Monthly Archives: September 2010

How to Write about Nepal?

A take on how the western media generally projects/covers Nepal

By Deepak Adhikari

This blog entry is inspired by two Granta pieces: How to Write about Africa and How to Write about Pakistan:

Start your piece with “Nepal is a Himalayan country sandwiched between two Asian giants…” Also add that Nepal is ‘tiny’, even though there are several smaller European countries (which never seem tiny is Western eyes) than Nepal. Nepal, with the population of 28 million, is world’s 30th largest country (if you take population to describe a country’s size). Mention the population but don’t explain what it means, don’t bring perspectives—your readers just want facts about the poor countries (Don’t forget to say it’s one of the ten poorest countries in the world).

Also, don’t forget to sprinkle your report with the poverty porn: “Nepalese earn less than two dollar a day.” Forget that we don’t measure our income in dollars and there are filthy rich Nepalis in Kathmandu, outside Nepal and even in rural areas. But, the third world poverty is what sells in the West. Finley Peter Dunne rightly said newspaper (or journalism) “comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable.” So, those living out there in western metropolis in their cozy and comfy rooms need to be educated about the poor living in far flung areas. This will add to their sense of how lucky they are!

While writing about Nepal, apart from the glistening mountains and its beauty, you must also write about the Sherpas, the unsung mountaineering heroes, the Gurkhas, the brave soldiers. Write that Nepal is a mountainous country, blissfully eschewing the fact that half of the population lives in Tarai plains. Use the word Shangri-La, that beloved invention of yours (we never had that). This word can also be used for Sikkim, Tibet, Laddakh, Bhutan, among others. Write that this was a paradise!

Forget how this country came into being but don’t forget to mention the June 1 2001 massacre and compare that with some Shakespearean tragedy. Don’t forget to mention this in your report, this will make your story straight out of a horror movie!

Taboo subjects: the vibrant Nepali middle class, the recent development in sectors such as education, healthcare, media, among others. It’s literary tradition, the folk lore. Treat Kathmandu as if it is still a medieval city. While in here don’t spare the ‘living goddess’. Your readers will be amazed at this tradition of maintaining a living goddess while her counterparts in western countries enjoy their childhood. Exoticize this as well as other topics as much as you can and avoid exploring why the Kumari tradition continues after all these years. Your report should not have to be nuanced. It should resonate with your readers’ stereotypes.

Insert a sentence saying the Buddha was born in India (the way Fareed Zakaria did in his book Post-American World). Confuse Nepal with Tibet. While writing the head line, make sure you use Everest, mountain, Himalayas, roof of the world, top of the world, high (as in recent WashPost headline: Mao in the Mountains).

Even though the monarchy was abolished in 2008, write the country is the world’s only Hindu kingdom. When you write about the Maoists (the fave topic of yours), write that Prachanda means “the fierce one” or even better “the awesome”! And, compare the Maoists with their Chinese counterpart and its cultural revolution (but also be ready to discover how different they are: China’s turnaround from its own past while Maoists still stick to Mao’s dictums).

Best of luck—you can make an outstanding career as a writer or foreign correspondent in Nepal!

Editor’s note: Please add your own favorite expression at the Western press about Nepal.

UWB blogger Deepak Adhikari is a journalist with Kantipur, Nepal’s largest newspaper. He maintains a personal online diary here.

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Sushil Koirala at the Helm of Nepali Congres: The Road Ahead

What does the strong showing of Sushil Koirala panel mean for the Nepali Congress and the broader national politics?

By Akhilesh Upadhyay

sushil koirala of nepali congress

At least in short term, Sushil Koirala’s election is less likely to have a more telling impact on national politics of Nepal than that of the three-time Prime Minister Deuba’s would have had.

The much delayed Nepali Congress General Convention is finally done with. For now, the battle for succession is over. It is another Koirala. Acting President Sushil Koirala, 71, has consolidated his hold on the Grand Old Party as the elected chief for the next three years. Also, the Koirala panel holds a majority in the party’s central committee. Prakash Man Singh beat the much fancied Bimalendra Nidhi in the crucial race for the General Secretary.

What does all this mean for the NC and the national politics at large?

But first let’s gloat on the success of Gagan Thapa, 34, who got the highest votes at the GC. Gagan made his mark in the party—indeed the national politics—as a fiery orator, a student leader, taking squarely on the NC establishment in the early 2000s. He rode high on reformist agenda but, unlike so many other leaders, both young and seasoned, he had the gift to communicate his ideas effortlessly in large public rallies and the fast mushrooming political TV talk shows. The royal takeover in 2005 only gave him a broader stage to exercise his oratorical skills and expand his national reach. Gagan’s mass appeal does not just come from his youth, which is obviously a huge asset. He has also been quick to move beyond his party veterans (and many young leaders) who speak a very convoluted political jargon—narrow-minded, partisan, and mostly suited for closed-door intra-party debates—uninspiring to the political centre, and indeed the apolitical class. Continue reading

Gagan Thapa: Most Favoured in Nepali Congress

By Kamal Raj Sigdel

gagan thapa nepali congress leader

With 2,061 votes in his kitty, Gagan Thapa, 34, stands out as the most favoured among the 25 new Nepali Congress Central Working Committee members elected from the open competition.

Gagan Thapa means business. At a gathering of party colleagues and friends before the Nepali Congress General Assembly last week, the young Turk said he was confident of victory in the party’s central working committee (CWC), “The challenge for me is to garner the highest number of votes.”

The votes were all counted on Monday (27 Sept). And true to his words, he was the No. 1. With 2,061 votes in his kitty, he stands out as the most favoured among the 25 new CWC members elected from the open competition.

However, this was not a surprise for many inside and outside the party. For, it was discernible before the election that the young man had managed to shore up support from a multiple sections of the party’s constituencies, including the youth, the establishment faction and obviously from his father-in-law, Arjun Narsingh KC, who stood only second after him.

Thapa himself, however, believes that his success is the reward for his loyalty to the party. “I remained disciplined at testing times,” said Thapa, whose request for a ticket to fight for the 2008 Constituent Assembly (CA) polls was turned down by then party president Girija Prasad Koirala. He was later nominated as a CA member from the proportional representation quota. Continue reading

Nepali Congress General Convention Message: Unity Essential

By Anil Giri
[List of winning candidates]
For the record: With the final election results of the Nepali Congress on Monday (27 Sept) giving a verdict for a mixed composition of its 61-member new Central Working Committee (CWC) for a four-year term, maintaining ‘unity’ and working in tandem on national issues will be a serious challenge to both the Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba camps. The neck-to-neck competition and sizeable representation of the Deuba camp (29 CWC members) in the CWC may serve as a strong opposition to the Koirala camp (32 CWC members) in the party.

As the elected president, Koirala has the authority to nominate another 21 CWC members, subject to the approval of CWC. Many party insiders are hoping that the president uses his prerogative to heal the party after a divisive election.

One interesting feature of the election is that a majority of the new faces in CWC from the open and zonal seats are of the Deuba faction. Shanker Bhandari, Manmohan Bhattarai, Surendra Pandey, Jeevan Bahadur Shahi and Kishor Singh Rathor are the pro-Deuba new faces in the CWC.

The Koirala camp has secured 14 seats in the open category, 9 in zonal seats, 10 in reserved seats while the Deuba camp bagged 11 in the open category, 5 in zonal seats and 12 in reserved seats. There is speculation that some elected CWC members who contested the election from the Koirala camp but had been close to the Deuba camp, could return to the Deuba faction. Continue reading

Nepali Congress: New Leadership, Old Challenges

sushil koirala

sushil koirala

The 12th General Convention of the Nepali Congress on Tuesday (21 Sept) elected Acting President Sushil Koirala the party’s new president. Sushil secured 1,652 votes in contrast to his contenders Sher Bahadur Deuba 1,317 and Bhim Bahadur Tamang 78. Fifteen votes were declared invalid.

As per the party’s statute, a winning candidate must secure at least 50 percent plus one vote from the total turnout, which was 3,062 in Tuesday’s election. According to the Central Election Committee of the party, 20 representatives, including founder member Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, who was critically ill, remained absent due to various reasons. Bhattarai had written a letter to the Acting President a few days ago expressing his inability to attend the convention as, he said, the NC had drifted away from its original ideology of constitutional monarchy.

nepali congress flag

nepali congress flag

The election committee had prepared nine different ballot papers to simplify the election process. The papers were prepared to separate the posts of different categories, including the president, office bearers, and CWC members from the open and reservation quotas.

Unlike the election committee’s estimation that it would take 12 minutes in an average for a person to complete voting on the given nine ballot papers, the actual average time spent by a voter was 25 to 30 minutes. To speed up the election process, booth arrangements were made to enable over 40 voters to cast their ballot simultaneously.

Singh new NC gen secy; Yadav treasurer

prakash man singh and chitralekha yadav

Reaching out to one another:Newly elected Nepali Congress General Secretary Prakash Man Singh and Treasurer Chitra Lekha Yadav exchange congratulations in the Nepali Congress party office at Sanepa, Lalitpur, on Wednesday (22 Sept).

Continue reading

China’s Political and Economic missions in Nepal: Investment- Yes, Interference- No.

More Chinese investments in Nepal is very much welcome because this will help us become self-sustained and independent.

By Prithvi Man Shrestha

The Chinese private sector is looking at Nepal as an investment destination. This was the message Chinese businessmen tried to convey in the 11th meeting of Nepal-China Non-Government Cooperation Forum in Kathmandu on Thursday (16 Sept). With China’s financial muscle getting stronger, Nepal’s hydropower, tourism and agriculture sectors are on its investment radar. Their seriousness can be gauged by the fact that a high-level 40-member team came to Nepal to attend the forum. And most of them, according to Chinese ambassador to Nepal Qiu Guohong, are from reputed companies.

The business delegation led by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC) first vice-chairman Quan Zhezhu, who is also a vice-minister, had entrepreneurs from established and renowned Chinese private companies in the areas of tourism, aviation, metallurgy, real estate, medicines and mechanical engineering. Addressing the inauguration session, Qiu set the tone by saying that the power shortage in Nepal is an important opportunity for Chinese companies to be involved in hydropower development in Nepal.

China’s interest on hydropower development was evident from the fact that the businesspersons told their Nepali counterparts that they wanted to invest in hydro projects ranging from 10 MW to 500 MW.

“This will pave the way for even the district-based small Nepali entrepreneurs to invest in a joint venture with the Chinese,” said Kush Kumar Joshi, president of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). The Chinese side also said they discussed hydropower, tourism and agriculture, among others, and expressed willingness to bring in investment in Nepal. “We will bring reputed Chinese companies here to explore the new investment avenues in Nepal,” said ACFIC first vice-chairman Quan. (Continued after the box)

Sept 14: A 47-member team of Chinese entrepreneurs, hydropower experts and power developers arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday (Sept 14) to attend a high-level conclave organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will inaugurate the three-day “brainstorming session,” which Nepal’s top bureaucrats, policy makers and entrepreneurs will attend. “Investment in Hydropower” will be the 11th initiative in the Nepal-China non-Governmental Cooperation series started in 1996 during the visit of then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to China. Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel, Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai, Energy Secretary Shanker Koirala and entrepreneurs from the Nepali hydro power sector will participate in the conclave. Nepal and India had orgainsed such a conclave for two consecutive years after Jana Andolan II in 2006, with Nepal Electricity Authority and Power Trading Corporation of India as the lead agencies.

During the three-day segment, entrepreneurs and experts from both sides will give their perspectives on Nepal’s policy and investment opportunities on hydropower, and more importantly, how China can help the hydro power sector in Nepal. Quan Zhezhu, vice-minister of the United Front Work of CPC Central Committee (UFW) and party secretary of All China Federation of Industries and Commerce (AFIC) will lead the Chinese delegation. epresentatives from Snap Power Company, Sino Hydro and Dtang Company are interested in investing in the hydro sector in Nepal, said a government official. Kumin and Xian provinces that have extensive experience in developing hydropower and grid extension are also in the Chinese delegation.

“China wants to engage its state owned companies in Nepal’s hydro power sector, utilizing its huge foreign currency reserve. This is a clear indication that China wants to extend its quick growth to Nepal to tap our hydro power potential,” a senior Foreign Ministry Official said. Export and Import Bank of China (EXIM), Gezhouba Company, the builder of Three Gorges Dam are also interested in investing in Nepal, said sources.

Currently, Sunkoshi (10MW) hydro project has been completed with Chinese grant assistance, while the northern neighbour has offered a soft loan for the Trishuli-3A (61MW) project. Chinese aid for Nalsyaugad (400MW) is under consideration, according to the Ministry of Energy. Continue reading

Maoist Combatants, in Theory, are Now Under Nepal Government

There would be prohibition for conducting political training to the Maoist army personnel inside or outside the cantonments.

The Special Committee overseeing the Maoist combatants on Thursday (yesterday) endorsed the directive related to the supervision, command and control, and code of conduct to be enforced on the Maoist army personnel living at the UN monitored cantonments.

The approval of the document marks a “significant step” for bringing the former rebel soldiers still living under the chain of command of the Maoist party under the government. The six-party Special Committee has also agreed to institute a 12-member secretariat body to control the combatants and their cantonments.

“With today’s decision, the combatants have formally come under the control of the government,” said Nepali Congress member in the Special Committee Ram Sharan Mahat. “They would be practically functioning under the government’s instruction after the special committee secretariat works on full fledged.”

Maoist representative in the committee Barsha Man Pun said the combatants have “in principle” come under the government after Thursday’s decision. “After making necessary arrangements, formal programmes will be organised inside the cantonments to announce that they are under the special committee,” said Pun. “The appropriate date of announcement would be fixed on the basis of political consensus.” Continue reading

Nepali Congress General Convention: A Kind request from Sahids’ Families

Dear Nepali Congress Leaders,

Jay Nepal from Shahids’ family members!

Nepali Congress’s (NC) 12 General Convention has begun today. Apparently, there will be over 300 candidates competing for various NC Central positions. It is important for all us to think who will be in the central office and who will represent us in the national politics.

My senior died in a young age for democracy in Bandipur, Tanahun in 2007 sal (Bikram Sambat which is 1950 AD). There were five other Sahids who perished in that historic moment. NC has given birth to hundreds of Sahids between 2007 Sal and now. Sahids’ families are hopeful that NC leaders will remember those Sahids, their sacrifices, and the hardship the family went through after their senior male figure perished for bigger causes.

We the members of Sahids’ families are very close to each other and we keep in touch frequently. Our only wish is to see the consolidated democracy in the country and democratic values within Nepali Congress. We request for your full support in the following 3 issues, which are important to us.

1) Our Voice: So far, we feel that there is no direct means of communication with central leaders for us. Thus, there should be at least one representation from Sahids’ families from entire Nepal in the Central Committee. It can be even nominated. Though, there are many Sahid family members involved in NC’s day to day politics, so far, no one has become a Central Committee Member.

2) Respect Sahid:
One way of doing so will be to promote genuine leaders who are close to the grassroots, who promote NC’s historic legacy and NC ideals. Last 15 years have been very painful for Sahids’ families from Tanahun, which saw corrupt-ring-leader Govinda Raj Joshi representing the historic Bandipur area (Tanahun 1). Previously, Ram Chandra Poudel was elected from the Bandipur region (Tanahun 1). After the midterm election of 90’s, Poudel handed over this glorious region to Joshi and Poudel went to contest from an easier constituency (Tanahun 2). Till now, Joshi is ruling this region with the help of money and “Lathait” muscles. But not with people’s heart and respect. Sahid’s families of Tanahun do not want to see Joshi representing us. Even in the NC Central Office. Hope you understand our feeling and frustration. Please remember the faces of these corrupt leaders, who have been disrespectful to NC and Sahids, when you go for the General Convention/voting.

3) Recognize genuine/true leaders: Genuine leaders, who kept the parties hope alive during a difficult time, should be promoted. Not sidelined. Again, I would like to give an example from Tahanun. Mr. Ram Chandra Pokhrel, who got involved in politics in early age, spent 2 years in jail in 2017 Sal at the age of 17, he has very clean political image, he is a prolific writer and respected leader. In Tanahun, he is the only leader who communicates with Sahids’ families, visits our families and constantly asks for our opinion. Sadly, Mr. Pokhrel has been sidelined for too long and he has not been able to be a Member of Central Committee. We heard from the newspapers that he is running for CC membership (25 seats). Please remember Sahids, Sahids’ families and genuine leaders like Mr. Pokhrel, when you go to vote.

Our best wishes for more vibrant and democratic Nepali Congress.

Puskar Magar
(For Sahid’s families)
——————-
Bharatpur, Chitwan
Currently United Arab Emirate
E-mail: puskarmagar@yahoo.com

UN Secretary General’s Observations on Nepal

Observations part of the UN Secretary-General’s Report presented at the Security Council

8 September

28. Nepal’s peace process remains stalled, with few signs of a consensual way forward. The major parties are preoccupied by profound internal fissures and the question of power-sharing. While the extension of the Constituent Assembly by one year averted a grave political vacuum, over three months have passed without notable headway in the peace process.

29. UNMIN has continued to pursue the request of the Security Council to work with the parties to make arrangements for its departure. Interlocutors from all major parties have underlined, however, that they see no alternative to UNMIN monitoring at present. To help speed the creation of conditions that would enable the Mission to conclude its tasks, UNMIN has consistently and assiduously urged the parties to agree on measures that could be taken in the short term, and has made proposals to that end, ranging from steps to improve monitoring arrangements to strengthening preparedness for integration and rehabilitation. A non-paper prepared by UNMIN to stimulate discussion was leaked to the press, and its purpose misconstrued, leading to strong criticism of UNMIN for having exceeded its mandate, including, regrettably, from the highest levels of government.

30. Despite the sustained efforts of the United Nations Mission in Nepal, little progress has been made towards the conditions for its departure, as the continuing political stalemate has precluded the necessary cooperation among the parties. Six extensions of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal have taken place on the unfulfilled expectation, and the commitment of the Government, that the remaining key tasks of the peace process would be brought to a close. Those commitments have become unrealistic in the absence of a consensual approach. Following the resignation of the Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, at the end of June, I encouraged the parties to intensify efforts towards the formation of a consensus government, and at the time of writing this remains my hope. Continue reading

Looking for a Prime Minister: Seventh Failed Attempt

For the record: Even the seventh round of the prime ministerial election in the House today failed to elect a chief executive, thanks to the CPN-UML‘s and Madhes-based parties’ neutral stance. Now, the country will have to wait for nearly three weeks to see another round of the drama of the prime ministerial election. The eighth round poll in the House has been scheduled for September 26.

Yet, it is not sure that the eighth round of election also can elect a new prime minister as the parties are sticking to their old respective positions. The election has been postponed by three weeks due to the General Convention of the Nepali Congress (NC), a contestant in the PM election.

In Tuesday’s seventh round of election, UCPN (Maoist) Candidate Pushpa Kamal Dahal and NC candidate Ram Chandra Poudel both failed to garner a majority vote.

Among the 521 lawmakers present during the voting, 252 voted for Dahal, and 110 voted against while 159 remained neutral in the proposal to elect Dahal as the new prime minister. Likewise, 119 votes were cast in favour of Poudel, and 245 votes against, while 151 remained neutral. Continue reading