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Digital Himalaya Journals

Nation Weekly December 19, 2004, Volume 1, Number 35 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-12-19

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DECEMBER 19, 2004 VOL. I, NO. 35
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20 Outsourcing Bonus
By John Narayan Parajuli
Outsourced jobs from developed countries hold promises of employment for
Nepal's younger generation. Thousands are already working, and the potential
has barely been tapped.
Interview: Biplav Man Singh, president of Computer Association of Nepal
11 HIV and Us
By Suman Pradhan
30 The Fate of
Quota Babies
By Swarnim Wagle
33 Beastly Instincts
Byjagdish Arya
40 Jomsom Journals:
Part 2
42 Resham Phiriri and
the Music Man
By Karuna Chettri in Maryland
A music legend in America brings back
fond memories of tunes from Nepal
18 All the King's Men
By Satishjung Shahi
A meeting called at the pleasure of His
Majesty displeases many
26 Involuntary
By John Narayan Parajuli
A U.N. team is in town amid reports of
an alarming number of disappearances.
Rights activists hope the visit will force
the government to come clean.
28 Radio Gaga
By Satishjung Shahi
More than 40 FM stations, including
14 in the Valley are in operation.
Having a wide range is good, what's
not clear is if they are all sustainable.
35 Musings on the
National Museum
By Veneeta Singha
36 Hope for
Nepali Fiction
In the next decade or two, the best
writing in Nepali fiction will be in
37 Love in the
Time of War
By Biswas Baral
Violence is always pointless
49 Colombo
By Sudesh Shrestha
The Sports Council took everybody by
surprise last month when it revealed
training plans for next year's South
Asian Games. Now the onus lies on it
to put the plans to practice.
46 Catering to the
By Dhriti Bhatta
From tent houses to top hotels, business is booming
ff Social exclusion is
a simplistic mantra
used to explain an
extremely complex
insurgency ■■
Conflict diagnosis
Bipul Narayan's column that questioned
the conventional theory that Nepal's
conflict has its roots in social inclusion
("Conflict Diagnosis," Opinion, Dec.
12). He offers Paul Collier's empirical
study of conflict in 27 countries, between 1965 and 1999, to establish that
civil conflicts thrive on opportunities
to build their movements and not necessarily on social exclusion. The opportunities include access to finance (as
scope for extortion), to natural resources
and to donations from the diaspora as
well as opportunities offered by geography and poverty. While I do not believe the Nepali diaspora has contributed much to the Maoists, the rebels
have benefited enormously from extortion at all levels inside Nepal. And they
have relied on sheer violence toward
that end. People are less likely to take
chances when they see their neighbors
hacked to death for refusing to "cooperate" with the Maoists. Our talking heads
should at least try to read Collier and see
if there can be some parallels for Nepal
in his work. I have always believed that
social exclusion is a simplistic and donor-driven mantra used over and over
again to explain an extremely complex
insurgency that is becoming even more
Deuba in denial
Deuba, chooses to forget that the government has outlived its utility
("Endgame," Cover Story, Interview,
Dec. 12). The Deuba government has
steadily lost its early goodwill, and it's
primarily because it could never make
the Nepali people believe that the
prime minister was in control. With
all his tall claims of being a democratic
leader, Deuba now seems to worry
solely about his survival. He has failed
to articulate why the people should
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
 view him as an elected prime minister. He is a royal nominee and behaves
like one. Like Deuba, Rijal fails to pronounce the inevitable: The buck stops
at Narayanhiti. Since the King dismissed an elected government and sat
on top ofthe dissolution of Parliament
and local bodies, the onus now lies on
him to get the country back on track.
The charade of frequent government
changes needs to stop. These governments just aren't capable of telling the
Maoists and the people that they hold
the reins. So why even pretend you are
in charge?
Jomsom Journal
nals: Part I" was a sight for sore eyes (No
Laughing Matter, Dec. 12). Reading from
the dust bowl of Kathmandu, the article
transported me to that land of pleasures,
the scenic landscape of Mustang. Then
in the middle of the flight I encounter
some turbulence. The columnist goes
off on a tangent and begins talking about
horse-riding being erotic and orgasmic
to women. Kunal, you already write very
well, why try too hard? Discretion is the
better part of valor.
Harping the obvious
on the judiciary last week didn't really
tell much but the obvious: That it is in
urgent need of reforms ("Wakeup Call,"
Legal Eye, Dec. 12). The article is leaden
with heavy doses of NGO-ese, the
consultancy language that makes up the
bulk ofthe paperwork that floats around
the NGO-world. Here are my own
questions to the judiciary. Why did it
take so long for Baliram Kumar to resign? Shouldn't the Robinson saga make
all thejudges hang their heads in shame?
The Legal Eye can surely do better than
just dish out un-clever apologies.
Cover mismatch
I have been impressed by your recent
covers. However, I have an issue with
the last one (Dec. 12). While the white
candle on the dark background looked
attractive, I couldn't quite figure out how
the message "Endgame" fitted with the
dark shadows trying to snuff out the
burning candle?
Porn business
("Porn Business") looked like a cheap
attempt to sell "sex." The article left
me with more questions than answers.
Here are some disturbing ones. Why
do an increasing number of young
people now have easy access to pornographic material? Who are we to
blame—the parents or the police? How
does porn impact the young minds?
How does the society handle the explosion of erotica in the public space
and its impact on impressionable
minds? Every single day, I shudder at
the thought of our young girls and boys
viewing "Baywatch" as their ultimate
No idiot this
an article "Reborn Yogis" (Lifestyle,
Nov. 28). I have no issue with Yashas
Vaidya's claim that TV has made yoga
popular in our lives. But I am not sure
whether I particularly like the way
he mildly ridicules the people who
seemed to have learned the art from
TV. Come to think of it, with all the
bashing it receives from us everyday,
the TV has been our great teacher. I
saw war live on TV, I saw how the
British bury their royalty (when
Diana died), I now know the force
of hurricanes, and I see George W
Bush so often on my TV that he now
seems to me like someone next door.
Not to talk about the average TV
viewing youngster's phenomenal understanding of the lives of people
around the world. Well, many of us
may say that we hate the idiot box for
its homogenizing effects on us, but
think of the cultural understanding
it fuels.
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Kathmandu, Nepal (Regd. 165/059-060).
Tel: 2111102,4229825,4261831,4263098
EDITOR: Akhilesh Upadhyay
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Vol. I, No. 35. For the weekDec ember 13-19,2004, released on December 13
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Nation Weekly, The Media House, GPO 8975
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Tel: 2111102, 4229825, 4261831, 4263098
Fax: 4216281
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 19, 2004
 The Only Lifestyle/Culture Magazine in Nepal
„, probably the most admired loo.
LIFE through the LENS
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 A vacation with Nation Weekly
1. Pabitra Bhandari receives the best agent award from Krishna Shrestha,
Advertisement and Circulation Director of Mirror Media Pvt. Ltd.
2. 3, and 6: Sujan Joshi, Utsav Amatya and Dil Krishna Shahi respectively won
mountain flights
4. A few ofthe 100 subscription agents with Editor.
5. Madhu Thapa won two-way tickets for a couple for a 'Trip to Malaysia.'
7. Anup Tamang, Campaign advisor of Mirror Media hands over certificates to
all subscription agents.
 j -
ODD COUPLE: House pets, a dog
and a monkey, from neighboring
shops show playful intimacy at
nation weekly/Sagar Shrestha
HIV and Us
Much like the Maoists who are only too happy to exploit the differences among the constitutional
forces, HIV too is happy to exploit our cultural attitudes
For much of the past week, all eyes were trained on the Raj
Parishad. The controversial "political" meeting held bythe King's
own men and women hogged the media headlines and aroused
ferocious passions. All that is well and fine, because what the Raj Parishad
does and recommends to the King will probably have far-reaching consequences for this battered nation.
But I wish as much news column space and activism were devoted to
another malady in Nepali society, a malady that is silently eating away at
our national fabric. HIV/ AIDS, the disease that has ravaged the world, is
now ravaging Nepal.
Last December, I was at another AIDS Awareness Day. The international agencies charged with fighting the deadly virus came up with a
new, though un-startling, report: The virus is infecting more vulnerable
women than men. The tragedy is most of these
women are being infected unknowingly by husbands who frequent prostitutes and, one
might add, indulge in unprotected sex.
We don't have to scour the world for
examples. We have it right here. The western district of Accham is in the grip ofthe HIV
epidemic. It's not only that 70 percent of its
population, mostly males, migrate to India for
economic reasons and the conflict. But also be
cause many of these males, away from home
for long periods, indulge in promiscuity. The
Nepali Times recently reported that many
of these labourers return home only after
falling sick with the disease and end up
infecting their wives. Those poorwomen,
who are culturally un-empowered to defend themselves against their husbands,
end up dying an agonising death.
Just imagine, for a second, what sort of a
life is this? For no fault of one's own, you get
infected and have to spend the rest of your
days lying to your neighbours while you await
This, my friend, is Nepal's biggest tragedy.
It's a bigger tragedy than the Maoist conflict.
The conflict may have killed 11,000 people
and rendered thousands more homeless,
but this silent HIV epidemic is going to
kill many times more within the next
decade. The sad fact is that ofthe
estimated 70,000 people infected in Nepal today, most, if
not all, will die an agonising, dehumanising and undignified death
And most of them will be women, like those poor wives from Achham.
We can wash our hands of Achham and say, OK, Achham is a poor
district with hardly any literacy. The men are not aware enough to protect
themselves from the virus. But look at other districts, even the most
developed and educated ones like Kathmandu. You will find many
similar stories like Achham. I personally know a few people who have
died of AIDS in recent years, but not before passing on the virus to their
unsuspecting wives and unborn children. Why must women suffer for
the faults of their husbands?
The answer probably lies in our society, in our cultural beliefs and
practices. Ours is a society that culturally glorifies women. We worship
female symbols of power (Kali, Durga, Laxmi, etc.) and never fail to
mention Sita's virtues against the malicious onslaught of Ravana. And
yet, we fail to treat women as equals in our every-day lives. The court
and legislative battles over the past few years—when there was sti 11 a
Parliament—speak of this dual characteristic of our society.
Much like the Maoists who
are only too happy to exploit
the differences among the
constitutional forces, HIV too
is happy to exploit our cultural
attitudes. It is this hypocrisy
that is tearing our nation apart.
We see it in our everyday lives, not
just in terms of HIV/AIDS. We all
proclaim to work for the common good, but we hardly
fail to dip our fingers in the
cookie jar the moment the
opportunity arises. It's not
for nothing that many of
our politicians and bureaucrats have been hauled to
the CIAA. Ditto for the Maoist
comrades, many of whom are
alleged to be profiting from the
"people's war." Members ofthe
Raj Parishad too last week proclaimed to worry about the nation,
but it is hard to dispel the notion
that all they were really concerned about is to once
again become the nation's
They say ignorance
is what fuels HIV/
AIDS in Nepal. Yes,
and       hypocrisy
too. n
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 19, 2004
by Auguste Rodin
Civil. Conflict
The Notion of Nationhood
£)hondup ^Khangsar
Tridevi Marg, Thamel   Opp. of Sanchayakosh Building
Tel: 4416483,4417295    E-mail:
 MAOIST HAVOC: Aftermath ofthe explosion at Agricultural Inputs Company in
Kuleshwore in the early hours of Thursday, Dec. 9.
Royalist meet
CPN-UML ministers boycotted the meeting of the Raj
Parishad in Kathmandu. Sitting ministers, as ex-officio
members, are members ofthe
Raj Parishad. Student organizations affiliated 'with the four
agitating parties, as 'well as the
ANNISU, the student wing of
the UML, took to the streets
to protest against the convention. Deputy Prime Minister
Bharat Mohan Adhikari earlier
had requested Prime Minister
Deuba to call off the convention saying it was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, Kesharjung
Rayamajhi, a stauch royalist
and former chairman ofthe Raj
Parishad standing committee,
called upon the King to be actively involved in the
country's politics. The King
should rule the country
through an advisory council,
he said.
Robinson saga
The second judge behind the
controversial case of Gordon
William Robinson, Justice
Baliram Kumar, resigned. Another judge implicated in the
same case, Krishna Kumar
Verma, had resigned earlier in
August. The two have been
under public scrutiny ever
since they acquitted the British drug peddler, Robinson—
who was caught trying to
smuggle heroin into Nepal—
even after a Special Court sentence of a 17-year jail term and
a Rs. 1 million fine. Since, the
Supreme Court has reversed the
Child abuse
Sexual abuse of children is on
the rise. Security personnel,
transportation workers, even
teachers and monks are involved in child abuse, a report
by Child Workers in Nepal,
known commonly as the
CWIN. Fifty-two such cases
have been reported through the
CWIN help-line since 2003.
Twenty were reported in 2001.
Most ofthe abused children are
between six and 16 years of age.
The report also blamed the police of indifference about such
Indian forces
India has deployed security
forces along its border with eastern Nepal to stop the Bhutanese
refugees in Nepal from returning to their homeland, reported
Nepal Samacharpatra. The West
Bengal government has instructed the district administration of Darjeeling andjalpaiguri
to stop the refugees from crossing over.
Let free
Jana Morcha Nepal released three
ofthe six Maoists it had captured
from Baglung. The party had
held the Maoists, including a
judge of the "people's court,"
captive; the judge has not been
released yet. Jana Morcha, who
were formerly associated with the
rebels, launched anti-Maoist
campaigns across the country
following a brutal Maoist attack
on its party members, including
the the wife of party Vice President Pari Thapa.
Riot reports
The commission formed to look
into the riots of Sept. 1 following the killing of 12 Nepalis in
Iraq submitted its report to
Prime Minister Deuba. The
commission estimated the loss
due to the mayhem and destruction that day to be around
Rs. 1 billion. The head ofthe
commission, former Justice Top
Bahadur Singh, asked the government to compensate the victims. The committee was
formed in Sept. 6 and was asked
to present a report within three
AIDS hotline
Youth Power Nepal, an NGO,
with the help of ActionAid International Nepal, started the
first free hotline telephone service on AIDS. The service will
also give free counseling on other
areas like sexually transmitted
diseases, reproductive health,
suicide prevention and drug
abuse. The line will be open from
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Optical fibers
Nepal Telecom is starting an
optical fiber project along the
Arniko highway. The fibers
will be laid down along the
114-km stretch from
Kathmandu to Tatopani at the
Tibet border, with a grant of
Rs. 260 million from the Chinese government. The project
will provide an alternative to
the current satellite communication system. Kathmandu
will be connected to Hong
Kong, an important worldwide communication portal,
speeding up global tele-communications.
Royalty reduction
Government has reduced royalties for Cho Oyu for the next
five years. The reduction came
into effect this month. The royalty has been brought down
from $10,000 to $500 for a
seven-member team. The Ministry for Tourism and Civil Aviation said that the reduction has
been made to attract tourists
who have been climbing from
the Tibetan side in the last few
years. The goldenjubilee ofthe
first ascent ofthe peak was celebrated recently. The peak is
8,201 meters high.
Oil crunch
Kathmandu Valley and other urban centers faced an acute
shortage of petroleum after the employees ofthe Nepal Oil
Corporation called a strike. They were demanding an increase in
the price ofthe petroleum products. The company has been incurring
perennial loses of Rs. 580 million a month. Long queues were seen at the
oil-depots in Kathmandu, while most petrol pumps remained closed. The
oil corporation has been selling its products at a price
lower than the purchasing
price, hence the losses. The
government meanwhile is
considering the
privatization ofthe NOC,
Rajdhani reported.
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Endangered heritage
The Department of Archeology
along with UNESCO, has
started a 10-year working plan
to safeguard the World Heritage
Sites of Nepal. All seven such
World Heritage Sites in the Valley were declared threatened by
UNESCO. The U.N. body also
warned that all the sites could
be stripped of their status if
proper measures were not put in
place by the government to protect the threatened areas. The
durbar squares of Kathmandu,
Patan and Bhaktapur; Chagu
Narayan; Pashupatinath;
Swayambhunath; and
Bouddhanath were put on the
UNESCO's "endangered" list
last year.
New passports
Nepalis passports now will be
machine-readable. The replacements will supposedly be harder
to manipulate than existing
ones. The switch is being made,
as many countries across Europe
and United States will soon
grant visas only to the machine-readable passport holders.
All existing passports will be replaced. The instillation and
management of the new system will cost the government
over Rs. 1 billion. During initial phases, the passports will be
distributed only from
Kathmandu. Later, a separate
passport distribution unit will
be present in each development
Blockade off
After an 18-day blockade by the
Maoists,      the     Kohalpur-
Bhurigaun segment of the
Mahendra Highway reopened
on Tuesday, Dec. 7. The rebels
reopened the highway on the
behest of human rights activists
and journalists. A Maoist leader,
Ramesh Koirala, said the blockade signaled the beginning of
political retaliations against the
government for its military operations in the West.
Still optimistic
Ninety percent of Nepalis in a
survey by AC Neilson/
ORGMARG—leaders in market research, information and
analysis—believe that the conflict will end soon. The poll
covered around 3,200 respondents from 60 districts, who
believe unanimously that there
was no military solution to the
current crisis. Ninety-six percent of the respondents believed that the government
should hold peace talks with
the Maoists, while 85 percent
held the political parties responsible for the crisis.
EU team
A four-member European
Union delegation is slated to arrive in Kathmandu on Dec. 13
to push for talks between the
government and the Maoists.
This is the first such EU delegation being sent to Nepal. The
European team, headed by Robert Milders, director of Asia in
the Netherlands Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, will meet Prime
Minister Deuba, various Cabinet ministers, as well as the representatives ofthe civil society.
While here, they will also moni
tor the situation of the conflict
on the ground.
Hotel pullout
Taj Hotels, the famous Indian
hotel-chain, called it quits in its
only Nepali venture. It withdrew
from Nepal's first five-star hotel,
Hotel De l'Annapurna. The Taj
Group holds a third ofthe assets
ofthe hotel. The rest is owned by
Nepali shareholders. The deteriorating security situation in
Kathmandu was cited as the reason for the withdrawal. Nepali
operators will now take over administrative duties, which had
been looked after by representatives ofthe Taj for the last 15 years.
Royal visit
The royal couple is scheduled to
visit India from Dec. 23 to Jan.
2. The official visit comes at the
invitation of the Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam. This will
be the King's third India visit in
the last three years.
Plea for release
Paris-based Reporters Without
Frontiers has urged the government to track down Raj Kumar
Budhathoki, a reporter of
Sanjeevani weekly. The reporter
was abducted along with his father and three friends on Nov.
30 from his home in Banepa.
The organization quoted the
journalist's neighbors as saying
that the car that took away
Budathoki belonged to security
agents. Reporters Without Borders has also called upon the
Maoists to release three other
journalists in their custody.
Passing away
Niranjan Govinda Vaidya, one
of the four founding members
of the Communist Party of
Nepal, died on Friday Dec. 11.
Vaidya, 82, was suffering from
blood cancer. He had founded
the communist party along with
Pushpa Lai Shrestha, Narayan
Bilash Joshi and Nara Bahadur
Karmacharya on Apr. 22, 1949.
Water treaty
India agreed to provide water to
Nepal for irrigation according to
a bilateral pact in 1959. Afteryears
of wrangling, India has finally
decided to provide water from
Gandak dam to Nepal to irrigate
10,000 hectares of land. A Nepal-
India Koshi-Gandakjoint Committee meeting in Patna finally
decided to implement the agreement. The pact had been long
behind schedule. A sub-committee has been set up to work out
the technicalities.
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 19, 2004
Biz Buzz
An international organization workingfor
peace has honored Bhutanese human
nights activist Tek Nath Rijal as an "Ambassador for Peace."
Rijal, who heads the Human Rights Council of Bhutan, has also been invited bythe
Inter-religious and International Federation for
World Peace to participate in a Washington
D.C. conference on "Leadership and Good
Governance" from Dec. 11 to 14. An awards
ceremony will precede the conference. "There
will be around 3,000 people [there]," says
Rizal, "and this will be an opportunity to discuss the Bhutanese refugee problem in the
international arena."
Rijal was detained in Bhutan several times
after campaigning against practices adopted
by the Bhutanese government during the
1988 census. In 1993, he was sentenced
to life imprisonment for "treason," but was
set free in 1999 due to mounting international pressure.
He went on an indefinite hunger strike in
February this year, asking Bhutan to resettle
the refugees languishing in U.N. camps in eastern Nepal. He ended his fast when Nepal assured him of its support to end the refugee
impasse. The government agreed to support
the ongoing verification ofthe refugees and
their repatriation under the aegis ofthe United
Nations High Commission for Refugees and
the Human Rights Council of Bhutan.
In 1998, Rijal received the Prakash
Kaphley International Award for his efforts to
bolster the democratic movement in Bhutan.
Suvidha Sewa has launched a new service for
payments of utility
bills. Suvidha Sewa
provides the service
in association with
the Standard Chartered Bank. Standard Chartered credit
card holders will now
be able to pay their utility bills—for telephones,
cell phones, electricity and water—easily in
Suvidha Sewa outlets, mainly department
stores and retail shops at present. The payment wil I be made through the customer's credit
card account and original receipts of payment
will be deposited at the outlet. Twenty-five outlets in the Valley will currently provide the service. There will be a one-time membership fee
of Rs. 100 for all services while the monthly
service charge will be Rs. 25 per service.
Suvidha hopes to win customers over with the
security of its transactions and its timeliness.
The Gurkha Development Bank, promoted by
British Gurkhas, began operations from early
this month. The bank aims to invest in the sectors that have not been explored yet. Also, the
bank will focus its activities in the areas of agriculture, industry, trade and services. The bank
is the newest development bank
and the 26th investment bank in
the country. With an authorized
capital of Rs. 640 million and a
paid up capital of Rs. 320 million,
the Gurkha Development Bank wi
distribute 51 percent shares to individual promoters, whereas 19
cent will be separated for institutional promoters and the remaining will be allocated as ordinary shares to the public. Besides all these,
the bank also expects to promote schemes
such as project financing, working capital loans,
home loans, vehicle loans and education loans.
Nepal participated in the China International
Travel Mart at the International Expo Centre in
Shanghai. The travel expo had more than
2,900 exhibitors from 64 countries. The Nepal
Tourism Board and the RNAC arranged for
Nepal's participation this year. Three private participants^—Asian Trekking, Saathi Nepal Travels
& Tours and South Asian Holidays—took part
in the event. The tourism board reported that
more than 4,000 people visited the Nepal stall.
Fazer, Yamaha's new bike, has hit the market.
Morang Auto Works, the authorized distributor
of Yamaha motorcycles, introduced the new
bike. The bike is available in two models, with
disc brakes and self-start or without. It is powered bythe already-tested YBXengine, which
is has been used for both the Yamaha YBX
and the Enticer models. An air-cooled, 4-stroke,
2-valve engine improves the bike's pickup and
performance. The twin headlights and the diamond-shaped frame give the Fazer both poise
and style. Other features ofthe bike include
the Yamaha Throttle Position Sensor, a patent
technology of Yamaha, and a BS carburetor designed to
meet the new
Euro-2 emission stan-
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Co OK^r
dards for 2005. The Fazer has a fuel capacity
of 13 liters, with a reserve of 1.2 liters. A large
capacity stylish muffler, a new design tail light
and integrated meter panels also add to its
sporty look. The introductory price for the Fazer
is Rs. 113,900 for the disk brake and self-
start version and Rs. 105,900 for the one without these features.
Pashupati Paints has brought out a new machine—the "Color Bazaar," which will allow customers to get the color of their choice instantly.
The machine
will aid people
to customize
their own colors from an
array of
10,000 different colors.
The machine
has a built-in
fully computerized fluid
management technology.
The decline in the number of visitors coming
in by air continued in November. The figure
dropped by 17 percent as compared to numbers from the same month last year. Tourist
arrivals from India as well as other third world
countries declined in November; the total
number of tourist arrivals by air was 24,095.
The tourism industry had seen a growth of
around 50 percent in the number of tourists
from the non-Indian market until September.
There has been a softening in the declining
rate of Indian visitors, though, which the NTB
attributes to promotional offers launched by
the Royal Nepal Airlines and Nepal Tourism
Board in India. The figures for the arrivals by
airfor November areas follows:
• India: down 17% to 5,127
• United States: down 15% to 1,445
• United Kingdom: down 18% to 2,305
• Germany: down 5% to 1,471
• France: down 4% to 1,695
• Japan: down 37% to 1,883
The Bank of Kathmandu will reward shareholders with dividends from its profits in the
fiscal year 2003-2004. The bonus amounts
to 20 percent of the profits. Ten percent of
the dividends will be distributed in cash while
the rest will be retained as capital funds.
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on any
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 19, 2004
A meeting called at the pleasure of His Majesty displeases
the Raj Parishad—the King's privy
council—hogged the headlines
was in June 2001, when it convened to
choose the successor to late King
Birendra. Until then not many knew
what the body's functions were or why
it had been formed. The most obvious
duty of the chairman of the council's
standing committee was to act as the
chief guest at social functions.
But last week Raj Parishad was in the
spotlight again, amidst sharp comments,
especially from opposition political parties. It held a full-scale meeting in the
capital. The gathering's top agenda item,
the parties fear, is to ask the King to play a
more "active" role to resolve the present
political impasse. That would be turning
the clock back to the Panchayat, a bloody
blow to the achievements ofthe 1990 Jana
Andolan, which brought the banned political parties to the political mainstream
and made the people sovereign.
The parties are smarting unnecessarily, say the royalists. Similar meetings
have already been held in all other regions—starting with Biratnagar in the
East, Nepalgunj in the Midwest,
Dhangadi in the Farwest, and Pokhara in
the West. "The Raj Parishad is doing exactly what the Constitution allows it to
do," former Army chief and Raj Parishad
member Sachit Shumshere Rana told the
media after King Gyanendra inaugurated
the conference at the Birendra International Convention Centre on Dec. 9. "We
can even prove our move in the court
should there be the need."
It is not surprising that the parties
and their affiliates have resorted to street
protests  once  again.  They  believe
strongly that the Raj Parishad is only paving the way for an activist Palace to take
a front seat politically, especially while
Parliament is dissolved. Analysts say that
the Palace is looking to expand its support base for such a role and also hoping
to weaken public support for the opposition parties.
"The Raj Parishad came into being
because of King Birendra's urging,
though it has the same functions as the
National  Assembly,"   says   Narhari
A meeting called at the pleasure of His Majesty displeases
the Raj Parishad—the King's privy
council—hogged the headlines
was in June 2001, when it convened to
choose the successor to late King
Birendra. Until then not many knew
what the body's functions were or why
it had been formed. The most obvious
duty of the chairman of the council's
standing committee was to act as the
chief guest at social functions.
But last week Raj Parishad was in the
spotlight again, amidst sharp comments,
especially from opposition political parties. It held a full-scale meeting in the
capital. The gathering's top agenda item,
the parties fear, is to ask the King to play a
more "active" role to resolve the present
political impasse. That would be turning
the clock back to the Panchayat, a bloody
blow to the achievements ofthe 1990 Jana
Andolan, which brought the banned political parties to the political mainstream
and made the people sovereign.
The parties are smarting unnecessarily, say the royalists. Similar meetings
have already been held in all other regions—starting with Biratnagar in the
East, Nepalgunj in the Midwest,
Dhangadi in the Farwest, and Pokhara in
the West. "The Raj Parishad is doing exactly what the Constitution allows it to
do," former Army chief and Raj Parishad
member Sachit Shumshere Rana told the
media after King Gyanendra inaugurated
the conference at the Birendra International Convention Centre on Dec. 9. 'We
can even prove our move in the court
should there be the need."
It is not surprising that the parties
and their affiliates have resorted to street
protests  once  again.  They  believe
strongly that the Raj Parishad is only paving the way for an activist Palace to take
a front seat politically, especially while
Parliament is dissolved. Analysts say that
the Palace is looking to expand its support base for such a role and also hoping
to weaken public support for the opposition parties.
"The Raj Parishad came into being
because of King Birendra's urging,
though it has the same functions as the
National  Assembly,"   says   Narhari
 Acharya, a senior NC central committee member. The key function ofthe Raj
Parishad is, according to the Constitution, "to submit recommendations on
matters referred to it by His Majesty"
and to announce the succession after the
death, incapacity or abdication of the
King. The parties believe none of those
things has triggered the current meeting.
"The intention of the Raj Parishad
does not look so clean," says Madhav
Kumar Nepal, general secretary of the
CPN-UML, whose ministers chose
not to attend the gathering despite being ex-officio members. Its ministers
and senior leaders have declared the
meeting "unconstitutional." Their
The Constitution provisions for the Raj Parishad
Raj Parishad members
- Members ofthe royal family
or any other persons designated bythe King
- Ex-officio members: the
prime minister, the chief justice, the speaker of the
Pratinidhi Sabha, the chairman of the Rastriya Sabha,
the chairman of the Raj
Parishad Standing Committee, the deputy prime minister, ministers, the main opposition party leader in the
Parliament, the field marshall,
the bada gurujyu, the commander-in-chief, the mukhya
chahebjyu, the chief commis
sioner ofthe CIAA, the auditor general, the chairman of
the Public Service Commission, the chief election commissioner, the attorney general, the mukhya chautariya,
the secretary ofthe King, the
chief secretary and the inspector general of Police
The Raj Parishad Standing
- A maximum of 15 Raj
Parishad members, including
a chairman
- Ex-officio members: the
prime minister, the chief justice, the speaker of the
Pratinidhi Sabha, the chairman of the Rastriya Sabha,
the bada gurujyu and the
Conditions to call for a meeting ofthe Raj Parishad
- On the demise ofthe King or
if the King proclaims his abdication
- If at least one-fourth ofthe
total Raj Parishad members
sign a requisition declaring
that that King is unable, by
reason of mental or physical
infirmity, to perform his functions
- Atthe command ofthe King
protests were joined by almost all major parties, including the student wing
of Prime Minister Deuba's own party,
the NC-D.
In fact, the five-party protests before Prime Minister Deuba's reappointment in June called for the dissolution of the Raj Parishad. The protesting parties are now saying that the
council's activism and convention are
dangerous, coming at the heels of the
Palace confidante and Information
Minister Mohsin's recent warnings
about the impeding specter of an authoritarian government. Former chairman ofthe Raj Parishad standing committee, Keshar Jung Rayamajhi, has repeatedly suggested that the King form
an advisory council, since the parties,
he says, are incapable of resolving the
present crisis.
The keynote speech of the current
chairman, Parshunarayan Chaudhary,
also made the parties nervous: He declared the monarchy to be the "major"
trump card to bring all forces together
in the current crisis. It is unlikely that
the parties protesting in the streets will
agree to that. As Chaudhary was speaking inside the BICC, a senior Army
officer was leading a charge at student
protestors inside the Tri Chandra College and Armed Police SSP Madhav
Thapa was requesting: "Jaar Saab,
please move out. Just try to understand." □
 'Outsourcing is Growing'
Tiough there is no Wipro,
Infosys or Satyam in
Nepal yet, Nepali technocrats dream of building their
own world-class enterprises
some day. Nation Weekly
spoke with CAN President
Biplav Man Singh.
What are the prospects of
outsourced jobs in Nepal?
The potential is immense. We
have adequate manpower.
Currently our IT colleges produce more than 4,500 IT
graduates each year. We
have a cheap labor market.
That's what companies in the
west look for. Nepal could be
an alternative outsourcing
In what areas can Nepali
companies do better?
We haven't explored the niche
markets. Every country looks
for a niche. For instance, Holland [the Netherlands] is focusing on designing circuits.
But there is no such thing in
Nepal. Everyone seems to be
doingeverything We have advantages in IT-enabled services.
How big is the volume of the
outsourcing business in
We don't have authentic data,
but our guesstimate puts it
somewhere between $5 million and $6 million annually,
and it's growing.
Is it likely that Nepal could
emerge as an alternative
outsourcing destination to
India, if things go right?
Cheap labor is the driving force
behind outsourcing. Apart from
that, English literacy also plays
an important role. Countries
with high English literacy rates
like India and the Philippines
have until now been
major outsourcing
destinations, but
the labor cost
[there] is getting
higher. Companies
will go to any length
to find cheap labor.
The question is
whether you want
to hire a clerk or an
accountant in the
United States for
$7,000 or in India
for IRS. 7,000 or in
Nepal for Rs. 7,000. The answer would obviously be
Nepal. But how far and how
quickly can we tap the potential... That's the biggest question.
Most of Nepal's business in
outsourcing comes through
India, doesn't it?
Nepali companies do get
business directly. But a new
trend is emerging in recent
days. It's called neighbor
outsourcing. India in 2003
exported $2 billion worth of
outsourced services. If we can
piggyback [and take] 10 percent of the Indian share, it
would be huge.
Do we have adequate laws?
The government made an IT
law in 2000, and it's revising [the law] again. The bill is
before the Cabinet. Many
countries in the world are yet
to have any IT laws. So we
have a comparative advantage.
But IT entrepreneurs say the
law is just on paper, that
there is no implementation.
We can't just keep on blaming the government. The government can only act as a facilitator; the private sector has
to take the lead role. The pri
vate sector does business, not
the government.
What challenges do Nepali
companies face to tap the
The journey to turn the potential into reality is a long
one. We have young IT grads
with immense creativity; we
need companies and firms
to manage and promote
their creativity. What's happening in Nepal is that a few
grads get together and start
a company with a little capital that they raise from their
families. The result is that
they cannot start a big business or really go far. There
are neither funds nor venture capital available in
Nepal, unlike many other
countries. Even the banks
have remained tight-fisted
when it comes to providing
soft loans to IT businesses.
Instead of providing loans on
the basis of the collateral,
the banks must provide
project-based loans.
There is also a need for
the government to act as an
incubator. Our 4,500 IT grads
can open 400 IT companies.
If only 40 of them perform well,
the benefits will be huge.
Nepali grads have performed
well in this sector. With proper
promotion, they can excel. E
vices in the years to come. Nepal's advantage, they say, is in both cost and quality. The 12-hour time difference between
Nepal and the United States also helps:
Nepali university students can work the
night shift, especially in call centers, and
still attend classes during the day.
"I went to college during the day
while I worked at night," says former
call center employee Mokshada Thapa.
"Trying to sell products to Americans
while sitting here in Nepal was a learning experience. Mostly it was fun, but
it was also annoying to hear rude remarks from would-be clients." Night
jobs at call centers are not the only option.
Work done during a day shift here
can be delivered to clients in America,
first thing in the morning as they arrive
at their offices. Nepali companies are
already providing many outsourced jobs:
medical transcription; back-office operations; revenue accounting; insurance
claim processing; web and digital content development; mapping and digitization; and data entry, processing and
Most Nepali outsourcing companies
work for U.S. companies for good rea
son. A report from U.S. consultancy
Forrester Research projects that 3.3 million jobs will be outsourced through
2015, more than 200,000 each year. Most
of these jobs, the report says, will be low-
paid (by U.S. standards) call center positions. Nepali companies would get a
huge boost if they could snag just a fraction of these 200,000 jobs.
Thanks to the Internet and ever-
cheaper telecommunications bandwidth, outsourcing of IT-enabled services has become not only possible but
also inevitable. Companies in the west
send many of their low-paying and
thankless jobs offshore to countries like
Nepal and create a win-win situation.
Nepali companies are increasingly preparing to take advantage of the opportunity.
At the huge TechxNY technology
tradeshow—formerly known as
PCExpo—at the Jacob Javits Convention
Center in New York last year, Nepali
outsourcing company Data Resources
was pitching potential clients about opportunities in Nepal. Data Resources'
Managing Director Bhavana Rana was at
the expo to convince clients that the
Maoist problem won't affect work
 outsourced here. Her company is expanding its outsourcing operations and
is seeking clients like hospitals, legal
firms, insurance companies and airline
frequent flier programs. "We're here
looking for long-term business. That's
what I learned in this country, and that's
what I want to do," Rana said at the
The profits from outsourcing that India has garnered in recent years have
spurred economic growth. Prospects for
Nepal could be very good as well, say industry leaders. Nepal is emerging as an alternative for global companies looking for
even cheaper options. Nepal's strength lies
in its comparatively higher rate of English literacy as compared to other Asian
countries with cheap labor. Nepal also
has a pool of IT graduates growing by
more than 4,500 each year. The exact figure
of those working in outsourced jobs is uncertain, say CAN officials, but it is certainly in thousands. There are many new,
startup companies that are trying to tap
outsourcing's potential.
"We have all the elements to do well
in outsourcing," says Allen Tuladhar, the
CEO of Unlimited Software Network,
which has been in the business for 14
years. "But the bulk of the outsourced
work is not yet coming in." Tuladhar's
company has been contracted by
Microsoft to localize MS Windows and
MS Office into Nepali. The work on
Windows has already been completed.
He says this is one of the biggest contracts any Nepali company has ever received for software development. Unlimited is also one of the biggest Nepali
exporters of software to America, and the
company has an office in Los Angeles.
"My bread and butter comes solely
through this business," says Tulahdhar.
Despite the huge potential, industry
officials point out many drawbacks.
Most outsourcing jobs are labor-intensive, and the price tag for 10+2 graduates is often very high, says an entrepreneur. Qualified workers who can be productive immediately in outsourced jobs
like medical transcription and call centers are almost non-existent.
And there is the huge problem
i8       of funding outsourced projects
that often require considerable
capital investment. "There are
neither funds nor venture capital available in Nepal, unlike
many other countries," says
CAN's Singh. "Even the banks
have   remained   tight-fisted
when it comes to providing soft
loans to IT businesses." Other
entrepreneurs complain about
sluggishness in the implemen-
INFOTECH: Fresh grads from places like Apex College
(above) find ready employment in the IT industry
Call Centers: Large companies use call centers for telemarketing and customer service.
Call center clerks respond to customer questions by providing information about products
and prices. There are two types of call centers:
inbound and outbound. Inbound centers only
respond to queries, while the outbound centers make calls and market products.
Medical Transcription: Medical advice by doctors recorded on Dictaphones is transcribed and
sent back to them electronically. Medical transcription companies in Kathmandu alone employ more than 500 people.
Back-Office Operations: Raw data and paper documents are sent out for data entry, conversion and processing. Organizations like banks
and airlines outsource theirdata processing operations to cut costs and to focus on core operations.
tation of an otherwise excellent national
IT policy.
"Nepal's IT policy is excellent from
an outsider's perspective," says
Unlimited's Tuladhar. "But has it been
implemented? It's a big joke." Despite
the problems, Nepalis are enthusiastic
about outsourcing. Some Americans and
Europeans, though, are bitter about the
jobs lost to outsourcing. But experts say
that their anger is, for the most part, unjustified.
The fact is that countries outsourcing
jobs aren't losing. It's a win-win situation for both sides, writes Daniel T.
Griswold, associate director at the Cato
Institute, a prominent American think-
tank. The institute's Center for Trade
Policy Studies in Washington says that
outsourcing is stimulating the American
economy by enhancing companies' ability to focus on core operations. That, in
turn, results in increased productivity.
For every dollar Americans send abroad
in IT-related outsourcing, they get three
dollars in "insourcing," according to
Changing market dynamics and the
revolution in information technology
have triggered an outward flow of a slew
of jobs from the developed world. Every country in the developing world is
vying for a part of that business. "Theoretically" says Unlimited's Tuladhar,
"the prospects for Nepal are high." So
are hopes,  d
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
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A U.N. team is in town amid reports of an alarming number of disappearances. Rights
activists hope the visit will force the government to come clean.
nal conflict has earned the
country many worldwide top-
tens, including that for most disappearances—cases where people are deprived
of their liberty unlawfully and are without access to the justice system.
The National Human Rights Commission says it has documented 1,430
cases of disappearances, both by the se-
CONCERNED: Human rights
activists and intellectuals
discuss worsening human
rights situation
curity forces and the Maoists. Other
rights organizations say that, on average, one person disappears each day,
mostly into state custody: The actual
number could be many times higher.
Many families don't report disappearances for fear of being targeted again.
The disturbing pattern of disappearances has been on the radar screens of
the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights and other non-governmental organizations for quite some time.
Members of the UN. Human Rights
Working Group are in Kathmandu to
gather firsthand information on the
alarming human rights situation after
local human rights activists asked them
to intervene. Although the group can't
impose legal sanctions, the fact that it is
here to assess the situation, say rights
activists, will put pressure on the government and security forces to discharge
their obligations under international
On the last International Day of the
Disappeared in August, the working
 group made direct reference to Nepal's
growing numbers of disappearances.
"The working group expresses particular concern over reports received from
reputable non-governmental organizations on the situation in countries such
as Nepal, Colombia and the Russian
Federation," a statement said. 'While in
2003 the working group transmitted 18
cases of alleged enforced or involuntary disappearances to the government
of Nepal, in the first half of 2004 this
number had risen to 130."
The group set up by the UN. Commission on Human Rights in 1980 has
taken up 50,000 cases of alleged disappearances with over 70 governments. It
was established to assist the relatives of
those who have disappeared in ascertaining their fate and their whereabouts and
to act as a channel for communication
between the families and governments
concerned. The U.N. group notes that
involuntary disappearances infringe
upon an entire range of human rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and in other major international human rights instruments.
It describes enforced disappearance
as a serious crime with severe consequences for victims, for the relatives and
friends of the victim, and also for entire
societies and for the credibility of states.
The alarm bells on Nepal's rights records
now seem to be ringing continuously.
In October, the Asian Human Rights
Commission, a Hong Kong-based rights
group, called for urgent action to stop
massive cases of disappearances. It said
that hundreds of people, including children, have disappeared in Nepal, that
authorities have taken no action to stop
the situation and that the perpetrators
have absolute impunity More innocent
lives will be lost and the country could
record one of the worst cases of disappearances in the entire human history if
nothing is done to arrest the problem.
Rights organizations, both national
and international, say the rule of law has
collapsed and that Nepal has failed to
discharge its obligations to its citizens
in accordance with the international
conventions. The scale of disappearances
is shocking.
"This is a dangerous trend," says Shiva
Hari Dahal, president of Peace Campaign
Nepal and a member ofthe Civilian Probe
Committee on Disappearances. Rights
activists say that supporters of the victims'
families have also been threatened. The
government has revealed the whereabouts
of only 30 of some 800 people allegedly
detained by the security forces.
The Army however, claims there are
no more than 50 individuals under detention. "The Army is committed to human rights," says the RNA spokesman,
Brigadier General Deepak Gurung. "We
are investigating cases of human rights
violations and extra-judicial killings and
compensating those affected." The Army
in its recent press briefing said it has
freed more than 1,000 private individuals after interrogation.
It also claimed that it has punished
105 security personnel accused of human rights violations. But it denies having the alleged detainees in its custody.
Human rights groups fear that many of
them may have been killed.
Amnesty International's recent report
says that it has, to date, documented a total of 622 cases of disappearances by the
state. Rights activists have been demanding that the government make public the
whereabouts of all illegal detaintees. Following a hunger strike by relatives of
some of those who had gone missing in
the third week of June, the Home Ministry formed a five-member probe committee under Joint Secretary Narayan
Gopal Malekhu to investigate the cases.
After three months of investigations, the
committee came up with 30 names.
Rights organizations lament the increasing tendency in the government to stonewall the allegations. They say the government probe is inadequate and incomplete. "Without an independent probe
commission investigating the cases of
disappearances," says Hiranya Lai
Shrestha, a member of Civilian Probe
Committee on Disappearances, "it is
highly unlikely that any government
committee will provide factual statistics
on disappearances."
The committee has documented
1,705 cases in total—1,193 by the state,
449 by the Maoists and 63 by unidentified groups. Among the reported cases,
Kathmandu, shockingly has the highest cases of disappearances, more than
one individual per day.
"It doesn't appear that the government is serious about improving the
human rights situation," says another
member of the committee, Padma
Ratna Tuladhar. Local human rights activists are increasingly asking the international community to pressure the
With the arrival of members of the
UN. working group, the rights groups
hope the government will be forced to
act more responsibly. Recently the
New York-based Human Rights Watch
sent a fact-finding team to Nepal and
lobbied the U.S. Congress to pressure
Nepal to do something about the poor
rights situation.
The U.S. Congress has now tied human rights strings to its military aid to
the Army and for the first time in two
years, the Army's chief met officials
from the National Human Rights Commission. He had repeatedly declined to
do so prior to the Human Rights Watch
visit. "This visit will also have an impact on the government's modus operandi," says Dahal. That should also apply to the Maoists, who seemed to have
upped the ante since the Dashain
ceasefire came to an end.  □
There are now 14 FM radio stations operating in the Valley. Countrywide 56 stations have been awarded licenses,
and more than 40 are already in operation. Having a wide
range of such media is good, what's not clear is if they are
all sustainable.
capital city and it's almost cer
tain that the radio will be blaring
loud music or a live talk show. Ask the
taxi driver which station he is tuned into:
He'll probably say "I don't know, just
some FM station."
The launch of Nepal FM 91.8 MHz
on Dec. 3 by Prime Minister Sher
Bahadur Deuba brought the number of
FM radio stations operating in the Valley to 14. Two more are coming soon.
Bhaktapur FM 105 MHz is currently
undergoing test transmission and Media Current 100.8 MHz has already obtained its license. It's becoming hard to
keep track of all the station names.
"The radio has become a good time
pass," says taxi driver Harisharan Khadgi,
as he drives his white Maruti 800 past Ratna
Park, maneuvering slowly through the
heavy traffic so common now on
Kathmandu streets. "There is always another station to listen to when you get
bored of one." Khadgi likes to listen to the
latest Hindi "disco" music and news updates as he drives. Ask him about the day's
headlines and he'll quote them exactly.
"FM radio is changing the patterns
of people's lives and has become an integral part of the society," says Bharat
Dutta Koirala, a Magsaysay award winner and a founder of Radio Sagarmatha,
established in 1997. "Both the Maoists
and the security forces are tuning into
FM stations and no FM station has come
under Maoist attack so far." Even the
Maoists have been running their own
FM station clandestinely since the last
two years in Maoist hotbeds.
"In some places such
Solukhumbu, porters have specially-
made dokos to carry their FM sets, as
[the radio] has been so popular," adds
Koirala, who is also the president of the
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters. FM stations are in operation in Bajhang, Gorkha, Jumla, Dang,
Surkhet, Palpa and Rupandehi.
FM radio stations are setting trends
in news, entertainment and music. One
of the most popular types of shows are
call-in programs, where the audience
share their views with the program host.
"The production of call-in shows is
cheap," says Ghama Raj Luitel of Radio
 Sagarmatha, "and they empower young
people to express themselves." He is also
the general secretary ofthe Upatyaka FM
Prasarak Manch, a forum of broadcasters
within the Valley. Luitel points out that
there are some complaints about FM stations—that the news they broadcast is
misleading and that they are debasing the
language with a confusing mix of English,
Hindi and Nepali. And most FM stations
now mushrooming in Kathmandu, says
Sanjeev Adhikari of Radio Sagarmatha,
have targeted the youth at the expense of
other audiences.
"Many aim only to please their advertisers in the name of programming
[because] they think only of making a
profit," says Adhikari, adding that the
FM stations now should identify their
niche audience and focus on improving
their strengths. "But the market is just
too small, and rumors are that a lot of
the stations are running huge financial
losses. The government's liberal policies will run the existing stations to bankruptcy rather than help them flourish."
Another controversial issue, both
Luitel and Adhikari say, is that the government has allowed a single commercial FM station to operate in many parts
ofthe country Image FM 97.9 MHz in
Kathmandu has transmission stations in
Bhedetar in the East and Pokhara in the
West. Kantipur FM 96.1 MHz broadcasts from Kathmandu and also has a
10,000-watt transmission facility in
"[Allowing] that destroys the whole
concept of local FM content. How can
a football match in Jumla get priority if
the station from Kathmandu is broadcasting news of a match in Dhulikhel?"
asks Adhikari. "Additionally, it minimizes the opportunities for community
stations in the rural areas to be more
According to the National Broadcasting Act, a 500-watt FM station, community or commercial, has to pay an annual licensing fee of Rs. 250,000, and the
fee increases by 10 percent each year.
Those, like most community stations,
with 100-watt capacity have to pay up Rs.
According to Koirala, who was the
coordinator of a committee established
by the government two years ago to suggest ways to manage the media, a proposal
to waive licensing fees and taxes for community radio stations was raised, but, like
most government plans, it has remained
only on paper. The community stations
are usually managed by the public with
resources through local VDCs and their
objective is not necessarily to make profits. The same committee headed by
Koirala had suggested that the government
"do as they like" with other profit-oriented commercial stations.
But the government neglect is not
discouraging people like Koirala. "We
need to make this [Nepal] a radio country" he says. "With the low literacy rate
and television just too expensive for
remote areas of Nepal, radio is very
suitable. That is just where most ofthe
development money is flowing presently."  D
in 11 in
in in mi
In two weeks, all quota restrictions on textile and clothing
exports to the United States and the European Union will
come to an end. For a Nepal in the midst of a war, the
easiest route is to plead and lobby for tariff-free treatment.
Dec. 31, 2004, the world will mark a
quiet revolution. That day, the WTO
Agreement of Textiles and Clothing
(ATC) will terminate, ending all quota
restrictions on textile and clothing exports of WTO members to the major
markets of the world, especially the
United States and the European Union.
This is significant because for the past
40 years, trade in textiles and clothing,
now a $350 billion global industry, has
been governed by a series of protective
regimes, most recently the Multi-fiber
Arrangement (MFA). While the purpose
ofthe MFA was to restrain trade, it ended
up being useful to the least developed
countries (LDCs) of Asia like Nepal,
Laos, Cambodia and Bangladesh, by provoking a shift of investment from countries where quotas were exhausted. The
Nepali apparel industry, for example,
grew as a direct result of quota restraints
placed on India. During its peak in the
early 90s, it employed over 100,000 people;
despite the gradual decline since, garments, which brought in $162 million in
2003, is still our largest export category.
The quotas that sheltered production
in countries like ours will vanish after
two weeks. Come Jan. 1, 2005, and beyond, how will this momentous change
in trade rules impact the various regions
of Asia? The gamut of assertions and
speculations on post-ATC outcomes is
very wide, depending on the person asked,
method used and data analyzed. According to one synthesis of research coordinated by Accountability, London, nobody
knows the magnitude ofthe following: i)
the scale of job losses in the least developed countries, ii) degree to which proximity to markets will shape trade flows,
iii) importance of domestic textile base
and supply chain, iv) prospects of an unrestrained China in claiming other
country's export markets, v) uncertainty
about buyer behavior, vi) role of free trade
agreements, and viii) intensity of domestic public policy response required, etc.
Despite an unpredictably complex web
of factors, a general expectation is that, following the removal of quotas there would
be an increase in exports of textiles and
clothing from Asian countries (led by
China and India). Overall, there would be
two likely groups of gainers: The first includes countries that are competitive by
virtue of scale, cost, and capacities that are
vertically integrated with the rest of the
production chain, including ability to offer services supplementary to mere production. The second consists of countries
that are moderately competitive in comparison, but are beneficiaries of tariff preferences, niche expertise and shorter distance to major markets.
Nepal does not belong to the first
group. But it could belong to the second, if it enjoyed secure and meaningful
preferential access to major markets, or
be known for production of distinctive
niche products, such as Sri Lanka, that
has in recent years been producing
world-class bras. Victoria's Secret, one
of the top-end producers of women's
lingerie, sourced over $350
million of exports from the
conflict-ridden island in 2003.
For a Nepal in the midst of a
war, the easiest route is to
plead and lobby for tariff-free
treatment of clothing exports
in the major markets. Right
now, the LDCs do enjoy dutyfree access to the EU, under
what is called the Everything-
But-Arms Initiative, but this
concession comes with relatively tight
"rules-of-origin" requirements, which
the LDCs find difficult to comply with
in full. Even Bangladesh, the more able
within the poorest nations club only had
57 percent of its clothing items qualify
for preferential treatment for having met
such rules of origin in 2002. While these
rules are needed to ensure that the benefits of preferential access are not shared
with third countries, they need to be
made much simpler if the poorest countries are to benefit. Canada has shown
the way recently through its Market Access Initiative for LDCs, in which
apparel exports qualify for duty-free
treatment with as little as 25 percent
value-added in an LDC of origin. This
has led to some of them performing instantly well. Comparing the year-on-
year import figures from January-September 2003 and 2004, Bangladesh's export of items such as knitted, crocheted,
and woven clothing grew by 52 percent
to Canadian $339.5 million, Cambodia's
grew by 69 percent to Can$105.6 million, and Lao PDR's by 40 percent to
Can$6.5 million. Even Nepal saw its exports to Canada grow by 127 percent to
Can$7.3 million during this period.
Lobby US Congress
In the world's most significant market,
the United States, however, Asian LDCs
do not enjoy any preferential treatment,
unlike their counterparts from Sub-Sa-
haran Africa, who have been benefiting
from elements ofthe African Growth and
Opportunity Act. This means that LDCs
like Nepal are doubly hit. On the one
"   ?%
hand, they cannot match the economies
of scale and vertical integration of the
textile and clothing sectors in large
neighbors like India, China and Pakistan, and, on the other, they do not enjoy
the tariff preferences enjoyed by their
smaller peers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Any
non-reciprocal preferences offered by
the United States to the exports of clothing from Asian LDCs like Nepal could
thus be of great help—in fact, a dollar of
trade tax waived on our apparel exports
would be worth much more than a dollar given to fund anti-Mao bullets. But
in the immediate future, whether such a
concession can be secured would depend
on the initiative of individual members
of Congress. Senator Dianne Feinstein
of California had initiated such a bill for
Nepal in 2003, but itwas later withdrawn.
Following the U.S. elections of November 2004, there now are fresh attempts to
introduce the Least Developed Economies Economic Development Act
(LDEED) in the 109th Congress. Cambodia has been hiring expensive lobbyists in Washington to push through such
an act. If we are too poor to cost-share,
why don't we pay them with
smiles and politely piggyback?   I
Although some job losses
have       been       reported,
Bangladesh's exports are keeping steady so far. In Cambodia, too, the major apparel importers went on record in an
important World Bank survey
recently that, in appreciation
of the country's relatively decent working conditions, they
intend to increase or maintain
their share of sourcing from
that country one that is still
recovering from history's
most disastrous flirtation with
violent Maoism under Saloth
Sar (nom de guerre: Pol Pot).
Nepal and the Lao People's Republic aside, the other poorer
quota babies appear to be
slightly better prepared to face the
storm next year. One reason for
some optimism is that companies wouldn't
want to rush to China immediately, the largest projected gainer from quota elimination, because exports from China will continue to face restraints in the major markets
at least until Dec. 31, 2008, as per its Protocol of WTO accession. Another reason is
that stung by outbreaks like SARS in East
Asia, and the terrorist attacks in the United
States in 2001, that severely disrupted trade
flows, buyers seem keen on maintaining a
steady supply chain by diversifying their
portfolio of production sites in several important countries, notjust one or two. While
eventually, the bulk of the clothing trade
will be dominated by large producers, there
still will be countries that could remain attractive to importers of clothing niches. The
question for us is, can we do what it'd take
to belong to this secure club of "China and
the Few"?
Nepal is on Fire
Like all charily, wish-lists should also begin at home. Can we overhaul our trade
facilitation systems to reduce time and
cost of doing business through
nation weekly
faster customs clearance; reduction of opportunities for rent seeking; rationalization of fees, taxes, and inspections? Can
we create in-country resources on knowledge about markets for enhanced ability
to lean-retail and develop quick fashion
response? Can we introduce effective
systems of credit support clothing enterprises at reasonable interest rates? Can we
ensure that input costs on power, transport and key raw materials are competitively priced? Can we invest enough on
our infrastructure? Can we enhance our
labor productivity in the shortest term?
Can Nepal engineer policy reforms that
will facilitate the institution of these generic measures? The answer is no, not in
the next two weeks, months or even years.
If your house is on fire one afternoon,
you wouldn't worry about having missed
your morning walk that day.
Even damning editorials in the foreign
press, such as the one that appeared in last
week's issue of The Economist, call for
greater international attention to a "failing"
Nepal. If I stitched clothes sitting in
Purano Baneshwore for teenagers in
Helsinki, what would that mean? For a
start, it'd mean implementation of longstanding international commitments that
pledge duty-free entry with easier rules of
origin for products from LDCs in all major markets. Without some form of tariff-edge embodied in our clothing exports, it'd be impossible to outsell comparable competition
from our more efficient
neighbors. If that kind of international solidarity is not
forthcoming immediately, our
garments industry will have to
brace for a guaranteed, graduated collapse. At those eventual
moments of reckoning, I'd want
to drop my sewing needles and
ask Should I be sad at having to
mourn a slow death, or shall I
instead rejoice the fact that I
lived as long as I did when I
was not supposed to, and I did
so only because, for 40 years,
the world was less noble and
its rich boys more greedy. D
(Views expressed are personal;
for details on trade policies affecting
the global apparel industry, please
write to the columnist at
 Guest Column
Beastly Instincts
Every five years, tens of thousands of animals are sacrificed at Gadhi Mai. It is a cruelty
without parallel.
Every five years, thousands of animals are sacrificed to appease
the Goddess Gadhi Mai, the site ofthe single worst carnage in
the country. This year the fateful date is Dec. 18.
What leads to the massacre is a very murky turn of events. The
goddess gives the indication of her hunger for blood when a lamp ignites
on its own at an anointed site at Gadhi Mai in Kalaiya. The whole thing
takes place outside the public view, under a piece of cloth. Once the
priestsshowthatthelampislit, it is deemed as an indication from the
goddess that she is demanding sacrifices or that she has signaled that
the sacrifices can begin. A series of rituals takes place, ultimately leading
to the bloodbath in which hundreds of thousands of animals are hacked
to death.
The fi rst ritua I is the worsh i ppi ng of weapons,
which are later used to sacrifice the animals. Then
the priests chant different hymns to appease the
goddess. Once the pre-sacrificial rituals end, the
animals are brought in for the kill. The sacrifice
starts with the offering of fivedifferent creatures—
the Pancha Bali. This includes: pigs, buffalos, goals,
roosters and rats. The first on the I ist is the goat,
followed by thousands of pigeons. Then come
the pigs. This goes on until a rat is brought to
complete the Pancha Bali. Remarkably, the pig's i
blood is not sprinkled on Goddess's idol as the '
animal is considered unholy.
As the ritual ofthe sacrifice of five groups of animals approaches its end, 1
more than 600 people carrying naked swords and axes wrapped in red|
clothes descend from all sides. They frantically rush towards the fenced
field where thousands of buffaloes are kept. Many of them wear red
headbands, indicating they are licensed killers.
This fair is infamous forthesheernumberofdeathsandthecruelty
on display—all in the name of appeasing Goddess Gadhi Mai. The fair
reaches its climax on the day ofthe mass animal sacrifice.
The last Gadhi Mai Mela in 1999 saw 18,000 buffaloes sacrificed.
Interestingly, the Gadhi Mai Mela Committee keeps the record of buffaloes that are brought for sacrifice because the devotees pay to get their
animals beheaded. This year, the committee expects this number to
cross the 25,000-mark. It, however, does not keep records of other
animals or birds because ofthe overwhelming numbers. They include
goats, chickens, ducks and pigeons, besides buffaloes.
To facilitate these killings sacrifice zone with a three-km radius around
the Gadhi Mai Temple has been set up. After entering the sacrificial zone
one can chop off the animal anywhere one pleases.
This, however, doesn't apply to buffaloes. They are kept separate in
a very large, fenced field and they have to be registered and paid for
before the kill. No one is allowed to take away the heads of their animal;
that portion ofthe kill is meant for Gadhi Mai. Obviously, all creatures,
small and big, which are brought for sacrifice, go through pain and suffering but buffaloes suffer the most. The killers can't chop off the buffaloes'
heads because of their size. So, to make their task easier, the hackers
first cut the buffaloes' hind legs after which the animal falls on the
ground. They then start hacking on the neck until the buffalo's head is
separated from its body. It takes 20 to 25 attempts in case of big
The bloodletting that takes place turns the entire area intoa marshy
land of blood; the chopped animal heads littred everywhere present a
repulsive sight. The most appalling treatment is meted out on the
animals that are brought for the
Pancha Bali; their throats
are slit. The slitting is
done slow
and deliber- J
ately. Legend has
it that longer the duration, the
happier the goddess. That's not all. Three to
four days after the sacrifice, people start fleeing the mela venue
as it starts emitting a nauseating smell. All kinds of traffic avoid the
fare. But it's the people living in adjoining localities who suffer
most. Many fall sick. It takes up to two weeks for the smell to go
Clearly, the scale ofthe killings at Gadhi Mai is increasing. Who is
going to stand by these mute animals and speak for those who cannot
speak for themselves? □
(Arya is an environmentalist campaigning against cruelty against animals)
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 Musings on the
National Museum
The locale is quiet—trees and
bushes and a paved path. On three
sides are the galleries and the
museum. There is a fountain pool in the
middle but no water. The buildings are
intricate and unique but in dire need of
a fresh coat of paint. Sparse shrubbery
calls out for succor and water.
Swayambunath looks down from afar.
There are a few visitors but there
ought to be more, many more. The iron
gate is half closed—it should be open
and welcoming. A stray dog walks by
and the stone lions look tired.
The entrance to the museum is ornate but dilapidated. The museum is
housed in a neo-classical style building
reminiscent of the Rana palaces. You
look around and wonder—the pages of
history are earmarked but woefully in
need of light, color and vigor.
Nepal is one ofthe few countries that
has seven World Heritage sites within a
radius of 20 kilometers yet the National
Museum with its plethora of art and
sculpture and historical artifacts looks
worn down. It was established in 1928
as an arsenal museum. Originally called
the "Chhauni Shilkhana"—the storehouse of arms and ammunitions—it was
opened to the public in 1938 and then
was named the Rastriya Sangrahalaya by
King Mahendra in 1967.
The main museum is a treasure trove
with a natural museum, a weapons gallery and postal and numismatic galleries. Ancient ceramics from Israel (circa
800 B.C.), prehistoric Paleolithic and
Neolithic tools and even a photograph
ofthe political map of Nepal before the
Treaty of Sugauli—there is much to be
admired and much to be preserved. On
display in the weapons gallery are the
automatic electric machine gun designed
by Nepali scientist Gehendra
Shumshere, the Sword of Napoleon III
presented to Jung Bahadur Rana during
his tour to Europe and the Indian Sepoy
Medal presented to Colonel Rayamajhi.
The second building known as the
Juddha Jatiya Kalashala was built by the
Rana Prime Minister Juddha
Shumshere and its main entrance is a
copy of the Torana Stupa from the first
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Arts   Society
century B.C. The different sections of
the museum present stone, wood,
bronze and terracotta art as well as paintings and lamps. The oldest piece in the
stone section is the sculpture of Jaya
Varma from the Christian era. In the
bronze section, we are presented with a
solid statue of Vishnu that dates back to
the 10th century. We now come to the
wood section—crafts which have made
Nepali architecture famous the world
over. There is a veritable abundance of
woodcraft amongst which is a wooden
tympanum of Mahishasur Mardini (circa
18th century). Next come the paintings—
yet another feast of art.
The Buddhist Art Gallery is a tribute to Buddhist art and is divided into
three sections—the Southwest Tarai,
the Kathmandu Valley and the High
Himalayan Range. It was established
with a Cultural Grant Program in 1995
and grant assistance from Japan. The
gallery hosts rare Buddhist art, painted
red ware and grey ware potteries, silver punch marked coins, caskets
among others. Wooden Buddhist
sculptures — Basundharas,
Chakrashambaras, Dipankaras,
Lokeshwaras—sit under warm lights.
The Mandala Gallery introduces 108
Bodhisatvas along with other minor
gods arranged in accordance with
tantric Buddhist scriptures. This gallery is well designed and thoughtfully
One is astounded by the artifacts
but the condition of the museum is
saddening. It lacks the ambience, the
atmosphere, the color and the life
that most museums gift to the visitor. History is preserved but in a
meager way. Our forebears must
surely be saddened that a way of life,
a culture, a gift is now lying in a cupboard without the life that has gone
into it.  Q
presents .
Event Management:
WiMiMJ iniwHn ' Nepalese Fashion Home
Date : 23 Dec. 2004       Time : 2:00P.M.        Venue : Hyatt Regency Hotel, Tushal, Boudha, Ktm.
Hope for Nepali Fiction
In the next decade or two, the best writing in Nepali
fiction will be in English
In a two-part essay published in the
New Yorker in 1997, Salman
Rushdie made a rather interesting
claim: That the best of Indian fiction was
written in English. He made a similar
statement in his book on Indian writings. Unsurprisingly, the two statements
unleashed a volley of protests from the
vernacular writers. Later Rushdie admitted that he had read little Hindi literature and whatever little he had read was
marred by poor translation. Essentially,
he admitted that it was a case of misjudg-
Notwithstanding the Rushdie retraction, here's a statement, Rushdie-style:
The best of Nepali fiction in a decade or
two to come will be written in English.
spelling. The written Nepali language
often turns stiff. That the sampadak mandal
of "Nepali Brihat Sapdakosh" writes its
sampadakiya couched in flowery sentences indicates how indifferent we are
to one of the basics of good writing—
that language should be simple.
The complete lack of editing practice doesn't equip Nepali writers to
write well-crafted fiction. No publishing house has an in-house editor. Ask
them why they don't have an editor and
they will come up with a routine answer:
"We make a profit of just Rs. 10,000 to
Rs. 20,000 rupees from a publication. We
won't get anything if the amount goes
towards paying an editor."
Try explaining to them that an editor can improve the language and the
content of the book, and thereby help
This I say with all the awareness that fie-   I
tion in Nepali has over a hundred years
of history while Nepali fiction in English began just recently. Here are the
reasons behind the claim.
The more developed a language is,
the more developed will its literature
be. But the Nepali language isn't as developed as other languages like English
and French. It started to systematically
grow after the publication of "Turner's
Dictionary" exactly 130 years ago. But
the Nepali language is yet to develop
"more or less fully" as is evident from
the fact that it doesn't have a standardized grammar or consistent usage and
the sales, and they will turn their heads
away in mock disbelief. Surprisingly,
even organizations like the Royal
Nepal Academy don't have the practice of editing publications. Every academy publication has an editor or two,
but they seem to be by and large honorary. The content is poorly edited.
There is also a lot of self-publishing
going on. In fact it doesn't cost much to
publish a book; a modest one can be published for Rs. 30,000, or even less if, for
example, one is willing to compromise
on the quality of layout and printing paper. Since one can publish just about any
thing, one doesn't feel the necessity to
write well.
As long as more books are self-published, rather than the product of professional publishing, it will be difficult
to expect well-crafted writing. Honest
and critical reviews would deter writers
from publishing whatever gushes
through their minds in a burst of inspiration. Sadly, we don't have a tradition of
honest and critical reviews.
In short, the situation in Nepal isn't
conducive for producing excellent
Nepali fiction. That, however, doesn't
mean that Nepali writers haven't produced quality fiction. Writers like
Dhurba Chandra Gautam have been consistently producing excellent fiction.
But they are few and far between.
The future of Nepali English fiction,
however, looks bright. The reach of English is spreading, and more and more
Nepalis are starting to develop sound
proficiency in the global language. Each
year around 4,000 students leave for the
Untied States for higher studies. Some
of them are even joining creative writing courses and getting trained in the
craft of writing. Those who have a penchant for writing but are not fortunate
enough to take a creative writing course
have been consulting loads of books on
the art of writing and editing. Those writing in Nepal don't have the luxury Sure,
they can consult English books, but their
lack of proficiency doesn't help their
Moreover, there are certain rules in
English that don't apply to Nepali writing. For example, one ofthe cardinal rules
of English writing is, to quote William
Safire's "Rule for Writers": "Passive
Voice should never be used." Some of
the passive voice constructions in Nepali
are delectable and read well.
This is the reason why we are getting to read a lot of fiction by Nepalis
in English these days. Most of it is posted
by young wrtiers, particularly on the
Internet. With time they will mature
as writers and some of them will make
it big, thanks to the agents and editors
who will help them find good publishers and improve the quality of
their writings. No wonder that novelist Manjushree Thapa says she expects exciting times for Nepali fiction in English in a decade or two.  □
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
Love in the
Time of War
Violence is always pointless
They are just a bunch of novice
scouts in their 20s, who believe
their only job is to safeguard their
country against the invading German
army. They are the stars of "The Star," a
Second World War Russian epic, recently screened at the Russian Cultural
Center to commemorate the 60'
versary of "the victory of the
allied forces over the Fascists."
The setting of the movie is
the Russian-Polish border at
the height ofthe war in 1944. A
group    of   young    Soviet
derfully cinematographed and directed
war saga. Among its other weak points is
the unnecessary German narration,
which permeates the movie once a while,
hindering the normal flow of the story
"The Star," with its running time of
93 minutes, is short yet entertaining. It
doesn't get unnecessarily caught in trying to show the horrors of war, a subject
many war movies are perpetually preoccupied with. And yet, while this movie is
able to present a brilliant depiction ofthe
downsides of wars, heroism in the battlefields is its central theme.
The film is based on a famous 1947
story,  "Zvezda"  or "The  Star,"  by
Emmanuil G Kazakavich, a renowned
Russian short story writer. The book
captures the author's experiences in the Russian army.
Kazakavich   shows the realities of war rather than flaunt
the Red Army's superiority, as
scouts—code-named "The Star" for the
operation—are sent across the border to
monitor enemy activities and radio back
to the Russian bases. Two such groups
already having failed during previous attempts, there seems little hope for the
new scouts.
A love story is also enmeshed with the
ghoulish realities ofthe war. The vague relationship between Travkin, the scout-
commander, and Katya, a female radio operator, is often hard to grasp for modern
viewers. But the film's main focus is on
how a handful of amateur scouts manage to
accomplish their mission against all odds.
They succeed through sheer determination and grit; but, in the process, they pay
the ultimate price with their lives. In the
mold of the typical Hollywood war classics, the movie salutes heroism, self-sacrifice and renunciation in the battlefield.
This 93-minute Russian thriller—with
English subtitles—managed to hold the
rapt attention ofthe audience. There were
episodes of spontaneous applause following heart-touching episodes, interspersed
with less frequent light moments when
the viewers cooled off. The bravado of an
Asian-Russian, much alike a khukuri-
wielding Gurkha soldier—maybe, the gallery hoped, one of those 200,000 Nepalis
who participated in the Second World
War—provided some hilarious moments
in an otherwise somber film.
"The Star" in many ways is a poignant
portrayal of the events of war—of lives
torn apart, of villages razed to dust, of
indiscriminate killings. The scene where
Katya tries to radio Travkin, even when
he is believed to have died at the warfront,
epitomizes her unswerving devotion for
the desolate hero. Katya's broadcasting
the radio signals from The Earth, the
codeword for the Russian base, keeping
her hopes of making contact with The
Star alive, certainly bears metaphorical
connotations. Katya has met Travkin only
a couple of times but is shown desperately lovelorn when he is dispatched to
the border. The love story is underdeveloped, sometimes even threatening to
wreck the true essence of the film.
The movie at times verges on the
melodramatic but, overall, it is a won-
many of his contemporary Russian scholars and filmmakers did, in writing about
the role ofthe Russian troops in the Second World War.
"The Star" shows that heroism transcends geographical boundaries. There
are heroes everywhere: in Russia, the
United States, in Communist China, in
Nepal; even the Nazi Germany had
many who chose to stand up to despots.
But, ironically, those brave men pay the
biggest price while on their way to
achieving immortality.
"It [the film festival] is a commemoration of the then Soviet people and Soviet
armies who boldly fought against fascism,"
says Sergey F Kiselev, the director of the
Russian Cultural Center in Kathmandu.
The message the festival strives to give: That
violence causes only suffering; that aggressors are doomed in any war; and that international consensus is the only way to resolve interstate disputes. □
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 19, 2004
B F. I | I N G    DUCK
Exc*tic iTihij Car     '
Visit Ultimate Bar, BICC Building at New Baneshwor & retet with your friends... ^
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Zfee Band: Prism with
Ram Shrestha Every Saturday
Regular: Puspa Sunawar
BICC Complex, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu
Tel: 4468589,2040339, Fax: 977-1-4473652
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Jomsom Journals: Part 2
Wee-hours trips to the loo are a wee bit cold at 3,800 meters
I'm not terribly religious nor was I on a pilgrimage, but I had to walk up
to the white-wal led compound from where the temple and the gompas
gaze serenely down. A sacred site for both Hindus and Buddhists,
Muktinath is mentioned asShaligrama in the Mahabharata because of
its ammonite fossils known asshaligram and said to represent deities,
especially those associated with Vishnu. I was pleasantly surprised to
see a Buddhist nun open the doors to the shrine that housed three idols,
all of them looking more like the representations of Buddha in monasteries than Hindu gods in temples. Hinduism and Buddhism are indeed two
faces ofthe same coin, but General Simha should have chosen the
aftermath of a less politically-loaded occasion than the recent Second
World Buddhist Summit in Lumbini to voice hisunsettlingopinion, seeing
that he is the chairman ofthe World Hindu Federation.
Muktinath, at 3,800 meters, was cold; the trips to the nearby toilet in
the middle ofthe night weren't at all amusing. Howeverl lazily dreamt of
Dzong, the seldom-visited ancient capital of this region across the river
■7   '■:
from Muktinath. Dominated bythe ruins of a crumbling fort, Dzong exists
in its own empty, esoteric, exotic world with only an upa swastha chowki
(sub-regional health post) to show its links to the government of Nepal.
The next morning, we did what I call the "Lupra Loop": Instead of descending to Jomsom the same way, via Jharkot and Kagbeni, Kamal
Pun—my faithful guide/porter—and I took a left turn up into the hills,
then dropped down steeply to the river to reach Lupra. The walk in the
hills was pure joy. I threw away my hat to have an unbrimmed view ofthe
panoramic scenery and to develop a high Himalayan tan, photo ageing
be damned! Lupra was a fascinating Bon-po village, the only one in the
heavily Nyingma-pa dominated region. Traditionally consisting of 13
households, each with their own household lama, the number has now
grown to 16, includinga Biswakarma family at the far upper edge ofthe
village. It was poignant to observe this caste separation, even by the
pure waters ofthe Panga Khola.
After a night in Jomsom, full of tourists unable to fly to Pokhara unless
they paid $200 for a chopper ride, I took the trail to Marpha and Tukuche,
avoiding the tractor track that runs all the way to Kalopani. Marpha was
a picturesque revelation. Tucked into the folds ofthe mountains, safe
from the scathing winds sweeping up the Thak Khola, it prides itself as
the "Delightful Apple Capital of Nepal." Though I was sick of apples by
now, Marpha was, nevertheless, delightful. Full of curving, cleanly swept,
flagstoned lanes and two-story houses constructed of roughly dressed
stones, it could be the perfect setting for the next Harry Potter sequel,
should they decide to borrow the magic of Marpha. Bhakti Hirachan,
charmingly chaperoning me about the town, proudly told me how the
lanes were widened by covering up the free-flowing sewage system. He
wryly added that alcohol-soaked locals now did not have to fear falling
into it. I was also taken to Tashi Lhakhang Gompa, host to the Mani
Rimdu festival every Laxmi Puja. The present, third avatari (reincarnate)
Lama was away in Denver, married to an American, teaching Buddhism
at a university. The revealing,
savvy, globe-grasping guise of
Buddhism never fails to bemuse
Leaving Marpha, I made a
quick side trip to Chhairo, the
site of a decaying gompa set in
a pretty pine grove with a brook
bending through the trees. Conservation efforts are afoot. Then
it was a steady trudge to Tukuche
into a biting wind on a seemingly
endless, dusty road marked by
a string of lofty electrical poles.
It felt quite eerie to be the only
two souls in the middle of nowhere. The Niligiris still watched
over us, and the landscape now
began to sprout pine trees.
When we finally reached
Tukuche, I was deeply disappointed. Once the most important Thakali
village, houses—decorated with carved windows and doorways reminiscent ofthe Newari architecture ofthe Kathmandu Valley—on the
riverside were rapidly falling apart, heavily padlocked as if to stop
them from disintegrating completely. The only saving grace of Tukuche
was the discovery of High Plains Inn that proudly and defiantly advertised a Dutch bakery. A cozy hostelry run by Puma, a local Thakali
lady, married to Patrick, a Dutchman, the rooms were quirkily arranged in tight corners, on different levels. This was the only hotel I
stayed in where even the faucets were fastidiously gleaming with
polished chrome. I woke up at six a.m. to the salivating smells of
pastries and bread baking away and the astonishing aroma of freshly
brewed Douwe Egberts coffee!   □
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
OUT     OF     THE     MUNDANE
TEL: 441-3580, NAXAL
nation  ECS
Indigo Gallery
 Mb •••
Resham Phiriri and
the Music Man
A music legend in America brings back
fond memories of tunes from Nepal
As I lead my group of four- and five-year-old students
into the library of Robert Goddard Middle School in
Maryland, I freeze in mid-step hearing the unexpected: the cassette player is belting out "Resham phi-ri-ri"
in its unadulterated, original folk version. The moment,
albeit brief, is as irrational and surreal as a dream—for
displayed on a long table in front of me is an assortment of
Nepali musical instruments: madals, kartals, flutes, manjiras,
gongs, cymbals, damarus, matyangras and bells. A musical feast
for a depraved Nepali like myself.
Little did I know that when I requested Bill Jenkins to
give an interactive musical workshop on Asian musical
instruments, I would be regaled by songs from my own
childhood and my students experience a sensorial journey
into a world of Nepali music.  I had only the talented
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
 musician, collector and teacher, Bill, to thank for such a rare
For Bill, teaching music is a passion that evolved over
time from early 1950s. He had a hobby of collecting such
things as stamps, baseball cards, rocks; but the interest in
music was sparked when young Bill was given a set of
bongo drums. Thus started what was a lifelong interest in
international music and musical traditions, and international travel. By the time he was in high school, Bill had
gained much knowledge of Indian music that was further
strengthened by a degree in Asian studies. What had
initially started as a personal interest eventually expanded
into a career in music when Bill was asked by a local
library to consider doing a children's program. It was a
success. His rapport with the children and his ability to
impart the basic knowledge of beat, rhythm and harmony
regardless of the children's age or the type and origin of the
instrument, gained him instant popularity with the local
schools as well as the famous Smithsonian Museum.
He was also profiled in the venerable The Washington
Post as "Bill Jenkins [the one] who brings music from
around the world into the classroom."
"The way people organize sound into groups of numbers, especially into increments of four, can be frequently
observed in traditional music," observes Jenkins in the
Post. "It's natural. Every time, we walk we are keeping a
beat and we've heard the sound of a heartbeat since before
we were born, and so everybody has musical ability in
varying degrees." It must be just this faith that allows him
to reach out to every child participating in his workshop.
Children are fascinated by his collection of non-
western musical instruments made from, seedpods,
coconut shells, gourds, bits of wood, skin, animal bones,
tortoise shells, goat toes. Music from such instruments has
stronger rhythms and simpler melodies that they learn
with ease. The synchronized beat of drums, bells, maracas,
shakers and scrapers—unleash the joys of creativity which
allow the children to express their energies while positively altering their moods. A natural high, I, myself have
observed and experienced for the last three years, each
time I have participated in
Bill's "World of Music."
Bill's ability to re-create
various environments and
habitats through music is
exceptional.   This year, I
watched him bring to life
the rainforest of South
America with the help
of a bunch of seed-
noisemakers, which
my students shook
with great enthusiasm
and vigor while he
blew on different
kinds of carved
wood whistles that
mimicked the calls
and warbles of the Amazon rainforest birds. I stood
mesmerized, transported to a world beyond my imagination; a world of sounds and harmony in nature; the imagery
and sensorial experiences, all too powerful to resist.
In March 2002, Bill traveled to Nepal to help the
Smithsonian Museum collect musical instruments for its
children's program. The hands-on program based in
Washington D.C, named "Imagin Asia," incorporated
exploration of the Himalayan regions while displaying art
and artifacts from around Nepal, Tibet and India. The
musical instruments were an important component that
provided the authentic, cultural experience of a Himalayan
culture steeped in folk music. Bill organized the six-week
long workshop for children with Bhim Dahal, a Nepali
drummer and dancer.
During his visit to Nepal, he stayed in Patan and frequented many instrument factories from where he bought
10 madals, three flutes and many kartals to name a few, for his
private collection which boasts of 200 instruments representing the major musical traditions from all the continents.
His collection is probably the largest of its kind outside of a
museum in the Washington D.C, Maryland and Virginia
area. He also recorded bhajans and sutra-chanting by monks
from Boudha. When asked to name a Nepali instrument he
found exceptionally unique, Jenkins responded that although most of the instruments were beautiful in their
structure and craftsmanship, he found the Nepali bells
resonate with a rare purity and clarity of sound. Jenkins
attributes it to the skillful mix of seven metals inherent in
the bells and the singing bowls.
"Watch me clap. Move only one hand, flexing at the
wrist, while holding the other hand still," Bill instructs my
class as he prepares the students to clap to the beat of
"Resham phi-ri-ri." After a few minutes of clapping and
singing to the catchy folk song, he hands out the damarus,
the kartals and the finger cymbals. On cue, the children play
their instruments in almost perfect harmony. As the
pulsating music approaches a definite crescendo, Bill
motions for the group to slow down while he switches to
the haunting bhajan of "Raghupati raghawa raja ram..." The
mood of my young students mellows at which point
Jenkins strikes on a number of various sized temple bells.
The pure tones and varying pitches ring unceremoniously
stringing each person with a haunting strand before fading
into a harmonious memory. The mood created is serene
and the space, sacred. As I closed my eyes to press back the
tears, I experience Devghat in Maryland. □
(Chettri is a early childhood educator who has been teaching at
Robert Goddard Montessori in Maryland for the last five years)
 CHY TTiisWeek
Xtnas and New\ear Special Package
This Christmas and New Year, Dwarika's Hotel comes up
with an exciting package. Enjoy a night stay in the hotel at
minimal of prices. Rooms at $49 per person will be available
on twin sharing basis. Ifyou want a secluded individual room
for yourself, then it's $75, inclusive of all taxes. One child
under 12 goes free when parents' share a room. An extra bed
will be provided and the child's meal will only cost $20, inclusive of taxes. Additional pre/post-nights may be booked at the
special rate of $60 per room per night, plus 12% tax. Other
benefits include upgrading to deluxe rooms subject to availability at the time of check in, daily complimentary breakfast
and dinner in the hotel at a venue of your choice that will
include the special Christmas eve barbeque. Date: Dec. 20 -
Jan. 5. For information: 4479488.
"Spirit of Emotions"
The series of formless non-
figurative, semi-abstract
paintings expresses the emotion and inner state of mind
rather than what physical
world looks like. Ramesh
Khanal's paintings are non-
objective mindscapes in the
abstraction of a physical motif. Using bold heavy oil paints
and acrylics, he has expressed
his emotions through surprising colors as formless as
vapors or perhaps formed in
a way that one cannot see is
depicted in his paintings. At
Zodiac Blast
Haami presents a night of
pure dance music with DJ
Ashish and DJ Raju. Highlights include free palm reading, door prizes and free
drink. Price: Rs. 400. On Dec.
18. Time: 8:30 p.m. onwards
at the Rox, Hyatt Regency.
Proceeds to be used for various social activities. For in-
info haami @yahoo. com
Cine Club
Movie: Highlander(1986).
Director:Russell Mullery .
Starring: Christophe Lambert. At the Alliance
Francaise, Tripureshwore.
the Park Gallery, Pulchowk.
Till Dec. 16. For information:
Date: Dec. 19. Time: 2 p.m.
For information: 4241163.
Malaysia Dream Holiday
Marcopolo Travels presents
enchanting and affordable
holidays. A sate-of-the-art
metropolis, sun kissed
beaches, bargain brand name
shopping, theme parks, fusion cuisine and much more.
For information: 2012345.
District Development PROFILE of NEPAL 2004
District Section includes-
Districl Maps /Development Indicators of Each District /VDC data on
Population & Infrastructure /District wise database on-
Topography, Demography Household Characteristics, Ecoaomic Activities, Social Characteristics,
Agriculture, Irrigation, Forest, Co-operatives, NGO's, Transportation, Communication, Energy
System, Education, Health, Drinking Wntet Gendet; Children and many mora
Basic Information on all 58 Municipalities
Available at Renowned Bookstores in Town
Divided mainly on Ihro* parti,
Ihe publication covers
L HUHtl S. Dlshlrt, III.
1130 Pages
Internal S«M. brUtarth £ Slud, CinlAi<liESC^ Kumludi, Kulhmundu. H.pul.'Pt,: 44CTIW boll: lnltmwlwntC»*rl.nPr thbiitw. hrlpz
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
Dining at Rox
Trendy, individualistic and
very stylish, The Rox Restaurant invites you to enjoy an
elaborate menu. Wholesome,
delicious European cuisine
straight from the wood fired
oven leaves one with a distinct flavor. The gourmet
menu includes Ocean rock
crab cake with spicy mayon
naise, Charoven roasted, Artichoke stuffed with assorted
wild mushrooms, Racotta
fine herbs topped with herby
bread crumbs and almonds,
Grilled swordfish with
smoked oysters and many
more. The best wines and indoor- and outdoor-seating
arrangements make the experience even richer. For information: 4491234.
All That
"Abhaya and
the Steam
Injuns" and
the best of
jazz in Nepal
at the Fusion
Bar, Dwarika's Hotel, 7 p.m. onwards, every Friday. Entry fee: Rs.
555, including BBQ dinner, and a
can of beer/soft drinks. For information: 4479488.
Jukebox Experience
The jukebox experience with Pooja
Gurung and The Cloud Walkers
every Wednesday, Friday and
Saturday at Rox Bar. For information: 4491234.
Seasons Specials
Exotic Thai, sizzling tandoori, traditional Nepali and Italian encoun
ter, daily for lunch at the
Shambala Garden Cafe,
Shangri-la Hotel. Date: Dec.
1 onwards. Price: Rs. 450 per
person, includes a bottle of
mineral water or a soft drink.
Fusion Night
The Rox Bar welcomes everyone to be a part ofthe Fusion
Night. The rhythmic and harmonic beats of the eastern
and the western instruments—a
treat for the senses. Enjoy the
sarangi played by Bharat Nepali
with a well-blended mix of western tunes played by The Cloud
Walkers. Every Wednesday. Time:
6 p.m. onwards. For information:
Unlimited Drinks
At the Radisson Hotel every
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and
Sunday. Come and enjoy this
special moment in the festive
season. The scheme applies to
Royal Stag, Ultimate Gin & Ruslan
Vodka. Time: 6-8 p.m. For information: 4411818.
Tickling Taste buds
Barbeque every Friday Evening.
At The Shambala Garden Cafe,
Shangri-la Hotel. Time: 7 p.m.
onwards. For information:
Cadenza Live
The only happening live jazz in
town. Enjoy every Wednesday and
Saturday at the Upstairs Jazz Bar,
Lazimpat. Time: 7:45 p.m. onwards.
"The F e for the
you ever had'
Near Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat,
Kathmandu, Nepal
tel. 4413874
Parking facilities available
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 19, 2004
Catering   to
the CRD WD
From tent houses to top hotels, business is booming
Tt's 12:45 p.m. Indreni Food Land in
Naya Baneshwore is quiet except for
a group of three youngsters enjoying
cheese pizza in the wide indoor hall.
There aren't too many customers around
but the place still looks busy. The waiters are running up and down the two-
story restaurant, also a party venue, with
a sense of purpose. So what's going on?
Chef Kumar Giri and a dozen other
kitchen staff are working in the huge
kitchen full of oversized dekchis and tapkes,
filled to the rim with uncooked cauliflower, marinated tomatoes and other uncooked vegetables. In one corner a strong
hand cuts up pieces of chicken and in another the staff chops ginger and onions.
"We're getting ready for the party tonight,"
says Giri, wearing his tall white hat and
supervising the work in the kitchen.
"There's a wedding party at 4 p.m."
It's finally Mangsir. After a five-
month hiatus, the wedding season is here
again. Beautifully decorated houses
decked with party lights illuminate the
dark winter nights, and handsomely
dressed men and women with gifts converge for parties. Then they savor the lip-
smacking catered buffet in the corner of
the tent.
Wedding parties are a big business
today. The guest lists are long—from 100
to 1,000, a party of that size requires a lot
of coordination. Obviously there's lots
of the pressure on the hosts. And one
important part of the job is arranging
food: Hence hiring caterers for wedding
parties has become common.
The catering business has come a long
way. A decade ago there were about 20
catering businesses in the Kathmandu
Valley. The number now has shot up to
more than 150. The number could be
higher since many of them never register. "About 25 percent of the companies
are operating illegally," says Govinda
Bahadur Chaulagain, who has been running New Annapurna Catering in Naya
Baneshwore for the last four years.
Many of the illegal outfits are avoiding taxes. Ujjwal Krishna Shrestha, who
has been in the business for more than
10 years and owns A-Z Catering in Prayag
Pokhari   and   the   Party   Palace   in
Lagankhel explains why: "Registering
with the tax office means exposing yourself to hundreds of unanticipated problems."
With so many caterers, the competition is fierce. Customers look for a bargain—a Rs. 50 per person discount saves
a lot when the guest list runs to hundreds. But Sambhu Shrestha, proprietor
of Indreni, suggests caution. "Quality,
after all, is the essence of catering," he
explains. "Only then does the issue of
price come in. Once the customer values your quality, it's very easy to get more
business, and that's how the business
cycle become complete." The prices
range from Rs. 150 to Rs. 350 per head
and are fixed according to the menu.
Non-vegetarian menus have high demand. But, in the last three to four years,
the number of vegetarian parties has also
shot up.
While the number of parties has gone
up, caterers say they are making less
profit than they were seven or eight years
ago. Big catering companies like A-Z
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Catering, Indreni and Kismis Catering
who used to have a whopping profit
margin of 50 percent have had their profits slashed to less than 25 percent. And
small outfits like New Annapurna Catering say they are struggling to stay in
Big or small, caterers have swamped
every kind of party, even private receptions. "It's no longer just weddings," says
Manish Nyachhyon, owner of Kismis
Catering Service. "We are asked to cater
on such occasions as bratabandas, paasnis,
birthdays, seminars and even during
mourning." Weddings still make up the
bulk ofthe business, but the other events
are important because they keep the
business afloat during the lean non-wedding months. Without them, caterers
would be employed only between April
to July and in the winter months.
Ask the caterers what they fear most?
"Bandas, traffic jams and fuel shortages
are the three biggest hindrances," says
Nyachhyon. Many of the caterers are
compelled to cancel their bookings due
to these. Electricity and water are also
major problems. "But we are so used to
them that they no longer seem as a problem," says Nyachhyon with a grin.
Meanwhile, Kumar Giri of Indreni
and his group of nine men are finally at
the end of their hectic day. It's 11 p.m.
and they've worked incessantly through
out the day to please the 130 guests. "It's
such a relief now. I can go back to my
room and lay back and relax," says Giri.
But work needs to start early tomorrow
morning. There's a wedding party for
400 people. Work never stops for the caterers these wedding days. And, they
aren't complaining. □
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 19, 2004
 Italian Encounter-
Traditional Nepali-
Sizzling Tandoori...
Exotic Thai...
Special luncheon
For further information and inquiries, please contact. Phone 441 2999
Our Christmas Bakery Counter will be open from December 1.
Book your Cakes in advance, to avoid last minute rush.
The Sports Council took everybody by surprise last month
when it revealed training plans for next year's South Asian
Games. Now the onus lies on it to put the plans to
In an interview with the state-owned
Nepal Television last month, member secretary of the National Sports
Council, Kishor Bahadur Singh, revealed plans for a long-term training session for athletes. The session was supposed to be a lead-up to the 10th South
Asian Games scheduled for August 2005
in Sri Lanka.
The decision was an unprecedented
one. Never before had the council been
so proactive as far as training for the regional games goes. Was the council trying to equal the 1999 feat when Nepal
won a record 31 golds to finish
second behind India in the medal
standings? It's been all downhill
since: In the last edition of the
games held in Islamabad, Nepal
bagged only seven golds.
"General training is already
on for a few sports," says Dhan
Bahadur Basnet, director at the
council's training division. "The
sport-specific training will start
only in January." It's also encouraging to see the authorities trying to assemble a good contingent for the regional games.
But as during most lead-ups to international events, this one too is fraught
with difficulties. And there is no dearth
of advice. Those familiar with the working of the council believe it could start
with identifying the areas of weakness
before building on the strengths. And
there are plenty of such areas.
Deepak Bista, a taekwondo gold
medalist in Islamabad, hits out at the
council's all-too-erratic administration.
"The council's programs are always in a
state of flux and that discourages athletes
who want to get into some kind of
groove," he says, recalling a bitter inci
dent recently, which resulted in him
along with Nayana Shakya, a swimmer,
being denied coaching licenses. Others
say a good deal has to be done before the
training actually begins.
Then there's concern that the sports
establishment is banking too heavily on
a handful of top athletes for too long,
overlooking its long-term responsibility to raise new talent.
It may be a bit unfair to compare our
preparations with Australia's, but here's a
little peek at their program. The Australian Olympic Committee last month announced a package of 17.8 million Australian dollars ($13.7 million) to help top
athletes like swimmers Ian Thorpe and
Grant Hackett. The preparation for the
2008 Olympics has started down under.
Another 8.2 million Australian dollars will be spent on international competition in the lead-up to Beijing; 4.6
million on medalists and their coaches
and 5 million to develop young athletes.
All this suggests that Australia's unprecedented success at the Athens Olympics was
not an accident. It stood fourth in the medal
standings in August, finishing behind the
United States, China and Russia. It won 49
medals, including 17 golds. Australia is aiming for a top-five finish in Beijing.
Sport officials themselves concede
there is a lot to learn from successful
sports administrations abroad: While
budget crunch is a perennial Third
World problem, good management and
foresight can help offset at least some
of that disadvantage. The officials admit that it was "a big mistake" on their
part not to scout young talent.
"We're now considering long-term
planning with an emphasis on grooming the base-level talent, rather than
placing importance on short-term
gains through a quick training regimen," he explains.
The council is planning a two-
pronged strategy: Maintain competitive
interest among the athletes while expanding a base that will ensure a larger pool of
talent in all sports disciplines that have a
wide following in the country.
But budgetary concerns inevitably pop
up. To run a nationwide sports program
with an annual budget of Rs. 120
million is a daunting task. One
estimate suggests the preparation
for the upcoming Colombo
Games alone would cost over
Rs. 30 million. The discipline-
specific training will jack up the
cost to Rs. 70 million.
With the insurgency eating up
much ofthe country's resources,
chances are remote that the
sports sector, which is considered a "luxury" by some planners,
will get a cash infusion from the
government any time soon.
Despite the apprehension, Basnet
appears optimistic, like most other officials when they talk to the press. He insists that medals alone will not be the
yardstick of our success. "The emphasis
should be on the quality of performance
and how athletes perform under stress,"
he says. He explains that efforts are on to
rope in the private sector for sponsorships in order to gradually avoid dependence on the government.
The sooner that happens the better.
At least, then the athletes will get some
time to get into their groove during the
Colombo countdown. □
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 19, 2004
Call him a classicist who cares little about commercial pressures. Singer,
composer and lyricist AAVAAS, who studied under the legendary Ambar
Gurung for more than 10 years, is admittedly an old-school musician. But it
took him quite a while to
come out with an album on
his own. His first solo
album, "Palaa Palaa," was
released early this month. It
was recorded live in a small
studio with 20 musicians
over six days. Each ofthe 10
songs was recorded time
and over until everybody
thought he got it right.
Help is on the way
You don't get AIDS through hugging. Many of us talk
the talk but few of us actually decide to walkthe walk.
AS HA RAZAK has been actively involved as an AIDS
volunteerwith Nepal Plus. In fact, she is the only non-
HIV member with the organization run by AIDS patients. Her responsibilities: To raise awareness about
AIDS by involving media groups. On Nov. 26, Razak
was at Pashupati lighting 100,000 lamps together
with Nepal Plus members and the students ofthe St.
Xavier's College in memory of all those who have died
of AIDS. "Youngstersare the mostvulnerable to HIV,"
says Razak. "It's high time we started sex education
and teaching about drugabuse in schools"
Brazilian theater director Juliane Boal, fa
mous for his "Theater ofthe Oppressed,"
a drama form where audiences actively
participate, landed in Kathmandu last
month. Visiting Nepal at the invitation
of Aarohan theater group, which had
adapted Boal's theater form and
staged it as Kachahari,  Boal gave a
four-day training on the subject. "Although we'd been practicing this theater form for the last three years," says
Sunil Pokhrel, a founder and active member of Aarohan, "its true roots and its adaptations came out vividly only after this
Photo: Courtesy of Kantipur
DECEMBER 19, 2004
nation weekly
exercise your freedom
Freedom is a state of mind. Express it the way you
think it. Freedom is a precious gift. Cherish it. Freedom
lives within you. Unleash its spirit.
The Himalayan Times is all about freedom. Freedom of
thought and expression. Freedom of knowledge and
information. Freedom without mental boundaries. Freedom
is calling. Are you up to it?
The Himalayan
 The Mountain Biker
Seven years ago, Suresh Kumar Dulal, now 23,
came to Kathmandu from Lamjung as a student,
struggling to make ends meet. After a few years
in the rafting and hotel business, Dulal found himself a
unique profession—that of a cycling guide. Cycling, since
then, has helped him scale new heights. He is now
Nepal's champion biker who has won all the major
competitions since 2000 and has represented Nepal in
Germany, Austria, Italy, Japan and New Zealand in
international races. But he has set his sights even
higher. An executive member of the
Nepal Cycling Club, which promotes
mountain biking, Dulal now wants to
train in England to prepare for the 2005
South Asian Games, the first time mountain biking will be included in the regional games. His next shot: the 2008
Olympics. Satish Jung Shahi talked to
Dulal about biking, its infrastructures
and his Olympic plans.
What is the biking scene here like?
As good as in Switzerland or Germany.
We are gifted with the rough terrain that
is apt for biking. In recent years, the
number of Nepalis participating in various competitions has increased. One
such event, the Kathmandu Mountain
Biking Competition, was held last
month. A few are even taking up biking
as a career.
And you are one of them...
My specialization is cross-country
mountain biking. Luckily for me, the
South Asian Games has decided to include mountain biking in its next edition. Our biggest competitor there will
be Sri Lanka. I hope I can win a medal
for Nepal. Later, in 2008, I want to represent Nepal in the Olympic Games.
Tesco, a supermarket, and Trek Cycles
has agreed to sponsor me; and the British Cycling Federation in North Hampton has agreed to provide me training.
That is, if I get a visa and I am able to go
Don't we have training facilities here?
Not at all. The government allots around
Rs. 30 million every year for sports but
not a penny of that amount is spent on
mountain biking. There is so much potential if biking could be promoted as a
form of adventure tourism. A few regular competitions every year would be of
great help. That would bring international bikers to Nepal and provide better competition for us. I am also very
happy that the media has started promoting mountain biking as an adventure
In recent years, the
number of Nepalis participating in various
competitions has increased. A few are
even taking up biking
as a career.
Isn't mountain biking an expensive
"Yes, it is. A minor spare part of an original mountain bike costs a minimum of
$20 to $30. The bicycle I ride costs
around Rs. 160,000. But I am happy that I
am biking for a living. So far, I am absolutely loving this career. I've traveled to
Bhutan, Mongolia, China,  Sikkim,
Darjeeling and Thailand on my assignments as a cycling guide. That is how I
earn my bread and butter.
What are your daily training sessions
I get up at around 5:30 a.m. and head either to Nagarkot, Phulchoki, Kakani,
Lakhure Bhanjyang or Jamachou on my
bicycle. I can reach Nagarkot in an hour
and 10 minutes. But I have to come back
to my office at Himalayan Mountain
Bike Tours and Expeditions to do my
nine to five duty. In the evening, I attend
an hour of fitness training. Only cycling
up and down the slopes is not going to
be enough, I also require serious fitness
Your club organized a clean-up campaign at Pancha Kumari Temple in
Sinamangal last Saturday, Dec. 11.
What was the idea?
People believe cyclists do nothing but
wear short, tight half pants and helmets
and ride around in their cycles. We wanted
to prove them wrong; as well as promote
cycling by increasing our interactions with
locals—raising awareness about a healthy
and clean environment through cycling.
We noticed a huge pile of garbage near the
Pancha Kumari Temple in Kalimatidole
along our popular cycling route behind the
airport. We wanted to do something about
it. Plus, we thought we could promote
cycling as a pollution-free sport and a cheap
form of transport. □
DECEMBER 19, 2004   |  nation weekly
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nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
 Rigor of Writing
Hamilton's understanding and curiosity ofthe people and
cultures make him one the first proto-anthropologists to
enter the country and take stock—literally—of Nepal
An Account of the Kingdom of Nepal and of
the Territories Annexed to this Dominion by
the House of Gorkha
By Francis Buchanan Hamilton
Printed in 1819
Reprinted in 1986 by Asian Educational Services (New Delhi)
PAGES: 316
Price: Rs. 952
(Available at Saraswoti Book House and other
bookstores in Kathmandu)
There is a reason why the English
ruled over an empire where the
sun never set. The English colonists knew the value of knowledge. Take
"An Account of the Kingdom of Nepal,
and of the Territories Annexed to this
Dominion by the House of Gorkha,"
written by Francis Buchanan Hamilton
and published in 1819. Written by a man
who spent only 14 months in
Kathmandu, between 1802 and 1803, and
two more years on the frontier, it is an
extensive documentation of everything
from the genealogies of the rajas of small
principalities of Nepal to listings of natural resources, from the minutest details
of how metal was subdivided between
different parties to the exact decimal
point of grain measurements. Classifications of medicinal herbs, trees, animals, birds and ethnic groups are mixed
in with a quite remarkable understanding of government and the justice system. The author, without doubt, was one
ofthe most highly educated men brought
up in the liberal tradition of the European Enlightenment. His understanding
and curiosity of the people and cultures
make him one the first proto-anthropologists to enter the country and take
stock—literally—of Nepal.
The book has a heavy filter of scientific detachment and rationality without
the later Darwinian undertones (Darwin
would only be born six years later, in
1809). The mandatory burst of
Eurocentric racism, where he talks about
the deceitful and treacherous nature of
the mountain Hindus, occupies only a
couple of paragraphs. The word "barbarian" pops up a couple of times, but in
ways in which a contemporary person
might find more laughable than offensive, for example "a vigorous barbarian."
Nineteenth century ideas that people
were formed by their geographical locations—he calls the plains people "melancholy" and "choleric" and the mountain people are considered "phlegmatic"
and "sanguine"—do appear, but only cursorily. Thankfully, there is no mention
of cranium sizes or intelligence, a later
racist discourse that would only pop up
after Darwin and Mendel. The rest of
the book gives a great deal of methodical
and respectful attention to each of his
informants, from highly educated Brah-
mans to a slave.
Hamilton obsessively deconstructs
Kirkpatrick's "Nepaul." Kirkpatrick,
his predecessor, seemed to have done
sloppy research even with extensive
British East India Company support,
and Hamilton goes to great lengths to
point this out and to disprove
Kirkpatrick's claims. His tone is tart
during these moments, the well-deserved sarcasm of the emerging researcher with new findings. Colonel
Kirkpatrick complained about the
lack of kitchen vegetables, saying that
there were only cabbages and peas.
"Meaning, I presume, European,"
adds Hamilton, pointing to his own
understanding that just because a European did not eat coriander, eggplants
or okra they couldn't just be dismissed as non-vegetables. Some ofthe
earliest critiques of Eurocentrism
came out of Europe itself, and
Hamilton was definitely a vigorous
critic of the limited understanding of
his own countrymen.
Besides a few hilarious tonal mistakes—he heard "Bhatgang" for
Bhadgaon, "Sristha" for Shrestha, and
"ashruffy" for asharfi (gold coin),
Hamilton is mostly accurate about the
names, dates and places he mentions. He
is methodical enough, unlike
Kirkpatrick, to realize that
"Nuggerkoties" were less an ethnic
group than the people of a particular locality.
Hamilton, however sympathetic to
the locals, was still an employee of the
East India Company, and his inventory
of resources doesn't let us forget the
What makes Hamilton's account particularly relevant for the
is his careful accounting of cultures and gender roles ol
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 purpose of his Nepal visit. Everything is
carefully and extensively documented
with an eye for future exploitation.
Prithvi Narayan Shah, who resisted the
British, shows up as an unsympathetic
and cruel character, and his enemies are
treated cordially by the British, revealing a small bit of their "divide and conquer" methods. The minerals and herbs
would never make it down to India. What
would come to be the British's greatest
gold mine, the Gurkhas, makes brief ap-
contemporary reader
different groups
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
pearances in a small paragraph about a
raja who keeps a Kiranti army armed with
poisoned arrows.
What makes Hamilton's account particularly relevant for the contemporary
reader is his careful accounting of cultures and gender roles of different
groups. For those who have a fondness
for making grand claims about
Brahminization and Sanskritization
without the attendant footnotes, this
book provides documented ammunition. Extensive notes about widow
burning, marriage choices for women
in different communities, all the way
down to the fines for adultery (2 rupees
and 10/16 paisa) make this a goldmine
for researchers and activists working in
gender rights and women's history.
Also relevant are the careful accounts of extrajudicial killings between warring parties, torture that
sounds startlingly similar to what is
still practiced in Nepal, and concepts
of honor that might give our activists
working in peace-building a clearer
understanding and historical framework on the messy human rights situation in Nepal.
Hamilton pays detailed attention to
the governing structure of the country, extensively documenting land
rights given to courtiers and to various
office-holders. He writes, of the government: "At other times, again, on
business of the utmost emergency, a
kind of assembly of notables is held,
in which men who have neither office,
nor any considerable influence in the
government, are allowed to speak very
freely, which seems to be done merely
to allow the discontents of the nation
to evaporate, as there is not a vestige of
liberty in the country, nor does the
court seem ever to be controlled by
the opinions advanced in these assemblies." We can all be glad that our country has come such a long way from the
1800s in terms of government.
Were Hamilton still alive, his meticulous attention to cartography and
to the lengths and durations of destinations would probably lead him to be
recruited as a consultant by our contemporary warring parties. If the Army
or the Maoists had paid as much attention to geography, this war would probably be over by now.
But even the British were not omniscient, and, as later documented, neither were they omnipotent. Hamilton,
talking about the "swelling in the
throat" of Nepalis, theorizes that this
must be due to drinking water that
came from mountains covered with
perpetual snow. The discovery of iodine was still eight years away. In 1811
Bernard Courtois (1777-1838) would
discover iodine while trying to help
Napoleon make gunpowder. But until
then, even Hamilton, that thorough,
careful frontier-anthropologist, would
remain in the dark about what caused
goiters. □
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Business Unusual
The Raj Parishad has come up with
the obvious: It believes that the
King's role in Nepali politics is
central, and that if Nepal is to tide
through its deep-seated problems, the
monarchy has to get back to its activist
ways. Unsurprisingly, the King's privy
council blames the political parties for
all the ills currently plaguing the country. The Royal Nepal Army is seen as the
ultimate savior. Sacchit Shumshere Rana,
member ofthe Parishad and former chief
of the RNA asserts, "Everything except
the Army has collapsed due to the all-
pervasive corruption." The Maoists, he
believes, are nothing but the result of this
dangerous decadence. At the conclusion
of its controversial meet last week, the
Parishad unapologetically declared, "His
Majesty's patronage and guidance will
provide answers to all the problems."
The Raj Parishad prescription is provocative, divisive and out of sync with
public opinion. We have little doubt that
the majority of Nepalis still want the King
to remain firmly within the confines of a
constitutional monarchy and want the
political parties to regain the driver's seat
in national politics. While the Nepali
people still have huge issues with individual politicians, this should not be mistaken for a blank check for the Palace or
the Army to intervene politically. If anything, the people are as fed up with the
Palace as they are with the parties—the
two don't see eye to eye on anything. The
net result is a feeling among the public
that neither is able to pull the country back
from the abyss. The fact that the constitutional forces have especially drifted apart
after Oct. 4, 2002 is telling. The drift continues, three appointed governments later.
Indeed, the Palace often gives the impression that it listens more to a narrow
group of Kathmandu elites, who seem to
cringe at the very mention of political parties and politicians—most of whom also
have huge constituencies outside the Valley We are staring at a class divide of monumental proportions.
So who is benefiting from all this confusion? The Maoists, of course. They are
happy to see the parties and the Palace run
each other down while they get to enjoy
the occasional moral high ground. Prime
Minister Deuba is deeply frustrated that
the Maoists won't come to talks. This despite successes in lobbying both New
Delhi and Washington to get additional
weaponry (with promises for still more)
and explicit support of the government's
anti-Maoist campaign.
The Maoists, however, seem to be in
no mood for talks. This points to two possibilities: Either that they have decided to
fight to the finish, or, even more alarming,
that Nepal's conflict has reached a point of
no return. What was once described as a
low-intensity internal conflict has transformed into a full-blown civil war, where,
to borrow Michael Ignatieff's phrase, warriors have lost their honor. The National
Human Rights Commission has documented 1,430 disappearances to date, which
puts Nepal in the dubious company of such
war-torn countries as Colombia.
It is time for the international community to step in, and notjust with polite
fact-finding missions. The venerable
Economist, in its Dec. 4 editorial, warns
of the power vacuum that may tempt
Nepal's nervous neighbors to rush in. If
India does that and China decides not to
sit idle, the result would be disastrous. In
its current state, Nepal is a serious security problem not just for Nepalis but the
whole region, something New Delhi has
already found out the hard way.
Which is why we call on the international community to take action now.
There should be an immediate international conference on Nepal under UN.
aegis. The Economist politely describes
Nepal as a failing state. We say this: Venture outside the Valley, and witness a failed
state. Meanwhile, inside Kathmandu, the
parties and the Palace continue to duel and
its residents nonchalantly watch news of
more deaths, destruction and dead-end
Akhilesh Upadhyay, i_utor
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
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