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Nation Weekly June 20, 2004, Volume 1, Number 9 Upadhyay, Akhilesh 2004-06-20

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JUNE 20, 2004 VOL I, NO. 9
I        t
The civil conflict hits anew low but   \
there is a sharp division over whether
UN mediation is required
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20 Muddle Over
By Akhilesh Upadhyay and Suman Pradhan
Whatever the situation on the ground, Nepal's donors are
getting increasingly jittery. And they want action—fast. If
that means going for a third-party mediation, well and good,
they say But even they are divided
11 The Gold Rush
By Ujol Sherchan
The sheer scale of yarsagumba
collection in recent years raises a
sustainability question: how long can
the Himalayan 'gold rush' last at this rate?
30 'Accidents' Are
By Dr. Gyanendra Sharma
With  proper  compilation  of the
information and analyses on the patterns
of injuries on the roads, we would
certainly be able to identify major risk
factors and possible areas that require
38 A Collective
By Vincent Androsiglio
They call it Aithan. Different people in
different locations report in detail the
same words, images, expressions and
feelings ofthe same dream. It is an
expression of a collective nightmare
40 0, Mr. Deuba
By Swarnim Wagle
With a relatively clean image, an army of
able advisors, and awareness on key
political and development issues, Deuba
continues to stand out in a tiny pool of
candidates who can credibly hold the job
of Nepali PM.
18 Extra Dues
By Satish fung Shahi
Right to education is not a much celebrated idea among the student unions,
who say that's a luxury many Nepali
children can't afford.
26 Oliver Twist Finds A
New Home
By Sushmafoshi
' Orphans rescued from an
abusive orphanage finally
see better days
28 Storm In A Teacup
Byfohn Narayan Parajuli in Bhadrapur
Hundreds of planters in Jhapa who took
soft loans to cash in on the wave of "green
prosperity" in the 90s are now saying they
made bad investments.
32   Learning To Fly
By Satish fung Shahi
The Air Hostess Training
Institute trains young
students to become
professional flight
attendants. The institute's owner says
his company's training has helped
airlines cut down on both time and
34  Small Is Beautiful
Two Pokhreli entrepreneurs with the
same name prove that being different
can be good for business
36   Moon Or Sixpence
By Ajit Baral
There isn't much demand for paintings.
Why then are paintings by Nepali artists
priced so high?
16    BIZ BUZZ
 if you
''You can't go wrong
with WordScape"
The Media House, Tripureshwor,Kathmandu
GPO 8975, EPC 5620
tel: 4229825,4261831,4263098
fax: 4216281
This was an
independent film
made from the
filmmaker's personal
In defense of "Bhedako Oon"
on "Bhedako Oonjusto" (Sam Thomas,
As Long As You Film It, April 26-May 1)
where the columnist charges Nepathya
of plagiarizing indigenous resources.
The scene in Gosaikunda—where
Amrit Gurung and a group of girls have
conversation (girl: "you understand ours
but we do not understand yours") was in
reference to Tamang and Gurung
languages. A well traveled Gurung, Amrit
did catch some Tamang words from their
song, but the girls could not understand
the Gurung song. Amrit tries to teach
them "Rangare... Rangare," a Gurung folk
song. That was an attempt at cultural
exchange. Amrit says: 'We learn from
you.. .You learn from us.. .It should be
like that..." The columnist seems to
have misinterpreted the exchange.
Accusing Narayan Wagle, Editor of
Kantipur, of using his social standing as a
journalist for publicity ofthe film is baseless. Though a reputed media person,
Wagle is media-shy One can check that
out with any local journalist. Indeed,
Wagle is an added attraction in the film—
because it catches him in his true colors,
which is rare. Regarding the film reviews
in the media, let me set the record
straight: BOJ was promoted and managed by nepa—laya, and I have been responsible for the publicity And I can
firmly say this: The reviews were the
result of spontaneous reaction fromjour-
nalists. Nation's Editor had a positive
story on BOJ and Wagle in Inter Press
Service himself.
When a writer writes a report/book
on a place and its culture, he is widely
appreciated for promoting them. Why
not a filmmaker? It happened with the
director of Caravan and now this. Let it
be known: this was an independent film
made from the filmmaker's personal resources. This film has helped promote
the place. I have met people who have
visited Gosaikunda after watching the
film. It has also inspired young filmmakers and exposed young musicians to the
rich world of folk culture ofthe nation.
I say this because I am among the more
than 10,000 viewers across the nation.
The above mentioned achievements
are compiled from the long list of feedbacks we got during the public
screenings. As part of our popularizing of documentaries campaign,
Bhedako Oonjusto traveled to 10 places
in the country. It was also used as a
fundraiser for local schools and a social
will offer anyone interested the details
on the donations we have received. We
also plan to use the proceeds collected
from the film's showing to fund a social welfare program in the Langtang
Area. (The film ran seven evenings in
Kathmandu at Jai Nepal, making it the
first Nepali documentary to run in cinema halls. The last time it was publicly
screened was on April 25 by ICFS at
NTB Hall, where, reportedly, it had a
full house and the audience received it
very well.) I could not attend the
screening as I was out with Nepathya
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
 on their nationwide tour—advocating
One thing is for sure: the columnist
has rightly raised issues of indigenous
right, which has yet to make much of a
dent in Nepal. Like-minded individuals need to get together and start working to protect indigenous rights. For me,
it starts with identifying indigenous tunes
and finally patenting its origins. Indeed,
we do not have much time before WTO
comes into effect. I dread to think ofthe
day when Nepalis will have to pay western music companies for the use of our
own Selo and Deuda beats. I on behalf of
nepa~laya express my commitment to
protect indigenous rights. The
Gandharbha Festival organized by like-
minded individuals earlier this year was
the result of Amrit's voluntary research
over Gaineys from the Gandaki Area.
Race against time
(the web editions) so far and must commend you on your track record. Having
worked in a newsmagazine for nearly a
decade myself, I know very well that it is
race against time to publish a weekly. You
never know when the country's unpredictable politics start unfolding.
That said, every new issue of Nation
Weekly offers a set of columnists whom
we don't want to miss. I am sure
Swarnim Wagle, Suman Pradhan and
Ujol Sherchan will continue to offer different perspectives. As an aside, I hope,
the new Indian Foreign Minister K
Natwar Singh found time to read "A Letter to Sonia" by Wagle while he was in
Kathmandu early this month.
With due respect to the job you have
done, I would however like to see more
in-depth and investigative reporting in
the days to come. One of your reporters
has quoted Dr. Ramsharan Mahat from a
Kathmandu daily while Dr. Mahat would
have been only a phone call away.
Unchain my education
in the magazine provides me with an idea
ofthe varied views held by other readers.
One such letter was that of Bhaskar
Gautam (June 6) in response to an article
by Suman Pradhan in an earlier issue
("Unchain My Education," Meanwhile,
May 30). Gautam has the right to
disagree with the author, but his
suggestion that the current five-party
movement provides the students with
an education like no other comes as quite
a surprise to me. Gautam's view that the
street agitation is an education to the
students is at best misguided and at worst
absurd. To talk of such an agitation as
being a complete education that not only
provides students with life skills but also
"globalized world values" (whatever that
might mean) leads me to think that
Gautam holds a very warped view on
education and values. Surely Gautam is
not talking about the education provided
by hurling rocks, torching vehicles and
the like. Random acts of violence and
vandalism do not represent "education."
Gautam, while sticking to such a claim,
also derides the "university degrees"
people have worked hard for. He claims
that the "native consultants" with "fancy
degrees" are to be blamed for the current
mess we are in. The last time I checked
the country was being run, or rather run
to the ground, by the very politicians who
are products of a political system that
constitutes these very student unions.
Many of our politicians today are
products of these student unions. To
suddenly blame people with an education
for all that has gone wrong in the last 14
years of democracy, instead of the
complete lack of vision, the
unaccountability the corruption that is
characteristic of our leaders is to be
prejudiced and biased.
Surely beneath all the satirical language ("fancy degrees" and the like), the
argument presented is weak and baseless.
To justify the disruption ofthe education
system on the basis of its failings, to blame
people with "degrees" for our country's
situation, all this leads me to believe that
Gautam betrays the prejudice of a class
that finds it acceptable to take hostage other
people's liberties, disrupt the everyday life
of people and take whatever measure necessary to make its voice heard.
Nation Weekly, The Media House, Tripureshor,
Kathmandu, Nepal (Regd. 113/059-060).
Tel: 2111102,4229825,4261831,4263098
EDITOR: Akhilesh Upadhyay
COPY EDITOR: Tiku Gauchan
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Vol. I, No. 9. For the week June 14 - 20, 2004, released on June 14
■ •
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attachments. Writers should disclose any connection
or relationship with the subject of their comments.
All letters must include an address and daytime and
evening phone numbers. We reserve the right to edit
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Tripureshor, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Nation Weekly, The Media House, GPO 8975
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Tel: 2111102, 4229825, 4261831, 4263098
Fax: 4216281
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
Did you, too, O friend, suppose
democracy was only for
elections, for politics, and for
party name? I say democracy is
only of use there that it may pass
on and come to its flower and
fruit in manners, in the highest
forms of interaction between
people and their beliefs—in
religion, literature, colleges and
schools—democracy in all
public and private life...
Walt Whitman
The civil conflict hits a new low but   .
there is a sharp division over whether
UN mediation is required
Venus passing across the face
of the sun on June 8, as captured
by a telescope at Valmiki Campus
in Kathmandu. The next transit
will occur on June 6, 2012. The
last transit occurred in 1882.
nw/Sagar Shrestha
 Through Tin
oking Glass
The Gold Rush
The sheer scale of yarsagumba collection in recent years raises a sustainability
question:   how long can the Himalayan 'gold rush' last at this rate?
Ever since the government lifted a ban on yarsagumba (Cordyceps
sinesis) collection in 2001, there has been a rush of collectors,
call it a yarsa phenomenon, from April to July each year. However,
the scale of this rush is now a little worrying.
The closure of schools in Dolpa because kids have gone yarsa-
hunting, the death of half a dozen or so collectors due to hypothermia,
the unfair terms of barter (a kg of yarsagumba for a kg of rice in drought-
hit Darchula when the same commands Rs 30,000-35,000 in India
and Tibet, and around U.S.$ 3,000 in the international market) owing to
information asymmetry and desperation, increased use of fuel-wood in
areas where few trees exist, and smuggling of other protected medicinal
herbs are only bits ofthe story that are emerging. The picture ofthe swell
of collectors and traders descending on an alpine meadow in Saikubari-
Dolpa that made the front page of Kantipur's May 29 issue is telling.
The sheer scale of yarsagumba collection in recent years raises a
sustainability question: how long can the Himalayan 'gold rush' last at
this rate? And, who is it benefiting?
Fortunately, yarsagumba, which commands a premium in
international markets owing to its much sought-after use as an
aphrodisiac or tonic, is a renewable bio-resource. A colleague
from Bhutan says its reproduction is affected more by weather
conditions than bythe level of collection, which is good news.
However, all that trampling around in the alpine meadows
every summer by the rising tide of people must surely have
some effect on the followingyear's yields, since the germination period of yarsagumba coincides with the collection
period. Moreover, not leaving a significant percentage of
yarsagumbas undisturbed as seed plants for regeneration
may likely unleash the workings of 'the tragedy ofthe commons,' resulting in falling yields per hectare in the future.
This may force the government to reimposetheban, which
would be tragic, since yarsagumba's potential to lift thousands of families in the food-insecure remote Farwest and
Midwest out of poverty, those who need it most, would then
go unrealized.
While the government should be commended for lifting the ban
on yarsagumba collection, it can and should do more, for the chances
ofthe locals escaping poverty or making fair income from yarsagumba
are fast receding in the face of increasing competition from better-
equipped and better-financed outsiders, cunning traders and foreigners. If the government is serious about the the main thrust ofthe
current Five-Year Plan—poverty and hunger reduction—it can begin
by restricting outsiders from collecting or purchasing yarsagumba.
Local communities should have the preemptive right to yarsagumba
in keeping with the best practice of community resource management, which has worked so well for Nepal, especially in the forestry
sector. This can be done by restricting open-access to yarsagumba,
and handing over the yarsa-growing commons to local communities
for managing.
The government can then arrange to provide training on sustainable harvesting techniques to collectors from the local communities
before every collection season.
The government can, moreover, arrange to set up collection centers—much like the milk collection centers operated bythe District
Dairy Cooperative—in each yarsa-growing district in summer to buy
yarsagumba at fair price (say at half the international market price)
from the local communities for export to the international market. This
can be a win-win situation for both the parties in terms of greater
revenue generation made possible by weeding out the middlemen.
Or alternatively, the government can authorize a national buyer or
exporter with international reach but local presence in each yarsa-
growing district on terms favorable to the local communities.
Of course, all this will not work unless the local communities themselves monitor collection, price, and presence of outsiders, but then
they will only do so if the benefits from doing so accrue to them
Clearly the yarsa phenomenon is fast emergingasa litmus test of howwell
Nepal manages its bio-resources, as it rushes to Destination Unknown riding
on the WTO bandwagon or on the thorny back of regional trading arrangements. True, we do not measure up to India and China in manufacturing and services, or even in agriculture, but by God, if we fail to
manage our bio-resources in which we have comparative advantage
and link international trade in them with rural development, we will
have let Rural Nepal down once again,   d
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
Infected dairies
Integrated Biologists Research Group (IBRG) found
germs causing diarrhea and
dysentery in samples of milk
produced by some private
dairies and the government
owned Dairy Development
Corporation. Various species
of bacteria were present in
samples taken from 14 brands
of pasteurized milk in
Kathmandu Valley. The Food
Act specifically states that
pasteurized milk shall be
SLC results
1600 is the number you must
dial to get your SLC results.
The Interactive Voice System
facility has been provided by
the Nepal Telecom in association with the SLC Examination Board. The system,
which will start functioning a
day after the SLC results are
announced, also provides such
details as "passed," "failed,"
"division," "withheld" or
"subject canceled." The 25-
second call costs Rs. 3. 60.
Successful operation
BPKHS Hospital in Dharan
successfully completed a
throat cancer operation--a
first in Nepal. Dr. Ishor Singh
cut out 25 cm of malignant
tissue from the pharynx ofthe
patient, Indra Bahadur
Kunwar. Kunwar, who is
from Morang, was admitted to
the hospital after Koshi Zonal
Hospital and Bharatpur Cancer Hospital failed to make
much headway on the afflicted throat. The operation
took eight hours.
Airport fencing
Work on fencing the
Kathmandu airport with
barbered wire blade started
last week The fencing around
the airport, which covers 10
square kilometers, is estimated to cost over Rs. 10 million. The work was initiated
after the Defense Council
asked airport authorities to
tighten the security at Nepal's
only international airport, according to Kantipur, which
also says that the number of
security posts around the airport would also be increased.
At present the airport has nine
Army posts providing 24-hour
Houses for Kamaiyas
Fifty-eight newly constructed
concrete houses in Gularia
A GAME OF CHINESE WHISPERS: The PM listens to possible allies
were handed over to freed
Kamaiyas. They were constructed jointly by Radha
Krishna Tharu Jansewa Kendra
and Action Aid Nepal, organizations that have been running
empowerment programs for
Kamaiyas. Ofthe construction
cost of Rs. 45,000, Rs. 5,000 was
raised by the Kamaiyas themselves.
Swiss offer
The Swiss government offered
to mediate between the government and the Maoist rebels in
an effort to end the eight-year-
old insurgency. Earlier this
year, the United Nations had
offered its good offices to mediate the conflict if both the
government and the rebels were
open to the idea. While the
NCP (Maoist) has accepted
the UN proposal to work as a
School bombed
The Maoists bombed Modern Indian School at
Chobhar last Wednesday,
the fourth day ofthe indefinite education strike called
by the pro-Maoist student
union. The bomb damaged
property worth over Rs. 5
million. Six school buses
and 46 computers were also
damaged. It is the third time j
the Maoists have attacked
the school.
mediator in the peace talks, the
new government has already
ruled out the possibility of
third-party involvement.
Fossil found
In an excavation work carried
out by Nepal Telecom in
Kalimati, workers found remains of a prehistoric creature, possibly a mammoth, reports The Himalayan Times.
Further study ofthe fossils is
underway The paper quotes
Sukra Sagar Shrestha, the head
ofthe Department of Archaeology as saying, "The whole
body ofthe creature could be
there. We must excavate to
find it." He said it was a case of
missed opportunity that the
archaeologists did not get a
chance to spot-study the fossils immediately after the excavation. The fossil suffered
damage during the excavation.
NHRC requests
The National Human Rights
Commission asked Prime
Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
to allow it access to those who
are kept in the Royal Nepal
Army custody NHRC said
that is was given access to visit
ANNFSU-R vice president
Krishna KG who is placed in
Bhairabnath Gan in
Maharajgunj. The Supreme
Court had ordered the
NHRC to report K.C.'s
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
 LINEAGE: King Gyanendra unveils
late King Birendra's statue at
Birendra Sainik School, Bhaktapur
Brown sugar
The Birgunj police seized
182 kilogram of brown sugar
which was on its way to
India, reports Nepal
Samacharpatra. Police seized
the contraband and arrested
the truck driver and an
Highway one-way
The Valley Traffic Police
made the Tribhuvan highway
traffic one way. Vehicles
running from Kathmandu to
Hetauda must now use
Bhaise route and those
traveling to Kathmandu from
Hetauda the Narayanghat
route through the Prithvi
Highway The police said the
arrangement will remain in
effect until the Prithvi
Highway comes to full
Prohibitory orders
Sher Bahadur Deuba's
government reintroduced
prohibitory orders on street
agitation in parts of
Kathmandu. They were lifted
a month ago by the Thapa
government after intense
pressure   from   agitating
parties. The orders were
levied in a bid to maintain
peace and order in the Valley,
Kathmandu District  I
Administration Office said.
Fake currency
Police arrested two Nepalis
and two Pakistanis with fake
Indian currency notes worth
Rs 400,000. Mahamad Ejaj
Hussain and Mahammad
Rasid are Pakistan citizens
and Samjan Haluwai and Jaya
Prakash Adhikari are
Nepalis. They were arrested
from the Shree Baba Guest
House at Sundhara.
European plea
The European Union
requested the agitating
political parties to join the
Deuba government. A French
Embassy release said that the
appointment of Deuba as
prime minister was a positive
step towards the constitutional
solution ofthe crisis.
UN concern
UN General Secretary Kofi
Annan said Nepal is one of
the nations where civilians,
especially women and
children, were the worst hit
by internal conflict. In a
report on protection of
civilians in armed conflict to
the Security Council this
week, Annan cited wars in
Nepal, Iraq and Sudan as
some ofthe worst examples
where civilians have been
suffering. Annan said there is
"stark and disturbing
evidence" of how much
civilians are still suffering
because ofthe war, with "too
many instances" of civilians
being either subjected to
extreme violence or being
denied humanitarian aid.
Soldiers to protest
More than 2,000 ex-Indian
soldiers, who were not
provided any pension by the
Indian government, have
decided to stage protests
against the Indian
government reported Nepal
Samacharpatra. The ex-Army
Welfare Association, a body of
ex-Indian Nepali soldiers in
Rupandehi, had asked the
Indian government to meet
their demands by May 2004.
The association had earlier
submitted two memorandums to the former Indian
Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajapayee and prime minister,
Surya Bahadur Thapa.
Week in politics
June 5: UML mulls over
idea of joining government
in its central committee
meeting. Nepali Congress
says Deuba surrendered to
King with his appointment;
June 6: Maoist aligned
student union shuts down
schools; NC debates over
constituent assembly; June
7: Five party meet ends
inconclusive; June 8:
Debate over joining
government continues in
UML—majority says place
terms and conditions to
Deuba; June 9: PM Deuba
addresses the nation, calls
Maoists for talks and parties
to join government. UML
asks its standing committee
to decide on joining
government; June 10: PM
Deuba inducts his own party
members Bimalendra Nidhi
and Prakashman Singh into
his cabinet as ministers;
UML puts forward proposal
for constituent assembly.
Alliance of parties minus
UML decides to continue
street protests; June 11: RPP
decides to join government,
gives power to party
president to decide on
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
 Biz Buz
Nepal Telecom has slashed down it charges
on mobile phones by 45 percent to 100 percent starting June 15. No charges will be made
for pre-paid mobile bills on calls between 8
p.m. to 8 a.m., a facility that was already enjoyed by postpaid service users. The new rates
include a rupee for postpaid and Rs. 1.20 for
pre-paid mobiles on calls made from general
telephones at other times. Likewise, the rate
for mobile-to-mobile calls is 50 Paisa for postpaid and 60 Paisa for the pre-paid services.
Nepal Telecom says it is currently providing services to a total 66,000 postpaid and 70,000
pre-paid mobile phone users.
Kumari Bank Ltd. has expanded its e-pay service by signing an agreement with,
the popular shopping portal. The agreement
was signed by Bhusan Rana, assistant general manager of Kumari Bank Ltd. and Amrit
E-shoppers at will now be
able to make their payments through Kumari
Bank Online at no additional cost on any online
Syakar Co. Ltd., the authorized distributor of
Hero Honda motorcycles in Nepal, has
launched the modified version of Hero Honda
CBZ named CBZ*
In addition to the older features, the new
CBZ now comes with an electric starter and a
new body sticker design.
Syakar Co. Ltd., has also launched the
new Ambition 135, a modified version of
the earlier Hero Honda Ambition.
The new 135cc is equipped with
an AMI carburetor, a trapezoidal
headlamp, fitting visor and match
ing stickers giving the modified
version a more attractive look
than the earlier version.
Himal Iron and Steel Pvt. Ltd.
(HISPL) has launched a new iron
rod using "Tempcore," an internationally recognized technology under the close supervision of CRM Belgium.
According to the company, the rods are effective construction reinforcements in earthquake-prone zones like Nepal. The main features ofthe Himal Tempcore rods are its high
tensile strength, weld-ability and duct-ability as
well as corrosion resistance.
Chaudhary Group has a new entry, Zoom Wafers, in the confectionary market. Zoom wafers come in two distinct flavors—orange and
vanilla— and are priced at Rs. 2 each.
Chaudhary Group plans to expand the prod
uct base by adding a few
more flavors in the near
> Nepal Credit and Commerce Bank (NCCB) recently
signed an agreement with
Smart Card/Choice Technologies
(SCT). NCCB will now be able to provide network services of Automated
Teller Machines (ATM) and Point-of-sale
(PoS) terminals to its customers.
Mukunda Karmacharya, deputy general
manager of NCCB, and Rabindra B Malla, man-
agingdirector and CEO of SCT, signed the agreement. NCCB debit cards will now be accepted
throughout the 15 SCT network ATMs and
around 250 PoS terminals.
Development Credit Bank Limited (DCBL) has
signed an agreement with Smart Card/Choice
Technology (SCT) with an aim to provide ATM
and PoS facilities to its customers.
DCBL also plans to extend its services to
major cities like Banepa, Pokhara, Birgunj,
Dhangadi, Bhairahawa, Butwal and Nepalgunj.
Prudential Merchant Banking & Finance Ltd.
(PMBFL), the firstfinance company registered after the implementation of'Bank and Financial Institution Act 2003', started its operations recently.
The promoters of PMBFL are Former Governor Dr. Harihar Dev Pant, Yograj Rajbhandari
and Raja Ram Baniya Chhetri among others.
The bank's major activities will include investment, loans on installment to purchase vehicles, machinery, goods, technologies,
housing, establish stores and project
According to the acting general
manager, Anju Pant, PMBFL plans
to issue shares to the public within
a year of operation.
IUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
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Opp. of Sanchayakosh buil
Tel: 4417295, 4416483
-mail: wa
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Right to education is not a much celebrated idea among
the student unions, who say that's a luxury many
Nepali children can't afford. But parents are going
through the grind due to the school shutdown
!W^ O'l
In the past week, 35-year-old Ram
Bhakta Maharjan had one additional
responsibility at home: after the
Maoist students forced schools to shut
down, he needed to spare more time
for his family. This in between his 9
a.m. to late-evening office hours.
As the Krantikaris called for an indefinite school shutdown startingjune
6, accusing private schools for charging exorbitant fees, his 5-year-old son
hasn't been able to attend his kindergarten classes at Saraswati Boarding
High School in Chhetrapati. And the
pressure is slowly mounting on the
parents who are taking turns to watch
over their "hyperactive" kid. They want to
make sure that the
child makes up for his
missed lessons in
"There wouldn't be
much to complain if
only the strikes ended
up forcing the schools
to bring down their
fees," says Maharjan,
who works at the Human Rights and Good
Governance Advisory
Unit at Danida, the Danish aid agency.
"Still, bringing politics into school is
a violation of the children's right to
But the right to education is not a
much celebrated idea these days among
the Krantikaris and other student
unions, who say that's a luxury many
Nepali children can't afford. Even with
a monthly income of Rs. 30,000,
unions have
set a dangerous
precedent and
seem all too
happy to
carry on
yond his means and struggling to meet
other household costs. The school's
monthly bill adds up to Rs. 2,000—Rs.
750 as tuition fees, which goes as high
as Rs. 4,000 and higher in other schools
depending upon whats says their "status and reputation."
While a number private schools are
slapping fees on just about everything
("stationary," "swimming," "computer," "magazines,") it is the government that should take some ofthe responsibility for the shutdown: It failed
to come up with consistent education
policies that have been demanded by
both the student unions and school
owners. But the unions can't be given
a thumbs-up too. They are not playing
by the rulebook and
are forcing students
out of their classrooms. The student
unions have set a dangerous precedent and
seem all too happy to
carry on, regardless
whether anyone likes
their move or not.
"Since I took over
the organization, there
have been nine committees to amend the
education policy," says
Umesh Shrestha, president ofthe Association of Private Boarding Schools
Organization of Nepal (PABSON).
"But none (ofthe recommendations)
have been implemented so far."
In May 2001, the Krantikaris went
on a similar strike with a 15-point demand that included banning Sanskrit
from schools and changing the national
anthem along with cutting down school
Maharjan admits he is paying much be-      fees in private schools by 50 percent and
 providing free education in government
schools till grade 10. They signed an agreement in December 2002 with PABSON
and government officials to slash tuition
fees by up to 25 percent, classifying private
schools into a, b, c and d categories— depending on the tuition fees. A similar revision in the fee structure was to follow at
higher secondary schools—with a slash of
up to 29 percent. The government also
agreed to provide issue. The current shutdown, the Maoist students say, is part of
their demands, though the Krantikaris now
also want the government to remove the
"terrorist" tag put on them.
"The government doesn't seem to be
doing its homework properly," says Gagan
Thapa, general secretary of Nepal Student
Union, who is part ofthe 11 -member committee. "For their part, the private schools
twist the rules to suit them."
Private schools in turn are demanding that they be governed according to
the Company Act that will turn schools
into profit making businesses.
That is exactly what the student unions
don't want. "Our demands are the same as
I those ofthe Krantikaris," says Thapa. "It is
M not necessary that the entire prob
lem will be solved by the formation of another committee. Our
union is already planning for another strike after the one by the
Krantikaris is over."
According to records, the
schools held classes for less than
120 days last year, though their
rulebooks say the number of
school days should be at least 180.
Most days were lost to student
strikes and bandas called by political parties.
Prime Minister Sher
Bahadur Deuba appointed
Bimalendra Nidhi as the new
education minister last Thursday but the new minister is unlikely to have a quick say over
such matters as removal ofthe
"terrorist" tag, which is a political issue.
"When are the schools going
to open?" wonders Maharjan,
like many other parents, who are
at a loss to explain both to their
young children and their employers how long the stalemate
will continue.  □
Whatever the situation on the ground,
Nepal's donors are getting increasingly
jittery. And they want action—and
fast. If that means going for a third-
party mediation, well and good, they
say. But even they are divided
ore than a week after
his appointment, the
only people Prime
Minister Sher
Bahadur Deuba has
been able to induct in
his cabinet were his own party colleagues,
Bimalendra Nidhi and Prakashman Singh.
Party insiders present a brave face, insisting
that an all-party government should take
shape in the next 10 days or so, and the talks
withCPN(UML),RPPandNSP (Anandi)
have been largely positive. It is no secret
that the prime minister is particularly keen
to woo the UML, and for good reasons too.
But in some ways, getting other parties
to join, though crucial, can only be a side -
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
-Tl J
War, then, war
peh oy understood, must be resolved
MILTON, Paradise Lost   '     ?*'dJtJ,* '
' tuftsin
show. Everyone knows, the success ofthe
Deuba government hinges on whether or
not it can bring the Maoists to the peace
table. In this regard, the past weekhas been
rife with rumors. While some have speculated about an immediate ceasefire and
peace talks, many others are skeptical, especially given the Royal Nepal Army's reluctance to enter into peace negotiations.
Whatever the situation on the ground,
Nepal's donors are getting increasingly] it-
tery And they want action—and fast. If that
means going for a third-party mediation,
well and good, they say The clearest indication of this came early last week when a
news agency quoted Swiss Foreign Ministry officials in Geneva of being keen to
mediate between the government and
Maoists. Though the report was sketchy
and raised more questions than it answered,
it underscored the donor community's concerns regarding Nepal, a concern which has
also been aired time and again by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the European
Union and others. It is no secret that the
Maoists want peace negotiations. Messrs
Prachanda and Baburam have repeatedly
made it clear in recent weeks that they are
ready for peace talks provided there is international mediation. But the government
is steadfast against such mediation. Sources
have told Nation Weekly that the Army is
not too keen about a cease-fire, lest the rebels
use it to regroup and restrategize, as they did
during the last two rounds of peace talks.
But that hasn't stopped some donors
from trying. The thinking among the Europeans, Canadians and the United Na-
tions is that the civil conflict is getting
P out of control and it is time for international mediation. A number of major donors have already pulled out of large parts
of Farwest and Midwest, the region that
needs the aid most and there is imminent
possibility that they may seriously consider pulling out of Nepal altogether if the
security situation deteriorates further.
Since the Maoists are hell-bent on bringing the state apparatus to a grinding halt,
the argument is that bringing in a third
party (the United Nations is the preferred
choice) will change the equation. "There
is a great deal of concern," said a western
diplomat, whose government wants Nepal
to use the good office ofthe UN Secretary
General to defuse the situation. "The signs
are ominous. Outside Kathmandu and the
countryside, Nepal looks like a country
without a government."
But even this diplomat admits, all
donors do not think alike. There is a divide among the donor community over
international mediation. India, clearly
Nepal's most important ally in the fight
against the Maoists, is against the UN
mediation. "Nepal is a sovereign country," says Sanjay Verma, First Secretary at
the Indian Embassy, when asked to comment on the Indian position on possible
UN mediation. New Delhi believes that
external mediation doesn't work in resolving conflicts, starting with the
mother of all conflicts in the Middle
East, the Palestine quagmire. The thinking is: whoever is part ofthe UN mediation team, they will be from individual countries and will have their own
axes to grind in Nepal's conflict. New
Delhi views that Nepal has both experience and expertise to deal with the conflict internally but also believes that both
parties to the conflict will have to make
compromises. India has categorically
ruled out its mediation in the conflict.
Others say it is too early to talk about
mediation without first laying the
ground work for talks and systematic
exercise to formulate the state policy In
the past, the failure to chalk up a well-
defined framework and expectations
meant that peace processes were dependent more on individual impulses rather
than the painstaking homework that is required for the high-stake negotiations.
"Maoists are a monolith but the Nepali
contd. on page 25
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
Talk Of UN Mediation Is Premature
Ram Sharan Mahat, central committee member of the Nepali Congress, is among
a few leaders who can articulate a well-rounded thesis on why the talk of UN
mediation is not a panacea for Nepal. He fears that UN mediation will help
validate the theory that Nepal is almost a failed state, and that there exist two regime and
two armies, a point the Maoists has been trying to make all along. And unlike a number of
other conflict situations, where the insurgents have substantial defined areas of control,
Mahat says, there are no such areas in Nepal which could be considered "militarily controlled" by the Maoists. Still, he conceded to Akhilesh Upadhyay of Nation Weekly the
conflict situation is "very serious" and warrants immediate action.
What is the state
of the conflict?
Maoists claim they are entering
into the phase of strategic offensive. I don't buy that. It is true that
that the government doesn't control most ofthe countryside. That
the news of killings, extortions and
intimidation isa daily occurrence.
But Maoists owe much ofthe control to the strength of their terrorist
tactics, rather than people's willing acceptance of their rule. They
run the show by default in absence of government, civil and
military administrations. But the
fact remains that the situation is
very serious.
Have we reached a point
where third-party mediation
is inevitable?
Before talking about the third party,
we must be clear if we have given
enough attention to resolving the
problem internally. If anything, we
are internally doubly divided—
there is a fight over constitutional
crisis and then there is another fight
with the Maoists. Only after our
united efforts fail will the talk of
third-party mediation come up. No
external party can force its wish on
the unwilling parties. Shifting our
national responsibilities to external
force could be easy but not a solution. Bringing in third parties
would be acceptable when internal possibilities are exhausted.
What is your roadmap toward the
negotiated settlement?
The present regime isn't even interested in activating the derailed
constitution. How can it talk about
restructuring the polity? Putting the
constitution back on track wi 11 be a
first big step toward the settlement.
What about suggestions that the
UN should step in before opposing political forces run each
other to the ground?
There's definitely a role for the UN
to play—but not necessarily in
political mediation at the moment.
The UN must use its moral authority to make the Maoists renounce
violence. Unless the Maoists renounce their present methods—
terrorist tactics even by UN definitions—the talk of UN mediation
may be premature.
Second, the UN
must monitor
the human
rights violations. Third,
it must play
a role in relief and reha^
victims of the
conflict. For this.
UN personnel must be guaranteed
unrestricted access throughout the
Do you think the Maoists will
come forward for talks again—
UN mediation or not?
The two rounds of talks have
shown that they have used the
peace process for tactical advantage, rather than for a lasting
peace. Having said that, I don't
rule out the role of any third party,
including the UN, working quietly
toward that end without publicity
and fanfare—either internally or
Can you please elaborate?
Most successful negotiations are
conducted outside the gaze ofthe
public and media. There is no point
revealing every single detail at the
negotiating stage. Of course, in the
long run public participation and
confidence will hold the key
to any successful peace
process. But every single
process need not be
transparent. To me, the
bottom line is: the
Maoists should show
 that they are sincere about the
peace process. Their literature and
claims made by their leaders
Prachanda and Baburam state
otherwise. In fact, they have been
saying consistently peace initiatives are a step toward their ultimate objective of "People's Democracy."
Are you then implying that
Maoists have never been sincere about the talks?
If you read their literature, they
accept only two forms of negotiations, both modeled on classic
communist strategies. First, the
Brest-Litovsk Treaty of 1918
signed under Lenin with imperial
Germany. Second, the Chunking
Negotiations of 1938, which led
to the establishment of "people's
democracy" in China. In the first
case, Russia ceded Baltic states
and other territories for the time
being in order to preserve the October Revolution, only to expand
their sphere of influence right
The Maoists should show that they
are sincere about the peace process. In fact, they have been saying
consistently peace initiatives are a
step toward their ultimate objective
of "People's Democracy"
across Eastern Europe later. In the
second case, the alliance with
Chang Kaisek's troops helped
them defeat the Japanese but it
turned out to be only a temporary
tactical alliance which lead to communist takeover of China. Look at
what Nepal's Maoists have done
in the last two peace processes.
They used them to consolidate
and expand their organization.
They set preconditions to talks and
knew well they could strike a good
deal with weak governments, who
were desperately seeking legitimacy. On both occasions, they
walked out ofthe talks when their
conditions were met. I hope it will
not be the case in future. Maoists
must be ready to work in a multiparty democracy without the use
and show of force.
What is the way out?
The new government is hardly the
best way out to resolve the crisis.
It will try but I can't see it going far
given its narrow popular base.
Aren't you pulling the gun too
By the look of it, this government
wi 11 be m uch I i ke the past two gov-
emments. If UML does come in,
that will make some difference but
without functioning democratic institutions I ike the Legislature, it is
bound to fail.
The European countries, who
have stood solidly behind the political parties, are now making
a plea to the political parties to
work together with the new government?
We appreciate the concerns shown
bythe European community about
the deteriorating situation in Nepal,
but we know our problems better.
We are not asking for the moon.
What we are saying is: let the Constitution prevail.
With the CPN(UML) keeping out
of the five-party alliance, is the
Nepali Congress getting isolated?
Restoration ofthe constitutional
process hasn't even started. It is
not a matter of who is with us and
who is not. It is about standing up
to our conviction. □
In-depth Analysis of
Business in Nepal
People have their say on
the upcoming
15,h June
Nepal's Leading Business and Management Magazine
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UN Can Play A Key Role
In terms of volume, Switzerland's bilateral aid to Nepal may be smaller compared to
some others but SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) is one of
Nepal's first development agencies. Typical ofthe Swiss national character, SDC has
strictly maintained its nonpartisan stand. In recent months, however, Switzerland has taken
an active role in trying to make Nepal adhere to the international human rights regime. At the
UN Human Rights Commission's meet in Geneva this year, it sponsored a proposal to bind
Nepal into accepting international monitoring of its human rights situation. But the proposal
was scuttled by India and the United States, who believe that putting the Nepali state under
the rigor ofthe international human rights regime would affect counterinsurgency operations.
Jorg Frieden, Country Director of SDC told Nation Weekly that the issue of mediation,
which has been reported in the media and political circles, is no more an abstract one. Of
the international agencies, UN, Frieden says, is the preferred choice among the donors.
Has Nepal's conflict reached
the stage where third-party mediation is the only way out?
Development agencies like ours
are today facing difficulties in delivering support to the rural people.
The country's conflict is political in
nature. It has nothing to do with
the need ofthe people. The government can guarantee access and
lawand order only in a minimal part
ofthe territory. The issue of mediation therefore is not an abstract
anymore. We need some kind of
understandingfrom the parties to
the conflict on delivery of humanitarian and development aid.
How can that be done?
Given its history and experience in
dealing with conflict, the UN can
play a key role to ensure a peace
corridor. This is an urgency.
Are you saying that basic services no longer reach a large
chunk of the population and
therefore the situation demands urgency?
We desperately need an agreement between the parties on the
delivery of humanitarian aid, food,
education, and a minimum development work. We think it is the first
responsibility of the government, but
if the Maoists don't want to talk to
the government, the United Nations
can step in as key player—as they
have done elsewhere in similar situations. Rural people need opportunities and support. The UN Secretary General has already offered
his good offices to avoid what the
international community fear is an
impending catastrophe.
Many, certainly the government,
would take such a move as acknowledging that the state powers have collapsed?
I can't comment on that (That
becomes a very delicate issue).
One argument against bringing
in the United Nations, or any
other international party as either a mediator or facilitator in
the peace process, is that it will
give Maoists legitimacy as a
political force.
I have a personal experience of
having worked in a conflict—in
Mozambique. The recognition of
political and military strength of a
group is not equivalent to giving
them legitimacy. If you don't recognize them in any way, you are
not taking their strength into account. First you have to recognize
that an adversary exists and move
on from there.
Is the state in denial then?
We hope the new government will
recognize this reality and enter into
a dialogue. Recognition ofthe demands made bythe adversary can
be a starting point to negotiations.
Nepal's development needs are
immense and urgent.
What are you referring to?
You recognize the fact that the
Maoists have made certain demands. Then negotiate how the
two parties can work out a peaceful solution. □
contd. from page 21
state is not," says former Foreign Minister Bhekh Bahadur Thapa. The implication is, whereas the Maoists could agree
to peace talks and an eventual deal without having to justify everything to their
support base, a democratic state cannot
do so with as much ease.
There are just too many players here
who have a stake in the outcome—the
Palace, the parties, and indeed the people
themselves. They all will want to have a
say. But more than anything else, the fear
among Nepali officials is that inviting
third-party mediation will internationalize the conflict and lead to official recognition ofthe rebel Maoists. In essence,
what this means is that the international
community will recognize that there are
two states within Nepal, something the
government does not want.
The fear is even more acute considering officials' belief that there appears to be
no one who has a neutral status in Nepal's
conflict, not even the Europeans.
"There is a difference between internal recognition and international recognition," says a foreign policy expert
who has served in high-ranking official
positions. "We can hold peace talks with
the Maoists and give them some sort of
recognition within our own borders, but
doing the same thing through international players is a whole different ball
game." This explains why successive
governments have been reluctant to
agree to such mediation. But most are
open to "facilitation," a term which
vaguely means helping nudge negotiations along without being a party to it.
"Maybe we could accept facilitation,"
says Thapa, but the government needs to
know the modalities beforehand. But it
could be awhile before the government,
either this or future ones, realizes that
"facilitation" is better than nothing. "Unfortunately, the history of all conflicts
tell us that the bloodshed has to reach a
certain level before all parties are serious about peace," says an official who
declined to be named. "In Nepal's case,
that point will come only when the death
toll is much higher than the present."
Cynical. But perhaps true? □
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
A group of orphans rescued from an abusive orphanage
finally see better days. For residents of the Light for
Nation children's home, this Dickensenian scenario was
notjust stories out of a 19th century novel, but daily
reality until now
What happens when a children's
home becomes a place of
abuse, where children get no
food to eat and are beaten and kept in a
state of acute fear? For residents ofthe
Light for Nation children's home, this
Dickensenian scenario was notjust stories out of a 19th century novel, but daily
reality. "K.B. Khadga's( Light for
Nation's founder) wife beat me and shut
me in the bathroom," says Aarati Thapa,
pointing to a scar on the side of her face.
Aarati, a bouncy little girl in a pink frock,
Ram Prasad Pandey 10, another rescued child, says Khadga's wife told him
that if he left their home, the new folks
would cut his heart out and sell it in a
foreign country Does he believe his new
caretakers would do that? The question
elicits a look of fear, as if the child doubts
his own knowledge. But he is very definite when asked if he would like to return to his old orphanage. "No," he says
promptly "I don't like it there. They
don't feed us there."
Food deprivation, say the children,
was the norm at Khadga's Light for Nation. Silas Tamang, who also claims he's
10, says: "They only fed us once a day;
chiura and sometimes rice. They would
eat the meat, and only give us the bones."
The children, who were not sent to
school, were made to wash the dishes
and do the laundry. They were also made
to take care of chairman Khadga's four
sons, including diaper changes for the
infant. "If his son beat us, he would just
beat us again," says Silas. The chairman's
four sons, Peter, Paul, David and Jakob,
received special treatment.
"The chairman even married his 13-
year-old son to a 15-year-old orphan
girl from the home," says Yograj
Pandey, who also left the orphanage
after seeing the abuse. Pandey, the 29-
year-old general secretary ofthe new
home, has two gold ear-studs and sunglasses worthy of a rock star. But his
commitment to the children is clear.
"I can't stay in my apartment even
though I have my BBS Third Year ex-
insists she is 10 but looks about seven.
She is one ofthe many children now rescued from the orphanage.
Salvation for the children at Light for
Nation like Arati came in the form of
nine staff members, who staged a
wholescale walkout from the orphanage.
Says Maiya Devi Pathak, who eventually
started a new organization called Light for
Nepal (not to be confused with Light for
Nation) which now takes care of 35 children, "I would go from door to door to get
donations, and then I would watch the
chairman's family as they ate all the food.
The children would get no meat or milk.
After awhile, I couldn't take it anymore. I
wanted to start a better institution."
Pathak has a personal reason for starting an abuse-free home for children: her
own children were raised in Bal Mandir,
which she says did a good job. Pathak,
who is epileptic, did not have access to
medication in her twenties, and fell into
the fire while living in her village. It took
two years of hospital-stay and doctors to
reconstruct her face. Her children, during this time, grew up in Bal Mandir.
 ams," he says. "I have to come here and
be with the children. When they go
away to school, it feels very quiet and
After the walkout, a showdown occurred. Ramila Gurung, 13, decided to
run away from the Light of Nation to
join her friends at Pathak's apartment,
where 10 children who had left with their
caretakers were being housed. K.B.
Khadga lodged a complaint with the police, saying Yograj Pandey had stolen his
children. 'You keep on stealing children
from that home. If you need children, we
can bring you truckloads from the street,"
the police inspector reportedly said to
Yograj, who was taken away in a van.
"The inspector didn't understand that
we cared about these children, and they
had a bond with us. I told him that we
would return the children, if they
wanted to go. They started to cry and
began to tell their stories, and finally the
police gave us full
guardianship," says
Yograj, whose ordeal opened up one
good networking
opportunity: the
police, seeing their
good work, now
bring rice and vegetables for the children.
Pathak's Light
for Nepal, housed
in a five storey building close to the green
forest of Raniban, is now registered as
an NGO with the Social Service Welfare Council. A busy hum of children
playing greets visitors at the gate. The
children say "Namaste!" and then dash
off for their "stick game." The rooms,
stacked with double-decker beds, have
the relaxed feel of a home, rather than an
institution. A dresser in each room fea-
"tures personal photographs. Salman
Khan rubs shoulders with photographs
ofthe children's families, many of whom
still live in Dhadingand Nuwakot. "They
don't know their past, or their parents.
This is their home. They're happy here.
They might be unhappier if they knew
their past," says Narad Regmi, 30, a newly
hired teacher who's been in the home
for only a week.
The school patches together funding
from Nepali donors and international
friends. Bruce Moore, an Australian donor who originally used to fund Khadga's
Light for Nation, now funds the new
institution. He pays the rent for the new
five-storey building, but the board remains worried that they may have to shift
to a smaller place if he decides to discontinue his funding. Puruswattam
Sitaula, the treasurer, says: "It's a constant battle to keep the orphanage afloat.
You can't allow children to go hungry."
Sitaula's job includes cajoling shopkeepers for credit when funds are low
The home has been successful in garnering community support: local donors
bring by rice, and vegetables that can be
picked up for free from the wholesalers
at Kalimati, mentions Sitaula. Even the
Water Department co-operates by bringing by free tankers of water. Most importantly, BN Sharma, the vice-chairman of
PABSON, has arranged to school all 35
children for free at CPS Godavari School.
"We only have to pay the driver's salary.
They even send us a bus," says Pandey
Pathak says she would eventually like
to have a building and a school which
can house up to a 1,000 children. For the
moment, however, they cannot add any
more children due to lack of funding,
despite requests.
Khadga's Light for Nation, which lost
its status as a social service organization
after CDO Kirtibahadur Chand deemed
it was unsuitable for taking care of children, has shifted to another location.
Khadga could not be reached for comment either. Light for Nation continues to operate outside of official scrutiny. The organization sustains itself on
funds sent by Christian donors from
abroad, and has added more children.
Says Deepak Sapkota ofthe Central
Child Welfare Board, "It's not clear
whose role it is to follow up on such
cases. But when we hear of these cases,
we do our best to follow it up with the
Central District Office."
The Child Welfare Board, along with
UNICEF and ILO, is working to create minimum standards and guidelines
for care-giving organizations that work
with children. "There's a Children Act,
but there is no provision for law enforcement, and no capacity to implement them," says Alexander Kruger of
UNICEF. When a case is brought to
the police, they will favor the management over the children, he says. "The
situation is pretty grim."   □
Hundreds of planters in Jhapa who took soft loans to
cash in on the wave of "green prosperity" in the 90s are
now saying they made bad investments. More than 1,200
planters are likely to default on their loans sooner than
later. The global slump in tea market, domestic turbulence, and a sharp rise in domestic production are leaving
their mark on the country's fledgling tea industry.
A young girl with a grin on her
face hurriedly plucks tea leaves
with her knotty fingers. She has
her task cut out: by sunset, she has to
make sure that her harvest meets the 25-
kilogram quota to qualify for the plucking wage of Rs. 55. More than a dozen
women and men, between the age of 14-
35, are engrossed in the time-consuming chore alongside her, under the midday sun—some bare foot and others in
flip-flop slippers. Last year one of them
at the Kalika Tea Estate succumbed to a
snake bite.
"We get Rs. 55 for a day's labor," replies a woman, who is too shy to give
her name. She is more anxious to continue her plucking. "But our 'malik' has
told us he would make an increment
soon," another adds with a touching
sense of loyalty.
This is the scene from a tea garden
of Dhanjuju Shrestha, a small farmer, in
Bhadrapur, headquarters of Jhapa. Few
ofthe pluckers seem to be aware that
Shrestha's company which took soft
loans from the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) to set up the plantation, is on the verge of collapse. And so
are workers' hopes for better wages.
Green leaves may be a symbol of hope
and serenity elsewhere, but not in Jhapa.
Rather, they could prove to be the
epitome ofthe proverbial lull before the
Like Shrestha, hundreds of other
planters who took soft loans to cash in
on the wave of "green prosperity" in the
90s are now saying they made bad investments. More than 1,200 planters are
likely to default on their loans sooner
than later, according to the
Small Tea Farmers Association
(STEA). The global slump in tea market, domestic turbulence, and a sharp rise
in domestic production are leaving their
mark on the country's fledgling tea industry and nowhere is the effect more
evident than in Jhapa, the new hub of
Nepal's tea industry.
"With the trouble in the mountains,
most of our tea now doesn't travel beyond the plains and a handful of urban
centers," says Kumar Giri of Nepal Tea
Planters Association, a collective that
represents big gardens and factory owners. "When I am under the grind myself,
what price can I possibly offer to the farm
owners?" There was a time some four or
five years ago when he used to pay the
farm owners as much as Rs. 16.50-17.50
for every kilogram of green leaves they
would bring to his factory in Butabari.
The price has now fallen to an all-time
lowofRs. 8.
No wonder plantation owners like
Bhadrapur's Shrestha are ruing their decision which was influenced by the
boom time in the 90s. And thanks to
ADB, which would provide soft loans
with a pay-back period of five years (it
takes a maximum of five years for the tea
plants to mature and start yielding profits.)
Still, many small plantation owners
blame factory owners for the price crash.
"Clearly our main problem is adverse
price carteling by factory owners," says
Birtamode-based Gopal Giri, former
secretary of Small Tea Farmers Association, "but there are other issues that needs
to be sorted out as well—like extending
the loan's pay-back period from five years
to seven years, lack of fertilizers, pesticides, and sprays, and the government
The thin presence of pluckers itself
symbolizes that all is not well in the tea
gardens of Jhapa, whose eastern borders
extend to the Indian tea basket of
Darjeeling. Clearly the tea euphoria that
once swept the farmlands here is gradually getting buried under the mounting
debris of loss and debts.
Many of the small farm owners say
they have been able to save little. Here is
their math: They sell green leaves for Rs
8.25 per kg (ofwhich Rs 2.30 goes to the
pluckers); the average investment requirement for producing a kilogram of
tea is Rs. 7-9.50, excluding the irrigation
costs. "The processors have pushed us
too far in last five years," says Purna Karki,
President ofthe Small Tea Farmers' Association. "I will soon be defaulting myself along with many other small planters
under our association." His plantation
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
covers eight bigha, and owes the Agriculture Development Bank Rs 800,000.
Isn't there a way out? What makes the
farmers incur losses? A number of factors, says Karki.
One is surely the short shelf-life of
the tea leaves and another is the declining quality of the
leaves, at least in the   "
eyes of the factory
The best tea
leaves—three leaves
and a bud (famously
called teen pate, ek
suiro)—sprout in the
first flush of spring.
This is followed by a
relatively lull period,
when the leaves only
mature and harden. The second flush
period begins with the pre-monsoon
rain. While the leaves that come out now
are not of top quality in flavor, they make
for "good liquering tea." And again the
prices go up. But it is in the monsoon
months that the prices really dip. While
the flush is heavy, both the flavor and the
"liquor" content ofthe leaves are poor.
"Farmers get very good prices for
their leaves during the first and second
flush seasons," says Kumar, who runs the
tea processing plant. "The best tea leaves
are not more than three and half inch
long, but the farmers come up with six
inch long leaves. Any factory would give
farmers a good
price for teen pati
suiro (three leaves
and a bud)."
Small farmers
say Nepal should
follow the Indian
example and introduce an auction
system for price
proceeds are
shared on a basis of
60:40 ratio by farmers and processors.
Experts at the Tea and Coffee Development Board say that the Indian model
may be ideal for Nepal as well but they
have had a hard time persuading the factory owners to sign up for the deal. The
Board announced in 2002 that it would
introduce the auction system in but has
failed to enforce the decision.
The best tea
leaves—three leaves
and a bud (famously
called teen pate, ek
suiro)—sprout in the
first flush of spring
Ishu Shanker Shrestha, regional head
of the Tea and Coffee Development
Board at Birtamode, acknowledges that
"some people have monopolized the tea
industry" but keeps short of naming
names or pointing fingers. He finds it
much safer to talk about a recommendation the board has made to the government and the National Planning Commission.
"A farmers' cooperative tea processing factory may be in the pipeline in the
next fiscal year," he says, though he is not
sure if his bosses up the bureaucratic
hierarchy would ever act on his recommendation. This will avoid the bottleneck in processing.
"The market factor decides the pricing," says Manoj Shrestha, owner ofthe
Modern Tea Factory and Tea Estate. "The
tea industry is undergoing a period of
recession globally." In Nepal, this recession is bound to exacerbate the problem: with each new flush season, new
tea plants will mature and cross the five-
year magic mark when the farmers start
looking for their return.  □
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
With a relatively clean image, an army of able advisors, and awareness on key
political and development
issues both at home and
abroad, Deuba continues to
stand out in a tiny pool of
candidates who can credibly
hold the job of Nepali PM
If Sher Bahadur Deuba was non
plussed when George W Bush
greeted him at the White House in
2002 with the question, "Prime Minister, are the hippies still around in
Nepal?" he didn't show it. Beneath the
flippancy and the chronic instinct to
bungle, the rashjudgments and incomprehensible utterances, Deuba's sense
of political purpose and a desire to prevail and do good build on a painful phase
of protracted grooming. This includes
10 years in prison, and a sacrificial adulthood without money or wife. The
qualities of sincerity and simplicity
have nudged him far in life. But being a
nice guy alone is not a sufficient qualification to run the kingdom—there's a
reason why we don't have Samday
Sherpa or Haribansha Acharya calling
shots in Singha Durbar, but real politicians.
And because Deuba is both, you dismiss him at your peril. Baburam
Bhattarai, the Maoist ideologue, when
asked about Deuba last year, replied
with contempt that he saw little point
in talking about those who had been
"swept aside by history" (itihaas baata
paakha lageka). Implying that Deuba
was irrelevant, if not finished, he almost
endorsed with much irony but not
much subtlety the King's action of 4
October 2002. No former prime minister with 40 years of experience in poli
tics, and an unchallenged leadership of
at least a quarter of elected MPs from
the last standing parliament, would exile himself to oblivion just because the
King pronounced him "incompetent."
That the heavy adjective meant nothing
because it came from a source not constitutionally authorized to make such
judgments is now proven with his reappointment.
In my previous column, "Leaders
Classified," in the 17 May issue of Nation Weekly I rated Deuba as one of
Grade B leaders who "command popular constituencies, are educated and exposed to the outside world—but are ultimately mediocre in the art of wholesome leadership." The word 'wholesome' was consciously chosen. While
Deuba himself has not been implicated
in any serious impropriety during his
numerous years in public life, he is surrounded by many who are, making him
guilty by association. The dirty tactics he
sanctioned to sustain the coalition politics ofthe mid-90s marked the beginnings
of democratic decay. While he showed
he could build alliances during tests of
national will like the ratification of the
Mahakali Treaty he also readily equated
ability to survive with ability to perform,
gravely confusing means with end.
The traits that make him likeable have
a flip side. His each success to woo and
retain clean, competent colleagues, from
Pradip Giri to Prakashman Singh,
Bimalendra Nidhi to Narayan Saud,
Prakash Mahat to Minendra Rijal, is
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
 matched with failure to distance himself from the venal, proven liabilities like
Chiranjivi Wagle and Bijay Gacchedaar.
When Bal Bahadur K.C., another liability
erupts at a cabinet meeting, Deuba is helpless, too weak to assert himself by telling
his peers that high offices require discipline and decorum. Loyalties inspired
through principled deeds are different
from those triggered by pity or fear. The
careless and allegedly lazy Sher Bahadur
Deuba needs to know when he is the private person happily in bed till 9 a.m., and
when he is shouldering the burdens of a
troubled nation as its Right Honorable
Prime Minister. It is easy for others to respect him if he respects himself first.
Deuba once told the BBC that he
doesn't really read much, although dur
ing inter-continental flights, and other
lonely jaunts, he is often spotted with
books by Krishnamurti. Some of those
readings in philosophy must have matured the man, allowing him to withstand the vicissitudes of politics better.
But when a person with at least three
graduate degrees defends his poor reading habits by saying many of Nepal's
problems originate from people who
read too much, there's a cause for mild
alarm. Even his much-publicized stint
at the London School of Economics
(LSE) in the late 80s is not quite as illustrious as it appears on his Vitae. Enrolled in the "research fee" category,
Deuba was expected to engage in independent research on parliamentary democracies by using the LSE's library
land a professorial guidance. Fred
' Halliday a noted scholar in international relations, takes credit for having
mentored Deuba, but when an LSE student alerted the alumni office about one
of their former students becoming
prime minister of Nepal in 1996,
Halliday was quick to claim in the
School's weekly newsletter that "Shah
(sic) Bahadur" had indeed worked with
him. If your proud guru misspells your
first name in an official publication,
then it is likely that the impressions you
left behind were not exactly stellar. But
when petty Kathmandu snobs murmured about his ability to converse in
English, he rightly retorted, "I can't
even speak Nepali properly how can
you expect me to be good in English?"
That a farmer's son who grew up speaking a Farwestern dialect has risen to hold
the country's top job on his own merits
is a great Nepali story worth recognizing. How he delivers a 30-second sound
bite on CNN is the last thing citizens
need to worry about. Especially
when the house is on fire.
So, third time round, will
he actually put out the fire?
Deuba knows he is all too human and is disarming about his
shortcomings. No other politician in Nepal has the humility to admit as sincerely and
frequently as he does about his
mistakes. With a relatively
clean image, an army of able
advisors, and awareness on key political and development issues both at
home and abroad, Deuba continues to
stand out in a tiny pool of candidates
who can credibly hold the job of Nepali
PM. A sorry reflection perhaps of our
national gene pool, but this is one job
that can't be out-sourced for value and
efficiency. As a keen Deuba watcher
since 1990, this columnist has gone
through a full circle of emotions seeing
him work: from awe, dismay, pity and
despair, to resignation, acceptance, and
grudging respect. As he begins his third
reign in Singha Durbar, he should realize that, close to 60, he no longer is the
evergreen "youth leader." Time is running out; and he should aim to rise to
the occasion, make history, and then retire gracefully as an elder statesman to
his mansion in Shivapuri.   □
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
The Air Hostess Training Institute trains young students
to become professional flight attendants. The institute's
owner, Prem Pandey, says his company's training has
helped airlines cut down on both time and money
While on board a Nepali airline,
25-year-old Prem Pandey
once heard a voice over the
plane's communication system that
could be called, according to him, unpolished English: "Ladies and Gentleman, we have now landed at... The
time now is 32 degrees and the temperature outside is quarter to six..."
The passengers, including tourists,
roared with laughter, embarrassing the
airhostess who by now realized her
mistake and apologized. In broken English again. For Pandey, it was this incident that gave him the idea that aspiring airhostesses could be trained to
become professionals, and thus was
born the inspiration
for The Air Hostess
Training Institute.
In August 23 last
year, Pandey decided
to collaborate with Air
Hostess Training Institute in New Delhi
and opened a similar
center with the same
name in Kathmandu.
His mission: train
young students between the ages of 18-
25 before they apply
for jobs as cabin crew
in any of the airlines.
Since then, two
batches of 44 students
have graduated from his school after a
minimum of three months of training.
Around 10 of them are already flying
with one or the other ofthe existing
12-13 domestic airlines in the country.
"The response has been tremen-
The Air Hostess
Institute is one
of a kind in the
country and
offers two
courses, one
basic and the
other advanced.
job opportunities, but companies who
have hired our graduates say that our
training has saved them both time and
money Our graduates are already familiar with the basics of being a good
flight attendant," says Pandey at his
training center on the fourth floor of
Neco Complex near Birendra International Convention Center. The institute hardly goes unnoticed with its
huge signboard on the top ofthe building.
The Air Hostess Training Institute
is one of a kind in the country and offers two courses, one basic and the
other advanced. It trains students to become both air hostesses and flight
stewards, but the number of males in
its classes is much lower than the number of females. "The
males are still too shy
to take up this job and
unfortunately think it's
a woman's job though
both of them undergo
the same course," says
The institute has
two classrooms with
equipment such as
oxygen masks and
serving trays and another small room with
a flight simulator
where students are
made familiar with
real-time flying situations. The basic
course lasts for three months compared to the one-year long advanced
course, but both include training on
personal grooming, public speaking,
familiarization ofthe airport and aviation terminologies as well as classes
fire fighting and first aid. The basic
course costs Rs. 30,000 while the advanced course costs Rs. 88,000. The
last six months ofthe longer module
is taught in New Delhi. It is mandatory for all trainees to behave like
flight attendants inside the center and
they are further groomed on personality enhancing skills during the
dous. We do not promise our trainees      on emergency procedures such as
 'You can see the difference on the
trainees within weeks of their enrolment," says Shanta Shrestha, the chief
instructor at the institute, who has had
at least 20 years of experience as chief
airhostess at Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation and another 12 years with
Necon Air. The admission criteria at
the institute require applicants to be an
intermediate graduate at the least. Girls
have to be taller than 5 feet 2 inches and
men above 5 feet 7 inches, all with
sound vision. The criteria are the same
as required by all airlines awhen hiring
cabin crew. It does not mean the institute prefers tall people.
The training center has hired other
professionals like Shrestha from the aviation business to run the classes, though
Pandey himself never has had any first
hand experiences with the industry
"But I've always loved this field
and was in search of doing something
innovative and different in the business," says Pandey, "and people in the
aviation business have been very supportive towards our effort after realizing how much contribution we can
The Air Hostess
Training Institute has
recently expanded its operations to include foundation courses for pilots and
aircraft maintenance training at the Allied Career Education located in the
company's premises. The institute has
also started courses on media marketing and personality development. "We
all hope that peace will be restored
soon to bring that boom in the tourism industry again," says Prem. "Otherwise, staying in business for a short
while isn't exactly the
type of business the
Air Hostess Training
Institute is looking to
establish."   □
 Arts  Socie
Small Is Beautiful
Two Pokhreli entrepreneurs with the same name prove
that innovative ideas can keep small businesses running
Buffalo Thrill's Amrit Gurung
A year ago, a project proposal on
running a buffalo ride company
submitted by Amrit Gurung at
Pokhara University became the talk of
the faculty. His assignment on Small
Business Management seemed unique
and innovative but at
the same time a tad too
unusual. The faculty
members themselves
wondered whether
such a venture could
be feasible. Undaunted by their reviews, Gurung, early
this year turned his assignment into a real business. "Nothing
is impossible" says the confident young
entrepreneur sitting in his small office
at Buffalo Thrills in Lakeside, about his
one-of-a-kind dream,
Established just a few months ago,
with money borrowed from his father,
Gurung's Buffalo Thrills has already
become popular for its unique services.
He says that he got the idea for the business assignment after he saw clips TV
clips of Tharu children riding on buffaloes. At Buffalo Thrills, trained buffaloes, brought in from Chitwan, take you
for a thrilling ride on four different
trails—Malepatan, Basundhara, Shedi
and Barahi. The cost for the rides range
from $5 to $25 for foreigners and Rs. 50
to Rs. 400 for Nepalis. Although he has
yet to start turning a profit, Gurung believes that turnaround time is just around
the corner.
Tourists are Buffalo Thrill's main
customers but Gurung wants Nepalis
to sample the rides as well. So far, there
hasn't been much Nepali takers. "Many
Nepalis find it awkward hopping on a
buffalo," he says. Such an attitude towards buffalo rides could probably stem
from cultural reasons. "Hindus believe
the buffalo to be Yamaraj's chosen mode
of transport, and that may be why the
Nepali turnout has been low," says
Gurung. It could be a class issue too,
where people don't want to be seen
riding on an animal when they would
rather be showboating in a fancy car.
But Gurung is not about to give up
on his venture anytime soon. In spite of
the comments he gets, like 'Yimaraj ayo"
and "Momo ayo," he
says "there's no looking
back." He's banking on
the different experience
provided by his company to lure customers
in this tourist town already teeming with activities that range from
boating and hiking to
paragliding. And that striking out on a
path less traveled may prove Buffalo
Thrill's winning card in the long run.
Amrit Gurung, the owner of A2B in
Lakeside, could be a walking logo for his
shop. The Long-haired shop owner has a
mala made from dried baldangro simi
(green beans) and a coconut shell-pendant
dangling on his chest and lots of bamboo-
rings on his fingers. All the accessories are
made by him. His alternative lifestyle get-
up blends perfectly with the alternative-
lifestyle-inspired shop that is A^.
A2B's items for sale are anything but
regular factory issued fare. On display are
hair pins, ashtrays, rings, incense burners,
didgeridoos and even an ektaray all made
from either coconut shells or bamboo. The
music collection does feature cds by top-
of-the-chart artists, but A2B's treasure-
trove of psychedelic trance cds by artists
like Infected Mushroom and Skazi is perhaps unrivaled in Nepal.
Gurung uses both his own ideas and
suggestions offered by customers who
visit his shop to design his products. He
gets his bamboo from the villages around
Pokhara and recycles coconut shells from
the nariwalwalas in town. The worktable
in his workshop, couched snugly in a corner behind the shop's counter, is a smorgasbord of rings, ashtrays and pendants,
all in various stages of completion. The
products get crafted in the workshop and
cross over the counter to get displayed
for sale on the racks.
"I started working with bamboo as a
hobby and now it's turning into a full-
time job,"says Gurung. He views A^ as
a good idea that keeps getting better
rather than a well-planned business enterprise. "This is still a learning period.
Business is so-so," he says, "but what's
more important to me is that the products I've designed and crafted are enabling me to make a livelihood."
Gurung has other creative ideas up his
sleeve as well, like his vision of a bamboo-theme bar where everything from the
cutlery to the interiors will be made from
bamboo, and where tama will feature
prominently in various guises on the
menu. But for now, this colorful artist
selling his colorful wares in a colorful
shop is happy enough embodying notjust
his shop's ethos but that of a wise old sage
as well. After all, wasn't it Confucius who
said, "Choose a job you love, and you'll
never have to work a day in your life" ? D
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
 \ .
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
 Arts   Socie
Moon Or Six Pence
There isn't much demand for paintings. Why then are
paintings by Nepali artists priced so high?
Vincent van Gogh lived in penury
throughout his life and died insane and unrecognized. But his
works now sell in millions of dollars.
When Van Gogh's "Portrait of Doctor
Gachet" went under the hammer in 1990
at Christie's, it fetched $ 82.5 million.
Picasso's life was not as indigent as Van
Gogh's, but his life was by no means financially comfortable and many times
he had to beg from friends to survive.
Today, a Picasso sells for millions of dollars. A few weeks ago, Picasso's "Boy
with a Pipe" sold for a whopping $104
million at a Sotheby's auction. That sale
can serve as a context to determine how
Nepali artists price their works.
Last year, Srijana Contemporary Art
Gallery sold stacks of paintings in its
collection at seemingly throwaway
prices. Consequently, a Shashi Shah or
a Kiran Manandhar was available at as
low a price as Rs. 3,000. And the paintings were quickly lifted off the racks
by Nepali buyers. But many artists and
gallery managers didn't like the idea of
selling paintings that cheap and were
angry that the sale scuppered the going-prices marked up by the artists.
Nevertheless, the sale could also be
viewed in a more positive light: at least
an attempt was being made to create an
art market.
A gaggle of art galleries has popped
up in Kathmandu in the last couple of
years. But most of them are not doing
well financially because ofthe absence
of a local market for paintings. Ask any
gallery manager for the buyers' profile
and you will find that the bulk of them
are expats and diplomats, and only very
few are Nepalis.
The market creates demand, but
since there is no real market for paintings here, there isn't much demand for
paintings either. The economic sense,
therefore, demands that we create a market first. And how would we do that?
Selling paintings as cheaply as Srijana Art
Gallery did could be a start.
But such sales are exceptions rather
than the rule. Artists here throw economic sense out the window, and slap
unrealistically high price tags on their
works. Even prints are priced high. The
print, by preparing multiple copies ofthe
same painting, was developed to provide
art at a cheaper price. We have artists who
put a minimum price of Rs. 30,000 on
their prints, which seems outlandishly
high in a country where a sachib earns a
monthly salary of Rs. 10,000-12,000.
Till the 19th century there was no art
market even in the west. And artists were
dependent on feudal lords, aristocrats
and the Church. But with industrialization, things began to change. It created a
growing industrial class. This class
started splurging money on paintings,
creating a market for art.
Closer home, there was no art market in India till around 70 years ago. M.
F. Husain, whose paintings now sell for
lakhs, used to work on hoardings and
signboards to make ends meet. One story
goes like this. When the Indian art scene
was still finding its feet, people from Austria were fleeing to India, fearing Hitler's
persecution. Many ofthe Austrians were
artists themselves and some of them
worked for the Times of India as art directors and art critics. They started encouraging the Indian artists. These developments were taking place at a time when
industrialists like Tata and Birla were
emerging, who later became great art patrons. Patrons and critics helped shape
the Indian art world as we know it today.
Nepal is still a semi-feudal country,
and doesn't have a substantial industrial
class that actively patronizes artists. And
the wider middle class cannot afford to
buy paintings priced at Rs. 10,000, even
In the west, and to a certain extent
in India, art has become, like everything
else, a commodity to be bought and
sold for profit. But it isn't just any
other commodity. It's a commodity
with prestige value. This is why people
in the west cough up astronomical
sums to buy a Miro or a Pollock.
Couple this with the tax exemption
policy on the sale of paintings that
most governments in the west have,
and purchase of paintings becomes an
attractive and safe investment. The
buying of Picasso's "Boy with a Pipe"
was, more than anything else, a safe investment.
Here in Kathmandu, by pricing beyond what our local buyers can afford,
our artists are shooting themselves in
their feet. It's time they realized the
ground reality and start creating an indigenous art market.  □
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A Collective Nightmare
They call it Aithan. Different people in different locations—who don't know each other,
report in detail the same words, images, expressions and feelings of the same
dream. Is this a coincidence? Not likely. It is an expression of a collective nightmare
1 can't breathe, move, nor speak. I'm paralyzed. I try to push off this
black, unseen figure. But, I can't. It bursts out ofthe dark; jumps on
my body—pressing down hard on my chest. I feel like I'm going to
die. I try to scream, but no words come out. As I push against it, it gets
stronger. I give up and lie there—powerless and panic-stricken. This goes
on from five to 20 minutes. Finally, it leaves.
This is a dream that thousands of Nepalis have been having for
decades. They call it Aithan. Roughly translated: you get a nightmare
when you sleep with your hands on your chest. Many wake up from the
dream with green-blue marks on their legs. Different people in different
locations—who don't know each other, report in detail the same words,
images, expressions and feelings ofthe same dream. Is this a coincidence? Not likely. It is an expression of a collective nightmare.
If the dreamer happens to be sleeping with someone, they all report
that if the other touches or rubs against them, the force leaves and they
wake up. Or, if they struggle long enough (mostly young men saythis),
sometimes it goes away. Although they can't move their body, sometimes they can move their toes and fingers—just barely.
What is the Nepali psyche like that allows for the transmission of this
dream from one mind to another? In a recent article I wrote, I got a
glimpse ofthe "porousness" of their psyche regarding the war activities
in Nepal. Many dreamt of being a Maoist,
while the soldiers shot at them. Others were
running away from the Maoists to save their
lives. In any case they wake up in a panic,
with a jolt. A most draining conflict!
Gradually, I realized that there isacom-
plete mythology that explains this dream. It
is believed that if a person sleeps on his
back with hands lying flat on their chest, the
witch will appear. Sleeping on your side prevents it. In fact, neither is true.
At the extreme opposite, some medical
doctors say the paralysis is caused by the
blood getting cut off because of the position
the dreamers are lying in. The green-blue marks are understood to be
ruptured blood vessels or symptomatic of a deficiency in Vitamin C. Other
doctors say that these explanations make no medical sense. They are
being used to calm down the dreamers and to discount the witch folklore.
But, is a medical myth beingcreated to take the place ofthe witch myth?
After interviewing a hundred people or more, I began to ask, "Why are
you having this dream?" Here are some of my own explanations.
Dreams never tell us what we already know. This dream indicates
that the dreamers are not consciously aware of their feelings of helpless
ness—the main ingredient of depression. We dream what we can't
tolerate during the day. This temporarily keeps us in balance, till we are
ready to face what we really feel.
When a dream repeats, it means that the message has not gotten
across. An obstacle to understanding its meaning has been created
because Nepalis have unquestioningly accepted witch folklore and uncertain medical explanations.
Dreams are a short summary of our life. They reflect the parts of us
that are in the dark. Some examples: 'What was going on in your life right
before you had the dream?" I asked a university student. He's behind
on his tuition and considering dropping out of school. Paralyzed by his life
circumstances, that night he has the dream. An illiterate woman is barely
surviving and traumatized by the war activities in her village. She repeatedly has the dream. Her only option in understanding its meaning is to
scapegoat a woman—designated a witch. The witch folklore is destructive because it blames.
This collective nightmare is a sign of depression and the fear of losing
control of our lives. Not difficult to understand—given the warped state of
the world. The over-bearing figure reflects a part of us that inhibits our
capacity to function fu I ly. It sucks the very I ife out of us by suffocati ng our
needs and aspirations. Subjected to its power, we can't breathe (breath
symbolizes our spirit to live.) One figure in the dream is assaulting another; and we are over-identifying with the victim, and not identifying with
the power ofthe attacker. Remember, the
energy of this powerful force is ours, and
can be used for the positive.
Dreams make us aware of our traumas, so that we can rearrange our way of
dealing with them. We can talk to a sympathetic person (don't keep it a secret.) We
can exercise and stick to our regular routine; we can view our problems as challenges and opportunities. By accepting our
troubles as having meaning, we can experience peace.
Another way is to use inspirational slogans to counter negative thinking: Life seems
to always give usjust the right task for learning what we need to learn. If
we can use negative thoughts to keep us immobilized, we can also use
positive ones to motivate us. Depression persists when we no longer see
This col lective dream helps us see that we are one It's the world-soul
expressing itself through individuals—making us realize that our personal
minds are embedded in a deeper psychic unity—that cares.  D
(Vincent Androsiglio, former Professor of Psychiatry, NewYork Medical College,
New York, is currently living in Nepal. He's documenting Nepali dream experiences.
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
 For insertions: 2111102
CHY IhisWeek 1
Please Educate Us
A fund-raising show by the children of
Jeevan Kalyan Kendra (a school for
mentally challenged students.) Also
featuring performances by Nima Rumba,
Bimala Rai, Nalina Chitrakar, Samday
Sherpa, Yogeshwar Amatya and Nirnay
Shrestha. June 13. 3 p.m. at the City
Hall. Tickets available at Shuvtara School,
Nanglo's and at the City Hall gates. Price:
Rs. 1,000, 500,300
Make your own pizza
At the Hyatt Regency, Kathmandu. June
19. For information: 4491234
Garage/Car boot sale
At the Sterling Club, British
Embassy. June 15. Starts at 12
p.m. For information: 4218048
Hot Summer Dance Party
Venue: Yak Palace, Narayani Hotel,
Pulchowk. Time: 3 p.m. Tickets:
Rs. 200. Win free tickets at
Self-help Techniques
A Young Adult Program for
youngsters between the ages of 16
and 21. Organized by the Art of
Living-Nepal, (techniques to help
improve concentration, creativity
and live a stress-free life.) June-
15-19. 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at Dhamma
Hall, DAV school, Dhobighat. For
information: 9851024927
Business Fundas
Two-day training on "Business
Correspondence for SMEs and
Micro Enterprises." Organized by
Fair Trade Group Nepal. June 19-
20. For information: 5542608,
Ultimate 1974 AD
Rock Show
Celebrating 10 years of 1974 AD.
June 19 and 20. 3 p.m. BICC,
Baneshwore. Tickets: Rs. 500,
350, 250. The event is managed
by and is
presented by Ultimate Triple
Distilled Gin in association with
City Post.
The Six Yogas of Naropa
Teachings by Glenn Mullin, an
internationally renowned author and
Tibetologist. June 13. For information:
Himalayan Buddhist Meditation
Center, Thamel, 4249270
Infinity's Journey
Collage, mixed-media and water color
by Gaurav Shrestha, Suman Shrestha,
Ramesh K.C. and Binod Gupta. At the
Park Gallery, Lazimpat. Till June 15
Faces & Aspects of Boudha
An exhibition of photographs by one of
Nepal's best-known photographers, Mani
Lama. At The Saturday Cafe & Gallery.
Adjacent to the Boudhanath Stupa, the
cafe occupies three floors and includes
a boutique and gallery. For information:
Paintings by Armenian artist Armen
Gregorvvian. Siddhartha Art Gallery,
Babar Mahal Revisted. June 15-21.
For information: 4218048
The paintings of Armen Gevorgyan are
marked bythe use of extraordinary bright
colors that are decisive, sonorous and
unusual. The artist's task does not appear
as a goal but as a way of expression. The
red-yellow collection represents a kind
of drama, an affirmation of spiritual
conflict; a symbol of a different world
where all existing planes of between
reality and the surreal have been
explored. According to the artist,
mysticism does not mean an alienated,
symbolic and abstract secret. Rather, it
is a clear and real science that requires
clarification and recognition. The paintings
on display embody the artist's search for
new inspiration.
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
With proper compilation of the information and analyses on the patterns of injuries
on the roads, we would certainly be able to identity major risk factors and possible
areas that require intervention. We could, for example, find out how many
motorcyclists survived accidents because they were wearing helmets, how drunk
driving affects everyone, how pedestrians are protected by road barriers
A motorcycle rider in the capital dies on the spot as a result of
collision. A bus kills a child on his way to school and injures three
others; two of them are in critical condition. A Biratnagar-bound
bus carrying 70 passengers falls in the Trisuli; all are feared dead. A bus
collides with a speeding truck on Mahendra Highway at Narayanghat;
20 are severely injured and two die on the way to hospital.
These are everyday news in our newspapers. Mostly, they feature in
obscure corners on the inside pages. Sometimes, they get featured on
the front page. There is one common feature in all this news: they are
referred to as "accidents." An accident is an unavoidable event that
happens to an unlucky one. Our response to injury is fatalistic. We
declare them as unavoidable, random, and therefore not preventable.
Around 500 people died on Kathmandu Valley's roads alone in the
last five years, according to police reports. Some 7,300 others were
also injured in that period—of whom several people were inflicted with a
permanent disability. The numbers are probably higher. Our figures are
based on the reported cases. We wi 11 never get the exact figures, given
the poor system of record keeping. Police reports are also likely to under-
report fatalities. One may assume that a health professional or a hospital will have the exact data since the first stop of an injured is a health
professional. However, our health information system hardly compiles
information or analyze them systematically.
In most central hospitals, road traffic injuries top the emergency
admission tolls. However, further information on such accidents is not made available to the public as there is no system of
reporting and making the figures known.
Often, an amateur reviews the information and that report remains the documented version for years.
With proper compilation ofthe information and analyses on the patterns of
injuries, we would certainly be able to identify major risk factors and possible areas
that require intervention. We could find
out how many motorcyclists survived accidents because they were wearing helmets, how drunk driving affects everyone,
how pedestrians are protected by road
barriers, how effective brakes could save
lives, how improved road signals and road
conditions reduce accidents, how enforcing the law or regulation changes
attitudes towards safety and so on.
This is exactly what developed countries started doing more than
50 years ago. The response from the police, public health workers,
road engineers, vehicle manufacturers and several others helped minimize casualty figures. During the course of events, they found out that
the notion of considering road injuries as "accidents" was the most
difficult stumbling block they had to overcome. They also found out
that injuries were largely preventable with better law enforcement, prioritizing safety during road construction and maintenance, installing
mandatory safety features for vehicle, and educating the public on
traffic laws. The study and was coordinated by authorities who developed and implemented policy and monitored the actions of partner
We need to learn from them. And just like them, we first need to
change our mindset that road traffic injuries are "accidents." They are a
public health problem. We can largely prevent these injuriesjust like we
prevent any other disease by using a multidisciplinary response. The
public health response may not be as easy as providing vitamin A capsules to patients with vitamin deficiency or distributing oral rehydration
packets as a solution for diarrhea. However, there are enough agencies
in Nepal that can respond to this challenge.
We have to get over the current complacency regarding road safety.
We have to be better informed on the consequences of road injuries and
improve the quality of information we obtain from health institutions as
well as the pol ice. We have to explore the
risk factors that lead to road injuries. We
need a strong regulation for vehicle import, based not only on pollution and environmental considerations, but also as
regards safety. To implement all this we
need a strong and a well-coordinated national policy.
Safety is not a privilege or a luxury but
a right ofthe people. Road traffic injuries
need the urgent attention of responsible
policy makers, professionals and the general public. There isa long way to go. But
we must start now. The longer we wait, the
more some of us or our loved ones will
die, get disabled or hospitalized in these
"accidents." □
(Dr. Sharma is an expert on injury prevention
His email:
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
Media Advisor
The President of Centre for
Victims of Torture Nepal,
(CVICT) and International
Rehabilitation Council for
Torture Victims (ICRT) is
seeking a part-time Nepal
based media advisor.
■ To advise on drafting and
producing media releases,
statements, speeches, articles
and other related materials in
English for media
■ To help designing and
implementing a media
■ Conduct surveys and
analysis of news print and
electronic media
■ Liaising with related
organizations and media
■ Organising orientation
classes on torture and other
human rights issues for
■ Minimum 10 years of
experience in journalism with
substantial familiarity with
English media, human rights
and international community
and relations
■ Sound interpersonal
■ Good computer skills
Please send your CV along ■with a 1-2
pages essay on your ideas on: "Quality
of present day media in Nepal" to
SG& or Fax: 4-373020
before 30th of June 2004
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Completed applications must be submitted by June 30th, 2004
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nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
 The Dilemma Of
Nepali Cinema
Numafung," Nepal's first independent film to go
on the international film circuit, was a hit, both
domestically and internationally, where it
garnered critical acclaim from the European film festivals.
It features the story of a Limbu girl caught in an unhappy
marriage, which she eventually leaves by
running away. Her parents and sister,
forced to pay back the bride price to the
husband, find themselves landless and
have to migrate to the hills. The first
feature film to showcase the Limbu
community, "Numafung" was a
commercial hit in Nepal, despite initial
pessimism from industry insiders about
its mass appeal. Nabin Subba, the
director, has just returned to Nepal after a
two-month tour of Australia, Italy and
Hong Kong, where he promoted
"Numafung" as well as his new film. He
talked with Nation Weekly's Sushma
Joshi about the need to create a Nepali
film movement, and raise awareness about
Nepali films on an international level.
What were you doing in Australia?
The Nepali community there invited me
to be present during the showing of
"Numafung" in Sydney and Melbourne.
They had asked me to come a year ago,
right after the film came out, but I had to
be here for the launch, so I couldn't give
them the time.
Were you there to promote your
upcoming project? What is it about?
It's going to be a film about the impact
ofthe civil conflict on people's lives. I
met with distribution companies while
I was in Australia. They have asked me
for the script, and they told me they will
give me funding for pre-sale rights. It
looks quite positive.
You received the Don Quixote Prize from
the International Federation of Film
Societies (IFFS) in Italy for
"Numafung." How did that go?
The IFFS gave prizes to 18 films selected
from film festivals as diverse as Berlin
The government has to
realize that filmmaking
is a national activity,
one which can raise a
country's profile
to the Bangladesh International Film
Festival. My film was selected from the
Bangladesh film festival. Three directors
were invited—David Ferrario, who won
the Berlin International film award for
"After Midnight," Alexander
Zvyaginstsev of Russia for "The Return,"
and me. It was a networking opportunity
for me—there were delegates from 31
film festivals, as well as delegates from
national film federations of 37
Is "Numafung" still being shown in the
international film festivals?
It's scheduled for five more—Florence,
Guangu (South Korea), Kolkota, Karachi
and a smaller film festival in northern
What was your feedback from critics?
They told me the film was still
"Oriental." The western point of view
wants to see the East as exotic. So should
we take their feedback and make films
their way, the way they want to see us?
Our nuances are our own, as you saw in
"Numafung." They had a difficult time
understanding that.
So which direction do you think you
will take in your filmmaking?
That's the dilemma I am facing right now.
There's a new term being coined: "Asian
Cinema." All the Asians are getting
together and promoting their films.
Because Europeans can be so
Eurocentric. So I am learning a lot of
new things, and realizing we need to
carve a new path.
What was your greatest
obstacle during your trip?
Nepali film history is not well
established, and also not something to
be proud of. The Italians and French
take their old films as heritage, and
project it that way. Which Nepali film
can we project that way? So it's difficult
for us to penetrate the market. People
don't know much about Nepal, either—
a distributor told me outright that Nepal
is an unknown entity and that theatre
distribution would be difficult.
How do you think we can
overcome this?
There has to be a continuous effort from
many people, and also the government.
I've been showing "Numafung" around
for two years, and still there are no other
Nepali films. It's a big joke. We need to
create a buzz and start showing at least
one film a year.
What can the government do in all this?
The government has to realize that
filmmaking is a national activity, one
which can raise a country's profile. I met
several people who told me they had
come to visit Nepal after seeing my film.
I also saw an Israeli-Palestinian conflict
festival in Italy, and the people there
really sympathized with the Palestinian
cause. We also need to work to dilute
the harsh and negative image of conflict
that's been coming out of Nepal, and to
make it more human.   □
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
The Waiting Game
There are many qualities that make
Gopal Parajuli's epic, "Naya
Ishwarko Ghoshana," a major literary work.
The theme is about searching for a
new god in mythical narrative mode
contextualized in contemporary realities.
The literal translation ofthe epic is "The
Declaration of a New God." The quest
for a new god is not a new poetic or
philosophical theme, but reestablishing
the old god into a new form makes the
content ofthe epic different from most
Nepali literary works.
The quest for the new god is built on
many premises and backgrounds. The
work is a philosophical discourse on existential crises and the desire to summon a new lord due to the crisis. The
penultimate verse declares the arrival of
this god, in these lines:
To accept Krishna as god,
Despite everyone denying it
I would keep on saying that I'd say
Krishnaprasad God.
"I would keep on saying" is a refrain
that stylistically binds the epic scale of
the poem. The speaker is the agent who
summons the new god for the people.
The "you" in the poem are those who
have compelled him to conceive the new
deity. The speaker thus is a messenger.
The readers can also read the poem
as a political discourse.
Line after line, the poem
laments the loss ofvalues,
beliefs, human sensibilities, religion and many
other modes of existence.
The speaker looks for a
perfect authority a supreme guide to bring
peace in the world. The futuristic vision
of a perfect goodness after the coming of
the new god expresses the same grand narrative vision.
Grand narrative texts have a long history in Nepali literature. In the established critical tradition ofthe west, such
Utopian themes are the subject matters
of grand narratives where such works of
art look for a Utopian world of peace.
But locating the text as a modernist or
postmodernist work of art creates a critical problem in Nepali literary tradition.
Nepali modernism does not have a defined critical category, except some loose
time frames referred to in the critical
discourse. If one takes modernism as a
widespread phenomenon encompassing
many aspects of culture and society,
Nepali literary modernism is limited to
some works of literature only. Many of
the canonical writers of Nepali literature have a grand narrative vision in their
poems, plays and fictions. In this context, Parajuli's epic is part ofthe tradition of modernism. Furthermore, seeking a god is seeking center or authority
and the quest is thus an accepted modernist vision ofthe canonical literature
of the 20th century. Thus it would be
difficult to read it as a postmodern work.
One still would be tempted to call it
a postmodern text. The reader may notice how myth is recycled to look at the
problems ofthe society. The mythical
hero is summoned repeatedly in a magical-realistic mode. Reading the poem is
like chanting a mantra. Using myth as
both form and content is a postmodernist
writing style popularized in the western
literary traditions. This may be true of a
modernist work of art too. Myths are
frequently used in modernist literary
themes. What then is exclusively
postmodern about the epic?
The answer may be that
there is no ultimate sense of
accomplishment. The
poem does not end but is a
prolonged middle. The
speaker began with the
proclamation and continues to "keep on saying"
that the new god has come. There is no
particular event where the new god is
found, but merely a verbal proclamation
of his desire to keep on saying that the
new god has come.
The epic's dynamism comes from its
ability to be a grand narrative and still "end"
in the middle. Nepali literature needs such
works so that the readers feel challenged
and frustrated time and again by its language and seriousness of subject matter, n
Twenty-two-year-old former Miss Nepal,
Malvika Subba, is an avid reader who
considers reading her favorite pastime.
It's difficult for her to say what her favorite genre
is. Her reading ranges from romance, fiction
and mysteries to real-life accounts and family-
oriented books. "I always find time for reading," says Subba, who's been pursuing a
master's degree ever since she quit her job as
a TV presenter. Subba believes that reading
has helped her grow in many ways, so much so
that she considers her reading habit as one of
the best things to have happened to her.
Which is your favorite book?
"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. It's a book
about the undying human spirit that continues
to overcome odds.
What do you have on your bookshelf?
There's a mixed lot there: from Nancy Drew
stories to John Grisham's "Runaway Jury."
Which book has influenced you the most?
"Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier. It's
the story of a poor helper girl strugglingfor survival.
Your first reading memories?
Enid Blyton's "Famous Five."
Who is your favorite Nepali writer?
I haven't read a lot of books written in Nepali but I
have read all the fictional works by Samrat Upadhyay
and Manjushree Thapa. I liked all of them. □
nation weekly |  JUNE 20, 2004
 Last Word
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A Generation Lost
Whether the aftermath of the
1990 Jana Andolan delivered
the goods is open to debate.
But it did usher in an era of private enterprise in such sectors as education,
health, transport and media. The nation
today boasts of hundreds of private
schools and colleges, clinics and hospitals, transport companies and airlines and
print and electronic media outlets. And
not all of them are fleecing consumers as
some would like us to believe.
This is not to argue that these sectors
have provided efficient quality service at
affordable prices, or that they have expanded beyond the narrow urban confines. Clearly, Nepal has some way to go
before the gains made by these sectors
trickle down to the villages— home to
most Nepalis. Neither will it be an automatic development. A lot of planning
and thought has to be put behind it.
The nationwide closure of schools
and colleges by the Maoists once again
forces us to ask: is the country's education system riddled with dangerous fault
lines and that the dice is heavily loaded
toward those who can afford expensive
private schools? We are afraid, it is quite
so. When the children's school fees add
up to more than Dad's monthly salary,
we can imagine where the parents would
be forced to send their children: at
worst, cheap government schools or at
best, affordable private schools. When
you see that your young children start
well behind their counterparts who go
to better schools, you as a parent are more
than likely to rebel against the system.
Especially, when you didn't get a particularly good education and see education
as "the great leveller" for your children.
We have seen a huge number of this disgruntled population and the numbers
seem to be growing.
But the current standoff between the
private schools and the Maoist student
union goes far beyond the story of anxious parents. And that's where the dangers lie. It would be a folly to close one's
eyes and say that private schools have
failed. Though they are cleverly trying
to couch their language, the Maoist stu
dents who are agitating to force private
schools to lower their fees in fact want
the government to remove the "terrorist" tag it has put on them. Their forcing
of schools to close is therefore dangerously demagogic.
Instead of building public opinion
and mobilizing parents in support of
improving the school system and forcing expensive schools to lower their fees,
the ANNISU (Revolutionary) has decided that they know better. As a result,
tens of thousands of students have been
forced to stay home, accompanied by
their parents who should have been out
The ANNISU first raised this issue
a couple of years ago. The government at
the time brokered a compromise between the schools and the agitating students to pare down fees. As a result, some
schools quietly revised their fee structure while others used a portion ofthe
fees collected for social causes, such as
constructing libraries for poor school
children and providing scholarships, etc.
But many others chose to ignore the
terms ofthe compromise.
Our question is: why did the government fail to enforce an agreement it
helped draft? Why did the schools themselves neglect it? But what we also find
worrying is that mainstream students
groups such as Nepal Students Union
and others have also jumped into the fray.
Gagan Thapa, the NSU general secretary, recently said his group would keep
pressing for reduction of school fees
even if the ANNISU lets go ofthe demand. We hope he is not hinting at
school closure. Outlawed groups like
the Maoist student body seem to have
only one aim: do anything, everything,
to disrupt normal life. This, we are afraid,
has continuously eroded the state authority While we don't like the fee structure ourselves, we do not want people
defying the existing authorities with
Akhilesh Upadhyay, Editor
JUNE 20, 2004   |  nation weekly
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v/no })ci5 -r/)2 pc/tej/rrid ro b^ rlis b^r -rhcrr 1)2 d/j shs cci/i b^.
Child Development Centre
Child Development Centre
TSe Read, Wmdy HUs,
NagarkM, BneMapur. rtep*
THi6e80M5-'if'fflo«3 i Fwt.aseoMa
E-mail. 'jlutigirTioe
Hole* Amtsflaador, La!"npat.
Kafimandu, Nepal
NagarkOt    ReSOrt        Eniail.amtiaflSator&anirwss^araaiTi.rp


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