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Nation Weekly May 30, 2004, Volume 1, Number 6 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-05-30

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 OF WITCHCRAFT AND WITCHES I ICEBREAK IN NAGARJUN | RAPE SEED
www. nation.
WEEKLY
■ ■
j   fl   n
The Repercussion Of Banda
Goes Far Beyond Economics
RS, 30 ISSN 1811-T21X
~1
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LUXURY KINGS
INSPIRED BY NEPAL
STATUTORY DIRECTIVE: SMOKING IS INJURIOUS TO HEALTH.
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Priority Privilege discount not applicable.
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 COVER STORY
18 Collateral Damage
By Sushmajoshi
The repercussion of bandas goes far beyond economics.
While television footage of truckloads of okra being
discarded by farmers in protest on our highways capture the
level of damage to the national economy what goes
unreported are the small, micro-level effects on Nepal's
most vulnerable citizens—women, children and old people
COLUMNS
11 Unchain My
Education
By Suman Pradhan
I happen to be one of those growing
number of people who do not see any
meaningful purpose the politicians-in-
students'-disguise serve.
28 Rape Seed
By Samuel Thomas
As the west rejects genetically modified crops, they are being dumped in
the South. This is one such story. Of
how canola, the Canadian oilseed, is
invading our own Khokana, once
famous for its mustard presses.
34 Of Witchcraft
And Witches
By Deepak Thapa
It is a thin line to cross from believing
that the stars rule our lives to being
convinced that someone is the cause of
our misfortunes.
36 Objection Overruled
Byjogendra Ghimire
Appointments of Anup Raj Sharma
and Balram K.C, none of them
Appellate Courtjudges, to the
Supreme Court Bench have come
under fire from the establishment.
But Sharma and K.C. both have solid
track records.
16 ON TENTERHOOKS
By Suresh Pradhan
^JH  But it took 14 days after Prime
*~wT     I  Minister Thapa's resignation
for the King and the parties to
start talking. First, though,
came the frantic rounds of consultations
with everyone—from former prime
ministers to diplomats to civil society
representatives to Palace insiders.
24 All's Not Well
In Mao-land
ByBinaj Gurubacharya inMusikot
In Rukum, one administrative
chief is only 20-years old but
rules 35 villages. He says he was
elected district chief in a ballot.
Al the candidates, however were believed to
have links to the Maoists. This, after all, is
the Maoist heartland; there is no political
opposition.
26 Withdrawal
Symptoms
By John Narayan Parajuli in Damak
UNHCR has made it clear that come what
may, any likely extension of its December
2005 deadline for the pullout from the
camps may be stretched by six months at
most. But refugee leaders are apprehensive
about the proposed pullout.
ARTS & SOCIETY
30  Worldly-wise
Compassion
By Tiku Gauchan
Arya Tara School takes in girls from poor
families, ordains them as nuns and
provides them with both a Buddhist and
a secular education.
32 Tell Me A Story
By Satishjung Shahi
Maithili storytelling culture is still
vibrant, primarily because women
storytellers have kept up the tradition.
DEPARTMENTS
6 LETTERS
10 PICTURE OF THE WEEK
14 CAPSULES
35 CITY PAGE
40 KHULA MANCH: MILAN RAI
41 BOOKS
42 LAST WORD
 Letters
nation
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Vol. 1, No. 6. For the week May 24-30, 2004, released on May 24
CONTACT
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2111102
nation
THEKING
/M)THEM
■ ■ Nepal is in a worse state
now than it was 19
months ago when the
King assumed executive
powers...
SANJEEVM. SHERCHAN
We prefer to receive letters via e-mail, without
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Bush begone!
WHILE   I   WHOLE-HEARTEDLY
agree with the main thrust of Samrat
Upadhyay's article ("Bush Begone!"
Sense & Nonsense, May 23), I am also
tempted to soothe his perplexity over
the question: how can one "support the
troops" while, at the same time, "oppose
the war?"
SEE PAGE 22.
On the other hand, we have to understand that the American foot soldiers,
mainly composed of young men and
women in their late teens and early twenties, did not volunteer to go fight in
Iraq—they were merely being good soldiers and following the orders of their
Commander-in-Chief, the president.
Therefore, by "supporting the troops"
Americans are only hoping that their
loved ones do well in what they were
trained to do and return home not in
coffin boxes.
If anyone detests what is going on in Iraq
and vociferously opposes the war (and I
happen to be one of them!), he, instead
of putting the blame on the troops,
should put the culprit's label squarely
on the handful of men who ordered them
into this quagmire: President George W
Bush and his team of extremely narrow-
minded, heartless zealots who seem to
be unaffected by the deaths of human
beings, both of their obedient soldiers'
and their enemies'.
I too sincerely hope that the Iraq crisis
will serve as an eye-opener for the
Americans and that they will choose to
fire Bush out ofthe White House come
November. People like him do not deserve to lead 250 million-plus Americans who are otherwise generally open-
minded and warm-hearted.
ANILJ. SHAHI
NEWYORK
The King and them
KING GYANENDRA HAS MAIN-
tained that he removed the popularly
elected government of Sher Bahadur
Deuba in 2002 to prevent further deterioration ofthe Nepali state. More than
a year and half later, nothing could be
further from the truth. Nepal is in a
worse state now than it was 19 months
ago when the King assumed executive
powers and installed his handpicked government
While the political parties and their
leaders must also shoulder their share of
responsibility for the worsening situation in Nepal, the need ofthe hour is for
the King and political parties to work
together to put democracy back on track.
The Nepali polity is still maturing and
to discredit it by penalizing the very
democratic process is foolhardy.
The time has come for the King to
stop blaming the political parties and
leaders for all the country's ills, and to
make way for an all-party government as
the first step in restoring democracy and
securing peace and prosperity in Nepal.
For the political parties, the time has
come to let bygones be bygones, discontinue daily street protests to reciprocate
the King's gesture (if he stops playing
one party against another, agrees to the
formation of an all-party government
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 and does not violate the norms of the
constitutional monarchy) and uphold the
spirit "Rashtriya Mel Milap," the policy
ofthe late B. P Koirala that brought the
King and the parties together.
SANJEEVM. SHERCHAN,
ASIA SOCIETY, NEWYORK
Genesis of leaders
SWARNIM WAGLE'S TAKE ON
Nepal's leaders ("Leaders Classified,"
Writing on the Wall, May 23) was an interesting read. He seems to have a sound
grasp of Nepal's modern political history. But what about a closer look at the
genesis of individual leaders? Sher
Bahadur Deuba, Girija Prasad Koirala,
Madhav Kumar did not shoot to stardom overnight and a lot must have gone
into their emergence as national leaders. Perhaps Mr. Wagle can help trace
where the fault lines lie—why did these
gaints fail when it mattered most: post-
1990? Perhaps it's the parties' undemocratic traditions, Nepal's own deeply
entrenched feudalism, or perhaps it's
the leaders' failure to educate themselves to the requirement of modern
leadership. Or a combination of it and
or more? A similar piece on Nepali
monarchy would shed light on the
people's leaders even better since they
do not operate in a political vacuum. So
far, my knowledge of our kings is based
only on social studies books in the
school curricula.
PRABIN PRADHAN
BHOTAHITY
TIKU GAUCHAN'S "LUNCH
Hour Rush" (May 23) is a welcome
breather in a newsmagazine that gets
overly serious at times. Give me my food
before you give me food for thought.
SUSHMASHRESTHA
MAHARAJGUNJ
I WAS PEEVED WHEN I LEARNED
that a national glory like Ram Man Dai
is facing acute housing problems ("Ram
Man Dai" by Sanjeev Uprety Arts and
Society May 23). Both the municipality
and the government should be ashamed
ofthe fact that he received no compensation after his family house was seized.
Why are such people mistreated?
BASIC KATHET
TALCHHIKHEL
LALITPUR
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nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
 Read
the story
behind
the news
nation
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  ofthe
...f
y
j|
V
FIRST IN LINE: UML leader Madhav
Kumar Nepal outside the Palace
after his audience with the King
nw/Sagar Shrestha
V
 Unchain My Education
I happen to be one of those growing number of people who do not see
any meaningful purpose the politicians-in-students'-disguise serve
BY SUMAN PRADHAN
Since April 1, as the five political parties intensified their street
protests against "regression," I have watched, sometimes with
admiration and sometimes with dismay, the young students who
have been at the forefront of the movement. Truth be told: without their
active participation, the agitation would have fizzled out long before
Surya Bahadur Thapa had even considered resignation.
But watching these students lead the protests and fight pitched
battles with police evokes mixed emotions in me. I agree with their point
that political power should be wielded by political parties entrusted by
sovereign voters. And that, no matter how corrupt or inefficient these
parties are, voters can always throw them out in the hustings. But my
agreement with these agitating students and their parties ends there.
I happen to be one of those growing number of people who do not
see any meaningful purpose these budding-politicians-in-students'-disguise serve. Alright, they serve the political parties, for whom the various
affiliated student wings supply a steady stream of fresh storm-troopers
to push their various agendas. But do they serve any educational purposes? Indeed, do they even serve the nation's larger interests?
If it is true, as said by many, that only widespread education can lift
Nepal out of its current morass, then student political activism is ironically
working against that goal. By chaining active politics with public education,
the student unions and their mother parties
are ensuring that the hundreds of thousands
of students who attend our public educational
institutions every year do not get a sound education.
This is not to blame the various party-
aligned student wings which all came into existence during the dark days ofthe Panchayat.
During those days, the student bodies and
campus elections even served a noble purpose: providing the only open forum for competitive politics, albeit at the college and university level. These unions became the tools
ofthe banned political parties to expand their
organizational and ideological base. The complete suffocation of free political thought during the Panchayat turned
the student unions and elections into vital outlets and safety valves that
innocuously propagated the ideal of democratic politics. I thank the
student unions for that.
But times have changed. We no longer live in the Panchayat (though
critics of the current dispensation complain about creeping
Panchayatization once again). And at least in theory, Nepal has been a
multi-party democracy since 1990 where politics is freely practiced beyond campus compound walls. The nation as a whole has gone through
a transformation from autocracy to democratic practices, to a system
based on free political competition.
Despite these changes, student wings continue to function as they
alwayshave, seeminglyoblivioustothischangingpolitical milieu. Student union members blindly work for their parties at the expense of educational agendas, while the parties fail to recognize the danger in allowing the
politicization of educational institutions and students to flourish.
What has the politicization of student groups really done? In the
end, the overt politicization of our educational institutions, particularly the
public institutions, is coming at the cost of students themselves. It has
worsened an already stumbling educational system. It has distorted
student/faculty relations. And worst of all, ithas turned students ofthe
organizations into the pawns ofthe parties.
It's no wonder that students who are serious about their education,
and can afford it, go to private schools and colleges where politics is
definitely a no no. It's often the poor student from the villages, who might
have mortgaged his land to a local sahuji to pursue higher education in
the cities, who bears the brunt of this chaos in our public education
institutions.
Given the chaos fostered by student union politics, why has no one
done anything about it? There are two reasons for this. The first is that the
political parties actively encourage student politics for the simple reason that
it provides them a mass of energetic youth to fight their political battles. The
current street protests are a case in point. The other is that, ambitious young
students who strive for a pol itical career see student activism as a ticket to
national politics. Inthis, they are
followingthe path of their illustrious forbearers such as Sher
Bahadur Deuba, Dr. Ram
Sharan Mahat and countless
others who went on to become
leaders in their parties and even
prime ministers and ministers.
The situation can be
righted if these two reasons are
dealt with effectively. If the
parties are sincere about their
past election manifestoes—
they claim they want to provide sound education for all—
then they should distance themselves from student unionism. How about
unchaining all the student unions from their mother parties?
Secondly, the parties should develop an alternate system which
allows ambitious youth and students a clear roadmap to party politics.
For, as long as these youths see student politics as a ticket to party
politics, they will have a vested interest in keeping the system alive no
matter how corrupting an influence it is on overall education.
These measures understandably call for strong pol itical will from the party
leaderships. But more than that, they call for the need to question the status
quo. Why should things remain as they have for the last 40 years? D
suman66@hotmail.com
nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
11
 If you are interested on the following objectives Help each other go together.
VISION OF CARP:
• Individual  Excellence,
• Culture of Living for the Sake of Others,
• New Leadership paradigm,
• Foundation for the True Family.
OBJECTIVES:
• It aims to uplift student, youth Value and responsibility.
• It aims to promote harmony among young people of the world beyond culture, race, religion,
nationality and ethnicity.
• It aims to promote the moral and spiritual value of Human life.
• It aims to promote 'True love' with the principle of 'Living for the sake of other's, Service,
Sacrifice and dedication.
• Purity based personality development education.
• World peace through ideal marriage and ideal families and Interracial and
international harmony.
• The world is one Home and Humankind is one Family.
Motto: "There is No Such a Thing as Number
two Only Number One" Principal of CARP:
• Unification  Principle
• Principle of Creation (Ideal)
• The Cause of Human Conflict (Reality)
• The Principle of Restoration (Solution)
Head Office
Putalisadak, Kathmandu
Ph./Fax: 268407 P.O.Box:21009
E-mail: unimnepal@wlink.com.np
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 Capsules
Mounting toll
The Royal Nepal Army
(RNA) put the Maoist toll
since the breakdown ofthe
ceasefire in August at 2,104
and that ofthe Army at 201.
RNA Spokesman Brig.Gen.
Rajendra Bahadur Thapa said
the Army had successfully accomplished its operation in
Rolpa and Baglung, the
Maoist strongholds.
All the highs
Bombs, bandas and pollution
have made Kathmandu less
attractive, so head for
Nagarkot, says Far Eastern
Economic Review (May 6),
which has profiled Nagarkot
in its Asia/Life section. "Want
to see the Himalayas without
actually climbing them?" asks
the Review. "Go to
Nagarkot." Nagarkot has
been described as a "breezy,
one-road village surrounded
by pine forests that perfume
the air and ancient farm terraces that slice the hillsides
into giant-sized step." Guess
which of Nagarkot's hotels
finds itself featured by the
Review? Club Himalaya,
whose owner Yogendra
Shakya says, "Many people
are simply skipping
Kathmandu."
SLC results
Bandas, protests and Maoist
blockades could delay the results of this year's School
Leaving Certificate Examinations. However, Examination
Controller Birendra Kumar
Singh said his office is trying
its best to get the results out
by mid-June. A total 317,001
students had taken the S.L.C
examinations in 905 centers
across the country.
It's time for DV
Four hundred thirty-three
Nepalis have received the
Diversity Visa-2005 Lottery,
the ticket to permanenent
U.S. residency.The Nepal
Samacharpatra reported 153
of them had Kathmandu's
postal address—of them 70
Celebrating womanhood
'I1
I
This year's Laxmi
Award (named after
Laxmi Bank) for the
Woman Entrepreneur of the
Year went to Binita Pradhan,
Executive Director of AVCO
International Pvt. Ltd. The
company is the sole distributor
of Hyundai Motor Company
and Hyundai Motor India Ltd.
Under Pradhan, the company
sales increased from 51 units to
over 700 units, commanding a
market share of over 30 percent
in small passenger car segment
14
and 25 percent in the total passenger car segments. The
award was a part ofthe "Celebrating Womanhood 2004"
campaign. Other awardees:
first women trekker Angdeli
Sherpa, educationist Rani
Devi Kakshyapati, fashion designer Gyani Shobha Tuladhar,
social worker Radha Khadka,
police woman Gita Upreti,
taekwondo athelete Sangina
Baidhya, writer Durga
Pokharel and artist Asmina
Ranjit
iAnntm"££SB
BRAVO: Sagar Shrestha, Nation's photojournalism wins the
"Viewer's Choice Award" at the recently concluded National
Forum of Photo Journalists
had their local addresses
mentioned. The lists of DV-
2005 winners have also been
posted on the wall ofthe General Post Office in Sundhara.
The U.S. government selects
upto 50,000 applicants as winners to the Diversity Visas
from around the world annually, including Nepal, for
countries that are under-represented among 400,000 to
500,000 immigrants traveling
to the United States each year.
Last year, 4,259 Nepalis had
won the DV Lottery, according to postal officials.
Press situation
The International Press Institute has termed Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa's
term as "memorable" for demoralizing the press with the
excessive use of force. At its
53rd World Congress in Warsaw, a report presented by IPI
Nepal said Nepal detained 300
journalists and human rights
activists on April 17 for protesting the policehigh handedness against fellowjournalists.
Water shortage
As the temperature shot up to
the record 30s early last week,
the capital's residents were in
for yet another pre-monsoon
blues. Nepal Water Supply
Corporation says the problem
intensified after 95 percent of
its 123,000 consumers started
using water pumps in their
homes. But that's only one
of many problems. Even during the best of times, water
authorities can meet only
two-third ofthe Valley's demand. According to a study,
some 40 percent of the
Valley's water is lost to pilferage. The capital's long-
term water problems will
perhaps be solved only after
the Melamchi Water Project
is complete. But for now, the
monsoon is almost here and
Kathmanduites will probably stop complaining until
another dry season.
Dysentry outbreak
With the rain came dysentary
and diarrohea. Doctors in
the capital's Sukraraj Tropical Hospital in Teku reported a sharp rise in diarrhoea cases. They also reported cases of cholera and
advised Kathmandu residents
to avoid roadside food and to
drink filtered water.
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Nepal's knights
Finland has knighted two
Nepalis. Mohan Man Sainju,
Advisor ofWWF Nepal and
Chandra P Gurung, Country
Representative of WWF
Nepal, have received
"Knight, First Class, the Order ofthe Lion of Finland."
The award was handed over
to them by Glen Lindholm,
Ambassador of Finland to
Nepal. The decorations are
in appreciation of their
contribution towards biodiversity conservation. Sainju,
who is an economist, once
served as vice-chairman of
the National Planning Commission. He was also an ambassador to the United States.
Gurung is the designer ofthe
first community-based integrated conservation and development project in Nepal,
the Annapurna Conservation
Area Project (ACAP).
Climbing season
It's time again to update the
mountaineering record
books. And not all ofthe entries have been happy ones
this time round. Scores of
climbers made it to the
Everest summit in the first
two days ofthe new mountaineering season which
started on May 15. Appa
Sherpa broke his own record
for most climbs when he
conquered the world's highest mountain for the 14th
time. With her fourth climb,
Lakpa Sherpa became the
most frequent Everester
among women. Likewise,
27-year-old Pemba Dorje
Sherpa set a new world
record for the fastest climb
with a time of eight hours and
10 minutes. By the time we
went to press, four climbers
had perished on the slopes
of Everest—three Koreans
and a Japanese. A fifth
climber, a Bulgarian, was
missing.
Week in politics
May 14: Parties announce additional protests. May 15: Senior NC(D) leader Krishna
Prasad Bhattarai says he is ready
for the prime ministerial chair,
should it come his way May
16: Maoists renew their proposal for roundtable talks
brokered by the UN, which
will include the King, parties
and civil society representatives; on the same day, fomer
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur
Deuba says it was time the
country went for the constituent assembly. May 17: King
meets 353 civil society representatives in Rajanikunj,
Gokarna. May 18: United
States says the King and parties
should sit for talks to patch up
differences. May 19: King
meets five-party leaders jointly
in Nagarjun Palace. May 20:
Kingmeets CPN(UML) General Secretary Madhav Kumar
Nepal for two hours at
Narayanhity; outgoing prime
minister Surya Bahadur Thapa
says it is now up to the parties
to resolve the crisis. May 21:
King meets Nepali Congress
President Girija Prasad Koirala
at Narayanhity
Banda protests
There have been quite a few
protests over the effects of
protests, bandas and block
ades. But there was one
unique protest in Chitwan
that made headlines last week.
Kantipur reported that 300
farmers in Chitwan dumped
at least 500 quintals of their
vegetable on the Mahendra
Highway after the Maoists
brought all cargo trucks to a
grinding halt for five days in
the area. The two-day five-
party banda the week before
was followed by a three-day
Nepal banda last week, this
one called by the Moaists. At
least two taxis were bombed
by suspected Maoists in the
capital during the banda.
Foreign advice
Pakistan's Ambassador to
Nepal Zamir Akram says
Nepal can solve its own problems but then everybody
should work together to find
a solution.
Ambassador Akram has
also said that Pakistan was expecting King Gyanendra to
visit Islamabad. The invitation to the King was handed
over at the last SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu in
January 2002.
-;
•*■?
nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
 Politi
BY SURESH PRADHAN
Hopes were high when
Surya Bahadur
Thapa, the second
prime minister appointed by
King Gyanendra in as many
years, stepped down on May
7 after 11 tumultuous
months at the helm. Many in
the political circle even speculated that Thapa had thrown
in the towel at the prodding
I
ON
s.    * *
ofthe King himself, who was apparently
feeling the heat from agitating parties and
the international community.
But it took 14 more days for the King
and the parties to start talking. First,
though, came the frantic rounds of consultations with everyone—from former
prime ministers to diplomats to civil
society representatives to Palace insiders.
The timing was interesting: the
Nagarjun Durbar consultations with the
parties last week took place a day after
the U.S. State Department sounded
alarm bells over Nepal's civil war, "rights
abuses" and political deadlock. Assistant
Secretary of State Christina Rocca, on a
visit to South Asia, emphasized democ
racy, human rights and dialogue in Nepal
while addressing a function in Dhaka.
The much-awaited Nagarjun consultations broke the ice and paved the way
for more consultations between the
monarch and the five party heads, who
have been at loggerheads since October
4, 2002. A day after Nagarjun, the King
held one-to-one talks with Madhav
Kumar Nepal, the CPN(UML) general
secretary, for nearly two hours.
While Nepal was careful not to divulge all the details of the talks, he
stressed that the King was anxious to resolve the stalemate. Most fundamentally,
the meeting marked the beginning of
renewed rounds of consultations with
party leaders. After Nepal, it was Koirala.
11
rc
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ms\
■ ?
uncE
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-        .■f.IB^f.Hl
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WHAT'S THE
GOOD NEWS?
I
 By agreeing to the parties' core demand
of meeting them all together, the
Nagarjun consultations helped the parties and the King to take the first important step towards a possible reconciliation.
After Nagarjun, Nepal and Koirala
seemed to have no qualms about meeting the King separately in the days that
followed, a remarkable shift in their position. But on concrete terms, last week's
parleys made little headway. "The King
is keen to resolve the crisis," Koirala said
on Friday after he met the King, "but I
cannot say anything conclusive until the
results are there for all of us to see."
Koirala told reporters outside
Narayanhity, "We are for the reinstatement ofthe House to restore people's
power.. .and I am neither happy nor disappointed."
Meanwhile, Koirala's close aides suggest that the leader was "not happy at all"
at the outcome of Friday's talks with the
King. "He looked very ponderous and
didn't share much with us as to what ex
actly had transpired between him and the
King at the Palace," a Koirala aide told
Nation. He said that Koirala apparently
had strong reservations over what the
King had said during the
talks. While it is still not "
clear what rankles Koirala,
the aide says Koirala left
Narayanhity with these
remarks, "Your Majesty I
am leaving with some reservations, and I am not
going to make any comments."
In the meantime, the
standing committee of
the CPN(UML) decided on Friday to go
ahead with the street
demonstrations. "All the parties should
move ahead according to the Constitution and a political resolution should
be explored to take along even the
Maoists," Nepal told reporters on
Thursday when asked to discuss the
content of his talks with the King.
The Palace-parties
standoff may take
some time to
resolve, especially
the issue of
where the
sovereignty lies
Clearly the parties have adopted a two-
pronged approach: intensify street
demos to put pressure on the monarch
and, at the same time, keep holding negotiations with the
monarch to have him
restore the dissolved
House of Representatives and, that way, reclaim the achievements ofthe 1990's
JanaAndolan.
Whatever the differences between the
five-party leaders and
the Palace, many—
and most importantly,
the general public
sick and tired of the
never-ending series of street demos
and agitations and Nepal bandas—have
taken the development very positively.
One such person is former finance
minister Ram Sharan Mahat. "The
King's observations are very positive,"
he argues in a newspaper article. "His
wish to act only in a constitutional manner is beyond
question. But the problem
is—the present imbroglio
originated from the past acts
for which there existed no
constitutional provision."
The arguments and
counter-arguments could go
on and on. "But the wisest decision," says Narayan Man
Bijukchhe, leader ofthe Nepal
Majdoor Kisan Party "would
be to put the King among the
people ... a unity between the
parties and the Palace is the
need ofthe hour. That's why
we are requesting the King to
understand this, so that we can
tackle the Maoist issue."
But for now, all indications
are that the Palace-parties standoff may take some time to resolve, especially the most contentious issue of where the sovereignty lies. Until that issue is
resolved, will the parties and the
monarch find a common meeting point? Both realize that the
Maoist insurgency continues to
take a heavy toll on the national
economy and security.    □
"~17
  The repercussion of bandas
goes far beyond economics.
While television footage of
truckloads of okra being
discarded by farmers in
protest on our highways
capture the level of damage to
the national economy, what
goes unreported are the
small, micro-level effects on
Nepal's most vulnerable
citizens—women, children
and old people
 Story
BY SUSHMA JOSH I
Cabin fever—the feeling of being cooped
up inside a small
space—is a common
feeling during the
bandas. Groups of
men, restless from
inactivity, walk,
cycle or motorbike through the empty
streets. The downward plunge of air
pollutants, and the holiday feeling in the
air, can lull an observer into thinking
bandas are popular events.
CAMPUS POLITICS
But this can be misleading. The repercussion ofbandas goes far beyond economics. While television footage of truckloads
of okra being discarded by farmers in protest on our highways capture the level of
damage to the national economy, what goes
unreported are the small, micro-level effects on Nepal's most vulnerable citizens—women, children and old people.
Tika Pradhan of Bhojpur sells her
vegetables at the Handigaon vegetable
market every evening. For the three days
during last week's banda, she was only
able to sell the leftover vegetables she
bought on Monday morning. "I sell veg-
Your Freedom Ends
Where My Nose Begins
BY BISWAS BARAL
Our dingy psychology
classroom perched atop
the old building of
Ghantaghar barely remains open
these days. As if we had not had
enough bandas and on-campus
rioting to mar our studies, some
students had locked all the rooms
in the campus for supposedly getting poor grades in their practicals.
Due to this 'start-stop' timetable, most students are visibly
despondent. All kinds of views are
rife in our small circle. Some, while
morally supporting the protestors,
are against the disruption of their
studies; some feel the cause of
democracy is much greater than
their education; while still others
remain vehemently against any
kind of disruption in studies and,
naturally, against protests or
bandas.
Last week, we could only have
one class out ofthe seven scheduled. As it is, even without disruptions, the teachers are hard
pressed to finish their courses on
time. To add to our woes, we have
yet to start our practicals—the
most tedious of tasks at the best
of times. Every single student of
psychology has to go through five
long sessions (lasting anywhere
SPrdjr^^,
If
ii H
perhaps t
nervecenter.of Kathmandu's student politics
between two to two and a half
hours) of practicals where a faculty evaluates the student's classroom presentation of a "subject"—
how they respond to an event or
idea.
To say that in Tri-Chandra College, a hub for student politics and
riots, the campus authorities are
quick to dismiss all classes at the
sight of a hurled brick will perhaps
not be an overstatement. So while
most students still support the
movement against "regression,"
there are many who are beginning
to have second thoughts about
the intent ofthe student leaders,
who inadvertently—or deliberately,
at other times—end up disrupting
classes, by pelting stones, when
they are not organizing bandas.
Dipendra Subedi, a B.A. second-year student, remains deeply
suspicious ofthe intent ofthe political parties. He says, "As I see it,
they are rebels without a cause.
Even if democracy is restored, what
can we expect of them? They
could let us study, at the least."
Another B.A. second-year student in St. Xavier's College is worried that she many not finish her
field work which she says has been
delayed with the ever-increasing
number of bandas and chakka
jams. "What am I supposed to do?
etables so that I don't have to ask my
husband for money to spend," she says.
Although her husband's earnings as a
plumber will tide over their household
expenses, she will get hit where it hurts
the most—her independence.
Rammaya Tamang is even less lucky.
A divorced mother of three teenagers, only
one of whom is employed, Tamang also
sells fruits and vegetables to make a living
at Bishalnagar Chowk For her, the three
days of lost time mean not just a loss of
earnings, but an increase of workload in
private homes where she has to do menial tasks to make ends meet. Tamang pre-
I neither support nor oppose the
political parties. I just want them
not to hamper my work," she
complains, voicinga common refrain heard among many nonpartisan students.
Still, most of my friends and
classmates seem to support the
movement against "regression"
but like the student from St.
Xavier's College they believe that
the goal can be achieved without
callingfor bandas and, by keeping
education separate from politics.
It's no fun when you have to
complete most ofthe courses at
home, all by yourself. Our teachers aren't feeling any better either.
When one of them, who takes
classes at Padma Kanya Campus
before she heads to our college,
failed to turn up for the third consecutive day recently, we fired angry queries at her. "What can I do,"
she replied, "I leave my classes at
Padma Kanya early, but I am held
up by the riots in Bag Bazaar every time, and hence I end up being late. Some days, the police
completely stop us from entering
the Ratnapark area. I have no
choice but to head home."
I do support the campaign for
the restoration of democracy and,
so do most of my friends. But in
this noble quest, let us not be unduly bullied. To me, democracy is
as much about voicing your opinion as it is about respecting others'right to dissent. □
(Baral is a B.A. Third Year student at Tri-Chandra College)
20
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 fers the autonomy of her being her own
employer and will have to do overtime in
order to recuperate her losses.
Women, who are often at the forefront of small and informal businesses,
also have to deal with the potential for
violence on banda days. "I was sitting
inside when I saw these five boys from
the five-party alliance come and peer
inside. They called to see if anyone was
there, but I hid inside. They didn't see
me, so theyjust pulled my shutter down
and went away. I waited for a while, then
opened my shop again," says Renuka
Thapa, who is from Dhading.
Her cold store in Kamalpokhari has
barely been open for four months. She
struggles to meet the monthly rent of
Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 3,000 on electricity bills
incurred from the use of two refrigerators. She says there is less to fear in a
Maoist banda because the Maoists would
at least not dare to openly shut her down.
Besides the loss of livelihood and fear
of violence, women also lose their mobility "I can't do anything," says Sangita
Sharma, a bright and vivacious 25-year-
old, for whom the banda means confinement at home. Recently married and with
a six-month-old infant, Sharma is dis
couraged from leaving home by in-laws
who fear for her safety. Her music lessons, which she takes in order to prepare for her examinations at Allahbad
University are suspended. With the increasing incidents of motorbikes and
cars being vandalized and set on fire during bandas, women are rarely seen using
them during these times.
Children are also badly hit by bandas.
Parents, fearing for their children's safety,
keep them at home. Those who can afford
to send their children to study abroad are
doing so in increasing numbers. India, with
its proximity and relative affordability remains a popular destination.
Binay Pandey after a lot of soul-searching, finally sent his eight-year-old son Alok
to a school in Delhi. Although he and his
wife both miss their son, they feel it was
important to send the child away so that
his academics remain untroubled by political violence and instability "He started
to follow me around at night, asking me if
I had locked the doors. An eight-year-old
child should not have to carry around that
much fear," says his mother.
Besides education, people seeking
medical care are also inconvenienced.
The hardest-hit are older people, who
are often cut off from urgent medical
care for days. A banda can also prove fatal
to women giving birth, as was seen in a
recently documented case in Pokhara.
And with the Maoists burning an ambulance during a recent banda, it is clear
that even vehicles clearly marked with
signs of emergency and medical care are
not immune to violence.
Although strikes are common in other
parts of the world, the "banda"—an event
where organizers assume they
have the moral right to threaten
dissenters, vandalize property
and shut down institutions that
disagree with them—seems
culturally specific to Nepal and
other South Asian countries.
Forms of civil protest reflect the culture of a country.
In Nepal, where women and
children remain some ofthe
poorest and most marginalized
citizens ofthe world, even the
banda organized by political
groups claiming to represent
citizens fail them in significant
and sometimes lethal ways, n
nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
21
 Power of One
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Debit Card
For details. p(e*se Contact our relationship managers, al 422-0229.
( 444.5302.444*5303 or visit your nearest branch office,
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in   hsl^f^sil
nation
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 otography
T a#*&
At the first-ever press photo
exhibition organized bythe
National Forum of Photojoumalists
last month, viewers selected the
five best pictures. Nation Weekly
photojoumalist SagarShrestha's
"Victims of Conflict" taken three
years ago in the village of Bichaur
in Lamjung received the highest
number of votes (864). Kantipur's
ChandrashekharKarki (495 votes)
and Gopal Chitrakar (368) finished
second and third. A total of 102
pictures by 64 photographers were
put on display at Nepal Art
Council Gallery, n
nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
23
 Workfbr
ALLS NOT WELL
IN MAO-LAND
In Rukum, one administrative chief is only 20-years old
but rules 35 villages. Sangam says he was elected district
chief in a ballot. All the candidates, however were believed
to have links to the Maoists. This, after all, is the Maoist
heartland; there is no political opposition
BY BINAJ GURUBACHARYA
IN MUSIKOT
In the mountains of Mid West, a fullblown Maoist uprising is gaining
ground. The present-day Nepal, overall, seems to offer laboratory conditions
for a revolution: widespread
poverty, an undemocratic government perceived as remote
and corrupt, and a feudal system run by the handful of rich.
This reporter, who trekked
into the rebel heartland and
spent a week in the villages
and the besieged district capital, heard voices both for and
against the Maoists. Some deplored the guerrillas' violent
intolerance of criticism, and their attempts to impose communist ideology
on the farmers. Teachers spoke of rebels
entering their classrooms to lecture pupils. There were accounts of fighters
dragging opponents from their homes
and killing them.
"If there were free elections today
and the Maoists came without their guns,
they would lose by a big margin," says
Harka Bahadur Chhetri, 41, a teacher
who was repeatedly stabbed in front of
his family for criticizing the rebels.
But people also conceded the rebels
have done much for the villages under
their control. They said they have banned
polygamy, child marriage, alcohol and
witchcraft. They have seized farms and
redistributed the land among the poor
and mediated disputes among farmers
and villagers. In the village of Dupai,
bright posters depicting Mao and the
elusive leader, Prachanda, were pasted
on a wall by the school.
In Rukum, about 250 miles west of
Katmandu, many Maoist-built mountain
ploited by the landlords who were getting richer and fatter everyday," says
Bhim Bahadur Dangi, 45.
A farmer, he joined the Maoist rebellion at its beginning eight years ago and
today he is administrative chief of nine
villages in the Arma area of Rukum. "We
have taken the farms from these landlords and distributed them to the people
who actually work on them. We are
teaching them how to get maximum production out of their farms," he says.
Many farmers say they support the
revolution simply to give their children
a better life. They see technology coming to neighboring countries, and their
government failing to do the same for
them. In Rukum, one administrative
chief is only 20-years old but rules 35
villages. Sangam says he was elected district chief in a ballot.
However, all the candidates were
believed to have links to the Maoists; it
is after all the Maoist heartland, there is
no political opposition. "I joined the
Jujarko(
f
trails and concrete bridges across streams
were evident. So were dug canals and
pipes brought in by the Maoists to channel water to many villages. "The poor
farmers were getting poorer and ex-
ff.hete
r   \ Kalahari I
i        V^"^    ^        A*"
Chhi
Saivan
It
24
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Maoist movement because I wanted to
free our people," Sangam says. He became a fighter at 15 and took part in several raids, one of them two years ago in
which 32 police officers were killed and
31 captured and freed after a month.
Sangam was shot in the hands.
In another village, Pipal, a Maoist
official Ganesh Man Pun outlined ambitious goals of building roads, bridges,
hydroelectric plants and schools. "Our
aim is to have an autonomous people's
government where people seize the
power for themselves," says Pun.
Rukum, a district of beautiful mountains
and valleys, is the Maoists' de facto capital. They patrol with guns and grenades
as farmers mostly tend their vegetable
crops. The region's capital is Musikot,
whose 6,000 people live behind a fence
and, after nightfall, under curfew.
The 500 soldiers and 300 policemen
rarely venture beyond the fence. "We
have full security inside the district headquarters, but outside thefence we have
>—'^
a big security problem," acknowledges
Chet Prasad Upreti, Musikot's chief district administrator. The town is besieged.
The only way around rebel roadblocks
is by air. Food stocks
are diminishing.
'We have grains to
last a few more days and
after that we are all going to starve," said Dil
Ghimire, who runs a
small hostel in Musikot.
The government tried
airlifting grain, but the
Maoists burned down
the storage shed. Among
the refugees living in Musikot is Nayan
Singh Damai, 65. He says he was attacked
en route to a political rally in 1998 and injured so badly that he lost a leg. Doctors in
Katmandu gave him an artificial leg, but
the Maoists would kill him if he tried to
make the four-hour walk to his village, so
his wife visits him twice a year, he says.
"My only offense was I had different
political beliefs" says Chhetri. The
rebels have their own courts, judges, tax
system and schools. Teachers like
Ghimire give away five percent of their
monthly income to the Maoists.
Teachers like
Ghimire give away
five percent of their
monthly income to
the Maoists.
Farmers and businessmen pay according to their assets.
The rebels say defendants facing their
courts have the right to attorneys, who have
no legal education and
are usually picked by
the rebels. A seven-
member jury of villagers must reach a unanimous verdict. Defendants are tried in an
open-air courtyard, facing a j udge at a desk and
jurors seated on a mat.
"There will be a
day when all of Nepal
will follow this system," says Rupesh
Mainali, chief of the rebels' law and justice department. A woman who killed
another woman brought home by her
husband is given a seven-year sentence;
a rapist is serving three years. Their
prison is a house seized by the rebels
from a landlord who had to flee to the
district capital. Their punishment includes working in farm fields or carrying supplies.    □
(Gurubacharya, an Associated Press reporter,
visited Rukum last month.)
Legend
1"^ DiaU id boundary
Z3 VDC- rxninrtriry
iMajiaLhfcdiilrjrid
— h'A\-f Hv/r.r
*  DisthtdiJ^uarlfi
 UNHCR has made it clear
through a series of statements from its headquarters
in Geneva, and in Katmandu
that come what may, any
likely extension of its December 2005 deadline for the
pullout from the camps may I
be stretched bv six months
at most. But refugee lead-
ers are apprehensive about
the proposed pullout
WITHDRAWAL
SYMPTOMS
BY JOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
IN DAMAK
As the hope of a negotiated settlement with Bhutan and repatriation of refugees fades, the UN
refugee agency, UNHCR, has unveiled
a phase-out plan that some insiders say
was long overdue.
UNHCR will phase down its role in
the Bhutanese refugee camps to protection level alone, which UN officials insist
is UNHCR's true mandate in protracted
refugee crises. The agency will then only
be responsible for extremely vulnerable
cases (like cases of sexual and gender-based
violence) where the refugees cannot return home. UNHCR has already made it
clear through a series of statements from
its headquarters in Geneva, and in
Katmandu that come what may, any likely
extension of its December 2005 deadline
for the pullout from the camps may be
stretched by six months at most.
Does it then imply the end of the
refugee movement for repatriation? No,
says S. B. Subba, a refugee leader, "We
will still re-group and we will still be
agitating for a dignified repatriation."
Refugee leaders say the UNHCR withdrawal will seriously hurt the refugees.
The agency officials, however, insist
their plan is foolproof and will provide
a durable solution to the refugee stalemate that dates back to the early 1990s.
Though UNHCR still hopes that bona
fide refugees will get repatriated by the
2005 deadline, there are clear hints that
it considers local integration a viable
option. This means that the ethnic
Nepalis in the camps will probably be
assimilated into the larger society outside the camp. Should that happen, Nepal
will likely witness a very visible addition to its population—in one region, at
one time.
The logic behind the seemingly ambitious pullout plan is simple enough,
according to officials: just as UNHCR
phases out from the care and assistance
part ofthe refugee operation, other bilateral donors like GTZ, JICA, USAID
and DANIDA will step in, including
other UN agencies.
"We are not going to leave a vacuum
behind," says a UNHCR official. "Even
if we fail to engage donors directly, we're
hopeful that the host government would
do the 'burden-sharing.'We are also negotiating with the government in this
regard. Yes, it's true that we assist and
render protection to refugees, but only
in cases where the governments are unable to."
But refugee leaders fear that it may
not turn out to be as simple as officials
make it sound. They express deep concerns over the feasibility ofthe proposed
transition. Their apprehension: other
agencies just don't have the all-round
expertise of UNHCR in handling refugees. "It doesn't seem quite feasible given
26
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 the different field of expertise they
(UNHCR) possess," says Subba, chairman ofthe Bhutanese Refugee Representatives Repatriation Committee
(BRRRC).
UNHCR must stay, he insists. "Bilateral donors cannot be a substitute to
UNHCR nor can the UN agency
unprecedentedly delegate its mandate."
Apart from legal protection, the refugees
in the camps receive a wide range of assistance from the UN agency like daily
ration, clothes, and materials to build
homes, medical aid and education. As a
part of phase-down, these facilities will
be scrapped.
Last year, refugees had to face serious
problems of readjustments when
UNHCR shut down child play centers
and kindergartens, deleted turmeric
powder from the ration list and reduced
funding for higher secondary education.
UNHCR says it spends $120 per refugee annually in the camps.
Much like the refugee leaders, some
foreign diplomats in Kathmandu whose
interest and consent the agency is counting on, do not appear quite enthusiastic
about the UN pullout. A senior U.S.
diplomat earlier this month expressed
disbelief (in an email message to this
reporter) over directly involving bilateral donors in the transition ofthe assis-
nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
tance. "...I don't believe USAID or any
other bilateral donors will be involved
in the transition of assistance from
UNHCR—they plan to continue assistance programs through UN agencies."
The diplomats also expressed uncertainty over the time-frame ofthe transition process."...I don't know when
UNHCR actually intends to begin the
phase out, although I assume we will be
briefed once they have a concrete plan."
The news of phase-out and transition
has already created a sense of panic
among refugees here. Sources say the
newly elected Camp Secretaries and
Members have threatened to resign en
masse as a symbolic protest.
It's been an interesting policy shift
for the UN refugee agency. From "We
wouldn't pull out ofthe camps till a durable solution is found" six months ago
to a drastically changed—'We might" and
now 'We will." It all started last fall.
When laying out his plan for
Bhutanese refugees before an executive
committee meeting in Geneva on 29 September 2003, UN High Commissioner
for Refugees, Rudd Lubbers had said that
his office would promote self-reliance
projects to facilitate local integration and
gradual phasing-out of UNHCR's direct
involvement.
"I have decided to take three key
measures," Lubbers said, "first, since the
Nepalese government has offered to
settle those [refugees] willing to remain,
and grant them citizenship, my office
will promote self-reliance projects to
facilitate their [local] integration. Second, my office will support resettlement
initiatives for vulnerable cases.
Third.. .we will not promote returns."
The funds saved from the phase-out
here is likely to be directed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, all
troubled spots. In a statement issued in
March, the UNHCR said it was
"downsizing its assistance" for
Bhutanese refugees as it has "other areas
to focus on."
Although observers here agree that
the self-reliance projects might be the
best option for a dignified life, in light
ofthe refugee stalemate, they however
say that a graceful homeward journey
might become more difficult once the
camps have been dismantled.
WithTIKU GAUCHAN in Kathmandu □
27
 Broadside
RAPE SEED
As the west rejects genetically modified crops, they are
being dumped in the South. This is one such story. Of
how canola, the Canadian oilseed, is invading our own
Khokana, once famous for its mustard presses
BY SAMUEL THOMAS
Khokana is the ancient town on the
outskirts of Kathmandu Valley
known for its traditional mustard
presses. The unrefined, smoky-thick
mustard oil is used for just about all pur-
poses—cooking, lighting lamps at
homes, temples and religious events,
massaging newborns and their mothers.
Only for some four years now, oilseed
(canola, rapeseed or mustard) has been
coming from Canada. The same goes for
presses elsewhere in the Valley.
Canada is the third-largest producer
of genetically modified (GM) crops after the United States and Argentina. Genetically modified refers to any organism in which the genetic material has
been altered in a way that does not occur
naturally. By 2002, it was estimated that
over two-thirds of Canadian canola was
genetically modified or transgenic. A
record high in exports was reached in
2001-2002 after GM was introduced
widely. The bulk of it was being dumped
on the unsuspecting (and technologically
unable to detect GM or lacking provisions to block) South, because Europe
had shut the doors to GM produce by
1997 and other countries discriminated
against GM produce. GM crops form a
significant part ofthe international trade
in corn, soybeans and canola. Canada's
canola exports have grown after the introduction of GM varieties and today
account for more than 40 percent of
world exports.
Back in Canada, the country of origin,
there has been an informed public debate
on GM. The National Farmers Union
(NFU) believes all Canadians—farmers
and non-farmers alike—must engage in
an informed debate on the genetic modi
fication of food. And that after that debate, citizens—not the corporations that
promote these products—must decide
whether to accept or reject GM food.
Clearly, in Nepal, where small farmers and their dependants form the bulk
ofthe population, such matters cannot
INSIDIOUS ALCHEMY: Canola saplings In
petrl-dlshes bloom In lush Canadian fields
before the harvests head to the markets
be left to commodity traders. Most disturbing is the potential for genetic pollution—transgenics finding their way
into conventional seed through pollen
or accidental seed mixing. An Agriculture Canada study in June 2003 confirmed what canola farmers had been
saying for years: "that GM canola was
popping up where it isn't planted and
isn't wanted." A secret briefing to the
Canadian government in November
2003 (obtained under the Right to Information Act) said that cross-contamination was now "irreversible."
The NFU policy also talks about
the potential risks to human and ecological health. There has not been a
systematic, scientific investigation of
the health effects of GM foods. There
are also many unanswered questions
about the environmental risks of GM
crops and livestock. Genetic modification threatens to unbalance the biosphere, create 'super-weeds,' endanger
beneficial insects, and erode
biodiversity.
Millers in Khokana say local mustard production is not enough. But what
about customer preference for traditionally pressed oil? 'We mix the two,
because rapeseed that comes from elsewhere does not have the flavor of
Nepali mustard, although the seeds are
larger and contain more oil," says a
miller in Khokana. It is also cheaper
than locally produced mustard. 'All the
big companies are also using imported
oilseed," he adds.
What this can do to farmers and
consumers is clear from the Indian experience. From being a net exporter of
oilseeds in 1994-95 (production: 22
million tons), India was importing over
five million tons of edible oils by 2002
(roughly 50 per cent of domestic requirement), costing the exchequer
over IRs. 12,000crore. It put farmers out
of business and destroyed the country's
self-sufficiency in oilseed production.
This is something Nepali farmers and
consumers can ill afford. Here, prices
of cooking oil (soy and mustard) have
doubled in the last two years, a price
rise unmatched in any other food item.
The reasons are obvious—the government is keen on supporting foreign
producers and traders, not local farmers and the consumer.
28
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 How genetic engineering works
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nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
The case against GM produce here is
so obvious that it does not need to be
argued. One, chances are that transgenic
varieties of canola have contaminated our
crops. Two, chances are that a substantial portion ofthe oil here is now from
GM seed. Three, chances are that a lot of
our farmers have stopped growing for
the local markets because of the crippling effects of western farm subsidies
that allow for dumping in faraway Nepal,
essentially affecting the market for
non-GM organic produce, destroying
local production capacities and self sufficiency
Given Nepal's fragile ecosystems and
farming systems, citizens need to decide
whether they want GM food or not. The
idea is not to toss evidence at Nepal, but
to allow Nepal to build its own evidence
and have a public debate before deciding. Given the health and environmental
risks it is only fitting that relevant Canadian authorities—dealing with farming
and export—explain the presence by
stealth of GM produce in Nepal. If indeed transgenic canola has contaminated
the environment, they must pay for the
clean up costs. If the government of
Canada is answerable to its people, it
must answer also to the people of Nepal.
Last month, China, one of the biggest markets for Canadian
canola, shut its doors. The
head ofthe Chinese agency that
oversees the genetically modified crop, Shi Yanquan, declared that genetically modified products would not enter
China without a safety certificate.
NewEU rules on labeling
and tracing of genetically
modified foods came into effect on 18 April 2004. The
rules, described by the EU as
the toughest GM food regulations in the world, require
food and animal feed to be labeled if they contain at least
0.9 percent of GM ingredients, essentially giving consumers the choice. A survey
of EU customers showed that
70 percent do not want GM
food. Do we?
(Thomas works at IUCN. The
views expressed are his.)    □
29
 Arts   Societ
Worldly-wise
Compassion
A nun-school prepares its students for the real world
BY TIKU GAUCHAN
Fifteen-year-old Choying Sangmo says
she wants to be a doctor. That sort of a
statement might not stand out for its
originality given that most kids in
Kathmandu seem to routinely blurt out
that they want to be either engineers or
doctors. But unlike urban children who
can, and do become doctors with proper
guidance, Sangmo's case is a little different. Had Sangmo not been brought to
Kathmandu by her aunt from her native
Mustang and enrolled at the Arya Tara
School in Samakhusi, her dreams of becoming a doctor would most likely have
remained a pipe dream.
Arya Tara takes in girls from poor
families, ordains them as nuns and provides them with both a Buddhist and a
secular education: the girls, besides engaging with Buddhist texts, also get
schooled in the SLC curriculum. The
school was founded by Ani Choying, a
renowned nun-singer who believes that
nuns need to get a practical edu
cation if they are to live we
rounded lives. Buddhism teaches
compassionate action, but without an education in some sort of
a vocation, it's hard to translate
compassion into action. When
the girls enroll, they are made to
take a vow that after finishing their
formal education, at whatever level, they'll head back
to their villages and use the
skills learned to help their
fellow human beings.
Many ofthe girls at Arya
Tara have experienced firsthand the trials of living in a
poverty-stricken environment and the
attendant problems that come with such
a life. Seven-year-old Drolma Tsering
from Sikkim, the youngest nun at the
school, lived with an alcoholic father
until her uncle decided to bring her to
Kathmandu. Chimey Lhamo, who was
abandoned at birth, was later brought to
the school by her foster mother after she
herself decided to become a nun.
Arya Tara currently has 27 students living there as boarders. The school will in a
few months shift to its permanent location in Pharping, where the building's construction is almost complete. And on the
cards: the possibility of the enrollment
shooting up to 150 full-time students.
How can a non-profit run school raise
the money to finance such a venture? The
answer lies in founder Ani Choying's
voice, or more specifically her singing.
Choying chants hymns and sings at benefit concerts the world over. She's performed at the Smithsonian Folk Festival
in Washington D.C, at the sixth world
music festival in Barcelona, and in places
like the UN headquarters in New York.
Her album, "Cho," that she made with
guitarist Steve Tibbets in 1997, received
rave reviews in magazines like Guitar
Player, and the Philadelphia Enquirer
daily. The proceeds from Ani
Choying's concert ticket sales and
CD sales account for more than 80 percent ofthe school's budget; the rest comes
from donors.
While the mission to give nuns a secular education is a noble aim, carrying out
such a task isn't all that easy. When you
have 27 students whose ages range from
seven to 23, and whose formal learning
experiences are varied, you have to get
creative with your class sizing and grouping. The students are grouped into three
classes: junior, intermediate and senior.
Junior classes have students who would
normally be attending grades 1 to 3, intermediate: 4 to 5, and senior: 6 to 8.
Four full-time teachers take turns
teaching the nuns in classes with fluid
boundaries separating the age groups.
Within the span ofthe 45-minutes allotted for the subject being taught, the teachers have to shift their methods to pitch
their lectures sometimes to the younger
section and sometimes to the older group.
From time to time foreigners who
want to volunteer their services help ease
the workload. Just recently, two Germans, Sabine Thoma and Kay Ehrbar,
taught the children for three months before heading back home. The volunteer
teachers teach supplementary classes
like art, geography, health care and even
knitting and self defense.
Some of them help with the administration too. Mera Thompson, a Canadian,
has taken on the role of an all-in-one coordinator. She takes care ofthe school's
accounts, subs in for sick teachers, and
helps with the fundraising. Thompson,
who used to be a reporter for the South
China Morning Post and Agence France
Presse, got involved with the
fl school after meeting Ani
Choying during one of
Choying's concerts in
Kathmandu.
Ani Choying is definitely the center that keeps the
school going, and the main reason for volunteers like Thompson and even full-fledged nuns
like Tserab Sangmo showing up
in her school. Tserab Sangmo, a
23-year-old political science
graduate from Singamari,
t Darjeeling, takes lessons in Tibetan and Dharma translation at
the Arya Tara. Teserab Sangmo is actually
viewed by many to be the seventh incarnation of a Tibetan Lama, Khandoma. Just
like many ofthe younger nuns at Arya Tara,
she too plans to head back to her community to help her people after she's done
with school. Such an army of nuns, from
the initiates to a Lama incarnate looking to
give back to their communities, should
keep the good karma going a long way    n
30
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 THE      WORLD'S      BEST      CLOTHS
nORMEUII
Putalisadak, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel. 4412017, Fax. 977-1-5539787
 Arts   Societ
Tell Me A Story
Maithili storytelling culture is still vibrant, primarily
because women storytellers have kept up the tradition
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
J
oseph Campbell, celebrated my
thologist and storyteller, once said
that, "unless the symbols and meta
phors of myths are kept alive by constant recreation through the arts, the life
just slips away from them." This is especially true of myths and folktales like
the ones told by Maithili women,
The Jackal and the Eagle (A Maithili Tale)
Jackal and eagle, two friends
lived near a riverbank. There
was a pakhar tree near the
bank, and the eagle lived in
its nest on the treetop while
the jackal lived near the tree's
base. Every year in Bhadau,
duringtheJitiyafestival, all the
women from the neighboring
village who wanted a son,
would go on a fast and bring
ritual offerings of dried peas
and mustard peena, which
they placed on the riverbank.
One year, the jackal and eagle,
who had been watching the
women performing the pujas
every year, decided to ape the
womenfolk and participate in
a Jitiya ritual of their own. So
the animals fasted and then
tired, went to sleep. While the
eagle kept his fast, thejackal
got hungry and in desperation,
bit off chunks from the corpse
of atehliya (oil seller) who was
being cremated near the
riverbank. Years later, after
both the animals died they
were reborn as women. The
jackal became Lilawati, who
got married to a rich but uneducated man, while the
eagle became Silawati, who
got married to a poor but educated man. Silawati and
Lilawati both had many children but all of Lilawati's children somehow died. Jealous
of Silawati's good fortune,
Lilwati hired a butcher to kill
Silawati's children. Since both
the women now didn't have
any children, they found themselves undertaking fasts during the next Jitiya festival. Lord
Shiva, who had seen the murders, brought back to life
Silawati's children at the end
of her fast. This enraged
Lilawati even more, and she
called a panchyat, where she
accused Silawati of being a
witch. She said that Silawati
had used withcraftto both kill
her children and to bring her
own children back to life. As
proof, Lilawati said that she
had killed Silawati's children.
Silawati, however, won the
case because the panchyat
decided that her children got
back their lives not through
witchery but because of her
devotion during the Jitiya festival. Furthermore, Lilawati's
admission of killing Silwati's
children backfired against her
and was used as evidence to
punish her.
The Maithili society is matriarchal, and the stories told
by Maithili women high light the
primacyofwomen, the issues
of self and society as understood by them and their rich
earthy knowledge of life. As
exemplified bythe story above:
1. In most stories told by
Maithili women, the protagonists are women
2. The animals of Tarai, who
share living space with people,
play a prominent part in Maithili
stories.
3. The stories have a strong
moral theme: don't be greedy,
don't lie, respect your gods.
4. The importance of festivals
and women's participation in
them is highlighted: the
panchayat says that Silawati
got back her children because
of her devotion duringthe Jitiya
festival.
5. Accusations of witchcraft,
so prevalent in our villages, are
shown for what they are:
cooked-up charges.
which are perpetuated through an oral
culture.
For ages, Maithili women's folktales
have been the repositories of Maithili culture, mores and lessons to live by. Today,
Maithili storytelling is still vibrant, primarily because women storytellers have
kept up the tradition. For the last six
months, Coralynn Ann Davis, Assistant
Professor ofWomen's Studies and Anthropology at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, has been traveling around Janakpur,
documenting their tales. Davis's work,
which includes listening to, transcribing
and analyzing over 140 stories told to her
by a selected group of 10 women, is funded
by a Fulbright Senior Research Grant.
"I had done my doctoral research on
women development here, a decade ago,"
says Davis, "and I had to find a way to
come back to Nepal as I am so much in
love with it."
That love for Nepal may be a blessing. Davis, whose earlier works include,
"Listen, Rama's Wife!" "Society and the
Sacred in the Saamaa-Chakeba Festival
of Nepal's Eastern Tarai," and "Feminist
Tigers and Patriarchal Lions," will publish a book on Maithili stories based on
her work. Given the pervasiveness of TV
movies and Bollywood music in the subcontinent, oral mythologies are hard
pressed to keep up. And such work by
people like Davis, at least help preserve
the stories for future generations.
The Maithili women too have done
their part to ensure that their storytelling
will not become just a cultural vestige.
They have transformed their stories to
reflect issues of power, gender and the
influences ofthe modern world. According to Davis, that's a good sign. Even
though it's hard to tell how these storytellers will fare in the future, Davis
says,"For now, Maithili story telling
practice is alive and well."     □
32
 Pan of flie Came
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%i
7
. J
/
Ik
Official Sponsor of Euro 2004
V
To win attractive prizes log on to www.carlsberg.com.n
 A Little Word
fel
Of Witchcraft And Witches
It is a thin line to cross from believing that the stars rule our lives to
being convinced that someone is the cause of our misfortunes. Our life
is ruled by irrationality and we follow most of it without thinking twice
BY DEEPAK THAPA
Every now and then, newspapers carry reports about women and,
sometimes, men being persecuted on charges of witchcraft.
Generally, these victims tend to be living on their own, and so
when the community rises up against them in a frenzy, there is no one to
speak out for them. We in Kathmandu come to know of these incidents
if the local stringer gets wind of it and files a story. Human rights organizations quickly come forward to document the case, but often nothing
comes out of it and soon everyone goes back to their lives as if nothing
had happened.
The immediate reaction in the press is usually of righteous indignation that such things should take place in this day and age, and this is
vented occasionally by various writers in their columns. These writings
often blame the ignorance of
the villagers in believing that
someone's 'evil eye' could be
the source of their misfortune
which could be anything from
chronic illness and death of a
person to something as mundane as the drying up of a cow's
udders.
Here, one would like to ask
how are these 'ignorant' perpetrators any different from the
more 'enlightened' members of
our society. Let's take one shining example. When Sher
Bahadur Deuba became prime
minister in July 2001, the country had lost its head of state in a
gruesome massacre, the
Maoist onslaught had renewed,
and Girija Prasad Koirala had
resigned as prime minister.
Deuba had won the contest to
lead his party's government. But
what did he do? He left the country rudderless for five whole days whi le,
as was reported then, his astrologers tried to figure out the most 'auspicious' time for him to take the oath of office. Whoever his astrologers are,
they must have felt rather sheepish when 14 months later, Deuba was
ignominiously booted out with the tag of 'incompetence' to haunt him
forever. It is a different matter that his incompetence was in reference to
his inability to hold elections in the promised time.
With such trendsetters, why should it shock us that some unfortunates consider a neighbor to be a witch? It is a thin line to cross from
believing that the stars rule our lives to being convinced that someone is
the cause of our misfortunes. Our entire life is ruled by irrationality and we
follow most of it without thinking twice. We conduct rituals while buying
land or laying the foundation to a house, moving shop or going on a
journey. There are injunctions of what we are to do or not to do: no
whistling indoors, no sweeping after the sun goes down, no setting out on
a journey on Saturday, and so on and on. Then there is the 'auspicious'
time for everything: from naming a child to getting married to taking up
office. People also develop individual idiosyncrasies. Wearing a particular kind of ring, or often rings, fasting on fixed times ofthe week, a
penchant for doing things on particular days, all in the hope that it will
ward off bad luck. These are examples of, to borrow Pakistani thinker
Eqbal Ahmad's words, a mediaeval mindset at work.
One can well argue that
these are questions of personal
belief and undue comment is
unwarranted. It certainly is, but it
is this kind of behavior that is at
the root of all superstition and
can certainly not contribute positively to the health of a society.
So long as we allow ourselves to
be guided bythe supernatural,
we will constantly be looking over
our shoulders even as we try to
create a modern society driven
by rational thought. For instance,
the same newspapers which
preach against superstitious belief continue to propagate superstition through its pages every
day, i.e., through the horoscope
columns. Practically every newspaper or magazine has an astrologer predictingwhat is in store
for the readers that day, that
week or that month, as the case
maybe. Since there is specialist literature available for those who cannot do
without knowing what they think the future holds for them, it fails reason why
the general media should also be involved in soothsaying.
Having said all this, something interesting happened during the recent Indian elections that was reported in passing bythe Indian press.
Apparently, having arrived earlier, Sonia Gandhi had hung around the
polling station waiting for a less 'inauspicious' time to cast her vote. Days
later she was vaulted to the prime minister's chair. Now, that sure is one
big boost for obscurantism.    □
34
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
or editorial ©nation.com.np
Page
CITY:ThisWeek
"HowlirT
Wolves"
"Rock 'n Bark" is a CD produced
by Animalnepal.org with music by
some of Nepal's top singers.
An i ma I nepa I. org a i ms to reach the
youth through music from the CD
as well as a series of concerts and
events. The CD was launched on
October 4, World Animal Day, at
the Moksh in Jhamsikhel. Performing at the launch were Anil Singh,
Bijay Lama and members of the
popular rock band 1974 AD. The
program was hosted by Jiggy Gaton
and Maria Rai. The song "Aau Mili
Gau" is a joint effort byl5 artists.
Those of you interested in helping in
anyway can call 9841-231284 or
e-mail: animalnepal@hotmail.com
BYDINESHRAI
Discussions
Social Science Baha
A lecture by David Gellner on "Rebuilding Buddhism: Transnational
Theravada Revivalism in Nepal." .
May 27,5:30 p.m. at Baggikhana,
Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka.
For information: 5542544
Martin Chautari
Effects of the Indian Elections on
Nepal. Tapan Bose and Yuvraj
Ghimire. May 23,3 p.m.
Young Asman Welcomes the
Summer of 61. May 29
At 1905, Kantipath. Time: 6 p.m.
Tickets: Rs. 750 (includes dinner
and welcome drink). For information: 4471342. In aid of ASMAN's
charity
Shangri-la Summer Special
Shambala Garden Lunch with
swimming and soft drink. Rs. 500
Fantastic Fridays
A musical night with lip-smacking
food. Jazz and club music by various bands. Time: Fridays 7-11 p.m.
Venue: The Club, Bhatbhateni
Entrance Free.
Madonna Mania
From Like a Virgin to Vogue to True
Blue. It's Time For Some Maniacal
Dancing! Venue: Club Platinum,
Hotel Yak & Yeti. Date: May 29
Time: 1 p.m. Entrance: Rs. 200
(Boys) Rs. 100 (Girls)
Educational Fairs
8th Nepal Education & Book Fair
2004. Education and career section: Till May 25. Book section: till
May 29. 11 p.m. to 7 p.m. at
Bhrikuti Mandap Exhibition Hall.
For information: 4260232
Fair and Lovely Educational & Career Fair: May 27-29, Close-up
Inter College Musical Contest: May
27-30 at the Birendra International Convetion Center. For information: 4258977, 4262267
"Faces and Aspects of Nepal":
Mani Lama's Photo Exhibition.
Saturday Cafe, Boudha. Till June
For information: 2073157
"Transformations:" An exhibition of
paintings by Sushma Joshi.
Gallery 9. May 25-31. For Information: 4428694
"Infinity's Journey": Mixed-media,
collage and water-color paintings
by Gaurav Shrestha, Binod Gupta,
Ramesh KC. and Suman Shrestha.
Park Gallery, Lazimpat. May 28-
June 7. For information: 4419353
"Finland in Nepal 1985-2004":
Photographs from Finland. Gallery
Moksh. Till June 5. For information: 2113339
FREE
MOVIES
Movies at Lazimpat gallery cafo
Time: 7 p.m. Admission Free
The Usual Suspects, May 25
Ocean Eleven, May 27
American Center, Gyaneshwore
Time: 5:30 p.m.
The Candidate, May 27
Admission Free
nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
 Appointments of Anup Raj Sharma and Balram K.C, none of them
Appellate Court judges, to the Supreme Court Bench have come under
fire from the establishment. But Sharma and K.C. both have solid
track records and the judiciary has to free itself from conventional
trappings if it is to establish meritocracy in its ranks
BY JOGENDRA GHIMIRE
It's notjust the country's executive, or absence of one, that is in the
news. Recently, there has been some controversy over the appointment of two senior practicing advocates—Anup Raj Sharma and
Balaram K.C.—as the judges ofthe Supreme Court. The appointment of
practicing lawyers to the highest Bench is a rather rare happening in our
judiciary, which is used to promoting career civil servants and career
judges right up to the highest echelons. In the past, such appointments
have been fairly low-key affairs since the constituency that was directly affected by such
appointments—the Appellate Court judges,
the senior members ofthe Bar and eligible
academics—generally kept silent over such
appointments.
The two recent additions to the Bench,
however, have disturbed the ranks, especially
the Appellate Courtjustices, so much that they
have gone so far as to petition the Kng against
the appointments. The outrage is palpable.
Their criticism revolves around a few points.
The duo were junior compared to a number
of sittingAppellatejudges; and, that appointment of Sharma directly as a permanent judge
without having served as an ad hoc judge,
the route most judges in the apex court normally take, is a deviation from a time-honored tradition.
These arguments are limp. The judiciary
has to free itself from bureaucratic trappings,
if it is to establish meritocracy in its ranks.
Both Sharma and K.C. have great track
records—Sharma as a successful commercial lawyer and K.C. as a government prosecutor and, since his retirement from the government, as a litigator and
arbitrator of repute. They are undoubtedly among the brightest members
ofthe Bar and havea sound understanding of Nepal'sjudicial system.
Indeed, they are junior to some of thejudges in the Appellate Court.
But those who say they have greater claims, and not Messrs K.C. and
Sharma, to the Supreme Court based on their seniority are ignoring
perhaps the most important underlying philosophy. That ofthe Constitution, which provides no guarantee to appointments to the apex court
based on seniority. It is not a process of natural progression.
Sharma and K.C. are only two ofthe 10 individuals who have been
appointed as permanent or ad hoc justices ofthe apex court during the
last two lots of appointments. Every other individual who has been appointed as an ad hoc judge or confirmed as a permanent judge was from
among the Appellate judges. Considering that a far fewer number of
lawyers who get appointed to the apex court compared to sittingjudges
ofthe Appellate Courts, the obvious question before us is: what was so
different about these appointments that outraged the Appellatejudges
so much?
This reaction can be best understood
keeping in view most ofthe post-1990 appointments, which seem to have created an
impression that the apex court positions were
the preserves ofthe career judicial officers
and lower court judges. This seems to have
given credence to the conventional theory
that those from outside the Appellate Courts
essentially come in to bite off chunks from
the pie—to borrow an expression used recently by a retired Supreme Court justice,
Krishna Jung Rayamajhi.
The tendency to take the easy route by
appointing the seniormost ofthe Appellate
judges to the apex court has been doubly
retarding. It makes the Apellate judges professionally complacent; it also frustrates far
more capable lawyers and judges in the lower
courts who don't have a shot at the Supreme
Court Bench despite their competence.
The fundamental problem lies with the
twin issues of seniority and service with the
government—both against the letter and spirit
ofthe Constitution. We have been obsessed
with the idea of appointing the seniormost of
the Appellatejudges to the Supreme Court without actually looking into
the competence ofthe individual under question.
The Constitution, in fact, looks for neither the seniormost individual, nor for an Appellate judge. What it looks for are competent
jurists who have either been an Appellatejudge for at least 10 years
or have been practicing lawyers or law researchers for at least 15.
Beyond this, it is purely individual competence that ought to be the
deciding factor—not seniority orX number of years one has put in
government service.    D
36
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Jobs
Vacancy Announcement
The International Committee ofthe Red Cross (ICRC), an
independent humanitarian organization whose mandate is to
provide protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict
and internal disturbances has regularly vacancies for:
EXPATRIATE   NEPALI   INTERPRETERS/
TRANSLATORS
Your tasks
■ Oral interpretation: from Nepali to English, and English to
Nepali during confidential interviews with persons detained
in prisons, ICRC institutional dissemination and visits to
families of detainees
■ Written translation: translation of written Nepali (newspaper
articles, correspondence, etc.) into written English
■ Analysis and reporting: analysis of conditions of detention,
general situation and other matters relating to the ICRC's
mandate
Selection requirements
■ Ideal age: 25 to 35
■ Either single or prepared to accept an unaccompanied
posting of at least one year
■ University education or 5 years of professional experience
■ Excellent command of English, French an asset
■ Familiarity with word processing and spreadsheet software
■ Driving license (a license for automatic-transmission
vehicles only is not sufficient)
Your Profile
■ Strongly motivated by humanitarian work
■ Open-minded and adaptable, able to work in a team
■ Neat appearance, good speaker, well-developed writing
and summarizing skills
■ Able to work under pressure in a potentially dangerous
environment
■ Ready to travel to remote areas all over Nepal on a regular
basis
What we offer
■ An opportunity to help the victims of conflict
■ Engrossing, rewarding work in unusual situations
■ Ample support in integrating into the new working
environment
How to apply
Interested candidates are invited to send their CV with a cover
letter, a recent photograph, copy of certificates, a contact
telephone number and the ICRC application form (available on
the website www.icrc.org ) to the following address:
Laurent GISEL
Deputy Head of Delegation
International Committee ofthe Red Cross
Meen Bhawan, Naya Baneshwor
G.P.O Box21225, Kathmandu
Phone: 4482 285/4492 679
e-mail:katmandu.kat@ icrc.org; www.icrc.org
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
professionals.
Graphic Designer
Key Responsibility: Design various print publications published bythe
organization.
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
organization.
Marketing Officer
Key Responsibility: Market the various publication and services
offered by the organization.
Receptionist
Key Responsibility: Manage office telecommunication, fix
appointments, file correspondence and administer front
office duties.
Minimum Requirement: Intermediate with secretarial
training.
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.
E-mail: jobsvacancies@yahoo.com
Tel: 2111102
nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
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nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
 Ferryman, Get Me
Across The Seas
The frequency of bandas has disrupted academic
life, forcing increasing numbers of students to
seek educational opportunities abroad. The
United States remains one of the most sought-after
destinations—the growth rates of Nepali student
applicants for the United States is among
the highest in the world. Michael Gill,
the executive director ofthe Fulbright
Commission for Educational Exchange
between the United States and Nepal,
talked with Sushma Joshi of Nation
"weekly about this outward move. Gill's
association with Nepal goes back to the
mid 1960s, when he was a Peace Corps
Volunteer.
Is Nepal among the countries with the
highest numbers of students applying
for visas to study in the United States?
Not in terms of absolute numbers, but
the rate of growth of student applicants
is amongst the highest in the world. The
growth rates of other countries that have
traditionally sent high numbers have leveled off.
Do you see any patterns in the Nepali
educational system?
Most Nepali students are pushed into
the sciences by employment options,
and through family pressure. We get
many applicants for the Fulbright who
have done many years in science. We have
a student trained as an engineer who
worked for many years for an NGO
building water systems. The system kept
on failing, and not because of technical
reasons. So finally, he started to study
rural sociology in order to understand
what's going on at a social level. That's a
fairly typical pattern—coming out ofthe
sciences and going into other fields of
study.
What's missing here that students can
get in the United States?
The lamentable thing about the Nepali
educational system is its devaluation of
The lamentable
thing about the
Nepali educational
system is its
devaluation of the
humanities and
social sciences.
and if possible, even further back in primary school. Knowledge is not something that can be created like a mother
bird vomiting regurgitated food into the
baby's mouth. It can't be learnt through
rote.
Individual efforts and the contribution
of private institutions are of course important, since they are the seed of
larger developments. But has anything
the humanities and social sciences, not
just at the undergraduate level, but even
at high school and primary school levels. I happen to believe that a liberal education such as the ones colleges in the
United States provide is a real development.
Do you see any moves towards developing this system of liberal education
in Nepal?
A number of people have been pushing
this idea in Nepal. The proliferation of
MBA programs is also a start, although
it starts at the top, instead of at the bottom—the critical thinking and individual research skills of a liberal education need to be introduced in college,
been done at a national level to implement these ideas?
I am not involved in, or privy to, or updated on government thinking on this
area. My job is to provide information
to students who seek to get an education
in the United States.
What does your work entail?
Part of our job is to figure out if study in
the United States is appropriate for a student or not. Many times, it's not. Education in the United States is very expensive—an average of $20,000 a year. Seventy percent of our students who go are
self-funded. Ofthe other 30 percent, only
a small fraction get total financial aid.
You administer the Fulbright program,
one ofthe most sought-after fellowships
to the United States. Do you find that
people use it as an entryway to migrate
to the United States?
We have a 100 percent rate of return of
our fellows. Our job is not to fund foreign students to find employment in the
United States. Most ofthe students we
select go in areas for which there is not a
big employment market in the United
States, everything from art to creative
writing. We do not fund medicine, engineering and IT students.
Will institutions in Nepal increasingly
offering more liberal arts-oriented academics discourage the trend to study
aboard?
Private education will continue to grow
in Nepal—I don't see anything wrong
with private education per se. But if Nepal
is serious about universal education, they
have to strengthen the state of education
in Nepal at the public level.    □
X
40
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Pokhara Through The Years
REVIEWED BY KARL-HEINZ KRAEMER
Pokhara: Biography of a Town,"
written by David Seddon and
Jagannath Adhikari, is the fascinating history ofthe beautiful town in
the heart of Nepal that within the last 50
years grew from a small settlement of a
little more than 3,000 inhabitants to
Nepal's second largest urban conglomeration. Both authors' special relationship to Pokhara finds expression
in the way the history and social
setting of this town is analyzed.
Adhikari was born and raised in
POKHARA
Pokhara, while Seddon began his renowned social research on Nepal in
Pokhara and its surroundings almost 30
years ago.
The natural setting ofthe Pokhara Valley makes it hard to believe that this inviting region had been more or less uninhabited by the indigenous Magars and
Gurungs before the 12th century. But the
development of Pokhara as a market center began only after the unification of
Nepal when Newars from Kathmandu
Valley settled there to escape persecution
from the conquering Shah forces.
From about the 1920s onwards, expanding trade relations with India and
the return of local Gurkha soldiers, who
had fought for the British in World War
I led to the growing political importance
of Pokhara as the town became a kind of
refuge for dissidents. The town's close
affiliation with political activists became
obvious towards the end ofthe Rana era
(and especially during the revolution of
1950/1), and it was again confirmed 30
years later during the National Referendum of 1980.
But Pokhara also became the commercial and administrative center for the
western hill region. This process was dramatic and far-reaching in the second half
of the 20th century. Unlike most other
studies, the authors of this book view this
process of urbanization of Pokhara and
its hinterland by adopting an urban rather
than a rural focus. This gives the study
special value given that Nepal—a
mainly rural society with an urban population of less than four
percent in 1971—has now become
the country with the highest rate of urban growth in
all of South Asia.
Tourism definitely
plays a major role in the
town's future development plans, though it currently contributes to only
about 10 percent of
Pokhara's total income.
The town is blessed with
natural attractions like
Phewa Taal and a magnificent view ofthe Himalaya.
But in the face of rapid urbanization,
town planners and administrators have
had problems balancing necessary infrastructure development with environmental protection measures.
The story of immigration is another
interesting aspect of urbanizing Pokhara.
Most ofthe permanent immigrants have
come from rural Kaski as well as from
the neighboring districts. This has meant
growing numbers of local indigenous
ethnic groups (especially Gurungs) who
nowadays constitute the largest population group in a town once dominated by
Bahuns, Chhetris, and other Hindu
castes as well as, to a lesser degree,
Newars.
The process of urbanization and the
consequent transformations in political,
cultural, socio-economic, and environmental aspects of Pokhara are well described. Other issues covered by the
book are folk and written literature, tourism, and the interaction ofthe town with
its hinterlands.
Kraemer is associated with the South Asia
Institute, University of Heidelberg.    □
Tibetan Healing
Made Simple
DR. LOPSANG RAPGAY
Here is a thoughtful,
clearly-written introduction to the Tibetan
tradition of healing, a tradition which has points
in common with
Ayurveda from India and
with Chinese medicine.
The book discusses
health and wellness; the
fundamental principles
of Tibetan medicine; the
Tibetan constitutional typology test; diagnosis, nutrition; behavior; the Tibetan
Pancha Karma; herbal therapeutics;
spiritual practice; rejuvenation therapy;
self-healing through the Medicine Buddha Practice; and the Tibetan horoscope.
Empty Moon: Belly Full
JOHN BRANDI
Using the medium of haiku,
John Brandi, poet, essayist and passionate traveler, shares his experiences,
insights and observations from his years
on the road as a traveler in India and
Nepal.
Brandi's haiku capture bits and pieces
of life in the subcontinent, much like
well-framed photographs do. And just
like good photographs, his haiku bring
to light small things that often go unnoticed. An excerpt:
climbing Ganesha's
belly, an expedition
of ants
Empty Moon: Belly Full, is filled
with many such quirky montages that
capture the small but telling things that
make up our lives.
Brandi is the author
of "A Question of Journey" (essays on travel in
India, Nepal, Thailand
and Bali). His other
books include "Heartbeat Geography," "Visits
to the City of Light."
www.pilgrimsbooks. com
Pilgrims Bookhouse
nation weekly |   MAY 30, 2004
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House on Rent
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Rent negotiable, contact Shambu or Meena
Tel.: 4782543, Email: mjoshi@kmtnc.org.np
Last Word
n
Thaw That Was Overdue
When you start your armed
movement questioning the
fundamentals of a multiparty
democracy, and then give the movement
a strong republican twist every time public anger over the King's action rises, you
are more than likely to feel happy about
the fallout between the parties and the
King. You will even consider your action a grand success if you are able to cut
a deep wedge between the two whose
unity stands in the way of your
ascendance, and a possible usurpation of
state power.
The Nepal Communist Party
(Maoist), which now controls huge
swathes of territory outside the district
headquarters and urban centers, must be
on a high. And we are not referring to
their military strength here. The political parties and the Palace have never appeared so deeply polarized in the last 14
years of democracy as they
are now. This
has given NCP
(Maoist) the
opportunity to
make inroads
in the hearts
and minds of
the people, especially in rural
areas where
feelings of exclusion remain high. Revolutions after
all are as much about raising battle-hardened armies as about keepingyour ranks
motivated through the right noise. Emotions and symbols hold huge meanings.
In hindsight, October 4 marks the
beginning of a dark chapter in Nepal's
history. In refusing to see eye to eye, the
political parties and the monarchy did
enormous damage to each other through
mutual recriminations. When King
Gyanendra took executive powers after
dismissing an elected government, the
thinkingwas that absolute power would
help resolve what the political parties
had failed to do. Perhaps the solution lay
in wielding the stick. In the vestiges of
the Panchayat, the new regime found a
ready constituency to champion its two-
pronged strategy: advocate militarist approach to tackle the insurgency and vilify
the parties (which was fine given the parties' colossal failure to win public confidence post-1990). In some foreign governments, notably the United States, the
new regime even found allies who
thought the insurgency would be swiftly
resolved through a strong King backed
by a powerful Army.
Nineteen months on, and two appointed governments later, Nepal is as
far away—perhaps farther—from finding a lasting resolution to the Maoist insurgency as it was when it all started. As
a matter of fact, the long battle of attrition between the King and the parties
has even handed the initiative back to
the Maoists. It has hardly helped that the
new regime is not seen to be an inclusive one and that there is widespread apprehension that political and civil rights
are being rolled
back. Thankfully, even our
allies now seem
to have realized
so much, that
legitimacy
holds key to effective governance. The
United States
last month
called on the
Palace and the parties to "unify—urgently—under an all-party government
as the first step to restoring democracy
and presenting a unified front against the
terrorist insurgents."
We believe restoring the peace process should be a top prority for the unified front. We are encouraged by the recent turn of events that started with the
King and the parties listening to each other
in Nargarjun, though we would like to
advise cautious optimism. For now, the
parties and the King are at least talking.
Editor
42
MAY 30, 2004   |  nation weekly
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