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Nation Weekly July 11, 2004, Volume 1, Number 12 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-07-11

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 IT'SFUTBOL I HONORING GURKHAS I WANDERING WAGLE I QUIET, PLEASE
JULY 11,2004 VOL. I, NO. 12
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Tel. No: 4227793,4227791, Mobile: 9851078058, 9851078059, 9851078060, 9851033393
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tel: 4229825, 4261831, 4263098
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OF MANAGEMENT
Naya Baneshwor, Kathmandu. Ph: 4474712, 4469019, email: aim@aim.edu.np
 COVER STORY
20 Mending Fences
By John Narayan Parajuli
The Deuba government is all set to get new coalition partners but that doesn't
solve its problem: juggling peace talks with the parliamentary elections by
next April
Opinion by Suman Pradhan: Historic Opportunity
Interviews: Bhim Rawal of CPN(UML) and Chakra Prasad Bastola of NC
COLUMNS
11 Shooting In
The Dark
By Pratyoush Onta
The international community has invested a lot
on capacity building of
Nepal's media but there
has not been a single
public assessment of this support
30 Quiet, Please
By Samuel Thomas
A moratorium on development talk shows
is just as important as a
ceasefire
38 It's Futbol
By Jenny Maya
Kathmandu's regular nightlife has taken
a break—weekly live band sessions have
been postponed, dance floors are empty
pool tables have been abandoned, and if
you want to find people to hang out with,
head for the nearest TV at the nearest bar
40 Middle Class Race
By Sushmajoshi
The culture of materialism arrived full-
force with the upscale supermarkets
bringing with them the mall culture of
seeing and being seen, the promenade of
cars, the lines of casually dressed rich
people buying tinned eatables
18 In Your Honor
I   By Satishjung Shahi in Pokhara
The Gurkha memorial mu-
I   seum has received more visi-
^*   tors since it moved from
Kathmandu to Pokhara
26 Up And Mobile
■  By Yashas Vaidya
I  Doko Dai, a mobile library
I  project, has found a simple
■*  but unique solution that will
give villagers easier access to books
28 Lost Rites
By Sunil Pokhrel
I Vidyaashram attendance is
I  declining while demand for
'  Purohits is increasing. Saving
this essential element in our culture may
require big changes in attitudes
BUSINESS PROFILE
m
32   People First
|   By Shushank Singh
I  A late entrant to the courier
I   and express-delivery market
* in Nepal, FedEx has now fo
cused on brand promotion and is expanding its customer base
ARTS & SOCIETY
34   Uttam's Avataars
By Sanjeev Uprety
Uttam Nepali's main strength lies in his
restless spirit of experimentation
36  Shades Of
Laughter
By Sushmajoshi
A rockin' rebel teacher's story and a genre
crossover attempt by an auteur both
tickle your funny bone
DEPARTMENTS
6
LETTERS
10
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
14
CAPSULES
16
BIZ BUZZ
39
CITY PAGE
44
KHULA MANCH: NARAYAN WAGLE
45
BOOKS: IN TIMES OF SIEGE
46
LAST WORD
 What is the
correlation between
establishing peace in
Nepal and removing
monarchy? ■ ■
DIPTASHAH
Emperors of ice cream
SANJEEV UPRETYS FIRST-PERSON
account of his time with immigrants
from Gadwal while in Rhode Island is
brilliant (Re: "Emperor of Ice Cream,"
Arts and Society June 27). I say this having lived in New York City for more
than 10 years and having interacted with
a number of immigrants—Indians, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Mexicans, Afghanis, but
mostly with our own Nepalis. It's the
same old story: we have all escaped (or
so we think) the hardship back home
and are in search for a better tomorrow.
Here is a snapshot of a conversation
after a few beers (Budweiser is a favorite) , when the interaction gets really intimate—or overpowering, if you neither
have a sense of humor nor are bound by
a sense of kinship. "Spice and Curry can't
do without me," "those Spanish guys at
the Sunset Cafe are lazy and the boss has
found that," "my boss has promised to
sponsor me a green card and I can then
go home." Many of us are indeed lonely
here. But all of us become "Emperors of
Ice cream" for that fleeting moment
with our friends. Life's not all that great
in the United States for the struggling
immigrant. But he needs to bluff himself into believing it is, just like the
Rawats, Uprety's roommates. He needs
something to carry on.
SURESH HOOMAGAIN
NEWYORKCITY
Nepal's roadmap
KIRAN CHALISE RAISES A NUMBER
of issues relevant to the state of Nepali
politics (Re: "Nepal's Roadmap," Viewpoint, June 27). His analysis accurately
identifies key deficiencies in the Nepali
political arena. Further, his assertion
that the lack of credible political representation has made it incumbent upon
"ordinary Nepalis and the world community to ask difficult questions," leaves
no room for disagreement.
Although in concurrence with the
basic tenets of Chalise's proposition, I
would recommend the re-calibration of
the sequence of his proposed roadmap
with several pre-qualifying questions.
The first and most pressing question is, given the vulnerable security
situation in Nepal, how much credibility can one expect a referendum to have
in the eyes of future generations of
Nepalis (or the international community for that matter) ? If the fundamental assumption under which referenda
are held entails the ability to voice one's
opinion in a free and fair manner, then I
would urge that the establishment of
such an environment be endorsed as a
prerequisite to contemplating the notion of a referendum. Holding a referendum to chastise one institution at the
urging of another has the potential to
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 propagate precisely what Chalise warns
is happening in Nepal—"dealing with
the sideshows" while skirting the real
issues.
Second, I think it is incumbent upon
all Nepali citizens to take a step back
from the "referendum bandwagon" and
analyze the origins of this debate. As
with all political maneuvering, timing is
of critical importance. So, another relevant question that should precede those
outlined by the columnist is "why is the
issue of a republic pertinent at this particular juncture?" The answer, depending on one's political inclination may
range from criticism ofthe monarchy's
actions in the past 20 months (preceding
the re-appointment of Deuba) to a systematic denigration ofthe actions of our
politicians for the past 13 years.
Determining one's political orientation, however, is not the aim of this
exercise. To quote Chalise, "some fresh,
alternative, strategic thinking," is what is
needed. The point is to engage in critical
analysis and decide for oneself the utility
of maintaining a constitutional monarchy
over establishing a republic. The point is
to think outside ofthe "walls of political
construct" and evaluate where the drive
for a republic originated from, the timing
of this drive and to whom the ultimate
benefit of fixation on this debate will
go. The real question is, aside from posturing on the part of our politicians, what
additional utility does the promulgation
of a republic provide for our fellow
Nepalis? Then comes the question of
what constitutes the real issues for
Nepal. The very nature of this question is
immensely complex because our problems are as vast and dynamic as the construct of our nation, the societal/economic
stratification of our people and the myriad
"solutions" offered by intellectuals.
However, I must disagree with Chalise in
saying that as vast as the real issues plaguing Nepal may be, the question of a referendum on the fate ofthe monarchy (at a
time when the country is virtually in a state
of civil war), does not make the first "short
list" of pressing concerns for the country
If anything, it has immense potential to
evolve into a problem itself After all, what
is the correlation between establishing
peace in Nepal and removing the
monarchy? Is it a widely held belief that if
a referendum is held and constitutional
monarchy voted in as the system of choice,
that the Maoists will simply lay down their
arms and return to the political
mainstream? Ithinknot Whatmightone
ask, would happen if the opposite
occurred? Would the political forces in
Nepal unanimously honor the decision?
Would the Maoists then disarm and adhere to the people's will? The answer may
be "perhaps," but the follow-up question
is whether a "perhaps" suffices when lives
are on the line. Does a "perhaps" warrant
the quest for an outcome? So what then,
is the true purpose behind a referendum
on a republic in Nepal?
On the subject of dealing with the real
issues, let's talk about how to improve
the security situation in our country,
how to ensure that corrupt and manipulative politicians never again lead our
governments, how to help our security
forces improve their human rights
record, how to ensure that our children
are accorded every opportunity to a
proper childhood, how to de-politicize
the education sector, how to guarantee
that every Nepali is ensured equal rights
and privileges as mandated by our
Constitution. Let's get to the more peripheral issues that are likely to serve the
interests of a minority political elite only
after each and every single Nepali is fed
at least two healthy meals a day, has running water and electricity and can read,
write and think for themselves. How
does this sound as a roadmap designed
to deal with the real issues?
Nepal is not an Australia in a time of
peace, deciding whether or not to retain
Queen Elizabeth as the officiating head
of state. The analogy drawn by Chalise
between what happened in 1999 in Australia and what he proposes is the most
urgent need of the hour for Nepal, is
quite simply, flawed. Above all else, the
most urgent need ofthe hour is to remain focused on the constraints under
which we have to operate, to keep matters in practical perspective and to move
forward knowing fully well that we as a
nation, are dealing with a crisis that will
take years to resolve. There are dozens
of real issues and obstacle that lie ahead in
the immediate future for Nepal. Holding
a referendum on the relevance of the
monarchy is not one of them.
DIPTASHAH
VIA E-MAIL
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nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
 POLITICS
SPORTS
ARTS AND SOCIETY
OPINION
Did you, too, O friend, suppose
democracy was only for
elections, for politics, and for
party name? I say 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...
Walt Whitman
 DEVELOPMENT
EDUCATION
CIVIL CONFLICT
BUSINESS
www.nation.com.np
EVERY      MONDAY
 YOUNG SINGER AND VETERAN POET:
Rastra Kabi Madhav Prasad Ghimire and
Prava Bhetwal, 9, teamed up in a new
CD, a collection of national songs
nw/Sagar Shrestha
,• >•;-fc \. v'
f;*<# ■"■■*
 iewpoint
Shooting In The Dark
The international community has invested a lot on capacity building of Nepal's media
but there has not been a single public assessment of this support
BY PRATYOUSH ONTA
1 recently read two books that discuss various aspects ofthe Nepali
media under the state of Emergency (November 2001 to August
2002). They are "Sankatkalma Nepali Press" edited by Mahendra
Bista (2003) and "Nepali Press During State of Emergency" edited by
Chiranjibi Kafle (2003). Both of these books were published bythe
Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), the largest elected body of
Nepali journalists.
Although the English version is more or less a translation ofthe
Nepali one, it is not an exact translation. From these two books we
learn a lot about the legal means deployed to curtail various freedoms
ofthe media at the beginning of the emergency, of the execution,
arrest and torture of media people by both state forces and by
insurgents and the protest activities carried out by FNJ to secure,
among other things, the freedom of its members. However, this
essay is not a review of these books. Instead it is an exploration of
a statement included in the preface to both books by Taranath
Dahal, President of FNJ.
He writes, "Many non-government organizations thrived in the name
of working for press freedom and the international donor agencies also
backed them. Whereas (sic), the FNJ continued to suffer resource crunch,
as it was unable even to provide a minimum possible humanitarian
support to the victims of torture and suppression during this period. This has suggested the need for strong fund base for
the FNJ in future." Dahal does not specify
which NGOs have "thrived in the name of
workingfor press freedom" and which of
them were backed by donor agencies.
But it is clear that he thinks (a) there are
many such organizations; (b) these organizations received lots of money from
donors; (c) the quantity and quality of
work these organizations did was somehow not proportionate to the money they
got; and (d) FNJ did not have enough funds to provide essential support
and other services to its members who had become victims of one or
other form of atrocities during the period of emergency.
Let us look at these points one at a time. As a media researcher, I
have sought information about individuals and organizations that have
done work in the field of media freedom. While the number of individuals
who have written short articles about this theme in newspapers or magazines is large—I would refer readers to the appropriate listing in Nepali
Media Bibliography (2003, Martin Chautari)—the number of organizations that have worked on this theme is quite small. In fact, I can not
think of even five such Nepali organizations.
Second, no information is available in the public domain regarding
the volume of donor support for Nepali organizations working on press
freedom. Hence Dahal could be correct in assuming that lots of money
has been given but I suspect that th is is not the case. Donors with offices
in Nepal tend to support media-projects with relatively small budgets.
Unless such support has been secured from sources outside of Nepal,
I would think that the volume of support is not very big.
The third point is related to how the work performed by Nepali organizations ought to be assessed in terms of its quantity, quality and the
funding support provided. Given general trends, Dahal's characterization
that the quantity and quality of work recorded on the theme of press
freedom is not proportionate to the support received is probably correct
but we would have to do such an assessment in a case by case basis.
Finally, there is no reason to doubt that the FNJ did not have enough
resources to provide essential services to its members who had become
victims of atrocities during the state of emergency. This requires a discussion about how FNJ has thought about financing its own operation and this
is a subject about which not much information has been put out by
the FNJ in the public domain. But to get back to the main point of this
essay, I think Dahal's statement points at a more general and pervasive
problem regarding assessment of donor support for media in Nepal. It is a
fact that the international community has invested a lot of money in
capacity enhancement of Nepali media training institutions and media
practitioners in the past several decades. However there has not been a
single public assessment of this support experience. No one has kept a
public record ofthe types and volumes
of assistance that has been rendered
to Nepali media practitioners and institutions and there is virtually no analysis
of what kind and volume of assistance
has worked and what has not. Surely,
there is a plethora of project reports,
held in private by the donor agencies
and the project executing Nepali institutions. Tacitly it is understood that the
primary logic of these reports is, in the
last instance, to justify that donor funds
were disbursed in an approved manner
and the work proposed in the mutual contract was accomplished. There is
a lot of emphasis on the accountability of this kind of assistance but
accountability is understood in the sense highlighted by accountants and
auditors.
This would have been something to celebrate were it not taking place
in the more or less complete absence of accountability understood as
(a) honesty and integrity of the application of both intellect and effort on
the work at hand; and (b) a public policy debate in which the costs and
benefits of alternate support mechanisms are discussed comparatively.
Donor support for Nepali media is necessary but so is a mechanism that
evaluates the kind and quality of such support publicly. □
(Associated with Martin Chautari, Onta has edited/co-edited seven books on
Nepali media)
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
11
 exercise your freedom
Freedom is a state of mind. Express it the way you
think it. Freedom is a precious gift. Cherish it. Freedom
lives within you. Unleash its spirit.
The Himalayan Times is all about freedom. Freedom of
thought and expression. Freedom of knowledge and
information. Freedom without mental boundaries. Freedom
is calling. Are you up to it?
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^
 Capsules
Government probe
The government has formed
a five-member team to investigate the alleged disappearances from the government
custody. Amnesty International documented more than
150 cases of such "disappearances" in 2003, starting with
the breakdown of ceasefire in
August, and in the following
four months. The relatives of
the alleged abductees called
off their hunger strike in
Kathmandu last week after
the government announced
the formation of the probe
team. The protesters were
demanding that the whereabouts of their disappeared
kin be made public. The
probe team is headed by
Narayan Gopal Malego, joint
secretary at the Home Ministry, and is to submit its findings within 30 days.
Armed Indians
The Thankot police arrested
six armed Indians entering
Kathmandu. Three of them
were identified as members
of Reserve Police Line, Uttar
Pradesh. The vehicle carrying them had a flag of the
Samajbadi Party The Indians
said they were on the way to
visit Pashupatinath and the
arms were carried along for
security reasons. The police
handed them to the Indian
Embassy.
Tariff increase
The Drinking Water Supply
Corporation is all set to increase the tariff for drinking
water. According to Kantipur,
the tariff will go up by as
much as 15 percent within a
month. The newspaper
quotes a high-level source as
saying that the tariff would go
up by a further 35 percent in
the near future. The tariff increases come in line with the
conditions set by the donors
who are funding the
Melamchi Project. They have
asked for a significant revision ofthe overall tariff structure by next January. The
Asian Development Bank,
one ofthe major financiers of
the Melamchi project, wants
the water supply in the Valley
to be privatized before construction works begin on the
25.6-km tunnel of Melamchi.
Separate ministry
Tribhuvan University (TU)
has proposed a separate ministry to cover technical education. The Vice Chancellor,
Prof Govind Prasad Sharma,
RNA chief
A rmy
/A Tha,
A.   -JJkArm
rmy Chief Pyar Jung
Thapa has ordered
y barracks to follow the Supreme Court's recent order. Thapa's reply to
the Court states that the security forces were committed to honoring human
rights, international humanitarian laws and Supreme
Court orders. The apex court
had also ordered the Army to
disclose the whereabouts of
Kamal KC, an alleged Maoist,
arrested three months ago.
The Army Chief's written re-
14
sponse also said that the Army
did not have KC in its custody. Attorney General Sushil
Pant told Nation Weekly that
the Army-Supreme Court rift
had been blown out of proportions by the media. Pant
said the media had presented
remarks made by the Army
chief without putting it in
context, deliberately leaving
out Thapa's pledges to follow
the court's order. "The Army
recognizes the supremacy of
the Supreme Court," Pant
said.
said that TU has been expanding into new technical areas
and the Ministry of Education
was unable to keep up with the
rapid changes. He proposed to
hand over the campuses affiliated to TU to other universities. The university has 278
campuses with over 210,000
students.
Illegal Nepalis
The Australian immigrant authorities have detained at least
three illegal Nepali immigrants. This came after a series of raids on more than a
dozen locations in Sydney,
Kantipuronline reported.
Twenty-seven illegal immigrants from various countries
were detained in the raids.
Arrangements have been
made to deport the detainees.
French concern
The French Embassy expressed concern over the delay in the trial of Charles
Sobhraj, a French national.
Sobhraj was arrested nine
months ago in Thamel. He
has been in the Central Jail
awaiting a court verdict
since. The embassy wrote to
the Nepali authorities via the
consular section of Ministry
of Foreign Affairs. The final
hearing of the Sobhraj case
is slated for July 5. Sobhraj is
accused of killing American
Connie Jo Bronish and Canadian Laurent Ormond
Carrierre in 1975 when he
came into Nepal as Henricus
Bintanja, a Dutch national.
Women's crusade
A women's group in
Malekhu VDC, Dhading,
have successfully banned
drinking and gambling in the
village. The president ofthe
group, Kamala Ghale, says
that the men are now engaged in more productive
activities. The group received support from a local
NGO, Self-Help Group.
Taking a cue from the initiative, a number of neighboring villages are now following suit.
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Amnesty appeal
Amnesty International, in an
open letter to the Maoist
supremo Prachanda, condemned continuing attacks
on civilians by the Maoists.
The human rights group also
expressed its concern at the
reported torture of civilians
by the Maoists and the impact of their activities on children in particular. Amnesty
also asked the Army to come
clean about people they have
in their custody. It asked the
Army to make public the
whereabouts of Raj Kumar
Mandal, Dharma Narayan
Maharjan, Aasha Narayan
Maharjan and Nati Shrestha,
who were reportedly arrested by the security personnel between May 26 and
June 28.
Bomb in BASE
Maoists detonated a powerful bomb at the offices ofthe
Backward Society Education (BASE) in Dhangadi.
They also threatened to kill
Dilli Chaudhary, who heads
BASE. The organization is
noted for its successful campaign to end bonded labor.
No casualties were reported
but the BASE office was severely damaged. BASE has
continued to promote social
justice for Nepal's
marginalized populations
through education and income-generating initiatives.
Chaudhary and BASE are
caught in the crossfire between demands of the
Maoists for food, shelter,
money and support, and the
retaliation they face from
the government for harboring Maoists, Forefront said
in a statement. Forefront is
an international organization
of grassroot human rights
workers. Chaudhary has categorically refused to endorse
and support the Maoist's
cause. Forefront has ex
pressed its solidarity with
Chaudhary and his colleagues and has asked the
Maoists to respect human
rights and to abide by international humanitarian standards.
Tatopani blockade
Maoists ended an indefinite
blockade imposed at the
Tatopani border between
Nepal and China. The
Maoists, who had issued an
order to the business community not to pay custom
duties, imposed the blockade
three weeks ago. The blockade was called off after the
business community asked
for its repeal. Tatopani is the
main transit point on Nepal-
China border.
Sheriff shot
Maoists assassinated Harka
Bahadur Gurung, mayor of
Pokhara, who had refused to
give in to the Maoist call to
step down. The mayor's
driver and his bodyguard
were airlifted for treatment
in Kathmandu. There have
been numerous attacks on
heads of local bodies appointed by the Thapa government. Gopal Giri, mayor
OLYMPIAN SMILE: Taekwondo star
Sangina Baidhya was named 'Player of
the Year' by Nepal Sports Journalists'
Forum
of Birgunj, was shot dead last
year. Punaram Pokharel, the
mayor of Butwal, had a close
shave; he lost his eye in the
Maoist attack. All ofthe three
mayors were members ofthe
RPR
On deathrow
The Chinese government
sentenced two Nepalis to
death in Tibet and handed a
prison sentence to a third
one. All were charged with
drug trafficking. The two
Nepalis sentenced to death
are Ravi Dahal of Morang
and Ishwori Kumar Shrestha
of Sindhupalchowk According to Kantipur, the two
were arrested a year ago in
Khasawith 29.9 kilograms of
contraband but the paper did
not reveal what the drugs
were. Raywat Kumar Dahal
of Bhadrapur, Jhapa was
handed a 15-year sentence.
The three have decided to
appeal the verdict.
Circus ruckus
Twelve children from The
Great Roman Circus in
Kamailganj, Gonda, have returned to Nepal. They were
rescued from the circus with
the assistance ofthe local authorities. Another eight girls
were brought back to Gonda
from Orissa by the circus
owners. The police will take
custody ofthe girls and hand
them over to their parents as
directed by the Lucknow
High Court. A number of
Nepali girls had gone missing
after a botched rescue attempt
in Kamailganj on June 15. The
rescue attempt turned violent
when the circus owners and
their henchmen attacked the
activists and Nepali parents
who had raided the circus to
free the children.
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
 Biz Buz
NUT'S NEW PROGRAM
NUT launched its new GNIIT program, an "industry-endorsed" multiple-track curriculum
for IT career aspirants. The newly
launched GNIIT
program has
been "co-designed" with the
IT and IT Enabled Service
(ITES) industries.
With this curriculum, NUT hopes to provide to
its students the IT-related skills that are currently demanded by the market and fulfill
emerging manpower needs in the IT sector.
The program has 4 specialization tracks built
upon a common foundation. The 4 specialization tracks are: Software Engineering, Systems Engineerings Networking, Information
Systems Management and Business Process
Management. After the first semester, the performance and specific strengths ofthe students will be used to determine their specialization track. The GNIIT career program offers
one year training through its Professional Practice (PP) module. This module which takes
place in the final year ofthe three-year program puts students in various organizations
to gain a year's work experience, for which
they are remunerated bythe organizations.
Since its introduction, nearly 75,000 students have gone through the Professional
Practice module ofthe GNIIT program.
NEW KIA MODEL
Continental Trading, the exclusive dealer for Kia
Motors in Nepal, launched the Picanto, Kia's
new car model. The Picanto has a 64 bhp
engine with a displacement of a 1086cc. It
has a maximum speed of 150 km per hour
and can reach 96 kmph in 15.1 seconds. The Picanto is marketed as being
ideal for both city roads and wide open
highways. The new model is available in
nine vibrant colors with three seat colors
to go along with the exterior.
BELL 407 TRIALS
Bell Helicopter Textron concluded its high
altitude trials ofthe single turbine engine
helicopter, the Bell 407. During the trials
in and around Mustang district, the 407 flew
well above 20,000 feet. There are over 600
Bell helicopters operating in nearly 50 countries. These trials represented the first appearance ofthe Bell 407 in Nepal. It is hoped the
407 will help promote Nepal as an adventure
tourism destination and boost the Nepali tourism industry. AVCO International Pvt. Ltd., the
exclusive independent representative for Bell
Helicopter in Nepal, was the authorized handling agency for the trials.
CENTRAL ZOO PROJECT
Representatives from Toyota Motor Corporation (Japan), Toyota Motor Corporation (Delhi),
Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Mr. Suraj
Vaidya, President of Vaidya's Organization of
Industries and Trading Houses, handed over a
project at the Central Zoo to the King Mahendra
Trust for Nature Conservation. During the course
ofthe project, renovation ofthe Entrance Plaza
and Asiatic Lion's Enclosure, and construction
ofthe Siamang Gibbon Enclosure took place.
The handing over ofthe project took place at a
function in the Central Zoo presided over by
Minister of Physical Planning&Works Prakash
Man Singh. The project started in May 2003
and was completed on 12 November in the
same year. A total contribution of Rs.
4,497,193 was made bythe organizations.
This has been the largest donation to the zoo
from the private sector.
KYMCO ZING 150
Star International Limited launched the Zing
150 motorcycle manufactured bythe Taiwanese company, Kymco. With a displacement of
149cc and a maximum output of 12bhp, the
Zing 150 gives a mileage of around 40 kilometers per liter. It is available in four different
colors; Red, Black, Silver and Blue. The Zing
150 has both air and oil coolingsystem. Added
features include disk brakes and electric start.
The motorcycle comes with a two-year warranty.
RIN TIN INSTANT NOODLES
Chaudhary Group launched the new, 75g instant Rin Tin noodles. The launch has come
after the success ofthe 50g Rin Tin snack
noodles says the company. It is targeting children as potential consumers for its new product. The brand character, Rin Tin, is a village
boy. The company hopes that the Rin Tin
boy, characterized as an adventurous and
fun loving kid will appeal to
the younger generation. Rin
Tin 75g instant noodles is
available at a price of Rs.10.
fc
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Dnondup ^TCAanqsar
J   Handicraft Center J
FINE        CARPETS
Tridevil^3hlirl|l
Opp. of Sanchaya^si
Tel: 4416483, ^4
E-mail: w
 Gurkhas
sasfc
IN YOUR
"There was once this old and
retired British army corporal
and his wife who burst into tears
after they came here. It held a
lot ofmeaningfor them. We hope
this place could attract more
young people to get in touch
with the living history of the
Gurkhas."
- HASTA BAHADUR NEPALI,
guide and guard at the Gurkha
Memorial Museum
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
IN POKHARA
As you head towards Damside from
Lakeside's tourist sprawl, on the
left inside the compound of Hotel Nature Land stand four tin-roofed
rooms. This simple building is the home
ofthe museum honoring Nepal's famous
Gurkha soldiers.
The Gurkha Memorial Museum
moved from Kathmandu to Pokhara,
hometown of many Gurkhas, in October 2001. Since then the museum has
received more visitors, enough at least
to pay the Rs. 6,000 monthly rent. However, a bigger, well-equipped museum
building is needed to house new contributions of material and to meet visitors'
demand for much better space. A new
facility is also necessary in order to preserve properly the memorabilia that
range from military uniforms worn by
Victoria Cross holders, medals and
badges to weapons to books on the
Gurkhas and communication equipment
used during war.
"This space is already too small," says
former British Army Captain Lai
Bahadur Rana, who manages the museum
on behalf of the Gurkha Memorial Trust.
The trust started the museum in 1995 to
preserve Gurkha history after King
Birendra gave audience to seven living
18
 Gurkha Victoria Cross winners. The
Victoria Cross is Britain's highest award
for military gallantry.
The museum exhibits items from the
British, Indian and Nepal armies and is
managed by the trust's 11-member executive committee and advisors from all
three armies. "The Gurkhas are, after all,
part of all three armies, including the
Singapore Police," adds Capt. Rana. Histories record that the British forces
formed a separate company of Gurkha
soldiers around 1767 after they were
impressed by their bravery during battles
with Britain's East India Company.
In the 20th century, Gurkha soldiers
were part of Britain's military campaigns
in the World Wars as well as in Malaya,
Borneo, Cyprus, the Falklands, Hong
Kong and the Gulf War. Over 3,000
Gurkha soldiers are still serving in the
British Gurkha Army. The force has been
consolidated into one regiment, the
Royal Gurkha Rifles, since the handover
of Hong Kong to China.
Most ofthe museum's exhibits have
come from the surplus collection of a similar Gurkha Museum in London and from individual contributions made
by former army men. The four
rooms in the present space are
dedicated to the Gurkha regiments, core Gurkha regiments
such as signals and transport
that helped in logistics during wartime,
the military medals and Victoria Cross
winners. Some ofthe prized possessions
include a life-size replica ofthe Queen's
Truncheon, the Victoria Cross, the VC
Champagne issued in honor of the
Gurkha VC winners, a heliograph used
for sending signals on war fields and a
tall radio set used by British Gurkhas in
Nepal to communicate between London and Kathmandu.
The museum's relocation to Pokhara
came, as Captain Rana puts it, because
the marketing of the location in
Kathmandu went very wrong, and few
visitors came. But even though that the
number of visitors has gone up with the
museum's new address, the trust's request for a much better premise in
Pokhara has not gained much momentum. 'We sent a proposal to the Tourism
Ministry during the tenure ofthe Chand
government to allow us to co-locate with
the Western Region Museum in Naya
Bazaar in the heart of Pokhara," says
Capt. Rana. 'We still do not know what
is happening due to the political instability" The trust
is now planning to build its
own two-story building at
Deep, in front ofthe British
Gurkha Camp in Pokhara,
and shift the museum there
while they wait for the
ministry's decision.  □
19
  Mendin
f n
The Deuba government is all set to get
new coalition partners but that doesn't solve
its problem: juggling peace talks with the
parliamentary elections by next April
BY JOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
After keeping a lonely vigil
for a month, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
. eventually appears set to
■fulfill a key responsibility
the Eng entrusted in him: form an all-
party government. While this will certainly give his beleaguered government
some respite, the prime minister still
has some way to go before he gets anywhere close to the second responsibility of holding parliamentary elections
by next April. And it will be a tough job
juggling one unstated responsibility: fitting in the peace talks and brokering a
permanent ceasefire with the Maoists
in between.
"Who are they trying to hoodwink?"
says a Nepali Congress central committee member, referring to the coalition-in-making and recent pronouncements by UML and NC(D) leaders that
the four-party (RPP and NSP are the
other two parties) government has
higher chances of doing what two previous governments, headed by
Lokendra Bahadur Chand and Surya
Bahadur Thapa, failed to do: strike a
lasting peace deal with the Maoists. But
even Deuba's ardent supporters admit
that a permanent peace is going to be an
uphill task. And that for a number of
reasons.
If the four agitating parties, notably
the Nepali Congress, continue to cry
foul over the UML departure from the
five-party alliance, the Deuba government will not even get to see a customary honeymoon phase after the Cabinet
expansion. But it remains to be seen
whether the agitating parties will be able
to hold their fort together, a rare feat in
Nepali politics, where alliances are born
or broken more out of expediency than
ideology.
Leaders ofthe new alliance however
have been trying hard to underscore one
point: the four-party agitation has lost
its relevance after Deuba's re-appointment as prime minister and return ofthe
executive powers to the ruling Cabinet—exemplified, according to Deuba
and his new coalition partner UML, in
the form of the defunct Work Performance Regulation.
"Just because an alliance is composed, other alliances do not become
irrelevant overnight," says Chakra Prasad
Bastola, former foreign minister and
central committee member ofthe Nepali
Congress, defending the legitimacy of
the four-party alliance. Bastola dismisses
any suggestions of his party joining the
government.
21
 Story
'We Can't Be Held Hostage To Indecision'
After Sher Bahadur Deuba's
appointment as prime
.minister, CPN (UML)
quickly supported his appointment
as "partial correction of regression," indicating that it could join
the Deuba government. Bhim
Rawal, a UML Central Committee
Member, told John Narayan
Parajuli of Nation Weekly his
party's decision to join the government (which looked a clear
possibility when we went to press)
was based on a simple rationale,
"UML believes the country cannot
be held hostage to indecision."
Prime Minister Deuba has prioritized parliamentary elections;
does this sit well with UML?
We have put forward a nine-point
agenda and we are discussing it
with NC(D). However, we have kept
other options open. It depends on
how Maoists opt for crisis resolution. CPN(UML) is prepared to display maximum flexibility.
What implications will UML's absence from the five-party alliance have on the political landscape?
Right through the agitation, we held
it that parties should offer viable
alternatives and behave responsibly. Other parties remained indecisive and they would neither
accept our proposal to bail the
country out from the stalemate nor
come up with their own proposal.
Now, we believe that if the Deuba
government can bring in other parties, it will facilitate resolution of
the current crisis.
What do you mean by "partial
correction of regression"?
Doesn't it sound like another
political word game?
Disgracefully dismissed, elected
Prime Minister Deuba has been
reappointed and the King has expressly accepted the people's
sovereignty. Previous amend-
J.
ments made to the regulation for
the functioning of the cabinet has
been corrected. This exemplifies
both the partial achievement ofthe
democratic movement and the
partial correction of the regression.
UML seems to have drawn lessons from Indian coalition politics, but is bickering for ministerial berths the right way to
kick-start a new coalition?
In coalitions, issues of power shar-
ingarise naturally but our priority
is to stick to Common Minimum
Program (CMP). So long as we
have that, the question of who
gets what becomes secondary.
Having said that, we have felt that
the proportional representation in
the government must be on the
basis of seats in the dissolved
House.
Why such a delay in joining the
government? You think Prime
Minister Deuba is not a reliable
partner?
It is quite natural that the groundwork would take some time. We
wanted to make fundamentals of
the coal ition government clear, taking the new government as an op
portunity to resolve the present
crisis. Our decision to join the government demonstrates that we are
ready to work together with Prime
Minister Deuba. Moreover, he has
realized his past mistakes and we
should definitely give him the benefit of doubt.
Does Prime Minister Deuba have
what it takes to lead a divided
nation?
Prime Minister Deuba has an opportunity to restore normalcy in the
country. If the Maoists opt for dialogue, the government should
come forward with maximum flexibility even if that means seeking
any sort of fresh mandate from
the people and accepting UN me-
diation.
But Prime Minister Deuba has
already said he doesn't want UN
mediation?
I am not aware of any such statements bythe prime minister. But
as far as my understanding goes,
all of us remain open to necessary national and international
cooperation to resolve the Maoist
problem. When we speak of international cooperation, UN naturally
comes at the top. D
T
J.
Deuba's aides however say the prime
minister wants to keep some ministerial berths free for the possible entry of
the Nepali Congress. Famous for walking an extra mile to appease irate members from outside his party, Deuba can
be very tenacious as history proves. In
the mid-90s, he presided over an ugly
era of coalition politics, which ultimately reduced governance to a single
mantra: survival at any cost. This time
around, Deuba has promised more dignified governance.
Last week, four parties—UML, NSP,
RPP and NC (D)—agreed on the common minimum program for governance.
The document, among other things, underlined the commitment to protect
democracy, approaching the Maoist
problem with utmost flexibility and getting grips on security.
Even without those long-term and
ambitious goals, Deuba has had a
handful in allocating ministerial
berths. The plump portfolios have already been either promised to the
UML, or have been already allocated
to NC(D) functionaries like Prakash
Man Singh and Bimalendra Nidhi.
While the leaders publicly insist that
power-sharing has never been a problem between them, few Nepalis believe their claim.
Within his own party, Deuba has
some juggling to do. There are such
young Turks like Minendra Rijal and
Prakash Sharan Mahat, clean and intelligent but without a proven popular
base; and there are the likes of Bijaya
Gachhedar and Chiranjibi Wagle,
tainted by charges of corruption, but
with a comparatively larger following.
And there are some serious problems outside his party.
UML General Secretary Madhav
Kumar Nepal has already decried
Deuba's prioritizing parliamentary
elections as the government's main
agenda. "Restoring peace must be the
first priority" Bhim Rawal ofthe UML
told Nation Weekly. "We want the government to display maximum flexibility even if that means accepting UN
mediation for establishing peace. Our
party is even prepared to go to the constituent assembly if a consensus can be
reached with other parties." But Deuba
22
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 seems reluctant to publicly commit to
either.
Surprisingly, UML has stood steadfast in its defense of Deuba's appointment,
a rare display of solidarity despite Deuba's
continued calls for elections. "If elections
can be held in Kashmir, they can be held
here" has become Deuba's new refrain.
But can peace be established without the government displaying flexibility to go for constituent assembly? And
can there be elections without peace?
"No," says Padma Ratna Tuladhar, a
leftist intellectual and human rights activist. "The Maoists will settle for nothing less than a constituent assembly, or
unless the government comes up with
something as democratic." Maoists have
not given up their demand for constituent assembly, he says, recalling his recent telephone conversation with the
Maoist supremo, Prachanda.
Tuladhar, a facilitator during the
last peace talks, says, "There is no
point facilitating another round of
futile peace talks, but if the govern
ment is prepared to offer what
Maoists ask for, or at least comes up
with a viable alternative, peace can
be brokered."    n
'NC Hasn't Opted For Constituent Assembly'
Nepali congress (NC) has
been against Sher
Bahadur Deuba's appointment as the prime minister.
It believes that Deuba's reinstatement doesn't undo regression and
that the King continues to hold
executive powers in the absence
of an elected parliament. Chakra
Prasad Bastola, former foreign
minister and member of the
party's central committee, told
Nation Weekly why the four-party
agitation has lost none of its political significance—UML or no
UML.
With UML all set to join the government, has the agitation of
the four-party alliance lost its
relevance?
Well, this isa very tricky question.
Just because an alliance is composed, other alliances do not become irrelevant overnight. The
present alliance that is composed
to form the government has a lot
of issues to deal with and an uphill
task. We have witnessed disharmony among the partners even
before they could announce the
government.
Nepali Congress is divided itself.
There appears to be a difference
of opinion inside your party regarding its position on the issue
of constituent assembly...
That's not the case at all. Opinions could differ. Nepali Congress
(NC) has not opted for a constituent assembly, as people generally
tend to think. Nepali Congress has
agreed to discuss the issue of constituent assembly with anyone
outside the party. People (many
others outside the party) have just
said let's go for a constituent as
sembly. But they have not spelt
out clearly what it means.
Do you see republicanism coming up as a viable option in near
future?
I have been on record saying that
time has not arrived for that sort of
system in this country. But we can't
completely rule out the possibility.
We as political parties, as leaders
with experience in multiparty democracy, however doubt if there is
a party or an individual who could
shoulder the burden ofthe presidency.
What will be the position of the
NC, if the new government initiates dialogue with the
Maoists?
It is not a question of either this
or that position. The beauty of
multiparty democracy is that the
role of any particular party
doesn't come to an end abruptly.
Any party that comes to power
for a certain number of years
suffers the pangs of incumbency.
It is bound to be unpopular in
the eyes ofthe people. However
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
efficient, however alert the government might be, it cannot perform magic given the scant resources.
Deuba says elections are his top
priority. Is the ceasefire with the
Maoists a prerequisite to holding the elections?
Not only is ceasefire a prerequisite for an election, we need to
have a situation where people can
go to the booths without fear, exercising their franchise without fear
and vote for any party they like
without fear of life and property.
And that's not only for certain
hours but for a prolonged period.
In order to have meaningful elections this sort of situation isa prerequisite.
UML leaders say they are open
to UN meditation, just as the
Maoists are demanding. What
is NC's position?
We have not taken any decision
officially. But my own opinion is that
we are not averse to third party
mediation. Yes, but involvement,
we don't want. □
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OPINION
Historic Opportunity
The fact that some major parties have come around to support Deuba after initial hiccups is a positive sign
BY SUMAN PRADHAN
It's been more than a month
since King Gyanendra hand-
■ picked Sher Bahadur Deuba to
run the country. And in that time, the
nation as a whole has gone through
situation. Who is to rein in the
Deuba government if it runs
amok?
Just as well, the fact that some
major parties have come around
to support Deuba after initial hiccups is a positive sign. The even-
We don't know yet where the
country will move from here,
whether or not the aspirations of
the people will be addressed. The
present situation could degenerate into infighting between the
coalition allies, or it could widen
the small window of opportunity
for a peace process.
If Deuba, the UML and RPP
play their hands right, and if the
Palace controls its urges, there is
no reason why the government
cannot begin to address the larger
issues raised bythe Maoist conflict and political polarization. The
only fear now is that the NC and
some wrenching changes. Some
major political parties, theCPN(UML)
and RPP are coming around to coalesce around Deuba to lend his government a pluralistic flavor. The
Nepali Congress and its smaller al-
liesare still opposed, arguing that "regression" is still alive and kicking.
Whom to believe?
Both have a point. The manner in which Deuba was appointed
lends credence to accusations by
the NCand its allies. The King after all used the same constitutional provision to appoint and
empower Deuba as he did with
his predecessors. That there is still
no parliament and no elected bodies adds to the complexity ofthe
tual inclusion ofthe UML and RPP
in the government will, despite
what the NC says, provide it with a
broader base that could translate
into some sort of political legitimacy.
The Maoists don't seem happy
with this coming together of various political forces at the center,
but they will have no choice other
than to deal with it if the government gains legitimacy.
Most Nepalis though are not
hair-splitting over all this at the moment. After eight years of violence
and mayhem, and nearly two years
of instability and protests, all they
want is peace. They want to get on
with their lives without fear ofthe
Maoists or government forces.
its allies, who have stayed out of
power by choice, could throw up
some road-blocks in an already-
fragile process.
For this reason, the Deuba
government has to be careful in
dealing with the opposition. The
days of bulldozing opponents, as
Girija Prasad Koirala did in the early
1990s and Deuba copied in
1996, are clearly over. The problems we face today manifests from
opinions not being heard and compromises not being made in those
early days of democracy.
So far, the way Deuba has
been doing things indicates he understands all this. He has gone out
of his way to accommodate the
UML and RPP's concerns which is
reflected in the Common Minimum Program. He is also actively
courting the NC to participate in
the government.
It is a stretch ofthe imagination to think that Koirala will suddenly drop all his opposition and
join the government. That won't
happen, but he and his allies
should also not be made to feel
bitter and out of the loop. What
Deuba and they both need to understand is that the NC and its allies can have their differences with
the government but can still work
together on the areas they agree
= on. They need not participate in
Ithe government to participate in
the peace process.
The same logic should go into
dealing with the Palace and the
Army. The Palace has legitimate
concerns about an eventual peace
process. Issues about constitutional revisions, the nature of a new
state, etc., concerns the Palacejust
as it does the common citizen.
These concerns should clearly be
stated to the government which, in
turn, should address it as far as
practicable. The onus lies on the
government to allay the Palace's
fears. But most importantly, the
Palace also has some responsibilities. It should not open its own communication channel to the various
players in the conflict. It has to let
the government do its bidding. In
other words, it should let the government be a true government.
That's what constitutional monarchy and democracy is all about.
In some ways, the situation
presents a historic opportunity for
both the political parties and the
Palace to mute the criticisms
they have faced for much ofthe
past few years. The parties must
show that they don't always
bicker. They can, if they so
choose, transcend traditional
power politics for the greater national good. The Palace could
follow suit by showing that doubts
about its democratic credentials
area thing of the past. D
suman66@hotmail.com
_L
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
25
 UP AN
Doko Dai, a mobile library
project, has found a simple
but unique solution that
will give villagers easier access to books
BYYASHASVAIDYA
There is a stack of books in two
rooms in Anamnagar occupied by
the Doko Dai project that keeps
piling higher every week. As new books
pour in, volunteers enter the details of
the books into registers. Soon the books
will start heading out to their final destinations in Barabise and
Mahendranagar where they will eventually end up in the hands of village children and elders. Doko Dai is a mobile
library project undertaken by the Nationwide Scholarship Program, SEBS
(the alumni body of Budanilkantha
School's students) and Development
Project Service Centre. The project is
funded by the World Bank.
A regular visitor to these rooms is
PriyadarshainiJoshi, one ofthe original project writers. "I just came back
from a field trip to Barabise to monitor
the project implementation," she says.
"It will be hard getting the books to the
people. The steep hills in the area make
it quite difficult to get anything to the
villagers. That is why we will be using
Doko dais and didis, local porters, to
transport our books. Our project was
written keeping in mind the challenges
of mobility presented by such terrain."
The goal—to provide 30,000 villagers from the villages surrounding
Barabise and Mahendranagar with books
and other reading materials—looks feasible because by using porters, the Doko
Dai project has found a unique solution
for transporting books in Nepal. The
doko, which is used traditionally to carry
everything from cattle fodder to sick
people, will be used to carry books. The
Doko dai will be the Nepali equivalent
of a Land Rover traveling over difficult
terrain.
The Doko dais and didis will start
out from the regional headquarters ofthe
project and travel through one ofthe 10
routes laid out at each project site. All
routes will be in operation at the same
time. The porters will lay down their
dokos at certain stops along the route.
For about a week, the stop will be converted into a mobile library where
people can come to read and borrow
books, newspapers, magazines and the
like. The stops selected are easily accessible, usually schools, bazaars, chautaris
and even teashops. Books will be
changed on a near monthly basis after
the porters traverse the route once. The
two sites selected for the project will
also have a Regional Community Center (RCC), the regional headquarters,
which will be permanent libraries.
Other key components ofthe project are
the use ofthe RCC as a resource center
and a scholarship program for bright and
needy students (incorporated with the
NSP scholarship program).
The books range from simple illustrative English books for school children
and agricultural books to benefit the
farmers to religious books for the elderly and books on philosophy. "We are
constantly taking feedback from the
community. We ask them what kind of
books they want and try and get those
books for our library," says Bijaya
Shiwakoti, NSP Secretary.
Nepal's literacy rate currently stands
at 45.2 percent. A lot needs to be done in
the education sector and Joshi knows that
only too well. "There are not enough
educational resources like libraries out-
26
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 ■  «r
side the capital. People talk about the
sorry state ofthe education sector in our
country. But only when you go outside
the capital, do you see how bad the situation really is," she says.
The project sounds good enough on
paper, but will it really work? To find
out, these ideas will be put into practice
in pilot routes—one each at Barabise and
Mahendranagar next month onwards.
'We have tried to benefit the whole community by addressing as many issues as
we could," says Rabindra Maharjan, the
Program Coordinator of NSP 'We try
and remain in touch with the community members and incorporate their suggestions in our project. We are open to
modifications and changes." When asked
if the project was more like an experiment he responds, "An experiment,
maybe, but it's been well thought out."
But keeping such projects sustainable
has been a difficult task as many have found
out in developing countries the world over.
Maybe that's why Doko Dai has taken
pains to highlight the "sustainability"
theme. (The complete name ofthe project
is Sustainable Doko Dai Mobile Library
Project.) The project grants will stop after
January 2005. Funds will not be sought
from outside after that. The initial grant
money is being used to build infrastructure and put a self-sustaining system in
place. The idea is to use the RCCs to generate income. The RCCs will be equipped
with computers, photocopiers, internet
services and the like. There is also a community hall that can be rented out. Nominal fees will be charged for these services
to sustain the project.
Sustainability also seems to be a key
issue for the World Bank which has
funded the project. World Bank
projects have routinely come under
criticism for being environmentally
destructive, socially disruptive and its
loans have been blamed for putting
Third World countries under mountainous debt burdens.
Criticisms ofthe World Bank aside,
the Doko Dai project has serious implications on its own. If it succeeds,
then it could become a model for other
sustainable projects in the country. Its
success would also be a shot in the arm
for people who do want to do something in the education sector. That's a
tough precedent to set but Joshi is optimistic. She says, "There have been
numerous challenges in the process,
but we've dealt with them. We only
hope we can be of help to the villagers." n
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
27
 ■  «r
side the capital. People talk about the
sorry state ofthe education sector in our
country. But only when you go outside
the capital, do you see how bad the situation really is," she says.
The project sounds good enough on
paper, but will it really work? To find
out, these ideas will be put into practice
in pilot routes—one each at Barabise and
Mahendranagar next month onwards.
'We have tried to benefit the whole community by addressing as many issues as
we could," says Rabindra Maharjan, the
Program Coordinator of NSP 'We try
and remain in touch with the community members and incorporate their suggestions in our project. We are open to
modifications and changes." When asked
if the project was more like an experiment he responds, "An experiment,
maybe, but it's been well thought out."
But keeping such projects sustainable
has been a difficult task as many have found
out in developing countries the world over.
Maybe that's why Doko Dai has taken
pains to highlight the "sustainability"
theme. (The complete name ofthe project
is Sustainable Doko Dai Mobile Library
Project.) The project grants will stop after
January 2005. Funds will not be sought
from outside after that. The initial grant
money is being used to build infrastructure and put a self-sustaining system in
place. The idea is to use the RCCs to generate income. The RCCs will be equipped
with computers, photocopiers, internet
services and the like. There is also a community hall that can be rented out. Nominal fees will be charged for these services
to sustain the project.
Sustainability also seems to be a key
issue for the World Bank which has
funded the project. World Bank
projects have routinely come under
criticism for being environmentally
destructive, socially disruptive and its
loans have been blamed for putting
Third World countries under mountainous debt burdens.
Criticisms ofthe World Bank aside,
the Doko Dai project has serious implications on its own. If it succeeds,
then it could become a model for other
sustainable projects in the country. Its
success would also be a shot in the arm
for people who do want to do something in the education sector. That's a
tough precedent to set but Joshi is optimistic. She says, "There have been
numerous challenges in the process,
but we've dealt with them. We only
hope we can be of help to the villagers." n
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
27
 Culture
■
1
A
-
•
•
•*
i
I:
A
LOST RITES
Vidyaashram attendance is declining while demand for
Purohits is increasing. Saving this essential element in
our culture may require big changes in attitudes
BY SUNIL POKHREL
Satish Nepal, a seventh-grader at
Nepal Ved Vidyaashram in
Gaushala, doesn't want to be a
Purohit. His schoolmate Ganesh
Sapkota, a six-grader, joined the
vidyaashram at the insistence of his father. Sapkota prefers English to Sanskrit, but he can't study English at the
school. Nepal Ved Vidyaashram has 165
students studying Sanskrit. They also
learn how to conduct different rituals,
starting from pujas in fourth grade to
marriage and last rites in tenth grade.
Surprisingly, there is no rush for admission, even though the education is
free.
Traditional practitioners are either
leaving the profession or taking it as a
part-time job, and Jajamans around the
Kathmandu Valley are increasingly im
patient about the scarcity of Purohits.
Demand is on rise, but the younger generation of Purohit families are not attracted to the career.
"Our society doesn't value a Purohit,"
Nepal says. The way people stare at him
while coming to and from school and
inhis Daura Suruwal, the school uniform, makes him uncomfortable. He gets
angry too when people call him Bahun
bajhe.
Purohits believe that the traditional
financial arrangements are an important
part ofthe problem. Unlike other service-oriented professions, Purohits
don't have fixed rates for services. They
traditionally depend on the mercy of
their Jajamans and take whatever is offered, even if they are unsatisfied.
Govinda Khatiwada from Charikot
works at Pashupati. He has felt cheated
many times. He fumes, "Is it fair to give
Rs. 5 for a shradha, which takes at least
one hour?"
28
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Clients on the other hand aren't always satisfied with the way rituals are
carried out by the Purohits at Pashupati.
"Their only concern is money. More
importantly, they are ill-equipped with
the required knowledge to follow the
actual procedure of any ritual," says Raj
Kumar Pandey from Triveni. Pandey was
upset when the Purohit who he chose to
conduct his father's shradha did not ask
him to change his sacred thread.
Fifteen years ago, Krishna Prasad
Bhandari came to Kathmandu from
Sankhuwasabha. He left behind his family and about 100 Jajamans in a bid to
change his profession. Bhandari, who is
now 59, began as a Purohit at the age of
10 in his village. He gave it up in favor of
a plan to run a retail shop in Kathmandu.
When that business failed, he unwillingly
came to Pashupati to become a Purohit
once again. But he is not doing well.
Unlike most of the Valley, the
Pashupati area is awash in Brahmin Pun
dits. Many have come from other districts due to the conflict. As a result,
Pundits from Kathmandu Valley are becoming less common and the competition is very high.
Rishi Ram Sharma, a retired government servant, took up the job only after
retirement. His two sons are farmers: they
are not interested in becoming Purohits.
"Society doesn't view this profession as a
dignified one," says one of Sharma's sons.
He says farming is much better.
Big changes in Purohits' values and
in the nature ofthe profession are coming fast. Many Brahmins, including the
Pundits, are no longer traditional purists. In turn, the automatic reverence for
priests is slowly but steadily declining.
Bhandari too has changed with time.
Unlike an orthodox Purohit, who is essentially a vegetarian, he
doesn't mind eating buff.
A conventional pundit restrains from touching a
pig, chicken and even so-
called untouchables. If he
does accidentally, he bathes
and changes his scared
thread to purify him. Taking hard drinks is out of
question. Bhandari used to
follow those rules in his
home village but no more.
Kesab Sapkota, a licensed pundit of
Pashupati Development Board, says that
he and his colleagues love buff momos.
Many Brahmins, including
the Pundits,
are no longer
traditional
purists
The Purohit's rituals are an essential
part ofthe Hindu tradition. Rituals begin even before a child is born.
Garbhadana (conception) is the fervent
prayer for a child. This is done in order
to fulfill the parental duties to continue
the race. Rituals continue in many forms
until death and even after. Each time a
ritual is conducted, a Purohit's presence
is indispensable.
Despite that, Jagannath Acharya, a
Purohit for almost 50 families, says, "Our
society is still reluctant to eye this profession with respect." Acharya adds, "It
is important that all cultures survive. A
coordinated effort is needed from concerned parties before the Purohit-
Jajaman relationship vanishes."
Acharya's dark vision is a possibility if present trends continue.
Professionalizing and
modernizing the practice will force uncomfortable issues of service fees and quality
into the open. Are the
traditional expectations
of Purohits' lifestyles
relevant today? Why
should the younger generation know and care
about the rituals? Difficult questions indeed,
but failing to address and answer them
could lead to an irreversible loss of a
cultural identity.  □
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
29
 \m
Ifc
Broadside
*4
*   WM
A moratorium on development talk shows is just as
important as a ceasefire
BY SAMUEL THOMAS
In the place where I come from they
tell children that the creator gave us
humans two ears and one mouth because he wanted us to listen twice as
much as we speak. The "development"
sector would appear monstrous by that
measure, like a gargantuan being with
several large and loud mouths and something like a pore for an ear, because there
is so much talk and so little listening. If
the people who mattered had listened,
things would certainly have been different.
Put simply, the "development" sector is known to quite literally put its
money where its mouth is—in talk
shows.
On a radio-show this week, the news
reader presented a dramatic picture of
how people in Bajura were rushing to
the godown at the sound of a helicopter,
some maybe even hallucinating or hearing things. They have been starving for
weeks now. Cut to the picture of participants at a five-star interaction program on "sustainable development,"
"empowerment" or "governance." Serious disconnect. Extravagance juxtaposed
with starvation, illness and malnutrition.
Elsewhere in the Mid and Farwest too
people are dying of hunger, diarrhea and
influenza, all preventable.
The artificial eloquence and profligacy ofthe development sector are difficult to take in at such times.
Kathmandu is a busy place any time
of year. On any given day, there are talk
programs, seminars, workshops, interactions or media briefings by NGOs
and INGOs. A huge amount of money
is spent on five and three-star venues,
on staff time, per diems, on logistics
and on fly-by-night development professionals on the circuit. This is for the
most part a self-referential discourse
where the development world is speaking to itself—there is the same urgency
to get out there and say something in
public to satisfy the donor and grab
some media attention as there is to subject the work of the organization to
some perfunctory evaluation by a consultant, preferably flown in. Much of
the talk ranks extremely high on the
banality index.
The excessive talk reinforces the
Kathmandu-centered functioning and
consumption patterns of the development sector and legitimizes it in the eyes
of both the donor and the recipient. It
also legitimizes their relationship and
sends out strong signals to "competitors"
on the same turf.
The numbers of talk fests per development calendar year has increased of
30
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 late because ofthe inability to
work in the field and so often
it centers around the convenient shifting of blame on the
Maoists for hampering work
in the countryside. This is part
ofthe great cover-up, deflecting attention from the raised
and unmet expectations, the
failure of development interventions to deliver, and the
true nature ofthe development
world's interests. So more
talk, only now, with the added
note that development work
has been hampered—the perfect excuse for the rate and efficiency at which the development world delivers.
The costs associated with
talk fests are huge. The development sector spends an ^
inordinate amount of money r».
each year talking to itself and
its network of donors, consultants, assorted "development" professionals and the
media. This talk only feeds
the present power structure
and its extended networks, in
terms of where the money is
spent. From informal enquiries it appears that NGOs and
INGOs often spend some 10-15 percent of their budget on such events and
associated staff time and operational
costs or publicity material and events.
This is wasteful competition among
agencies vying for the same pots of aid
money—there is very little sharing of
information and resources, strategizing
or joint work. All this has been possible because aid flows are heavily concentrated and have been flowing into
the same accounts for years. It reveals
the complicity of donor agencies in
feeding and condoning this wasteful behavior.
A lot of the development discourse
suffers a serious disconnect from the
reality ofthe periphery, simply because
all the talk is conducted from a position
of privilege and inside the relative security and numbing immunity ofthe capital. Much of it is geared towards what is
"current" or the priority ofthe funding
agencies. The development sector's ears
to the ground, the content generators for
a lot of talk shows, are an extensive network of consultants and development
professionals most of whom know each
other from doing the development calendar and circuit. They together form
one set ofthe ground forces that support
the self-perpetuating actions ofthe superstructure, whereby the development
sector derives legitimacy for greater armchair activity and disproportionate
spending. Many are drawn from the elite
in Kathmandu, and their concerns have
more to do with maintaining the status
quo. They contribute to the babble, with
the pretense that they have been on the
ground.
The development sector's relationship with the media has muted criticism. Much development talk is dutifully reproduced by the media the following day without any investigation
whatsoever. It reveals the sheer inability of the media to go beyond reproducing this received wisdom and what
is "current" or the "breaking story" and
question such profligacy in such times.
So, day after day, journalists make the
rounds of seminar halls, dutifully reporting the banalities spouted by development professionals, their number
crunching and poor analyses and their
imported ideas. The development
sector's extravagance and indulgent behavior towards the media has co-opted
and dulled critical analysis.
It is criminal to condone such wasteful expenditure during a time of national
crisis. What we need right now is a moratorium on development "talk shows."
The next talk shows can happen some
three years from now. That way we will
have got a lot more done than talk. And
those who only talk will have dropped
out along the way or will at least have
thought up newer things to say. It is up
to the donors to decide now whether
they want to continue to put their money
in such wasteful exercises or in direct
support to communities. The keynote
speakers can wait.  □
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
31
 Business Profile
A late entrant to the courier and express-delivery market
in Nepal, FedEx has now focused on brand promotion
and is expanding its customer base
BY SHUSHANK SINGH
Anyone who has seen the Tom
Hanks movie "Cast Away" will
remember the scenes of hectic
operations at the international hub ofFedEx
HMD]* ban
Express. Expedited handling and on-time
delivery from one point to another around
the globe is its daily bread and butter.
What matters most in the international
freight forwarding business is reliability and on-time performance. Do that
well and customers will be
satisfied. Everest De Cargo
understands this, especially
since October 2002, when
it became the FedEx Global Service Participant for
Nepal and had to comply
with FedEx standards. The
FedEx global network allows packages and documents to be transported in
one to three days to over 215
countries. Its services cover
the export and import of
packages.
FedEx is a late entrant to the Nepal
market. 'We do not quote market share
figures, but we are confident that our
significantly enhanced service will
continue to grow our business and
market share in Nepal," says Neelisha
Pradhan, Marketing Specialist at
FedEx Nepal operations. "Our main
objectives right now are brand awareness, expanding customer base and
continuing to train and develop our
employees."
A major chunk of FedEx's investment
goes for training and developing its employees because, as business pundits say,
customers expect professional and quality service. One of the employee rewards is the FedEx Purple Award, given
to employees whose performance appraisal rates higher than their normal job
responsibilities. 'We believe in an open,
communicative and creative work environment, where we put our people first,"
says Pradhan. This, as the FedEx philosophy of People-Service-Profit says, because they believe that excellent service
32
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 results in profits if people are the
company's first priority.
Everest De Cargo, FedEx's Nepal
partner, has been in the business of air
cargo consolidation and freight forwarding services since 1984. In addition, the
company has been FedEx's sales contractor for Nepal for more than a decade.
"We believe that this is a mutually
beneficial service proposal for both
FedEx and Everest De Cargo," says
Pradhan. FedEx shares its technology
and operations systems and will provide training and market development
support while Everest De Cargo's more
than 50 years of local experience in air
transportation and import and export
services will widen the options available to Nepali customers.
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx
Corporation, says it connects areas that
generate 90 percent ofthe world's gross
domestic product in 24-48 hours with
door-to-door, customs-cleared service
and a money-back guarantee. FedEx Express employs more than 136,000 employees and has approximately 50,000
drop-off locations, 643 aircraft and more
than 42,000 motorized vehicles in its integrated global network.
But why Nepal, when many are saying the condition for business isn't right
due to the dwindling economy? "With
globalization, the need for quick and efficient connectivity with the world's
markets will definitely increase," says
Pradhan, "and it is important for FedEx
to meet that need." When FedEx entered
the market over a year ago the competition was already there. "A service like
ours is customer driven, and our services
deliver the solutions that our customers
need to stay competetive," says Pradhan.
"FedEx feels competition helps us to service the clients better and in the end provide the customer with better service."
With its head office in Kathmandu,
FedEx has started services in more than
17 towns and cities throughout the
country.  □
 Arts   Society
Uttam's Avataars
BY SANJEEV UPRETY
During his artistic journey spanning more than 40 years, Uttam
Nepali has experimented with a
variety of aesthetic forms, mediums and
styles. Thus, while Nepali's early works
dating back to the late 1950s include the
traditional, figurative depictions of
Ganesh and Vishnu, his later paintings—
probably influenced by the artists of
western modernism like Matisse,
Cezanne, and Braque among others—
took a clear modernist turn in the 1960s.
This interest in modernist art took
Uttamji towards abstract expressionism;
those "abstract" explorations of human
mind through variable combinations of
free flowing color patches that characterize his mature work.
Recently, as we conversed at the National Art Council, Uttamj i criticized the
technique of some ofthe younger, though
well known, painters of Nepal who, in
the name of "abstraction," splash their
canvass with a variety of colors and, in
the process, allegedly discover their
theme through the act of painting itself.
"The artist should be able to explain the
reason behind his or her painting," says
Uttamj i. "Every painting begins with an
idea; the artist gives a visual expression
to that idea which first germinates in his
mind." Mukesh Malla, one ofthe foremost art critics of Nepal, on the other
hand, contends that such an insistence
upon some "prior idea" makes Uttamji a
semi-abstract or a semi-realist rather
than a fully abstract painter. "His paintings show an interest in form, and explore a particular "idea" that he expresses
through his semi-realist forms. For this
reason perhaps it is not appropriate to
call him an artist of abstraction."
Uttamji, however, insists that he has always tried to resist labels such as "realism,"
"impressionism," or "abstractionism." "Every age brings with it its own school of
painting," he says, "My artistic journey
has spanned five decades. I have seen
many changes, and have adapted my work
to those changes. My
own aim has been to
keep on trying to innovate, to remain open to
stylistic experimentation and influences
while at the same time
creating paintings that
are charged by my own
personal vision."
As I gazed at
Uttamji's paintings titled "Feelings,"
"Happiness," and "Love"—all in
acrylic—and oil paintings such as his
erotic images ofthe 1960s, it seemed to
me that Uttamji's main strength lay in
his restless spirit of experimentation. Instead of allowing himself to be trapped
within the aesthetic and stylistic norms
of specific schools of art he had dared to
Uttam IVepali's
main strength lies
in his restless
spirit of
experimentation
» ranged from figurative realism to abstraction, and
with themes that varied
from spiritualism and eroticism to the psychological
studies ofthe human mind.
One of the foremost
painters of the nation,
Uttam Nepali has taken
various avataars and assumed multiple identities
throughout his career.
Born in 1937, Uttamji not
only studied art at the college of Arts and Crafts in
Lucknow, but also ran off
to Bombay to pursue his
dream of becoming a film
actor, and briefly thought
of pursuing a military career. While his
Bollywood dream remained unfulfilled, he partially fulfilled his "filmi"
ambitions: he was the first Nepali villain on the big screen in "Aama," a
Nepali feature film. In addition to this,
he also opened the short-lived Prithivi
Art Gallery in 1966 with Max Matthew,
an African American schoolteacher. In
addition to all this, Uttamji is also an
accomplished poet with three volumes
of poetry to his credit.
Both in life and in art, Uttamji has
adopted a vision that accepts new challenges, and which experiments with both
new artistic techniques and the multiple
layers of his own personal identity. After
all, just like his paintings, the human
mind too contains
multiplicities. There
are numerous identities struggling with
each other within our
minds. Most of us
suppress some of
those identities
within us while emphasizing others. In
the paintings of
Uttam Nepali, however, those multiplicities acquire a visible form through
an intricate play of blues and reds, and
yellows and grays. Taken together, his
paintings speak to us about a journey;
an inner journey within the soul of a
person who has kept on pushing new
frontiers by perpetually reinventing
himself, both as an artist and as a human
experiment with various styles that     being.  □
34
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 Movi
Shades of Laughter
A rockin' rebel teacher's story and a genre crossover
attempt by an auteur both tickle your funny bone
BY SUSHMA JOSH I
Got a 10-year-old? Imagine what
would happen if an impersonator
came into the classroom and
started to teach him/her rock music instead of math and science? "School of
Rock" is a comedy that taps the infinite
possibilities of this scenario.
Jack Black blasts his way to rotund
comedic greatness as Dewey Finn, a
loud, second grade-rock musician who
gets kicked out of his band for misbehavior. Harassed by his roommate's girlfriend for being down and out, he impulsively impersonates his roommate
Schneebly (Mike White) and gets a job
as a substitute teacher. Never mind that
it's at a snazzy private school where the
kids carry cell-phones and get annoyed
when they hear their new teacher doesn't
want to teach them anything.
Black finds a mission in life when he
notices his charges are musical proteges.
He doesn't know math or science, but he
can teach them what he knows best—rock
music. He rushes out ofthe classroom and
brings in his guitars, setting up an instant
band in the classroom. Everybody's assigned a role, and before long they're doing homework on Pink Floyd and the
Ramones. Classtime is devoted to the history of rock music. The students follow
Black as he leads them through an intricate family tree of rock musicians.
Unsurprisingly, they're in trouble with
their parents before a few days are out.
The class project culminates in a
Battle ofthe Bands event. The movie is
unrealistic—nobody in their right minds
could believe such a scenario could actually take place. Suspension of disbelief, however, is easy with Black at the
helm—as he sings and plays and dances
his way through the movie with manic
energy, shepherding the group of amateur child actors along with him.
True, in Nepal this would be a horror
movie, not a comedy. Which upwardly
mobile parent who has put his kid in an
uppity private school would not see this
scenario as the disaster ofthe year? But
the surprising thing about "School of
Rock" is the way it takes something as
youth oriented as rock music and makes
it a family-friendly movie.
The screenwriter (Mike White)
seems to be on a mission to create a more
user-friendly 2000 version of rock. Drug
users are seen as losers, and music is the
god that rules. If you want a facemelting,
gutwrenching bellyful of laughs, the
"School of Rock" is the way to do it.
HAPPY TIMES
Zhang Yimou, one of China's auteur
filmmakers, is well known for classics
like "Red Sorghum" and "To Live and
Raise the Red Lantern."
"Happy Times" might seem like a
break from his visually stunning, historical epics, but there is an underlying edgi-
ness about the movie that makes it fit
well into his canon. The story could easily become appallingly sentimental—a
laid off factory worker, a blind stepdaughter, and a plot with a cliched ending is not the best combination for a
movie. The film, however, is salvaged
by the depth ofthe characters, who are
alternately selfish, suicidal, generous,
gentle and compassionate to each other.
Zhao, a laid-off factory worker, is
searching for a wife who will take care
of him. Eager to marry a chubby
divorcee, he allows himself to be committed to an expensive wedding. To raise
money, he transforms an abandoned bus
into a place for lovers who need some
private space in the crowded city Unable to tell his fiancee about his financial
status, he lies to her and tells her he manages the Happy Times Hotel. His fiancee
corners Zhao into giving Ying, her blind,
malnourished stepdaughter, a job at the
hotel as a masseuse. Zhao spends a lot of
time devising a believable massage parlor for the blind girl with the help of a
group of enthusiastic collaborators. Besides the plot, there are other classic
moments — the fiancee overfeeds her
son, who is grossly overweight and disgustingly bratty The stepdaughter, in
contrast, is barely fed. A scene where the
mother pretends to give her ice-cream
when Zhao is present, and then grabs it
away from her when he leaves, will not
seem that foreign to Nepali viewers.
"Happy Times" is a well-produced
comic tragedy that will resonate with
Nepali audiences.  □
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
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PUBLISHED BY ——
SPECIALITY MEDIA PVT. LTD.
GPO Box: 2294, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 4780394,4781153, Fax: 4782100 www.readtheboss.com
 First Pers
Kathmandu's regular nightlife has taken a break—weekly live band sessions have
been postponed, dance floors are empty, pool tables have been abandoned, and if
you want to find people to hang out with head for the nearest TV at the nearest bar
BY JENNY MAYA
In an attempt to drag my friends out dancing during the weekend, we
headed to Subterrania on a mission to get down on the dance floor.
Usual ly somewhat lacking in energy, the place hopping as early as
10 p.m. The music wasjust what we wanted—a wide variety from techno
fusion to hip-hop. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves whether
hanging out at the bar or getting their groove on.
Subterrania draws a great mix of locals, expats and tourists all coming
together on the dance floor, which is surrounded by comfortable seating
for the tired dancer, the observer, or the non-dancer. In the back room,
there are three groups of couches for a big assemblage of people who
want to hang out, relax and enjoy listening to the music at a lower
volume.
As soon as I walked into the club, I found myself on the dance floor.
I couldn't get enough ofthe music. But when I slowed down and looked
around I found all of my male friends had vanished.
On a hunt, I found them around the corner sitting on the edge of a
sofa filled with 20 other people or standing on the tips of their toes
straining to get a glimpse ofthe European Cup match on TV. We were at
a dance club with all this happening music and here were my friends
eager to watch the idiot box! And this wasn't the first time that Euro fever
had ruined my evening. I remember a friend of mine mentioning that he
was going to head home for the Sweden-Italy game.. .There was no way
we could get him to change
his plans for the evening.
But, another group of friends
were very innovative and
realized that you could watch
the game at pretty much
any location in Thamel, so
they happily allowed us to
drag them from place to place
(just as long as the game was
on!) But once we arrived at
a particular place, talking to
them was off limits (unless it
was about how slick the last
goal was).
I guess Kathmandu's
regular nightlife has taken a
break—weekly live band sessions have been postponed,
dance floors are empty, pool
tables have been abandoned, and if you want to
find people to hang out with
head for the nearest TV at
the nearest bar. You're bound to find a ton of people glued to the screen,
hooting and stamping, eyes glued to the screen in rapt attention. And
when they raise the roof with their cacophony when a goal is scored you
would think that the next millineal new year was nigh.
It's notjust the buddies who party with me on Friday nights who are
down with Euro Fever. Even my more domesticated friends—those
people I could count on to be home when I needed to talk to them—
don't want me butting in during prime Euro time. So, like it or not I have
had to learn by rote the Euro Cup schedules: I have learned that to call
any of my friends after 12:30 p.m. is to commit the mother of all faux
passes.
So, here we are in Kathmandu, thousands of miles away from the
actual event, with no chance of escaping the world's obsession with
futbol. The weird thing is that some of my Nepali friends seem more
fanatical about a game where a European country battles another than
those in the expat crowd. I have even seen some of them revamp their
wardrobes overnight to such an extent that I now know that blue is not a
synonym for azure but azurri, fluorescent orange does not mean "Men at
Work" but Holland and that it's cooler to sport the red and white colors of
St. George's insignia than the colors ofthe good old Union Jack. These
fashion tips and the football jargon I've picked up, like counterattack, 4-
2-4,1-1-4-4, and golden goal may help me melt in among the rabid
football crowds in Kathmandu, but I would rather have my Friday nights
and my friends back. □
38
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
or editorial@nation.com.np
Page
CITY ThisWeek
ONGOING
Juneli Spotlight
Enjoy a fun-filled creative evening at
the Juneli Bar. Juneli Spotlight is an
open stage event. Take to the stage,
and bring out the poet, singer, musician, storyteller or comedian in you.
Lift your spirits with an up close and
personal event. To be on the performers list, e-mail the details to
ashesh.sharma@tajhotels.com. Date: July
9. For information: 4256909, ext. 181.
Tantra Lounge
Zone in to a wide range of electronica :
Chill Eastern Dub N' Break, Asian Massive Bossa, Drum N' Bass, Broken Beat,
Neo-soul. Specials - Hookah and more.
At the Tantra Restaurant & Bar, Thamel.
Date: July 7. For information:
tantra@i nfo.com. np
Summer Drift
Sway to the beat and give in to the heat
of the summer. At the Rox Bar, Hyatt
Regency. Date: July6. Time: 7 p.m. Tickets: Rs. 600 for gents, Rs. 400 for ladies, includes a welcome drink.
Salsa Workshop
Learn Salsa, Bachata and Merengue.
Workshop with Diego for beginners and
experienced. At the Salsando Dance
Studio, Durbarmarg. Date: July 11 -
16. Registration deadline: July 10.
Price: Rs. 1,500. Form Outlets: Ground
Zero, Jawalakhel. Moksh Bar, Pulchowk.
Tantra Bar, Thamel. For information:
9851068871 or info@partynepal.com
EXHIBITIONS
Erotic Drawings
An exhibition by Birendra Pratap Singh.
Buddha Gallery Zen Cafe, Thamel. Till
July 10. For information: 4441689
Secret Moments
An exhibition of paintings by Bhairaj
Maharjan. Siddhartha Art Gallery, Baber
Mahal Revisited. Till July 15. Time: 11
a.m. -6 p.m. For information: 4218048
Afternoon Jam Sessions
Bringing the best of R&B and House. At
Club Platinum, Yak & Yeti Hotel. Smart
casuals recommended. Every Saturday.
Time: 2 - 7 p.m. Tickets: Rs. 300 for
ladies and Rs. 400 for gents, Rs. 500
for couples.
All That Jazz
Presenting the JCS Trio and the best of
jazz in Nepal. At the Fusion Bar, Dwarika's
Hotel. Every Friday. Time: 7 p.m. Tickets: Rs. 555, includes BBQ dinner, a
can of beer/soft drink. For information:
4479488.
Grand Slam Offer
The dual Tennis Court packages a dual
delight of tennis plus breakfast. At
Godavari Village Resort. Tickets: Rs.444.
Prior reservations recommended. For
information: 5560675.
At Hotel Vajra
A dance performance of Hindu and
Buddhist Gods. At the Great Pagoda
Hall, Hotel Vajra. Every Tuesday. Time:
7 p.m. Tickets: Rs. 400. For information: 4271545.
Open Air Party
House, Hard, Progressive and Psychedelic Trancewith the Funky Buddha Psy.
Club.Every. FridayNight. Time: 7:30 p.m.
- 6 a.m. At the Funky Buddha Bar &
Cafe Free Entrance. For information:
4411991
nation weekly
 Viewpoint
Middle Glass Race
The culture of materialism arrived full-force with the upscale supermarkets bringing
with them the mall culture of seeing and being seen, the promenade of cars, the lines
of causally dressed rich people buying tinned eatables
BY SUSHMA JOSH I
Ml
y nephew had his pasni ceremony a few days ago. The five-
month old got, among other presents, eight racing cars. The
. brightly colored, glittering toys were inscribed with words such
as: "super," "powerful," "top driver," "police," "prowl car" and my personal favorite: "conquest." Racing cars are not particularly indigenous
to the Kathmandu Valley, so when they started to pile up I started to
wonder why this automobile had taken such a special hold on the
Nepali imagination.
You couldn't trace it back to the influence of television. There are
plenty of popular TV shows on boxing and cricket, but there were almost
no little cricket bat toys, and no little boxing gloves. So why the racing car?
Since children play not only for fun, but also to acquire skills useful in
later life, I wondered if the racing car symbolized my nephew's future of
mobility in the Kathmandu Valley. This is a valley congested with station
wagons, cars and motorbikes. Increasingly, these are private vehicles
that belong to the middle class. Theyjostle for space in the tiny roads,
trying to maintain their right of way with
speed. The lowly pedestrian cannot
navigate Kathmandu with a feeling of
ownership anymore. Only those with
private vehicles, and those who can
drive the fastest, driving others out of
the way, can dream of surviving the
Valley's hectic roads.
Since toys that build skills were
missing—no Lego for building skills, no
wooden puzzles for critical thinking
skills—I assumed the concern ofthe
gift-givers had not been on building the
baby's future navigational skills. Perhaps a clue lay in the toys' origins. The
majority ofthe toys (and almost all the
clothing) were bought from the neighborhood supermarket, that institution
where the aspiring upper-middle and
middle-class shop for consumer goods
and identity.
When the supermarkets first opened, the meaning of going shopping took on a subtle twist. "We're going shopping" used to mean we're
going to hangout, check out the shops at Ason etc., and have a gala
time. Now it means "We're going to buy status symbols (at an upscale,
overpriced institution where we will spend ostentatiously and buy imported goods that make us look good in front of our neighbors)."
The culture of materialism arrived full-force with the upscale supermarkets bringing with them the mall culture of seeingand being seen,
the promenade of cars, the lines of causally dressed rich people buying
tinned eatables.
With the supermarkets also arrived a slew of brand name goods.
These goods have the logos of transnational corporations, and the "Made
in China" stamp that signifies the new global economy of cheap, liberalized labor. This signification of labor has allowed countries like Nepal to
take part in the same consumeristic culture that controls much ofthe
western countries.
You can buy status at these supermarkets. You can buy fluffy teddy
bears (with synthetic fiber that is dangerous around an infant determined to put anything and everything in its mouth); you can buy an
airplane with a "US Army" logo on it, and you can buy armored trucks
with flashing lights and loaded cannons.
What you cannot buy there is a tiny bear, made in Nepal by some
unnamed handicrafts industry, made of natural fibers and which does not
have any fancy buttons or noses that could detach and choke an infant.
It is the safest bear to leave around a five-month old. Ironically, this lone
bear of indigenous origins is gifted to my nephew by an American friend.
As a spoilsport aunt, I think one little boy can be happy with a couple
of toy cars. My sister-in-law, who has lived in the Valley longer than I
have, insists a roomful of toys is the minimum requirement in these
modern times.
For the moment, my nephew is still ignorant that a battalion of racing
cars and weaponry with U.S. Army logos awaits him in his closet. For the
moment, he is happiest with the crackle of wrapping paper, oblivious to
the piles of consumer goods that surround and welcome him into the
material world. □
40
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Jobs
Vacancy Announcement
POST TITLE: ASSISTANT FINANCE OFFICER
Responsibilities : The Assistant Finance Officer -will be overall resposible for the financial
management ofthe project office, which includes timely payments to the vendors, partners,
conterparts and staff S/he will have to prepare the monthly payroll, expenses analysis report,
budgeting ofthe project and financial report for the central office and donors. S/he will also have
to support local partners in enhancing their financial system. Only those who are -willing to live
and work in remote districts should apply
Areas of required competencies:
■ Familiarity -with budgeting and reporting systems of international funding agencies
■ Familiarity -with the fund accounting system
■ Ability to handle financial management ofthe project independently
■ Ability to run and generate reporting from computer based accounting software
■ Interpersonal, supervision and training skills
■ Budget and expense analysis skills
■ Sound knowledge of local grant management and auditing
■ Ability to use computer to run office application software packages ( MS Word, Excel)
Qualifications:
■ Minimum Bachelors Degree in Business Management
■ Three years experience in the related field with similar organization
Salary and benefits: As per the rules ofthe organization
Interested Nepali citizens are requested to apply with curriculum vitae and contact telephone
number by 20 July 2004
To:
The Human Resource Department
CARE International in Nepal
Pulchowk, Lalitpur
P.O. Box 1661, Kathmandu, Nepal
Only those selected for interview will be notified. Telephone enquiries will not be entertained.
Nepal's leading Boutique Hotel Chain invites application from Nepalese for the following Position:
Executive Chef - 1       Executive Sous Chef - 1
Ability to run the Kitchen Department efficiently.
Must be 3 yrs for Exe s chef & 5 yrs for Exe. Chef experience in 4 or 5 Star hotel.
Preferably 3 years Diploma in Hotel management
Apply within 7 days with a passport size photograph to:
Personnel Department
0
sha\c;ri~jla
Post Box: 655, Kathmandu, Nepal, Phone No. 4435742/43
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
41
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Moments or     V'
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By Ani Choying Dolma-
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
43
 Khula Manch
The Caged Bird Sings
Close friends of Narayan Wagle, Editor of Kantipur,
see him more as a travel-writer who happens to
be a journalist. By his own admission, his first
love is travel and he feels suffocated inside Kathmandu
Valley chasing stories every single day. Some years ago,
when he took the executive position as the Chief
Reporter for the paper, a senior journalist who had closely followed his career
graph and was well aware of his appetite
for travel warned him, "This position
will tether you to Kathmandu. And could
be the death ofthe artist in you." Sixyears
on, he finds himself at the helm of affairs
in Kantipur but he has lost none of his
passion for either travel or travel-writing, though he now has little time for
either. Wagle spoke to Tiku Gauchan
of Nation Weekly of his new life as Editor of Nepal's most widely circulated
newspaper.
What is it like being the Editor?
It feels like I'm working eight days a
week. There's just so much going on. I
was in London once and I saw this
Beatles album cover with the title "Eight
Days a Week," and I thought, "that's my
song."
How long have you felt this?
Ever since I took up journalism. I'm
more of a wanderer—I love trekking and
traveling. I feel like I'm a free bird. I still
do go wandering around the country—
when the publishers signed me up for
the job I had demanded that I be allowed
to do so from time to time—but these
days whenever I'm away I feel like a free
bird with a long leash that's tethered to
the office. I'm constantly thinking about
the newspaper.
Do you feel weighed down
by the logistics?
That too. We have around 130 reporters.
Fifty in Kathmandu and the rest scattered
all over Nepal. But the problem is not
just about managing the reporters. For
example, getting stories about the con
flict is tough. Both the Army and the
Maoists don't provide much information. And even if we do get details it's
very hard to verify them.
Would you rather be a roving
reporter again?
Yes, but that'll happen later. I am primarily a writer. In fact, I'm working
on a novel whose content is largely
drawn from my travel experiences. I'd
also like try the Pico Iyer kind of narratives. It's really rewarding being out
in the field and I believe that I have
learned more from my travels than I
could have learned from books, etc. For
The English media is
fairer. At least in their
political coverage. On
the other hand, they
don't write the hardhitting stuff that the
Nepali public wants
example, I was at Namche once where
I was interviewing the chairman ofthe
VDC there. As I kept firing questions
at him, I noticed that his wife wouldn't
stop crying. Later, the chairman told
me that his wife thought I was abusing
my power when I grilled him. I realized then how crazy the power representations are in Nepal. The chairman's
wife thought I was putting her husband
in the hotseatjust because I was an urban bully. I couldn't have learned about
such nuances in Nepal's realities by
sitting in the office.
Aren't you happy being Editor?
Don't get me wrong, yes, I wish I was
out more often. But I also look at this
job as a challenge. These are such exciting times in the media—the situation in
the country is very fluid and there's so
much happening politically. I am learning a lot everyday. And I've also learned
many things about myself which I would
not have explored otherwise.
Do you help shape your
paper's policies?
Of course. Kantipur's largely successful
because ofthe freedom given to the editorial team. It's a democratic institution.
How do you accommodate the conflicting political views that the situations
throw up?
It's been 14 years since the dawn of democracy here. I've been involved with
the media right since the early days of
the free media in Nepal. I've grown up
with the changes. I believe one has to be
professional about one's profession and
just take it from there.
What's the difference between the
Nepali media and the English language
media here?
The English media is fairer. At least in
their political coverage. On the other
hand, they don't write the hard-hitting
stuff that the Nepali public wants, nor
do they seem to have an extensive coverage. But that's probably because the
English media is relatively new and
they don't have a large network ofjour-
nalists. The English readership is still
very small but I believe that in 10 years
they'll be as huge as the Nepali media.  □
44
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Books
Desaffronizing History
STUPID WHITE MEN
BY BELA MALIK
In Times of Siege," follows the controversy that stalks the protagonist,
Shivmurthy, a professor of history at
the Kasturba Gandhi University.
Shivmurthy's historical preoccupation is
with the ancient city of Kalyana, where,
in the 12th century, there lived a poet-
visionary, Basava, whose chief claim to
attention was his attempt to organise an
egalitarian society, which met with the
same dismal fate that often attends such
efforts. Those who stood to lose by the
creation of an equal society instigated a
counter-revolution that led to social
upheaval and culminated eventually in
Basava's disappearance. Until the opening of the novel, nothing dramatic or
noteworthy has happened to Shivmurthy
in either his personal or professional life.
Two events disrupt the life ofthe ageing
pot-bellied liberal Shivmurthy. One is
the entry of Meena, a 24-year old studying sociology at Kamala Nehru University, who comes to stay at his house. The
relationship between Meena and Shiv
soon moves beyond that of "ward and
guardian."
The second "incident" that disturbs the
even keel of his life is more political. The
"Itihas Suraksha Manch," a hardline Hindu
body that lays claim to singular, monolithic
truths of its own manufacture, takes exception to a passage in ^ —._
one of the BA history
modules on Basava prepared by Shivmurthy.
The Manch quite naturally has a vision of a
Hindu past unsullied by
caste differences. They
revere Basava, exalt him
to mythical status, and
render him sterile so
that his radical ideas and
politics can be safely consigned to
oblivion. The Manch cannot brook
Shivmurthy's history module that has a
much more nuanced understanding of
Basava. The organisation wants the "offending" booklet withdrawn, amended, and
passed by a "committee" of historians of
dubious distinction nominated by it.
These two "events" in the mild
professor's life are interwoven dextrously,
and the account delves into the ordeals
faced by Shivmurthy. His own uncertainty in taking a steadfast stance is
pushed aside by Meena, who helps to
organize campaigns against the fundoos
(fundamentalist) and munchies (members ofthe Manch). Events beyond his
control take Shivmurthy to arenas beyond his customary ambit. We find
Shivmurthy in the make-up room of a
TV studio, in a panel discussion with a
fundoo bigwig, and at dharnas, rallies and
meetings. He now has to take a stand.
Somehow momentous events ofthe recent past that passed Shivmurthy by
(among others, the demolition ofthe
Babri Masjid, the attack on a Kannada
playwright who dramatised Basava's life
some years ago, the attempt to rewrite
history textbooks, the assault on M.F
Hussein for daring to paint Hindu goddesses in the nude and the hullabaloo
raised over the filming of widows in
Banaras) unpredictably knock at his
door. In this tornado over the contest of
representation of a segment of India's vast
and varied past, the reactions of individuals are brought out with sympathetic realism, and we encounter the usual lineup of strong lefties, waffling liberals,
"muppies" (Marxistyuppies), the rightists (in power at the centre) and host of
other well-developed
characters.
"In Times of Siege"
is more than a novel. It
is a chronicle, register
and ajournal, with entries that are frighten-
ingly actual. The story
picks up precisely the
person who epitomised
the "it-won't-ever-hap-
pen-to-me" persona,
and makes it happen to him. Shivmurthy
is a non-Muslim, non-Christian, non-
Communist and he is subjected to harassment over an issue that is seemingly
so innocuous as to ever contain the possibility of attracting fundamentalist attention. In the Indian context, it is religious
fundamentalism; in other contexts it
could be any other closure of democratic
space. P
Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men" is
an all out frontal attack on the American
Right that not only rules the roost in America
but also calls the shots around the world. This
is Moore's tirade against
that big, ugly special-interest group that he says is
laying waste to the world as
we know it: "stupid white
men." Right from the get go
Moore lunges for the jugular. He lashes out againstthe
"Thief-in-Chief," George
Bush, and then having set
the battle tone goes on to
unravel class, racism and
top-heavy corporate issues that have largely defined the American Right's agendas. Neo-cons,
and neo-1 i berals, too, for that matter, have d issed
Moore as a disgruntled mad man who does not
deserve his fifteen minutes of fame. They say
his writing is nothing but rants. But for people
who would rather not sift through tomes of dominant theories about right-wing fundamentalism
and new-age imperialism, his fresh, witty work is
a welcome breather.   □
DUDE WHERE'S
MY COUNTRY?
In the follow-up to "Stupid White Men,"
Michael Moore is back to ask what he thinks
is a most urgent question—"Dude, Where's
My Country?" Moore intends the book to be a
guide on how to take back America from the
conservative forces in
power. Using his trademark
brand of confrontational
and incensed humor,
Moore expresses his bewildered, enraged, yet this
time, stalwartly upbeat
point of view. Refreshingly,
"Dude, Where's My Country?" avoids being completely one-sided. Moore
finds space to praise the Republ icans for what
they have got right as well as criticize his fellow
left-wing colleagues. However brief the mention,
there are a few more shades of gray in what is
increasingly becominga black or white world for
most people.   □
Compiled by Yashas Vaidya
nation weekly |  JULY 11, 2004
45
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A Little Respite
The past one week has been one of
huge relief for Prime Minister
Sher Bahadur Deuba. And to some
extent, the nation as a whole. With all
their differences, CPN(UML), RPP,
NSP and Deuba's own NC(D) agreed
on the Common Minimum Program.
Though the CMP really doesn't say
much in terms of specificities, it holds
a huge symbolic meaning: it's a show of
solidarity by parliamentary parties
(never mind, if all of them aren't on
board) at a time of deeply polarized
politics.
Still, when we went to press, Deuba
hadn't been able to induct the three
parties in his government. The UML
still appeared unhappy about the
power-sharing in the new government
and about Deuba's commitment to
such fundamentals
as complete restoration of executive
powers to the
people. UML leaders worry that their
party has a lot more
to lose if the conflict escalates. That
is understandable:
it has a lot more
workers at the
grassroots than
NC(D), RPP, and
NSP. UML's participation will give
the Deuba government a decisive edge
and it is only natural that the party
should look for unambiguous commitment on some fronts from the prime
minister in return. With three more
parties in the government, the new-
look government will enjoy greater legitimacy. And this perceived legitimacy will give the government an edge
both on and off the ground in its battle
against the insurgents.
It took Deuba more than a month just
to reach here. But the fact that he succeeded in putting four parties together
at all deserves some praise. Itwas always
obvious that Deuba—or any prime minister for that matter—would struggle to
cobble together a coalition during these
troubled times. Already, he has gone a
notch above the two previous governments, which started out as appointed
governments and never made much
progress in being seen as representative
governments.
A major challenge now before Deuba
is to show that his is a people's government without losing sight of the fact
that the King remains a key player in
Nepali politics. For his part, the King
has a tightrope walk to negotiate himself: he has to allow enough space to
the new prime minister without alienating the armed forces. The prime minister needs that space if he is to avoid
the fate of Chand and Thapa. If Deuba
succeeds in doing what the two failed
to do, the Nepali people will still say
that the problem lay with the Panchayat
veterans. And a lot of credit will still go
to the King.
Last week's common minimum program is only a beginning. When Nation
Weekly welcomed Deuba's appointment
a month ago, we had made a point and
that statement still holds. The days ahead
are going to be a test of cohabitation for
both the head ofthe government and the
head ofthe state—they will have to prove
to a wary public that they complement
each other.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
JULY 11, 2004   |  nation weekly
  MARZAN, HOTEL AMBASSADOR, LAZIMPAT, KATHMANDU, NEPAL TEL: 4442939, FAX: 4422130, EMAIL: BEADSOFMARZON@HOTMAIL.COM

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