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Nation Weekly September 12, 2004, Volume 1, Number 21 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-09-12

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SEPTEMBER 12, 2004 VOL. I, NO. 21
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20 The Sound Of Fury
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
The killing of innocent Nepalis in Iraq caused justifiable pain and anger, but that
doesn't excuse the apparently uncontrolled expression of outrage
By Satishjung Shahi
There are serious charges that the government failed to respond quickly enough
to the violence, and when it did, the damage had already been done
) N: A Disguised Hurt by Vincent Androsiglio, a psychologist
11 Helpless
ByAnilJ. Shahi
28 State Of Anomie
By Swarnim Wagle
32 Collateral Damage
By Ujol Sherchan
34 More Equal
Byjogendra Ghimire
42 Bothered And
44 A Good Life
ByAditya Adhikari
Narayan Shrestha did
very well in business
in America. Then he
came home to do some
48 Digital Future
By Yashas Vaidya
As Internet availability
and use rise, young
Nepalis are in for big
18 Seeking A Solution
By Satishjung Shahi
Deuba has his task cut
out: Get New Delhi's
support to fight the
insurgency without the
big neighbor being seen
as interventionist
30 Pressure Mounting
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
The Maoists' willingness to talk with the
King is a clear and startling hint that they
might enter a power-sharing agreement
The western media has
exaggerated and sensationalized its coverage of
I   Nepal
38   Nobody's Child
By Bela Malik
"Khuma" is a moving play that conveys
the agony of Nepal and, if seen widely
enough, could get people talking about
important topics
40   Gay Jatra
Most take freedom of
expression and association for granted. Gays,
lesbians and transsexuals can't.
 History has
shown again
and again
rebellions thrive
on suppression!!
Invite United Nations
Matthew Kahane makes a sound case for
why the United Nations should get involved in Nepal before it's too late ("No
Military Solution to the Conflict," Cover
Story, September 5). This should be a
particular reminder to people like Ram
Sharan Mahat, Bhekh Bahadur Thapa and
Nepal's military establishment at large.
They have not only consistently opposed
plans for U.N. participation in resolving Nepal's conflict but have shamelessly
defended the successive governments'
poor human rights record. To those who
think firepower can resolve conflicts, the
recent hostage crisis in Russia is should
be another wake-up call. Even after the
collapse ofthe Soviet colossus, Kremlin
commands one of world's most powerful militaries. Anxious to improve on his
track record in handling hostage crises,
President Putin failed miserably one
more time. History has shown again and
again rebellions thrive on suppression.
Negative remarks
Prof. Udayaraj Khanal in the interview
show that he is either ignorant or deliberately trying to mislead the readers
about many issues of science and technology in Nepal ("Law of Inertia," Khula
Manch, August 22).
Prof. Khanal was introduced as "an
active researcher" with a reputation of
even questioning Einstein's Theory of
Relativity. Is Prof Khanal really such a
great genius? Being a low level employee
in a patent office did not prevent Einstein
from making some ofthe greatest scientific discoveries in physics. What has
prevented Prof. Khanal, "an active researcher," who even questioned the discoveries of Einstein, from making any
research publication in last several
In response to a question if there are
any scientists in Nepal, Prof. Khanal's
answer was a flat "no." This is an arrogant remark and an insult to all Nepali
scientists engaged in research. He wants
the readers to believe that the state of
science in Nepal is really hopeless. In
fact, there have been some remarkable
developments in the field over last few
years. In the last decade, there has been
nearly 300 percent increase in science
and technology human resources. Many
new areas of sciences are being introduced in our universities. Nepali students are excelling in many prestigious
research institutes around the world.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Only recently, 20 Nepali physics students
were awarded scholarships to pursue doctoral program in American universities.
Some of our technical institutes are at par
or even better than many in the region.
Many students from SAARC countries
come to Nepal for higher studies.
In an answer to a question about
Royal Nepal Academy of Science and
Technology, RONAST, Prof. Khanal
said that he was "not aware of a single
outstanding contribution by RONAST
to the advancement of science in
Nepal." This again reflects Prof.
Khanal's prejudice. What is an outstanding contribution by Prof. Khanal's definition? Is it to produce a Nobel Laureate or send a man to the space? Yes, by
this definition RONAST may have been
unable to make an outstanding contribution. But it has made a number of
For example, it has been helping the
government in formulating national
policy on science and technology. The
academy offers support to Nepali scientists, including Ph.D. fellowships and
research grants. It avails its research facilities to university students to carry out
their research work and opportunities
to Nepali scientists to work in foreign
laboratories. It carries out collaborative
research with many foreign research organizations. Several joint research papers
with foreign scientists have resulted
from such collaborations. Since 1999, the
academy has been publishing a national
science journal. RONAST is the only
national institution in the country that
confers awards to scientists in recognition of their contribution. Prof. Khanal
himself was one of the awardees. Very
soon a Science Learning Center is going
to be established by RONAST to promote the public understanding of science and technology in the country.
It is difficult to believe that Prof.
Khanal, who is so much concerned about
the state of science in Nepal, could be
unaware of all these activities. Not just
RONAST, but also the Tribhuvan University, in Prof. Khanal's opinion, has not
lived up to his expectations. So far, TU
produces nearly 97 percent of total scientific human resources the country
produces every year.
It was very surprising to know that
Prof.   Khanal   considered   Chandra
Shumser's rule as the "golden era for science in Nepal." Does any serious person genuinely believe that the Rana regime was the golden era for science in
There is no doubt that a lot more has
still to be done to improve the state of
science in Nepal, particularly in the field
of research. But such negative remarks
like that of Prof. Khanal will certainly
not help.
Traffic mess
(Cover Story, by Satish Jung Shahi, August 22). The article brings to light a number of issues related to Kathmandu Valley's
traffic (mis)management. Traffic is affected by conditions of roads, their width,
the kinds of vehicles, operators themselves and the traffic rules. Al these factors have contributed significantly to the
Valley's traffic mess.
There are different kinds of vehicles
on the road—cars, buses for schools and
public transport, trucks of different sizes,
taxis, tempos, motorcycles, rickshaws,
cycles, and push carts. Al have one thing
in common: They move without any restrictions and respect for each other's
space. Stray cattle add to the problems.
Then the roadside parking, especially the
taxis and pushcarts, eat up the limited
space. As for the pavements, they are occupied by the hawkers; and pedestrians
walk on the road.
The Traffic Week is organized every year; this time round the slogan
was "Raise Public Awareness." A good
message, but did it get across to the
people? And even more importantly,
did it make any difference? Hardly. A
lot more needs to be done to improve
the Valley's traffic management. Here's
a long list. Setting up a separate lane
for cyclists, towing away vehicles
parked in wrong places; setting up taxi
stands; regulating one-way traffic;
striking a fine balance between the traffic load and the road's carrying capacity; and most of all, filling up the potholes.
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EDITOR: Akhilesh Upadhyay
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Vol. I, No. 21. For the week September 6-12, 2004, released on September 6
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nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
at Pashupatinath collects
dakshina during Janal Purnlma
nation weekly/Sagar Shrestha
 Guest Column
The Iraqi militants were able to send a powerful message without having to fear any kind of reprisals.
Worse, many of us went on a rampage to punish innocent Muslims.
When a friend expressed grief over the news of 12 Nepalis
captured and held hostage bythe Islamic militants in Iraq a
couple of weeks ago, I assured him that he need not worry.
At the time, I believed that the Islamic militants had nothing to gain from
killing innocent citizens of an insignificant country, and that sooner or
later they wou Id set the hostages free. I was obviously wrong.
Asa matter of fact, lookingat it in hindsight, I real izenowthat the
militants had everything to gain and nothing to lose from killing the
helpless citizens of a helpless country: They were not only able to
send a powerful message to the world that anyone hoping to work in
Iraq faced possible lethal consequences, but they were also able to
do so without having to fear any kind of reprisals whatsoever from a
politically, economically and militarily weightless country. They also,
perhaps accurately, assumed that even the international community
would not be unduly worried about the suffering of such a hopelessly unimportant country.
What is more saddening, however, is the fact that in the name of
revenge, many of us Nepalis ourselves went on a rampage to punish
innocent Muslims who had absolutely nothing to do with the killings of
the 12 Nepalis in Iraq. By burning Muslim establishments—houses of
worship and businesses alike—and physically attacking innocent Muslim individuals, irrational youths with perverse intentions proved themselves to be no less evil than the militant monsters who committed the
very heinous crime that those youths were supposed to be protesting
I have said it many times to everyone I have talked to about the
horrific news, and I believe it is worth repeating: It is very easy, and
perhaps even natural, to be swayed by negative emotions in times like
these. However, as good and civil people, we must rise above the
emotions and see the men who killed 12 of our brothers as individual
monstrous criminals. They are far from being true Muslims; neither do
they represent Arab society at large. We have every right to hold strong
but peaceful protests against our own government, which has failed us
time and again, and urge it to call upon the international community to
find and punish the culprits. But for the sake of preserving the little sanity
and peace that we have at the moment, please leave the innocent
Muslims alone!
Indeed, it is frustrating to once again face the bitter incompetence
of our own government. Not only did it miserably fail to do what was
necessary to secure the release ofthe hostages. In the aftermath of
the tragic end to the crisis, it failed again to anticipate the possible riots
and take preemptive measures. Especially after having been through
the Hritik Roshan kanda (incident) as recently as 2000, one would
have imagined that the government had learned their lesson and prepared itself for another riot. But on that Wednesday morning policing
was conspicuously absent. When can we begin to expect responsible,
visionary, alert and strong leaders in the government? Is Nepal a failed
state already? I sadly wonder.
It's time our leaders realized that for the sake of preserving and
upholding the proud Nepali nationality, they must stop political bickering,
get a firm grip on corruption and, for once, start to think about the people
they are supposed to be serving. Alleviating poverty should be their
prime objective. After all, it is because we are poor thatmillions of us go
abroad seeking employment, even to highly dangerous areas. It is because we are poor thatmillions more young Nepali girls are being sold in
brothels in India. It is because we are poor, frustrated and see no hope
that the Maoists have been able to garner whatever support they have.
And it is because we are poor and helpless that even the barbaric
terrorists believe they can murder us in cold blood with impunity.
No doubt, the task of bringing prosperity to one ofthe poorest countries in the world is daunting and that Nepal cannot be turned into a
paradise overnight. But please at least give us the hope, the real hope,
that our lives will be better in the future. The government can do so by
beginning to act responsibly and trying to do one thing right at a time.
For now, help heal the wound of an aggrieved people. That will be a
good start. □
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Labor directive
The government has directed
manpower agencies to report
the status of ■workers they have
sent to Gulf countries. The directive was issued to locate and
count Nepalis working in Gulf
countries. Following a day of rioting that clean swept almost all
the offices of the manpower
agencies in the capital, the
government's directive may be
ineffective to trace Nepalis
abroad. The directive was issued
following reports that most
overseas jobseekers leaving for
Gulf countries were illegally sent
to Iraq and promised highly paid
jobs. The government has also
directed the agencies to make
necessary arrangements to bring
the workers home from war-
ravaged Iraq.
Afghan deaths
Three Nepali nationals were
killed in a powerful bomb explosion in Kabul. The explosion
tore through the office of an
American defense contractor in
the heart ofthe Afghan capital.
Seven people including the three
Nepalis were killed in the explosion. Rebels supporting the
former Taliban regime reportedly
carried out the explosions. Two
Americans were also killed in the
incident. American and international companies in Kabul employ a number of Nepalis. This
is the first reported incident of
any Nepali killed in Afghanistan. More than 300 Nepalis are
working with the International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
in Kabul.
Parties' protest
The four political parties spearheading an "anti-regression"
movement held demonstrations
in the capital to protest the so-
called mistreatment meted out
to Nepali Congress President
Girija Prasad Koirala by security
staff of the domestic terminal of
Tribhuvan International Airport. Koirala was reportedly denied access to the terminal's
apron area. Hundreds of activists ofthe four-party alliance that
comprises the Nepali Congress,
People's Front Nepal, Nepal
Workers and Peasants Party and
Nepal Sadbhavana Party-
Anandi Devi carried out a rally
from Ratna Park which marched
past Putalisadak, Shahid Gate,
Bhotahiti and concluded at
Ratna Park. Chanting angry slogans against the Royal Nepal
Army and the Deuba government, the protestors blocked traffic for an hour at Ratna Park area
during the protest.
Bus mishap
Four people were killed and 10 injured when a passenger bus met
with an accident at Jhamke in
Pawananagar VDC in Dang district. The passenger bus traveling
to Bagmare from Tulshipur went
off the road at Jhamke. The bus
skidded backward on a steep road
and crashed, reports said. Al four
killed were from Dang. Two out
ofthe four died while undergoing treatment at the Mahendra
hospital in Ghorahi. Six of those
injured were said to be in critical
Arrests in India
The Indian police at Mirik in
Darjeeling arrested four suspected
Maoists. The Indian police identified those arrested as Yam
Bahadur Mukhiya, Tara Pradhan,
Bhim Raj Limbu and Bal Kumar
Gole. Mukhiya, who is believed
to be a high-ranking leader ofthe
Maoists, was arrested while being rushed to Darjeeling hospital
to undergo treatment. He had
hurt his eyes while making ex
plosives at a Maoist base camp
in Ham. A Sub-Divisional
Magistrate court in Darjeeling
remanded three of the four
Nepalis to judicial custody and
one to the police custody for ten
days. A team from Nepal has
left for India to investigate.
More disappearances
Amnesty International says that
cases of "disappearances," the
organization's term for cases
where people are abducted by the
state, in Nepal have increased in
lastyear. There were 378 cases of
such disappearances last year,
higher than the number of cases
in the previous five years together. In its report, "Nepal: Escalating Disappearances Amid a
Culture of Impunity" the London-based human rights watchdog expressed concern about
growing culture of impunity in
Nepal. The dramatic escalation
in disappearances is not only
causing massive suffering to the
victims and their families but is
also undermining the rule of
law, Amnesty said. Since 1998,
Amnesty International has received reports of 622 cases of disappearances and excesses. The
organization has also received
numerous reports of abductions, torture and killings by the
A nation in shock
King Gyanendra expressed deep condolences to the family and relatives of the
people killed by Iraqi militants. The palace secretariat said that the King and Queen were
shocked and grieved by the cruel and barbaric murders ofthe Nepali hostages.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba called
for restraint in an address to the nation on
Wednesday, September 1. He announced compensation of Rs. 1 million to each ofthe families of the victims. The government also declared Thursday, September 2, a national day of
mourning for the 12 Nepalis killed in Iraq.
The Home Ministry said at least two people
died on Wednesday during the violence, one at
Ratnapark when security forces fired on a
mob that tried to attack the police and the
other in front of the Egyptian Embassy in
Pulchowk when guards opened fire on a
crowd. Curfew was imposed inside the Ring
Road and for 200 meters outside it starting
Wednesday afternoon. The local administration also imposed a curfew in Birtamod.
Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh
and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
called Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
and expressed sorrow over the killing of 12
Nepalis in Iraq. Indian Foreign Minister K.
Natwar Singh, British Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw, Pope John Paul II and the governments
of Bangladesh and Japan also condemned the
killings and expressed sympathy to the government and people of Nepal.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 'Step down'
The Nepal Foreign Employment Agencies Association asked
Minister for Home Purna
Bahadur Khadka, Minister for
Labor Raghuji Pant and Minis
ter of State for Foreign Affairs
Prakash Sharan Mahat to step
down, blaming them for failing
to protect hundreds of manpower agencies during the rampage on Wednesday, September
1. Hundreds of demonstrators
protesting the killing of 12
Nepalis vandalized manpower
offices. Association Chairman
Nirmal Gurung said the government had been a "silent spectator." The association has also
asked its members not to send
people abroad forworkunless the
government guarantees security
of its members and provides
compensation to all the companies that were vandalized. The
association said that attacks on
325 manpower agencies on
Wednesday caused the loss of
billions of rupees. The rioters are
said to have destroyed more than
300,000 passports deposited with
manpower agencies in a "sponsored way," the association said.
More deaths
A gang of unidentified people in
Lucknow murdered five Nepalis
from one family, the Press Trust
of India reported. The family
hailed from Nayamill of
Anandaban VDC in
Rupandehi. According to the
report, those killed were Durga
Dutta Gyanwali, 45, his wife
Harikala, 40, and their children
Raju, Bhuwan and Samjhana.
The family had been living in
Lucknow since 1982. Gyanwali
was an employee at Route Permit Department at the Transport
Office in Lucknow.
International flights
Three international airlines operating flights to Nepal have
suspended their services because
of the violent protests in
Kathmandu. Qatar Arways, Pakistan International Arlines and
Air Sahara suspended their
flights after mobs vandalized
their offices in Kathmandu. Ar
Sahara was to start its regular service on the day of the riots on
Wednesday, September 1.
Bus accident
Four people died when a Himal
Yatayat bus fell into the Trishuli
River near Kurintar on the
Prithvi Highway. Police said the
bus was carrying 29 passengers.
Twenty-one injured people were
rescued. The bus was traveling
from Kathmandu to Dharan.
The police are investigating the
cause ofthe accident.
Gurkha protest
A group of 400 retired Gurkhas
who had served in the regiment
for 15-30 years have demanded
British citizenship. "The meet
ing of immigration officials in
Liverpool failed to satisfy us,"
said Tikendradal Dewan, the
chairman of the Brigade of
Gurkhas Welfare Society, who
served the British Army for 31
years, the news portal reported.
The society says it is fighting for
rights equal to that of Commonwealth citizens, who are granted
British citizenship for just four
years of service in the British
Army. Dozens of Liverpool residents including Corporal Jack
Moorhouse, a former Lancashire
Fusilier who served alongside
Gurkhas in Burma in the Second World War joined the protest.
More airlines
Within the next two months
private airlines from Thailand
and Bangladesh will start their
services in Nepal. With Fuket
Ar of Thailand and GMG Ar
of Bangladesh, the number foreign airlines operating in
Kathmandu will reach 15. GMG
will have daily Dhaka-
Kathmandu-Dhaka flights, and
Fuket Ar will have 11 flights
every week from Bangkok.
CPJ concern
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists con
demned the attack on the press
in Nepal. In separate incidents,
protestors in Kathmandu damaged the premises of Kantipur
and Spacetime Network on
Wednesday, September 1.
Crowds set fire to vans and motorcycles and wrecked equipment at Kantipur Publications
and Kantipur Televion and destroyed vehicles, cameras and
computers at Channel Nepal, an
affiliate of Spacetime Network.
Kantipur said police ignored repeated calls for assistance. The
committee suggested that the
attack was because the head of
Spacetime Network, Jamim
Shah, is Muslim and because
they broadcast reports defending
the Nepali Muslim minority.
Water sharing
The government has written to
the Indian embassy to call the
meeting ofthe Nepal-India Joint
Committee on Water Resources.
The Indo-Nepal treaty on water
resources stipulates that thejoint
committee must hold a regular
meeting every six months. According to Kantipur, the meeting
will be held within this October
in New Delhi. The committee
was formed in 2000 during the
visit ofthe then Prime Minister
Girija Prasad Koirala to finalize
water related issues.
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
 Biz Buz
0*t*ft>]P«ft ^
Independent aviation quality monitor Skytrax
has rated Qatar Airways in-flight entertainment
as the eighth best in the world. Qatar Airways
now joins a distinguished group of airlines—
including Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific and British Airways—that carry the title "Best In-flight
Bottlers Nepal has completed 25 years of operation in Nepal. The company produces and markets Coca Cola, one ofthe best-known soft drinks
in the world. Bottlers Nepal recently sold 98 percent of its shares to the South African Bottling
Company. A group of Nepali shareholders own
the remaining 2 percent and also control 92 percent ofthe company's subsidiary in Bharatpur.
The Nepali public owns the remaining shares.
Shree Distillery recently launched Oasis, a new
brand of gin. The product, according to the company, is brewed with juniper berries and produced under the guidelines of international liquor making procedures. Shree Distillery expects that Oasis will do well in the market.
The World Health Organization has recognized
five Nepali pharmaceutical firms with good
manufacturing practices award. The Department
of Drugs Administration had recommended
them to the WHO. The industries receiving WHO
recognition are Deurali Janata Pharmaceuticals,
Omnica Pharmaceuticals, National Health Care,
NPLand Quest Pharmaceuticals.
The WHO Good Marketing Practices Certificate is awarded for meeting norms prescribed
bythe organization. Manufacturing practice,
technology and management of pharmaceuticals are considered before awarding the certificate. The WHO has set a requirement for all
pharmaceutical companies in Nepal to meet
the WHO GMP standard bythe year 2063 B.S.
Nepal has 38 pharmaceutical industries including 10 local industries. According to the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Industries Association, the market in Nepal is about Rs. 6 billion a
year. National industries produce enough to fill
about 29 percent ofthe demand; most ofthe
rest is imported from India.
Butwal Finance Limited opened its branch in
Kathmandu. BFL has been providing loans for
trade, industry, agriculture, services and other
requirements. It has also been providing
schemes for hire purchase and home loans. It
also aims to open a money-exchange counter
and leasing finance and merchant finance services in the future.
Brij Gopal Innani, chairman ofthe Asian Tex-
ti les and Garment Counci I, presented the report on "The Solution ofthe Impact on Garments and Textiles Industries After WTO" to
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. The report highlights the problems Nepal could face
on entering the global market and also suggests likely solutions for the problems. The
report suggests that the government form a
textile board, make programs for cotton farming and provide subsidies to farmers. The report also underlines the need to provide duty
free export of garments and texti les to the U.S.
for three years in order to make the industry
competitive in the global market. The report
also claims that the textile industry holds potential to generate two million jobs and can
support 10 million people if an autonomous
textile board is formed.
Connection Nepal has published Connection
Nepal Overseas Employment Directory-2004-
05. According to a press release, the directory
contains telephone numbers of foreign employment agencies, airlines, money transfer agencies and training centers.
Yet another Indian multinational company has
temporarily suspended operations at its Nepal
subsidiary. Colgate Palmolive (Nepal), a wholly
owned subsidiary of Colgate India, has announced that it is suspending operations for a
week due to scarcity of raw materials. The report could not be independently confirmed, and
telephone calls to the company office were not
answered. Colgate Palmolive (Nepal) was set
up in 1997, and a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility was commissioned in July 1998.
Though the company announced a profit of
Rs. 4.7 million in its first year of operation, it
subsequently ran into trouble with the Maoists,
who have been extorting money from business
houses and intimidating them. Several factories have been bombed.
In October last year the company was forced
to close its factory for a week due to the deteriorating security situation. The factory is located
in Hetauda in Makwanpur district in central
Nepal, where the Maoists have become very
active recently. Another big Indian company,
Asian Paints, also has its factory in Hetauda.
Colgate is a subsidiary of Colgate Palmolive
USA, a global leader in oral care with operations in 194 countries.
Air Sahara postponed itsfirstfiightto Kathmandu
and delayed all operations indefinitely. Air
Sahara's service was to have commenced from
Thursday, September 2. Zenith Travels, the GSA
ofthe airline, had said that Air Sahara's 737
aircraft would be arriving that afternoon, but
the deteriorating law and order situation in the
Valley and the curfew led to the postponement
of the flight. A new date has not been announced.
Air Sahara is the second private Indian airline to fly to Kathmandu after Jet Airways. Air
Sahara also flies to Colombo, Sri Lanka and
many destinations in India.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Effective from 25 JUN-15 SEP'04
Days of
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 India Vis
Deuba has his task cut
out: Get New Delhi's
support to fight the insurgency without the big
neighbor being seen as
official visit to India in 1996,
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur
Deuba discussed everything with his
hosts except the looming threat of
Maoist insurgency. He didn't even know
the rebels back then, having set aside
their 40-point demand in order to make
the trip to Delhi.
But on September 8, Deuba, in his
third innings as prime minister, will be
discussing little else but the insurgency
when he arrives in New Delhi. Of course
there will be regular matters—water sharing, trade and transit and the like—but
the visit will be dominated by security
concerns raised by the Maoist insurgency.
There is a growing realization in New
Delhi that it ignores the insurgency at its
own cost. In just over eight years, the small
rag-tag band of dreamy guerrillas who
emerged in the western hills have ballooned into a major force, threatening the
existence ofthe state and embroiling the
country in violence and mayhem. Deuba's
job in Delhi will be to ensure India's unambiguous support, both military and diplomatic, in dealing with the Maoists. This
will be crucial if the Maoists are to be forced
on the back foot and told in no uncertain
terms that their "people's war" can inflict a
lot more damage to the Nepali state, all
right, but they can never overpower the
state. Closing off Indian territory to them
will send the strongest signal yet that they
should seek a peaceful resolution with the
Getting Indian support for this should
not be too difficult, given the rising concern in India over the Maoist rebellion.
But as always, when it comes to Nepal-
India relations, perceptions at home are
the major difficulty Many opposition leaders and intellectuals in Nepal are already
feeling itchy, fueled by Indian press reports
that there is going to be some sort of a
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 proposal from India to launch a "joint security operation" along the long Nepal-
India border to contain the Maoists.
"We do not want a foreign army
marching left and right inside our country," says left-leaning rights activist and
former politician Hiranya Lai Shrestha,
who at one time was in the foreign affairs committee of the Parliament. "All
we want India is to assure us that it is
going to cut off the supply-line of arms
to the Nepali Maoists from its territory.
That we would happily welcome as a
great assistance."
Border security can be a touchy subject, given Nepal's sensitivities and India's
own ignorance ofthe threats posed by the
Maoists until recently. The rebels have
repeatedly crossed the border to India,
seeking shelter, weapons and training.
There is a popular perception in Nepal
that New Delhi ignored the Maoist
threats until the rebels began linking up
with their own outlawed groups such as
the Peoples' War Group and the Maoist
Communist Centre, which operate in
Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. This, however, didn't stop other major powers—
the United States, Britain and the E.U.
countries—from closely following the
Maoist insurgency, courtesy of the post-
9/11 security environment.
The Indian officialdom is now
deeply concerned, both about the possibility of Maoists forming a "red zone"
from the Himalayas of Nepal to the
beaches of Andhra Pradesh, and about
outside powers playing a major role in
an area it sees as vital for its security. This
newfound realization is pushing Indian
officials to take a more proactive role in
dealing with the Maoists. High-profile
arrests of Nepali Maoists in India over
the past few months manifest that concern. Recently Indian security forces
raided a Maoist training center in
Nainital, across the districts of
Kanchanpur and Kailali in the Farwest.
While this can be a positive turn of events
for Nepal, the challenge is to ensure that
India's actions don't worsen the problem.
This is where many analysts think Deuba
has to be careful. Any Indian military role in
Nepali territory, no matter how benign,
could be counter-productive.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Prakash Sharan Mahat flatly denies anything of that sort has either been dis-
cussed, or that such suggestions have
been made by New Delhi at all. But Indian press reports say the joint security
operations have already begun along
Nepal's border with the Indian state of
Uttar Pradesh. There are also reports that
India is planning to curb activities along
the open border by making it mandatory
to carry official identity cards.
"The focus of Prime Minister
Deuba's visit will be the Maoist issue,"
says Yadab Kant Silwal, former secretary
general of SAARC. But to make the visit
productive, the government, already
hounded by legitimacy issues raised by
the opposition, has to show that it has
the support of major forces in Nepal.
"The government should sit down with
all parties and approach every issue with
Minister Manmohan Singh
a clear agenda. Otherwise, I doubt even
India would give much legitimacy to
Prime Minister Deuba," adds Silwal.
The opposition meanwhile have
their own axe to grind. More than anything else, they want Deuba to push for
Indian acceptance of U.N. facilitation to
resolve the conflict. India, it is known,
is extremely reluctant to bring any outside power as a peace broker for concern that, that might erode its own influence in Nepal's peace process.
"We need India's assistance to tackle
the increasing network of the Maoists
in the South Asian region," says Nepali
Congress spokesman Arjun Narsingh
KC, "but it should also not very difficult
to bring in the United Nations as facilitator for the peace talks." d
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
 The killing of innocent
Nepalis in Iraq caused justifiable pain and anger, but
that doesn't excuse the apparently uncontrolled expression of outrage
unforgettable wound on the
Nepali psyche. For the rest of
the world, 12 Nepalis are just
statistical fallout from the war
in Iraq; for Nepal, it's a horror
and an outrage. Twelve Nepalis
were killed by the Army of Ansar al-
Sunna, a terrorist outfit, after it held them
hostage for 13 days. One hostage was brutally decapitated. The other 11 were shot
in the head. The statement by the group
was accompanied by disturbing images
showing the decapitation and a hooded
terrorist holding up the head as a trophy.
The images, impossibly gruesome and
painful for the families, were infuriating
to most Nepalis.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 The country went into a state of despair and fury: Thousands poured spontaneously into the streets of Kathmandu
on Wednesday morning, a day after the
news broke. Driven by their grief and
anger, they soon turned the nation upside down. Within hours, the capital had
descended into a state of anarchy. Protestors vented their fury by setting ablaze
the offices of manpower companies, air
lines offices from the Gulf region and
Pakistan, media outlets and businesses
with Islamic names or perceived connections. As the madness grew, everything that came handy was tossed into
the fire. It started in retribution, but the
atmosphere of protest quickly turned
into targeted vandalism.
The violence was inexcusable and
shameful, and it could have lasting repercussions. "It could lead to further social
unrest with more serious ramifications
on the economy," says Kedar Bhakta
Mathema, former Nepali Ambassador to
Japan. The real cost ofthe riots may be far
greater than the damage done on Wednesday. A number of Nepali organizations
based in the Gulf have appealed for calm,
and they fear a strong backlash. The communal disharmony that's resulted from
the riots, if ignored, will leave a lasting
scar in the community, making Muslims
deeply suspicious of the majority Hindus and Buddhists. This could have ramifications beyond our borders.
The remittance-dependant economy
could take a beating if the flow of workers to the Gulf dries up. The remittance
these workers send home each year is at
least Rs. 70 billion, equivalent to more
than two-thirds of the annual budget or
one-sixth ofthe nation's GDP The actual
amount could be much greater, as most
of the money comes through informal
channels. If the present social unrest continues or becomes fuelled by extremists
and hardliners, it could shut off those remittances and put overseas employment
in jeopardy.
As the news of the killing continues
to fill the media here, questions are flying. Why were they killed? Who is guilty?
How many Nepalis are left in Iraq? Did
the government do enough or exercise
the right sort of diplomacy for the release? The anger is fuelled by charges
that the government was nonchalant
about efforts to rescue the hostages.
It's hard to tell why the terrorists
killed the innocent Nepalis. The Army
of Ansar al-Sunna in its statement charged
the Nepalis of being the "collaborators"
ofthe American "infidels." "We have carried out the sentence of God against 12
Nepalese who came from their country
to fight the Muslims and to serve the
Jews and the Christians," says the statement accompanying the grisly footage of
the killing. Independent observers say
the primary objective of the terrorists
operating in Iraq now is to scare off foreigners, whoever they might be. The
Nepalis were made scapegoats to give
that message to powerful countries.
Nepalis are manning United Nations, American and British buildings
and facilities in Iraq. "The kidnapping
could be a direct fallout of being seen as
aligned to western forces," says Dan
Bahadur Tamang, former president of
Federation of Foreign Employment
Agencies Association. British analyst
Global Risk Strategies has hired 500
Nepalis who had served in the British
Army's Gurkha regiments to guard coalition facilities. Nepalis are employed
by a large number of private security firms
including one of the subsidiaries of
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
 The recent eruption of violence was waiting to happen. To a people routinely lied to by the rulers, the shame struck deep.
The recent outburst of vio
lence after the execution of
12 Nepalis in Iraq can give
usa peep into the Nepali psyche. It
was something waiting to happen.
During this last year, I have
often walked the streets of Nepal
asking people what they dreamt
the night before. I discovered two
main dreams that hundreds are
having. First, men, women and
children, even soldiers, dream of
getting caught and shot in the
crossfire between the security
forces and the Maoists. Second,
thousands are having the same
dream that expresses a severe
state of helplessness.
Either way, there's no doubt
that the Nepali psyche is depressed. It has a sense of emptiness and loss that nothing will
work. The Nepali psyche is full of
a volcanic rage—a rage that has
been bottled up in a collective
depression that is expressed in
nightmares. And we know that
nightmares signal emergency. The
Nepali mind is drowning in fears
of hopelessness and despair.
This hopeless and seemingly
endless journey of torture and
uncertainty has left the psyche in
a state of collapse. After years of
misrule—the trust ofthe Nepali
people in the government and the
monarchy is at an all-time low. You
can see this expressed by some
locals who don't care to read the
news anymore: "Why bother,"
they say, "it's the same old nothing."
Yes, living with continuous disappointment: The government
changes every six months; no
progress in the state of affairs between the Maoists and security
forces; no jobs; tens of thousands leaving for work abroad
and families breaking up. The
Nepalis are convinced that the
government will only serve its
own interests. They feel abandoned. The people feel the
Nepali government—the
nation's parents—do nothing for
them and hence a deepening
feeling of rejection and "not being good enough."
This is the backdrop to the
tion set off this violence? After all,
over the years, thousands of
Nepalis have been tortured and
killed by the security forces and
the Maoists. Why did it take foreigners killing Nepalis to stirthe violence?
Here are some ideas. First, the
Nepalis were outraged to see their
brothers publicly executed on film.
That, I believe deepened their
shame. They were humiliated in
front of the whole world and no-
| |
RAGE: Fears of helplessness
converted into violence
execution ofthe Nepalis in Iraq.
It is in this state of mind that the
Nepali people received the terrifying news ofthe execution. I
imagine this expanding rage and
depression as a balloon that is
getting bigger and bigger. And it
was the execution that burst the
balloon. All that pent up rage
held down by fears of helplessness converted into violence
against manpower agencies,
the government and the Muslims. The Iraq experience allowed the people to express
their deeper issues toward the
Nepali state. Their unbearable
depression gave them permission to be violent—for a short
period, all right.
But why did the Iraq execu-
body seemed to care—the ultimate rejection and abandonment.
The Nepalis are a modest people:
The shame struck deep.
It is reported that the ruthless,
fanatic murderers said, "There was
no response from the Nepal government." When your own country—your national soul—doesn't
come to your support—it is emotionally devastating. Secondly, the
international media, especiallythe
U.S., hardly gave any attention to
the Nepali executions. Talk about
feeling like you are not good
enough. That hurt. That really hurt.
Next, the Iraqi event created a
unity amongst the Nepalis—a rarity these days. A common enemy
pulled the nation together, much
like during the Hritik Roshan epi
sode some years ago, and gave
them a sense of power. All these
elements came together to transform depression into violence.
What does this kind of violence
do for us? First, we temporari ly feel
released from the oppressive
sense of helplessness. And those
Nepalis who are not involved in
the violence per se, but wish to do
so, vicariously express their rage
through the protesters. The few are
acting out the violence for many.
Next, this violence serves as a
ritual to relieve us of our pain: Instead of feeling the pain inside of
us, we seek a solution by looking
to blame others. Look at the attacks on manpower agencies. Although inexcusable, it is understandable. The manpower agencies, in conjunction with the government, symbolizes the state of
corruption in Nepal. They sent the
Nepalis to Iraq to make money.
They sold out their brothers.
Feel ing desperate that the gov-
ernment would do nothing as
usual, this event gave Nepalis an
opportunity to take things into their
own hands—a self-affirmation—
but tainted bythe consequences
of violence. It is a violence that
manifests our revenge—blood for
blood. It gave a sense of power
that hoped to communicate to
people like the manpower agencies—that they are wrong.
We must do something to deal
with this chronic depression that
haunts the Nepali soul. It won't
be easy. It is exactly where you
feel the most frightened and the
most pain that your greatest opportunity lies for personal growth.
We can do somethingsmall rather
than drown in fears of despair. We
can help someone, anyone—a
neighbor, a friend. Volunteer your
time for good; pray for your enemies. Do something to give expression to your courage—before
the violence within gets you
too. n
(Androsiglio, a former professor of
psychiatry at New York Medical College,
New York, has been living in Nepal for
the past one year.)
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Haliburton, the company formerly run
by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
Companies like Custer Battles, Armor
Group, Blackwater and DynCorp have
many Nepali recruits, reports say.
DynCorp employed the three Nepalis
killed in Afghanistan late last month.
Back home, many who had a hand in
sending the workers to Iraq knew the
gravity ofthe danger there. "Prahlad Giri
is the culprit, don't let him go," cried abducted Nepalis in one of their last messages, shown in the video footage released
by the terrorists. But Giri, who is the
operator of Moonlight Consultancy, is
still free. "Even the court takes the word
of a dying man as gospel truth," says Subodh
Pyakurel, president of INSEC. The government still hasn't acted seriously on the
pleas of 12 dying Nepalis to prosecute
Giri for his complicity in sending them
to Iraq. Although the government has cancelled the registration of Moonlight
Consultancy, they have yet to arrest the
principals of the company or file a criminal case against them.
"You can'tjust blame all the manpower
agencies," says Tamang, former president
of Federation of Foreign Employment
Agencies Association. "The government
lacks an oversight mechanism to monitor
the business." Statistics reveal that the demand from countries like Kuwait and Jordan that border Iraq has dramatically increased in the last year. Over the last 10
years the total demand from Kuwait for
Nepali laborers was 2,900. Last year 10,000
Nepalis went to Kuwait. "The government
is not keeping a vigilant eye on manpower
agencies," says Mohan Rimal, who runs an
orientation center in Baneshwore for foreign jobseekers.
The failure here at home is just half
the story; experts say the government
failed abroad too. "It was a serious diplomatic failure," says a former ambassador to one of the Gulf countries, referring to the killings in Iraq. "The best approach would have been through Iraq
itself rather than through Qatar or Pakistan." It is always difficult to resolve
critical issues like a hostage crisis without being actually on the ground.
Other diplomats blame the lack of a
proactive response from the Nepali bureaucracy for the killings. "When the
Indian and Kenyan governments can se-
continued on page 21
Translation of Ansar al-Sunna's statement
Statement from Military
Unit Concerning Allah's Judgment to the Nepalis who have
come from their Country to
Serve the Crusaders.
In the Name of Allah the
Most Merciful and Magnificent!
Praise to Allah the God of
the Worlds, always there for
the good Muslim people, who
will make His people, the good
Muslims victorious; prayers
and greetings to the Prophet,
to His family and friends.
Greetings to Our Islamic
Nation from east to west.
There is no doubt that the spite
and malice towards the enemies of Allah is the language
of Jihad that Allah has commanded on Muslims; so by
Jihad, Allah manifests nations
as he says, "0 ye who believe! Give your response to
God. And His Apostle, when
He calleth you to that which
will give you life..." (the 24th
Aya of Al-Anfal), so there is no
true life except by Jihad.
America today has used
all it has and has gotten help
from others in order to fight
Islam and its people under the
name of "the war against terror," and it is nothing but an
evil crusade against Muslims
so that they won't go back to
their religion and apply their
God's Shari'a [the tenets of
Islam], but far, very far is
that. So here are the holy
warriors everywhere and in
every horizon and there are
a lot of Muslims whom Allah
has guided to righteousness
and truth; and the war between us and those filthy
people is seesawing and this
is Allah's will for His people.
And because of this, and for
the malice to Allah's enemies, we have, thanks to
God, conducted Allah's ruling to 12 Nepalis who came
from their land seeking assistance from their God Buddha in order to fight Muslims
in this land by serving Jews
and Christians, grandchildren of monkeys and pigs.
And in the end, we direct this
call to Nepal's government
and to similar governments
and to those who are like
that—the tails of Jews and
the Christians—what you
saw with your eyes is the
destiny of every agent, traitor and spy. And by Allah, we
are not afraid of our job one
single bit, so go back with
what's left of you before they
return you to coffins—that is,
if they still have filth left in
their bodies.
And AllahhuAkbar! (Allah
is the Greatest)
And Prayers to our mentor
Muhammad and his family
and friends altogether
The Armed Forces Unit of
Ansar al Sunna
14 Rajab 1425
30 August 2004
Muslim Brothers, do not
have any mercy and leniency
for those filthy people. They
are people who left their
houses and countries and traveled thousands of kilometers
to work with the crusader
American forces and to support them in their war against
Islam and holy warriors, so this
is thanks to God, their condition. "And they plot, and Allah
plots and Al lah is the best plotter." (—the Quran). So thank
God, victor of Hisfollowers over
the non-believers of Islam.
Niraj Dawadi translated
this statement posted on
Ansar's website. H
A chopper flies overhead
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
There are serious charges that the government failed to
respond quickly enough to the violence, and when it did,
the damage had already been done
after news of the brutal killing of
12 Nepali hostages in Iraq by the
Army of Ansar al-Sunna spread like wildfire—thanks to FM radio stations and
television newscasts.
Small groups of protestors had gathered on Tuesday night in Ratnapark, in New
Baneshwore and in Kupondole in front of
Moonlight Consultancy, which had sent
at least nine ofthe 12 Nepalis. Wednesday
morning the protesters were back in force
and the protests quickly spread in front of
campuses in Tahachal and Lainchaur. By
noon, uncontrollable mobs ruled the city
"There was no government presence,"
charge most newspaper editorials. "Security presence was nil, even those policemen on the streets were just bystanders
observing the mob."
The violence spread to cities outside
Kathmandu, and curfews were declared
in Birtamod and Butwal. Nepali Muslim organizations had already clarified
their stand Tuesday night, coming out
against the Iraqi group, and sharing the
nation's grief at the death of the 12
Nepalis. By Friday the government had
adopted some damage control measures:
Ministers organized press meets even as
Kathmandu and Lalitpur remained silent
under the curfew imposed from
Wednesday afternoon onwards.
Already, there are serious charges the
government failed to respond quickly
enough, and that by the time it did, the
damage had been done. Many senior
police officials tell us that police who
had been deployed on the front line and
mid-level officers had foreseen the situation and had demanded a curfew by 9:30
a.m. on Wednesday. The orders from
their political masters at Singha Durbar
were to exercise maximum tolerance and
to "go easy" on the rioters.
"This is where the government went
wrong first," says a police officer. He says
the government failed to foresee the violence "right from the time when news of
the killings in Iraq broke out to when
people started gathering on Kathmandu
streets attacking manpower agencies."
This despite repeated warnings. The government on Friday said that everything
happened within two hours and they were
caught totally unawares. There were only
about 700 police deployed to control the
violent mob that numbered over 20,000.
The Cabinet decided to impose a curfew at 12:30 p.m., after, police officials
tell us, strong insistence from
Kathmandu's Superintendent of Police
Narayan Bastakoti, who was facing direct
pressure from his ranks. The violence by
then was out of control. Young rioters had
already looted, vandalized and set fire to
over 100 manpower agencies and were
setting their sights on anything Islamic,
including airline offices of Qatar Airways,
Saudi Arabian Airlines, Gulf Air, Pakistan
International Airlines and the Egyptian
Embassy. The office of Sahara Airlines,
which was preparing to welcome its inaugural flight to Nepal that day, was also
mobbed, probably because of its proximity to the Qatar Airways offices in
Riddhi-Siddhi Bhawan at Kantipath.
In most places, it was a group of 15-
20 rioters that did most of the damage
while others cheered on and remained
proud spectators to the event. "What can
we do?" said 55-year-old Ramhari
Maharjan, watching a manpower company being vandalized in Lazimpat. "This
is very bad, but I don't have the guts to
interfere and speak out to that kind of a
crowd," he added, as a young rioter threw
a television set from the window ofthe
manpower office on the second floor to
the street below. The television set hit a
live wire on its way down, creating
sparks that made the spectators cheer.
Nearby, the Hotel Ambassador had
closed its gates and shutters. Its owner,
Yogendra Shakya, looked glum, and
worried that tourism would be further
hurt by the unrest.
In Siphal, near Kalopul, protestors set
fire to former minister Chiranjivi
Wagle's residence and had moved on to
Bishalnagar Chowk, where they burned
down two manpower agencies. One of
the agencies had already taken down its
signboard, fearing attacks. A quick Army
deployment prevented the protestors
from moving on to former Home Minister Kamal Thapa's residence.
By then, vandals had already entered
two of the mosques in the heart of the
capital, beside Ghantaghar and Ratnapark,
after hurling stones and breaking windows. They lit the mosques on fire and
attacked a mullah who with clasped hands
asked the protestors to spare him.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 "There was nothing we in the media
could do," says Ravi Manandhar, a pho-
tojournalist with Nepal Samacharpatra,
who took pictures of the protests at major troubled spots all day. "The mob even
chased us in various places, trying to
snatch away our cameras." Another pho-
tojournalist, Kiran Pandey, of Himal
Khabarpatrika, had his camera broken in
Maitighar but managed to escape unhurt
on his motorcycle.
The situation at two media houses,
Kantipur and Spacetime Network, was
worse. Young rioters, who eyewitnesses
said looked like rag pickers, hurled stones,
broke windows and set fire to vehicles
parked inside. They then vandalized office equipment. At Kantipur Television,
news anchor Bijay Poudel was reading the
live 12 o'clock news when transmission
abruptly went off the air after he had ner-
vously announced: "We've been
attacked.. .We might go off air anytime."
Soldiers entered the master control
room to evacuate everyone and chased away
the vandals who were targeting the studio.
Kantipur TV came on air later at 2:30 p.m.
with a special news bulletin. Managing Director Kailash Siroiya charged that the security forces came 1 hour 55 minutes late,
even as he made repeated calls to senior
government authorities for help.
When Spacetime's Channel Nepal
came back on air the next day, they made
similar charges. Another television and
radio station, Image Channel, also went
abruptly off air on Wednesday; its executives told us they had done so on
themselves, fearing attacks like those on
the other two private media houses.
The government confirmed the death
of two protestors in police firing, one
when the government-provided security
officer fired to control the mob at the
Egyptian Embassy. Minister of State for
Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat
told media persons his ministry was giving out messages to the international
community that things have been
brought under control and assuring them
that their property was safe.
But some charges are getting sticky:
Many believe that the mobs could have
been directed or controlled by "an un
derground" force. Newspaper reports
mentioned people calling on their mobiles and saying that the job was done
after offices were ransacked.
Information and Communications
Minister Mohammed Mohsin, who is
also the government spokesperson and a
Muslim, announced Friday that a six-
member high-level committee, headed
by former Supreme Court justice, Top
Bahadur Rayamajhi, would investigate
the all cases of vandalism and come up
with a report within a month. "The committee will find out," he said.
"The increasing violence has been
fueled as government after government
has failed to punish the culprits in similar protests," said Pradip Giri, a senior
leader of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur
Deuba's own party, the NC-D, on the
TV talk show Dishanirdesh on Thursday. But he was still willing to give the
government the benefit of the doubt:
"The current government's incompetence will be proved if it fails to identify the guilty and take action against
them."  CI
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
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 cure the release of their citizens, why
couldn't we?" says another diplomat.
The Nepali negotiators were not in
touch with relevant entities and agencies. It seems they became too complacent about their appeals through al-
Jazeera and a Sunni cleric.
"The Nepali team relied on a mullah, a
religious leader, rather than tribal chieftains who enjoy more power
and influence in divisive Iraq,"
says Niraj Dawadi, a scholar in
international relations, who
spent four years in Egypt and
the Middle East. Many agree
that it was the wrong approach.
The government could have
sent a team to Iraq with a Nepali
Muslim on the team. Many
now believe that Minister
Mohammed Mohsin would
have been a perfect choice to
negotiate the release ofthe hostages.
The release might also have
been secured if the international
community had shown a little
interest during the hostage crisis. It was incumbent upon the
international community and
the Arab world in particular to
do something for the Nepalis
hostages, but neither showed
much concern. There were no
statements or appeals prior to the killings,
says INSEC's Subodh Pyakurel. But did
the Nepali government mobilize its international goodwill? Even the Kenyan government had deployed a top envoy, Yusuf
Nzibo, to Kuwaiti City to lead the East African nation's efforts for the release of three
Kenyans in Iraq, which was eventually rewarded.
"We are not a powerful country like
United States or India," says Niraj
Dawadi. Help only comes spontaneously
for citizens of powerful states. Dawadi
says, "It wouldn't have been the same if
it were Americans or even Indians." Even
as the tragedy in Iraq continues to shock
and humiliate Nepal, there are thousands
of others people who are either already
in Iraq or are stranded en-route.
The exact number of Nepalis there
is still a mystery. "It is no secret that thousands of Nepalis are in Iraq," Minister of
Labor and Transportation Raghuji Pant
told reporters. But hasn't spelled out
clearly what he plans to do with those
already in Iraq. "We will bring back those
working in Iraq," said a government statement, but it didn't elaborate how.
"Iraq is probably the most dangerous place in the world right now, and if
you want your employees to go there the
compensation package must be commensurate with the risk," said Harold
Skipper, professor of risk management
and insurance at Georgia State University in Atlanta, recently. The Americans
are trying to provide reasonable cover to
their employees working in conflict
zones. But for Nepali workers, who
aren't even supposed to be in Iraq, it's a
no-win situation. They have neither that
sort of compensation package nor reason-
^   Protestors also set fire
to former minister
Vagle's home in Siphal
COLLATERAL DAMAGE: Saudi Arabian Airlines, one
ofthe five airline offices, targeted by protestors <
able insurance coverage for working in a
conflict zone. Until recently the highest
insurance coverage required by Nepali
law was Rs. 100,000. The danger is not
new: Nepalis have been working in conflict zones for a long time. Following the
Iraq episode, the government has raised
the insurance requirement to Rs. 1 million for those working in Middle East.
But there is still no word from the companies that employ them.
The torrent of violence appears to
be receding, but the wound won't heal
for a long time. Cleaning up the manpower business without drying up the
flow of workers, and punishing the
guilty as the hostages begged us to do
are necessary and urgent first-aid. More
importantly, it is still more incumbent
on us as Nepalis deeply hurt and provoked by the barbaric act of the terrorists to maintain social harmony during
such tough times and to embrace each
other in solidarity,  d
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
on the
The kingdom of Nepal, in its 235th year as a modern state, is on a dangerous march
towards a fatal trinity of depressed economy, anarchic politics and a society in anomie
Greek term "anomie" one hundred years ago to refer to conditions of disorder in a society undergoing rapid change, where rules, norms and
expectations break down. The state of
anomie is different from anarchy but related, with the latter concerning a political state where there is no monopoly
of legitimate violence or power and
states incline towards collapse in authority. Anomie, in today's usage, is more of
a social problem where there's systematic violation of law and order and lack
of shared norms in society, with little
recognition of formal authority.
The kingdom of Nepal, in its 235th year
of birth as a modern state, is on a dangerous march towards a fatal trinity of depressed economy, anarchic politics and a
society in anomie. The term "failed state"
is too vague a diagnosis, and while Nepal
is still a long way from being the next Congo
or Somalia, the fact that we openly discuss
the possibility of the implosion of the
Nepali state—where it exists as a legal entity without the means to exercise its legal
authority—highlights a routine of disintegrating events each new week. Let us run
through five incidences of just the past few
days that contribute to this illustration.
A weak state cannot assert itself internationally because it does not even have
the self-confidence to marshal all resources and goodwill at its disposal. The
government of Nepal failed to rescue 12
young hostages in Iraq, who were killed
on the last day of August by Islamic zealots. Our diplomatic apparatus relied on
ordinary methods to deal with an extraordinary crisis. The government
lacked the imagination and the will in
its approach that reflects, actually, the lack
of imagination and the will of its leadership. The enemies we faced were unreasonable fanatics who were probably going to kill the "followers of Buddha" anyway, but the national pain would have
lessened if we had seen that the government had done all it could to save those
unfortunate lives. In the final assessment,
the government was not seen to be doing enough. In the least, a delegation led
by a Muslim politician, such as
Mohammed Mohsin, should have gone
to Iraq and drawn on local help in person. Since the intensification of conflict
within Nepal in 1998, we have lost on
average 12 Nepali lives every other day
and we lose many more to silent diseases each day, but the 12 men paraded
on TV in Iraq tested our resolve on a
new front, the will and the imagination
of our country's leadership and institu
tions to protect Nepali lives in danger
beyond our borders. And we failed.
The riots that followed in Kathmandu
in protest of these killings went on to
highlight the hollow presence of the
state even in the heart ofthe capital. If
one argues that the shameful destruction of a mosque, labor exporting agencies and airline offices happened too
swiftly and spontaneously for the security forces to be mobilized in time, how
does one explain the astounding delays
in responding to the attacks against two
big media complexes and private residences? I personally witnessed crowd
behavior and police reaction outside the
Egyptian Embassy in Pulchowk.
Characteristically, the mob was a rude,
disorganized, leaderless motley of a dozen
vandals, who were more intent on seeking pleasure in destruction than
in making a point of solidarity
through protests. If a modest
contingent of armed police and
Army had arrived early, staked its
presence, cordoned the embassy
and dispersed the crowd, the destruction of property, the killing
of a civilian and the indelible diplomatic stain of our incapability
to protect the person and property of our foreign guests could
have been avoided. The security
forces proved that they are incompetent in controlling untoward incidents even when they
occur within reach. Their resources are spread thin, yes, but
if citizens see them merely as
conspicuous onlookers in situations where rioters attack symbols of faith and freely ransack
private property, they make a
statement on the larger func-
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 tional problem ofthe Nepali state: The
very people who the state hires to lend
it authority don't believe in it enough.
Even if there was no conspiracy on the
part of the Army to humiliate Girija
Prasad Koirala, as alleged, by curtailing
without prior information his VIP perk
of special access to the airport, Koirala
was right to ponder publicly the possibility of designs on the part of the Army
even at the risk of appearing a bit paranoid. At 82, he has that license, for the
different class dynamics and socio-political histories of the people who lead
the Army, including the King, and
elected people's leaders, have long produced mutual distrust and contempt. If
the Army wanted to test popular reaction
to Koirala's "mistreatment," as the Congress believes, it was a misadventure; but
the nature ofthe incident indicates that it
was a failure of various wings within the
"Unified Command" to coordinate their
information and intelligence, rather than
a sinister ploy to tease Koirala. This too,
though, is regrettable at a time when not
only so much resource is being funneled
in the name of security, but their under-
performance is paradoxically being rewarded by increasing autonomy from,
and decreasing accountability to, the already helpless cabinet.
The capital blockaded or not, the 36-
kilometer-long Mugling-Narayanghat
highway is a symbol of the sorry state of
the nation itself. Just a few years ago, this
was one of the best segments in all of
Nepal's tarred roads. Last year, the monsoon landslides decimated the highway,
but given its vital role in connecting the
capital to the plains and the ports, it was
hoped that the road would be fixed immediately after the rains stopped. Traveling on the same road exactly one year
later, I saw last week that not much had
improved—the usual journey of one
hour took four. What have the concerned
agencies been doing for the past 12
months despite repeated urgings in the
press? Is this yet another fall-out of the
absence of local elected bodies that did
such a splendid job over the past 12 years
in aggregating local interests and exerting pressure on the center to deliver
HIGHWAY BLUES: Landslides have decimated Nepal's lifelines
public services? Has suspension of civil
democracy, then, also led to suspension
of civil works?
One normally expects political leaders
to dream big because they have the primary mandate and the means to help realize the dreams. Nothing wrong if
Binod Chaudhary, the Wai Wai industrialist, does the dreaming for the government, by kick-starting a healthy debate on Nepal's potential of attaining
double-digit growth. While lauding his
initiative, it is also worth wondering if
anyone has actually done the necessary
math with logarithm tables on the side.
Even unrealistically capping our population at 25 million, to attain an average
monthly per capita income of Rs. 10,000
(US$ 1,600 per person per annum, not
adjusted for purchasing power parity),
Nepal would need to sustain a double
digit growth rate of at least 10 percent
for 18 consecutive years, while simultaneously improving its pattern of
wealth distribution. To borrow a
Newsweek columnist's memorable
phrase, there is only a "minor inconvenience of massive inconsistency" in
selling such a dream. Not outright impossible, but if it happens, the world
will have seen its third biggest miracle
after the birth of Lord Buddha in the 6th
century B.C. and the invention of steam
engine adapted to rotary motion in the
1770s. Even if the government fails to
lead intellectual debates on development or explain its failures in facilitating fast growth, it should ideally be polite enough to temper its citizens' tall
tales and expectations, just so there isn't
much disappointment down the road.
And I haven't even mentioned the red
elephants in the room who have just declared that they will only negotiate
peace with the King, not the government he formed, complicating our
likely fortunes further.  □
Views expressed in this column are personal,
and do not necessarily reflect those of institutions
the writer is affiliated with.
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
Don't hold your breath waiting for peace talks
ment said it would call on the
Maoists for peace talks, the
Maoists decided in a brainstorming session to say no to any peace talks with the
present government. "We shall be issuing a call for talks to the Maoists in a
formal manner," said the government's
spokesman, Information and Communication Minister Mohammed Mohsin.
Even before the call was issued, the
Maoists had said nay.
"We are disappointed by their refusal," says Subodh Pyakurel, president
of INSEC. He says the country cannot
withstand further carnage. The Maoist
announcement flatly contradicted repeated hints and leaks that the government was in touch with the Maoists. A
Maoist central committee meeting held
in Hapure, Dang, the site of the previous failed peace talks, formally decided
to refrain from holding any dialogue
with the Deuba government. Prime
Minister Deuba still claims his government is making serious but discreet
preparations for talks. He has repeatedly turned down calls to declare a unilateral ceasefire, saying it takes two
hands to clap. Ministers in the Deuba
government continue to speak as if they
have already have an open channel of
informal communication with the
Maoists. That's apparently untrue.
While declining to talk with the government, the Maoists did say that they
were willing to hold talks with the parties that have been agitating against "regression" and, most importantly, with
the King directly. The meeting also implicitly demanded that the King make
his stance clear about the Maoists'
"people's war." The Maoists' willingness
to talk with the King is a clear and startling hint that they might enter a power-
sharing agreement. If both the extreme
right and left sit together to write a constitution, it probably wouldn't do away
with the monarchy as the Maoists want,
but it would necessarily trim the King's
powers and incorporate some ofthe radical reforms the ultra-nationalists want.
After the Maoists withdrew their
blockade, speculations were rife that informal talks with the government had
started. There were reasons to believe
such speculations. Though it is an unconventional prelude to a peace process,
the Maoists have often talked tough before growing mellower towards talks.
The government had said it would consider removing the terrorist tag if the
Maoists put out peace feelers. Some were
even recalling how the last ceasefire was
brokered: It came within 72 hours after
the assassination of IGP Krishna Mohan
Shrestha in January 2003.
The latest twist in the story comes
barely a week after Maoists psychological
offensive on the Valley. When we reported
last week about the blockade, there was
every indication to believe that the blockade may eventually edge the Maoists closer
towards the negotiating table. Even civil
society leaders were upbeat.
The Maoists' flat refusal to talk with
the government has dashed those hopes
and turned silver linings into dark clouds.
Their move may not be conciliatory at
all. It certainly makes the Maoists appear very confident. "The Maoists have
become arrogant about their fire-power,"
says INSEC's Pyakurel. This may be the
reason why the Maoists are uninterested
in starting the peace process now.
Optimism about the aborted blockade may have been misplaced. The coverage of the event from international
media, at least, seems to tell more of
the Maoists strategy for the blockade
than most of the homegrown analysis.
"Maoists rebels may be only a year or
two away from a victory," writes Gwyne
Dyer in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Dyer's comments sums up the impression that the international media hammered home. That is exactly what the
Maoists wanted the international community to believe; decision makers in
the west largely depend on international media for their facts about Nepal.
The blockade looked like a failure from
here, but that is not the message that
was played in international media. Dyer
writes, "...and for a week nothing
moved on the roads in or out of the
Kathmandu valley. They [Maoists]
lifted the blockade and let the city have
fresh food again—but not because they
had to."
 Even though the blockade is over now,
security officials claim that Maoists have
more up their sleeves. The suggestions and
indications are confusing. "They plan to
kill at least an individual a day or to rock
the city with explosions," says an official.
Security reports indicate that out of the
estimated 6,000-10,000 hardcore Maoist
combatants, 20 percent are deployed
around   the
Valley. The
Maoists re-
p o rte d ly
have in addition
a 15,000-strong militia,
4,500   cadres   and
around half a million
members  in  their
student wing. Analysts say the Maoists are
harboring an unrealistic dream of defeating 30,000 security personnel in the Valley
with their 2,000 rag-tag combatants.
Desperation may be the real root of
the "act-strong" attitude of the Maoists
in recent days. Security officials maintain that the last month's blockade was a
desperate attempt to inspire their battered Valley "ring command." The facts
and figures on ground don't seem in the
Maoists' favor, but that's not how the international media sees it.
Western media has often resorted to
sensationalism in their coverage of
Nepal. It may be worse now. One foreign editor told his Kathmandu reporter,
"I want stories about bombs, barricades
and blockades." This is partly the nature
of news and partly because westerners,
even intellectuals, have a very shallow
understanding of Nepal. But it is also
because Nepal is host to a communist
revolution more than a decade after
most people thought communism
died. That's a novelty in itself.
There is certainly a connection between the message the Maoists wanted
to send to the international community and their latest insistence on talking only with the King. Fears of a Maoist
victory in Nepal could send Nepal's
friends into a more intense "diplomatic
fire-fighting mission" rather than a military one, as evidenced by the post-blockade developments. Such a mission
would, the Maoists hope, pressure the
King towards some sort of compromise
that they could call a victory.
 Through The
oking Glass
Collateral Damage
As long as those at the helm are preoccupied with militarization, Nepal will continue to sustain
collateral damage on many fronts. The 12 Nepalis executed in Iraq are only the latest example.
The execution of 12 Nepali migrant workers in Iraq points up a
dangerous trend that has its genesis in Nepal. It doesn't take a
rocket scientist to figure out if Nepali migrant workers are still continuing to defy the government's long-standing order and entering Iraq
en masse. Chances are, hapless Nepali migrants are beingduped into
heading for Iraq by unscrupulous agents in Nepal in cahoots with those
in the Middle East.
The government's failure to respond swiftly and decisively to the
hostage crisis in Iraq after the CNN, BBC and national media picked up
on what al-Jazeera TV broadcast indicates a deeply-entrenched pattern:
Deal with the exigencies rather than their root causes, and respond
belatedly and half-heartedly to crisis after crisis rather than try to prevent
it in the first place.
Over the years, hundreds of innocents have disappeared or been
killed by both the Maoist rebels and security forces. But has Deuba's
present government shown any genuine interest in talking peace with the
rebel leaders, with or without the U.N. mediation?
The truth is, as long as those at the helm are preoccupied with
militarizing the country and prolonging the war on the Maoist insurgency
rather than resolving it, Nepal will continue to sustain collateral damage
on many fronts, because everything else ranks a very
distant second priority in their scheme of things. The 12
Nepalis executed in Iraq are only the latest example.
The building of dams unilaterally by India on their
side ofthe border that inundate the Nepali side must
surely rank a very distant second priority. The plundering, raping and burning of villages and villagers in Tarai
by both local and Indian dacoits must surely rank a very
distant second priority.
The landslides and flashfloods that have displaced
hundreds and destroyed roads and bridges during the
recent monsoon must rank a very distant second priority. The extortion rackets perpetrated by cops in civil
dress as wel I as by fake Maoists and mafias that have
hurt small and medium enterprises must surely rank a
very distant second priority.
The trafficking in women as well as the worst forms
of child labor must rank a very distant second priority.
The smuggling of wildlife parts and medicinal and aromatic plants that are threatened or endangered, as wel I as drugs, must
rank a very distant second priority.
The citizenship rights ofthe marginalized and Terailis who've lived in
this country for generations, not to mention the festering refugee problem in eastern Nepal, must surely rank a very distant second priority.
The demand of thejanjatis, the dalits, the Terailis, and the adivasis to
be recognized by the state on their own terms must surely rank a very
distant second priority. The demand ofthe British Gurkhas to be treated
on par with their British counterparts in terms of salary, pensions and
other benefits must rank a very distant second priority.
The rights ofthe women and their inclusion in all spheres of mainstream Nepal on par with their male counterparts must rank a very
distant second priority. The deaths from preventable diseases and from
hunger in the hinterland must rank a very distant second priority.
The internally displaced, the increasing number of landless and homeless and the rehabilitation of the Kamaiyas must surely rank a very
distant second priority. The pitiful state ofthe state's physical and human
infrastructure as well as governance must rank a very distant second
Ad infinitum, ad nauseam!
The masters of war in both camps have systematically hijacked "development" and turned the average Nepali into a pawn in the on-going
power tussle, resulting in a mass exodus ofthe internally displaced, the
underemployed and unemployed. The 12 dead in Iraq, many more
rotting in prisons in Bangkok and the thousands stranded in Mumbai are
only a tip ofthe iceberg and, I'm afraid, a preview of things to come.
When will the masters sit down to resolve the mother of all problems^—one that diverts scarce resources from all other pressing priorities
that are growing in gravity and magnitude bythe minute? Recently, the
Royal Nepal Army demanded an additional Rs. 11 billion. More guns or
more butter? Twelve died in Iraq when they were forced to look for bread
and butter (jobs) there. A serious disconnect here.
What is alarming about today's Nepal is that butter, which stands for
everything else, including peace, security and prosperitythat guns alone
cannot provide, has increasingly become exactly that: a very distant
second priority. □
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 More Equal
To Koirala, the alleged infringement of his freedom of movement was undemocratic, all right. But
what of his party's insistence that everybody stay home the next day to protest?
On Saturday, August 28, Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad
Koirala was prevented by some junior security officers at
Kathmandu airport from taking his—and his bodyguards'—vehicles into the boarding area. The security personnel reportedly asked
him to leave his vehicle at the parking area and walk into the terminal
building, just like every other passenger does, because they had no prior
information about a VIP movement.
Public criticism ofthe incident, especially coming out ofthe Koirala
camp, has a different spin to the story.
The security personnel told the Nepali
Congress supremo that they had been
instructed "from above" to prevent him
from boarding the Bhairahawa-bound
flight, something the Royal Nepal Army
has denied. Exact details of the exchange between the airport security
officials and Koirala will hopefully be
made public bythe special investigation team comprising senior civilian and
security officers, which was swiftly appointed by the government. Even in
the absence ofthe exact details ofthe
exchange, it is possible to look into the
two related questions of freedom of
movement this incident raises.
Clearly angered by the treatment
he received at the hands of the junior
officials, Koirala told the mainstream
press in Kathmandu that the incident
was an infringement of his right of free
movement, guaranteed to every citizen of this country. And, in an ill-considered reaction to the incident, the
student and youth wings of Koirala's
Nepali Congress declared a general
strike on Sunday, forcing everything from vehicular movement to schools
to businesses to a complete shutdown.
In fact, while Koirala's statement about the infringement of his freedom
of movement was m isplaced, the actions of h is young fol lowers—and his
condoning their acts—were outright condemnable. One can not help reach
that conclusion even if one is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for
the timing ofthe incident, which came three days before the Supreme
Court was scheduled to give its verdict on Koirala's petition challenging the
authority ofthe CIAA to question him on charges of corruption.
The former prime minister has apparently been given to understand
(wrongly) that he has a constitutionally protected right to drive all the way
to his aircraft while commoners cover the same distance on foot. As a
matter of fact, the special treatment that important public figures like him
get at the airport is not their constitutional right but merely a privilege—a
perk that they may be able to enjoy if they fulfill the conditions associated with its use. Like every other citizen of this country, Koirala too has
the right to move around the country, which includes not only the right of
locomotion but also the right to reside at any comer ofthe kingdom.
Unless the decision ofthe security officials to disallow his vehicles inside
the airport seriously impaired his ability to board the aircraft, it is difficult
to make a plausible argument that the incident actually infringed upon
Koirala's right of free movement. It was he who had decided not to board
the flight and instructed his driver to
return to his residence.
Even more disturbing than his misunderstanding of his right to free movement is the way he and his young activists reacted to the incident. It could
surely have been handled in a more
dignified manner. While Koirala asserted his fundamental right of free
movement to make a case against the
security officers and accused the entire security machinery of the country
to have conspired to cause the infringement, he clearly declined to consider
the infringement ofthe rights of free
movement of, and the serious hardships it could cause to, millions of
Nepalis who were forced to stay home
the day after the incident.
I am not suggesting that Koirala
should not have voiced his opposition
to the treatment which he received at
the hands of the officers. Right or
wrong, he has every right to criticize
the security arrangements at the airport and to advocate that people like
him should be allowed to drive all the
way to the footsteps ofthe aircraft. He can also demand that VIPs like
him should be given a red carpet welcome everywhere he goes, although whether or not he actually gets that treatment is a different
matter altogether.
What he does not have is the authority to infringe upon the freedom
of so many citizens of this country. As somebody said so aptly, "Your
freedom to stretch your arms ends where my nose begins." For the
leader of a political party, which has taken an official decision against
bandas, the possibility of hitting others' noses should have been an
issue of serious concern. Instead, the 82-year-old decided that he would
be better off humoring his youthful activists, who wanted a banda. And
the political master duly obliged. □
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
"The mind can make heaven of hell, and a hell
of heaven"
John Milton
through rose-colored glasses and
a series of distorted stereotypes
ever since the country opened up to the
outside world in 1950. The glasses have
come off, but stereotypes—different
ones, but equally inaccurate—continue
to dominate the world's perception of
When the first Peace Corps volunteers came to Nepal, this was still a rural
country; many people were simple and
naive. These volunteers were the first to
spread, by word of mouth, the myth of a
country unspoiled by modernity. Next
came mountaineers eager to scale
Nepal's high and glorious mountains,
and with them came journalists to report about the ascents. The journalists'
reports wrote about a transformation of
sorts that they experienced in the enchanting landscapes of Nepal. In a recent special double issue of the Times,
Jan Morris, the celebrated travel writer,
wrote about "a Nirvana of a different kind
I did transiently enter half a century ago,
when I was on my way back to
Kathmandu from Mount Everest, where
I had been writing for the Times of London about the first climbers ever to
make it to the top." It's notjust travel
reporting that has romanticized Nepal
but also guidebooks.
Prakash A. Raj, the Lonely Planet
writer on Nepal, says guidebooks
exoticize places. "I myself have
exoticized Nepal," he admits. Travel
writings made Nepal famous as
"Shangri-La country," a tropical paradise.
In the late 1960s, budget travelers invaded
Nepal. They were mostly young people
from the west, popularly known as the
hippies, who were getting increasingly
disillusioned with the metropolitan culture. They came to Nepal and India in
search of eastern mysticism, which
globe-trotting Indian swamis had popularized in the west.
Abhi Subedi, professor of English at
Tribhuvan University hobnobbed with
the hippies in the late 1960s and the
1970s. He says, "What the hippies found
in Nepal was all anti-western: primitive
culture, simple people and antique artifacts." And they liked Nepal all the more
for it. Moreover, hippies were heavily
into drugs, and drugs were freely available—LCD, heroin, hash, barbiturates,
amphetemines, you name it.
The low-budget seekers of nirvana
and dope often went broke. Trading sex
for drugs was common, justified by a superficial understanding of tantrism as
well as rebellion. No wonder Nepal was
seen as the country of free sex and drugs.
Films like Hare Krishna Hare Ram, with
its portrayal of a drug-crazed blond
nymphet roaming around the temples of
Kathmandu with hashish puffing hippies,
set the stereotype firmly in the popular
Enterprising Nepalese businessmen
did help popularize the stereotypes by
naming their restaurants "Tantrik" or
"Nirvana Garden" and by splattering yin-
yang symbols liberally about and by having hash brownies and acid pie on their
Western scholarship in Nepal has
also helped romanticize it. In its first
editorial, the journal "Studies in Nepali
History and Society" wrote that "anthropological work on Nepal has been
regionally skewed toward the mid-hills
and the mountains," and that "a result is
an exoticization that doesn't aid our understanding of Nepal."   Scholar James
Fischer, a foreign expert on Nepal, has
criticized western scholarship for romanticizing Nepal. Suresh Dhakal, an
anthropologist at Tribhuvan University,
says, "Western ethnography on Nepal
is a romanticized ethnography." He says
it's the nature of ethnography to romanticized things; if you don't romanticize
the subject, it won't be a topic for ethnographic study. Maybe that's why lots
of ethnographic studies have been on
the Sherpas.
Until recently, foreigners never heard
anything bad about Nepal except that it
was a poor country. Whatever else they
knew about the place was good. And they
had held very romantic notions: "Never
Ending Peace And Love", a Zone of
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 JA longtime contributor to
^^k Time magazine, Pico Iyer
, M Mis best known for his travel
book "Video Night in Kathmandu."
His most recent book is a collection of essays, "Sun After Dark."
Iyer answered Ajit Baral's questions from "a back-street Internet
cafe in Saigon, surrounded by
whirling sirens and raucous bars."
What was your image of Nepal
before coming here in 1985?
Did you find the Nepal of your
imagination similar to the actual Nepal?
I knew painfully little about Nepal
before I arrived (in 1985, to write
about it for my first book, Video
Night in Kathmandu), which
meant that every moment was a
surprise and an education. I knew
something of Tibet, from my reading, and a little about India from
my family, but Nepal was the uncharted and somewhat mysterious ground between, and I relished the fact that I came to it
with so few preconceptions. Any
I might have had, it [Nepal] would
have quickly dispelled, as all the
best places do.
What image of present day
Nepal do you get from the media? After the Maoist insurgency
started, lots of foreign journalists have parachuted into Nepal
and started portraying Nepal as
the Maoist country.
As you suggest, it is in the nature ofthe media to stress only
what is exceptional, and often what is dramatic and disruptive, while ignoring all the
lives that are continuing as
they always have and everything that is going right. So in
deed most of
what I hear
and read
about Nepal
these days
has to do with
unrest, Maoist
and general
unease.  But
having worked in the media for
22 years I know to take everything I read in the media
with several grains of salt. So
I'm hoping that much of what
I most cherish about Nepal, in
terms of the sweetness and
good nature of its people, continues as it always has, and
that many people are living in
a state undisturbed by the few
dramas we read about far
Peace, the happy smiling people and religious tolerance. But of late these notions have been losing ground. The western media has exaggerated and sensationalized coverage of events in Nepal: The
hijack of an Indian airplane, the Hrithik
Roshan incident, the Maoist insurgency,
the recent blockade and this week's riots over the killing of 12 Nepalis in Iraq.
The exaggerated coverage of these incidents has given the world an impression
that Nepal is going to the dogs. Rightly,
What do you
think travel
writers do,
subvert or bolster the stereotypical images of a
The very nature of travel
writing, as of
travel, of course, is to explore every expectation, stereotype and
simplification, and to lead the
reader deeper into uncertainty,
nuance and humanity, all the stuff
that can't be fit into a headline or
a TV screen. These days, I feel,
more and  more of us are
hemmed in bythe images we get
from screens large and small,
from newspapers and movies; the
travel writer has to propel the
reader out of her assumptions,
and into the midst of a confounding and therefore fascinating reality. Every trip for me is a journey into a question that gives way
to a deeper question, and a
deeper one, ti 11 one arrives at the
unanswerable. In that sense, the
places one visits one never
leaves, because one can no
longer imagine, one understands
Travel writing only has meaning if
it leaves stereotypes at home. □
a foreigner who is a longtime
resident of Nepal said, without wanting to be named,
"The only romanticization of
Nepal that I see going on now
is ofthe past." He added, "Aba
Nepal khattam bhayo. Pahile
ramro thiyo (Nepal's ruined.
It was nice before),' goes the
common refrain."
Nepal is far away from
the lives and concerns of
Europeans, Americans and
Japanese. They may never
see us as we are without coming to
visit, but we had better foster stereotypes of a happy and peaceful Shangri-
La. At least then the rest of the world
will feel it's safe to come see for themselves.  □
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
Nobody's Child
"Khuma" is a moving play that conveys the agony of
Nepal and, if seen widely enough, could get people talking about important topics
The trauma of those caught between armed rebels and armed
counter-insurgents is now a routine in the "killing terraces" of Nepal.
Films have chronicled the misery of
helpless citizens. Poems and stories
make poignant statements of helpless
fury. Artists have etched the blood on
canvas. The play "Khuma" adds to the
expression of artistic rage. It is emotive. It is universal. It speaks for all humanity, or at least what is left of it in a
world that forgets its history and forsakes its kin with such ease and frequency.
The production uses creativity to
powerful effect and includes multimedia—music, movement, audio-vi
suals, sounds, lighting and installation
art. The ambience prepares the audience to experience the situation in
which a young girl, Khuma, finds herself. The director uses universalizing
elements to portray a personal story.
These include the unisex costume of
the "chorus" and their actions, which
are not culture-specific. The music,
stage setting and chorus help to make
the play more real in its symbolism.
The terms "insecurity of life" and the
"lack of the rule of law" spring out
from the pages of human rights reports
and embody themselves in the spirited adolescence of Khuma. Tradition
and custom are brought in to convey
the agony of a situation where people
simply disappear or go missing. They
could be anyone: school students,
shepherds, all and sundry...especially
the poor innocent dispensable sundry.
The play is a slice in the life of
Khuma, whose father was killed by the
police. Her mother died of "heartbreak"
after hearing the news of his death. One
brother has gone to Kala Pahad, the Black
Mountain, i.e., India; the other brother
told Khuma not to leave for the Black
Mountain with the first brother, but to
stay back in the village, and he'd see her
through her schooling. Since then he has
left for the jungle, gone underground
with the Maoists. On her own, she cannot study and keep her house. Hers is a
single-child-headed household. She cannot go to school.
She lives alone and helps her co-villagers in Thabang, Rolpa district, the
hotbed of the insurgency. She visits
people. They don't visit her. Her only
visitor is a schoolteacher. He is, in fact,
her only friend. Their relationship is
beautiful. She speaks Nepali, though
she uses many phrases in Kham Magar
that are not comprehensible to "sar," the
schoolteacher. Through their interactions, we learn of her family's history,
we are told of the Maoists coming at
night to cut the trees of her apple orchard so that the terrain is not threatening to them, we hear her innocent questions and share her dreams to study and
become like "sar," and we share in the
helpless fury of the teacher's inability
to answer her questions or to do anything to help her realize her dreams.
The play never closes. In a sense it con-
SEPTEMBER 12, 2004   |  nation weekly
 tinues, and it forces the audience to think. What do we do
with the countless Khumas, the
little children who are affected
in some way, including getting
injured, killed, orphaned, or
disappearing because of the
armed conflict?
This is a difficult topic
with a difficult script. The
need to maintain a balance in
the dramatization of a story
that is written by a security
officer is a major challenge. To
a great extent the play has succeeded in this purpose. In
places there is ambiguity and
a lack of realism. The structure of the play allows for a
more realistic portrayal of life
in the countryside. It could
hint at why rural persons go
to the jungle or to the Black
Mountain. It could include
the different ways in which
the Maoists and the security
forces induce fear. The
Maoists could be more authentically depicted. They are
armed, yes. But they are also
ideological. There are crucial
differences between the state
security forces and the armed
Maoist cadre. Both can be
equally ruthless and cruel and
instill fear, but the modes and
objects of the creation of fear
are different. That distinction
has to be maintained for the
play to be universally appreciated even outside
Kathmandu in the villages,
towns and districts of the
And this play has to be taken
beyond the metropolis. It can
initiate discussion on militarization in
Nepal, on human rights abuses, on impunity, on children and armed conflict
and on many other topics that are usually restricted to starred hotels and that
have become the preserve of the intellectual and marquee-star NGO activist. This reviewer has seen an earlier version of "Khuma," "Anmaya." Its
framework obviously allows for more
innovation. Perhaps this play can be a
continuously evolving one, with more
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 12, 2004
elements being included and some
further refinements, after discussion
and feedback from wider and more
grassroots audiences. Maybe more
than one play can emerge from the
same structure. Will it be possible to
have one play for an international audience, one for the more privileged in
Nepal, another for the Midwest, another for the East and so on, with the
story remaining the same? The artists
certainly seem up to the task. □
Gay Jatra
Most take freedom of expression and association for granted. Gays,
lesbians and transsexuals can't.
Gai Jatra is celebrated every year
to commemorate the dead, but
it isn't just about mourning. It's
also about merrymaking, barbed jests and
public fanfare. On Gai Jatra, people
come out decked in colorful costumes,
fancy headgear and papier-mache masks;
they make the rounds of the city and
have fun. For the last two years the Blue
Diamond Society, an organization that
assists homosexuals and cross-dressers
and offers advice on health and sexuality, particularly HIV prevention, has held
its own Gai Jatra procession.
On Gai Jatra last Tuesday the society
and about 150 gay people, some crossed-
dressed and others wearing masks or
holding placards, marched from the
Sanchayakosh building. The procession
went through Ason and Indrachowk and
concluded at Hanuman Dhoka, where
society members lit 108 candles in
memory of people who have died of HIV
Sunil Babu Pant of the society explained,
"Those who die of HIV don't get respect.
This is our way of giving respect to them
on a day when the dead are remembered."
The society's choice to organize
their procession on Gai Jatra seems apt.
Nepalis have used Gai Jatra as a forum
to express dissent and anger since the
days of the Ranas and the Panchayat,
when people had no freedom of speech.
Since the reinstatement of democracy,
Gai Jatra's importance has shrunk because people now don't have to wait for
an annual event to vent their frustration
and anger: They can do that every day.
But for a minority community like gays,
lesbians and transsexuals, the situation
is different. They don't have the right
to live the way they choose, and they
don't have freedom of association. Just
a few weeks ago the Supreme Court
ordered the government to show why
the society should "not be closed."
What better place and time to speak out
than Gai Jatra? Still, some people criticize the community for desecrating the
There is a certain sacredness and solemnity attached to the festival. Gai
Jatra's celebration of the dead began
when King Pratap Malla's youngest son
was thrown from his elephant and killed.
Pratap Malla called for both the procession of bereaved households and the following merriment to console his queen.
The cow is important, for Hindus who
are bereaved worship the cow in the belief that she will help the dead cross the
Vaitarani, the mythical river of agony, to
Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu.
That's why some people don't like the
Blue Diamond Society coming out and
celebrating too, even in remembrance
ofthe dead.
Last year traditionalists questioned
why the society targets Gai Jatra to raise
awareness when they can do that on any
day. Panta explains, "We organize sensitization programs throughout the year.
Our Gai Jatra becomes visible because
it is organized in public." And not everyone is offended. Many people think
that the BDS members were just doing
what others were doing and also raising
awareness about gays and HIV/AIDS.
The placards they carried proclaimed
their right to live their life the way they
like and their right of association. They
distributed condoms to bystanders as
they marched. Panta says, Gaijatra provides a cover for people who haven't
been able to cross-dress to come of the
closet and into the streets, since cross-
dressing and cross-gender games have
been a part ofthe festival for years.
For the members ofthe gay community, Gaijatra is just not an opportunity
to raise awareness, get their voices heard
or cross-dress. It's an opportunity to be
with other gay people and make merry.
Pradeep Yadav came all the way from
Janakpur to be with the community.
Yadav heard about the BDS Jatra last year
and wanted to participate in it. This year
he came. He was beaming with excitement, partly because he was playing Ram
and partly because he was among his
own. Isn't everyone entitled to that? □
SEPTEMBER 5, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Royal Nepal Army wants to go shopping. Again. High on the list is a WIP flight Bell
helicopter. I guess, the WIPs, lucky people, will whirl around, overflying all those
confusing traffic islands and security checks.
As it happened, I did get to watch Sangina Baidya's fight. Unfortunately, it wasn't the golden Olympic moment I had waited for.
Sangina looked defensive and tentative from the word go,
whereas her opponent, Shih Hsin Chen from Taiwan, had a cocky smile,
maybe even a smirk, right from the beginning, and the protective
head-and-face gear did nothing to hide it. The itch to slap was irresistible. This urge surfaced again when NTV Metro aired a commercial
right between the rounds, eating into the live telecast of what was
already an extremely brief taekwondo encounter. Clumsy timing, or a
case of can't-watch-this-a-second-more nervousness? Nothing to be
ashamed of, though, Sangina. You got to Athens on your own merit,
and that alone deserves our admiration. Wish you had kicked and
punched the bejesus out of that precocious Taiwanese, however. Boy,
that would have felt good.
Royal Nepal Army wants to go shopping. Again. High on
the list is a WIP flight Bell helicopter that is going to cost
around 700 million rupees (around 9 million US dollars). I
guess, the WIPs, lucky people, will whirl around, overflying
all those confusing traffic islands and security checks clogging up the crumbling
highways. Pity those
wonderful, newly-acquired stretch limousines—3 or 6 in all?—
will now mostly idle in
the garage. I must say a
sense of patriotic pride
welled up within me
when I was a witness to
the stately procession of
one of these vehicles
(couldn't make out if it
was a Bentley or a Jaguar; Rolls Royce it most
certainly was not) on
Durbar Marg a couple of
months ago. Wow, such a long, magnificent, shiny, low
limousine, gliding weigthlessly silently and effortlessly on
our very own capital streets! (The only nagging thought
that destroyed the magic moment was whether these
supercars could be parked easily and sensibly in front of
New Dish in Khichapokhari, when one has an insatiable
hunger for momos?) Wonder if this Bell helicopter is a
stretch version of the normal, cheaper ones? Considering
the state of the Valley roads and national highways in almost all parts of this benighted kingdom, it does make sense,
doesn't it, that one should fly rather than drive, when there
is the luxury of an option? When we citizens travel, stretch
is certainly not an option in those rickety, speeding, junk-
metal death machines. Fold is. Hence those signs, "2x2 Folding Seats." The seats don't fold: The passengers must.
Going back to RNAs shopping list, one does question, however inappropriately and a tad unorthodoxly, if the Army should not invest more
money in their men? Specifically, eye tests in view ofthe recent incident
atTIA. It appears that Army personnel haveatintedviewofallthatthey
observe, which, come to think, explains a lot of things. It's high time that
the soldiers are given the vision they desperately lack. Tested and corrected, the ability to recognize and respect leaders of unequal national
importance, and to allow them to proceed on to Bhairawaha, without let
or hindrance, is a mandatory exercise in the observance of democracy
and constitutional fallacy. It also helps forestall the youths ofthe country
to strike at will and wantonly destroy unstretched public vehicles.
Yup, out ofthe blockade and straight into a banda. Kathmandu residents have had enough but, somehow, their voice did not rise high enough
above the din of the striking slogans and the pall of smoking tyres and
vehicles. And how could it too since most Kathmanduites were comfortably
stretched before their favourite Indian soap operas, or bunched around
multipacks of cards engaged in their favorite form of "marriage"? Bandas
are a nuisance, and a huge
drain on the economy of the
nation. Everyone hurts. Ingeniously, most of us have learned
to extract maximum benefit out
of these enforced closures. And
when one thinks, amidst all the
chaos and uncertainty strewn
around us, bandas do seem to
bear advantages: Quality time
with the family and friends;
streets free of noise and pollution; discoveries of unknown
bahals and temples; an ideal
time to try PSI's newly-launched
Sure Home Pregnancy Test Kit.
Qualitytime with the family, remember?
There was a terribly sweet story the other day of an 83-year-old
Tamang man marrying a 72-year-old Thakuri woman. The reasons
given by the man were that they were in love and that they wanted to
spend the rest of their lives together. The disappointment of Sangina's
failure, the absurdity of an advanced helicopter for WIP flights and
the destruction of property and daily lives by student-led bandas
were somehow rendered whimsical and petty by this heart-warming
story of two people in love deep enough to get married, caste and
age no barriers. Bet your bottom dollar that PSI's latest product was
not on their wedding list. □
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A Good Life
Self-styled businessman and philanthropist
Narayan Shrestha makes regular visits to
Kathmandu and remote Khandbari from his
home in Colorado to promote his projects. Chief
among them: SANN International College and the
SANN Institute of Nursing. The former was
established as a center  for student exchanges with the
United States. The more recently opened Institute of
Nursing teaches three semesters of a U.S nursing curriculum, and many of its students continue their education in
the United States.
These innovative ideas are characteristic of Shrestha,
who seems to possess an unfailing business instinct. He
knows about self-promotion too, a trait that hasn't always
earned him friends. More than his business successes, the
trajectory of his personal life, a story full of luck and
portents, has won him admirers in Nepal and overseas.   It's
story of how a listless young tourist in America transformed
"I have had a good life," says Shrestha. "I hardly knew
what I was heading to when I left for America."   The year
was 1977, the month November, he says with precision. He
is equally exact about all the other important dates in his
life. Shrestha was then 26 years old and station manager at
Tumlingtar airport. He got a tourist visa to the United States
and, after brief sojourns in New York and Chicago, he
arrived in Boulder, Colorado with $150 in his pocket,
reliant on the hospitality of Bob McNelly, a friend he met
in Nepal a long time ago. "That was a
strange time," says Shrestha. "All my
illusions about the universal wealth of
the Americans were shattered when I
discovered that my friend was very
poor." McNelly's house was an
incomplete three-story building with
no windows, no kitchen and no
bathroom. Shrestha was given a tent
on the third floor, where he stayed for
two weeks amid icy winter winds. He
bathed at the University of Colorado
campus 13 kilometers away.
When his patience ran out,
Shrestha called another friend he had
made in Nepal, Dr. Peter Skafta, a
professor at the University of Texas in
Dallas. Skafta offered him a place to live in for a month.
"When I got to Dallas my friend asked me what my plans
were," says Shrestha. "I said I was going back home, but he
encouraged me to stay on and study there. I had 90 dollars
remaining, and he lent me an additional 200 to help pay for
my first semester at the University of Texas." With limited
English skills, Shrestha was at first overwhelmed. But he
persevered and took additional classes in the visual arts, the
English language and theater.
Then a moment of truth, a turning point in his life. After six
months at the university, immigration officials interviewed
him. He had come to the Untied States on a tourist visa.
"Why did you bring your school certificates with you if
you came here as a tourist?" "I thought maybe I'd try to apply
to university here." "So you knew that you would be staying
on after your visa expired." "That was a possibility, yes. But I
wasn't completely sure."
Later, he was told that had given all wrong answers. His
visa was denied. A teacher referred him to the registrar, who
suggested crossing the border from Brownsville, Texas to
Matamoras, Mexico to get a visa. Along the way he met people
who had visited Nepal and were deeply sympathetic to him.
 *   " »r k  „ f , h
June 3, 1978, Shrestha says, was the date of his visa interview
in Matamoras. The interviewing officer, who had spent two
years in Birgunj, took an instant liking to him: He got his visa.
"My luck was beginning to come good," he recalls.
With a visa in his pocket, he began to relax, and his grades
fell. He decided to move back to Boulder. Eight years after
his arrival he had little money, no job and child support
from a failed marriage to pay. He attempted to open a
restaurant, but the project failed even before the opening.
With extreme difficulty he borrowed $15,000 and bought a
store named Vision of Tibet that sold Himalayan curios. His
entrepreneurship began to show. "Nepal native offers
services for trekkers to Nepal," read a poster on his window.
Fourteen people signed up. He charged them $3,000 each
and headed home for the first time in nine years.
"My objective in Nepal was to get married to a nice
Nepali woman. My requirements were that she be slim,
with long hair and a decent education." In
Kathmandu, he visited six families, but didn't
take a liking to any of the women he met. At a
party he ran into an old friend. The friend was
living in a rented house, and the landlord's
daughter, he thought, would be a perfect match.
He met the girl's parents, but the daughter
didn't appear. As he left the house she happened
to get a glimpse of him, a scruffy man much
older than her, dressed in trekker gear. She told
her parents she would not get married to him.
Shrestha's friend told him to come back that
evening with a haircut and shave, in nice
clothes, driving a nice car. He went out
shopping for clothes, went to the barber,
borrowed a car from a friend and went back to
the house. As he was eating dinner, the female
members of the family went to convince
Shreejana, the landlord's daughter, to come and
see for herself.
She arrived, willing to give 20 minutes of her
time. The meeting was more interrogation than
conversation, with Shrestha on the receiving end.
All the questions concerned his first son, Nathan.
"You have a son by a previous marriage?" "Yes."
"Are you paying child support?" "Yes, of course."
"So you do love him a lot?" "Yes." "He lives with
his mother?" "Yes." "Would you be willing to let
him live with you?" "Yes."
She finally stopped. It was Shrestha's turn:
"Can I ask you a question now?" "Yes." "Will you
marry me?" She nods her head slightly, embarrassed. "Is that a yes or a no?" "Yes, I will marry
you." He canceled his return flight to America,
slated for the next day
On November 16, 1986 Narayan Shrestha and
Shreejana Maskey were married in court. Five
months later they had a formal Hindu ceremony,
and in August Shrestha returned to the States
with his new wife.
Shrestha's story from here on loses the aura
of legend of his early struggles. Shreejana took over the store
and made its profits soar. He opened a series of Nepali and
Thai restaurants in Colorado in the nineties. A nightclub
was established and then sold for a hefty profit. A travel
agency was opened.
With America conquered with his wife's generous
help—without her, "I couldn't have done anything at all"—
he embarked on a Nepal journey. He established a school in
his birthplace, Khandbari; SAAN International College and
SAAN Nursing Institute followed.
Now a family man, entrepreneur and philanthropist,
Shrestha is chiefly occupied with developing his projects in
Nepal. You may not like everything about him, but he is the
quintessential immigrant to the United States, tenacious,
seizing every opportunity for growth as well as for enjoyment.
"I have always had a great life," he says with satisfaction. It is
evident that he plans to continue to do so. □
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 5, 2004
 CHY TTiisWeek
E EN 5
Kathmandu Exhibitions in
coorperation with Federation of
Woman Enterpreneurs
Assocaitions of Nepal (FWEAN)
and the WAVE magazine organizing "Beauti and Boutika 2004"
for the first time in Nepal. The
major objective of this exhibition
is to bring together all the fashion accessories to a common platform and ease the needs ofthe
customers to find varieties of product for Dashain.
Beauty and Boutika will feature
various cosmetic products, dif
ferent types of dress materials
and also a fashion show with latest fabric ofthe season. This will
certainly be the best means for
live demonstration and direct
selling and buying. On spot activities like tattoo painting,
mehndi painting, etc. will also
be entertained.
Card dropping and Beauty contest will help you win dozen of
prizes at the exhibition. Visiting
cards including name, address,
telephone number and the reason for visit, may be dropped in
Journalist, critic, and filmmaker Shekhar Kharel comes up
with the latest in his series of photo exhibition "Samyak
Dristi." "Samyak Dristi" (Rightfold Vision) is one among the
eight principles propounded by Lord Buddha. Shekhar is the
recipient of the first prize in a nationwide photography contest that marked the Visit Nepal 1998 campaign. He is currently working with Nepal Weekly. Shekhar has dedicated
this exhibition to his son, Samyak. He says, "For me, photography is the juxtaposition of beauty and technology. It is a
new age art."
the box at the main entrance gate.
Later a winner will be chosen
from among those cards through
a lucky draw. Also watch out for
the Beauty Contest. The selection for Miss Beautiful each day
will be done on the basis of a lucky
draw system.
Finally the best of five will be
selected on the final day.
Forms for participation will be
available on spot. A grand opportunity to find all you need
in one place and save your time
for the monotonous Dashain
shopping. Venue: Birendra
International Convention
Hall (BICC), New
Baneshwor. Date: September
10 to September 14.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
Sekuwa Saanjh
At the Dwarika's Hotel every Friday from 7 p.m. onwards @ Rs.
555 plus tax per person. Includes
BBQ dinner, a can of beer or soft
drink. Live music byAbhaya and
The Steam Injuns playing blues,
jazz and more. Drop your visiting
cards or BBQ coupons for a "Lucky
Draw". For information:
Spin And Jive With DJ
Raju And The Cloud
DJ Raju spins out the beats catering to the needs ofthe dance floor
—hip hop, reggae, rock, pop,
latino, arabic, underground, electric and music for all the party souls.
Also jive with The Cloud Walkers.
Enjoy the happy hour from 6-10
p.m. At the Rox bar, Hyatt Regency.
For information: 4491234.
Summit BBQ
Barbeque with vegeterian specials
at Summit Hotel. Every Firday. For
information: 5521810.
Italian & Oriental
From light meals toadelicious array of international and Asian buffets. Step in anytime, any day at
The Sunrise Cafe. Treat yourself
to the mouth watering Italian and
Oriental specials on Mondays and
Wednesdays. Time: 12-3 p.m.
(lunch); 6:30-10:30 p.m. (din-
ner). At The Sunrise Cafe, Hotel
Yak & Yeti. For information:
The Nepali specialty restaurant at
Dwarika's Hotel, serves from four
to 16 course ceremonial meals.
Open for lunch and dinner. Table
reservations recommended. For
information: 4479488
Dwarika's Thali
Lunch at The Heritage courtyard.
Enjoy Nepali cuisine, hospitality
and heritage at Dwarika's courtyard, an unforgettable experience.
For information:  4479488.
Continental delicacies
Chefs special. At Keyman Royal
Siano Restaurant, Durbarmarg.
Everyday. Time: 12-3 p.m. For information: 4230890.
Food program
Special Barbeque lunch (Chicken,
Fish, Mutton) at Restaurant
kantipur, Club Himalaya. Every
Sunday, price: Rs. 500 per person. For information:6680080,
Electronic Open Air Party
Chill out Garden. House, Hard, Progressive and Psy. Trance with the
Funky Buddha Psy. Club. Every Friday at Funky Buddha Bar and
Cafe. Time: 7:30-6 a.m. Free Entrance. For information:
Dhoom: The tale begins in Mumbai where a sophisticated gang of robbers headed
by Kabir (John Abraham) is sweeping through the city, giving nightmares to the
robbers on their
■st, meanest and th
machines on the road. Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan), an honest police officer, is
brought in to crack the case. Initially daunted by the speed and mannerisms of
the gang, Jai ropes in the services of Ali (Uday Chopra), a happy-go-lucky garage
mechanic and a prodigious bike rider. Ali, the reluctant recruit, and Jai set up an
ambush. But Kabir soon catches up on the Jai-Ali team. And so starts the hunt,
where sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted. Jai and Ali find their various
attempts thwarted, as the gang keeps slipping from their grasp.
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nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 5, 2004
As Internet availability and use rise, young Nepalis are in
for big changes
The Internet has fundamentally
changed things the world over,
from Manhattan to Madrid. The
way people communicate, work, do business and pay their bills have been altered
forever. In Mangal Bazaar and
Mahendranagar, things have been changed
too. The Internet is a powerful tool: We
are just beginning to see its effect.
The Internet has made many things
possible. One is online chat rooms and
online messaging. The Internet provides
us with the capability to talk to another
person, anywhere in the world, in a far-
off country or right next door, instantly.
What this means to today's generation,
to the teenagers who are the heaviest users
and fastest adopters of the technology is
complex. "For me, it was mostly about kill
ing time," says Guinness Shrestha, just out
of high school. "I used to go to public chat
rooms. Sometimes I used to get addresses
from there, maybe add them later for private chats. Talking to different people from
different backgrounds was purely for fun."
That seems harmless enough. But put
aside the teenaged nonchalance: The
Internet is a powerful tool that can really
affect people. Meet Kumud Nepal, a high
school student, and self-described "ex-
chatter." Talking about the long hours he
spent in front of the computer chatting
with people from different countries,
mostly teenagers like himself, he says, "I
guess the influence of the Internet and
chatting on the changing lifestyle and social norms of the new generation unfolds
into a bigger question of individualism. I
became more individualistic as I spent
hours chatting and surfing the net."
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Individualism is somewhat out of
place in a society that still focuses more
on the community. The concept is
heady stuff, innately appealing, phoren
and against prevailing customs and attitudes in society. Nothing could appeal
to teenagers more. Chatting gives
youngsters more freedom than is usually found here, both increased opportunity to meet new people and, most of
all, anonymity. Internet chatters choose
their own nicknames, or handles in chat
jargon. The handle can be almost anything, and it's easy to change. Chatters
can give out as much or as little personal information as they like, or make
up a name and identity. "It gives you an
amazing sense of freedom," says Nepal.
"I was the kind of guy who never talked
to girls in real life. But I felt a lot more
comfortable when I was sitting before
a computer screen and chatting with
girls—confident even."
For some people the appeal of chatting is more than just the comfort of anonymity. "I don't like hanging out with
SEPTEMBER 5, 2004   |  nation weekly
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people as such," says 19-year-old Shrada
Thapa. "I immediately blushed whenever
I had to talk to boys in my college. But it's
funny how I can talk to the same people
online, without any problems." Without
the pressure of a face-to-face meeting, it's
easier to open up.
This phenomenon isn't just about
the Internet. It has had a lot of impact
on the lives ofthe online younger generation. For some like Thapa and
Nepal it means more freedom. For
others it means exposure to new ideas
and adopting a more liberal outlook
on things. "For example," says
Shrestha, "in our society, relationships are given a lot of weight, a lot of
fuss attached to relationships between
boys and girls. But after talking to so
many people, including girls, I take
them much more lightly." Such
changes in outlook have made people
more open. In doing so, it has created
a gap between the younger generation,
who are most affected by this phenomenon, and the older one, who
have been left out.
"Most of our society thinks in the
same old way," says Somee Khand, a
college student. "We who have been
exposed more to things on the outside think differently." So, on the one
hand our society is still a conservative one, but many in the generation
that is to come hold a different view
on things.
Online chatting is just a small part
of a much larger interconnected
world. But it provides an understanding preview of the larger wave of
change already on the way. The views
of the younger generation on inter-
caste marriage, homosexuality, premarital sex and even freedom of
speech differ from traditional ones.
Cable television, movies, music and
so on account for a lot of this. But the
Internet and online chatting have had
a much larger impact than is obvious.
It shapes and changes the perceptions
of many youth. In doing so it also
changes our society. "I was making my
own society on the net," says Nepal
of this change, "a virtual society among
chatters, and I was losing touch with
the real one that I lived in. The new
generation is on sort of a 'mission' to
redefine society."  □
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nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 5, 2004
 Khula Manch
Meaningful Expression
One of the most successful directors in the Nepali
film industry, Tulsi Ghimire started his career
in India in 1974. After two decades in Bollywood,
Ghimire set out for Kathmandu, the call from Nepali film
industry was too strong to resist for the native of Kalimpong.
He has been very prolific since: He has 17 feature films and
52 television serial episodes to his credit. And it's notjust the
volume. He is the only Nepali director to have a record
three "silver jubilee" hits. Three of his films have had 25-
week-long runs at cinema halls—"Kusume Rumal," "Chino"
and "Lahure." Times however are bad for the film industry
and Ghimire has now switched to television. He talked to
Indra Adhikari about his latest work on television serials
and the story behind his long film career.
Are television serials you priority now?
Not really. I am now working on the
serial "Darshanjindagiko." This because
I promised this years ago. It's almost
complete, and I will be filming a new
cinema next month. To me, both films
and television are important.
How do you view the present
state of Nepali cinema?
The industry is waiting for a change,
waiting for new trends and new talents.
I say it is currently in a fluid state. It's
trying to redefine itself. We have enough
filmmakers; what we lack is sound marketing managers. It takes people with
vision for business to expand the market. It definitely requires more investments. Rs. 3 million, the average investment in a Nepali film, cannot produce
films that can compete against
Bollywood products.
There are charges that
Nepali cinema lack quality?
That's because investors do not quite
know what they want. Investors and producers lack perspectives. Unless we have
concrete ideas about why we are making
films, changes will be rare. What the industry requires is sound investments,
creativity and proper marketing.
Can Nepali films make it to
international markets?
Sure. The government must make efforts towards that, and filmmakers must
strive for originality. They must stop
imitating scripts from India. There
must be regular film festivals, but not
like those organized today. They are all
Unless we have concrete
ideas about why we are
making films, changes
will be rare
You have worked for 19 years in
Bollywood and later in Nepal for more
than 15 years. Which has been more
Of course it is easier to work in
Mumbai, but Kathmandu is no less interesting. Mumbai has the technology,
we don't, and this probably why we
have not been able to produce films to
suit the viewer's tastes. Teamwork
comes more naturally to Nepalis since
we have smaller and more easily manageable teams.
Most of your films feature fresh artists,
but they are still successful. How do
you do that?
The Nepali film industry still doesn't
have enough human resoruces. That is
why I like to give exposure to fresh talents. But I give them enough training
and guidance before they start their career. We discuss the ethics of performing arts. Many Nepali artists don't have
any knowledge of this. I also help them
with physical fitness and creativity in
Many of your films have been big hits.
What is your "formula"?
It is just simplicity. The story plays a
vital role. Any story that touches the
everyday-life of people is bound to
make its mark. A good film script and
lyrics must hold the essence of literature. My prime target is to give all these
You collect pebbles whenever
you are at a river...
It's my hobby. I enjoy the shapes of
stones. I play with them. I think nothing
can give me as much pleasure as a well-
shaped stone can. It's nature and I am a
nature lover. I have more than two sacks
of such stones.  □
SEPTEMBER 5, 2004   |  nation weekly
A novel with a computer virus as a chief character may
sound off-putting. But in this book it is an inspired idea,
as technology is what holds the modern world together.
The author possesses an Indian
name, two ofthe three main characters are Indian and Rushdie's influence is clearly evident. But Hari
Kunzru's second novel, "Transmission,"
does not fall into any of the genres of
contemporary Indian fiction. Tondon,
Scotland and the Silicon Valley are
where most ofthe action happens,
and all ofthe three characters are free-floaters,
unencumbered by caste
or family. "I'm fascinated
by the emergence of a global class. They're highly
mobile and they reject the
idea of place," Kunzru says.
"Transmission" is an attempt
to describe this global class
through three participants in
the frenetic world of the global
Arjun Mehta, a young, solitary
computer geek leaves the comforts
of New Delhi to test his luck in Silicon Valley. Virugenix, an anti-virus
company in Redmond, Oregon, hires
him. He goes through a failed romance
and creates a computer virus that causes
serious data damage all over the world.
The FBI believes he is a terrorist, and so
Arjun finds himself on the run. Guy Swift
is a marketing executive, blessed with
good looks and hereditary money, based
in Tondon with clients all over the
world. Enormously wealthy, assured of
his own talent, he is in for a shock when
his company, Transcendenta, begins to
crumble and his girlfriend, the stunningly beautiful and equally rich
Gabriella Caro, leaves him. Teela Zahir
is a Bollywood actress pushed into the
business by her vulgar and domineering
mother. She too has a crisis and, much to
the anger of the producer and director
of the film she's working on, refuses to
come out of her hotel room in Scotland
to work on the film.
Arjun, Guy and Teela never meet.
They are never even in the same place,
and the only thing they have in common
is the virus. They are affected by it
throughout; all of them undergo major
life changes as a result of it. Technical
details of corn-
Author: Hari Kunzru
Penguin Books, London (2004)
Price: Rs. 710
Pages: 281
puters are
prominent in the
book. But they are wound up
tightly with the plot and so are never
boring. A novel with a computer virus as
a chief character may sound off-putting,
but in this book it is an inspired idea.
Technology is what holds the infrastructure of the modern world together:
Kunzru couldn't have chosen a better
way to illustrate the dynamics ofthe global class he is interested in. Besides providing a thread that connects the characters, the virus also provides Kunzru opportunities to reflect on societies all over
the world. Occasionally these reflections are hilarious as well as dead on
target. When the virus has spread and
caused worldwide damage, in the
United States a radio station holds a
show to discuss the damage and its consequences. Bobby from Topeka calls in
and says: "Torture. That's the only way
we'll find out who's behind this." "Torture who?" asks the host. "Hell, I don't
know," says Bobby, "Whoever they got
to I suppose." On the other side of the
world, in response to the same crisis,
the Chinese government seriously considers shutting down Internet access altogether.
On the human level, while Arjun has
his charms, his actions are not always
believable. Teela is less of a character than
an outlet for Arjun's fantasies and an opportunity for Kunzru to describe the
workings of Bollywood, which, it
seems, he
knows about
through the
media. Guy has
the best-developed character
and inspires
the most feeling from the reader. He is
trapped in his belief that imposing his
will upon the world can solve any problem. When crisis strikes and there are
moments when problems could have
been solved through empathic communication, he persists in his bullheaded
manner. His reaction when he finds
out his girlfriend is about to leave
him is funny and sad at the same
time. Deciding that he can get her
back by throwing money at her, he
goes out and buys an extremely expensive piece of jewelry. He then mails it to
her with a small card where he has written one word: "Impressed?"
The narrative moves at a swift,
steady pace and is highly enjoyable.
The conclusion however is wildly implausible and does not provide an adequate resolution. The reader is bound
to feel disappointed, though Kunzru
would probably argue that the end is a
deliberate flaunting of narrative convention. Still, Kunzru is hot commodity in the Tondon literary world and
there is much in "Transmission" worth
reading.  □
nation weekly |   SEPTEMBER 5, 2004
 Last Word
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A  I   S   H  O   R
Y  A   £  T   H  A
The execution of 12 Nepalis in Iraq
shocked the nation. To Ansar al-
Sunna, the killing was "Allah's ruling to 12 Nepalis who came from their
land seeking assistance from their God
Buddha in order to fight Muslims in this
land, servingjews and Christians, grandchildren of monkeys and pigs."
Their fanaticism aside, our own government failed us twice in one week. First,
it failed to protect our brothers in a foreign land. Second, it failed us again at home.
First, about the failed diplomacy and
the spin doctors. Senior government officials tell us that Nepal—unlike India,
which successfully secured the release of
its hostages held in Iraq—-just doesn't have
the international clout, and that even if
some of them had rushed to Iraq, it would
have meant little. That's a dangerously
flawed argument. Nepali officials had to
be in Iraq for exactly that reason: We have
far less clout than India. Because we are a
much smaller nation, the onus lay on us to
rely that much more on diplomacy. The
least Prime Minister Deuba could have
done was to have sent a ranking official or
the foreign minister himself to do the bidding for us. The Royal appointee in the
Cabinet, Mohammed Mohsin, would
have been a perfect choice. As a Muslim,
he would have enjoyed a lot more sympathy in Iraq than most others.
What the government relied on instead was proxy diplomacy: through the
Arab television channel al-Jazeera and
diplomats based in Pakistan, Qatar and
Saudi Arabia, who were happy holding
the remote control that wouldn't work.
They would dutifully give interviews to
newspapers and TV networks from the
safety of their respective bases during
the hostage crisis. But none had the guts
to find out firsthand what was actually
happening on the ground in Iraq.
Their political masters in
Kathmandu, themselves caught in the
web of crises, were too timid to turn up
the heat on them or to take bold initiatives. It was a leadership bereft of vision
and imagination.
If that wasn't bad enough, what happened a day after the news of the murders broke was even more depressing.
Police officials who had fought the rioters up until wee hours on Tuesday had
told us they feared the worst on Wednesday. As much had been conveyed to the
Valley's top police officer, DIG Ashok
Shrestha, and Home Minister Purna
Bahadur Khadka. Curiously, the warnings went unheeded. On Wednesday, the
total police deployment in the Valley was
about 700, less than half the force that is
mobilized on a day of trouble. Believe it
or not, there were no Armed Police or
Army personnel at vital installations and
possible targets, such as mosques, Qatar
Airways and Nepal Arab Bank.
When angry mobs—police estimate
that they were anywhere between 20,000
to 30,000—turned out on the streets and
in almost every corner of the city, most
police personnel looked hopelessly ill-
prepared and even complicit with the
rioters—at least early in the day. To add
fuel to fire they were told to "go easy on
the protestors" until noon.
"If it was not for Kathmandu's Superintendent of Police Narayan Bastakoti,"
says a police officer, "Kathmandu would
still be burning." The story is that when
Bastakoti saw that the mob was turning
mad, he gave orders to his officers to use
strong-arm tactics. In doing so he was
even ready to defy the official dictates.
He also demanded a curfew and got one.
By then close to 100 employment
agencies had been ransacked. So were
mosques, businesses with perceived
Muslim connections and, inexplicably,
media houses too—Kantipur and
Spacetime Network. As many as 40 policemen sustained injuries.
As normalcy returns, questions are
being asked not only about the
government's failed diplomacy and disgustingly poor policing. Nepalis feel
deeply outraged that the international
community and the Muslim world failed
to come to our rescue in a moment of
despair. And this outrage really runs very,
very deep indeed.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
SEPTEMBER 5, 2004   |  nation weekly
 If required, you can get an Ambulance Assistance also.
*This service may be chargeable and valid for Kathmandu valley only.
Your Health Plan Advisor
Note: This is for First Aid purpose and works as advisor. However for treatment one will have to visit health service provider (clinic / hospital).
THE      WORLD'S      BE  S't      CLOTHS
Putalisadak, Kathmandu, Nepal


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