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Digital Himalaya Journals

Nation Weekly August 8, 2004, Volume 1, Number 16 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-08-08

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20 Not Above Law
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
Wagle's conviction could break the culture of impunity
Interview:Kul Shekar Sharma, President, Transparency International Nepal
r: Deuba In The Dock by R.KRegmee, Author of "Firing the
11 Peace Before Polls
By Suman Pradhan
CPN-UML is right in pointing out
that without a stable peace, polls are
30 Promoting Media
ByPratyoush Onta
Journalism has taken a severe beating
38 Cold Comfort
By Deepak Thapa
If the checkpoints are meant to
prevent the Maoists from smuggling
arms into the citadel of Kathmandu,
the strategy is definitely flawed
40 Unrealistic
ByDanielaA Ponce
Are Nepalis waiting for a Gandhi, or a
Mandela to one day surface and make
things better for everyone?
42 The Hand With The
By Siddhartha Basnettand Yashas Vaidya
Dr. Paleswan Joshi Lakhey the first
Nepali woman to become a general
47 Upwardly Mobile
By Satishjung Shahi
The vast majority ofthe 180,000-plus
mobile phones are in the hands of
ordinary people who are living the
mobile lifestyle
50 Not Sporting
By Raman Shrestha
The country's two main sports bodies
are in the news again and for all the
wrong reasons.
18 Ticket To Korea
By Satishjung Shahi
Widespread use of lotteries to select
workers for overseas positions could
plug the loopholes both government
officials and employment agencies use
to make big money
26 No Comebacks
f*m    Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
" Bhutan's decade-long tactic of
A*,   procrastination may have paid
28 A Failed Aid
t  By Sunil Pokhrel
I The Tenth Plan target to
I promote condoms to 35
percent ofthe population
between 14 and 50 years of age looks
32   Uma's Manifesto
By Swarnim Wagle
'Let's start a bloodless
revolution, beginning on the
august date of Gai Jaatra'
34   Gossip Sells
By Sushmajoshi
Director Meera Nair has
jumped on the "gossip is the web
of life" bandwagon.
36   Hitler With A
BySanjeev Upretyi
Joshi Sir ruled the high school with an
iron hand; Hitler was his hero
 ^Ke Game? The
culture shock is
"Ke Game?" is not all
Game?" (Cover Story, Opinion, August 1) condescending. With due respect to his "American brain" and
"American education," which he refers
to as effective tools in identifying and
solving problems, I consider his education incomplete if he cannot apply
"socio-economic relativism" other
than "fatalism" in his analysis of the
situation in Nepal. It is high time
Child and the likes discarded "Fatalistic Theories" to explain the development process in Nepal. It gets old after a while when every second analyst
latches on to Hinduism, Buddhism,
Karma and Caste-ism to prop up their
reasons for Nepal's failure to progress
at the breakneck speed of "developed"
nations. I suppose the revered Dor
Bahadur Bista is to be blamed for giving currency to "Fatalism" as being the
sole reason for all things that do not
work in Nepal. The analysis of "Ke
Game?" seems to be the last straw that
many intellectuals hang on to when
they have nothing logical to say. If according to Child, "Fatalism" and
"Karma" did apply to everything in
The Maoist Movement would not
have existed today; Nepal would still be
asphyxiating in "Rana Rule" for more
than just those 104 years; Panchas and
Panchayat would still be holding absolute sway; urban migration would be
non-existent; frequent load-shedding
would be hounding our lives (like it did
in my school days when studying in
candlelight was the norm!); English
would not be spoken or taught in
schools; Nepali career women would
belong to a rare, non-existent species;
girls would not get an education; women
would not be wearing trousers and
riding around in mopeds and scooters;
the young would not be "chatting" with
others of a different caste and sometimes
even marrying them in the process; the
Blue Diamond Society would be burned
at the Hindu stake...and the list of
changes continues!
Perhaps, the writer does not consider
such urban changes (as mentioned above)
worthy of inclusion in his sweeping
analysis of the "stuck-in-a-fatalistic-
mire" Nepal.
Now how about a "Ke Game?"
analysis ofthe United States? According to George Bush (and regardless of
other views), the United States was/is
destined to be the eradicator of evil
I ¥ ¥ * X V *
f 4        •
L —■■
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
 and terrorism at any cost. Didn't his
holiness call for prayers and Christian
strength before embarking on his
"Shock and Awe" mission of salvation?
9/11 was not fated to happen but the
"Iraq War" was predestined by the preemptive strike. All people are equal but
some are less so than others: Gay marriage is not legal in the United States
(the Bible does not condone it!). Medicare has sent many a senior citizen to
an early grave. Enron has sent many
more! Education/Educational facilities
are an afterthought: Many U.S. public
schools cannot boast of updated academic course books, let alone air-conditioned school rooms and well-
equipped libraries. Inner-city kids are
still being sold street drugs by white-
collared drug pushers while the authorities plead ignorance...and the list
is long!
Ke Game? The culture shock is mutual!
Policing traffic
article ("Policing Traffic," A Little Word,
July 25), it is encouraging to see someone finally speaking about the state of
traffic in this country ,in general, and of
Kathmandu, in particular.
Driving in Kathmandu is actually a
kind of "free-for-all;" a manifestation of
"tragedy of the commons" wherein
everyone's pursuance of their individual
interests hampers overall welfare. Despite traffic rules, hardly anyone seems
interested in following them. Pedestrians prefer the road to side-walks, cross
busy streets when the traffic signal bars
them from doing so and walk just under
overhead bridges putting their own lives
at peril.
Drivers (both two and four-wheelers) enter "no-entry" routes, park vehicles wherever they feel like and have
utter disregard for fellow commuters.
One of my friends actually remarked
that driving in the Valley (can be generalized for the whole ofthe country as
well) increases blood pressure levels
due to both expression and suppression
of "road rage." What, then, are the solutions?
One ofthe hallmarks of a civilized
society is the regard for rules, norms
and discipline. These values have to be
inculcated in citizens right from school
itself. Only an emphasis on rights without stress on civic sense and duties
would make any form of society
ungovernable. Thus, if some norms
like seatbelt wearing can be made
mandatory, there is no reason why
others cannot be too. It is apparent
that "traffic awareness" weeks need to
be observed seven days a week and 52
weeks a year. Besides raising awareness and warnings through the public
and private media, a system of checks
and balances is required through strict
enforcement of rules. The traffic police should fine pedestrians violating
the rule of the road—at overhead
bridges, zebra crossings or those
caught j ay walking. Fines should also
be imposed on drivers who are negligent towards the condition of their
vehicles and misusing public space.
This can actually be a source of income. The traffic police should also
repair faulty equipment in a speedy
manner. Junctions that have heavy traffic should have traffic lights and roads
repaired, maintained and extended.
These measures could go a long way
in preventing accidents and making
life much easier for citizens. However, it is also common knowledge
that the thriving market, wherein licenses are a commodity obtained
through money rather than through
tests, is also to blame for this problem.
Media analysis
media ("The Panchayat Media," Cover
Story, by Pratyoush Ontajune 6) offers
an acute insight into the state of Nepali
media. The media offers plenty of news
and information but analyses are rare.
Almost nil, in my view. We will be informed and educated if you continue to
offer these analyses.
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Vol. I, No. 16. For the week August 2-8, 2004, relei
1 August   8
■ •
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nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
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
Pin XT % "R Y
r    \
STANDING TALL: Support for the
Special Court decision to jail former
minister Chiranjivi Wagle for two and a
half years on charges of corruption
was widespread
nation weekly/Sagar Shrestha
Peace Before Polls
CPN-UML is right in pointing out that without a stable peace, polls are impractical
While appointing him the new prime minister in early June,
King Gyanendra had given Sher Bahadur Deuba several
tasks. Among them: initiate elections before the current
Nepali year is out.
But the vagaries of coalition politics, especially the opposition to polls
without peace bythe CPN-UML, have pushed the agenda to the back
burner. Prime Minister Deuba and his ministers no longer adhere to the
King's schedule for polls within 2061 B.S. The new mantra is: peace
first, then polls.
All well and good, except somebody forgot to tell that to Bharat
Mohan Adhikari, the deputy prime minister and finance minister sent by
the UML to keep an eye on government policy. While unveiling the
budget early this month, Adhikari
made no mention of the
government's, and more specifically
his party's, new mantra. Instead,
the budget says, "sufficient funds
have been earmarked to initiate
elections bythe end of thisyear."
This makes the picture confusing. Will there be polls within 2061
or not? If yes, why don't all the coalition partners say so? If not, then
why earmark funds in the budget,
which after all isa pol icy document?
While speaking of polls, allow
me to digress a little. This budget
has done away with a novel idea
floated last year by the Thapa government. Then Finance Minister
Prakash Chandra Lohani came up
with a unique proposal to finance
political parties before elections. He
had proposed that national parties
receive Rs. 20 per vote in public
funds to contest elections.
This would put a stop to much
ofthe corrupting ways of political
parties, he had argued. Though
heavily criticized by the smaller parties which had no hopes of gaining at
least three percent of the popular vote (hence becoming national parties), Lohani's proposal had its merits. It is a pity that Adhikari, who
earmarked substantial funds for elections this year, didn't have any for
the parties.
Could that be due to fear of having to make party books transparent
to public scrutiny in exchange for the public funding? Or was it the concern that the parties would hence be getting only millions in public funds
instead ofthe tens of millions through corruption and extortion?
Before I digress any further, let us get back to the issue of elections.
We can only wish the government clarifies its stand on polls, but that is
highly unlikely since fudging the probability of elections serves itspur-
posejust as well. While it can keep the Palace thinking that the government is serious about elections, it can also keep the alliance partners
happy that nothing of the sort will happen before there is genuine peace.
The issue of elections is crucial. No one doubts that it is the most
democratic exercise which, if conducted freely and fairly, has the potential to right many ofthe wrongs in today's Nepal. But there is an inherent
danger in it. Because it appears to be the mother of all democratic
actions, the pressure to hold elections can grow, especially from well-
intentioned but naive international do-gooders.
The UML is right in pointing out that without a stable peace, pol Is are
impractical. Who will guarantee the
safety ofthe candidates, the voters, the returning officers? And that
too, notjust on polling day but for
the entire campaign, the voting and
counting phase ofthe elections?
The Maoists, whose prime leverage is their ability to disrupt polls,
will never allow that leverage to be
squandered away without extracting comparable concessions.
What might those concessions be?
Afar-sighted government would
get down to work on those concessions. For eventually, some
give and take must occur for the
Maoist confl ict to be brought to a
peaceful end. What can the government offer that the Maoists
can't reject? We know what the
rebels want: an elected constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. Comrades Prachanda
and Baburam have repeatedly indicated that this is the absolute
minimum they need to shove the
bitter pill down the throats of their
young warriors.
It may be difficult for the government to agree to the Maoist demand just yet, but that doesn't
mean it should make the task even more difficult. Minister for Information and Communications Mohammad Mohsin, however, did just that
last week. While stating the government's desire to talk peace, the
minister laid out pre-conditions as well: no negotiations on monarchy
and democracy. Someone should tell the minister that laying out preconditions before talks, especially on the very issue the Maoists are
keen to negotiate, if onlyto show to their own cadres, isjust not the way
tOCallfortalkS.   E
nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
  There are two sides
to every story.
There are always two sides to every story. Who's right
and who's wrong does not depend on which side you're
on. To a third person, there may not even be a right or
wrong, just a difference of opinion.
The important thing is to move on, change and adapt
while keeping your goals intact.
The Himalayan Times is not about taking sides. It is
about positively expressing the view of both sides.
Tne Himalayan
Oil exploration
Cairn Energy Company
(CEC) of Britain will begin
exploration of petroleum in
Tarai after monsoon. CEO
Bill Gammell and director
Mike Watts of CEC flew to
Kathmandu last week to hold
talks with Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies
Ishwor Pokhrel. Last Monday, the Cabinet had agreed
to award CEC the exploration rights in five blocs—
Dhandagi, Karnali, Lumbini,
Birgunj and Malangawa. A
bilateral agreement is likely
to be signed by August 15.
CEC produces oil and natural gas in Bangladesh and India. The company officials
said they remain undeterred
by the Maoist insurgency.
Strike off
Part-time Teachers at the
Tribhuvan University (TU),
who have been agitating for
the last 16 months for permanent placement, called off
their strike after the university officials promised to
meet their demands. Nanda
Kishore Singh, president of
the TU Part-time Teachers'
Association, broke his fast-
unto-death at the capital's
Ratna Park on the 14th day of
the strike.
Embassy floods
The Nepal Embassy in
Dhaka was flooded. A devastating monsoon deluge
swamped a number of important offices and diplomatic missions in the
Bangladeshi capital, the Daily
Star reported. Nearly two-
thirds of Bangladesh and half
ofthe capital remain inundated. At least 10 diplomatic
missions' premises and the
residences of diplomats were
reported to be knee-deep in
Labor dispute
The dispute over the idea to
select the workers for South
Korea through lottery continued, as both the Ministry of
Labor and the recruiting
agency remained adamant in
their stance. The government
is in favor of lottery but the
agencies insist they should
have a say in deciding over the
selection. The agencies say
the government should be
held responsible if South
Korea removes its quota for
Nepalis workers due to the
current standoff. The State
Minister of Labor and Transport Management, Urba
Dutta Panta, said the government would not retract its de-
Property rights
Women will no longer have
to return their inheritance to
their maternal home, when no
other heirs exist even after
marriage. The Supreme Court
(SC) ordered to do away the
provisions relating to heirless
property in the Muluki Ain,
Nepal's civil code. The SC
issued a directive to the government to scrap Section 12
(a) ofthe Muluki Ain, which
allows married women to inherit heirless property but
mentions that unmarried
women have to give away the
property after marriage. The
same SC directive also ordered the Prime Minister's
Office (PMO) to conduct a
study on discriminatory laws
against women and form a
Equal rights
The New York-based Human Rights
Watch (HRW) has asked the government to dismiss attempts to shut down
the country's only
gay rights group, Blue
Diamond Society
(BDS). A petition
had been filed at the
Supreme Court to
shut down the Blue
Diamond Society on
June 18, arguing that
homosexual activities
are deemed by
Nepal's law as criminal. In response to
the petition, the Su
preme Court gave the Ministry of Home Affairs until July 27 to show "why open homosexual activities should not be banned in
Nepal?" The effort
would go against the
right to freedom of
association and expression, HRW said.
Last week, BDS accused police personnel of committing
atrocities against ho-
mosexuals. It has
been pressuring the
government to decriminalize homosexuality.
panel under the secretary of
National Human Rights
Commission to look into
the contradictory provisions
in law relating to family and
property rights that discriminate women.
Poland arrest
Two Nepalis along with 17
other Asians were arrested by
Polish border guards when
they were trying to cross over
to Poland from Germany in a
lorry. The lorry driver, a Pole,
will be charged with human
trafficking and faces up to five
years in prison, AFP reported
from Warsaw. However, the
fate of two Nepalis, alongside
12 Vietnamese and three
Afghanis, was not known immediately.
Maoist split
Two militant organizations
affiliated with the Maoists
have severed ties with the
group. The Kirat Workers'
Party (KWP) and the
Madhesi National Front
(MNF), in separate meetings, decided to part ways
with the Maoists. The MNF
has accused the Maoists of
continued discrimination
against people of Madhesi
origin. KWP said they had
disagreement over the
party's policies, especially
the "direction" the Maoists
were heading to.
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Risal obit
Senior Nepali Congress
leader and former Rastriya
Sabha member Basu Risal,
who had been suffering from
asthma, died at the age of 77.
Risal was a founding member
of Nepal Students' Union and
had served as the general secretary of the Nepali Congress. He was also minister
for water resources, information and communications after the restoration of democracy in 1990.
Prison term
A New Delhi court sentenced
two suspected Nepali
Maoists to five years in prison.
The two suspects, Surya
Bahadur and Kishan Bahadur,
were arrested at the Old Delhi
Railway station while trying
to smuggle explosives to
Nepal some two and half
years ago, the United News
of India reported. The two are
said to be from Lumbini.
High dam
India and Nepal will build a
high dam on Koshi river. Indian Prime Minister Man
Mohan Singh said that Indian
officials have been holding
talks with their Nepali counterparts, The Indian Express
reported. Singh, who toured
the flood devastated regions
of Bihar last week, said his
government had allocated Rs.
390 million to conduct feasibility study to build a high
dam. The Koshi claims hundreds of lives both in Nepal
and Bihar every monsoon.
Train arrives
After a successful test in June,
the Birgunj-Kolkata direct
cargo train arrived at Sirsiya
dry port in Birgunj last Tuesday. The rail service started its
commercial transaction carrying the cargo for business
houses. The Himalayan Terminals, an Indo-Nepal joint
venture company, has been
given a 10-year lease to run
the dry port. The company
said it was planning to operate two trains a week.
Court acquittal
The Special Court acquitted
former Minister of Information and Communications
Jaya Prakash Gupta along with
the Managing Director of
Kantipur Television, Kailash
Sirohiya. The court said it
didn't find enough evidence
to convict them on charges of
irregularities while taking
backKTVs bid bond.
Refugee options
The Bhutanese refugees have
urged the government of
Nepal and UNHCR to explore alternatives to repatriation. Refugees said they didn't
believe reparation would ever
take place. Rakesh Chettri, a
refugee leader, told Nation
Weekly that a third country
resettlement should take
place. The government of
Nepal should approach the
U.S. government for a resettlement drive, he said. Even
the UNHCR officials have
said that they won't encourage repatriation unless a third
party monitors the bilateral
Oil pipeline
Indian Oil Corporation
(IOC) has proposed to put
up a Rs. 350 million pipeline
to Nepal to export petroleum
products. The pipeline, IOC
said, will be laid from Raxaul
in India to Amlekhganj in
Nepal. The project will be
implemented in two phases:
in phase-I, Rs. 330 million
will be spent and in phase-II
Rs. 23 million will be spent,
the project monitor reported.
Mortality aid
The British government's
Department For International Development (DFID)
will provide Nepal 20 million pounds to combat maternal mortality. Gareth Thomas, British Parliamentary
Under Secretary of State,
who was visiting Nepal last
week, made the announcement. Nepal has one of the
highest maternal mortality
rates in Asia. Twelve women
die every day due to pregnancy-related complications.
Rights violation
Amnesty International (Al)
denounced both the security forces and the Maoists
for flagrant violations of
human rights since the
breakdown of ceasefire in
August last year. In its annual report released on
Wednesday, Amnesty documents an escalation in arbitrary arrests, extra-judicial killings and torture.
Members of the CPN-
Maoist have also been responsible for grave human
rights abuses, including assassinations of political op
ponents and civilians, torture and mass abductions of
school students and teachers, the report said.
Everest dispute
The Mountaineering Division ofthe Ministry of Tourism has asked foreign climbers to help resolve a row over
the fastest ascent of Mount
Everest. The ministry has sent
letters to the leaders of 13 foreign climbing teams. On June
10, Lakpa Gelu Sherpa petitioned the ministry questioning the authenticity of Pemba
Dorje Sherpa's record breaking ascent to the Everest in
eight hours and 10 minutes.
Lakpa held the previous
record of 10 hours and 56
Taxi strike
The traffic in Katmandu
came to a virtual standstill
last Friday when taxi drivers parked their vehicles in
the middle of the streets.
The drivers were protesting
the police intervention in
their rally at Koteshwore the
day before. The drivers,
who said that the protest was
aimed at police high-handedness and chanted slogans
against Valley's traffic management. The police were
able to clear the jam only after 7 p.m.
CHAKKA JAM: Taxi drivers brought out their grievances on the streets last week
nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
 Biz Buz
Nepal took part in the 16th edition ofthe India
International Travel Mart (HTM), India's premier travel and tourism exhibition in Bangalore
from 24-26 July. The Nepal Tourism Board and
Royal Nepal Airlines promoted Nepal as a popular holiday destination for the Indian market in
the IITM. R G. R. Sindhia, Kamataka Minister
for Large and Medium-scale Industries, described his memorable weeklong holiday in
Nepal several years ago as being one of his
best. "Wonderful scenery, weather and warm
friendly people. I am coming back very soon,"
he said.
Visitors also made number of enquiries and
requested RNAC to resume itsflights and complimentary hotel packages that were offered
last year. Apart from queries about religious
tourism, they also enquired about tours to Mt.
Kailash and Manasarovar in Tibet, as Nepal is
an established gateway to Tibet.
The Royal Thai Restaurant recently opened a
new branch at Kasthamandap Bazaar in
Kamaladi. The conveniently located restaurant
offers authentic Thai and continental cuisine,
executive lunch and catering services. The other
branch of the same restaurant is located at
New Baneshwore.
A delegation from the Board of Directors ofthe
Asian Development Bank (ADB) arrived here
last week on a four-day official visit. The group
is visiting three countries in South Asia—
Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal—to gain a better understanding of their needs. In Nepal, the
group is said to discuss ADB operations and
the impact of conflict on Nepal's development
with government officials. The delegation will
also hold consultations with civil society, the
private sector and other development partners.
A visit to the ADB-assisted projects in Pokhara
and the Melamchi Water Supply are also on
the schedule ofthe delegation. Established in
1966, ADB is owned by 63 member states, of
which 45 are from the region.
RabRen International, the sole distributor of Cosmic Yingyang Motorcycles in Nepal, organized a
test ride and rally in Kathmandu last week. Cosmic Yingyang is the first motorcycle to be manufactured in Nepal. The rally was also an opportu
nity for the fans of actor Rajesh Hamal, the brand
ambassador of Cosmic Yingyang, to test ride the
bike and rally with the cine star. The rally took off
at three different points: Patan Trade Center in
Satdobato; Raju International in Teku; and
RabRen International in Nagpokhari. Hamal visited the 3 showrooms and met and offered encouragement to the test riders. Twenty lucky riders from each showroom got the opportunity to
rally with the star. The riders were presented with
a pester calendar of Hamal and a Cosmic Yngyang
t-shirt. Customers who booked the bikes before
25 July were eligible for a special scheme.
Sagtani Axim organized a free trial exhibition of
washing machines and dryers at the
Bhatbhateni Supermarket. According to Rama
Shah, Marketing Manager of Sagtani Axim, IFB
washing machines and dryers have economical features like minimum usage of water, detergent and power consumption. IFB has introduced six front-load models in the market. Customers who purchased the product during the
trial period were given free 10 kilograms of Surf
Exim International introduced personal care
brands of Park Avenue and PREMIUM from
J.K. Helene Curtis (India) in Nepal recently. An-
I nouncingthe launch at a function held at Hotel
Annapuma, Rajesh Srivastav of J.K. Helene
Curtis gave a brief presentation on the brands.
Govinda Bahadur Thapa, Director of Nepal Bank,
was appointed to the post of Senior Economic
Advisor to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) at a
Cabinet meeting held lastweek. Accordingtothe
Ministry, the postwill be equivalent to that of a
member of the National Planning Commission.
Thapa holdsa Ph.D. in tax systems of developing
countries. He also was an active member ofthe
team formed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari to prepare the newly announced budget for the fiscal
year 2004/05.
The Garden Terrace Restaurant and Coffee
Shop at Soaltee Crown Plaza Hotel introduced
a new menu recently. The new menu comprises of unconventional preparations like
Grilled Prawn Wasabi, Funghi Di SherryAlpino,
Tex-Mex Burger, Focaccia Melt, Grilled Salmon
Livomeseand plenty of Nepali and Indian selections. According to Chef Pawan Sharma,
eating habits have changed over time and the
new menu attempts to satisfy the taste of almost anyone. For the first two weeks of August, the Soaltee is also offering a complimentary soup or dessert for every main course
I   ordered.
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Widespread use of lotteries
to select workers for overseas positions could plug
the loopholes both government officials and
employment agencies use
to make big money. No
surprise that the idea has
provoked strong reaction.
ence to the government decision to enforce the lottery system without their
consent. "We dare the government to issue a similar illegal lottery system in
public and police services," he adds, insisting the government is violating Article 11 of the Foreign Employment
The article requires a government
presence during the selection process of
the prospective migrant workers but
does not specify that the selection
takesplace through a lottery. Labor Minister Raghuji Pant says the Commission
for Investigation of Abuse of Authority
suggested the lottery system be introduced to correct past wrongdoings and
avoid corruption. For their part, employment agencies say things have changed
with the appointment ofthe new labor
minister and government officials are
still willing to revise their decision for a
Officials, however, dismiss the
charge, insisting that the lottery is a
conscious policy decision. The Department of Labor says it has registered
over 12,000 complaints from victims
ing abroad for work has buoyed the
nation's foreign exchange reserves
as well as the bank accounts of officials
and agents who broker the jobs. Onyjul
22, the government took a first big step
towards rationalizing the process and
preventing rampant abuse of job seekers: It ordered that 480 job openings in
South Korea be filled by a lottery among
those who met all the job requirements.
If the Labor Ministry sticks to its
guns and expands the system, the dirty
business of manpower recruitment
could change for good. Unfortunately,
insiders say as much as good intentions
it was politics that gave way to the lottery system. There are widespread worries that the dispute between the government and the employment agencies
over the selection process ofthe workers could seriously jeopardize Nepal's
growing overseas job market and the
poor Nepalis could be the needless victims.
The Nepal Association of Foreign
Employment Agencies (NAFA), which
has about 360 member agencies, has denounced the government move to stick
to the lottery format. "This is not
Tiananmen Square of China where a
minister can give orders in zjangabahadur
Saile," says the association's First Vice
President Ganeshman Lama, in refer-
1 rw"W^
 who have over the years been cheated
by employment agencies. Last year,
some of the 160 workers sent by
Moondrops Overseas complained
they had been made to pay anywhere
between Rs. 400,000 to Rs. 500,000,
much higher than the figures the company quoted or government rules allow. Applicants for the current 480
positions in Korea have been paying
Rs. 180,000 according to Lumbini
Overseas, the agency brokering the
jobs, even though the ceiling is Rs.
It's not only the agents who play loose
with the rules. Tax authorities had suspended operations at Lumbini Overseas
over allegations that the company owed
millions in back taxes. Three days after
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
took office, Lumbini Overseas was mysteriously reinstated.
The manpower business has become
so lucrative that there is every possibility that officials are happy to maintain
the status quo since everybody gets their
palms greased, according to an employment agency boss. NAFA First Vice-
President Lama says the lottery order
"was rushed at the last moment to mask
corruption scandals taking place between
various parties in government." Kul
Bahadur Karki, the managing director of
Lumbini Overseas, says, "I cannot divulge all the details, but I will tell you
this much: There were a few requests
from the UML to include some of their
party workers in the quota."
An aide to Karki told Nation Weekly
that a top government official had asked
for Rs. 10 million for himself and another Rs. 20 million for his party. "Sir
(Karki) will never admit this; he will
get into trouble with the government,"
he adds.
Amid all these allegations and
counter-allegations, Lumbini Overseas
says they are well behind the schedule
to meet the demand for Nepali workers made by the Korean employers.
Agencies fear this failure may have a
multiplier effect as a number of other
Korean employers will assume that
Nepalis are not reliable to do business
with. This, they say, may lead many
other countries to slash quotas for
Nepali workers.
"The quota is given to the agencies,"
says Jun Young Soo, the Korean middleman between Korean Federation of
Small and Medium Business and
Lumbini Overseas, through an interpreter. He is here along with four of his
colleagues and has already interviewed
the applicants.
"It is not only a matter of reputation and trust but also government support that determines the quotas to be
provided in the near future," he adds.
Soo claims to have managed Nepali
workers in South Korea since 1993. He
has a list of selected Nepali candidates
on a CD, he says. The South Korean
Embassy in Kathmandu refused to
make any comments on the controversy.
"The labor market brings in huge remittance to the country," says Nirmal
Gurung, president of NAFA. "It would
be sad if the government resorts to such
unilateral decisions also in cases for
workers heading to Saudi Arabia and
Qatar." Agencies estimate that about 200
to 300 Nepali workers head for foreign
destinations daily, mostly to Arab destinations and Malaysia. Even a short interruption ofthe current kind will make
the foreign employers nervous and
could have serious implications on
Nepal's image as a reliable labor market.
If the government is serious about
cleaning up the manpower business,
then it should get on with it. But, many
believe, if the lottery order is just about
the politics of money, there certainly
are hard times ahead in the foreign employment scene.  C
The outcome ofthe
Wagle case could break-
the culture of impunity
- that is pervasive in our
Former Minister Chiranjivi Wagle
Photo by Ravi Manandhar
ng   cathartic   about
Twatching the fall of
Chiranjivi Wagle, a senior
Nepali Congress leader,
who according to many was
destined to be the prime
minister. After a Special Court convicted
him on July 22 on charges of corruption,
a small group of people took to the
streets to celebrate.
The demonstrations seemed carefully choreographed and no one seemed
overly anxious to hide the design. The
President of Transparency International
Nepal (TIN), a watchdog agency, Kul
Shekha Sharma, said, "We have an allegiance with the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA)
to ensure transparency in the society"
The verdict in the courtroom in
Anamnagar on July 22 and the street demonstrations a day later may have substantially lifted the spirit ofthe CIAA. "We
are happy that people have come out to
express their support," says an official
with the CIAA. "But it makes no differ
ence as far as our responsibility goes. We
will continue our job as provided by the
law, regardless."
After a long delay, the Special Court
finally slapped Wagle with a two and
half years of imprisonment and Rs. 27.2
million in fines. Even though Wagle has
50 days to appeal, many consider the
verdict a major victory in the battle
against corruption and abuse of authority: Wagle is the first former minister
to be convicted on charges of corruption. He has said that he would appeal
the verdict at the Supreme Court but
had not done so by the time we went to
The CIAA has an unhappy history of
losing face on high-profile battles, although it claims an overall success rate
of 83 percent. Cases based on the
Dhamija scam in 1994 against former
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, the
Padma Sundar Lawati fertilizer scam in
1997 and a telephone scam against
Chiranjivi Wagle didn't have a happy
ending as far as the CIAA was concerned.
If the Supreme Court does uphold
the conviction against Wagle, it will be a
major victory, one that could go far in
Last Word
breaking the culture of impunity in
Nepal. It could substantially change perceptions of the justice system in the
After the restoration of democracy,
the country had a
golden opportunity
to establish a new value system through
decisive actions against the guilty. The
attempt to hold accountable people in
high places, however, failed because the
report of Malik Commission was buried. After the regime change in 1990, a
three-member commission was formed
under Justice Janardan Mallik to probe
atrocities committed during the
Panchayat regime to suppress the democratic movement. The Mallik Commission report was put into a cold storage
by successive governments, mostly notably by the Koirala government in
1991—the first one after the restoration
of democracy.
Many still believe that was a lost opportunity a colossal failure. If the report
had been publicized and its recommendations duly implemented, it would all
DEFACED: An official
booked by the CIAA
nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
Deuba In The Dock
What the Wagle case
has exposed is in line
with most corruption
scandals involving powerful politicians the world over. The punishment he received from the Special Court has also drawn attention of international observers.
They believe that politicians find
comfortable by-passes to evade
punishment and continue the
chain of corruption infinitely. Transparency International has not only
analyzed the political corruption in
the world but announced through
"Global Corruption Report 2004"
a list of top 10 corrupt rulers and
the amount allegedly embezzled
by them.
Wagle is not in the list, but
could well represent the wrong spirit
of political corruption that the list
seeks to disseminate. The international body does not counsel
tolerance for such vice.
The present case has one
unique dimension—a senior politician-turned-convict describing
the court's final word as "unfair
and prejudiced" and other sea
soned multi-partyists not uttering
even a word against it despite their
continued I ip service to anti-corruption movement. Various corruption
scandals ofthe past—ranging from
carpet, snake skin cases in
Panchayat times to Red Passport,
Lauda and Pajero scandals of multiparty era of the 90s—saw their
actors escape without losing face
and name. Should this case meet
a similar fate, the public faith in the
institutional mechanism to control
corruption would erode for good.
Already, the present government, in not jailing the convict, has
failed: It goes against the high
norms of good governance. It has
acted more as a savior of Wagle
the convict than as a facilitator in
the fight against corruption. The
convict's attempt to mobilize support for him in the public and display himself as a victim of political
vendetta would not have been
possible had the government
stood bythe value of justice.
The political proximity between
the prime minister and Wagle, because of their long association in
the Nepali Congress and subsequent comraderie in founding a
parallel party—Nepali Congress
(D)—may have prevented Deuba
from takinga prompt action against
Wagle. Wagle's political past that
indicated high prospects may also
have deterred the premier. It is true
that Wagle contributed handsomely
to the restoration of democracy. But
this cannot justify the tolerance for
a criminal. That Wagle could not
maintain the positive traits in character while in power is a reality and
cannot be overlooked.
Have the two NC veterans then
forgotten the great democratic lesson—when politicians fail in parliament, they are entitled to go to
the voters for their support but their
failure to avoid conviction in court
cannot be a topic to be referred to
the people? All those in government should realize that the verdict of a court is always honored; it
can of course be challenged legally in appeal courts. Challenging
the verdict publicly and politically
could prove suicidal for the practice of good governance. "Political
corruption," the Transparency Report 2004 mentions, "is the
abuse of entrusted power by political leaders for private gain."
In the saga of fight against corruption, Wagle's story could be
dubbed a test-case. The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of
Authority following the report bythe
Property Probe Commission
charged the former minister and
moved to court registering a corruption case against him. The circle
becomes complete with the jail
term, and the confiscation of
Wagle's property standing at 27.3
million rupees as earned through
undisclosed sources. This is quite
a pleasing score. This has given
anti-corruption workers some
hope and strength. But the implementation ofthe court order has
been blocked and this might have
a chilling effect on the very movement against corruption.
The Integrity Perspective, a
concept developed by anti-corruption cadre over the years, demands
that Wagle serve the sentence, pay
the fines and not obstruct confiscation of his illegal property. This
could re-establish faith in the rule
of law and could in a way pave the
way for h is pol itical comeback once
he completes the two-and-a-half
year jail term.
Salvaging Wagle at this point
of time is not easy. He might drag
down even the rescuers.
(Regmee is the author of "Firing
the Corruption.")
have been a different story today: Society would have been purged and the
resultant catharsis might have helped
Nepal move forward. Unfortunately,
the culture of impunity that flourished during the Panchayat era has expanded. The specter of corruption has
In a democratic society, justice is
largely a public affair. Unless it is exercised in full public view and fairly, cynicism over the rule of law will grow. "The
conviction against Wagle has instilled a
sense of fear (among those who are corrupt)," says Transparency's Sharma. "This
will discourage others." The argument
is: Corruption is now so widespread and
impunity so blatant that everybody feels
tempted to accept bribes.
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
 CLEARED FOR NOW: Former Minister J.
P. Gupta just received a clean chit
In 1991, Wagle's property amounted
to Rs. 90,000 and some land in rural
Gorkha. A decade later he and his relatives have amassed millions in real estate and bulging bank accounts.
Most of the corrupt are still flying
high. Allegations of scams involving
high-ranking leaders, policemen, judges
and bureaucrats are too numerous to list.
Koirala was implicated in the infamous
Dhamija scam involving the appointment of a General Sales Agent for RNAC
on the lucrative European routes. The
CIAA gave Koirala a clean chit following the report ofthe Rayamajhi Commission.
In 1997, the Chase Air scam siphoned
$783,750 from RNAC's coffers. RNAC
sent the advance to Chase Air in a shady
deal to lease a Boeing 757: The aircraft
never came and the money never returned. CPN-ML leader Yam Lai
Kandel, then the minister for tourism,
No Running Away
Kul Shekhar Sharma is at
the helm of Transparency
International Nepal,
which is campaigning for a corruption-free society. Sharma
talked to Nation Weekly about
corruption in Nepal and ways to
curb it.
How do you describe the state
of corruption in Nepal?
It is pervasive in our society. It is
the result of a distorted sense of
values and growth of consumer-
oriented culture. Corruption, no
doubt, is deeply rooted in our society.
How has corruption affected
It has hampered the pace of development. It has undermined
democracy and the rule of law.
The state of impunity in Nepal?
During our surveys we have found
that people resent the fact that
only a small percentage of those
involved in committing crimes are
brought to book. People alsoseem
to resent the fact that only those
involved in petty crimes are punished while the bigfish are never
netted. Largely, people are angry
that the corrupt are having a field
Has the conviction of Chiranjivi
Wagle helped change that?
Wagle's conviction has certainly
given a much needed warning to
public figures. But prompt actions
must be taken against the corrupt
to underscore the point that no
one can run away from law.
What must be done to effectively
curb corruption?
Two things are necessary. Vigorous
prosecution against the corrupt
and administrative reforms with a
built-in mechanism of monitoring
and inspection to nip corruption in
the bud.
Reforms like?
Like cutting down red tape and
excessive regulations, reviewing
the role of government and limit
ing it to strategic policy-making,
monitoringand evaluating, and providing certain key services to citizens and reducing the size of government.
Talking of administrative reforms, you served as the Chief
Secretary (1966-69). How was
it different then?
I find a fundamental difference.
Now civil servants have grown more
materialistic. Perhaps that may be
due to the growth of consumer-oriented culture in the society.
How do you assess the ClAA's
The CIAA is working hard to create
a corruption-free society. But it
would be wrong for the government to leave everything to CIAA
and consider the job done. The
Cabinet is accountable to the
people for bringing about integrity
in government officials. If the government remains alert and watchful, corruption can be curbed.
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Hong Kong Rana and two RNAC board
members were booked but Kandel was
never tried in a court of law.
In 1999,yet another aircraft leasing scam
was uncovered. CPN-UML leader Bhim
Rawal was accused of underhand dealings
while leasing a plane for RNAC from South
China Airlines. The Parliamentary Public
Account Committee (PAC) recommended
action against Rawal and the RNAC chief
The CIAA eventually let them go because
the cases weren't established.
It is after August 2002 that the watchdog agency started being more assertive.
The CIAA Second Amendment Bill
shifted the burden on the accused to
prove himself innocent once booked by
CIAA. Now CIAA started making daring raids arresting scores of leaders and
bureaucrats. On the night of August 16,
CIAA raided the houses of 22 tax and
customs officials—16 of them were arrested. One customs official whose normal monthly income was Rs. 5,000 was
found to possess millions. Since then the
watchdog has implicated many big
But Wagle is by far the biggest fish in
the net. Former Communications Minister Jaya Prakash Gupta's final trial began late last month (and was acquitted
on one case by the Special Court by the
time we went to the press); Khum
Bahadur Khadka, former home minister, is awaiting his final trial. CIAA officials understand it is these high-profile
trials that will best serve the notice: Public officials should mind their code.
Could the high-profile trials and the
CIAA's greater powers be used to target
opponents? It is a charge Wagle makes
vociferously. "The verdict is a part of
strategy to put an end to my political career," Wagle told reporters days after the
Special Court announced the conviction
against him. He said he would appeal to
the Supreme Court within 35 days.
"Wagle's conviction has certainly
given a much needed warning to public
servants," says Transparency's Sharma.
"But prompt actions are needed against
others who are corrupt to underscore
the point that the you can't run away from
clutches ofthe law." Wagle's conviction,
if upheld, will underscore an important
lesson for the dirty few while giving a
bit of hope to many.  E
Whether there are Maoists in the Bhutanese refugee
camps or not, another round of allegations has further
dimmed hopes for repatriation and made refugees wonder if they actually want to go. The Bhutanese side's decade-long tactic of procrastination may have paid off.
months, Bhutan finally appears
willing to resume the bilateral
process. But there are no reasons to believe in Bhutan's sincerity this time around
either. How can the impending repatriation of nearly 12,000 refugees of
Khudunabari camp take place in the absence of monitoring? More importantly,
will the refugees sign up for voluntary
repatriation under dubious circumstances?
Three days after Minister of State for
Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat returned home from the SAARC meeting
in Islamabad with a characteristically
optimistic reading of Bhutanese intentions, sentiments turned sour again. The
Bhutanese National Assembly made another round of serious allegations of
Maoist infiltration among the Bhutanese
Abraham Abraham, Resident Representative of UNHCR in Nepal says, "Protracted refugee situations are prone to
give rise to increased frustration, and this
can easily give ground to anti-social
behavior and, in extreme cases, militancy."
A Foreign Ministry official denied having
any information about Maoists in the
camps but added that it could become a
reality if the refugee stalemate drags on for
long. An American diplomat hinted last
month that these reported Maoist infiltrations were offshoots ofthe prolonged refugee crisis. U.S. Ambassador James F.
Moriarty, who recently arrived in
Kathmandu, says the issue "underlines the
necessity for repatriation to take place."
Refugee leaders accuse Bhutan of
using the issue to complicate matters and
causing further delay. Many fear such
complications could slam the door shut
on the possibility of repatriation. Outgoing Indian Ambassador Shyam Saran
refugees. The speaker ofthe National
Assembly, Dasho Ugen Dorjee said that
about 2,000 refugees have joined the
Maoists and entered India.
Nepali security officials on the
ground admit that some young refugees
may be attracted by Maoist ideas. But the
estimates provided by security officials
to us (Nation Weekly Vol. 1, No. 10)
were far fewer than the figures alleged
by Speaker Dorjee. Refugee leaders contend there are no Maoist refugees in the
camps, though some admit that Maoists
might have infiltrated the camps.
If there are Maoists in the camps, a
decade of delaying tactics by the
Bhutanese side is the likely cause.
declined to comment on the repatriation calling it a bilateral process, although
he did express concern about the reports
on Maoists infiltration.
Though Bhutan has now agreed to return to the bilateral process, the backdrop
of harsh rhetoric and calls for discontinuation ofthe bilateral process by Bhutanese
leaders puts a question mark on Bhutan's
self-acclaimed commitment.
'We are always committed to the bilateral process," said Khandu Wangchuck addressing the National Assembly early last
month. "The agreement reached during
the [Thimphu] meeting is clear confirmation of our seriousness in seeking a lasting
solution to the problem." Not everyone is
willing to buy his argument. A diplomat
said the Thimphu agreement was full of
"hollow assurances" and hedged on issues
like providing resident permits, access to
health care, education and welfare facilities to returnees. More importantly, the
deal skips the provision of third-party
monitoring. Much like the diplomat, refugees have grown pessimistic about a meaningful repatriation.
Refugee leaders doubt if a meaningful repatriation will ever take place. "We
don't imagine going back to Bhutan
through this process," says Bhutanese
human rights leader Tek Nath Rijal.
Refugees over the years have lost faith.
"Bhutan is not going to take us home,"
says Rakesh Chettri. Most respondents
appear non-committal aboutjumping on
the repatriation bandwagon. "I am not
sure if I will apply for the voluntary repatriation," said Shanti Ram Acharya (to
this reporter in Khudunabari camp in
October, last year). Acharya, who has 12
dependents, was categorized in category
I—for refugees who are recognized as
bonafide Bhutanese—by the Joint Verification Team (JVT).
There is again renewed talk in the
official level about the resumption ofthe
bilateral process; Nepali officials are
hoping that the impending repatriation
of refugees from Khudunabari camp will
resume soon. But even before the calendar for repatriation is announced, concerns have started to emerge about the
numbers of prospective returnees. "I
don't think any one will go to Bhutan
under such circumstances and I won't
encourage anyone to go," says Tek Nath
Perhaps Rijal's comment sums up the
general mood ofthe camp inhabitants
living in the seven camps in eastern
Nepal. Finally Bhutan's years of delay
might have produced precisely what they
wanted: repatriation with no return
 The Tenth Plan target to promote condoms to 35 percent ■
of the population between 14 and 50 years of age looks I
and exponential rise in the num
ber of HIV infections in Nepal
should be making everybody very nervous. The latest UNAIDS report on the
global HIV epidemic estimates that at
least 61,000 people in Nepal are infected
with the deadly virus. Since most of
these infections are due to sexual contact with an infected partner, clearly using condoms could cut down the high
rate of transmission. But the campaign
to raise awareness to widen the effective use of condoms is deeply flawed.
In a country where people are squeamish about discussing sex habits, the
conventional methods of condom promotion have been largely useless. The
civil conflict offers a good excuse for
the authorities and the donors to camouflage their failure. The national target
stated in the Tenth Plan to take condom
use to 35 percent ofthe population between 14 to 50 years of age looks impossible to achieve, though no empirical
studies exist on nation-wide patterns of
condom use.
Records show that six million
condoms were dispatched in 2003 to the
health agencies and the market but experts say the demand-and-supply dynamics seem to have gone off the rails.
Dr. Giridhari Sharma Poudel, a consultant at Family Planning Association of
Nepal, believes that the demand in the
country continues to remain very low.
News reports also suggest that a large
number ofthe condoms get smuggled
across the border to India.
Instead of recalibrating their strategy amid new challenges, the officials
are happy to voice the common refrain:
Make condoms available so readily that
increasing numbers of men start using
it. "Condoms should reach communities beyond health posts and sub-health
posts," Sharma urges. "We should take
condoms to the people and not make
people come seeking them." He then
concedes, "That is exactly whatwe have
not been able to do."
The reasons are many. One is certainly the unique cultural challenges that
the campaigns to promote condoms have
faced in Nepal. Thirty years of constant
talking and flow of aid money has not
produced the desired results. A significant percentage of women do not have
control over how the would like to have
sex, says an official at FPAN insisting
anonymity. Rural men who are aware of
condoms rarely have money to buy them,
even if they are available in the market.
Storage and disposal problems in rural
settings also limit the use.
Though officials make the right noise
in seminars in Kathmandu and elsewhere,
concerted efforts to break social taboo
on discussing sex and condoms are hard
to find, and there is no sign of any collective effort involving media, civil society
and concerned authorities. "Public education and information can play a vital
role in promoting safe sex and condoms,
but the utility ofthe information is seriously undermined," says Dr. Prakash
Subedi, a medical officer at B&B Hospital. Dr. Subedi acknowledges that the
medical community itself has not played
an effective role in promoting condoms.
"Even sophisticated looking hospitals in
the Valley lack provision for safe sex
counseling," he says.
Sex education for high-risk groups—
sex workers, migrant laborers and
intravaneous drug users—is the holy grail.
In school, related topics have been in-
National Statistics of HIV/AIDS prevalence
FIGURES YEAR                (1988-1998)        YEAR 2003
Estimated number
of HIV cases
(adults and children)
Estimated number
of deaths
due to AIDS
Estimated number
of AIDS orphan
Source: UNAIDS Global HIV/AIDS Report 2004
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
 eluded in Health, Population and Environment in curriculum for
grades nine and 10. But
lack of training and guidance for teachers on
how    the     topics
should     be     approached       has
caused many educators to simply
skip them. Officials admit
that they have not
been able to come up with
a visionary approach on sex education for children and adolescence.
Ideally, the government should have
been able to exploit the vast potential of
media, but the commercials on condoms
that are broadcast on state television are
filled with half-information and are only
in Nepali, which makes little sense to
non-Nepali speakers in the hills and
The influx of economic migrants
poses great risk of a rapid rise in the
number of HIV infections. Some 1.5 to
two million Nepali workers go to work in India every year. A considerable
number of them visit sex
workers during the long
absence from their families. Studies show that
seven to 10 percent of
male migrants returning
from India are HIV positive. A comprehensive effort to promote condoms
to contain the epidemic
among this population is
visibly lacking.
Other than the government, various actors such
the ILO and UNICEF are
on the field vowing to
contain HIV/AIDS but
experts aren't too happy
about the results. "Desirable success have not been
achieved," says Dr. Ram
Prasad Shrestha, former
chief of National Center
for AIDS and STDs Control. He attributes the
failure to the lack of collaborative efforts between
the government agencies and
the INGOs. "What we see
now is limited to verbal
commitment."   E
nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
The fear regarding one's own security has forced journalists to be very cautious about what they write, say and
show in their media outputs. Nepali journalism has taken
a severe beating from which it will take a while to recover.
incidence of rights violations against
media practitioners in Nepal has increased to such an extent that national
and international rights bodies have expressed grave concerns about both the
nature and volume of such violations.
Media institutions, practitioners and
their products have been regular targets
of suppression and harassment by the
security forces of the state and armed
members ofthe Maoists. These violations by both sides have occurred in the
form of unlawful killings, abductions,
arrests, harassment, threats and forced
dislocations of journalists from their
primary location of work. Media persons have been routinely denied access
to locations they have wanted to visit as
part of their professional reporting exercise. Seizure of printed materials, obstacles to circulation of print media or
broadcast of programs and the fear of arbitrary interpretations of one's reference
materials have all contributed to an atmosphere of fear amongst media practitioners.
Legal instruments such as the Terrorist and Disruptive Acts (Control and
Punishment) Ordinance (TADA) that
have been made effective by the state
since late 2001 and the subsequent practices ofthe two main protagonists ofthe
present conflict in Nepal are chiefly responsible for creating the present state
of affairs. The fear regarding one's own
security has forced journalists to be very
cautious about what they write, say and
show in their media outputs. Nepali
journalism has taken a severe beating
from which it will take a while to recover. It has not only lost some of its
practitioners by death or desertion,
thanks to the excesses of the conflict
protagonists, the job of trying to retain
its skilful members and recruit new ones
in its fold has been made all the more
difficult. The dislocation of skilful media practitioners from regional or
smaller centers of media production has
slowed the process ofthe decentralization of media capacity.
The violations mentioned above have
been recorded by organizations such as
the Federation of Nepalese Journalists
(FNJ), Center for Human Rights and
Democratic Studies (CEHURDES),
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and
International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ). The situation is likely to get better only if the present level of impunity
for perpetrators of human rights violations decreases drastically. That is only
likely to happen if demonstrably effective measures are taken to prevent or stop
unlawful arrests, torture and abductions
of media persons and associated rights
activists by the protagonists ofthe conflict. It would also be necessary to punish those who abuse power and hence
media's role in exposing these abusers
cannot be overemphasized.
The present situation demands many
kinds of appropriate action on the part
of all who cherish media freedom in
Nepal. With that in mind, some ideas,
restricted to rights monitoring and activism, are discussed below.
A. Record and dissemination work by
media rights organizations: With the
hope that the illiberal logic of both the
state and the Maoists will be defeated in
the long-run through certain practices,
organizations such as the FNJ and
CEHURDES have been documenting
rights violations against media persons.
They are doing this partially with the
support of some international organizations. With help from DANIDA, the
FNJ has already published two books,
one each in English and Nepali, which
document these violations for the pe-
fb   JSjN
 riod 2001-02. It has also recently prepared an unpublished report of such violations for the seven-month period since
the end of the last ceasefire in August
2003. CEHURDES has prepared an annual report on the "Status of Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression" in
Nepal since the year 2000. These documents in turn have been the bases for
reports prepared by international organizations such as RSF, IFJ, Committee
to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and others
who have also sent their own fact-finding missions to Nepal in the recentyears.
Such documentation is absolutely
necessary to first record the situation of
violations against specific individuals and
to seekjustice on their behalf Secondly,
such documentation is necessary for all
kinds of subsequent activism including
the preparation of special reports for dissemination or the holding of informed
public discussions to raise voice against
actions that have curtailed media freedom.
This type of documentation is also necessary to build national and international
networks that would advocate for the
rights of the victims by creating moral
pressure against the perpetrators of injustice in Nepal. Such documentation is
also part of an active monitoring process
ofthe situation regarding freedom of expression in Nepal, an arena of rights which
is larger than those available to the media
alone. More rigor could be used in the
current practices of documentation.
Beyond textual documentation, other
activities are also necessary and some of
them are already being done by FNJ. For
instance, since fall 2003, FNJ has been
running a 24-hour telephone hotline to
promote prompt action on behalf of any
of its members who might become victims of state or Maoist excesses. The
hotline, established through the financial support of International Media Support (IMS), a Denmark-based organization, has made a difference.
B. Rights activism, legal recourse and law reform: To confront rights violations, it is also
important for media practitioners to be aware of their rights
and have recourse to legal help.
With respect to the first of these
items, the newly established
Centre for Media Rights
(whose office is located in
Thapathali) aims to provide
help through the setting up of a
resource center that would house necessary information regarding the rights
ofthe media. The Centre's work—it remains to be seen what it will encompass—is being supported by the Canadian organization, Institute for Media,
Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS).
With respect to legal help,
CEHURDES had helped about 20 journalists who had been illegally detained
to file a compensation suit with the district courts of Kathmandu, Sunsari and
Morang. Compensation amounting to
Rs. 100,000 each has been demanded citing reference to the relevant legal provisions. One petitioner, Shyam Shrestha,
editor ofMulyankan monthly was quoted
in the 2003 report by CEHURDES as
saying, "We want to set a precedent that
the state must bear responsibility for
violating people's fundamental rights
even during the state of emergency."
However nine of the cases filed have
been dismissed somewhat arbitrarily
while the remaining cases are ongoing.
Self-education ofthe legal bases of
restrictions and rights ought to be an integral part of rights activism for the future of media freedom. This will enable
the activists to devise ways to continuously challenge existing and future dra-
conian legal measures and illegal detentions by the state. It will also contribute
toward the realization of a legal environment where necessary progressive legislation can be passed in the form of a
Public Information Act, etc. National
and international networking would
obviously be necessary for rights activism to succeed but robust ways of realizing such networks have to be devised.
C. Scholarship: Promotion of good academic studies on the subject of media
freedom in Nepal is absolutely necessary. We need studies of the
I power constellations in
Nepali society that have traditionally worked against
media freedom. We also need
broad and comparative studies that give us the benefit of
insights developed from
scholarly output elsewhere.
For this to happen, long-term
collaborative studies between
media practitioners, legal
scholars, social scientists and rights activists will be necessary. Such efforts will
strengthen the social foundations of pro-
media freedom environment in Nepal.
I am afraid that the present mode of conflict tourism—whereby Nepali journalists and rights activists are herded for a
fast tour of Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland
or South Africa—will not produce much
scholarship or insights.
D. Resources: Doing all ofthe above
will require resources, both financial and
human. Hence it would be necessary to
secure financial resources from Nepal's
international friends to support the
above discussed activities. As I have argued in the past, piecemeal funding support will not work. Also the funding dynamics ought to shift from the individual
donor-recipient type to a coalition-recipients model in which discussions regarding comparative cost-benefit advantages of such support become a routine
part ofthe grant-giving exercise.
It would also be important to generate
financial and non-monetary resources
within Nepal to do a large part ofthe work
described above. For instance, Nepal's major media houses ought to invest resources
that can fund activism and scholarship that
support a pro-media freedom environment
in Nepal. After all they will benefit the most
from such an environment. Networking
costs between scholars and rights activists
could also be internally generated and shared
by interested NGOs and informal groups.
Is anybody listening? C
 Cloud Cuckoo Land
person, except when angry, or in bed.
I've been really mad since 1996, so I
will tell you all. How and where my crusade to save the nation began, and why. I
once took a walk with my father for two
hours along River Seine. He didn't utter
a word for the first hour. Then when I
saw the Eiffel Tower, I said, "Bua, that's a
nice view, don't you think?" When we
reached home, he said, "That was a foolish remark you made an hour ago." I
learnt later that he'd been reading about
Benjamin Jowett, a 19th century don at
Balliol College, Oxford, who had translated Plato's "Republic." My father modeled his eccentricity on Jowett and I grew
up with a man like that in a family with
five sisters. Naturally, I dislike anything
ordinary. My father used to say that since
the unification in 1769, the kingdom had
produced just two gentlemen—one was
himself, and the other was the present
king's older brother, who had appointed
him the royal envoy to The Elysee in
Paris. The year was 1983. Francois
Mitterand was in office, Thatcher hadn't
yet won her second term, Jacques Chirac
had been mayor of Paris for six years,
Nancy Reagan ran the White House,
Indira was India and the little Algerian
boy who worked in our kitchen had whispered in my ear the eighth day we got
into town, "Let's do it." He was cute. But
I didn't do it. Some doings are destined,
and some are not. The doing proposed by
the Algerian was ofthe latter category—
risky and shameful. But as Madame
Merteuil tells a virgin in an adaptation of
Les Liaisons Dangereuses, "Shame is like the
pain. You only feel it once."
After four years, we returned to Nepal
and I joined the Gorkhapatra Sansthan.
Disgusted with a boss who snored in
Sanskrit, I quit to give independent media a try. After 15 years I have become the
first female editor of a national broadsheet. I have triumphed in romance, but
my first marriage failed. My husband was
a wimp. His only claim to fame was that
his grandfather had led a protest against
the import of banaspati ghee from India
when Koirala II was Prime Minister. The
grandfather was later made manager of
the Russian-built Janakpur Cigarette
Factory. His lootwas legendary—the factory itself looked like a cancer patient in
two years. These days because of my
profession, I hobnob a lot with politicians. They are an interesting bunch in
an unflattering sort of way. Thinking to
them is as alien a concept as staying mute
is to Bill Clinton. Worse, they stink.
They stink more than the rest. Yes, venal, most of them are, but here I mean to
say, they stink literally. They don't wash,
you know. Once, returning from Osaka,
I stopped by the Hong Kong Duty Free
and bought fragrance by Giorgio Armani.
I gave that as a present to a Congressman
who visited me with
Saptahik Bimarsha in his
hand every Friday. After I
gave him the gift, he said,
"Thanks for this thingy,
Uma. But you should really
have got me some Paan
Paraag from Japan. You
know, the jumbo size in a
tin bucket. Krishna Prasad
Bhattarai says Paan Paraag is
good for making speeches
about democracy. When
you speak with Paan Paraag
in your mouth, you look
more stupid than you actually are. So you can surprise
people later by coming off
as smarter than you appeared
Leftists in Nepal are
even more interesting. They
grew up reading a lot of garbage, but there is this innate
sweetness about them—
they actually believed at one
point in their lives that
communism actually
works. Almost like a
Harvard professor believing
in UFOs. I took a lover after my divorce, Shishir, a
left-handed Leftist from Dhankuta. He
is now my fiance. He insisted on taking a
shower with his under-wear on. I used
to tease him if that was to stop him from
looking down at the unemployed. He
didn't get the joke. Nepali Leftists are
too serious. They were apparently punished for drinking Coca Cola, and if you
laughed, one of your comrades would
report to the politburo saying, "Comrade Jwala laughed like Lyndon Johnson
the Capitalist." But women like us are
gifted enough to make boring men funny.
Like dining table etiquette, humor too is
an acquired taste.
Well, it's no secret that my faith in the
parties is diminishing. They squandered
the moral authority they earned in 1990.
But I can't stand the rest either. I hate the
extremists, and find active monarchists
 as well as Maoists revolting. Water is
scarce and toilets don't flush in
Kathmandu. But I don't see a point in
just bitching about all this. It is time to
start anew. The only group that remains
untested is that of young women. We are
not organized yet. When individual
women join mainstream parties, they
become invisible. Our movement will
be different: men may join us, but the
character—our charitra—will be defined
by values we cherish. I know there's a
new group in town called the "Charitra-
hin Chelis." We will find out who they
are in due course, but we happen to have
"charitra," and I'm serious about our
thing. I am sick of Nepalis resorting to
false nostalgia. We never really had a
golden phase in our history, you know.
Our forefathers built the Changu
Narayan, resisted the Brits, translated
Ramayana, and walked bare feet at 4,000
meters, but they also had a life expectancy of37 and burnt women alive. Looking ahead, thus, we can only do better. It
is with this belief, dear all, that I am inviting you to join me and my colleagues.
Let's start a bloodless revolution next
month, beginning on the august date of
When interested women and men
from outside Kathmandu (they are
healthier) are in Kathmandu, please
drop by my house. It's the big red bungalow with a blue gate near Thapathali
Bus Stop. We'll talk then. If it takes
nine months to make a baby, building a
nation will take nine years, or even 90.
I don't want to sound pious and all, because "desh banaune" stuff is not so
much about religion as it is about physiology, i.e. getting a body to function.
But I suggest, comrades, people like us
should get started. Definitely bring
your spouses along. If your partners
keep neat goatees like that of Ho Chi
Minh, I would particularly want to
meet them. They are always quite a character, and are always great players of
Uma Chand (Ms.)
PS. Allyoufolks above the age of 29 can
call me by my first name.  E
(This is a modified version of one of the
episodes ofthe author's 10-part humor series,
"Gaunthali and Bhurtel," first published in
Gossip Sells
Director Mira Nair has jumped on the "gossip is the web
of life" bandwagon. Her new film, "Vanity Fair," gives
homage to Thackeray who turned gossip into high art.
Think ofthe most famous Victorian
novelists, and who do you get? Jane
Austen, the Bronte sisters, George
Eliot (the nome de plume of Mary Ann
Evans). Get it? They were all women.
And guess what held them together? What
held them together and keep them being
read by adoring fans from Japan (there's a
whole society of George Eliot fans in Japan) to Kathmandu (where the British
Council library stocks them in generous
measures to enlighten young Nepali
minds) is—gossip. That's right—uh-huh,
gossip. Women are good at that, aren't
they? And poor Dickens really had to
write a lot of words and draw a grim picture of misery to keep up with their sales.
The other gentleman who was a giant in
scandal-mongering was William
Makepeace Thackeray, and his skill not
just kept him abreast with the ladies, but
also passed him on to us to enjoy for posterity. His tour de force "Vanity Fair" is a
book chock-full of larger than life characters brimming with backbiting chitter-chatter.
Director Mira Nair has
jumped on the "gossip is the
web of life" bandwagon and
gives homage to this inquisitive
gentleman who turned gossip
into high art in a movie, also
titled "Vanity Fair." The film
stars Reese Witherspoon (of
"Legally Blonde") and opens
this September. Becky Sharp,
the anti-heroine, connives, calculates and manipulates her
way up society's ladder. The
film was shot entirely on location in Britain and India.
Period remakes are all the
rage after Merchant-Ivory
broke ground with such movies as "Howard's End" and
"Room with a View." And increasingly, the post-colonials
seem better poised to re-imag
ine that era. The influence of Bollywood
doesn't seem to hurt either in staging
big panoramas. Colorful costumes, song
and dance and absurd comedy—all the
elements high-art snobs flinch at
Bollywood masalas are making a triumphant return in the period dramas.
Giving Broadway musical fans a run for
the money is "Bombay Dreams," a
song-and-dance spectacle that draws
straight into the rags-to-riches basic
urge of human beings. (Note: this
musical is one of two Broadway shows
about the world outside the west—
alongwith Julie Taymor's "Lion Eng.")
And who better to envision the Victorian world rife with drama and intrigue
than Mira Nair?
Nair is the internationally acclaimed
director of "Monsoon Wedding," which
won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film
Festival. The movie showed the travails
and triumphs of a middle-class Delhi
family arranging a wedding, during
which extra-marital sex, incest, class dynamics and financial problems all get
E     M    G     i-     i    M
C   I   A    J    S    I    C   I
subtle play in a background saturated
with bridal finery and monsoon rain. She
made her feature film debut with the
nuanced and moving "Salaam Bombay!"
in which children from the streets of
Bombay played themselves. And long
before Anuradha Koirala dreamt of appearing on Oprah, Mira Nair had already
shaped a sensitive and non-exploitative
portrait of a Nepali girl trafficked to a
Bombay brothel. That realism got somewhat lost in her later films. "Kama Sutra:
A Tale of Love" was critiqued by many
for its cheesy lesbian eroticism and blatant exploitation of exotic sensuality, but
this paradoxically may also have been the
reason why Nair got separated from the
crowd of indie filmmakers and got such
a warm hug from Hollywood in her later
projects. Her other projects "Mississippi
Masala" and "The Perez Family" have also
gotten mixed reviews.
Nair, who also authored "Bringing
Thackeray's Timeless Novel to the
Screen," a pictorial moviebook brought
out by NewMarket Press, has this to say
about "Vanity Fair": "Thackeray's gloriously entertaining saga offers an enormous panorama of themes familiar to us
steeped in Bollywood: a woman who
defies her poverty-stricken background
to clamber up the social ladder, unrequited love, seduction through song, a
mother's sacrifice for her child, a true
gentleman in a corrupt
world...the catalog of human
stories remains the
same. Moreover, it is a story
that comes down to the basic
question: Which of us is happy
in this world? Which of us has
his desire? Or, having it, is satisfied?"
Let's hope our desires to get
a slice of Victorian melodrama
will be satisfied by Nair's new
confection.  13
Vanity Fair
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
 I» ■»     I
 Hitler with a Harmonium
Joshi Sir ruled the high school with an iron hand; Hitler
was his hero
Mohan Joshi, headmaster of
Sanischare High School in
Jhapa for 29 years, retired in
2000. During his tenure, Joshi—or "Joshi
Sir" as he was popularly known—was
both respected and feared by his colleagues and school children alike. He was
respected for his sharp wits, his decisiveness and his talent for administration. He was feared, and sometimes despised, for his authoritarian ways. Joshi
Sir had an irritating habit of jumping
stealthily upon his students to kick their
backsides. Even his marks of appreciation, expressed through hard slaps upon
the shoulder or sharp pinches upon the
cheek, were sometimes too abrupt and
disorienting. In the view of some senior
students he was too much of a dictator,
too fixed in his opinions and practices
to be considered a democratic leader of
men, women and children. Some of his
students—the present author included—secretly spoke of rebellion and
nicknamed their headmaster "Hitler"
during their whispered conversations in
the school corridors.
Revisiting the memory lanes, however, Joshi Sir remains unfazed, unapolo-
getic. "Hitler is my favorite historical figure," he told me during a recent meeting. "I don't agree with everything that
he did and I condemn the violence he
perpetrated upon the Jews. However, I
still respect and revere him because he
was a true nationalist."
Joshi Sir complained that the feelings of nationalism are on the wane these
days. "The younger generation is motivated by personal greed rather than by
the feelings of nationalism," he said. "It
was not so when I first came to Nepal
from Assam. A Nepali born in Assam, I
decided to come to Nepal because itwas
the motherland of my ancestors, their
spiritual home." He paused for a few seconds to recollect his memories—"People
in this village welcomed me with open
arms. They really valued good English
teachers at Sanischare which was a really
remote village then. Itwas surrounded
by thick forests and was perpetually
threatened by both malaria and poisonous cobras calledgobans."
Apart from ruling the high school with
an iron hand, Joshi Sir has an added distinction. He was the first person to own a
television in the village. This happened
when he first got an opportunity to visit
Thailand and other South Asian countries
in the early 80s to attend a teacher's exchange program. He brought back with
him not only an expanded awareness of
the South Asian region but also a black
and white television set. The television
was later displayed publicly at Joshi Sir's
courtyard, and apuja was performed with
a sprinkling of flowers, purified water and
holy ash upon the television before it aired
its first performance. Ironically the first
show that the people of Sanischare and
Arjundhara sawwas the much acclaimed,
Oscar-winning "Gandhi." Gandhi's pacifist world view was an exact opposite of
Hitler's, Joshi Sir's idol.
Apart from history and English, the
subject he taught at Sanischare High
School, Joshi Sir's other two passions
are spiritualism and music. He is currently a priest, of a community of people
who worship Thakur, a holy man born
in India. "Bhakti of Thakur has given me
inner peace," he says, pointing to the
photographs of his spiritual mentor as
he played his harmonium. "Now that I
am retired from the school, Thakur and
music are my major passions."
Joshi Sir then elaborated how he
learnt music at Banares for a short stint
before entering Nepal on his way from
Assam. "I hummed the tunes of Kundan
Lai Sehgal and Talat Mehmood during a
six-hour bullock cart ride that brought
me from Mechi river, the border of
Nepal, to this village that has become my
home," he said. "Times have changed.
The world since then has become too
materialistic. The schoolchildren no
longer respect their teachers. They go to
the cities, get educated and then forget
their old gurus," he eyed me doubtfully
with piercing eyes as if to ascertain if I
was one of those who revered the memories of his old teachers or someone who
was corrupted by the ways ofthe city. His
gaze was intense and piercing; it made
me think once again ofthe punishments
I had received as a rebellious student. Joshi
Sir's expression changed quickly, however, and the next moment he seemed
kind and immensely wise. Was my old
headmaster going to kick my backside or
was he about to mark my cheek with a
painful pinch? Neither happened. Now
in his late 60s, Joshi Sir had become too
mellow to administer either kicks or
pinches; at 40 I was too old to receive
such intimate attentions. Times had indeed changed for both of us. Then, after
gazing at me steadily for a couple of seconds, Joshi Sir just turned to the
harmonium in front of him to play and
sing an old Rafi hit. The master and his
pupil had finally arrived at a truce.  E
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
Panehakanya TMlf Bar only f
of/ ■■■
Poncho konyb
 A Little Word
Cold Comfort
If the checkpoints are meant to prevent the Maoists from smuggling arms into the citadel of Kathmandu,
the strategy is definitely flawed
A few days ago, a newspaper published a photograph of a line of
bus passengers clambering up a muddy path cutting across the
Tribhuvan Rajpath rather than wait for their buses to inch forward
to the security check-post at Nagdhunga, the main entry point into the
Valley. The idea probably was to reach the top and then hop onto another bus that had passed through the checking. Smart thinking. A wait of
a couple of hours is quite normal as one tries to enter Kathmandu from
the western side.
The point of recounting this is to question the motive behind putting
up a checkpoint at Nagdhunga and all the other naka into the Valley at
the cost ofthe hapless passengers. If it is to prevent the Maoist rebels
from smuggling in arms into the citadel of Kathmandu, the strategy is
definitely flawed. For one, despite the heavy security presence everywhere, the Maoists seem to be able to bump off almost anyone or blow
up almost anything at will.
Secondly, it would have to bea reallydim-witted Maoist who would
wait quietly for two hours or more for a police search if he or she were
carrying anything that could be compromising. There are numerous trails
that strike off the highway and into the Valley for anyone considering
something drastic. This also leads one to ask what use are the checkpoints that spring up at certain city intersections at night. Apart from the
one at Narayan Gopal Chowk in Maharajgunj, all the others tend to be
around only for a few hours. What one begins to wonder: are our security
forces privy to information that the Maoists are known to move around
only during those hours in the evening? Or, as is more likely, is it all just a
sham? The sham is also necessary, I'm sure, since the citizens
would like to believe that the streets
are well-guarded and they can all
get a good night's sleep. Except that
the news the next day does not always reflect that. Every time I pass
one of these barriers in a taxi, I ask
the driver—believing, as I read somewhere, that taxi-drivers are the eyes
and ears of a city—if anyone has
been nabbed during these checks,
and so far the answer has always
been a firm "NO." Expectedly so,
since again it would have to be yet
another dimwit Maoist who would try
anything knowing fully well that there
would be cops and soldiers crawling
all over Kathmandu at that particular
time. Why not wait until later in the
night, or better still, do it during the
day when there is no one to question your movements?
I am sure there must be a more effective mechanism to ensure the
security ofthe city that does not involve interrogating any and everyone
who happens to take certain roads at a certain time ofthe evening. This
takes me to a conversation I had with a former British Army officer soon
after the Royal Nepal Army came out on the Kathmandu streets. Asked
about his views on the security checks, he had pooh-poohed the Army's
efforts as most ineffectual, and his prognosis has proved right over the
I had also asked how they had tackled the situation in Northern
Ireland. He said that about the only thing that works in such situations is mobile checking. In his words: put a corporal in charge of a
squad with two vehicles; the two vehicles work at tandem and at any
random place they "box in" a line of cars (buses, motorcycles, whatever) with one in the front and the other flanking the rear; the rest of
the traffic is allowed to continue while the ones that have been
blocked are subjected to a most thorough check unlike the "Kehi
chha?" variety we get here. This happens all day and all nightlong, in
the city and on the highway. Not everyone is forced to undergo the
routine security check at fixed spots, which anyone can bypass by
takinga different route, but then anyone is liable to be pulled over at
any time and at any place.
It sure does not take a military strategist to figure out that this makes
eminent sense. If I were a Maoist, I would definitely be much more wary
of traveling ifthis were the case in Nepal as well. Wonder why our security
guys still believe that the best way to prevent the Maoists from moving
around is to advertise openly that they are waiting for them—should
they come their way. d
The Media House,
Tripureshwor, Kathmandu
Tel: 2111102, 4261831, 4263098
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 Guest Column
Unrealistic Expectations
Are Nepalis waiting for a Gandhi or a Mandela to one day surface and make things better for
everyone? In authoritative regimes such as in Nepal, "good leaders" will remain in the darkness
The Nepali Congress's dismissal ofthe elected body of its student
wing, the Nepal Students' Union (NSU), not only depicts the
undemocratic and nepotistic practices within the NC's headship. It
is also symptomatic of a more serious illness: a social system that encourages civil society's high expectations in leaders' personal traits which
in turn lead to disappointment and blind compliance.
Every time I talk to Nepalis from all walks of life about the situation of
the country, I'm certain to find deep-rooted skepticism about the political
leadership. Pessimistic political forecasts naturally follow a diagnosis where the
leaders' lack of vision and
credibility becomes responsible for the current
state of affairs. As expected, they advise that
the solution to the quagmire is simply the emergence of a "good leader"—
somebody with vision and
selfless interest who can
bring peace and prosperity
to the country.
The treatment they
prescribe might be correct,
yet it always strikes me as profoundly idealistic. Are Nepalis waitingfor a
Gandhi or a Mandela to one day surface and make things better for
everyone? Let me argue why the idea of a "good leader" is unattainable
in undemocratic systems, why it is necessary to redefine good leadership as a social system rather than to a person or group, and how
despite this, a strong civil societythat demands accountability could lend
a much needed hand.
In authoritative regimes such as in Nepal, "good leaders" will remain
in the darkness. Individuals with aspirations in political careers (regardless of their motivations) would invariably need to comply with the views
of those on top—views which are generally distant from the interests of
the general public. Anybody who does not obey poses a threat. The
sacking of prominent student leaders Gururaj Ghimire and Gagan Thapa
illustrates this point. The NSU's political analysis and thus its recommendations were surely different from the ones held bythe Koirala leadership. They were different in part, because Ghimire and Thapa witnessed
and led a historical moment of mobilization where new opinions and
frameworks were shaped. As leaders, they had the choice to either voice
these new views or replicate the speeches of the NC. They chose the
former. In my interviews with university students for my thesis research,
I consistently found that Ghimire and Thapa were well-respected, even
among leaders of other student organizations, because the students felt
they would not refrain from voicing their opinions.
It is sad but not surprisingthat the anti-regression movement failed to
achieve the structural reforms it demanded. Unlike the 1990 movement, leaders were unsuccessful in establishing credibility and thus failed
to attract important segments ofthe population. Though it is an understatement that the leadership lacked vision and true commitment to
democracy as illustrated bythe CPN-UML move to join another hand-
picked government, itwas ultimately civil society's failure to make their
political parties more democratic and accountable.
Yet it is the civil society's unrealistic expectations about their
leaders what continues to cause
disappointment. Confining good
leadership to a person or a group,
■ rather than demanding a demo
cratic system that "produces" accountable leaders and elevates
the price of peace and democracy. Nepalis need to realize that
these leaders will continue to fail
them until democracy reaches
their political parties. In various
parts ofthe world, even in developing countries with dark pasts
such as Chile, leaders are able to
better provide for people's needs
not because of their supernatural morality but rather because they lead
in a new democratic polity which has inbuilt mechanisms of checks and
balances. Hence when a leader makes a flawed decision it is the people,
either through contentious and non-contentious politics, that "make"
the leaders accountable. The ballot box performs the ultimate miracle as
it usually votes bad leaders off. Democracy, even in its most precarious
form, is the voter's insurance policy against deficient leadership.
Those who claim to be fighting for peace and democracy in Nepal
need to make their parties narrow the gap between rhetoric and practice
from within. What is the difference between a King who dissolves an
elected government and appoints a new one and the NC leadership who
dissolves its elected student leadership and appoints a new committee?
The Palace, which holds a long history of monocracy, has set the precedent for authoritarian and undemocratic leadership to develop yet it has
been the Nepali civil society who has allowed their political parties to
continue the dreadful practices. Unfortunately, the few who dare to question the old establishment and build an alternative through accountability will be silenced and pushed to the sidejust as Gururaj Ghimire and
Gagan Thapa were. E
(Ponce, a Chilean national, is conducting her thesis research on the student
movement of Nepal for a Masters degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at the American University, D.C.)
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
Lakeside, Pokhara
Tel: 977-61-524526
Jyatha, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 4258191, Fax: 977-1-4263143
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irendra Bernational Convention i
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FreefjAJglgg Hair cutting and counsel;
Free Mendi painting everyday
Free Tattoo painting everyday
Yarley Cosmetic Show
Free counselling from well known Dieticians
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Free NIVEA baby products for your healthy KJDS-
(Come with your baby to win NIVEA baby ofthe day title)
Organized by:
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G.P.O.te 11198, Kataandu, Nepal, Ph.: 20H0MS, Far 4254692,
E-mail: info@ka*inaniliMtibiti(mj.c(minp
 The Hand
With The
like watching a blossom open. Her name,
pakswan, means "lotus" in Newari. More and
more of her personality comes to light as one talks to
her. But it still takes quite an effort to make her talk
about herself.   Quiet and almost shy, she prefers to limit herself to questions she is asked.
One is about her achievements. She maintains that she is at best "a simple
person." She is one ofthe first two Nepali women to become a general
surgeon. But she remains hesitant, even reluctant to accept it as an achievement. "I am just a general surgeon," she says with a stress on "just." "That is
something I will always cherish." To her, there were women who were
surgeons in Nepal before her—in gynecology and ENT—and being the first
woman general surgeon is really not such a stellar achievement.
Dr Joshi Lakhey knew very early in her life that medicine was her goal,
and surgery "was where my interest lay." But, it was for the challenge that
she chose surgery as her career: general surgery is still considered a male
bastion and she would have none of that. To her, if there was something men
could do, so could women. All these years, be it her studies or her chosen
line of work, she has been motivated by "a single-minded desire" to excel.
And she has got the results too: She was among the toppers first in SLC and
then in I.Sc.
Where does all this motivation come from? Maybe from St. Mary's High
School, Jawalakhel, where she came in contact with the convent sisters who
instilled in her early on the value of hard work. Or maybe it was during
those vacations with her mother, a medical doctor herself. She would spend
hours listening to her mother interact with doctors and wanted to be one of
"When I was interviewed by the Nepal Television and the Gorkhapatra
after my SLC results (she was secong among girls), I remember saying I
wanted to become a doctor," says Dr. Joshi Lakhey recalling the moment
with clinical precision. "I hadn't really thought about it that much." But
studying medicine seemed the natural thing to do.
 2001 was big year for her.
fShe finally earned her
Master in Surgery (MS)
A       from the Institute of
\       Medicine, Maharajgunj.
Little surprise that she
also won the Gold Medal
in the bargain.
Has life been all easy
thereafter? Hardly. Her
mother, an obstetrician
and gynecologist, had
always warned her "a
doctor's life was a
hard life."
"After earning my
MBBS degree, I
had to struggle to
get a job at
Teaching Hospital," she recalls.
Starting with 1996, she worked as an
unpaid volunteer at the hospital for 18
months. Bureaucratic red tape got in the
way as her appointment lingered on,
even though the department of surgery
needed new doctors.
The times were difficult for her. "I
thought I would give up and work at
some other place..." she recalls as her
husband completes the sentence for her.
"She at least didn't have financial
worries as I had already established
myself," says Dr. Sanjay Lakhey, a
consultant physician at B & B Hospital.
Teaching Hospital, he says, is one of
the most prestigious hospitals in the
country. "So I encouraged her to stay
on, keep trying." Now, as a member of
the faculty at Teaching, she feels her
perseverance has started to pay off.
She now talks about how she is
training to sub-specialize in gastrointestinal and laparoscopic surgery and
pauses to see whether the terms are
understood. Laparoscopic surgery, she
explains, "is a minimally invasive
surgery, where instead of making large
wounds, small incisions are made when
performing complex operations," she
says with uncharacteristic passion.   And
"subspecialization" is a little world of
super-specialists among the "specialists." That probably was the only time
she volunteered more information
about herself than she had to.    d
 CHY TTiisWeek
Miss Nepal 2004
The countdown to the Dabur
Vatika Miss Nepal 2004 has begun. This year also marks the 10th
anniversary of Miss Nepal pageants. The contestants have
reached the final ■week of an extensive five-week training program in confidence-building and
personality development by the
best professionals in the country.
Dabur Nepal and The Hidden
Treasure for the first time this year
have launched the "Viewer's
Vatika My Choice Contest," to
help the general populace pick
their choice amongst the 18 contestants. Information on the contests is being aired by Nepal Television in the run-up to the pageant to assist the viewers. The
pageant takes place at the
Birendra International Convention Center on August 7.
Watch the grand finale, live
on Nepal Television. Time: 4:30
~|~)ilaipom Pethrith Lisborg is a Thai student from the Royal Danish
. Academy of Fine Art, Copenhagen, Denmark. Her upcoming exhibition entitled "Series of Situations"(SOS) is a continuation of her
previous work, "Elf Land, "which was featured in the Siddhartha Art
Gallery earlier this year. Her work is a form of "mixed media," painting
on acrylic photos and
is, what she calls it, a
new pop art. The title
SOS is derived from
seemingly serious photos, mostly on war to
which she has given an
ironic twist with herout-
of-the-world character,
Google—an elf-like
creature with just one
eye. This exhibition will
be opening on August
6 at 6:30 pm at Gallery Moksh, Club
Hardic, Jhamsikhel. It
will continue till August
12. For information:
contact Ragini at
af"    LfW
Tibetan Craft
Antique and replicate fine exquisite
Tibetan boxes on display. Susan's
Collection, Kathmandu Guest House,
Thamel. Till August 31. For information:
4700632, 9851055435.
 For insertions: 2111102
Films @ Lazimpat
Gallery Cafe
Free admission. All profits from
food and drinks will go to PA
Orphange Nepal. Time: 7 p.m.
For information: 4428549.
August 3: Love Actually
The directorial debut by Richard Curtis, screenwriter of "Four
Weddings and a Funeral,"
"Notting Hill" and "Bridget
Jones's Diary," is a romantic
comedy that boasts a jaw dropping line up of A-list British and
Hollywood talent, including
Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.
"Love Actually" is a delightful
mess, which interweaves 15 stories of love and heart break, and
is unpretentious about ■what
is—cute, fluffy and utterly
Cast: Hugh Grant, Liam
Neeson, Emma Thompson,
Rowan     Atkinson,     Keira
Ladies' Night
Exclusive Ladies' Night.
Swing to the beat of the live
band, The Cloud Walkers, or
DJ Raju. At the Rox Bar,
Hyatt Regency. Every
Wednesday. Time: 7 p.m.,
happy hours from 6 to 10
p.m. For information:
Executive Lunch
Executive Lunch available
for Rs. 170. At Bhanchha
Ghar Restaurant, Kamaladi.
For information: 4225172.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
One ofthe most controversial
and provocative films ofthe
year, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is Academy Award-winning filmmaker
Michael Moore's examination of
the Bush administration in the
wake ofthe tragic events of 9/11.
With a whopping $21.8 million in
its first three days, the movie has
become the first documentary ever
to debut as Hollywood'stop weekend film. It has also become the
highest-ever grossing documentary with box-office collections going over the $100 million mark.
Michael Moore tends to make his
point with a sledgehammer and
his latest anti-Bush administration
documentary is no exception. But,
this time around he uses more
delicate instruments as well and
the result is a powerful film. The
documentary has already won the
Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Fes-
Knightley. Director: Richard
August 5: Anita and Me
Anita and Me, written for the
screen by Meera Syal from her
best-selling novel of the same
name, is a coming-of-age film
Dwarika's Thali
Enjoy Nepali cuisine, hospitality and heritage. At Dwarika's
Courtyard, Dwarika's Hotel,
Battisputali. For information:
Summit BBQ
Barbeque with vegetarian specials. At Summit Hotel. Every
Friday. For information:
Farm House Cafe
Explore nature ■with pleasure
and delicious meals. At Park
Village Hotel. For information:
jnj>J£Jj y/
tival. It is an uproariously funny film
but, at the same time, thought provoking. Thistwo-hourflick isa must
watch for an in-depth view of a
brilliant piece of political filmmaking and showmanship.
about Meena, an British-born
Indian girl, and her 14-year-old
blonde neighbor, Anita. Each
character in the film is well developed ■without seeming to rely
on stereotypes and caricature.
Dawdling around these two
main characters "Anita and Me"
is hilarious, thoughtful and in
the end quite touching.
Cast: Max Beesley, Sanjeev
Bhaskar, Anna Brewster, Kathy
Burke, Ayesha Dharker. Director: Metin Htiseyin.
an it a &
Showing on August 7 and 8
at The Film Club, Baggikhana,
Patan Dhoka. Time: 2 p.m. Tickets: Rs.50, available at the
venue itself. For information:
Training by Fair Trade
Group Nepal
A five-day training on "Export
Marketing Management for
SMEs and Micro Enterprises."
Organized by FTG Nepal,
Bakhundole. Date: August 3-7
For information: 5542608,
Movie: Une sale affaire (Director: Alain Bonnot). At Alliance
Francaise de Kathamandu,
Tripureshwore. Date: August 8.
Time: 2 p.m. Free admission. For
information: 241163, 242832.
Dunga Daud
As a part ofthe ongoing Bagmati
River Festival, Nepal River Conservation Trust (NRCT) and
Sustainable Tourism Network
(STN) are organizing the
"Dunga Daud Media Challenge". This event ■will be a rafting race consisting of media entities. The race to be held on
August 7 will start at 7 a.m. from
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Tel. No: 4227793,4227791, Mobile: 9851078058, 9851078059, 9851078060, 9851033393
When mobile phones
arrived in Nepal in 1999 a
few thousand sold quickly
to businesspeople, who
truly needed the service,
and to gadget-loving
trendsetters. The
vast majority ofthe
mobile phones
today however, are
in the hands of
ordinary people
who are living the
mobile lifestyle.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
Rashmi Lama is at the
Himalayan Java in
Thamel with a glass of iced
tea. She's trying to hold the
sofa in the corner while she
waits for two of her friends
to turn up. She types an SMS
to her friends: "Wr r u, me
lire." After a while, there's a
reply: "Cumin...." Lama puts
her Nokia 2100 mobile
phone back on the coffee table
and sits back, relaxed.
She quickly picks the
phone up again. "Technology
has made it so easy," she says,
as she prepares to call home
to tell her mother that she's
having dinner with her
friends tonight. "Even Muwa
at home knows where I am."
A mother's touch was the
key for recently married Anu
Bajracharya. Her mobile
helped her over the "first two
or three days when all was
new around me, missing my
home so much." She continues, "Since I had a mobile I
could just dial home and share
the private feelings, espe-
 cially ■with Mom ■whenever I ■wanted."
Many mobile phone users like Lama
and Bajracharya feel that the mobile has
made some difference in their lives.
Since Nepal Telecom introduced prepaid services in August 2003 and decreased the price of post-paid services
by about a third in May, more and more
people are turning "upwardly mobile," a
term even telecom officials are using to
explain the mobile lifestyle.
"Our pre-paid service has been able
to extend our mobile phone reach into
middle-income households and even to
students," says Surendra P Thike, a Nepal
Telecom spokesman. Nepal Telecom is
the only provider of mobile phone services in Nepal right now. Though the
government brought Nepal Telecom
under the Company Act last April and
announced plans to float shares to the
public, the government still retains the
lucrative monopoly.
That has had little impact on the
mobile craze, though. "The demand has
suddenly increased after we offered free
receiving charges [during the evenings
and nights]," adds Thike. Lower onetime investments have sparked the demand too. Pre-paid service costs only
Rs. 1,700 plus the price of handset. Nepal
Telecom has so far sold 67,500 post-paid
lines and 116,000 pre-paid lines across
the country, including 97,852 pre-paid
lines in the Kathmandu Valley alone.
Distribution of additional lines has been
halted again for two more months as
Nepal Telecom frantically adds infrastructure to catch up ■with the demand.
While Nepal Telecom upgrades its
infrastructure, so do the consumers, it
seems. Nisha Amatya from Patan opted
for a mobile phone and dropped her
pager service. She decided to shift to prepaid mobile services ■when she realized
that it cost only a few hundred rupees
more than her pager. There has been massive pager-to-mobile shift and paging
companies are suffering: many are already lobbying for a cut in their five-
year licensing fee. Some have closed
branches outside Kathmandu to focus on
niche market in the capital. A one-time
booming business looks ready for a drastic cut.
"Mobiles are the in-thing. Pagers are
turning into a dying technology," says
Ram Aryal, ■who ■works in an insurance
company as an accountant. "At the ■workplace, it has become necessary to have a
mobile number so your clients can reach
you immediately."
Instant access has its downsides.
Movies, meetings and dinners are increasingly interrupted by mobile phones
as the number of mobile users shoots
up. People seem reluctant to turn off
their phone and relinquish the mobile
lifestyle, even for a few minutes.
"It's intruding into others' privacy," says Deepak Bhattarai, a television journalist. "It's such a nuisance
■when you are together ■with a friend
and he is busy talking on the mobile
phone ■with someone else as you ■wait
for him to finish his conversation."
He complains, "Why can't we learn to
be more social like before?" Just then
he gets an SMS from his office, smiles
politely, and gets ready to read the
Such interruptions are only bound
to grow and mobile etiquette has to be
developed and mastered over time, both
by companies and individuals. For now,
the mobile lifestyle is here to stay and is
certain to grow over time. Anu
Bajracharya sums up the mixed blessing:
"Most of the time it has made life easy,
but sometimes I ■wish I could have a
obile-free day."    □
 fw*+fo the boss
A platform far discussionsr debates, seminars, talks,
enhancing communication skills,  leadership, hobby clubs,
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The event will olso
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August 7, 2004
y.iu 4780394
ot Sporti
The country's two main sports bodies are in the news
again and for all the wrong reasons. Nepal's participation
in the Olympics is sure to get tarnished.
The curse of Nepali politics, ego-
driven factionalism, is at work
over Nepal's participation in the
Olympics. The National Sports Council (NSC) and the National Olympic
Committee (NOC) are locked in a bitter dispute. Both are headed by heavyweights and neither is budging an inch.
On the one side ofthe battlefront is the
Member-Secretary of the Sports Council Kishor Bahadur Singh, a relative of
Princess Himani. On the other side is
Olympic committee President Rukma
SJB Rana, son of Nepali Congress stalwart Subarna Shumsher. Rana also has
close ties with highly placed Olympic
officials outside the country.
"To someone not terribly familiar
with politics of Nepal's sports," says a
long-time employee with the Sports
Council, "this may all look like a battle
on plain sports terms. It's not. It's only a
reflection of our deeply fractured national politics."
Rana and Singh were once buddies, say
sports officials, and Rana still maintains he
enjoys "close personal ties" with Singh.
That hasn't stopped them from fighting for
supremacy over who gets to control the
Olympic purse. Nepal's Olympic committee gets at least $30,000 from the International Olympic Committee each year
to cover administrative costs, plus thousands more through a "Solidarity Fund."
Hopes were high last March when
Singh and Rana shook hands in a move
initiated by the Nepal Sports Journalists' Forum (NSJF) on the eve ofthe 9th
South Asian Federation Games. Many
expected that the move would bring the
two warring camps together. It was not
to be. "Sadly for the Nepali sports fraternity, the two have resumed their fight
from where they left off," says Niranjan
Rajbansi, president of NSJF. The long-
running dispute, which started with the
NOC elections in May 2003, has taken a
nastier and more personal turn.
The athletes are caught in the middle.
Rajbansi says the fighting almost cost
Sangina Baidya her participation in
the Olympics because neither of the
sports bodies would fund her. "Fortunately for Baidya, the private sector intervened just in time, pledging her the support required for her participation." She
is likely to be the flag-bearer of a six-
member Nepali team when the games
open in Athens on August 14.
After controversial elections to the
National Olympic Committee last
spring, the government re
pealed NOC's registration
and gave a green light to the
Sports Council to hold
fresh elections to the committee.
Rana, never short of friends
and allies in the international arena, mounted
pressure on the then
Thapa government
to restore NOC's
registration.    In
their letters addressed to then
Minister Thapa,
the     International Olympic
(IOC) and its
Asian chapter, the Olympic Council of
Asia (OCA), expressed surprise over the
government move to dismiss the NOC.
The strongest statement came from
IOC: "This [suspension of the NOC]
might severely harm the Nepalese
Olympic Movement as a whole and the
participation ofthe athletes of your country in various regional, continental and
international sports events, including the
next Olympic Games to be held in Athens in August 2004." The ongoing fight
between the country's two most important official sports bodies is unlikely to
prevent Nepal's participation in the
Olympics, say officials, but it is sure to
give Nepal a very a bad name, if it already hasn't.
It's business as usual with the sports
fraternity. "We have duly advised the IOC
of these developments," says Rana, "but
even at this juncture we are prepared to
discuss and come to an amicable resolution on this matter." The Sports Council, however, is unrelenting: This dispute
can only be resolved through fresh elections to the NOC, it says.
With all the support Singh
now garners from a majority of
national sports associations, he
believes that getting support
from the IOC and OCA is just a
matter of time. NOC president
Rana offers his own solution:
"This problem will be resolved in two hours if
we stand on our legs
rather than stand by
our egos," he says.
"Obviously,   it
requires a certain
give-and-take process. "Hopefully
we'll get out of
this deadlock once
and for all, soon."
How soon?    □
2004   |  nation weekly
 if you
designed by WordScape for
UNDP, World Bank and
Save the Children.
"You can't go wrong
with WordScape."
The Media House,  Tripureshwor, Kathmandu
GPO 8975, EPC 5620
tel: 4229825, 4261831, 4263098
fax: 421 6281
 Call it soccer fever. Justa week after Will
Smith's "I, Robot" hit the silver screen,
Nepal's own homemade robots took the
field at the Covered Hall in Dasrath
Stadium. Unlike the vicious metal men in
the movie, these Ronaldosand
Beckhams ofthe robotic kind were
cheered on by an excited Nepali crowd.
The mastermind behind Robo Soccer-
2004: RAMESH CHAUDHARI, head of
the robotics department at the Institute of
Engineering, Pulchowk. "If given a
chance," saysChaudhari, "I want to make
my mark in robotics." He already has.
Chaudhari, along with two other colleagues, is making his presence felt in the
international arena. They have competed
in ABU Robo Con 1 and 2 held in Japan
and Thailand. His team even finished third
at the International Robotics Competition
inMumbai last year.
Long, Winding Road
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Sur Sudha is not Nepal's only music ambassador. Lend your ears
to the fast-rising star of Nepali music, ANIL SHAHI. The
Crity Awards 2061, on July 12, featuring Shahi and his Maya
Mantra group as the star attractions, was an evening to be
remembered. Blending raag and fusion, Shahi has been
steadily expanding his fan base far and wide, up to
far-off countries. He already has five concerts
in England under his belt and several
others in Malaysia. A composer and
guitarist, Shahi'sjourney to stardom,
however, began rather humbly. Eighteen
years ago, he started as a performer in a
hotel in Kathmandu and has come a
long way since. Hard work certainly
does pay.
Actions speak louder than words. At least, NUMA RAI, the second
runner up at Miss Nepal 2003, believes so. Last week, she
donated a sum of Rs. 21,000 to the Mahalaxmi Lower Secondary
School in Patan. Talking about her effort to better the children's
lives, Rai says that she wants to live a meaningful life herself.
Indeed, she is on the right track. At 20, this vivacious lady has
done it all—from the ramp to television, and now philanthropy.
AUGUST 8, 2004
nation weekly
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nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
 Khula Manch
Few people wear so many hats and with as much
ease as Rajendra Sharama, popularly known as
Robin Sharma. Over the years, he has made his mark
as a singer, announcer, news reader, university teacher—
you name it. At the pinnacle of his career now, the Deputy
Executive Director at the state-owned Radio Nepal thinks
those at the helm of affairs in the government media still
carry the ghosts ofthe Panchayat days.
Sharma talked with Satishjung Shahi
of Nation Weekly about the changing
face of Nepal's media, political pressures
at Radio Nepal, media ethics and about
public service broadcasting.
How do you view the current
state of the media?
It has been phenomenal. We are enjoying great freedom. There is so much va-
riety even among broadsheets.
Kathmandu has 10-11 FM radio stations
currently operating; there are already 56
FM stations registered nationwide and
32 or 33 have already started operation.
What was it like when you first
joined Radio Nepal?
The media was centrally controlled then
and it wasn't even necessarily by the
Ministry [of Information and Communications]. We used to call the place
where instructions came from as "Naxal
Durbar." Later on, itwas more of a self-
censorship and fear than political or bureaucratic pressure that made us to refrain from performing our duties as journalists. We still carry part of that system
in the government media. It has stuck to
us like a really bad habit.
How has it been since the
restoration of democracy?
The situation is actually worse in certain
ways, as we have to take orders from student leaders whose affiliated parties are
in the government. Half of the employees are political activists and the rest of us
don't have the guts, as we are alljagires. We
have a huge army of employees, 750 people
just to run daily 16 hours of transmission.
But the private media is booming...
Nepal is finally practicing media pluralism but I am skeptical about who'll actually follow all the upcoming media.
Advertisement revenue has dwindled
even in the government media. It is high
time we aim at specialization and look
for niche viewership and become audience specific. The positive development
is that people have started reading newspapers and the radio has emerged as a
strong medium of communication.
What ails Radio Nepal?
Radio Nepal was established in 1951.
The priorities and objectives of that period no longer hold today, but we haven't
modified them. I thought Radio Nepal
was a public national service broadcaster.
But, in 1987, itwas converted into aBikash
It is heartening to
see young people
choosing journalism
as a profession
Samiti, which meant less control by the
government and greater autonomy. The
darling child ofthe government and the
Royal Palace was suddenly fending for
itself. In the early stages of euphoria that
was fine, but now we have adopted a
dual system to live by. We have been
directed to promote issues such as Lok
Geet and Krishi but we also had to make
money by going commercial. It's like a
horse tethered to a pole. Now there are
so many players already in the market;
the green pasture we enjoyed solely is
no more.
Do you think deregulating
Radio Nepal would help?
It depends on the government's priority.
Personally speaking, Radio Nepal, like
similar others in the South Asia region,
should be developed as a public service
broadcaster. There are three options available: develop it as a public service broadcaster with total government funding but
grant editorial independence; allow private writers to underwrite it as public radio; or allow complete autonomy to develop it as a commercial radio station.
What are other requirements?
We need a media monitoring authority to
establish a code-of-ethics and guide the
media within the parameters of the
country's laws. We have to realize that news
stories have also created an adverse impact
in the society There is no standard language and pictures ofbloodshed and death
have been used blatantly The influx of private media came when there wasn't sufficient infrastructure and human resources.
There is no proper training center for journalists. We need to focus on that too.
How has the entry of young people
changed the media?
It is heartening to see young people
choosing journalism as a profession. It
has given the media new vigor and a
facelift. The old guard definitely has to
make way to let the younger lot create a
greater impact through innovation, experimentation and creativity. I would
like to advise the young to shoulder their
responsibilities well, as popularity is the
greatest stimulant in the media. You have
to sustain it. Make sure you don't strike
just once and then disappear.  CI
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Three Musketeers	
An IITian's first-time book tells the story of three
unlikely heroes aspiring to make it big at India's
prestigious institute
Five point someone -What not to
do at IIT" is by debutant author
Chetan Bhagat, an alumnus of IIT
Delhi. Set in his alma mater, the book,
as the author says, is not a survival guide
but is about how things can go terribly
wrong if you don't think straight.
■:yi3ft kvtri
The book is about Ryan, Alok
and Hari, who havejustjoined IIT,
the most prestigious Indian institute. After achieving the seemingly
impossible—getting through the
IIT entrance—the three musketeers go on a four-year
rollercoaster ride with plenty of
thrills and spills.
Ryan, his friends think, does
clever things but at the wrong
place and at the wrong time. Alok
comes from a family of "limited
means," a polite way of saying
he's poor, and has an ageing unmarried
sister. Hari is kindhearted, confused,
physically unappealing and hopelessly in
love. The story is told from his perspective.
In the institute, the trio realizes that
though getting through the entrance was
tough, surviving academically at IIT is
even tougher. After achieving be low-average GPAs (five on a scale of 10) in their
first semester exams, they find themselves loitering way down in the merit
list. To redeem themselves, their self-
esteem and, of course, their grades, but
without the hassle of studying, they embark on a foolhardyjourney—in search of
higher grades and good jobs—through a
series of Ryan's theories and experiments
called C2D (cooperate to dominate).
Amidst all the chaos, Aloktries to commit
suicide and Hari finds time to fall in love
with Neha, the Dean's daughter.
An ordinary story told extraordinarily,
this book is a delightful read.
It's a refreshingly simple tale,
humorously told and has no
pretensions of being a "great
work of art" Bhagat's humor
is direct and contemporary
that will appeal to all, especially youngsters. It has its
patches of black humor
("Alok was poor but not
those World Bank ad
types"), which some readers
may find unsettling. But in
the context ofthe story and
its characterization, it per-
fectlyjells and does not seem
out of place. "Five Point
Someone" will surely remind the readers of their bo-
hemian college days.
Some have termed Five
Point Someone as "Dil
Chahata Hai Part II." However, apart from three youngsters, lots of humor and a
fresh idea, there is nothing
similar between the two.
"Five Point Someone" has all the ingredients of a typical Bollywood masala
movie. It has a paralytic father, a crying
mother, an ageing sister yet to be married, friends falling apart, coming back
again, a dash of suspense, sex and plenty
of humor. Incidentally, the film rights
for the book have been taken by a
Mumbai filmmaker. I certainlyjust hope
the images are as delightful as the words.
With the book sales doing well, Bhagat
who is an investment banker by profession, must be literally laughing all the
way to the bank.  El
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Rupa (Paperback)
Price: IRs. 95
Pages: 270
By: Bill Clinton
Hutchinson (London)
Pages: 957
Price: Rs. 1432
An exhaustive, soul-searching memoir, Bill
Clinton's "My Life" is a refreshingly candid look
at the former president as a son, brother,
teacher, father, husband and public figure.
Clinton painstakingly outlines the history behind his greatest successes and failures, including his dedication to educational and economic reform, his war against a "vast right-wing
operation" determined to destroy him and the
"morally indefensible" acts for which he was
nearly impeached. My Life is autobiography as
therapy—a personal history written by a man
trying to face and banish his private demons.
Amy Willesee and Mark
Rider (London)
Pages: 320
Price: Rs. 632
nation weekly |  AUGUST 8, 2004
The Narayanhiti Royal Massacre on June 1,
2001, not only brought Nepal to a standstill
but also fascinated and appalled the whole
world. Award-winningjoumalists Amy Willesee
and Mark Whittaker set out to understand what
could have led to such a devastating tragedy.
Exploring Kathmandu and other parts ofthe
country, the writers have conducted interviews
with everyone from Maoist guerillas to members and friends ofthe royal family. An effort to
understand the chain of events leading up to
the tragedy, which will forever leave a mark upon
the country's history.
Collection of Nepali
and Indian writers.
Rupa & Co.
Pages: 325
Price: Rs. 695
This book is a compilation ofthe papers presented
ataseminaron "India-Nepal Relations-Perspectives for the Future," organized by the Observer
Research Foundation, an institute for Asian Studies in New Delhi in February last year.
(Booksavailableat Pilgrims Bookstore, 4700942)
 Last Word
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Raising The Bar
3m np
The Special Court deserves a special pat on the back for convicting
Chiranjivi Wagle, the first-ever
former minister to face a jail term for
charges of corruption. And the CIAA too
for doggedly pursuing the high-profile
case despite the attendant controversy
and political pressure. We consider the
action against Wagle a huge milestone in
context of where we stand as a society,
state and regime that hopes to establish a
rule of law.
We however would like to qualify at
the very outset that Wagle still holds the
right to appeal the conviction; the Supreme Court still reserves the right to
overturn the conviction; and we hope
that the conviction has not
been politically motivated.
Our purpose here is not to
get into the specificities of
the charges. Nor is it to
question their veracity. We
would like to believe that
those things have been well
taken care of. Indeed, as a
senior leader with a proud
history behind him, Wagle
deserves every single benefit of doubt.
The point we are trying to make here
however is very much related to Wagle's
conviction. We believe it is the culture
of impunity that has over the years been
responsible for the widespread abuse of
public office. When officials don't fear
punishment, their personal morality
stands as the only deterrent against vices.
And personal morality, as history attests,
can take a beating in face of material
temptations. Ironically, the Panchayat at
least would keep officials on a leash with
fears of mathiko aadesh, if not the rule of
law. The post-1990 period, on the contrary, has seen a gradual erosion in the
authority of public offices; the morality
of public officials has been in free fall.
We are not arguing that the Panchayat was
a golden era of good governance. People
in high places, a select few, were always
beyond the reach of law. But law enforcement agencies such as the police force,
and the bureaucracy largely remained
immune to changes in the government
(which became too frequent) and to direct, and petty, political meddling.
In this context, Wagle's conviction
offers a historical opportunity to redefine our value system as a society. South
Africa did so with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It helped the
South Africans deal with the pains and
atrocities of the apartheid era. It also
helped them to come to terms with their
past without losing their moral fiber. We
never gave ourselves that opportunity—
as a nation, as a society. Unlike the
Panchayat, which relied on individual
whims for order, we now have to diligently set up a rule of law. Then everyone
should agree that we would play by the
rules. There would then be a competent
legislature. And a sound justice administration system. Which will
both then be supported by
strong law enforcement
agencies that are blind to
one's political leanings and
family connections.
We missed a golden opportunity to set up such a
J A regime in 1991. The Mallik
Commission, named after
the lead investigator
Janadran Mallik, had found that 45
people had been killed and 23,000 injured during the 50-day Jana Andolan that
restored democracy. The commission
named names, including those in high
places, who were involved in "containing" the movement. But the government
of Girija Prasad Koirala decided to pardon, for instance, the guilty police officials, "in order to keep the morale" high.
The Supreme Court fared no better. It
refused to entertain a petition that called
for action against those named in the
commission's report. The court, instead,
decided "the petitioners had failed to
elaborate as to which of their fundamental rights had been infringed by the non-
execution of the Mallik Commission
report." In doing so, they committed a
historical wrong. The Wagle saga, if
handled well, is our second chance to
raise the bar for good governance.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
AUGUST 8, 2004   |  nation weekly
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