Monthly Archives: August 2011

Baburam Bhattarai Wanted to Meet the US Ambassador’s Rep in 2003…

…thinking that the Ambassador himself may not meet him. How times of have changed! The American Ambassador has gone to meet him, most recently, two days ago Baburam became the Prime Minister. 

US diplomatic cables as revealed by Wikileaks. Report by John Narayan Parajuli

US officials saw Maoist Vice Chairman Baburam Bhattarai (who is not the Priem Minister of Nepal) as the party’s “most authoritative wordsmith,” and took serious note of both his aboveground appearance in 2003 and the missive he sent to the US embassy requesting a meeting the same year.

Bhattarai’s movement and remarks appeared to be closely monitored by the US embassy, especially after his arrival in the Capital on March 28, 2003 for talks with the Sher Bahadur Deuba government. This was the first time Bhattarai emerged in the Capital in full public view, since the beginning of the insurgency in 1996. Continue reading

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Equation of Pushpa Kamal Dahal & Baburam Bhattarai is the Most Important Equation

An analysis by Akhilesh Upadhyay in The Kathmandu Post

Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal invited a select group of editors to his Nayabazaar residence last Wednesday. Expectations ran high, even though Dahal’s office had pitched the meeting as “a regular exchange on current affairs.”

The Maoist party, as it turned out, came up with a detailed proposal on integration and rehabilitation of ex-combatants the next day—the first such document since the peace process started in 2006.

Despite the perceptible decline in his stature in recent years, Dahal still remains the most important political figure in the current transition. His stated ideas and implied messages become subjects of heated debates and raging controversies across the country. Continue reading

Constituent Assembly Gives itself Another Three Months

For the record: The Legislature-parliament (which is the non-constituent making part of the Constituent Assembly that also works as parliament) today extended the term of the CA by another three months. This extension comes a day after Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai was elected the 35th Prime Minister of Nepal. But these two developments are unrelated. The proposal to extend the CA was tabled by the Jhalanath Khanal-led cabinet that was replaced today by Baburam’s two member cabinet. In fact, the newly elected Prime Minister, and his Maoist party, wanted the CA to be for six months. The current CA term was due till This is the third extension of the CA that was originally elected for two years in May 2008. It was extended for a year in 2010 and for another three months in May 28. The term was extended by amending the Interim Constitution by a two-thirds majority. 541 members of the CA were present for the voting. 537 voted for the amendment proposal, 4 against it.

Read about earlier extension which was more “entertaining!”: Constituent Assembly term extended for three months

Everything You Wanted to Know about Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai (and his Mustang Car)

Baburam Bhattarai in 1970

Baburam Bhattarai in 1970 when he topped the School Leaving Certificate exam.

The impression: Nepali people have rarely been so optimistic about the Prime Minister as they are with Baburam Bhattarai and it’s a rare sight when Nepalis across the political spectrum (especially those who are considered general population- students, youths, activists) express satisfaction, relief, even happiness, over the election of a person to the post of Prime Minister. It seems as if the whole country has put its faith and hope on Baburam Bhattarai. Going by the Facebook statues, tweets and tea-talks on the streets of Kathmandu, the election of Baburam Bhattarai yesterday as the 35th Prime Minister of Nepal seems to be the best thing to have happened in Nepal in a long long time. While putting enormous faith on his the nation seems to have forgotten that BRB is a Maoist who waged a 10-year-old bloody war that killed 15000 Nepalis.  BUT, and this is a big one, will he be able to live up to the sky-high expectation of Nepali people? Lets hope he does.

On a lighter note, Prime Minister BRB will be riding a locally assembled car called Mustang- nothing to do with Ford, I assume. (Mustang is a Himalayan district that borders China.) This car (see pic below) is cheap compared to what other Prime Ministers have used in the past. Continue reading

Baburam Bhattarai Elected the Prime Minister of Nepal

Baburam Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda"

Prime Minister-elect Baburam Bhattarai, right, and his party the UCPM Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" emerge out together after the former was declared the winner in the Prime Ministerial race in the Constituent Assembly today.

Baburam Bhattarai

Baburam Bhattarai

Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has been elected the new, 35th, Prime Minister of Nepal. The speaker of the Constituent Assembly, Subash Chandra Nembang, declared him the winner in an election that saw Ramchandra Poudel challenging Bhattarai. Dr. Bhattarai is the vice-chairman of the party and was the finance minister in the Maoist Chairman Prachanda-led government two years ago. He secured 340 votes vs Poudel’s 235 votes out of 594. Continue reading

Foreigner’s Eye: Re-learning Nepal

megan titley

Megan Titley

By Megan Titley

[विदेशी आँखा- bideshi ankha- Foreigner's Eye]

One of the most common conversations that I have with Nepalis goes something along the lines of, “Thank you, no, the only reason I can speak a little bit of Nepali is because I grew up here”…”I was here with my family for 11 years”…”Yes, I was born in Patan Hospital”… “My family are all living in the UK”…“I’ll be here for about a year, maybe more, I’m a volunteer so it depends”… “No, I’m not married yet”… “No sorry, I don’t think you do love me, you don’t know me”.

Birth and rebirth

My biggest impression on returning to Nepal is how much it has altered in such a short space of time. Being a very young, 200ish year old country and only being open to the rest of the world for the short space of about 60 years it has had to take giant hiccuping leaps to catch up with the globalised world. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the older generation of the country who remember the country 60 years ago. It’s system of thought, it’s political leanings, it’s religious beliefs and values to the present state of mind. Leaving the blessed childhood which I savoured in Nepal and moving back to school in the UK I, myself went through quite the awakening. Trying to establish who I was; Nepali Vs British, what I believed; Christianity Vs Post Christianity, who I was becoming; girl Vs woman, to name but a few dominating and conflicting philosophies and cultures. Nepal has had such a turbulent awakening that it makes me wonder, what it sees as truth and reality. I do think that we can all take hope though as as we shed skins and in surviving the painful shedding process, we grow new, more confident, comfortable skins.

East meets West

What I find really strange about Nepal is that it offers it’s people very little in terms of a future or opportunity, while at the same time, offers foreigners so much opportunity. Although I am sad that so many Nepalis leave Nepal for work, I cannot judge them for it. I despise the demand and supply of Nepali girls for sex slavery. What would I do in a state of poverty, with no awareness or knowledge of what a ‘lucrative job’ involves in a situation like that? Although I can’t agree with child labour, how can I not buy carpets made by children if it is an income for a family? The phrase, ‘East and West collides’ has taken on a whole new and very real meaning for me here. Coming back and relearning the culture as an adult has been engrossing and I have immersed myself in it. Naturally, it has also given me awful headaches and caused me intense frustration.

Language

One of my most amusing moments here so far was going shoe shopping. On entering one shop I heard a girl say in Nepali, ‘Oh no, she’s bideshi, she’ll need really big shoes’. I tried to hide my smile and said after a moment looking around at the shoes, “Yes. I am a bideshi and we have big feet so I will need big shoes!” The poor girl looked mortified. Understanding Nepali is so much fun because of the situations like that which take place. The language is also the key to communication and therefore friendships and community. The thing I love most about Nepal is the community. The thing that western countries lack most is community so please, continue to preserve it, love it, invest in it.

Megan who teaches in a school in Kathmandu recently had her hair cut. And the reaction from her students? “Miss Titley, you look weird …Oh, Miss, you’re hair looks terrible! You look like a clown, all you need now is to draw a red nose on.” Visit her blog.

[विदेशी आँखा- bideshi ankha- Foreigner's Eye] is a column in Kantipur newspaper, Nepal’s top daily in which foreigners who have lived or visited Nepal or are living in the country write about their experience with Nepali society. A translated version of this article appeared in today’s issue of Kantipur (see the pic below).] 

megan titley article nepali

Click to enlarge and read (ठूलो पारेर पढ्न क्लिके हुन्छ)

 

Earlier column: Foreigner’s Eye: Kuire Jokes and Nepali Thatta by James Sharrock

Foreigner’s Eye: Kuire Jokes and Nepali Thatta

James Sharrock

James Sharrock

By James Sharrock

[विदेशी आँखा- bideshi ankha- Foreigner's Eye]

I have come to Nepal many times since 2004. I have worked, volunteered and been a tourist here. I came here last week as a tourist and will stay around two weeks more. Nepalis ask me all the time about ‘how do you like Nepal?’, which is a natural question but does eat my head sometimes! It is usually followed by the question of whether I have married or not and then when I answer ‘no’, why don’t I marry a Nepali girl?! My usual answer to the question “how do you like Nepal?’ has been to say that Nepalis are generally very friendly, the country is beautiful but politics seems to be a bit of a problem.

That is the short form answer of a much longer, in-depth reply. I keep coming here because I now have many good Nepali friends, I enjoy travelling to new areas of the country and I find Nepal interesting as the society is always changing in new and unexpected ways. I am originally from the UK which, to my native eyes, doesn’t seem to change. Like lots of the West, the UK is also facing an uncertain economic future and its citizens do not seem to have the ability to cope with this. Many Nepalis, on the other hand, seem to have much better coping strategies in dealing with fast changing social, political and economic situations and can fit themselves into new realities much more easily.

So my perspective on the ‘how do you like Nepal?’ question is different because I keep coming here. However my perspective has also been different recently as in the last two years as I have been working in Sudan with the UN, in a disputed area on the north-south border called Abyei. The two countries can’t really be compared. However a simplistic comparison would say that Nepal’s political problems appear like an internal family dispute which is resolvable through talking while Sudan’s problems appear like completely different families who have fought – with brief pauses – since 1956. The current answer to their difficulties has seen the creation of the world’s newest country – South Sudan – but many of the problems inside both Sudan and South Sudan remain.

When I first came to Nepal to volunteer in a school in Danda, Nawalaparasi I was confused by many things. On my first day here I thought that all the red paan marks on the street were blood and thought to myself that Nepalis must enjoy fighting! During my time in Nepal I have made lots of jokes about things kuires find funny about Nepal and my Nepali friends have of course made a lot of jokes about kuires too. I have joked a lot about the sound some Nepalis make in the early morning when coughing half of their lungs out very, very loudly (which is also a great alarm clock). I love the way that some Nepalis skillfully point with their lips, which is much more efficient and less rude than our finger pointing. All kinds of social habits seemed strange at first but now I’m used to most basic things, although surprises still happen.

I think we kuires are seen by Nepali eyes as being skilled diplomats, a bit selfish, less family orientated than Nepalis, rich and quick to divorce every year! Stereotypes exist on both sides (that is if you think that kuires and Nepalis are on two different sides, which I do not). I don’t see the culture or society in England or Nepal is better, they are only different. However, that doesn’t mean everything is relative and equal. The way that many Nepalis care for their elderly parents – for example – seems, for whatever reason, objectively better than the treatment many older people get in my country. On the other hand the way that some of my former colleagues from Africa were treated by Nepalis was not always positive.

Most Nepalis have at least seen kuires now although some people still look at me like I’m an alien from Mars! When I was working in some remote areas of Panchthar or Taplejung young children went wild when they saw me, shouting ‘gora aiyo gora aiyo’ while jumping up and down! Braver children often grab my red cheeks and say ‘syau jastai’. I feel like I do have a duty to explain what is theUK really like to Nepalis who ask me. My job to convince some people that it is not a ‘sapana desh’ was made a bit easier by the recent riots in London and other cities, including my home town of Manchester. The UK, is obviously more developed than Nepal, but obviously has many problems too. To survive there is difficult. Anyway, I hope to come back again and again to Nepal and enjoy the confusions, contradictions and jokes that arise between bideshi and sodeshis.

jpsharrock (at) gmail.com

(28-year-old unmarried James is looking for a right life partner who, he thinks, could be from Nepal or the UK. But this email is not provided for that purpose!)

[विदेशी आँखा- bideshi ankha- Foreigner's Eye] is a column in Kantipur newspaper, Nepal’s top daily in which foreigners who have lived or visited Nepal or are living in the country write about their experience with Nepali society. A translated version of this article appeared in today’s issue of Kantipur (see the pic below).]

James Sharrock Kantipur article in Nepali

Click to enlarge (ठूलो पार्न क्लिके हुन्छ)

Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal Tenders Resignation

Update on 28 Aug: Just to let you all know that the election for the new prime minister is underway in the Constituent Assembly as we type this update:

By Ritu Raj Subedi/Ram Prasad Dahal

PM quits after failing to make ‘breakthrough’ in his six and half months tenure.

Kathmandu: Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal Sunday (today) resigned from his post as he failed to make any ‘breakthrough’ in peace and constitution writing. The Maoist non-cooperation, and the intense pressure from opposition and his own party eventually forced Khanal to quit. PM Khanal submitted his resignation letter to President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav at Shital Niwas at around 8:30 pm. His resignation came one day after his self-imposed deadline. He had announced that he would leave office on August 13 if the peace process failed to gather steam by then.

“I resigned from the post for peace and constitution, not coming under the pressure from my party,” Khanal told the media persons after tendering his resignation to the President. He said that he would address the House tomorrow and put forth his views on his resignation. In his resignation letter, PM Khanal mentioned that he quit respecting the spirit of the five-point agreement.

“My relentless efforts for peace, national consensus and constitution writing could not come to fruition during my six months’ stay in office,” PM’s press advisor Surya Thapa quoted PM Khanal as saying in the resignation.

Khanal became Prime Minister on February 3 this year with the support of UCPN-Maoist, Madhesi Janaadhiakar Forum, Nepal and other small parties in the parliament after the UML and the Maoists struck the seven-point agreement. However, Nepali Congress and Madhesi parties opposed the agreement, citing it triggered polarization between Left and non-Left camps. The NC disrupted the House meeting for eighth time, demanding his resignation as the five-point deal inked on May 28 for the extension of Constituent Assembly’s tenure for the second time. Continue reading