Monthly Archives: August 2010

Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Nepal’s Free Media

These are not very good times for the relationship between the Nepali media industry and the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. They are at loggerheads, most recently, over a statement issued by the embassy on 27th blaming “certain print and television media” reporting “against products manufactured by Indian Joint Ventures in Nepal.” Past allegations of this nature, said the embassy, have been found to be false after thorough investigation by Nepal Government agencies.

The most damning part of the press statement is in the second paragraph. “The Indian JVs have informed the embassy that they have been approached by such media houses for release of advertisements and are being threatened with negative publicity if those requests are not met.”

Then the embassy provided us some background info on Indo-Nepal relationship telling us how much importance the JVs have in that.

“These Indian Joint Ventures make a substantial contribution to the Nepalese economy, employment, revenue to the Government and exports from Nepal. They maintain the highest standards of quality, which is proved by the fact that exports of their products are accepted across the globe. These companies are the pride of Nepal and a symbol of close relations between India and Nepal.” Then the embassy adds: “The baseless adverse publicity against the products of such joint ventures will not only hit the Nepalese economy and exports but will also deter new foreign direct investments into Nepal.”

Last, but not least, the embassy says: “We hope that concerned authorities will take suitable action against such unethical practices.”

Anything wrong with the statement? Nothing, had that been issued by a commercial company with business interests in Nepal. But the fact that it was issued by the official representative of the Republic of India in the Democratic Federal Republic of Nepal is troubling. The Indian embassy, under the able leadership of Rakesh Sood, in Nepal is not the East Nepal Company. Therefore it shouldn’t behave in a way that reminds us the East India Company. [Nepalis didn’t experience that, by the way, as they were never colonized by the British.] The embassy should have told the complaining JVs something like this: “This seems purely a commercial issue. You guys, being multinational companies, should know how to sort this out.”

But the embassy didn’t say that. It acted like the publicity wing of Dabur Nepal, the Indian company in Nepal, whose product- Real juice- got bad publicity because worm was reportedly found in its tetra pack.

The funniest thing is the company in question, Dabur Nepal, didn’t send letters or rebuttals to the media outlets that reported about its product.

The embassy’s views are highly exaggerated when it says the Indian JVs “are the pride of Nepal.” NO, they are NOT. Are Toyota, Coca Cola and Blackberry the pride of India? But yes Dabur, Nepal Unilever and Asian Paints in Nepal symbolize business relations (not close ties though) between our two nations. Dabur or Unilever are not in Nepal because they wanted to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. Profit is THE priority and that is paramount. We Nepalis do understand that and we are perfectly fine with that…as long as the companies abide by the rules, sell quality products and refrain from neglecting and compromising on quality. If Dabur goes, another company will soon come to sell us juice and hazmolas before we get thirsty and face problems with digestion. They are not distributing their products for free by bringing them from India. We also know that Nepal-India relationship is not based on such shaky foundations that rely on tetra-packs juices. We also know that if a company sells something substandard they are often reported in the free presses of the world. Nepal is no North Korea and no Myanmar (Burma) whose dictator General gets red carpet welcome in India. We have a free press, vibrant and very much functional, far more responsible than the Indian press DESPITE the fact that we are only two decades old. We are vibrant, responsible and functional especially when we are compared to some Indian papers that have more than 15 decades of history and experience. [The report of worm found in Real juice was first published by Naya Patrika, a daily tabloid. It was also carried by Sagarmatha TV, a news channel. Kantipur TV, not newspapers from Kantipur Publications, broadcasted a report on that on it’s late night news show, not regular and prime time news bulletins.] Continue reading

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India, Universities and World Ambitions

south asian university logo

By creating quality institutions like the SAU and reviving old ones like Nalanda (below) India is trying to establish itself as regional hub of excellence.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

All the chaos surrounding sloppy preparations for the Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi in October may give an impression that India has a long way to go to become a global power. One may cite the overflowing Yamuna running into residential areas of Delhi as a proof that India is still an improvised third-world country that has million of hungry stomachs to feed. True. But make no mistake. India is not watching this all quietly with its hands folded. There are so many progressive activities happening in India today that it is sometime difficult to keep track of all of them. Highways are being expanded all over the country, for example, and competition among foreign companies to open shops in India has only intensified. Take, for example, the two incidents on Thursday which offer an insight into India’s preparations to become an advanced nation with global influence.

Nalanda University India ruins

Nalanda University India. Ruins

The Indian parliament passed a bill that authorises the government to revive an ancient university in Nalanda, Bihar. Nalanda University will be an Indian answer to Oxfords and Cambridges of the West, said parliamentarians across the political spectrum before ditching their ideological differences to vote unanimously for the bill. Lawmakers were full of praise for the Indian heritage that once produced universities like Nalanda, Vikramsila and Pushpagiri centuries ago that, as centers of excellence, attracted students from foreign countries.

On the same day, in a quiet corner of the mammoth campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, the South Asian University began its first ever academic session without much fanfare. Continue reading

Men and Monkeys of New Delhi, India

Delhi monkeys

“We are at their mercy,’’ lamented Rajesh Sehgal, a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase II neighbourhood in east Delhi. “The number of monkeys in the locality has increased beyond control in the past couple of years.” Pic by AFP in 2006, Rajpath, New Delhi.

Humans and monkeys struggle for space in the Indian capital

going ape in delhi kathmandu post p6.15.08.10

TKP 15.08.10 (click to enlarge)

By Dinesh Wagle

It took me a week and three incidents to identify the culprit. I had kept a bucket of household waste just outside the main entrance of my third-floor apartment so that the collector could take it away. One recent afternoon, the collector knocked on my door to show me something. I was horrified. The waste materials were scattered all over the stairs as if it had been done by a monkey. Or could it be the work of the dog that always sleeps at the main entrance three stories below? I wasn’t sure. But last week, I saw him live in action, playing with my kitchen waste, scattering it all over—like a monkey. The culprit was indeed a monkey.

For the first time in 20 months, I got the taste of living in Delhi. A bad taste it was, but perhaps not so bad compared to what residents of many other neighborhoods in Delhi are experiencing. Monkeys are creating havoc in their daily lives. “We are at their mercy,’’ lamented Rajesh Sehgal, a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase II neighbourhood in east Delhi. Sehgal is also vice president of the area’s Residents Welfare Association. “The number of monkeys in the locality has increased beyond control in the past couple of years,” he told The Times of India last week.

In June, a monkey entered a high security Metro train in Northwest Delhi and delayed the service by 15 minutes. No one was harmed, but members of the Central Industrial Security Force had to intervene to get the monkey out of the train. A cell phone captured the simian’s antics that were fun to watch later on TV, but Metro officials were not amused. “The animal caused a flutter among passengers with everybody running helter-skelter,” NDTV quoted an anonymous Metro official as saying. Continue reading

Promoting Nepal in India

Despite being so close and sharing a border there is an unimaginably high level of misunderstanding about THE HIGHEST DEMOCRACY in THE LARGEST DEMOCRACY…Nepal should do something to promote itself among Indians.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

promoting nepal in india kathmandu post 8aug10

click to enlarge

Many Nepalis living out of Nepal face one common challenge: how to effectively tell foreigners about their country. Many in the world are completely unaware about Nepal which makes the job all the more difficult. The country of Mt. Everest, they have to tell. Another: It’s in Asia, sandwiched between India and China. Millions of Nepalis living in India don’t have to geographically pinpoint Nepal to Indians as they are aware about the location but that doesn’t make the task any easier. Despite being so close and sharing a border there is an unimaginably high level of misunderstanding about Nepal among Indians.

Some of those misunderstandings are based on rumours and hearsay (all Nepalis smoke pot) while others are created by the Indian mainstream media that is most of the times frighteningly immature and trivial when it comes to covering Nepal.

That doesn’t mean Nepalis have better understanding of India and Indians either. But the lack of understanding among Indians holds more weight because India is big and, more importantly, it plays important role in key Nepali affairs.

“Please don’t feel bad but what I have heard is,” one middle-aged Indian had told me some months ago, “Nepalis put fake Indian currency on their banks, come here in India and withdraw genuine currency from ATMs.” Astonishingly, his tone was serious. I had to explain about some aspects of Indo-Nepal relations for about 20 minutes before he finally said, “Yes, I also think it’s a ridiculous suggestion.”

It is Nepali students in India who mostly have to deal with Indians ignorant about Nepal and educate them. They are relatively best positioned to defend their country in arguments than other Nepalis who come to India and engage in various forms of employment—mostly non-skilled and lowly paid jobs. This class suffers through humiliation knowingly or unknowingly without an idea of how to educate co-workers or be proactive in disseminating information about Nepali society. For them humiliation comes as part of their jobs. Most importantly, they are neither articulate enough nor in a position to assert themselves and fight for their dignity through arguments.

For students it’s a different situation. They have hardly anything to lose.

Tens of thousands of Nepali students study in India—right across the country. They are more likely to meet educated and influential Indians (some with misinformation about Nepal) all over the country. That is why these students, not the diplomats, are the real ambassadors of the Himalayan republic in the world’s largest democracy.

Related links:
1. Face Value: Being a Nepali in India

Only a person with a flat nose and, I hate to use the word here but I must, “chinky” eyes, passes as a Nepali for many Indians…..Going by their reactions and comments, I have come to the conclusion that only those with Mongolian features are considered Nepali in India….I seriously try to explain to them the diverse nature of Nepali society that lives at different altitudes, eats varieties of foods, speaks many languages and sport different looks. Continue reading

Fourth Round Fails to Elect a Prime Minister

And a lawmaker says  he received threats from the Indian diplomatic mission in Kathmandu. Embassy refutes the claim.

For the record: The fourth round of voting today in the parliament failed to elect a prime minister. Fifth round of voting is scheduled for Aug 18. Neither of the prime ministerial contenders—UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Nepali Congress (NC) Parliamentary Party leader Ram Chandra Poudel—could muster the required votes (301 out of 601 for simple majority) in today’s elections. Dahal bagged 213 votes, which is 46 less than he received in the third round, while Poudel garnered 122, two less than he had in the previous round.

The news today is that those 11 Madhesi Janadhikar Forum lawmakers who had voted in favour of Dahal didn’t floor cross today. Like in the previous rounds the MJF remained neutral along with its allies from Madhesh. The CPN-UML, third largest party in the CA remained neutral too.

Indian Embassy in Kathmandu accused of threatening Nepali lawmaker

raj kumar sharmaLawmaker Raj Kumar Sharma, who deserted the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) to join the UCPN (Maoist), claimed today that he has been receiving death threats over the prime ministerial poll. Talking with reporters after participating in the fourth round of election to the post of prime minister at the Constituent Assembly (CA) hall today, Sharma said that he was put under extreme pressure and has been repeatedly receiving death threats from the Indian embassy. Continue reading

Nepali Politics: Floor Crossing During Prime Ministerial Election

nepali lawmakers floor crossing

On Monday (2 August) a group of 11 MPs from MPRF crossed the floor to vote for Maoist prime ministerial candidate Prachanda. That was round three. The fourth-round voting for a new prime minister (Prachanda vs NC's Ram Chandra Poudel) will be held tomorrow (August 6). A cartoon by Batsyayana (via Kantipur). For more info on the floor crossing incident and Round 3, click on the cartoon.

Shyam Saran, Indian envoy, Comes to Nepal to tell our Leaders how to form a Government

shyam saran in kathmandu

Shyam Saran talks to reporters in Kathmandu.

हामी लघूमानव हौं।
हामी आफूखुशी कहिल्यै मिल्न नसक्ने
कसैले मिलाइदिनुपर्ने,
हामी आफुखुशी कहिल्यै छुट्टिन नसक्ने
कसैले छुट्टायाई दिनुपर्ने,
हामी आफू खुसी कहिल्यै अगाडि बढ्न नसक्ने
कसैले पछाडिबाट हिर्काउनुपर्ने, हिँडाउनुपर्ने
हामी रङ्ग-रोगन छुटेका,
टुटेका, फुटेका
पुरानो क्यारमबोर्डका गोटि हौं
एउटा मानोरञ्जक खेलका सामाग्री,
एउटा खेलाडीमाथि आश्रित,
आफ्नो गति हराएका
एउटा ‘स्ट्राइकर’ द्वारा सञ्चालित
हो, हामी मानिस कम र बढ्ता गोटी हौं।
[Click on the photo above to read the complete poem by Bhupi Sherchan]

You will be forgiven if you thought Bhupi Sherchan penned those lines this evening after watching Shyam Saran land in Kathmandu today afternoon as Indian Prime Minister’s special envoy to Nepal to tell the quarreling political parties how to ditch differences among them and form a government. As Bhupi says: We (the Nepalis) are nothing but subhumans, we can’t voluntarily live in harmony, somebody has to come and reconcile us with each other.. we are more carrom-men than humans that are operated by a striker.”

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“Prime Minister of India has sent me here as an envoy so that I can, along with excellency ambassador [Rakesh Sood], have extensive round of meetings with all the political leaders in the country to see whether or not there is someway in which we can try build consensus so that a constitution in Nepal is formulated as quickly as possible. We have great interest, as neighboring country in the political stability of Nepal, and in the economic prosperity of Nepal, and as a friendly neighbor we will try and make all the efforts possible.”

-Shyam Saran, speaking to journalists at Tribhuvan Inernational Airport, Kathmandu today.

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New Delhi: India has send a senior envoy to Nepal to help resolve a political crisis that has left the Himalayan nation without a prime minister for five weeks. Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran has reached Kathmandu to aid talks between rival parties who have repeatedly failed to elect a new prime minister in the latest chapter of a long power struggle. “Nepal’s political situation is in limbo, and India wants to help them set up a stable government,” an Indian foreign ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Continue reading