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Nation Weekly November 14, 2004, Volume 1, Number 30 Upadhyay, Akhilesh Nov 14, 2004

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 CONGRESS MESS   DASHAIN IN DOLAKHA I COLORFUL SKIES I CANINE COPS
NOVEMBER 14,2004 VOL. I, NO. 30
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www.nation.com.np
WEEKLY
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RS.30       ISSN1811-721X
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 18 Leadership Muddle
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
At 79, Koirala is reluctant to step down
as NC president. As the party convention approaches, talk of alternative
leadership is getting vociferous but is
again likely to go nowhere.
28 Little Hope
By Suman Pradhan in New York
Most Nepali illegal immigrants hang
on to the US in the hopes of making
enough money to send back home.
They fear four years of Republican rule
is going to be tough for them.
32 Cautiously
Optimistic
By Sara Shneiderman and Mark Turin
in Dolakha
The ceasefire opened a window of
hope; the residents of Dolakha converged for the two-day festival in
numbers far exceeding the past few
years, when fear had kept many at home
34 Closet
Conversation
By Satishjung Shahi
Though experts argue the condom
taboo is minimal in urban areas now,
it's still an awkward moment for many
buyers who approach the issue
indirectly
38 Canine Cops
By Satishjung Shahi
At the Central Dog Training School
the police dogs are on standby and
ready for duty, even on Tihar
ARTS & SOCIETY
42 Troy
By Sushmajoshi
The movie is Hollywood's new take
on Homer's great epic, one of the
greatest love stories of all time. But
Hollywood seems more obsessed with
war than with love.
SPORTS
50 Super Success
By Sudesh Shrestha
The growing success of the Super Sixes
tournament in attracting top corporate
houses augurs well for Nepali cricket.
Money matters.
. k m i £   _ ^
COVER STORY
20 Flying High
Byjohn Narayan Parajuli
Cosmic Air's first jet aircraft has arrived; another will soon follow. Industry buzz
says the jets aren't financially sustainable, but Cosmic isn't worried.
COLUMNS
LIFESTYLE
11 Zero-sum Exercise
By Jogendra Ghimere
ft
30 The Remembered
Past
ByAditya Adhikari
36 Reading the Gita
By Sushmajoshi
I
47 Colorful Skies
By Indra Adhikari
The colorful night skies of Tihar have
been darkened by the government ban
on fireworks. Alternatives with more
sparkle and less boom could fill the gap.
DEPARTMENTS
6
9
40 Shut Up And Dance
ByKunalLama
LETTERS
WEEK IN PICTURES
10     PICTURE OF THE WEEK
14    CAPSULES
MILESTONE
BIZ BUZZ
CITY PAGE
SNAPSHOTS
57 BOOKS
58 LAST PAGE
16
16
44
52
 ki Quotas will
discriminate those
who are the most
deserving, those
.     who rely on merit jj
MAHESHWOR MITTAL
Divided classes
YOUR COVER STORY LAST WEEK
raised a very important issue ("Divided
Classes," by Satish Jung Shahi, November 7). Even by Nepal's poor standards,
education is perhaps the most neglected
sector. And the neglect looks all the more
appalling, considering the fact that it's
education, if anything, that will bring all
Nepalis to the level playing field. I, however, have a problem with the quota system. While providing quotas to backward
and geographically disadvantaged communities and women may look fair on
paper, it will unnecessarily discriminate
against those who are the most deserving—those who rely on their merits—
whichever group they may belong to.
Quotas for certain groups for a fixed period of time are a good idea, even desirable. But once it becomes a state policy,
it's going to be politically explosive to
call for its withdrawal. That anyone
should look at quotas as a blank check,
regardless of his merit, would be a perfect recipe for trouble. Premier institutions like the Institute of Medicine and
the Institute of Engineering are among
the last remaining bastions of
meritocracy. I for one certainly want
them to remain that way.
MAHESHWOR MITTAL
TEKU
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN EDUCATION
is not exactly a great idea. Why should
anyone relinquish his/her right for education so as to make room for others of
lesser caliber? Isn't that another form
of discrimination? Just as Dr. Shishir
Lakhey, I saw friends in India (from the
so-called upper classes) who were far
worse off economically than those from
the "scheduled classes." They were virtually shut out from competition in
medical colleges because a good 50 percent or so of the seats there were set
aside for the backward communities,
many of whom in fact had been living
in cities for generations and were pretty
well off We are certainly not speaking
about mimicking poor Indian politics
here, are we? The court has struck down
a poor government decision, and that's
good news.
NARESH SHRESTHA
LAZIMPAT
IN A SOCIETY WHERE ALMOST ALL ILLS
stem from social inequality affirmative
action is perhaps the only way to prop
up the backward section of the society.
You've got to begin somewhere. It's so
lame to expect a dalit from the Farwest
to compete with the Kathmandu-edu-
cated elite for a seat at the TU's Institute
of Medicine?
SUBASH
VIA EMAIL
US elections
WHILE I AGREE THAT THE U.S. ELEC-
tion results may not be the "best" for
Nepal, it doesn't change anything for
Nepal and I don't think Kerry or
Nader would have either ("Bush
Bind," Last Word, November 7). If anything, the election clarified the problems within the Democratic Party and
has decisively shown who the American people are and what they want.
Voters turned out in numbers that have
not been seen since 1968. The major-
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 ity of Americans believe in George
Bush and relate to the Republican
agenda. It was a clean win for Bush and
a serious wake-up call for the Democratic Party.
As for the Democrats, record number of voters did turn out to vote for
them as evidenced by their win in Pennsylvania, for example. Still, they lost.
Why? Because they do not have a clear
agenda or an unequivocal leader. I can't
tell what the party really wants. I can
tell you what they don't want, but that
doesn't get America anywhere. When I
look to the 2008 election, I really don't
know who the Democrats will run in
the primaries or who will emerge as a
leader for the party. They need an
agenda that I can sum up in one sentence and they need to find decisive
leaders. While I am not a supporter of
Bush's agenda and he did not win my
vote, in the final analysis, Election 2004
has been good for America.
CAROLYN RODAL
MAXWELL SCHOOL OP
PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND CITIZENSHIP
SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, NEWYORK
Request to Onta
PRATYOUSH ONTA IS ONE OF THE
best scholars and social scientists around.
I like the issues he raises in many of his
articles. His critiques keep the concerned on their toes. In his last article he
has raised a valid issue ("Non-interrogating Journalists," November 7). He
suggests that journalists should look at
themselves in the mirror before reiterating their "watchdog" claim. I would
like to ask Onta if he has ever done it
himself? A native of Kathmandu with
sound family background and a Ph.D. to
boot from a foreign university, he is perhaps even more suitable for pioneering
the task he has proposed—improving the
level of understanding of issues related
to social research among the Nepali
patrakars. It's typical of our academics to
criticize others without coming forward
with a solution. They take it for granted
that they hold a license to criticize everybody. But have they ever looked at
themselves in the mirror?
RAJESH DALI
VIA EMAIL
Smuggler's hub
YOUR REPORT "SMUGGLERS'
Haven" on smuggling at the Nepal-
India border may have been revealing
to people in Kathmandu, where you
sell most of your magazines after all
(by John Narayan Parajuli, November 7). To someone like me who has
lived not too far from the border for
generations, these things are a fact of
life. Cross-border smuggling is a huge
trade, which is a boon to everybody:
It helps the poorly-paid local police
and administrators, almost every
single monitoring agency in the trans-
boundary trade chain (customs, border patrols, etc.), down to the poor
settlers at Mechi Danda Basti. Smuggling in Tarai towns is so commonplace that many ofthe people involved
in it don't even feel that it is criminal
or something that will bring them ill
repute. Dhulabari, not too far from
here, has flourished due to the cross-
border trade and people on either side
of the border have benefited immensely from it. Tens of thousands of
shoppers from neighboring Indian
towns/cities of Darjeeling and Siliguri
cross over to this side of the Mechi
River during the weekends and take
with them whatever they can. The rest
ofthe consignment is home-delivered
to you (customs-free) in India and you
need not worry about your stuffs getting seized by the customs officials.
It's hard to imagine that such large volumes of cross-border trade would take
place without the local police and administration—both in Nepal and India—having a share in the pie. Of
course, the volume of cross-border
smuggling in "foreign goods" (as Indians coming over to Nepal fondly call
them) may have come down substantially over the years, simply because
Indians can now buy Levis, Nike,
Jordache and Ray-ban in India. But
walk down the long single-lane of
Dhulabari on a weekend, and you will
see scores of middleclass Indians, who
have traveled from across the border,
buying themselves jeans and sneakers
and Japanese (or is it Chinese?) stereos.
SURESHGIRI
BIRTAMODJHAPA
Nation Weekly, The Media House, Tripureshor,
Kathmandu, Nepal (Regd. 165/059-060).
Tel: 2111102,4229825,4261831,4263098
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Vol I, Na 30. For the week November 8-14, 2004, released on November 8
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A
 Week   Pictures
M       J
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1 & 4. IN TOWN: Indian satirist Ashok
Chakradhar and comic Govind Bahadur Tiwari
at "Hasyabahar Kabi Gosti," organized bythe
Indian Embassy at the Royal Academy Hall
2. NEPALI HOPE: Miss Nepal Payal Shakya before her departure to China for the Miss World
contest, slated for December
3. LAURELS: IGP Shyam Bhakta Thapa presents an award
5. LIVING, AN ART: Spiritual leader and founder
of 'Art Of Living Foundation" Ravi Shankar at
the BICC
6. IN THE AIR: The season for winnowing wheat
begins
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
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 The insurgency didn't happen due to the absence of an elected Parliament. It happened despite the
elected Parliament.
BY JOGENDRA GHIMIRE
It's been two and a half years since the King dissolved the Pratinidhi
Sabha, acting on the recommendation of then Prime Minister Sher
Bahadur Deuba. There has, however, been a constant drumbeat of
noise calling for its reinstatement ever since. In recent weeks, the call
has been renewed with added urgency. The proponents of this idea
argue that it's the best option available before us to resolve the pol itical
stalemate, the insurgency and deep polarization ofthe political forces.
The arguments offered in favor ofthe reinstatement can be distilled
into three broad categories: constitutional argument, argument for representative democracy and the peace argument. Each category certainly has definite merits. But nonejustifies reinstatement.
The constitutional argument for reinstatement is twofold. First, the
Supreme Court endorsed the dissolution in 2002 because it assumed
that elections to the fourth Pratinidhi Sabha would be held on time and
that the constitutional requirement of elections within six months from
the dissolution ofthe Parliament would be met. Second, since the
elections did not take place within the constitutionally mandated
timeframe and since the King exceeded his brief as the constitutional
monarch when he assumed executive powers in October 2002, the
reinstatement of the dissolved Pratinidhi Sabha is the only prudent
course to bring the constitutional process back on track.
The problem with this line of argument too is twofold. First, it takes an
excessively legal approach to an inherently political problem. To expect
that the current political problems can be solved by strict adherence to
every letter ofthe law ofthe land is a fallacy. There is no provision in the
Constitution, for example, that allows the King to reinstate a dissolved
Parliament. When a constitutional argument is made to advocate that
the dissolution has been proved to be wrong, what is essentially being
asked is a resort to some kind of "residual" powers, irrespective ofthe
way it is phrased. Second, the Parliament was elected in May of
1999 and would have completed its five-year tenure even if it
had not been dissolved. To a strict adherent ofthe letter of
the law, the reinstatement of Parliament whose term has
already expired should appear a bit problematic.
The argument for representative democracy essentially means that because ofthe militarization ofthe Nepali
society—a result ofthe Maoist insurgency and the state's reaction to it—
the democratic space at the center has
been substantially narrowed, with the
armed forces and the insurgents occupying the space, which rightfully belongs
to the political parties. Reinstatement
ofthe Parliament, the argument goes,
will reinvigorate the center and reignite
political activities in the hinterlands.
The expectation that the reinstatement will restore representative democ-
i
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
racy in any meaningful manner is unrealistic, at the least. Other than
restoringthe parliamentarians to their old jobs, the revival ofthe Pratinidhi
Sabha will achieve little. It is unlikelythatthe restoration will bring changes
in the current military strength ofthe state and the insurgents, nor will the
insurgents pack their bags from the villages to make room for the reinstated parliamentarians. In other words, things will remain pretty much
the same, with or without the 203 additional salary earners who will drain
the treasury. (Speaker Ranabhat and Deputy Speaker Chitralekha Yadav
never vacated their positions.) The MPs will be based either in Kathmandu
or at their district headquarters.
If expected presence ofthe people's representatives in the grassroots
is the real logic behind the call for reinstatement, one should be asking
for reinstatement not ofthe Parliament but ofthe local bodies. But,
based on the fate ofthe many local representatives nominated by Surya
Bahadur Thapa's government, it is doubtful whether even that will change
things much on the ground.
What should not be forgotten is that a comfortable majority ofthe
previous Parliament—not only in terms ofthe number of MPs but also in
terms ofthe popular vote ofthe 1999 elections—is represented in the
current government.
That leaves us with the peace argument. That it is efficient to have
the Parliament reinstated because the political parties can then have
legitimate talks with the Maoists and take any major decision required to
solve the insurgency. A lot is also being said about the moral superiority
that the government formed bythe Parliament will enjoy during talks with
the Maoists and how the insurgents will have no other option but talk with
the government chosen bythe Parliament.
This argument, to say the least, is expecting too much from the political
parties whose track records say otherwise. The shenanigans ofthe parliamentary parties have continued unabated even in these difficult times.
The intra-party feud within the (reduced) Nepali Congress can be expected to surface as the date for the party's general convention (and
the election of new president), which has new been scheduled for
early March, draws near. The RPP is busy with its full-scale internecine
fights. Already, there are fissures between the UML groups representing the faction in the government and the one outside.
It is naive to expect that any of these parties
will be any more responsible than their
14-year-old track record suggests.
More naive is the expectation that the
Maoists will oblige the Parliament, an
institution they have worked so hard
to discredit.
The insurgency didn't happen due
to the absence of an elected Parliament;
it happened despite the elected Parliament. It is difficult to conclude that its
reinstatement will have much of a dent
on the problems at hand. If anything,
our problems have their roots beyond
the reinstatement. D
11
 Opinion
THINK
POSITIVE
'Thinker'
by Auguste Rodin
POLITICS
Civil Conflict
Education
Development
Business
Lifestyle
Sports
EVERY WEEK.
EVERY MONDAY.
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m
 Capsules
Pakistani premier
Shaukat Aziz, the visiting prime
minister of Pakistan and chairman of SAARC, said that meaningful regional cooperation in
South Asia was possible through
institutionalizing development
activities and resolving disputes.
He said his country opposed any
form of interference in
the internal affairs of Nepal and
was prepared to extend the military assistance that Nepal may
require to fight terrorism. The
Pakistani premier met King
Gyanendra and Prime Minister
Sher Bahadur Deuba. Aziz is on
a South Asian tour as the chairman of SAARC. After his two-
day visit, Aziz left for Bhutan,
and is scheduled to visit India,
Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Maoist attacks
Gamgadhi, the headquarters of
Mugu, is reported to be without
communication links since the
Maoist attack last Sunday, November 1. The 150-line telephone exchange system along
with a dozen government offices
and private houses rented out to
NGOs were destroyed during
the police-Maoist encounter. A
former police constable who
supplied rations to the security
forces was injured in the attack.
In a separate incident, Dunai
Bazaar in Dolpa was facing a
power blackout after the rebels
bombed a local power station.
There were also reports of attacks
on the district headquarters
Humla and Jajarkot.
Nepalis in Malaysia
As many as 10,000 Nepali workers based in Malaysia may be returning home soon. The Malaysian government had called
on all illegal immigrant workers
to leave the country before November 15. There are more than
200,000 Nepalis currently in
Malaysia—some 10,000 of them
are working illegally. Government officials said they didn't
have any records of illegal workers in Malaysia. Illegal immigrants leaving the country before the November 15 deadline
would not face prosecution, the
Malaysian government said.
Lottery system
The government suspended the
lottery system for selecting workers headed for South Korea. The
move allowed Lumbini Overseas
to send 480 Nepalis already approved by Korean authorities.
The Cabinet made the decision
when Korean authorities threatened to cancel Nepal's labor
quota for this year if the selected
workers were not sent before
November 5. Earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered the
employment agency to make the
selection through lottery. Labor
and Transport Minister Raghuji
Pant recently visited South Korea in a bid to convince the Korean authorities to accept the lottery system, which he argued
would stop employment agencies
from demanding high fees from
workers seeking employment
Death in US
An unidentified group shot and
killed a Nepali in the United
States, Kantipur reported. Keshab
L. Shrestha, 57, identified as a resident of Hetauda, was living in
Texas with his family for the past
four years. While in Hetauda,
Shrestha published and edited a
weekly newspaper Kurakani. The
Federation of Nepali Journalists
in Makawanpur condemned the
killing.
New calendar
Tribhuvan University is set to
introduce a new academic calendar for certificate, diploma and
masters levels, with effect from
the academic year 2005-06. The
new calendar would apply to the
humanities and social sciences,
management, law, education and
science streams. The academic
year begins from July-August.
With the change in academic calendar, the system of summer and
winter vacations has been
brought to an end, and now there
is a long vacation that falls between April and June. There are
Nepali hostage
Yunus Kawaree, who was
taken hostage in
Baghdad on Monday,
was released on Friday, November 5. Kawaree hails from
Debpura, Dhanusha. He
worked as a security guard at
the offices of the Saudi Arabian Trading and Contracting
Company in the Mansour district of Baghdad. The Minister of State for
Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat had left for the United Arab
Emirates on Thursday to negotiate Kawaree's release. The minister was
in the UAE. when the news of Kawaree's release broke.
no regular classes during this
time and the TU will also be
conducting examinations at all
levels in the same period. The
results are due three months
after examinations.
Red  corner notice
At the request of the Nepali
government, Interpol has issued "red-corner notices"
against three more Maoist leaders—Dev Gurung, Dinanath
Sharma and Top Bahadur
Rayamajhi. Interpol has already
issued similar notices against
Maoist leaders Pushpa Kamal
Dahal, alias Prachanda; Mohan
Baidya, alias Kiran; and
Baburam Bhattarai. Interpol requires member-countries to apprehend those on the "red-corner" list. Top Bahadur
Rayamajhi, Dev Gurung and
Baburam Bhattarai were members ofthe first and second peace
talk teams representing the
Maoists. The latest move comes
at a time when the government
has repeatedly asked the Maoists
to join peace negotiations.
Deusi in danger
Kathmandu, Lalitpur and
Bhaktapur district administrations have banned traditional
deusi and bhailo after 8 p.m. during the Tihar festival. They
have also prohibited sales firecrackers, citing security reasons.
Tihar begins this week with
Kaag Puja on Wednesday, November 10.
.L
14
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 British compensation
In an out-of-court settlement, the British government
paid Lai Budha, a 44-year-old
ex-Gurkha, 55,000 pounds in
a race discrimination case
filed against the Ministry of
Defense in Britain. Budha,
who served in the British
Army for 24 years, was put on
light duties after suffering
from jaundice and hepatitis
and had to get a liver transplant. He was discharged on
medical grounds in 2002 but
was allowed to stay on leave
in Britain after his doctor argued that Nepal lacked the facilities to treat him. Budha had
filed a discrimination case
claiming that he was paid
38,000 pounds less during his
career than what a British soldier in the same post would
receive. Budha claimed the
pension he received from the
British army, of 95 pounds a
month—a fifth of that a British soldier would get—was
too little for him, his wife and
two teenage children.
Indian concern
Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh expressed
his concern over the growing nexus between Maoists
in Nepal and left-wing extremist groups in India,
Kantipur reported. Singh said
that the Maoists in Nepal
have become a major force
and are trying to link up with
left-wing extremist groups
across the border. Nepali
Maoists are said to have
forged close ties with out
lawed groups in India, including the Peoples' War
Group. During Prime Minister Debua's visit to India in
September, Indian Foreign
Secretary Shyam Sharan said
that Maoist extremists represent a shared security threat
to both countries.
Torture victims
Not a single torture victim
has received compensation
from the government in the
last eight years despite court
rulings, said the Centre for
Victims of Torture-Nepal.
Various courts in the country
have ordered the government
to compensate those deemed
to have been tortured; the
amounts for compensation
range from Rs. 2,000 to Rs.
100,000. Ofthe 145 cases registered in various courts in the
country last year, seeking
compensation for torture,
only 55 cases have been decided. Of those the courts
have ordered compensation
in 19 cases. The Compensation Torture Act 2053 requires the chief district officer to provide compensation to torture victims, as ordered by a court, within 35
days.
Sexual minorities
The Blue Diamond Society,
known commonly as the BDS,
which works for the rights of
sexual minorities, has won an
award instituted by a Bangkok-
based gay Internet portal, the
Indo-Asian News Service reported. BDS is one ofthe five
recipients of the 5th Annual
Utopia Awards. The three-
year-old organization has been
chosen for its work to protect
the health and rights of sexual
minorities. The awarded will
be presented to the organization in Bangkok on November 19. The organization has
been targeted frequently for
harassment by the police.
Under arrest
Police arrested a senior
Maoist leader in Teku, Sadhu
Ram Devkota, alias Prasant.
Prasant coordinates media
and public relations for the
Maoists in the Kathmandu
Valley. He was arrested a day
after two other Maoists activists were arrested in
Itumbahal. The name and
position of two other suspected Maoists are not
known. Prasant has been a
central committee member of
the CPN-Maoist party since
he became the president of
the ANNISU-R, the Maoist
student organization. Prasant
has already been arrested
once before this in 1998 but
was released later.
Death in Iraq
Former Indian Gurkha soldier Tikaram Gurung of
Morang has been killed in late
October in an ambush targeted against U.S. forces in
Iraq, kantipuronline.com reported. Gurung had been
working as a security guard
in a U.S. army camp in Iraq
for 14 months. This is the
second death of an ex-Gurkha
working as a security guard
in Iraq.
News blackout
Maoists in Rukum have restricted journalists from
gathering news in five vil
lages in the district, reports
said. They have ordered journalists to seek their permission before reporting from
Chubang, Mahad,
Ranmamaikot, Pwang and
Purtenkada. The Maoists
have announced thatjournal-
ists will not be allowed to
leave the district headquarters for the villages without
their permission.
RPP split
The founding chairman of
the RPP, Surya Bahadur
Thapa, is leaving the party
along with senior party leaders Kamal Thapa and Buddhi
Man Tamang, though no formal announcements for a
spilt have been made. The
spilt came a week after Thapa
had announced intentions to
form "a new democratic
force." Before deciding to
call for the spilt, Thapa met
with senior RPP leaders, the
Party President Pashupati
Shumsher Rana and former
Prime Minister Lokendra
Bahadur Chand, who had
been assigned with the task
of negotiating with the
Thapa faction for reconciliation; but the differences
proved too deep. Thapa and
Rana have been at odds ever
since pressure from Rana and
others within the RPP
forced Thapa to step down
as prime minister.
.L
ART APPRECIATION: NTB chairman Bhoj Raj Ghimire at a photo exhibition
aimed at promoting new destinations in the country
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
15
 Milestone
Biz Buzz
The British Broadcasting Corporation's,
World Service radio programming is now available here for
the first time on FM. The BBC provides international news, analysis and information in English throughout the day on BBC 103 FM for
Kathmandu Valley and surrounding areas.
Nepali broadcasts on this service come in the
form of news, which is broadcast for 30 minutes at 8:45 p.m. and for 15 minutes at 10:45
p.m. The BBC World Service is respected for
providing impartial news and on-location reports with objectivity and accuracy. "This is
great news," says Michel Lobelle, BBC World
Service's business development manager for
the Asia-Pacific, "as for the very first time the
whole range of BBC World Service output will
be available in perfect sound quality on FM to
all listeners in the Kathmandu Valley."
The station being used for the broadcast belongs to Radio Nepal and is leased to the
BBC. "This is a historic milestone in the longstanding partnership between Radio Nepal
and the BBC," says the BBC's Lobelle. The
number of BBC's listeners on its traditional
short-wave broadcasts has been on the decline, and the broadcasting giant bel ieves that
making its programs available on FM is essential in meetingfierce competition from local and national stations. The World Service is
broadcasted on FM stations in 139 countries
to about 150 million listeners around the world
each week, accordingtothe BBC. FM broadcasts, which are easy to tune in and free from
static, are expected to increase the BBC's
listening audience in Nepal.
16
EVEREST BEER'S NEW
BRAND AMBASSADOR
Mt. Everest Brewery appointed Reinhold
Messner as brand ambassador for Everest Premium Lager Beer. Messner was in Kathmandu
for the 50th anniversary celebration of the ascent of Mount Cho Oyu. The brewery launched
its Everest Beer brand last year to commemorate the golden jubilee ofthe first successful
ascent of Everest in 1953. The brewery says it
plans to bring out a series of commemorative
editions of Everest Beer over the comingyears
"in honor ofthe national and international heroes" who have reached the summit of the
world's tallest peak. The brewery's involvement
with Messner was in accordance with this policy.
Messner, an accomplished mountaineer, rose
to fame with his mountaineering exploits. He
was the first to scale all 14 eight-thousand-
meter peaks. Among his other accomplishments: the first solo ascent of Everest, the first
ascent of Everest without the use of bottled
oxygen and the first solo crossing of Antarctica.
ADB LOAN FOR NEPAL
The Asian Development Bank has approved a
loan of $20 million for Nepal. This loan is provided with the aim of improving roads to promote sub-regional trade and transport. The
project being funded by this loan has a total
cost of $26.7 million; the government will contribute the remaining $6.7 million. The ADB
aims to integrate the country's economy into
the South Asian region by improving transport
facilities and making trade management more
efficient and effective. The project is aimed at
improving connection roads from inland
clearance depots on the southern border in
Birganj and Bhairawa to main highways.
These roads have been identified as two of
six major sub-regional transports corridors
that are choke points. Accordingto the bank,
a 12.4-km long stretch from the Birganj inland clearance depot to the Tribhuvan Highway will be upgraded to enable trucks and
buses to avoid the congested Birganj and
Jitpur market areas on the highway leading
to Kathmandu and other parts ofthe country. The project will also build a new inland
clearance depot of about 7.5 hectares at
the major gateway of Kakarbita at the eastern border with India.
The ADB believes that Nepal's landlocked and fragmented terrain substantially
hampers domestic and foreign commerce.
As 90% of Nepal's foreign trade
passes through India, Nepali
trade goods have among the
highest transportation costs in the region, impeding the country's ability to make its export
goods competitive and to expand foreign trade.
The project, it is hoped, will go some way to
reduce that cost by making transport more effective and efficient. The Ministry of Physical
Planning and Works is responsible for the execution ofthe project, which is due for completion by December 2009.
NEWAIRLINKTO KATHMANDU
Phuket Air, a private Thai airline, is planning to
fly between Bangkok and Kathmandu. The airlines will operate three flights a week on the
Bangkok-Kathmandu-Dubai route, starting from
the first week of December.
MCDOWELL'S FESTIVAL OFFER
McDowell's Nepal has a festival offer on its
McDowell's Signature whiskey. It is offeringa
"festival double," a special festive pack with
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 two bottles of its Signature whiskey. The double
pack is available at leading department stores
and is available while stocks last.
TOURIST ARRIVAL FIGURES
The number of tourists arriving in Nepal during
October was 12 percent lower than the same
period last year. According to figures provided
by the Nepal Tourism Board, the number of
tourists arriving during the month of October
was 33,510, compared to 38,200 for the
same month the year before. These figures
are only for those tourists who arrived by air.
The number of Indian tourists took a sharp
plunge compared to figures from last year,
decreased by 31 percent from 7,601 last
October to 5,628 this year. The number of
"third country tourists," those from countries
other than India, dropped by8 percent. While
the number of tourists from the China, Japan
and the United States has decreased, the
month of October saw an increase in the number of tourists arrivingfrom Australia, Germany,
France, Spain, the Netherlands and the United
Kingdom. Compared to this time last year,
overall tourist figures have increased 15 percent.
PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION
Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation and its in-flight
magazine, Shangri-la, are organizing the Nepal
Kaleidoscope Photography Competition 2004.
The event is scheduled for December. The
theme ofthe competition, says Shangri-la, is
"to illustrate Nepal from the eyes ofthe photographer." The event will also feature a three-day
exhibition. The first prize is Rs. 5 0,000
along with two return tickets to
Bangkok. There will also be a
special award for the "most
promising photographer," who
will receive Rs. 5,000 and an
opportunity to hold a solo exhibition at Siddhartha Art
Gallery.
MAGIC MUNCH
Hulas Biscuits and
Confectionaries  is
launching  a   new
brand of biscuits-
Magic Munch— in
the market. The
"sweet and salty"
biscuit is available in avail
able in a 90-
gram pack.
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THE MIRROR MEDIA PVT. LTD.
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
17
 ';&=
Nepali Congres
■,-tii^ii
At 79, Koirala is reluctant to step down as NC president.
As the party convention approaches, talk of alternative
leadership is getting vociferous but is again likely to go
nowhere.
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
W=
LE NEPALI CONGRESS
supremo Girija Prasad Koirala
was in Beijing last week with
his coterie, NC leaders aspiring to the
party presidency geared up efforts back
home to replace the septuagenarian.
Since party rules limit a president to two
terms, Koirala has said little about
whether he wants to have another go at
the presidency. His stalwarts, however,
have spoken openly about amending
party statutes to allow him to seek another term. As the party inches towards
its March convention and the all-important presidential election, most senior
NC members close to Koirala have kept
mum about their own intentions. As
usual, they are waiting for Koirala to
make the first move.
Sushil Koirala, a Girija confidant who
had announced his intention to run for
the presidency if the incumbent retires,
has apparently changed his mind. "I am
sure Sushilji won't run," says a senior
party leader, implying that the sit'
ting president could run again
More than one Central Work
ing Committee member says
that the party's senior leaders are deeply disenchanted
with the "highly secretive
and family-driven" poli
tics of the Nepali Con
gress.
But at least an increasing number of NC leaders
are publicly calling for re
forms within the party.
One     of    their
prime    demands: a call
to Koirala to
hand    over
the      party
5
18
leadership to the younger generation.
The call for alternative—and
younger—leadership has long resonated
within the party. But Koirala has so far
been able to keep hold ofthe reins. Party
insiders concede that the current leadership has failed to provide vision for the party. Some even
fear that the party could become irrelevant in national politics if it continues to put off reforms, fails to inject
fresh blood and
thought, and
trundles along
largely at the whims
of the Grand Old
Man, whose own
days are numbered.
Their dis-
gruntlement is disguised   in   clever
Congress-
speak. "The
:  talk inside
\   the party is
more about
alternative
NEW FACE: Poudel wants a
change in the presidency
/
nation weekly
 leadership, than about new-generation
leadership," says central committee
member Narahari Acharya. Koirala will
once again be asked by his reform-
minded colleagues not to personalize the
party "as the Gandhi family did in India." Famously, the party refused to buy
Koirala's argument that the recent Supreme Court summons against him was
an insult to the entire party.
As significant as the move was to
party-watchers, challenges to Koirala's
leadership in began long ago. The party's
10th convention in Pokhara in January
2001 showed that Koirala's control
would not go uncontested: Sher
Bahadur Deuba emerged as a powerful
dissenter. Although Deuba lost to
Koirala in the contest for the party presidency, the political symbolism was immense. Their growing rivalry eventually split the party.
The March convention will be another
difficult battle for Koirala. At 79, Koirala
shows no sign of stepping down; even if
he decides not to run for president again
he certainly will want to retain an iron grip
over the party, and if the presidency has to
go to someone else, Koirala will want to
be the one to choose his successor.
As of now, the obvious choice seems
to be cousin Sushil Koirala, though the rest
of the Koirala family circle seems to be
pushing Girija to go for one more term,
even if that means amending the party rules.
There are several other young Turks waiting in the wings: Sashank Koirala, B.P
Koirala's son and a medical doctor, has finally made a grand entry into politics, and
Girija's own daughter, Sujata, has shown
that she is capable of active backroom maneuvers, although she clearly lacks a popular base. Niece Shailaja Acharya, however,
is a leader in her own right with decades of
active politics under her belt.
The huge irony of Nepali politics is
that the Nepali Congress, which never
tires of chest-thumping and referring to
itself as the country's only party with a
democratic history, severely lacks intra-
party democracy. As far as its major decisions at the center go, the party has been
reduced to a one-man show. Senior leaders who were once mentored by Koirala
himself deeply resent the tendency for
dynastic politics that they see in the
Koirala family. "With all the claims of a
democratic leader and despite having a
proud history of working as a pro-democracy fighter," says a Central Working Committee leader, "Girija Prasad
Koirala has shown that none of his democratic claims translate from rhetoric to
action. So much for his history." Despite
repeated requests to come out in the
open with that comment, the central
committee member, however, chose to
remain anonymous. His sharp criticism
makes it clear that many party leaders
think they could do better.
As of now, three leaders are all set to
go ahead with their candidacies for the
party's top job: Shailaja Acharya, Sushil
Koirala and Ram Chandra Poudel. Few
inside the party take Shailaja or Sushil
seriously as reformists, calling their
claims for party presidency a stage-managed family drama. "Wait and see, she is
going to withdraw her candidacy at some
point," says the CWC member who
chooses to remain anonymous, "and
Girija Prasad Koirala will be the only
candidate of stature left in the race."
Many party insiders see Poudel as a
strong candidate. A moderate and a reformer, he is seen as a less polarizing force
compared to Koirala, and he may have
enough influence to bring the NC and
the breakaway NC-D together. Once elevated to the post of deputy prime minister, he resigned in July 2001 over his differences with the then Prime Minister
Koirala—a principled stand, rare in
Nepali politics. "It is ridiculous to say
that there is no alternative to Girija Prasad
Koirala for the post of party president,"
Poudel told reporters in Palpa last week.
Senior NC leaders privately say that
they are considering offering a platform
where all party workers and leaders who
oppose Koirala's dynastic politics can
demonstrate their resistance. But they are
extremely reluctant to offer any specifics; they may be fearful, fickle or both.
"We are still discussing various possibilities," says a central committee member.
"It's still too early to tell the whole story."
Not even Poudel has made it clear what
sort of reforms he intends to introduce.
The prime agenda for the convention
will be constitutional monarchy, restructuring ofthe state and constituent assembly
says the central committee's Narhari
Acharya. 'Anyone offering the vision to lead
the party on the back of these pressing issues is likely to win the presidency" And if
the history of the Congress is anything to
go by, that could easily be the Grand Old
Man himself, Girija Prasad Koirala. □
X
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
19
 Cosmic Air's first jet aircraft has arrived;
another will soon follow. Industry buzz says
the jets aren't financially sustainable, but
Cosmic isn't worried.
BYJOHN NARAYAN PARAJULI
OSMIC AIRLINES SUR-
prised everyone late last
month when it introduced
the country's first privately operated jet aircraft and flew it on domestic routes. Travelers took note
of both the plane and the low promotional fares, but other airlines
just seemed perplexed.
Cosmic operated its jet in the
Kathmandu-Biratnagar, Kathmandu-
Nepalganj and Kathmandu-
Bhairawaha routes. The fares during
its launch were priced 30 percent
cheaper. The buzz about cheaper
flights has taken the travel agencies
and ticketing agents by storm, with
countless telephone enquiries from
would-be travelers. Travel agents say
people even from lower-income
groups who normally travel by bus
have come for enquiries. The travel
industry seems excited about the
prospects of doing good business
with the advent of jets in the domestic sector.
Most people who have frequently
traveled by turboprop planes say they
find it tempting to switch over to jets.
The word jet itself excites many. For
casmtc air
HltOMMMOIIMOlM  •
 ^^3
tory
people who haven't traveled abroad, the
jet is a novelty many would consider
having a go at. But it's the prospect of
cheaper fares, should those be possible,
that could potentially transform flying
in Nepal.
"Cosmic is the first to introduce jets,"
says Hemanta Aryal, an engineer and a
columnist who keeps a close tab on aviation issues. "This is good news. However, it remains to be seen how long they
can continue the service."
With excitement about jets in the
domestic routes, there is also apprehension being expressed about its
sustainability. And people are already asking how far this can go.
Cosmic's rivals question the rationale and the economics, arguing that the
jets are too expensive to operate and
maintain to be profitable on Nepal's
short domestic routes.
Even so, Cosmic's promotional pricing for the routes the jet is currently
flying has triggered a price war among
private airlines: Cosmic and Yeti Airlines have both slashed their fares during the festival season. More importantly, Yeti has also announced it will
acquire jets.
Buddha Air, another leading airline,
is also feeling the pinch: It has cut back
on the number of flights. The airline
used to operate eight flights to Biratnagar
daily, but last week Buddha only operated six or seven flights. Buddha Air officials say that they are adopting a "wait
and see" approach and that they won't
bring down fares. But they have offered
double frequent-flyer miles on some
routes.
Buddha and other airlines say the fare
cuts by Cosmic is just a "promotional
gimmick." They point out that the low
fares are only available for a limited time
period and don't necessarily apply to all
seats on the plane. The costs of operating flights now, with very high oil prices,
have gone up, not down, they say. "It is
not a sustainable fare," says Buddha Air
Marketing Manager Rupesh Joshi. "Jets
don't make sense for Nepal's domestic
sector. It's like driving a Ferrari on
Kathmandu's bumpy streets."
There is some question whether jet
flights in the domestic sector make sense,
but Cosmic may not intend to continue
the practice once it begins its regional
flights to Dhaka and New Delhi. "This
jet is not intended for the domestic sec
tor," says Aryal, the aviation expert. Many
others agree that Cosmic is getting the
feel for the aircraft in the domestic sector before becoming a regional airline.
"It seems to be just a test ride for the
crew," says a pilot.
Cosmic may just be trying to shake
up the market, but that may turn out to
be blessing in disguise. In the long run,
big planes may replace smaller ones, at
least in the profitable routes like
Biratnagar, Nepalgunj and Pokhara
thanks to economies of scale.
Conspiracies and scams in the aviation sectors are not uncommon; neither are conspiracy theories. This is not
the first time Nepali private air operators have touted jet aircraft. Shady companies like Air Nepal International and
Nepal Transcontinental Freight
Freighter Services made deals for jets
but never operated them. Observers say
that those were just scams to dupe banks
and investors. But Yeti Airlines has already announced plans to bring its own
jets. That's no scam: It's a clear sign of
cutthroat competition coming to
Nepal's airline industry, though the
competition in the past has driven many
airlines out of business.
SH - AHk
-j&HtflM
•* l. ViV**
 EXPANSION: Yeti is also
planning jet flights
JET HISTORY
T1 he advent of reliable
jet aircraft such as the
Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8 in the late 1950s
started a new era in commercial
aviation, the "jet age." The new
planes offered more comfort,
higher speeds and less expense
than piston-engine aircraft on long
routes. Until the 1960s American airlines usedjets only for medium and longdistances, such as
between New York and Chicago
(1,140 kilometers). Jets of that
era didn't have much appeal on
shorter routes: high fuel con
sumption made them profitable only over longer distances.
New technology like fanjet
engines changed the scene
forever. New jets consume
much less fuel; even the maintenance cost is lower. Aircraft
manufacturing giants like
Boeing and Airbus took lessons
from pioneer Caravel le, a
French company that built sleek
twin-engine aircraft. Boeing's 727
and Airbus' 310 aircraft were designed for medium distances; they
have proven phenomenally profitable. But even in the United
States and Europe, smaller planes
with turboprop engines are often
used for short fl ights: Most fl ights
between New York and Boston
(300 kilometers, farther than
Kathmandu to Biratnagar) aretur-
boprops, for example, d
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 The closure of Necon Air last year
shocked both the financial and aviation
sectors. Necon was considered a success story of Nepali entrepreneurship.
Few people knew the company had financial problems. With Necon's closure,
banks, shareholders, the Civil Aviation
Authority of Nepal and the Nepal Oil
Corporation lost millions of rupees.
Necon owes Rs. 20 million to the Civil
Aviation Authority of Nepal for landing
and parking charges and another Rs. 20
million to the Nepal Oil Corporation.
Necon was the first Nepali private
airline to operate regional flights, and its
decade-long survival had given the im
pression that the company was here to
stay. Aviation experts say that Necon's
finances came under strain when the
company brought ATR-42 aircraft to replace its aging Avros. ATRs are sophisticated and expensive aircraft; Necon's
move came at just the wrong moment,
when the volume of tourist arrivals fell
precipitously. Observers say that Necon
bought the new planes and took up regional routes on a whim, without giving
much thought to the economics. It also
had plans to establish a jet fleet.
Many blame the regional flights for
Necon's bust. Necon operated two
flights from Biratnagar to Calcutta and
two flights on the Kathmandu-Patna and
Kathmandu-Varanasi routes. Even with
aircraft that had much lower operating
and maintenance costs than jets, Necon
couldn't sustain its regional or domestic
flights. The cost of operation became so
high that the company was grounded forever. Experts doubt that Cosmic can succeed either. "Only those with deep pockets can afford to operate jets in the domestic sector before they become financially viable, if at all," says Hemanta Aryal.
Retired pilot Man Bahadur Gurung,
who was among the first to fly the
RNAC's early jets, agrees with Aryal. He
and pilots who have experience flying jets
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
23
 tory
Private Airlines
With the implementation ofthe open
sky policy in
1993, Nepali private airlines
began operating domestic
flights. Initially Necon Air,
Everest Airlines and Nepal
Airlines ran domestic flights to
Pokhara, the cities of Tarai
and mountain destinations.
Today 13 private airlines are
in operation or soon to come
on-line. Many have also
applied for permission to
operate international flights.
The government so far has
issued international Air
Operation Certificates to five
of them. Only Necon has
crossed the borders though,
and only for a short time
before going out of business.
Necon Air, Mountain Air
and half a dozen other private
airlines squandered billions of
rupees borrowed from banks
and raised from shareholders.
The reason for their doom:
They were poorly managed.
Airlines require millions of
dollars to purchase or lease
aircraft and set up ground
operations. Beingan
international airline means
paying thousands of dollars
per flight for gate and ground
fees and for aviation fuel.
Experts say no private
company can afford that
unless flights operate at 70
percent ofthe plane's
capacity or higher. Until now,
domestic operators in Nepal
had not taken the risk of
operating jet aircraft. C
GROUNDED: Necon
went bust
doubt that jets are sustainable in a small
and mountainous country like Nepal. "It
is good to introduce jets," he says, "but
one should also keep in mind that they
have high operating costs." Senior pilots
say that short routes can't take advantage
ofthe benefits jets offer. "Jets are economically rewarding on long routes," says T.P
Gauchan, a senior aeronautical engineer
who worked on the RNAC's first B-727
in its early days. "Even difficult terrain
can be compensated for by distance." But
there are no long routes in Nepal.
Jets perform best when they are at
high altitudes and when the distances are
long. Higher altitudes allow them to
cruise with less air resistance, which
saves a lot of fuel. While in India, the
United States or China internal flights
can take long hours, in Nepal the longest flight is barely 45 minutes. Operators in those countries reap the benefits
from the fuel efficiency of jets. "In Nepal,
it's time to descend even before reaching the desired cruising altitude," says
Aryal.
The problem is not just short routes.
Pilots say domestic airports are ill
equipped to handle jets during the rainy
season. Even at Tribhuvan International
Airport, there could be a space crunch.
Arline experts say if more domestic airlines acquire jets, the domestic apron at
TIA will soon run out space. Jets also require longer runways. Pilots say there are
inherent dangers of overrunning the runway, especially during rainy season and
during winter when the visibility is poor.
Others doubt that jets could ever be
the mode of mass transit in Nepal, for
other reasons too.
Apart from lower operating costs, the
turboprop aircraft in use now seat from 15
to 40 passengers. Experts say planes of that
size are well suited to Nepal's needs. Since
airlines only operate profitably when
planes fly 70 to 100 percent full, larger
planes are a risk. And, say the experts, jets
may not even be faster than the current
generation of planes in use, since they never
reach cruising speed on short flights. "By
the time passengers are boarded and a jet
takes off, a turboprop could be half way to
the destination," says Gauchan.
Despite the doom and gloom from
other airlines, Cosmic Ar isn't the least
bit worried. Cosmic managers say the
Fokker 100, the aircraft it has chosen, is
the jet best suited for small airports and
short routes. They also say the Fokker
consumes less fuel per passenger mile
than the smaller turboprop aircraft, like
those operating now in Nepal; they also
claim that it is more reliable.
And the heart of Cosmic's argument
for sustainability is that domestic sector
is growing, given that ground travel is
becoming slower and more difficult.
Providing an affordable alternative will
help expand the domestic aviation market dramatically, particularly if fares can
be kept low. Low fares will certainly
bring flying within the reach of a whole
new group of travelers. Even officials of
rival airlines concur with that economics: "Cheaper fares have helped expand
the market," says Buddha Air's Joshi. Travelers certainly agree.
"I would rather fly in a jet than travel
by bus," says Khagendra Niroula, a computer entrepreneur and frequent traveler
from Biratnagar to Kathmandu. "If the fare
gets cheaper," he adds. Travelers find the
current holiday fares attractive—Rs. 1,990
to Biratnagar in less than an hour. A bus
journey from Biratnagar to Kathmandu
costs approximately Rs. 500 plus some Rs.
200-300 on snacks and food. The journey
may take 15 hours or more with annoying
security checks along the way. Many like
Niroula would like to switch to flying to
avoid the backbreaking overland trip.
Cosmic is as enthused about their jet as
the passengers are, but there is still uncertainty about the sustainability of jets in
domestic sector.
The most important question is
whether airlines can afford to keep the
fares low enough for long enough to expand the market and still reap profits.
For all of Cosmic's optimism, only time
will tell, n
24
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 US Election
BUSH WINS, THE
The world cannot ignore the US, simply because it is the
most powerful nation. The onus now lies on President
Bush to bridge the divide he created in his first term.
BY SUM AN PRADHAN
IT'S OVER. THANKFULLY, MERCI-
fully, over. The nail-biting U.S. elections, which so mesmerized the
world, threw up a clear verdict. George
W Bush will remain America's president
for four more years.
Angry? Disgusted? Pessimistic? You
are not the only one. Half of America is
too. But this country which believes in
moving on, is beginning to do just that.
All the post-election media coverage has
hammered home the need to accept the
verdict and move on to four more years
of President Bush.
You could almost hear the huge collective sigh of relief all over America as
the hotly contested and bitterly partisan
election delivered a clear verdict within
24 hours of closing. No one wanted a
repeat of 2000 when Bush won the Electoral College votes—which actually
elects the president—without winning
the popular vote, and that too on a decision of the Supreme Court. This time,
President Bush has the satisfaction of
winning not just the popular vote but
also the legitimacy that comes with it. It
may not be a decisive mandate—because
America is still a bitterly divided nation—but Bush now has the clear popular backing.
The story of how Bush won and his
Democratic challenger John Kerry lost
is going to keep America busy for some
time. But for the rest of the world, the
question is, how different will a second
Bush presidency be? Will he stick with
the same unilateralism that so defined
his first term and riled the world? Or
will he try to reach out, soothing ruffled
feathers through smooth diplomacy?
The jury is out.
To begin with, America's foreign
policy priorities will remain the same:
stabilization of Iraq and Afghanistan,
continued war on terrorism, and vigorous efforts to rein in the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran. Consequently Bush may stick to his first-term
approach, reading the election victory as
a mandate to continue in the same manner. Indeed that is what he said in his
first press conference after winning reelection. "I earned political capital on
the campaign, and I now am going to
spend it on what I told the people I
would spend it on...finding [terrorists]
and winning the war on terrorism."
Blunt talk, there.
But Bush also realizes that he will
need international support in meeting
his foreign policy objectives, particularly
on Iraq and terrorism issues. At the same
press conference, he also said, "We're
fighting a continuing war on
terror...We'll stay strong and resolute.
26
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Every civilized country also
has an interest in the outcome
of this war. Whatever our past
differences, we have a common enemy. I will continue to
reach out to our friends and
allies, our partners in NATO
and the EU to encourage freedom and democracy as alternative to repression and terror."
The statement does not say
much about approach because
it can be interpreted either
way. Much will be clearer once
Bush shakes up his cabinet.
The Secretary of State Colin
Powell has already made it
clear that he wants to quit. And
the fate of Donald Rumsfeld,
the secretary of defense who
most blame for the Iraq quagmire, is unclear. But some
commentators here think that
Bush is more likely to change
his approach in the second term, now
that he is free ofthe pressures of re-election and pandering to his support base.
"Bush aides have signaled that they expect a less ambitious second term, in part
because the military is already stretched
in Afghanistan and Iraq," wrote The
Washington Post a day after the president was re-elected.
That probably means the doctrine of
pre-emption will be put on hold, much
to the world's relief. The motivations
are simple. Even Republicans admit that
the United States is currently in a quagmire in Iraq. The Middle East is still
just as dangerous and volatile, and nuclear
tensions with North Korea and Iran have
made America less secure than before.
These are clear failures of U.S. foreign
policy. The United States therefore
needs the support and aid of the world
more than ever to avoid being stuck in
the mud in Iraq and on nuclear proliferation issues. This motivation could
prove powerful enough to force a realis-
WORLD WAITS
tic re-think in U.S. foreign policy. It
could propel Bush to seek more accommodation with the international community, and that, in turn, requires
smooth-edged diplomacy, not the "my
way or the highway" rhetoric of the first
term.
US-SOUTH ASIA TIES
The other priority—defeating al-Qaeda
and its brand of global terrorism—
means that the United States is going to
remain involved in Afghanistan and
South Asia. On this score, there may be
fewer reasons for Bush to change course
since the United States and its allies
have been generally successful in the
war against Islamic terrorism, the failure to capture Osama bin Laden notwithstanding. Bush will continue his
close relations with Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf because he needs
the latter's help in Afghanistan and
against al-Qaeda. But that will not stop
the United States from developing
closer ties with India, a country which
is not only vital for regional stability
but also becoming increasingly crucial
for America's own economic prosperity. Many large American companies
now outsource technology services to
India, and this trend will only grow. And
the two countries share similar views
on terrorism, particularly Islamic terrorism. This only means one thing: The
United States will not risk angering
India and will generally refrain from
being involved in Kashmir. It will also
be careful not to increase its involvement in Nepal much beyond current
levels. For the United States, Nepal is
too marginal a country to risk antagonizing an important regional player.
America's misadventure in Iraq and
its war on terrorism necessitate greater
U.S. involvement in dealing with the
root cause of Islamic terrorism: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But despite
making lofty promises in his first term,
Bush has remained conspicuously absent
from the Middle East peace process,
much to the chagrin of his European allies. There are signs that this could now
change, not the least due to the illness of
Palestinian Authority leader Yasser
Arafat—a man the Bush administration
detests. And Bush knows that to get more
international financial and other assis-
""27
 US Electio
tance on Iraq and its war on terror, it
will need the support of its European
and other allies who want a renewed
focus on the Middle East peace process. Arafat's departure from the scene
is both a risk and an opportunity for
U.S. policy in the Middle East. The
Europeans are also needed in dealing
with Iran's nuclear ambitions. This is
one area where the Bush administration could continue to hold on to its
doctrine of pre-emption, but many
analysts think it will pass the actual job
to Israel.
INTERDEPENDENT WORLD
In the end, both America and the
world need each other. America can-
Little Hope
Most Nepali illegal immigrants hang on to the US in the hopes of making
enough money to send back home. They fear four years of Republican rule
is going to be tough for them
BY SUM AN PRADHAN
IN NEW YORK
Arun Basnet, a restaurant
worker in Manhattan, ar
rived in New York City in
1998 to attend a seminar. But
rather than return home, the 30-
year-old stayed back and disappeared in the vastness of
America's most vibrant and diverse
city. Today Arun is an illegal "alien,"
though he is working his way towards the all-important Green
Card. The card is a ticket to living
and working legally in the United
States.
Like the rest ofthe world, Arun
avidly followed the recent U.S.
presidential elections. If he could
only vote, he says, he would have
voted for Democratic Party challenger John Kerry. "The Democrats
are good to us immigrants," says
Arun. "All recent immigrants want
the Democrats to win." Unfortunately for him, Kerry lost. He now
faces four more years of a Republican administration determined to
stem the flow of illegal immigration
to the United States. He fears that
four years of Republican rule is
going to be very tough for illegal
immigrants like him.
Thousands of other illegal immigrants are pondering the same
future now. By most accounts,
Nepali illegal immigrants living in
New York City alone numbers
around 20,000. Most illegal
aliens prefer New York because
you don't need a car—hence a
drivers' license—to live and work
in the city. In most other parts of
the United States, a car is a must
and a driving license is impossible
for those without legal status.
Most Nepali immigrants work
in low-paying service sector jobs
in restaurants and stores in New
York City. They hang on to America
in the hopes of making enough
money to send back home. Along
the way, many decide to stay for
good and aim to bringtheirfami-
liestothe United States. But there
is a problem. Though America is a
land of immigrants (it's only a
question of who, or whose ancestors, arrived when), recent arrivals, especially illegals, face a
daunting life.
"It's not easy living illegally in
America,"saysanother Nepali immigrant Satish Lama. 'You live in
cramped and crowded apartments in
dangerous neighborhoods, and you
work like a dogjustto make a meager
living." The on ly ticket out of this quagmire is a Green Card, which opens the
way for better paying jobs and the
chance to fly back home without the
fear of being impounded on return.
The reason most of these immigrants support the Democrats is
because they are seen as being
soft on immigration. The Democratic
candidate Kerry advocated a plan,
which would have provided illegal
immigrants a chance to receive a
Green Card after five years of arrival, even if they live here illegally.
The last Democratic president, Bill
Clinton, in fact, signed a law in December 2000, which allowed all
illegals who could find employers to
apply for work permits and Green
Cards within a six-month period. It
was a kind of amnesty for people
like Arun. "I applied within the stipulated time and now have a work
permit. Hopefully I will get my Green
Card soon," he says.
Most others are not as lucky.
They arrived after the amnesty pe-
not remain isolated in an increasingly
interdependent world where a terrorist threat across the seven seas could
affect its own borders. And the world
cannot ignore America, simply because it is the most powerful nation
on earth. But the onus lies on Bush to
bridge the divide created by his first
term.  □
riod was over, and as a result face
difficult prospects. Many of these
Nepal is say that the Republ icans
are tough on illegal immigrants.
Though it would be difficult to
smoothly run America's economic
gears without the service provided
by illegal immigrants, stemming the
flow of illegal aliens is a major political issue.
It is a particular concern ofthe
Bush administration that sees illegal immigration from neighboring
Mexico as a big problem. Consequently, even before the elections,
the president proposed that instead of providing a ticket to a
Green Card or citizenship, these
aliens be given a work permit for
three years. Though that would provide them a means to live and work
legally in the United States; all such
"guest workers" would have to
leave at the end ofthe three-year
period.
The measure, understandably,
is unpopular among illegal immigrants. But many Americans see
wisdom in it. "The Democratic
policy is self-defeating," says an
American student. "It gives incentive for people to come and live in
the United States illegally in the
hopes of getting a Green Card
eventually after five years. The
Republican policy is more realistic. Right now, hundreds of Mexicans die trying to cross our borders for the lack of an effective
policy. At least that will stop once
they can get a legal means to enter the United States and work
here for three years."
Sounds sensible, but doesn't
address the fears ofthe millions
of illegal immigrants who already
live and work in America, n
28
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 The Essay
THE REMEMBERED
PAST
We imagine Kathmandu's
past as eternally same, almost separate from history.
And mythical.
BYADITYA ADHIKARI
T^ERE WAS SOME EXCITE-
ment in Kathmandu recently
when a German-turned-Norwegian, Sugata (adopted Buddhist name),
revealed the hundreds of photographs
he had taken of the Kathmandu Valley
and of the Kaligandaki region in the late
1950s. Most people who grew up in
Kathmandu would probably find the
images depicting their city the most interesting.
Photographic documentation of the
Kathmandu Valley before the 1970s is
scarce. So we crave images of our city's
past, and there is excitement when images
we never knew existed are revealed. And
those black and white prints that show
clusters of people untouched by foreign
influence, in clothes and among buildings
of their own making, seem inexplicably
mysterious to us. Sugata's pictures—ofthe
Macchendranath, of gatherings on the
steps of temples at Basantpur, ofthe performances of Hindu rituals—we are told,
are from the 1950s but they seem so much
further removed from us in time. They
could as well have been from the 1940s.
Or the 30s or the 20s. Or even from the
19th century. Of pictures of Kathmandu
public life, excluding those that depict
well-known historical events, like the cremation of King Tribhuvan, or of the palaces ofthe ruling elite, we have no means
of knowing precisely what time period
such photos belong to.
The lack of photographs from the first
half of the 20th century does not alone account for our inability to distinguish between different decades. Customs, clothing and architecture changed far slower
in Kathmandu than they did in lands with
tremendous changes affecting world history. While it is foolhardy to suggest that
no cultural (as opposed to political)
changes occurred in the Kathmandu of
the 19th and early 20th centuries, one can
argue that not even a fraction ofthe change
that took place in Europe, China or India
took place here.
That Prithvi Narayan Shah did not
bring any changes to the cultural life of
30
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Kathmandu is well known. The urban
society ofthe Kathmandu Newars was so
vastly superior to what he had ever seen
that he thought it best to leave it as it was.
When foreign influence, primarily British, increased in the
mid-19th century, only
the ruling elite, eager
to grab the clothes,
clocks and buildings
of the Europeans,
were affected. The
lives of the subjects
continued more or
less along traditional
lines.
Ours was a culture
that until relatively recently believed that
truth had been revealed millenniums
ago, that the best social organization did
not stray from the
traditional order to
better embody the old
laws. Look at the principles of our traditional art and architecture: The meaningful works were
those that emulated
the iconography of
the canonical treatises as taught to the artist by his teacher.
So we have carvings of the Buddha that
show the same series of gestures—depicting contemplation, blessings or benevolence—time after time. The modern artist seeking to show how he feels,
with his conception of art as self-expression, would have been considered a megalomaniac or a madman. Who cares what
an individual thinks or feels when there
are other more important truths to comprehend? Without tradition, such works
were condemned as the work of men who
came with their materials to paint a picture on the air {akas'e rupam likheyya says
the Majjhima-Nikaya).
No doubt there are variances in the
styles of different ages and the conventions
used to express them, but stylistic changes
in traditional customs and art have occurred
at an imperceptible pace—nothing like the
rapid changes ofthe 20th century west where
even decades are characterized by styles.
Though buildings like Singha Durbar or
the whitewashed section of the Hanuman
Dhoka Palace existed at that time, in imitation of Versailles and Edwardian England,
they differ radically from indigenous styles
and look clumsy and incongruous with
their surroundings.
And the ugly modernity of our current
buildings and streets that sacrifice aesthetics to utility are unable to captivate us as
well. We need them, but like the very cameras that captured the images that we so
crave, like the idea of progress itself, our
current architecture and planning are based
on imported principles, which we still fail
to understand completely It is this failure
that is partially responsible for the execrable
urban mess that Kathmandu is today
So, with all our new things and ideas,
we look with nostalgia—romantic, perhaps, but nonetheless sincere—at the past
as a cleaner, simpler time. When we visit
exhibitions of photographs like Sugata's,
we seek a momentary transformation
to that earlier period.
I think it is safe to say
there are certain fantasies of
Kathmandu's past
that everyone who grew up in this city
shares, and we seek expression of these
fantasies in any display showing images
ofthe past.
But the camera is a cold eye: It is a
good, unsentimental observer, which
does not penetrate into what it observes.
The black and white prints of an early era
excite but do not satisfy our craving.
For satisfaction we look elsewhere.
The foremost expressionist of these collective fantasies is the painter Hari Prasad
Sharma. At his exhibition "Kathmandu
Valley Down the Ages," held a few years
ago, Kathmanduites found expression of
their past and everyone was delighted.
Appetite whetted by the miniature reproductions of Sharma's paintings in the
newspapers, everyone hurried to the exhibit, and eyes lit up in spontaneous joy at
the sight of the paintings. Clearly the joy
was in the recognition that someone else
had realized some of their own dreams.
The paintings are now available in
booklet with the subtitle "Glimpses from
the Ancient and Medieval Past." This is
somewhat of a misnomer, as the words
The camera is a cold
eye: It is a good,
unsentimental
observer
"medieval" and "ancient" are used almost
interchangeably. These are words taken
from the history of Europe and then applied to our own, and the categorization of
Nepali time periods into medieval and
ancient are arbitrary The medieval way of
life could very well extend into the 20th
century: The painting "Communal Life in
a Baha" depicts a bustling town square with
a chaitya at its center. Artisans are busy at
work women are busy carrying water to
their houses, and animals wander about.
This could have been a scene from
Bhaktapur 50 years ago. No doubt the
houses are in much better shape in the
painting than they have been in recent history, and the clothing clearly speaks of a
different time, giving us an impression of
an undefined distant past, but the scene is
hardly medieval, if we take medieval to
mean the years between 500 and 1500 A.D.
On the other hand the painting
"Mahabhinishkraman,"
depicting Prince
Siddhartha looking at
his sleeping wife and
child before running
away, could rightly be
said to represent an ancient event, if his palace, with all its windows, walls and doors, wasn't distinctive
of Malla period architecture.
Our past then. Imagination here has fed
on the art and architecture of our old city
centers and has compressed the scene depicting the baha and the event from
Buddha's life into a single era. The classifications of modern historiography may
have a place in our minds, but haven't been
able to capture our hearts. We imagine
Kathmandu's past as eternally same, almost
separate from history. And mythical. It is
hardly surprising that we, a people with so
many myths, have an image ofthe past, easily allowing gods, goddesses and demons
to enter into our visions of the old city.
Among Sharma's paintings we find the
last Malla king, Jaya Prakash Malla (really
so close to us in history, but so far from us
in mind), at a dice game with the goddess
Taleju Bhawani. Everyone knows the outcome of this game. This story, which can
only be considered myth, is so much more
familiar to us than actual events that took
place under this king's reign. And so much
closer to our hearts, so much more pleasant to our imaginations. □
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
31
 Dashain   Dolakha
OPTIMISTIC
The ceasefire opened a window of hope; the residents of
Dolakha converged for the two-day festival in numbers
far exceeding the past few years, when fear had kept many
at home
BY SARA SHNEIDERMAN AND
MARK TURIN IN DOLAKHA
DASHAIN HAS LONG BEEN
bittersweet for the Thangmi
population of Dolakha's villages. On Vijaya Dashami, instead of receiving tika from family and celebrating
at home, two Thangmi men must make
the trek from the village of Dumkot to
Dolakha Bazaar, where they strip down
to loincloths and drink the fresh blood
of a buffalo calf sacrificed in the Devikot
temple courtyard. By drinking the
blood, the Thangmi are believed to clear
the way for Newar fighters to win the
battle against evil in the Khadga Jatra festival, which takes place on the following day. This dramatic ritual has traditionally brought Dolakha's diverse inhabitants together in a quintessentially
local celebration that highlights the economic and cultural interdependence of
the region's ethnic peoples.
This year, a tangible feeling of relief
hung in the air thanks to the Dashain
ceasefire called by both the Maoists and
the government. Since establishing political and combat operations in Dolakha
in 1998, the Maoists have taken control
of most valleys in the district, while at
the same time the government and security forces maintain a strong presence
in the district headquarters of Charikot.
Although the area has thankfully not seen
a major battle, minor skirmishes occur
regularly. Casualties on both sides have
been significant, and where village conversations at this time of the year were
once focused on the rice harvest and
32
buffalo sacrifices, now political speculation dominates. The news of a ceasefire
opened a window of hope, and Dolakha
residents from villages as well as the
towns converged for the two-day festival in numbers far exceeding the past few
years, when fear had kept many at home.
As we traveled through the villages
close to Dolakha Bazaar, we noted a cautious optimism as farmers spoke of their
hopes for the future. Despite the insurgency, the past several years have brought
concrete improvements in the standard
of living for those villagers within a two-
day walk from the town. An agricultural
road that runs between Dolakha Bazaar
and Singati market has become fully operational in the last year, and an impressive number of village homes are now
lit by hydro-electricity.
The Dolakha-Singati road was not
always a winning proposition. Funded
by GTZ and the Norway World Food
Programme, construction began in 1998.
Local laborers were contracted to build
the road through a food for work
scheme, but thanks to corruption and
mismanagement much of the promised
rice was received late or was so infested
with weevils that it was only fit for livestock. Worse still, farmers whose property was taken for the new road were
never compensated for the land they lost.
 For subsistence agriculturalists who
squeeze out grain from every square
meter just to make enough to feed their
families for six months, the loss of land
was a major blow.
At the time, villagers organized protests in Charikot demanding payment
and threatened to blockade the road
when it opened. But now that the road is
functional, with several Rolwaling
Yitayat buses plying the route every day,
attitudes have changed. Few villagers
choose to pay the Rs. 10 to ride the bus
when they can reach their destination in
more or less the same time by foot, but
many people with whom we spoke still
believe the road to be a positive development. Why? Because in medical emergencies they can move sick or injured
people more efficiently to the Gauri
Shankar Hospital in Dolakha, now
staffed with a well-trained medical team
from the Model Hospital in Kathmandu.
The heavy pylons and wiring necessary for electrification were also more
easily transported by road. Soon after last
year's Dashain festivities, several VDCs
were electrified for the first time from a
hydropower station located just west of
Charikot. Having installed a meter box
and the wiring set-up of their choice,
village households can now have lights
and power sockets to power radios and
sewing machines for a minimum charge
of Rs. 80 a month. Some extended families living in close proximity have opted
to pool resources and wire several houses
off one meter box, so that each household need pay only Rs. 20 or so per
month—a manageable charge even for
poor families. Villagers commented that
electric light at night has led to a noticeable decrease in smoke-related health
problems and has likewise increased the
amount of time available for students to
study and for other productive social
activities.
Ironically, even though the road-
project staff were some ofthe Maoists'
earliest targets for extortion and physical assault in the area, villagers commented that the road has made Maoist
travel and intelligence gathering far
more efficient. Almost everyone travels along the wide road now, rather than
on the narrow shaded village paths of
old, making it far easier to keep tabs on
the comings and goings of neighbors.
Naturally, the road benefits the security forces as well, who now survey the
area from a high ridge near Charikot.
For the most part, the security forces
patrol the road during the day, while
the Maoists move at night. Villagers on
their morning rounds or en route to
their fields stop by the roadside teashops
to check for newly posted Maoist directives.
Intriguingly, there were no such directives against celebrating Dashain.
Both the traditional family tika and the
large-scale festivals in Dolakha Bazaar
were allowed to proceed as usual. Ru
mors flew about Maoist fighters returning home under cover of night to take
tika and returning to forested camps before daylight. A local source even reported that he had been contacted by
the regional Maoist leadership to help
send a Dashain bonus to cadres in the
field and something special to those in
jail.
We had half expected a Maoist ban
on Devikot Puja and Khadga Jatra, both
because they assign the Thangmi—the
poorest and most disenfranchised ethnic group in the area—a demeaning
role and because the festivals represent
the local assertion of Hindu state hegemony. But there was no such ban in
place. For the Thangmi participants who
become possessed by deities, the
Devikot Puja is in fact a source of divine power. The only other visible display of power during the festival was
that of several groups of heavily armed
policeman in civilian clothes charging
through town in pick-up trucks with
their guns trained on festival-goers. Citizens of the bazaar looked the other way,
avoiding eye contact.
As the buffalo calf was sacrificed,
blood sprayed out far beyond the mouths
of the possessed men waiting to drink it.
According to the Newar pujari of
Devikot, the large quantity of blood was
an auspicious sign that bodes well for
the coming year. At the end of the two-
day festival tired, hung-over and relieved
villagers walked home up the road, returning for their own tika by bulb-light
for the very first time. Q
(Shneiderman is an anthropologist from Cornell University
conducting research with the Thangmi ethnic group. Turin is a Visiting Scientist at ICIMOD and the director of the Digital Himalaya
Projectatthe University of Cambridge.)
'&£***?+*
 Health
1
Tf f
Though experts argue the condom taboo is minimal in
urban areas now, it's still an awkward moment for many
buyers who approach the issue indirectly
CRS Company. Now many local
brands and at least a dozen international brands are available, not only
in pharmacies but also in department
stores and even in places like pan
pasals and barbershops. Even so,
many customers approach the issue
indirectly.
For example, Karmacharya says that
people looking for condoms at her shop
often start with a request for a common,
well-known item such as Disprin,
Cetamol, Vicks or Handiplast. Whenever
possible, male customers ask the male
shop helpers. "Most villagers blush with
shame when I have to explain to them
how to use contraceptives prescribed by
the Family Planning Centers inside the
hospitals," she says. "The workers there
usually tell them to ask us to explain!"
One condom buyer who is married
and works in a bank told Nation Weekly
that buying condoms become easier, with
condoms now available near cash
counters at department stores. "It's easy
to just pick one up with your other
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
BUYING CONDOMS, THE SIM-
plest and cheapest birth control
method and the best way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted
diseases, still embarrasses many Nepalis.
Customers aren't the only ones uncomfortable with condoms: Some pharmacies and medical shop owners aren't even
willing to sell them.
Srilaxmi Karmacharya runs her
family's medical shop, Sikshan Pharma,
in front of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Maharajgunj.  Her
brother runs another pharmacy right
across the street. "No condoms here,"
says Karmacharya flatly to disappointed
customers. "I still feel really odd to be
dealing with issues such as condoms directly," she says. "I send them over to
[my brother's shop,] Sriram Pharma,
instead."
Though experts argue the condom
taboo is minimal in urban areas now,
it's still an awkward moment for
many buyers of dhaal, almost a generic
name for condoms in Nepal after a
condom by that brand name was
launched first in 1978 by the Nepal
34
 goods, pay for it and leave," he adds. "In
some places, they even wrap it up in
newspaper for your convenience if you
ask them to."
A random survey of pharmacists and
medical shopkeepers showed that
most condom buyers are male and
mostly over the age of 40, though young
teenagers are also top customers. Celebrations like the 10th
Condom Day,
marked       on
October 30, are promoting public
awareness about using condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy; slowly there's an environment
where condoms and other sexual issues
can be discussed openly.
This year the comedy duo of Madan
Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bansha
Acharya, popularly known as MA-HA,
aired a television serial promoting the use
of condoms on all the Nepali television stations at the same time. A three-
day doharigeet festival was also organized at the capital's Khulamanch.
"Addressing issues such as
HIV/AIDS or STD prevention
as well as unwanted pregnancies though information, communication and behavioral
change [and]
through
events
such as
f Condom
Day is the
best     op
tion," says Dr. Ram Prasad Shrestha, director at the National Center for AIDS
and STD Control. "We can't implement
laws on condom use, like the law requiring wearing helmets while driving motorcycles, as sex isn't something [public]."
Despite some social stigma remaining, health officials are happy that information about condoms has gotten out.
Condom Day organizers estimate they
were able to reach 1,500,000 people in all
75 districts in the country. Condom Day
is celebrated in Nepal on the first Saturday after Kojagrat Purnima, the last day
ofthe Dashain festival.
"It is the best time ofthe year to reach
our target groups—migrant males who
are home for Dashain and adolescents,"
says Pitamber Aryal, director of the Junior/Youth Department at the Nepal Red
Cross Society, which has been organizing Condom Day in Nepal since 1995.
This year's celebration included regular
seminars, interaction programs, street
dramas, rallies and advertising in various
publications.
"Condom, the no-no word, is freely
talked about among family members and
peers in the urban areas," says Shanker
Raj Pandey, managing director of Nepal
CRS Company. "But efforts need to be
redoubled to address the issue among
the rural masses." As the issue becomes
easier to discuss, condom sales have
been rising.
According to the AIDS control center, condom sales last year rose to more
than 22 million units, almost double the
previous year. The growth is attributed
to the entrance of the non-profit organization Population Services International, which has aggressively marketed
Number 1 condoms. Population Services is a social marketing agency working in about 70 countries worldwide.
Naveen Siddhi Bajracharya, of PSI
Nepal says his organization also plans to
expand its promotion and marketing to
massage parlors, discos, dohari restaurants
and other places where sexual activities
are said to be taking place. As awareness
spreads and the taboo fades, buying
condoms will cease to embarrass customers, and shops like Karmacharya's pharmacy will sell them openly. We hope it
doesn't take many more Condom Days
to reach that point. □
35
 Opinion
ci
Reading The Gita
The Gita is notjust an interesting; the experience is a cross between reading Stephen Hawkings' "A
Brief History of Time' and watching a Hollywood version of Troy
BY SUSHMA JOSHI
The Bhagwad Gita is a book I had avoided diligently. The Sanskrit
was intimidating, the topic abstruse (a lecture on a battlefield to
move a reluctant warrior), the book in general surrounded by an
aura of religiosity which I did not feel I could live up to. The enthusiastic
undergraduate students with whom I studied in an American college and
who gushed about the Gita further put me off—the Gita, it seemed, was
a book of hippies and New Age seekers, and nothing to do with me. This
is how I, a child of Hindu parents and a part-time Buddhist, came to
know more about the Koran and the Bible, the "Sattipatthana sutta"—
"the Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness" in Buddhism—
and the life of Milarepa, than about one ofthe most well-known books
of my own tradition.
In college, I spent six months reading the texts of Islam, including the
Koran, with a Jewish scholar. His commitment to the texts, scholarship
and history was extraordinary. Also memorable were impromptu midnight readings ofthe Song of Solomon from the Bible—
who could have known such juicy poems existed within
that holy book? A steady flow of Tibetan Buddhist
classics has also made its way into our house over
the years, brought in by Brahmin cousins who radiated the dedication of neophyte converts. But the
texts ofthe Hindu tradition, for some reason, never
made it into my reading list.
A few days ago, I finally picked up a translation
ofthe Gita from Penguin Classics. Admittedly, itwas
abridged. Perhaps appropriately, it had been translated by a Spanish scholar Juan Mascara, whose
cross-cultural understanding of different religious
texts and traditions inform his version. Surprisingly, the Gita is notjust an interesting but also an
enjoyable read, the experience a cross between
reading Stephen Hawkings' "A Brief History of
Time" and watchinga Hollywood version of Troy.
The authors ofthe Gita are unknown. I say
authors because often these older texts had
multiple authors, who added text and stories
over the centuries and turned the books into
massive epics. The Koran, popularly believed
to be created through divine authorship, and
the Bible, thought to be written by a few select disciples, also show signs of multiple authorship over a period of decades if not centuries.
The Gita appears like an odd tack-on to the huge war of the
Mahabharata. Where did this philosophical treatise on spiritual life, transience and divinity suddenly find its way into an action-packed drama
about two families fighting for land? Inclusion in the Mahabharata, which
has over one hundred thousand couplets and is the longest epic poem
in the world, conferred instant immortality, the translator suggests. In
other words, appearing in the Mahabharata was the pre-B.C version of
appearing on Oprah.
Arjun does not want to slaughter his own family, but Krishna talks
him into it. How can this be compatible with the whole idea of the
"peaceful" Hindu religion? The paradoxes of this text are multiple, and
yes, they do not answer all questions logically. A beautifully written
paragraph will be followed by a caste-ist and misogynist observation.
But ifyou look beyond these anachronistic limitations, the Gita is an
opportunity to insert a lecture on larger issues. It includes the nature of
life and death, the nature of work and duty—the discourse to convince
a reluctant warrior into a war is a pretext for these important questions.
The Protestants wou Id be happy to learn that the obsession with work
(karma) is notjust engrained in their culture, but makes a big appearance in this text as well.
The ideas in the Gita, to this average reader, appears remarkably
similar to the Buddhist ideas. Hindu and Buddhist philosophies come
out of the same sub-continental stream, but they differ in their meanings and usages of similar words and concepts, saysSridhar
Rana, a longtime scholar and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. Shridhar Rana, popularly known as "Ratnashree" to his students, started out as a tantric practitioner
and is one ofthe few Tibetan Buddhists
who have an extensive knowledge of
Hindu philosophies and practices.
What is remarkable about Hindu texts
is their close theorizing of time and space,
being and consciousness. Modern quantum physicists, cognitive scientists and
neurologists spend a lot of time thinking
about the same seemingly unanswerable
questions. What is the nature of time?
Where does space finally end? How can
concepts of infinity and eternity be further
expanded? Where does consciousness
arise from? Many "new" ideas like the
chaos theory seem not so far away from
the ideas of these unknown authors of
500 B.C. Their breakdown of consciousness and perception rival those of contemporary scientists. It is no wonder that
the imprint of older Hindu theories influences the scientific world.
Western philosophers and scientists from Goethe to Schopenhauer,
from Jung to Oppenheimer, learnt from and were influenced by ancient
Hindu texts. And yes, there is a reason for the fascination. Read these
classics. They have more inside them than meets the eye. n
36
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
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^ACE HOTELS 6 RESORTS
 CANINE
COPS
At the Central Dog Training School the police dogs are
on standby and ready for duty, even on Tihar
BY SATISH JUNG SHAHI
THE SECOND DAY OF TIHAR,
November 11 this year, is Kukur
Puja, when dogs are garlanded,
worshipped and fed delicious dishes. At
the Nepal Police Central Dog Training
School in Ranibari, everyday is Kukur
Puja.
The school's chief, Deputy Superintendent of Police Dandapani Bhattarai,
believes dogs have to be treated with love
for them to enjoy a healthy and meaningful life. "It's just like raising children.
The more time you spend with your
dogs, the more you can teach them good
manners," says Bhattarai, who is also author of the book "Kukur Hamro
Saathi"—"The Dog is our Friend"—and
has been training police dogs with the
Nepal Police Dog Squad for the last 30
years.
When the Nation Weekly team arrives
at the school in Ranibari, a 10-minute
walk down a lane beside Sital Niwas in
Maharajgunj, huge Alsatians and Labra-
dors bark at us from inside their cages.
"It's natural for dogs to be wary of strangers," explains Bhattarai inside his office,
showing us his personal collection of
press clippings on dogs—his hobby for
the last 21 years. His office walls display
pictures, certificates and trophies won
by the police dogs at various exhibitions.
"Ifyou spend two days with them, they
won't barkatyou anymore," he says. "Once
the dogs accept you, you can observe how
helpful they have become in our investigations," he adds. As Bhattarai speaks, the
barking dogs become quiet at the command of their handlers. Each cage is
marked with its resident's name—Maila,
Kanchhi, Blacky, Ritu, Joti, Bronu, Marco,
Rox, Jhuma, Asha, Thuli, Nani, Belka, Kalu
and Tufan. The dogs' sex, training specialty
and breed are also written on the cages. A
team of six policemen has just returned
from training a one-year-old Alsatian
named Hero with the help of an old-hand
Labrador named Lily.
"The dogs usually have two-syllable
names, as that makes it easier for the dogs
to remember," says Sub-Inspector M.
Uprety, as his team showed us some of
the skills learned by Hero. The commands followed: Hero pachi (march behind)! Hero rok (stop)! Hero baash (sit)!
Hero even salutes back with his fore-
paws, when his handler salutes. Each
time the dog obeys he is praised with a
hearty shy abash (good job). Finally, the
handler tosses a few pieces of meat to
Hero, who joyously jumps and runs
around the premises.
A total of 91 policemen have been
deputed to the Dog Training School.
Bhattarai says they have been chosen
38
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 tigations, though the legal
system still does not allow
dog sniffing as evidence.
The Central Dog Training School in Kathmandu is
home to 21 police dogs, all
of whom undergo basic
command training and then
specialize in one ofthe four
areas: investigating criminal activities, sniffing out
explosives, locating drugs
or conducting rescue operations during natural disasters such as earthquakes.
Their natural inclination
during the basic training
sessions determines what
specialty they are assigned
from those who love to handle dogs,
know a little English and have a clear
voice so that the dogs can hear them
properly. Each dog has a handler; the
dogs only obey commands from that
person.
On duty the dogs wear harnesses.
"It feels just like when we put on uniforms," says Bhattarai. "The dogs are
more serious in their jobs when wearing the harnesses; they know it is not
free time."
The canine cops are the first to report for duty at an explosion site or when
any suspicious object is discovered.
Their success rate is high, and they are
extremely reliable. They help in inves-
to.
The school was officially established in 1990, though the Nepal Police have had dog squads since 1969.
The police are now plannning to open
branches in all five development regions: So far five dogs have been stationed in Pokhara and in Dharan. But
the dogs have been used as far away as
Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bharatpur, Butwal,
Nepalgunj, Palpa and Charikot. The
Royal Nepal Army has now joined the
fray. For the last four years, it has its
own dog squad.
"We have our own veterinarians,
who are part of our team; they are constantly examining our dogs," says
Bhattarai. "The vets also suggest how
long the dogs should be placed on duty
and suggest to us what specific training they should get after they complete
their basic training."
Basic training for these dogs start
between the age of six months to a year.
Each dog serves for a total of 10 years,
as per the belief that one human year
equals six "dog years." By the time the
dogs retire at the age of 60 "dog years,"
they are given to their handlers or other
personnel within the department.
The dogs aren't paid, but they are
well fed. Each dog gets a daily ration of
1,200 grams of meat, 500 grams wheat
or rice, 200 grams vegetables, one egg,
as well as 1.8 kilograms of firewood to
prepare its food.
Despite an urban myth that the dogs
are officers, police dogs do not have
any rank or hierarchy. The idea could
have started as a joke among handlers
at the school who wanted to see their
subordinates saluting the dogs. "But
we do arrange a proper burial with a
honorary salute as we do for policemen when they die in the line of duty,"
says the DSP.
The school is already preparing for
a big bash for the dogs on Kukur Puja.
"It will be a special day here," says a
handler. "It's very interesting, and the
media have started coming here in the
last couple of years. I hope you won't
miss it."    □
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
39
 aughing
Shut Up And Dance
C'mon, get up and dance! And no whinging.
BYKUNALLAMA
This year, I've had the pleasure to be present at two very well
attended open-air concerts. The first one was in March, the opening event for Jazzmandu 2004 at the Le Meridien Gokarna Forest
Resort & Spa. The second one took place very recently on Sunday,
October 31 at the Dechenling Garden Restaurant. It was Women in
Concert: Part II.
The Gokarna event started off on a fabulous, spring-y Saturday
afternoon, and went on well into the night, with a fantastic line-up of
homegrown and visiting bands performing mainlyjazz and some blues
numbers. Hordes of music-lovers were spread, literally, all over the
grounds of a huge courtyard. The Dechenling affair was held in a
crisp autumn evening and featured seven Nepali ladies with a penchant for singing and a flair for performing. Only two out of the
seven were professional singers; the rest, well, theyjust wanted to
do it for themselves—and us, presumably! The genre of music performed ranged from jazz to soul to rock & roll to pop ballads. What
caught my attention was not how different the concerts were but
how similar they were in one conspicuous, undesirable respect: the
audience. When one hip-swaying, tush-shaking, foot-stomping song
after another was being belted out, the audience sat with the impassive countenance of the recently-discovered Homo floresiensis, as
though they were listening to a trembling Pope deliver yet another
cringingly conservative sermon at St. Peter's Square. Dude, it's a
concert. One's supposed to groove to the music; whistle and cheer;
pass loud, sexist comments when the beautiful ladies are on stage;
boo when the lights snap out. But the audience stayed superglued to
their uncomfortable plastic chairs, very few of them bothering to
twitch even one of the 600 skeletal muscles that they have been
gifted by the Almighty along with a brain (weighing 1,380 grams)
precisely to help manipulate them. And there was an incident, similar in substance, at both the concerts which amused and irritated
me no end.
At Gokarna there was one amazing band from the Indian state of
Meghalaya, Soulmate, with the beautiful and talented Tipriti
Kharbangar as the lead singer. By the time their turn came to perform, by around 8 p.m., some members ofthe audience were beginning to show some form of life and were even transmuting their
appreciation ofthe music into action. Hallelujah! Bar sales were becoming brisker; the pristine forest air was getting aromatic with smoking herbs; people were getting up to dance. I was among this actively
reactive part of the audience, enjoying the evening as I had planned
all along when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Looking around, I was
confronted with the sight of a large white woman burdened with a
backpack the size of a hot-air balloon. I was, apparently, blocking her
view. I shrugged her off and focused on Tipriti, who was singing "Ain't
no sunshine" with an evangelical purity. Ten minutes later, another
tap on the shoulder. The same woman wants me to sit down immediately or clear out. I glared at her and told her with an exaggerated
seriousness that one, she was getting on my tits; two, I was going to
remain standing and swaying; three, the stage was so far away that
I could not possibly be blocking anything that was impossible for her
to see; four, her being three times my size, laterally, she was blocking
many more people's line of sight than I while she stood arguing with
me; and five, 'twas time she buggered off. That shut her up. She
barreled off, presumably into the bushes and, hopefully, the oblivion
that she so richly deserved.
Before the concert started at Dechenling, I saw a familiar lady beckoning me. When I walked over, it was to request me to ask a bunch of
guys to move away somewhere else because, as she pointed out sarcastically, they were not transparent and she could not see the stage
through them. Guess whose side I took?
The guys, obviously. Without being too brutal in my refusal, I told her that, perhaps,
she would consider moving away from her
brazier-warmed position and reestablish
herself up nearer the stage, where she
could give Abhaya, Rachana, Pooja, Priti,
Sapna, Sheri and Vidhea some serious competition. I have a feeling that she is not
going to beckon me over ever again!
The women in concert did an awesome
job. Even then, towards the end, only ten
percent ofthe crowd wasjumping in front of
the stage. Ten percent! Shame on you, 90
percent! When the seven sisters were giving their 150 percent doing it for themselves,
the least you could have done was to make
an ass of yourself by maniacally hootingand
dancing all night long. Like I did. □
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
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 Arts   Socie
The movie is Hollywood's
new take on Homer's great
epic, one of the greatest
love stories of all time.
Hollywood, however,
seems more focussed on
war than on love.
BY SUSHMA JOSH I
Greek mythology is not some
thing that usually draws a crowd
of teenagers at nine a.m. on a
Saturday morning. But with a bit of Hollywood thrown in, it may just be possible. Show up at Jai Nepal Hall and
watch the crowd that gathers for "Troy,"
Hollywood's new take on the greatest
love story of all time.
Homer might be disappointed, as I
was, about certain aspects ofthe movie—
for instance, the casual disposal of Helen
and Paris's love affair in the first half of
the movie—for what the director considers the real juicy story, the story of
Achilles. In keeping with current
American preoccupations, war seems to
be on Hollywood's mind more than love.
Immortality is the reason why men
would prefer to die in war rather than
live in peace, says David Benioff's version of the screenplay. Mothers would
disagree, and this version gives
about two minutes to Mama to
make her case. Of course she
loses. The profound one-liners
about life and death are almost
Buddhist in their awareness ofthe
present, but dharma seekers be
forewarned: An excess of ego-
driven emphasis is put on personal post-mortem fame. Al that
made Achilles tick was his need
to have his name blazing across a <&i\
cinema hoarding 4,000 years after
his death, according to this version at least. This is what fuels
Brad Pitt's testosterone-driven
Achilles across the landscape in
some profound scenes. Brad Pitt
is not somebody you would think
of as a particularly mythological
42
character, but he definitely takes this role
head on.
Peter O'Toole gives a moving performance as Priam. As the father who
has lost his son, he took my vote for best
scene as he negotiated with Achilles to
get the body of his dead son, Hector,
back for a proper ritual. And while the
male actors give stirring and substantial
performances, the women are relegated
to looking beautiful and crying.
Contrary to Homer's version, a spectacularly insipid actress is cast as the
beauty that launched a thousand ships.
This Helen bemoans the deaths of men
who are dying because of her with the
same passion as she may ask for a cup of
coffee. Think shampoo ad, and you get
the general picture. Orlando Bloom is
cast Helen's heartthrob Paris. Bloom
looked adorable with his pixie ears in
"The Lord of the Rings" and as Johnny
Depp's sidekick in "Pirates of the Caribbean," but this viewer thought he
wasn't quite as hot as Paris.
The director pays a lot more attention to the thousand ships than he does
to the face that launched them, but the
thousand ships will not disappoint you,
I guarantee. Nor will the spectacular
fight scenes that are suspiciously reminiscent of blockbusters fights in "The
Matrix" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon." Can Hollywood please find
some other guy from a place other than
Hong Kong to choreograph their fight
scenes? That drumbeat in the distance is
getting particularly familiar.
The Achilles' heel of this particular
version of Homer's epic may be its overemphasis on war. What balanced out the
Iliad and made it epic and immortal was
its careful balance between love, desire
and the search for power. Take out one
of these ingredients and you get a two-
week flick that amuses but doesn't quite
become an epic itself.
Besides a bit of history, you will also
get some down-home Nepali comments
to spice up Homer ifyou see it on a Saturday morning. There were gasps of repugnance as fake blood gushed down the
actors' faces, spontaneous clapping following the stabbing of a sleazy
Agamemnon by a feisty priestess of
Apollo and laughter when a boy shouted
out, "Be careful, that's your
bhinaju," during the fight between Hector and Achilles.
Perhaps the immediacy of the
warning came from
our own com
temporary situation. With almost 10,000 dead
after an eight-
year war, we are
close to the human toll of
what occurred
in Troy almost
4,000 years ago
Trojan war lasted for 12
years. How long will
ours last? □
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The Sound of Music
"The Sound of Music" never
gets old. It is a joyous musical odyssey suitable for the
entire family. Based on a true
story, "The Sound of Music"
was one of the most popular
films of the 1960s and also a
runaway hit on Broadway.
The movie won the academy
award for best picture in 1965
and also the best director
award director for Robert
Wise.
Catch the play performed by
the students of Triyog High
School at the Royal Nepal
Academy. Set in the 1930s in
the Austrian Alps the play is
about Maria who lives in a
convent. Maria wants to be a
nun but is outgoing and happiest when out singing. The
sisters at the convent try to
figure out what to do with
Maria. Finally the sisters decide to send Maria as a matron for seven children, who
supposedly have sent many
governesses away. Will Maria
be quit too? Go watch for
yourself. Tickets: Rs. 300, Rs.
500 and Rs. 1,000. Date: November 19 and 20. For information: 4470608.
Srijana
Anniversary
ART
EXHIBITIONS
A four-day-long painting workshop was organized by Sirjana
College of Fine Arts to mark the third anniversary of the college. Altogether 54 students of the college took part in the
workshop and the outcome was 94 pieces of paintings executed in different themes, mediums and styles under the guidance of eminent and senior artists Batsa G. Vaidhya, K.K.
Karmacharya, Shankar R.S. Suwal, Shyam Lai Shrestha, Sharada
Man Shrestha, Uttam Kharel and Navindra Rajbhandari. The
paintings created during the workshop are on display in Sirjana
Contemporary Art Gallery, Kamaladi. The exhibition will reopen till the end ofthe Tihar festival. Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
! .jfy^l-',   /-2*J!
Ramailo Saanjh
Dwarika's Hotel presents
"Ramailo Saanjh," where
Ishwor Gurung with his
popular group "Himalayan
Feelings" will be performing
a musical fusion of traditional
and modern Nepali melodies. Come and take pleasure
in this enthralling event at the
^
U
'A
District Development PROFILE of NEPAL 2004
District Section includes-
District Maps /Development Indicators al Each District /VDC data on
Divided mainly Oil three parts Population & Infrastructure /District wise database on-
. .. Topography Demography Household Characteristics, Economic Activities, Social Characteristics,
the publication   (OVeri Agilcuhure,lirlgatlon,Foiesl,Co-operatlves,NGO,s,Transportation,Communication,Energy
i_ HatiewJ i Disfrlrh HI  MunkipalHIn System, Education, Health, Drinking WatetGendet; Children and many more
Basic Information on all 58 Municipalities
Available at Renowned Bookstores in Town
1130 Pages
•■ vtlWV CMtmlSCCk UFtlWflt UtKfttflMi^
; WWJW EMffc blbflMJ@ITtCIM4rflb/ WlllFll. IrttigVwwwJBiwi
44
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
or editorial@nation.com.np
Page
Dwarika's Heritage Courtyard, magnificently lit with
diyos (oil lamps) and superbly
set background with typical
Nepali village themes displaying Nepali household
items. Ten percent discount
for Heritage Plus members.
Date: November 17. Time: 7-
10 p.m. For information:
4479488.
Dashain, Deepawali
Bonanaza
Celebrate
the festive season at the Radisson
Hotel with 50% discount on
food and domestic liquors at
the Fun Cafe. Date: October
15 to November 15. For information: 4411818.
Salsa Workshop
Partynepal.com presents
Salsa Workshop for both beginners and intermediate
with Diego at Salsando Studio. Classes starts from November 4-10.
ONG   |NG
All That Jazz
Presenting "Abhaya and the Steam
Injuns" and the best of jazz in
Nepal at the Fusion Bar, Dwarika's
Hotel, 7 p.m. onwards, every Friday. Entry fee: Rs. 555, including
BBQ dinner, and a can of beer/
soft drinks. For information:
4479488.
Marwari Specialities
Every Saturday evening at
Shambala Garden Cafe, Shanghla
Hotel with a wide selection of vegetarian delicacies. "Rusty Nails"
playing blues and rock 'n roll. Every Saturday live at The Jazz Bar.
Time: 7 p.m. onwards. For information: 4412999.
Class times: 8-9 a.m., 4-5
p.m., 5-6 p.m., 6-7 p.m. and
7-8 p.m. Class fee: Rs. 1500.
Photo Session
Photo Concern announces
its offer for the festive season.
Take along the Photo Concern Free Photo Shoot advertisement cutting available in
the daily newspapers and get
a free photo shoot during
Dashain and Tihar. Valid up
to November 30. For information: 4223275.
Charcoalz
This festive season
Yak and Yeti brings to
you "Charcoalz" at
the poolside. The piping hot grills are guaranteed to drive away
your autumn chills with
an array of Indian,
western and Mongolian barbequed delights to tempt your appetites.
Time: 6-10 p.m. For information:
4248999.
Rock@Belle Momo
Enjoy combo meals at Belle Momo
every Fridays 6:30 p.m. onwards
as the rock 'n roll band Steel
Wheels performs live. For information: 4230890.
Fusion Night
The Rox Bar welcomes everyone to
be a part of the Fusion Night. The rhythmic and harmonic
beats of the eastern
and the western in-
I struments—a treat
for the senses. Enjoy
the sarangi played by
Bharat Nepali with a
well-blended mix of western tunes
played by The Cloud Walkers. Every
Wednesday. Time: 6 p.m. onwards.
For information: 4491234.
Tickling Taste Buds
Barbeque every Friday Evening. At
The Shambala Garden Cafe. Time:
7 p.m. onwards. For information:
4412999
SHOWING AT
JAI NEPAL CINEMA
FOR INFORMATION: 4442220
D.S. Mobile Phone Service
Shop No. 270, 2nd Floor, North Side
Bishal Bazar, Supermarket
Tel: 424-2186, Mobile: 98510-78287
OurSerzrtce:
We fypairJWa&fuGTfafoBite fPfione
SONY-ERICSSON, MOTOROLA,
SIEMENS & NOKIA, SAMSUNG,
ACER, BIRD, ALCATEL, PHILIPS,
NEC, PANASONIC
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
45
 [THE   WORLD'S  BEST   CLOTHS
► DELIVERY WITHIN 24 HOUR
► PARKING FACILITY AVAILABLE
Putalisadak, Kathmandu
Tel: 4412017, Fax. 977-1-5539787
E-mail: dormeuil@wlink.com.np
 1
The colorful night skies of Tihar have been darkened by
the government ban on fireworks. Alternatives with more
sparkle and less boom could fill the gap.
BY INDRA ADHIKARI
The second festival of Kartik is
close upon us. Tihar, the festival
of colors and lights, will not glow
as brightly this year as it has in the past:
Candles, butter lamps and strings of light
will be plentiful, but fireworks will be
in short supply.
People have already begun to look for
firecrackers as the festival draws near, but
there are few fireworks in the market.
The noisy excitement of firecrackers, a
part and parcel of Tihar, has been fading
away in Nepal year by year, due to the
insurgency. The government ban on the
sale of firecrackers has quieted the evenings and darkened the holiday skies.
People feel something is lacking without the firecrackers in their festival celebration.
But still the search for firecrackers
does not end. The market in Ason has
firecrackers every year. A shopkeeper
who does not want to disclose his name
says that a large amount of firecrackers
are sold secretly. His relative in Siliguri
in India brings firecrackers from India
while he returns for Tihar. They are sold
from Kaag Tihar, the first day the festival, onwards.
He is desperate not only because he
is losing money from fireworks sales but
also because the lights of the festival
nights and colors of the festival skies are
losing their charm. "There is no environment for celebrating the festival with
humor and enthusiasm," he says.
Local resident Gyanendra Tuladhar
sees a big change in the way Tihar is celebrated in Ason. There used to be band
music, the constant crackle of fireworks
and glowing sparkles everywhere. These
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
 are mostly gone; his Tihar passes quietly with just tika and a garland of marigolds. Even deusi and bhailo teams no
longer awaken him in the night, setting
off their firecrackers. Most of them just
knock on his door.
Without firecrackers, Tihar has become a festival of eating and drinking.
The evening lamps lit at the door burn
out in a few hours, and the night begins
to darken. The shopkeeper remembers
the time when the firecrackers set the
Tihar night skies alight.
There is no legal import, production
or sales of fireworks: The rules have existed since the Panchayat era. Now the
rules have been tightened in fear that the
Maoists may transport major explosives
with firecrackers. When the law was less
tightly enforced, large quantities of fireworks used to enter Nepal from India,
where production and use of firecrack
ers to be used during festivals is legal.
The major smuggling routes into Nepal
are via Birgunj, Bhairahawa and
Biratnagar.
Despite the tighter enforcement,
some sparklers and pyrotechnics still
reach the Nepali market. Even when
smuggled fireworks are found and confiscated by the security forces, they are
distributed among their relatives, alleges
co-chairperson of the FNCCI press
committee, Surendra Malakar. "Unless
confiscated firecrackers are destroyed,"
he says, "the illegal trade will continue."
The Kathmandu Valley was the largest market for fireworks. More than Rs.
700,000 worth of firecrackers used to
enter the Valley; some still
make it in, though there are
no figures available. But the
fireworks have already begun
in a small way, and consumers
are looking to buy. Krishna
Maharjan, a shopkeeper in
Ertipur bazaar who has been
in business for four and a half
years, says that since the tighter
enforcement of the firecracker
ban, adults no longer buy firecrackers for the children and
the number of young people
ooking to but them has grown.
Last year a few shopkeepers in
Ertipur sold small quantities.
"I don't have any plans for firecracker
sales this year," says Maharjan.
Tradition says that the illumination
of homes with lights ofdiyos and the skies
with firecrackers is a request to the heavens for health, wealth, knowledge, peace
and prosperity. Firecrackers come in
different varieties, from visual delights
to deafening booms. But even in India
demand has shifted to newer, more colorful but less noisy firecrackers. The
colorful twin angles, a new entrant in
the cracker market has caught the fancy
of many Indians. They would sell well
here as well, if allowed. Might they bring
back the sparkle to the festival of
lights? □
48
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 The Only Lifestyle/Culture Magazine in Nepal
... probably the most admired too.
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DISCOUNT
For One Year
Subscription
Rs. 675 for 12 issues
of full color maga2ine
Mote than 110 pages
Also Available at major
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Departmental stores.
For the Love of Spices
In the Nepali language, spices are known as 'masala'. So too are dry fruits
Spices are treasured and indispensable, mainly because they enhance the
taste of food and do our palates a huge service.
www.ecs.com.np
TO SUBSCRIBE, CALL SUBSCRIPTION AT 552 1 865 OR E-MAIL AT SUBSCRIPTION@ECS.COM.NP
 Super Success
The growing success of the Super Sixes tournament in
attracting top corporate houses augurs well for Nepali
cricket. Money matters.
BY SUDESH SHRESTHA
When the Soaltee Crowne Plaza
launched Super Sixes cricket in
1999 it was not sure if it would
really achieve its prime objective—to
bring executives out of their boardrooms. After all, all work and no play
makes Jack a dull boy. Never mind if
they couldn't bat, bowl or field: They
just had to get out of their offices and
head to the field.
Five years on, the Super Sixes can now
be called a moderate success. At a time
when most sports disciplines are struggling due to resource constraints, the
cricket crowd gets bigger each year.
More importantly, the number of corporate houses interested in the game is
growing.
Looking at the event's progress, the
organizers simply can't hold back their
smile. The six-a-side event has become
a popular annual fixture in the national
sports calendar. "What was started at a
small scale has turned out to be something of a national event," says Sarad
Upadhayay, sales manager at the Soaltee,
with a broad smile.
Last month at the Tribhuvan University Ground, while some spectators in
the gallery were chanting slogans, cheering for their teams, others were knocking back cans of beer while lazing in the
sun. The Super Sixes is a shorter version
of the one-day game, played in five-over
innings with each team member, except
the wicketkeeper, bowling an over. Super Sixes, however, is more than just
cricket.
"It's always exciting to meet people
from different walks of life," says Sanjay
Verma, first-secretary at the Indian Embassy. "This event provides a perfect platform for that purpose. And winning the
event is a bonus," Verma adds.
While Team India was struggling at
home against the visiting Australians, the
Indian Embassy stamped its authority on
the Super Sixes when it won its third
successive title, beating Standard Chartered Bank in the final.
Many ofthe 16 corporate teams that
competed this year see an element of
camaraderie in this event. This spruces
up motivation among their staff and also
fosters better relationships with peers
and mentors.
"This kind of extracurricular activity once in a while reduces stress levels among staff members," says Bishnu
Acharya, head of administration at
Nabil Bank. "It does them a world of
good, and that sense of wellbeing reflects on an organization's overall performance."
That's not all. With the event attracting media glare it also serves, to some
extent, as a marketplace where corporate houses can get exposure for their
company, brand, product or services.
Sports marketing is a new trend in
corporate promotional activities, where
companies seek to boost public exposure of their brands through their involvement in sporting events. "Sports
marketing is an influential tool to boost
brand power and build a healthy corporate image,'" says one official of a leading
company. It makes customers familiar
with the company; and sponsorship enhances the company's image. He adds,
"Such events also provide common
ground for CEOs to rub shoulders with
each other."
Marketing trends suggest that companies that incorporate elements of
sports into their portfolio end up with
better visibility. Nepali companies too
have come to realize the importance of
sports.
"There is a significant surge in interest in corporate circles to get into the
event," says Upadhayay, explaining the
overwhelming number of calls he received from the country's business
houses about the Super Six tournament.
"There were over 20 teams interested,
but we could only accommodate 15, plus
the Soaltee as the host."
The cricket excitement goes beyond
just fun in the sun. Experts think the
country's sports administrators should
capitalize on this surge in corporate interest. "Nepal's corporate world beckons those at the helm of the sports sector to act," says Binay Raj Pandey, former
vice president at the Cricket Association
of Nepal.
With the cricket association's international partners running away from
honoring a contract on cricket development in Nepal, Pandey believes that interest among Nepal's business community could provide a way forward. "With
proper planning, we could take this success to a higher level for the benefit of
the national league," says Pandey. "The
players would be the biggest winners." □
50
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 Yeti Airlines
Proposed Revised Flight Schedule
(Covering remote sectors)
Effective from 16 SEP - 31  DEC04
From
To
Flight No.
Days of
Operation
Dep.
Time
Arr.
Time
Rupee
Tariff
One way
Dollar
Tariff
One way
Remarks
Kathmandu
Kathmandu
Lukla
YA111
Daily
0700
0735
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA 101
Daily
0705
0740
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA103
Daily
0710
0745
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA105
Daily
0715
0750
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA107
Daily
0840
0915
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YAH 3
Daily
0845
0920
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA109
Daily
0850
0925
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YA 115
Daily
0855
0930
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YAH 7
Daily
1020
1055
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Lukla
YAH 9
1,2,4,5,6,7
1025
1100
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Taplejung
YA901
3
1025
1135
2695
164
DHC-6/300
Phaplu
YA181
1,3,5
1030
1105
1480
85
DHC-6/300
Rumjatar
YA221
2,4,7
1030
1105
1245
61
DHC-6/300
Manang
YA601
6
1030
1130
2995
122
DHC-6/300
Meghauly
YA171
Daily
1130
1200
1340
79
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
YA173
Daily
1200
1225
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
YA175
Daily
1400
1425
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Simara
YA141
Daily
1330
1355
970
55
DHC-6/300
Simara
YA143
Daily
1500
1525
970
55
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA301
Daily
0700
0800
4800
109
SAAB340B
Kathmandu
YA302
Daily
0705
0805
4800
109
SAAB340B
Kathmandu
YA303
Daily
0820
0920
4800
109
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
YA151
Daily
0945
1025
2585
85
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
YA153
Daily
1430
1510
2585
85
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
YA155
Daily
1640
1720
2585
85
SAAB340B
Pokhara
YA131
Daily
0815
0840
1710
67
SAAB340B
Pokhara
YA137
Daily
0955
1020
1710
67
SAAB340B
Pokhara
YA135
Daily
1415
1440
1710
67
SAAB340B
Bhairahawa
YA163
Daily
1555
1630
2220
79
SAAB340B
Bhadrapur
YA121
Daily
1135
1225
2950
109
SAAB340B
Nepalgunj
YA177
Daily
1155
1250
3500
109
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
Kathmandu
YA152
Daily
1050
1130
2585
85
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
Kathmandu
YA154
Daily
1535
1615
2585
85
SAAB340B
Biratnagar
Kathmandu
YA156
Daily
1745
1825
2585
85
SAAB340B
Pokhara
Kathmandu
YA132
Daily
0905
0930
1710
67
SAAB340B
Pokhara
Kathmandu
YA138
Daily
1045
1110
1710
67
SAAB340B
Pokhara
Kathmandu
YA136
Daily
1505
1530
1710
67
SAAB340B
Bhairahawa
Kathmandu
YA164
Daily
1655
1730
2220
79
SAAB340B
Bhadrapur
Kathmandu
YA122
Daily
1250
1340
2950
109
SAAB340B
Nepalgunj
Kathmandu
YA178
Daily
1315
1405
3500
109
SAAB340B
Lukla
Kathmandu
YA 112
Daily
0750
0825
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 102
Daily
0755
0830
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 104
Daily
0800
0835
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA106
Daily
0805
0840
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA108
Daily
0930
1005
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 114
Daily
0935
1010
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 110
Daily
0940
1020
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 116
Daily
0945
1025
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA 118
Daily
1110
1145
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA120
1,2,4,5,6,7
1115
1150
1665
91
DHC-6/300
Phaplu
Kathmandu
YA182
1,3,5
1120
1155
1480
85
DHC-6/300
Meghauly
Kathmandu
YA172
Daily
1120
1155
1340
79
DHC-6/300
Rumjatar
Kathmandu
YA222
2,4,7
1250
1325
1245
79
DHC-6/300
Manang
Kathmandu
YA602
6
1145
1245
2995
122
DHC-6/300
Taplejung
Kathmandu
YA902
3
1150
1300
2695
164
DHC-6/300
Bharatpur
Kathmandu
YA174
Daily
1240
1305
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA176
Daily
1440
1505
1160
61
DHC-6/300
Simara
Kathmandu
YA142
Daily
1410
1435
970
55
DHC-6/300
Kathmandu
YA144
Daily
1540
1605
970
55
DHC-6/300
Sub jed to change without prior notice.
Monday 1, Tuesday 2, Wednesday 3, Thursday 4, Friday 5, Saturday 6, Sunday 7
i Subjed to CAAN Approval
CORPORATE OFFICE
Lazimpat, Kathmandu
Ph. No. 4411912 (Hunt. Line)
Fax: 977-1-4420766
RESERVATIONS
4421215 (Hunt. Line)
Fax:977-1-4420766
Email: reservations@yetiair.wlink.com.np
TRIBHUVAN OUTSTATIONSTELEPHONE NUMBERS
AIRPORT OFFICE BIRATNAGAR   021-536612/536613 (City sales office)
4493901  4493428 021-523838 (Airport)
061-530016 (City sales office)
061-532217 (Airport)
081-526556/526557 (City sales office)
081-550637 (Airport)
POKHARA
NEPALGUNJ
BHADRAPUR
071-527527 (City sales office)
071-527528 (Airport)
023-522232 (City sales office)
023-522242
 STREET SMART
Where there is a will, there is a way. This is true at least for
SUNDAR BHUJEL, reporter for the Radio Sagarmatha's
weekly program "Saathsaath." Only five years ago Sundar
was making a living collecting waste plastic and sleeping
on the streets of Gaushala. But when Saathsaath, an organization that works for the welfare of street children, chose
him for a 45-day training course on reporting, he had a
chance to do to something about it. He took the
opportunity with both hands. Bhujel interviews
other street children like him; he talks to
them about their troubles and hardships for
the radio program on Radio Sagarmatha
102.4. What does Bhujel think about his work?
"Before, I used to loiter around, but now I have a room
to stay in and work to do," says Bhujel. "So I am engaged and happy." We wish him all the best with his
work.
WOMANPOWER
GEETA KESARI is a multi-faceted personality. Kesari is a former director of the Royal
Nepal Airlines Corporation, a writer and now
the first woman secretary of Royal Nepal
Academy. She has published 10 novels and
two books of stories; her latest novel,
"Niskarsha," was published in late 2060 B.S.
She is also the winner ofthe Rastriya Prativa
Puraskar. "Writing was my hobby," says
Kesari. 'Although I tried to keep my hobby
and profession separate, meeting new people
and traveling during my days in the RNAC
reinforced my hobby." Today her hobby has
become her profession. To Kesari, her appointment to the academy is more important
than it might be to someone else: "I think I
bear more responsibility because I have got
to remove doubts that anyone might have
about the ability of women."
aking a splash
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Model, actress and singer TATA YOUNG was in
Kathmandu to perform at the Hyatt Regency last Friday, November 5. Young made a name for herself in
this part of the world with a song credit and an appearance in a music video for the movie "Dhoom." But
even before that, she was already a pop sensation in
Thailand with seven albums. Her latest, "I Believe,"
is a crossover album in English, released earlier
this year. Young's stop here to wow Kathmandu
was a part of her world tour, which will include
Europe and the United States. With the reception she got, we think she'll be back.
\
/
V
 II
H    •    O    •    T    •    E    •    L
YAK & YETI
KATHMANDU
CAREER OPPORTUNITY AT HOTEL YAK & YETI
• BANQUET OPERATIONS MANAGER
Must be a graduate with Diploma in Hotel Management from a recognized university with
at least 5 years of experience and operational background in a similar position in a 5
star hotel. Should be well versed with international standard of services and facilities.
Age between 30-40 years.
• ASSISTANT MANAGER - FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Must be a graduate with Diploma in Hotel Management from a recognized university with
at least 3-5 years of experience and operational background in a similar position in a 5
star hotel. Good command overwritten and spoken English. Age between 25-35 years.
• ASSISTANT SALES MANAGER
Candidate should have minimum 3-5 years experience in Sales & Marketing in a reputed
Hotel, having exposure in market segments of Travel Agency, Conference and Corporate
Sales. Should be self-motivated, career oriented with a desire to excel and be able to
work in a team. Age between 30-35 years.
• FITNESS CENTRE INSTRUCTOR
Must be a University graduate with pleasing and outgoing personality. Excellent command
over spoken and written English. Two years of experience in Health Club and Fitness
Centre of an organisation of repute is essential. Excellent record as a sports person
would be desired
• VIGILANCE OFFICER
Candidate should be recently retired Army Officer. Should have a pleasing and an outgoing
personality with excellent command over written and spoken English. Should be self-
motivated, career oriented with a desire to excel and be able to lead Vigilance team
independently. Age between 35-45 years.
Eligible candidates may apply within seven days from the date of this advertisement
giving your Bio-data with testimonials, a recent PP size photograph and a copy of
citizenship certificate to the Director - Human Resources and General Administration
Department, P.O. Box: 1016, Durbar Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Email: hrd_director@yakandyeti.com.np
Telephone inquiries will not be entertained.
ABOVE   POSITIONS   OFFER   EXCELLENT   GROWTH   OPPORTUNITIES.
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
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NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
 To advertise contact nation weekly      g±u    ^   ■£■    j
Tel: 2111102, 4229825. Email: ad@nation.com.np      If IdSSITIGCI
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nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2004
 exercise your freedom
Freedom is a state of mind. Express it the way you
think it. Freedom is a precious gift. Cherish it. Freedom
lives within you. Unleash its spirit.
The Himalayan Times is all about freedom. Freedom of
thought and expression. Freedom of knowledge and
information. Freedom without mental boundaries. Freedom
is calling. Are you up to it?
The Himalayan
A    GREAT    NEWSPAPER
 Books
L
BY KARUNA CHETTRI
Mitch Albom's "The Five People
You Meet in Heaven" has an
uncanny resemblance to the
Hindu notion of karma. The story begins with the death of 83-year-old Eddie,
a grizzled war veteran who works as a
maintenance man at an amusement park.
He dies while trying to save a little girl
from a falling cart. In his final moments
he feels two small hands—and then nothing. When he wakes up, he is aware that
he is somewhere in heaven. There he
encounters five people from each of
whom he learns something different
about his earthly life. The five include
his army captain, his beloved wife and
others whom he does not know at the
time of his encounter—but whose roles
in his life are revealed as significant.
Eddie is a good man whose youthful
optimism turns sour when he is
wounded in war. His dream to become
an engineer is dashed by his leg wound
and his father's illness. Consequently
Eddie falls into depression, which his
father despises as weakness and laziness.
To add to his misfortunes, Eddie's beloved wife dies leaving him alone and
heartbroken. At the time of his death, he
finds himself reduced to an
old, embittered, lonely man
who harbors anger and resentment toward his father,
his life and his meaningless
job.
Each person Eddie encounters in heaven explains
one piece of the jigsaw puzzle
of his life. Bit by bit, the stories are pieced together with
the help of the five people.
Eddie's doubts and resentments fade away as he finds his
self-worth and also compassion
for those who had hurt him.
"The Five People You Meet
in Heaven" is deceptively simple
in that almost every chapter begins with Eddie's birthday. The
book reads like a journal compiled from the events of his birthdays. With each birthday Eddie is
forced to revisit the events of the day to
understand the chain reactions caused by
them. Albom, in his narration, informs
the reader that heaven is not a "lush Garden of Eden" but rather a place where
earthly experiences are explained.
Through Eddie, Albom gives the impression that heaven is where life's questions
are answered.
The narration is sensitive and highly
imaginative. The theme of the book relies heavily on the old adage, "every action has a reaction"—even happenings, incidents that take place long before one's
birth. Albom brings home the true meaning of the inter-connectedness between
people, time and action. The more sensitive reader might find that the plot effectively explains consequences, chance
happenings and random meetings. "Life
begins before birth," Eddie is told by
one ofthe people he meets. In his quest
for answers, Eddie finally finds redemption when he resolves his earthly
issues. "The Five People You Meet in
Heaven" is an easy read with a surprising conclusion. □
The Five People You Meet In Heaven
By Mitch Albom
Hyperion (Hardcover)
PRICE: Rs. 819
l-rf'-**
y
the five people
,oUmeetinheaven
Development
Profile
nation weekly |   NOVEMBER 14, 2
District Development Profile of Nepal 2004
Complied and edited by Ram Prasad Gautam,
Shishir Vaidya, Hari Bhakta Sharma
Informal Sector Research and Study Center
(Hardcover)
PRICE: Rs. 3000
PAGES:1130
Tie Informal Research and Study Center
is a research institute established with
"the objective to help and promote overall development by providing timely and accurate micro and macro development information of least possible [sic] development unit
(VDC) of Nepal." It recently published the "District Development Profile of Nepal 2004," a
revised edition ofthe publication, which was
first released in 2000. The book starts off with
a short country profile. This section contains an
introduction and background information such
as the National Census on Agriculture 2001-
02 and the Second Long Term Health Plan
(1999-2017). District profiles comprise the
main part of the book; the profiles include detailed data on each of Nepal's districts—maps,
demographic and topographic information, economic and social indicators and an "overall
composite index." The overall index ranks each
district according to "development parameters"
such as access to drinking water, telephones
per thousand people and the percent of land
under irrigation. The book will be a very useful
addition to a researcher or writer's reference
shelf. Unfortunately the editing of the book is
poor: Numerous spelling, usage and grammar
errors mar an otherwise competent work. Q
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Welcome Home
After four days of captivity in Iraq
and ensuing confusion at home
in Nepal, Iraqi militants released
Inus Kawaree on Thursday November
5. Just as we were preparing to go to press,
Saturday's newspapers greeted us with
pictures of his happy family members in
Deupura village in Dhanusa. They were
overwhelmed with joy that the family's
sole breadwinner was safe in the Baghdad
office of his employer, the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Company. Gulf-based Nepali diplomats said
that the 27-year-old coffee boy should
be home within a week. Encouraged but
wary his wife Najina, still in a state of
shock, insists that she will only believe
that her husband is safe when he gets
home.
When that happens, it will be a huge
relief for the nation, which went into
deep mourning after 12 Nepalis were
killed in Iraq in August. In our September 5 issue, which followed the
grisly killing, we said that the Deuba
government had done little to secure
the release ofthe Nepalis. We deplored
its reliance on proxy diplomacy
through the Arab television channel al-
Jazeera and Nepali diplomats based in
Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Regrettably it was a leadership bereft of
imagination. We still hold that the government and our diplomatic offices in
the region fell spectacularly short of
their official responsibility. This despite the fact that Iraq had failed to respond to our government's repeated
calls for help and that governments
much more powerful than ours have
been able to do little to save their nationals from violent militants in that
war-torn country.
Everything looked different this time.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Prakash Sharan Mahat rushed to Abu
Dhabi when the news of Kawaree's kidnapping became public. It's not certain
that his presence in the UA.E. had any
bearing on Kawari's release, though a
Filipino and an American who were
taken hostage with him still remain in
captivity. But we certainly want to give
Mahat his due: He seemed to have
learned his lessons after the August debacle. If nothing else, his presence in the
Gulf was telling; it showed he cared.
There are speculations that Kawaree's
fate was determined by the fact that he is
a Muslim, but that alone doesn't explain
the whole story; Iraqi militants have
wantonly killed scores of fellow Muslims in the past.
In welcoming Kawaree's release
and giving Mahat a pat on the back,
we, however, would like to remind
him of a larger responsibility that lies
before him. Hundreds of Nepalis are
said to be working in Iraq, where 170
foreigners have been kidnapped—and
30 of them killed—since the fall of
Saddam last April. Iraq remains an
extremely dangerous place, not least
because thousands of civilians have
become collateral casualties in the
combat zone. The city of Fallujah, not
far from Baghdad, could see a major
battle between the insurgents and U.S.
and Iraqi forces in the days ahead.
If it's not possible to stem the flow
of Nepali workers to the Gulf, the
government should do everything possible to keep them out of Iraq, where
they will be at the mercy of militant
groups like Ansar al-Sunna who believe that murder in the name of jihad
pleases God. In August, Ansar al-
Sunna dogmatically declared that it
had "conducted Allah's ruling to 12
Nepalis who came from the land seeking assistance from their God Buddha in order to fight Muslims in this
land by serving Jews and Christians..."
Iraq's conflict is spiraling out of control. No one there is safe from the inferno. The government should be
careful that a spark doesn't cost it all
the political capital it has gained from
Kawaree's release.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
NOVEMBER 14, 2004   |  nation weekly
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