Monthly Archives: January 2010

Nepal India Bhai Bhai. Take Rose, Tension Nahi Leneka.

Nepal-India Friendship

Nepalis and Indians exchange roses in a show of harmony in no-man's-land at Jamunaha border point on Saturday (30 Jan). Photo by Janak Nepal

In an effort to reduce tensions between their two nations, Nepalis and Indians come at a border point to hoist their national flags, sing their national songs and pay respect to their martyrs. But Indian Border Security Force’s harassment continues in eastern border (see box)

By Janak Nepal

Flags were hoisted, national anthems sung and tributes paid to martyrs of both countries—Nepal and India— in no-man’s land at Jamunaha border point near the Nepali town of Nepalgunj on Saturday (30 Jan) for a reason. The people from the two countries exchanged roses in a show of friendship and harmony.

Civil society leaders from Nepalgunj and bordering Rupaidiya had organised a programme for reconciliation between the two sides. Tension had flared up in border areas after the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN-M], under its national sovereignty campaign, printed posters showing boots planted on the Indian national flag a week ago. Continue reading

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Nepali Maoists and Bihari Republic

Bihar’s success story tells us that if Nepali leaders want, Nepal can progress in a couple of years, not decades.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

Finally, the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu last week did what he was primarily supposed to do: promote his country rather than poking his nose into internal affairs of the hosts. “Some people talk about possible Biharisation of Nepal,” Rakesh Sood reportedly said at a programme organised to mark his country’s Republic Day in the Nepali capital on Jan. 26. “But look at Bihar, the economic growth there has crossed 11 percent.” The ambassador blamed Nepal for its growing trade deficit with India, arguing that market was of no use if there’s no production. He might be correct in his assessment. But I wondered how Prachanda and his company took the statement that came as a response to the Maoist’s ‘we don’t need Bihari-style republic [that rest of the parties and India want to impose] in Nepal’ rhetoric.

Why blame only the Maoists? For many in South Asia, the Indian state of Bihar is synonymous with lawlessness, poverty and underdevelopment. Not only in Nepal but in India too, I have found, the word Bihar(i) is taken as a mark of insult and humiliation. I have met many Biharis who hesitate to identify themselves as Biharis, including those who are highly educated. The problem is with the image of Bihar that was largely shaped by the politicians who ruled the state until 2004. Since, with Nitish Kumar assuming Chief Minister-ship, that rusty image has slowly been changing. Continue reading

Obstacles for Business in Nepal: Instability and Maoists

Political instablity and power outage are the two major contributors to Nepal’s poor investment climate, a World Bank report says. It forget to mention the number one reason: the Maoists.

Nepal 2009 Enterprise Survey points out lack of access to finance and labour regulations as other major obstacles. Obstacles, however, differ from industry to industry. Transport and electricity are especially problematic for the tourism industry, whereas labour regulation is the key impediment for the manufacturing sector. The survey conducted last year has covered 13 cities across the country. Nepal’s decline in export has rightly been potrayed in the survey. Only four percent of the firms are exporters against the South Asian average of 20 percent. Nepal, however, has fared better in some areas: Tax rates, tax administration, business licensing and permits and court functioning. (detail)

Maoists threat to GMR

Nepalis have been bearing the brunt of treacherous power cuts for some years and it is only projects such as these that can provide relief to them a few years down the line. The Maoists have no right to deny the people the future benefits that such projects will bring to them. Continue reading

Nepal Govt Advised Not to Allow India Deploy Sky Marshals

‘Indian ploy to legitimize what they have been doing informally for the past 10 years’

By Saroj Raj Adhikari

The secretariat of Nepal’s Security Council has advised the government not to allow India put sky marshals in their planes flying out from Kathmandu. The secretariat that takes stock of security issues before providing any advise to the Cabinet recommended against deploying sky marshals on Wednesday (January 27). to the Prime Minister’s Office, Defense Ministry and Home Ministry. According to a source at the PMO, the secretariat suggested that allowing India deploy sky marshals could have lasting impact on issues related to nationalism. The secretariat had termed the Indian proposal ‘interventionist approach’ on the eve of Prime Minister’s visit to India a few months ago. Continue reading

‘India Already Has Sky Marshals in Nepal-Bound Planes’

New Delhi’s pressure to allow sky marshals on Indian planes flying out from Kathmandu has put Nepali government agencies in a dilemma. Foreign and Home Ministry officials held consultations with their colleagues in the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) before Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna’s visit to Nepal in mid-January and Home Minister Bhim Rawal’s India visit last week, according to TKP. As Nepal is a party to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), MoTCA officials say, armed foreign nationals should hand over their weapons to Nepali security when they get off the plane as per Standard Operating Procedures. The Indian side has proposed that Indian air marshals will remain inside the plane at all times. “They will be deployed in plainclothes,” said a senior Nepal government official.  “The Home and Foreign ministries have received feedback from the Tourism Ministry that Nepal could allow the air marshals. However, the Ministry of Home should make a call on such a big decision,” said the official. Continue reading

India Again Presses Nepal on Sky Marshals in Airplanes. This Time With a Veiled Threat

If Indians do not trust Nepali security apparatus at the Kathmandu airport, they should stop flying to Nepal for the time being. Why should, after all, they take the risk?

India has once again asked Nepal to allow it to deploy sky-marshals in its airplanes flying out from Kathmandu. While the request is not new this time it comes with a veiled threat. India has conveyed to Nepal- at the highest levels- that it expects a “prompt and positive” response and could even be forced to take “unilateral action” in the eventuality of a hijack from Kathmandu, according to a report in today’s Indian Express, an Indian daily. The Indian government underlined this message, thinly veiled threat, to visiting Nepalese Home Minister Bhim Rawal during a meeting with Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram on last week (18 Jan), according to the Express. Rawal was also told about the Indian apprehension that jehadis could have crossed into Nepal via its porous land border and could be waiting for an opportunity to strike. [Now the question is: what was India doing while jehadis were crossing into Nepal via its land? It should be noted that terrorists didn’t come via Nepal to attack Mumbai on 26 November 2008.] Continue reading

On Nepal-India Border Issue

Out of the 1808-km Nepal-India border, various rivers traverse 650 km and many border pillars have been washed away. But those pillars that are close to human settlements are found to have been removed by the Indian peasants, often in collusion with the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the Indian paramilitary force deployed at the border.

Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

Buddhi Narayan Shrestha (click on pic to know more abt him)

The border dispute between Nepal and India has gained prominence following the recent visits to border regions by top leaders of UCPN (Maoist) as a part of the party’s fourth phase of protest programme. Though the party on Friday called off its nationwide strike that was supposed to start on Sunday, it has stressed that its campaign for national sovereignty and civilian supremacy will continue. It is in this heated political climate that Pranab Kharel, Biswas Baral and Kamal Raj Sigdel asked Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, the former Director General of Survey Department, to shed light on various border issues.

You have just visited some of the disputed points on the Indo-Nepal border. India has been saying that 98 percent of the strip map is complete and disputes remain only over Susta and Kalapani.

Shrestha: Nepal and India share 1808-km long border. According to official estimates, 98 percent of this border has been demarcated and 182 border maps prepared. On that basis, 8,553 border pillars have been erected. Regarding the clarity of these border maps, the then Indian Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee during his official visit to Nepal had stated that since there were some disputes over these maps, they be corrected and forwarded to the plenipotentiaries of both the countries for signature. This also indicates there is some ambiguity regarding the maps. The Constituent Assembly’s (CA) Committee on International Relations and Human Rights visited the border areas from Susta to Tanakpur from Dec. 24, 2009 — Jan. 3, 2010. We had an officer from the Survey Department who had brought the maps of the disputed areas as requested by the CA committee. Upon tallying the maps in some disputed pocket areas, the team could not find the main boundary pillars — though they existed on the map.  Continue reading

Jaipur Literature Festival 2010

Jaipur Literature Festival 2010By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

“How was it?” asked my friend Deepak when he knew from me that I was back in Delhi from attending two days of Jaipur Literature Festival.

Here’s what I replied: It was good. Very few books were to be seen as it wasn’t a book festival but literature. Writers talked about not just their books but issues that their books or books in general address. And there were/are several other sessions that were/are not directly related to literature but then when writers are panelists to discuss on topics like “in a tough neighborhood” they also became some what sahityik.

The literary aura was palpable as I hopped from one session to another. “Dickens was an intensely good person,” said one speaker in Baithak hall while another speaker in another hall was talking about plays of India. “We used to say Kalidas is the Shakespeare of India,” he said.

In yet another session I heard a biographer explaining why her book was what it came out to be: “Describing each of his films would make a 300-page book but that wouldn’t have brought the real ‘he’.”

There’s was commercial stall of a book shop at a corner of Diggi Palace Hotel compound that sold books of different kinds, mainly those related to the festival. I like the idea of putting up a table filled with ‘books related to today’s sessions’ there. I heard one writer, a journalist, telling participants to go to the stall and buy his book, if they wanted. Another writer managed to make organizers announce on the mike that she was available for signing her book at the aforementioned stall.

By and large, I observed, the festival was not just about selling books but discussing issues that are generally addressed by books and writers- both fiction and nonfiction. That means having brainstorming sessions on issues that concerned societies in general and writers in particular. It was also about sharing experiences behind what we see in the form of ink and pages. Sharing experiences of book writing. It was also about trying to understand between the pages.

Quote of the day:

All writers of fiction should be required by law to go out and do a bit of reporting from time to time, just to remind them how different the real world in front of their eyes is from the invented world behind them’.

That’s Michael Frayn talking about his book Travels With a Typewriter: A Reporter at Large but only after he was asked to do so.

A session titled ‘Language and Identity’ was very interesting. Influence of English on Hindi and the necessity to keep that away from happening was discussed at length by the likes of Gulzar, a poet, and others in the panel including Hindi newspaper Janasatta‘s editor Om Thanvi and diplomat/writer Pavan Varma.) As a reporter working primarily for a Nepali-language daily, I also insert some English words and expressions in my writing when, I feel, I could have done without. But the trend is frightening in Hindi newspapers. As Thanvi pointed out, some Hindi newspapers have headlines with Hindi words as conjunctions only. A lot of English words are arbiterily used when there are Hindi words for the same: even I know Hindi words for such English words that are used in papers like Nava Bharat Times that my newspaper vendor brings every morning. The paper comes from Times of India group, so it might not be a benchmark for journalism but I have seen other Hindi dailies that also use a lot of English words. Thanvi said such anarchy in the language was because many newspapers have no editors or edited by their publishers who want to be successful in the market at the cost of language.

“International hone ka matlav aapne aap ko kho dena nahi,” said Thanvi.

Some of the captivating lectures in the festival were complimented by occasional whining of horses from a nearby stable in the hotel compound.

I attended only second and third days of the festival so I am not sure if I can judge the five-day festival with authority but I felt that it was largely a gathering of English speaking/writing authors and readers. There are many languages spoken in India, not just Hindi and English. I didn’t see writers representing those languages. May be it was because many of the impressive list of sponsors and partners of the festival were British, American, European/International and Indian organizations conducting business in English. Nonetheless it was fun to be in the crowd, to watch people speaking in varieties of tones and clad in diverse styles of clothings.

Click on the photos to read captions in detail

Maoists Intensify Anti-India Agitation as General Lands in Kathmandu

Deepak Kapoor in Kathmandu

Indian army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor is received by Nepali army second-in-command Gen. Toran Jang Singh at Kathmandu airport

Two days after their leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal hugged ‘interventionist’ India’s foreign minister SM Krishna in Kathmandu, the Maoists today ghearoed Indian embassy in the Nepali capital and showed black flags to the visiting Indian army chief. Yesterday the volatile comrades had boycotted Legislature-Parliament session demanding that the Nepalese government clarify its position on General Deepak Kapoor’s views opposing bulk integration of Maoist combatants into Nepal Army last month. After intense protests by the Maoists for more than three weeks, the Indian government had distanced itself from Kapoor’s views. Continue reading

Maoists and Nepal-India Relations

Will they do it? A day after burning copies of some Nepal-India treaties they term unequal including the Sugauli Treaty, the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty and the Mahakali treaty in Kathmandu and other parts of the country the Maoists today said that they will take up the issue of border encroachment during their leaders meeting with visiting Indian foreign minister SM Krishna, who reached Kathmandu today on his first official visit to Nepal. During a meeting with Indian Minister Krishna scheduled for tomorrow, Maoist leaders including Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal will insist on scrapping the 1950 Peace and Friendship treaty between Nepal and India, resolving the encroachment of border problems, publicising secret treaties signed between the two nations and redefining the ties between the two countries on the basis of equality. “We will discuss by focusing mainly on four or five issues including the scrap of unequal treaties, border disputes, improve relations between the people of the two counties and review treaties in the interest of both the counties,” said Maoist Spokesperson Dinanath Sharma, talking to Radio Kantipur today.

Continue reading