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Nation Weekly August 15, 2004, Volume 1, Number 17 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-08-15

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 PEACE OR POLLS I BONDING WITH NEPAL I EVEREST DISPUTE I THE TAXI DRIVER
AUGUST 15, 2004 VOL. I, NO. 17
www.nation.com.np
WEEKLY
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 nation
AUGUST 15, 2004
VOL. I, NO. 17
COVER: Klshor Kayastha (9851052778)
COVER PHOTO: Sagar Shrestha
COVER STORY
20 Go, Go Condo
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
The housing crunch in Katmandu has driven up home prices. But builders have
responded with new options.
INTERVIEWS: Prabindra Basnet, project manager, Grace Apartments and Surya
Bhakta Sanganchhe, deputy director general of Urban Development Board
COLUMNS
PROFILE
11 Much Ado About
Nothing
Byjogendra Ghimire
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities'
30 The Curse Of The
Blue Sea
By Swarnim Wagle
The study of the causes of the wealth
and poverty of nations
38 Talking Conscious
Purchasing
By Ujol Sherchan
In a market, consumers cast rupee-votes
40 Crowning Glory
ByKunalLama
A new beauty queen emerges, tearful but
triumphant, at the end of a gruellingly-
stultifying-question-&-answer-round-
and-embarrassingly-clumsy-song-&-
dance-routine session
42 The Book Seller
By Satishjung Shahi
Twenty-five-year-old Nabaraj Bajagain's
story is the stuff movies are made of
LIFESTYLE
47 Decline In
Reading? Not Quite
By Ajit Baral
The habit of reading is actually growing
in Nepal, but much better promotion
and marketing strategies are necessary to
keep up with demand
SPORTS
50 Saved By The Bell
By Sudesh Shrestha
Athlete and fans got a break last week
when Rana and Singh factions patched
up their dispute
18 A Historic Shift
■  By Suman Pradhan
'  For the first time since its
^^^^_   inception in 1948, the
I  Nepali Congress has taken
the initial tentative steps
towards potentially de-linking itself
from the monarchy
26 Peace Or Polls
^— By Satishjung Shahi
^    CPN-UML fears the Deuba
government's rightward tilt but
| just can't decide where to go
28
k
Who's On Top
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
Mountaineering's traditions
of integrity and trust among
elite climbers are threatened
by the all-too-personal
disputes over who is the fastest Everest
summiteer
BUSINESS
32   Insuring Health
m By Indra Adhikari
Only 5 percent of Nepalis have
health insurance. Why?
M
ARTS & SOCIETY
34   Home Away From
Home
^^^       By Yashas Vaidya
For Nepalis in the U.S.,
H     summer is the best time to
come see their friends and
families in Nepal. It's time
to leave now.
DEPARTMENTS
6
10
14
16
44
52
LETTERS
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
CAPSULES
BIZ BUZZ
CITY PAGE
SNAPSHOTS
56    KHULA MANCH: GANGA RAM KHADGI
5 7     BOOKS: "AGAINST THE CURRENT"
58    LAST WORD
 f^Nepal will do
well to learn from
Bhutan J J
HARI SHANKAR ADHIKARI
T
The expat story
JOHN N. PARAJULI UNNECESSARILY
puts the expats in a flattering
light("Home Is Where Heart Is," Cover
Story, August 1). For me, his article is
memorable for what was left unsaid.
Let us not forget that the increase in
expats is also a reflection of failures of
the government and our over-dependence on foreign aid. That they have
come to help Nepal rings hollow. Who
helps whom is debatable. This is not to
say that there are no sincere expats, but
how to separate them from the "honey
eaters," as Kunal Lama puts it and to discourage the latter is a challenge. Overstays should be granted as per Nepal's
assessed "critical" needs, not general
perceived needs.
Moreover, Nepal will do well to learn
from Bhutan. As Bhutan invested early on
in "targeted" human resource development, it today has enough homegrown
teachers to meet its domestic needs. How
it has been able to make English compulsory in all schools, private or public, starting from Grade One, for instance, without letting in the Peace Corps, Youth Ambassadors or even Jesuit teachers is a success story worth emulating. It has also instituted a cap on the number of expats.
Nepal should likewise invest in "targeted"
human resource development and gradually phase out the Peace Corps, Youth
Ambassadors and foreign Jesuit teachers,
and put a cap on the number of expats.
Much often, development critics decry Nepal's over-dependence on foreign
aid. Well, we tend to think expats come
straight from outside riding on foreign aid.
Not true; many come from inside Nepal.
They first come on tourist visas, stay in
volunteer jobs and later compete for development jobs with Nepalis and stay
back. Thus, the Nepalis are increasingly
crowded out ofthe development sector.
There is an old native Indian saying
from South America: "When they [Europeans] first came we had all the land,
and they had all the Bibles. Today, we
have all the Bibles, and they have all the
land." Expats are not allowed to buy land
in Nepal, but that doesn't mean that this
saying doesn't offer a cautionary tale.
HARI SHANKARADHIKARI
BALKHU
In defense of Dor Bahadur
IN REFERENCE TO HIMALI THAPAS
letter to my article, most foreigners do
consider Dor Bahadur Bista's mix of sociology and history very useful ("Ke
Game?" Cover Story, Opinion, August 1).
It seems to explain to us a lot of things
that are puzzling when we first come here.
If she thinks Bista is wrong or an old hat,
that would be an interesting story because
of the influence the book has in bideshi/
INGO circles. If she thinks Bista is being misused to the detriment of Nepal
("prop up their reasons for Nepal's failure"), that could be a great story.
JOHN CHILD
SANEPA
Ignoring the Indians?
KUNAL LAMAS ARTICLE WAS A FUN
read ("Take Your Pick," Cover Story,
Opinion, August 1). Certainly,
Kathmandu's expats defy classification.
They come in all hues and colors. Funny,
though, that you never thought of writing about Indian expats? There are quite
a few around.
SUPRABASH PRADHAN
VIA EMAIL
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Policing traffic
ON THE ROAD AS A MOTORCYCLIST
for six months, I've come to realize how
chaotic the traffic in Kathmandu is and
that even following traffic rules word-
by-word is no guarantee to one's safety
("Policing Traffic," A Little Word, by
Deepak Thapa, July 25). The Valley's traffic police themselves aren't sure that
their effort can improve the daily "traffic riot." That becomes evident from the
manner they go about their business.
They let pedestrians walk in the middle
ofthe road, motorcyclists are frequently
on the pavement, and the motorists form
three lines in a two-lane road. And if one
bothers to spend some time observing
the traffic police at a busy intersection,
you will see that they are having a party
out there. A taxi driver is fined for "illegal parking," another gets away for a similar offence, and yet another happily gets
into an animated conversation with the
police himself. The other day I saw a
policeman trying to get on top of an extremely fancy bike (probably of a harassed biker) at the Thapathali crossroads. While the traffic was in a complete mess all around him, Mr. Policeman was busy admiring the bike. Perhaps the most apt nickname given to them
is one I heard from a taxi driver, who
calls them "Ullu (owl) Saab"—one, who
in the broad daylight, sees nothing.
PARAS ADHIKARI
KATHMANDU
The tightrope walk
B. L. NARAYAN'S "WALKING THE
Tight Rope" bears the stamp of a professional hand, who bases his appraisal
ofthe budget on the twin tools of comparison and analysis (Budget 2004-05,
July 25). His criticism seems to be well-
rounded, frank and fair. However, he
does not appear to have succeeded in
hiding his disapproval ofthe budget despite paying handsome eulogy to Finance Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari,
who presented a please-all budget,
which is bereft of vision, priorities and
purpose.
Two former finance ministers, namely
Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat and Dr. Prakash
Chandra Lohani, have already gone on
record to dismiss the budget as lacking
in focus and direction. They certainly
know better because they have, many
times and during different stints, prepared similar budgets with the same intent of not attempting to "rock the boat"
and that for pretty much the same pressing reasons. Narayan's criticism of the
government's aid management record
however does not seem to have stuck
because, as is well-known, the donors
in Nepal generally have the onus to do
everything right from the stage of the
feasibility study of a development
project to its implementation, monitoring and evaluation. These days they are,
in some cases, believed to have started
giving additional allowance to government employees who work on the their
projects leaving their colleagues crestfallen and demoralized. It is also understood that they themselves oversee
the programs they fund. The government role has been reduced to just that
of a witness. It's true that government
bureaucracy is oversized, inefficient and
ineffective. A decade or so ago a report
suggested downsizing the bureaucracy
by about 25 percent and reducing the
number of ministries to roughly 22.
The Administrative Reforms Commission, which was headed by no less a
person than the prime minister himself, recommended several measures for
enhancing the management skills ofthe
employees and it was approved by the
Cabinet. But when the time for implementing them came, the government
backed down and instead raised their
numbers. Narayan's suggestion that in
order to further improve aid absorption, the local elected bodies at the district and village levels be sufficiently
empowered is to the point. Every government since 1956 has indeed done just
the opposite. Presently there are no
elected bodies at any levels of the government, and there is no prospect of
having them in the near future. They all
have been nominated and are not accountable to the people. As for the political parties, which are responsible for
underdevelopment, they say one thing
while in office and quite the contrary
when out of office. Calling this budget
a "peace budget" would be a mockery
of peace itself.
K SINGH THARU
TORONTO, CANADA
nation
Nation Weekly, The Media House, Tripureshor,
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nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
 POLILICS
SPORES
ARTS &SOCIELY
OPINION
DEVELOPMENL
EDUCALION
I... democracy is
only of use there that it may
pass on and come to
its flower and fruit in manners
in the highest forms of interaction
between people and
their beliefs
— in religion, literature,
colleges and schools —
democracy in all public
and private life. I
CIVIL CONFLICT Walt Whitman
BUSINESS
 1
nation
HOUSING RQOH
THE NOTION
OF NATIONHOOD.
www.nation.com.np
iOMDA"YJ
 :'- ..
K
'rj
THE GRADUATE: Chief of Army
Staff Pyar Jung Thapa at the
graduating ceremony ofthe first
all-women batch ofthe Royal
Nepal Army
nation weekly/Sagar Shrestha
• •     '
m&* ■%»
- K*
— ■ w     ^
 ri
Legal Eye
Those who can make you believe absurdities can
make you commit atrocities.
Voltaire (1694-1778)
BY JOGENDRA GHIMIRE
This past week and the week before, a group of self-appointed
defenders of our cultural ethos and Nepali women'sas/im/ta tried
to undermine the intelligence ofthe Nepali population. They were
opposed to the idea ofthe Miss Nepal contest, a beauty pageant that
selected its tenth batch of winners on Saturday. The annual event took
place amid protests from women's organizations and a forum established recently with a sole objective of opposing beauty pageants.
You need not be an ardent supporter of beauty pageants to see the
absurdities in the arguments of those who opposed the event. I will try
to list below some of the arguments offered by those opposing the
pageant: Former Miss Nepals have not done anything for the society,
physical appearance can not be a measure of one's beauty, inner
beauty or creativity is what counts, the participants ofthe contest are not
representative of a Nepali woman who lives a difficult life in the hills, the
participants can neither speak good English nor utter a full sentence in
Nepali. Then, for a full year after their crowning, the winners become
nothing but an object of advertisement
for the corporation that sponsors the
event; they even give up their liberty
by agreeing to not get married for a
year.
Without questioning the intentions
of the opponents, it needs to be
stressed that their principal opposition—of using women asa commodity to sell goods for a multinational corporation—is hugely patronizing. It
seems to be guided bythe assumption that since the 18+year-olds who
participate in the pageant are all naive
and foolish, they don't realize that they
are degrading themselves and their sex
by presenting themselves as the objects of advertisement. The problem with this line of reasoning is obvious. Eighteen-year-olds are legally competent to enter into contracts;
they can own or dispose property; they have a right to vote in an election. They should, therefore, be presumed to be able to decide whether
or not they should be a part ofthe pageantry and whether or not it is
degrading to model for a corporation. The opponents ofthe pageant, in
my view, should rest assured that the participants do not need their
patronage. So then the argument about becoming a poster girl for a
multinational's advertising campaign for the next 12 months seems to
come more from the dislike ofthe idea of globalization and the free flow
of ideas, capital and individual, than from a genuine concern for an 18-
year-old girl.
The argument that beauty cannot be judged from the physical appearance alone is well-taken, but we would be lying to ourselves if we
did not equate beauty first and foremost with physical beauty most of
the time. Inner beauty is probably more important than physical appearance, but surely beauty pageants are not about the kind of inner beauty
that the opponents are talking about or anything as abstract. It is mostly
about physical appearance coupled with poise, presence of mind (wit
and humor, if you will) and the way a participant conducts herself on the
stage. There is no reason why the current and former winners of Miss
Nepal contests should be defensive about what the pageants are not. If
the opponents of beauty pageants feel so strongly about inner beauty
and want to have the element as the deciding vote in a pageant, they
should consider organizing an "inner" beauty pageant. They have my
vote for such a venture.
The argument that the participants are not the true representatives of
the hill women or Tarai women is equally frivolous. What kind of culture,
language or dress code do the opponents of the pageant think represents all of Nepal? For a country as diverse as ours, there can't be one
rigid standard that can be applied to every young woman tojudge her
Nepali-ness or representative character? What a set of standards do the
opponents think should be adhered to, to prove one's Nepali character?
Above all, there is an element of persecution in everything that the
opponents say. By arguing that the participants have sold themselves to
the corporation, they are equating the modeling contract between the
aspiring model and the company
to slavery, prompting the young
participants to be unnecessarily
defensive about themselves.
That need not be the case. The
young women who participate
in beauty pageants do so with a
belief that if nothing else, the
experience will at least make
them more confident to face the
tough world in the days ahead.
Based on the way many ofthe
participants of past pageants
have fared, there is every reason to bel ieve that their experiences with the pageants have
stood them in good stead.
Surely, the organizers have, like organizers of any other high-profile
event now, hyped the pageant as more than what it is. And there seems
to be a feeling among some participants that winning or losing the Miss
Nepal contest is the end ofthe world in itself. There needs to be some
moderation on those heightened expectations. Put simply, neither the
participants nor the society at large should take this yearly event for more
than what it actually is: Young ladies want to see for themselves how they
fare in the real-life situations.
But when a self-appointed group of do-gooders and protectors of our
cultural values starts infringing upon our 18-year-olds' right to choice, it
becomes a serious issue. The next time the opponents ofthe beauty
pageants think about opposing the pageant for all the wrong reasons, I ask
them to imagine the prospect of a model or an undeserving columnist
lecturing them on how immoral or socially useless their profession is. □
EYING FOR THE CROWN
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No movements
Following a confrontation between local residents and refugees,
the Jhapa district administration
restricted movement of refugees
outside the camps in Beldangi. The
decision ■was taken by ajoint meeting of refugee organizations, local
residents and government officials.
The refugees will now have to get
permission from camp authorities
while moving in and out of the
camps. In another development,
the European Union announced
an aid assistance of $2.4 million
for the refugees. This will go into
purchasing food for some 3,400
vulnerable babies, malnourished
infants, nursing mothers and the
elderly.
Women at work
The Royal Nepal Army (RNA)
inducted 197 women into its
service, the first all-women contingent to do so after 22 weeks
of training at Chhauni. RNA
plans to recruit 251 more women
in the second batch in the near
future. RNA earlier this year announced that it would increase
the number of women in its
ranks to five percent ofthe total
strength. Currently, there are
about 500 women soldiers in the
technical sector ofthe RNA.
Stay order
The Supreme Court issued an
interim order asking the Ministry of Labor and Transport Management not to enforce a lottery
system to select laborers for
South Korea. The government
earlier had ordered Lumbini
Overseas to select laborers
through a lottery system. The
agency had filed a writ against
the decision. The CIAA, however, has decided to continue its
investigation of alleged irregularities against the Lumbini
Overseas, which follows complaints filed by Deep Bahadur
Rana and Tulsi Sapkota, both of
whom have applied for employment in Korea.
Mayor's death
The Maoists killed Rajendra
Sriwastav, former mayor of
Guleriya Municipality in Bardiya.
The Maoists attacked him with a
khukuri while he was attending a
funeral of his relative. Earlier, the
Maoists took Sriwastav and a policeman, Ratna Singh Tharu, in
their custody before ordering everybody else present in the funeral to leave. After killing him,
the Maoists threw the mayor's
Taxi row
The row between the
taxi drivers and the
government was finally
settled with the government agreeing to
fulfill most ofthe de-
mands of Nepal
Drivers' Union. According to the agreement, traffic police
would now stop harassing the drivers
and that the renewal
ofthe route permits,
corpse in the funeral pyre. Meanwhile two Nepali Maoists, who
were arrested by the Indian police in
the town ofBaharaich, were handed
over to Nepali authorities in Bardiya.
The two, identified as Narendra
Kurmi and Om Prakash Loda, were
said to be involved in the murder
Rajendra Prasad Sriwastav Police say
the two were running an extortion
racket from India.
New NOC
After mediation by the Mnistry of
Education and Sports, two parallel
Nepal Olympic Committees agreed
to form a unified NOC under the
leadership of Rukma Shumsher
Rana and seek endorsement from
the International Olympic Committee. The two separate Olympic
bodies were led by Nepal Sports
Council's Member-Secretary
Hshor Bahadur Singh and Rana.
The new committee has 37 members in which Singh has been appointed as the general secretary.
Power shutdown
Construction in the Middle
Marsyangdi Hydroelectric Project
has come to standstill for more
than two weeks due to the workers' strike. They have put forward
a 22-point demand. The strike
began after the contractors,
Dywidag, banned the labor
union. The company had threatened to relieve laborers from their
test passes and pollution test would
be conducted every six months.
Traffic police have been randomly
conducting these tests and harass-
job if the union was not dissolved. Over 1,200 laborers are
working on the Middle
Marsyangdi project.
Labor loss
Nearly 15,000 Nepali workers
bound for Iraq were stranded in
Mumbai. Many of them had run
out of their savings and were being forced to live in the streets of
Mumbai. Nepali workers are
mostly hired by construction
companies or as security guards in
Iraq. Another 5,000 Nepalis were
reportedly stranded in Jordan.
Schools fees
The government has put a cap
on school fees for private and
boarding schools. Schools will
now charge Rs. 500 for primary
level and Rs. 700 for secondary
level every month and additional 50 percent for extra facilities. PABSON has expressed
dissatisfaction over the decision.
Foul play
The Kathmandu District Court
held Puskar Lai Shrestha, editor
of Nepal Samacharpatra guilty of
defaming Anikendranath Sen,
managing director of Asia Pacific
Communication Associates
Nepal. The court imposed a fine
of Rs. 500, a compensation of Rs.
5,000 and court expenses amounting to Rs.300 on Shrestha.
ing the drivers with hefty fines,
the drivers said. The drivers had
staged a weeklong protest rally
to press their demands.
14
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Militia training
The Maoists have forced over
500 youths, including school
students, into militia training in
an undisclosed location in
Dadeldhura. A student who
managed to escape from Maoist
captivity reported that the
youngsters and students of
above grade six were forcibly
taken away from Jogbudha. Reports said the rebels are training
them to handle arms, plant
landmines and manufacture
socket bombs. The rebels picked
the students who were home
during their summer vacation,
news reports said.
Security guards
The Malaysian government has
decided to lift the ban placed on
recruitment of Nepali security
guards. Last month during an
official visit to Nepal, the Malaysian Home Minister Dato
Ajmi Bin Khalid had said he
would ease the restrictions placed
on Nepalis workers. He also said
women will get preference for
employment and the visa process for Nepalis will be simplified. This is a special provision
for Nepal, according to a Nepal
Embassy official in Kuala
Lumpur.
Drug haul
Police at the Hong Kong airport
have arrested a Nepali with 1kg
of hashish. He was reportedly
hiding the contraband valued at
around $25,000 inside his shoes.
The man, whose identity was
not immediately disclosed, faces
a life imprisonment with a fine
of $600,000.
Vehicle holdup
A group of armed robbers looted
Rs. 5,000 each from ten buses
and trucks at the Kalakate-
Chisapani section of the
Mahendra highway in the Midwest. In a separate incident,
Maoists commandeered a passenger bus from Bainsha at
Dhanauri in Dang. The Maoists
asked the passengers to get out
ofthe bus before hijacking it. The
bus was last seen at Hapure in
Purnadhara VDC of Dang. This
is the site that hosted the last
round ofthe peace talks held last
August.
Flight disruptions
A number of international and
domestic flights were disrupted
at the Tribhuvan International
Airport after an RNAC Twin
Otter created a shallow trench
on the runway while landing.
Kathmandu-bound flights of
Gulf Airways and Qatar Airways
were diverted to the Zia International Airport in Dhaka. A
Thai Airways flight to Bangkok
and an RNAC flight to Hong
Kong were delayed.
Aid appeal
Red Cross Nepal has appealed
for an immediate relief aid
amounting to Rs. 150 million to
provide rescue, relief and rehabilitation to flood victims in the
country. The general secretary of
the Nepal Red Cross Society
Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, said the
plight of flood victims in Nepal
has been overshadowed by the
massive floods in neighboring
states of India and Bangladesh.
Dhakhwa said they have already
received promises of support
amounting to Rs. 75 million to
help Nepali flood victims.
Around 200 people have died and
nearly 100,000 families have
been affected. Twenty-five districts in the country have been
affected by the floods.
Local bodies
The government has handed
over the responsibility of running the local bodies to civil servants effective from August 5.
The Cabinet took the decision.
This is the third time local institutions are being run by civil servants. The village development
committees will be run by secretaries, municipalities by executive officers and district development committees by local development officers, Local Development Minister Yubaraj
Gyawali said.
Aid Bangladesh
Nepal has offered an assistance
of $1,000,000 to the flood victims in Bangladesh. At least 700
people have died due to mon
soon floods. After a high point
that saw nearly two-thirds ofthe
country underwater, floods continue to recede in much of
Bangladesh. Bangladeshi
government's health directorate
reported more than 9,000 people
ill with waterborne diseases. Such
illnesses have caused more than
60 deaths since June, it said. According to the government, the
flooding has left about 20 million people or one-seventh ofthe
population in need of food for
the next five months. It estimates
a loss of $7 billion due to damages to agriculturr and industrial
infrastructure and private property CBS News reported.
Herb ban
The Annapurna Conservation
Area Project management committee has enforced a ban on
Yirsagumba {Cordyceps sinensis)
collection in Mustang. This, the
committee said, will check
large-scale smuggling. The committee will impose a fine of Rs.
1,600 on those found collecting
Yirsagumba illegally. The committee has so far recovered 787
Yirsagumba plants with the help
of local police.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
 Biz Buz
AIR SAHARA TO OPERATE
FROM SEPTEMBER
Air Sahara will commence daily flights on the
Delhi-to-Kathmandu route from September 1.
The flight will depart from Delhi at 1:10 p.m.
and arrive in Kathmandu at 2:55 p.m. Departure from Kathmandu will be at 4 p.m. and
arrival in Delhi at 5:10 p.m. daily. Air Sahara,
formerly known as Sahara Airlines, is one of
the leading private airlines in India, flying to 23
destinations. Its fleet includes new generation
Boeing 737-700, 737-800, 737-400 and
737-300 and CRJ jet aircrafts.
ECOTOURISM AND BIODIVERSITY
CONSERVATION TRAINING BEGINS
A 15-day training session on Ecotourism and
Biodiversity Conservation began on July 27.
The training was organized to develop skilled
manpower in issues related to ecotourism and
conservation. The training is conducted by Tourism for Rural and Poverty Alleviation
Programme's Programmme Management Office through the Department of National Parks
and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC).
There are 19 participants in the training including officers and rangers from the DNPWC, national parks and senior trainers from Nepal
Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management.
The Multidisciplinary Consulting Organization is
facilitatingthe training.
"ACTION ASIA" FEATURES EVEREST
REGION AND MARATHON
The internationally reputed adventure magazine based in Hong Kong, "Action Asia," has
published an eight-page photo-feature on the
Khumbu region in its July issue. The magazine
has also devoted one full page for a report and
photos on the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon
organized on May 29 from Everest base camp
to Namche Bazaar. The Tenzing Hillary Everest
Marathon was promoted bythe Nepal Tourism
Board and organized by Himalaya Expeditions
to promote adventure sports tourism in Nepal.
The photos by award winning British photographer, Charles Partwee, based in Japan, reflect
the true face ofthe Himalayas and the lifestyles
of people living in the region.
SME TOOLKIT FOR NEPAL
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed
recently in Dhaka, Bangladesh between South
Asia Enterprises Development Facility and Elite
Networks and Communications to implement
the SME Toolkit product in Nepal. The South
Asia SME Toolkit is a project of the Small and
Medium Enterprises Department of the World
Bank Group and South Asia Enterprise Development Facility. Itwas initiated to promote local small business growth in developing nations by creating a powerful synergy and underscoring a strategic commitment in upcoming
lives by creating opportunities in small business. Elite networks will be localizing the content ofthe SME Toolkit to suit Nepalese context, culture, trends, rules and regulations. It will
also be conducting a number of promotional
workshops in Nepal.
MARGINAL GROWTH IN
TOURIST ARRIVALS IN JULY
Even though non-Indian visitor arrivals grew by
18 percent, a 16 percent decrease in Indian
market meant that the number of visitors coming to Nepal by air in July 2004 showed an
increment of only one percent compared to
the same period last year, according to figures
released by Department of Immigration.
Among the non-Indian visitors to Nepal during
the month, the major performers continued to
be North Americans and Europeans followed
by Japanese and Chinese visitors. The figures
are 24 percent lower than the same period in
1999, the country's best year for tourism.
International Visitor Arrivals during July:
UK: up 17 percent to 1,123 visitors
GERMANY: up 15 percent to 468 visitors
JAPAN: up six percent to 863 visitors
FRANCE: up 21 percent to 802 visitors
CHINA: up 57 percent to 332 visitors
INDIA: down 16 percent to 7,186 visitors
CREATE BATH CELEBRATES
FIRST ANNIVERSARY
Create Bath, a shop dealing in bathroom fittings and fixtures and tiles from China, cel
ebrated its first anniversary on August 1. The
Create Bath showroom is at Teku. The products include shower cabins, Jacuzzis, steam
rooms, toilets and cisterns, basins, mixture and
tiles from companies like Meinasi, Yinibao,
Isabelle, Giessford and more. According to the
manager, Create Bath hopes to open new
branches at other locations in the near future.
FAIREVER MANTRA
LAUNCHED IN NEPAL
Cavin Kare India has launched its latest product, Fairever Mantra in Nepal. The fairness
cream is a blend of Himalayan natural herbs
and takes its inspiration from Ayurvedic tradition. The blending ideas for Fairever Mantra
are derived from ancient Greek medication and
years of research and development. The product is available in 25g and 50g tube packages.
SAJHA TO OPERATE
BUS SERVICE TO TIBET
Sajha Yatayat, the state owned transport service, has decided to operate direct bus services from Kathmandu to Lhasa in the Tibet
autonomous region of China from September
with a view to promoting tourism, states RSS.
According to the agreement, Nepal and China
have signed a deal to start bus service to connect the two countries through land route. It
takes two days to reach Lhasa from
Kathmandu. According to the executive director ofthe corporation, Mukund Satyal, "In the
beginning, Sajha Yatayat will start three to four
buses a week and later increase the number of
vehicles." Satyal also said that Sajha Yatayat
is making preparations to expand its services to
India shortly.
I "i«|)>
16
AUGUST 15, 2004   |   nation weekly
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 Nepali Congress
A HISTORIC SHIFT
For the first time since its inception in 1948, the Nepali Congress has taken the initial
tentative steps towards potentially de-linking itself from the monarchy
BY SUM AN PRADHAN
ONE OF THE LAST MAJOR HURD-
les on the constituent assembly
question came tumbling down
last week when the Nepali Congress
adopted the constituent assembly as one
of three options to resolve the Maoist
conflict and strengthen democracy.
The three options presented by the
party's Central Working Committee
(CWC) are: 1) Re-instatement of the
dissolved parliament, amendments to
the present Constitution and then elections; 2) referendum to re-write the
Constitution and 3) to form a constituent assembly by using the present
Constitution.
While the party has always called
for the first option since October 2002
when King Gyanendra sacked an
elected government, options two and
three present a historic shift in the
Congress' thinking. Even after all other
major parties shifted gradually to supporting a constituent assembly to write
a new constitution, the Congress had
stuck around with the present Constitution, always arguing that a referendum or a constituent assembly may not
be the answer to the political troubles
Nepal now faces.
But last week, after three days of
discussion on and debate over a political proposal by General Secretary
Sushil Koirala, the CWC changed its
stand. The proposal passed almost
unanimously with only one CWC
member, Shailaja Acharya, opposing it
formally.
"The three options presented by the
party are reasonable and balanced, and
it is a compromise between the various views expressed," says CWC member Ram Sharan Mahat. "This means
we as a party are ready to discuss all
issues openly."
With those options, the party is
clearly sending a message to both the
NEW DEAL:
General
Secretary
Koirala
monarchy and the Maoists. As Mahat
puts it, "though we have made the constituent assembly one ofthe options, that
option will only be exercised if the
Maoists guarantee adherence to peace
and commitment to multi-party democracy." As for the monarchy it is a signal
that the King should remain within constitutional bounds lest the party change
its position on the monarchy when, and
if, it chooses to exercise the constituent
assembly option.
This is a turnaround once thought
impossible in the Congress. Credit it
to the young students ofthe Nepal Students' Union (NSU), a Congress-af-
18
 filiated body and the majority of the
party's district committees and reformers within the party leadership
such as Narhari Acharya, Chakra
Bastola, Ram Chandra Paudel and others. The NSU and Acharya, in particular, have been at the forefront of the
movement calling for change. The students, led by former NSU President
Guru Ghimire and General Secretary
Gagan Thapa, created enough pressure
from the streets to make the party stand
up and take notice. Narhari Acharya has
been extremely vocal in calling for the
adoption of the constituent assembly
option even though most Congress
stalwarts actively opposed it.
But in an irony of sorts, the very
people who made the constituent assembly such a big issue within the
party have been thrown out by the
party leadership. The Congress leadership, citing minor squabbles between Ghimire and Thapa, took the
extreme step of dissolving the entire
NSU central committee last month,
creating further turmoil. The NSU
dissolution was supposed to be one
ofthe issues in the CWC but that has
to wait until the body meets again this
week.
REFORMIST:
Acharya
&■     Ik.
The CWC's three options are historic in the sense that it not only opens
the way to change the present Constitution (a document the Congress fought
hardest to write and implement), but
also paves the way for the party to formally re-think its position on the monarchy. The Congress' relationship with
the monarchy has been troubled at the
best of times and outright hostile at the
worst of times. Post-October 2002, the
relationship between the two has hit a
nadir. This is reflected in the three options.
For the first time since its inception
in 1948, the Nepali Congress has taken
the initial tentative steps towards potentially de-linking itself from the monarchy, an institution it has always defended,
even at its own cost. If the party does
decide to go only for a constituent assembly, then there is a possibility that it
could choose to do away with the institution for good.
This is what some Congress leaders
actually want. 'We don't have to
abolish the monarchy right now.
But at least the party should form
a long-term view on the monarchy. There should be a general
statement of policy goals to
achieve in the future," says CWC
member Narhari Acharya.
Such sentiments are still in
the minority in the party. Many
party stalwarts point out that just
because the Congress opts for a
constituent assembly does not
mean the party will abolish the
monarchy and choose republicanism. A new constitution
could still keep the institution
of monarchy but bind it so tightly
that it would remain within the
confines of constitutional monarchy. Indeed, this is the hope of
many Congress leaders.
And in any case, exercising
the third option comes with
several riders. First and foremost is that deciding to go for a
constituent assembly can only
be done by using the present
Constitution. What this translates to is: Revive parliament,
and let parliament decide
I whether it wants to go for a constituent assembly, d
19
 The housing crunch
in Kathmandu has
driven up home
prices; builders have
responded with new
options
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
THE WORSETHINGS GET
in the rest of the country the brighter the real estate market gets in
Kathmandu. Insurgency and
the attendant economic decline have sent a flood of
people from the countryside to the capi
tal. The rising population has caused a
giant leap in demand for housing. Despite depression in other sectors of the
economy the housing industry is literally booming.
More than a dozen companies have
sprung up in the last fours year to offer
quality housing, sometimes in new
forms. The reason is obvious: The market is lucrative since there is a growing
X
20
AUGUST 15, 2004   |   nation weekly
 ^^Q
tory
demand in the relatively safe Valley. "I
feel secure here," says Sabita Lama, a
resident at Civil Homes in Bhainsepatti,
Lalitpur, who shifted to her present
dwelling two months ago. Lama, whose
son is currently serving in the British
Army, lives with her mother. "It is fantastic to be here," she adds with a smile.
She is more than happy about the
amenities: an in-house departmental
store, security guards, power backup
and more.
The Lama family sold the land in
Nakkhu that they had bought to build a
home when they decided that community living was more comfortable and
less expensive than building an individual
house and living there. "I don't have to
worry about water and electricity anymore," Lama says.
Like Lama, a growing number of people
are opting for community living. Building
individual houses is time-consuming. Con-
dos are relatively cheaper and they come with
a range of built-in services. The costs of community houses and apartments developed by
private companies range between Rs. 700,000
to Rs. 7 million. Even though condos seem
wise alternatives, many still can't give up the
idea of building their own homes.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
21
 Story
Community
Living Is Safer
Prabindra Basnet, project
manager of Grace Apartments, perhaps the city's
most ambitious housing project,
tells us why the housing industry is
booming, despite an economic
downturn.
Why is the housing industry
booming during these bad economic times?
Lack of security is driving people
awayfrom the outlyingdistrictsand
into the Kathmandu Valley. Even
though there is a depression in the
other sectors ofthe economy, there
is a growing demand for houses,
which is natural. People can afford
to either build houses or buy existing ones. The need forgaas, baas
and kapaas (food, shelther and
clothing) never decreases. It grows
geometrically with the rising population. More and more people now
want independent houses. In the
past, a single house was shared by
a large joint family. But with urbanization, the concept of nuclearfami-
lies is taking root.
As someone involved in development of community housing
complexes, what do you see as
the advantage of community living?
The idea behind community living is
to provide facilities that are not available in individual houses. Security is
of paramount importance. Individual
houses are comparatively less safe.
Anyone can break into your house
and put a gun to your head. In con-
dos or community living complexes,
there are security guards and fences
surrounding the whole complex. In
our own case, we plan to install surveillance cameras and other security
paraphernalia to ensure the safety
ofthe community living inside.
Lama still longs for her "own house,"
which she wants to build in the future.
Her feelings resonate with many other
Nepalis. Buying a home just isn't the
same thing.
But that is changing. Even people
who already own a house in Kathmandu
are booking colony apartments, as housing companies have started to introduce
innovative constructions. A range of
amazing offers wait for prospective buyers in a city where people are getting increasingly caught up in their professional
lives. "People now don't have the time
and patience to build a house," says engineer Rajendra Kumar Shrestha. "It's
difficult to build a house of your own
these days, especially if you are working," agrees Kalpana Shrestha (no relation with engineer Shrestha), a resident
at Kusunti Housing. "You can't do justice to both."
Building a house, alongside the attendant cost of land, in Kathmandu is also
very expensive, several million rupees
at the minimum. Many young professionals like Ms. Shrestha don't have the
expertise and the energy to shop first for
the land and then oversee a long period
of construction that lasts for several
CONCRETE JUNGLE:
Kathmandu's jagged
skyline
i
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 months, if not years. There are too many
hassles: Hiring a consultant and finding
the right contractor is a tough job for
naive homebuilders.
"This is where the experts come in,"
says engineer Shrestha, referring to the
housing companies. Ms. Shrestha, who
hails from Biratnagar, points to an important benefit of community living. She
doesn't, for example, need to worry
about burglars breaking into her house
when the whole family is away in her
native Biratnagar during Dashain and
Tihar.
The 12 companies in the Kathmandu
market offer a variety of community housing apartments, duplexes and independent, stand-alone homes. Typically the
homes can be financed through banks after a down payment of 20-25 percent. The
price tag for these homes and apartments
is tailored to suit the pockets of the
middle-class. Rates start from Rs. 700,000,
and a nice two-bedroom flat could cost
about Rs. 2 million. The most expensive
houses cost about Rs. 7 million.
Home loan schemes from several
banks have fueled the boom. Getting the
PROJECT
SITE
TYPE
Kathmandu Residency
Bagdole
Apartments
Mount View Residency 1
Harisiddhi   Apartments,
Duplexes
Mount View Residency II
Hattiban
Apartments
Comfort Housing
Sitapaila
Standalone houses
Sunrise Homes
Balkumari   Apartments,
Duplexes
Civil Homes
Bhainsepatti
Standalone houses
Subha Avas
Nava Naikap
Duplexes
Oriental Colony
Kuleshwore
Apartments
Shangrila Villa
Gangabu
Apartments, Duplexes
Grace Apartments
Naxal
Apartments
Kusunti Housing
Kusunti
Duplexes
loan has now become as easy as getting a
bike or car loan. "If you have a stable
income, financing through banks is not
a problem," says Dilip Neupane, senior
marketing manager at Sunrise Homes in
Balkumari, Lalitpur. There is a little
more to it than that.
Not everyone gets a home loan, even
with a stable income. "One must have at
least Rs. 40,000 monthly income to get a
loan from the banks," says an employee
at Civil Homes. Many of the new
projects in Kathmandu do seem to be
designed for people with an upscale-income. "We target four groups," says Sun
rise Homes' Neupane. "Professionals,
higher middle-class businessmen, senior
civil servants, NGO/INGO employees
and those working abroad."
Then there are also homes and apartments being built for people who already
have one. Grace Apartments in Naxal is
designed to cater to the "upper-end" of
the market. "Most of our clients are
people who already have a home in
Kathmandu," says Prabindra Basnet,
project manager at Grace Apartments.
Fitted with surveillance cameras,
videophones and other security paraphernalia, Grace Apartments is one of
Buyers Must
Be Careful
Surya Bhakta Sanganchhe,
deputy director genera I of
Urban Development
Board, explains why Kathmandu
has turned into a concrete jungle.
How do you plan to regulate unorganized construction and urban sprawl in and around
Kathmandu?
We have developed building
codes to ensure the safety ofthe
houses that are being built. We
monitor the houses to check if
the codes have been complied
with. We are also asking local institutions like municipalities to discourage random constructions.
It's basically up to the local institutions to enforce such guide
lines. We can only work with
them. Municipalities and local
institutions must act responsibly.
Why is Kathmandu turning into
a concrete mess?
Kathmandu is littered with random constructions. The main reason behind it is the lack of urban
infrastructure. People tend to think
first in terms of land and houses,
and only when all the housing
constructions are completed do
they start to think about community amenities. Nothing much can
be done with houses that have
already been built, but if the owners want to dismantle and rebuild
or at least modify their houses,
our office will certainly cooperate
with them.
What can be done in areas like
Ason, where there is barely
space for modification?
Nothingmuch can be done at this
stage. We can inform the residents
ofthe attendant dangers of living
in such an enclosed space in times
of calamity. It is too hard now to
attempt any reorganization ofthe
existing structures.
How do you see the emergence
of private housing companies?
Have they helped in anyway in
urban development?
Every resident has a role to play in
keeping the city from turning into a
mess. But prospective buyers
must be careful that they don't buy
the right homes from the wrong
companies. It would be wise to
ascertain first that the companies
ave been duly registered before
buying the homes.
What are you doing to make
sure housing companies
comply with your building
codes?
We monitor from time to time to
make sure that the companies
have acted in accordance with the
housing plan approved to them.
We don't do it alone. We work with
the municipalities. We, however,
have the authority to enforce the
building codes.
Private housing companies say
the Board is not very cooperative with them.
We will cooperate with them in
every way we can, but the condition is that they must du ly fu Ifi 11 the
requirements stipulated in the
building code.
What is the Board doing of its own
to promote organized housing?
We are developing 13 residential areas inside Kathmandu covering 500 ropanis (37.6 hectares) of land. We are also mindful that our projects will have
enough open space for children
to play. Kathmandu is running out
open spaces, which is very unfortunate.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
23
 this week lain ins aooui it eaucaitoii lit special
episode wnn Kaftnrnandu Engineering College.
*Pne4e*t£&
ML    Nepal Television, every Tuesday at ft:00 AM.
ms&   The repeat telecast can be viewed ott
Image Metro, every Sunday at 2:00 PM.
For Ct/rttm.1
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 Flip Side
■ Though community living is being marketed in Kathmandu as a success story, there
are downsides. Some occupants have complained about leaking roofs within days of taking over the keys to the houses from the builders. Engineers involved in development of
community housing point out the reason. "Unlike flat roofs, the sloping roofs designed in
such houses often leak. If proper water-proof
UNDER CONSTRUCTION:
Grace Apartments, Naxal,
perhaps the Valley's most
ambitious housing project
treatment is done on the roof, there won't be
any problem," says engineer Rajendra Kumar
Shrestha. But you can't give a 100 percent
guarantee, he insists.
■ People with upscale income maybe living
an upscale life inside these fenced colonies,
critics say such projects are unnecessarily dividing communities between haves and have-
nots.
■ Residents living adjacent to community
housing have complained of noise pollution
and disturbances. "They have installed a generator just next to my house. The noise from
the generator keeps us awake all night," says
SO
g
Shridhar Upadhayay, who I ives adjacent to the
Comfort Housing colony in Sitapaila. "Moreover they seem to have parties through the
whole ofthe night; the noise of music is unbearable."
■ There are still ambiguities about the legal
status and ownership of some of these con-
dos. Many are nervous about how the infant
housing industry would deliver. Officials at the
Urban Development Board say legal complications may arise for buyers who have bought
houses without ascertaining whether or not
the housing companies have been duly registered.
the most ambitious housing projects
(under construction) Kathmandu has
ever seen. There will be an in-house restaurants, a laundry a health club, a party
hall and more. Company officials admit
they are running an overtly upscale
project. "We want to set a standard in the
housing industry in Nepal," says Basnet.
"This is our flagship project."
If the concept of community living
becomes popular, Kathmandu's ugly
sprawl of new homes could grow more
slowly. That's a benefit of the condo life
we would all appreciate.  C
A SIGHT FOR SORE
EYES: The Sunrise
Homes complex at
Balkumari, Lalitpur
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PEACE OR POLLS?
CPN-UML fears the Deuba government's rightward tilt but just can't decide where to go
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
THE ELECTION COMMISSION
has been on the hot seat since
King Gyanendra sacked Sher
Bahadur Deuba as prime minister in
October 2002. Deuba's failure: inability
to hold elections. Bahadur Bhawan in
Kantipath, home of the Election Commission, is again seeing a flurry of activity. This comes with the reinstatement
of Deuba, who has been asked again to
do what he failed to do two years ago: to
hold elections.
The prime minister has one huge
balancing act to perform. His key coalition partner CPN-UML has said in no
uncertain terms that it came to the government to first broker a peace with the
Maoists and only then hold elections
with the Maoists on board.
UML leaders are not mincing words
as to where their priorities lie: "We want
to proceed with the peace talks and include the Maoists in the elections," says
Raghubir Mahashet, who heads the
UML's election department. "But," adds
Mahashet, "there is no ground for us to
concretely say that elections will be held
within Ekshatthi Saal (by the end of the
Nepali year, April 2005)."
Last week, he represented the UML
at an all-party meeting at the Election
Commission, called to listen to the parties' views on the prospects of elections.
Questions regarding election prospects
seemed tricky even to Chief Election
Commissioner Kesavraj Rajbhandari.
On August 5, Rajbhandari invited eight
political parties to his office for a "familiarization" meeting. He was meeting the party leaders for the first time in
his official capacity which came eight
months after his appointment.
"Can the elections take place without the voter list?" he responded rhetorically when reporters asked him
whether the commission's district offices were able to gather and update the
voter lists. When asked if polls were at
SHAKY SOLIDARITY:
Prime Minister Deuba
(right) and Deputy
Prime Minister Adhikari
all possible, he dodged the question, as
would be expected of any election commissioner at this difficult juncture. He
merely said, "The updated voter list for
2061 Saal will be published by the end of
Shrawan (August 17)."
What followed was far less of a fudge:
"The parties have to work with a sense of
solidarity with the Election Commission,
and it is also the responsibility ofthe government to announce the elections," he
said. 'We are also meeting with other parties, including the security forces."
Clearly the Election Commission is preparing itself for polls, come what may.
It's not for the commission to speculate
whether polls can be held or not: That is
a political question that has to be answered by the government in office.
More than Prime Minister Deuba, it
is now the UML that stands on a shaky
ground. General Secretary Madhav
Kumar Nepal is on record issuing threats
of a pullout from the government if differences with the prime minister con-
 tinue. The PM certainly gives the impression that he is more interested in
polls than peace.
UML readers are miffed by the statements made by the government spokesman and Minister of Information and
Communications Mohammad Mohsin,
who said last month that the peace talks,
if and when they take place, will have
non-negotiable qualifiers: multiparty democracy and monarchy. This, UML leaders told Nation Weekly, is a breach of
trust. When the four parties who are currently in the government signed the
Common Minimum Program, they
made it an open-ended document. The
implicit idea, the leaders say, was to approach the negotiations with the Maoists
without conditions and gradually narrow down the agenda through mutual
agreements over time.
A UML Standing Committee member says that at the committee meeting
last month, the UML ministers were accused of limiting themselves to "passing
files" rather than abiding by the mandate
provided by the party and the Common
Minimum Program. They are apparently
accused of having fallen well short of preparing grounds for a lasting peace.
Sources within the party say a powerful UML faction wants the party to
consider withdrawing from the government. The rationale: The party will
completely lose its good will if the
ceasefire becomes a distant dream and
the government continues to get
dragged rightward. "Our top priority
has always remained a fruitful peace
process," says the UML's central committee member Subash Nembang. "The
all-party government hasn't moved in
the direction and with the speed the
party had expected."
Analysts say the discontent in the
UML rank has deepened with the
government's reluctance to declare a
unilateral ceasefire. The UML is insisting on an immediate ceasefire, but Prime
Minister Deuba maintains that a unilateral ceasefire could mean a huge gain for
the Maoists and that such a ceasefire will
collapse over time since the Maoists will
not be tied up to any commitment. "It
would be much like the first ceasefire
(in 2001) when Deuba was the prime
minister," says a Deuba aide.
UML leaders are getting frustrated
over the fact that their party colleagues in
the cabinet don't seem to be making much
headway. "The ministers weren't sent to
ride sleek cars and wave flags to fulfill
their own self interests, like the previous
Chand and Thapa governments," says
Sahana Pradhan, a standing committee
member of the UML. 'We drew up the
Common Minimum Program so that we
could move forward on a track, but the
parties in government look as if four
horses of a single carriage are trying to
move in different directions."
But the prime minister's colleagues
have a different take on the story. "The
UML is one party that always takes two
different sides, divides itself into two
factions and ultimately comes out united
on issues that are more popular," says the
Deuba aide. Like the aide, many others
shrug off the current conflict in the UML
as nothing but cleverly orchestrated pressure, more due to populist pressures than
principled positions.
Still, there is no mistaking the anger
within the UML. "Though it is common to wait for the government to complete its 100-day honeymoon period,"
says UML Standing Committee member Pradhan, "this government has so far
failed to provide even a vision of where
it wants to go. The government has no
moral standing."
The problem is that if the Deuba
government lacks vision, it's most important coalition partner makes up for
the lack by having two. Is it then polls
or peace
?  □
.L
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
27
 Mountaineering's traditions of integrity and trust
among elite climbers are
threatened by the all-too-
personal dispute over who
is the fastest Everest
summiteer
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
FE CLIMBING
Everest is an impossible dream.
Even seasoned mountaineers
dance with death when they attempt it.
The issue of who has done it fastest has
turned two top climbers, once friends,
into bitter foes. Pemba Dorjee Sherpa
and Lakpa Gyelu Sherpa both claim the
record, but allegations of deceit have
seriously tarnished the title itself.
The controversy has also rocked the
small community of top climbers.
Mountaineers have traditionally operated
on trust and honesty and have been proud
of that moral high ground. In the wake of
the feud there are calls for more stringent verification mechanisms for record
attempts to avoid further trouble. Ang
Karma Sherpa, general secretary of Nepal
Mountaineering Federation and a member of the probe committee investigating the dispute, says that verification of
Everest ascents, or of any other high
mountains for that matter, is difficult and
even more so for speed climbing. When
two top speed climbers are in the fray to
claim the same laurel for the same feat, it
becomes doubly difficult.
On May 21 Pemba Dorjee Sherpa
stunned everyone by climbing to the top
of the world in a record-breaking eight
hours and 10 minutes, beating the previous record, held by Lakpa Gyelu
Sherpa, by more than two and a half
hours. The climb from the 5,300-meter
base camp to the 8,852-meter summit
usually takes about four days. Some
climbers take weeks. There were some
raised eyebrows at the time, but officials certified the remarkable achievement for the record books. Pemba barely
had a chance to celebrate before Lakpa
filed an application with the Ministry
of Tourism questioning Pemba's word.
"Show us the proof," demands Lakpa.
"Someone who must have seen him atop
Everest." He has a point: there seems to be
only Pemba's word to back up his claim.
"I have all the proof and I have given
it to the Ministry [of Tourism]," says
Pemba. "I have brought flags from
Everest." But Lakpa is simply not willing accept that. ""Vbu can buy such flags
in Boudhanath," he retorts. Although
Pemba claimed that he saw a team climbing from the northern side, others say no
one was climbing from the Tibetan side
on May 21. Even that issue remains to be
settled.
The seven-member committee
charged with looking into the controversy has two mandates: settle the dispute and develop guidelines to avoid future controversies. There is no fixed standard for verification. Photographic evidence, human witnesses, footprints, mementos, flags and other items that have
been brought from the top are taken into
consideration. "If Pemba had brought the
brass flag that I fixed last time [during
his record-breaking ascent in 2003], I
would have demanded no more proof,"
says Lakpa.
The rivalry between the two ace
climbers surfaced last year during the
celebrations of the 50th anniversary of
the first ascent of Mount Everest.
Pemba had just set a new record with a
12-hour-and-45-minute ascent. That
was broken within three days when
Lakpa scaled the peak in just 10 hours 56
minutes. Pemba then complained to the
Ministry of Tourism, asking them to invalidate Lakpa's claim and argued that
Lakpa had taken longer than he stated.
The Ministry intervened but eventually
decided in favor of Lakpa after veteran
mountaineer Appa Sherpa testified.
Lakpa's current claim against Pemba
looks like tit-for-tat, but Lakpa denies
that there is anything personal. "I am not
competing with Pemba," says Lakpa. "All
I am trying to do is to ensure that no one
misleads us."
X
28
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 other countries norms have been developed to ensure that there are witnesses.
Even then there may be no way to verify
the testimony.
In a bid to verify Pemba's claim, the
probe committee recently wrote to leaders of 13 foreign climbing teams. In the
letter Ang Karma Sherpa said that the
committee had interviewed Nepali
guides who were on the mountain during this time and has collected information and material evidence relevant to
the controversy. 'We have felt the information from the members of expedition
teams that were on Mt. Everest for this
spring season will also be instrumental
in the preparation of the probe
committee's report, which will be presented to the Ministry for a final decision," he added. Officials say they are
waiting for the response from the foreign climbers. But even before the finding is announced, Lakpa has vowed to
climb Everest in five hours, without
proof, if the committee decides in favor
of Pemba.
Many see such attitudes among top
mountaineers as a direct fallout ofthe excessive commercialization of Everest, and
the dispute has led to greater skepticism
about mountaineering ethics, records and
even the value of reaching the top of the
world. Cynics point to the recent avalanche of Everest summiteers who made
it to the top by spending vast sums of
money rather than investing a lifetime of
effort. Purists lamented the gross disrespect for mountains, and both Edmund
Hillary and Reinhold Messner bemoaned
the tourist track to the summit during the
golden jubilee celebrations last year.
The climb to the top of world has become a route for self-promotion too.
Both Nepalis and tourists have used success on Everest to jump from relative
obscurity to international stardom. There
is now an undeclared, cutthroat competition among Sherpa climbers to make a
name for themselves, the mountaineering equivalent of "publish or perish."
The peril is real. More than 180
climbers have died on the mountain
since George Mallory and Andrew Irvine
tried to summit it in 1924. About 1,300
have successfully made it to the top.
Despite the odds, wannabe summiteers
continue to take the risk. But for those
with bigger ambitions there is another
danger, the risk of being disputed. Such
disputes are not unique to Nepal, but in
As the controversy deepens into a
major crevasse, the probe committee
will be under pressure to come out
with a report that not only settles the
present dispute but also provides
enough framework to avoid future
controversies in Everest's name. If they
fail, not only Lakpa and Pemba, the
entire mountaineering community
will suffer,  d
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
29
 Writin
THE CURSE OFTHE BL
BY SWARNIM WAGLE
THESE DAW, BOTH THE STATE-
run Nepal Television and the pri
vate Kantipur Television air
"people's views" in their flagship
evening news. On 21 July, supposedly a
"BP Koirala Memorial Day," Kantipur
TV asked pedestrians if BP's proteges
were making his "sapana saakar." That this
translation of "dreams fulfilled" has become yawningly boring and vacuous is
beyond doubt, but the answer given by
everyone on TV was less dull by only a
margin: "No. The politicians are not fulfilling BP's dreams," they said, "the politicians are fulfilling their own dreams."
Nepalis, like everyone else, love to hate
politicians for everything that's awry
around us. We wish if only they were
cleaner and more visionary. Some see the
entire fault in outsiders—the designs of
expansionist India, conspiring Westerners and surplus-extracting capitalists
from the metropolis! Some might even
blame God for not putting us next to Finland, Canada or Liechtenstein. Whatever
the people's verdict on the cause of our
woes, they span centuries and involve a
cast of diverse actors. But the thing with
even the most crudely assembled
"people's views" is that some of them represent some ofthe truth, and open societies are obliged to take note. But do we?
Or better still, do they, the economists
who have over the past 20 years assumed
remarkable ascendancy in Washington and
other capitals, shaping policies that influence livelihood choices of millions?
In a letter to David Ricardo in 1817,
Malthus termed the study of the causes
of the wealth and poverty of nations as
the "grand object of all inquiries in political economy." What ails nations that
are poor? What did the rich do to become rich? Fifty years of mainstream economics has settled, not too helpfully, for
two words: accumulation and technology. Of course, factors that originate in
culture, society, politics and history are
important, but most economists avoid
30
working with variables that cannot be
measured and tested. These two simple
notions have now spawned a cottage industry aimed at answering the following:
if accumulation (human and physical) and
technology drive economic growth, what
foster accumulation and technology in the
first place? In this vein, over the past decade, some ofthe best minds in the profession have probed the varying influences of "institutions," "economic integration," and "geography." Some work in
this area is fascinating, not least for the
rigor they have employed for inquiry. For
lack of space, I highlight just one strand
of literature that argues that the role of
geography is fundamental. There is no
consensus on this, of course. While the
likes of Jeffrey Sachs argue that it plays a
huge and direct role, Turkish economists
like Dani Rodrik and Daren Acemoglu,
temper the view by saying geography is
important, like trade and economic integration, but only to the extent that it indirectly shapes the quality of institutions.
The new mantra is that all development
is about institutions.
True, as Sachs argues, geography is a
major issue to some countries, especially
landlocked ones like Nepal. Just note
his claims, i) Ofthe 35 landlocked countries in the world, the 29 that are outside Europe are dirt poor, except
Botswana (well-managed diamond
mines) and Belarus (heavy Soviet investment), ii) The six in Europe are only
technically landlocked, for they are all
well integrated into the European market and have access to navigable rivers,
iii) Even Switzerland, the most famous
landlocked country has half its population living north of the Alps with access to the Rhine. Some ofthe poorest
countries in Asia are also landlocked:
Afghanistan, Bhutan, Laos, Mongolia
and Nepal. What holds them back? The
journalistic anger over unhelpful neighbors aside, economists say it is high
transport costs that inhibit their ability
to engage with the outside world to
trade goods, exchange capital and borrow ideas. When this isolation perpetuates over decades, the outcome is evident.
 UESEA
BETTER FUTURE
But surely, geography is not destiny. Even
if it shaped outcomes over the long run,
this doesn't absolve our politicians of
their ineptitude. And, if geography is key,
how do we explain the dramatic differences in economic progress made by
South Korea, but not North Korea, and
by West Germany but not the East, who
share the same land and climate. The
answer, then, must lie in policies and
institutions that accord varying importance to rule of law (including expropriation risks and property rights) and
credible incentives to create wealth. In a
recent series of papers from the National
Bureau of Economic Research in Massachusetts, Acemoglu, Johnson and
Robinson employ sophisticated econometric work to gain useful policy insights. Using mortality rates of European
sailors, bishops and soldiers in the colonies between the 17th and 19th centuries,
they argue that depending on whether
the colonists could settle in their new
land or not affected the type of institutions they set up. Since the qua lity of
institutions more or less persisted even
after colonial independence, they argue,
much of today's fate can be accounted
by how institutions originated. Colonies like the U.S., Canada, New Zealand
and Australia had settlers adapting European institutions that were conducive
to wealth creation. In parts where empire builders couldn't settle en masse
because of disease or heat, like much of
sub-Saharan Africa, they set up "extractive" institutions to siphon away the loot.
Without reading the authors' highly
technical papers, these claims sound
naive, but the message they seek to convey is that it is bad institutions run by
bad men that affect development. Once
institutional variables are controlled for,
they say, geography's role in shaping
outcomes is minimal.
As the Geography-versus-Institu-
tions debate rages on in the ivory towers of the American East Coast, where
does this leave a landlocked Nepal?
Further, with institutions that are either non-existent, or worse, resemble
what economists call the "extractive"
kind, after the Belgian exploits of the
Congo, does this then mean we are
doomed? Not quite—we can always
work around our geographical constraints by making shipping less relevant through lightweight manufac
tured or processed agricultural exports,
and we can convert our perceived geographical liability into tourism and water wealth, and other service-based industries. As for institutional quality, it
is we who create bad men and bad institutions, and as long as we remain
democratic, there is hope that we can
contest, choose and improve our ways
and means. Yet, still, some ofthe handicaps are so severe that even with halved
corruption, increased investment,
ceased violence and better rulers, we
may never ever be gloriously rich. Even
if we start doing many things right from
now on, so as to trigger growth, say, at
rates as miraculous as 8% per annum for
the next 12 years, our per capita income
will still be under 500 dollars per year,
one of the world's poorest. But the
larger point is this: While we will never
become Singapore or Seychelles, we
can do better than now. With those
growth rates over the next 12 years, we
can halve our illiteracy and infant mortality, better our roads, schools, hospitals and water supply and even afford
nicer parks and libraries. But these
modest goals will still require
Herculean efforts, and looking at where
things stand at present, we can only
dream or despair.
THREE CURSES
So, next time we blame politicians for
not making BP's dreams "saakar," neoclassical economists would also have us
curse the following three facts. First, for
most of the past 200 years, we had institutions and rulers who resembled the
Belgians in the Congo. Second, at 61
meters above sea level, the district of
Jhapa only narrowly misses a port and a
beach. And third, Prithivi Narayan Shah
died one year earlier than historically
prudent—a year after his death in 1775,
Adam Smith published "The Wealth and
Poverty of Nations" detailing the virtues
of water-carriage, markets and industry.
And if Shah had survived Smith's treatise, he wouldn't have stopped his conquest in River Teesta. He would have
marched all the way to claim the blue
seas of Bengal, and we just might have
had a different Nepal.    Q
Views expressed in this column are personal,
and do not necessarily reflect those of institutions
the writer is affiliated with.
31
 Busin
INSURING HEALTH
Only 5 percent of Nepalis have health insurance. Why?
BY INDRA ADHIKARI
ID RISKS, A
new consciousness about personal
health care, rising medical costs and
the threat of cross-border health hazards, such as SARS, have driven up demand for health insurance in urban parts
ofthe country
Despite the demand, there are few
options for personal health insurance,
partly because insurance companies have
become wary of the all-pervasive violence. More importantly, companies
who did enter the market say they had a
high rate of fraudulent claims. Most
have now stopped providing coverage
to individuals, choosing instead to cover
groups of clients through packages issued to particular organizations that they
think are reliable.
Insurance companies also avoid
providing any kind of coverage to residents in areas perceived as "highly affected" by the insurgency, and even
residents of Kathmandu are not covered for injuries resulting from violence. The argument: The violence is
so widespread in the present-day
Nepal that issuing coverage for hazards related to violence would bleed
the companies to death.
"We had no claimants for the last
two years," says Karuna Manandhar,
manager of United Insurance Company, in reference to fraudulent claims.
The company's packages are designed
for large business houses, hotels,
INGOs and local staff at diplomatic
missions. This is a safe business practice, according to insurance companies. It minimizes risk of fraud, since
group insures get their claims investigated before sending them for reimbursement.
Relying on individual insurers for
business can be risky, as insurance companies have found. General manager of
Himalayan General Insurance Company
(HGIC) Subarna Shrestha says his company has faced high rates of fraud and
attributes them to fake documents claimants produce. This, he fears, can completely undermine the expansion ofthe
fledgling health insurance services in the
country Verifying documents can be extremely dicey and complicated, as few
clinics, nursing homes and hospitals
keep a history of the patients. It is also
not too difficult to produce false documents.
This substantially increases the risk
of fraudulent claims during compensation. "Few medical records are found in
hospitals when we try to verify the documents," says Menu Manandhar of the
Himalayan General Insurance.
Our own investigations found that
frauds are easy to pull off—either
through personal contacts or bribes. A
number of doctors provide receipts
without a checkup, and clinics provide
medical bills without the need to actually buy the medicines. These documents resemble originals and are hard
to distinguish. Investigation of the
documents is further complicated by
constant changes of doctors in clinics.
Few Nepalis have personal or family
doctors who could provide a single-
source paper trail for the insurance
companies. "We cannot possibly keep
investigating a single case for months,"
says an executive at an insurance company. "This will end up costing us
dearly. We have to stop the process
somewhere."
^im
32
 The problems have driven most insurers out ofthe business. Last year the
government announced that civil servants and security personnel would be
covered by a health insurance policy. The
Rs. 160 million allocation was aimed at
providing coverage of up to Rs. 200,000
for the first 200 claimants and Rs. 40,000
for "normal treatment" (routine examinations). But the idea just didn't fly: No
insurance company showed any interest
in the multi-million-rupee project. 'We
were absolutely certain that there would
be just too many frauds," says an insurance executive.
But fraud is not the only reason why
health insurance hasn't really taken off
in Nepal. For many people, insurance
premiums are unaffordable, even if coverage is available: Health insurance is an
out-of-reach luxury. Government hospitals are the place to go, but only when
you are really sick. Trishna Shrestha, a
student at Tribhuvan University in
Kirtipur, is well aware how health insurance would make her life easier, but
buying a policy is beyond her means.
"My first priority is education. Health
insurance would cost me more that I
can afford," she says.
Bima Samitee, the government body
charged with monitoring insurance services in the country, does not have
records, but the number of Nepalis insured for health is below five percent,
according to the general manager at
Rastriya Bima Sansthan, Khem Prasad
Baral. In the United States, 85 percent
of people have health insurance.
Company owners themselves concede that the premiums are high and
most of their clients are covered
through company policies. Generally,
premium rates for individuals range
from Rs. 350 to Rs. 1,750 per annum
and Rs. 1,050 to Rs. 5,250 per family.
The age limit is 69, and there are substantial exclusions.
Anal Gautam, an officer with Micro
Enterprises Development Program,
looked around for a personal health insurance policy for years but just could
not convince any company to issue him
one. "Finally, I was mighty relieved that
I was insured through the organization I
now work with," he adds, d
33
 Socie
Home Away
From Home
For Nepalis in the U.S., summer is the best time to come see
their friends and families in Nepal. It's time to leave now
BY YASHAS VAIDYA
Eight-year-old Sushana Pokhrel is
sitting on the floor in her
Battisputali residence watching
HBO, just like she would be in her apartment in Queens, New York during the
holidays. She is dressed in a black kurta
and sporting a mehendi pattern on her
hand. She picked it up quick enough.
She arrived in Kathmandu on July 8 with
her aunt, who had been to New York as
well. By her side are her doting grandparents.
"She is like any ordinary Nepali kid,"
says her grandfather, Mukund Prasad
Upadhaya, a retired Roads Department
engineer. "She spends most of her time
playing with other children in the family." Meanwhile, Sushana remains
wrapped up in the movie, betraying no
hint that she is missing her parents, who
are in New York. She is content answering simple questions. When asked her
name, she spells it out, to make sure it is
taken down right. She is neither outspoken nor shy. In the summer heat, with
her long hair let loose, her impassive face
is a picture of calm.
The summer in the Untied States is
the time when schools close for the
longest vacation of the year, almost
three months, from late June to early
September. This is when most American students can head out for an extended visit. Everything has to be finished and the travelers must be home
well before the new school calendar begins in the fall.
This schedule also allows the parents a deserved annual break from their
hectic routines. Many like Sushana, are
34
now at the end of their summer vacation. To them, Nepal is home away from
home. They come to meet their families, ageing parents, old friends or just to
get plain pampered by their grandparents.
For Sushana, it's all been about being
with her grandparents. Her parents, who
otherwise have been shuttling regularly
to Kathmandu, couldn't make it this time.
"She considers Nepal her home," says
her grandfather. Since her arrival in July,
Sushana has been visiting her relatives
and practicing her Nepali. The other day
she celebrated her birthday and missed
none ofthe excitement ofthe parties in
New York.
Family is probably the strongest attraction for non-resident Nepalis. Take,
for example, Binod Basnet, who is a
permanent resident of the United
States. Basnet, a Certified Public Accountant, went to the United States in
1988. He is now working in an auditing
firm in Manhattan and has come back
to Nepal after five years. He is here to
see his mother, who is 70. These have
been hectic times for Basnet, meeting
as many friends and relatives as possible.
"There are tons of things to do," he says
while relaxing by a pool at the Aroma
Sports Center in Sanepa. "But it's primarily to see my Mum who has not
been feeling all too well." And much
like others, he headed out ofthe United
States now because it is his daughter's
summer vacation.
For the likes of Sushana, though,
these short sabbaticals in Nepal don't
only mean time spent with a large number of relatives. It is an opportunity for
them to see first-hand Nepal's culture,
lifestyle and its people. Upadhaya,
Sushana's grandfather, says that her parents "do not want their children to forget their culture." He himself feels
strongly about this for his granddaughter, who was born in the United States.
"Our roots are important," he says, and
he wants his granddaughter to know
them when she is still young and at an
impressionable age.
 Basnet wants his five-year-old
daughter, Upasana, to know about
Nepal and to get to know her relatives
too. It was important to visit Biratnagar
to let her meet her maternal grandparents. Upsana, like Sushana, was born
in the United States and is a U.S. citizen. "After two months in Nepal, she is
almost always speaking Nepali now. I
take that as a bonus, though we mostly
speak Nepali at home in America as
well," says Basnet. Upasana is splashing around the Sanepa pool in her
black-blue swimsuit.
Many feel that the Nepali language
is an important connection that will
give these kids a
firm grip on
the culture, since they can interact with
other Nepalis freely without feeling like
a foreigner, a stranger in the family. With
this in mind, Upadhaya has been trying
hard to teach his granddaughter Nepali.
"Your Nepali-ness remains until you
speak Nepali," says Upadhaya.
Sushana has already picked up a
lot. Though not fluent, she can
still hold her own in a conversation. Upadhaya is now
introducing her to writing the
language.
Namita Kiran-Thuene, a
resident of Boston, came here
in May after she gave birth to
her second child. For her, a
newborn in the United States
meant too much of a hassle. She
found that a nanny for her newborn was not a big deal here as in
the United States. A rolling stone herself, she thought the best time to hit athe
road was while her four-and-a-half-year -
old daughter, Carla-Nina, had her summer vacation at school.
While most Nepalis from abroad
prefer to spend time catching up with
their relatives and friends, Kiran-
Thuene's days are packed with learning new things. She has been taking
lessons on yoga and meditation, sewing and folk dancing. "These are things
I have always thought of doing." Now
that she has the time, she is enjoying
herself.
But she is not too excited about the
prospect of visiting Nepal frequently,
though she stresses that she has enjoyed
her stay every time she's been here.
"Nepalis abroad are so emotionally attached to Nepal," she says. "Many of
them keep coming back to Nepal every year." She wishes that they would
just as well go out and see the world,
"Europe and the Alps." At least the
younger Nepalis abroad are doing that,
she feels.
To others, there's nothing like home.
"You feel great, exhilarated when you're
here," says Basnet. "I'd love to come here
every year, if I only could afford it...
maybe once every two years." Going to
Europe would cost him just as much.
But he still prefers Nepal. "After all, you
are always welcome here," he says with a
smile.  El
35
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Species of the fabric as unlimited as fish in the sea,
from the daringly different, to the timeless tradition.
Unexplored colours unexpected co-ordinates you
will find unlimited possibility for your limited budget.
Spread your net at the Tex-World and spend some
quite hours fishing through our collection you will go
home with a great catch.
Opp. N. B. Bank, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal Tel: 4780395
^
 Through Tl
Looking Glass
Talking Conscious Purchasin;
In a democracy, citizens cast ballots to elect a government. In a market, consumers cast rupee-
votes, which decide whether small farmers, street vendors and kirana pasals have a future in an era
of super-marketization.
BYUJOLSHERCHAN
I have been noticing this expat lady buyingfrom this same vendor on
the footpath of Ekanta Kuna and practicing her Nepali for sometime
now. Two for the price of one! She drives a blue-plate car. I wonder
if she is practicing "conscious purchasing," out of a desire to help the
upstart when she could have done her grocery shopping in better places.
I will never know, for I am too shy to ask. However, this best practice
raises an interesting possibility: spreading disposable income where it
matters more.
What is "conscious purchasing?" Any ofthe following or more: a)
buyingfrom upstarts, small vendors or mom-pop shops rather than from
more upscale or corporate suppliers; b) buyingdirectlyfrom the farmer
or producer; c) buying from stores run by cooperatives that offer employment to the disadvantaged and the marginalized (fair trade); and d)
buying environmentally sound products (green movement). The caveat
is that conscious purchasing is not always pro-poor and not always
practical.
Will it contribute to more balanced development?Jhe affluent consumers wield substantial purchasing power. It appears that if they tilt
their spending more often toward the urban informal sector—the bread
and butter ofthe urban poor, slum dwellers and farmers—then they can
create huge impact. In a democracy, citizens cast votes to elect a government. In a market economy, consumers cast rupee-votes, which
may yet decide whether smal I farmers, street vendors and kirana pasals
have a future in an era of super-marketization.
Why focus on the urban informal sector? The informal sector offers
one ofthe best hopes for reducing poverty and hunger as it generates
employment for both migrants to urban centers and the urban labor
force. Its role as an engine of development is only growing, ifthe developing world trend is any indication.
However, our government continues
to neglect this sector. Municipalities
tend to be harsh on street vendors:
Municipality cops going after the
hapless street vendors is a disturbing recurrent sight, even though the
latter clothe the urban poor better
than anyone else. Moreover, the informal sector not only subsidizes the
formal sector, but also plays an important role in recycling urban waste
materials.
Who are the conscious purchasers? In general, conscious purchasers detest commercials; avoid
brands in favor of generic goods,
frown upon conspicuous consump-
38
tion and its demonstration effects; favor local and indigenous products
over imports; and usually buy from upstarts, small vendors or service
providers. Their number is few, but growing. The poor in general are not
conscious purchasers because they have little choice but to buy from
the informal sector. A trekker who eats at an eWo bhatti in remote Nepal
is not a conscious purchaser, if that is the only eatery along that 10-mile
stretch: He has no choice. A trekker who decides to stay overnight at a
roadside inn rather than in a three-star hotel is a conscious purchaser.
Conscious purchasing involves choices, which the relatively affluent have
more of. While consumers are constantly bombarded with reminders of
where to cast their rupee-votes (in conspicuous consumption, of course),
very little exists in the way of promoting conscious purchasing or more
equitable purchasing. The expat lady, therefore, sets a beautiful counterexample.
Any criticism? Detractors argue that conscious purchasing will only
encourage rural-urban migration and blame street vendors for polluting
and overcrowding public space. Fact is: Rural-urban or urban-urban
migration is here to stay. And the detractors are better off going after the
bigger polluting or congestingfish, not the bottom feeders.
Debunking quality: People tend to associate quality with anything
that is neat, clean and standardized, but this is sometimes a fallacy. A
case in point: A shiny, beautiful eggplant is more likely to have been
doused with pesticide than a somewhat shriveled and not so shiny one.
A worm can always be removed before the vegetable is cooked; pesticides are harder to remove. Current purchasing ignorance therefore
means that the poor farmer who cannot or does not want to use pesticide is neglected at the expense ofthe richer, l-don't-care-if-you-die-of-
pesticide using farmer who produces for the preferences of the market.
What are the costs and bene/?ts?You sacrifice market-dictated quality,
warranties and convenience—things
you can easily do without often
enough, even if this smacks of irrational behavior—as well as risk being
called a "miser." But you end up feeling damn good about yourself.
Should you practice it? I once persuaded my foreign friend to try out
tongba. Today he prefers local liquors
to imports. Try conscious purchasing
more often, and you may convert
for good. The idea is not to do an
about turn, but to practice it more
often. Not because you have to, but
because you want to. Go spread a
little dough!
RS. In the meantime, I may yet
muster enough nerve to ask that
expat lady why she does her grocery
shopping on the footpath. □
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 aughin
Matt
Crowning Glory
A new beauty queen emerges, tearful but triumphant, at the end of a gruellingly-stultifying-question-
&-answer-round-and-embarrassingly-clumsy-song-&-dance-routine session stretched over unendingly
stupefying hours
BYKUNALLAMA
As a slogan, "Miss Nepal 2004" seems to have come a cropper.
Instead of shunning Nepal, visitors from all over the world appear to be landing at our doorsteps in increasing numbers. Just
into the eighth month of this year, tourist arrivals have already recorded
an increment of 31.8 percent over the same period last year. So a big
"Boo!" to the Japanese Embassy's travel advisory to their citizens"... to
avoid visiting Nepal unless absolutely necessary." I'm sure the 28 or so
Japanese restaurants in the Valley are breathing huge sighs of relief.
Heaps of over-ripeningnattos and gallons of m/so soup just idly fermenting away arejust too noxious a thought to contemplate. Thank God, we
have been spared this virulent variant of a
biogas attack. And a very low-bowed Arigato
to all the Japanese tourists, 863 in July alone,
for giving us the benefit of the doubt.
However, for Dabur Vatika, the official sponsors, and Hidden Treasure, the organizers,
"Miss Nepal 2004" is going swimmingly, so
far. Already into its 10th year, this beauty contest is gathering strength, though still a bit short
on stature. Faced with 58 starry-eyed applicants this year, they had the challenging task
of whittling down the field to 23 finalists though,
inexplicably, only 18 are to be featured for the
final event. (Maybe the sponsors and the organizers are the only ones adhering to Minister Pant's radical "lottery" system. If it were
left to Lumbini Overseas, all 58, and many
more, would have reached the finals. What a show that would have
been!)
Mr. Gajendra Man Rajbhansi, the Managing Director of Hidden Treasure, whose joyful dilemma it has been to select young, beautiful and
intelligent women year after year, states "We all support Miss Nepal...
as concerned citizens... to represent Nepal in the international arena."
The 18 finalists of this year are youngalright; beauty has always been in
the eye ofthe beholder; as for intelligent, now let's have a quick look.
Smiling. Singing. Dancing. Listening to music. Badminton. Basketball. Swimming. Watching football, volleyball and bowling (Bowling?).
When I did a quick search on what these beauty-queens-to-be like to
do most or are best at, these activities sprang to the top, before I could
even say "Google." It seems we have better chances at the Athens
Olympics than at Miss World or Miss Asia-Pacific or Miss Earth, what with
all the sporting and athletic talents these ladies possess. Of course, the
more mundane interests in children's welfare, women's rights, poverty
alleviation and social issues were also expressed. How on earth they will
manage to achieve all of these lofty ambitions, encumbered as some of
them will be with titles such as "Vatika Fairness Face Pack Miss Beautiful
Complex"; "Dabur Lai Toothpaste Miss Beautiful Smile"; "Real Fruit
Juice Miss Natural Talent," beats me. Besides excelling at badminton,
basketball and football. And what is the connection, if I may so rudely
inquire, between fruitjuice and natural talent? (At least the other two sort
of made absolute sense.) Especially since most of them displayed their
talent, if reports are to be believed, by either singing or dancing. There
was no mention of drinkingfruit juice till knocked out senseless. Perhaps
Mr. Khagendra Sangraula was right in claiming that all the beauty contests are organized with the vested interest of capitalistic societies!
Actually, and personally, I rather support these beauty pageants.
Forget the endless and pointless debates about "breaking the shackles
of chauvinism" or "women are not objects and neither are they showpieces." If 58 beautiful Nepali girls want to show Nepal and the world
that they are equal to the challenge of balancing a diamanteed-tiara
delicately on their intricate hairdos ("De Beers Costume Jewellery Miss
Perfect Poise"); neatly side-stepping the trailing folds of their voluminous
gowns ("Microsoft Search Engine Miss Nifty Navigator"); smiling and
waving tirelessly to a gaping crowd of shameless oglers ("Association of
Dance & Cabin Restaurants Miss Unfazed & Unfatigued"); managing not
to perspire profusely under the intense spotlight ("Rexona Underarm
Deodorant Miss Super Cool and Super Dry"); and stayingfirmly focused
on the welfare ofthe world and its disadvantaged populace (we know
these titles), then I say "Go, girls! Go get them! Show them what you are
made of!"
So a new beauty queen emerges, tearful but triumphant, at the end
ofagruellingly-stultifying-question-&-answer-round-and-embarrassingly-
clumsy-song-&-dance-routine session stretched over unendingly stupefying hours. You have worked hard, and now you have won. Wear your
crown lightly oh! Miss Nepal 2004. □
40
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 □ UR  CLIENT
Market Zone
-Dur Products
We
CARfi Y©UR
6V6RY  SeC„.
DUR COMPETITOR
A
Creative
EXPLORER. Fv:.ltd.
iQvriiiiiHn   l   uiHHiririfi
MAITIGHAR, KATHMANDU, NEPAL
Ph:4268898
 Profil
The Book
Seller
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
T
WENTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD
Nabaraj Baj again's story is the
stuff movies are made of A
penniless 18-year-old boy comes to
Kathmandu from Gorkha, full of
inspiration to make it big some day. He
struggles into business with help from friends and, a few
years later, becomes the owner of one of the country's
major publishing and book distribution houses. Eight years
on, the Patali Sadak-based company, Buddha Academic
Enterprises, is only one of his many projects.
"I feel really odd when someone says I've become very
successful," says Bajagain, "In fact, luck has shone since I
came to Kathmandu from my village in Marel." He adds, "It
was the first time I ever saw a television set in my life, and
life here was fantastic."
Bajagain left for Kathmandu immediately after he
completed his SLC exam, without even informing his
parents. He sensed the toll educating his elder brothers and
sisters had taken on his parents' limited finances. So it was
time to move, to earn his keep. Like a lot of other starry-
eyed kids before him, he left his village with vague dreams
of a better tomorrow. Once in Kathmandu, a maternal uncle
found him a job in a publishing house where he worked up
to 17 hours straight and got big orders. He quit after six
months when he was not paid a penny.
That experience motivated Bajagain to start his own
business. He borrowed Rs. 10,000 and signed up partners,
including two government employees and the son of a
former British Army soldier, who was studying at Hira
Ratna Campus, just as Bajagain was. The first book they
published was Prem Raj Panta's "Handbook of Social
Science, Research Methodology."
"We sold them directly to customers and displayed them
at libraries without middlemen, as we wanted to avoid paying
commissions to booksellers," recalls Bajagain. The book sold
1,200 copies and made Rs. 100,000 for the company. That was
just a beginning of Bajagain's success story.
42
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 "Book distribution at that time in Kathmandu was
limited to 12 family-run companies, and they hardly allowed
a new entrant in their business," says Bajagain. "Distributors
in India believed no other new Nepali company could do
better than those already existing."
Bajagain picked up a little Hindi from Zee TV and went
overland to New Delhi with Rs. 2 million of borrowed
money to convince the Indian distributors to give him a
good price. "Most ofthe capital required came through a
local money lending group of former British Army soldiers'
families in Samakusi at 36 percent interest and 50 percent
share in the business," he adds. His success with the deal
was a turning point.
Soon Buddha Academic
Enterprises would bid for a major
World Bank project. His company
won a joint bid; Bajagain's
business recorded a turnover of
Rs. 34.5 million while the
partner company managed only
Rs. 1-1.5 million. "The
difference soon built great
trust with customers, and
even the intellectual crowd at
Tribhuvan University
recognized us, as all the books we sent had
our company stamp," adds Bajagain. From that contract,
Bajagain was able to pay off his loans as well as record a
profit of nearly Rs. 7 million for each ofthe partners. His
partners went on to other businesses; he decided to try his
luck in publishing.
"There were only a few Nepali writers, each of whom
wrote on 10 different topics," says Bajagain, "I wanted to
change that and focus on specialized writing with quality
publishing." He went directly to well-known university
professors to convince them to write. The tactic seems to
have paid off. So far he has 65 publications, mostly management books for Tribhuvan and Pokhara universities.
One well-received project is a book on accountancy for
10+2 students, written by 12 well-known writers. "Another
one on economics, written by eight writers, is in the
pipeline," he adds. The thickest book he has published is the
795-page "Accounting for Financial Analysis and Planning,"
written by Bijay P Shrestha, Yamesh M. Singh, Narendra
Sharma and Khagendra Ojha and edited by Ramesh Pandey.
"I want Nepali books to replace Indian ones," says Bajagain,
"We will compete with quality books written by senior writers
and with complete series on a specialized topic."
Bajagain has more than publishing to keep him busy.
Inspired by his own travels, he has entered the travel
business with Gurkha's Encounters Overland Adventure,
and he owns a tuition center, the National Academy for
Research and Counseling Center. In recent times, his
business skills have been tested with his appointment as
exclusive distributor for Samsung products to the Royal
Nepal Army and Nepal Police.
All this at the age of 25. There's a world to conquer out
there, and at this rate Bajagain might just manage it. □
43
 ThisWeek
EXHIBITIONS
CHARCOAL
DRAWINGS
Johar Ali Khan is the son and
disciple of Late Ustad Gohar Ali
Khan, the violin genius of Indian music. Belonging to the
famous Patiala family known for
their musical brilliance, Khan is
a graded artist of the All India
Radio and TV He specializes in
the systematic elaboration of
Raag melodies and has an innovative approach in presenting
Taan. He is also well versed in
"RaagDari" (purity of Raga) and
"Tant Kari" (techniques of violin) on the violin. With his good
hold over Indian classical music,
he has earned a name for himselfworldwide. He also has created innovative and thematic
music ■with artists and groups of
international repute.
On the occasion ofthe 58th Independence Day of India, the
Indian Embassy is organizing a
musical feast featuring this master violinist. The program ■will
be held at the Birendra International Convention Center on
August 13 starting from 5:30
p.m.
For passes, contact: The Indian
Embassy, Lainchaur, 4410900.
This week The Indigo Gallery will be featuring Youdhisthir Maharjan's
drawings. Embodying his mantra—"patience, innovation and liberalism," this exhibition all in all is the artist's view of life. Maharjan's
charcoal pencil softly outlines forms on textured paper with a deliberation wed to permanence—
charcoal not recognizing the concept of mistake. He uses French
cartridge paper, charcoal brushes
made of bamboo and soft cotton
cloth to apply the powder on larger
areas and to create extreme softness and fineness. Rangingfrom
beautiful landscapes to frequent
nighttime views of temples and
squares—suited to blacks and
grays, Maharjan lives the Asian art
of inhalation and exhalation. His
eyes and hands also grasp the
human spirit, and set it out to paper like a moth released from a
cupped hand.
At The Indigo Gallery, Naxal. Opening: 11 a.m. on August 14. Till August 29. Gallery Hours: 8 a.m. to 6
p.m. For information: 4411724.
Tibetan Craft
Antique and replicate fine exquisite
Tibetan boxes on display. Susan's
Collection, Kathmandu Guest House,
Thamel. Till August 31. For information:
4700632,9851055435.
 For insertions: 2111102
or editorial@nation.com.np
Page
Films @ Lazimpat
Gallery Cafe
Free admission. All profits from
food and drinks will go to PA
Orphanage, Nepal.
Time: 7 p.m. For information:
4428549.
August 10: Kill Bill 1
Kill Bill is Academy Award winning writer-director, Quentin
Tarantino's latest venture. The
first part of the two-part movie
starts with a bloody massacre at
a recently retired master assassin's
(Uma Thurman) ■wedding day
by a five-member gang led by
Bill, her onetime boss and lover.
But The Bride survives the brutal attack. She wakes up after a
four-year-long coma to ■wreak
vengeance by hunting down the
killers in Bill's posse.
August 12: Kill Bill 2
There were five on her list. Now
it's three. O-Ren Ishii and Vernita
Green were the first to fall. Now
The Bride is out to finish the job
by killing Elle Driver, Budd, and
last of all, Bill. However, something has thrown off her plans a
bit. Her daughter (whom she was
pregnant ■with as she was getting
married) is still alive. What affect
■will this have on her quest for
vengeance is unclear, but the
question is, will The Bride complete her ultimate goal, to kill Bill?
Cast: Uma Thurnam, David
Carradine, Lucy Liu, Daryl
Hannah, Michael Madsen,
Michael Parks, Bo Svenson.
Cine-Club
Movie: L627 (1992). At Alliance
Francaise, Tripureshwore. Free
admission. Date: August 15.
Time: 2 p.m. For information:
4241163, 4242832.
Celebrating 25 years
Choo Choo Train: Kids carnival, frolic-filled fun. At Shangri-
la Hotel, Lazimpat. Date: August 14. For information:
44212999.
Martin Chautari
Opens discussions at Martin
Chautari, Prasuti Griha Marga
509, Thapathali. Participation is
ONGOING
Executive Lunch
Executive Lunch available
for Rs. 170. At Bhanchha
Ghar Restaurant, Kamaladi.
For information: 4225172.
Summit BBQ
Barbeque ■with vegetarian
specials. At Summit Hotel.
Every Friday. For information: 5521810.
Continental
delicacies
Chef's special. At Keyman
Royal Saino Resturant, Durbar
open to all. For information:
4256239, 4240059.
This week at
Martin Chautari:
AUGUST 10
MANGALBARE DISCUSSION
Topic: Legal fight of journalists
against illegal detention. Pundits: Vimarjun Acharya, advocate and Pradeep Ghimire,
CEHURDES. Time: 5 p.m.
AUGUST 12
MEDIA DISCUSSION
RrtyNepal.com is the ultimate
Jjide to partying for all party
fanatics. PartyNepal caters to the
young generation that is forever look-
ingfor a party. From salsa dances to
techno beats, PartyNepal has done
it all. Now, PartyNepal has come up
with somethingdifferent Unlike parties with young people grooving to
the latest western music, "Hami
Nepali Haun"will be a night to celebrate us being Nepali. With the
theme, "Proudtobea Nepali,"this
party is organized with the sole purpose of conveying the message that
no matter what we do we are still
Nepalis. Many Nepali celebrity guests
will be present during the program.
Partygoers will be served with local
rate/ as a welcome drink. Even the
decor at the Rox will be completely
Nepali and Nepali wardrobe is encouraged for the night
At the Rox Bar, Hyatt Regency.
Date: August 14. Time: 7 p.m. Tickets: 399 per person, includes
welcome drink. For information:
9851068871.
Marg. Everyday. Time: 12-3
I p.m. For information: 4230890.
Fantastic Fridays
A musical night with lip-smacking food. Jazz and club music by
various bands. At the Club,
Bhatbhateni. Every Friday. Time:
7-11 p.m. No Cover Charge.
Electronic Open Air Party
Chill out garden. House, Hard,
Progressive and Psychedelic
Trance with the Funky Buddha
Psy. Club. At the Funky Buddha Bar & Cafe (Old Scores Bar).
Every Friday. Time: 7:30p.m. to
6 a.m. Free Entrance. For information: 4411991.
Film @ Chautari: Michael
Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Time:
3 p.m.
AUGUST 13
YOUTH DISCUSSION
"Vbuth Initiative in collaboration
with Martin Chautari organizes
"Vbuth Discussion Series. Time:
3 p.m.
AUGUST 15
POLITICAL DISCUSSION
Topic: Dalit Movement in Far-
western Region. Pundit: Ganesh
Bi.Ka. Time: 3 p.m.
Dunga Daud
Dunga Daud—A Corporate
Challenge, is a downriver rafting challenge between corporate houses from Sundarijal to
Gokarna on August 14. Ten to
15 teams ■will be competing in
this timed race. The event, promoted by the Nepal Tourism
Board, organized by the Nepal
River Conservation Trust
(NRCT) and co-organised by
the Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA), is aimed
at sensitizing the corporate
houses to the sport and also providing a welcome break by taking time to enjoy and celebrate
the river. For information:
4435207.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
45
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Tel. No: 4227793,4227791, Mobile: 9851078058, 9851078059, 9851078060, 9851033393
 Lifestyle
,
DECLINE IN
READING?
[OT ()un
'i
The habit of reading is actually growing in Nepal
much better promotion and marketing strategies
are necessary to keep up with demand
BYAJITBARAL
During a recent NTV interview
with Bijaya Kurmar, essayist
Kamal Mani Dixit said that the
reading habit in Nepal is on the decline.
He offered the case of Madan Pursakar
Pustakalaya, ■which remains empty most
of the time, as evidence. Like Dixit,
many others believe that television, the
Internet, movies and videogames have
cut into our reading time.
Is it actually so? Apparently not.
None of the booksellers in
Kathmandu we talked to said that Nepali
readers are moving away from the stores.
One bookseller said that if Madan
Pursakar Pustakalaya remains empty most
of the time, it is because it limits access
and prohibits photocopying materials.
He says, "Go to the Nepal-India Cultural Center Library and you   ^
■will know whether book
reading is on the increase
or not." The Nepal-
India Center's library
may be the busiest in
Nepal.  On average
160 persons visit the library
every day. The library at the British
Council is also very popular, despite a
Rs. 4,000 annual fee, and the public reading room and collection at Keshar Mahal
bustles all afternoon.
Ask A. B. Shrestha,
proprietor of Educational Book Shop at
Jamal, if reading is on the
decline in Nepal and he
will eagerly point to 9,000
copies of Samrat Upadhyay's
"Arresting God in Kathmandu"
already sold. "Nine thousand
isn't a small number in a tiny
country like Nepal," he adds. No, it
isn't. But "Arresting God" would probably have not enjoyed such a large readership if it hadn't broken into the hallowed pages of The New York Times
Review of Books and hadn't received
■wide attention by the mass media in
Nepal and the United States.
"My father ■wouldn't have read Arresting God in Kathmandu' if it were
published    20    years    back,"    says
Maheshwor Acharya, a bibliophile.
Yadhav Dhungana, ■who heads Sajha
Prakashan, the largest publishing house
in the country, also doesn't think that the
readership is on the decline. "The print-
run of our titles used to be 1,100 copies,
but now that has gone up. BP Koirala's
story collections now have a print run in
excess of 3,000 copies," he says.
"The population has grown. The literacy rate has gone up. Schools have
started to focus on outside learning as
■well. It is therefore only natural for the
readership to rise," said Madhav Gautam
of Himalaya Book Stall, Dillibazaar.
"But has it grown at the same rates as
population or literacy?
Maybe not," he says.
One reason is
that book marketing is still in its
infancy here.
"None of our
booksellers
send their
books     for
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
.
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review," says Gautam, requesi
porter to
come to his store to get a
review copy of his latest
publication. Dhungana,
the Sajha chief, acknowledges that they don't send
books for review. Even
though reviews are the
best way for news of new
books to reach readers, it's
still uncommon.
In 1978, Sajha published "The Road to Nowhere," one of the best
books to have come out of
Nepal. It had a print-run
of only 1,100 copies but
hasn't sold out even after 26 years. That
should shame our publishing industry.
"Sajha isn't concerned about promoting and marketing its books," says Kamal
Prakash Malla, ■writer and a retired professor of Tribhuvan University. Many
other Sajha books are also languishing.
Sajha published Mani Dixit's novel
"Come Tomorrow" more than two decades back; it still hasn't sold out. But
500 copies of the same novel printed by
an Indian publishing house two years ago
sold out quickly.
Education Book Shop's Shrestha says
that there is a need for an aggressive me
dia campaign to promote books. A hundred copies of Hillary Clinton's "Living
History" got sold from his store alone,
perhaps due to the trickle-down effect
of the media hype in the ■west over the
book.
"A strong tie-up between publishers
and the media doesn't exist in Nepal, as
it does in India or in the west, so books
get very little space in Nepali newspapers," says writer Manjushree Thapa.
Nepali publishers seldom organize reading sessions and book-talk programs,
both time-tested promotional tools.
Booksellers point out that publishers
who are also retailers
don't send their publications to other bookstores
to avoid competition.
It's been more than
five years since the National Association of
Book Publishers and Sellers ■was established to
promote Nepali books.
Like so many other organizations, the association
is afflicted with the little-
work-but-too-much-talk
syndrome. Booksellers
complain that it is hardly
doing much to promote
books. One bookseller
went so far as to claim that the organization is being used for personal gains, referring to some association members
who are now on a foreign trip.
Weak marketing and shortsightedness
have dampened the Nepali book market, but this can be fixed. Cooperation
among publishers and booksellers
backed up by strong promotion campaigns ■will fuel the increasing interest
in books. People like Dixit are mistaken
to think that interest in books has
declined. Quite the contrary, as publishers of good books ■who market them ■well
will find out.  □
.L
48
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 traIn
KID'S CARNIVAL
ON AUGUST 14 2004, SATURDAY
EN J Oy A F U N FILLED DAY
WITH FACE PAINTER, MAGIC SHOW, SWIMMING, BOUNCING CASTLE, PAINTING, SLIDES,
SWINGS, B1CVLES AND MOUTH WATERING FOOD AND MUSIC
AT THE KHEL GARDEN
LAUNCHING OF THE NEW KHEL GARDEN 8. BIRTHDAY PACKAGE MENU
SHANGRI-LA
KATHMANDU
FOR   FURTHER   INFORMATION   AND   INQUIRIES,     441   2999
 Athletes and fans got a break last week when the Rana
and Singh factions patched up their dispute over the Nepal
Olympic Committee. Let's hope the feud is really over.
Nepal needs good, professional sports management.
BY SUDESH SHRESTHA
Early this year, the thrill of victory
■was tarnished for one Nepali
medal winners at the South Asian
Federation (SAF) Games. Standing on
the podium should have been the
highpoint of his life, but the bitter controversy ■within the Nepali athletic
community preyed on his mind. The athlete, an ninth SAF Games medalist in
Islamabad, says that "the Nepali contingent, despite ■wearing a cloak of unity, remained deeply divided, especially the officials." He adds, "Naturally the players
■were filled ■with tension and uncertainty."
Fortunately, his fellow athletes participating in the 28th Olympiad in the
Greek capital Athens will be free to compete without having to face the same psychological burden.
Thanks to the timely intervention of
the Ministry of Education and Sports,
the Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC)
and the National Sports Council(NSC)
have buried a long-festering feud. On
the eve ofthe Olympics, NOC's Rumka
Shumsher Rana and NSC's Kishore
Bahadur Singh have made peace over
■who gets to control Nepal's own Olympic committee. But the peace may have
■well come at a high price and could at
best be temporary.
The ministry's compromise ■was
simple enough: bring in all the
disgruntled members of either
faction on board the reconstituted
NOC. And the result: Ajumbo official contingent ■will possibly be
in Athens. "The decision looks
50
professional enough, ■which keeps in
mind the ■well-being of the athlete ■who
are sweating it out on the court," says
Olympian Sangina Baidya, Nepal's only
medal prospect. "It comes as a breath of
fresh air for athletes."
That fresh air seemed to have come
out of smoke-filled rooms. It took two
long meetings on the first two days of
August to break the ice. "The first meeting lasted for over three hours, and we
convinced the two groups to accept a
compromise for a single committee,"
says Minister for Education and Sports
Bimalendra Nidhi. According to him,
both parties ■were asked to propose the
names for the new committee. After a
five-hour-long joint meeting, the two
sides came to a consensus for a 37-mem-
ber committee. "The ministry ratified it
on Monday (August 2)," says Nidhi. "The
controversy surrounding the Olympic
movement in Nepal is all over now," he
adds. "Nepal will participate under one
Olympic committee."
Just as earlier, Rana heads the new
committee but the Sports Council member-secretary Singh assumes the all-important position of general secretary. Insiders say this was one of the key sticking points during the negotiations. While
neither party would divulge any details,
sources at the ministry say the Singh faction traded formal recognition of the
Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) by
the Sports Council for four key positions in the reconvened body.
Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan, ■who ■was
general secretary in the past committee,
has become the first vice-president.
Siddheshwor Kumar Singh and Mohan
Rai, both from the Singh faction, share
the vice-presidency ■with Dhurba Kumar
Timilsina and Indra Bahadur Serchan.
Purushottam Shrestha is the treasurer.
Both Rana and Singh, ■who have indulged in the bitter battle of attrition for
over a year, seemed happy that the compromise ■was possible at all. "The conflict is behind us now," says Rana. "We'll
work in unison." Rana says he will now
notify both the International Olympic
Committee and Olympic Council of
Asia of the amicable settlement to the
dispute. And Singh echoes the sentiments: "Both of us have now
agreed on a common goal, to
strive for the development
of sports in Nepal. That I
think is more important
than anything else at the
moment." Fingers
crossed. □
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 The
0«/y Lifestyle Culture
Magazine in Nepal
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LIGHT UP TOUP LIFE  ■  JAVA ft G4ADVS THAW ■ INTERVIEW: PMPKXI SAJUEERAT
W*M AC1 £«Ti flfl
TIBETAN      MUSLIMS
The history of the Tibetan Muslims goes back to the time of the Great fifth
DalaiTamaof 1T Cent. Tibet. Reaching beyond'religious boundaries, he
urged the Kashmiri traders to settle in Tibet. The migrants intermarried
with the Tibetans and thus was born the Tibetan Muslim Community.
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 YDHRITI BHATTA
ia
.a     r^j Rolling Stone
By his own admission,
KEDAR BHAKTA MATHEMA
isa rolling stone. He has
been ambassador to Japan,
vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan
University, a researcher—
among other things on why
the SLC failure rates are so
high. Mathema is in the news
again: as the winner ofthe
newly instituted Hem
Bahadur Malla Recognition
Prize, named after a
management executive at
SaltTradingCorporation. The
award carries a purse of Rs.
100,000 for his excellence
in "academic coordination."
What is the rolling stone going
to do with the money? You
guessed it right. "I will use the
money for some educational
purpose," says Mathema,
insisting that the honor was
totally unexpected.
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Waste-free Valley
Meet ASHA KAJI, the newest arrival to the Valley. Askai, as he
is popularly known, is an exemplary citizen, intelligent, and
always concerned about the environmental hazards. This
farmer is on the move to promote ■waste recycling. "Why
throw out waste? Convert it into money," Askai urges the
public. He is the new mascot for a waste-free Kathmandu
Valley. Askai was on the run all of last week, meeting citizens
in all five municipalities inside the Valley- Kathmandu,
Talitpur, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur and Madhyapur Thimi. Tet's
hope they heed his message.
MALLA'S MLX
SINDHU MALLA of "Sasuralima" fame has turned the
tables on her fans. After a long list of folk hits,
Malla's debut album "Kaha" is a collection of pop
and modern songs. The remixed version of
Pradip Rimal's "Jhaljhali Aakhama" is the
prime attraction. But she's not the one
to rest on her laurels. Just a few days
j| after her first release, her second
offering "Chitikkai Bhachhu Re," a
collection of Teej songs, also hit the
market with a bang. Malla is taking new trails
alright, but still continuing what she is best at: the
folk songs.
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Vacancies
A Luxury Hotel based in Kathmandu
requires the following positions to be filled:
Asst. Sales Manager:- 1
The Candidate should be a graduate of
a recognized institute and have strong
sales background. Preference would be
given to the candidates who have a
prior work experience of Four years
in the hotel industry.
Sales Executive:-1
The Candidate should be a graduate of
a recognized institute. Preference
would be given to the candidates who
have a prior work experience of Two
years in the hotel industry.
Apply in the following address:
The Personnel Manager
GPO Box: 655, Kathmandu
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Ladies and gentlemen,
this could be your first step to fame and fortune.
A leading consumer goods company in Nepal is searching for the
bold and the beautiful to model for their leading brands.
Men
Must be at least 5'8" and aged between 21-35 years
Girls
Must be at least 5'5" and aged between 18-25 years
Those interested, please walk in on any weekday (Monday-Friday)
between 5 pm to 7 pm, from 9* August to 20* August, at the address
given below. Portfolio and photographs not essential. However if you
have some good photos of yourself you may bring them along.
Contact: Ms. Geeta Pradhan
Thompson Nepal Pvt. Ltd.
5* floor, Saket Complex, Tripuershwor, Kathmandu, Tel: 014265777
Nepal's leading Boutique Hotel Chain invites
applications from Nepalese for the following Position
FRONT OFFICE MANAGER
A firm Front office background/ with
experience in a similar position and
graduate from hotel management schooi.
Apply in confidence with
a passport photograph to:
PERSONNEL DEPARTMENT
SHANGRI-LA Hotel & Resort
Post Box:655, Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone No:4435742
corporate@hotelshangrila.com
General Manager
QUALIFICATION:
EXPERIENCE:
AGE:
JOB DESCRIPTION:
SALARY & BENEFITS:    Negotiable
JOB SITE: Janakpur Dham
APPLY: Within 15 days
Bachelor Degree in Finance /Management or MBA or
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Minimum 5 years as Executive Officer in Banking
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Below 45
As required by Banking Law, should be result oriented.
G.P.O. Box 3083, Kathmandu, Tel: 5552776, 5552778 or
Sahayogi Bikas Bank Ltd.
Murall Chowk, Janakpur Dham, Tel: 525971, 525972
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E-mail: jobsvacancies@yahoo.com, Tel: 2111102
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AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 To advertise contact nation weekly
Tel: 2111102,4229825, Email:ad@nation.com.np
Classified
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
 The Taxi Driver
Kathmandu commuters have put up with much,
but the traffic jam on the afternoon of July 29
was a new low. Traffic in Kathmandu came to a
complete standstill in a unique protest as taxi drivers,
members of the Nepal Drivers' Union, blocked roads
with their vehicles. Commuters, who were stuck for hours
in the jam, are still furious. But the drivers are full of
rx
praise for the man behind the protests,
Ganga Ram Khadgi, head of the
union, who highlighted their longstanding cause against what they call
police atrocities. Khadgi talked to Satish
Jung Shahi of Nation Weekly about
police behavior towards the drivers,
problems within the taxi business and
their extreme protest.
Do the police treat the taxi drivers as
badly as you have been claiming?
Definitely. They book us for worse traffic offences than we have committed and
hand over the chits to us after seizing
our license. We are fined anywhere from
Rs. 200 to Rs. 5,000 for minor offences
that would be fined Rs. 25. They force
us to bribe them even when we want to
perform our duties honestly. There are
many cases where drivers have given up
their license just because they don't want
to face the police again.
But the taxi drivers are also cheating
honest customers with their doctored
meters...
We have been protesting against these
electronic meters since they were introduced, saying they can be easily doctored.
That is why we want the government to
break the exclusivity of fixing meters and
allow us to do it ourselves. The present
meter seals distributed by the government are not strong either, and when they
break, fingers are pointed at us only. The
government is equally responsible.
Will that not mean that you will be playing both the police and the policed?
Look, there are a lot of other factors that
make taxi drivers cheat customers.
There are no parking facilities and the
laws are biased against the taxi driver.
That law makes us constantly report to
the authorities even when renewing our
road permit. "You have to also remember
that each driver has to pay at least Rs. 800
to the taxi owner, whether they earn that
much or not. We have repeatedly asked
the Naaptaui Bibhaag to take measures to
control cheating. Their own people run
most of the taxis, and it is they who are
cheating. There is a mafia running the
taxi business right from the top. That was
why we were protesting.
But was a chakka jam that paralyzed
Kathmandu the right thing to do?
It wasn't our plan at all. Initially we were
only rallying from Sinamangal to
Koteshwore, when police interfered and
We are fined anywhere
from Rs. 200 to Rs.
5,000 for minor
offences
beat up some of our drivers. %u have to
also remember that there are around 2,500
members in our union, and I don't deny
some of them might have been motivated
by wrong intentions. The government,
on the other hand, knew the repercussions the chakka jam could create. They
turned a deaf ear to our demands. But it
was unfortunate the chakka jam took
place.
You also want to remove the rule on
compulsory seat belts and identity
cards?
There are cases where drivers have been
jailed for the whole day when their front-
seat passenger wasn't wearing a seat belt.
We have agreed that the driver's duty is
to make the passenger aware of the
seatbelt rule, but he shouldn't be punished for the passenger's wrongdoing.
Regarding the identity card, we weren't
against the system at all. We only wanted
it to be designed to make it easy for drivers to drive different taxis. The present
identity card doesn't allow that. On police atrocities, the Valley's Senior Superintendent of Police Surendra Pal has
given his mobile number to contact him
if such situations arise. He has assured
that all uniformed policemen unnecessarily troubling taxi drivers will be punished. A committee has been formed to
follow up on all our demands.
There are claims that the Maoists have
infiltrated Kathmandu as taxi drivers?
That's not true. We are all laborers. We
earn our living by working hard. We
honestly hope that peace will prevail
very soon. Many of our taxis have been
damaged by the Maoists, and violence
has put our lives in danger. We do not
want to associate ourselves with such activities as being carried out by the
Maoists.
Will you resort to another crippling
chakka jam again if the demands aren't
met?
We are well aware that the chakka jam
can harm the daily lives of the innocent.
For us, it was a compulsion. I will have
to sit with my colleagues and decide how
to move ahead if our demands aren't met.
I will do as they decide. □
56
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Books
Paeans And Platitudes
BYAJITBARAL
Very few biographies have been
written in Nepal, but no one deserved a good one more than Lain
Singh Bangdel, Nepal's foremost painter,
writer, humanist and art historian. We
should be thankful to Don
Messerschmidt and Bangdel's daughter,
Dina Bangdel, for embarking on the long
and arduous journey of writing the life
story of one of Nepal's most loved personalities.
The book is divided into two parts:
Bangdel's Life and Bangdel's Art. Starting from the migration of Bangdel's
grandfather to Darjeeling, the writers
sketch out Bangdel's childhood, his
schooling and love for drawing.
Bangdel's travels, first to Calcutta for
art studies and later to
Paris and his associations
with eminent people like
Satyajit Ray, Picasso,
Braque, the Indonesian
artist Affandi and BP
Koirala take up much of
the "Life" section.
Koriala's comment,
"Bangdel-ji, you must
come to Nepal," and late
Kng Mahendra's exhortations finally persuaded
him to return, uncertainly,
to Kathmandu and led to
his long tenure at the
Royal Nepal Academy.
The second part deals
exclusively with Bangdel's
work in literature, art and
art history. He was equally
gifted in all three. Bangdel heralded social realism in Nepali with his novels
"Outside the Country," "Maternal
Home" and "The Cripple's Friend." He
translated the world's greatest short stories for the benefit of Nepali readers,
and he wrote travelogues. He was in the
forefront of the beginnings of Nepali
modernism and worked in varied styles
and forms, greatly influencing the next
generation of artists. His research on
Nepal's ancient art and architecture is
extensive and unsurpassed. The book
"Stolen Images of Nepal" helped awaken
AGAINST THE CURRENT
(The Life of Lain Singh Bangdel)
Author: Don
Messerschmidt (with Dina
Bangdel)
Orchid Press (Bangkok)
Price: Rs. 850
Pages: 236
the world to the theft of ancient Nepali
art and has been responsible for the return of some prominent items.
After Bangdel's death in October
2002, newspaper stories portrayed
Bangdel as the central figure in Nepali
modernism. The book's epilogue tackles but fails to answer the contentious
issue: Was Bangdel really the "father of
modern Nepali art"?
The ten-page reference section
shows that the biography is written with
some academic rigor, but it is also riddled
with shortcomings. Bangdel's daughter,
Dina, with whom Messerschmidt wrote
the book, doesn't appear in the biography. Nor does Bangdel's wife, Manu,
except for a description of Bangdel's stay
in Paris and London. These omissions
make the canvas of Bangdel's life seem
unfinished. The writers
take what Bangdel says at
face value and don't feel the
need to corroborate from
other sources. They say
that many improvements
took place during his stints
as chancellor and member
of the Royal Nepal Academy, but details are conspicuously absent.
One comes across references throughout the
book that suggest that
Bangdel was insecure
about his Nepali identity.
Why? Was it a mere figment
of his imagination, or was
there something more than
what met the eye? The
writers fail to dig into the
psychology of his insecurity. The writers say that Bangdel was disillusioned
by the deposition of Prime Minister BP
Koirala, but they fail to explain why he
later came to Nepal at the request of the
very Eng who deposed him. There are
many such issues with the book.
This biography portrays Bangdel as
if he were cut out in gold. He wasn't,
surely. We need a better-rounded biography that brings out other shades of
the man, his life and his influence on
Nepali art. That would be an interesting read. □
Boolr
MarV%
After months of training forthe 18 Miss
Nepal participants, the curtains have
finally fallen on the Dabur Vatika Miss Nepal
2004. Those on stage who were beamed
through national television live were selected out of total 58 applications in two
different stages. Though Kathmandu still
dominated the demography ofthe participants, there were still some from far off as
Parbhat, Dhangadi, Nepalgunj and Dharan.
Nation Weekly met with some ofthe participants in the International Club, where
they were attending theirtraining since July
5, to inquire about their reading habits. Here
is what they had to say:
1. Sarah Gurung: "Sands of Time" by Sidney
Sheldon is her favorite and she is currently
reading "Women on Power."
2. Dhartee Sunwar: "Chicken Soup for the
Soul: A Christmas Treasury" is her favorite
and she is currently reading "Harry Potter &
the Goblet of Fire" by J. K. Rowling.
3. Shrismita Amatya: "Rage of Angels" by
Sidney Sheldon is her favorite and is she
currently reading "Stranger in the Mirror."
4. Shailaja Basnet: "Daddy" by Danielle
Steele is her favorite and she is currently reading 'Tell Me Your Dreams" by Sidney Sheldon.
5. Suzan Gurung: "The Alchemist" by Paulo
Coelho is her favorite and she is currently
reading "Congo" by Michael Crichton.
6. Arati Anand: "Muna Madan" by Laxmi
Prasad Devkota is her favorite.
7. Sukriti Baskota: "Mass of Deception"
published by Mills and Boon is her favorite
and she is currently reading "Sands of Time"
by Sidney Sheldon.
8. Mahima Bhattachan: "The Diary of Anne
Frank" by Anne Frank is her favorite and she
is currently reading "Chicken Soup for the
Soul."
9. Bimina Ranjit: "Ladies Coupe" by Anita
Nair is her favorite and she is currently reading "Eleventh Hour."
10. Payal Shakya: "Bend in the Road" by
Nicholas Sparks is her favorite and she is
currently reading "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by J. K. Rowling. □
nation weekly |  AUGUST 15, 2004
Jm
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The Everest Call
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The government is expected to announce an important verdict any
day. It's been a high-stakes battle:
Two young Sherpa climbers are fighting
it out over who holds the speed climbing record for Everest. It all began on
May 21 when Pemba Dorjee climbed the
world's tallest mountain in a record eight
hours and 10 minutes. And Lakpa Gyelu,
whose pervious record had been bettered
by more than two and a half hours, decided to question the claim.
Controversies have always been the
stuff of climbing legends. Mountaineering successes, after all, have launched
some extremely successful careers and
made simple people instant celebrities.
Tenzing Norgay, Edmund Hillary,
Reinhold Messner have now become
household names.
But the mother of all climbing controversies dates back to 1924. Did George
Leigh Mallory and his young climbing
partner Andrew Irvine conquer Everest,
30 years before Tenzing and Hillary did?
The 1924 Everest expedition has come to
light particularly after 1999 when the
Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition
discovered Mallory's body on the North
Face of Everest. Though there are no
clinching evidences to insist that the Britons had made it to the summit, researchers have presented stacks of circumstantial evidence to argue that they had.
Fresh controversies have erupted
over the achievements of two of the
world's most famous living climbers.
The achievements of Maurice Herzog
and Reinhold Messner could get irreparably tarnished over charges of foul play.
Herzog became a hero in post-war
France after the ascent of Annapurna in
1950. He was the leader ofthe first expedition to scale an "eight-thousander"
(above 8,000 meters).
Perhaps the most accomplished
climber of all time, Messner, now 59,
began his career in 1970 with the conquest of Nanga Parbat. His climbing
partner and brother, Gunther died during the descent down an unexplored
route. Other members of the climbing
team are now saying Messner was more
concerned about personal glory than sav
ing his sick brother. Messner insists
Gunther was swept by an avalanche. Like
Herzog in the 50s, Messner would become an international celebrity over
time. He now has several firsts to his
credit: first to climb Everest without
oxygen, first to scale all 14 eight-
thousanders, first to traverse Antarctica
without the aid of machines or dogs.
The accusations against Herzog are
as damaging. Very few know that his
climbing partners Louis Lachnenal,
Lionel Terray and Gaston Rebuffat were
far more accomplished climbers than
Herzog, an executive at a rubber company in 1950. In a bid to save their frostbitten team leader Herzog, Terray and
Rebuffat never made it to the summit.
Worse, before leaving for Nepal, Herzog
made all the members of his team sign a
contract that put a five-year moratorium
on writing about the Annapurna expedition. Herzog's own "Annapurna," which
is laced with all the drama ofthe 1950
ascent and sufferings thereafter, became
a mountaineering classic. It has sold
more than 11 million copies to date.
Herzog has been mayor of Chamonix,
minister of youth and sports in the government headed by Charles de Guile and
the CEO for several companies. It's only
in recent years people have begun to
question whether his historic
Annapurna conquest was all that heroic.
Ever since Tenzing Norgay's success
in 1950, the conquest Everest has stirred
the imagination of every single Nepali.
And to many young Shrepas, the call of
the world's tallest mountain and the attendant stardom is too strong to resist.
One of them best answered the question for us: "It is the recognition that
comes with the Everest success," says Ang
Karma Sherpa, president of the Nepal
Mountaineering Federation. "It is the ultimate." Now part ofthe fact-finding
team that is looking into the latest
Everest controversy, Ang Karma is trying his best to make sure that it remains
that way.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
AUGUST 15, 2004   |  nation weekly
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