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Nation Weekly December 26, 2004, Volume 1, Number 36 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-12-26

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 REPORTS
18 Missing From
Kathmandu
By Satishjung Shahi
As Kashmiris discussed peace in
Kathmandu last week, the fate of
Kashmiris missing in Nepal remained
unknown. "Young children of one of
them wondered if their father would
ever return home.
26 Penchant for Arts
By Biswas Baral
The female to male ratio in private
colleges' humanities departments is
3:1. What attracts so many women to
the arts?
32 Christmas
Without Carols
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
Christmas is still a quiet affair for
Nepal's growing population of
Christians
BUSINESS
28 Magic Carpet Ride
By Indra Adhikari
Nepali carpet industrialists are hoping
for a revival of the once lucrative
European market. But they face many
challenges.
ARTS & SOCIETY
36 Telling Tales
By Yashas Vaidya
The four-day Kathmandu International
Mountain Film Festival showcased a
wide range of movies. The ones that
received the most acclaim from the
audiences focused not on mountains
but on people.
SPORTS
50 Fixing Football
By Sudesh Shrestha
After years of innovations and hard
work, the crowds are getting bigger.
But allegations of match fixing could
undo ANFA's recent success.
COVER STORY
20 War Economy
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
Skyrocketing defense spending is arming the security forces but disarming the
country's crucial development programs. It may even be jeopardizing the whole
economy.
COLUMNS
LIFESTYLE
11 Unfinished
Business
By Jogendra Ghimere
30 The Limits
of Language
ByAditya Adhikari
38 Dead Willing!
ByKaruna Chettri
40 Goodbye From
Mustang
ByKunalLama
47 Hacking Woes
By Kumud Nepal
Though still not a common topic for
discussion, computer hacking is a
serious problem
DEPARTMENTS
6 LETTERS
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
olcsl C£S
S3  r
5£    k
ii How unseemly of
Baral to concede
the literary high
ground to the
English language |■
RCHETRI
Baral does it again
HOW UNSEEMLY (AND COMI-
cal) of Ajit Baral to play the prophet of
defeatism and concede the literary high
ground to the English language ("Hope
for Nepali Fiction," Dec. 19)! To avoid
another Rushdiesque misjudgment,
until the Nepali-English literary scene
produces more than two writers, and
the many books in Nepali and other vernacular languages are
translated
c o m p e -
tently—in
other
words,
once sufficient data is
collected
and analyzed— it
seems reasonable to hold judgment and practice
a little humility.
P.CHETRI
VIA EMAIL
BARAL DOES IT AGAIN! I HAVE
read more tha n one article by Baral in
your magazine where he makes outlandish claims but fails to pull off his thesis.
He seems to have been hopelessly enamored by two young Nepalis who write
in English, Samrat Upadhyay and
Manjushree Thapa. Both Upadhyay and
Thapa are at best only beginning to make
their mark in the literary world, though
one of Upadhyay's works, "Arresting God
in Kathmandu," I should admit, has received some literary acclaim. In the lack
of a well-argued thesis, Baral's assertion—that the best writing from Nepalis
will come in the form of English fiction
in the next 20 years—sounds more like
banter from a starry-eyed subcontinental youngster who thinks everything English is superior.
BIPLAVPRADHAN
KATHMANDU
The universal languge
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOU-
sand words and photography is one language everybody understands ("The Man
and his Magic," by Veneeta Singha). I had
an opportunity to communicate not only
with Kishor Kayastha but also with his portraits on Dec. 11 during his photo exhibition at the Indigo Gallery. Just as he says,
"Camera is brush and light is canvas." His
photos are a piece of fine art. His pictures
are truly inspirational. What's even more
noteworthy is that he is trying to sell
Nepal abroad, capturing our culture, traditions, religions and people in his portraits.
As a student of photography myself,
Kayastha's approach to photography and
imaginative works have revealed to me my
potential as a Nepali. Let me single out
"Monsoon Composition" for special
praise. His pictures made me realize that
we have an enormously rich heritage to tap!
ASHISHDONGOL
VIA EMAIL
Nepal in doldrums
CALL ME PESSIMISTIC, BUT I RE-
ally don't see what can be done about the
state of the country ("Business Unusual,"
Last Page, Dec. 19). Even if the "international community" were to suddenly take
an interest, what would that accomplish in
the long run? Nepal can only be helped by
the outside world in two ways—militarily
or financially. Given the Army's conduct in
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 recent years, one can safely assume that any
proposal to increase its power would be
wrong. And given that the greenbacks will
likely make it to offshore accounts not long
after they arrive, accepting monetary aid
seems equally shortsighted. If the international community wants to help, it needs to
show a good deal of patience. Nepal is nonfunctional now in almost every way. The
Maoist-Army violence, the sheer lethargy
ofthe political class, and a bureaucracy that
has almost given up are only some of the
country's problems. The only hope comes
from a sign that were things to get better, a
healthy entrepreneurial climate could develop in the country But, given that many
in the country have been brainwashed into
thinking that anything to do with making
money is by nature evil, that could be a lot
to hope for as well.
NAME WITHHELD
VIA EMAIL
Sakya likes novelty
I FOUND THE REVIEW OF KARNA
Sakya's new book "Soch" inspiring
("Eternal Optimist," by Biswas Baral,
Dec. 12). I consider Sakya an entrepreneur par excellence who has combined
his love for nature and zeal for conservation with business acumen to get brilliant results. But more than anything, I
find Sakya's never-say-die attitude so very
refreshing. This puts him right ahead of
the crowd. Most Nepali businessmen
will be happy following the "tricks of the
trade" handed down by their forefathers
and whining about the lack of "government support." Not Sakya. He is always
looking to do something new and noble.
Where there's a will, there's way.
NARESH SHARMA
VIA EMAIL
Bhutanese hope
THANK YOU FOR FEATURING the
Bhutanese democratic leader Teknath
Rizal in your Milestone (Dec. 19). The
Bhutanese human rights movement and
our desire for dignified repatriation will
hopefully draw the attention of the international community. For now, Rizal
stands tall as our only hope.
RAMAN SUBBA
DAMAK
All the King's men
I AGREE WITH SATISHJUNG SHAHI
that the Raj Parishad meet early this
month was nothing but an exercise in
muscle flexing by the royalists ("All the
King's Men," Dec. 19). You should now
go a step further to document the progressive decline in democratic values
in recent years. History will hold Prime
Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's governments (both the current one and the
one before this) accountable for making too many compromises and the
Maoists for pushing the country to
brinkmanship.
KAPIL SAPKOTA
VIA EMAIL
On the mark
KUDOS TO SWARNIM WAGLE FOR
his comprehensive analysis of how
Nepal's garment industry came into being and what we should do now that the
export quotas are being phased out ("The
Fate of Quota Babies," Writing on the Wall,
Dec. 19). After nine years of senseless violence, the country's economy is in deep
waters. Once-robust industries have
closed down due to continued extortion,
unending labor unrest and lack of markets (because the goods can't move from
once place to another). If the garment industry falls, it will be the final nail in the
proverbial coffin. The rich countries must
stand up to their longstanding international commitments to provide duty-free
entry to the products of least developed
countries in all major markets. More than
the guns to fight the Maoists, the United
States, for one, should provide Nepal
with opportunities that will help us keep
our house in order.
PRABIN SILWAL
KATHMANDU
THE ANSWER IS VERY SIMPLE.
Nepal must lobby the U.S. Congress and
plead for the tariff-free entry of its apparel. Or else our major export industry
will be gobbled up by giant producers in
such countries as India and China. It's time
for Nepal's allies to stand up for a friend
in need.
SUDHIR PATHAK
VIA EMAIL
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Vol. I, No. 36. For the week December 20-26, 2004, rele;
n December 20
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 CHRISTMAS CHORALE: People of
different nationalities perform for the
Kathmandu Chorale at the British
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nation weekly/Sagar Shrestha
 Unfinished Business
The resignation of Supreme Court Justice Baliram Kumar brings to an end an ugly saga. But
shouldn't the judiciary go a step further to restore its sanctity by setting a healthy precedent?
BY JOGENDRA GHIMIRE
The resignation by Supreme Court Justice Baliram Kumar this month
seems to have put to rest a controversy that started with the apex
court's decision early this yearto release the notorious drug peddler Gordon William Robinson. Robinson had been found guilty bythe
Special Court of trying to smuggle over two kilograms of brown sugar
through Nepal. He was arrested red-handed at the Tribhuvan International Airport. Baliram Kumar of course was part of the two-member
bench; the other member, Krishna Kumar Verma, the senior among the
two judges resigned five months ago. The Verma-Kumar decision has
since been reversed by a larger bench of the Supreme Court. Their
findings, and the reasoning used by them to arrive at a judgment favorable to Robinson is, therefore, not good law for any future criminal
prosecution.
The outcome ofthe eight-month-long controversy, and two judicial
resignations, still leaves a couple of questions unanswered. One, should
a judge, or for that matter any public official, accused of corruption be
allowed to take an honorable retirement with all the post-retirement
benefits? Two, in case of Supreme Courtjudges and other constitutional
functionaries who can only be removed through parliamentary impeachment, isn't there anything more than relieving them oftheir positions that
can be done to punish them for their wrongdoings?
The first question can be answered in the negative, but it comes with
a caveat. It is only in an ideal world with a functioning parliament that
such honorable retirements cannot be
allowed; the Parliament can impeach
Supreme Courtjudges. However,
proponents of the idea that
Verma and Kumar should not
have been allowed to take
honorable retirements tend
to forget that we don't live in
an ideal world. Since we don't
have a parliament, disciplining
the offenders through impeachment becomes a non-issue. Hy-
pothetically, the Parliament could
have started impeachment proceedings against the judges. But until the
Parliament came into being, theirfate would
have remained undecided.
By convincing both Verma and Kumar to
resign, the Judicial Council has achieved a fair
amount of success in ridding the judiciary of
some rotten elements whilealso restoring some
public confidence in the institution. Surely, the
best option would have been this: That the
two offenders were forced to face impeachment proceedings and dismissed through impeachment.
That leads us to the next question about the extent of immunity that
judges or other constitutional functionaries, removable only through impeachment, enjoy from criminal prosecution for the abuse of authority
during their terms in office.
A popular belief among the commentators seems to be that the offenders can be relieved from their position only through impeachment. And in
cases where the Pratinidhi Sabha is not in existence, force them to quit
quietly—as it eventually happened in the case of Verma and Kumar. One
avenue that remains to be explored is the possibility of prosecution of
individuals after they have resigned or have been relieved oftheir positions.
The objective ofthe constitutional protection accorded to thejudges ofthe
Supreme Court and a number of other constitutional functionaries is to
ensure independence while discharging their duties. They do not enjoy this
privilege to shield themselves from possible criminal prosecution.
There is, therefore, no bar against the initiation of criminal investigation against the duo and against charging them for corruption and abuse
of authority. The constitution talks about the Parliament only when it
comes to removal of judges from their office. It does not say that the only
sanction against corruptjudges is their removal from office. For anything
other than removal from office, including investigation for corruption
charges, the constitution provides adequate opening.
To demonstrate how ludicrous the argument—that judges can only
be removed but not prosecuted—is, one only needs to consider a hypothesis. What if a judge murders
somebody in his chambers or
what if ajudge commits rape?
It is difficult to argue that in
those extreme cases all
that can be done against
the judge in question is to
remove him from office
and let him live the life of
a free man. In case of a
rape or murder, the answer
is that the person should be
criminally prosecuted. What is
there to suggest that in case of a
corrupt judge the principal of prosecution does not hold?
Of course, Baliram's resignation
comes as a huge relief. But the resignation should not be an end in itself. The
judiciary will have to do quite a bit to restore its image that was defaced bythe
Robinson saga. Toward that end, the resignations of Messrs. Verma and Kumar
can be considered a good beginning, n
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
11
 Opinion
THINK
POSITIVE
'Thinker'
by Auguste Rodin
POLITICS
Civil. Conflict
Education
Development
Business
Lifestyle
Sports
EVERY WEEK.
EVERY MONDAY.
nation
The Notion of Nationhood
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CARPETS      &      DECORATIVE       ARTS
 >ules
Kathmandu budget
Kathmandu Metropolitan City
unveiled a budget of Rs.1.5 billion for the fiscal year 2004-05.
Development expenditures account for 61.95 percent, administrative expenses for 22.31 percent and social costs for 15.74
percent ofthe budget. The budget has nearly doubled from the
last fiscal year. It includes the cost
of a poverty alleviation fund
from this year, which looks after
the welfare ofthe poor, women
and children. The city also plans
to launch programs to deliver
basic health services to poor families in the metropolis.
SAARC patients
In the SAARC region, more than
40 percent ofthe outpatients attending hospitals suffer from respiratory diseases. The region also
accounts for more than 27 percent of the global tuberculosis
burden, said Dr. Krishna Kant
Jha, director ofthe SAARC TB
center in Thimi. The center is
organizing a regional conference
on TB, HIV/AIDS and respiratory diseases from Dec. 14 to
Dec. 20.
Helping women
The Asian Development Bank
has approved a $10 million loan
for a project aimed at uplifting
■women in rural areas. The fund
will be spent on economic, legal,
social and institutional reforms.
The project is scheduled for
completion in 2009. The project
will cover 15 districts in the Midwest, the Farwest and the central region.
Beaten to death
Residents of Suryapur village in
Nawalparasi beat five Maoists to
death on Wednesday, Dec. 15,
including a Maoist section commander. The scuffle started
when the Maoists tried to abduct a village denizen. The Dec.
15 incident came as a reaction to
growing Maoist atrocities, the
villagers claimed. Separately, another Maoist section commander, Ramesh Choudhary
was beaten to death in Paklihawa
ofthe same district. There have
also been uprisings against the
Maoists in Dailekh and Baglung
in recent weeks.
Missing persons
The probe committee led by
Narayan Gopal Malekhu, joint
secretary at the Home Ministry,
made public the whereabouts of
116 persons believed to be under
government detention. Of the
116, the report said, 14 were released after interrogation, 17
were freed after completing jail
terms, 33 remain in detention
and 45 have been kept at an investigation center at Sundarijal.
The committee in its earlier
three reports had disclosed the
whereabouts of 204 persons. The
report came a day after the relatives ofthe disappeared persons
urged the UN. Working Group
on Enforced or Involuntary Dis-
I I
appearances to help trace those
missing.
Border security
Indian authorities have ordered
their security personnel to seek
permission from Nepali authorities before entering Nepal.
Himanshu Kumar, the director
general of Sashastra Sima Bal gave
the order early this month. Earlier, Indian security personnel
were reported to have entered
Nepal with weapons and beaten
villagers. This is the first time Indian authorities have made it
mandatory for their security personnel to seek Nepal's permission
before entering Nepal.
Bank loot
Just hours after a robbery at the
Kantipath branch ofthe NABIL
bank, police recovered the loot.
Nearly Rs.6 million was recovered from an apartment at
Hattigaonda, which was rented
by the brother of the suspected
culprit, Niranjan Khanal. He reportedly used a Chinese pistol stolen from a relative, also a police
officer. The suspect remains at
large.
Lumbini shutdown
Labor and Transport Management   Ministry
terminated the
registration of
t      h      e
Lumbini
Overseas, an employment
agency, as directed by the Commission for Investigation ofthe
Abuse of Authority. The
watchdog agency asked the
government to take immediate
action against Lumbini for
breaching labor laws while
sending 1,727 Nepali workers
to South Korea.
Defaulters on blacklist
Nepal Bank Limited has asked
diplomatic missions to deny
travel visas to loan defaulters.
The bank has requested Nepal
Rastra Bank to convene a meeting inviting representatives of
all embassies and consulates to
discuss the option of barring
those on the blacklist from traveling abroad. Donors have continually been urging the government to take action against
the defaulters. The combined
non-performing assets of the
Nepal Bank and Rastriya
Banijya Bank stand at around
Rs.20 billion.
NC home
Nepali Congress finally has its
own building at Sanepa, Lalitpur.
NC President Girija Prasad
Koirala inaugurated the new
building, BP Bhavan. Still under
construction, the building will
have 33 rooms including two
conference halls and a library
when completed. The construction started nine years ago.
14
King's India visit
ing Gyanendra is visiting India for the
third time in as many years amid specu
tions in the media about the motives
behind his visit. The royal itinerary, which
starts on Dec. 23, was announced immedi-
J_    ately following the conclusion of the Raj
Parishad meeting. The royalist meet had urged
the King to actively participate in Nepali politics. Analysts here are closely following the meet as
the conflict takes a downward spiral. In the last one
month alone, more than 200 people succumbed to
the conflict.
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Pashupati income
The temple of Pashupatinath
generated less than
Rs.200,000 in income lastyear,
according to priests there.
That despite the four million
devotees from Nepal and In
dia who visit the temple every year. The actual income
of the temple is said to
amount to millions of rupees annually. Four Bhattas,
including the chief Bhatta
from India, and 108
Bhandaris from Nepal reside over the management
and day-to-day activities of
the temple. The Pashupati
Area Development Trust officials said they did not know
the actual amount collected
at the temple.
Nepali envoy
King Gyanendra has appointed Madan Kumar
Bhattarai, the ambassador to
Germany, as the ambassador
to Republic of Poland and
Hungary. Bhattarai served in
the Foreign Ministry before
he was appointed as the envoy to Germany in April this
year.
Ring road
Ministry of Physical Planning and Works has started the
planning process for the
outer ring road, the second
such road to circle the Valley.
The road is being constructed
with Chinese assistance. The
initial planning will be finalized before a Chinese team
arrives in Kathmandu in February. The team will access
the possibility of the road
construction. Nepal and
China agreed upon the alternative ring road during the
Crown Prince Paras's China
visit in August earlier this
year.
More skirmishes
Twenty-one security personnel, including 18 Army men
and two members of the
Armed Police Force, were
killed in a clash with the
Maoists in Arghakhachi, said
the Army. It also claimed to
have inflicted heavy casualties
on the Maoist side in the encounter. Clashes began when
the Maoists attacked a patrol
team of the security forces at
Siptara village.
Bhutanese issue
Human Rights Watch, The
Lutheran World Federation
and Habitat International
Coalition urged donors to
re-consider their support
programs with Bhutan if it
fails to resolve the Bhutanese
refugee issue. These international agencies seek the active role ofthe U.S. government in the refugee repatriation process. Meanwhile,
Bhutanese Foreign Minister
Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk,
in a recent address to the
National Assembly, dismissed the legitimacy of the
categorization and repatriation process.
Perks for Bhattarai
Former Prime Minister
Krishna Prasad Bhattarai will
now get perks at par with sitting ministers. An "ashram" is
also to be built for him. It will
later be converted into a trust
in Bhattarai's name. Bhattarai
will get a private health assistant, and the government will
finance all his medical expenses.
Economic stagnation
Nepal's economic growth
will stand at 3.7% in this financial year, which ends on
Jul.15, 2005, said the Asian
Development Bank. The figure remains essentially unchanged from the previous
year. Continuing internal
strife in the country is the reason for the lackluster performance, the report said. The
average growth was over five
percent before conflict began
in 1996.
AAAN reshuffle
The Advertising Agencies
Association of Nepal will
now include in its working
committee representatives
from those professional and
business houses involved in
advertising. Before this, only
advertising agencies were
represented on the committee. The association's name
will be changed and its charter amended for this purpose
in its upcoming general assembly on Sunday, Dec. 19.
This decision is being taken
citing the changing role of
advertisements, the association said.
Give us more
The 17,000-strong Armed
Police Force has asked the
government for 3,500 more
personnel, Nepal
Samacharpatra reported. The
proposal on behalf of the
para-military unit was submitted to the Cabinet by
Home Minister Purna
Bahadur Khadka. This request follows the Army's recent proposal for 17,000 more
personnel.
Maoist arrest
Security forces arrested
Ganesh Regmi, a prominent
figure in the ANTUF-R, the
Maoist trade wing, on Monday, Dec. 13. Regmi, who was
arrested in Kathmandu, had
played a major role in the
shutdown of over a dozen industries in the country in
September earlier in the year.
The Maoists have appealed to
the media and human rights
watchdogs to help safeguard
his life.
'
STILL WAITING: Mahendra Police (in blue)
beat Three Star, 3-2, on Saturday, Dec. 18
to lift the Himalayan Bank Cup and shattered
Three Star's dreams of winning a national-level
knockout tournament for the first time
ID    <
AL £ LEADING hi
■
j_
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
15
 Milestone
Biz Buzz
Indo-Pak
Engagement
Tn the first meeting of its kind to be held in
I Nepal, leaders from India- and Pakistan-
_I_occupied Kashmir met in Kathmandu. The
four-day meeting, which started on Dec. 11,
was an initiative to bringtogether political leaders, intellectuals and former officials ofthe
two countries to discuss the Kashmir issue in
a neutral venue.
TheTrack-ll Kashmir talks were organized
by Rome-based Pugwash Conferences on
Science and World Affairs, the co-winner of
the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. The Pugwash
Conferences were founded with the desire
to see all nuclear arms destroyed and to find
solutions to international disputes through
means other than war. In its citation, the Nobel
Committee said that the award was given to
Pugwash "to encourage world leaders to intensify their efforts to rid the world of nuclear
weapons."
Pugwash aims at bringing about a consensus between New Delhi and Islamabad,
over the contentious issue of Kashmir. Toward
that end, the organization is encouraging
people-to-people contact. Among the Indians attending the meeting were Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Abdul Ghani Butt,
Shabir Shah and Sajad Lone, and also Bhim
Singh ofthe Panthers Party. Amongthe Pakistani delegates were Sultan Mahmood
Chaudhary, former prime minister of Pakistan-
administered Kashmir; the area'sformer Chief
Justice Abdul Majid Malik; and former army
general Talat Masood. The low-profile meeting, held behind closed doors, tookplaceat
the Hyatt Regency.
Professor Paolo Cotta-Ramusino of Italy, the
Pugwash secretary general, said that a report
with the suggestions ofthe Kashmir representatives would be submitted to Indian, Pakistani
and Kashmiri officials. A statement, released at
the end ofthe talks, suggested that confidence-
building measures be taken to end violence, to
improve economic and social institutions and to
enforcetheruleof law in Kashmir.
SHIKHAR LIGHTS
Surya Nepal has introduced the newShikhar
Lights, a milder version of itsShikhar
Filter Kings. Shikhar Lights will be
available in packs of 20 and   ,
will be priced at Rs.29.80 per   ,
pack. The new cigarette wi 11
come in red and white   ,
packaging with the
Shikhar crest. The
product has been
released only in
the Valley but
will soon be L
avai lable I
across the
country.
ELECTRICAL
PRODUCTS
Bajaj Electricals, in collaboration with Golchha
organization, will commence sale of irons, water heaters,
toasters, room
heaters and gas
stoves in the
market. Bajaj
Electricals is a
part of the Bajaj
Group and offers
a wide range of
products such as
lamps, tube-
lights, luminaries,
household appliances, fans and turnkey engineering services. The company is introducing
theirtop ofthe line, award-winning products in
the markets here.
SURYA NEPAL GOLF
Surya Nepal and the Nepal Tourism Board organized the Surya Nepal Masters 2004 golf
tomament from Dec. 9 to Dec. 12, along with
the Standard Chartered Bank, the Gokarna
Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Air Sahara and
McDowell's Signature Whisky. The tournament
is the biggest international golf tournament in
Nepal with a prize purse of Rs.1.6 million. The
main aim of the tourney was to attract potential tourists from across South Asia, particularly
India. Nepal Tourism Board, which was the
event partner, wants to develop Nepal as a
golf-tourism center.
PETITION IN US
Nepal has petitioned the U.S. government to
allow free entry for Nepali pashmina and handmade carpets into the Unites States under its
General System of Preferences scheme, government officials reported. Under the scheme,
the U.S. government adopts liberal market
policies towards some 5,000 products from
least developed countries. Other Nepali
products seeking such status in
the United States are natural
honey and handicraft prod-
|   ucts.
1   LGPC
" Mahesh Overseas Enterprises wi 11
F now offer the LG brand of personal
' computers for sale. The new PCs
have been brought in the market to
tap the market for branded comput-
'  ers. The company said that LG computers have been fitted with tested quality components and are therefore free
from defects. All the computers come with
a one-year warranty and service facilities, and
are available in different configurations and casings.
EMPLOYMENT DIRECTORY
Vision Nepal Publication has released the
fourth edition of "Overseas Employment Information," in coordination with Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies
(NAFEA). The directory is meant for those
seekingjobs abroad. The directory has been
published on the occasion ofthe 13th anniversary of the NAFEA and contains information on recruiting agencies, insurance companies, training institutes and travel agencies. Also incorporated in the book are articles on the opportunities and the challenges
of foreign employment.
LML BEAMER
Beamer, LML's new bike, has hit the market. The Beamer comes with a 150cc, 13.9
bhp engine and is aimed at consumers looking for a powerful bike. The new model will
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 be available in four colors. The bike's Italian
design, with its rectangular steel frame, adds
to its visual appeal as well as its stability
and handling. The new model is priced at
Rs.131,900 and has a two-year or a
30,000-km warranty. There is an additional
electronic-parts-warranty for five years or an
equivalent of 50,000 kilometers.
2PM
SCHEME
2PM
noodles has
introduced its
"scratch
and match
offer." In the new
offer, consumers will be able to
win cash prizes up to Rs.999,999. Every
2PM packet will contain a scratch coupon that
will reveal sixnumberson scratching. Prizes will
be awarded on the basis ofthe number combinations on the coupon, with the combination
of six nines receiving the maximum cash prize
of Rs.999,999.
REVIVA WATER FILTERS
Apex commercials, the sole distributors of
Euroguard, have brought out Reviva, a water
purification system with reverse osmosis system. The filter processes water by a five-stage
purification mechanism. Reviva is said to be
microbiologically potable and has a capacity of
eight liters. It can also reduce the hardness of
the water.
ABILITIES PRODUCTS
Abilities India is exporting new pistons and rings
for two-wheelers in Nepal. Pistons and rings for
all models of Indian bikes will be made available. Fifty percent ofthe company's exports
are to Latin America. The company produces
70,000 sets per month.
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L
X
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
17
 SAD VIGIL: (from left) Gulam Mohammad's
wife, daughter, mother and son
MISSING FROM
As Kashmiris discussed peace in Kathmandu last week, the fate of Kashmiris missing
in Nepal remained unknown. Young children of one of them wondered if their father
would ever return home.
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
AS REPRESENTATIVES FROM
both India and Pakistan sat down
last week at the posh Hyatt Regency Hotel to discuss peace in embattled Kashmir, 28-year-old Wasir
Ahmad Sofi waited in his handicraft shop.
Around him lay colorful pashmina
shawls, and the air was full of the smell
of incense as he watched "Musafir," a
Hindi film, on his small TV The Track-
II conference here had brought hope for
some, but Sofi's shop outside the Hotel
Yak and Yeti Plaza in Durbar Marg was
empty. And so was his heart. "Tourism is
down," he said. "And we've suffered continuously in the last four years."
Sofi's family members took turns at
the Hyatt Regency during all three days
ofthe Track-II conference, talking with
the delegates and lobbying officials.
Their goal: Learn the whereabouts of
Sofi's uncle, Gulam Mohammad Sofi,
48. Gulam Mohammad has been missing since the day of Gai Jatra in August
2000. The Sofis say that officers from
the National Investigation Department
took him into custody while he was
attending a party at his friend's house
in Bhaktapur. Even young Sofi was
taken at gunpoint from another
pashmina shop, Hyatt Handicrafts in
Jamal, which was run by his brother,
Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi. But he was released
10 days later.
At least a dozen other Kashmiris in
Nepal were arrested about the same
time, all on suspicion of having links
with terrorists. The whereabouts of four
of them remain unknown; one of them
is Gulam Mohammad.
"He was too old to be a terrorist and
had been to Kashmir only three times in
his lifetime, all on business trips," says
18
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Sofi. He believes the Nepal
Police handed the Kashmiris to
India without proper investigation. "He had been living in
Nepal for the last three decades," he says. "He had chosen
to do business [in Nepal] to
escape the violence back home
in Kashmir."
Sofi then talks of his family's
fruitless search for his missing
uncle. "We have tried looking
for him everywhere, in Nepal
and India," says Sofi. "We have
been threatened constantly to
keep shut. But we aren't giving
up."
The family of Gulam
Mohammad has met top police
officers, government ministers
here, and in India, including in
Kashmir. The best they have received is kind words; often the response
has been harsh.
"We are all Indian citizens. How can
they do this to their own citizens, just
because oftheir wrong policies that view
anyone from Kashmir as a terrorist?" asks
Sofi, angry about the ordeals he and his
NO MESSAGE: Wasir, Gulam
Mohammad's nephew,
hasn't heard from his
missing uncle for the last
four years
16, 2000, the same day his uncle was arrested. They put him in a closed van and
took him to his showroom near the Yak
and Yeti Hotel to look for his uncle.
When the police couldn't find Gulam
Mohammad there, Sofi was blindfolded
and taken to Bhaktapur. He was held to-
KATHMANDU
family have undergone since his uncle's
disappearance. "Everybody is harassing
us just because we are desperate
Kashmiris far away from our homeland,
which is wracked by violence."
There are 1,000-1,500 Kashmiris currently settled in Kathmandu, according
to estimates by local traders.
During one visit to New Delhi in
search of the missing uncle, the Sofis
met another Kashmiri, Ansar Bhatt, in
the Tihar Jail. Bhatt told them the Nepal
Police had arrested him in Kathmandu
and handed him over to New Delhi.
When asked about his whereabouts, Indian Embassy officials in Kathmandu say
they are not sure about the Sofis' claims
and need sometime to establish its veracity.
According to Sofi, two Nepal Police
officers took him into custody on Aug.
gether with his uncle, and the uncle's
friend and his wife, whose party Gulam
Mohammad had been attending. "My
uncle was asking me: 'What wrong have
I done to court this arrest?'" says Sofi. "I
told him they had picked me up for no
reason and asked him instead what
wrong he had done." That same night
the four were brought to the police station in Anamnagar. Sofi was released after spending 10 days in custody. His
uncle's friend and his wife were released
from the Jansewa Police Post in New
Road the same day they were arrested.
That was the last anyone has seen of
Gulam Mohammad, who was taken to
an undisclosed location that same day,
according to the Sofis.
The Sofis have filed a case at the Supreme Court and have gotten assurances
that they would get a court ruling to raid
any place the family suspect Gulam was
being held. "How can we find that?" says
Sofi. "It is the duty ofthe police to find
him." The family has also turned to human rights groups and international agencies for help. Amnesty International registered their case and included it in their
annual report the year their uncle went
missing.
When Nation Weekly met Sofi at his
showroom on Tuesday, Dec. 14, he asked
us if we knew how to lodge a report of
his uncle's disappearance with the
United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
News reports have said that the U.N.
group is investigating disappearances due
to the Maoist conflict.
"This is our only hope. Please help
us," says Ishfaq Ahmad, Sofi's elder
brother, who also showed us family pictures of Gulam Mohammad. "My uncle
wasn't a terrorist. He would get scared
if anyone even spoke in loud voice. For
us, he was more like a friend with whom
we shared cigarettes and talked of our
girlfriends. It is sad that he was targeted
for no reason at all. Please help us find
him."
In the family picture, Gulam
Mohammad stands with his wife Rosy
and their two children. Those were
happier times: Four years later the
children, now 9 and 11 years old, wonder if their father will ever come
home.  E
X
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
19
  \
tyrocketing defense
security forces but disarming the country's crucial development programs. It may even cripple
the whole economy.
'JOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
 arly this month the
Royal Nepal Army
asked for an additional budget allocation to recruit and
train 17,000 more personnel in addition to
the current 80,000-plus. The RNA reportedly wants to have close to 200,000
soldiers to combat the insurgency: Army
officials won't disclose their exact target, but they indicate the figure is between 100,000 and 200,000. Can a cash-
strapped economy really sustain that?
Well, the Army seems intent on its goal.
Many say Nepal's rapidly growing
defense expenditure is unavoidable.
With the worsening security situation,
the government has no choice but to arm
the security forces to battle the insur-
GROWING: Early this year
women too were added to
the Army's fighting force
gency. But, in turn, the development
budget has declined dramatically. In the
absence of peace the defense budget will
continue to expand. How much can the
country afford?
"There is no room for further increases
in defense spending," says Yubaraj
Khatiwada, member ofthe National Planning Commission. Other officials say that
any further increase in the defense budget
will put an intolerable strain on the development budget, which has been shrinking
since the beginning of the insurgency in
1996. The gulf between regular expenditure, which includes the security budget,
and the development expenditure has
nearly doubled in the last eight years.
Defense expenditure has reached 4.5
percent of the Gross Domestic Product, up from 0.8 percent before 1996. Sri
Lanka, meanwhile, spends about six per
cent of its GDP on defense. Nepal's
GDP is estimated to be around $38.29
billion, nearly Rs. 2.7 trillion; the country now spends more than 23 percent of
its budget on defense. The percentage
may be even higher, as military hardware
like helicopters, guns and other weaponry are periodically purchased through
extra-budgetary allocations. Government officials say they desperately want
to limit further defense spending, but
they also concede that they may have to
yield to the demands of the security
forces if the situation deteriorates further.
In this year's budget, Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari made a symbolic reduction in the defense budget to
Rs.8 billion, down from last year's
Rs.8.38 billion. The actual spending last]
 Story
year exceeded Rs.15 billion; this year's
figure is likely to be even higher.
"This year the government has tried
to limit the defense budget," says the planning commission's Khatiwada. "It would
be a positive step if the government succeeds in its efforts." Despite plans and
hopes, security spending in wartime is
dictated by events. The longer the conflict drags on, the higher the expense.
The Army needs more money to expand its presence throughout the
country and to recruit more personnel. At present security forces are deployed at 900 different locations. Army
officials say they want to deploy troops to
an additional 92 outposts and that they
need more soldiers to do that. Observers
question whether an additional 92 bases
will make an impact, when there are more
than 4,000 VDCs, many with no government presence at all. The Army is already
stretched too thin to contain the insurgency. Most of the 18 brigades—11 infantry and seven specialist—are engaged in
protecting the cities and district headquarters. Far too few of them, critics maintain, are tasked with combating the rebels
directly or with mounting counter-insurgency or intelligence-gathering operations.
When hundreds of Maoists recently
attacked an Army contingent in
Rrishnabhir, Dhadhing, the allegation was
that the Army didn't respond on time.
Army officers say that they had information about the Maoist movements but that
due to unfavorable weather they couldn't
send reinforcements by helicopter. But
according to other Army officers, there
were troops nearby and fully aware ofthe
incident: They couldn't respond because
they weren't deployed for search and destroy operations. "They were there to
hold the fort," says one officer.
The Army has its own list of grievances, including resentment over what
they see as government insensitivity to
their requirements. "We don't have
enough resources," says Army spokesman Brigadier General Deepak Gurung.
"We have been asking for more budget."
He cites budgetary allocations for last
year and this year: The Army had asked
for Rs.14 billion last year, while the government actually gave them Rs.8 billion.
This year the Army had demanded Rs.16
billion, and the allocation is same as last
year. "The government has entrusted us
with the task of providing security, but
the huge irony is that we have been asked
to fight with the least possible resources," says an Army officer, referring
to the budgeted amounts. "We don't have
enough helicopter gunships, weaponry
and surveillance equipment. We have
been forced to charter private choppers
at times for operations and for supplying rations to our outposts," he adds.
The government, on other hand, has
its own difficulties. Officials insist that
they want to equip the Army and security forces with all the resources possible, but that there is a limit on defense
spending. The economy, they say, cannot afford to give the security forces a
blank check. It is unclear where the line
will be drawn. No government official
will provide a high-end limit to defense
^<?-jm
spending. "We can't compromise on security," says the planning commission's
Khatiwada. In almost the same breath he
says that further increases are not possible. The vacillation on the subject is
partly political, but it is also pragmatic:
In extreme cases the government does
seem prepared to provide further allocations to the Army even if that means
cutting the development budget yet
again. Security comes first; without
peace, development efforts can't succeed, says Khatiwada.
The Ministry of Finance and the
Army are at loggerheads over extra-budgetary allocations. Ministry officials
haven't given their nod to the Army's
demand for funds for the additional
17,000 personnel. "We simply don't have
that kind of money," says an official. But
the Army insists that it needs the extra
troops to fight the insurgency. It costs
on average about Rs.300,000 to recruit
and train each soldier in the first year
and about Rs.100,000 per soldier per year
afterwards. The RNA is understood to
have asked the Ministry of Finance for
Rs.6.78 billion for the expansion. Army
officials also hold a grudge against Fi-
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nance Ministry officials for
what they call "unprofessional attitudes." An Army
officer says, "We sent them
our figures for new recruitment, which are secret, but
they keep on leaking them to
the press."
Observers say that it is
natural for a country deeply
embroiled in an internal conflict to escalate its defense
spending. Sri Lanka increased its security expenses
almost 15-fold in the past two
decades. But Nepal's dependence on donors for most of
its budgetary requirements
puts it in a difficult position.
Donors have already
raised eyebrows at the fattening defense purse and the
consequent reductions in development spending. Major
donors have conveyed private
warnings to the government,
and some have spoken out publicly.
The government is
obliged to listen.
More than 60 percent ofthe development budget is donor-funded; that
comes to about 30
percent of the total
budget. There is acceptance among donors of the fact that
without security development
will be difficult. Even so, much
of the funding comes with
strings attached, and officials at
the Finance Ministry are finding it hard to perform the necessary balancing act. Donors are
likely to further pressure the
government to limit the defense spending following the
recent publication of a grim
report on human development.
The Nepal Human Development Report 2004, the
third in a series prepared by
the UNDP, describes the
present pace of progress as
painstakingly slow and calls
Donors have
raised
eyebrows at
the fattening
defense
purse
for "dramatic shifts in current
policies and resource allocations." The recommendation
comes at a time when regular
expenditure is eating away at
the development budget and
threatens to consume it completely, if the present rate of
growth in military expenses
continues. The document,
described by the authors as a
"diagnostic report," states that
conventional anti-poverty approaches have failed and that
enormous disparity still persists. A huge gap between the
state's obligations and what it
has delivered creates tension
and conflict, the report notes.
It calls on the government to
invest in the people, who are
the real wealth of the nation.
A nine-point reform agenda
emphasizes a rights-based
approach to deal with a series
of social and economic woes.
The overall
message of the
report is that the
government
must immediately address the
social and economic underpinnings of the
conflict. Prime
Minister Sher
Bahadur Deuba,
who launched
the report, refused to accept
the report's grim assessment
at face value. "Contrary to the
media-driven rhetoric,
progress has been made in
certain sectors like healthcare
and education," he said.
Government officials insist that they realize the gravity of the problem. "Our social fabric has been torn apart
by the conflict," says Chief
Secretary Bimal Prasad
Koirala. The state's inadequate and sometimes-brutal
responses at the start of the
insurgency are also to blame.
Some ofthe government's
and the security forces' ac-
M
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 itory
tions seem to have hardened the insurgents' resolve to fight to the last. Indiscriminate actions by the police at the
beginning of the insurgency are also
blamed for exacerbating the conflict.
Operation Romeo (1997-1998) and Operation Kilo Sierra (1998-99) both cost
the state forces the hearts and minds of
villagers: The Maoists cleverly exploited the situation to sustain their
movement. Cuts in development
spending caused by the huge increase
in defense spending may have the same
effect. The process is likely to continue
as the insurgency spreads.
The intensifying insurgency calls for
strong and effective action by the security apparatus. If the government expects
the security forces to do that, Army officers
win situation. The economy is already
reeling from the nine-year-long insurgency.
"This is a reactive process," says retired Major Kama Bahadur Thapa, a
military analyst. "Political offensives instead of military offensives should have
been intensified." Analysts say that numerical strength and military hardware
won't help much. "I don't believe in
••This is a
reactive
process J^
say it is obliged provide
all the necessary resources. "The Army is often criticized by the media and civil society for
not venturing out ofthe district headquarters," says the Army spokesman Gurung.
"But no one cares to know whether we
have adequate strength." He says that the
Army needs more troops to do the job
the state and the people expect them to
do.
Government officials counter that
they haven't compromised on security
needs and don't intend to. The government, in fact, has allocated funding above
planned levels. Actual spending this year
is likely to exceed Rs.16 billion, twice
the budgeted amount. Soaring defense
spending may help the Army to fight the
insurgency, but it is unlikely to be a win-
figures," says Thapa. "Look
at Sri Lanka: Even after increasing its defense spending by more than 15 times,
the real situation on the
ground hasn't changed much." Analysts
say security has two aspects, tangible
and intangible. A military mind always
looks at tangible things like barracks,
bullets and battalions. But intangible aspects—instilling trust and building
confidence—are at least as important.
"In the short run, tangible aspects may
serve as a deterrent," says Thapa, "but
they won't help much in the long run."
Without a negotiated settlement, the
conflict will continue. It's a lose-lose
situation.
The absence of Parliament is also
playing a role to extend the conflict, and
the inability of the mainstream parties
to agree on anything has weighed against
an effective political offensive to persuade the Maoists to come to the table.
In the absence of a political consensus,
the state is left with only the military
option. That, in turn, drives the soaring
defense budget. Analysts are worried
about the long-term impact of military
spending, but they also add that the government is left with no option. "We are
worried by the growing expenses in defense," says the planning commission's
Khatiwada. "But we can't compromise
on security." Unless there is a tangible
peace overture, the country cannot escape the vicious cycle and the economy
could become a casualty.
Swelling military spending is already
robbing development projects of funds.
The defense expenditure is necessary to
arm the security apparatus to fight the
insurgency. At the same time, development spending is the only way to address the core social and political underpinnings of the conflict. But security is intricately also linked for effective implementation of development
projects. It presents the government
with a dilemma: Which should come
first?
That's the wrong question. Security
obviously comes first. But the only sustainable course requires gearing up development efforts simultaneously with
improvements in security and coupling
both with concrete steps towards peace.
Investing in military hardware may serve
as a temporary deterrent, but the long-
term solution has to come through political, social and economic initiatives.
The number of Army personnel has
almost doubled in the last eight years, and
the military's budget has grown by more
than four times. The pace of military
buildup has been alarming for a small
economy like Nepal, even as the economy
continues to expand with less vigor.
"It is a matter of grave concern," says
Sriram Raj Pande, assistant resident representative of the UNDP and the lead
author of the Nepal Human Development Report 2004. "But there has to be
peace to have development." Even government officials appreciate that focusing only on a military solution is unsustainable. Eventually the soaring security
expenses will put the whole economy
in jeopardy,  d
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
25
 Education
■
^
*
Vl
sr
The female to male ratio in
private colleges' humanities
departments is 3:1. What
attracts so many women to
the arts?
BY BISWAS BARAL
AS THE BELL ANNOUNCES
the end of the last class at 2:30
p.m., streams of students trundle
down the narrow lane beside St. Xavier's
Campus in Thapathali. A conspicuous
feature stands out in the seemingly homogeneous crowd: Women outnumber
men.
The Bachelors' of Arts in Social Work
at the college has a total of 81 female and
26 male students. A floor above, the Intermediate of Science classes have 527
men and 191 women. This is the trend
in private colleges in Kathmandu: more
females in humanities and more males
in science and management. Campion
College in Kupondole has 24 women
and nine men in its Bachelors' of Arts
third year, and Sagarmatha Multiple College in Dillibazaar has 26 females and 10
males in the same batch.
Why such a discrepancy in the sex
ratio, and why are so many more women
than men doing humanities?
Shristee Lamichhane, a chatty and
ebullient third-year student at Xavier's,
thinks the reason probably lies in
women's temperament. The liberal arts,
she explains, are in tune with women's
liking for ideas rather than skills, while
men, still seen as the bread-winners in a
patriarchal society, go for more techni-
Jm
Jm
26
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 cal fields of studies. She believes that
women relate more readily to the abstractions of the humanities than to the
quantitative nature of science and technical fields.
The head of the department of humanities at St. Xavier's, Joyson Jose, says
that liberal arts subjects—as social work,
which he teaches—traditionally have
higher female enrollment worldwide.
He says the phenomenon has a lot to do
with the caring and appreciative nature
of women. The expected role of women
in our society also eventually contributes to what they study, he adds.
According to Jose, the women taking
up liberal arts often have a strong family
backing for their studies. But many
women get married before they complete their education, he says. Women
have to be better prepared for many harsh
challenges ahead in our male- dominated
society.
Evidence supports both Jose and
Lamichhane's claims that men are more
inclined towards the technical fields.
In Kantipur City College, for example,
which is by and large a technical institution, the number of men in the third
year of Bachelors' in Computer Application is 34, compared to 16 women.
Similarly, in the third year of Bachelors'
in Information Technology and the
Bachelors' in Engineering, there are just
five and six women respectively—comprising a quarter of the students in each
class.
Men dominate in government colleges too. A few kilometers down the
road in the shabby rooms of Tri Chandra
College, the second year English class
has 18 students, with only four women;
80 males and 30 females study in the
sociology class.
Another stark difference between the
women at St. Xavier's and those at Tri
Chandra is their average age: The students at Xavier's are much younger.
Among the few women in the English class at Tri Chandra College was
an enthusiastic woman who appeared
to be in her late 20s. Unlike most
women at Xavier's, who come from
well-off families, she has a relatively
humble background. She recommenced her studies after a hiatus of five
years, she says, as she was getting bored
of an idle lifestyle.
"I can't go to the private colleges because students there are far too young,"
she says, when asked the reason for attending the government institution. "I
would feel totally out of place. Besides,
the government colleges are cheap, and
I can attend the classes at my liking. So
for my age-group, who also have to deal
with many household chores, we feel
more comfortable here."
Unlike the lady in Tri Chandra
though, most young women in private
colleges come from elite families. Some
of them feel more secure in private settings, say the women. Others want to
stay clear of the politics in public colleges, and most of them believe that humanities provide the learning curve that
other technical subjects do not offer.
As for Lamichhane, she believes
studying humanities will stand her in a
good stead for a career in international
relations, her favorite subject, "by giving me a better understanding ofthe realities of life, something that technical
education would not." And also, she
adds, no dreaded mathematics in humanities.  E
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
Jm
+
27
 Busines
MAGIC
CARPET
RIDE
Nepali carpet industrialists are hoping for a revival of the once lucrative European market. But they face
many challenges.
lS-!
BY INDRA ADHIKARI
Early this month, a team of European carpet importers visited
Nepal to assess the possibility of
expanding the market for Nepali carpets
there. The visit brought hope to Nepali
carpet entrepreneurs who are hoping for
a revival ofthe European market that saw
a decline in the mid-90s.
The problem then was quality and
cost. The import of low quality wool,
increase in the number of factories with
booming demand in Europe and America
in the early 90s and lack of adequate
skilled manpower for these mushrooming industries were some of the drawbacks that led to the fall ofthe quality of
Nepali carpets. "Carpet producers here
lack the expertise to produce carpets
exactly according to the demand in Europe," says Ramesh Dhungana of Creative Export Nepal. One of the major
reasons is that the expanding Indian car
pet industry has attracted a lot of skilled
Nepali workers, especially to Bhadohi
in Bihar.
After the decline ofthe European market, Nepali carpets received a good response from American buyers, but the
U.S. market ultimately failed to live up
to its potential. In recent years, exports to
that market have seen a rapid decline.
Exports to the United States decreased to
less than 15 percent ofthe total carpet exports this year, down from 20 percent in
2000. Carpets worth more than $1.2 million were exported to the United States
in 2000. Rising sales of cheap and colorful Indian and Chinese carpets crowded
Nepali carpets out of the American market. Indian carpets tagged as "Indo-Nepal"
are the major cause ofthe decline ofthe
market for Nepali carpets in America and
Europe, say exporters.
Exports to Germany, still the largest
importer ofthe Nepali carpets, have also
been similarly affected. They decreased
by eight percent from last year to less
than $4 million. In the fiscal year of 1992-
1993, Germany imported Nepali carpets
worth $8 million. However, there is a
visible rise in the export of Nepali carpets to European countries such as Italy
and Turkey. Exports to these countries
increased by 751 percent and 141 percent in comparison to last year's figures.
"This is why we have again targeted the
European market instead of the United
States where demands have been decreasing," says Kapil Bazgai of J.K. Woolens.
The European market for Nepali carpet
seems to be seeing a revival. Industrialists hope for another boom.
But on the other side ofthe Atlantic,
the problems continue. The American
market has been seeing a downturn for a
number of years. To compound the
problem, the duty-free entrance into
U.S. markets given to Nepali carpets will
end this month. This will further decrease exports to the United States un-
[r<
 less such legislation is revised, says industrialist Gopal Krishna Joshi. One
alternative for the industry is to revive
the European market, he stresses. The recent visit ofthe European importers hopefully is a positive sign.
Nepali carpet producers looking for a
revival of their fortunes in Europe will
have to meet the demands of the market
there. European tastes have shifted away
from traditional and colorful carpets to
plain or monochrome ones. That presents
a challenge to the Nepali carpet industry.
Most ofthe demands are for specific colors and patterns, says an officer with
Dhondhup Khangsar, a carpet exporter.
Demands made last year were mostly for
plain, single-colored patterns as opposed
to bright and complex patterns with traditional symbols. The problem, however,
with such carpets is that they cost more.
There are more reasons why Nepali
carpets are expensive. Lanka Man Roka,
second vice president of the Central
Carpet Industries Association, quotes
this reason given by European retailers:
Nepali carpets first go to wholesalers
who then sell them to the retailers who
in turn sell the carpet to the buyers. Thus
they end up being more expensive than
Chinese and Indian ones that go directly
to the retailers.
Other factors too add to the cost of
Nepali carpets making them more expensive in comparison to those from
China and India. The carpet industry has
to use wool specified by the government.
The wool has to be between four and six
inches in length, containing 16 percent
moisture and have y/z color value—a
measurement of the wool's yellowness
—showing the high quality of the wool.
The price of wool of this quality has also
increased. For instance the price of wool
imported from New Zealand went to
Rs.250 per kilogram up from Rs.160 five
years ago. To add to that, Nepali carpet
producers use natural vegetable and in
set dyes that are more expensive than the
Swiss and synthetic dyes used by most
Chinese and Indian producers.
Not only are they expensive, Nepali
carpets have failed to capitalize on international fairs as well, which are essential for the promotion of exports. There
has not been any campaign in Europe;
there was one in the United States. Industrialists blame the government for
not showing any interest in promoting
Nepali carpets. They say that if there
were some promotion, the European
market would once again retain its
profitability
The Nepali carpet industrialists are hoping for a revival of the once lucrative European market. They optimistically predict
growth levels at par with the highs of the
1990s over the next few years. For those
predictions to come true, they, however,
will have to reach out to retailers in Europe, something they have never done
before, n
 The Ess
THE LIMITS OF LAN(
Predictions that the best
Nepali writing in the future will be in English are
naive. A foreign language,
however global, is not a
neutral system of symbols
that can be easily used to
depict Nepali realities.
BYADITYA ADHIKARI
LANGUAGI IS NOT ALGEBRA,
not a for-mal system of symbols,
which, once mastered, can be applied to the solution of any number of
problems. The English language is not a
neutrally available code that can readily
be applied to illustrate Nepali realities.
Language itself changes the character of
those using it. An English-language
Nepali writer's education largely consists ofthe scores of volumes in English
he has read, and he has imbibed not only
the stylistic devices, but also the ways of
looking at the world from these books.
The change in character is even more
pronounced among writers educated in
the west, these days chiefly in America.
These writers will have absorbed the
predominant values of the institutions
of learning there, values that are usually
referred to these days as "liberal"—beliefs in liberal democracy, justice and
equality, in the importance of giving a
voice to the traditionally voiceless.
These values, of course, have their
merits. But problems arise when
Nepalis return to Nepal or decide to set
their eyes on and write about Nepali realities. These writers, belonging almost
exclusively to the so-called "middle-
class" of Kathmandu, which is in reality
the privileged class, very quickly realize
that there is a disconnect between their
mind and heart, between what their education has given them and their background. They find that they know very
little about life outside the Valley, and
that the values they have learned stand in
opposition to the values held by their
parents and the society they find themselves amongst. They find themselves in
the strange situation of being intellectually liberal but instinctually conservative.
It is evident in the works of almost
all American-educated Nepali writers
that this is a problem they have faced,
that they are very aware of, and which
they wish to overcome. There is a genuine desire to understand the people of
the mountains and hills of Nepal, to
write with compassion about less privileged people. And this can be done only
by breaking out of the conservative social milieu they find themselves
amongst. So we have a number of writers who decide to write about the lives,
rituals and rules that govern the lives of
those far from the capital.
Though this desire
is admirable, these
writers are unable to
escape themselves,
they are constantly I
conscious of their
own tremendous
distance from the
people they have
taken as their subjects.
Often descriptions of
life in the villages,
lives dominated by agriculture, are highly
romanticized. Too often writers are unable
to go beyond cloying sentimentality.
It almost seems as though these writers are ashamed of their own backgrounds. As though in writing about
their less privileged fellow-countrymen—who of course do not speak English—they feel the constant need to
apologize for their own privilege. The
sense of guilt they feel clouds their judgment, makes them unable to face the real
problems of a society they feel responsible towards. And it is immensely difficult to go beyond the stereotyped cliches
ofthe peasant's life.
Then the opposite situation can occur: Of a person whose education has so
changed his character that he feels alienated and estranged from his native cul
ture. Though there haven't been examples of such writers in Nepal yet,
there will surely be in the near future.
There can be resentment towards, contempt for, one's own society and people.
And because it is impossible to escape
one's origins, this can lead to feelings of
insecurity and rage. In writing, this can
be expressed outright, but the insecurity will most often probably be camouflaged in comedy or irreverence: This is
seen in VS. Naipaul's first three
books; where unable to face the
realities of his colonial society he
took refuge in
comedy.
<w
"The jokeyness that
was my inheritance from my Trinidad
background," he later wrote about his
early writings, "however good, however
illuminating, was also a way of making
peace with a hard world; was on the other
side of hysteria... Unwilled, this anxiety or hysteria, the deeper root of comedy had become my subject."
Among a whole host of other difficulties that English-language writers face
today, here are a few others. Among those
who live in the west there is the psychological problem of the immigrant, who
is often unable to understand the changes
in their native country after they have
left it. Their vision of their native land
remains the world oftheir childhood and
youth, and this perspective is not easily
overcome. This can be seen in Samrat
Upadhyay's "Guru of Love," where the
.L
30
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 5UAGE
Royal massacre and the Maoist movement receive a most perfunctory treatment in the epilogue, quite detached
from, and without relevance to, the rest
of the novel. A similar problem faces
those who, wishing to play it safe, decide to focus on the narrow "middle-
class" world they come from. However,
beautifully they may express themselves
and describe their society, the problem
of a limited relevance remains.
There is then the problem of translating emotions expressible only in
Nepali into English. Especially when
translating direct
conversation, the
words used
often fall
flat on
the page,
or seem unnaturally contrived. At its worst,
translation creates a distortion of Nepali
reality, as it is lived and breathed in the
Nepali language.
Nevertheless, these difficulties are
not impossible to overcome, and in any
case will not stop writers from choosing English as their mode for expression.
The English language is immensely attractive to writers today. It is a source of
more power than is available through
writing in Nepali, and there is the pos
sibility of reaching a wider audience. But
when one decides to write in English,
emulating models from the literary traditions ofthe west, the work is no longer
part of the Nepali literary tradition. Instead it occupies an uncomfortable position in between cultures: This work
is dependent on the west, but does not
completely belong to it. It is also easy
to repeat forms that have been long established in western traditions without the addition of any innovation. To
create meager replicas of what has already been done: This is hardly the
wish of any writer; but it takes writers
of uncommon vision to create something startlingly new and powerfully
relevant.
As for the obvious problem of who
the audience is going to be: Writers are
usually uncomfortably aware that those
they are writing for are often not who
they are writing about. The talented
Pankaj Mishra—belonging to the Indian-
English school of writing, which, contrary to public perception, still hasn't become self-confidently mature—states
that he writes for people who have
read the same books as he has:
Chekhov, Flaubert and
Turgenev It does not take a
genius to recognize the
inadequacy of this position. Mishra's answer is a defensive reaction
against a
question
that causes him
discomfort.
But the question
can be asked: Won't there
come a time when the English
language becomes so ingrained in
the Nepali psyche that English-language writers will be writing for their
own countrymen? Can it be expected
that the English language will gradually
grow on Nepali soil, eventually becoming a language which we live and
breathe? After all, we have adopted so
many western manners and customs
over the years. But this road too seems
to be fraught with difficulties.
A delightful illustration of an early
attempt by the Nepali court to adopt
European manners is given in Lawrence
Oliphant's 1852 account of his travels to
Kathmandu. As the guest of Jung Bahadur,
Oliphant witnessed a parade ofthe army.
Initially impressed by the display of firearms, Oliphant was then confronted by
a strange sight: "Suddenly the music
changed; the bandsmen struck up a lively
polka, and a number of little boys, in a
sort of a pen-wiper costume, clasping
one another like civilized ladies and
gentlemen, began to caper about, after
which they went through various antics
that surpassed even the wildest notions
of our highly civilized community... and
the whole thing was so eminently ridiculous and looked upon very like a
farce."
Seventy-six years later, another English writer on Nepal, Perceval Landon,
very sympathetic to Nepalis, chastised
Oliphant for lacking any understanding
ofthe "Asiatic character." "What Oliphant
wholly failed to understand was that a
process of a much slower order, that of
assimilating the organization, drills,
manufactures, mechanical development,
and, above all, the higher standards of
justice and humanity which prevailed in
Europe, was even then taking root in this
strange soil."
Another 76 years have passed since
Landon wrote those words, and the
process of assimilation is still incomplete. What is assimilated becomes distorted when received by the Nepali
psyche; for a people's character is not
a blank slate, onto which anything can
be inscribed. A people have their own
mind, with its beliefs and limits, and
absorbs what it is able to understand.
And often when it identifies something it admires and attempts to emulate it, the results are so far from the
original that it cannot but inspire ridicule in the mind of someone like
Oldfield. Though by now we are far
from "clasping one another and
capering about" there are numerous
other examples that can be given as
cases of imperfect assimilation.
Though space does not permit further
enumerations of such examples, it is
clear that the adoption of the English
language is not a straightforward process that develops as more and more
people learn English, but rather one
that meanders along various paths, encountering difficulties, some of which
are almost impossible to resolve.  □
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
31
 Festivities
/CHRISTMAS
WITHOUT CAROLS
Christmas is still a quiet affair for Nepal's growing population of Christians
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
It's already Dec. 20, but there is still
no sign of Christmas in Kathmandu,
except for the commercial promotions at big department stores and five-
star hotels. No Christmas trees, no lights,
no carols and no Santa Claus bearing gifts.
Carols, both religious hymns and secular
songs of the season, are the essence of
Christmas; they lift the spirits. Groups
of Christmas carolers go from house to
house to rejoice and proclaim the birth
of Jesus. Christmas without carols is like
a Tihar without deusi bhailo. Since the im
position ofthe emergency in November
2001, caroling has virtually come to a stop.
Many Christians lament that Christmas
has become invisible, all the more so
without carols.
"Walking through the streets of the
Kathmandu you can't tell whether
Christmas is here or not," says Isaac
Sharma, who has seen Christmas celebrations during his stay in Nagaland,
India, with its vast majority of Protestant Christians. "Many of my friends
keep asking when Christmas will
come. It's on the 25th of course, but it's
a lot longer than that." It's more than
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 just a day of celebration, he says: In
many parts ofthe world Christmas begins in late November and lasts until
New Year's Day.
"I have barely dusted down my house,"
says Rebecca Shrestha, a resident of
Kusunti. "It's on 25th, I still have some
time." Church leaders say that Christmas
is a quiet and closed-door celebration in
Nepal. Among the Christian community,
the celebrations are confined to a day or
perhaps two, despite the growing population of Christians. According to figures
provided by the Nepal Churches Fellowship, the umbrella organization of Nepali
Christian churches, there are more than
500,000 Christians in Nepal. That's about
two percent of the population, much
higher than the figure reported by the
Census Bureau.
Although Christmas is a relatively
quiet affair in Nepal, it is the biggest
event for the Christian community
here. Churches have already begun
preparations to celebrate the holiday.
Church choir groups can be seen rehearsing hymns and skits for the 25th.
At the Aereopagus Congregation in
Thapathali, Sylvanias, the leader ofthe
youth fellowship, encourages youths
to exchange gifts with one another. "It's
important that we learn to share our
love and joy with each other in order
to multiply the happiness," he says.
The choir group and the youth fellowship help retain the spirit of
Christmas.
For the younger generation another
big part of the Christmas spirit is
shopping for new clothes, but for
older people the spiritual underpinnings and the chance to renew one's
faith are most important. "Christmas
to me is a time to be new again and to
be filled with peace and joy," says
Ramon Karthak, who is going to
Darjeeling this Christmas to celebrate
with his extended family there. Because oftheir travel plans, the Karthaks
haven't done much at their home in
Bhaisepatti. For families like the
Karthaks and others, Christmas is
much different—almost invisible
compared to celebrations in India or
elsewhere. But a recent Christmas
concert might have helped to kindle
the festive spirit.
On Dec. 11 the Kathmandu Chorale gave a spectacular rendition of
Christmas music and reminded everyone that singing is central to the
Christmas celebrations. "It felt like
home," says Stephen, a Norwegian.
"What better to remind us of Christmas    than    these    hymns?"    The
Kathmandu Chorale is made up of
people of different nationalities and
professional backgrounds; it has been
giving regular Christmas concerts
since 1980. This year's concert was
held in the auditorium of the British
School in Patan and attracted more
than 500 people for two shows.
The chorale's performance left everyone delighted. "Last year the chorale
sung Nepali hymns as well," says Kathy
Freeman, assistant conductor ofthe concert. But not this year.
"The music was moving," says
Rajendra Khanal, a non-Christian. "This
is the first time I have heard Christmas
hymns. I'm eager to hear them again."
Many Nepali Christians who were there
were overwhelmed and seemed carried
away by the music.
Birendra Shrestha of Patan Museum
Cafe recalled his days as a student choir
member in a Christian school in India.
The audience at the shows included the
UNDP Nepal chief, Matthew Kahane,
and Mike Gill of the Fulbright Commission. "Good to know Nation Weekly
is covering this," Kahane said.
The concert began with the "Hallelujah Chorus" and ended with the evergreen
"Joy to the World." In between there were
hymns in Italian, French and Hebrew, as
well as English. Despite limited publicity, more than 500 people, mostly expatriates, turned up for the event.
More quiet Christmas events will
take place over the weekend in churches
and homes across the country, but news
about them is unlikely to reach the public. As in recent years, Christmas will
come and go quietly. Nepalis will continue to wonder, like Isaac Sharma's
friends: When is Christmas? □
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 Telling Tales
The four-day Kathmandu International Mountain Film
Festival showcased a wide range of movies. The ones that
received the most acclaim from the audiences focused
not on mountains but on people.
BY YASHAS VAIDYA
In 2003 Kesang Tseten was assigned
by Helvetas Nepal to make a film
about the Rato Machhendranath.
That year, like every 12th year, the rath,
the chariot of the god Rato
Machhendranath, was pulled from
Bungamati to Patan and back. That year
the chariot also had to be built from
scratch, like every 12th year, from the
smallest of parts. In the months following the construction, Tseten follows the
chariot's arduous and often precarious
journey through the flood-washed roads
and rough trails of Bungamati and the
narrow, congested urban streets of Patan.
He filmed the festival in its gritty reality: the frenzy, the excitement and the
chaos as the unwieldy 65-foot-tall four-
wheeled chariot seems literally ready to
come apart at times.
Nearly 20 months later, after months
of painstaking editing ofthe 110 hours
of footage, Tseten's film "On the Road
with the Red God: Machhendranath" is
finally ready. It premiered two weeks ago
at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival, known also as the
KIMFF, at the Russian Cultural Centre.
It was the inaugural film at the biennial
film festival that took place from Dec. 9
to Dec. 12.
At the opening ofthe film on the first
day of the festival, eminent historian
Satya Mohan Joshi talked at length about
the Rato Machhendranath as a living testimony to and an intangible part of
Nepali culture. In the movie that followed, filmmaker Tseten focused more
on the real upholders of tradition and
culture, the people. The people who
built the chariot, performed the necessary rituals, pulled the chariot, and did
whatever was necessary for the success
ofthe chariot's journey are at the center
of the movie. Tseten's film shows how
this festival, which is believed to be more
than a thousand years old, depends on
the oft-chaotic cooperation between
many people for its success. For the filmmaker, that is the essence of the festival—the human conflict, emotions like
greed and resentment, and even feelings
of rebellion and dissent.
Human-interest in the storylines was
a recurring theme at the mountain film
festival, including in the story of Nima
Temba Sherpa. It tells the tale ofthe unsung heroes of the mountains, the
Sherpas. The film titled "Nima Temba
Sherpa," by Dutch filmmaker Margriet
Jansen, is about Nima, who has led many
expeditions to the top of the highest
Himalayan summits. But it's not often
that he and his fellow Sherpas get the
limelight that they deserve. Viewers
seemed to be moved by his tale: It received the Audience Award, based on ratings by the viewing audiences.
Another moving movie, "The Forbidden Team," is about Tibetans in India
who form a football team and decide to
play an "international" against
Greenland—a match that is supported
by neither China nor FIFA. The
Greenland team, an autonomous territory of Denmark, has something else in
common with the Tibetans: They want
to play ball too. The movie documents
the Tibetan team's struggles to make it
to Copenhagen to play the match. The
story is compelling: The audience at the
Russian Cultural Centre cheered on the
X
36
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Tibetan team and went wild when they
scored a goal. The film by Danish filmmakers Rasmus Dinesen and Arnold
Kroeigaard is visually appealing and
good sports as well as good theater: The
football looks as good as any match on
ESPN.
It isn't only the slick production and
editing that attracted people to this year's
offerings at the festival. Narayan Wagle,
editor of Kantipur, is one of the many
well-known figures who prowled the
halls of the Russian Cultural Centre
during the screenings. He has been following Kathmandu film festivals since
the first significant festival held by
Himal Association, the 1994 Film
Himalaya. For Wagle, the documentaries are also a form of journalism in that,
like reporting, they have stories to tell.
The way a story is told and innovation
in the storytelling gives Wagle inspiration. On the subject of mountain films
he says, "Mountains may be easy to photograph, but it's really hard to find a story
in them." The story, for most filmmakers, is the people.
Good storytelling is what also drew
Ayushma Regmi, recently out of high
school. She's been a regular since the
last mountain film festival in 2002. She
volunteered to help out at Film South
Asia, Himal's other film festival, in 2003
and at this festival as well. So what brings
her back? "The Nepali films shown at
the festival leave me stunned every
time," she says. "You don't get to see great
Nepali films elsewhere."
The Nepali films screened at the festival weren't run-of-the-mill productions. Nepali filmmakers are making
more documentaries and feature films
that forgo the conventions of the
Bollywood-imitating Nepali film industry, like "Numafung" by Navin Subba
and recently "Karma" by Tsering Rhitar.
The number of Nepali films entered for
selection at the festival went up this year
and seven were ultimately chosen, including one experimental short, out of a
total of 49 films on show. The last festival included only four films by Nepalis
out of a total of 53.
Out of the seven Nepali directors at
the KIMFF, two—Tseten and Mohan
Mainali—had movies featured in the last
festival as well. Tsetan's documentary
"We Homes Chaps" was on show in
2002, as was Mainali's "Jogimaraka
Jyundaharu," "The Living of Jogimara"—
about 17 construction workers from
Jogimara, killed by
the security forces
and labeled as terrorists. That film aired
to critical acclaim
but also generated
some controversy:
The government
made its displeasure
known by asking the
organizers to can the
movie. This year
Mainali's "Six 'Stories'" premiered at
the festival. It confronts another burning issue, the plight
of families caught in
the crossfire between the state and
the Maoist rebels.
Besides the seven
by Nepali directors,
there were two more
films about Nepal.
The focus on movies
from and about Nepal
paid off: Large crowds
came to watch these
movies, which generally played to full
houses.
Kesang Tseten's movie on the red god
was especially well received. The theme
of chaos and conflict struck a chord with
people who are living in the midst of conflict. The festival of the Rato
Machhendranath receives royal patronage,
as its success has supposedly much to do
with the fate ofthe country. Royal misfortunes are linked to accidents involving the
chariot: The film cites the death of Eng
Mahendra after two accidents in the 1970s
and later the royal massacre in 2001 after
the chariot "nearly toppled over in a severe way" in 2000. Earlier this year, in the
shorter version of the festival, the chariot
toppled again at Sundhara. With the country plunging into a downward spiral of violence in what seems a never-ending conflict, many must have asked themselves:
Are the gods really against us? Or are base
emotions, like those that threaten to plunge
the red god's festival into chaos and undermine its success—greed, jealousy and
opportunism—leading the country and
the people to their doom? □
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
 First Person
L
Dead Willing!
Chettri, our regular contributor, survived a car crash on Dec. 12. She writes about her!
near death experience
BY KARUNACHETTRI
I died this morning.
I had been warned by the astrologer during my visit to Kathmandu
this summer. "Two things," he had said, "Don't drive ifyou don't
have to. Ifyou must, drive slowly... you have one more shani ko dasha,
(an ill omen which supposedly has been haunting me for the last seven
years). It involves a vehicle." I promised I would be careful.
On my return to Maryland, I thought about writinga will. The holidays
have accelerated the number of vehicular accidents in my area. Last
Sunday, I was stuck on a three-lane route for two hours whi le the roads
were blocked by police, ambulances and two Medivac helicopters. I had
watched the helicopters land and take off. Alcohol was involved and two
people had died that afternoon. Senseless deaths! Such tragedy.
A week later, same road, same day, Sunday—this morning at 8:10
a.m., I kissed my little girl goodbye on my way to my Sunday Yoga class.
Route 29 is a long stretch of a three-lane road which few
drivers resist speeding on. From afar, I saw the traffic lights
turn yellow. Mindfully I slowed down... 55... 50... 40...
35... miles per hour. Just then, I saw the Ford Explorer on
my left veer sharply right into my lane attempting a last
desperate effort at crossing over my lane to an exit road it
had missed. I always knew and now am convinced that
teenagers should not be allowed to drive—ok, maybe a
bicycle. How about a swap with voting rights: Teenagers
should vote but not drive. Less at stake there!
I slammed my brakes and closed my eyes bracing
myselfforthe impact. "Smash!" My small car was lifted
off the road. It flipped over cart-wheeling three times until
it stopped in its final resting place with wheels spinning in
the air. The air bags mushroomed out like nuclear explosions. I coughed and whispered, "Oh powers ofthe universe protect me!"
As I careened into mid air, something smashed into my
face. I put both hands on my face... I could not feel it! My
eyes opened in terror, and in slow motion, I watched the
windshield and side windows shatter into smithereens.
The spray of glass instantly reminded me of the ocean spray of Bali.
Horrifying and yet fascinating! Suspended in time and hanging upside
down by the seatbelt, my mind raced. Can the speed of thought be
measured, I wondered. I touched my face again and I knew for certain
that either I was dead or paralyzed. Strange, my mind was so alert and
yet so impotent. My time was warped, and space was encapsulated
between death, life and numbness. My thoughts sprinted into autopilot:
In my teenage years, I recall my dad warning me, "it's not so easy to die.
You can be maimed or worse, paralyzed!" What if I were paralyzed—who
would take care of my girl? No job, no paychecks. Who would take care
of me, a mere vegetable—an extra alert mind has no value in a dead
body? Fight or flight impulse... or was it simply fright. I don't know. Just a
series of incessant reasons! Thoughts! Logic! And a spit of enlighten
ment: There was meaning to death after all! No senseless deaths in car
crashes. All those who had died in crashes had a reason to let go... like
a sick fetus, unwilling to hangon to life—knowing, just knowing that living
would hurt him and others even more. There is reason in death yet!
Given the choice, I WAS gladly dead! Just one thing: Let there be someone with the power to explain to my girl, "Mama is better dead! Let her
go... Don't cry, she is ok... She is happier dead than paralyzed!" And
the Will, dam the Will! Why didn't I write it? For that brief moment, I willed
my dead self back into yesterday... when I was fully alive and functioning to write the piece of paper that would determine my child's future
and shape her destiny in the event of my demise. Alas! Here I was a
corpse, numb and suspended in midair. I pulled my hand away from my
numbface... no blood, not one drop. Amazing how prettily my silver nail
polish gleams on my lifeless nails. Surely, surrealism has no place in
death! Waiting... waiting... waiting for eternity for someone to release
me and ship my ashes to my final resting place in my mother's home in
Kathmandu. Death is peaceful in its final moments. Strange!
I heard the ambulance, police, cars, and people yelling. "Close off
the roads! The doors are jammed... pull her out through the window!
Who was the first witness to the accident?" "Ma'am, ma'am, are you
ok?" "Don't move her! Bring the stretcher... Ma'am, do you have any
relatives, parents, sisters, brothers... we can contact... No? No one?"
"I have a little girl... Now, she has nobody and I haven't written a
Will!" I whispered. The last thing I heard as they raced me toward the
ambulance was, "it's ok honey, you won't need a will for now, you'll live
to write one tomorrow!" □
(The accident took place on Sunday, Dec. 12, at the intersection of
Route 29 and Cherryhill Road, Silver Spring, in Maryland)
38
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Goodbye from Mustang
BYKUNALLAMA
Glistening haughtily, the magnificent Dhaulagiri icefall signaled
that we were approaching Khobang, the next significant village
after Tukuche. Khobang merges seamlessly with Larjungand is,
indeed, significant. Every 12 years, Thakalisfrom all over the world congregate here to renew fam i ly ties and celebrate their culture. The next gathering is to take place from Jan. 12 to Jan. 28,2005.1 wish them all luck and
fun, but I would urge them to tidy up Khobang, as it is dark, dingy and dirty.
Larjung ends at the river. As I crossed the dry riverbed, I suddenly
spied a straggly shrub laden with small, yellow berries. Seabuckthom!
Since the start of my trek, I had been drinking seabuckthom (Hippophae
rhamnoides) juice, super rich in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and
other bioactive compounds. It has a tart but complex flavor; higher up,
the color is more peach than yellow. It is especially yummy drunk warm,
while sitting by a fire in the evenings. On the far side of the river the
vegetation changed dramatically to that ofthe low-lying hills: lush trees
and thick undergrowth. Bythe time we got to Kokhethanti, the forest air
was heavy with pine fragrance. My destination was Ghasa, the last
outpost ofthe Thakalis. I stopped at Kalopani for lunch. On the menu, I
saw yak steak offered at 450 rupees! I steered clear of it and, instead,
settled for a delicious Nepali thali, while studying the nearby school that
was in full session, out in the open. Groups of students distractedly
listened to theirteachers droning on about Nepali literature and such,
blades of grass sticking out oftheir mouths. The education was definitely
being given but one wonders: Was it being received?
After a police check at the end of Kalopani, called Lete now (another
example of seamless merging), itwasa precarious drop to a powdery
path across the face of a large landslide. I was in a forested land, with the
river raging to the left. There were yellow, blue and pinkflowers blooming
everywhere. I heard birds twittering; butterflies fluttered here and there.
It was all very pleasant and pretty, but I missed the stark, treeless landscape of Kagbeni, Jharkot and Muktinath. That was new, dramatic and
different; this was familiar ground: seen that, done that and humdrum.
Anyway, Ghasa turned out to be a small village with houses resembling—
and in the same state as—those of Tukuche. After a night's stay in the
third-floor bedroom ofthe rickety National Guest House, Kamal
and I hit the road. Just before we crossed an enormous suspension bridge 30 minutes below Ghasa, there was another
security check at an army post. The officer in charge was a
smiling Gurung. He clearly rued his posting and hungrily shared
with me his dream of building a house in one of the three plots
of land he owns in Kathmandu. This was an important checkpoint. I had heard stones of people and porters being turned
back from here to Beni if they lacked IDs or a plausible excuse
to be traveling in these parts. In fact, in Ghasa there was an
unofficial curfew after 8 p.m. Encounters with security personnel always shake me up a bit, so I was happy to get away and
get on with my trek, admiring the premature pink blossoms of
painyu (Himalayan cherry) along the way. The expected orange
groves, in full fruit, also began to appear. An hour-and-half later,
a sign at the tiny village of PairoThapIo wished us, "Have a nice
journey and Goodbye from Mustang." It also reminded us that
we were traversing through the Kali Gandaki valley, said to be
the deepest in the world. I saw an old man being carried up in
a cutout doko in the traditional way ofthe hills. I thought of
taking his photograph but felt I was intruding upon his privacy,
seeing that he looked ill and sad, almost angry, at having to
suffer the indignity of being carried on the same trail he must
have walked on unaided so many times over the years. We
stopped briefly at Rupse Chhahara, a beautiful waterfall, and
then walked through Dana, Suke Bagar and Guithe before
reaching Tatopani.
Ever since we left Ghasa in the morning, it had been spotting with rain intermittently. I was glad it wasdoingso because it
made for a cool walk, though we were mostly going downhill.
We met a few tourists struggling up. Minutes after we checked
into the Dhaulagiri Lodge in Tatopani, the skies truly opened up,
and it poured for the next few hours. There was no electricity.
So, after a quick lunch, I did the only thing I could do in Tatopani:
head to the fabled hot springs down by the river. □
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
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WORKSHOP
Dancing is fantastic, fun and liberating. Regardless of what
you've been told, you can learn to dance. Try it for yourself
at the five-day salsa workshop with Guru Binayek. Salsa is a
particularly vibrant, passionate, social and fun dance, with
music that will move you. Merengue is also a popular salsa
dance. Different from these hip-shaking Latin dances, tino
slide is a line dance, resembling the dance of the cowboys
ofthe United States, but with a more Latin flavor. The prices
are: Rs.1200 for couples and Rs.800 for individuals. A special discount for students; they will be charged Rs.500. Timings available: 10-11 a.m., 3-4 p.m., 4-5 p.m., 5-6 p.m. and 6-
7 p.m. Private classes for those who form their own groups.
Venue: Latin Quarter Salsa Bar, Baber Mahal Revisited. For
registration call 9841277893, 442-2019. Email:
mantra@mos.com.np.
Emerging Voices
Three young artists, Sushma
Shakya, Rukmani Maskey and
Dal Bahadur Rai exhibit a total of 48 prints in a group exhibition at the Siddhartha Art
Gallery. These three aspiring
artists are students of the famous printmaking husband-
wife duo of Uma Shankar Shah
and Seema Sharma. These
young printmakers have immersed themselves in learning
the technicalities of time bite,
gum bite, wood block and
sugar-lifting to understand the
crux of this modern graphic
artwork. Among the artists, Dal
Christmas BBQ at
Dwarika's
Enjoy the Christmas Eve
with       loved!
ones at|
D war ika' s .
Start thel
evening with al
warm glass ofl
gluhwein before I
the    bonfire. I
Relax and enjoy a wide range
of barbeque items with traditional Christmas
fare. That's not all. Before
the end of the evening, Santa
will bring something special
for those who've been really
good this year. Date: Dec.
24. Time: 7 p.m. onwards.
ART
EXHIBITIONS
Bahadur Rai has depicted the
natural heritage of Nepal.
Rukmani Maskey's work is
influenced by religion and culture, and Sushma Shakya surprises the viewers with elements of mystery in pictures
that might seem conventional
at first glance.
Price: Rs.1,000 includes a
welcome drink and Christmas barbeque dinner. A 50%
discount for children under
10 years.
Cine Club
Movie: Leviatha (1989). Director: Georges Pan
Cosmatos. Starring: Daniel
Stern. At the Alliance
Francaise, Tripureshwore.
Date: Dec. 12. Time: 2 p.m.
For information: 424-1163.
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44
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
or citypage@nation.com.np
Page
shopping, theme parks, fusion cuisine and much more.
For information: 201-2345.
Bethlehem and Superstar
Christmas Eve dinner and
lunch with live music at the
Shambala Garden,
Shangri~la Hotel. For information: 441-2999.
Baker's Basket
The mastery of Chef Ayub
Salim is on display this festive season at Hotel Yak and
Yeti. Luscious plum cakes,
nutty Yule logs, fruit mince
tarts, Christmas short cakes
and rum soaked puddings
await. The Baker's Basket will
also feature white, light,
grainy and rustic breads and
baguettes; a delectable range
of sweet pastries including
house cakes, scrolls and
scones; and a warming selection of pies, quiches and savory pastries. Date: Dec. 7-
Dec. 28. Time: 12-10 p.m.
ONG    NG
The Spirit Of Christmas
Sensational and sumptuous
Christmas goodies are laid out at
the Hyatt Regency to celebrate the
spirit of Christmas. For information:
449-1234.
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.
Seasons Specials
Exotic Thai, sizzling tandoori, 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.
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.
Tickling Taste buds
' Barbeque every Friday
Evening. At The Shambala
Garden Cafe, Shangri-la
Hotel. Time: 7 p.m.
onwards. For information: 441-
2999.
Cadenza Live
The only happening live jazz in
town. Enjoy every Wednesday
and Saturday at the Upstairs Jazz
Bar, Lazimpat. Time: 7:45 p.m.
onwards.
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.
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 wel l-blended mix of western tunes
played by The Cloud Walkers. Every
Wednesday. Time: 6 p.m. onwards.
For information: 449-1234.
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 Mi
mputers
Though still not a common topic for discussion, computer
hacking is a serious problem
BY KUMUD NEPAL
Shaswat Sapkota's computer mouse
seemed to take on a life of its own.
As the 19-year-old from Rato
Bangala School was happily chatting with
his friend Sanjeev Pant, he noticed something bizarre. New folders were popping
open and files were getting renamed. The
900-word essay that was part of his application to a U.S. college got dumped into
the Recycle Bin. What was going on? The
computer seemed possessed.
In a sense it was: Sapkota was being
hacked. His friend Sanjeev had sent him a
Trojan horse, a computer virus, which had
infected his computer. "I was shocked when
I found out that with a Trojan horse, one can
easily access someone else's computer and
that only a few details could invite the intrusion," says a bemused Shaswat. "Thank
goodness, it was just a friendly prank."
The Trojan horse attack is a simple
form of hacking, which is becoming increasingly common all over the world.
With a few clicks on the mouse, you can
access anyone's network ifyou know the
IP address, which is assigned by the network provider each time you log on to
the Internet. Because hacking takes no
great expertise, anyone can do it: There
are high chances of causing serious damage to unsuspecting computer users.
Strangely, few Nepalis, even those who
are avid web surfers, seem to worry
much about the risk involved. Computer
security is still not a common topic for
discussion. But the questions of security, privacy and above all, personal and
professional ethics are serious.
It's not common knowledge, but
hackers attacked the Nepal Public Commission and Nepal Telecom websites in
2001. Many of us were first introduced
to the alien world of hackers in the same
year, when the Nepal Police website,
nepalpolice.gov.np, showed a string of
comic pictures, ridiculing the very security system the police were enthusiastically promoting. Sarose Joshi, a
hacker from Sinamangal was responsible; he was eventually tracked down.
He got off with a relatively light penalty,
18 days of imprisonment. In the absence
of a law to address what was then the
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
 first hacking offense, the government had
no choice but to release him on bail.
The subject of hacking became hot
again last year. A group of students who
were looking to track down their school
and college buddies through
schoolmates.com.np were redirected to
ysgnet.com, which turned out to be a
I hackers' forum. "It was my first nasty experience on the web, and it made me
realize how vulnerable we are," says
Manogya Bhattarai, who usually logs on
to the site to meet his old friends from
GEMS school.
Hackers offer their own spin to the
I   story. While those who are hacked, typi-
I cally Internet service providers and web
site hosts, accuse the hackers of damaging their systems for cheap publicity,
the hackers say that they are just pointing out the vulnerabilities of the web
hosts and helping improve the sites.
They claim that their motivation is
I   never to cause harm.
'Crackers Are Nasty, Hackers Aren't'
S arose Joshi, 25, is
probably the first official
hacker in Nepal. When he
started a project called "Trap the
Cat" in 2001, his motive was to
hack into websites and find out their
vulnerabilities. He broke into almost
120 websites before the police arrested him. There was no cyber law
then, and he had to be released
after a few days. He has since found
a new profession for himself—that
of a computer security consultant
with ZeroOne consultancy. He
talked to Nation Weekly about
hacking and his new vocation.
How do you define hacking?
Hacking is an innovative act that allows people to tweak and flirt with
the unknown aspects ofthe computer system or network. People
generally confuse it with cracking,
which refers to breaking into a system with spiteful intent. Crackers are
nasty; hackers aren't, and I surely
wasn't a cracker. Crackers generally
make attacks for money, and they
generally rely on pornography and
dangerous virus attacks for extortion.
You said you were a hacker.
How did you get into all this?
My career began after I started
working with network applications
like Linux/GNU that can be modeled your own way. This gave me
some idea as to how a network
runs. The open source software allowed me to learn many technical
aspects related to security. I am
still contributing to free software
patches voluntarily. I spend most
of my time reading and auditing the
inside details of critical software re-
48
sources; that often helps me to discover security breaches.
Why were you apprehended?
What do you have to say about it?
I was apprehended for breaking
into computer sites under my
project "Trap the Cat" in 2001.
We didn't have a cyber law then,
and they held me for only about
two weeks. I think I was a bit too
unprofessional then. I should
have approached the matter more
professionally like I am doing now
as a computer security consultant.
How did ZeroOne Security come
into being?
When I thought of approaching security issues more professionally, I
gave up hacking, which, I must ad
mit, I did fa some publicity, and started
a career asa security consultant.
What does ZeroOne Security
mostly do? Are people and offices helping?
ZeroOne security has a bunch of
qualified engineers and a software
development laboratory where we
work to find out security vulnerabilities of many sites of public institutions and corporate houses. We train
people how to avoid hacking and
teach them measures to avoid common security problems. People are
slowly but rightly becoming aware
about computer security and are
coming to us. We have good contacts with business houses that are
running e-commerce and e-market-
ingfacilities. Even the ISPs and CAN
are cooperating.
How big a problem is
hacking in Nepal?
Hacking cannot be segregated from
computer usage. There are people
who are always lookingto break into
the system for some reason or the
other, and this cannot be avoided.
Especially with the growing use of
Internet, young people are getting
into it more easily. There are free
hackingtips and tutorials easily accessible to people. Also new technologies like wireless Internet and
optical fiber browsing bring up new,
serious security issues.
What is your objective now?
My primary objective is to develop
a safe and sound computer system and network infrastructure in
Nepal, and my company is working to accomplish this dream. □
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 C     0     M     W     L     M
ICATIONS PVT
-I     552  3050 ]0~aM™ .  Lfll.rfijr   URL   hup  ,'7>-" "  .n^rom|np
LTD
r..  S52 9403
OPTIMISTIC: WorldUnk
believes hacking isn't an
ominous problem yet
tl
Whatever the motivation and whoever the culprit, web surfers are the losers. Anyone who has been hacked will
always be haunted by the thought that
their network, private or public, can be
tinkered with. Business houses are bewildered and government officials confused. They have the uneasy feeling that
someone is snooping around.
"We do not want to be scapegoats in
this tussle between the hackers and the
ISPs [Internet Service Providers]," says
Purna Dhungel, who relies heavily on
Internet ads to publicize his sport shoes
business. Bigyapan.com.np, a free site for
ads, was defaced last year. 'We want a secure and sound service, and we are not interested in what either side has to say" He
fears that he may lose a substantial number
of customers if the problems continue.
Corporate houses voice similar concerns. On condition of anonymity, a
New Road-based business house told
Nation Weekly that it had received
threats of extortion from hackers.
"The problem of hacking was getting
out of hand in Nepal," says Prajjwol
Devkota, a systems administrator at
WorldLink a leading ISP "But after the
imposition of the cyber law, the problem is at least manageable. Now we have
few problems of cross-site scripting.
Nothing serious, really." Cross-site
scripting is a form of hacking that redirects the users to another web address.
That was exactly what had happened with
schoolmates.com.np and
bigyapan.com.np last year.
"We had no bad intentions," explain
the two teenagers responsible, who are
known in the hacking circles as dOOm
and t3a. "We could have easily ruined
both sites, but we were concerned for
the users. We simply wanted to make
WorldLink aware that all was not well
with them," says dOOm. "The sites itwas
hosting had lots of loopholes."
WorldLink's Devkota, however, asserts that the problem has nothing to do
with their server but is linked with
Internet Explorer. WorldLink, he says,
runs regular security checks through its
database to weed out possible vulnerabilities and also updates its clients by
email about possible security risks.
Though no official figures on the number and types of hacked websites are available, there are some estimates. Deepak
Rauniyar, information security chief at the
Computer Association of Nepal, says the
figure is fewer than 100. Hacker t3a believes that the number is a few hundred;
the most commonly hacked sites are those
ofthe government, he says. While hacking
so far has generally been confined to defacing websites, newer technologies pose
a bigger danger. Broadband wireless service and optical fiber Internet connections
that are coming onto the market have their
own security glitches as well.
'Yes, it is true that people can scan for
free access points and channels and can
browse the Internet with their mobile
phones and laptops anywhere," says
Devkota from WorldLink. The company
combats this by registering customers' mac
addresses, unique identification numbers
for each network card, to prevent hackers
from easily cracking into the system.
Increased hacking woes caused the
government to impose a cyber law in
September this year. The Electronic and
Digital Transaction Act penalizes hackers with up to three years of imprisonment and up to Rs.200,000 in fines. The
computer association's Deepak Rauniyar
feels that although the penalty is more
that the damage most hackers do, it has
brought hacking under some control.
Also, computer security firms like
ZeroOne consultancy have started operations. The association too is active:
"We are acting as a common platform for
hackers and the victims to come to a
settlement," says Rauniyar, putting a positive spin on the budding problem. □
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
49
 • II
Fixing Football
After years of innovations and hard work, crowds are
getting bigger. But allegations of match fixing could undo
ANFA's recent success.
BY SUDESH SHRESTHA
The All Nepal Football
Association's recent marketing
strategy has resulted in relative
success. Not only did it manage to convince the old sponsors to stay put but
also succeeded in roping in a handful of
new ones. And the list of tournaments in
the association's annual calendar only
seems to grow.
Running them is a far more difficult task though. Tournaments with big
prize money urge the clubs to be at their
best so that more crowds come in. But
quality depends on a host of factors and
doesn't always come through urging.
Indeed this year's Martyrs' Memorial National League, featuring the
country's 12 A division sides attracted
bigger crowds compared to previous
years. But the clubs gave the impression
that the prize money wasn't good enough.
Rs.500,000 went to the winner —the
highest prize money ever on offer in football in the country—and Rs.300,000,
Rs.200,000 and Rs.100,000 for those finishing second through fourth.
But the league, in the end, turned out
to be a lot more intriguing and hardly
for the quality of football on display. The
season that had kicked off with great fanfare ended with deep suspicions of match
fixing.
Spectators, who closely followed the
league, just wouldn't believe the outcome of a couple of matches, especially
the one between Friends' Club and the
eventual champion Three Star Club.
Friends' Club went down 7-2 despite
taking an early lead. The result did not
mean much to Friends' Club as it was
already out of contention for the third place.
But it proved decisive for Three Star,
which finished on top ofthe league table.
Later, it only needed a draw against its
50
nearest rival Mahendra Police Club in
the crunch match. Three Star indeed
played a 1-1 draw to take the league title.
"I've watched sides staging a comeback on numerous occasions," says a
sports official, insisting anonymity.
"But the final score [7-2 in favor of
Three Star] was simply too good to be
true." The issue quickly fizzled out,
however. There was no official complaint.
Public memory is often selective,
choosing only to retain the odd high
moments. But it is certain that most of
those who watched the Three Star-
Friends' Club encounter will find it
hard to swallow the 7-2 come-from-be-
hind victory. Is rigging then on the rise
and if it is, could it not deal a deadly
blow to the football revival in the country? ANFA, more than anyone, should
be worried.
In Khukuri Cup held early last year,
the crowd was surprised: The Three
Star and the Rani Pokhari Corner Team
played an uncharacteristically fair game
that threatened to put referees out of
business.
Both the teams had drawn their
matches against Dharan FC, a qualifier
 from the East, and they needed a 3-3
score-line to qualify for the
quarterfinals. Try explaining to those
who watched that match, which
unsurprisingly finished on a perfect 3-
3 score-line, and they will tell you with
absolute certainty that the game was
fixed.
An investigation was opened into
claims of match fixing after Dharan
lodged an official complaint with
ANFA, which later announced that the
match was played in "competitive
spirit." Is ANFA serious?
Former FIFA referee Shree Ram
Ranjitkar, who has officiated countless
matches over the years, concedes it is
difficult to establish a match-fixing
charge. But, he says, there have been occasions when matches were thrown
away, apparently traded for some favors.
Incidents of fixing match scores are
not new. In league competitions, while
disparity between bigger and smaller
clubs often makes the guessing game
simpler, bigger clubs are quick to fix
matches when they face the threat of relegation.
Ranjitkar suggests that ANFA should
intervene before the phenomenon takes
a heavy toll. It could terminally cripple
football as a spectator sport. "As the number of richer tournaments will increase,
we can't rule out the possibility of players and teams resorting to unfair practices," he cautions. ANFA, after all, has
done a lot to revive football in the country in recent years and it doesn't want to
shoot itself in the foot.
ANFA spokesman Lalit Krishna
Shrestha dismisses all allegations of
match fixing. This, he attributes, to the
Nepali mentality that "leads people to
I  wonder each time they see an unexpected result."
"ANFA has been very watchful,"
claims Shrestha. ANFA plans a double-
leg league starting next season under the
home-and-away format "with tougher
measures to stifle any illegal activities."
Tournament programs, he insists, are
devised in such a way that there is no
room for match fixing.
But ANFA's ways have kept the fans
guessing. In 1999, an unruly player was
handed a three-month suspension but he
did not have to serve the suspension as
there was no football being played during that period.
Failure on the part of ANFA to mete
out appropriate punishment to wrongdoers on time will only invite more
trouble. ANFA needs no reminding how
difficult it is to get a sponsor when there
is no crowd watching the game. □
 /
CD    C
!i_
S   U
Snapshots
BY DHRITI BHATTA
CAMERA SHY
PRAYAG RAJ SHARMA, a historian and anthropologist, knows his subject. He has for 40 years carried out firsthand research on the history and culture of the Farwest and the Kathmandu Valley. He is
also well versed in the law of the land. After a long
gap of more than seven years, Sharma at the behest
of some of his close friends came out with his
fourth book, "The State and Society in Nepal,"    ^,
last week. Unlike his other works, this book     fl
is a collection of 18 articles on culture        ^1
and history written over a span of
three decades. But Sharma, by nature, doesn't court attention. He
was concerned to see his image
on the cover of the book. "I am
happy to live an ordinary life,"
says Sharma. "I don't yearn to
be a public figure."
1
\\.
In the Limelight
\  A few weeks ago he was just another Sherpa head-
I   man, asardar, of numerous mountain expeditions.
/   Today NIMA TEMBA SHERPA is a minor celebrity. A native of RoWaling, he won the hearts
of hundreds at the recently concluded Kathmandu
International Mountain Film Festival. A documentary made on his life and struggles as a Sherpa,
ever since he accompanied climbers from the age
of 12, received the Audience Award. Directed
by Margriet Jansen, a Dutch filmmaker, the
documentary focuses on the importance of
Sherpas to any successful expedition. "We
climb mountains notjust because we want
to," says Sherpa in the movie. "For most of
the Sherpas like me who aren't educated, it
only is a means of earning money."
Fitting Finale
The Surya Nepal Masters 2004 golf tournament saw a thrilling
finale on Dec. 12. After trailing behind in second place for
three days, SHIV KAPUR was able to force a three-way
playoff on the final day. He then went on to clinch the title
and the top prize of Rs.259,200. With this w
adds to the several national and international
already under his belt. The 22-years-old fro
Delhi won the Asian Championship in 2002
as an amateur and also the All-India
Amateur Classic last year. The Surya
Masters Cup will surely make a fitting I
addition to Kapur's impressive trophy
cabinet.
P*> ^J
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Interested candidates are requested to apply in person within 7 days from the
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%/Yeti Airlines
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nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
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DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
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nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
 Sherpa Myth
Fupu Tenjing Sherpa finds the stereotyping of
Sherpas as mountain climbers disturbing. As the
managing director ofthe Nepalese Fashion Home,
he aims to change that by providing young Sherpas
opportunities to hone and display their talent. He has
gained some experience at providing
platforms for young talent by organizing
the Kid Queen contests that ran through
Pokhara, Dharan, Narayangard and
Kathmandu last year. Presently Sherpa,
a professional fashion designer, is busy
preparing for the Miss Teen Sherpa-2004,
slated for Dec. 30. The contest, held in
coordination with the Nepal Sherpa Association, brings together 23 Sherpa girls
for a rather noble cause: Raising funds
to sponsor poor Sherpa children. Dhriti
Bhatta talked to Sherpa about the value
of such competitions and opposition to
such fanfare.
How is Miss Teen Sherpa going to
be different from the slew of beauty
and talent competitions around?
Our area of concentration is distinct. We
focus on the youngsters, we prepare them
with more caution. The 25-30 day
grooming sessions include lectures by
professionals from different fields like
history social studies, etc. The questions
for the competitions are sent in by the
schools whose children participate in the
program, so that thejudges don't end up
asking vague irrelevant questions. And
finally we guarantee a refund of the entry fee if the parents decide that their
children haven't benefited from our
grooming. We want to make sure the
experience has been worthwhile.
How did this concept come about?
Sherpas have always been stereotyped
as mountain climbers. The idea behind
organizing the competition is to change
this conventional thinking. We [the
Nepalese Fashion Home] realized that
except for the climbing fraternity
Sherpas are little known elsewhere.
This holds especially true for the way
the media looks at our community. I
even observed some ofthe major beauty
pageants like Miss Nepal and found
that there were very few Sherpa contestants. So we thought of holding a
competition for Sherpas alone.
Who are the participants?
They are Sherpa girls between the ages
13 and 17 from Kathmandu. Although
we wanted to have participants from
outside the Valley it wasn't possible
with the resources at hand. We hope
that from the next year on, with help
from various Sherpa associations outside Kathmandu, Miss Teen Sherpa will
have young Sherpas from around
Nepal.
We prefer to groom
children because they
have so much
enthusiasm and ability
to grasp what you
teach
Your organization seems to have
concentrated on the younger age
group...
Today our country is in dire need of
people who have the confidence to face
crowds. But, it's obviously not easy. Especially when you are never taught how
to do it. Also, as you get older, you lose
the ability to learn. We prefer to groom
children because they have so much enthusiasm and ability to grasp what you
teach.
You have already organized four
competitions in a single year, inside
and outside the Valley, with the budget constraints you talk about. Why
the focus on quantity?
Kathmandu alone doesn't represent the
whole of Nepal. The talent present outside the Valley needs a platform as well.
Organizing more than one competition
in a year is obviously hectic. Holding
such competitions in smaller cities is not
too profitable either, given the difficulty
of finding sponsors. But someone has to
step in, right?
With so many beauty pageants going on, don't you think such events
are losing their value and popular
appeal?
A decade ago, the only beauty pageant
was the Miss Nepal contest. Several
other competitions have definitely come
up. But I don't think there has been a
compromise in quality. The grooming
instructors, for example, are getting better. A single competition can't provide a
platform for all the young talent around.
The more the better, I say. That is, so
long as you maintain the quality
What about the corresponding increase in the number and the intensity of protests against beauty pageants? Why the vulgar fanfare when
the nation is burning, some say?
I think it's just a fad. When one such protest happens, it is followed by several
others. I find this hard to understand. If
people can support the massive technological changes, why can't they tolerate
the social ones? These competitions are
a means of making the country's young
ready and confident. Do not forget, protests by their very nature also attract publicity and a lot of organizations don't
mind getting it whichever way they can.
Many of them are motivated primarily
to make their presence felt, and the pageants provide them a pretty handy forum with all the attendant media
glare.  □
56
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Books
Human Frailties
Deep irony is palpable in most of
the 35 poems in Khem Aryal's
"Kathmandu Saga and Other Poems." Aryal touches upon many topics,
from unrequited love to the festering insurgency in this anthology.
"The Wonder-man" highlights the
downsides of vainglorious thinking.
Each human being thinks he is a wonder-man; but, at the end ofthe day all of
us are on the same plane, each living with
his weaknesses that he desperately tries
to hide. "Kathmandu Saga" talks about
the mysterious aura that Kathmandu has
about it—a city full of rabble-rousers and
imposters who claim to serve the interests of the general people.
In "A Fool in Love," the protagonist
laments the moment he first fell in love,
while "Love Deferred" moans the betrayal ofthe beloved. Undertones ofthe
Maoist rebellion can be felt in "Nonsense Citizen-speak" and "The Son who
Had Left the City."
Throughout the book, Aryal talks
about inherent human frailties like self
ishness, vanity rebelliousness, hypocrisy distrust and lack of spirituality Discordant themes like love and
betrayal, the divine and the material
are often the central elements. Death
is another topic touched upon with delicacy.
All in all, "Kathmandu Saga and Other
Poems" is an eclectic collection, highlighting human weaknesses and celebrating humanity at the same time. In "Sitting at the Golden Mile," for example,
the author feels a bond of kinship with
his Japanese friend only because the
"same" sun sets both in Japan and Nepal.
The book is worth a read for its witty
unraveling of the deepest ironies prevalent in the society today and for its colloquial appeal. □
Kathmandu Saga and Other Poems
by Khem Aryal
Society of Nepali Writers in English
(2004)
PRICE: Rs.100
PAGES: 61
Last Laugh, Not Quite
Humour and the Last Laugh
by K. C. Bhatt
PRICE: Rs. 300
PAGES: 177
Humour and The Last Laugh" by
K.C. Bhatt is an assortment of
short newspapers articles in the
form of a thin book, funny at times, totally incongruous at others. This breed
of books, to paraphrase Francis Bacon,
is only to be tasted—nothing there to
chew and digest.
Some articles are funny; a few, the
lesser said the better. Chapters like "On
Migrating Idols," "Civil Behavior and
Hypocrisy" "Happiness and the Broiler
Chicken," "A Religious Test of Sort," and
a few others, are noteworthy for their
whimsies. But some pieces like "Face
Value and Facial Hairs" and "On Recycling," abstruse and clumsy. The author,
it seems, lost for words,
pens whatever floods his
mind.
The book is a good time
pass, if not an enlightening
read. For those scared by voluminous tomes, this anthology may just serve the pur
pose.  The articles are no
longer than two to three pages.
And you are guaranteed a laugh
or two, ironical or otherwise,
browsing over the chapters.
Poor editing notwithstanding, it's hard to persuade people
to do away with Rs.300 for a 177-
page edition of previously published articles. Bhatt's book is humorous, but not quite the last
laugh. □
REVIEWED BY: BISWAS BARAL
•as*
nation weekly |   DECEMBER 26, 2004
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High Stakes
King Gyanendra leaves next week for
an 11-day India visit, his third in as
many years. Never before has any
visit by Nepal's head of the state or government to a foreign country fueled so
much alarm and speculation. What is the
King up to? The Palace has remained
largely silent further compounding the
sense of unease. It has also made a clean
departure from one very important post-
1990 convention: Neither the Foreign
Ministry nor the Prime Minister's Office
knows much about the specifics of the
New Delhi visit. Very few outside the immediate Palace circle seem to have been
consulted during the lead-up to the visit,
■which also takes the royal couple to all
four Indian states that share borders with
Nepal—Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Bihar
and West Bengal.
Open or opaque, the visit loses none of
its significance for Nepal and India, which
has made no attempt during the last one
year to hide its nervousness over the
conflict's evident spillovers across the porous border. Every single analyst, and thinking Nepali, now holds that no study on our
conflict will be complete without bringing
into the picture the New Delhi-Palace dynamic. No wonder discussions on the state
of Nepal and the possibility of a ceasefire
invariably end with two unanswered questions: Is the Palace really serious about its
public pledge to remain within the confines of a constitutional monarchy? And
where does the Palace feature in New
Delhi's scheme of things? These two questions also go to the heart of the conflict as
the Maoists ratchet up their demand for a
constituent assembly and as the rebels' military offensive shifts into high gear.
Indeed, how far will New Delhi allow
the King to go—as much in his dealings
with the political parties as with the
Maoists? And equally important, will New
Delhi allow third-party mediation or facilitation in the conflict? That New Delhi
will give a firm no to international mediation is almost certain but it seems to be far
less sure about the role it sees for political
parties. There is a general feeling that Washington and New Delhi do not try hard
enough to understand the nuances of national politics in their overriding concern
to tame the Maoists.
We would like to urge caution. There
is little doubt that our allies are deeply
concerned about the fast deteriorating security situation in Nepal and that the
Maoists are fast expanding cross-border
links with fellow communists in Bihar,
West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Still,
New Delhi must persuade the Palace that
it's not in either India's interest or Nepal's
to go for a purely military solution. That
would be catastrophic. A seasoned analyst who has extensively documented
more than two dozen conflicts across the
world gives Nepal's conflict a "3 danger
point"—"10 danger point" being the worst;
that of Darfur in Sudan. But, he ominously warns, there are signs that the "danger point" could quickly go up between
now and April, the supposed election
deadline, depending on a number of variables. We urge both Washington and New
Delhi to engage the Maoists through
backdoor contacts, even while keeping
up pressure on the rebels through the
wider international community.
Toward that end, the visiting EU
Troika early this month made a notable
pronouncement. It said there was no alternative to a government with a broad-
based democratic mandate and urged
democratic and constitutional forces
(meaning the King and the parties) to rally
behind the incumbent government and
present a united front. Largely seen as a
more moderate voice than New Delhi
and Washington, the EU also told the
Maoists in no uncertain terms to respond
positively—without preconditions—to
the government's invitation for dialogue.
And that failure to do so will serve as evidence that the CPN-Maoist has no real
intention of pursuing political objectives
through legitimate political means.
Pursuing political objectives through
political means should be the key to any
settlement. On the eve of this crucial
visit, we urge both New Delhi and the
Palace to keep this in mind. The Maoists
should never be made to feel that the
door to negotiations has been shut in
their face.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
58
DECEMBER 26, 2004   |  nation weekly
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