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Nation Weekly August 29, 2004, Volume 1, Number 19 Upadhyay, Akhilesh Aug 29, 2004

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 TEACHERS IN CONFLICT I PLASTIC MONEY I ALL THAT JAZZ I CIAA DOES IT AGAIN
AUGUST 29, 2'
I, NO. 19
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  COVER STORY
21 Gone To The Dogs
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
Big increases in the number of tourists visiting Nepal in recent months
had buoyed spirits in the industry. After the bomb attack at the Soaltee, all
bets are off.
INTERVIEW: HotelierYogendraShakya
COLUMNS
PROFILE
11 Catch Them Young
ByBandita Sijapati
27 Law And Order
Byjogendra Ghimire
30 On Migration And
Omar Of The Pacific
By Swarnim Wagle
38 A Sovereign
Summer
By Samrat Upadhyay
40 Mobile Wherever U R
ByKunalLama
42 The River Guide
By Satishjung Shahi
From a rafting guide to being an anti-
dam activist, it's been a long ride
LIFESTYLE
47 All That Jazz
By Aditya Adhikari
Not many tourists come to Upstairs.
This is natural, for it's discoverable only
through word of mouth.
SPORTS
50 Star Attraction
By Sudesh Shrestha
As the first Nepali athlete to qualify for
the medal rounds in the Olympics,
Sangina has already done enough
18 Ghost Towns
By Satishjung Shahi in Naubise
Business has been bad since the blockade
19 Angry Press
By Ajit Baral
The Nepali press is finally angry about
Maoist murders
25 Leave The
Teachers Alone
By Sunil Pokhrel
161 teachers have been killed in the civil
conflict
28 More Bite
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
The CIAA has become more
proactive
BUSINESS
32   Charge It!
£By Indra Adhikari
More and more Nepalis are
holding on to their plastic
money
ARTS & SOCIETY
34  Voices Together
By Satishjung Shahi
"Sathsath" is a radio magazine aired every
Wednesday on Radio Sagarmatha FM
102.4. Its focus—street children
36   It Pays To Learn Art
By Ajit Baral
Until the early 90s, artists had limited
choices
DEPARTMENTS
6
LETTERS
10
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
14
CAPSULES
16
BIZ BUZZ
17
MILESTONE
44
CITY PAGE
52
SNAPSHOTS
56
KHULA MANCH:  RAMACHANDRA GUHA
57
MOVIES
58
LAST WORD
 ff You are guilty of
glorifying the
violent Maoist
if*;
movement |j
NAVIN THAPA
Massage parlors
KUNAL LAMA'S PIECE READS LIKE A
thinly-veiled argument for promoting
Nepal as a sex tourist destination a la
Thailand ("Massage Parlors," No Laughing Matter, August 22). Note the dead
giveaway: "The empty hours after college and the raging hormones?" As if
massage puts out the fire in the loins,
unless of course he means full-body
massage Thai style.
I think Lama is simply doing his bit
to revive the Nepali tourism industry.
One need not be a rocket scientist to
know that sex sells. Besides there is no
dearth of Nepali girls who wish to marry
tourists, and no dearth of impoverished
parents who want to sell their daughters
to the circus or sex industry. The climate for this has never been better: terror in the hinterland, increase in the
number of orphans and the jobless, and
the rise of consumerist society.
If Lama's idea is to turn Nepal into a
brothel or a playground for the rich like
Thailand, I have nothing to say. Money
doesn't talk; it swears, said a wise man.
Put the freshest and youngest girls at the
service of 70-year-old foreigners. I have
seen it all in South East Asia. Like he
wrote: "When she is only 16 or 17, far
away from home, skills and education
limited, and jobs hard to come, hey,
would you say 'no' if: the money is good;
the hours are decent; all the clients demand only one thing which, more or less,
comes so naturally to everyone "
"Charitrahin chelis" will love you for
espousing this view.
However, my only qualm with
Lama's sex promotion is that it sounds
like the last pistol shot of a dying man.
By that I mean if Nepal consistently fails
to invest in education for all or put
people at the center of development, it
is going to be left with having to make
desperate choices: promoting sex as a
tourist industry, however obliquely; reducing poverty by actually exporting
poverty to Gulf countries, and even Iraq;
and having to forever treat guests like
Gods even when they are here to get you
and your country like all these smugglers (one Brit got away because even
our Supreme Court judges apparently
mistook him for God), bio-pirates,
pedophiles and "honey eaters." Is anybody listening?
HARI SHANKAR ADHIKARI
BALKHU
Media's Maoist menace
I AM SURPRISED THATYOU WOULD
use  pictures  of young Maoists  in
Makwanpur who, in fact, boast that they
are  out to
"ring"   the
Valley
("Chokehold,"
Conflict, August
22).    Your    intent
could well be to tell
the   readers   how
disturbingly
young the
Maoist soldiers
are.   But  you
have also ended
up glorifying
their violent
movement,   j
which owes
a large bit
of its sue
cess    to
the un-
I
&k%
t
/
 discerning media. Isn't it all clear what
they are up to—the Kathmandu blockade, bombs left and right, school closures?
NAVIN THAPA
HATTIBAN
Proud Nepalis
IT IS VERY REFRESHING TO BE ABLE
to read Nation Weekly here in Maryland. I read with relish Deepak Thapa's
"Nothing to Say" on the recently held
Miss Nepal pageant and quite agree with
his views (A Little Word, August 22).
Let's take pride in being Nepalis, speak
the language with perfection—to the
envy of those who can't speak it well
and work on improving our English
skills too. Your paper is getting better
and the whole team deserves praise.
Robin sharma
philip merril college of journalism
universityof maryland, u.s.
Contradictory arguments
ADITYA ADHIKARI'S PIECE ON CUL-
ture made for a very interesting reading
("Contours of Culture," The Essay, August 22). Well versed in both language
and analysis, the writer makes some very
pithy arguments.
I have reservations about some ofthe
points he makes though. He says, "His
education [with English education] has
not even taught him appreciation of
these works [the cultural artifacts in
Kathmandu]; his soul has no need of
them." However, a little further in the
essay he affirms, "Both [the feeling of
pride in one's country and one's religious beliefs] have at their roots the
same instinct, of self-affirmation by connection to something larger than himself, a sense of participating in a larger
whole...However, this feeling is momentary."
The two statements are contradictory. Doesn't "a sense of participating
in a larger whole" have holistic connotations, and if so, and how can his soul
refrain from appreciation of true
beauty? He also points out that this
feeling is momentary, but again, isn't
that the case with most artifacts? However profound, or deep rooted in the
culture, the appreciation of art, like
everything else, dwindles with familiarity, and gives rise to a palpable detachment. The "feeling," then, is invariably momentary.
Moreover, he says of the people of
Patan. "...it is they who possess the
deepest connection to traditional culture; it is they who have the most claim
to the works on display." Agreed. But
having established that fact, does the
writer still think the same people with
"the deepest connection to traditional
culture" need placards to inform them
of their most cherished possessions, if,
indeed, they are the ones with genuine
understanding of our culture, as the
essayist points out.
Besides the tourists, it is the people
like us, the ones educated in English
medium that the placards are meant for.
Though I agree with the writer that
there should "also" be Nepali placards,
if that is what he implies, but it will
serve a very small audience. It is unwise to assume that the majority visiting the museum are deprived of basic
English comprehension skills. And as
he himself hints, it is the other minority who seek greater understanding of
the museum artifacts. Even if the placards were in Nepali, I doubt if many
Patan residents would venture into
Patan Museum. Much like their routine lives, the museums too are taken
for granted, the house next door, a part
of their lives; so close, it needs no visiting.
English is second nature to many
urbanites. The hurdles erected by deep
cultural chasms in Nepali society include language barriers, also manifested
in the reluctance of the young Nepalis
to learn Nepali. Nepali language,
though indispensable to our national
identity, is increasingly being sidelined
for the broader appeal of English. So it
is for the representation of a part of
Nepali culture, and not much more,
that the placard should also be in
Nepali.
The writer's insights are potent and
thought provoking though, apt to the
cultural discourse he has ventured
upon. More such articles are expected
of him.
BISWAS BARAL
RATOPUL
nation
Nation Weekly, The Media House, Tripureshor,
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2111102
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
 POLITICS
SPORTS
ARTS & SOCIETY
OPfNfON
DEVELOPMENT
EDUCATfON
iUSfNESS
I... democracy is
only of use there that it may
pass on and come to
its flower and fruit in manners
in the highest forms of interaction
between people and
their beliefs
— in religion, literature,
colleges and schools —
democracy in all public
and private life. I
CIVfLCONFLfCT Walt Whitman
J
 THE NOTION
OF NATIONHOOD.
www.nation.com.np
(iTEBY ' MOMDAYJ
 ofthe
!
.
PEACE: A nationwide signature
campaign started in Kathmandu
last week, calling on both the
government and the Maoists to
announce an immediate
ceasefire and resolve their
differences through talks
nation weekly/Sagar Shrestha
 uest Column
Catch Them Young
As young as the Maoist child-soldiers are, the way they have been mobilized makes them the best
weapons anyone could have
BYBANDITASIJAPATI
It was a long and hard walk of about eight hours along the riverbed off
the Prithvi Highway from Malekhu. More than the physical exertion, it
was the idea that I was in the middle of nowhere with two young
Maoists—16 and 17-year-olds, carrying socket bombs in pouches—
that was making myjoumey difficult. The reporter accompanying me had
walked on ahead and was nowhere to be seen. All I could see around
me was the rough trail, the river and the intimidating Mahabharat range.
The only human souls: these two boys. I did not know whom I was
meeting. The only information I had was that arrangements had been
made for me to meet with a ranking Maoist leader.
When I finally reached my destination, I was escorted to a house
where I saw four more ofthe "soldiers"—all of them terribly young. In the
beginning, I thought they were children from the village. Only later did I
realize that they were part of the militia. Then I was introduced to a
bearded man, who was busy reading newspapers that we had picked up
on our way and which the journalist with me had already handed over to
him. He shook hands with me and introduced himself. I had set out with
the aim of meeting someone senior in the
Maoist-affiliated All Nepal National Independent
Students' Union-Revolutionary, theANNISU-R,
in connection with my research on student politics. I was quite taken aback to find Lekhnath
Neupane, the president of the revolutionary
outfit, in front of me.
There were two others with Neupane—Yubraj
Ghimire, a central committee member ofthe
ANNISU-R, and Surya Kiran, Yuddha
Sambadata (war reporter), for Janaadesh, the
underground Maoist weekly. The first thing that
struck me was that a senior leader like Lekhnath
Neupane had only six kids to guard him—five
with socket bombs carried in improvised pouches
tied around their waists while the sixth was armed
with a pistol. Using children as messengers is a
widely used tactic in guerilla warfare because
they can move around without raising suspicion. But in this case, the children were guarding a rather senior leader. They claimed to be
between 14 and 18 years of age. To me, they
looked no more than 12.
I had been trying desperately to find the Maoist students. Without
getting theirviews, my research would be quite incomplete. But when I
was face to face with Neupane I did wonder why he had agreed to
meet me at all. As I found out later, the revolutionary students do not
have direct access to the media and they thought the meeting would
be mutually beneficial since I could act as a channel to reach out to the
public.
One of my questions to Neupane was how he justified the Maoist
strategy that only seems to hurt innocent civilians—closure of schools,
destruction of school buildings and abduction of teachers and students.
"We do not take these measures out of pleasure," he said. "Rather, we
are always left with no other option." He insisted that it was only after
their announcement of indefinite closure of schools that the government
took back the label of terrorists slapped on the ANNISU-R students, who,
I was told, never carry any weapons.
There may be a shortage of manpower or firepower among the
Maoists, but they certainly have one element aplenty—commitment.
Young Comrade Mausam, a 15-year-old school student who had joined
the militia a few months ago, boasted, "We complete our training in five
days while it would take the Army four months. And you know, didi, it is
because we are committed to our cause."
When I teased him that the gun he was carrying was probably longer
than him, he said proudly, "If one does not have any courage then even
a gun cannot do much. But if one has the courage then even a small
child can cause immense damage."
Comrade Sangharsh, 17, added, "It is necessary to have an ideology behind the weapon. In fact, both are
equally important. If there is only ideology,
one will be like CPN-UML or Nepali Congress. However, if there is only weapon and
no ideology, one will be a terrorist."
Young as these children maybe, the way
that they have been mobilized surely made
me realize that they are the best weapons
that anyone could have. The Army may claim
to have demobilized the Maoists' "ring"
around the Valley, but the kind of dedication
these children showed made it clearthat it
will take a lot more to subdue them completely.
The intent behind the present blockade
ofthe Valley bythe Maoists is to press the
government to create a favorable environment for negotiations, as Neupane told me.
The government and the Army may feel
smug that the Maoists are desperate right
now for some sort of breakthrough. But the
irony is that it does not take much for the
Maoists to demonstrate their reach. A couple
of bomb blasts at Soaltee Crowne Plaza, and the hotel along with a
dozen businesses pull down their shutters in panic. It is no secret that
neither side can completely overpower the other. But it is these points of
weakness that should automatically provide an opportunity for successful negotiations, n
(Sijapatiis a Ph.D. student at Syracuse University in the U.S. She is
researching politics in Nepal's higher education.)
.L
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 Capsules
Blockade on Valley
The Kathmandu Valley has remained virtually cut off from the
rest of the country since last
Wednesday due to the indefinite
highway blockade called by the
Maoist-affiliated student organization and trade union. The
Maoist-affiliated organizations
have blocked the traffic from
Naubise to Charaudi on the
Prithivi Rajmarg and from
Nagdhunga to Hetauda on the
Tribhuwan Rajmarg. The
Maoists have been demanding
that the whereabouts of their
missing student and trade union
leaders be made known. The
prices of fresh vegetables and
groceries have gone up by more
than 50 percent in Kathmandu.
In a related development, the Indian National Security Adviser
JN Dixit convened a meeting of
top Indian defense officials to
discuss a contingency plan on
airdropping supplies to "besieged" Kathmandu. India has
consulted Nepal on the issue of
relief. Kathmandu reportedly
has told New Delhi that its stock
of essential commodities will last
for 28 days and petroleum products for 15 days. The capital has
enough ■wheat and rice to last
till October, the Business Standard reported.
U.N. help
The assistant general secretary of
the United Nations, Kul
Chandra Gautam, has said that
Nepal should opt for international mediation, if the present
crisis cannot be resolved internally. He argued that if Nepal
can take help from the international community for development, in procuring weapons and
training its armed forces to fight
the Maoists, it can very ■well do
so to restore peace in the country. The United Nations could
be helpful not only in resolving
the crisis but also in the aftermath, he said.
FNCCI request
Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry
called on the pro-Maoist trade
union to withdraw its call to
close down 12 major businesses
in Kathmandu. President of
FNCCI     Binod     Bahadur
Brave face
The government put up a
brave face before the
media in admitting that
the peace talks 'with Maoists
hadn't made much headway.
The Cabinet spokesman
Mohammed Mohsin said the
government had established the
high-level Peace Committee but
no assurances had come from the
Maoists that they would reciprocate the gesture. The government said it 'would investigate
disappearances of trade union
activists and students affiliated
Shrestha said the closure would
result in loss of employment for
thousands of Nepalis, and a daily
loss of Rs. 500 million for businesses and estimated loss of revenue of over Rs. 10 million for
the government. The Maoist-
aligned All Nepal Trade Union
Federation-Revolutionary has
called for an indefinite closure of
the businesses.
Refugee issue
The UNHCR chief in Nepal,
Abraham Abraham, has asked
Nepal and Bhutan to find a quick
solution to the refugee stalemate.
The UNHCR expressed concern
that many ofthe refugee families
face separation as a result of the
refugee categorization, ■which
decides ■which ofthe refugees can
head back home to Bhutan.
Abraham ruled out rumors that
UNHCR was withdrawing its
support for the camps but confirmed that by the end of 2005,
the U.N. refugee agency would
cut down facilities for the refugees and train them to become
self-reliant instead.
Lottery says SC
The Supreme Court ordered
Lumbini Overseas to select employees for South Korea through
lottery, as demanded by the government. The ruling came as a
hollow victory for Minister of
with the Maoists. The government will also speed up payments
that are due for vehicles damaged
by the Maoists during bandas.
Labor Raghuji Pant, ■who ■was
earlier directed by the apex
court to let the employment
agency decide on the selection.
The company had already sent
hundreds of ■workers to Korea
when the ruling came, according to a news report.
Border check
Nepal and India have started
"joint search operations" along
the border to check possible
movement of Maoist
rebels. The patrolling areas include parts of Rupandehi,
Kapilvastu and Nawalparasi in
Nepal, and Maharajgunj,
Siddarthanagar and Balarampur
in the Indian state of Uttar
Pradesh. The joint operation
■will focus on preventing the
smuggling of arms into Nepal.
Bus accidents
Six people died in a bus accident in the Mahendra Rajmarg
at Gagankhola, Siraha. The bus
■was headed for Kathmandu
from Ham. Twenty-one others
were injured. In a separate accident, at least seven people ■were
killed and more than 24 injured
when a bus leaving Kathmandu
for Hetauda plunged into the
Trishuli in Chitwan. There were
45 passengers on board and
many of them ■were reported
missing.
Mohsin said the government
■was ■working on a "■white paper" that ■will provide details of
Maoist damages since 1996.
14
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Abductions in Iraq
Islamic militants in Iraq have
kidnapped 12 Nepalis. The
militants have accused
Nepalis of helping the United
States, AFP reported. The
news, however, is yet to be
verified independently. The
captives ■were affiliated with a
Nepali company, said a statement signed by the Army of
Ansar al-Sunna. It did not say
where the 12 were abducted
from, but the group promised
to publish their pictures
shortly "so that they will serve
as a lesson to others." A senior
government official in
Kathmandu told Nation
Weekly that the government
had no knowledge of the abduction. "As a matter of fact, we
haven't issued visas to any
Nepalis to travel to, or work in,
Iraq," he said. That, however,
hasn't stopped hundreds of
Nepalis from entering into Iraq
through Jordan, Oman and Kuwait. This is the second kidnapping incident in Iraq involving
Nepalis, according to news reports. In April, a Nepali was released after four days in the custody of a militant group.
Koirala's refusal
Nepali Congress President Girija
Prasad Koirala has rejected Prime
Minister Deuba's request to join
the Peace Committee. Koirala
said that he would support the
committee from outside. The
government formed the high-
level Peace Committee comprising top leaders of major political
parties in the coalition government early this month.
Paper committee
The government formed a
committee to review the problems faced by newspapers. The
committee, led by Minister for
Information and Communications Mohammed Mohsin will
review the existing state ofthe
Nepali media including the
government's advertisement
policy. It will furnish its recommendations within a month.
Minister Mohsin has refuted
media reports that the government had granted permission to
the Royal Nepal Army to open
a commercial bank.
U.S. visas
The U.S. Embassy has introduced a new visa processing
system that requires electronic
scanning of fingerprints for visa
applicants. The system took effect from July 15. The new system was brought into practice
to help legitimate travel to the
United States and to maintain
the integrity and security of
the United States and its borders, the embassy said. The
embassy believes that the bio-
metric processing will help
identify genuine travelers and
make it easier to replace travel
documents when they are lost
or stolen.
India visit
Prime Minister Deuba will discuss the growing crisis in Nepal
with Indian authorities during
his official five-day visit to New
Delhi starting on September 8.
The current political and security situation in Nepal and the
problems posed by the insur
gency is believed to be the prime
agenda for the visit. Deuba will
hold talks with his Indian counterpart Man Mohan Singh and
meet President Abdul Kalam and
leader of the ruling alliance,
Sonia Gandhi. This is Deuba's
first official visit to India since
his appointment as prime minister on June 2. Deuba met his
Indian counterpart in Thailand
last month during the
BlMSTEC summit.
Prospect of polls
Keshav Raj Rajbhandari, the
chief election commissioner, said
that the commission was ready
to hold elections if the government guarantees security during
polls. This he said in a meeting
with leaders from 20 smaller parties registered in the Election
Commission. The parties, on the
other hand, have expressed
doubts about the possibility of
free and fair elections given the
country's poor security situation.
Nepali prisoners
Seventy Nepalis are reportedly
stuck in Thai jails in the absence
of an extradition treaty between
Nepal and Thailand. According
to The Rising Nepal, the Thai
government had asked Nepal to
finalize an extradition treaty in
2000. Nepal is said to be doing
the necessary groundwork to finalize the treaty. Most Nepalis
imprisoned in Thailand are
charged with drug trafficking.
The majority of them have been
made scapegoats by drug dealers, the paper said. The inmates
have requested the government
of Nepal to transfer them to
Nepali jails. Four Nepalis have
died in Thai prisons in the last
18 years.
Soaltee blasts
Maoists hurled four bombs into
the compounds of the Soaltee
Crowne Plaza. All the bombs
were hurled into the tennis
court ofthe hotel. Still, the hotel management pulled down
the shutters a day after the
blasts. It said that the hotel
would be closed for an indefinite period. The hotel, associated with Britain's Intercontinental Hotels Group, had until
then defied Maoist calls for a
shutdown. The blast has been
widely condemned. The Industrial Security Group, comprising representatives of the embassies of Britain, France, Germany and the United States and
their bilateral chambers of commerce, met the prime minister
and demanded adequate security.
ttbtBlHcfaJ
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
15
 Biz Buz
MARLBORO 10'S
Marlboro cigarettes are now available in a flip-
top ten pack in Nepal. Marlboro 10's is available in two pack variations, Full Flavor and
Lights, and is priced at Rs. 38. Marlboro is
already available in Nepal in the Flip-top 20's
pack format, priced at Rs. 75. Marlboro hopes
that the introduction ofthe new pack in Nepal
will offer greater choice and convenience to
consumers in line with the wide availability of
the 10's pack format in the Nepal market.
3§i
I UiirlUi
LIGHTS
NIC BANK REPORTS PROFIT
In a repeat of last year's performance, Nepal
Industrial and Commercial Bank recorded a
158 percent increase in net profit to Rs. 67
million based on a 51 percent growth in its
operating profit to Rs. 152 million in fiscal
year 2003-04. In the previous FY the bank
had registered a 50 percent growth in its operating profit and 271 percent growth in net
profit. NIC Bank had a Capital Adequacy
Ratio of almost 14 percent at the year-end,
as against 11 percent stipulated by Nepal
Rastra Bank, signifying adequate safety and
security. The Bank's gross non-performing
loans rate is 3.9 percent, falling within international norms.
EBL OPENS AT
BIRGUNJ DRY PORT
Everest Bank Limited has opened a branch
at the Birgunj dry port, its fifteenth in the
country. The bank has signed an accord
with Nepal Rastra Bank that gives it the
authority to collect customs duty and other
government revenues at the dry port. It is
also in the process of opening its extension
counter at the customs point in Birgunj. The
banks says that it is committed to providing
most efficient and professional services to
the importers and exporters at its branch at
both Birgunj outlets. The branch at dry port will
be fully computerized and will offer the Anywhere
Branch Banking System, linking it with all the
branches of the Valley and also with other
branches in major cities ofthe country.
QATAR AIRWAYS CARGO
RECEIVES ISO CERTIFICATION
Qatar Airways cargo division has received the
coveted certification of ISO 9001:2000 standards from International Organization for Standardization. The certificate was awarded for
Qatar Airways Cargo's exceptional capacity
and steady growth in the fields of airfreight
space sales, reservation and handling, which
includes transportation byair, as well as delivery to the consignee. According to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, the certificate "better equips the cargo division to offer its customers a focused service based on timely delivery of consignments."
The cargo section has seen an increase
in revenue of more than 50 per cent for the
last three years. For the financial year 2003/
2004 the growth figures are exceeding 77
per cent, which categorizes Qatar Airways
as one of the fastest growing cargo operations in the world.
BEAUTI & BOUTIKA 2004
Kathmandu Exhibitions is organizing an event
called Beauti & Boutika 2004 from September
9 to 13 at the Birendra International Convention Center. The exhibition is aimed at creating
awareness on the use of new cosmetic products. The event will help cosmetic goods businesses market thei r products. There wi 11 be 28
different stalls at the venue, and organizers are
expecting over 25,000 visitors during the event.
TOURISM IN KOLKATA
The Royal Nepalese Consulate and the Nepal
Tourism Board jointly organized a press conference in Kolkata to promote Nepali tourism
in the Indian city on August 16. According to
the Royal Nepalese Consulate-Kolkata, a large
number of journalists and media persons were
present during the press conference. Royal
Nepalese Consul General Yubaraj Bhusal addressed the press conference and said that
tourism holds special importance in Nepal. He
highlighted the importance of Indian tourists to
Nepali tourism. He also reminded media persons that Indian nationals don't need visas to
enter Nepal; a voter ID or passport is enough
to travel by air. The Nepal Tourism Board will
participate in the Travel &Tourism Fair-Kolkata,
which starts from August 19.
FREQUENT FLYER BY
INDIAN AIRLINES
Indian Airl ines recently announced the launching of a Frequent Flyer Program for the residents of Nepal. One ofthe features of being a
frequent flyer will be the privilege of carrying
10 kilograms of excess baggage. In the program, passengers earn mileage points whenever they fly Indian Airlines, Alliance Air, Air
India, Air France and other code sharingflights
like Lufthansa, Thai Airways , Singapore Airlines, and Emirates. Mileage points could be
earned both on International flights and IA
Flights within India. After earning mileage points
passengers can redeem their miles for free
tickets to over 300 destinations across India
and around the world. Services include tele-
check in, separate counters at metro airports
and priority confirmation on wait-list tickets,
among others.
\ ( II til Htlll L  1  V,
99
iliimn
■tinm
16
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Murdered
Dekendra Raj Thapa, 34, a Radio Nepal reporter, was killed bythe Maoists on August 11
in Dailekh. Thapa was in the Maoist custody
since he was kidnapped on June 26. The
Maoist "Jan Sarkar" had labeled 10 charges
against Thapa, the prime one being that he
was a government spy. None of the charges
were well-founded. Thapa ran into trouble with
the Maoists when he asked them to return
construction materials gathered for a local drinking water project he was heading.
Thapa was also an active human rights activist. He was an advisor to the Human Rights
and Peace Society. The Maoists began hounding Thapa since last year when he welcomed
the King in Dailekh as a master of ceremony at
a local function. The King was on a whirlwind
tour ofthe Mid West, which has traditionally
been a Maoist stronghold. News reports say
Thapa's wife and three children—two daughters and a son, the eldest daughter being seven
years of age—are still in a state of shock. Human rights organizations and the Federation of
Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) have condemned
the killing. In a joint statement, FNJ, HURPES,
INSEC, SAFMA, CEHURDES and HURON have
called on the Maoists to issue a public apology
and provide compensation to the victim's family. FNJ organized nationwide protests against
the killing. Journalists, artists and other professional groups have held rallies in support of
human rights and press freedom all over the
country.
According to the International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ), last year alone as many as
80 Nepali journalists were attacked, harassed,
arrested, detained or kidnapped by the government and the Maoists. Some of them were
killed. The Maoists have issued death threats
against 10 other journalists.
O^ Yeti Airlines
Proposed Revised Flight Schedule
(Covering remote sectors)
Effective from 25 JUN-15 SEP'04
From
To
Flight
Nlo.
Days of
}peration
Dep.
Time
Arr.
Time
Rupee
Tariff
One way
Dollar
Tariff
One way
Remarks
Kathmandu
Lukla
ya i n
Daily
0630
0705
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA101
Daily
0635
0710
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA107
Daily
0810
0845
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YAH 3
1,2,3,4,5,7
0815
0850
1665
91
DHC-6/300
DHC-6/300
Rumjatar
YA221
2,4,7
0950
1025
1245
61
Phaplu
YA181
1,3,5
0955
1030
1480
85
DHC-6/300
Manang
YA601
6
0815
0915
2995
122
DHC-6/300
Simara
YA147
Daily
1135
1200
970
55
DHC-6/300
Simara
YA141
Daily
1300
1325
970
55
DHC-6/300
Simara
YA143
Daily
1430
1455
970
55
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
YA173
Daily
1115
1140
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
YA175
Daily
1400
1425
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Biratnagar
YA151
Daily
0700
0740
2585
85
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
Biratnagar
YA153
Daily
1040
1120
2585
85
SAAB340B
YA155
Daily
1620
1700
2585
85
SAAB340B
Pokhara
YA131
Daily
0905
0930
1710
67
SAAB340B
Pokhara
YA135
Daily
1530
1555
1710
67
SAAB340B
Bhadrapur
YA121
Daily
1200
1250
2950
109
SAAB340B
Nepalgunj
YA177
Daily
1245
1345
3500
109
SAAB340B
Bhairahawa
YA163
Daily
1425
1500
2220
79
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
Kathmandu
YA152
Daily
0800
0840
2585
85
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
Kathmandu
YA154
Daily
1140
1220
2585
85
SAAB340B
iBiratnagar
IPokhara
Pokhara
Kathmandu
YA156
Daily
1720
1800
2585
85
SAAB340B
Kathmandu
YA132
Daily
0950
1015
1710
67
SAAB340B
Kathmandu
YA136
Daily
1615
1640
1710
67
SAAB340B
Bhadrapur
[Nepalgunj
Bhairahawa
Kathmandu
YA122
Daily
1310
1400
2950
109
SAAB340B
Kathmandu
YA178
Daily
1405
1505
3500
109
SAAB340B
Kathmandu
YA164
Daily
1520
1555
2220
79
SAAB340B
Lukla
Kathmandu
Kathmandu
YA 112
Daily
0720
0755
1665
91
DHC-6/300
YA102
Daily
0725
0800
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA108
Daily
0900
0935
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 114
1,2,3,4,5,7
0905
0940
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Rumjatar
Kathmandu
YA222
2,4,7
1040
1115
1245
79
DHC-6/300
Phaplu
Kathmandu
YA182
1,3,5
1045
1120
1480
85
DHC-6/300
Manang
Kathmandu
YA602
6
0930
1030
2995
122
DHC-6/300
Simara
Kathmandu
YA148
Daily
1215
1240
970
55
DHC-6/300
Simara
Kathmandu
YA142
Daily
1340
1405
970
55
DHC-6/300
Simara
Kathmandu
YA144
Daily
1510
1535
970
55
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
Kathmandu
YA174
Daily
1155
1220
1160
61
DHC-6/300
iBharatpur
Nepalgunj
Kathmandu
YA176
Daily
1440
1505
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Dolpa
YA717
1
0630
0715
1315
85
DHC-6/300
Simikot
YA711
4
0630
0730
1800
96
DHC-6/300
Dolpa
Nepalgunj
YA718
1
0730
0815
1315
85
DHC-6/300
Simikot
Nepalgunj
YA712
4
0745
0845
1800
96
DHC-6/300
Surkhet
Jumla
YA713
2
0705
0740
970
63
DHC-6/300
DHC-6/300
DHC-6/300
DHC-6/300
Rara
YA715
3
0705
0745
1800
96
63
Jumla
Sutkhet
YA714
2
0755
0830
970
Rara
Surkhet
YA716
3
0800
0845
1800
96
Monday 1, Tuesday 2, Wednesday 3, Thursday 4, Friday 5, Saturday 6, Sunday 7
Sub feci to change without prior notice.
Corporate Office:
Lazimpat, Kathmandu
Ph. No. 441191 2 (Hunt. Line)
Fax: 977-1 -4420766
Reservations:
4421215 (Hunt. Line)
Fax:977-1-4420766
Email: reservationsfSyetiair.wlink.com.np
Tribhuvan Airport Office:
4493901,4493428
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
 Confli
GHOST TOWNS
Business has been bad for four straight days—ever since the Maoist blockade of the
capital began on Wednesday
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI IN NAUBISE
NARHARI (IDENTIFIED BY ONE
name), who runs Hira Hotel 8c
Lodge in Naubise, used to sleep
well when the highway was busy. The
noise of screeching vehicles all night
meant more people, safety and better
business too. Now the silence in the
nearest highway town from Kathmandu
(25km away) haunts him, he said.
Business has been bad for a record
four straight days—ever since the Maoist
blockade   of the   capital  began  on
Wednesday. "It's is a rare sight to see
kitchens in 30 odd hotels here so quiet,"
he said. "They would be busy with
steaming dal bhat." But there are no hungry bus passengers who dropped in for a
meal when buses to Kathmandu—either
from the Tribhuvan or Pritivi Highway—stopped here before making an
uphill journey through the hairpin bends
to the capital.
"Hotels in Naubise would make up
to Rs. 10,000-20,000 everyday," said
Narhari, who could offer us only soft
drinks and biscuits. All his friends from
neighboring hotels and restaurants had
gathered in his hotel. To make most of
their free time, they were playing cards
and watching television. His stall had
nothing on display, not even the regular
chana, aalu and chiura eateries like his instantly offered customers the moment
they sat down with their baggage. "It gets
scary around here when all you can now
hear is dogs howling in the night," he
said. "Strange, never heard that noise
before."
The story of Binod Upreti who runs
a telephone booth in Naubise is just
 about the same. "Buses ran around
through the night," said Upreti, who too
had closed his shop and joined us to see
how we would photograph children
playing in front of three oil tankers
parked on the deserted highway. These
tankers were among those few that had
actually dared to defy the Maoist ban in a
bid to make it to Kathmandu. A truck
loaded with passengers, and not cargo,
was charging up to Rs. 30 for a ride till
Mahadevbesi, a short ride down the road.
No bus was in sight.
"The number of incoming and outgoing vehicles have almost doubled over
the last three days," said a security officer in Thankot, the entry point to
Kathmandu. "But the numbers are still
far too negligible compared to normal
days." On a normal day, some 2,400 vehicles pass through the transit point—
half of them incoming.
On Saturday, Thankot recorded 277
vehicles entering the Valley while some
500 departed between 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. On
Thursday, only 82 vehicles came in and
some 150 left the Valley.
"Our records show there has yet been
no entry of vehicles bringing in food
grains into Kathmandu," said the security officer. It means Kathmandu could
be suffering from a massive food shortage in the coming weeks—a thesis Minister of Supplies Ishwore Pokharel
shrugged off during a press conference
on Friday.
The government maintains it has
made all "necessary arrangements" to
keep supplies of essential commodities
into the Valley smooth. On our drive
from Kathmandu to Naubise, we noticed
the heavy presence of security forces all
along Prithivi Highway. Locals told us
the situation was the same beyond
Naubise and Dhading, the area that has
been notorious for Maoist activities in
the recent months.
But like most people in Kathmandu
we talked to, locals in the highway towns
like Naubise were hopeful the blockade wouldn't last long.
"Something will happen in the next
few days," said Narhari, while we
boarded our motorcycle and paid for
the soft drinks. "Otherwise, we'll have
to survive by eating grass. We will run
out of food if this blockade continues." a
ANGRY PRESS
The Nepali press is finally angry about Maoist murders.
Too bad it took a tragedy so close to home to finally wake
them up.
BYAJITBARAL
THE MAOISTS KILLED DAILEKH-
based Radio Nepal reporter
Dekendra Raj Thapa on August
11. Thapa had been summoned by the
Maoists, supposedly to discuss a drinking water project that he was managing
for the local community. The reason
given for his death: Spying against the
Maoists and speaking at a government-
sponsored program organized to felicitate the King while he was on a visit to
the Midwest last year.
Last Wednesday the Federation of
Nepalese Journalists staged a rally at
Ratna Park to protest the murder. More
than 200 journalists, human rights activists and lawyers showed up. The president of the federation, Taranath Dahal,
said, "This is the first time that professional groups have come together to formally protest against human rights violations by the Maoists."
This certainly was not the first time
that a journalist has been a victim. Last
year the Maoists killed six. The murder
of Gyanendra Khadka in
Sindhupalchowk in September did draw
some protests, but they were not widespread. Significantly the current protests
have a different tone and tenor than before. The difference may signal an important shift in the way civil society now
views the Maoists.
Until recently many Nepalis were
willing to give the Maoists the benefit
of the doubt. The violence was distressing, but some of the rebels' rhetoric
struck a chord with ordinary people, and
there were still calls, including from the
mainstream media, to listen to the
Maoists' views. The media, at least, are
singing a different tune now.
The day after the journalists' protest
in Ratna Park, an editorial in Rajdhani
took pains to remind the Maoists that
their movement would have gone unnoticed by the international community
had it not been for the media. "India is
also suffering from insurgencies of different sorts. But these insurgencies at
L
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
19
 most get bite-sized space in Indian
newspapers. In Nepal, however,
Maoists have hogged big newspaper
space," said the editorial. The leftist
writer Khagendra Sangroula thinks that
Nepali journalists had gone a step beyond the Maoists, and have been publicizing the insurrection rather than just
reporting it. He says, "Judging by the
editorials now, the media seems to have
made a volte-face in their treatment of
the Maoists."
The about-face is almost universal,
though it remains to be seen whether it
will be a lasting trend. Almost all newspapers have now directed their wrath at
tray themselves as a political force that
stands in favor of talks, they should respect press freedom by seeking a public apology for the atrocity against a representative of the media."
The massive coverage of the protest
by the national dailies has rubbed off
on human rights activists, lawyers and
intellectuals outside the capital, and
they have also picked up the protest.
There have been demonstrations in various districts, and NGOs have joined
forces with the media. The Collective
Campaign for Peace and five other organizations issued a joint press statement on Wednesday the day the news
the Maoists' killing spree. Kantipur and
The Kathmandu Post carried front-page
editorials last Thursday blasting the
Maoists. Kantipur said that the attack
on the media would harm people's access to information, and that it shows
that the Maoists are intent on destroying the achievements of the 1990 Jana
Andolan. "If the Maoists want to por-
of Thapa's death was splashed on the
front pages. The statement condemned
not just the killing but also death warrants issued by the Maoists to 10 journalists, including Harihar Singh
Rathore and Bed Prakash Timsina of
Kantipur.
The anger has been felt beyond the
national borders. The International
Federation of Journalists, the largest umbrella organization, called for action to
protect journalists in Nepal. "The continuing crisis facing journalists and media staff is a threat to democracy" it said.
In an open letter addressed to Maoist
supremo Prachanda, Amnesty International expressed concern over abductions, killings and the blockade of
Kathmandu by the Maoists. It appealed
to the Maoist leadership "to uphold [its]
previous commitments to abide by the
fundamental human rights standards and
the Geneva Convention." This, they say
means complying with minimum humanitarian standards, including prohibitions on taking hostages and on summary
executions.
Reporters Without
Borders also expressed
shock and outrage over
the murder of Thapa.
"We are revolted by
this barbaric murder,"
it said. The Paris-based
organization has put
Maoist leader
Prachanda in its
worldwide list of 37
"predators of press
freedom."
The Maoists may
not be listening. They
have gotten the media
attention they wanted,
enough to choke the
capital with nothing
more than a statement
and to close major
businesses with just a
threat and a few small
bangs. Why should they
take advice from journalists who have,
mostly unwittingly
done as the rebels
wanted?
Media watchers say
Nepali editors are finally realizing the adverse effects their enthusiastic and sensationalized coverage of the violence and
of the Maoists has had on people. "Civil
society has always been openly opposed
to Maoist atrocities," says Arjun Karki,
president of the NGO Federation of
Nepal. "The current outrage is a sign of
media solidarity." It's about time. C
20
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Big increases in the number of tourists visiting Nepal in recent months had buoyed
spirits in the industry. After the bomb attack
at the Soaltee, all bets are off
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
JEPAL'S BELEA
guered tourism industry
was feeling optimistic after
posting modest growth last
year, bad news has dimmed
hopes of a revival. Maoists
last week hurled socket
bombs into the compound ofthe Soaltee
Hotel, one of the countries best 5-star
properties. All 435 high-end
tourists who were staying at the
hotel at the time were whisked
to safety and put up in other
hotels. The Soaltee closed its
gates.
A high-profile international
meet may have become a casualty. Soaltee was to play host to
former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the
first week of September. The
Malaysian leader, ironically,
was supposed to provide pointers on high economic growth.
"We are not sure whether he
will come and whether the
meet will go ahead at all," says a
member of the Confederation
of Nepalese Industries, organizer of the two-day event.
Other would-be participants in the meet
include Suchart Jaovisidha, the deputy
prime minister of Thailand, and G. L.
Peiris, former minister of Sri Lanka.
The Soaltee blasts have had no immediate effect on other hotels, say tourism entrepreneurs, and that no large-
scale cancellations of bookings were reported. But the officials with Hotel Association of Nepal say it could affect
tourist arrivals in the future. "The
Soaltee incident could have long-term
negative impact on the tourism industry
as a whole," says Narendra Bajracharya,
president of Hotel Association of Nepal,
better known as HAN. Government officials and tourism entrepreneurs are
frantically trying to minimize the damage. "The Soaltee has gotten so much
negative publicity that it will be difficult to fully undo the damage," says
"Vbgendra Shakya, a leading industrialist
and tourism entrepreneur. Even with the
growth in tourist arrivals last year, the
figures are barely half of 1999.
Nepal's losing streak began at the end
of 1999, the year tourism peaked with
close to half a million visitors. At the
time, officials and tourism entrepreneurs
were upbeat about doubling that figure
in the years ahead. Then Islamic militants hijacked an Indian Airlines flight
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
 Story
from Kathmandu to Delhi on December 24, 1999, which eventually landed in
Kandhar, Afghanisthan. The coverage of
Nepal by the Indian media altered
Nepal's image in the Indian public from
that of a regional tourist hub to a regional
terrorist hub. Indian Airlines cancelled
all flights to and from Kathmandu for
some time, leading to a drastic drop in
the number of Indian tourists and others traveling via India.
In 2000 the Hrithik Roshan episode
over the alleged anti-Nepal remarks by
the Bollywood actor caused riots in the
streets. Indian businesses were targeted which added insult to injury. The
number of Indian tourists, more than
30 percent of total arrivals, fell again.
But the worst yet to come. The Royal
Massacre in 2001 drew international
attention to Nepal, and suddenly the
insurrection, which had received very
little foreign media coverage until
then, became big news. With that increased exposure, tourists who had
previously had little reason to care
about the existence of Maoists rebels
 in Nepal became fearful. For a time,
the fact that tourists were not targeted
seemed to reassure potential visitors.
But the increasingly violent Maoist
offensives after the massacre and the
strong Army responses were all reported internationally. The chaos
earned Nepal an image of a country battling with violent internal conflict.
Are Still Coming'
Nepal's tourism industry is in crisis.
Yogendra Shakya, a
hotelier and leading tourism
entrepreneur, is an outspoken
figure in Nepal's business community. He told Nation Weekly
why tourism experts have little
to contribute at the moment.
As a tourism entrepreneur
how do you see the present
state of tourism in Nepal?
The state of tourism in Nepal
is in no way better than the
state of affairs [ofthe nation].
The number of tourists coming to Nepal has taken a
nosedive. It's not in the hands
of tourism entrepreneurs to
revive the sinking industry. It's
in the hands of other forces.
All tourism experts are redundant at the moment.
What has been the reaction
of your clients to the recent
spate of violence targeting
the tourism industry?
Tourists are enquiring about
the incidents. Many are concerned. In spite of whatever is
happening here in Nepal, there
is a note of optimism that tourists are still coming. In spite of
so much negative publicity, we
have a strong and devoted client base that loves Nepal and
is prepared to come here.
There are conflicting claims
about the number of tourist
arrivals. The Nepal Tourism
Board statistics show a positive reading. What is the truth?
It's up from the bad years but
down from the good ones. In
1999 we had close to half a
million tourists. By 2002 it fell
down by more than 50 percent. Even during 1999 when
we had the highest number of
tourists, the occupancy rates
in hotels were just 50-60 percent.
So what is the ideal number
of tourists for Nepal?
We need at least one million
tourists to get close to 100
percent occupancy in our all
hotels. Hoteliers have two
choices before them: increase
tourists or decrease rooms.
Many say hoteliers are doing well...
There are few hotels that are
doing well, but in totality it's
not good. The average occu
pancy rate is 20 percent. You
can't generalize if a few hotels
have 60-70 percent.
Do you think tourism would
have gone up had we not
had this insurgency and
other setbacks?
I wonder if we could have been
successful in taking the arrival
numbers to one million. We
could not have pushed up the
figure. We are silently using insurgency as an excuse for our
inefficiency.
Why is that we haven't been
able to attract more high-
end tourists?
It's just the niche market we
are cateringto. We don't have
any attractions for kids, who
are the major deciders in any
family. People go to Disneyland
because the kids want to go.
What should we do to attract
more tourists?
If we want to attract fam i ly vacationers we have to honestly
revamp our packages. We
have to bring new excitement
to our product. We must go for
more mass-appeal packages
if we want more visitors. E
X
_L
23
 Convincing tourists that Nepal was
still safe despite the media footage of
shuttered shops, baton-wielding riot
cops, stone throwing protestors outside
the Palace and plumes of smoke emanating from burning tires was not an easy
task. "The year 2001 was the worst year
in Nepal's tourism history" says
Madhuja Acharya, executive secretary
with the Travel Agents Association of
Nepal. The figures show just how bad it
was: In 2001 tourist arrival figures
dropped by more than 50 percent, though
Nepal wasn't alone.
The terrorist attacks in the United
States in September 2001 and the bombing in Bali in 2002 created panic across
the globe and caused a worldwide tourism slump. Tourist arrivals here slumped
again in 2002, to about 216,000. By 2003
global tourism had recovered substantially and despite continuing negative
publicity, the country witnessed a healthy
growth of 23 percent in arrivals, to about
265,000. The number of Indian tourists
grew by 33 percent and arrivals from
other countries close to 20 percent. Tourism entrepreneurs were encouraged by
the growth, which came despite worsening internal conflict.
Then came a little turnaround. Tourists hotspots like Ghandruk, which had
been unaffected by the insurgency previously began to experience increasing incidence of Maoist extortions. Both businesses and tourists became the victims.
Kathmandu too came under Maoist influence: Small bombs and assassinations
were reported throughout the year. But
still the tourists came. Arrivals during the
first three months of this year grew by
about half. The figures through July show
a 45 percent increase in third country tourists and 12 percent in Indian tourists,
compared to last year. "It's up from the
bad years but still down from the good
years," says "Yogendra Shakya.
Nepal's tourism industry seemed to
have survived its worst days. The reasons, say many observers, is that Nepal
has a devoted client base who are prepared to come to Nepal no matter what.
But the increasing numbers of arrivals
disguise a serious problem: The visitors
who are coming now are mostly budget
travelers. "Independent travelers are
coming, and that's good," says trekking
agent AD Sherpa. "But the high-end trav
elers and groups are shying away." Independent travelers spend far less, Sherpa
says, and stay at budget guesthouses. They
often go trekking without the services
of a guide. The numbers of visitors are
up, but few tourism businesses are showing substantial revenue growth. "We're
not attracting the right kinds of visitors,"
says Sherpa.
Industry analysts agree that Nepali
tourism entrepreneurs have failed to look
beyond the niche market that is traditionally Nepal's "tourism vote-bank." Tourism entrepreneur Shakya says, 'We haven't
been able to attract the family vacationers,
especially the kids who are major deciders
in family purchasing." Even when there
were half a million tourists holidaying in
Nepal, tourism entrepreneurs were full
of complaints about revenue and low occupancy rates. 'We don't have enough infrastructure to cater to the high-end tourists," says Rabi Poudel, president of Nepal
Association of Travel Agents (NATA).
While travel agents and hoteliers agree that
Nepal still lacks logistics to host high-end
tourists; they disagree sharply about hotel
occupancy.
Experts say arrival rates and occupancy do not have a direct relationship.
"The number of arrivals is not directly
proportional to the occupancy" says
Subhas Niroula, director at Nepal Tourism Board. Part of the problem maybe
that the occupancy figures do not include
all of the least-expensive accommodations, where budget travelers stay. But
the spat over just how bad the hotel occupancy rate is and the widespread concern about failure to attract high-end travelers may be irrelevant if the insurgency
worsens and the negative media coverage continues.
"We cannot take the Soaltee incident
as an isolated case," says HAN's
Bajracharya. "It could happen to any one
of us." Such fears and pessimism run
deep among tourism entrepreneurs. "All
tourism experts are redundant at the
moment," says hotelier Shakya. "Revival
of tourism is in the hands of other
forces—not tourism entrepreneurs."
□
From The Horse's Mouth
The explosions in
Soaltee lastweek may
have shaken its management and eventually
caused the closure of the
industry's flagship hotel. But
the tourists are unfazed and
are seen walking carefree in
and around Kathmandu.
Even rumors about the blockade haven't deterred them
from venturing out of town.
Tourists who were in
Kathmandu last week say
that they didn't notice the
explosions and that they
blame the media for the
negative publicity. David
Halie, a British tourist who
came to Nepal three weeks
ago, says he heard about the
explosions in the news. "I
would like to come to Nepal
again," says Halie.
"I would tell my friends to
come to Nepal," says Valentina
Marimelli, an Italian tourist.
"Don't worry. Itisjusttheme-
2002
2003
INCREASE
FROM 2002
2004 (Is1
7 MONTHS)
INCREASE
FROM 2003
Indian
65,629
87,066
33%
57,407
45%
Third Country
150,292
178,534
19%
110,006
12%
Total
215,922
265,600
23%
167,413
32%
Table: Tourist arrivals
dia hype." Both say many
people back home had warned
them not to come to Nepal because they perceived that the
capital city was embroiled in a
civil war. Marimelli says she read
news on a web site that said
that it was safer to go to Afghanistan than Nepal. "My parents were worried after the explosion," says Marimelli. Both
are unconcerned about the
situation in Nepal nowthatthey
are here. E
_L
24
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Conflict
LEAVE THE
TEACHERS ALONE
161 teachers have been killed in the civil conflict. The
state machinery has acted as irresponsibly as the rebels.
BY SUNIL POKHREL
JRALA, THE
widow of a school principal, is miserable. The Maoists killed her husband, Nanda Lai Koirala, on March 16,
1998 in his office at Siddhartha Lower
Secondary School in Showr Pani,
Gorkha. His offense: The Maoists
thought he was a government spy.
"They killed my husband because our
family name is the same as Girija
Prasad's," says Jana Kumari. She left the
village soon after her husband's death,
following   repeated
threats against her own
life. When she arrived
in Kathmandu, she had
two young sons and
little else. Shunned by
her own relatives, she
now lives in absolute
poverty.
Muktinath Adhikari was the widely
respected principal of Padhini Sanskrit
Secondary School and a member of Amnesty International in Lamjung. The
Maoists killed him because he taught
Sanskrit against their orders. They
dragged him from the classroom where
he was teaching mathematics. They tied
him to a tree and shot him dead at a place
that is five minutes' walk away from the
school where he taught for more than 20
years. Many of his students witnessed
the murder.
The number of teachers killed in the
conflict is chilling, and it continues to
grow. The toll stands at 161 presently.
The state machinery has acted as irresponsibly as the rebels.
Balaram Barayali, a teacher at Kalika
Secondary School in Tandi, Morang, was
arrested by security forces on Decem-
The government has
failed to protect the
lives of teachers..."
ber 4, 2003 while he was on his way to
school. Villagers later discovered his
body. No one in his village really knows
why he was killed, but many say the security forces believed he was a Maoist
sympathizer.
"Teachers in the rural areas have been
easy targets for both the Maoists and security forces to vent their anger," says
Babu Ram Adhikari, general secretary of
the Nepal National Teachers' Association. "Unlike civil servants, teachers cannot run away to the district headquarters. The nature of their job keeps teachers in places where
the government apparatus is nonexistent
[due to the Maoists]
and where they are
the most vulnerable."
The ground reality
demands that teachers
maintain an amicable
relationship with both sides. Just a hint
of inclination towards one side can be
intolerable to the other. Personal friction or minor suspicion results in sudden death. Human rights workers, civil
society leaders and political parties, including the teachers' associations, have
failed to protect teachers, particularly in
rural areas. "We as a community have
failed to voice our anger against the killings of our colleagues loud enough to be
heard," admits Keshab Bhattrai, president ofthe Nepal Teachers' Association.
The killings of teachers have started
to go unnoticed. Earlier, the brutal slaying of Muktinath Adhikari by the
Maoists sparked wide anger and condemnation, which forced them to concede their mistake. Schoolteacher
Yubaraj Moktan's killing along with several others at Doramba last year incited a
furious reaction that forced the security
forces to take responsibility for the incident. But many more killings never get
any attention. The result: nothing but a
grieving family and a school suddenly
without a teacher.
After a long silence, associations representing the teachers have at least started
to demand compensation for the victims,
and government officials are forced on
the back foot. Ironically not a single family of those teachers killed by the security forces has received compensation or
pension, even when the deceased had
served for more than 20 years and qualified for retirement benefits.
The ones killed by the Maoists aren't
treated well by the state either. Jana
Kumari Koirala hasn't received any pension from the government, despite her
husband's 21 years of service. She was
promised Rs. 100,000 as compensation
by the then Prime Minister Girija
Prasad Koirala and received Rs. 50,000
in the first installment. She never saw
another paisa. The District Administrative Office in Gorkha gave the money
to an unidentified person, she says. "I
regret that my husband served the government as a schoolteacher at all. He
wouldn't have died had he been a
Maoist."
"The government has failed to protect the lives of teachers, and its indifferent attitude towards the victims' families deserves to be condemned," says Tej
Prasad Mishra, president of the Teach-
TEACHERS IN CONFLICT
Teachers killed
161
Teachers abducted
16+
Whereabouts unknown
5
Teachers in jail
8
Displaced teachers
700(approx)
Source: Nepal National Teachers' Association
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
25
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SLAIN: Muktinath Adhikari of
Gorkha was shot dead by the
Maoists
ers' Association of Pyuthan. "The government should have a provision to grant
pension to the families of the teachers
killed, even if the teacher's status was
temporary."
The continued assault against the
teachers is beginning to take its toll:
Their numbers in the worst affected areas are dwindling fast. Approximately
700 teachers have either fled or have been
forced out.
In hopes of stemming the flow, the
Ministry of Education and Sports announced plans in March to compen-
I sate the families of the teachers killed
in the conflict. Five months on, little
has been done to honor the pledge.
Adhikari expresses apprehension about
the government's commitment. "If the
government continues to shun its
avowed responsibility" he says, "we
will take to the streets again." Ministry
officials claim they are collecting the
necessary data. "Once the data collection is complete, we will ask the Home
Ministry to compensate the victims'
families," a senior official at the ministry told Nation Weekly. The transfer of
responsibility inevitably means that the
families' miserable wait will drag on.
Educators fear that killing a teacher
causes more than just the obvious harm.
"Young minds exposed to the horror may
be inclined to seek vengeance against the
killers. Experts fear that a vicious cycle of
killing and counter-killing will continue
if students who have witnessed the death
of their teachers and the children of the
victims are not properly counseled.
Is that too much to expect from a system that can't even pay compensation
and pensions?   □
26
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Legal Eye
Law And Order
Strengthening our legal and judicial institutions is essential to attract the Foreign Direct Investment
necessary for rapid development
BY JOGENDRA GHIMIRE
Can Nepal achieve double-digit growth?" was the title of a daylong
brainstorming session of economists, businessmen, administrators, journalists and civil society members last week. Organized as a stakeholders' session by the Confederation of Nepalese
Industries in preparation for a meeting of luminaries from south and
south-east Asia—including Dr. Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia—scheduled for the first week of September, the discussions provided some
useful pointers to what Nepal should do to be on a high-growth path.
Realistically, most economists seem to believe that Nepal isunlikelyto
grow at anywhere near a double digit rate in the short run, even if fundamental departures are made in its economic focus. What is also lacking,
as Ken Ohashi ofthe World Bank put it, is the kind of "national passion" for
development present among the Japanese during the 1960s.
A key area that gets only tangential consideration when planners and
industrialists talkof economic policy is the role of institutions—specifically,
judicial institutions—in the development process. Even if institutions are
touched upon, the discussion is unlikely to dig deeper into the role of law
and judicial institutions in enhancing investments, although for a potential
foreign investor, mitigating legal risks may be a principal consideration. For
a country with a saving rate of around 15 percent ofthe GDP and where
FDI will always remain an important contributor to national investments,
legal institutions deserve greater attention while planning.
In a recent paper titled "Why India Can Grow at 7 Percent a Year or
More," economists Dani Rodrik of Harvard and Arvind Subramanian of
the IMF argue that during the 2005-2025 period, India should maintain a growth of 7 percent or higher. Their economic reasoning is based
upon (a) India's total production possibility frontier, (b) economic reforms that should enhance it, (c) its pool of skilled human resource, and
(d) the institutions in place that can steer growth.
Havingalready completed the difficult task of building key economic
and political institutions during the last five decades, India's per capita
income, according to them
should be four to five times of
where it stands. Comparing
Indian institutions with China's,
they argue the latter is headed
for a difficult challenge. A
country dominated by centralized planning for decades, it
has yet to build institutions
governed by law to make
them market-friendly, and feci litate sustained growth
through them.
It is tempting to feel good
about the nice things being
said about Indian institutions.
Nepali institutions are—after
all—similar to India's. Per
haps Nepal also has the advantage of institutions that India seems to
enjoy.
The literature on the workings ofthe market system normally makes
references to the importance of rule of law, protection of private property
and enforcement of contracts as preconditions to any successful market
activity. They are equally important while attracting investment too.
Nepal's tryst with rule-based commerce is not very old, but we still have
institutions that can assist, and have been helpful, in the process. The
element of discretion (at times highhandedness) ofthe officials is still there,
and that acts as a deterrent to a potential investor. But on the whole,
commercial decisions in Nepal are taken increasingly based on rules than
on an individual official's whims. That is not to say that there are no uncertainties caused by inconsistent and contradictory legal provisions or practices, and the failure to applythem in good faith.
Protection of private property and enforcement of contracts with the
assistance ofthe state are generally assured in Nepal, although problems in practice remain. Private property is protected under the constitution, and there is an additional guarantee against expropriation in the
Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act, 1992. Substantively,
neither rule of law, nor property protection, nor contract enforcement
should cause a major alarm for any investor. There have been no cases
of nationalization in Nepal that should worry a foreign investor.
While substantive legal guarantees and an evolving culture of rule of
law exist, the institution that suddenly becomes important in any commercial dispute involving property and contract enforcement is the court
system, which is not suited to address the complex commercial questions at hand. Any development plan should therefore have measures
to introduce reform within the institution and enable it to cope with the
demands of open economic environment. Essentially, what our court
system, especially the lowerjudiciary, lacks vis-a-vis the comfort level of
investors are: (a) efficiency in the disposition of disputes, and (b) the
ability to apply commercial legal acumen while disposingdisputes.
Unfortunately, our planners, and our business community, tend to treat
thejudiciaryasan "unproductive" sector that does not add
value to the system. Such
shortsightedness does not
help our objective of double-
digit growth. After all, if Nepal
expects to grow bythe strength
of enhanced foreign investment, business certainty and
predictability that an efficient
system of rule of law assures
is going to be important. Mak-
ingthe court system capable
to meet the needs ofthe modern commercial activities
shou Id be at the heart of any
planning exercise that we may
undertake at this stage. □
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
27
 Corruption
MORE BITE
The CIAA has become proactive, but it may need more
legislative teeth to take a bite at targets close to the real
centers of power
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL
of Police Achyut Krishna Kharel
must have felt the bitter irony of
being booked this month by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of
Authority. In April 2000, Kharel almost
became the chief commissioner of the
CIAA himself until his chances were
scuttled by charges of corruption. Now
the agency he once sought to lead has
come after him.
On August 13, the CIAA filed cases
against three successive former police
chiefs—Kharel, Motilal Bohara and
Pradip Shumsher JB Rana—at the Special Court. The CIAA's decision to try the
top guns comes barely a fortnight after
the anti-corruption watchdog scored its
first big success with the conviction of
former minister Chiranjivi Wagle. The
Special Court last month convicted Wagle
on charges of corruption and sentenced
him to two and a half years in prison and
slapped Rs. 27.2 million in fines.
In the charge sheet, the CIAA has put
Kharel's moveable and immovable property at Rs. 25.69 million. The CIAA claims
that Kharel has "earned illegally" Rs. 16.33
million, more than 60 percent of his total assets.
Kharel has been at the center of controversy before, and he held the top office during turbulent times. He was
known for his strong political affiliations
with heavyweights in the Nepali Congress. Prime Minster Sher Bahadur
Deuba promoted Kharel to the post of
IGP on February 26, 1997, replacing
Motilal Bohara. A blazing controversy
followed.
Within weeks of the appointment,
Deuba's government fell. The new
UML-RPP government transferred
Kharel to the National Investigation
Department after Kharel allegedly didn't
cooperate with the then Deputy Prime
Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev
Gautam. He was later reinstated.
As much as controversies, allegations
of corruption have doggedly followed
Kharel. Many in the police force now
welcome his prosecution. The CIAA
has named Meena Kharel, his wife, and
Ayush Kharel, his son, as co-defendants
in the case. In the charge sheet, the commission has asked the Special Court to
confiscate all his property and to penalize him with maximum imprisonment.
Kharel reportedly fled to Bangkok after getting wind of the CIAA's impending action. "We haven't been able to
trace them [Kharel, Bohara and Rana],"
says an official with the CIAA. "It seems
they have fled."
The Parliament's Public Account
Committee had previously investigated
Kharel for his alleged involvement in
irregularities in operating petrol pumps
owned by the police. The committee's
investigation recommended action
against him to the government as early
as 2000. The committee's report has
been gathering dust in the Parliament's
secretariat for more than four years.
'Corruption Is Rampant'
V)
5
If there is any constitutional
body that enjoys popular support despite being unelected
body, it is perhaps the CIAA. Since
2002 the watchdog agency has
become proactive by prosecuting
public officials which was long
overdue. The chief commissioner
of the CIAA, Surya nath
Upadhayay is in the news again—
after the Special Court con
victed former minister Chiranjivi
Wagle on July 22.
As the chief of the CIAA, how
do you see the state of corruption in Nepal?
The state of corruption in Nepal,
as in any country in South Asia, is
rampant and endemic in nature.
However, there have been improvements in recent years and
an atmosphere against corruption
is building up in the society.
Many of those involved in corruption enjoy impunity. Do you
think the conviction of
Chiranjivi Wagle has helped
break that cycle of impunity?
Not only this particular case, there
have been many convictions by
the Special Court on corruption in
recent years. Hope has grown in
the society that impunity on corruption shall not be tolerated any
more. So far as the case of
Chiranjivi Wagle is concerned, one
must not forget that the decision
ofthe Special Court is appealable
in the Supreme Court.
The CIAA has been taking action
against those indicated by the
JIPC Report 2003, the recent
high-profile case is Wagle's.
Though, we understand that the
Constitution doesn't give mandate to the CIAA to investigate
cases against Army officers,
don't you think the same report
(JIPC) can be a basis to book if
not serving Army offices, at
least, the retired ones?
The JI PC report is relatively rich and
is a special piece of information for
the CIAA and it is being used by us
in our investigation. However, it is
neither exclusive nor the only
source. The CIAA has many sources
for information. Although there has
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 "We must take such steps as positive,"
says Subhas Nembwang, a member of
the parliamentary committee that investigated the charge against Kharel, referring to the CIAA's recent move. Although
Nembwang refused to comment on individual cases, he advocated empowering the CIAA.
The allegations against Kharel are serious, but the charges the CIAA makes against
the other two ex-police chiefs are even
more so. The commission accuses Motilal
Bohara of illegally earning Rs. 23.82 million out of his total assets of Rs. 43.84 million. It has asked the Special Court to confiscate all his property and slap a maximum possible jail term. The constitutional watchdog is also investigating the
property owned by Bohara's son, Gajendra
Bohara.
After a four-month investigation, the
CIAA has asked the Special Court to
confiscate Pradip Shumsher JB Rana's
property. The commission accuses him
of illegally amassing Rs. 37.78 out of his
total property of Rs. 66.92 million. Rana
served in the police force for 32 years
and succeeded Kharel as the police chief
in 2000.
Although many have hailed the actions of the CIAA, there are also critics
who say the CIAA is biased and unwilling to go after people who have either
royal or military connections. Some police officials are apparently not happy
about the actions taken by the CIAA.
They say the commission is selectively
targeting the police. "Why only the police? Why not the Army where the proportion of corruption is much bigger?"
says a senior police official. "And why
only those retired ones, why not those
who are corrupt and are still in active
duty?" he asks.
"Army! They are beyond our jurisdiction," says a CIAA official. But the
commission may have the right to proceed against retired Army officers, at
least. "Although there has not been any
interpretation of the Constitution,"
says Suryanath Upadhayay the CIAA
chief, "so far on the issue of proceedings against Army personnel, we feel
that those who come under the Army
law are excluded from our jurisdiction."
The CIAA prosecuted Wagle on
the basis of the Judicial Inquiry Commission on Property report. And since
the JIPC has also investigated cases of
Army officers, the CIAA may be able
to use the information collected. Although cases against big fish like
Kharel may give reason to be optimistic, "It's just the tip of an iceberg," says
Nembwang. He is critical ofthe small
volume of cases filed by the watchdog.
The commission must not only increase the number of cases it refers to
the court but also broaden the range of
people it investigates. But if the commission is to investigate powerful people
who seem to be enjoying immunity now,
it may need more legislative teeth to have
a big enough bite. □
not been any interpretation ofthe
Constitution so far on the issue of
proceedings against the Army personnel, we feel that those who come
under the Army law are excluded
from ourjurisdiction.
Many in the police want the CIAA
to investigate cases against
those police officers that are
still in office. Have you thought
about it?
If you look at the cases filed in the
court we have been charge sheeting even those police officers that
are currently in office.
Does the CIAA need more powers to be able to investigate
charges of corruption against
both private individuals and
those in the Army?
Asa matter of fact, both taking and
giving bribe are criminal activities and
are punishable under the anti-cor
ruption law. I will like to remind you
ofthe famous cases related to advancement of loan to private firms
where CIAA prosecuted both the
bank officials and proprietors of
those companies. There are hosts
of cases where a private person or
a firm found to be in complicity with
any public official has been investigated bythe CIAA and, when found
guilty, has been prosecuted in the
court. This sort of jurisdiction, however, may be termed as "indirect
jurisdiction."As regards "directjuris-
diction," i.e., of the violation ofthe
regulatory regime for personal gains
or personal loss by a private individual or a firm, that could be dealt
with by a regulatory body through
regulatory regime under which such
a regulatory body is mandated.
Since CIAA is not a regulatory body,
in that sense private firms and bodies per se do not come under our
jurisdiction. My opinion is that ifthe
regulatory body becomes effective,
the activities, which you call "corruption" by private firm and individual, may substantially be
checked. As regards with Army personnel I think I have already answered your question.
During your tenure CIAA has become more proactive, why do you
think CIAA was ineffective for so
many years since its formation?
May be the anti-corruption climate
was not ripe in the society.
A lot of people are coming out
on the streets and hailing CIAA's
action, does that help you in
being more proactive?
We are not influenced either positively or negatively by such actions.
We are adherents of strict neutrality andjustice. We go bythe tenets
ofthe law. The support ofthe people
helps in building non-tolerable at
mosphere in the society so far as
corruption is concerned, which ultimately helps in raising awareness
and prevention of such activities.
How has CIAA changed over the
years?
There have been remarkable
changes in the CIAA. The institution
has grown three-fold in terms ofthe
manpower. It has achieved phenomenal growth in getting convictions from the Special Court. The
conviction rate has risen to 85 percent, which otherwise used to be
45 percent in the past. We have
been making many strides in the
field of prevention. We work closely
with the government and the civil
society organizations to control the
menace. I think, in all, one may conclude that in the last three years the
CIAA has witnessed a sea change in
its all-round growth. I advise you to
makeyourownjudgmentonthis. □
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
29
 Writin
>nthc.^ffl
ON MIGRATION AND
OMAR OF THE PACIFIC
K. N. Sharma, a.k.a., Omar, is a lonesome Nepali soul in the middle
of nowhere in a communist republic, running a fantastic chain of Indian and Italian restaurants
BY SWARNIM WAGLE
I'AE LAND OF THE NAKED,
even Gandhi in a translucent loincloth
is well clad. We Nepalis thus deserve
what little pride we take in our scant migrant and diasporic "successes"— saleswomen in multi-national companies, authors who sell, senior civil servants in international bureaucracies, tenured lecturers in decent universities, restaurateurs and
shopkeepers, doctors and broadcasters, laborers, soldiers, and software whiz-kids here
and there. It's an uneven group, our diaspora,
but this week in Nepal, we realized how
important the group is becoming to people
who reside within. When Kul Gautam, the
UNICEF Number Two, walked out of his
meeting with the prime minister on August
19, people wanted to know how he was going to fix the Maoist problem, even though
he insisted that he had come to do something about Measles, not Maoists, the former
being a relatively bigger killer, at 5000 lives
per year. The storm over Minister Raghuji
Panf s regulatory intervention on the selection process of temporary migrants to Korea also highlighted the other facet of this
phenomenon. Bringing in over US$1 billion annually an amount comparable to government expenditures for the year, Nepali
workers are not merely a category in our
national accounts, but are really our unsung
heroes who, desperate for escape and hope
themselves, sustain our economy in the process. For every recognizable name like Kul
Gautam or Samrat Upadhyay, there are thousands of Nepalis toiling away in the heat of
the Indian tea stalls and Gulf factories, gas
stations and ethnic restaurants in the west.
This column offers a tribute to this phenomenon of worldwide Nepali perseverance, by digressing to profile an unusual
example from an unlikely location: Omar
ofthe South China Sea.
K N. Sharma, a.ka., Omar, calls himself the "only Indian chef in Nha Trang."
His modest restaurant overlooks the turquoise waters ofthe Pacific in a bay town of
South-central Vietnam. Omar says his folks
come from Parbat, but he left for India early
to train as a chef. The nearest Nepali resides
a few hundred miles away and he lives far
from the main cities—Saigon is 450 kilometers away and to southerners, Hanoi, the
capital, would seem close to the North Pole.
Omar is thus a lonesome Nepali soul in the
middle of nowhere in a communist republic, running a fantastic chain of Indian and
Italian restaurants. He draws his nickname
from his restaurants that he named after
Omar Khayyam, the 11th century Persian
mathematician who authored the "Treatise
on Demonstration of Problems of Age-
bra."
AN UNLIKELY HOME
After early stints in Hong Kong, and even
the Soaltee in Kathmandu, Omar decided
to go to Cambodia. He said he just liked the
idea of going to a place with an exotic name
and interesting royalty. Aged 27 and clueless
in his purpose for travel, the clerk at the
Delhi embassy where he applied for a visa
rightly told him that he was mad. After three
decades of turmoil following the rise and
collapse ofthe Maoist Khmer Rouge, Cambodia was just beginning its reconstruction,
Hun Sen was the boss, and there were more
guns around than cement or teachers.
Phnom Penh was a dangerous place in the
90s, and Omar drifted further east to the
calmer shores of Vietnam. He thinks the
move was fated.
After six years in the socialist republic,
there appears no looking back for Omar. As
"Director" of a
chain of restaurants with a brand
name of some
value in a country where no
one understands
why he exists
where he does,
Omar is a minor
celebrity. When I caught up with him recently he had his news handy: "I was recently interviewed by Vietnamese Television." Omar is married to a charming local
lady from Khanh Hoa province and has
bought property, possibly eyeing a settled
household in his adopted country. He remits substantial amounts of dollars back to
his folks in Nepal, but there's no denying
that Omar's home is where his heart is, and
his heart is where his love is.
And for a Nepali chef of Indian meals in
Nowhere, Vietnam, Omar cuts a cosmopolitan figure wearing light pink shirts with
the top buttons unbuttoned. He speaks
Nepali or Hindi to his bemused Vietnamese waitresses if and when he feels like it.
To a vagabond observer, Omar perhaps offers a 20th century parallel to the 19th century
Naipauls ofthe Gangetic plains who in their
quest for a better life, and romantic escape,
ended up in the most unusual places on
earth. The author VS. Naipaul told the world
in his Nobel acceptance speech in 2001 that
there is a chance his father's lineage is from
Nepal: "I know nothing of the people on
my father's side; I know only that some of
them came from Nepal. Two years ago a
kind Nepali who liked my name sent me a
copy of some pages from an 1872 gazetteerlike British work about India, "Hindu Castes
and Tribes as Represented in Benares"; the
pages listed... those groups of Nepalese in
X
J
30
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 TOURIST DESTINATION:
Nha Trang is Vietnam's
premier seaside resort
fV»   ^a.b   ,^fc-
■■ifefiip-
the holy city of Benares who carried the
name Naipal." In the colonial age, there was
an element of coercion involved, or false
incentives to uproot people; in the age of
freedom, Omar guided himself by free will,
and found his peace and place in a communist country. Omar shares with the Naipauls
the same longing for the new and the unknown. Those indentured laborers shipped
by the British to plantations in the West
Indies included people from the Maithili
belt ofthe present-day Nepali Tarai. Economist Sukhdev Sah spoke once of his wish
to open a radio station in the Caribbean
where he knew his folk songs from
Dhanusha would find a ready audience.
Omar's courtesies and business sense
ensure that in his restaurants, the posters of
the Mecca stand next to that of Patan,
Everest and the Taj, and that K N. Sharma
the Hindu is only amused at Muslim clients who enter his eateries assuming that a
place called Omar's must cater to their faith.
It is rare that one runs into a Nepali on the
shores of the South China Sea, a modestly
educated man who expresses a Naipaulian
sense of belonging to the whole wide
world, not within borders. It would, of
course, be unfair to excessively romanticize Omar's lonely existence in Vietnam.
He has his share of problems with the police, rival restaurants and arbitrary tax-tormentors. But he is a survivor with a lot of
practical tips for entrepreneurs who want
to bypass the red tape in a red state.
A STORM BREWS
This spring I flew a thousand miles to visit
Omar's town for the second time. He informed there were two Nepalis in town
now. He had arranged for the other to come
and cook at his fancier Indian joint at the
posh Sailing Club. Soon after, Omar said
with no bitterness, that his guest had plotted to overthrow Omar and run the place
himself, in connivance with the Australian
owners of the club. That was a silent coup
d'etat in Nha Trang, a tiny storm over Naan
and Paneer, but no one noticed. Mocking
what he said was an incorrigible Nepali trait
of pulling each other's legs, "wherever,
whenever," Omar said he had no choice but
to move on. On growth plans, he now wants
to set up new restaurants in nearby provinces. Restaurants for tourists draw lucrative dollars, no doubt, but this time, Omar
says he wants to open Vietnamese stalls for
the locals, "their money is money too."   □
31
 Bankin
More and more Nepalis are holding on to their plastic
money
BY INDRA ADHIKARI
LAST AUGUST DHEERAJ LAMAS
sister was hospitalized at Hargan's
Nursing Home in Jawalakhel
with a broken leg. The accident
happended at about 9 p.m. When the
clinic demanded Rs. 10,000 immediately
Lama panicked: How was he going to
get that kind of money at night? Then he
remembered he had a credit card, which
he had never used at such an odd hour.
"For a while, I was dumbstruck,"
Lama recalls. "My first instinct was to
borrow from friends and relatives. Then
it dawned on me: perhaps the credit card
could work. Why not ask?"
Credit and debit cards are useful in
daily life and can get very handy during
J    ATM
N . BIL BA
emergencies, as Lama found out. More
and more Nepalis are holding on to their
plastic money. Four banks—Himalayan
Bank, Nabil Bank, Standard Chartered
Bank Nepal and Nepal Investment Bank
issue credit and debit cards. Introduced
in the early 90s, banks say the number of
cardholders shot up since 1997-98 after
an advertising blitz aimed at the
middleclass.
"Earlier, most Nepalis felt that the
cards were meant only for the rich," says
Sandeep Shrestha, assistant director at
Nabil Bank's card division. "We were
able to change that mindset over time
through media campaigns. You just need
Rs. 10,000 of monthly income to hold a
card—either debit or credit." Strangely
enough, when Nabil introduced its
credit card in 1993 in collaboration with
MasterCard, only the affluent would sign up,
though the account holders only needed to have a
monthly income of Rs.
10,000.
Now more than
38,000, most of them with
middle-class incomes,
have become regular users of these cards, thanks
to three other banks that
are now competing with
Nabil in the card market.
In all, the banks have made
transactions worth Rs. 906
million in the last 10 years
through the card holders.
It is now the Standard
Chartered Bank Nepal
that has the highest number of card holders—
more than 27,000, followed by Nabil with
5,400.
Cards are a double
luxury: You don't need to
CARD BOOM: The
majority of users
are from
Kathmandu
carry around money which comes in especially handy when the bills are big and
instead of standing in long lines at the
cash counter, you can use an ATM anytime you choose. Indeed, say users, it is
security and convenience that have fuelled the growth ofthe card industry in
the country.
"I started using credit cards three
years ago," says Dhiraj Lama, a front desk
officer at British Airways in Kamaladi.
His business requires frequent travels
to Indian cities. "It's a lot of hassle carrying money and exchanging it from
Nepali rupees into Indian currency." He
never felt safe walking around with the
bulky cash, recalling his difficulty in
New Delhi where he saw a lot of travelers using credit cards.
With all the comfort it offers, it will
be a long time before most Nepali
middleclass families start having credit
cards tucked in their wallets. The reasons are many: Banks say technology is a
major constraint.
Birgunj and Pokhara are only cities
outside Kathmandu to have ATMs. And
very few businesses outside Kathmandu
accept card payments. No surprise then
that more than 90 percent of card users
are in Kathmandu, the country's prime
business hub.
Most banks outside Kathmandu don't
offer cards simply because they don't
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Bankin
More and more Nepalis are holding on to their plastic
money
BY INDRA ADHIKARI
LAST AUGUST DHEERAJ LAMAS
sister was hospitalized at Hargan's
Nursing Home in Jawalakhel
with a broken leg. The accident
happended at about 9 p.m. When the
clinic demanded Rs. 10,000 immediately
Lama panicked: How was he going to
get that kind of money at night? Then he
remembered he had a credit card, which
he had never used at such an odd hour.
"For a while, I was dumbstruck,"
Lama recalls. "My first instinct was to
borrow from friends and relatives. Then
it dawned on me: perhaps the credit card
could work. Why not ask?"
Credit and debit cards are useful in
daily life and can get very handy during
J    ATM
N . BIL BA
emergencies, as Lama found out. More
and more Nepalis are holding on to their
plastic money. Four banks—Himalayan
Bank, Nabil Bank, Standard Chartered
Bank Nepal and Nepal Investment Bank
issue credit and debit cards. Introduced
in the early 90s, banks say the number of
cardholders shot up since 1997-98 after
an advertising blitz aimed at the
middleclass.
"Earlier, most Nepalis felt that the
cards were meant only for the rich," says
Sandeep Shrestha, assistant director at
Nabil Bank's card division. "We were
able to change that mindset over time
through media campaigns. You just need
Rs. 10,000 of monthly income to hold a
card—either debit or credit." Strangely
enough, when Nabil introduced its
credit card in 1993 in collaboration with
MasterCard, only the affluent would sign up,
though the account holders only needed to have a
monthly income of Rs.
10,000.
Now more than
38,000, most of them with
middle-class incomes,
have become regular users of these cards, thanks
to three other banks that
are now competing with
Nabil in the card market.
In all, the banks have made
transactions worth Rs. 906
million in the last 10 years
through the card holders.
It is now the Standard
Chartered Bank Nepal
that has the highest number of card holders—
more than 27,000, followed by Nabil with
5,400.
Cards are a double
luxury: You don't need to
CARD BOOM: The
majority of users
are from
Kathmandu
carry around money which comes in especially handy when the bills are big and
instead of standing in long lines at the
cash counter, you can use an ATM anytime you choose. Indeed, say users, it is
security and convenience that have fuelled the growth ofthe card industry in
the country.
"I started using credit cards three
years ago," says Dhiraj Lama, a front desk
officer at British Airways in Kamaladi.
His business requires frequent travels
to Indian cities. "It's a lot of hassle carrying money and exchanging it from
Nepali rupees into Indian currency." He
never felt safe walking around with the
bulky cash, recalling his difficulty in
New Delhi where he saw a lot of travelers using credit cards.
With all the comfort it offers, it will
be a long time before most Nepali
middleclass families start having credit
cards tucked in their wallets. The reasons are many: Banks say technology is a
major constraint.
Birgunj and Pokhara are only cities
outside Kathmandu to have ATMs. And
very few businesses outside Kathmandu
accept card payments. No surprise then
that more than 90 percent of card users
are in Kathmandu, the country's prime
business hub.
Most banks outside Kathmandu don't
offer cards simply because they don't
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 have the ATMs there. Even in
Kathmandu, ATMs are scarce, and places
that accept cards for payment are mostly
upscale, catering to foreigners and the
well to do. Even so, more than 70 percent of Nepali cardholders use their
cards both at ATMs and for purchasing
goods in supermarkets and in hotels.
Almost all local businesses that have
credit card facilities accept all cards issued by the four banks. There are two
types of cards: Visa and MasterCard.
And both have two
cateogories: those
valid in Nepal and
India only and those
that work worldwide. It's necessary
to hold a dollar account to make the
card work outside
Nepal and India.
More than 70 percent of Nepali
cardholders use the
former.
With cards, purchasing gets all too easy
Ramesh Karki, account officer at British
Airways, says, "I can
buy things even if I am
in debt, and I don't have
to pay interest on the
sum I use for at least a
month." He adds, "I
can pay the bank back
at the month end or in
installments. This has
increased my economic status." Card
users also have the option of paying 10 percent ofthe amount due
each month, rather than
paying all of it at once. But the outstanding
balance is charged a hefty 30 percent interest to encourage prompt repayments. For
some people, the convenience ofthe card
is worth the cost.
Bijay Amatya, managing director of
Yeti Travels, has been using both credit
and debit cards for five years. They come
in handy especially during his travels.
He walks around with a comforting
thought that he doesn't have to worry
even if his cards get stolen, or lost—so
long as he promptly informs his bank
about the loss.
Debit cards are more popular than
credit cards. They offer all the convenience and security features of credit
cards, without getting the cardholders
into unnecessary debt traps. "With
debit cards, you only spend what you
have," says Niraj Sharma of Himalayan
Bank.
Amatya of Yeti Travels says he likes
the debit card because there is no risk of
overspending. "I have given cards to all
three members of my family" says
Amatya. "They can spend from my account even when I am not home. This
has made my family expenditure flexible." Unlike credit cards, debit cards
require no interest payments.
By contrast, not everyone can get a
credit card. In addition to a bank account,
only people over 18 years of age with a
monthly income above Rs. 10,000 are eligible. Perhaps because of that, credit
cards are not only for business: They are
also becoming fashionable. "I felt uncomfortable when I saw everyone paying with credit cards while in India," says
Dheeraj Lama.
Whether it be the utility factor or
the status symbol that has fuelled demands for cards, the market has some
serious problems that need immediate correction. With no authorities to
keep track ofthe customer's credit history the default rates are increasing:
Some five percent of the 38,000
cardholders have defaulted and the defaulters can always switch from one
bank to another. "The only way that we
can find the economic status of a prospective customer is through a letter
from the organization where he or she
works," says Sharma of Himalayan
Bank. Sharma tells a story of an unnamed customer who fled to the
United States after charging Rs. 1.5
million on his card. The bank has lost
track of him. More of such frauds are
expected unless an oversight mechanism is quickly put in place.
The Nepal Card Member Forum
was formed in 1999 to check frauds. It
will keep track of the credit history of
card users. The forum also plans to make
ATM and credit card technology available all over the country Both are big
challenges. □
X
X
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
33
 Radio
Voices Together
"Sathsath" is a radio magazine aired every Wednesday on
Radio Sagarmatha FM 102.4. Its focus—street children
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
Tt is Wednesday 6 p.m. A small group
of children, almost a dozen, all in rags,
are gathered at a two-story house in
Sangam Chowk, Naya Baneshwore in
front ofthe radio, instead of in the street.
They are here to listen to their own
voices on the half-hour radio magazine
Sathsath (meaning together), on Radio
Sagarmatha FM 102.4. Most of the participants in the radio program, including the reporters who gather the sound
bites, are street children themselves.
"It is a medium to get the voice of
these underprivileged street kids to the
community" says Biso Bajracharya,
chairman of Sathsath, a contact center for
street children in Naya Baneshwore that
produces the weekly program. "Our
main focus groups are school-going children, their teachers and the community.
We want to improve the image of the
children who they call khates."
"The response so far has been extremely encouraging," adds Bajracharya.
According to Suchita Shah, program
manager at Sathsath, they have started
receiving hundreds of letters answering
the quiz that is a part ofthe weekly show.
The program also includes a feature
story with voices of the street children
and comments from experts and a dramatic presentation, as well as the quiz.
All of the issues discussed are focused
on street children.
"Our top priority has always been the
street kids themselves, and we even want
to hand over full time production of the
program once they are capable," adds
Bajracharya, who coordinates the program recording in a small make-shift studio on the ground floor at his contact center. Recording is done on Saturday mornings, and the final ready-made program is
packaged on a CD and delivered to Radio
Sagarmatha to be aired on Wednesday.
The British Embassy is supporting 20
episodes of the radio program that has
been on air since July 7, and its eighth
episode is already recorded and stacked,
ready to be aired.
Most of the issues for the program
come from the street children themselves after rigorous group discussions.
The experiences of Rajkumar and
Santosh, former street children themselves, who run the contact center along
with Biso and Suchita are taken into
consideration. Two more professionals
have been hired for technical assistance.
One street child has been trained and is
now working with
the radio team.
"If friends aren't
open to friends then
who is?" says 13-
year-old Sundar
Bhujel, the budding
PI
they grow up," says Shah, who calls all
the street children bhai.
Sathsath is open to all bhais, who come
there in the afternoons to learn new things,
play computer games or read books. Educational workshops on issues such as
health and earthquakes, team building
games and making toys out of papier-
mache are occasionally offered. An average of 17 street children turn up each day
and Sathsath's three-month data showed a
total of 251 different kids. Most came from
Kalimati, Kalanki, Balaju, Chabhil,
Jadibuti, Ekantakuna and Jawalakhel.
The Sathsath team has a hotline mobile number for the street children to use
when they require assistance on health
matters or when they end up in jail. When
a rickshaw operated by one of the street
children, Rabi Maharjan, and his friend
Arjun Thapa was run over by a microbus
in July 2002, Maharjan died. Thapa recovered despite two fractures in his leg because Sathsath rushed them to the hospital after receiving a distress call.
The educational activities and moral
support Sathsath offers has allowed Bhujel
reporter. "When I talk to my other
friends, they're more open on many issues, though there are still none who want
to become a reporter like me."
Getting many street children to turn
into reporters or take on any other skilled
job will be hard for Sathsath, as it does
not provide shelter to the kids. Most of
the street children they work with still
live on the street. "Most of the bhais return back to the streets though there are
so many shelter homes. We decided the
bhais needed assistance rather than free
shelter that could turn them lazy when
and a few other street children to get jobs.
One of them is already distributing publications for Bitarak.com after he learned
the Roman alphabet. Other street children
are becoming interested in work.
When we were about to leave the contact center, we asked young reporter
Bhujel what he wanted to become when
he grows up. "I still want to be just like
you all," he said, looking at this reporter
before turning shyly towards the computer and the sound mixers in Sathsath's
studio. Now that's encouragement to
people like us. □
34
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Species of the fabric as unlimited as fish in the sea,
from the daringly different, to the timeless tradition.
Unexplored colours unexpected co-ordinates you
will find unlimited possibility for your limited budget.
Spread your net at the Tex-World and spend some
quite hours fishing through our collection you will go
home with a great catch.
Opp. N. B. Bank, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal Tel: 4780395
^
 Arts   Societ
Until the early 90s, artists had limited choices. There
were a few jobs but not many alternatives. Now lots of
jobs are available to those with an art background.
BYAJITBARAL
Not many artists in Nepal survive
doing only "fine art." Uttam
Kharel, a senior artist himself,
says only Kiran Manandhar and Uttam
Nepali live on their art. Rajan Kafle, a
product of Lalit Kala Campus, who survives doing odd jobs, concurs. Even so,
more and more students have started to
enroll at Lalit Kala Campus, the only
government-owned art school. Over the
last few years, the campus has seen a
gradual increase in student enrollment,
says Nagen Singh, vice president of the
Free Students' Union at Lalit Kala Campus. He adds, "About 600 students are
studying in different levels at present."
Even private art colleges have started
to attract students. Sirjana College of
Fine Arts started three years
ago with only seven students.
Now it has 56 students. Similarly Kathmandu University
offered a one-year diploma in
art last year. Twelve students
enrolled. This year the university is expecting 20 students
and has added a three-year
Bachelor of Fine Arts program.
Why are students increasingly opting for an arts education? Because commercial opportunities in the arts beckon,
even if the fine arts are languishing. "Jobs come seeking
those with an art background,"
says Singh, who draws cartoons for different newspapers
on a freelance basis. He adds,
"Even those studying at the
certificate level are doing one
thing or the other." That may
be a bit of an exaggeration, but
evidence shows that more and
more art students are getting
some sort of paid work. Graduates are in
high demand.
This is a big change from the past.
Until the early 90s, artists had limited
choices: They could devote themselves
to their art even when it did not pay a
penny or they could teach. There were a
few jobs for illustrators but no other alternatives. Now lots of jobs are available
to those with an art background. Bikrant
Shrestha, a third-year student at Lalit Kala
Campus, says, "Art students these days
have lots of job opportunities to take to.
They can do animation, illustrations,
graphic design, cover design, layout and
cartoons; make story-boards for films
and television serials or even teach. It all
depends on their aptitude." Lured by
these opportunities, many people with
no art background are taking art classes
SS«ba5u»
ARTS
-Ge op t
36
to brush up their drawing skills, says
Kharel, who is currently teaching a group
of people with no formal background in
fine art at Sirjana College.
There are several reasons for the
boom. Nepal has had unprecedented
growth in the media since 1990. According to the Press Council, about 1,800
newspapers and magazines are in operation today. A national daily broadsheet
newspaper needs six or seven layout artists and a cartoonist at minimum; a magazine needs two layout artists and a cartoonist. The book publishing industry
is growing too, and it needs page setters
and cover designers. Do the math: Our
publishing industry requires lots of
trained artists. Where will the manpower
come from? Art colleges, of course.
Technological advancement has enabled people with aesthetic skills to do
many things on or with the computer.
Graphic design, animation and special
effects for films are all commonly done
digitally now. Technically oriented
people with their eyes set on, let's say
creating special effects or computer-generated animations have also started taking art courses, even though they rarely
teach students about how technology can
enrich and expand art.
The boom in boarding
schools has also fuelled interest
in art. Most boarding schools
include drawing in their offerings, and they need art teachers.
Shrestha says that schools like
Little Angels recruit five or six
art teachers each. Often they are
paid more than other teachers.
It's possible to live by teaching
art even without becoming a
successful artist.
Purists may worry that commercialization threatens the purity of fine art. One talented artist and teacher at Kathmandu
University, Sujan Chitrakar, disagrees. "One doesn't have to do
art full time after graduating in
arts," he says. The students
swelling the rolls in Nepal's art
schools clearly believe that, and
they seem quite willing to forgo
a life of poverty pursuing art for
art's sake in favor of making a
good living doing something
they love. □
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
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A Sovereign Summer
A popular bumper sticker in America these days reads, "Someone Else For President"
BY SAMRAT UPADHYAY
In the murky waters of election-year American politics, August is the
quiet month. Not this time. John Kerry and George W. Bush are
scouring the country for votes, slings and counter-slings have begun
with gusto and political pundits tell us, ad nauseum, that it's going to be
a tight election. I'm hoping nothing like the suffocating tightness ofthe
2000 elections, where the final battle was fought on the floors ofthe
Supreme Court, which gave Bush his presidency.
So far this year the omens are good, especially for those like me in
the 'AnybodyButBush" camp. Although a recent poll suggests that Bush's
job approval rating is still dangerously high, Democratic nominee John
Kerry leads in electoral votes—votes that really count, as we learned
from the last presidential election, when Al Gore had to throw in the towel
despite receiving more popular votes than Bush. But things change
quickly in this country, amply proven bythe latest revelation bythe New
Jersey governor that he's gay and that he's had an extramarital affair.
Another attack on U.S. soil could
quickly change the mood ofthe country, and voters could cling to Bush for
reassurance. Conversely, they could
turn against him for having failed to
prevent such an attack. Or an unsavory revelation about either ofthe candidates could prove damaging, although at this point it seems nothing
Bush does can get him into deep,
Nixon-like trouble, except perhaps oust
him from office by a narrow margin.
After it's become clear that a majority of Americans are (slightly) dissatisfied with the economy and (slightly)
unhappy about the Iraq war, Bush is
counting on his leadership on the so-
called "war on terror," on which Americans still give him high marks. He, backed
by Vice President Cheney, is still insisting that Iraq is a part of this war, although byall indications a new generation of terrorists is being nurtured on the
very soil where Bush claimed his "mission accomplished." John Kerry, on the
other hand, is hoping that dismal job
growth and soaring budget deficit will
make Americans reconsider Bush's term and oust him from office.
What to expect in the coming days?
The Republican National Convention: Scheduled to begin at the end
of this month, the GOP convention will tout Bush's leadership in post-9/
11 America. He will be presented as a "tough" leader who deserves
another four years to defend the country from the evil of terrorism. It will
be a made-for-TV affair, as the Democratic National Convention was, but
the Republicans do have a headache that the Democrats more or less
didn't—a massive march and rally of 250,000 protestors with a clear
theme: The World Says No to the Bush Agenda. United for Peace and
Justice, the organizer ofthe demonstration, is "a coalition of more than
800 local and national groups throughout the United States who have
joined together to oppose our government's policy of permanent warfare
and empire-building." It'll be a thing to watch.
The Presidential Debates: George Bush's language skills will be severely tested during these televised debates, scheduled from late September to mid October, and considered quite important in swaying
undecided voters. Bush and Kerry will battle it out three times in front of
live audiences. John Kerry, although not a passion-arousing speaker, is
fairly eloquent ("He reads," claims his wife Teresa Heinz-Kerry, in an
implied barb at Bush, who's admitted he doesn't even read newspapers). How will Bush fare against Kerry's complex sentences? James
Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly thinks that the Democrats underestimate Bush's language at their own peril. He points to Bush's strong
debating skills when he was the
governor of Texas. But I'm hopeful because Bush continues to
butcher the English language as
well as show his lack of capacity for complex thoughts. (After
all, wasn't the Iraq war sold to
the American public with a simplistic good-versus-evil proposition?) The most telling of
Bush's latest language gaffes—
already being coded for history
as "Bushisms"—occurred earlier this month, when the honorable president said, to the delight of those who think that this
administration has hurt this
country in more ways than one:
"Our enemies are innovative
and resourceful, and so are we.
They never stop thinking about
new ways to harm our country
and our people, and neither do
we." While this could be passed
off as a mere linguistic blunder,
what he said during the Unity
Journalists of Color convention
points to fundamental lack of thinking skills. A Native-American journalist asked, "What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st
century?" The president answered, "Tribal sovereignty means that—
it's sovereignty. I mean, you're a—you're a—you've been given sovereignty and you're viewed as a sovereign entity."
May the best man win. □
(Upadhyay teaches in the MFA writing program at Indiana University, U.S.)
38
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 BROADLINK
Cable Internet
...where    reality   exceeds   expectations
For the first time in Nepal, you have a better choice to browse the Internet. BroadLink gives
you a superior and faster browsing experience with the pleasure of viewing more than 68 of
the most popular channels. We use fiber optic cable connection in delivering you with quality
TV channels along with an enhanced Internet service and your telephone still rings.
For further information:
SUBiSU
CABLENET
Subisu Cable Net Pvt. Ltd.
G.P.O. Box: 6701
Baluwatar, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel: 4429616, 4429617, 4424862
Fax: 4430572, 4240165
E-mail: info@sub.su.net.np
Meeting point.
, robably tfcs b«l beer in the world
 aughin
Matt
Mobile Wherever U R
There's no denying that the advent of cellphones has created a revolution in the lifestyles
of many in Nepal
BYKUNALLAMA
Nepal Telecom is a smug company. It'smakingmegabucksina
nation renowned for its debt-ridden, loss-making public enterprises. With around 180,000 cellphone users, it has more
than matched its present sales target. It also promises, gung-ho-ly,
improvements and upgrades in its infrastructure and services to further
increase the number of users. It has the money, but does it have a plan
to do so properly? (The specter of a George Bush rising up from the
ranks ofthe telecom administration is somewhat of an alarming thought,
especially when we do not have a local documentarian ofthe caliber
and tenacity of Michael Moore to humor us out in a peculiarly propagandist fashion.) User complaints are a mile-long and run the gamut from
bad connection to their woefully ill-designed website. There's no denying, however, that the advent of cellphones has created a revolution in
the lifestyles of many in Nepal. And it has given birth to a bewildering
subspecies of Homo sapiens nepalensis!
Take, for example, the latest cell must-haver. With up-to-the-minute
uplinks to all the green channel violators in the country, before a model
is out ofthe factories in China, he already has them. Brand loyalty
means nothing to him. Once possessed, he shows 'em, proud as the
father of a newborn son. Except, this dad ditches his sons the moment
another one arrives. Somewhere i n h is house, there's got to be a eel Iphone
graveyard. I wonder if the pile of "dead" phones would be banned for
exports to Australia?
Then there's the complete mobile man. Not content with just the
phone, this dude goes all out with accessories: carrying case, desktop
stand, wireless car kit, ears-a-dangling with wires and headsets. Any
moment, you expect him to belt out a bad version of Madonna, or
infrared himself to Mars. No questions asked, this guy knows how to link
his phone to his PC or laptop; is thoroughly conversant with every single
feature available, from Bluetooth to WAP to Predictive text input. Useful
to know when you want to send a business card across, but a frightful
bore to have when the subject is not his cellphone.
You must be at the receiving end of many a serial joker, the ones who
keep pingingyou with countless jokes (and, sometimes, Ganesha good
luck mantras, for a bit of thoughtful variation), throughout the day and,
when you wake up in the morning, you realize that they have been at it
throughout the n ight as wel I. Sardar-j i jokes can on ly be funny as long as
you are lucky—or unlucky, depending on personal perspective—to have
a Sardar-ji friend around to tease mercilessly.
There are also those who annoy you with their total and absolute
refusal to let an SMS go unanswered. Whether deep into the merits and
demerits of Koshi Multi-Purpose Project or the fitness of Dr. Mohammed
Mohsin Khan—as a Royal Appointee—to be the official spokesperson
ofthe present government, the moment
a text message is announced, these
compulsive SMS-ers begin madly to let
their distracted fingerpoints do the talking. If one is clever enough to convert
adversity to advantage, it is best to keep
the conversations abbreviated and simply SMS each other. The debates and
discussions could, of course, go on
pointlessly, with no dam or Deuba in sight
My personal betes noires are the
public loud speakers who simply carry
on chatting about the state of their lives,
no matter where or who they are with.
They seem to believe that what they do
with their mobiles is their personal right
and refuse to turn them off. I would
love these subspecies to be arrested
by the authorities for public offensive
acts and harassment and thrown in the
slammer with no food or water until they
learn to dress down their habit and go
about their business in private, not public. However, I have not quite
figured out if I would be fingered bySapana Pradhan Malla and other
human rights activists and associations for subjecting minority communities to persecution, besides accused of being hand-in-hand with the
brutal arms of law and injustice.
A tiny machine, weighing about lOOg, all metal and chips and LCD
and closed-up keys. It's a wonder what science and technology has
wrought to give us this communication tool which, until 20 years ago,
would have been completely at home in the latest James Bond installment as Q's yet another amazing invention. Keep it handy, folks, and
carry on talking, n
X
40
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Nepal's leading business
& management magazine
in its 2ND YEAR of
working towards
business excellence
boss
ss   boss
1
boss    boss    boss
TOWARDS
BUSINESS • ORGANISATION • STRATEGY • SUCCESS BUSINESS   EXCELLENCE
PUBLISHED BY
SPECIALITY MEDIA PVT. LTD.
GPO Box: 2294, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 4780394,4781153, Fax: 4782100 www.readtheboss.com
 Profil
The River
Guide
From a rafting guide to being an anti-dam activist,
it's been a long ride. "My life's been like the rapids,
ups and downs," says Ale.
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
Forty-three-year-old tourism entrepreneur Megh Ale is an adventure
buff who runs a rafting agency and a river resort. His work, which
brings him close to the wilderness, has also taught him the value of
nature conservation.
"I haven't studied environmental science," says Ale, who looks like an
aging cowboy in western movies, minus the hat, with his long ponytail and
a goatee. "My profession is river guiding, and I am only doing the things I
have learned," he says. When we met him at his Lazimpat office last week,
he had a huge jet-black Tibetan mastiff dog with him. "I have two more
dogs in my Borderland Resort Hotel near Bhotekoshi. I am only
taking care of this one until I can find its owner," he said.
Ale's care for a lost dog shows in a small way his concern for
nature. His bigger projects are compelling and also popular. The
Fourth Bagmati River Festival that Ale organized as founding
president of Nepal River Conservation Trust came to an end last
week after two and a half months. It has brought much more
attention to the urgent steps needed to clean up the country's
holiest, and perhaps dirtiest, river. "The Bagmati River Festival
has established itself as a festival of the 21st Century. A new
environmental festival has been created just like Dashain and
Tihar but not celebrated only by playing cards and drinking
Jaad" says Ale.
The festival started in 2001. This year, on June 5, it
coincided with the World Environment Day, and ended on
August 21, which happened to be a Saturday. The events
included cleaning the riverbanks and planting trees along the
Bagmati, an anti-plastic campaign, training on making
compost fertilizer and rallies. The festival sponsored
competitions for photography, essay writing and poetry, plus
cycle races, kayaking and rafting.
"We want this festival to stand out in the national
calendar," adds Ale. "It'll be a platform for all concerned
civilians to work together for the betterment of our rivers as
well as to promote new avenues for tourism." Ale hopes the
festival will extend to other rivers in the Valley, such as the
Bishnumati and the Manhara, in later years. This year the
trust was able to involve about 70 organizations, including
21 media houses, for the cause ofthe Bagmati.
jTXIV
•
42
 P   - Al
*   V
How the adventure
buff turned into a
conservationist is a very
interesting story.
If it hadn't been for his
engineer friend, Pranab
Shah, Ale would probably
have joined the army, much
like his father. After completing school in Waling,
Syangja, he went to study at
the Indian Army Thaman
Hostel in Dehradun and the
Nina Thapa Hostel in
Gorakhpur. He then returned to
Waling, where he taught as a
volunteer and gave football
lessons to young students. In
1982, Shah convinced him to
come to Kathmandu to study
commerce at Shanker Dev
Campus. It was then that Ale got
into rafting. Whatever little  free
time he had between studies went into supporting himself with odd
jobs—playing football for local clubs and teaching at Himalayan Vidya
Mandir. "My life's been like the rapids, ups and down, challenges and
lots of commitment to overcome with every single expedition. I
have been a full time river guide since 1986 and am still enjoying
it."
One of the ups brought Ale to nature conservation, when he
worked for Royal Bardia National Park from 1987 to 2000. In the
recent years, Ale has become a vocal critic of government plans to
develop huge dams on major rivers. Apart from conservation
issues, the plans would adversely affect his rafting business.
"Nepal is still a Mecca for white water rafting," says Ale, "but
the government has only been thinking about hydro dollars that
it can make from huge dams, which affect the natural habitat,
along with rafting tourism. The higher the dam," he says, "the
f higher the money, and there's more chat khel ofthe politicians."
He adds, "The government officials haven't realized that our
natural resources should be saved for future generations. Development should be taking place at a balance with nature."
Ale's dream is to get the government to declare the Karnali River
as a Himalayan River Heritage and then generate income by promoting tourism in the area. That would preserve many rare species in the
river. The Karnali still has dolphins, sahar fish, gharyals where it runs
along Royal Bardia National Park, which houses the biggest Asiatic
elephant ever recorded. Nepal's nomadic Raute tribe and fishermen tribe of
Rajis also live along the river.
"Late King Birendra declared Bardia a 'Gift to the Living Earth,' but that
has hardly been realized," he says. "The Karnali is the only existing free-
flowing river that is of significant cultural value, as it runs right from the
Tibetan plateau along Kailash and Mansarovar and is a tributary of the
Ganga. Building a dam along Karnali, which rates among the top five
rafting rivers in the world, is like cutting the vein ofthe earth."
"When I die, Karnali is where I want to be cremated," says Ale. We
hope that's a long time in the future. Ale still has miles to go before he
sleeps. □
43
 CHY TTiisWeek
MALAYSIAN
Food Festival
Malaysia is a land of many flavors,
spices and tastes. It's cuisine has
drawn elements from the constituent cultures of the country
itself as well as from the neighboring states to produce what many
people consider to be the most delicious cuisine in the world. Fresh
tropical fruits and succulent Malaysian seafood are the most
prominent ingredients. The flavors and culinary styles ofthe cuisine are indeed exotic and unique.
Cultures have been meeting and
mixing in Malaysia. Malaysia's
cultural mosaic is marked by
many different cultures. Although each of these cultures
has vigorously maintained its
traditions and community structures, they have also blended together to create contemporary
Malaysia's unique diverse heritage. The culinary styles, the
hypnotic music along'with colorful and elaborately dressed
cultural troupe incite curiosity
and invite the eye to marvel at
the cross-cultural mystique of
Malaysia.
The Hyatt Regency proudly
announces the Malaysian Food
Festival from August 21 until
August 26. To experience this
exotic Malaysian gourmet,
please step in at The Cafe from
6:30 p.m. onwards. For information: 4991234.
ART
EXHIBITIONS
EXHIBITION
©LOTUS
 k       Lotus Gallery presents a joint exhi-
^ bition by Lama Tenzing Norbu,
Tsering Nyanduk and Ang Sang.
Tenzing Norbu's stunning Dolpo
landscapes were featured in the
Academy award nominated
film, "CARAVAN." Tsering
Nyanduk, an innovative young
Tibetan painter paints primarily
in oils. His work is inspired by
French impressionism as well as
the culturally rich Tibet, where he
lives and paints. Finally Ang Sang is a
graduate of Fine Arts Tibet University and
won the first prize at the contemporary Tibetan Exhibition in Beijing. His
unusual images are achieved by combining traditional wood block
printmakingwithbrushwork. Honoring centuries old Tibetan tradition,
he applies mineral pigments of turquoise, lapis, topaz and coral to his
canvasses. With unique artistic charm in each ofthe three, these artists
are fast gaining worldwide attention among art collectors.
At the Lotus Gallery, Thamel. Opening on August 22. Until September
15. For information: 4253646.
BUALUANG
Royal Lotus brings you the
unique flavors of colorful and
aromatic Thai and international
cuisine. Enjoy a 10% discount
from August 28 to September 30
in celebration of the opening.
The Thai Ambassador Pnchome
Incharoensac ■will be the chief
guest on the opening day. Open
ing on: August 28 (invitees
only). Open for public from 29
August. Opening hours: 11:00
a.m. to 10:00 p.m. For information: 5521231.
Play @ Gurukul
Gurukul is showing
"Aanamaya," a play directed by
Anup Baral. They play is based
44
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
or editorial@nation.com.np
Page
on a story, "Khuma" by Mohan
Bikram Shah. Date: August 26
and 27. For information:
4466956
Martin Chautari
Open discussions at Martin
Chautari, Prasuti Griha Marga
509, Thapathali. Participation is
open to all. For information:
4256239, 4240059.
This Week at
Martin Chautari
AUGUST 23
ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION
Topic: Importance of ■writing in
higher education. Pundit: Dr.
Pramod Mishra, Augustana College, U.S.A. Time: 3 p.m.
AUGUST 24
MANGALBARE DISCUSSION
Topic: Junk food and food security. Pundit: Dr. Aruna Upreti.
Time: 5 p.m.
AUGUST 26
MEDIA DISCUSSION
Film@Chautari: 11'09"01 September 11 - A collection of documentaries by 11 directors. Time:
3 p.m.
SHOWING AT THE JAI NEPAL CINEMA HALL
COLLATERAL
i
Starring: Tom
j
Cruise, Jamie
\
Foxx, Jada
\
Pinkett Smith,
\
Mark Ruffalo,
\
Peter Berg. For
■ ?j^
nformation:
- vnfc
4442220
AUGUST 26
ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION
Topic: Coca-cola or
Mohi? Nepali roadmap to livelihood and peace. Pundit: Dr.
Pramod Parajuli, Portland State
University, USA. Time: 5:30
p.m.
Cine Club
Movie: "Les anges de la nuit"
(1990). Starring: de Philjoanou
with Gary Oldman. At Alliance
Francaise, Tripureshwore. Free
admission. Date: August 29.
Time: 2 p.m.
WOK IN ON THE WILD SIDE
Walk in on the wild side. Whimsical ambiance and an array
of exotic choices of Southeast Asian cuisine with an elegant
touch, at an affordable price and a relaxed atmosphere. Live
music by Abhaya and the Steam Injuns. Price: Rs. 699 per
person, includes Wok in on the wild side BBQ dinner, special cocktail ofthe evening or a can of beer. 10% discount for
Heritage Plus members. Reservation recommended. At Fusion bar, Dwarika's Hotel. Date: August 27. For information: 4479488.
TOM   CRUISE      J'AMlMFOXX
lUfrlULMUN ih
COLLATE
ONG   |NG
Krishnarpan
The Nepali specialty restaurant at Dwarika's Hotel, serves from four to 16
course ceremonial meals.
Open for lunch and dinner. Table reservations recommended. For information: 4479488.
Electronic Open Air
Party
Chill out Garden. House,
Hard, Progressive and
Psychedelic Trance
with the Funky Buddha
Psy. Club. Every Friday
Night. At the Funky Buddha Bar & Cafe. Time:
7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Free Entrance. For information:
4411991.
Fantastic Fridays
A musical night with lip-
smacking food. Jazz and
club music by various
bands. At the Club,
Bhatbhateni. Time: Fridays
7-11 p.m. No Cover
Charge.
Continental Delicacies
Chef's special. At Keyman
Royal Siano Resturant,
Durbar Marg. Everyday.
Time: 12-3 p.m. For information: 4230890.
Summit BBQ
Barbeque with vegetarian
specials. At Summit Hotel.
Every Friday. For information: 5521810.
Food Program
Special Barbeque Lunch
(Chicken, Fish, Mutton) at
Restaurant Kantipur, Club
Himalaya. Every Sunday.
Price: Rs. 500 per person.
For information:
6680080,6680083.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
45
 Dristikon Nepal
Presents
f^Mimmm
Dristikon Nepal
and interested in Information Technology to
participate in the Exhibition.
IT Companies, Vendors, Institutes, TT Colleges, ISPs, DOT
Corns,   Softwares,   Education   Consultancies   and   many
more	
Supported by;
Associ^tion*of^omput5rEngm (aCENJ
Science and Technology (RON/fSjjj)]
,Radio*HBC_F_M^94.6
-bponso,
,v*y
(^f^tti]©@ljttji© <§@
liege
Hp'T nepal
01
The Nlivi
-   •
Venue: Birendra International Convention Hall
Date : 18-20 Bhadra 2060        C
ticket: Rs, 25/-
. r   Rs. 10/-(For Student)
■ ticket available en the spot of exhibition
 Not many tourists
come to Upstairs.
This is natural, for it's
discoverable only
through word of mouth.
BY ADITYA ADHIKARI
Tt's not easy to find Jazz Upstairs, located in a small, ramshackle building, atop a shop in Lazimpat. There is
a sign hanging on the side of the building, but, like the building itself, the sign
is small and obscure. You have to walk
up a narrow flight of stairs before finding a small, cozy den. The walls are covered with pictures of jazz greats, most of
the tables are at floor level and traditional
mudas serve as seats. Signs of a project to
enlarge the room by demolishing a wall
are still apparent, but even so the space
is still small. Upstairs, as the bar is commonly known, has a makeshift feel about
it, from the decor to the seats. This is
part of its charm.
The place is run by Laxmi Raj Thapa,
known by all as Chhi dai. He plays bass
in the band that jams at Upstairs on
Wednesday and Saturday evenings. In the
past the enormously popular Cadenza
used to play there. Since some of
Cadenza's musicians left for abroad,
Chhi and Jigme, the guitar player of the
band, formed another group with Sagar,
a drummer. They call themselves the JCS
Trio, each letter standing for the first initial of a band member. In speaking ofthe
differences between Cadenza and the
JCS Trio Chhi says: "In Cadenza our focus was funk. Now we play more standard jazz tunes. Also, in our new band, as
there are only three members, we get
the opportunity to express ourselves
through our instruments to a larger degree than we did when we were part of a
larger band." Czech sax player Peter
Kroutil often joins them. "We have
learned a lot from each other and have
introduced each other to different kinds
of music," says Jigme, the guitarist.
"You should have come last Saturday,"
Chhi says. "We had our six year anniversary party. There were close to 200 people
here." Two hundred people in such a
small space is hard to imagine. "The
whole place was packed. We opened up
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
 >L
i
-      '
the room where we store our musical
instruments. That soon filled up as well.
Pretty soon there were people jammed
through the hall down to the bottom of
the stairway."
The regular patrons of the bar are
mostly expatriates. They come with their
families and friends. Upstairs is a particularly congenial place for them as it is small,
has a laid back atmosphere and is conducive to meeting other people. Many claim
to come there because they feel at home,
as, after a few visits, one gets to know all
the regulars, at least by sight. "The first
time I discovered this place I felt a thrill
of having made a special discovery," said
Will Simmonds, referring to the obscure,
out-of-the-way nature ofthe place. "This
place is so much more interesting than
the bars in Thamel."
Not many tourists come to Upstairs.
This is natural, as Upstairs is discoverable only through word of mouth; it is
usually only foreigners who stay for a
longer period of time who come to know
about the place. In the evenings, locals
J
too are few and far between. There is a
regular local crowd, friends of the band
who spend much of their time there and
look upon Upstairs as their home, but it
is not very large. The Rs. 200 cover charge
on days that the band plays is a deterrent
for Nepalis. The music that the band
plays also does not exactly suit the taste
of young Nepalis, who prefer other,
more popular kinds of music.
In the daytime the patrons are mostly
high school and college students. Chhi
says: "Many couples come here in the
daytime. They like this place because of
the privacy they can have. Because of our
rule that all orders are to be made at the
bar, nobody waits on the tables, and
people like that. They feel they are not
being intruded upon."
On Wednesday evening the band
starts playing at 8 p.m. The music contributes to the laid back feel; the band
doesn't intrude. The band members are
content to jam with each other, to become submerged in the music they make.
The regulars drift in, form groups, drift
around the bar chatting with various
people. Q
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 The Everest Hotel has been Nepal's symbol of
luxury for years. Spacious & grand, it exudes the
warmth of a rich Nepalese tradition that heralds
the guest as a god. The Hotel offers everything
that a discerning traveler would seek. Luxuriously
&    aesthetically    designed    rooms.
A myriad of business & meeting facilities. A
sizzling dining experience with a choice of Indian,
Chinese, Continental & Nepalese cuisine.
Impeccable service. A lively and alluring casino &
a sparkling discotheque. An experience that is a
delight to behold and savor.
New Baneshwore, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 4780100, 4781010, Fax: 977-1-4780510, 4781288
Email: sales@everesthotel.com.np
www.everesthotel.com.np
T
The Everest HoteK
KATHMAHDU*NEPAI|
 Olympi
Star Attraction
As the first Nepali athlete to qualify for the medal rounds
in the Olympics, Sangina has already done enough.
Anything she can achieve here on will come as a bonus.
BY SUDESH SHRESTHA
The Olympic Games are into their
second week. Many sports enthusiasts here, who stayed awake on
the night of August 13 to watch the live
telecast, are through with their appreciation for the glitzy opening ceremony. Others have savored the rivalry between two
swimming stars, Michael Phelps of the
United States and Australian Ian Thorpe.
Amid the hype surrounding the international stars, not many are aware that
three Nepali athletes have quietly bowed
out of the preliminary
rounds. Two of them are
swimmers—Nayana Shakya
and Alice Shrestha. And a
third one is a shooter—Tika
Ram Shrestha.
There is one exception,
though. Thanks to her being
the first Nepali qualifier to
the Olympic Games and the
attendent media hype,
Sangina Baidya is now a
household name. She qualified for the Athens Games,
when she finished third in the
flyweight category (under
49kg) at the Asian taekwondo
qualification tournament in
Bangkok in February.
Now the whole country
is looking at her for another
milestone: an elusive Olympic win, though with guarded
optimism. And the news that
South Korea—the sport's
granddad—had withdrawn
its competitor from the un-
der-49kg category has only
sparked hope in Nepali
hearts.
"A good draw coupled
with her best form," a senior
Nepali taekwondo instructor
says, "and we stand a chance
50
to land that elusive medal." The final
draw will be released on August 25 and
the competition will be held from August 26 to 29. A total of 124 taekwondo
players, 60 of them women, are competing in various weight divisions.
Though Korea boasts dozens of
world-class fighters, the Athens Olympics could see their monopoly break.
Each country can field only two men and
two women in four weight divisions.
This provision should go a long way in
making taekwondo a global sport, much
in keeping with the Olympic spirit.
Taekwondo, the 2,000-year-old Korean martial art, first featured at the 1988
Seoul Olympics as a demonstration
sport. It made its debut as a medal event
in Sydney four years ago.
SAGINA'S CHANCES
Competiting in her first Olympic Games,
Sangina might be feeling the pressure of
carrying the heavy burden of expectations.
"Representing the country in the Olympics is in itself a dream come true. I'll try
my best for a podium finish," says the 29-
year-old. "Of course, it's going to be tough."
Days before the encounter, she was
concentrating as much on improving her
techniques as on gaining mental toughness in order not to be overawed by the
strong field. While everyone else was in
Athens, she was still undergoing a stringent training regimen in Kathmandu—
six hours a day in two sessions—with
South Korean coach Kwan Yong Dal.
Over the years, Sangina has proved
her ability to rise to the occasion. In almost two dozen international championships, she has bagged 18 medals, including 15 golds and a silver. The gold
came at the 12th Asian Taekwondo Championships held in Australia in 1996. In
the South Asian region, she is the uncontested queen: She has golds in the
last two SAF Games.
"Sangina is well exposed to big international competitions," says Kwan.
He believes Sangina can do well if she
maintains her usual composure and
doesn't underestimate her competitors.
Gone are the days when South Korean
fighters only needed to step onto the
mat to win, according to Kwan. "Assisted
by a relentless drain of Korean coaches
to distant shores, the rest of the world
has rapidly caught up with them."
"There isn't much to choose between
some Europeans, Asian athletes and Koreans," he adds. "It's just a matter of who
trains better and more." Now Nepal's
medal hopes depends on the duo—
Sangina and Kwan. Should they fail,
Nepalis can still take heart that India managed only its first individual silver medal
since Independence in Athens.
Sangina has already done enough in
being the first Nepali athlete to qualify
for the Olympics. Anything she can
achieve here on will come as a bonus. □
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 The Only Lifestyle Culture Magazine in Nepal
TIBETAN      MUSLIMS
The history of the Tibetan Muslims goes back to the time of the Great fifth
DalaiLamaof 1T Cent. Tibet. Reaching beyond religious boundaries, he
urged the Kashmiri traders to settle in Tibet. The migrants intermarried
with the Tibetans and thus was born the Tibetan Muslim Community.
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SANGINA
Wondering why SANGINA BAIDYA was
not leading the Nepali contingent during
the opening ceremony ofthe Olympics?
Where could she have possibly been?
Thousands of miles away from the venue:
Sangina was still training back home in
Nepal. "I am sad for not being able to attend the program [opening ceremony],"
says Sangina. "But rather than wait for more
than 10 days for my first match, I thought
I would be better off doing some last-moment training here." A nagging knee problem was another reason for the delay.
Sangina will hit the pavilion for the first time
this week—on August 26. "I might retire
after the Olympics, so I'll give my best shot
for the medal," she says. Go, Sangina, go.
She is, after all, our only hope.
MILES TO GO
*
CHITRA POUDEL, the 20-year-old, polio-stricken
cyclist, is a man on a mission. After traversing 32 districts
in 28 days on his bicycle last year, he set out on a South
Asian tour. He now harbors hopes of doing a 110-country
tour. "The major problems are funds and visas," says
Poudel. "Once you are done with those, the rest depends
on your strength and determination." Such a drive will
surely take him a long way.
ALMOST FAMOUS
How often do you work hard to get something and when you
have it, you get immediately embroiled in a controversy. Askai,
"Mr. Hope," isEKA RAM MAHARJAN'S creation: a mascot
that was expected to energize Kathmandu's indolent residents
to do something about the waste piled all over the city. No
sooner was Askai selected as the "model citizen," the Jyapu
Mahaguthi accused Mararjan of playing up an ethnic
strereotype. Askai is dressed in traditional/yapuwear—tucking
a flower behind his ear. Maharjan is surprised at the controversy. "I did not mean to offend anyone," says Marharjan.
'Asha Kaji isa Nepali representative and nothing more."
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
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■ Prepare and monitor of budget on a periodical and an annual basis.
■ Prepare financial plan and cash flow for the organization and various projects under implementation and etc.
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■ A bachelor level in related field with having professional experience of auditing /accounting
may apply.
■ Excellent computer skill in MS Office, spread sheet and data processing is essential.
SALARY AND BENEFIT : As per the rules of organization.
Interested persons are requested to apply with application and curriculum vitae
by 31th August 2004.
ONLY SHORT LISTED CANDIDATES WILL BE CALLED FOR INTERVIEW
Apply
The Chief,
Human Resource Department
CVICT, Nepal G.PO Box 5839, Kathmandu
Fax:4-373020, E-mail: HRD@cvict.orgnp
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KEY RESPONSIBILITY: Market the various publication
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Interested applicants must send their CV/Bio-data by E-mail,
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E-mail: jobsvacancies@yahoo.com,  Tel: 2111102
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
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AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
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nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
 Spinner Of
Cricketing Yarns
Ramachandra Guha is an anthropologist, historian,
and cricket writer—all rolled into one. He has
written and edited many books on cricket. His
book on the social history of Indian cricket, "A Corner of
a Foreign Field," is his most acclaimed cricket book. He
writes extensively on environment, ecology and
personalities as well. The "The Unquiet
Woods" and "Savaging the Civilized:
Verrier Elwin, His Trials and India" are
two of his notable scholarly books. He has
also published two collections of essays:
"The Anthropologist Among the Marxists"
and "The Tast Tiberal." Ajit Baral interviewed Guha, whom The Newark Times
Review of Books calls "perhaps the best of
India's non-fiction writers."
How did you take up cricket writing?
I became a cricket writer after reading
Ashis Nandy's "The Tao of Cricket," a
solemn, sociological study of the sport,
which wrote about cricket without any
humor and without any passion either. I
had grown up in a cricket-playing and
cricket-loving family and was steeped
in the lore of the game. I am grateful to
Nandy whose book provoked me to
place my knowledge and passion in the
public domain.
In the introduction to your book of essays, "An Anthropologist Among the
Marxists," you have written, "Cricket liberates me." Could you explain?
I meant, really that writing about cricket
furthered my interest in character over
structure; that it helped me move away
from arid sociology towards the human
drama of history
People have compared you with CLR
James. Have his books—particularly his
magnum opus "Beyond a Boundary"—
influenced you?
James and his book are incomparable. I
have read "Beyond a Boundary" at least
20 times, for education as well as entertainment. But I cannot say it "influ-
Writing about cricket
furthered my interest
in character over
structure
enced" me, for I tried to develop my
own style, consistent with my own
(more modest) talents and relevant to
the Indian, rather than the West Indian,
context.
Cricket has now become a legitimate
field of academic studies. When did
cricket start to be seen as a genuine
area of scholarly study?
I am a little nervous about cricket becoming "a legitimate field of academic
studies," especially of it being caught in
the dreary world of post-structuralist,
post-colonialist and post-modernist
studies.
You, and some other writers, have explored racism in cricket. Has racism in
other sports been as extensively written as in cricket?
Of course. There has been much good
writing about racism in American sport,
which includes biographies of such emblematic figures as the athlete Jim
Thorpe and the baseball player Jackie
Robinson.
While reviewing "Lagan" in an issue of
"Himal South Asia," a certain writer alleged the film to be racist? How did
you see the film?
I did not see it as racist. I saw it as entertainment—a well-made, racy film that
held one's attention.
Some years back, you said cricket is
religion in the subcontinent. Is it secular or fundamentalist?
Secular, for the most part, but sometimes
prone to be fundamentalist, as when
cricket becomes the vehicle of jingoistic nationalism.
You have mentioned in one of your essays that soccer hasn't flourished in
the United States because it's the most
socialist of games. Cricket isn't played
much in the United States either. Is it
for the same reason?
No, cricket did not take off in the U.S.
because time is money in that country—
which American can spend eight hours
away from work or the stock market?
How attractive a job is cricket writing?
I enjoy it, but I see it as secondary to my
other writing, which is on more "serious" subjects.
Who will hold the record for the most
number of wickets—Warne or
Murlitharan? Will the record ever be
broken?
Murali will end, as Warne says, with 700
wickets-plus. His record might stay for
a very long time.
The controversy over Murlitharan's
doosra ball, is it an instant of racism in
world cricket?
Only in part. The Australian prime minister and the Australian public have at
times been racist in their treatment of
Murali, but it must be remembered that
great cricketers of integrity such as
Bishan Bedi, also have reservations about
his action. □
56
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
 ovies
Of Art And Imagination
A painting of an unknown girl fueled a writer's rich
imagination. The resulting book was brought to the screen in
a film that evokes the sensuality and romance of both works.
BY KARUNA CHETTRI
A painting, an artist and a writer
with a rich imagination is all it
takes to produce an exquisite
novel like "Girl With A Pearl Earring."
Set in 17th century Delft, Holland, Tracy
Chevalier, the author ofthe novel, deftly
weaves a romantic story around "Girl
With A Pearl Earring," a masterpiece by
a Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. The
story is about Griet, a young Dutch girl
who is forced by circumstances to work
as a maid in the artist's home. Trapped in
the class society of master and servant,
Griet has no choice
but to succumb to
the domestic drudgery mapped out for
her at her master's
house. Eventually
her quiet observation, quick perception and love for the
aesthetic draws her
to Vermeer's paintings and ultimately
to his undivided attention. Chevalier
moves the reader
skillfully through
the growing intimacy between Griet
and Vermeer. As
Delft buzzes with
gossip, the scandal
climaxes when
Vermeer makes
Griet pose for him
in his wife's earring.
The scenes in the story are suffused
with 17th century Dutch imagery accompanied by intricate details of pigment
and paint-making. The romance between the two is implied by intense
looks, touches and silence. While she
contends with her jealous mistress,
Vermeer's wife, her silent yearning
speaks louder than any love poem.
Chevalier subtly leaves the reader wondering what might have happened had
the two met under different circumstances. Indeed, together with the painting, Chevalier's intriguing narration
evokes a myriad of emotions bordering
on confusion, uncertain expectations
and high-drama.
"It isn't a true story" explains Tracy
Chevalier. "No one knows who the girl
is, or in fact who any of the people in
his paintings are." In fact, it was a poster
of Vermeer's most celebrated painting
hanging in her room that inspired
4
*i
§
11
r'
4
Painting by Johar
nes Vermeer
(1632-1675)
BOOK
Girl With A Pearl Earring:
AUTHOR: Tracy Chevalier
PAGES: 240
first published by Dutton (New York)
MOVIE
Starring Colin Firth, Scarlett Johansson, Tom
Wilkinson, Essie Davis, Alakina Mann, Cillian
Murphy, JudyParfitt, Leslie Woodhall. Directed
by Peter Webber, 2003
Chevalier to write a historical novel
woven around the angelic young girl in
the painting. Indeed, a perfect example
of history and fiction merging effortlessly. Johannes Vermeer's paintings depict life and lifestyle in an intimate and
yet mysterious way. His use of lights
and shadows transforms his solitary
subjects into radiant and lively characters caught in mid-motion. Very little
is known about him except the fact that
he died steeped in debt and leaving a
total of 35 breathtakingly luminous
paintings.
Olivier Hertreed adapted the novel
into "Girl With A Pearl Earring," a slow
and yet sensuous movie with its vibrant
colors and opalescent lighting to match
Vermeer's painting and Chevalier's
storyline. Starring Colin Firth and Scarlet Johansson and directed by Peter
Webber, the movie hit the screens in
2003 and revived the sales of the novel
with a bang. The beautiful Scarlett
Johansson ("Tost in Translation" and
"Ghost World") has a startling resemblance to the girl in the painting. While
her flawless, peachy skin and full lips
bring their own sensuality to the screen,
the movie coaxes the viewer into a time
warp to a luminous 17th century Delft
that painstakingly mimics many of the
Dutch paintings of the time. Although
the dialogue is sparse and
much depends upon the
body language of the actors,
the visual exuberance of the
movie holds an edge over
the book. Vermeer's and
Griet's romance—chaste
and devoid of physical contact—speaks volumes in the
silence of their interactions:
Of an artist and his model, a
master and his servant, and
the upper class and the
lower class. Caught within
the boundaries of class and
time, their passion can only
be expressed in the pulsating colors of the painting of
"Girl With A Pearl Earring."
This film was justifiably
nominated for an Academy
Award in 2004 for its cinematography but lost to
"Master and Commander:
The Far Side ofthe World."
While romance seekers find the movie
sensuously appealing, the less patient
viewers find the pace excruciatingly
slow. "Tike watching paint dry!" expressed one disappointed reviewer.
The movie, nevertheless, is a fervent
melodrama brimming with suspense,
scandal and wishful silences! □
Jm
nation weekly |  AUGUST 29, 2004
57
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Red Alert
T'he Maoist blockade of Kathmandu
Valley will begin to bite at some
point. If nothing else, the Maoists
will still be happy that more than a million residents of Kathmandu are talking
about the blockade every single moment.
And about the impending disaster. The
Maoist threats have already closed down
12 major businesses, including the
country's most prestigious hotel, the
Soaltee Crowne Plaza, and the biggest
taxpayer, Surya Tobacco. The revenue
loss runs into millions. Thousands of
families once employed now face an
uncertain future—not to mention the
tens of thousands others who relied on
the businesses for their livelihood one
way or another. The Maoist plan seems
clear: Unsettle the government and force
it to declare a unilateral ceasefire.
The last time Kathmandu witnessed
an impasse, in 1989-1990, the Panchayat
regime collapsed. The pains of the 18-
month-long transit blockade, caused by
the non-renewal ofthe Indo-Nepal transit treaty were great. Prices skyrocketed.
There was an acute shortage of fuel, salt,
cooking oil and food. The tourism industry went into a deep recession. Fourteen years on, it's a very different story
First and foremost, the current anti-regime movement is a violent one. The
1990 Jana Andolan was a popular movement, and many of its leaders were inspired by the movement for independence in India, which was led by Mahatma Gandhi.
When we went to press, the highways
were still closed—for the fourth straight
day. Kathmandu continued to be gripped
by violence and uncertainty. A policeman was killed, and newspapers were
filled with stories of the deaths of three
innocent commoners in Rupandehi. All
victims of Maoist atrocities, like
Dekendra Thapa, a Dailekh-based reporter for Radio Nepal, charges against
whom were never established. The
Maoists believed he was a government
spy.
The media is smarting about the
summary execution. Deep down there
is a feeling of betrayal that the Maoists
should hurt the very people who have
bravely reported issues and incidents
that the government and security officials didn't always appreciate. East week
journalists took out a protest rally in
Kathmandu—a first against the Maoists
by a professional group.
Interestingly this comes at a time
when the Maoists plan to "ring" the Valley their most decisive offensive. We
believe the blockade will alienate the
people instead of bringing about the urban uprising the Maoists are hoping for.
The longer the hardship, the more popular will be the thinking that the Maoists
really don't care about legitimacy which
was what the 1990 Jana Andolan was all
about. Civil society will continue to express its outrage against the blockade.
Indeed, it has been a blockade, of both
the literal and the figurative kind. It's also
been a blockade of minds. The government seems unwilling to relinquish the
basic principles of the 1990 Constitution: multiparty democracy and constitutional monarchy. The Maoists have
been as dogmatic: They want a constituent assembly and U.N. mediation.
Much as we detest the Maoist violence, we do see UN. mediation as an
option. It's better to invite the international community now, when we are still
a functioning state, rather than have them
come later anyway. The external force is
bound to march in the moment we are
perceived as a threat to international
peace and security. We would like to
quote Mr. Kul Chandra Gautam, the
UNICEF No. 2 whom Nepalis hold in
high esteem for his integrity and sense
of purpose. "Wouldn't it be better for us
to voluntarily seek support for making
peace before the country becomes a
completely lawless wasteland," Gautam
wonders, "rather than face the consequences of a possible, unsolicited intervention later?" Many may dismiss this as
a desperate plea for U.N. mediation
from a senior UN. official. We see more
than that.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
AUGUST 29, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Radha Bhawan, Saraswoti Marga, Tripureshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal ,P.O.No.2463
Tef. No: 4227793,4227791, Mobife: 9851078058, 9851078059, 9851078060, 9851033393
 

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