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Nation Weekly January 9, 2005, Volume 1, Number 38 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2005-01-09

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 QUAKE TREMORS I HELPING HAND I FAT OR FIT I ELUSIVE JUSTICE
JANUARY 9,2005 VOL. I, NO. 38
W,  WI    5P* \  3W ^
with mixed emotions
www.nation.com.np
WEEKLY
RS. 30      ISSN 1S11-721X
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 REPORTS
18 Passion for Peace
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
Those behind peace rallies
believe they have generated
pressure on both the Maoists and the
government. We will have to wait and
see.
26 How Safe are We?
I By Biswas Baral
Nepal is poorly prepared for
the next major earthquake.
We could do much better.
29 Helping Hand
By Prakash Khanal in London
Nepalis in the UK offer employment to
the families of Iraq victims
30 Waiting for Justice
By Sushmajoshi in Biratnagar
A new law gives women
equal rights to their
husband's property. But
counter-lawsuits showing
that the men are bankrupt make it
difficult for the women to claim
anything.
ARTS & SOCIETY
34 Heritage Haven
w m By Veneeta Singha
1 Dwarika's looks like a haven,
I feels like a haven and is a ha-
y ven
PROFILE
42 Mission
Psychology
By Indra Adhikari
Changing the world one mind at a time
LIFESTYLE
46 Fat or Fit?
By Kumud Nepal
INew health and fitness clubs
lhave sprung up across the city
in recent years. Once the
province of the young, the
clubs are now more likely to be patronized by people in their 30s and 40s.
COVER STORY
20 Maoist Conundrum
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
As Nepal struggles with its escalating insurgency, outsiders watch
with mixed emotions
COLUMNS
11 Let the
Best Man Lead
By Jogendra Ghimire
SPORTS
A
32 All for the
Local Economy
By Nick Meynen
FT
40 The Explended
Lakeside
ByKunalLama
50 All for Fair Play
» j(Jta_^ By Sudesh Shrestha
^%» g.  The San Miguel Cup saw
J big crowds. But the party
was marred by some
ordinary match refereeing.
X
DEPARTMENTS
6 LETTERS
9 WEEK IN PICTURES
10 PICTURE OF THE WEEK
14 CAPSULES
16 MILESTONE
16 BIZ BUZZ
44 CITY PAGE
52 SNAPSHOTS
56 KHULA MANCH
57 BOOKS
58 LAST PAGE
 f
^toE.
olcsl C£S
S3  r
5£    k
it The vacuum in
representation will
only benefit the
Maoists and the
royalists ii
Untold story
YOUR COVER STORY LAST WEEK
touched upon a subject not usually discussed in the national media: the friction between the Bhutanese refugees and
the local community ("Unwelcome
Refuge," by John Narayan Parajuli, Jan.
2). It is an issue that deserves a lot more
attention, both nationally and internationally, than it has attracted so far. While
Nepal's media has done quite well in
highlighting the plight of the refugees
in the camps, few newspapers bother to
explain the pains of the host communities in Morang and Jhapa, the latter in
particular where most of the 100,000
refugees now live. To the media that has
an evident liberal bias, it becomes politically incorrect to even discuss the
problems posed by the refugees. This,
by the way, is the same media that never
tires of reporting the umpteen parleys
between Bhutan and Nepal and the official rhetoric that goes with them. Yes,
the host communities in places like
Damak have benefited from the money
aid agencies have spent on the camps
over the years. But something has to be
done for the low-income group that suffers most when refugees work for close
to nothing. You can't blame them for resenting the refugees who at least have
the aid agencies to support them. Here's
another refugee story. Many ofthe refugees, mostly the educated ones, in fact
no longer live in these camps. They are
holding various jobs—in schools,
NGOs and others—in Damak,
Biratnagar, and many have even settled
in Kathmandu. You aren't against them
just because you write about them.
R KARKI
DAMAK
SUSHMA SHRESTHA
Dharahara unsafe?
PERHAPS YOUR ARTICLE ON THE
possible reopening of Dharahara missed
one important point ("A Great View, but
is it Safe?" by Dhriti Bhatta, Jan. 2). Tsunamis have once again shown how vulnerable we are to the natural hazards.
Has anything been done to save
Dharahara from another big earthquake
after its destruction in 1934? Was the
reconstruction done keeping in mind
the visitors? I suspect not. Given the fact
that our officials have shown little regard for national monuments, I for one
would like to see thorough studies done
on Dharahara's engineering before its
gates are opened to visitors. I have nothing against private parties managing the
monument, but I would definitely like
the concerned agencies to come forward and say that the monument can
withstand the onslaught of daily visitors? This is a concern both for the national heritage and public safety.
ABHISEKH SHARMA
VIA EMAIL
House restoration
SO NATION WEEKLY TOO THINKS
that the restoration of Parliament is the
best way out of the current stalemate
("House Reincarnation?" by John
Narayan Parajuli, Jan. 2). Welcome
aboard, join forces. The current state
of affairs should not continue. The
vacuum in people's representation will
only benefit two forces: the Maoists
and the royalists, neither of whom
seem overly anxious to restore the
people's government.
SUSHMA SHRESTHA
NEW ROAD
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
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Mike's Breakfast
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homes are the setting for Mike's Breakfast and
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delightful destinations. Enjoy fine cuisine and
soft music in the garden and come up to wander
through the gallery, which showcases traditional
Newari paintings and bronze art, as well as a
diversity of modern exhibitions.
Mike's Breakfast
Friday Pizza Night
Open Daily 7:00 am to 9:00 pm
Phone: 4424-303 Fax/istd .4413-
E-mail: mikefewa@mos.com.np
Indigo Gallery
Open daily 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Phone: 4413-580 Fax 4411-724
Email: Indigo® wlink.com.np
In Naxal, close to the Police H.Q
nation
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Vol. I, No. 38. For the week January 3-9, 2005, released on January 3
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nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
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LIFE through the LENS
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 Week   Pictures
1. OPEN FINALLY: Trucks on the Prlthvl
Highway after the withdrawal of a Maoist
blockade on the Valley
2. YOUNG BEAUTY: A young participant at
Sano Pari talent contest, organized by
Sulaxya, a division of Jeet Haamro
3. BUSY: Workers at Patan Industrial area
boll silkworm cocoons for silk processing
4. SKILLED HANDS: Yomari, a traditional
Newari dish, being prepared for the Yomari
Punhl on Dec. 26.
5. FOR PEACE: Film artists hit the streets
rallying for peace
6. MUCH NEEDED BREAK: Prime Minister
Deuba dances on Lhosar at the BICC
7. MERRY CHRISTMAS: A young boy dresses
as Santa at New Road on Christmas Day
8. A DAYTO SMILE: Celebratelng Lhosar on
Thursday, Dec.30.
photos: nw/SS
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
 Pictu
of the ^^J
Sf £^
TOGETHER FOR A CAUSE: A Buddhist monk on a
carriage being driven by a security personnel during
the peace rally In Ratnapark on Tuesday, Dec. 28
Bljay Rai
 7*>
ye
Let the Best Man Lead
The call by Koirala's party colleagues that he should make way for a younger generation of leaders is limp
BY JOGENDRA GHIMIRE
Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala is in the news
again. Butfora very different reason. Unlike his public persona
since October 2002 of an angry and assertive leader ofthe
opposition against the King's decision to assume executive powers, it is
the accusation against him from within the NC ranks, of subversion of
the party constitution and failure to hand over leadership ofthe party to
the younger generation, that has been the focus ofthe media.
The criticism of Koirala by senior NC leaders—including its second-
generation aspirants for the party presidency—are two-fold. One, that he
led the NC central committee into misinterpreting the party constitution
which al lows no one to hold the party presidency for more than two terms.
The central committee said that the provision
that bars a person against holding the party
presidency for more than two terms does not
apply to Koirala because he has only served
one term since that provision was added in the
constitution. Two, thatat 82, Koirala should now
make way for a younger generation of leaders
to assume the party leadership. My argument is
that neither ofthe two accusations holds much
water.
Leaving the politics in the Nepali Congress
central committee aside, itisdifficulttoseewhat
was so unacceptably wrongaboutthe interpretation of the provision in the NC constitution
providing term limits. Itwas inserted into the
constitution duringthe party's latest general convention, which elected Koirala for a second term.
Since the right to contest elections is a substantive right, it is not difficult to see that the provision was intended to be applied to those who
assumed the party presidency after the provision became law. That is how laws should be
read because individuals should be not expected
to accept a retrospective infringement on their
substantive rights by a provision that comes into effect at a later date.
That an individual holding office at the time of changes in the rules
governing the term limits on holding the office should not be adversely
affected was a principle applied by the American Congress and three-
fourths ofthe U.S. state assemblies when they debated and decided in
favor of term limits on presidential office. After the death of Franklin D.
Roosevelt, within 100 days of his fourth inauguration in 1945, his vice
president, Harry Truman, assumed office. Despite FDR's popularity as the
president who led the country duringthe Great Depression and the Second World War, there was considerable opposition within the Congress
against the same person being elected for an unprecedented four terms.
FDR's four terms were against the convention set by George Washington and upheld by every other president since then who would hold
office for only two terms. A proposal for the 22nd amendment of the U.S.
constitution was thus initiated duringTruman'sfirst term in 1947, and it
became the law ofthe land in 1951, during Truman's second term. The
language ofthe amendment makes an exception in case of Truman by
stating that the two-term limit shall not be applied to the person holding
the office at the time ofthe introduction ofthe amendment.
Truman could have contested for a third term, but he decided against
it. Koirala should be able to contest for a third term, if he so chooses.
That brings us to the age issue and assertions from the 60-some-
thing NC leaders that at 82, Koirala should stay home. There is an
element of defeatism in this assertion. Perhaps the second-generation
leaders in the Nepali Congress feel that if it comes down to a contest with
the old hawk, they do not stand a chance of winning. This age argument
is unfair, for it assumes that an octogenarian loses his civil or political
rights, or that an individual in that age group is
under legal obligation to bequeath his political
legacy to individuals two decades hisjunior.
Or is it that the second-generation aspirants for the NC presidency believe that they've
the right to have top party position handed over
to them without having to contest for it in a
democratic exercise?
Koirala isa man of many faults. As someone who has held the office ofthe prime minister for the longest period of time since 1990,
and as a central figure in Nepali politics, he
could be held responsible for many ofthe political ills ofthe present times. There mayalso
be issues with his post-2002 brand of politics.
But there can be no case whatsoever against
the octogenarian about him turning senile or
being mentally and physically incapable of assuming the responsibilities ofthe top position
of a mass-based party.
He has been the most visible voice advocating the cause ofthe agitating political parties.
From the perspective of those political workers,
he is undoubtedly the most credible face in their
ranks. And he is by far the tallest personality amongst the many others
who are at the forefront of thei r movement to end "regression."
There are instances of people in Koirala's age group assuming public
positions that may be even more taxing than the NC presidency. Winston
Churchill was 77 when he started hisfinal stint as the British prime minister.
Ronald Reagan was 73 when he began his second term. Closer home,
Morarji Desai was 81 when he led the Janata government in India in
1977.
My argument here is not that we should go for older people while
choosing leaders. But neither should we necessarily go for younger people.
It is the individual's competence that should decide his or her standing,
irrespective ofthe age. If Koirala is good enough to stage a daily dharna
at Ratna Park and lead the front against the King at 82, he must be good
enough to become the president of his party, n
L
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
11
 Opinion
THINK
POSITIVE
'Thinker'
by Auguste Rodin
Pouncs
Civil Conflict
Education
Development
Business
Lifestyle
Sports
JEVERY WEEK.
f EVERY MONDAY.
nation
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CARPETS      &      DECORATIVE       ARTS
 >ules
UNCHR chief
Louise Arbour, the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is
slated to visit Nepal on a factfinding mission from Jan. 23
to Jan. 26. She will be looking into allegations of human
rights violations by both the
security forces and the
Maoists, reported The Himalayan Times. International
right groups have, in recent
times, shown deep concern
over human rights abuses and
the undue interference ofthe
government in the affairs of
National Human Rights
Commission. Amnesty International has recorded 622
cases of disappearances—the
number was the highest in
the world for both 2002 and
2003—since 1998, half of
them since the breakdown of
the ceasefire in August 2003.
House reinstatement
Members of the dissolved
Parliament from the NC-D,
Prime Minister Deuba's
party, demanded the reinstatement of the Pratinidhi
Sabha. Eighteen parliamentarians affiliated with the
party, urged the party leadership to opt for the reinstatement of the Parliament if
elections could not be held.
They believe that a reinstated
house should take the initiative for peace talks. The reinstatement demand was raised
during the first central committee meeting since the party
president, Deuba himself,
became prime minister.
Pashupati no more
Delhi Development Authority demolished a replica of
the Pashupatinath Temple on
the outskirts of New Delhi
on Wednesday, Dec. 29.
Devotees watched as the
dozers ran over the 40-year-
old temple. The DDA
claimed that the temple was
destroyed since it was built
illegally The temple management committee said they had
received no prior notice from
the authorities.
Stay order
The Supreme Court ordered
the government to hold the
decision to annul the license
of Lumbini Overseas. Earlier
the government had decided
to cancel the license of the
manpower company arguing
that it was involved in tax evasion. The company had filed
a writ petition at the Supreme
Court on Dec. 7.
Peace rally
Over 300 organizations staged
a  massive   peace   rally  in
Kathmandu on Monday, Dec.
27 to pressure the government
and the Maoists to start a dialogue. Organizers say more
than 200,000 people participated in the rally. It was the
first time that such numbers
of ordinary citizens took to the
streets calling for an immediate ceasefire and resumption
of the peace talks.
Narrow escape
A Qatar Airways A-7 ABX
bound for Doha narrowly escaped mishap after its left engine exploded within moments of its takeoff from the
Tribhuvan International Airport on Thursday, Dec. 30. According to witnesses, two huge
explosions were heard as soon
as the jet was airborne. The
plane later made an emergency landing after circling the
Kathmandu skies for half an
hour with only a single engine.
Missing Nepalis
Three Nepalis have died and
at least seven are still missing
in Thailand after massive tsunamis occurred in the aftermath of a major earthquake off
the southern coast of Indonesia. The body of Krishna
Adhikari, a resident of
Maitidevi, was recovered on
Thursday, Dec. 30. Two more
bodies, those of Madhav
Prashad Gaire of Palpa and
Him Prashad Pokharel of
Terathum, have been recovered since. The country director of CARE Nepal,
Robin Needham, too died in
the tsunamis in southern
Thailand. But there is no
news of the Nepalis currently in Sri Lanka, India,
Indonesia, Malaysia and
Bangladesh.
Noble cause
Ramesh Thapa and Sanjeev
Pradhan, the winners of the
"A Vacation With Nation"
contest, a one-week subscription campaign, donated
their prize money to feed the
elderly of the Social Welfare
Centre Briddhashram in
Gaushala. Shital Bhattrai,
Sujita Maharjan and Suraj
Suwal also contributed to the
noble cause.
Blockades off
The indefinite Maoist blockade of the various routes
leading to the Valley was called off on Wednesday,
Dec. 29. The blockade began on Dec. 23. The blockades on nine other districts surrounding the Valley have
been withdrawn as well. The Maoist-affiliated Tamang Regional Autonomous People's Government said the decision
to call off the blockade had been taken following appeals by
human rights activists and the civil society. Two days before
the blockade was called off, an estimated 200,000 people
gathered at Ratna Park calling for peace in a rally organized
by some 300-odd organizations. This is the second time
such an indefinite blockade has been called in last five
months.
X
14
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 Miss Teen Sherpa
Lemi Sherpa, 16, from
Bouddha has been crowned
the first Miss Teen Sherpa.
In the event organized on
Thursday, Dec. 30, the 10th-
grader at Young Hearts
Boarding School, outclassed
22 other contestants to win
the title. Similarly, Yangzi
Sherpa, 14, from LRI school
(left) and Ang Lhakpa Sherpa,
13, from Sun Rise Boarding
school won the titles for the
first and the second runners-
up. The event was arranged
by the Nepalese Fashion
Home and was organized by
the Sherpa Association of
Nepal. Nation Weekly was
the official media.
Going hi-tech
All three district administration offices of the Valley will
now distribute computer-
generated citizenship documents. The move came into
effect from Thursday, Dec.
30. On that day, Kathmandu
handed out 65 new computer-printed citizenships,
while Lalitpur and
Bhaktapur distributed 23 and
20. The government is also
making a new citizenship database, digitizing its paperwork. This will allow the
information to be viewed
nationwide. The computerization of the process aims
to save time as well as remove possible human errors.
On and off
Construction work at the 70-
megawatt Mid-Marsyangdi
Hydropower Project, the
second biggest in Nepal, resumed again. The resumption came after an agreement
between the Maoists and the
project management. The
Maoists had been demanding
kickbacks from the management. Theworkatthe project has
been irregular. After a threat of
indefinite closure, work began
again at the project three months
ago but came to a halt after only
a week. The management had
earlier complained to the Maoists
ofthe huge losses the company
was incurring and the problems
faced by workers at the project.
About 1000 workers were left
without jobs when the work
stopped.
Army refrain
The Army called upon human rights activists to not
get carried away by Maoist
propaganda. The Army
spokesman, Deepak
Gurung, said that Maoist
propaganda was causing international rights organizations to accuse the security
forces of intimidating the
human rights activists. He
was responding to reports,
in both the national and international media, about human rights activists being
threatened by security per-
Amnesty deadline
The Malaysian government
extended the amnesty period
for immigrants working illegally until the end of January. Thousands of Nepalis
have been working illegally
in the country. This is the
second time that the deadline
has been pushed back. It was
extended to Dec. 31 from the
earlier deadline of Nov. 14.
According to Dipak Dhital,
acting Nepali ambassador to
Malaysia, a total of 2,265
Nepali workers had returned
home, until Dec. 30, after the
amnesty offer came into effect from Oct. 29.
Fresh clashes
Twenty-two armed Maoists were
killed in clashes with the security
forces in Batkauwa, Kailali on
Thursday, Dec. 30. The security
forces also launched an aerial
strike on a Maoist gathering at
Ramarosan in Achham the same
day. According to the Army, it
suffered only minor losses in
both incidents.
Counterfeit operation
Police arrested 11 foreigners
from a rented apartment at
Handigaon, Kathmandu. They
were apprehended for possession
of drugs and fake foreign currency. Among the 11, nine are
from Cameroon and one each
from South Africa and Nigeria. Hashish, fake U.S. currency and devices used for
minting fake dollars were
found in their possession.
Footballing blues
Both Nepalis sides are out of
contention in the San Miguel
International Cup football
tournament. Hannam University of South Korea beat
Nepal Red 2-0 at Dasharath
Stadium to enter the tournament final. Earlier, Indian giants East Bengal beat Nepal
Blue, the other Nepali team
in the tournament, 1-0, in the
first semifinal. The final is
slated for Sunday Jan. 2.
Plant closure
Work at Udayapur Cement
Factory, Nepal's largest cement plant, came to a halt
after factory workers failed
to turn up for work. They
had been threatened by the
Maoists to stay home, Nepal
Samacharpatra reported.
The factory is expected to
lose Rs.4 million every day
due to the closure. This is
not the first of the factory's
troubles. In May last year,
the factory shut down due
to lack of limestone and
again in September due to
labor strikes.
X
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
15
 Milestone
Biz Buzz
Postponed
The 13th SAARC Summit, which was to
be held in Dhaka from Jan. 9 to Jan.
11 has been postponed in view ofthe
devastation caused by the recent quake and
its aftermath, the tsunamis, in a number of
South Asian countries.
Bangladesh had earlier decided to go ahead
with the summit. It reversed its decision on the
behest of Sri Lanka, which endured the greatest human toll in South Asia. In its 20-year
history of SAARC, this is the sixth time that a
regional meeting has been postponed or cancelled.
Nepal was set to work on some important
agreements during this summit. Besides the
regular agendas on poverty alleviation and efforts for regional cooperation, Nepal had approved four economic proposals that included
a limited multilateral tax treaty on avoidance of
double taxation; mutual administrative assistance in customs matters; promotion and protection of investments; and the establishment
of a SAARC arbitration council and new arbitration rules. These agreements were expected to
ease the transition ofthe region to a free trade
zone, the South Asian Free Trade Area, also
known as the SAFTA, effective from Jan. 1,
2006.
The underwater quake, 8.9 on the Richter
scale, which caused the tsunamis, centered
off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia on Dec.
26. The tsunamis, harbor waves in Japanese,
hit hard not only in Indonesia but also swept
through the coastal regions of Maldives, Sri
Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Thailand. The
total death toll has reached hundreds of thousands.
Meanwhile, Nepal has pledged $100,000
to help Sri Lanka's cause in the aftermath of
the disaster.
::
DUET GIN
McDowell's Nepal
has introduced the
Blue Riband Duet
Gin. Priced at
Rs.415, the gin in
the 750ml bottles
comes mixed with
lime. It has the
same alcoholic
strength as other
gins. Currently
available only in Kathmandu, the gin will expand its market to other parts ofthe country
soon. The gin requires no additional limejuice
or additives. Blue Riband Duet is a brand extension of Blue Riband Gin.
9999 CEMENT
Siddhartha Cement Factory has released
a new product, 9999 Cement, in
Kathmandu, Pokhara, Butwal and other major cities ofthe country. The 53-grade cement has been manufactured using the
Ordinary Portland Cement, or OPC, technology. OPC is the standard, gray cement
used for most purposes.
SIXYEARSOFNTB
The Nepal Tourism Board has completed six
years. The board was established in 1998 and
was based on the concept of public-private
partnership in tourism. It replaced the then Department of Tourism following the enactment
of Nepal Tourism Board Act-2053. Since then
it has focused toward developing, enhancing
and diversifying tourism products and services
in the country. For the time being, the board
deems more investment on tourism publicity
as its major challenge.
SALEWAYS IN KTM
Pokhara-based Saleways Department Store
has started operations in Kathmandu. After
their success in Pokhara, with two Saleways
stores, a new one has been
established in Jawalakhel.   -
The new store aims at making the most ofthe retail market ofthe capital. It has a collection of more
than 70,000 items, which it claims are cheaper
in Saleways than at any other store in the
Valley. Seventy percent ofthe items are imported, the store claims. It also issues gift
vouchers to customers depending on their
amount of purchase. Saleways is planning to
build a retail chain in Kathmandu within the
next five months.
TELECOM'S NEW SCHEME
Nepal Telecom is slashing the deposit charges
for its Integrated Switching Digital Network
(ISDN) services. ISDN phone lines allow users
to browse the Internet without keeping the
phone engaged. The deposit charge, which now
stands at Rs.10,000, will be reduced by 50%
to Rs.5,000. The cost reduction is effective
from Dec. 30. It will now equal the current
deposit charge for the normal Publ ic Switched
Telephone Network (PSTN) phone lines. The
ISDN service will also give users access to
voicemail and data transfer. Nepal Telecom is
targeting corporate houses, schools and travel
agencies for ISDN listings.
DABUR'S NEW LOOK
Dabur has a new logo and a new slogan. The
restructuring has resulted in five brands;
Dabur—the healthcare brand; Vatika—the
herbal beauty brand; Anmol—the value from
Celebrate Ufef
money brand; Real—the fruit beverages brand;
and Hajmola—the digestives brand. The new
Dabur logo is an updated version of its old
symbol and represents growth, strength and
life, said the company. The two colors in the
logo symbolize tradition and modernity. "Celebrate Life!" is the company's new slogan.
Dabur, a leader in food, healthcare and beauty
care products, exports
its products to over
50 countries and
has manufacturing plants in
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 ?£3&
Dhondup ^Khangsar
HANDICRAFT   CENTER
Tridevi Marg, Thamel   Opp. of Sanchayakosh Building
Tel: 4416483,4417295    E-mail: wapema@wlmk.com.np
CARPETS      &      DECORATIVE       ARTS
 PASSION FOR PEACE
Those behind peace rallies believe they have generated
pressure on both the Maoists and the government. We
will have to wait and see.
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
THE TEMPERATURE IS DROP-
ping, but the heat is on the war
ring parties to come for talks. It's
not as simple as it sounds though: There
are so many groups with their own self-
serving agendas that it is difficult to believe that they all mean the same thing
when they talk of peace. But when the
demand comes from civil society and the
public at large, the matter takes on a new
gravity Such occasions are few and far
between, partly because the public is not
organized, like the political parties are.
But when masses come together for a
cause, their effort is likely to have far-
reaching consequences, because the legitimate voice of the people is hard to
ignore. At least this is what the organizers of peace rallies in Kathmandu last
week seem to believe. Are the parties to
the conflict tuned in?
"They seem to be listening," says
Mathura Prasad Shrestha, coordinator of
the Civil Society for Peace. "As soon as I
got home after the rally was over, I got
an email from the Maoists stating that
they were not against peace." That was
on Monday Dec. 27. Two days later, the
Maoists actually withdrew their indefinite blockade of 12 districts, including
all three inside the Valley. "We are calling
off the blockade following requests from
human rights activists and the civil society," a Maoist statement said.
The peace rally last week saw more
than 300 organizations come together for
what was easily one of the biggest peace
rallies seen in the country. Organizers
claim that more than 200,000 answered
their call to rally for peace. The demonstration was aimed at putting pressure
on both the Maoists and the government
to initiate dialogue. Supported by All
Nepal Free Students Union, the
ANFSU—known for its crowd pulling
X
18
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 ability—the turnout seems to have surprised the Maoists.
The insurgents are said to have protested to the rally organizers that they
have been frequently projected as being
anti-peace. "We have never said we are
against peace," said a Maoist statement
Shrestha received from an unidentified
Maoist leader. 'All we have asked of the
government is to prove its credibility;
that it wields executive power and has
the ability to negotiate with us."
Such doubts and lack of trust on both
sides have exacerbated the violence. The
level of mistrust is such that neither side
seems willing to commit to peace.
Achieving peace is a political process. It
involves building trust, but neither side
is willing to commit to anything, even
the smallest confidence-building measure.
Lack of trust also polarizes mainstream forces. The agitating parties are
reluctant to extend their support to the
government on the peace front because
they fear this will grant the government
legitimacy. Worse, there is competition
between the political parties to take
I
t
CALL FOR PEACE: The sign says
credit for a peace process, should one
ever happen. They seem unwilling to
share the laurels. The competition is dividing their energy and efforts. The
Maoists have played this division in their
own favor.
Government officials complain that
the media is making it sound as if the
government is against peace. The government is frustrated on all fronts, and
the prime minister's frequent jabs
against the media reflect this. "Why is
the media putting pressure only on the
government? Put pressure on the
Maoists as well," he said while inaugurating Nepal FM last month.
The hubris displayed by both sides
is also compounding the conflict. The
government was hoping that the Peace
Secretariat would give momentum to
peace; it hasn't. Analysts say that the government thinks that establishing a peace
office obviates any other effort or confidence building measure and that it wants
the Maoists to come in from cold to reciprocate. It is wrong, say observers and
peace activists. The government and the
Maoists are believed to have been in
contact through backdoor channels, but
the rebels want more from the government. In their own "holier-than-thou"
stand they are calling on the government
to prove its ability to hold meaningful
talks.
The Maoist response to the peace rally
shows the significance they attach to public opinion, say peace activists. No matter what their cadres are doing, they still
seem to care about public pressure. More
such rallies in the days ahead could result
in greater pressure.
Participants in the rallies urged both
the Maoists and the government to step
up and start negotiations. The calls come
with some apprehension: Peaceniks are
troubled by the disturbing preoccupation
with the violence that both sides have
shown in past seven months, and they fear
that military adventurism is overshadowing rational thinking on both sides.
"The voice of civil society will pressure the government," says ANFSU General Secretary Thakur Gaire. And it might
pressure the Maoists, too. But whether
that will translate into peace remains to
be seen, d
 r*
**"»
MA
ST CON
 UNDRUM
As Nepal struggles with its escalating
insurgency, outsiders watch with mixed
emotions
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
in
In February 1996, when the seeds
of the Maoist movement were
sown in Nepal, no one except,
perhaps, its founders thought that
it would consume the nation and
threaten the existence of the state in less
than a decade. The casual attitude towards
the rebels was partly driven by the widespread belief that radical communism
had become an anachronism, nearly extinct except for a few dark corners ofthe
world like Cuba and North Korea. Certainly it couldn't take hold in Nepal, a
self-proclaimed zone of peace and a
kingdom to boot.
The Maoist movement received
scant attention at first, both at home and
abroad. Nine years on, it has become a
headline grabber around the world and
daily front-page fare in the Nepali press.
Many who read of the insurrection sigh
with sadness or shiver with fear. Others
see it as good news, a revival of radical
communism and a way to make long-
overdue revolutionary changes in a system that has ignored the welfare of its
citizens. Although no one condones the
Maoists' use of violence, they do sympathize with the sentiments that sparked
the revolution. The response in many
countries to Nepal's insurgency is ambivalent, though the sympathy is pretty
much on the wane due to the rebels' violent ways. People who keep an eye on
Nepali affairs are on shifting perceptual
ground. Except for those with a need,
usually political, for a thoroughly partisan view, outside observers are both
critical and supportive ofthe government
and Maoist cause in equal measure.
The Indian academia is becoming
pessimistic about Nepal. It sees a need
for an honest broker to end the internal
war. The fear is that Nepal is slowly failing and that a failing Nepal poses a serious threat for India's turbulent northeast and other regions affected by revolutionary movements of their own.
Many Americans feel sorry when they
hear stories about the violence in Nepal,
says Chitra Tiwari, a Washington-based,
left-leaning analyst. 'While they do not
support the Maoists' revolution, many
of them are sympathetic towards causes
like poverty, backwardness and government negligence to the needs of the
people in the interior parts of the country." Ambivalence is a common reaction.
21
 During its initial days, few outsiders
knew much about the insurrection. Many
of those who were aware of it were leftists who held a romanticized view of the
Maoists. People who shared the ideology
of the Revolutionary Internationalist
Movement, the RIM—the umbrella organization of revolutionaries around the
globe—saw the revolution in Nepal as a
flagship project to be promoted. For
a many years, though, the
wCC rest of the world was
Last Pci£6, 58  unaware °f the gr°w-
■ ing insurrection.
All that changed after the royal massacre in 2001. The event was front-page
news around the world, and attention
focused on Nepal soon spread to the
Maoist problem and the escalating conflict. As the world learned more about
the situation and the rebellion turned
bloodier, the level of violence shocked
many scholars who had once held an idealized view of the movement.
a flood of U.S. weaponry threaten to turn
the tiny country of 25 million into a
counterinsurgency bloodbath," writes
Conn Hallinan, a lecturer in journalism at
the University of California, Santa Cruz and
a foreign policy analyst for Foreign Policy
in Focus, an American think-tank. Concerns like Hallinan's are slowly finding a
place in the U.S. policy toward Nepal.
Recently the American Congress
tied human rights strings to military aid
to Nepal. Late last year, the Congress
passed a bill that requires the Nepali
government to fulfill human rights obligations in order to receive military
aid. It's the responsibility ofthe United
States government to monitor whether
the provisions ofthe new law are implemented, states a draft ofa letter prepared
by an American academic who is leading a campaign to petition the Congress
against providing unchecked military
aid to Nepal. Perceptual ambivalence
guides both official and unofficial
policy towards Nepal. Americans fear
"Most ofthe Americans I have met are
critical of both the Maoists and the military, and they also disapprove ofthe U.S.
government's military aid to Nepal," says
Biswo Nath Poudel, a Ph.D. candidate at
the University of California, Berkeley. Analyst Chitra Tiwari says that most Americans
don't know where Nepal is, let alone care
about what is going on in Nepal. But he
adds that those who know are against the
United States supplying military hardware
to the "royalist government" in Kathmandu.
"Tucked into the upper stories of the
Himalayas, Nepal hardly seems ground
zero for the Bush administration's next crusade against 'terrorism,' but an aggressive
American ambassador, a strategic locale and
■ that if they don't support the govern- ,
ment, Nepal could end up as another
failed state. In today's interdependent
world threatened by terrorism, that is
perceived to be more dangerous than
even a hostile but stable neighbor. That's
the take of not just the Americans but
also the Europeans as well. The
Economist's (Dec. 4) editorial summed
up the predicament: "Like a severely
disturbed individual, a failed state is a
danger not just to itself but to those
around it and beyond."
Many foreigners link the rise of
Nepal's Maoists to the fall of the absolute monarchy in the spring of 1990 and
the subsequent introduction of parlia-
mentary democracy They think that democracy failed to live up to the expectations of many Nepalis, especially the
youngsters. As in other countries, the
fall of authoritarianism led quickly to
widespread corruption on all levels, social and political instability, bickering
politicians and abuse of power. All of
that fed frustrations among large segments ofthe population. Outsiders draw
parallels between Peru and Nepal. They
see poverty and backwardness as key to
the emergence of strong revolutionary
movements in both countries. Both have
experienced sharp and growing divisions
between the city and the countryside.
Researcher and scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stephen L.
Mikesell believes that "appealing geo-
cultural analogies" can be drawn between Peru and Nepal: Both countries
straddle major mountain ranges in their
respective continents; in both countries
isolated valleys and high ridges have preserved a wide variety of cultural traditions. Neither country
has a recent history of a
foreign military conquest and occupation,
in contrast to mid-20th
century China where
Mao ran a successful
"peoples war." Both
Peru and Nepal have
large rural indigenous
populations subordinated to small ruling
elites who use race,
caste and regionalism to
rule.
Even the restoration
of democracy in Nepal deluded many
'After the introduction of democracy and
a more open economy, wages remained
virtually stagnant and GDP growth averaged an abysmal 2.3 percent annually until 1996," writes Bertil Lintner, a Bangkok-
based Swedish journalist who has written extensively on Nepal. The National
Planning Commission, though, puts the
figure at 4.8 for the 1992-2000 period.
"This means that the population growth
rate of 2.4 percent has eaten up all the
economic growth," says Lintner. Seventy-
one percent of the country's wealth is in
the hands of the top 12 percent households, and only 3.7 percent ofthe national
income reaches the poorest 20 percent of
22
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 itory
the country's families, says Lintner, attributing the figures to Nepal South Asia
Centre, a Kathmandu-based think-tank.
Other foreign scholars also see
Nepal's huge social disparity and backwardness as one of the reasons why the
country became a fertile breeding
ground for a Maoist movement. But
many scholars, though they find an element of truth in the premise, don't agree.
"If social and economic marginalization
alone were responsible for the emergence of the communist revolt, the hill
districts in the Karnali, Seti and
Mahakali zones would be
far more likely candidates,"
writes Saubhagya Shah, a
research scholar, in the
book "Himalayan 'People's
War': Nepal's Maoist rebellion." He says the emergence ofthe Maoists is "not
only because of their [the
people in Maoist-affected
areas] grinding poverty and
chronic food shortage but
also because of the nature
of the terrain and their remoteness from state centers."
Despite the dispute
about local factors, all observers agree that international connections have
contributed to the Maoist
rebellion. The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the RIM, has promoted Nepal as a flagship
project for their Utopian
red empire.
A radical view
The RIM sees the Maoist movement in
Nepal as one ofthe most significant developments in the last few years, not only for
the movement but for the worldwide revolutionary struggle as well. The outbreak of
the "people's war" in Nepal in 1996 has given
a much-needed impetus to the RIM's cause
worldwide. Its members feel that the tremendous outpouring of revolutionary energy unleashed by the "courageous initiation ofthe people's war by the Communist
Party of Nepal-Maoist has been a source of
great encouragement for the comrades" in
all the parties and organizations ofthe movement.
The RIM has often been blamed for
derailing the peace process in Nepal and
encouraging the Maoists to keep fighting. They believe that settlement of an
issue through war is the highest form of
revolution and one of the central tasks
that all revolutionaries who follow Mao's
teaching must adhere to. According to
RIM literature, if seizure of power by
armed force was possible in China, it is
possible—even desirable—in other
countries as well. Mao said, "Political
power grows out ofthe barrel of a gun."
His followers still believe that, more
LITTLE RED BOOKS: A bookstore in Berkeley
that sells revolutionary books also has books
on the "people's war" in Nepal
volvement in the whole process of preparing and initiating the insurrection:
"First and foremost, there was the RIM
Committee. There was important political and ideological exchange." The
Maoists say that, theoretically, they have
no illusions about Nepal's place in the
global revolution as a whole. They describe the Nepali people's army as a detachment ofthe whole international proletarian army.
The Maoists of Nepal see their armed
struggle based on Marxism-Leninism-
Maoism; from three perspectives, the
than half a century later. International
Maoists argue that if the movement in
Nepal fails, the entire RIM movement
will suffer a setback.
"It seems that RIM regards the
Maoist movement in Nepal as the most
important current armed revolutionary
movement in the world," says Tatsuro
Fujikura, an anthropologist from the
University of Chicago, who follows
Nepali affairs. "They are staking a lot of
hope on it."
Nepali Maoists have openly talked
about their RIM connections and its influence on their movement. In an interview with a journalist from Latin America
in early 2001, Maoist supremo Prachanda
revealed that there was international in-
international, the Nepali and the Indian,
writes B. Raman, director of the Tropical Studies Centre in Chennai, who
keeps a close eye on Nepal.
Nepal's Maoists have talked openly
about rising up against Indian ruling elites.
"Ultimately, we will have to fight the
Indian army," said Prachanda in the interview with the Latin American journalist. "That is the situation. Therefore,
we have to take into account the Indian
army. When the Indian army comes in
with thousands and thousands of soldiers, it will be a very big thing. In one
way it will be a very good thing. They
will give us lots of guns and lots of people
will fight them. This will be a national
war." Prachanda also sees the large
X
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
23
 Nepali diaspora in India as the torch-
bearers of revolution there.
Statements such as these make Indian
officials nervous. Some intellectuals in
New Delhi are already talking about the
need to reorient Indian policy towards
Nepal and, perhaps, even to include the
Maoists within their policy framework.
The Indian outlook
Intellectuals in New Delhi feel that Indian policy towards Nepal has become
obsolete and wrongheaded. They say that
the country will have to break away from
the legacy of supporting the monarchy as
the symbol of order and stability in
Nepal. Nepal watchers like S. D. Muni,
whose views have often been unwritten
policy guidelines for mandarins in South
Block fed that the monarchy has become
tary political system that failed utterly to
keep its promises of social justice and economic wellbeing.
Many in India now seem to believe
that the monarchy has contributed to the
failures of democratic governance and
that it has kept the parties and leaders
divided and promoted infighting. The
Indian government is now also deeply
worried about the Maoists' strong anti-
India rhetoric.
"There is a growing feeling that the
Nepali Maoists are taking an anti-India
line," says Jug Suraiya, an editor of The
Times of India. "The link between
Nepal's Maoists and Indian Maoists is
also causing concern." Even though many
Indians see the Maoists as a minor irritant that disrupts tourism and trade, the
mood is rapidly changing in New Delhi.
a part ofthe problem and that it cannot be
part of the solution to the present crisis.
Scholars like Muni believe that Indian
policy urgently needs to relate to
grassroots and popular forces, including
the Maoists. "India should therefore
work with Nepal towards redefining its
political order so as to help the rebels
shed their arms and violent methods for a
respectable and democratic place in the
mainstream of Nepali national politics,"
he wrote in the Sahara Times in September last year, before Prime Minister
Deuba's visit to New Delhi. Muni
doesn't believe that the Maoist insurgency
is behind the depressing developments
in Nepal. He sees Nepal's problems as a
product of more than 50 years of political
distortions culminated by a parliamen-
A Maoist victory in Nepal will
embolden Indian revolutionaries. Already radical communist parties on both
sides of the border are collaborating to
form a red zone across the border. Such
collaboration is unlikely to sit well with
other regional states, even the Chinese.
China views Nepal's revolutionaries—
they refuse to refer to them as Maoists—
as a threat to regional security
Chinese perceptions
The Chinese share the ambivalent feelings about the Maoists with the United
States, India and the Europeans. Despite
being the children of Mao's revolution,
the Chinese are worried by the flourishing Maoist movement in Nepal,
which they think is bad for both Nepal
and for the region, says Trailokya Aryal, a
student of international relations at Peking University in Beijing. However,
adds Aryal, they see a movement that was
initiated by oppressed and downtrodden
people, and they empathize with the
roots of the movement. At the governmental level, the Chinese see the Maoist
movement as an indirect security threat
to their own territorial integrity. China
fears that if the movement spills across
Nepal's southern border, it could provoke Indian intervention. That would be
unacceptable to China, which still sees
India as its rival and a security threat.
The world's view of Nepal is converging, and a few points are clear: At the intellectual level, the world loathes the ongoing violent struggle between the government and the Maoists. Although they have
sympathy for the problems that spurred
the rebellion, they do not condone the
Maoists' brutal methods. They also sympathize with the government's efforts to
combat the violence and its duty to protect its citizens, but they are disgusted by
the flagrant violations of human rights and
the loss of civil liberties. As the Economist notes in its editorial, the government
needs to be told by its friends that its brutal methods are increasing support for the
Maoists rather than defeating them.
Nepalis living abroad increasingly feel that
both the Maoists and the government have
distorted views about their chances of defeating each other.
The conflict has opened up a broad
range of issues for discussions, touching
on deep economic and social disparities as
well as the constitutional crisis. All the issues need to be addressed to end the war.
The conclusive view outside Nepal is that
the demands and the concerns of the
Maoists for social inclusion are legitimate
but that the Maoists' means of achieving
them are brutal and unacceptable. Many
think without the Maoist movement, the
issues of social marginalization would
never have come to the fore.
But most observers say outsiders are
neither entirely critical nor supportive
of either side. Perceptual ambivalence
abounds. They believe that those at the
helm, King Gyanendra and the Maoist
supremo Prachanda, are less than willing to give up their brinkmanship. To
those watching, their firm belief in guns
is protracting the problem,  d
X
X
24
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
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SUBSCRIBE   AND   ENJOY   SUBSTANTIAL   SAVINGS
 Earthquak
Nepal is poorly prepared for the next major earthquake.
We could do much better.
BY BISWAS BARAL
TTE RECENT EARTHQUAKE
centered near the Indonesian island of Sumatra killed more than
a hundred thousand people throughout
South and Southeast Asia. The devastation due to the quake and the tsunamis—
ocean waves resulting from an under
water earthquake—reminds us all of the
havoc that natural disasters can cause.
Thankfully, Nepal was spared. But danger looms menacingly for the country:
An equally powerful earthquake could
strike here anytime.
As a long-term average, an earthquake
of magnitude of eight or higher on the
Richter scale hits Nepal every 70 to 80
years. Since the last major quake, measuring 8.4, occurred in 1934, another
could happen any time. We are not prepared.
In the event of a magnitude 8.4 quake
today, at least 40,000 people would die
in the Kathmandu Valley, over 90,000
would be injured and 60 percent ofthe
houses in the Valley would collapse, according to a report prepared by the
Kathmandu Valley Earthquake Risk
Management Project, which carried out
HOW SAFE ARE WE?
 Ill I III
extensive studies on the risks and likely
devastation of major quakes in
Kathmandu from September 1997 to
September 2003.
Ram Chandra Kandel, a civil engineer with the National Society for Earthquake Technology, says that it really
doesn't matter exactly where the epicenter of a major tremor like the 1934 earthquake is. If it occurs in or near the
Himalayas, the Kathmandu Valley will
be disastrously affected. The amount of
destruction isn't determined just by how
big a quake is: The geographical condition ofthe place, such as the soil consti
tution and rock formations in the earth's
upper crust, are also very important. The
combination of the size of a quake and
the local conditions is measured by another scale called the MMI, an abbreviation for the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.
Even a major earthquake may not
cause serious damage in places with
ground conditions that yield a low MMI.
Conversely, an earthquake of much
lower intensity near Kathmandu could
result in an MMI equal to or greater
than the 1934 quake, because of the nature of the soil in the Valley. Loose and
soft soil, characteristic of the Valley,
which was once a lakebed, help to
propagate the effects of an earthquake
rather than absorbing the shock as other
types of soil could.
The only way out for Kathmandu
residents is to make our houses safer by
making them more quake resistant. The
safety of houses already built can be improved by retrofitting, which costs
about 25 to 30 percent ofthe price ofthe
original construction. At the time of
construction, buildings can be made
earthquake resistant for only five to 10
percent more.
Retrofitting is especially necessary
when new stories are added to an existing structure, but special care should be
taken when retrofitting old buildings.
A few tins
Emergency equipment that will
#m    1 VII     %IA#%^
come in handy in case of a major
quake:
The emergency package kit for
■   Afire extinguisher
earthquakes should contain:
■ Good supply ofthe emergency medicine
■  Medicines taken daily
■ Tools to close the electricity, gas and water
■ A liter or two of water
supplies (which should be kept beforehand
■  Packaged food items that are not easi ly
at easily accessible places)
destroyable
■   The first aid kit and its instruction manual
■ Torchlights with batteries and extra bulbs
■   Four 1 iters of water per person per day for
■ Light radio and batteries
three days
■ Water purifying pills
■ Packaged foodstuffs and non-degradable
■ Birth and marriage certificates, passports,
fruits. Milk for babies.
insurance papers, bank documents, and a
■   Stove, oven or firewood and coal to cook
paper mentioning important phone
food outside (kerosene oil, kept outside the
numbers
reach of children)
■ The map ofthe house (may be
■   Inner clothes, shoes and blankets
necessary for search and rescue opera
■   Toilet paper, soap, and things needed for
tions)
personal hygiene
■ Extra keys
■ Some money
(Source: FAQ on earthquakes
■ A whistle
prepared by NSET-Nepal)
27
 Earthquak
In some cases, building new houses
maybe cheaper than retrofitting, says
Kandel. He points out that not all houses
can be retrofitted. Moreover, retrofitted
houses may help the structure from collapsing and protect the residents inside,
but they do sustain major damage during
big quakes.
Making houses earthquake resistant
during their construction remains the
best option. Simple techniques like the
proper binding of the iron reinforcing
rods and erecting walls at certain favorable angles may significantly lower the
risk later. If proper precautions have been
taken during building, no further retrofitting should be necessary to elongate
the life ofthe house.
findings shows that the country's hills
are more vulnerable to earthquakes than
the mountains or the Tarai belt. The
people at highest risk are those from
the western and central regions, where
there are large and concentrated populations.
As the demand for affordable housing has grown, construction methods
have worsened. The government announced a national building code last
year, but only Lalitpur Municipality
complied with the code and made inspection of new buildings mandatory
"The threat is real, and the issue is
very serious," says Shiva B. Pradhananga,
the president of NSET. "We are on a
mission to make every community safe
SAFETY FIRST: A retrofitted school in
Sirutar, Bhaktapur
But 80 to 90 percent of the houses
that are being built in Kathmandu now
lack any kind of earthquake resistance,
and many overcrowded localities are
jam-packed with old buildings. There
will be massive devastation due to buildings collapsing into one another. In places
like Bhaktapur, where closely-placed
houses and congested neighborhoods are
the norm, up to 75 percent of all houses
are likely to collapse during a major
quake. At particularly high risk are old
houses, those beside riverbeds and those
in places where frequent landslides occur. A risk map produced by the United
Nations Development Program and
United Nations Center for Human
Settlements with the help of geological
^^^^^
by 2020, and everybody is helping us.
Many have begun to realize the serious
threat an earthquake of the magnitude
ofthe 1934 one poses."
The new colonies being built now are
reasonably safe, since they have been constructed with proper earthquake resistance techniques and strong foundations,
says Pradhananga. But most housing is not
safe, and high population densities—
Kathmandu is home to more than 1.5 million people and has a growth rate of 6.5
percent per year, among the highest in the
world—plus poor construction techniques and lack of maintenance of old
houses leave many people at high risk.
NSET offers free advice on better
construction techniques and on ways to
make existing houses safer. Since laborers and construction workers are often
unskilled and employ traditional construction methods, NSET organizes
training programs for them. To reduce
losses due to earthquakes, the safety of
the non-structural components should
be insured too. Proper arrangement of
furnishings inside, for example fastening
heavy items to walls and floors, can minimize losses.
Even with the best construction techniques, a major earthquake will cause a
lot of damage. Experts fear that
Kathmandu's emergency management,
not the best even during minor problems,
will collapse in the face of a major disaster. In case ofthe repeat ofthe 1934 quake,
only 10 percent of hospitals will be fully
operational. Thirty percent will operate
only partially, and 60 percent will be unusable. Moreover, the city has only seven
fire brigades. There is neither a crisis
management group nor an administrative
department for post-disaster relief, and
due to the soaring defense expenditures,
improvements in disaster planning are
unlikely.
A Japan International Cooperation
Agency report warns that more than 90
percent ofthe houses in Kathmandu would
be damaged beyond repair, almost all water supplies and 40 percent ofthe electricity would be cut off, 60 percent of telephone lines will stop operating and 60
percent of the bridges will be unusable
should a disaster of the magnitude of the
1934 earthquake strike the valley again.
In the 1934 quake about 5,000 people
lost their lives, over 25,000 were injured
and about 60,000 houses were damaged. "We should learn our lesson," says
Pradhananga. "The next big quake is
near; we should be well prepared."
Pradhananga says NSET, with the help
of other NGOs and partners, is continually pressuring the government to
implement the building code in
Kathmandu.
There are about 1,000 earthquakes
in Nepal each year, ranging from two
to five in magnitude on the Richter
scale. No one knows when the big one
will strike, but it is certain that a major
earthquake is coming. Along with keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for
the best, it's critically urgent that we
prepare for the worst.  □
X
28
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 HELPING HAND
Nepalis in UK offer employment to the families of
Iraq victims
BY PRAKASH KHANAL IN LONDON
NEPALIS ENTREPRENEURS
in the United Kingdom have
offered to help the families of
those who were murdered by Islamic
extremists in Iraq in August.
The announcement came on Dec. 26
in London during the annual function of
Nepalese Caterers Association (UK).
Bijaya Thapa, secretary ofthe association,
and a restaurateur since 1990, who owns
three restaurants in and around London,
made the announcement. The association has 45 members.
"Our association has decided to help
the bereaved families whose members
were murdered by the Islamic extremists in Iraq," says Thapa.
In October, the association offered
to employ one person from each of the
12 bereaved families in their restaurants
in United Kingdom. The overwhelming response from its members encouraged the association to send a request to
the British Secretary of State for Home
Affairs David Blunkett asking him to
provide work permits and visas to 12
Nepalis, one each from the bereaved
families.
'We tried to find out the reasons for
their being in Iraq and the only answer
we could find was that they were there
in search of work," says Thapa. "Our
members have agreed to give
them employment in their
restaurants here in the UK."
Whether Britain grants
them visas or not, the offer for
help from the Nepali caterers is an extraordinary gesture
extended by ordinary Nepalis
who are themselves struggling to get a footing in a new
society. The association hopes
this will also encourage other
Nepalis, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, to extend
a helping hand toward fellow Nepalis
who are fighting to fulfill their most
basic needs. There are around 80
Nepalis restaurants in the United Kingdom; 45 are located in and around London.
On Oct. 9, Dhruba K Chhetry president of the Nepalis Caterers Association
in the United Kingdom, wrote a letter to
Blunkett recollecting the horrific murder of 12 innocent Nepali workers in
Iraq. The letter also mentioned the pathetic situation ofthe 12 families and the
association's decision to employ a member from each ofthe families.
In his letter to Blunkett, Chhetry also
requested the home secretary to provide
work permits as well as to help facilitate
visa processing for the Nepalis. Once the
Home Office gives its nod, the 12 Nepalis
will be selected with help from the officials of the Hotel Association of Nepal.
'We are confident that the British government which has always been supportive of Nepali people and has been one of
the largest providers of the development
aid to Nepal will give due consideration
to this humanitarian cause," says Thapa.
The association, in the meantime, has
been careful not to raise the hopes ofthe
families who are already distraught by the
tragic loss of their bread-earners.
Most members of the Nepali community in the United Kingdom used to
be retired British Army officials and their
families. But the trend has changed over
the years. The estimated 35,000 Nepalis
now living there belong to such diverse
professional groups as medical doctors,
nurses, engineers and restaurateurs.
Some Nepali entrepreneurs have been
involved in charity work for some time.
Ashok Shrestha, a young restaurateur who
moved to Kent from Hong Kong five years
ago, is one such person. Shrestha has raised
funds to assist children in Nepali prisons
who have been forced to live with their
mothers or fathers serving their prison
terms.
The caterers association recently honored UK-based Nepali restaurateurs, social workers and professionals. Professor
Surya P Subedi, Gopal Manadhar, Ashok
Shrestha, Dipendra Karki and several others were honored for their pioneering efforts as Nepalis in the United Kingdom.
But the biggest honor probably goes to the
caterers themselves for their efforts. □
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
29
 A new law gives women
equal rights to their
husband's property. But
counter-lawsuits showing
that the men are bankrupt
make it difficult for the
women to claim anything.
WAITING FO
BY SUSHMA JOSHI
IN BIRATNAGAR
THE MORANG DISTRICT
Court is crowded at 3 p.m. on
Wednesday Dec. 29. Police with
guns take a breather in the open air as
they escort detainees into the courtroom.
Upstairs, a tiny woman braves the all-
male crowd and rushes in breathlessly
as a hearing is about to start in the civil
bench. She sits down and covers her head
with her sari's pallu. This is Alkadevi
Shah, 38. She is here to find out if she
will finally get property from her estranged husband.
A complicated case involving two
lawsuits is about to be heard. Judge
Mahesh Prasad Pudasaini reads his misil,
the case file, as the lawyers arrive. Advocate Ram Lai Sutihar, of the Nepal Bar
Association, Morang, addresses the
judge. "Sriman," he says. "My client is a
victim of domestic violence. She was
thrown out of her house. A woman has a
right to maintenance. My client is entitled to her husband's property. But her
husband has taken an imaginary loan from
another man and filed a counter lawsuit
saying he is bankrupt after borrowing
for his daughter's wedding."
The lawyer explains that the agreement between the lender and Alkadevi's
husband, Manik Chand Shah, is false
because the supposed lender is far poorer
than the debtor. He also points out that
experts at the Philatelic Society know
the stamp put on the loan agreement was
published months later than the date of
the supposed loan—showing that the
paper was forged at a later date. The witness ofthe len-den, the deal, also said he
was not present when the paper was allegedly signed.
Manik Chand Shah, who has married a second wife and recently had a
child with her, is not present at the court-
30
room. His lawyer is there to represent
him. "My client is not a man of means,
Sriman," says his defense lawyer. "How
can he give her property if he doesn't
have any? Regarding the stamp—these
things happen in villages. People don't
always do things on time. And as for the
witness who claimed he wasn't there at
the time of signing—'I can't remember
what I did a week ago,' he said. How
would he remember what he was doing
five months ago?"
The third lawyer, who represents the
absent lender, is younger. He argues that
there is no way Manik Chand Shah can
escape his loan by getting his former wife
to claim property. He has to pay his loan.
His client has to get justice.
IN A MAN'S WORLD: Alkadevi Shah
Kt the Morang District Court
The judge asks ifthe woman has any
children. "She had one daughter who is
already married, Sriman," says Alkadevi's
lawyer. "Then why should the husband
give her his private property that he
earned through his own work?" asks the
judge. The lawyer cites a Supreme Court
case and says that there is no concept of
"private" in a marriage—what a man
earns after marriage also belongs to the
wife.
After the hearing ends, Alkadevi
walks downstairs. "He used to beat me a
lot," she says. "I don't know if they will
do something else to stop me from getting property."
After her husband started to beat her,
Alkadevi's brother filed a petition at the
 R JUSTICE
CDO's office. The husband went there
and signed a "milapatra" saying he would
live with her. He then ran away to
Kathmandu, married another woman,
and stayed in Delhi for a few years before returning to Biratnagar.
Alkadevi says life is hard. She lives with
her sister by the jute mills. Her sister's
husband was killed by dacoits, and the two
sisters survive as day laborers in garment
factories, where they make thread.
The property in question is 18 kattha,
nine dhur (a little over six-tenths of a
hectare). Split three ways between the
man and his two wives, Alkadevi would
get six kattha and three dhur.
In 1993, a case was finally filed in the Supreme Court to amend the Muluki An, the
civil code, and give women equal rights over
property It would take almost nine years
before a bill was finally passed on March 14,
2002. It came into effect from Sept. 27, 2002.
The new law establishes a wife's
equal right to her husband's property
immediately after marriage, rather than
after she reaches 35 years of age or has
been married for 15 years as before. A
widow's right to claim her share of property from the joint family after her
husband's death, and to keep this property even if she gets re-married, is also
established in the law.
But legal professionals say that
women still have difficulty getting property. Most common are counter-lawsuits
which show the man is bankrupt, therefore making it difficult for the woman
to claim anything. Counter-lawsuits
showing loans, and even property division between brothers, are common in
cases where estranged wives ask for
property. Advocate Ram Lai Sutihar, who
is fighting the case pro bono for a fellow
villager, says that he has five or six other
women in the same predicament.
In the evening, Judge Pudasaini gives
his verdict: Alkadevi will get her share
of the property, Manik Chand Shah will
pay his loan, and the forgery case is dismissed.
Alkadevi, who's been coming to the
courts for two years, may have the satisfaction of knowing she won her case. But
getting the property is another matter.
The land is under rokka—it cannot be
bought or sold until the loan is cleared.
The case can indefinitely be lengthened.
Some of the property cases have
taken 20 years to settle, going from the
district court to the Appellate and then
to the Supreme Court. In a case involving an uncle and a nephew, the uncle
finally died after the case had reached
the Supreme Court after 15 years. His
sons were in India and did not care about
the land in Nepal. The nephew, who
had spent almost Rs.100,000 in legal fees,
eventually couldn't make it to the final
hearing in the Supreme Court in
Kathmandu because the trip from
Nepalgunj would have cost him too
much time and money.
"The legal game is about wearing out
the adversary and supporting the lies of
our clients," says a lawyer. If Manik
Chand Shah plays his cards right and
hires a good lawyer, Alkadevi will have
gotten justice through the courts of
Nepal, but she may never get her property.    □
31
 First Person
ALL FOR THE LOCAL
The locals in Maoist-affected areas have already
suffered a great deal from
this bloody war, why make
it even worse by scaring the
tourists away?
BYNICKMEYNEN
DESPITE OUR GOVERNMENT,
like many others, warning against
traveling in Maoist-affected
tourist areas, we found those areas just
about the best places to travel while trekking in Nepal. Although some safety and
ethical concerns did come to our mind,
we found the consequences of not going
anywhere even more disturbing. Besides,
the quietness ofthe trails and the lack of
competition to find a lodge offered us
good reasons to travel. Our personal
story might make our claim sound more
logical.
While trekking with my girlfriend
from Jiri to Namche Bazaar in October,
we both had to pay Rs. 1,000 to the
Maoists and Rs. 1,000 to the government;
we also spent around Rs.8,000 each,
which went to the local economy. None
of our two meetings with the Maoists
proved to be threatening or unpleasant.
Our receipt from the first meeting in
Kinja, in Solokhumbu, proved valid for
a second encounter with them in
Nunthala, also of Solukhumbu. We
learned from other tourists that their
experience was similar and no one had
any problems and some were even lucky
to escape meeting the Maoists at all.
In Nunthala two young Maoists
asked us for our receipt. When we explained to them about our first encounter with other Maoists in Kinja, the conversation became relaxed. I even proposed that we play a table tennis match.
During our game they told me that most
ofthe fighting in the area had taken place
a year ago and that the area had become
relatively peaceful since then. The conversation ended when I asked them
where all the young people in the area
had gone; they were among the very few
young people we met during the several
days of our trek. A lonely female lodge
owner told us later that her husband, together with many others, had fled the
region last year and still didn't consider
the area safe to return. We saw a bombed
lodge; we were told that this happened
when the owner couldn't pay the tax demanded by the Maoists. According to
other lodge owners, two owners of a resort in Phakding were kidnapped and
released only after their wives paid
Rs. 100,000 each.
Still, we couldn't understand why
our own government should advise
against traveling to the area in Khumbu.
Curiously, there seems to be an enormous difference between the safety of
tourists and the safety of villagers, a point
never mentioned in the foreign media
or government websites. The locals in
the region have already suffered a great
deal from this bloody war, why make it
even worse by scaring the tourists away?
This based merely on some sham security or ethical concerns, and thus robbing the locals of their economic mainstay? Have I missed any reports of tourists killed, raped or tortured by the
Maoists? Maybe I did, but targeting tourists doesn't seem to be their strategy,
unlike the strategies ofthe insurgents in,
say, Colombia or Iraq.
The gap between the perceived and
the real danger of trekking in a Maoist-
affected tourist area has become high due
to both internal and external reasons.
Since the royal massacre in 2001 and the
subsequent escalation ofthe Maoist conflict, it was hardly surprising to see the
people depending on tourism struggle.
However what added to Nepal's woes
was the overall post-9/11 stagnation in
32
JANUARY 9, 2005   | nation weekly
 ECONOMY
ok
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tourism. Since the 9/11 attacks, terrorism, very hard to define, and the "war on
terrorism" has covered much of the international news coverage. More often
than not, the outcomes of a very complex conflict are summarized as being
violent acts perpetrated by "terrorists."
It's old wine in a new bottle, though.
Some governments in the west use the
same Cold War rhetoric to justify their
global politics. In Nepal, both the old
and the new enemies are identified as
"Maoist terrorists."
No wonder then that the average tourist is worried for his safety while trekking in a Maoist-affected tourist area. In
recent months, the tourist, however, has
begun to realize that it isn't all that unsafe
to travel in a tourist area where the Maoists
charge fees. It just became another exciting story to tell at home. But then there is
still the ethical issue. Many tourists started
«.»■
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X
feeling ashamed or guilty of sponsoring a
"terrorist organization." Some even refused to pay while others stayed away from
the area altogether due to "ethical reasons." The ethical dilemma of paying a
fee to the Maoists is a sham ifyou consider that by paying for a visa, you also
contribute to the Royal Nepal Army,
which has been accused of grave human
rights violations, by Amnesty International and many others. If you want to
uphold high ethical standards, you
shouldn't come to Nepal at all.
While considering safety and ethical
issues, one should also think of the
economy How does your decision affect
all those people who depend on tourism?
After all, it is they who suffer the most if
the tourists stop coming. Our own balance makes this perfectly clear: For every
Rs.10 we spend, one was for the "terrorist government" (the Maoist fee), one for
the "old regime government" (the Everest
park fee) and eight for the people living
in the area. And it's not just the lodge
owners and the shopkeepers who suffer.
On and around the trail, whole communities depend on the tourist money. Porters, waiters and even farmers suffer when
the local market for their products collapses. While one can hardly expect governments like ours to stand in favor of
traveling to these areas, or the Maoists
peacefully retreating from them, people
from Solu can only hope that peace will
return to their villages. And with peace,
safety and the money-spending tourists
who keep the local economy alive. □
(Meynen, a Belgian, traveled in
Solukhumbu for two weeks in October. Ayear
earlier he visited Nepal to collect research materials for his master's thesis on the impact of the
Maoist movement on education. His visit this
time to Solu, however, was as a vacationer.)
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
33
 Arts
Society 1
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Heritage Haven
Dwarika's Hotel looks like a haven, feels like a haven and
is a haven
BY VENEETA SINGHA
Kathmandu is a city of dusty tire-
worn roads and misshapen buildings sprouting around them. Few
locales are architecturally beautiful and
well planned. Old palaces loom large in
some places but much ofthe traditional
architecture is gradually succumbing to
urban pressures. Cramped teashops and
crowded bus parks are becoming landmarks in their own right. Bright lights
and big city buzz are fast transforming
the once serene city into a cluttered urban sprawl.
Still, there are some exceptions, a
light of hope at the end of an otherwise
dark tunnel. One is the unique museum
that is also a luxury hotel. In the midst of
screaming motor horns and swerving
cars, there stands a redbrick building—a
mark of traditional Nepali architecture.
It is not imposing but graciously inviting. The doorway is a carved wooden
one. Inside, a pleasantly arranged array
of buildings form the Dwarika's Hotel.
The lounge is decorated with richly
carved artifacts collected and preserved
by the late Dwarika Das Shrestha. A smiling lady ushers you in and you experience what will be truly heavenly
Travelers get a welcome respite from
the bustle of the Kathmandu city. But
I
f
 the hotel offers much more. Pam Walker
wrote this about the hotel in the Travel
magazine: "It is a living museum of the
history and craftsmanship of the ancient
Nepalese... a true delight for anyone to
visit." Carved windows are everywhere
and the lady with the smile explains that
the brickwork of the buildings has been
replicated from the ancient Malla wood-
carvings. Spacious reclining areas lead
to the corridors where the now famous
rooms are housed.
You notice that the door to the elevator is also a wooden carving but it
has a mix of ancient carvings with restoration work that typifies the hotel in
general. Modern amenities are everywhere but blended beautifully with traditional and often ancient crafts, craftsmanship and historically significant ar
chitectural styles. And the result, as
Conde Nast Traveller magazine described it, is "elegant, restful and divert-
mg."
Diversion from urban detritus and a
welcome walk into history—Dwarika's
gives you these with singular panache.
Tony Hagen wrote: "Dwarika's looks like
a palace, Dwarika's feels like a palace,
Dwarika's is a palace." It won the Pacific
Asia Travel Association Heritage Award
in 1990.
Besides the plush rooms, there is a
Fusion Bar, a swimming pool reminiscent of 12th century Malla Dynasty baths,
the Toran Restaurant, the Library Lounge,
a terrace for morning tea and reading, and
the Krishnarpan Restaurant famed for its
Nepali cuisine (and visited by Prince
Charles, no less).
The Fusion Bar's walls are decorated with pictures of Hollywood
icons but there is a wooden carving in
the center—a symbol of east and west
coming together. Bharati Motwani
wrote in Go New magazine:
"Dwarika's Hotel in Kathmandu is accustomed to being described in superlatives." And this is not without merit.
Each room, restaurant and area is built,
designed and preserved with exceptional vision.
Dwarika Das has infused life into dying art and created a haven for the weary.
In the process, he has managed to breathe
into Kathmandu a little ofthe history and
culture which have earned Dwarika's a
distinctive place in the city. Dwarika's
looks like a haven, feels like a haven and
is a haven. □
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The Explended Lakeside
Placid and peaceful, Pokhara is practically paradise
BY KUNAL LAMA
Disparagingly referred to as the "ghetto" by some mysteriously
twisted minds, Thamel is the epicenter ofthe tourist industry in
Kathmandu: In Pokhara, Lakeside takes that honor. Apart from
their ready propensity to break out in a "street festival" at the merest of
excuses and the roving gangs of youths hanging out truculently in bars
and clubs, the two have little in common. Thamel is furrowed with confusing, narrow, winding lanes overcrowded with shops, pedestrians and
vehicles of al I shapes and sizes. The only view one gets from here is the
distant pinnacle of Swayambhunath, that is ifyou manage to get to the
top of some ofthe multi-story neo-Newari buildings that are rapidly
replacing the cute and quaint rows of houses with dwarf-sized carved
windows and tiled roofs. Amazingly, Thamel still happens to harbor a
vibrant Newari culture. Without any warning, elaborate palanquins housing clan deities, borne on the strong shoulders of festively inebriated
devotees and accompanied by a discordant band, hurtle their way
comically through the traffic, disregarding rules entirely. More disconcertingly, I once saw a huge headless carcass of a freshly-sacrificed
buffalo being dragged into abahal, leaving a long slash of blood on the
street. In Lakeside I have seen very little evidence ofthe local culture,
but the stunning presence of nature is compensation enough.
There is much one can do in Pokhara: hiking, paragliding (or
parahawkingasTime magazine put it rather hyperbolically), microlighting,
swimming, boating, sailing, cycling, etc. It's a sporty little town full of
adventures. I, though, always end up going through the same routine,
my senses relaxed—dulled more like—beyond recovery bythe languid
atmosphere of Pokhara.
It's always a delight to wake up to the sight ofthe sun slowly revealing
Machhapuchhare in ever brightening light, a sure sign that the day is
goingtobeagoodone. I usually set off for the Phewa Hotel, ironically
one ofthe few hotels actually bythe lake. Each morning, groups of neatly
uniformed children row themselves across from the other side, docking
their wooden boats with an expertise way beyond their collective age.
They deftly step on shore, oars slung over shoulders as their only insurance against boat theft. Families of chestnut-headed pochard bob excitedly up and down, then dive out of sight for a few seconds. A red sail
suddenly sweeps by, slicing the little island of Barahi Temple out of view.
A gang of water buffaloes is herded into the shal low waters. They wade
in splashily, tossing their heads and then, with huge sighs, settle down for
a long, cool wallow. Between snaking water pipes disappearing into the
far depths ofthe lake, a line of women on their haunches in the middle
of sudsy patches beat the hell out oftheir week's quota of laundry. Little
ripples on the lake surface glint in the sun. A gentle breeze ruffles my hair.
Totally mesmerized bythe lake, I spend hours
here, barely kept awake by copious cups of coffee.
The shops on the straight-ish, wide and clean
street of Lakeside look very similar to those of
Thamel. Wedged between them, curiously named
restaurants—Moon Dance, Billy Bunter, Boomerang, Lemon Tree and Tea Time—vie for the attention of hungry punters. Pavement-side display
boards proclaim their specialties: "verities of cousins," "French fried," "cheese kurket," "fresh crap
from the lake" and my all-time favorite, "explended
view ofthe lake"! Without consulting the Oxford
English Corpus, a database which provides an
extensive picture of current English as an international language, I have decided that "explended"
is going to enter my personal vocabulary. I will use
it when I come across something so ineffably ex-
quisite and splendid that only the word
"explended" would cunningly catch and combine
the nuances of these two words.
In the evening the drinking holes rev up their music systems and
switch on their twinkling lights. Some of them, like Club Amsterdam, Old
Blues Pub, Club Paradiso and Busy Bee, feature live bands, but you
quickly discover that the same band often hops from one club to
another on different days. They all have giant-sized TV screens showing football matches. Colorful balls dart about the pool table. The air is
thick with the smoke of tobacco and marijuana. Subliminal messages
shout out "Chill out! Loosen up! Relax!" Away from home and life's
mundane rigors and responsibilities, people gradually lose their inhibitions. They find themselves in an exotic and alien land. In some of
them, the beguiling mask of anonymity begets confidence; confidence
begets garrulity. Eager to share new experiences and adventures, they
discover striking up conversations with strangers become easy. Like
your newly acquired friends, the holiday mood cheerfully grows on you.
It's no wonder then that I feel Pokhara's Lakeside frequently beckoning me. Explended! □
X
38
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 jr-T
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 Profile
Vikashananda is a philosopher, embarked
on a journey of knowledge. "Nepal should
start producing philosophers now—there has
not been one since the Buddha," he says. "The
mission, though ambitious, is possible. My
efforts are centered on the creation of fertile
ground for the development of philosophy in
Nepal."
The work of the world's great philosophers has changed the course of human
history, and Vikashananda believes that Nepal
needs an environment for debates on philosophy to achieve our own higher goals. The keys
MISSION
Psychology
Changing the world one mind at a time
BY INDRA ADHIKARI
At 6:30 every morning, after an hour of mediation, Yogi
Vikashananda sits in his library with books on
phiosophy religion and health. Reading, writing and
teaching occupy the rest of his day.
The library is well stocked with books on every subject:
art, culture, religion, politics, adventure, geography, science
and more. Vikashananda thinks of them as his friends. He
even talks to them at times, he says.
to intellectual development in the west, he says, with a fist
firmly planted on one of the huge tomes on his table, are
"positive thinking, healthy criticism and acceptance of
constructive criticism."
According to Vikashananda, positive thinking is a must to
succeed in any venture. Positivism brings positive changes
in society. Problems are in the mind, not the situation, he
says, and changing the psychology of individuals will
eventually change society. His motto—"strive to change the
world, but start by changing yourself first"—clearly illustrates his mission.
His methods are diverse; some stem from mainstream
teachings, others are as unconventional as his own intellectual path has been.
His path started humbly in June 1961, when a woman
worshipping at a Ganesh temple in Chhetrapati found a baby
lying there, crying helplessly. Maili Bajei, as she was known
in the area, looked around but could see no one. The parents
had obviously deserted the poor child. Finally she handed
the child to the then childless couple of Krishna Man and
Purna Devi Shrestha of Chhetrapati who adopted him. The
family priest named the child Ekadantaman, after one of the
names for Lord Ganesh.
42
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 His early life was hard: His father
drank and family quarrels fueled by
alcohol drove the boy to fight and
misbehave. He remembers that his
mother and grandmother went for days
at a time without food. "When I was
young, I was one of the most
notorious children in the
neighborhood," he writes in
"Baal Lila," a book about his
childhood. As he grew he
became more violent and
irresponsible. He rarely
attended school and hated
reading. His parents
divorced when he was
10.
Vikashananda's life
changed when he
started attending art
classes with
Chandraman Singh Maskey
and thangka painting sessions
with Premman Chitrakar at
the age of 12. The praise he
got from his teachers
encouraged him to pour
more of his energy into art.
His devotion won him a
trip to the erstwhile Soviet
Union in 1979 after he was
placed first in an art
competition. There he
learned a little about Lenin and
was greatly impressed; he is still
influenced by the communist
philosophy.
After he returned to Nepal he
began to read more about Lenin.
The readings widened to other great
philosophers like Marx, Socrates,
Plato, Nietzsche and Vivekananda.
Each left him enthused for more, but
poverty kept him from following
most of his interests. His health
suffered from poverty as well. He
consulted doctors to no avail and
then finally turned to yoga.
Vikashananda attended yoga
classes at several institutes. The
more he learned the more interested
he became. He left for India at the
age 27 to devote his life to yoga and
meditation. In Benares he learnt yoga
in depth while he was studying
Shastri, equivalent to college
graduation course; then picked
up Buddhism and traveled to
I
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
,
Madras, Unnab, Bihar and other parts of India to learn
different forms of meditation.
After six years of extensive study of yoga and meditation in India, he returned to Nepal and set up the
Ananda Yoga Centre at Matatirtha in 1994.
Though there was already a buzz about
yoga after it was re-introduced in
Nepal by the Osho Centre, the yoga
classes by Vikashananda didn't catch
the public's imagination. When he
introduced reiki, a traditional
Japanese healing technique, in 1996,
quite a few people turned their ears.
He was the subject of talk among
other yoga practitioners after giving
yoga classes to the inmates of Nakhu
jail and the personnel of the Royal
Nepal Army.
But his efforts are centered only in
the urban areas. Reiki has not been a
heart winning method of healing in the
Nepali society. While Vikashananda claims
that reiki can heal most of the stomach
diseases, very few people attend his clinic.
Young Nepalis don't too much faith in the
traditional healing system he introduced in
Nepal. The question may then arise: How
can he influence the people and encourage
them to awaken philosophically if they
don't believe in the very practice that he
promotes?
He toils on with his philosophy and his
principles though. He has named his
principles "manokranti," literally, psychological revolution. Reiki yoga is one of the
five principles of manokranti, the mission
that he started to make people healthy, both
intellectually and physically, Vikashananda
says. His teaching centers have been established in Nepalgunj, Pokhara, Dang, Butwal,
Dharan, Phidim, Itahari, Banepa and Chautaran
but they will take years to attract the local
people to his mission.
Literature and discourse are the tools he
uses to spread his teachings. He has written
more than 70 books, including dozens on
poetry and stories. These days Manokranti's
publication division publishes a booklet every
week by Vikashananda. About 300 of these sell
every Saturday during his discourse at the
Dharahara Party Palace in Sundhara. And books
worth Rs.200,000 to Rs.300,000 are sold each
month at about 40 bookstores around the
country.
The earnings drive Vikashananda's mission:
To hasten the time when all Nepalis will discuss
philosophy and participate in intellectual
debates.   □
43
 CHY TTiisWeek
E    NS
merging
Voices
The entries for the third annual Wave Web Winner,
Nepal's first and biggest web
designing contest, have started
to come in. The contest is
open to all Nepalis under 30
living inside Nepal. All sites,
including corporate sites,
hosted on free servers like
Geocities are acceptable.
However, socially sensitive,
political and adult oriented
sites will not be accepted. A
participant may submit multiple entrees. The submitted
sites can be in any local language, but only Nepali and
English sites will be eligible
for the Best Site Content
Award. Participating sites
must have the tag <! —WWW
2004 participant—> at the top
oftheir homepage. To provide
WAVE WEB
\ V 7T"N, T"^cT I I* "D     OOO/l Three young artists,   Sushma
W 11N 1N HiXV   Zj\J\J^ Shakya, Rukmani Maskey and Dal
Bahadur Rai exhibit a total of 48
prints in a group exhibition at the
(-i Siddhartha Art Gallery. These
rJ rrT| ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ three aspiring artists are students
\f S ! I I : : S S S of the famous printmaking hus- Hifl
band-wife team Uma Shanker Shah and Seema Sharma.
Printmaking is not easy. These young printmakers have immersed themselves in learning the technicality of time bite,
gum bite, colograph, wood block and sugar-lifting to understand the crux of this modern graphic artwork. Dal Bahadur
all participants a fair playing Rai has depicted the naturai heritage of Nepal; Rukmani
field, a contestant may submit      Maskey has her work influenced by religion and culture and
Sushma Shakya surprises the viewers with elements of mys-
dividual categories—visual      tery in pktures that might seem conventionai at flrst glance.
appeal, user friendliness, con-      Tm Dec 5 Fof mformatlon: 42l-8048.
tent and technicality. It will be
compulsory for the participants to design the sites using
the contents ofwww2004.zip
to be eligible to win the Wave
Web Winner 2004 title. For
further information: 554-3333.
Or log on to:
www. www. co m. np.
Basketball
Training Camp
The Godhavari Alumuni Association is organizing a basketball training camp at the
GAA Hall, Thamel. Children
between 6 tol4 years are eligible to participate. Date:
Dec. 22 to Jan. 22. Price:
Rs.500. Limited seats only.
For information: 441-4785
Cine Club
Movie: Le Buche (2000).
Director: Daniele Thompson. Starring: Sabine Azema.
At the Alliance Francaise,
Tripureshwore. Date: Jan.
9. Time: 2 p.m. For information: 424-1163.
Malaysia Dream
Holiday
Marcopolo Travels presents  enchanting and
affordable holidays.
State-of-the-art metropolis, sun kissed
beaches, bargain brand
name shopping, theme
parks, fusion cuisine and
much more. For information: 201-2345.
P       U       B       L       I       S       H       E
District Development PROFILE of NEPAL 2004
COVIRAGI
Divided mainly on ihroe part,
ihc publication coven
l Hafeowri m. Districts HI. MunkipalHIci
1130 Pages
District Section includes-
Dislricl Maps /Development Indicators al Each District /VDC data on
Population & Infrastructure /District wise database on-
topography. Demography Household Characteristics, Economic Activities. Social Characteristics.
Agriculture, lirigation. Forest, Co-operatives, NGCVs, transportation. Communication, Eneigy
System, Education, Henlth, Drinking Watet Gendet) Children and many more
Basic Information on all 58 Municipalities
Available at Renowned Bookstores in Town
InfairdStJttakHtvrih ISIvdj OrtMlMSCiV. Kamladi. Kalhmandu, Htpral.'Ph: MZWI+.' Email- inlomgk^nk.nrt.npiWetrtihr hNp:.'VmMMU.*rg
44
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 Dwarika's Package
This Christmas and New
Year, Dwarika's Hotel comes
up with an exciting package for
all. Enjoy a night's stay at the hotel
at the minimal of prices. Benefits include upgrading to deluxe rooms (subject to availability at the time of check in), daily
complimentary breakfast and
dinner in the hotel at a venue of
choice that will include the special Christmas Eve barbeque.
Date: Dec. 20 -Jan. 5. For information: 447-9488.
Jomson Trip
For just Rs.5999 for Nepalis
and $199 for expatriates, the
Jomsom Mountain Resort
provides two nights and three
days accommodations. The
price will also include roundabout airfare from Pokhara to
Jomsom, daily buffet breakfast and dinner, pick up and
drop from the airport to resort and a walking tour of the
Marpha village in Jomsom.
For information: 449-7569.
ONGOING
Shahanshah Winter
Splash
Want to sweat in the winter? Go
and experience Shahahshah's indoor heated pool and relax in the
steam and sauna. At Rs.350. Exclusive ladies' day on Tuesdays
and Thursdays. Time: 7 a.m. to 7
p.m.
Nepali Platter
At the Radisson Hotel every
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and
Sunday. Come and enjoy this special moment in the festive season.
The scheme applies to Royal Stag,
Ultimate Gin and Ruslan Vodka.
Time: 6-8 p.m. For information:
441-1818.
Jukebox Experience
Thejukebox experience with Pooja
Gurung and The Cloud Walkers
every Wednesday, Friday and
Saturday at the Rox Bar. For information: 449-1234.
For insertions: 2111102
or citypage@nation.com.np
SHOWING AT
Page
JAINEPAL CINEMA
FOR INFORMATION:
Seasons Specials
Exotic Thai, sizzlingtandoori, traditional Nepali and Italian cuisine,
daily for lunch at the Shambala
Garden Cafe, Shangri-la Hotel.
Date: Dec. 1 onwards. Price:
Rs.450 per person, includes a
bottle of mineral water or a soft
drink.
Tickling Taste buds
Barbeque every Friday Evening.
Att he Shambala Garden Cafe,
Shangri-la Hotel. Time: 7 p.m.
onwards. For information: 441-
2999.
Fusion Night
The Rox Bar welcomes everyone
to be a part ofthe Fusion Night.
The rhythmic and harmonic beats
of eastern and western instruments—a treat for the senses.
Enjoy the sarangi played by Bharat
Nepali with a well-blended mix of
western tunes played by The
Cloud Walkers. Every Wednesday.
Time: 6 p.m. onwards. For information: 449-1234.
Cadenza Live
Listen to the best live jazz in town.
Enjoy every Wednesday and Saturday at the Upstairs Jazz Bar,
Lazimpat. Time: 7:45 p.m. onwards.
All That Jazz
Presenting "Abhaya and the
Steam Injuns" and the best of
jazz in Nepal at the Fusion Bar,
Dwarika's Hotel, 7 p.m. onwards,
every Friday. Entry fee: Rs.555,
including BBQ dinner, and a can
of beer/soft drinks. For information: 447-9488.
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
45
 Health
Fat or Fit
New health and fitness clubs have sprung up across the
city in recent years. Once the province ofthe young, the
clubs are now more likely to be patronized by people in
their 30s and 40s.
BY KUMUD NEPAL
You remember Prakash Ojha's
song: "Jaaun ki kya ho ma pani
gym-khaana..." went the lyrics.
It got quite a few people dancing last
year, and notjust because ofthe catchy,
folksy tune. The song tells the story of a
lanky young man who aspires to become
brawny. The timely theme helped the
song stay on top of the charts for many
weeks.
Physical fitness is a major concern
for urbanites today. People are taking
time from their hectic schedules
each day to look after themselves. The urban
middleclass  has pushed
physical fitness up its priority list, and an increasing number of fitness
centers and health clubs
across the Valley are catering   to   this   group.
Physical fitness is slowly
becoming an indispensable part of a successful life.
"There is a sudden urge
in people to remain fit," says
Shyam Shrestha, a trainer at the
Hardic     Fitness      Center     in
Pulchowk, one ofthe city's busiest fitness clubs. Lack of space for exercise
and busy lifestyles have forced people
to turn to health clubs. Shrestha says
most people who come to his club are
overweight, diabetic or suffering from
hypertension.
The trend of going to gyms and fitness centers started in Nepal almost a
decade ago, but back then they generally appealed to the younger generation.
46
The story is different now; middle-aged
people are redefining fitness.
Pradip Shumsher Rana, former general manager ofthe Tiger Tops resort in
Chitwan and an ex-member of the national football team, starts his day early
with an exercise session at the Hardic
Fitness Center. "A 56-year-old like me
has no dreams of having a brawny body,"
says Rana, a regular visitor to the gym for
the last three years. "I come here daily to
remain fit." Sagar Tamrakar, the trainer
at   the   Shaligram   Hotel   Gym
Jawalakhel, agrees that fitness is a "major health
statement." He
believes it is no longer the fad it might
have been considered 15 years ago.
Over the years, the trend of morning walks and cool-evening jogs has
dwindled. But that is due to increasing
worries about security than because of
lack of interest in exercise. Fitness
awareness has not faded away: People
are just finding alternative ways to exercise.
Suresh Bhattarai, 38, a senior officer
at Bhrikuti Paper Mills, bought a treadmill for Rs.18,000 as a replacement for
 his morning walks. A timed session on
the treadmill allows him to get his exercise; it has other benefits too. "You
don't have to worry about security
[when exercising] at home," he says.
"Moreover, you know your speed, the
distance walked and your pulse rate."
Bhattari goes to the Kundalini Club
at Chandol to use the swimming pool
and the tennis court there. The steam
bath and the sauna attract other people
of his age to the club, but he is purely
interested in swimming and tennis. The
heating system in the pool means he can
swim year-round. Keeping fit, he believes, has added to his personality and
social standing. As a regular member,
Bhattarai pays Rs.12,000 a year; he says
he is fully satisfied with the service he
gets in return.
The amounts fitness clubs charge for
their services isn't a problem for their
members. In fact, more and more people
are joining the clubs. The Hardic Fitness Center charges Rs.16,500 annually
per person, inclusive of the club facilities and health checkups. Shaligram gym
charges Rs.23,000. Shrestha ofthe Hardic
club
doesn't
think the
high mem-
b e r s h i p
charges       will
keep people from coming to the clubs.
He says that 100 people visit his club
each day. "There are enough people in
the Valley who will not compromise
with their health," Shrestha says. "They
are willing to spend as long as their fitness is ensured."
Other clubs charge less. Local fitness facilities like the Patan Gym at
Gwarkho charge around Rs.500 per
month for gymnasium facilities. These
gyms serve 100-200 people a day. Even
women come to these bodybuilding
centers. Shaligram's Tamrakar, also the
proprietor of the Patan Gym, says that
15 percent of his customers are women.
While women were generally concerned with their figures in the past,
many have been attracted to strength
training lately. Prasiddhika Rayamajhi,
a model, an actress and a TV anchor, exemplifies the growing interest in bodybuilding among women: She took part
in the Dharmashree bodybuilding competition last year.
While young women like Rayamajhi
find gyms alluring, older women pre
fer aerobics and yoga. Yoga lessons by
Swami Ramdev on Aastha Channel have
a substantial female following and have
attracted some men too. Yoga and meditation are not incompatible with fitness
training: Bhattarai believes his physical
training at the Kundalini club and the
mental and spiritual exercise he gets doing dhyan keep him perfectly fit every
day ofthe week. His blood pressure has
been steady since he started his two-
way fitness program.
Whatever the fitness practice, it is
obvious that people are becoming more
health conscious, either practicing yoga
or joining the fitness centers. This trend
shows that people of all age groups and
of both genders are realizing that fitness is important. Tamrakar says, "Fitness awareness has increased with urbanization, and its appeal is only increasing."  □
.L
.L
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
47
 0i
Jailors
fa $!£&&{ Siffltf-StLitUf £ $tattut 7<tifa£*f\
I _*7   -*f«^ /*w*W, £W .^pty A^ ?& tty W&:
New Road, Pyukba,Kathmandu Tet.: 4226077, E-mait: humanwear
 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.
The Himalayan
A    GREAT    NEWSPAPER
 • II
San Miguel Cup saw big crowds. But the party was marred by some ordinary match
refereeing.
I ment. Nepal Red, with many of our
BYSUDESH SHRESTHA internationals, was playing the Kolkata
Saturday Dec. 25, 2004. It was the giants, East Bengal, equipped with sev-
second day of the San Miguel In eral high-profile foreign recruits. Local
ternational Cup football tourna- fans who had been waiting for quite a
while for a quality tournament at the
Dasharath Stadium flocked to the match.
The tournament organizer, the All
Nepal Football Association, reportedly
made more than Rs.800,000 in gate collection from that match alone. ANFA
officials could not be prouder of their
decision not to contract out the ticket
sales to a private party. The price tag for
the nine-day tournament was Rs.1.6 million. And what's more, Nepal Red, much
to the crowd's delight, won the match 1-
0.
For once it appears that ANFA is well
on course to fulfill its long cherished
dream: decent crowds and good performances from local sides. It would be too
early to cheer, though. There are still a
few big chinks in ANFA's shining armor.
One of them, more closely connected to the game and the events occurring on the pitch—the officiating in
these games—has been the center of talk,
sadly for all the wrong reasons. The referees have been the target of severe criticism for a while.
"The level of referees and linesmen
is very poor," says Subash Bhowmik, the
East Bengal coach. Bhowmik was reacting to referee Gyani Raja Shrestha's decision to book East Bengal's Brazilian
striker Paolo Roberto Da Silva for a second time, resulting in his sending off for
what was, he claimed, an innocuous
tackle.
East Bengal, which was exerting intense pressure on the Nepali side, lost
its bite once it was reduced to 10 men.
"Nepal Red benefited from the indulgent referee," the Bengal coach retorted
after the match.
The tournament organizers may well
dismiss that as just another gripe from a
losing side. But Bhowmik was not alone
in questioning the standards of Nepali
referees.
The chief coach of Han Nam University from South Korea, Park Cha Wha,
who was among the spectators of the
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 Nepal Red-East Bengal match, was not
amused either by what he saw of
Shrestha.
"The referee is an important part of
the game," says Wha. "He cannot make
easy mistakes." But he also suggested that
ANFA work hard to improve the level
of refereeing "because they [the mistakes] spoil the game." "It'd be difficult
to bring in quality teams if the problem
persists," he warns.
ANFA officials reacted by defending its referees, while acknowledging
that "sometimes they make mistakes."
Shrestha is considered the most competent of the five Nepali referees holding
FIFA licenses.
Individual errors aside, the referees
are blamed especially for lack of uniformity; leniency toward foul play and
rough, unsporting behavior; inefficiency,
for example, in stopping deliberate and
vicious tackles against opponents, tackles which could lead to injuries.
The referees have been on the radar
since the Martyrs' Memorial League. In
a league match, a referee mistakenly penalized a defender for a foul that was actually committed by an attacking player.
Shree Ram Ranjitkar, a former FIFA
international referee, concedes that there
have been mistakes from the match offi
cials, resulting in some questionable
decisions. But he suggests "a close analysis ofthe situation" at hand before jumping the gun.
"The referee's influence on the result is too big and his responsibility too
heavy," he agrees. "But instead of passing
critical judgments in general, it would
be much more wiser to confront the
main bone of contention," he says, "the
argument over individual opinions."
He suggests that match officials and
those officiating the game on the pitch
have to keep abreast with the changes in
the rulebook and points out the need to
improve the refereeing where it needs
improvement. The reputation of the
men in black is extremely important if
they are to enjoy respect from the players who are on the field and those who
are watching the game from the gallery.
Often, many of the matches get
mired in controversy because the players themselves have a poor understanding of the rules that govern their game
or deliberately pretend to ignore what
they know. "Sadly even some ofthe national players with international exposure fail to comply with prevailing
rules," says Ranjitkar, recalling how a
national player, during a league cham
pionship a couple of seasons ago, mistook the referee's signal for an indirect free kick for a direct one. "The
player guided his shot into back of the
net. But when I disallowed the goal,
all the players started to hurl expletives
at me."
Clearly, these mutual recriminations are not going to get us anywhere.
Yet there is too much at stake to just
ignore them. ANFA President Ganesh
Thapa maintains that the association
has been trying continuously to raise
the standards of the local referees with
the help of the Asian Football Confederation and the world football governing body, FIFA.
"Several referee training camps and
clinics have been conducted in different districts over the years," he says.
"We have even asked the referees'
committee to develop a suitable program for this purpose."
That may not be enough. The matter needs to be addressed with utmost
seriousness by ANFA, taking steps to
ensure referees make more accurate
calls in the future. The buck has to stop
somewhere. As the governing body of
football in the country, ANFA has to
own up the responsibility for the poor
umpiring.  □
FOOTBALL FERVOR: The
crowds are coming but
keeping them coming is a
tough task
 fl   o
■3   0)
9- -Q
Snapshots
BY DHRITI BHATTA
Testing Times
SHIWANI SINGH THARU, a model and the bubbly   ■
and feisty hostess of "Mero Geet Mero
Sandesh" on NTV, has been unusually grim -
the last few weeks. She has her reasons.
The Maoists had abducted Tharu in
Achham on Dec. 16 and accused her of
spying for the government. "I
repeatedly refuted the allegation,"
says Tharu, "but they released me
only after I signed an affidavit
saying that I was a spy and that I
would resign from my post upon
returning to Kathmandu."
After the eight-day ordeal,
Tharu was free, but still
J
visibly shaken.
o
e
\r
8
Behind the Lens
For BIKASH RAUNIYAAR, a photojournal-
ist with Kantipur, photography is all about
passion, observation and having an eye for
small, intricate details. This law graduate
never trained himself to be a photographer.
"I believe ifyou have passion for a job, you
will excel," says Rauniyaar. Last week, the
Reporter's Club Nepal awarded him the
Babuchhiri Sherpa Photo Journalism Award
along with a cash prize of Rs.25,001. Awards
make Rauniyaar happy but nothing compares
with taking pictures that speak for themselves, he says.
CONNECTING MINDS
Tanneri.com is the newest Nepali e-zine and
BIBHOR BARAL is among the brains behind the
project. Run by Nepal Youth Society, Tanneri.com
offers a wide range of articles from literature to
technology. Baral, the chief editor of the e-zine,
wanted to do a lot more with computers than just
surf the net and check mails. For the last one year,
the information management student at the Co
lege of Applied Business at Tangal has been involved in such ventures as ketaketi.org,
peacejournalism.com and damadol.com. He
then decided to start Tanneri.com, "a complete
diet for young minds," as the site claims. It
will take the combined effort of many young
minds like Baral if Nepal is to harness the
true power of technology.
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 BANKING
CAREER OPPORTUNITY
Our client is an emerging private sector commercial bank with significant presence in major cities
in Nepal. The bank has posted excellent results in the last few years and is on a high but controlled
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To strengthen its existing team of professionals, applications are invited from qualified Nepali citizens
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1. MANAGEMENT TRAINEES (5 - FIVE)
The Management Trainees will undergo extensive framing in overall banking and will be developed
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Requirements
Age: Below 28 years as on 31/12/2004
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2. TRAINEE ASSISTANTS (10 - TEN)
These are the entry level positions that will be confirmed as Junior Assistants in various areas of
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Requirements
Age: Below 25 years as on 31/12/2004
Education:   Bachelor's degree in any discipline but preferably business/finance from
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onwards. Candidates having higher than a bachelor's degree need not apply for
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All candidates are expected to be fluent in written and spoken English and must be computer-literate
with working knowledge of office applications. Both these positions require a pleasant and cheerful
nature with excellent interpersonal skills and common sense, desire to excel and a positive attitude.
To apply for the above positions, send your resume and cover letter with two recent passport size
photographs to the address below. Please mark clearly the position you are applying for on the top-
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The Bank reserves the right to reject any/all applications without assigning any reason whatsoever.
The last date of submission of applications is on Monday^ January 10, 2005L
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nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
55
 Khula Man
Old Hand
Tara Nath Sharma, known popularly as Tanasarma,
has a command over both the English and Nepali
languages that is probably unmatched in the Nepali J
literary world. Over a career spanning four decades—his
first book "Namaste" in Nepali was published in 2018
B.S.—he has written a total of 98 books, in Nepali
/ ->■
i
and English. Sharma, who holds a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has tried to
build bridges between the two vastly
different languages he writes in. He has
till date translated seven Nepali books
into English and two in English into
Nepali. Recently his translation of BP
Koirala's novelette "Sumnima" in English was published in "Bagar," a literary magazine. Dhriti Bhatta talked to
Sharma about his association with BP
translations and the difficulties they
present.
Why did you choose to
translate "Sumnima"?
BP Koirala has many brilliant works.
Each of BP's creations is special, like the
novel "Tin Ghumti," which focuses on
existentialism and "Modi Ayin," which,
unlike the original Mahabharata epic
lauding the heroism of the Kauravs and
the Pandavs, looks at the horrendous aspects of war through a soldier's keen
eyes. But "Sumnima" is a classic; a novel
like that has never been written before.
It asks us to celebrate humanity and love
Mother Earth—the sheer beauty of it.
Merging humanity with spirituality
makes the book a very interesting read.
You seem to be fascinated
with BP as a writer...
I've always loved reading BP's books.
But the fact that I knew him personally
makes me respect him even more. I first
came in contact with him before the
Panchayat system was instituted. At the
time, I used to tutor one of his relatives
at his place. More than teaching my
pupil, I would end up discussing, at
length, the books that he gave me. That
way, we used to exchange a lot of opinions. My literature was influenced by
many of his ideas.
Weren't you influenced
politically as well?
Well, when BP and I talked, literature
was always the central theme. We talked
very little about politics. He did want
me to go into politics, though. Many
might be shocked to know that even BP
followed Winston Churchill's philosophy: to follow Marxism until the age of
I think the younger
generation should get
more engrossed in
Nepali literature for the
long-term continuity of
our language
25. According to him, this would make
an individual more enthusiastic and passionate. I followed that, too, and like BP
it did make me more fervent. I had even
planned to contest for a public post in
my native Ham after I was 25. But unfortunately after BP was jailed during the
Panchayat, those dreams were lost, and I
focused all my attention on literature.
Coming back to translating,
how difficult is it?
Translation is a tough job. While translating "Sumnima," I had to turn to Sanskrit scholars to understand the nuances
of the many Sanskrit texts in the book. It
was important for me to stay true to the
book's spirit and, at the same time, try
not to offend the cultural beliefs of the
west. This way, it was not only vital to
concentrate on the language but on human sentiments and perspectives as well.
Do translated texts retain the
essence of the original?
Well, most don't. Take a rhyming
Nepali poem, for example. How can
the rhyme and rhythm be maintained
while translating the poem into some
other language? A ditto-grammatical
translation is nigh impossible. However, that it is hard to do doesn't mean
you should not try. I try to project
Nepal even through my translated English texts. Like the adage—"style is the
man himself," my love for my mother
tongue is reflected in my English texts,
which retain, if not all, some original-
ity.
Have you translated "Sumnima" with
a specific readership in mind?
My target audiences are foreigners. I don't
expect many Nepalis to read the translated version. After all, they can read the
beautiful original itself. I want the people
outside Nepal to read the translated version and appreciate the fact that great
works of literature exist here as well.
What about the state of
Nepali literature today?
With private schools sprouting all over
the place, English literature is dominant.
At a time when the world is dependent
on English, I don't think this is a big problem. Even countries like China have
started to include English in their school
curriculum. However, I think the
younger generation should get more engrossed in Nepali literature for the long-
term continuity of our language. □
X
56
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
 •n
Essays on Something and Nothing
Sometimes you find something. At other times, you
encounter nothing.
BY NETRA ACHARYA
A Pond of Swans and Other Essays"
is a compilation of 36 essays published in different literary magazines and newspapers. The author
writes, "I have mentally divided them
into roughly two equal sections. The
first half of this collection is about nothing and the second half pretends to be
about something." And this is ture. These
essays—mostly ruminations on, and
mental journeys into, various spheres of
social and personal life—make pretensions of being about something and nothing.
In the essays, Devkota's thoughts
traverse diverse terrains—from philosophy to politics to literature to social
awareness. Sharing his experience of
standing in front of the American Embassy in "Glocal Harassment: The Presence of America in Nepal," he poignantly
describes the kind of troubles Nepali:
are putting up with because of embassy
policy. He expresses his anger against tin
embassy authority's shooing people awa>
from the footpath outside the embassy
gate and questions if they have the righ
to do so. In the same essay, he talks abou
academics' understanding and "misun^
derstanding" of the American Studie:
Program, which was launched somi
three years back.
"Education and the Women's Uplift'
reflects on instances of social evils fron
the perspective of women. While thi
cultural significance of women and thei:
aspirations have featured high on the lis
in academic and intellectual discussion
throughout the world, Nepali womei
are still confined to the kitchen and tin
cowshed and deprived of educational
opportunities. Worse, they are accused
of being witches and beaten to death. The
essay argues in favor of a national battle
against corruption and of all forms of
exploitation, and notjust against male
domination. The essayist thinks, some
what cheekily that Nepali males are as
exploited as females and "sometimes
even more so because of illiteracy and
ignorance."
'A Eng of the People" is a personal
reaction to the "royal massacre" of June
1, 2001. King Birendra could feel the
spirit ofthe times; his declaration in 1979
of a national referendum, which eventually took place in 1980, is a proof of it,
says the writer. The smooth political transition from a party-less Panchayat to a
multiparty constitutional monarchy
speaks of the King's courage, his understanding of the aspirations of his people
and his awareness of global trends and
movements. He loved the people, and
the people in turn loved and worshipped
him. He was at ease with the people,
walking in the streets of Kathmandu
without his bodyguards flanking him.
This down-to-earth attitude was what
the people liked him for. As news of the
A Pond of Swans and Other Essays
by Padma Devkota
New Hira Books Enterprises (2004)
PAGES: 212
PRICE: Rs. 195
massacre flashed on TV screens, so grief-
stricken was the writer on the gruesome
death of the King that he wished that
someone had displayed the dress of the
Eng and counted the bullet holes in it.
"The Numerical Rhizome" analyzes
the secrets behind numerical concepts.
The author says, "Each number attaches
itself to some fundamental concept of life
and the world." Zero as a circle represents
naught or void from which creation begins. One represents the absolute or the
unique; two, the creative dualism. Three
is the trinity—the Father, the Son and the
Holy Ghost—in the west and Brahma,
Vishnu and Maheshwor in the east.
Troubled by the "the scum on the surface of a thick black stagnant semi liquid
they call Bagmati" where he had to bury
his mother's remains, the writer ponders,
in "Cremation Right," on the ways of
cleaning the river. Among other things,
he suggests the use of electric furnaces to
incinerate the dead, though this may "initially disturb the Hindustically (sic) cultured mind." Perhaps the most beautifully
written piece, 'A Pond of Swans" is a kind
of travelogue that describes "a real life
experience that comes out of travel and
the exposure to Nepali life."
More than half of the essays in the
book are related to literature. Some of
these essays focus on the works and lives
of authors like Laxmi Prasad Devkota,
Kedar Man Vyathit, Balkrishna Sama,
Mohan Koirala, Madhav Prasad Devkota,
Madhav Prasad Ghimire, while others
focus on the English literature as well as
the activities taking place to promote the
Nepali language. These essays show that
the writer is at home talking about both
English and Nepali literature.
Primarily a poet, Padma Devkota
writes with clarity. He shuns abstract
ideas in his writings. His language is
smooth and, in an understated way,
good. He uses quotes and excerpts of
poems liberally to bolster his arguments
without offsetting the balance of his language. The readers drift with the flow
of his language. Sometimes they get
something; at other times they encounter nothing.  □
nation weekly |  JANUARY 9, 2005
57
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There was a time in 1996-97 when
many of us in the cities privately
gave the Maoists grudging respect
for articulating our failure as a society.
Six years of parliamentary democracy
had delivered very little: Living standards for most people had barely budged,
solid policy initiatives were few and far
between, and issues of social exclusion
had been reduced to lip service from
MPs and ministers during the perfunctory Zero Hour and annual budget
speeches. Without effective institutions
and a history of liberal values, we were,
perhaps inevitably, held hostage to the
avarice of corrupt officials. Where were
the systemic checks and balances to
avoid abuse of authority and the mechanisms to punish the corrupt and reflect
the aspirations of an agrarian society and
the poor peasantry?
In 1996, Sher Bahadur Deuba's government—his first of three—epitomized all the ills of democracy gone
astray. His NC-RPP jumbo Cabinet gave
the impression that no one was in charge,
not least Deuba himself. Politics became
an end in itself, a dirty game of survival
where every single parliamentarian decided that all he wanted from his political life was to be a minister. There was
no tomorrow, no
political legacy to
worry about. Deuba
himself holds several dubious distinctions. He was
prime minister
when the Maoists
decided to go underground in 1996;
he was again prime
minister when the
government finally mobilized the Army
against the Maoists in November 2001.
And in October 2002, he became the first
prime minister after 1990 to be sacked
by the King—for "incompetence," no
less.
As disenchantment with the failings
of our leadership grew, it also became
clear that the Maoists did not hold the
moral high ground. By 2000, thousands
of cases of Maoist atrocities had been
documented: forcible conscription of
child soldiers, summary executions of
those they suspected of spying for the
government and pervasive extortion to
support their fast-expanding party ranks.
In time, Nepal's allies perceived the
rebels as a serious security threat too,
both to Nepal and the outside world.
A 2001 article in Frontline magazine
expressed fear that there was growing coordination between Maoists in Nepal
and those in the Indian states of Bihar
and Jharkhand. The April 14 massacre of
14 members of the Gram Raksha Dal, a
voluntary group in the village of Belthu
in Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand, was
described as unprecedented. "Never before in the history of Jharkhand and Bihar
has a 2,000-strong MCC [Maoist Communist Center] force taken part in such
daring  attack," ~^I-^I-™" «■.
FrontiLsaTd     See Cover Story
The western      PSffe 20
press discovered-
the Maoist problem soon afterwards.
Scores of journalists flocked to
Kathmandu in the wake ofthe royal massacre on June 1, 2001 and found that a lot
more was happening in the country.
Nepal has constantly been in the eye of
the western press since, though not all
the coverage has been accurate or nu-
anced. More often
than not, the stories
are grim and center
around the challenges
posed to the Nepali
state by the Maoists.
Last week the
news was of the chilling toll of the
"people's war." The
Royal Nepal Army
said 3,380 Maoists
rebels had been killed in security operations since peace talks collapsed in August 2003; 336 of its own were also killed
in the period. Most of the world didn't
take notice of the toll in the wake of the
more than 100,000 tsunami deaths.
\(&
Akhilesh Upadhyay Editor
58
JANUARY 9, 2005   |  nation weekly
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