvantaged Groups"
are mostly an accumulation of commonly known history and other documented bits of information, such as the
implementations of government reforms in areas like health and education and their inadequacies. Throughout all these however, there are a few
glimpses of the stark difficulties that
face a deeply-rooted traditional
culture's transition to modern, democratic ways.
One such glimpse is given on the
section on dalits and concerns a seeming paradox in our Constitution. While
exclusion based on caste or ethnicity
or untouchability is punishable by law,
the National Country Code still holds
that "there shall be no disturbance in
other's religious and social practice."
The report states that the latter statement has to be declared unconstitutional to cease discrimination against
dalits. What is interesting here, however, is that though both these tenets
are considered important in all modern laws and customs, in Nepal they
seem to be irreconcilable. One of them
has to be suppressed for the other to
come into practice.
Another example illustrates the need
for awareness of the larger picture of
any community that an outside organization or government is considering to
intervene. In the late 1990s in Syangja
district, a Social Mobilization Committees recognized the importance of
building a road to decrease transport
costs. Only after the road was built did
people realize that 36 families whose
livelihoods depended entirely on
porterage had been reduced to penury.
This is a powerful example that shows
how development projects, while
working for the benefit of many people,
can easily lead to the further
marginalization of the ultra-poor.
The report concludes with a list of
proposed reforms to deepen democracy and alleviate poverty throughout
the nation. How enforceable these proposals are in a nation caught up in conflict
is debatable.
Though there are some interesting bits
of information, the entire report seems to
be abstracted from the reality of Nepal's
towns and villages. The HEI may be a valuable tool, but numbers alone cannot depict
the more serious problems of an underdeveloped country. The feeling that the report is divorced from the current events in
our country is reinforced by the fact that
the Maoist conflict receives a very superficial treatment throughout. Surely any report at this time that deals ■with the crises
facing Nepal must find ■ways of addressing
the conflict in greater detail.  □
nation weekly |  JANUARY 2, 2005
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To say that Nepal is currently facing the greatest crisis in its his-tory
is certainly not to exaggerate. The
next few months will be crucial, extremely crucial, in deciding what kind
of society our children and their children will live in and what kind of value
system will govern them. And, indeed,
whether there will be such niceties as
press freedom and freedom of speech.
The Maoists say that after nine years
of the "people's war" they have now arrived at a point of "strategic offensive,"
meaning that they have the might to militarily take on the state. According to an
article posted on the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement website, the
strategic offensive started on Aug. 31,
when Prime Minister Deuba returned
from a visit to India "where much ofthe
discussion centered on stepping up Indian intervention in Nepal with the backing ofthe United States."
Many of those who have fought
against them over the years admit that
the ragtag guerrillas,
who started out
with seem
ingly insignificant
offensives against six police
and government outposts, have come far
since February 1996. As we stand on the
threshold of a new year, there is a deep
foreboding that the war has reached a new
low. The escalating security expenses
threaten to push every other need—education, health, food and more—to the
fringes. How long can this go on? Are
we heading toward a situation where aid
agencies and diplomatic missions start
fleeing and the international community
decides that our conflict is "intractable"?
The signs are far from pleasant.
Rumors are rife that the Maoists have
come to a point where they are looking
to establish an open military base, much
like the TTTE in north-eastern Sri Tanka.
The blockade of Kathmandu that started
on Thursday, Dec. 23, is not so much
aimed at strangling the Valley as at shaking up the security forces, at mounting
surprise attacks on those who try to keep
the highways open, and at snatching their
ammunition; all this while suffering
minimum casualties themselves. Indeed,
since Dashain the Maoists have perceptibly shifted their tactics and are now
focusing on major highways and urban
centers. Whether it's their increased
military strength or the insistence oftheir
military wing to announce their
ascendance, they give the impression
that they are fighting to the finish. It looks
very unlikely that they will accept the
prime minister's offer for talks by the
Jan. 13 deadline. There is very little pressure on them to open dialogue.
As crisis looms, the need for national
unity grows by the hour. We regret to say
that the political forces—the Palace and
the political parties—haven't helped
their cause by their continued wrangling.
If the conflict looks intractable, it
is not because of the Maoists:
It is because of this disunity
We say with sincere
regret that the King has
failed to pull together a divided nation. We believe it's
still not too late for
him to reach out to
the political parties,
and we sincerely hope
that the political parties
would reciprocate such a gesture with
open minds. It's no time to indulge in
partisanship and personality tussles. It's
time to display statesmanship, to rally a
deeply divided nation, and to hold talks
with the Maoists, united, and, hopefully
under the aegis of the United Nations.
The goal is peace, which Nepalis desire
above all else.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
JANUARY 2, 2005   |  nation weekly
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