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Nation Weekly August 1, 2004, Volume 1, Number 15 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-08-06

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AUGUST 1, 2004 VOL. I, NO. 15
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Hundreds Of Foreigners
Come To Nepal And Forge
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AUGUST 1, 2004
VOL. I, NO. 15
COVER PHOTO: Sagar Shrestha
20 Home Is
Where Heart Is
By John Narayan Parajuli
Why do foreigners want to stay in Nepal when so many of us want to leave?
The answer is mostly that they like us. That should make us think
Take Your Pick by Kunal Lama
Ke Game byjohn Child
25 Interview: U.S. Ambassador James F. Moriarty
11 Crime And
Byjogendra Ghimire
Maoists are responsible for crimes
against humanity and are liable to
prosecution even outside Nepal
30 Machiavelli And The
Fall Of Mr. Wagle
By Swarnim Wagle
So fantastic was his ascent that Wagle
and allies couldn't handle the rise with
grace or purpose
38 Bullish Banks
By Sudesh Shrestha
All sectors are bearish except the
banks. Is there something that doesn't
meet the eye?
40 Three Rupees Worth
Of Democracy
By Sushmajoshi
What keeps America, in spite of its
flaws, still a functioning democracy is
its in-built check and balances to
18 Cable War
By Satishjung Shahi
The police action against cable
operators may be an extension ofthe
longstanding battle among cable
operators for control over the
Kathmandu market
26 Involuntary
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
The internal conflict is
forcing thousands to flee
their homes
28 Lure Of Lahur
By Ajit Baral
Avast amount of time and energy is
wasted competing for the 350 British
Gurkha positions open each year, and
unscrupulous operators are ever ready
to cease the opportunity for profit
32   Olympian Dreams
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
Nepali companies are beginning to
learn the value of hitching their brand-
wagon to Olympic stars
34   It's Party Time
By Yashas Vaidya
^^^^      "Never a dull moment," is
■ *A   their motto and it is what
I the PartyNepal people are
■  all about
36   In Vinto Veritas
By Satishjung Shahi
Wine imports are barreling
I ahead as consumers heed
the ancient Latin dictum,
"wine is truth," but Nepal's
only vintner is struggling
■■The Maoists have
exploited the hapless
minors for tactical
advantage J J
De-coding "The Code"
her book review on "The Da Vinci
Code" ("Master of Intrigue," Books, July
25). The novel is certainly a page-turner
and an easy read at that. However, I feel
that "The Da Vinci Code" is not your
average run-of-the-mill thriller because,
beyond all the chase and the suspense,
the writer seems to have a singular purpose: to feed the unsuspecting reader
shocking information about Mary
Magdalene who was not a prostitute (as
stated in the Bible) but the wife of Jesus!
Dan Brown painstakingly highlights
Magdalene's significance in the Priory
of Sion, as being similar to "Isis," the
Egyptian goddess of fertility and therefore, someone holding a prominent position in the history of Christianity and
the Occult simultaneously.
As someone, possessing a convent
education and having read the Christian
scriptures with more than idle curiosity, I found Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci
Code" a shocker. Intrigued, fascinated
and at the same time disturbed by the
information, casually and yet deliberately woven into the fabric ofthe plot, I
delved deeper into "The Code," which
led me to other books and researches
dealing with the same themes.
The Priory of Sion, although founded
in 1099, first came to notice in the English-speaking world through the best-
selling "The Holy Blood and The Holy
Grail" by Michael Baigene, Richard Leigh
and Henry Lincoln. In its homeland,
France, The Priory became public in early
1960. Through painstaking research and
historical detective work, Lyn Picknett
and Clive Prince, two researchers/writers ofthe famed "Turin Shroud: In Whose
Image" discovered the codes within
Leonardo Da Vinci's seemingly very
Christian paintings like "Last Supper" and
"Virgin ofthe Rocks," which led them to
their fascinating quest into the elusive life
ofthe Renaissance genius, Leonardo Da
Vinci. Their compelling search led them
to mind-boggling but repetitive codes and
hidden messages in Da Vinci's art—all
meticulously compiled in their book,
"The Templar Revelation."
For those sufficiently intrigued,
shocked and seduced by "The Da Vinci
Code," "The Holy Blood and The Holy
Grail," "The Sign and The Seal" by Graham Hancock; "The Temple and The
Lodge" by Baigent and Leigh; and most
recently, "The Hiram Key" by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas are excellent reads.
Political logjam
ical Logjam" ("Political Logjam," Viewpoint, July 25) is a telling indictment of
the present-day political order and a fitting lament over the untimely demise of
democracy in Nepal. It's a fact that the
Maoists are the result of the failure of
the democratic system and, probably,
they have rightly occupied the void left
behind by the political parties. The
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Maoists and the parties have much in
common—both are supposedly fighting
for the rights of the people. But will
Baral's exhortations to the political leaders bring them to their senses? Will it
have any impact on their collective
mindset? That remains to be seen. However, there appear to be no grounds for
optimism. A lot of mistrust and misunderstanding still exists between the two
claimants to true representation ofthe
voice of the people. If Baral does, indeed, believe in and subscribe to the idea
of quirks of history and systemic evolution, let him be advised to wait patiently
till "the wheel of time" takes its inevitable turn. I have, as always, found his
article quite stimulating.
But one thing, however, remains unclear. Baral has condemned outright the
"politics of compromise" in Nepal.
Given the geo-political realities in the
region as also the global context today
and the historical imperatives of Nepal,
could it have been any different? Is such
a policy a necessity? Does Nepal have a
choice? Should it have one? I would like
to be clear on this.
Bush bashing
politics by Sushmajoshi liberally biased
("Reigning Story Teller," Movies, July
25). Perhaps the air in the left-wing state
ofVermont (home of Howard Dean) influenced her not-so-objective analysis of
the documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" by
Michael Moore.
I wonder how familiar the writer
is with American politics. She has overstated the possible impact ofthe documentary on the presidential election
later this year. Even if "Fahrenheit 9/
11" makes $100 million in the box office, it means about 10 million people
will have watched it. And most likely,
9.9 million of them were liberals who
would have voted for the Democrats
anyway. It is highly unlikely that this
left-wing ideology driven documentary will win over Republican voters
and influence the outcome ofthe election.
Women at work
for your scoop on women in the Army
("Women At Work, Armed Forces," by
Satish Jung Shahi, July 25). Let me add:
the coverage ofthe security forces in the
Nepali press has been heavily loaded
against the people in uniform. All disciplined militaries round the world just
obey the orders they are given and it is
not for them to question or judge their
political masters.
Intelligence war
security forces have been stretched thin in
their fight against the Maoists ('War Of
Intelligence," Conflict, July 25). Guerrilla
warfare, often hard to thwart with the best
of security precautions in place, suits the
insurgents. While the intelligence gathering methods of our security forces remain
questionable in dealing with this type of
war, it is worth reminding ourselves that
the most sophisticated of war plans go
awry in the situation as ours.
More than 150,000 strong U.S.-led
troops are finding it hard to battle a handful of pro-Saddam forces in Iraq, who have
resorted to guerilla tactics. So let us not
be unduly critical of our forces for their
failure in handling this complex war.
The use of children in combat, in any
form, is totally unjustified. The Maoists
have exploited the hapless minors for tactical advantage. Security forces should be
wary of violating their rights by indulging them in their counter-insurgency
measures—including, intelligence gathering. Indeed, the urban warfare, with
increasing focus on soft targets inside
Kathmandu Valley, has begun in earnest.
Some glitches can be expected of our security forces. But the occasional shooting sprees, and the carelessness shown
time and again by our security forces, cannot be condoned. The incident inPurano
Baneshwor best highlights the gross disregard for individual lives: Ulas Baidya,
who in fact had informed the security
forces about an alleged Maoist extortion,
died a needless death at the hands ofthe
trigger-happy security personnel.
Nation Weekly, The Media House, Tripureshor,
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EDITOR: Akhilesh Upadhyay
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Vol. I, No. 15. For the week July 26-August 1, 2004, released on August 26
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nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
I... democracy is
only of use there that it may
pass on and come to
its flower and fruit in manners
in the highest forms of interaction
between people and
their belief s
— in religion, literature,
colleges and schools —
democracy in all public
and private life.
Walt Whitman
(vjl XT
-X  '?*&
FREEDOM: Students and teachers from two
schools in Chhaimale village, Kathmandu, are
released after two days in Maoist captivity
nation weekly/Sagar Shrestha
Legal Eye
Grime And Punishment
Maoists are responsible for crimes against humanity and are liable to prosecution even outside Nepal
Looking at the innocent face of Santosh Thakur performing the last
rites of his father on the front pages ofthe newspapers last Monday, it was difficult to feel both sad and agitated.
Sad, because this was yet another instance of innocent death as a
result of a deliberate targeting of civilians bythe civilians. Seven-year-old
Santosh is the eldest ofthe three children of Ganesh Thakur, 31, the
barber who succumbed to the bomb blast orchestrated by the insurgents in Koteshwore.
Agitated, because incidents like these have become common in our
conflict-ridden society. So common that the civil society does not even
bother to come out with critical statements any more condemning such
cowardly acts of violence. And even when it does, newspapers don't
deem them fit for publication.
Only two days before the Koteshwore incident, an elderly woman
died in a blast in front ofthe Nepal Telecom building in Jawalakhel. Then
early last week, news coming out of Chhaimale, a remote village at
Kathmandu-Makwanpur border, said that insurgents abducted dozens
of students and teachers from two different schools—the first time such
an abduction had taken place inside the Valley.
How did the civil society react? Its reaction
was, at best, muted. We seem to have begun
to take these incidents as a given.
To an extent, it is perhaps natural for societies in conflict to accept such instances as common happenings, which don't arouse the ire
and condemnation with the same intensity that
a simi lar violent act can be expected to arouse
in a society in peace. However, the silence especially among the civil society actors in Nepal
is deafening. Their ritual of criticizing the insurgents and the security personnel, putting them
on the same plane, continues while the Maoist
rampage goes unabated. This is not to suggest
that the acts of violence committed by the security forces against civilians should be tolerated. Far from it. They should be brought to
task, and towards that end the Nepali civil society has been fairly effective. They have vigorously opposed the missteps ofthe security personnel, and at times even forced them to mend their ways.
An important legal implication ofthe current actions ofthe Maoists,
which has been discussed very little in Nepal's human rights circle, is the
way international human rights law treats their conduct oftargetingcivil-
ians. Surely, their actions of torturing, maiming and killing of civilians for
justifications, which are beyond comprehension, constitute crimes under
the municipal legal system of Nepal. Each of those actions violates the
criminal code ofthe land, and the perpetrators can be tried in a court.
However, considering the political magnitude that the insurgency has
achieved, an average Maoist worker and even its leadership perhaps
feels secure in the knowledge that the insurgency will not come to an end
without a political settlement. And amnesty from punishment for all past
crimes will inevitably be a pre-condition for such a settlement.
That may be true under the Nepali criminal justice system. But once
we enter the international legal domain, things could get more complex
and there is every possibility that the perpetrators of crime against humanity—whosoever that is—inside the national borders could still be
tried outside. It is this deterrence that the Nepali civil society, the media
included, has done little to highlight.
The current state of international law does not tolerate impunity, be
it with reference to the crimes committed by state actors or by non-
state actors. Starting with the Nuremberg trials conducted immediately
afterWorld War II, deliberate targeting and killing of civilians in wartimes
as well as in peace times has been recognized as a serious crime
against humanity. It is no defense whether the violence is state-sanctioned—as in the case of the security forces—or not—as with the
Since the 1990s, there has been a growing recognition that perpetrators of crimes against humanity are international criminals who cannot buy
their safety merely by negotiating amnesty or
immunity with the state in question. Crimes
against humanity attract universal jurisdiction.
Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator,
was one such example that came to global attention. A principal defense in his case, while he
was contesting the execution of an extradition
order issued by a Spanish court for his extradition from England, was that he had negotiated a
lifetime of immunity and amnesty with the state
of Chile. And therefore, the argument went, he
could not be tried in a British or a Spanish court.
International legal opinion, and the British House
of Lords, felt otherwise.
By targeting innocent civilians and workers
of political parties who do not follow their ideology, the Maoists have clearly laid out a plan to
decimate their pol itical opponents. This act falls
within the definition of crimes against humanity, one of the three principal crimes recognized bythe Statute ofthe International Criminal Court (ICC). One can argue that as a country that has not signed the
statute yet, such acts committed in Nepal may not fall within the jurisdiction ofthe ICC. But states, which are party to the ICC, can always initiate
actions against perpetrators in Nepal—just as it happened in the case of
Pinochet. The Chilean dictator had committed no crime in England but
English prosecutors would have none of it. The arrest of Pinochet in
England highlights an important point: As adherents of global criminal
justice system, states have the responsibility to prosecute perpetrators
of international crimes, irrespective ofthe place ofthe crime. D
nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
 There are two sides
to every story.
There are always two sides to every story. Who's right
and who's wrong does not depend on which side you're
on. To a third person, there may not even be a right or
wrong, just a difference of opinion.
The important thing is to move on, change and adapt
while keeping your goals intact.
The Himalayan Times is not about taking sides. It is
about positively expressing the view of both sides.
The Himalayan
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5.      Building
A better life
In the latest UN Human Development Report, Nepal recorded 0.504 points on the
Human Development Index
(HDI), up from 0.499 in
2003. It now ranks 140th in the
pool of 177 countries. The
HDI is based on three factors: life expectancy, literacy
and school enrollment, and
income. Life expectancy
grew from 59.1 years in 2003
to 59.6, and adult literacy from
42.9 percent to 44 percent.
Nepal however was the worst
performer in primary education. Overall, Nepal's HDI
stands at a dismal sixth position among SAARC countries, only ahead of Pakistan.
No truce
Maoist supremo Prachanda
dismissed any possibility of
an immediate truce and negotiations with the government. In a press statement,
Prachanda said the government was unwilling to revise
its position of finding solutions to the current crisis
from within the framework
ofthe present Constitution.
The statement also alleged
that the government was pub
licizing false information
about peace talks.
Quick repatriation
Bhutan is eager for a quick
repatriation of refugees, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat
said. But there is a condition
attached. Bhutan has reportedly sought security guarantees for its officials while they
carry out their duty of refugee verification in the Nepali
camps. Early last week the
new U.S. Ambassador, James
F. Moriarty, expressed his
concern over the refugee
stalemate. "They need to be
repatriated," he told reporters. "We have an economic
stake and we want to see the
camps closed." The United
States provides about 25 percent ofthe funds that go into
running the camps.
Revenue rise
Department of Customs said
that customs revenue rose to
Rs 15.57 billion during the
last fiscal year, which was
higher than the budgetary target of Rs 14.44 billion. The
Department Director,
Krishna Hari Baskota, attrib-
uted the rise to administrative
reforms, installation of Automated Systems of Customs
Data technology and enforcement of the three-year customs work manual. As an incentive to comply with WTO
requirements, the government
has slashed customs duty on
batteries, furniture, plastic
pipes, chemicals and similar
products from 40 to 35 percent. Likewise, duties were
also reduced for sugar, IT
equipment, petroleum and
aerated drinks.
Foreign management
Employees of Nepal Bank
Limited opposed the decision
to renew the bank's management contract with Ireland's
Sushil Kumar Pant resigned
as Attorney General after
10 months in office.
Mahadev Prasad Yadav, former
member ofthe National Assembly, has been named as Pant's successor. Pant was appointed by the
Surya Bahadur Thapa government. News reports said Pant tendered his resignation when Prime
Minister Deuba stopped conferring him on legal matters pertaining to the government. A week
after Deuba's appointment as
prime minister in early June, Pant
had told Nation Weekly that he
had relayed his desire to the new
prime minister that he was willing to step down to make way for
a new Attorney General.
ICC Bank. The Nepal
Rastra Bank, on July 18, renewed the management
contract signed with the ICC
two years ago, for another
year. The ICC was awarded
the contract with an aim to
reduce non-performing assets to five percent. The employees however argue that
the ICC Bank could not fulfill its obligation.
Captives release
The Maoist released 84 students and teachers they had
abducted from two schools
in Chhaimale village in
Kathmandu. They had taken
the captives to an unidentified location somewhere
near the border with
Makwanpur. "We cried the
whole night," said the father
New limbs
Nepal Red Cross Society
(NRCS) started rehabilitation program for the conflict victims, especially to
those who have lost their
lower limbs in the violence.
Funded by the International
Committee of the Red
Cross, the program aims at
providing artificial legs.
The NRCS branches in all
75 districts have started collecting data of amputees.
The victims would be provided clutches through
Hario Kharaka Hospital,
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Maoist warrant
Maoists have ordered the residents of Phidim, Paanchthar,
to vacate the town by September 8. In a statement, the
Maoists asked the residents
to leave the town temporarily.
They are reportedly planning
to stage a "rehearsal for revolt." The Maoists are also
planning a blockade of
Phidim Bazaar from September 1-7 and general strike on
September 8.
Gurkha drivers
A British bus company,
2Travel, has employed 21 ex-
Gurkhas as drivers. A shortage of bus drivers led the
company to recruit ex-
Gurkhas, the BBC reported.
The Gurkha drivers have
settled in well in their new
lives since arriving in Wales,
2Travel's Managing Director
Bev Fowles was quoted as
saying. Bhim Rai, a Gurkha
who was nearing the end of
his 20 years in the British
Army, has been appointed the
company's traffic manager in
Llanelli, Wales.
Disgraced judge
Krishna Kumar Verma, the
Supreme Courtjudge mired
in controversy, has resigned.
Justice Verma and Baliram
Kumar had given the controversial verdict acquitting
British drug-peddler Gordon William Robinson early
this year. Verma cited health
reasons for his resignation.
Meanwhile, the Judicial
Council appointed Justice
Bhairab Prasad Lamsal as a
member ofthe council, following Verma's resignation.
Scribe's ordeal
After eight months in Army
custody, journalist Dhan
Bahadur Magar was released.
Magar was detained on suspicion of being a Maoist.
"The period in Army custody
was hell," The Himalayan
Times quoted Magar as saying. Magar, an office secretary
at the Federation of Nepalese
Journalists in Kathmandu,
said he was blindfolded with
both his hands tied behind his
back and was kept in solitary
confinement, except while
No peacekeepers
The Royal Nepal Army is unable to provide more troops
for United Nations peacekeeping missions, the Army's
public relations directorate
said. The U.N. had requested
for Nepali peacekeepers to
protect its staff in Iraq. But the
Army expressed its inability to
immediately send troops citing its engagement within
Nepal where they have been
stretched thin.
Chopper trouble
The Maoists set off a bomb
on a Sri Air chopper in
Kodwada airport in Kalikot.
A police constable, Laxmi
Chandra Upadhaya, was
killed in the explosion, and
four Army personnel were
injured. The helicopter,
which was carrying ration for
the security forces, was damaged in the explosion but
could still fly back to the regional headquarters in
Drug haul
In one ofthe biggest hauls for
a single day, the Narcotic
Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit last week seized
over 50kg of heroin from dif
ferent parts of Kathmandu.
Eight persons were arrested
with the contraband when a
police team, acting upon a tip-
off, raided the hideouts. The
contraband was found inside
earthenware, vessels and ashtrays, The Himalayan Times
Minor labor
Nine Nepali children, between eight to 14 years of age,
working as laborers, were
rescued in Mumbai. The Indian police handed over the
minors to their Nepali counterparts at the Border Police
Post, Balaiya, Rupandehi.
Nepali workers
Australian immigrantion officials in Sydney, who were
targeting 20 businesses, have
sent three Nepali workers
along with 20 other illegal
foreign workers to Vilawood
Detention Centre following
a crackdown, Australian news
agencies reported. Among the
detainees, 19 were in Australia unlawfully while four had
expired visas. Arrangements
are said to be underway to
deport them to their respective countries.
Wagle's fall
CIAA demanded an immediate implementation of the
Special Court verdict against
Chiranjivi Wagle. The anti-
graft court had indicted Wagle
on charges of corruption sentencing him to two and a half
years in jail and fining him Rs.
27.3 million. Wagle can appeal
against the verdict within 50
Pool mishap
Three minors died when
they fell into a pool in Bara.
Shew Rawat Kurmi and Ram
Niwas, both five year-olds,
and Bhamara Raut, a four-
year old, of Balirampur
VDC-3 died after they accidentally slipped into the
pool. The children, who
went missing at around 2
p.m., were found floating
over the pool two hours later,
Kantipur Online reported.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
 Biz Buz
AVCO International, the sole distributor for Asia
Cellular Satellite (ACeS), has come up with an
attractive package of Rs. 55,000 with pre-paid
SIM card for ACeS phone sets. This latest offering is 30 percent cheaper than the regular
price of Rs. 83,460. This package is being offered for a limited period of time.
ACeS phones are marketed as being cost
effective and easy-to-install. The ACeS network covers the whole ofthe Asia and can be
used in any part of Nepal. The ACeS phone
has a dual-mode feature, which allows users
to use their phones in GSM mode, which is the
normal mobile mode, and GMPCS mode, which
is the satellite mode. Both models (Fix sets
and Mobile sets) have Voice and Data facilities. ACeS also plans to introduce new services
such as videoconferencing, live telecasts, asset tracking and Remote Monitoring System
Gorkha Brewery Pvt. Ltd. conducted a lucky
draw to determine the winners ofthe Carlsberg
Euro 2004 Quiz Contest at the Marco Polo
Business Hotel. Sports journalists and officials
ofthe Manang Marshyandi Club were present.
The quiz contest was open from June 5 to July
1. Itwas publicized through an advertising campaign in prominent dailies, weeklies and magazines throughout the period. There was a total
of 25,267 entries for the contest resulting in
210 correct entries.
The first prize, a 21-inch color television,
was won by Bipin Panthi of Anamnagar,
Kathmandu. There were 10 second prize winners who received Carlsberg wristwatches and
19 third prize winners received Carlsberg footballs. The winners ofthe 100 consolation prizes
for Carlsbergt-shirts were also selected.
Gorkha Brewery Pvt. Ltd. markets Carlsberg
beer in Nepal. Carlsberg was the official beer
forthisyear's European Championships in Portugal.
Emanon Nepal Pvt. Ltd. has launched "Best
Buy," a monthly consumer-shopping catalogue.
Best Buy is promoted as being the first complete shopping catalogue for Nepal; consolidating all special promotions, the best offers
and market information of consumer products
and services into one single point of access.
Thirty thousand free Best Buy catalogues
are delivered to major households, businesses,
institutions, expatriates, shopping malls, and
traffic intersections in the Kathmandu Valley.
The catalogue is also distributed in all Buddha
Air flights. The company is aiming to reach
200,000 people through its print catalogue
and website. Information in the catalogue can
also be accessed by visiting the website
www. bestbuynepa I. com
Orient Paradise Travels and Tours Pvt. Ltd., a
member ofthe KL Dugar Group, has been appointed general sales agent for Indian Railways
in Nepal. The agency will facilitate travelers to
procure Indian Railway passes to travel to India by rail to their desired destinations. The
company, which is soon going to start its operation in Kathmandu, also plans to start similar
service in other major cities.
Nepal SBI bank has opened
its new branch in Dharan, its
14th in the country. According
to the branch manager, Kiran
Tiwari, the bank has been
opened in Dharan to facilitate
foreign trade.
Nepal is for the first time, participating in the Dubai Shopping Festival, Global Village, to
be held next year. With the
support from Nepal Tourism
Board, Maitreya Worldwide
Traders will be representing
Nepal in the event.
The event will aid in promoting Nepali culture, architecture and artistry in the
worldwide market. Models will
be constructed in the event for
the promotion of Nepali architecture, handicraft, metalcraft
and woodcraft.
There will be representatives from more than
50 countries. Around 700,000 people are expected to participate in the event which starts
from January 12 next year. It ends on 31 March.
Nepal has been allotted an area of 750 square
meters in the event.
Kumari Bank Ltd. has launched new products
like SMS banking, e-Pay (Utility Bill Payment)
and Super Savings. It will soon introduce new
products like ATM, debit and credit cards, information kiosks, fund management for Non-Residential Nepalis, tele-bankingand so on in the
new fiscal year. In the last fiscal year, the bank
opened two branches at Biratnagar and Birgunj.
The bank is going to establish more branches
at New Road and Pokhara in the new fiscal
A press release by the bank states that the
bank has 149 promoter shareholders. After
issuing Rs. 150 mi II ion worth of shares to the
public thisyear, the total number of shareholders is 35,351. The bank has a paid up capital
of Rs. 500 million and its net worth is Rs. 590
million. Total deposits at the bank have risen to
Rs. 4.82 billion with an increment of 92 percent from last year. Its outstanding loan stands
atRs. 3.71 billion. The operating profit ofthe
bank is Rs. 106.4 million, an increment of 83
percent from last year.
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 The police action against
cable operators may be an
extension of the longstanding battle among cable
operators for control ofthe
Kathmandu market
rnet service provider SUBISU's
Chief Executive Officer Sudhir
Parajuli will always remember July 16.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on the day his company launched its cable Internet service,
the first in the country, about 20 uniformed policemen surrounded his office in Baluwatar. The police held everyone in the office at gunpoint, took
two ofthe company's directors into custody and confiscated two servers, the
computer hardware controlling the
Internet service.
When Parajuli reached the Hanuman
Dhoka police station, he found owners
of five other cable TV services, all belonging to the same umbrella organization, Nepal Cable Television Sangh. It
was the same story; the police had seized
their equipment too. By then almost half
of Kathmandu households were without cable services.
The charges were then revealed:
evading taxes, exceeding the subscription ceiling for the number of authorized
members and illegally using Nepal
Telecom poles to extend their services.
The police released the confiscated
equipment two hours later, after paying
two more visits to Parajuli's office to
break open a door whose key they had
taken earlier. The hardware, say the victims, was badly damaged.
"The police came without a warrant
and threatened to shoot us dead when we
demanded that they produce arrest papers and issue us papers for the confiscated goods," says Parajuli. "Plus, the
 charges were all baseless." Parajuli is also
the general secretary ofthe Nepal Cable
Television Sangh, which has 13 of the
capital's 16 licensed cable operators as
members. The other three operators belong to the rival Nepal Cable Television
Association, which is headed by Space
Time Network. Space Time is a major
cable operator that also runs an influential media house and controls more than
50 percent ofthe cable market in the Valley. "Itwas plain dacoity" alleges Parajuli.
Insiders say the raid was an extension ofthe longstanding battle between
cable operators over the lucrative
Kathmandu cable business. A Superintendent of Police went on record the
same evening on Channel Nepal to claim
that the raid was legal, for it had followed
an application filed by the Nepal Cable
Gable Network
Television Association. The association
has denied making any such requests.
"It was a conspiracy by Space Time
Network, as they were losing their market share," says M. R. Ranjit, president
ofthe Nepal Cable Television Sangh and
owner ofthe Blue Himalayan Cable Television Network. Blue Himalayan's office at Bhimsensthan suffered the most
damage during the police raid. According to Ranjit, Space Time's Channel
Nepal broke the news ofthe raid on their
8 p.m. newscast, while the raid was still
going on. He says the report had a lot of
details and looked all planned.
Parajuli goes so far as to claim that
the Space Time technicians were involved with the police in most of the
raids. "The police have taken the most
vital servers with them," he says, "it is
hard to believe that policemen can identify electronic equipment that only experts in the field can tell."
Space Time Network's Chairman
Jamim Shah would not come to the
phone despite our repeated requests.
The Network's General Manager
Mohan Bhakta Mathema told us: 'We
don't want to make any comments until the government committee would
make public its finding." Information
Minister Mohammad Mohsin formed
a six-member committee to look into
the incident.
When Nation Weekly contacted the
officer who conducted the raids, Superintendent of Police Deepak Ranjit, for
comments, he maintained that the cable
operators had evaded tax and that the
police had a copy of an application filed
by the Nepal Cable Television Association. 'We don't need to act on anyone's
influence," he said, denying he was following orders from Space Time. "The
police force has the full right to act upon
those working illegally."
The cable operators of the
_!_ Sangh deny the charge. Sangh
wpresident Ranjit said all their
taxes have been paid except for a
few payments pending for the
last one or two months. Parajuli
told us that SUBISU had experienced three surprise raids from
the revenue department since
they obtained license for cable
internet  in  2003.   He  said
SUBISU got clean chits on all
three occasions.
"The police should be raiding Space
Time instead. Space Time hasn't paid its
two years of VAT amounting up to two
crores," a Sangh official told us. "Plus, it
hasn't paid its dues to Nepal Telecom
since the last four years for using its
poles, and its agreement ended more than
two years ago."
The Nepal Cable Operators Sangh has
moved to court and is demanding Rs.
10,000,000 as compensation and a stay order against further police action against
them until the court decision is announced.
Information Minister Mohsin said the
police action came without his or Home
Minister Purna Bahadur Khadka's knowledge. The committee, Minister Mohasin
formed, is currently making rounds ofthe
cable operators' offices where the raids
were made.
"It looks like they're only investigating if the police charges against us is true
or not," said SUBISU's Parajuli. "They
don't seem to be investigating if the police action was really unlawful." d
 -.—, -N
Liesel Messerschmidt KC
As a young man of 20, Brandt
came to Nepal with the Peace
Corps in 1963. During his
two-year assignment in
Syangja, the mountains
fascinated him, much like any
tourist. But in 1970 he came
back with a new mission, to
explore Nepal and to do
something more for the
Irekkers come here
I for the mountains and
return be-cause of the
people," wrote An
drew Stevenson in his
travelogue, "A
Nepalese Journey."
That may be true for
many expatriates, especially those who
have stayed for a long time. What else
keeps the estimated 5,000 foreigners
"I don't know if I would call it
magic, but I think that for tourists it is
the mountains, and for those of us who
stay here for years it is the opportunities Nepal presents and the friendships
we develop," says Liesel Messerschmidt
KC, an American expatriate who has
lived in Nepal for 11 years out of the
last 23. Expats find Nepal different from
other countries. Many say they constantly look for ways to come back to
Nepal. There is no one reason.
"I feel quite at home," says Joel
Garingalao Jr. who hails from Ilo Ilo
City in the central Philippines. "It is
like being at home with my family." Joel
came to Nepal in 1999. He is typical of
the new generation of expatriates, but
there are also many who first visited this
country half a century ago and stayed
"I was very much attracted to this
country and its people," says Jesse
Brandt, with USAIDS. As a young
man of 20, Brandt came to Nepal with
the Peace Corps in 1963. During his
two-year assignment in Syangja, the
mountains fascinated him, much like
any tourist. But in 1970 he came back
with a new mission, to explore Nepal
and to do something more for the
Brandt has an adopted Nepali son,
Sishir, who has settled in the United
States. His mother died in Nepal and he
looks after an elderly Nepali man whom
he calls father—his boss 41 years ago. "I
will probably tonsure my head, take him
to Pashupati and perform the last rites
when he dies," Brandt says.
Nepali society provides a sense of
belonging to many expats who have lived
an individual life in their own countries.
'We make them feel comfortable," says
Kunal Lama of Cafe Mitra at Thamel,
the tourist hub of Nepal. Nepali people
are open and generous and easily embrace each other, including the expatriates, which gives them a sense of belonging. Perhaps this is why many have chosen to assimilate Nepali values. Many
are fluent in Nepali.
"Expats are here for a number of reasons," says Lama. The cost factor is one.
Nepal is an inexpensive place to live, especially for a westerner. An expatriate can
have a comfortable life here for a few
hundred dollars per month, far less than
at home. Some who work for American
schools and NGOs earn 10 times that
Being a white-skinned person can
sometimes be an advantage, but that
comes at a price. The common perception that all foreigners are rich can taint
interactions at times. "Some people think
you are filthy rich and tend to ask for dollars," says an expatriate insisting anonymity Others agree. 'We despise always having to pay a higher price simply because
we have white skin," says Sara Duett.
There are some criticisms directed
at foreigners too. Many Nepalis and
even some expatriates fear that exposure to negative aspects of western culture will hurt Nepal. Despite the concern, it is hard to cite evidence that foreigners have harmed the country and
easy to find instances where they have
helped greatly. The contributions of
Father Eugene L. Watrin, S.J, who
passed away in February, will be long
remembered. Father Watrin was an educator and social worker, who came to
Nepal in 1955.
Like Watrin, other foreigners have
lived here for years and contributed in
their own ways to Nepal's development,
though the government continues to
make it very difficult for many of them
to stay. "It's frustrating to undergo the
same visa related hassles every time," says
a British expatriate.
"I will probably die here," says
Brandt, hopefully. That's if he can get a
visa to stay that long,  d
nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
Take Your Pick
Expats are encountered everywhere in Nepal. Spouting many tongues and in
various disguises, they have become notable fixtures in our country, the same way the potato has
become an automatic accompaniment to rice in the local cuisine.
Some of the more recognizable
forms of expats are:
Rooters: These expats love
Nepal so much that some of them
have grown deep roots. They
readily chastize those—especially
the unfortunate Nepalis who have
grown soft from living abroad—
when they make the tiniest of
complaints. Whether in Nepal for
years or just a few months, they
are here to stay. The others can
bugger off, complaining Nepalis
included. Sworn enemies ofthe
likes of Jeff Greenwald.
Mission-ahes: Mission-aries
are not only sometimes bom in
March or April, they are bom with
a zealous mission to better Nepal.
They are busy building suspension
bridges over rivers, or harvesting
olives to rid cholesterol from the
arteries of the locals.
The Abandoned: Once hippies
or PCVs or trekkers or Gurkha officers, these expats have been abandoned by times and recent developments within their own countries.
Hooked to Nepal, one way or the
other, they linger around, with no
hope or desire for exit.
Dharma Chhetras: To borrow a
label coined by G2, DCs wander
from temple to stupa, believing fervently that salvation comes from
devotion to Shiva, Buddha or any
ofthe 33 million and plus deities
last found to be spiritually living in
Nepal. Bigfans of contorted forms
of yogic meditations and
rimpoches of contrived reincarnations. DCs ofthe proselytizing kind
are the lowest of this order.
Ethical Ethnicists: Ethical
Ethnicists usually sport a dhaka topi
or a chintzy kurta-suruwal;
'namaste' left, right and center;
bad mouth the vernacular so
much that they themselves can
barely understand it; and know
more about the state ofthe state
than the head of state. Squatting
over local loos have empowered
their limbs to the extent that they
walk or cycle all over, righteously
Nonstickers: In Nepal for a reason, but the reason is definitely
not Nepal. Confined to INGO compounds, embassy clubs or Group
4-guarded high-fenced residences, Nonstickers are totally
immune to the charms or microorganisms ofthe country (thanks
to CIWEC), and could be anywhere
—Niger, Nicaragua, or Nepal.
Honeyeaters: Quick to take advantage of local hospitality,
cerely believe that the light colour
of their skin imbues them with supernatural powers, such as intelligence. Usually seen barging
through customs at TIA, driving the
wrong way up one-way streets, or
berating hapless waiters in starred
hotels. Diplomatic Immunity
serves them well.
Nepal Bashers: NBstalkupthe
alarming status of Nepal asafailed
nation. E-mails are their favoured
messengers; gossippy groupie dinners and friends on the outer perimeters of powerful circles their
favourite sources of "news." Se-
fumingat the backs of SUVs and
stretched limousines.
Social Shifters: Once in the
country, Social Shifters quickly latch
to the chiffons or tailcoats ofthe
Ranas, Shahs and any other
prominent personages, even their
own kind. Usually busyattending
gala dinners, fundraisers and rice-
feeding ceremonies.
Post-career Sweeties: Weary
with the rapacious commercialization of Phuket, Galleand Bali, these
old men, hands resting on strong
shoulders or delicious derrieres,
assiduously sweet-talk their companions into dinners at expensive
restaurants, trips to Pokhara and
farther afield.
naivete, stupidity or avarice,
Honeyeaters waste no time in
gleaning information to bolster theses, bank accounts, promotion
opportunities. Equally quick to
claim being had by locals,
Honeyeaters whinge constantly.
Frequent Flee-ers: FFs love
Nepal but only as long as Nepal is
lovable, and the going is good, for
them. Thefirstsoundofadistant
pressure cooker bomb, or a tremulous tremor in Dhankuta, they are
off on the first plane out of Nepal.
Not known to be frequent flyers of
White is Might: Outright racists,
and only fit to inhabit Namibia,
Chile or America, these expats se
curity collapses, visa payments, GP
Koirala, etc. send them into fits of
ritualistic rhapsodic bashing of
In spite of my somewhat uncharitable and unscientific typecasting of foreign residents whom we
have come to love or hate so much,
it is an undeniable fact that they
will always be around, in one form
orthe other. Sprinkled amongst us
natives, they have certainly made
our lives much more colourful. In
many cases, most of them become
such good friends that when they
do have to take our leave, we tearfully forgive all their trespasses, but
we seldom forget them. Such is
the nature of expats! ^
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
Ke Game?
I arrive home with the sun beating down and not a breath of
air. My first move is to the fan.
Click, click. Nothing. "No lights,"exclaims Mohan, smiling brightly, "Ke
My American brain is full of answers to the question. We believe
as a matter of faith that all problems have solutions. American
education teaches problem solving: howto identify a problem, think
about solutions, pick the best one,
try it and, if necessary, repeat until
the problem is fixed. That doesn't
happen here.
Ke game, "what to do," is not
a question. It's more of an answer, an expression of deep currents in Nepali culture. Americans'
belief is reinforced every day by
seeing problem solving rewarded.
It's a basic fact of life here that
much ofthe time there's nothing
one can do. At a gut level, most
Hindus and Buddhists accept the
doctrine of Karma. You are who
you are today, the ancient teaching says, because of your actions
in a previous life. Your actions in
this life all bear fruit, some immediately and some in future lives.
If your circumstances are ordained bythiscosmically fair system, if you are where you are because God wants you there, what
is there to do?
It's hard to know which came
first, Karma or politics. Bythe time
the lighter-skinned invaders
pushed into the subcontinent, the
caste system became a very useful political tool for the, naturally,
high-caste leaders. The deeply
conservative caste system based
on faith permits no choices: nothing to do. The leaders of Nepal—
kings, Ranas and Panchas—understood the political value of that
all too well. They promoted caste
and faith, limited expectations and
choices and fostered fatalism.
Fatalism was at work in early
America too. We called it predestination. If you were one ofthe elect,
the chosen few whom God had
called, you would be a success.
God was going to show his love by
lettingyou prosper. It called for great
faith and prayer, of course, but also
ingenuity and risk taking. God was
going to put obstacles in your way.
You were expected to surmount
them, not merely accept them.
"God helps those who help themselves," the proverb says.
That's the critical difference between te game beinga question or
an answer. Nepal's response is
deeply rooted in faith and history.
It's hard to cast off hundreds of
years of tradition in a generation.
The difference is a source of
frustration to most expatriates. If I
had 10 rupees for every time I've
heard a bideshi say, "Why don't
theyjust..." followed with a well-
meaning suggestion, I would be
wealthy. But some people never
adjust their expectations. Myfriend
Peter has been visiting Nepal for
20 years. He knows the visa regulations, the right counter to go to
and which form to fill in. Yet every
year he heads to the Department
of Immigration with foreign expectations, and every year he becomes hopping mad over the process. How much simpler it would
bejust to assume itwas going to
take several hours.
"Why don't theyjust..." isn't
going to change Nepal. What will
change Nepal are the powerful
ideas being imported along with
the French wine and Japanese
SUVs. The ideas of accountability and good governance, of free
It's an astounding thing for most
foreigners to find that the average
Nepali teenager is polite, helpful
and respectful.
The difference here is that the
questioner really wants to know.
Americans live in a tight shell and
carefully segment friends, acquaintances and workmates. In
Nepal the use ofthe simple word
sathi, "friend," for all of those reflects a wonderfully open and
egalitarian social sphere.
Two thousand years of history, legend and artifacts are here for the
curious mind and wandering feet
to explore. It would take lifetimes
to see and appreciate it all.
Westerners have learned to be
suspicious and wary. My grandfather, I think, would have been comfortable a Nepali deal on a handshake or leaving a deposit for
something without worrying about
a receipt. My generation has almost forgotten how to deal with
The soft, painterlylightattheend
of the day adds to this special
place's natural calm. There's no
better drug than watching the pilgrims progress and the prayer
wheels whirl.
enterprise and the worth of the
individual are beginning to take
hold. Education in English medium and the students' resulting
exposure to the world of ideas
outside are already changing
A well-educated Nepal friend,
who has spent almost as much
time in my country as I have in his,
asked me if I thought his experience of Kathmandu and mine were
different. My answer was that our
respective Kathmandus were quite
similar. He laughed and confessed
to having suffered culture shock
when he returned from the United
I try to be careful about just
how much change I wish for. E
Required reading: Fatalism and Development, Nepal's Struggle for Modernization by Dor Bahadur Bista. Available
in most bookstores.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
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These are still early days for the new U.S.
Ambassador, James Moriarty. But there is
no escaping the fact that his performance—and remarks—will come under intense
scrutiny in the days ahead, a fate no U.S. envoy
in the present-day Nepal can possibly escape. In
his first exclusive interview since he came to
Kathmandu, Moriarty told Nation Weekly history
of Maoist movements is "extremely bleak."
In a nutshell, how would you describe the
U.S. policy to Nepal?
To see a peaceful, prosperous and democratic
Nepal. The question is how do you get there?
And that's basically: how do you design the tools
to help Nepal get to that state where there's a
peaceful, prosperous and democratic Nepal? Now
in normal times we have all sorts of options to
think about. This is a very special time and there
are special pressures. That's why I am saying that
Washington is more focused than it usually is on
Nepal right now. There is nervousness.
...And why is that?
Because of the situation of the Maoists who
obviously don't want to see, or are acting in a
manner that they seem to indicate they don't
want, a peaceful Nepal; they don't want a prosperous Nepal; nor do they want a democratic
Nepal. Our core objectives, in effect, are under
siege right now and that's why we're worried
about the country.
Do you expect a ceasefire anytime soon?
I don't know. That again is a question of Maoist
intention—if the Maoists have decided that we
(they)'re not going to get much further from
fighting and it's now time to negotiate in good
faith, acknowledge that Nepal for a foreseeable future is going to have a multi-party
democracy under constitutional monarchy. If they reach that point, then
ceasefire is very likely and will become
a productive ceasefire where you can
have good-faith negotiations. If not,
then it's tough to come up with a mean-
ingful ceasefire.
What bothers the U.S. about the Maoists?
Their obvious tactics and their presumed intentions. Maybe you folks have a handle on their
presumed intentions more than I do...ljustgo
by their history and their current actions, and
the history of the Maoist movements is very
bleak. And that's why I said it's up to the Maoists
to begin finding why their goals would take Nepal
down that extremely, extremely bleak road towards a Maoist republic.
The U.S. doesn't consider Maoists a
bonafide political force?
A legitimate political force doesn't resort to violence, terrorism, extortion, murder. I can't think
of a country where you call a group engaged in
those kinds of activities insurgents; you could
call them guerillas and those are the nicest
terms you can use. And you could also call
them terrorists.
Are you saying that they are terrorists?
Sure. Does that mean that there's no hope in
bringing them in? No. How? I said I keep getting
back to the poi nt that it wi 11 be when they recog-
nize that they're not going to win power and
they decide at that point that they have to give
up the use of violence.
You're happy with the major parties onboard?
If you're going to have peace in Nepal, you will
need a degree of unity among the legitimate
political forces, the Palace and the parties. You
have to have a fairly similar, if not identical,
views about Nepal. If you don't have that sort
of view, then how can the Maoists negotiate
seriously with anybody? They can play off the
differences between the Palace and
the parties.
How does U.S. envision the
role of the King?
We think that the King has an
important role to play. If you
look at Nepal's domestic poli
tics, you have three main actors: the Maoists,
the political parties and the King. The King is a
symbol of national unity and isa symbol around
which many Nepalis rally and therefore he has
an important role to play in moving this process
towards peace.. .So, if the parties get obsessed
with trying to get rid ofthe King, then they are
obviously not going to be able to successfully
address the threats imposed by Maoists.
Is the U.S. happy with the King's role, especially post-October 2002?
We are happy to see that the parties have
been involved.
Is the U.S. policy to provide more firepower
to the government to allow it to negotiate
from a position of strength with the Maoists
or do you want to see an immediate
It's up to the government of Nepal to say what
is going to work... I would say a ceasefire with a
reasonable chance of leading towards a meaningful peace is what Nepal should be looking
for. And if the ceasefire is, to the contrary, used
to allow the Maoists to do what they're doing
right now while not having to worry about any
retaliation from the government.. .the security
services, then you don't have a ceasefire. It
boils down to intentions.
Does the Nepali state have
the power to sustain itself?
I think that the Nepali state has the capability
of preventing the Maoists from taking over indefinitely, if it has the will.
Basically, even in Beni, you saw that the
Maoists really couldn't take over a not particularly well-defended position from the government forces. There is no way you can have
a significant Maoist force march into
Kathmandu. Theyjust can't do that as long as
there's a will on the part ofthe government.
On the other hand, the current situation is
obviously untenable for the Nepali people. The
status quo cannot go on indefinitely. You said
the vision of U.S. pol icy was strengthening the
military to take on the Maoists successfully. I
would say another important part of that vision is having the unity ofthe legitimate political forces, and also having unity in the outside
world. We've seen steps forward by India.
We're going to need to make sure that no
outside power is signaling to the Maoists that
we view you as a legitimate group. They have
got to be isolated. n
this month by the abduction of 43
students from Chhaimale, only
25km from Kathmandu proper. 'Why
have they abducted our innocent children?" wailed Saraswati Chapagain,
mother of an abducted student, when we
arrived at the village the day after the abduction. Other parents we met were in a
state of shock. The incident shattered the
myth that the schools in the capital were
still safe. The students and their teachers were released but not before two
anxiety-filled nights for their families.
The first mass abduction of students
so close to the capital received the attention it deserved. But the less visible displacement of large numbers of people
from their homes due to the conflict is
perhaps far more serious. Both the Maoists
and the state security apparatus are responsible for the involuntary migration of tens
of thousands of people, both within the
country and across the border to India.
Gopendra Rijal was the headteacher
at Ghurbise Secondary School in
Panchami, Panchthar. He left his job and
fled to Kathmandu along with his wife
and two grown-up daughters. Roshan
Subba is already a dead man to his family. He hasn't visited or written to his
family in Doti for the last four years. He
fears that the insurgents would trace his
letters. He says he escaped when a group
of armed rebels came to take him away.
"I may never be able to go to my home,"
he moans. He doesn't want his whereabouts revealed.
Thousands of people have been forced
out from their homes. Hundreds of villages are now struggling due to growing
numbers of men fleeing to the relative
safety of district headquarters, cities and
neighboring India. Unmarried women
dress as if they were married to avoid abduction by the insurgents. "It is difficult
to stay in villages these days," says Sandesh
Pokhrel, 18, a resident of Phidim,
Panchthar who now lives in Anamnagar
in Kathmandu. "One has to support their
ideology or at least pretend to do so."
While that doesn't always placate the insurgents, it puts the villagers in harm's
way as the security forces assume that they
are entertaining the insurgents.
The Maoists ejected family members
ofthe security forces from Jogbudha and
Shirsha VDCs in Dadeldhura in October last year and threatened to execute
them if they came back. Families of security forces have also been forced to
flee from numerous other places.
There is also evidence from informal surveys of NGOs in the Mid-west
and other hill districts that the security
forces have committed excesses too.
Although people have been leaving
their villages for many years now, there
is no credible tally ofthe displaced. "The
state of internal displacement in Nepal
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
 is in flux, and the numbers are largely
unknown," Michelle Berg, policy analyst with the Massachusetts-based U.S.
Committee for Refugees (USCR) told
Nation Weekly in an e-mail interview.
"Although USCR estimates between
100,000 and 200,000, the government of
Nepal indicated to us that there were
some 350,000 internally displaced persons, according to an NGO survey."
Kundan Aryal of Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) says there are only
40,000 internally displaced people.
Displacement is not limited to movements from the hills to the cities. In January 2003 an estimated 120,000 Nepalis
crossed into India. In September, an estimated 2,000 persons per day were entering India: traditionally the migration
flow was 300-400 per day, USCR reports.
In his final press meet, the departing Indian ambassador, Shyam Saran, said there
was a drastic increase in migration to
India, adding: "In times of need do you
go to friends or enemies?" Although
there is a realization that large numbers
of people are being displaced, a little
more needs to be done to help them.
'We are working on it," says James F.
Moriarty, the new American Ambassador to Nepal, when asked if there were
specific plans to help the displaced.
Immediate attention is necessary.
USCR's Berg says the condition is critical "given the high numbers and lack of
services to the displaced. Most critically, the government [has] provided
very little assistance to the displaced
persons. Many displaced persons were
reluctant to register for fear the government would accuse them of rebel
As the internal battle aggravates, more
and more people will be squeezed out
from their native homelands. With the
state able to do little to help these displaced, lives of ordinary Nepalis is likely
to become more agonizing.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
A vast amount of time and energy is wasted competing
for the 350 British Gurkha positions open each year, and
unscrupulous operators are ever ready to seize the opportunity for profit
now started working out in the
Gandaki Bodybuilding Center
here in Nadipur. Every other morning
they go to the Gandaki River with dokos
and come back lathered in sweat with
loads of stones weighing more than 30kg.
These are the usual bodybuilding fanatics, right? Wrong. They are aspirants to
Nepal's El Dorado, the British Army.
Every September, the British Army
recruits more than 350 Gurkhas. But the
rush for spots begins months in advance.
Some enterprising fitness centers even
cash in by claiming to provide the necessary training. One center in Balaju,
Kathmandu, placed an alluring ad in
Kantipur some days back: "Earn 6 crores
in 16 years."
When asked how was that at all possible, a trainer said it was through the
British Army recruitment. The center
also insisted it provided training to improve IQ. "And if selected you will earn
6 crore rupees in 16 years, pension not
Every year about 3,500 youths give in
to this "six-crore" lie while the social
ramifications of Gurkha recruitment remain buried under the carpet.
The British Army has been recruiting Gurkhas for nearly two centuries.
The original Gurkhas were people
from a small but powerful principality
in Central Nepal, Gorkha, who overran the mid-hills of Kumaon and
Gadwal in their expansionist zeal. The
Sugauli Treaty of 1816 with the British
East India Company permitted the
Gurkhas to volunteer for service in the
Company's army. The famous Gurkha
regiments grew from these first volunteers and have been used as shock
troops in some of Britian's bloodiest
In recent years, protests against the
recruitment have become a mainstream
issue. A lawyer and a human rights activist, Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, for one,
sees the recruitment ofthe Gurkhas as
downright slavery. When asked why
then is he fighting on behalf of the
Gurkhas, he says, "I am fighting for
equal treatment of Gurkhas in the British Army and against the injustice
meted out to them." He adds, "The effect the recruitment in the British
Army has on the family, children, the
 - 42nd Gurkha Light Infantry, 1890
1st Gurkha Rifles, 1857
community education and individual
behavior often gets glossed over."
Traditionally, the British Army attracts youths from four major ethnic
groups—Rai, Limbu, Magar, and
Gurung. Since "six crore" is at stake,
there is intense family pressure on these
youths to make it to the army. This comes
at a price.
Gurkha recruits must hold an SLC
certificate: many aspirants begin training as soon as they pass the exams. The
fixation is so strong that many of these
aspirants never bother to sign up for colleges after SLC, and those who do enroll devote more time and energy to
training than to their studies. The low
recruitment quota means many fail, and
they often try for a second or third time,
wasting several years during the prime
of their youth.
Num Pun, resident of Nadipur,
passed the SLC with good grades. He
tried for the British Army for three
straightyears but failed, and he never enrolled in college. The lesson of Pun's
experience is lost on the young. "Both
studying and joining the Army is for
money," says Ram Bahadur Gurung, who
is training in the Gandaki Body Building Center in hopes of being selected in
the British Army.
Those who join the British Army
often retire early, some in their mid-
30, and many of them are either unwilling or find themselves unsuitable,
to start a career in Nepal. As a group,
the well-trained and world-wise ex-
Lahures could be contributing greatly
to Nepal after their service. Critics
contend that too many ex-Gurkhas instead continue to work overseas or return to Nepal and squander their earnings rather than investing the money
Apologists of the British Gurkha
Army say that the recruitment provides
steadyjobs and helps the economy. But
Chintan has a different view. He says the
350 openings that the Queen's Army creates each year for the Gurkhas is very
small and that the contribution of the
British Gurkhas to the national income
is negligible. Creating jobs within the
country would be far wiser and productive, he argues.
Never the ones to miss opportunities for grandstanding, the Maoists too
have been demanding that recruitment
in the British Army be stopped. That is
not possible in the short term, given a
fast deepening conflict, and the attendant
economic mess. But it is at least possible to rein in unscrupulous operators
who profit from the recruitment rush.
For now, the myth ofthe gold rush will
continue—and at a very high social
cost.  E
a man behaves with patience and dr
cumspection and the time and circumstances are such that this method is calledfor, he
will prosper; but if time and circumstances change,
he will be ruined... either because he cannot do
otherwise than what is in character or because,
having always prospered by proceeding one way,
he cannot persuade himself to change."
-MACHIAVELLI, The Prince, chapter
XXV, circa 1516 AD.
There is something vulgar about the
way former Minister Chiranjivi Wagle
abused his public office for private gain
over the last 12 years. More than his
greed, lack of restraint, and shocking
lapse of political judgement; his contempt for the laws, institutions and the
collective opinion ofthe people of this
land highlights the depths of hypocrisy
that some "people's representatives" are
capable of sinking to. Itwas his cavalier
attitude to public image, an exaggerated
sense of self-importance within his political circle, and a belief that the
useful step in the direction of a healthier
polity where no one is above the law. In a
country where corruption is so prevalent,
from the palaces to the peons, CIAA's pursuit of due process to present that Wagle
indeed amassed wealth illegally scores
huge points by halting the nation's diminishing faith in its indifferent institutions.
"It ain't over yet," says Wagle, andhe is
entitled to exhaust all his remaining legal
options, but the fact that Wagle the big
fish, a confidant of Prime Minister Deuba
for 40 years, has been convicted is hugely
"Fortune is the arbiter of half the things we do,
leaving the other half or so to be controlled by
ourselves. Fortune is one of those violent rivers which
when enraged, flood the plains, tear down trees
andbuildings.. .she shows her potency when there
is no well-regulated power to resist her, and her
impetus is felt where she knows there are no embankments and dykes built to restrain her."
-MACHIAVELLI, The Prince, chapter
XXV, circa 1516 AD.
Born in Bungkot village into a relatively well-off family of educated males,
country's justice system would never
touch him that undid a long career that
was initially scripted to continue in fame.
The Special Court's verdict of July 22
that Wagle be jailed for two-and-a-half
years, and be fined over 27 million rupees on corruption charges is a historic
victory for the people and the parliament
of Nepal of which Wagle was a member
right from 1991 through 2002. Itwas they
who decided that enough was enough. It
was they who passed the Anti-Corruption Act of 2002 to give sweeping powers
to a constitutionally autonomous body to
make a serious attempt at preserving the
legitimacy of democracy as a system of
fair governance. The court's verdict on
Wagle's conduct of public life marks a
Wagle was sent to Kathmandu to study
Sanskrit. In those days, boys from Gorkha
carried sacks of homegrown rice, homemade ghee, and walked for five days
through Dhading and Nuwakot to arrive
in Kathmandu for an orthodox mix of lessons that did not include science, maths,
geography, and English. The families expected the boys to matriculate, qualify for
a civil service or teaching position, take a
wife, and start a government career that
compensated the modest salaries with
social prestige tied to "jaagirs." Wagle the
early progressive shunned this route, disappointing his father, who fancied his second son being a pundit like himself. The
Sanskrit high school and hostel in
Ranipokhari were hotbed of activism in
the 1960s, and it didn't take long for the
likes of Chiranjivi Wagle to get drawn into
student politics through the vehicle ofthe
"Gandaki Chhatra Samiti." Together with
the current PM, Sher Bahadur Deuba, and
former DPM, Ram Chandra Poudel,
Wagle went on to form the Nepal Students' Union.
Because B.P Koirala had just come
out of eight years in prison and exiled
himself to India, it was K. P Bhattarai
who differed with his comrades in
choosing to stay behind in Nepal, who
mentored Wagle, Deuba and Poudel.
Bhattarai taught democratic theory, demanded that the boys improve their English by reading The Times of India, and
offered saintly advice on ways to lead a
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
 painful youth of sacrifice. And the boys
did just that for 20 years. They didn't take
up governmentjobs, and campaigned incessantly for multi-party democracy, especially around the plebiscite of 1980 and
Satyagraha of 1986. And as they saw some
of their closest colleagues succumb to
opportunism, tempted away by the
Panchayat regime to cushy ministerial
posts, Bhattarai's boys lived off borrowed money, and led humble lives in
rented rooms, quite literally in the shadows ofthe tall walls of Singha Durbar.
Their day would come.
"Men use various methods to pursue glory and
riches. One man proceeds with circumspection,
another impetuously; one uses violence, another
stratagem... andyet everyone, for all this diversity of method, can reach his objective... this results from nothing else except the extent to which
their methods are or are not suited to the nature of
the times.. fortune is a woman, and if she is to be
submissive, it is necessary to coerce her."
chapter XXV, circa 1516 AD.
When they finally brought democracy
in 1990, men like Wagle had spent over
eightyears in jail for their political beliefs.
Life wasn't meant to be easy after that either. As democrats, they were to go backto
the provinces and win people's mandate
before reaching for power.
In his Gorkha constituency
in the 1991 elections, Wagle
ran a decent campaign on the
strength of his past struggle,
spent little money, and won
a convincing victory. By the
time he ran his third election campaign in 1998, he
could only win through
handouts to voters and brokers, and overt manipulation
of state machinery. In less
than eight years, Wagle, the
suffering democrat, had turned into an unprincipled politician with criminal tendencies. And he knew it. They say power
corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But can this really explain such
dramatic reversals in one person's character and fortunes? Or does there exist in
men, dormant but fundamental flaws that
awake at the dizzy heights of arrogant
power, and rest only after claiming their
hosts' soul? So fantastic was his ascent that
Wagle and allies couldn't handle the rise
with grace or purpose—the awe, reach and
gravity that accompany the authority of
elected office overwhelmed him and his
many peers who are yet to be tried. This is
the greatest tragedy of post-1990 politics.
People who devoted 20 prime years of their
youth to install democracy in the country
didn't know what to do with it when they
got it. With power comes responsibility
and the space to do good; but comes with
it also the temptation to abuse and damage
public trust. The lack of political direction in the 90s allowed good men with
fine intentions to drift into the dark corridors of vice. At first they may not even
have realized this. When they found that
they had been claimed by the demons of
their desire, as well as the rotten system,
they lacked the will to spring
back, to exit the ditch they
chose to dig for themselves.
They then tempted others for
company—sons, relatives,
colleagues, even innocent
voters. And they scorned and
ignored those who warned
them by shunning them privately and publicly—distant
young nephews who refused
to meet them for nine years,
or proud voters who
wouldn't trade their sense of
betrayal for patronage of ill-gotten title or
The disgraceful fate of Chiranjivi
Wagle shows that some dark clouds do
have silver linings. The challenge now is
to let this trickle turn into a flood that
gives our dirty democracy a refreshing
scrub and a wash—and not merely let
spectacles around a few fallen men used
by reactionaries to discredit a political
system that is here to stay, reform, and
thrive.  Q
(Views expressed in this column are personal, and
do not necessarily reflect those of institutions the writer is
affiliated with.)
nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
Nepali companies are beginning to learn the value of
hitching their brand wagon to Olympic stars
houses have tried to tap the passion that surrounds sports events.
There have been a few successes, notably international banks and motorcycle
distributors taking on mountaineers as
brand ambassadors. Nepali business has
a huge opportunity this summer in the
form of Sangina Baidya, the first Nepali
to qualify for the Olympic games. Will
they get it right?
With the Athens Olympics just three
weeks away, corporate giants around the
world are desperate to make good on
the marketing opportunity that comes
around every four years. Some 20,000
athletes and sport officials from all over
the world will converge for the three-
week extravaganza. Fifteen thousand
media representatives will also be
present. Many stars will be born. For
the company executives that sign public relations checks, such major televised events as the Olympics and
soccer's World Cup are just too good to
pass up.
Top sponsors including IBM, Kodak,
Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Samsung,
UPS, Sports Illustrated/Time and Visa
International will each pay the International Olympic Committee $50 million.
In return they receive a range of privileges that they use to promote and market their businesses. Sponsorship benefits comprise exclusive marketing
rights, the right to use official Olympic
imagery on their products, preferential
access to Olympic broadcast advertising,
ambush-marketing advertising protection and on-site monopolies at Olympic events.
It's difficult to imagine Nepali companies matching those astronomical
sums anytime soon. But it is heartening
to see that our corporate houses have
their own Olympic plans. For the sports
community, which has seen only a trickle
of corporate support, the growing presence of corporate sponsorship in this
Olympic-year marks a new dawn. The
trick for the sponsors will be to get the
right balance of promoting Nepali sport
and themselves.
Last month, six ofthe country's leading business companies in various fields,
Dabur Nepal, Vaidya Group, ICTC, Jyoti
Group, Nabil Bank and Nepal Lever,
appointed the taekwondo star, Sangina
Baidya, as their brand ambassador. She
will get expenses for travel, medical treatment, sports equipment and a daily allowance for her participation in the Athens Olympics. They have also promised
Rs. 500,000 in endowment funding, the
first such pledge to a Nepali sports star,
once she returns home.
What has led these business houses to
finally look beyond domestic sports
events? Company executives answer the
question carefully. "For us it's more about
patriotic feeling than anything else," says
Rajesh Lai Shrestha, director of the
ICTC. Shrestha says he was getting tired
of news of violence day in and day out.
And he read that Baidya had achieved the
feat of becoming the first Olympic qualifier from Nepal and the first Olympic
taekwondo qualifier from all of South
Asia. "That's where the whole idea
sprouted," he says. "Sangina after all gives
us something to cheer about." He explains
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
 the company's e-mail box has been
flooded with fan mails directed to Baidya,
a SAF Games' double-gold medalist.
Although he insists that ICTC's decision to support Baidya was not driven
by any commercial motive, he does acknowledge, "Both sports and corporate
sector can gain a lot from each other." A
marketing executive of a leading corporate house adds, 'We are aiming to make
a better impression on those who have
already heard about us," also playing
down commercial motives. But he points
out, "It's only natural that the firm hopes
to reap what it has sown."
Analysts and sponsors say playing up
a sponsorship agreement can get tricky.
The company has to get the right linkage
between their business and the event or
star. If a company doesn't push the relationship hard enough, it won't get the
mileage for its money. If it pushes too
hard, the company can seem to be an
opportunist sullying an amateur sporting event for its own gain.
Ashish Bista, marketing manager at
the Gorkha Brewery, whose brand
Carlsberg sponsors the national cricket
team, says the key to striking a balance is
to present the relationship in a tasteful
and straightforward way. "Of course, we
seek to promote our brand image," Bista
says. "For now, this is a more important
task for us than immediate sales."
"Through such presentations," Bista
adds, "the company believes it is getting its message across without being
either overbearing or overly demure
about the marketing aspects ofthe relationship."
The Olympics begin August 14. We'll
see then if Baidya's six sponsors get the
balance right. E
It's Party Time
Looking for a weekend bash in
Kathmandu? Want to know the big
concert you missed? Want to
check out how you looked at the party at
1905 last week? Open your web browser
and do what nearly 18,000 people do everyday, log on to, Nepal's
premier clubbing and partying portal.
Most regular visitors, though, would
be surprised that the site came to its
present form more by chance than by
calculation. When Robin Situala registered the domain name in 2002 from
Delhi, come-who-may weekend bashes
weren't exactly what he had in mind. "I
had just landed in New Delhi after backpacking all over the world. I wanted to
establish a site to promote the underground trance scene and Nepali DJs,"
says Robin.
The idea however lay idle for a year
until he met Mandil Pradhan, a 19-year-
old freelance web designer. "What immediately struck me was the name
(PartyNepal)," recalls Mandil, now 21.
"There was just something in the name.
I knew we could do things with it." A
third member, Bhusan Thapa, who had a
background in event management, came
into the scene later. Bhusan and Robin
were friends from their undergrad days
in Sydney.
After the three got together,
PartyNepal really took off. And
the rest, as they say, is history.
PartyNepal was officially
launched on New Year's
Day of 2060 (April 2003). It
has since taken news about
parties and events, once
mostly a word-of-mouth
affair, to a whole new level.   J
Two months after their I
launch, PartyNepal began I
to organize events as well.
And the big sponsors are
beginning to stand up and
take notice of what they
have been doing. In their
recent projects the trio has
been backed by such big
names as Gorkha Brewery, Jack
Daniel's and Heineken.
"How can you have a party
without beer?" asks Mandil defending their association with
such companies. "We're only
giving the people what they want." And
people, it seems, can'tjust get enough of
what PartyNepal has to offer. The site
has become the ultimate source of all
party-related information in Nepal, not
only for people here but also abroad.
Visitors from overseas make up nearly
30 percent of the faithful legions who
visit the site. One such PartyNepal regular Yashna Tamrakar says, "I make it a
point to visit their site everyday. And
their parties are the one 'happening' thing
in Kathmandu."
"Happening" is what the three from
PartyNepal are all about. They already
have quite a few successful events under their belt. They organized Australian band Pty Ltd's gig in Kathmandu,
the recent 1974 AD concert, Retro
Night and the Surya Grind. But they
consider Project Peace, a street dance
festival organized in November last
year, the high point in their venture in
the past year. Organized in association
with Funky Buddha and with help from
the Thamel Tourism Board, the festival
attracted thousands of people, an esti-
i                 M
mated 40,000 say the trio, to the streets
of Thamel. "The program started at
around two in the afternoon. For a while,
the people simply stood there listening
to the music," says Robin. "But as the
afternoon wore on, people slowly
started dancing, then more people
poured in, and soon there were people
dancing everywhere. You had street urchins dancing alongside hip-hop kids,
people walking around on stilts. Everything was just spontaneous." They also
were the first in Nepal to broadcast an
event live over the web. The broadcast of
the event "Digital NRY" was viewed by
nearly 3500 people on
This hip trio is a complete team. Web
designer by profession and socialite by
nature, Mandil manages the PartyNepal
site and designs artwork for events and
parties. He also doubles up as a photographer. His photos of events are the ones
you see on their site(check out the one
above). Robin manages the various
events that PartyNepal organizes. He is
in charge of churning out concepts for
parties and laying the groundwork. For
turning the plans into real events,
Bhusan finds sponsors and takes care
ofthe media for the events. The team
attributes their success to the understanding they have between
*   them.
In just over a year, these young
entrepreneurs have managed to
make their mark and have also had
a blast while they have been at it.
Now, they are planning to step out
of the usual Kathmandu-based
events. Plans are on for a "party-
tour"   that   will   start   from
Kathmandu and hop to different locations: PartyNepal is taking the
party to Nepal. "There are still a lot
of good parties to come," says
Mandil. 'We will make sure there's
never a dull moment."   E
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 In Vino Veritas
Wine imports are barreling ahead as consumers heed the
ancient Latin dictum, "wine is truth," but Nepal's only
vintner is struggling
Nepal's only commercial vintner,
Maheshwore Lai Ranjitkar of
Nesy Food and Beverage, has
been selling tasty and innovative fruit
wines for more than four decades. A flood
of cheap imports, the insurgency and indifferent government officials threaten to
drive this unique venture out of business,
but Ranjitkar remains hopeful.
Wine is normally made of fermented
grapes grown in famous vineyards far, far
away. The Himalayas don't have the special climate zones where wine grapes
grow best, but Nepal still has wonderful fruits. Ranjitkar's winery in
Sankhuwasabha, for example, makes
unique fruit wines, Hinwa and Nesy,
from raspberries, oranges, peaches and
berries that would otherwise go to waste.
His innovative ways however haven't
changed the way officials view his business.
"The government has been charging
Rs. 56 excise duty plus 10 percent VAT
per liter on my indigenously brewed
wine," says Ranjitkar. "How am I supposed to remain in competition and manage wholesalers, retailers when I have to
pay the same tax as cheaper foreign wines
and still keep my sales price below
theirs?" Taxes aren't his only problem.
"The locals cannot enter the jungles
like before for raw materials such as raspberries, for which I pay Rs. 25 per kg,"
he says. "Sometimes it's the Maoists and
sometimes the Army that could shoot
them dead."
He requested the government to allow him to transfer his winery inside the
Valley, but the officials declined, saying it
would affect the Valley's environment.
"How can they say that when they're the
ones who are dumping Kathmandu's junk
along riverbanks and polluting the
Bagmati?" He says "brewing wine from
fruits is environment friendly, and the
residue can be used to make jam and candy
or even be fed to pigs."
In 2001, Hinwa's factory in
Sankhuwasabha received a major setback: Maoists shut
the brewery at
gunpoint for two
years. Ranjitkar
lost an international contract
with a London
company that
wanted to import
his wines. Production is now under
way again, though at a slow pace.
Ranjitkar says the factory has lost its
network and momentum. But he isn't giving up. At his Chobar residence he is testing the production of wines made from
nettles that are abundant in the villages.
He has also been making Nesyjuices and
sending them to supermarkets.
"I am still struggling," he says. "I am
still to gain what I yearned for in life."
Ranjitkar's determination is an important sign of hope, a small light in the darkness for those who have lost hope.  □
A toast for good health
nt 1; :„„ „  I ,l„_ c— »:„„  „„A I u <J,,„ »„  1
When Nepalis raise a
toast and "cheers" for good
health, it is increasingly
likely that there will be real
wine in their glass. Wine
sales are booming and the
wines even feature at marriage parties, where
whisky, beer and soft
drinks once held sway.
"We used to sell 10-20
bottles of wine per day
when we j ust entered business. The figures now has
reached almost 400 per
day," says Amit Agrawal,
Managing Director of
Kantipath's Greenline
Cente, one ofthe country's
leading wine importers.
The most popular wines
are the less-expensive
French Vin De Table and
Vin De Pays selections,
commonly called table
wines, available for Rs.
240-400. Not far behind
are 5-liter tetra-packed
wines from Australia, very
popular for parties and
large gatherings.
The popularity of wine
is due to rising wine
awareness and the general
belief among drinkers that
a glass of wine is good for
the heart. Importers like
Agrawal say that wine has
taken Nepal by storm, as
varieties of red and white
wines go well with Nepali
food. Increasing meat consumption has also supported wine drinking.
Greenline imports over
1,000 varieties of wine, all
of them, they boast, as
good as buying directly
from the famous vineyards
in France.
'You can get great Appellation Controle (certified) wine varieties from
Bordeaux, Beaujolais or
Cotes-du-Rhone vineyards for as little as Rs. 500-
700," says Agrawal. "In fact,
good wines are cheaper
here due to lower duty
structure on imported
wines compared to other
countries." A rough sampling in the local markets
show the prices can go up
to Rs. 5,000, depending
upon the grape variety,
source and vintage.
The only Nepali wines
on the menu in a local restaurant were Hinwa and
Nesy, both brewed by fermenting wild berries in
Sankhuwasabha. They cost
Rs. 200-240. Nepali wines
are estimated to have only
five percent share of the
domestic wine market,
importers say, due to the
availability of cheap imported wines.
Large liquor importers
like Greenline estimate
that wine consumption has
taken at least 30 percent of
the total liquor market.
Let's raise our glasses to
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
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All sectors are bearish except the banks. Is there something that doesn't meet the eye?
Heightening insurgency and political mess witnessed by our nation in the last few years have undoubtedly taken a toll on the
economy. The economic fiber in the rural and semi-urban areas
has been ripped apart by frequent bandas, blockades and violence.
Development money has not flowed through to the projects. Exports have
declined. Trade has suffered owing to tariff adjustments by India. The
government data that tourist arrivals have picked up does not reflect the
financial woes of large tourism establishments. Majority of the businesses
have dwindled or at best are strugglingto maintain position.
But one particular industry has seemingly emerged stronger: Banking. In spite of growing number of banks and a sluggish economy, virtually every private sector bank has posted good profits and business
growth. Is it too good to be true?
A few enterprising businesspeople have been bullish enough to
maintain and even expand their businesses. Migrant workers and servicemen have been sending money home to theirfamilies in increasing
sums. Salaried employees of government and private organizations
earn more today than what they did a few years ago. The micro aspects
ofthe economy are healthy. But
are these factors strong enough to
compensate for the fallout of declining business environment?
Maybe not.
The issue here is of risk management. A few banks may have
benefited from starting late and
therefore are able to avoid lending
to ailing sectors ofthe economy.
What about the banks that have
been around for sometime? Do the
banks possess risk management
capabilities strong enough to have
managed around the increased
risks ofthe last few years? There is more to it than meets the eye.
Firstly, the general public should understand that operating profits
published by banks conceal more than they reveal. Typically, income tax
and loan loss provisions take away large chunks ofthe operating profit
leaving accretion to the balance sheet significantly lower relative to operating profit. For example, a bank reportingan operating profit of say
Rs. 10 crores may need to pay income tax of Rs. 2 crores and set aside
Rs. 7 crores on account of non-performing assets (NPA) leavinga net
profit of Rs. 1 crore only. Loan loss provisions are created in accordance
with the overdue profile ofthe loans a bank carries in its book.
This leads to another question: Are banks reporting accurate overdue profiles? I have serious doubts about a number of banks (if not all)
strictly adhering to loan loss guidelines stipulated bythe regulator. This is
also a reflection on the regulator's capability of effective supervision and
a consistent approach on all banks. One gets to hear about banks
rushing, just prior to financial year-ends, to clean up their lending books
by restructuring problem loans or transferring an existing bad loan under
a different counter-party in order to manage the overdue profile and
therefore charge-off lower provisions. I have also heard about banks
and financial institutions engaging in NPA swapping. What is an NPA for
one bank becomes a good loan for another. The first bank can buy back
the loan at a later date after the loan has been "cleansed." Some banks
are thus able to project "better than actual" pictures of their profitability
and financial standing.
Investors and the public at large should also be aware of risk management capabilities ofthe banks. Majority ofthe banks can be considered weak in risk management aspect. The Nepal Rastra Bank is known
to have recently asked at least two banks that have been i n operation for
10 years or so to write their credit policies (because they didn't have one
all these years) and have them endorsed. Banks are in the business of
taking risks; one wonders what kind of risks these banks took without
even havinga credit policy in place. The loans which go bad for the sole
reason that due diligence was not conducted beg a question whether
the shareholders have been unduly advantaged by distribution of unearned profit—especially in case of banks which have reported large
profits in the past years and are
now making extra provisions against
those very loans. And then there
are banks which do not reassess
and review their borrowers on a periodic basis—how would one tell if
quality of such loans continue to
be acceptable.
Questions should also be raised
about how aggressively banks go
about disbursing loans. There are
banks that have achieved phenomenal growth in their lending business over the last two or three years.
Of late, even government-controlled
banks under foreign management have shown a great deal of aggression in lending money at very flexible terms. Such aggression is completely out-of-sync with prevailing market conditions. When thefinancial
year-end was round the corner, some of these banks were chasing up
with their borrowers with equal aggression—this time for repayment of
the overdue loans.
It is natural for promoters and investors to expect quick returns on
their investment. But excessive pressure to distribute dividends is bound
to take a toll on the management— assuming promoters have given
them adequate "free hand." It plays counter to the fundamentals ofthe
banking business. Banking is a long-term proposition and must be viewed
as such. Strong banks in more developed economies have histories
going back several decades, sometimes centuries. I do not see many of
the Nepali banks going that distance if they do not work on their fundamentals now. □
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
CITY This Week JH,
E-commerce training
A five-day training on e-commerce, specifically for handicraft products, organized by E-Sewa. The training will cover
topics such as web designing, online
transactions, and website marketing and
promotion. Date: July 25 - 29. For information: 4414670,
Celebrating 25 Years
At Shangri-la Hotel, Lazimpat. G & R:
Grills and Roast Fusion. Date: July 31
and August 1. For information: 4412999
Films @ Lazimpat
Gallery Cafe
Free Admission. All profits from food
and drinks will go to PA Orphanage
Nepal. Time: 7 p.m. For information:
An adventure drama based loosely on
llliad, one of Homer's epic poems.
Colors of Monsoon
An exhibition of paintings by senior artists. Gallery Nine, Lazimpat. Till July 29.
For information: 4428694
Tibetan Craft
Antique and replicate fine exquisite Tibetan boxes on display. Susan's collection, Kathmandu Guest House, Thamel.
Till August 31. For information: 4700632,
Cast: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando
Bloom, Sean Bean, Rose Byrne,
Diane Kruger, Brian Cox. Director:
Wolfgang Petersen
An old-school Hollywood romantic comedy from the Coen brothers. Cast:
George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones,
Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton. Director: Joel Coen
Summer Grind
Beat the scorching summer heat away
with the Summer Grind. At Mahendra
Police Club. Date: July 30. Time: 12 -11
p.m. Tickets: Rs. 300.
Paella Night
Enjoy the Spanish mood created to draw
you in. At Dwarika's Hotel. Date: July
30. Time: 7 p.m. Tickets: Rs. 699, includes Paella & BBQ Dinner, and a shot
of Jack Daniel's or a special cocktail.
For information: 4479488
Martin Chautari
Discussions at Martin Chautari, Prasuti
Griha    Marga    509,    Thapathali,
Kathmandu. Participation open to all.
This week at Matin Chautari:
Time: 5 p.m. Topic: Decline in Hill
Agriculture  Development.  Pundit:
MadhukarUpadhaya, Nepal Water Conservation Foundation.
Time:   3   p.m.   Film   @  Chautari:
Premier show and discussion of Nepali
film Lakshya. Pundit: Manoj Pandit, director.
Time: 3 p.m. Youth Initiative in collaboration with Martin Chautari organizes
Youth Discussion Series.
Time: 3 p.m.
Executive Lunch
Executive Lunch available for Rs. 170.
At Bhanchha Ghar Restaurant,
Kamaladi. For information: 4225172
Dwarika's Thali
Enjoy Nepali cuisine, hospitality and
heritage. At Dwarika's Courtyard,
Dwarika's Hotel, Batisputali. For information: 4479488
Thakali cuisine
Enjoy a Thakali lunch with two kinds of
curry and great phapar Dhindo from
Mustang and many other items. At
Thakali Thasang Kitchen. Time: 10 a.m.
-2:30 p.m. For information: 4224144.
Have a farmhouse breakfast with birds,
lunch with butterflies and dinner with
fireflies, at Park Village. At Park Village
Restaurant, Budhanilkantha. For information: 4375280
Nepali Tunes
Folk tunes of Nepali drums and flute.
At The Explorer's Restaurant, Hotel
Vajra. Every Wednesday and Saturday.
Time: 6:30 p.m. For information:
"Spider-man 2" is based on the Marvel's
comicbook superhero "Spider-man" and
is the sequel to the 2002 movie. Peter
Parker (Tobey Maguire) returns as
Spiderman but things aren't going too
well for our hero. The insecure high
school student we know is now a university student. He is more helplessly in
love than ever with Mary Jane Watson
(Kirsten Dunst), his childhood crush. His
friend Harry Osborn (James Franco)
hates Spider-Man, blaming him for the
death of his father (a.k.a. the Green
Goblin). He's not able to hold his jobs
and doesn't fare too well at the university. Aunt Mayfacesfinancial woes, and
things do not look too bright. After his
web-spinning and wall-climbing abilities
start to fade, he decides to do away
with his superhero alter-ego. The antagonist is played by Dr. Otto
Octavius(Alfred Molina) who has a personality spilt like our hero in the form of
the evil Doc Ock. The film's strong
storyline is backed up some excellent
CGI, the train sequence deserves mention. With all said and done, the film is
special audience can identify with their
hero—his troubles, heartaches, weaknesses. This movie about the unlikely
superhero Peter Parker will strike a cord
with most audiences. A superhero movie
for those who necessarily don't like or
watch superhero movies.
Showing at Jai Nepal from July 23 onwards. For bookings:4442220.
Timings: 12:15,3:15, and 6:15 p.m.
nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
Three Rupees Worth Of Democracy
What keeps America, in spite of its flaws, still a functioning democracy is its in-built check and
balances to authority
In Nepal there is a lot of talk—one might almost say too much—
about "democracy." Newspapers devote entire columns so theorists
can pontificate on it (look at how much space Nation is giving to this
pontificator!), international non-profits with money to burn fund seminars and workshops to discuss how to do it, people burn tires on the
streets as a means to get it. If we had a self-help publishing industry,
"How to Instill (and nurture) Democracy: And see if it can flourish in a
semi-feudal society" might be on Nepal's best-seller list. (Oops: our
non-existent bestseller list.)
In America, the word "democracy" also raises passions and hackles.
It gets people to give up their jobs and join the election campaign. It gets
Congress to pass billions of dollars in funding to start wars in Afghanistan.
It is enough to inspire people to support wars and send their children to
die in foreign countries. In other words, it is as loaded as it is in Nepal.
A minority would argue that America is in fact, not a democratic
country. That democracy flourishes better in countries where there is not
such a massive disparity between the rich and the poor. For me, democracy in America kicks in when a right-wing person can sit down to dinner
and break bread with a left-
wing person without having
to shoot them dead or chop
their hands off. Surely, you
think, that might be feasible
in Nepal one day? Can
people with different political opinions actually find
themselves within the same
system and think of living together without having to
bomb each other into submission?
Perhaps our problem is
a lack of space where
people can express their
opinions safely. Speech in
our country has become actions: voicing opinions can become an act of
suicide. Mention one favorable word towards the Maoists and you might
end up being "disappeared." Mention one word of support towards the
monarchy and you might end up with your throat slit open. Why does this
not happen in America? Plenty of people are plenty aggrieved at Bush,
and plenty of them hate John Kerry. What keeps the people ofthe most
militaristic society in the world from shooting each other dead due to
difference of opinions?
Spates of extreme but small scale violence regularly rocks America.
Anti-abortion fringe groups from the right have bombed abortion clinics
because they do not believe in abortion. Cults like the Klu KluxKlan kill
their opponents. The difference in America may be that violence of this
nature is seen to be unusual, and perpetuated by marginal groups—
things that regular people do not do on a regular basis. Regular Republicans do not pick up guns and shoot Democrats dead for having sex with
their interns. Regular Democrats do not pick up grenades and bomb
Bush for starting an unnecessary war (although they might throw eggs
and rotten tomatoes).
In our country, violence has become the way we hold conversations
with each other. Shootings, bombings, disappearances and assassinations have become the norm. Whether we confess to it or not, this has
become the state of our nation. And each incident, each moment in
which a bombing or an "encounter" becomes normalized in the press,
we forget we are moving closer and closer to a state where violence
becomes the natural state of nature. Amidst all the weary litany of deaths,
it is a challenge to keep seeing the strangeness in violence. This is not
people's normal state of being.
The other aspect that keeps America, in spite of its flaws, still a
functioning democracy is its in-built check and balances to authority.
Nepal may be one of few countries where a politician is still allowed to run
for office after holding it for four or more terms. The U.S. president gets
kicked out of office after two terms, or eight years. Clinton recently gave
an interview to Oprah in 0 magazine where he talks about how much he
loved being in office, and
how he had to mentally prepare to leave it. Who doesn't
love being the head of state?
Now he has to wait on runways and in New York City
traffic. Americans are prepared to step down from
public office once their terms
are over, no matter what
their political orientation. We,
on the other hand, are fixated with authority. We give
them life-long power over us,
like they are ourfathers. We
allow our politicians to be
disgustingly greedy, and forget to remind that public service comes with a time limit.
Being in graduate school in America reminds me that teachers and
students mingle on the same level. We break bread at the same table,
we eat the same food, we even share the same conversations. If I have
an opinion that is worth its salt, my professor will hear it-never mind that
I am a young, minority woman, and they are old white men. This ingrained sense of democracy that is instilled in academic institutions in
the United States, I would say, is the third wheel of democracy.
The proponents of democracy in Nepal need to work towards these
three goals: to stop normalizing violence, to stop deifying our leaders and
start making them accountable to the public, and to start building towards a more egalitarian relationship between different groups of
people. □
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
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nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
 The Hidden Treasure, the event management company, returns to the limelight each year in August
with its Miss Nepal contest. But since 1994, when
the contest started, The Hidden Treasure and the contest
have been in the news for other reasons too. Each year
the event is marred by protests by women rights groups.
Their charges: the contest depicts women as a commod
ity. But that hasn't stopped Girendra Man
Rajbanshi, the Managing Director of
Hidden Treasure and his team in their
mission to select young, beautiful and,
as he puts it, intelligent women to groom
them for the contest which then acts as a
dress rehearsal for the Miss World and
Miss Asia Pacific pageants. The tenth
contest, Dabur Vatika Miss Nepal 2004,
will be held on August 7 at the Birendra
International Convention Center in
New Baneshwor, the usual venue for the
event. Rajbanshi talked to Satishjung
Shahi of Nation Weekly about the
preparations, the glamour and the regular controversy.
How are the preparations?
We have chosen 23 finalists out of 58 applicants. Out them, 18 will be featured
for the final event on August 7. They are
being groomed on personality development and public speaking. Classes are
being held on fashion, photography and
beauty at the International Club in
Sanepa. We have also arranged guest lectures three days a week on important issues such as tourism, communications
and so on to enhance the knowledge of
the participants. It is interesting to see
how our training has helped them gain a
lot of self-confidence.
Are the participants getting
better each year?
If you are talking about quality, it is difficult to measure. But at least I am happy
that the contest has been able to generate
social awareness in the last 10 years, and
more and more young women have
started taking up the Miss Nepal pageant as a platform for career develop
ment. However I cannot boast we're
doing a great job, as we don't have the
basic infrastructure like India does. Participants there are more fashion conscious and undergo grooming in private
institutes for two or three years prior to
What about the protests against the
pageant that take place every year?
They are just doing their job, as we do
ours while respecting their right to protest. All I want to say is that holding Miss
Nepal isn't bad and should be taken positively. We are grooming 15-20 participants each year to be cultured citizens.
You have to take this event as a platform
for these participants to show their talent, like dancers take to the stage and
sportspersons to the stadium.
All I want to say is that
holding Miss Nepal
isn't bad and should
be taken positively
How has the contest helped
the participants?
We don't want to claim anything, but it
has definitely helped many grow into
independent women and to use this platform to develop their career. Ask any
former Miss Nepal participant, and
they'll support this thesis.
Do you make money from this event?
The Hidden Treasure is a registered
company but we've never made any
money by organizing Miss Nepal. In
fact our members are involved in various other professions and they chip in
when we run out of cash to host any
event. We all support Miss Nepal because, as concerned citizens of Nepal,
we want a Nepali to represent Nepal
in the international arena. We have organized more than 20 other events already, but I don't know why we are so
tied to Miss Nepal in the media. Probably because a lot of glamour is involved, and we also hold the franchise
for Miss World and Miss Asia-Pacific
in Nepal.
So the top two winners will participate
in Miss World and Miss Asia Pacific this
year too?
Yes, and we also have plans to send another to Miss Earth. In addition to the
regular smaller titles, we have also added
"Vatika My Choice," where everyone
will get to choose their Miss Nepal 2004
by voting through mail or e-mail.
Any plans for a Mr. Nepal contest?
We don't want to hold a monopoly and
would like other organizations to take
the initiative, though we hold the franchise for Manhunt and Mr. World pageants. Our popularity is due to the
pageant's continuity, and we haven't
worked for money. Many other event
management companies suddenly come
in the limelight once, and then they disappear. But I tell you, organizing the
Miss Nepal pageant is too hectic and
takes up six months of our time for planning. None ofthe events are possible to
hold unless the sponsor is willing to pay
for the fanfare. D
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
The author Bipin Adhikari
is a lawyer with the expertise in the areas of constitutional law, human rights, and
legal reform initiatives. The
book "Building Capacity of
National Human Rights Institutions: The Case of Nepal" is
based on his experiences with
the National Human Rights
(NHRC) where he
worked as a human
rights capacity development advisor for
two years.
The book provides a glimpse into
the workings of a national human rights
institution in the face of increasing human rights violations in the country. It talks
about the role of national human rights institutions presently growing in number
* ^Mil^UAfe
around the world; the NHRC
being one of them. The
NHRC is highlighted in the
book as it deals with analysis of
the commission's achievements and shortcomings. It
also looks towards the future
and the challenges that lie
ahead. Also included are a number of documents produced by
the NHRC.
With the country veering towards
chaos and violence,
with bombings,
killings becoming a
daily occurrence,
human rights violations are becoming
all too common in
our country. Those who are
interested in the role of human rights institutions in an
increasingly conflict-ridden
society would find this book
useful.  E
The book "Father Joe: The
Man Who Saved My
Soul" begins when Tony
Hendra, as a 14-year-old boy,
is caught red-handed having an
affair with a married woman.
The woman's husband, instead of flying
into a fit of rage, sends
him to an English
Benedictine monk,
Reverend Joseph
Warrilow, or Father
Joe as he is better
known. The young
boy expects cruel treatment
from the priest just like the
monks in his Catholic school.
But he is surprised to meet instead a cartoonish figure—big
flat feet in sandals. In his very
first meeting, Father Joe tells the
impressionable young boy that
sex is not a sin and his passion is
more a crime due to its selfishness nature in readily taking advantage of another human being. From that moment on, the
priest not only becomes
Hendra's confessor, but also his
long-term personal
mentor and spiritual
guide. He helps the
author through his
formative years at
Cambridge and as he
forges a career as a
writer. Hendra later
becomes the head
writer at "National Lampoon."
But Father Joe is also there to
help Henrda through his
troubles as he jumps ship from
one failed marriage to another,
only to be struggling in that too.
He also helps the author deal
with his substance abuse and his
iniquities as a parent.
edar Bhakta Mathema is a former
Vice-Chancellor of Tribhuvan
Jniversity and has served as the
ambassador to Japan. An educator who
holds a doctorate in English literature, Mathema readsa lot of poetry—
Spanish and French translations, Nepali poetry and even Haiku.
Your early readings?
I used to love the fairy tales of Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian
Andersen in my early days as a reader. I was fascinated with stories
about knights and dragons, beautiful princesses rescued by heroes.
Then I moved on to "Treasure Island" and "Robinson Crusoe," mostly
adventure novels as I progressed through the years.
What about more serious ones?
When I was doing my Bachelors, I read more classical literature from
authors such as Jane Austen. "The Tale of Two Cities" by Charles
Dickens is one book I remember well. Another is "Tom Jones" by Henry
Your reading habits these days?
It's more of a mixed bag. I read all kinds of poetry these days—
Spanish and French translations, Nepali poetry and also Haiku. I've
also tried my hand at it.
What about novels?
I have an interest in existentialist novels. I enjoyed the books of French
existentialist writers such as Jean Paul Sartre and Jean Genet, translations of course. I found them both beautiful and philosophical.
What was the last book you read?
"The New Production of Knowledge," a collection of articles. It deals
with how the creation of knowledge is being moved away from traditional bases such as universities.
Any interest in non-fiction and the like?
I like to read non-fiction as well, as I find it informative. I recently read
"Globalization and Its Discontents," by Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief
Economist at the World Bank. The book presents various aspects of
the debate on globalization.
What are the books that you want to
read, but have not had the chance?
"Markings" by Dag Hammarskjold, a former Secretary General ofthe
United Nations, who was killed in a plane crash. I also would like to
read Will Hutton's "The State We Are In."
You read a lot of translated works. Doesn't that present a problem?
Sometimes. Translations are like the other side of a brocade. It's hard
to bring out the same beauty in the translation. The best translations
are when the sentiment, essence ofthe original is brought out by the
translator, who needs to be good writer himself. C
nation weekly |  AUGUST 1, 2004
Last Word
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City to Conquer Your Hearts.
Mt. Makalu Building (2nd Floor), Dharmapath
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Tel: 423-2488, 422-3955 (Parlour)
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To You Mr. Robinson
Mr. Gordon William Robinson
must be basking on the
beaches of Bali, where he is a
supposed real estate man. Or is it in
Bombay, where according to records he
has had insidious business links and has
made frequent visits? In December 2002,
the infamous drug trafficker (a British
national) was handed a 17-year sentence
(and penalized Rs. 1 million) by a Special Court in Kathmandu: he was caught
red-handed with more than 2kg of brown
sugar at Tribhuvan International Airport.
He was on his way to Bali, and walking
around with a limp. It turned out that he
was carrying the contraband inside his
shoes other than in his briefcase.
Then early this year, the Robinson
saga got even more interesting. In April,
he was mysteriously given a clean bill by
the Supreme Court and released from a
Kathmandu prison. According to a story, the
jailer at Dillibazaar
Sadarkhor, Ramuraj
Kadaria, was so completely thunderstruck
when he was handed
over a court notice of
Mr. Robinson's acquittal that he would
have none of it. When
the jailer called the
court to confirm the
acquittal, an official
who answered his phone told him that
he was as perplexed by the acquittal.
And so were we. Fortunately, the
judges who ordered Mr. Robinson's release have been put in the dock ever
since. One of them—Krishna Kumar
Verma—resigned last week amid constant pressure from the media, civil society and, not the least, his Supreme
Court colleagues. It was one decision
that was long overdue. For once, the judiciary can hold its head high that it has
got rid of an extremely controversial senior judge (Verma was third in the Supreme Court hierarchy).
Verma of course has consistently hit
the headlines since the two-member
bench (the other member is Baliram
Kumar) acquitted Mr. Robinson in
April. By all accounts Mr. Robinson is a
seasoned pro. When he was arrested at
TIAon August 17,2001, he had the heroin
hid in a false compartment in his handheld suitcase and ladies shoes inside, including in his own shoes. He would
purchase the drugs in Mumbai before
traveling to Kathmandu, which he used
as a conduit to send the drugs to the west.
While welcoming Verma's resignation, we also call on Kumar (the second
member in the bench) to follow suit.
His continued presence at the Supreme
Court will do enormous damage to the
judiciary's reputation, which isn't particularly stellar. Though Kumar has
called in absent ever since the controversy flared up in April, he is still officially tied up with the court. We like to
remind our readers that our columnist,
Jogendra Ghimire in his column ("Honorable Exit," Legal Eye, July 18) went so
far as to ask the King to
exercise his special authority under Article
127 if the judges refuse
to step down. Though
we have expressed
strong reservations in
these pages over the
King's use of executive
powers, we see
Ghimire's point. The
Supreme Court
judges, after all, are immune to action or investigation by any State organ. The only
State organ that can discipline them is
the Pratinidhi Sabha, which has the right
to impeach them. But the parliament
currently stands dissolved and elections
for one are not slated for the near future.
Kumar should, therefore, expressly
step down without further ado. And this
for another reason too. Unlike Verma,
whose retirement was only months away,
he has another 10 years in office. Since
we aren't particularly keen to see the
King intervene, Kumar could do himself and the judiciary a huge favor by calling it quits. That, we are afraid, is his
only salvation.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
AUGUST 1, 2004   |  nation weekly
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