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Nation Weekly June 13, 2004, Volume 1, Number 8 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-06-13

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JUNE 13, 2004 VOL. 1, NO. 8
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Miles & Miles To Go
By Akhilesh Upadhyay and Suman Pradhan
The new prime minister has been assured of RPP supoort.
But his travails continue
An exclusive with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
NSU General Secretary Gagan Thapa's op-ed
11 The Party is Over
By Suman Pradhan
What is interesting is that none of the
Congressmen I spoke to in the
immediate hours after Deuba's
appointment saw the problem where it
lay: in their own leadership
30   Minority Report
By Samuel Thomas
The Supreme Court
directive on the Badis
is a welcome step in
tackling the criminal
neglect of minority dalits and
indigenous peoples
38 Winning The Hearts
And Minds
By Deepak Thapa
On visits to some
outlying districts in
the last frew months, I
was struck by how
contrasting the people's perceptions of
the Army in different places are
40 The Robinson Saga
Byjogendra Ghimire
The Supreme Court decision to acquit
Williams Robinson has dealt yet another
blow to the judiciary whose public image has been on a sharp decline
18 Bitten By Euro Bug
ByAshish Bhattarai
Football as a spectator sport may be in a
serious decline in Nepal but come Euro
2004, the football fever will reach stratospheric heights.
26 A Mercy Mission
I  By Sushmajoshi
I Taking an innovative
I model from Kalimpong
I  and Jaipur, theKATCis
trying to control the population of street
28 All That Glitters
Isn't Gold
By Ajit Baral in Pokhara
Pokhara, which had no transportation
system until the early 50s, has turned into
a booming city. But there has been no
accompanying cultural growth
32   Driving The
Blues Away
By Satishjung Shah
Despite dangerous warnings issued by the
Maoists, SajhaYatayat and many of its supporters say the show must go on
34   Portraits By
A Young Artist
By Tiku Gauchan
Gaurav Shrestha's collages seek to break
free from constraints
36  Theravada's Rocky
Road to Revival
By Sushmajoshi
While Theravada Buddhism now enjoys
a popular following, the thorny issue of
ordination of nuns still remains
Nation Weekly, The Media House, Tripureshor,
Kathmandu, Nepal (Regd. 113/059-060).
Tel: 2111102,4229825, 4261831,4263098
EDITOR: Akhilesh Upadhyay
COPY EDITOR: Tiku Gauchan
STAFF WRITERS: Sushma Joshi, Satish Jung Shahi
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publication, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the
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Vol. L No. 8. For the week June 7 - 13, 2004, released on June 7
www. nation, co
When you go home,
tell them for us: for
your tomorrow we
gave our today... ■ ■
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Unsung heroes
Nation Weekly for drawing the
nation's attention to the plight ofthe
Gurkhas (Satish Jung Shahi's "The
Unknown Soldiers," Gurkhas, June 6).
Yes, the new package to compensate
the World War II veterans, who
suffered at the hands of the Japanese,
has come a bit too late for many Nepali
Gurkhas. Interestingly, the numbers
offered by GAESO and the British
Embassy don't match. GAESO says
some 3,000 Gurkhas were held in
prison by the Japanese. The British
Embassy estimates the figure could be
around 350. Or are the strings attached
to the Ex-Gratia Far East Prisoner of
War Scheme so selective that they bar
many veterans from qualifying for the
belated package?
honor its World War II veterans during
the annual Memorial Day.
Unfortunately, that's not the case with
the Gurkha veterans. The following
epithet is inscribed in Kohima, the
capital of Nagaland, in memory of
those who fell on the Burmese
frontline: "When you go home, tell
them for us for your tomorrow we gave
our today." Hundreds of Gurkhas died
in the frontline.
Nepal as dumping ground
You have good selection of writers and
range of issues they have tackled is
impressive. I must thank Sushma Joshi
(Vol. 1 No. 3) and Samuel Thomas (Vol.
1, No. 6) for the articles on WTO and
Genetically Modified crops. They clearly
showed how Nepal is becoming a
dumping ground for the western nations.
I want to add some points. If you watch
primetime television, you will realize we
are paying a premium on every liter of
cooking oil so that we can in return be
bombarded with advertisements about
pure mustard oil and happy mothers-in-
law and healthy families. This is why price
of cooking oil (GM oil) has doubled in
the last two years as Thomas' article
("Rape Seed," Broadside, May 30)) clearly
states. Traders are destroying our farming
systems, our small millers and robbing
us to pay for advertising and for western
farm products and feeding us "pure,
healthy" GM. Developed countries
clearly have double standards: What is bad
for them is good enough for us.
Literary figures
started reading your magazine. It looks
good but you could draw articles from
literary figures like Abhi Subedi and
others outside the country to add variety
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Mahasweta is Indian
Thapa's interview in Nation Weekly. But I
would like you to correct that Mahasweta
Devi was born in 1926 in the city of Dacca
in East Bengal (modern-day Bangladesh).
She is not a Bangladeshi writer. Since her
family moved to West Bengal, she has spent
her entire life in India and inl 984, she retired
from her job as an English lecturer at a
Kolkota university to concentrate on her
Bush begone!
I APPRECIATE ANIL SHAHI'S ATTEMPT to soothe my bewilderment over
how one can oppose the war but support
the troops, and I am greatly heartened to
discover a like-minded colleague whose
outrage over the Bush administration's deception matches mine.
The semantics of "support our troops"
is still baffling to me, especially when I dwell
upon how ironical Shahi's statement—"by
'supporting the troops' Americans are only
hoping that their loved ones do well in what
they were trained to do"—sounds in light
ofwhat American soldiers, "trained" by Bush
administration's dismissal of the Geneva
Convention, did to the Iraqi prisoners. While
Iraqi civilians have died in the thousands,
mostly at the hands of brave American soldiers, "supporting our troops" means,
whether one wants to or not, supporting the
deaths of these Iraqi civilians. It is hypocritical to want your soldiers arrive home in one
piece after they butcher men, women, and
children thousands of miles away
Perhaps Shahi and I can seek consolation
in the fact that increasingly the sentiments of
this country are changing, as reflected in the
newspaper editorials in the past few weeks.
The brilliant and blistering criticism of
Bush's damaging legacy by former Vice President Al Gore some days ago at New York
University (accessible at would
have been unthinkable before the prisoner
abuse scandaljolted the American consciousness. Ultimately history will treat this war as
a good lesson for America, and could usher a
strong return to the basic foundation of this
country—respect for individual life whether
white or black or brown—that Bush has attempted to erode.
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nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
the story
the news
(UML) activist lays down
the party flag during the
five-party street protest
nw/Sagar Shrestha
_-"   -t£*^***
The Party Is Over
What is interesting is that none of the Congressmen I spoke to in the immediate
hours after Deuba's appointment saw the problem where it lay: in their own leadership
Last Wednesday, soon after Radio Nepal announced the appoint
ment of Sher Bahadur Deuba as the new prime minister, I began
calling Nepali Congress stalwarts to gauge their reaction. Almost
all of them professed disbelief. Some sounded dejected, and at least
one was furious. "This is ajoke," said the angry one. "Deuba will run the
country to the ground."
That may be an overly pessimistic assessment ofthe situation. But
given the difficult times and his not-so-glorious past record, it is not
surprising that many are wondering whether Deuba is up to the job—a
job which has become doubly difficult since he was last in office. Only
time will give us the answer. But what is interesting is that none ofthe
Congressmen I spoke to in the immediate hours after Deuba's appointment saw the problem where it lay: in their own leadership.
Let's recount what happened last week. After King Gyanendra issued
a 24 hour ultimatum to the parties to come up with a clean name for
prime minister, Congress leader Girija Prasad Koirala went all out to
scuttle the selection of CPN (UML) leader Madhav Nepal as the five
parties' consensus candidate.
Congress insiders told me that Koirala opposed
Nepal's selection primarily because 1) A communist
prime minister would send the wrong message to the
international donor community 2) Congress cadres, who
seethe UML as their long-term rivals, would be angry
and 3) Koirala himself wanted to become prime minister one last time so as to right the situation and leave
behind a proud legacy.
The first argument doesn't hold ground because
diplomats have gone out of their way to tell anyone
who'll listen that they don't oppose a communist prime
minister. One western diplomat told me "we don't care
who becomes the prime minister as long as the parties
get to agree on a name. Just send a name to the
The second sounds more plausible since the NC
cadres, supporters and students do see the UML and
its sister organizations as their greatest rivals. Indeed, if you look at the
history of both the NC and UML, the two parties have often defined
themselves in opposition to one another. Therefore, it could well be that
Congress activists will find it difficult to accept a UML prime minister
supported by their own top leaders.
The third argument, that of Koirala's legacy, is what is most interesting. Asa pol itical journalist over the years, I have watched and reported
on Koirala's achievements and shenanigans. In that time we have all
seen how a well-meaning and strong Prime Minister squandered not
just the public goodwill of his Congress party, but together with other
politicians, fed people's apathy towards politics and democracy. That,
in turn, gave rise to extremist forces in both the right and left. That same
man now wants to become prime minister one last time to right his
If Koirala was really concerned about his legacy, he could have supported Madhav Nepal as the prime minister, and then gone about righting the situation in his own party by instituting much-needed reforms.
Everyone knows the Congress is in tatters. The party is in denial mode,
there's no internal democracy there, corruption and nepotism is entrenched. Above all, there is a succession issue to settle.
But Koirala didn't do that. By opposing a consensus candidate,
he made it explicitly clear that he was fighting for the chair. Not many
know that, as it dawned that the King was about to appoint Deuba, a
frantic Koirala tried till the end to thwart the selection, but without any
As I pen this column, I do not feel a particular sense of glee in having
to write about Koirala's bad judgement. Rather, I feel sorry. There was a
time when I, like millions of other Nepalis, reallyadmiredtheman. We
saw him as a strong leader during 1991-94 who surrounded himself
with able men and women. These people pushed much-needed economic and other reforms on a reluctant electorate. But sometime in the
middle of 1994, Koirala and his party lost the way. The slide since has
been steep and precipitous, bringing the party to its present situation.
In any other democracy, a leader who runs the party to the ground
would have long been nudged into retirement. But that most likely won't
happen here, because this is Nepal and it is the Nepali Congress. There
are many people within the Congress who owe their positions to Koirala's
power of patronage. They won't let the leader bow out in silence because they too will have to bow out with him. This is why, the cry for
reforms by young turks like Narhari Acharya is courageous and exciting.
Let us hope the Congress, and particularly Koirala, realizes that this is
the party's last chance. Your legacy, dear leader, will be intact if you see
the wisdom in your situation. □
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
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Child Development Centre
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Panda search
Worried by a sharp fall in
numbers ofthe rare red panda
(habre), animal activists
started research on the rare
species in the Langtang
National Wildlife Sanctuary
(LNWS). Kantipur quotes a
sanctuary official, Binod
Regmi, as saying that the
research will help save the
animal from extinction. The
red panda lives above 2,200
meter in the sanctuary, feeds on
bamboo leaves and is
frequently seen in Polangpati
area on the way to
Bhutanese Maoists
Police in Jhapa arrested three
refugees from the Beldangi
Camp in Damak with a homemade pistol and Maoist
documents in their possession.
Security in the camps has been
tightened after the arrest. On
several occasions in the past, the
camps in Jhapa and Morang
have seen pamphlets
distributed by the Bhutan
Communist Party (Marxist-
Leninist-Maoists). It was the
first time that the police had
found armed Maoists inside
the camps.
Innocent deaths
Suspicions, apparently, led to
the deaths of two innocent
brothers in Mahottari. The
villagers said a police patrol
had forcefully asked the two
men, Dayaram Yadav and
Rajaram Yadav, to open the
door of their house before
shooting them to death.
Villagers say the two were
simple peasants. More than
150 villagers reached the
district headquarters to
protest the brutal killings.
They have appealed to the
Chief District Officer,Bimal
Dhakal, forjustice, increased
security for themselves and
compensation to the Yadav
family. The police said that if
the two brothers were not
Maoists, as the villagers
claim, they could have been
used as human-shields by the
Maoists while attacking a
patrol team. A policeman said
the patrol team opened fire at
them after a group of six to
seven people attacked them.
For their part, the Maoists
said the two were not
members of their party.
Anti-drug campaign
The Birtamod-based social
organization Lifeline Health
Group declared that it will
make Jhapa a drug-free zone
by the end of 2007. The
organization formed by
former intravenous drug
users said that the increasing
use of drugs among the
adolescents has led to the
rapid increase in HIV/AIDS
cases in recent years. The
number of intravenous drug
users in the district is
estimated to be 3,000. The
group plans to organize
workshops and awareness
Death penalty
The Maoist area committee
in Arghakhanchi has announced
Indian FM in
India's Foreign Minister K
Natwar arrived in
Kathmandu for a two-day
"familiarization visit." In his
arrival statement, Singh said
the first priority of his
government's foreign policy
was to further improve and
strengthen relations with
neighbors. Nepal is the first
country the foreign minister
has visited after assuming
office last month. New Delhi
fears Nepal's insurgency has
now become a trans-
boundary menace. Indian
police last week arrested 11
Maoists,including NCP
(Maoist)'s central committee
leaders, in Patna. India in
recent months has tightened
security along the Indo-Nepal
border but Indian officials
admit that policing the long
open border will continue to
be an arduous task.
'death penalties' against four
locals for allegedly spying
for the Army. Maniram
Poudel, Pushkar Acharya,
Khimananda Banjade and
Durbata Bhusal are in the
Maoist death list, according
to Nepal Samacharpatra.
Maoists have already killed
a villager there for a similar
Bus bombed
Even as the NHRC urged the
Maoists to respect the
principles ofhuman rights, the
Maoists continued vandalizing
public property and targeting
civilians. A blast on a Sajha bus
in Kathmandu leftone dead and
20 injured. Eyewitnesses later
said three boys, between 12 to
14 years of age, were seen
leaving the bomb inside the
bus. The bus, which was
heading for Baglung, had left
the Sajha Bus garage at
Pulchowk at 6 a.m. The
Maoists took responsibility for
the attack. They said the action
was in retaliation of Sajha's
defiance of their bandas.
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Husband for meal
Family disputes led Indira
Ghimire to kill her husband
and cook parts of his corpse
for a meal. Indira stabbed
Gopi Krishna of Mrigauliya-
2, Morang to death. Koshi
Zonal Hospital said Indira
had mental disorder. The
incident came to public
notice days after the killing
when the villagers started
looking for Gopi, and his wife
could not offer them his
whereabouts. They found the
body parts in a sack inside a
garbage pit nearby. It was the
foul smell emanating from
Ghimire's house that made the
villagers suspicious. Indira had
told her two sons that their
father had gone to another
village, according to newspaper
Telephone results
If all goes well, Nepal Telecom
will have up and running a
system that will make the
upcoming SLC results
available on telephone. The
numbertodial: 1600. Excited,
many students had gathered at
Gorkhapatra Sansthan, which
brings out the annual results in
Gorkhapatra, last week when
they heard about such a system.
Officials at Controller of
Examinations say the SLC
results will be declared by mid-
Maoists arrested
The Indian media reported the
arrest of 11 Nepali Maoists in
Bihar on Thursday, a day ahead
of the visit of Indian Foreign
Minister K Natwar Singh to
Kathmandu. Local television
showed footages of an
committee member Chitra
Bahadur Shrestha, who had his
face covered with a towel after
the arrest There are three other
central committee members
among the arrested. It is said
that they were trying to step
into the leadership vacuum left
by the arrest of Maoist leader
Mohan Baidhya at Siliguri in
School shutdown
The student wing of the
Maoists, ANNIFSU
(Revolutionary), is all set to
close down all educational
institutions starting June 6,
insisting that the boarding
schools have failed to abide by
the code-of-conduct prepared
by a committee of government
officials, student bodies,
parents and teachers. Among
the key demands of the
Maoists: the boarding schools
should lower their "exorbitant"
fees to make them affordable
to all sections of society. The
Education Ministry and the
Private and Boarding Schools
Organization of Nepal has said
they are ready to hold talks to
defuse an impending crisis.
Parents have appealed to the
Maoists to repeal their decision
to shut down the schools.
Army calls
The Royal Nepal Army came
up with two telephone
numbers, 4220000 and 9841-
217913, for the general public
to report suspected Maoist
LITTLE STAR: "Fruity" of Star
TV's "Son Pari" fame was in
the capital on a shooting
activities inside the Valley. The
move came after Maoists
escalated their bombings ahead
of their month-long banda
Week in politics
May 30: King asks parties to
name their prime minister
candidate by next day, 5p.m.;
May 31: Palace receives a
total 35 applicants for prime
minister. Rastriya
Prajatantra Party and Nepal
Sadbhavana Party are the
only parties in the dissolved
parliament to name their
candidates. Five agitating
parties fail to declare their
common candidate. King
meets Sher Bahadur Deuba
in the evening at
Narayanhity; June 1:
CPM(UML) says the five-
party alliance did not
declare a common
candidate. Deuba meets
UML General Secretary
Madhav Kumar Nepal at the
latter's residence; June 2:
King appoints Deuba as the
new prime minister; Deuba
meets Nepali Congress
President Girija Prasad
Koirala after appointment;
June 3: PM Deuba sworn in,
says peace and polls
government's priorities.
Nepali Congress, Maoists
give a thumb-down to
Deuba's appointment; June
4: UML says Deuba's
appointment not regression
if he mends his ways, but is
still undecided over joining
the government It however
suspends its participation in
street protests.
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
 Biz Buz
In search of Miss Nepal
Dabur Nepal will sponsor the Miss Nepal Pageant for the third time with this year's event to
be held at the Birendra International Convention Center on August 7. The event will choose
Nepal's 10th Miss Nepal since the annual event
started in 1994. The Dabur Vatika Miss People's
Choice has been added to other regular titles
handed out during the beauty pageant. The
organizer, The Hidden Treasure, says the contestants will go on a five-week extensive training as preparation for the contest. Application
forms are available at
New car in town
Nepali roads will be marked by the entrance of
a new Malaysian five-seater car, Kelisa, brought
in by Nemlink International Traders who are also
the sole distributors of Perodua vehicles.
Nemlink says Kelisa comes with its newly
developed 1,000 cc, three-cylinder, 12-valve
EFI, double overhead camshaft that can release
upto 85 bhp power. "Kelisa will be positioned in
between the small car and the entry level sedan
segment, meaning it is an upgrade from the
existing small car but available at the same price,"
says Amitabh Dhakhwa, Nemlink's managing
Habib's hairstyles
Indian hairstylist Jawed Habib has extended his
chain at the second floor of Kastamandap
Departmental Store in Kamaladi. Nepal Lever's
Sunsilk Naturals Shampoo, whose brand
ambassador is Habib, conducted a workshop for
Nepali hairdressers at the Hyatt Regency to
demonstrate his art of hairstyling and coloring.
Habib is known for innovative hairdressing.
Sangina shines on
Six corporate houses, Dabur Nepal, ICTC, Jyoti
Group, Nabil Bank, Nepal Lever and Vaidya Group
have appointed taekwondo star Sangina Baidhya
as their brand ambassador. They promise to raise
money for her participation in the upcoming
Olympic Games in Athens. Sangina is the first
official Nepali athlete scheduled to take part in
the Olympics, though Bidaan Lama won a medal
in taekwondo during the demonstration match at
the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Sangina's track
record has been stellar in recent years. She won
golds at two straight SAFGames and other Asian
championships. She will be training in Korea prior
to her participation at the Olympics.
Banda economics
The Federation of Nepalese Chamber of
Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) claims the
nation losescloseto Rs. 1.5 billion for each banda
day. The Himalayan Times, quoting experts, said
the transport strike is the most damaging one,
though no official data has been gathered on
bandas so far.
Ultimate gin
Atripledistilled grain
gin from Himalayan
Distillery has now
been rolled out onto
the Nepali markets.
"Ultimate," the new
gin, is made by
distilling cereals with
juniper berries,
coriander seeds and
orange and lemon
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 Sandesh Shrestha, a 20-year-old
BBS second year student, felt like
he was over the moon on the night
of May 15. Not that he topped his exams
or won a DV lottery to get permanent
residency in the United States, something he has been trying in vain for several years.
Arsenal, an English football team, had
won the Football Association (FA)
Premiership with flying colors. The
Gunners, as this North London club is
popularly known, achieved such a rare
feat that no person alive has known of it
having been done before. Having already
clinched the Premiership crown, Arsenal, with a 2-1 home win over Leicester
City, completed the first undefeated
league season at the top level of English
soccer in 115 years.
Shrestha recalls, "It was amazing to
see Highbury stadium awash in red and
white as the Arsenal fans saluted their
team." Arsenal, with 26 wins and 12
draws in 38 league games, finished the
2003-04 season with 90 points, 11 clear
of second-placed Chelsea and 15 more
than Manchester United— the world's
richest football club. "And I felt like I
was in the thick of things out there," he
adds. "Thanks to cable television."
Football as a spectator sport is in a
serious decline in Nepal and most local
matches are watched by near-empty stadiums but there are thousands of football fans across the country who follow
Between class breaks,
canteens hum with
unending stories of
Thiery Henry, France's
goal-scoring machine
every single move by their overseas teams
I like Manchester United, Arsenal and
Real Madrid. Thiery Henry, David
Beckham and Manchester United replica shirts are common sights in campuses, streets and restaurants.
Come Euro 2004, this craze will
reach stratospheric heights in
Kathmandu. The European Championships, as it is formally called, kicks off
on June 12 in Portugal with 16 ofthe
best teams from Europe vying for the
prestigious Henry Delauney Cup in the
final night on July 4.
One local football administrator
conceded recently "as more and more
people tune in to readily accessible in-
ternational sports channels people here
know much more about Manchester
United and Real Madrid than they do
about their national team." TV channels like Star Sports and ESPN have
raised a whole new generation of fans
for whom international football is
where it's at. "All the Euro 2004
matches will be brought to you live on
ESPN and Star Sports," says Shyam
Sundar Sharma, deputy general manager at Channel Nepal, who also looks
after the marketing of Space Time
Network—the Valley's leading cable
One only has to visit schools and
colleges to witness football fever. Between the class breaks, canteens hum
with unending stories on Thiery Henry,
Arsenal's and France's goal-scoring
machine, the delightful "Total Football" ofthe Dutch and Italy's strength
on defense.
As a matter of fact, top-class football competition has always been a big
draw with the Nepali sports crowd regardless of age.
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Dr. Bibek Banskota, 27, who works
as a House Officer at B&B Hospital, says,
"I know I will not be able to watch each
and every match but I plan to see as
much as I can and preferably not miss
any of Holland's matches," he says.
"Euro Cup will be a great opportunity
to socialize and meet up with old
friends." Banskota plans to buy the orange Dutchjersey soon.
Others are busy with the guessing
games. Who will be the possible winner? Will the French manage an encore?
Will the remaining members of the
'golden generation' of Portuguese football including stars Luis Figo and Rui
Costa live up to huge expectations from
the home fans?
While the real action may be in faraway Portugal, Carlsberg Breweries, one
of official sponsors ofthe event, is working overtime to ensure that Nepali football fans have as much fun over here and
that its money is well-spent.
"We're installing around 20 model
outlets in Kathmandu where people can
relax and watch live football," says
Roshan Puri, senior brand executive of
Gorkha Brewery, the local brewer ofthe
Danish beverage.
The Danish beer giant expects the
sponsorship to mirror Euro 2000, considered the most successful activity for
the brand on a global scale, resulting in
an 11 percent increase in sales over the
period and a 5.4 percent rise in annual
trade. The Championships were broadcast live over 200 countries delivering
exposure to a cumulative TV audience
of seven billion—the third highest after the World Cup and the Olympic
In Nepal, there is a growing trend
of fans going to restaurants and bars during the matches, which clearly serves a
dual purpose for the viewers: meet up
with old friends and enjoy the
match. But there are apprehensions.
During the last World Cup held two
years ago, the kick-off times in Japan
and Korea suited the Nepali viewers
who watched matches live between afternoons and evenings. That in turn generated additional business to many of
the restaurants and cafes
here. Euro 2004 matches, on
the other hand, are played late
in the night or well past midnight according to Nepal's
Gagan Pradhan, owner of
Himalayan Java is excited
about Euro 2004, although he
makes a point to stress that
Java is a coffee bar—and not a
sports bar. Java has been showing European club football
matches live during the weekends. Java was a popular destination during World Cup
2002 and "there was no stand-
ing room in here," says
Pradhan, recalling the Brazil-
Germany final which the
South American team won 2-
0, much to the delight ofthe
local fans.
This time round he is not
sure if Java will see such happy
moments, at least not all the
time. "We pull down our shutters at 11 p.m. So we can show
only early matches, those that
start at 10:30 p.m. Nepal
Ekraj Adhikari, the manager at K-
Too's in Thamel, however, has a different thought. Although the restaurant-
cum-bar hasn't finalized its plan to cater to late-nighters for the Euro,
Adhikari is confident that the matches
will be shown and fans will have to be
kept entertained. With a capacity for 230
customers, he says K-Too's has lately
turned into a sports bar.
Thanks to the 2002 World Cup, the
restaurant would entertain more than
300 fans a day, well beyond its capacity
during that summer. Located close to
Kathmandu Guest House, K-Too's is
hugely popular among foreigners in and
around Thamel. Adhikari says there are
a handful of loyal Nepali football fans
who make it a point to come every
weekend to watch European club football. K-Too's hopes the current decline
in customer attendance due to the poor
security situation will see a reverse with
Euro 2004. For both him and the football fans here, who need their world
class-football fix, the festive days are just
around the corner.    □
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
he new prime minister has already been
assured of RPP support. But his travails
don't end there. He has to get the formal support ofthe CPN(UML), and ultimately the Nepali Congress which is going
through a rough phase itself. And assuming
that he is successful in all these, there is still
the task of getting the Maoists to agree to a
peace deal. And finally hold general elections
These are difficult times to be Nepal's
prime minister. Whether his third innings as the country's head ofthe government is going to be any bit happier
than the previous forgettable ones, Sher
Bahadur Deuba has little time to lose.
And he knows that very well. Immediately after his appointment on Wednesday, his Budhanilkantha residence
donned a new aura. Sniffing dogs, plainclothes policemen, scores of friends and
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
relatives coming in to wish him luck and
a battery of aides. It was easy to get caught
in the frenzy. Not Deuba. He knew he
had miles to go and tons of appointments
to seek. But first: the mission impossible to woo the Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala at his
Mandikatar residence.
"He wished me luck," Deuba told
Nation Weekly later in the day, refusing
to elaborate one bit despite repeated
questions. But the courtesy all to Koirala
was only the beginning of a long and arduous process. In the days since, the
'My First Priority Is
Holding Elections'
n the day of his appointment on Wednesday, Prime Minister
Sher Bahadur Deuba talked with Akhilesh Upadhyay and
Suman Pradhan of Nation Weekly at his Budhanilkantha residence.
What will be the priority of
your government?
The first priority is holding elections. Towards that goal, I will
try to convince all the other
parties to join the government,
and then strive for a peaceful
resolution of the Maoist conflict so that free and fair elections can be held. At the same
time, there is a need to jump-
start the economy which has
suffered due to the Maoist
conflict. This government will
introduce special economic
programs towards that end.
In October 2002, your government was sacked by the
King after you suggested deferring elections. Now the King
has appointed you as the new
prime minister, and you say
your priority is to hold elections.
I consider my government to
have been reinstated. That is
what this is. But this is immaterial now. The King has shown
great magnanimity by appointing me. I am profoundly indebted to him. As for the elections, I have already said in
the past that postponing them
was a mistake, and I have to
accept responsibility for that.
But this time, there won't be
any such mistakes.
But many people are saying
that elections can't be held
until the Maoists agree to
it. How do you plan to deal
with the security issues surrounding the elections?
Why can't there be a conducive atmosphere for polls?
Look at India. They could hold
elections in Kashmir despite
the violence. But I agree that
first we must try to make
peace with the Maoists.
Do you see a realistic
chance for peace with the
Maoists who tried to assassinate you in the past?
You can't let personal ego
come into state affairs.
Whether they tried to assassinate me or not happened
the past. We will negotiate
again with the Maoists, but
the negotiations will be different from the last time.
How different?
I can't tell you everything right
But the Maoists are saying
they will not agree to anything less than a constituent assembly election to
draft a new constitution. Can
you agree to that demand?
The present constitution is a
document of compromise and
I am serving under this constitution. If there is national consensus again on holding constituent assembly elections, I
will have to give in to the public demand.
You said that you will try your
best to gain support from
other parties. But it looks
like some major parties are
against you. Do you see the
Communist Party of Nepal
(Unified Marxist Leninist)
and Nepali Congress joining
your government?
Right now, it is too early to tell
how will that pan out, but all
of them have extended their
support to me. The CPN(UML)
has responded positively. I
met Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala a
while ago, and he too extended his best wishes. We
will see how things go from
here, but I want all other parties to join the government
and help resolve the political
crisis and the Maoist problem.
Do you see a chance that
your Nepali Congress (Democratic) and the mother party,
the Nepali Congress could reunite soon?
I certainly want re-unification,
but it depends upon them.
There has to be willingness on
both sides but I haven't seen
one on their side.
As a founding member ofthe
Nepal Students Union, how
will you deal with the NSU students who are protesting on
the streets against your appointment? Will you use force
as the last government did to
quell the protests?
Everyone has the right to protest, but no one has the right to
breakthe law. I don't think there
will be any problem if they abide
by the law.
Has the parties' demand for
the restoration of sovereign
rights been met with your appointment?
Indeed. The sovereign rights
have been transferred to the
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
newly-appointed prime minister hasvis-
ited CPN(UML) General Secretary
Madhav Kumar Nepal and RPP President Pashupati SJB Rana to garner their
support for the fledgling government at
extremely divisive times.
Despite the cautious
welcome given by the
RPP, it looks certain that
the party will ultimately
join the new government,
giving it a much-needed
boost. After all, when the
King appointed Deuba
after weeks of political
uncertainty the monarch
gave him three specific
tasks: form an all-party
government, ensure
peace and initiate the process towards
holding the all-important general elections within the current Nepali year—
all three fraught with dangers.
Given the mandate, the RPP's support is only more than welcome for
Deuba. But his travails don't end there.
There lies the difficult task of getting
the formal support of the
CPN(UML), and ultimately of his
one-time party, the Nepali Congress
which he split in 2002 to form his
Nepali Congress (Democratic). And
assuming that he is successful in those
tough goals, there is the task of getting
the Maoists to agree to a peace deal and
hold general elections and complete
the circle.
The flve-party
alliance which
hinged on the 1YC-
UML cooperation
is now as good as
Senior aides to Deuba indicated to
Nation Weekly that the new government
would not make a big splash about peace
talks, but rather pursue it quietly, even
discretely, away from the media glare.
But that can wait. For
now, the immediate task
is to get the other parties
onboard the government,
sources said.
Developments over
the weekend indicate that
the UML would support
the government in one
form or another. The only
question is how. According to a political document introduced by General Secretary Madhav
Nepal in the party's central committee
meeting on Friday, the UML boss sees
Deuba's appointment as a "partial correction to the regression" of October 4,
2002 (when the monarch sacked an
elected Deuba government.)
Nepal also put forth a litany of proposals which the new government
should meet in order to roll back regression for good, the chief among
them being annulling all executive appointments made by Chand and Thapa
governments, and ensuring that the
government supported the UML's
nine-point roadmap to peace with the
Maoists. This roadmap calls for an all-
party government, a round-table conference to decide on a future consti
tution, and writing of that constitution.
But most importantly, UML insiders say, Nepal is firmly pushing a "wait
and see" approach before he formally
joins the government. For the time being, despite the over-eager calls to join
the government by some central committee members like K P Oli and
Bamdev Gautam, the UML is almost
certain to adopt a middle-of-the-road
position: support the government from
outside, but hold out the fig leaf ofjoin-
ing later if and when Deuba pushes the
UML roadmap.
"We are keen to see the Deuba government correct the wrongs committed by previous governments, though
we do maintain that the restoration of a
bona fide prime minister means regression is partially corrected," says Amrit
Bohara, a central committee member
What this also means is that the five-
party alliance which hinged on the cooperation between the UML and
Koirala's Nepali Congress is now as
good as dead—a huge relief for Deuba.
 On Friday, a day after Deuba met
Nepal, the five-party alliance lost UML
from its daily protests that started on
April 1.
That realization has pushed the
Nepali Congress into the throes of soul-
searching: The party's young supporters
are calling for an all-out pursuit of republican goals, all right, but what its senior members are demanding is making
heads roll.
Witness the rancor in the Central
Working Committee meeting last week.
Narhari Acharya accused the leadership
of taking the party to ruins. He called for
a wholesale change in the party's mission statement. In his written proposal,
Acharya asked the party to go for a policy
review in the way it views monarchy.
This he suggested had to be done by Maha
Samiti, which represents party workers
from all over the country. The Samiti,
which is supposed to meet every year,
hasn't been called for the past four years.
This review is warranted in view of
the fact that there have been republican
calls during the current movement and
there has been a perceptible shift toward
republicanism in the party's student organization in the campuses, he argued.
The reformist calls have come other
quarters as well. Central committee
member Shailaja Acharya has asserted
that the Nepali Congress is under the
clutch ofthe corrupt" and the party has
been taking all its important decisions
outside the central committee. "The central committee meeting is a mere formality."
Many analysts seem to think that
Deuba's appointment, which reportedly
came only after secret contact between
the Palace and Maoists collapsed, was
the best option for the monarch, given
Koirala's intransigence. The grand old
man of Nepali politics wouldn't allow
UML's Nepal to become prime minister but he wouldn't come up with another name, either. This perhaps left the
King with no option but to choose
Deuba whom he sacked in October 2002
as "incompetent."
In effect, the King has been forced to
eat his own words, some analysts say, and
the parties should recognize that and
leave the matter where it is. It would be
wiser to concentrate on Deuba, who has
the propensity to fall off the straight and
narrow path, and steer his government
on the right track. Most other major parties are likely to follow that advice,
though the UML shows signs of trying
to have it both ways.
But not the Congress, it
seems. And at least not
Nation has learnt from
very reliable sources that
when Koirala realized that
the King was all set to appoint Deuba as the new
prime minister, the Congress president made two
last-ditch calls. The first one
T~ to CPN(UML) General
% Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal, saying
that he was willing to propose his name
as the new prime minister; second to
the Palace, imploring he would rather
have Nepal, Pashupati SJB Rana, or even
continue with Surya Bahadur Thapa. In
short, anyone but Deuba.
The response: both Balkhu and
Narayanhity told him, "Too late, sir."
Koirala's deep mistrust of Deuba,
which borders on the fanatical, puts the
Congress at a disadvantage. This is a
party on a tight grip of Koirala. As such,
it can't support the government, but
and it doesn't quite have the wherewithal to launch a decisive street agitation on its own, the support offered by
perennial opposition parties—the
Nepal Maj door and Kisan Party and the
Janamorcha Nepal—and Nepal
Sadbhavana Party (Anandi) notwithstanding.
The whole affair should have put
the spotlight on the monarchy and even
on new Prime Minister Deuba. But the
irony is, Koirala's refusal to allow
Nepal to become prime minister has
drawn the spotlight on himself as well
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Regression Continues
Sher Bahadur Deuba's appointment as prime minister does not
resolve the larger problem: does the King have the authority to
appoint the prime minister?
The constitution of the King
dom of Nepal is such that it
can be supportive or the development of democracy, but
equally, it can be successfully used
against our democracy."
This is a statement made bythe
Late B.P Koirala, founder of the
Nepali Congress, in reference to the
Constitution ofthe Kingdom of Nepal
(2015 BS). The remark turned out
to be prophetic: King Mahendra
used the constitution to overthrow
Nepal's first elected government in
December 1960. I mention this
here because, King Gyanendra's action on October 4, 2002 and series of Royal moves thereafter are
again said to be based on the letter
and spirit of the present constitution. We all know otherwise.
After losing most of its powers
and privileges in the 1990 People's
Movement, the monarchy is bent
on regaining much of its earlier position. Events since October 2002
culminating in the appointment of
Sher Bahadur Deuba as the new
prime minister last week, in hindsight, are just incremental steps in
a larger design.
This brings us to the present situation. The country today is caught
in a serious debate over Deuba's
appointment, and two different but
distinct arguments are coming to the
fore. The first is that Deuba's appointment is tantamount to the "reinstatement" of his previous government, and therefore, the consti
tution is back on track. The other
argument holds just the opposite
view—the King has put Deuba in
the same category as his hand-
picked predecessors Lokendra
Bahadur Chand and Surya Bahadur
Thapa, and that his appointment is
continuation of the King's "regression."
I agree with the latter argument
for the simple reason that the King's
actions are outside the bounds of
the constitution. The powers under
Article 127 ofthe present Constitution are not unrestricted. They are
to be exercised under the recommendation and approval of an
elected government. Besides, if the
appointments of Chand and Thapa
were illegitimate and unconstitutional, how is it different this time?
One may argue that the King
has transferred executive powers to
the new premier under Article 35 of
the constitution, and that he has
also reaffirmed that sovereignty is
vested on the Nepali people. But
didn't the King say as much while
appointing Thapa last year? In fact,
isn't it contradictory for the King to
say that the people are sovereign
and then go about choosing a prime
minister under Article 127 and
ask him to bring peace and hold
elections within 2061? This constitution, in the first place, has no provision that allows the King to order
the government with specific tasks.
This proves that Deuba is just another Bahadur—much like his pre
decessors—and not the democratic
prime minister he claims he is.
After last week's developments,
the focus is now squarely on the
five political parties which had been
waging a street campaign against
the monarch. The question is:
what will be the future ofthe agitation? It is no secret that differences
between the Nepali Congress and
CPN(UML) has almost broken the
alliance. The UML, which appears
set to bolt from the alliance, is sympathetic to Deuba and is already
arguing that his appointment, in
the political sense, is "re-instate-
ment" of his government. If it is so,
then the UML must confess that
their previous stands against the
two appointed governments were
Having said that, the Nepali
Congress should also take stock of
the fresh situation. The NC has decided to take Deuba's appointment
as another step towards regression.
The party may go on with the agitation regardless of the fate of the
five-party alliance. But with the same
old agendas? No, please! The Congress leadership still reiterates that
re-instatement of the dissolved
Pratinidhi Sabha is necessary for a
satisfactory resolution to the crisis.
Only parliament can amend the
constitution and implement the 18-
point agenda, it argues.
But these stands do not take
into account the shifting ground reality. We can sense a gigantic fissure opening between the aspiration of the cadres and the party's
present stance, which in the eyes
of many supporters, seem rather
apathetic to the grassroots. Has
not the King's unconstitutional
steps already torn the letter and
spirit of this constitution? Can mere
amendment to the constitution
bring the Maoist insurgents into
mainstream politics? Can the issue of republic be addressed within
the framework of this constitution?
There answer is: No. Then why stick
to mere amendment? Why not go
for an elected constituent assembly and draft a new constitution altogether?
If the Nepali Congress goes
ahead with this one point agenda,
it will be the ultimate winner as the
tide of public opinion in the country
is already turning in favor of a republican setup. If we want to bring
an end to this endless series of
Tikey Bahadurs, and if we want a
constitution that gives no room for
others to usurp democracy time and
again, then drafting of a new constitution through an elected constituent assembly is the only way
All eyes are now on the Nepali
Congress. It is time for the Congress
to rise and face the challenge.
(The author is the General Secretary ofthe Nepal Students' Union,
Nepali Congress' student wing.)
as the party's entrenched and overzeal-
ous politics.
"I was personally disappointed
with Nepali Congress's decision not
to back up the CPN(UML) General
Secretary Madhav Nepal as prime
minister," says Lok Raj Baral, an ana
lyst, who was ambassador to India under a Congress government.
"Whether the King would have appointed Nepal as the prime minister
or not, a unanimous choice would at
least have given the parties a moral
high ground in the public eye."
That said, a larger problem perhaps
lies in the way the Nepali Congress leadership functions, argues Baral. Blame it
all on the Congress's traditional personalized politics instead of making decisions through vibrant and open dialogue
inside the party   □
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
Taking an innovative model from Kalimpong and Jaipur
as examples, the Katmandu Animal Treatment Center is
trying to control the population of street dogs by sterilizing
What do Maha, the famed comedian team of Madan
Krishna Shrestha and
Haribansha Acharya, and Ani Choying, a
nun who's gone global with her extraordinary Buddhist songs, have in common?
Besides their fame and high profile, they
share an interest in ending the suffering
of the dogs who roam the streets of
"There's a feeling in Nepal that a good
project can only be started with large
amounts of international funds," says
Khageshwar Sharma, who manages the
Kathmandu Animal Treatment Center
(KAT). "But we wanted to show that we
can do it with local support."
The idea behind KAT was simple
enough. Everybody living in Kathmandu
has memories, or heard stories, of piles
of poisoned dogs being driven away on
tractors. Dog owners in the city feel shivers go down their spine every time they
hear that this inhumane initiative is underway. Many remember the days when
their pets never returned from the
streets. The poison, strychnine, stays in
the carcasses ofthe dogs and is scattered
around in the streets, and also pollutes
streams and rivers where the corpses are
dumped. This poisoning program, conducted by the Kathmandu Municipality
to reduce the street dog population, has
been going on for a number of years but
has failed to make much of a dent on the
canine population.
Now, taking an innovative model from
Kalimpong and Jaipur as examples, the
KAT is trying to control the population
of street dogs with a much more humane
and effective method—sterilization.
KAT started with the initiative of Jan
Salter, a British artist and longtime
Kathmandu resident who was moved by
the suffering of street dogs she saw every day. After visiting the Goodwill Animal Center in Kalimpong, Darjeeling,
Salter embarked on a crusade to bring
together a board of stellar supporters,
including BBC presenter Dr. Charlotte
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Uhlenbroek, and KanakMani Dixit, editor of Himal South Asia, for the project.
Started with a personal loan from
Salter, the project, housed in modest premises in Chapaligoan, on the way to
Budhanilkantha, boasts a cheerful looking red office, a small operating theatre
and 18 kennels. The kennels are clean
and well-kept.
A small brown mongrel licks herself
as she looks up from a blood-stained
plastic covering in Kennel 8. "Most of
the dogs recover within four or five days
ofthe operation," says Dr. B CJha, one
of KAT's part-time vets. "This one had
complications, so we had to re-operate
on her. We keep them here till they are
fully recovered."
The bitch, blissfully unaware ofthe
international standards of healthcare that
has been bestowed on her, ignores the
visitors. Then she suddenly wags her tail
as she sees Ramlal Shrestha, one ofthe
two helpers who has been provided by
the Kathm andu Municipality to support
the program. Ramlal goes out every
morning at 6 a.m., along with his co-
helper in a minivan to capture the street
dogs. A contribution from Ani Choying
helped to buy the van used in the morning forays. "We try to get them to come
into the vans by themselves," says
Shrestha. "We try to avoid putting them
in sacks, unless they resist." Shrestha, 28,
who admits he likes dogs, says so far he
has not been bitten by a single dog.
The program, which got underway
on May 11, has already treated 45 dogs—
seven male dogs got rabies shots, two
with distemper and cataracts got
euthanized, and the rest, who were females, sterilized. Only two dogs have
died—one from an overdose of anesthesia and respiratory distress, and the other
from bleeding. "We don't know the history of street dogs, so it's hard to diagnose what went wrong," says Dr. Jha.
This is a good start, but the project
has larger goals. "Our goal is to treat 70
dogs every month," says Khageshwar
Sharma. Sharma, originally from Gorkha,
ran the Goodwill Animal Center in
Kalimpong for five years. He is the perfect man for the job—not only is he
qualified, he radiates a sense of cheerful
optimism and proactive productivity
"Spaying a female dog costs us more
than Rs. 1,000," says Sharma. "People
think: there's not enough
money for people, why should
we give it to spay a dog?" In
spite of such reactions, Sharma
says they are trying to increase
local awareness and raise support for the project, rather
than look for international
funds. Support in the form of
donated goods has already
started—Serene Pharmaceuticals has donated food
supplements. Now the
project is trying to get food from hotels, and catgut (used in surgery) and
antibiotics from pharmaceuticals to
lower their costs. Besides meat, the
dogs also eat rice, lentils, vegetables and
soybeans, making food from almost any
hotel a welcome donation.
Although WHO and the World Society for the Protection of Animals recommended animal birth control programs in order to reduce street animal
populations as early as the 1980s, the
Kathmandu Municipality has not been
able to follow those guidelines due to
lack of funds. Now, in partnership with
KAT, they may be able to follow those
international, humane guidelines.
More importantly, this program might
actually reduce the street dog population.
"The number of street dogs went
down   80   percent  in Jaipur  and
Kalimpong after similar programs got
implemented there," says Sharma. "Also,
the incidences of human deaths from
rabies fell to zero."
Will KAT go out of business when
the lease on their land expires in six
years? Hardly, says Dr. Jha. "There are
60,000 street dogs in Kathmandu. Even
if we get enough funding to treat 200
dogs a day, that's still a lot of work to be
Kathmandu residents, recent witnesses to a spate of bombings against
government programs, offices and vehicles, can heave a sigh of relief that at
least there is one project out there that
is trying to change the world by constructing, rather than destroying; byjoin-
ing hands with the bureaucracy to replace an ineffective government
method; and working towards a humble
but still revolutionary solution.  □
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
Taking an innovative model
from Kalimpong and Jaipur
as examples, the Katmandu
Animal Treatment Center is
trying to control the
population of street dogs by
sterilizing them
A resident of Nadipur, Chandra
Pun, had left for South Korea
disguised as a refugee when the
1990 Jana Andolan was raging. Back at
home for the first time since his departure, Pun is literally reeling under the
changes around him. "Pokhara has
changed a great deal since I left," he says."
I am not sure if I would have recognized
this place if my family hadn't been at the
airport to receive me."
Pokhara is changing so rapidly that
you don't have to be away for long, like
Chandra, to feel the changes. Every few
months new constructions come up, old
buildings get revamped into state-of-
the-art ones, roads get wider and slicker,
cyber cafes crop up cheek by jowl, and
ice-cream parlors, pizzerias, bakeries, pubs and discotheques pop
up in the middle of nowhere.
Pokhara   is   unrecognizably
morphing into a glitzy city.
Though Pokhara, according
to the oral history, developed
into a market center only after
26 kurias (households) from
Bhaktapur fled the Valley, fearing torture from the conquering army of Prithvi Narayan
Shah more than 200 years ago, it started
growing into a city in earnest only after the 1950s. Till then, it couldn't even
be called a town. An Italian traveller,
Tucci, who came to Pokhara in 1952,
wrote that "It [Pokhara] isn't a town at
all, [but] it is an enormous bazaar winding along one endless street." Apart
from this bazaar that stretched from
Ramkrishna Tole to Bagar and from
Nalakomukh to Ranipauwa, Pokhara
was all wilderness. It was under the
scourge of malaria and, naturally, thinly
How then has the small town which
had no transportation system till the early
50s turned into the booming city that it
is now? Here it would be instructive to
read what Tucci wrote about Pokhara in
1952: "Because of its [strategic] position,
it [Pokhara] is bound to see a great expansion."
This strategic location is what drove
the state to throw a benevolent gaze on
Pokhara. It was air-linked to Kathmandu
in 1952, and in the same year the Shining
Hospital and Prithvi Narayan Campus
were established. Once the malaria eradi-
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
 cation program was initiated in the late
1950s, Pokhara became a sort of winter
capital and the members of the Royal
family would come here to beat the
Kathmandu cold. This led to the paving
of roads around Pokhara. The Siddhartha
Rajmarga (which links Pokhara to
Butwal and Bhairahawa) was completed
in 1969 and the Prithivi Rajmarga (connecting Pokhara to Kathmandu), in 1971.
It then evolved into the regional headquarters for the Western Region and
administrative units were set up.
It was in the late 60s that hippies discovered the scenic settlement and thus
began the backpackers' fascination for a
town straddled in the Himalayan foothills and dotted with lakes. These developments created facilities for education, health
services, hospitality, administration, transportation and communication,
which in turn lured more
people —mostly families
of pensioners from the
British and Indian
armies—from the neighboring districts. This is
when Pokhara's population
reached its peak. Lahures
flushed Pokhara with remittance money and different businesses—shopping
malls and eateries, for example—sprang up to tap
the new wealth.
Decades on, a disturbing aspect of this growth is
evident. To many, Pokhara
with all its riches is a cultural wasteland. School
teachers, community leaders and literateurs all alike
rue the fact that education,
governmental and nongovernmental organizations are so very centralized
in Kathmandu that most ofthe educated
people end up moving to the capital, rendering Pokhara intellectually hollow.
"The state failed to decentralize itself according to its concept of regional development," says George John, who helped
found Prithvi Narayan College. Adequate decentralization could have
stopped the brain drain and rejuvenated
Pokhara culturally.
This brain drain partly explains why
there aren't any non-textbook shops in
Pokhara that cater to the locals. There
are plenty of bookshops on Lakeside, all
right, but they are meant for the tourists.
Indian newspapers still don't consider
the country's second largest urban settlement a viable market and Nepal's own
Egnlish-language papers are visible,
again, only in the tourist hubs.
"The changed demography partially
explains why Pokhara isn't developing
culturally as much as we would have
liked," says lecturer Ananta Poudel. The
theory is: many ofthe new migrants to
Pokhara are more interested in landing
a cushy foreign job than in learning.
Though statistics of school dropouts are
not available, it would be safe to assume
that many ofthe school dropouts' parents hold jobs overseas. And since their
parents are usually away they have all the
freedom to do whatever they like and
there is no one to tell them the value of
education. Little surprise then, pubs and
discos seem to do good business here
and sights of fancy bikes and mobiles are
Pokhara looks beautiful, just like a
man in a well-tailored three-piece suit
and a necktie but.... Clearly all that glitters isn't gold.
Some years ago, poet Binaya Rawal
put forward the idea of developing
Pokhara into Nepal's cultural capital.
Pokhereli Yuva SanskritikPariwar, an organization committed to the promotion
of arts and culture, has since then lapped
up that idea. Life member ofthe Pariwar,
Tirtha Shrestha, says, "Pokhara is a repository of many cultures and traditions.
Ghode Jatra, Bagh Jatra, Bhairab Jatra,
Ghatu Nach, Sorathi Nach are performed here. It has a strong tradition of
water color painting and it is home to
luminaries like Alimiya and Dharma Raj
Thapa. And we have nearly 40 music
bands. So it is fitting that Pokhara be
made a cultural capital."
That the local here hope will bridge
the gulf between the city's cultural and
material growths Pokhara. It will then
be the man in a fine three-piece suit who
looked even more beautiful when he
spoke.  □
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
 Broadside "
Those who continue to speak about
Nepal as a garden of many flow
ers in that very trite manner are
often those who know nothing about
gardens or flowers. Nominally, it is still
a garden of many flowers. In reality, more
like a seriously disturbed patch of vegetation, with a few dominant species
(call them strangler figs if you like) and
a dying understorey
On May 20, the Supreme Court ordered the government to undertake a
study into the status ofthe Badi and submit a comprehensive report within two
months. The bench comprising Chief
Justice Govinda Bahadur Shrestha, Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Balram
K.C. issued the order as a response to a
petition filed by Pro Public, an organization that champions the rights of farmers, women, dalits and indigenous
peoples through public interest litigation. The court ordered the government
to constitute a committee under the
Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare to prepare the report and
outlined the responsibility ofthe committee. It will have to cover the problems ofthe Badis and evaluate the programs carried out for the welfare ofthe
So, what shocked the apex court into
action? The Badi are one ofthe smallest
dalit groups in the country. If the Census figures are anything to go by, they
number 4,442 today, down from some
7,082 in the census 1991 (a drop of some
37 percent). Sociologists attribute some
fluctuation (this is also the case with several other minorities) to various reasons—the desire to escape the stigma
that comes with their status,
misidentification by enumerators and
activists, and so on. But these aside, there
are several more obvious problems. The
NGO world that has grown around the
Badi and other groups and areas from
where women are trafficked and sold or
forced into sex slavery is huge and growing. On any given day, there is a workshop or seminar in the capital. There is
endless talk. The figures of women trafficked each year has remained the same
for years now, and everyone quotes them
offhand. So, after years of intervention,
why are the Badi in much the same posi-
The dalits,janjatis, and the poor ofthe peripheral regions
have always provided a colorful and at the same time pitiful
backdrop to the context for a lot of development work.
However, nothing has changed for many of them in the
last decade; in fact some are worse off than before, some
on the verge of extinction.
 tion or worse off? Their children are not
entitled to citizenship. Tole sudharsamitis
still love to throw them out of neighborhoods. The stigma, the entitlements
that do not accrue because they are citizenship-less, young girls forced into the
trade even today—these things haven't
changed for many.
Many dalit groups, notably in Tarai,
are similarly disadvantaged and severely
neglected. Among the caste/ethnic
groups that still report less than half the
national literacy average, four are Tarai
dalit groups: Khatawe (11.5 percent),
Chamar (10.1 percent), Dusadh (9.9 percent) , and Musahar (4.2). These are functional literacy figures; the statistics on
landlessness, maternal mortality infant
mortality, life expectancy and other basic indicators are more revealing and
shocking. Many dalit groups do not even
find mention in the 2001 Census, although they are listed in the dalit schedule.
The case is similar with several indigenous groups, some today facing the threat of extinction. The Census lists Kusunda
(164), Munda (660), Kushwadia
(552), Raute (658, down from
2,878 in 1991), Hyolmo (579),
Hayu (1,821), Koche (1,429) as
some with extremely low populations. Most show a downward
trend. In the last two months
people from two groups—the
Kusunda and Bankariya—have
come to the Valley to petition
their cause. They made headlines, but it will probably take
more than a Supreme Court order like in the case ofthe Badis
to stir things up. Until then it
will be business as usual for the
development sector and agencies entrusted with their welfare.
The dalits, janjatis, and the
poor of the peripheral regions
have always provided a colorful
and at the same time pitiful backdrop to the context for a lot of
development work. However,
nothing has changed for many of
them in the last decade; in fact
some are worse off than before,
some on the verge of extinction.
It appears that many will have no
place even in the "memory museum" because many people do
not even know enough about
them—they remain inadequately studied and their language, culture and traditional
knowledge poorly documented.
There is more attention on the
urban "lost generation" than
there is on threatened peoples.
There are a couple of pointed
lessons here for the develop
ment sector, especially for its inexact as-
piring-to-a-science monitoring and
evaluation segment that in its scale rivals
actual work on the ground. One, some
facts are so clear they don't warrant
search missions and evaluation
consultancies. If monitoring and evaluation has not clearly revealed this neglect
and reoriented intervention, then it has
failed. Two, the development models
that are being pushed clearly mirror the
interests of dominant Kathmandu-based
groups, so it is time to cut the talk about
impacts on the poorest ofthe poor. This
is important because the development
world frequently engages in that often-
farcical exercise of developing indicators
to measure impact. Forget impact, they
haven't even started to address special
needs, and each minority has special needs.
Rights and special
needs of mobile
indigenous peoples
should be addressed,
but none of the
national strategies
reflect this
Take for example, the special needs of
mobile peoples. I emphasize this case because in Nepal they are the peoples most
threatened with extinction. The Dana Declaration and various international conventions are very clear that the rights and special needs of mobile indigenous peoples
should be addressed, but none ofthe national strategies or management plans reflect this. Surely then there is a whole lexicon of developmentese to explain why
these people are worse off and how difficult it is to improve their lot.
In the movie Minority Report, the
Hollywood sci-fi thriller starring Tom
Cruise, set in the 2050s, psychics called
Precogs (precognitive thinkers) arrest and
imprison would-be murderers before they
have had a chance to kill. The Court decision on the Badis is similar in a very distant way; in that it has sought to arrest the
criminal neglect that kills. But for some
others it might already be too late.  □
Despite dangerous warnings issued by the Maoists, Sajha
Yitayat and many of its supporters say the show must go on
Until a week ago, Mukunda Raj
Satyal, chief executive at the
country's only government
owned bus service, did not think that
Sajha Yatayat's operations would be affected by the Maoist threats that had
time and again appeared on newspapers.
The charges: Sajha had been running
its buses on the capital's empty streets
even during bandas.
It took one fatal bomb blast near the
RNAC building on May 30 to remind
Satyal how hard it is to run an operation in the face of such threats. The
scene after the blast was gory: the injured, some of whom had to be
wrenched free from the mangled remains of the bus, were rushed to Bir
Hospital bloodied and shocked, and
many still remain hospitalized. The bus
helper died later that evening. Among
the injured were three Sajha staff and 20
Although no passengers died on that
day and no passengers have ever died
while riding its buses since Sajha
started in 1962, the blast underscored
the added problems that an institution
struggling to find its legs has to deal
with. The attack by the Maoists on
Sajha is now the third one and comes
at a time when the bus company is just
trying to bounce back from the red, its
employees say.
"It was a painful
incident," says Satyal,
who joined Sajha in
1970 and is now on
his third tenure. This
time around he has
his task cut out: he
has to revive the ailing company that
started its operation again last May after the company had been closed down
in January 2002 when it was on its way
to liquidation. After strong lobbying
from its employees and backed by a
court ruling that ordered the government to resume operations, Sajha, its
employees say is "still in a bad shape
but improving." Many say it was the
continuous meddling by successive
governments post-1990 that is responsible for the decline of the once-robust state enterprise.
Satyal, who still fondly remembers
Sajha's glory days, is confounded that
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
 the national symbol could come under
such brazen attack.
"Last week's attack on Sajha was
similar to attacking the Red Cross. Sajha
has always been a cooperative of the
people and the lifeline for many who
cannot afford the more expensive means
of transport," says Satyal.
Many Sahja loyalists say the trademark
blue buses should be allowed to continue to serve the people as it has been
doing for the last 42 years. "The entire
fleet of Japanese Sajha blue buses is like
a museum in itself and many like me
rode in them since we were young," says
renowned comedian Haribansha
Acharya, who is a member ofthe Sajha
Saathi Samuha that lobbies for Sajha's
The advocacy group has also been
asking the transport company to be
more transparent in its dealings, something its employees say Sajha has striven
for since its revival. In the past one year,
it issued tender notices to purchase 20
more buses as well as spare parts and
discussed business plans with its cooperative members who number around a
hundred. It had up to 400 members during its peak period in the 80s. The company now wants to start holding annual
general meetings in order to financially
revamp its service.
rupee fare—called Sajha buses their own.
The fare has now gone up to Rs. 5 but
that is still cheaper compared to
microbuses, minibuses and tempos.
"We are still in a
bad financial shape but
are certainly heading
towards a break even,"
says Satyal. To raise
funds, Sajha is now
thinking of building
rental complexes (like
Sanchya Kosh has been
doing) on its prime locations in Pulchowk
and Lagankhel. Sajha also plans to generate income by allowing private vehicles to use its Japanese-built workshop and tyre-resoling plant which
ranks among the best in South Asia.
Satyal recalls Sajha's peak years, in
the 80s, when it controlled more than
60 percent ofthe transport route, owned
180 buses and generated up to Rs.
400,000 per day. Its annual profit was
more than sufficient to add one new bus
to its fleet every year. The company even
bought land in Lagankhel and paid off
around Rs. 14 million to the government for the buses that Japan provided
on grant. Japan used to train its employees, help establish infrastructures and
Sajha plans to
run the Trolley
service and
extend the route
to Kirtipur
to operate 100 buses under the name
"Sajha" and pay royalty up to Rs. 5 million a year. A number of lubricant and
machinery suppliers had agreed to provide their goods on
credit for months
when Sajha reopened
its doors.
Sajha's major asset,
as shown by the verdict
handed over by the Supreme Court, are its
employees who filed a
court petition citing
procedural faults on the
government decision to liquidate Sajha.
Many of them even offered to work three
months without salary to get the blue
buses up and running.
Sajha is now operating 25-30 buses
with less than 200 employees that include a selected few out of 1,100 who
were employed when the company was
almost running bankrupt. If all goes
well, Sajha wants to run the Trolley,
extend the its services to cover the
Tribhuvan University area in Kirtipur,
and run natural gas buses in the Valley.
"These are extremely challenging
times for those of us at Sajha," says
Mahendra Pandey a Sajha employee and
member of Employees' Action Com-
provide buses on grants and loans that     mittee that filed the court petition. "We
Comedian Acharya has even sung a
famous song "Sajha bus ma jo pani
chaddhchhan" for a movie where he describes how people from different walks
of life, includingjournalists, politicians
and even pick pockets—all paying a two-
Sajha was able to pay without much
Sajha had so much goodwill that
when it closed down in 2002, the Western Transport Entrepreneurs Association even offered the government a deal
have been of good service and the government should keep in mind that a good
management can revive even companies
running at a huge loss." For now, a week
after the bomb attack, Sajha looks determined to push past its blues.  □
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
 Arts  Societ
Portraits By The
Artist As A Young Man
Among the oils and watercolors at
the "Infinity's Journey" exhibition at the Park Gallery Cafe in
Lazimpat, there's a collection of collages
that mark a young artist's struggles to find
his own style.
What comes across strongest in 26-year-
old Gaurav Shrestha's collages is not a bold
new artistic form but an honest attempt to
capture as best he can, his take
on the meaning ofthe search
for peace." "Peace is not the absence of conflict but a continuous progress towards a better
place," says Shrestha. His collages seek to capture the inherent conflicts and the chaos
that must be dealt with in this
search. "Kathmandu Valley in
the Evening" illustrates the
transformation of this chaos.
As your eyes move up the collage, the melange ofbrightyel-
low paper strips depicting the
Valley's evening lights give
way to sedate purple hills and
finally an epiphany of yellows and oranges bursting in
the sky. In "Blast," there's the
Buddha meditating in the
foreground, while a mushroom cloud of word-cutouts looms in
the background like an ominous Bodhi
tree. In "Moon and Sunset Cloud," a red
chaotic center, filled with sentence fragments, takes centerstage while the moon
remains stranded on the periphery
among words darkened into whispers.
Shrestha, a self-taught artist who initially started out with watercolors and later
moved on to various mixed-media, took
up collage in 2000 because he wanted to
break free from the constraints of painting. He seems to have started outwell but
the collages at the exhibition still seem to
be limited by the need to look like paintings. At the one end ofthe spectrum many
collage artists do seek to create subtle harmonious compositions like the Japanese
Chigirie artists do, but collage can also be
used to break away forcefully from confining ideas of what art should be to create
totally new forms. Shrestha concedes that
he has experimented more boldly in other
works but he is hesitant to put them up
because he isn't sure how the crowd would
receive them.
Check out his other projects (see pics)
and you'll see a more radical style, a bolder
artistic form, evolving. In these works, both
the content and the style find a more po
tent outlet: the themes are less allegorical;
the style is more primeval; and the pastiches, stuck on the canvas without their
edges softened, generate tension within the
medium itself. They aim not for the head
but for the gut. In "Innocence," passport-
size-photos of children in school uniform
surround a Ganesh. The photos seem to
seep through a dark brown band, through
a transitory phase, before disintegrating
into a red noise littered with word-fragments. Then there's another collage, titled
"Meditation," where a wooden mask with
serene eyes seeks to meditate amid a delirium of words cut out from an Italian
magazine. This telling image captures well
the arduous process that meditation is —
noticing one's mind run riot is anything
but a passive experience.
Shrestha's more visceral collages can
also be seen as a reflection of the increasingly complex world, and which
can best be portrayed by newer media.
It's not just artists like Shrestha who
swear by collage. In fact, the essence of
collage—the mixing of different media—is all-pervasive in our lives. MTV
videos where photo montages and video fragments
mesh with songs have become a mainstream affair;
techno music which creates
symphonies out of disparate
bits of music is no longer
confined to just the warehouse rave scene; news
themes and ads on TV stitch
together voiceovers, ambient noise and sound-bites.
Mixing media is the name of
the game today.
When     Picasso     and
Braque, widely regarded as
the godfathers of the medium, showcased their col-
I   lages created between 1907
I  and 1914, they flung open
I  the doors to a new artistic
vision. Some, like   New
Yorker Joseph Cornell, took the basic
idea and created their own worlds in a
3D   format.   Some,   like   Robert
Rauschenberg continue pushing the envelope in every direction.
In the art-scene here, artists like
Gaurav Shrestha may represent our own
breed of experimenters breaking away
from the edicts of painting. "Time," his
latest work, could be a pointer to that
new direction and style. In this collage, Shrestha has pasted strips of calendars onto a larger calendar and splattered the work with whips of ink. "I've
attempted to capture the energy of urban Kathmandu here," says Shrestha.
Works like this perhaps capture the essence of contemporary reality better
than his do works at the exhibition,  n
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
 THE      WORLD'S      BEST      CLOTHS
Putalisadak, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel. 4412017, Fax. 977-1-5539787
Theravada's Rocky
Road To Revival
While Theravada Buddhism and its offshoots now enjoy
a popular following among the laity, the thorny issue of
ordination of nuns still needs to be sorted out
Five years ago, I was walking in
Patan when I felt the urge to go
into the Kwa Bahal, a Buddhist
monastery popularly known as the
"Golden Temple." It was a quiet summer afternoon and the temple complex
was deserted, but one ofthe men came
out and started talking to me. "Young
people," he said, "are no longer interested in the old rituals and traditions anymore. Foreigners are more interested
in traditional Newari religion than
Nepalis." Then he went on to talk about
one such foreigner who had spent a long
time learning everything about the guthi
at the temple. This man, he said, was
named David Gellner, and he had written many books.
Last month, David Gellner was
present to give a lecture at the Social Science Baha. Gellner is University Lecturer of Anthropology at Oxford University, and is currently a visiting professor at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. His topic, interestingly, refuted the claim ofthe Golden Temple's
priest—there is, Gellner claims, a revival
of Buddhism, specifically of a
transnational Theravada, in Nepal.
Theravada, of course, is not the same as
the Vajrayana Buddhism traditionally
practiced by Newars, but this new Buddhism on the block has drawn many
Newars into its folds.
There are three kinds of Buddhisms
in Nepal—Tibetan, Newar and
Theravada. The first two draw from
Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, and
are heavy on rites, rituals, magic and deities. The third is a reform movement that
was introduced in the Valley only in the
1930s, but which has gained prominence
since the 1950s. Rebelling against the
caste hierarchies and Buddhism's divergence from Shakyamuni's teachings, this
movement tries to bring adherents back
to the words of Buddha and meditation.
Not just Buddhist Newars, says
Gellner, but also people from Hindu
backgrounds, are increasingly getting
interested in this new movement. One
Theravada institution in particular—the
Vipassana meditation Center in
Budanilkantha, which follows the guidance of S N Goenka, has been especially
open to laypeople. Gellner says numerous people have come up to him and told
him that Vipassana meditation has
changed their lives, says Gellner.
But while Theravada and its offshoots
now enjoy a popular following among the
laity, the thorny issue ofthe ordination of
nuns within Theravada still needs to be
sorted out. In the Theravada tradition,
women are not accorded the same status
as male initiates. Men can become fully
ordained monks by taking 267 vows—the
women, up until the 80s, could not. They
were traditionally only allowed to become
anagarikas, or lower-order nuns.
Anagarikas take some of the vows that
monks take and they do live in the Buddhist monasteries and sanghas, but they have
limited access to Buddhist texts, and earlier they could not climb up the hierarchies to become full-fledged nuns and title-
Drawing on the tradition of ordaining nuns in China, the nuns in Nepal
started to follow the 267 rules like a male
bhikshu. There was, needless to say, an
outcry from the men who claimed this
sort of initiation rites drawn from a
Mahayana tradition, was not legitimate.
But the women overrode these objections by pointing out that the male ordination tradition itself is of foreign origins, and that ordination traditions
are common to all sects.
"Nuns," says Gellner, "have
been phenomenally successful in
Nepal." This, he explains, is because becoming a nun is often a
way to autonomy and freedom for
women in Nepal. Women escape
domestic slavery by entering nunneries. Men, on the other hand, face
restrictions when entering monastic life, and feel their lives are more
confined. They often have difficulty following all the precepts required to be a fully ordained monk
While Gellner's talk was thick
with reference to medieval monks
and nuns, with whom he seemed to
be on easy Oxford terms, his dry
British humor was also in evidence
as he talked about the underlying
politics ofBuddhism. Tibetan Buddhism, he says, has been very successful in marketing itself in South-
| ern California, but has not been as
* open to Nepalis: foreigners who pay
in dollars have access to expensive
Mahayana workshops but Nepalis often
feel left out of it, he mentions. Now that
bit of knowledge, often delicately brushed
aside by foreigners pursuing the path of
the Buddha, must have taken some deep
hanging out to figure out.   □
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Winning Hearts And Minds
On visits to some outlying districts in the last frew months, I was struck
by how contrasting the people's perceptions of the Army in different
places are. The districts in question are Khotang in the East, Lamjung
in the West, and Bajura in the Farwest, all very different in terms of geography
and the effects ofthe ongoing conflict.
Khotang can perhaps best be described as the Farwest ofthe East.
There is not a single kilometer of motorable road there and, but for minor
variations, people's lives continue as they might have had for centuries
past. Given this degree of isolation and deprivation, it is understandable
that it has become a hotbed of Maoist activity for the last three years or so.
Armed clashes are quite common, and so is the killing of innocents by both
Ofthe many incidents that have taken place in the area around the
small hilltop market of Chisapani in southern Khotang, the more well-
known are the brutal murder ofthe local school headmaster bythe Maoist-
affiliated Khambuan Mukti Morcha in early 2002, and the midnight slaying
of a teacher and his two cousins by the Army last year. The latter was
admitted by an Army investigation to have been a case of the Army
machinery having been manipulated to settle a personal score by a serving soldier.
The residents from the area around Chisapani have learnt to live with
the Maoists. At the most, they would be forced to feed and shelter them,
and, if they held onto the orthodox/ ofthe caste system, suffer the entrance of dalit Maoists into their homes. But as long as they acted docile,
they were pretty much left alone. Not so, with
the Army. The state troops had been there
twice and each time they left behind a trail of
blood. Soon after the ceasefire broke down
last year, four local youth had been arrested
in full view of everyone and killed in cold blood,
and their deaths advertised as an 'encounter' complete with the 'recovery of socket
bombs and Maoist documents.' A fair number of people had been slapped around for
reasons that are still beyond their ken. Frightened as they are ofthe Maoists, it is the Army
they are terrified of, all the more since it represents the state they believe has a duty to
protect them.
In western Lamjung the Army had set up
camp in Pasgaun, a pretty-looking village that was recently in the news on
account of the 150 or so Maoists (at least that is what the government
said they were) who had surrendered there. With the Army at Pasgaun and
Besisahar (a day'swalkaway), Maoist activity for the time being seems
minimal. It was not clear if the people were favorably disposed to the Army
presence or not. While they do welcome the respite from the Maoists, they
are fearful of a Beni-style assault on the Army and the repercussions they
may have to bear during the counter-attack. The attitude in the country
side, however, is that of indifference. Soldiers do arrive occasionally but
the people are never sure when the Maoists will descend on them. They
have learnt to live with the uncertainty.
Bajura is on a different scale altogether. Apart from Martadi, the district
headquarters, the rest of this remote district had been under Maoist
control since the security forces abandoned the district airport at Kolti in
April 2002. Teachers and students had been swept into various Maoist
'campaigns,' and the locals had been forced to live with the Maoists and
their decrees. The Maoists moved out after the Army came back to Kolti
last year, and by and large the people are thankful. This despite the fact
that they have suffered a lot at the hands of government forces earlier.
They recall with horror that day in October 2002 when the Army had killed
seven people in a case of mistaken identity, and a local shopkeeper in
cold blood. People there say how they would not even dare look at the
soldiers when they passed through their village back then. Abuses were
rained on them on the smallest pretext, but the soldiers are more friendly
now, they say. And, everyone agrees that it had to do with the positive
attitude ofthe two majors who have taken charge ofthe Army garrison at
Kolti consecutively.
Bajura shows quite categorically what a difference it makes when the
Army is restrained, ever so slightly. For the
fight against the Maoists has to go beyond
the battlefield; and the people need to be
won over. Without the backing ofthe local
population, the Army will continue to run
around in circles. Marching in and beating up,
and killing people for assisting the Maoists is
hardly a worthwhile strategy, for everyone
knows that there is a great deal of coercion
involved in the 'support' for the Maoists.
Here, it also becomes pertinent to point
out that admitting foul-ups in the field is also
another way of winning the battle over the
hearts and minds. Given the grave difficulties
of counter-insurgency operations there will
always be mistakes made despite the best
intentions. There should be no attempt at a cover-up when there have
been errors in judgment. At the very least, that can throw open the possibility of compensation claims for the victimized. But more importantly, the
Army should remember that at the ground level, everyone is aware ofwho
has joined the Maoists from their area, and that they are also well-informed on the circumstances of 'encounters.' Taking recourse to labeling
everyone a 'terrorist' is hardly likely to engender trust, for ultimately the
people always find out the truth—if they do not already know it. D
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
Secret Moments
An exhibition of paintings by Bhairaj
Shrestha. Siddhartha Art Gallery. Till June
12. For information: 4414607. The
Siddharth Art Gallery also exhibits artworks
at Cafe Mitra, Thamel. Ongoing show for
the summer by Susan Boggs and Carol
Irwin. For information: 9851023934
Infinity's Journey
Collage, mixed-media and water color
by Gaurav Shrestha, Suman Shrestha,
Ramesh K.C. and Binod Gupta. At the
Park Gallery, Lazimpat. Till June 15
For information: 4419353
Faces & Aspects of Boudha
An exhibition of photographs by one of
Nepal's best-known photographers, Mani
Lama. At The Saturday Cafe & Gallery.
Adjacent to the Boudhanath Stupa, the
cafe occupies three floors and includes a
boutique and gallery. For information:
Nanglo Tennis Aces
June 12 - 19. The 2nd Nanglo
International U-18 Tennis Championship
will be held at the Satdobato Tennis
Complex. For information: 4434554,
4241408 (Extn: 37).
Till June 20
Fr. Watrin Basketball Championship
Twelve teams have been contending since
June 1 in the tournament, which features
prominent players who were in Nepal's
last national team. Gyan Club are the tournament favorites. But Himalayan White
House International College, led by the
national team captain Bipendra Maharjan,
and GAA's own team aren't too far behind.
The matches will move to the Dashrath
Stadium Covered Hall after semis.
The current matches are being held at
GAA in Thamel. Apart from White House
and GAA, Pool A includes two other
strong teams—Pulchowk Engineering
Campus and Public Youth campus—along
with Friends United and Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies.
Pool B's front runners are RIBS and
Gyan Club, followed by Peace Zone Club,
Elites Co-ed and Georgian Boys Club.
The semis are scheduled for June 12,
13 and 14 while the date for finals are
June 18,19 and 20.
Monsoon Wine Festival
June 1 to August. Featuring 16 Wines at
Rs. 150 per large glass at Kilroy's of
Kathmandu, Thamel. For information:
250440, 250441 (PIC from ECS)
Happy Hour
Everyday, happy hour from 6-7 p.m. Get
two for the price of one @ Lost Horizon
Bar, Hotel Shangri-La. For information:
Exotic Momos
Everyday, 12-7:30 p.m. Exotic momos
incorporating Indian and Tibetan culinary
traditions. At the Lounge and Terrace of
Hyatt Regency, Kathmandu. For information: 4491234
Dancing Gods
Every Tuesday, 7 p.m. onwards. Dance
performance of Hindu and Buddhist Gods
@ Great Pagoda Hall, Hotel Vajra. Tickets:
Rs. 400. For information: 4271545
Electronic Music
Every first Wednesday of the month. Chill
eastern dub and breaks at Tantra
Restaurant & bar, Thamel. For
 The Robinson Saga
The Supreme Court decision to acquit Williams Robinson has dealt yet another
blow to the judiciary whose public image has been on a sharp decline. Robinson,
a British national, was convicted by the Special Court on charges of drug
smuggling after he was arrested red-handed with over two kilograms of brown
sugar. For the third organ of the state this unexpected and "different"
judgment by a division bench comprising of judges Krishna Kumar Verma
and Baliram Kumar could not have come at a worse time.
As the reactions ofthe Bar and the media since the judgment—and
especially since the full text ofthe decision became available—indicate,
the issue is unlikely to just fade away. And so much the better. Under
pressure from lawyers and the heat generated by the unprecedented
media interest in the case, the Nepal Bar Association has formed a
special committee comprising of senior advocates and Bar leaders to
look into the judgment and see if it passes the judicial scrutiny. Going by
the facts ofthe case and the fantastic reasoning in the decision, it is
difficult to see how the Bar committee will find the decision to be right.
But the sad part of the Robinson saga is that all this is unlikely to
undo the damage. In fact, the absence ofthe Pratinidhi Sabha—which
is the only organ of the state competent to punish a sitting Supreme
Court judge—leaves the Bar and the members ofthe Judicial Council
with a rather tricky choice. Neither can legallyforcethetwojudgestoact
in a particular way. And, considering that a section ofthe Bar isalready
vocally and vehemently defending the decision and the judges, it is
unlikely that the duo will quit
As the action ofthe Bar, the
Judicial Council, and the segment
of lawyers who have come out to
defend the decision, plays out,
the ultimate victim of the
Robinson scandal is likely to be
the notion of independence of
judges. It underpins the fundamental philosophy upon which
the provisions of the judiciary in
the Constitution ofthe Kingdom
of Nepal 1990 is based.
Drafted by the Constitution
Recommendation Commission—where six of the nine members were lawyers with very strong views
on the independence of the judiciary and against any form of interference from other branches ofthe government—the Constitution establishes the Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter ofthe people's rights. It
is the sole interpreter ofthe powers and obligations of every other organ
ofthe state. Towards facilitating the fulfillment of those obligations, the
Constitution also makes judges ofthe Supreme Court immune from any
action or investigation bythe executive or any other constitutional body,
vesting only on the Pratinidhi Sabha the authority to penalize ajudge.
This can be done through impeachment and that too only with a two-
thirds vote for causes of misconduct outlined in the Constitution and not
for political or policy differences.
The status of the judges ofthe Supreme Court is different from their
col leagues at the District and Appellate Courts in one important way as
far as investigation and dismissal are concerned. Supreme Court judges
can not be investigated by the Judicial Council, unlike the lower court
judges. Nor can the Judicial Council recommend to His Majesty a dismissal of an apex court judge. The Constitutional provisions, read together with the provisions ofthe Judicial Council Act and pronouncements of a five-member bench of the Supreme Court eight years ago
(Bal Krishna Neupane v Council of Ministers et al) that scrutinized the
constitutionality of an amendment to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority Act, make so much very clear.
It is this ghost of complete immunity from executive intervention, and
the security of tenure the Supreme Court judges enjoy until they reach
the age of 65 that must be haunting the investigation committee of
Nepal Bar Association. The same would explain the predicament of the
Judicial Council. Legally speaking, they are both helpless as far as their
recourse against the judges is concerned, even if they were to be convinced that the judges' were in
fact guided by matters other than
that of justice and due process.
The decision will, in all likelihood,
be overturned by a larger bench of
the Supreme Court. The Attorney
General's Office is already looking
for every morsel of error in the decision handed down by Verma and
Kumar, and will hopefully go back to
the Supreme Court with a petition
for a review. The outcome of such a
review, if that were indeed to take
place, will only be of academic interest. It will set a precedent for good
lawforfuture criminal prosecutions,
but as far as bringing the convict to book is concerned, that looks unlikely—
unless Robinson reappears from nowhere to surrender to the authorities.
In the ultimate analysis, as the dust settles, popular opinion and also
opinion among lawyers will be far less favorable to providing the Supreme Court judges the kind of security of tenure and immunity they
currently enjoy. Asa society that stands at the threshold of potentially
drafting a new constitution, or amending the one in force, the unfortunate casualty ofthe Robinson scandal is not the wrongdoers but the
singular most important attribute that gives the judiciary its moral high
ground: independence. □
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
We are a publishing
organization willing to learn
and improve with every
initiative. If you believe that
creativity is a process and
that there is no substitution
for hard work, here is an
opportunity to join an
inspirational team of
Graphic Designer
Key Responsibility: Design various print publications published bythe
Minimum Requirement: Competent in Computer based layout and graphic
designing with minimum 2 years of experience.
Computer Graphics Operator
Key Responsibility: Assist in designing various print
publications published by the organization.
Minimum Requirement. Competent in graphic designing
programs such as, Adobe Photoshop, PageMaker, Corel Draw
etc. Pre-Press knowledge in publishing will be an advantage.
Subscription Representative
Key Responsibility: Solicit subscription and broaden the
outreach of the various publications published by the
Marketing Officer
Key Responsibility: Market the various publication and services
offered by the organization.
Key Responsibility: Manage office telecommunication, fix
appointments, file correspondence and administer front
office duties.
Minimum Requirement: Intermediate with secretarial
Interested applicants must send their CV/Bio-data by E-mail,
indicating the position applied for and the expected salary. Also
mention your contact address and your day telephone number.
Successful candidates will be called in for interviews.
Tel: 2111102
Vacancy Announcement
(Announcement Number: 073)
A foreign diplomatic mission in Kathmandu is seeking
applicants for the position of Cultural Affairs Specialist
in the Public Diplomacy Section.
OPEN TO: All Interested Candidates
POSITION: Cultural Affairs Specialist, FSN -10; FP -5
(*FSN-10 is a full performance grade level for the position. Selected
candidate may be hired at a lower trainee grade ofFSN-9 (FP-5)
depending on the qualifications and experience.)
* Subject to availability of funding
June 4,2004
June 17,2004
Full-time: 40 hours/week
As the team leader of the Cultural Affairs Section, the incumbent
advises Mission officials on current trends in Nepal's political,
civil society, educational and cultural environment and develops,
organizes, coordinates, and implements countrywide programs
designed to further Mission policies in Nepal. Programs include
lectures, seminars, symposia given by visiting expatriate experts,
study tours for Nepalis and other citizen exchanges, and cultural
and performing arts programs. The incumbent maintains regular
contacts with high-level government officials, academics,
professionals, civil society and private sector leaders.
A copy o fthe complete position discription is available in the
Human Resource Office.
NOTE:   All applicants are instructed to address each selection criterion detailed
below with specific and comprehensive information.
1. A university degree in the liberal arts, education, international
relations, social sciences, or related fields is required.
2. Five to seven years of progressively responsible experience in
Public Relations, NGO Management, Media, Academic or a
related field is required.
3. Level 4 (fluent) written and spoken English and Nepali is
4. The ability to develop and maintain extensive high level
contacts in the relevant sectors of government and society, as
well as excellent proven organizational skills are required.
5. A thorough familiarity with Nepal's history, political, social,
economic, and educational structure and institutions, their
leaders and current trends is also required.
Interested applicants should submit the following:
1. A current resume or curriculum vitae; and
2. Copies of any other documentation (e.g., essays, certificates,
awards, copies of degrees earned) that addresses the qualification
requirements of the position as listed above.
Please submit applications to
Human Resources Office,
G.P.O Box 295, Kathmandu, Nepal.
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
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nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
 Banda In The
Life Of Govinda
For   Govinda   Ghimire,   bandas   mean   brisk
business. Ghimire is a street vendor who sells
different snacks according to the season: in winter
he pushes a cart piled with chana, badam and bhatmas |
around the streets of Lalitpur; in summer he sets up
a lassi-and-fruit stall near the police
station, beside the Jawalakhel zoo.
Although his business does get better
during bandas, Ghimire dislikes bandas
for the nuisance they create in his life.
Tiku Gauchan of Nation Weekly talked
to Ghimire about the nature of his
business, and how people cope and help
others out during these trying times.
How did you get into the business?
I came to Kathmandu from Chahara
VDC, Palpa, 15 years ago to get an
education but ended up hawking because
of financial constraints. I started out with
a lighter refill station around Ratna Park.
Back then people used Indian lighters,
which they would refill on the sidewalks.
Nowadays, you have Chinese lighters
that cost only Rs. 5 and refilling them
cost as much. I moved on to selling fruit
and nuts because that seemed like a better
market. My lassi stall is one of a kind, at
least here in Jawalakhel.
How's business during bandas?
My sales definitely go up during bandas.
Maybe it's because people seem to spot
street vendors more easily when they are
walking than when they are whizzing
around in vehicles. Sometimes, people
ambling around come up to my stall to
make small talk and end up buying
something. My sales are anywhere from
Rs. 1,000 to 1,500 during banda days.
During normal days they hover around
theRs. 1,000-mark
How's business in winter?
In winter, I push my cart around Mangal
Bazaar, Kupondole and Thapathali selling
badam, chana and bhatmas. During
bandas then you'll find people playing
badminton on the roads and sunning
themselves on the pavements or
storefronts— basically whiling away time.
They have nothing to do, and badam sells
well because badam means timepass.
And in summer?
In summer, I set up my lassi-and-fruit stall
at the Jawalakhel Chowk near the zoo.
There seems to be a bigger rush at the
zoo during bandas—even more than on
public holidays. These visitors to the zoo
are my biggest clients. Parents come
walking with their kids, sometimes from
far off toles, and when they are tired they
need my lassi or somethingjuicy like my
Suppliers often help
me out during
bandas. Laxmi Dairy
and the curd sellers
from Godavari bring
me my supplies a day
before the banda
How hard is it to get your supplies
during bandas?
Bandas do create certain complications
for me when I want to procure stock. For
example, papayas, which I usually buy for
Rs. 400 a doko shoot up to around Rs. 600
a doko. The fruit wholesalers have
problems with shipments coming in
because of road blockades and thus the
hike-up in price. Sometimes the fruits
rot on the way, and I can end up with a
bad lot. But the bandas also bring out the
best in some people. Suppliers often help
me out: Laxmi Dairy, from where I buy
my curd, and the curd sellers from
Godavari bring me my supplies a day
before the banda, at no extra cost. The
Nagarpalika people, however, collect
their dues no matter what—I have to pay
them Rs. 20 as a daily fee for operating
my stall, banda or no banda.
Do you bump up your prices to account
for the more expensive stock?
I don't have to. The increase in number
of customers makes up for the upped
price of purchase. Besides, I have regular
customers who don't like seeing price
hikes every time a banda comes around.
How much do you sell your wares for?
A plate of mixed fruit—papaya,
pineapple, water-melon—goes for Rs.
10. Lassi is Rs. 5 a glass.
Have you ever been threatened to
close shop?
How do the police treat you?
I know most ofthe policemen from the
station nearby During non-banda days they
hang around my stall and chit-chat. I give
them lassi once in awhile. During bandas
they are off on other beats around the city
and so you won't find them around my
stalls then.
Last word on bandas.
Although bandas are good for my business
I don't actually wish for them. For example,
if someone I knew was in need of medical
emergency it would be tough getting him
to the hospital. There are many other
inconveniences like that. I don't believe
that bandas serve any political purpose and
the added nuisance on my daily living is
something I can do without. □
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
The Unforgiven
A story about two boys, each characterized by his difference. One
white in a black community, another half-white raised by a black father.
Both abandoned by mothers whose absences mold their lives; both brought up
by reclusive geniuses, artists who don't
know the first thing about being parents.
It's a story about the strange and complicated friendship between these boys,
their fathers and the neighborhood that
wraps them like a blanket. A story of a
street with fantasies exceeding human boundaries, and a friendship
that rises above jealousy and attempts to
escape it all. Age and
race. A friendship that
must stand up now for
what it had meant
then. Even if it fails.
Jonathan Lethem's "The Fortress of
Solitude" is an unexpected blend of hard
realism and surrealistic power: one that
Dylan Ebdus, the white protagonist borrows from his black counterpart, but
which brings annihilation when finally
returned to the rightful owner. Or could
salvation come only through annihilation?
The novel is a narrative of a disturbed, lingering childhood; an ironic
picture of reverse-racism. Set in punk-
hippie Brooklyn, in the 70s, it explores
what being black means in a white country. But more, what being white means
in a black community "born fighting"
anything even remotely white. The
other side of racism, like the other side
of the moon. The powerful image of
"yoking" that haunts its pages will haunt
the reader too—the seemingly "harmless" persecution Ebdus suffers
throughout. He walks the streets, a six-
year-old with eyes quick and alert like a
rodent's, a dollar or two tucked in the
socks, a dollar or two clutched in the
palm. He wants a comic book. Or a sandwich. That is all. But the white of his
skin stands out too gaudily against the
black ofthe street, even when he seeks
to slink away. They come—looming
black phantoms ofthe black street; push
him to the ground, a few 'meaningless'
punches, a request for money "Hey, man,
you got a dollar, man?" He pays up what
he has. Then goes home. With or without the comic book, depending on
whether or not the dollar in the socks
was discovered. Mingus Rude, his black
friend, will appear, will save, when he
can. Till he can. Till he can no longer
save himself Till, like most other blacks,
he is thrown intojail. Once. Then again.
Then again. Then again. Till arrest becomes the only rescue "God's sake,
throw me in ... before
I die!"
In this vividly detailed novel, Lethem
lunges at answers to
some of the most
opaque and disturbing questions. What
happens when
streets transform
into fear zones? When children walk it
with eyes on their backs? Or when color
decides class? Is it worth being the only
child of a genius? Or a revolutionist? Is
it worth being a superhero, with powers
of flight and invisibility honestly set out
to redeem the world and oneself? Is
redemption a possibility? Will Spiderman
survive if he experiences the streets outside comic books? Hostility enters the
scenes notjust physically, notjust through
"yoking," burglary, and murder, but
through drugs, music, sex, graffiti, love,
comic books, secrets. It's there pulsating
like a tentacled hydra. Crack and Cocaine
provide the "high" when everything else
gets low: "I'm getting down I'm gonna
have to get high soon;" music articulates
this jargon-steeped world with rap and
soul and blues. What cannot be said can
be sung. What cannot be screamed can be
scrawled on walls, graffitied like a scar,
sprawled against dark walls like a
bloodscript, a personal signature.
In this psychedelic world of poignant, twisting prose, escape is the only
escape. And the ultimate desertion. Bravery is the only beauty One that outlives
hate. Even love. A faith outleaping race
and politics. A friendship that brings its
pages alive with humor and pathos, and
forces one to come off a better person, n
Author: Douglas W Freshfield
Kanchenjunga, the slumbering giant ofthe
eastern Himalaya—its mighty, gigantic
walls practically insurmountable from all sides—
sits like a brooding god on the borders of eastern
Tibet, Sikkim and Nepal, unwilling to be
desecrated. In 1899 this mountain, though
clearly visible from the hill station of Darjeeling,
was geographically completely unknown. The
giant bastions of glaciers, outer guardian peaks
and hidden valleys surrounding it were shrouded
in mists as thick as those that rose from the
twisted and impenetrable rhododendron forests
on its lower southern flanks.
Following in the footsteps of the 1883
mountaineering party of WW Graham, which
after climbing an 18,000 foot peak returned to
Darjeelingafteronlyaweek, Douglas Freshfield
set out with his party in 1899. He was to be the
first mountaineer to explore the great western
face of Kanchenjunga, rising from the
Kanchenjunga Glacier.
This volume is the story of an exciting, often
dangerous and frequently frustratingjoumey to
discover the lower and upper ramparts of this
great mountain. It is an epic story of adventurers
seeking to open up a path to the base ofthe
mountain for future climbers and to seek a
pathway to the abode ofthe Gods. Douglas W
Freshfield (1845-1934), a British barrister,
mountaineer, writer, poet and geographer, was
one ofthe greatest mountain explorers of any
age. A prominent figure in the Royal
Geographical Society, Freshfield is considered
to be one ofthe most scholarly and sensitive
mountain writers. His books include "Exploration
ofthe Caucasus," "Round Kanchenjunga" and
"Below the Snow Line, "d
A Pilgrims Bookhouse Review
nation weekly |  JUNE 13, 2004
 Last Word
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A nightmare is over. The country
finally has a new prime minister.
After keeping everybody guessing for 22 turbulent days, King
Gyanendra gave his nod to Sher Bahadur
Deuba last week. Soon after, the new
prime minister stated in no uncertain
terms that the sovereign rights have now
been transferred back
to the people and
hence the party protests against regression have lost their
We certainly hope
so, though we remember all too well
that his predecessor
Surya Bahadur Thapa
made similar assertions a year ago upon
his appointment,
only to take a complete U-turn when
his party asked him to
step down. Expediency has been the
name ofthe game. Deuba's own past two
tenures stand tall against any claims that
he has been an ideological prime minister, but we hope he is anxious to right
those wrongs. He told Nation Weekly
as much right after he took office for
the third time.
We certainly hope he is anxious to
make a name for himself as a democratic leader, unlike another veteran
from the Farwest, Lokendra Bahadur
Chand, who has been served well over
the years for mainly one outstanding
leadership credential: loyalty Very few
politicians get so many repeated opportunities to redeem themselves and
very few have squandered them like
Messrs Chand and Thapa. Now it's
Deuba's moment of truth. We are aware
that he has made political comebacks
in the past to prove wrong the political obits penned against him. But this
could very well be Deuba's last opportunity to leave a lasting mark in history
books. Indeed, maybe Nepal's own as
a functioning state.
It will also be a big test for the King
himself. Whether he's got it right the
third time round—after the failure of
Surya Bahadur and Lokendra Bahadur—
will depend as much on what kind of
synergy he strikes with Deuba as how
much political space he will allow the
new prime minister. Without the elbow
room, the prime
minister will find
himself severely
hamstrung in forging
new political equations with the popular forces, namely the
political parties and
civil society which
were both deeply disenchanted with the
unscrupulous ways of
the previous governments appointed by
the King. We say this
having witnessed in
the last 20 months
that order and author-
ity of ordinances
don't always travel very far in the land.
So it is in the interest of all the parties,
not least the Palace, to give the new government a much needed authority and
That done, the new government will
at least be armed with popular support
to tackle colossal challenges before it.
Or else, the Maoists will continue to
make inroads and will be happy to see
two constitutional forces—the parties
and the Palace—wear each other down
to the ground. We have every reason to
believe that the delay in appointing the
new prime minister is notjust due to
the confusion among parties in their
choice for the new prime minister. The
Palace has tried every bit to strike a
ceasefire with the Maoists. That it failed
to do so should be a poignant reminder
that time is running out for the Palace
and the parties to work together.
JUNE 13, 2004   |  nation weekly
Nagarkot Resort
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The Resort. Windy Hills,
Nagarkot, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Tel; 6680045-47/80/63 | Fax: 6680068
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Kathmandu, Nepal


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