Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Nepal China Agreement in Beijing

Nepal China talks in Beijing 25 December

Nepal Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa and China Foreign Minister Wang Yin
Nepal Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa and China Foreign Minister Wang Yin

Today Nepal and China agreed to expand and consolidate bilateral cooperation focusing mainly on trade, transit, investment, energy, tourism and infrastructure development, according to a statement issued by Nepal’s Foreign Ministry.  The agreement was reached during a meeting between Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Minister Kamal Thapa and the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing.  “China has expressed its willingness to seriously examine Nepal’s proposals for importation of petroleum products from China and has advised the respective companies of the two countries to jointly examine the matters relating to price, transportation and other logistics,” the statement says. Soon after this ministerial agreement, Deputy Chief of Nepal Oil Corporation Sushil Bhattarai and Under Secretary Navaraj Dhakal of Ministry of Commerce and Supplies were called (by Foreign Minister Thapa) to Beijing to sign an agreement on importing petro-products from China. Both Bhattarai and Dhakal have reached Beijing on Friday.

The Chinese side informed that travel advisories issued in the context of earthquake in Nepal has been lifted with immediate effect and hoped the number of Chinese visitors would increase significantly in future. Nepal reciprocated by announcing that visa fees for Chinese tourists visiting Nepal will be waived.

Key points (via NT):

  1. Prime Minster KP Oli is invited to visit China next year.
  2. Post-earthquake reconstruction will be accelerated, and both Araniko Highway and Syafru-Rasuwagadhi Highway will be repaired.
  3. Trade and investment cooperation will be strengthened.
  4. Long-term oil and gas trade between the two countries will be explored.
  5. Existing ports will be repaired and rehabilitated.
  6. The process to sign a Transit Transportation Agreement will be accelerated.
  7. A feasibility study will be conducted on Free Trade Agreement.
  8. Cultural exchanges will be furthered.
Nepal China talks in Beijing 25 December
Nepal-China bilateral meeting in Beijing today. Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa led the Nepali side while the Chinese side was led by Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Invited by Wang, Thapa is on an official China visit from Dec. 24-29.

Most relevant parts of the press statement issued by the Foreign Ministry:

The Chinese Foreign Minister… expressed China’s strong desire to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Nepal. He further said China would continue assisting Nepal in her development endeavours.

The two sides discussed the importance of exchanging high level visits between the two countries. The Chinese side has conveyed the invitation to the Prime Minister of Nepal to visit China at an early date. There will be a high-level visit from China to Nepal as well next year.

Expressing happiness over the development of bilateral relations and cooperation over the last 60 years, the two sides agreed to expand and consolidate bilateral cooperation focusing mainly on trade, transit, investment, energy, tourism and infrastructure development. They agreed to upgrade and operationalize the existing border points and develop the other border points to promote connectivity between the two countries. The Chinese side has agreed to give priority to the reopening of the Tatopani-Zhangmu border point, which has been disrupted after the April 25 earthquake.

The intergovernmental mechanisms have been tasked to advance negotiations on the proposals on free trade area, transit and Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) which were discussed during the meeting today.

China has expressed its willingness to seriously examine Nepal’s proposals for importation of petroleum products from China and has advised the respective companies of the two countries to jointly examine the matters relating to price, transportation and other logistics. As a friendly gesture, China will make available additional fuel to northern areas of Nepal bordering Tibet Autonomous Region.

The Chinese side informed that it would soon take up agreed projects for post-disaster reconstruction as per its pledged assistance during the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction. China has announced its willingness to support Nepal’s industrialization process through reconstruction. Hon. Mr. Thapa thanked the Government of China for extending generous support to Nepal’s socioeconomic development over the years. He also appreciated the spontaneous and prompt support received from China in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake of Nepal.

The two leaders discussed the ways for promoting people to people contact. In this context, the Chinese side informed that travel advisories issued in the context of earthquake in Nepal has been lifted with immediate effect and hoped the number of Chinese visitors would increase significantly in future. The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister reciprocated the friendly gesture of his Chinese counterpart by announcing that the Government of Nepal would waive visa fees for Chinese tourists.

…Mr. Lok Darshan Regmi, Finance Secretary of Nepal and Mr. Zhang Xiangchen, Vice Minister of Commerce of China signed the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation under which China would make available 900 million RMB as grant assistance for the implementation of the projects of repair and maintenance of Araniko Highway and other projects of interconnection and interworking. It may be recalled that this assistance was announced by the Chinese President during his meeting with his Nepalese counterpart in March 2015 in Boao, Hainan.

Pictures show how Nepal is coping with the inhumane blockade by India

– by NepalForeignAffairs.com team

The Indian blockade of Nepal (#IndiaBlockadesNepal) has been running for over three months now. Being landlocked, most of Nepal’s imports come via India. Although international laws provide landlocked countries the right to unrestricted passage to the sea, India has been unquestioned by the international community on the way it is putting an entire country of about 28 million in “ventilator support”, in the words of senior Indian journalist Anil Yadav. The blockade has created a humanitarian crisis, apart from economic and political ones.

[Related: India puts Nepal on ventilator support by blockading the country’s imports (BBC Report)]

By blockading Nepal, India is supporting a group of protesters in Central Terai of Nepal. The blockade has caused massive suffering to people all over the country. Economy has been destroyed and might take years to recover. Jobs have been lost, investors have pulled out, major infrastructure and development projects have been badly affected and put out-of-schedule, and education of millions of kids has been disrupted. Industries have closed because of lack of security and raw material supply. Vaccination programs have also been disrupted. This shows the scale of suffering Nepal is facing because of the inhumane blockade by India.

The Modi government, together with Indian bureaucrats, diplomats, and intelligence officers have especially taken a harsh position, advocating that India should continue to pressurize Nepal this way.

Below, we present a selection of pictures and tweets to illustrate some of the hardships Nepali people have been put through by the blockade on Nepal by its big southern neighbor India.

    • Blockade is killing people

      Amit Yadav, a kid from Eastern Terai, died because he could not visit a hospital for monthly checkup. Amit happens to be Madhesi-origin. Transportation has halted, especially in Eastern Terai but also elsewhere because of the blockade by India and the protests in some parts of Nepal that it has strengthened.

      UNICEF has reported than millions of kids are in grave danger of death, disease and malnutrition because of the blockade by India.

      The protesters have burnt several ambulances. The pictures in the tweet above show two vandalized ambulance. The first one was carrying a kid in critical condition, who died because of the protesters.

    • Earthquake victims have a harder time

      Several earthquake victims have died this week due to cold. Earthquake victims cannot buy food, fuel, and construction material to build shelters because of the blockade. They are having to sleep outside. A harsh winter in the hills is worsening their condition. Nepal suffered two big earthquakes earlier this year, before India blockaded imports, making it almost impossible for relief to reach earthquake victims. Humanitarian organizations cannot operate under such lack of essentials.

    • Old people fight a harsh winter

      Lack of fuel to eat and heat is making lives harder for elderly people. This woman is carrying cooking gas after a long wait. Indian blockade has made essential supplies harder to get.

      A 85-year old man walked for hours and waited on a long queue to get some firewood. Because of the shortage of fuel, the government sold limited quantity of firewood by cutting forests.

    • Health crisis due to lack of essential medicines

      Several patients are dying because of lack of essential medicines and supplies. Hospitals cannot operate properly due to the blockade.

    • Hospitals are dysfunctional

      Many hospitals are operating under capacity and have stopped surgeries because of lack of supplies and essentials. In rural areas, simple medicines are also unavailable.

      The following picture shows food being prepared for patients using firewood in one of the largest hospitals of Kathmandu.

      The following picture shows people queuing up for medicines.

    • Kids cannot study

      Schools have been closed for months. In the Terai, school kids are used by protesters for violent protests and vandalism. Elsewhere, schools cannot operate because of lack of fuel and other essentials. The following placard reads “Live and let us study.”

      Kids are collecting essentials for their families. In the following picture, they are carrying firewood as fuel has become scarce.

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      Picture: Sunil Pradhan – Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
    • Violence and vandalism strengthened by blockade

      The blockade has strengthened and supported a violent protest going on in the Terai region of Nepal. Protesters attack journalists, police and ordinary citizens with Molotov Cocktails. Even Indian police has entered Nepali territory and fired at Nepali citizens and police.

      A Madhesi lawmaker was attacked by the protesters. Several other political parties and people with differing opinion are regularly threatened and attacked in the protest areas. Protesters have almost banned political activities and campaigns by other parties. The President of Nepal was also humiliated and attacked by protesters.

      Ordinary Madhesi are also suffering because of the Indian blockade that has strengthened a violent protest in the Terai region. In the first picture below, the protesters burnt a moterbike, along with its owner Dilip Chaudhary. The second picture shows Bablu Rajbanshi burnt by the protesters.

      [Related: Nepal: Madhesi groups have the highest representation in government jobs.]

      Picture: Chuman Basnet/Republica
      Picture: Chuman Basnet/Republica

      Trucks, including those carrying medicines, are burnt by the protesters.

    • Human rights violation by police and protesters

      The blockade has strengthened the violent protests, which has invited state police to safeguard highways and public property. Protest organizers have publicly provoked and called for violence and use of weapons. In retaliation, police action has sometimes been brutal and in violation of human rights. Several protesters and onlookers have been killed by police action. On the other hand, several police personnel and civilians have been attacked, lynched and killed by the protesters. The picture below shows a Madhesi family holding a picture of their dead son.

      Picture: Jaydev Paudel
      Picture: Jaydev Paudel
    • Violence and Tension at the Nepal-India border

      Indian border police beat up Nepali police personnel and confiscate pistol.

      In the following pictures, this side of the gate is Nepal and the other side is India. Stones are being pelted on Nepal police personnel from the Indian side of the border. In the first picture, Indian security personnel are standing guard at the border, providing security to the attackers.

    • Back to firewood

      People are now cooking on firewood for months. Nepal has been pushed back to pre-industrial era by the Indian blockade.

    • Lack of food and cooking fuel

      There’s acute shortage of cooking gas and food supplies. Restaurants have modified their menu because of the blockade. Only limited items not requiring a lot of fuel are on offer in restaurants. Many are cooking on firewood. Several businesses have closed permanently, leaving many jobless during festival season and the ensuing winter.

      [Related: #IndiaBlockadesNepal: A serious humanitarian crisis will be hard to avoid, says WFP]

      Picture: Shubhra Dixit
      Picture: Shubhra Dixit

       

    • Travel has become scary

      Traveling has become very scary and deadly. There are much fewer buses running and most of them are packed beyond capacity. Protesters regularly vandalize passengers, buses and private property. Because of lack of fuel, traveling conditions are harsher than usual, resulting in increased accidents and added difficulty for the elderly, sick, women and children. Buses carry petrol in small cans, adding the risk of fire and death. As seen in the pictures, passengers including small kids are forced to travel with great risk on top of buses

      Protesters emboldened by the Indian blockade regularly destroy buses plying in the Eastern Terai, in a gross violation of human rights. Almost all buses traveling there have damaged windows and windscreen. Many people have been injured and killed during the violence meted out against innocent travelers on highways. Buses often travel without any windscreen, making it extremely chilly and uncomfortable inside. Travel is possible only at night, and every night passengers are greeted with stones, Molotov cocktails and other objects thrown at them.

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      Picture: cri.cn, from @Jaw_Knock’s tweet
    • Queues everywhere

    • Struggle to eat and to get fuel to cook

      People sleeping on the road for days, waiting their turn to get supplies of cooking gas.

      Picture: Bharat Bandhu Thapa
      Picture: Bharat Bandhu Thapa
      Picture: Skanda Gautam/Zuma Press
      Picture: Skanda Gautam/Zuma Press

      In this picture, an international cricketer of Nepal is seen at the arrival lounge of Nepal’s airport with an electric induction stove. He bought it while on a trip overseas. Those who can afford have switched to such electric heaters because cooking gas is no more available in the market.

    • Goodwill between neighbors is lost as younger generations witness Indian aggression

      Indians are not at risk in Nepal. Nepalis have remained calm throughout the blockade and been sensible to separate the ordinary Indian people from their brutal and bully government.

      But while previous generations faced several Indian blockades and harbored a generally hostile attitude towards Indian intentions in Nepal, the newer generations were more open and cosmopolitan in nature. Now that they have witnessed the Indian aggression at a very difficult time in their country’s history, the sense of optimism has suffered a great setback. People are very discouraged and this will reflect directly in the coming generations’ view of their big neighbor to the South. There have been several spontaneous protests and social media campaigns against the blockade both in Nepal and in the cities of Europe or USA with large Nepali diaspora.

      Picture: Vishal Arora
      Picture: Vishal Arora

      Modi more destructive than the earthquake?
      Modi more destructive than the earthquake?
    • Vulgar politics at display

      The blockade has put to display Nepal’s own ugly sides. Nepal’s politics is messy, like in many similar countries. Here are some examples.

      A professor defends the burning of ambulances and death of kids because of protesters blocking ambulances as needing to be seen “in a context”. This is very much reminiscent of how the violence unleashed by Maoist rebels during their insurgency was defended by its apologists.

      [Related: Did UN official accused of bias by Israel protect Maoist violence in Nepal? (Exclusive book excerpts)]

      Former Prime Minister and Maoist politician Baburam Bhattarai leads a group of so-called “civil society leaders”, which includes Dr Devendra Raj Pandey, CK Lal, Krishna Hachhethu, Pitambar Sharma etc. Bhattarai is a seasoned politician and the ideologue of the violent Maoist insurgency. He hardly fits the generally accepted definition of “civil society member”. But currently his cohort is cashing on the Indian blockade to revive his political career in the guise of a new political force. Bhattarai resigned from his parliamentary seat immediately after the promulgation of constitution, showing neglect to the people of his constituency, who are among the worst hit earthquake victims. He was also one of the leading politicians involved in the drafting of Constitution.

      At other events, similar group of “civil society members” has gone so far as to say that Nepal is to be blamed for everything and India has imposed no blockade. This group includes the likes of Daman Nath Dhungana, Sundar Mani Dixit, CK Lal, Lokraj Baral. They were speaking at events organized by or in the presence of Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Mr. Ranjit Rae. Many in Nepal allege they work in tandem with the Indian bureaucracy and intelligence agencies to do a “narrative control” in Nepal. Perhaps, this is what observers meant while referring to the many “covert and overt” weapons India has at its disposal against Nepal ?

      [Related: Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s misinformed comments on Nepal at the Indian Parliament]

      The level of disrespect and interference in Nepal’s internal politics by India has gone so far that the blockade started with India demanding changes to Nepal’s newly drafted constitution. This headline from Indian Express just before the blockade began.

      [Related: Demistifying India’s propaganda on Nepal’s Madhes]

    • Indian Express headline before the blockade
      Indian Express headline before the blockade

      While there is vehement denial of the blockade by Indian government, its operatives in Nepal and some of Nepal’s civil society members, enough evidence has been produced that show India is actively and directly forcing a blockade on Nepal. This is a picture of supply trucks queuing up at the Indian side of the border. Such queues stretch several kilometers and Indian security force selectively allow trucks to pass. Trucks carrying fuel are stopped on purpose. Indian journalist Anil Yadav produced a series of reports this month from a town near Nepal-India border.

      [Related: A controlled Indian blockade on Neal (BBC report from a border town)]

      Picture: Manoj Singh
      Picture: Manoj Singh

The performance of Nepal’s own government has been very lackadaisical. A weak coalition cobbled up after the blockade apparently against India’s wishes, shows no creativity or initiative to make things easier for the people. Government ministers and the Prime Minister are frustrating the ordinary people with their rhetoric full of lofty dreams but no matching action. In all this, the opposition party sees an opportunity to replace the government formed just months ago.

The following cartoon published in a Nepali newspaper shows the Prime Minister busy talking, doing nothing.

India puts #Nepal on Ventilator Support by Blockading the Country’s Imports (BBC Report)

(Translation of a report by senior journalist Anil Yadav, first published in BBC Hindi. You can read the original report here. A Nepali translation of the report is available on the BBC Nepali website.)

Translated by nepalforeignaffairs.com team.

bbc hindiThe slogan of Bajaj’s Pulsar motorbike roars, “Fear the Black.”

In these times of blockade on Nepal, Indian villages surrounding the border town of Sunauli just love this motorbike as the biggest means of petrol black-marketing into Nepal simply because its fuel tank holds 15 liters.

Read: A controlled Indian blockade on Nepal (BBC report)

Unemployed and students hire a Pulsar for 300 rupees a day, get the tank filled for 70 rupees per liter and sell it for 125-130 rupees a liter in Nepal right across the border.

Whoever makes more trips makes the evening more colorful. Other motorbikes are also used for petrol smuggling but profits are small because they have smaller tanks.

manojsinghThese boys, driving their motorbikes in high speed, have started wearing masks, not to prevent the dust from the fields but to sneak out of the eyes of extortionate police and berating petrol pumps.

Travel agencies are seen killing time but drivers are making money filling tanks of their taxies.

Blockade on Nepal has produced young investors, whose stories you get to hear at petrol stations. A young man from the village Thuthibari near a small border check-post, 25 kilometers away from Sunauli, had bought a second-hand motorbike for 15000 rupees. Having paid it off, he is now sitting on money.

Nepal’s Madhesi protesters had shot a boy carrying diesel into Nepal from the neighboring village Bargadawa few days ago. The Pulsar-boys refrain from talking about him.

For them, this incident is an exception, which took place not because of smuggling, but of personal fights.

151210160401_nepal_india_border_petrole_crisis_01_624x351_gettyThose unable to manage a motorbike are using bicycles to pass jerry cans filled with diesel. It goes to the extent that the women and girls from poor families have made their day buying 5-7 liters petrol out of borrowed money.

A Chat-boy (Chat is an Indian fast food) has put his cart at the petrol station nearNautanawa bypass, just a little further from the Commandant Office of the Indian Border Security force-SSB.

Until last month, his cart would stand at the gate of a nearby school. The cart-men say, “Where the boys there the cart. Those who never had 10 rupees before are now making 1000-1500 rupees a day.”

Long queue of jerry cans was seen atanother petrol station. The waiting women were asking pump-personnel to fill faster so that they could go into Nepal across the No Man’s Land via paddy fields, do their business and return back before the evening grew dark.

151210160953_nepal_border_indian_oil_petrole_624x351_getty

Villages near the borders are quickly filling 1-2 cylinders of cooking gas at homes. One cylinder costs 720 rupees in the black market. It sells for a whopping 1500 rupees in Nepal’s Belahiya across the border. The prices go up to 2500-3000 rupees after they reach Bhairahawa and Kathmandu.

Flourishing black market has given hard time to the businesses in Sunauli. Their support boys have left jobs to join the new opportunity.

There is no sight of rickshaw-pullers in the villages near the border; labors are in scarcity in this season of wheat-sowing. The blockade on Nepal has bestowed them with an unprecedented money-making opportunity.

151210080205_nepal_sunauli_gorakhpur_624x351_manojkumarsingh_nocreditThey want this situation to continue long. They often cite a famous, old saying which means: when you live in border, you make easy money and you need not worry for having no studies.

A villager standing near a private hospital in the town of Farenda said, “India has put Nepal on ventilator-support. The family members of such patients pay any amount of money to the doctors. Nepal is also paying to these villagers.”

A controlled Indian blockade on Nepal (BBC report)

(Translation of a report by senior journalist Anil Yadav, first published in BBC Hindi. You can read the original report here. A Nepali translation of the report is available on the BBC Nepali website.)

Translated by nepalforeignaffairs.com team.


Indian government has been saying, even stressing continuously that it has not imposed any blockade on Nepal. But Nepal is suffering due to lack of cooking gas, petrol, medicines and other items of daily need.

Just visiting the border town of Sunauli (Sonauli) is enough to expose the carefully drafted statements of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

151209161546_nepal_india_border_checkpost_at_sonaoli_624x351_manojsingh
On the Indian side of the Sunauli border between Nepal and India, trucks have queued for more than 14 kilometers (Picture: Manoj Singh/BBC)

What kind of neighbors are you? No sooner had we made our constitution than you started to demand an amendment? – Nepali people

In reality this is a controlled blockade, whose remote controller rests at the hands of someone higher up. On the ground here, many games are being played out in that pretext.

Minister Swaraj told the parliament that trucks leaving India have been stopped by Nepal’s Madhesi protestors.

[Related article: Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s Misinformed Comments on #Nepal at Indian Rajya Sabha]

Although there’s no protest in Sunauli, only a fixed number trucks are allowed to pass every two-three days. The trucks with Nepal’s imports are lined up for more than 14 kilometres on the Indian side and reach much further than the town of Nautanwa. However, buses and other vehicles are passing the border from both sides as usual.

So why are the trucks stopped? To this and every other question, the officers from customs and border security force (SSB) respond that all is because of orders from above.

Whose orders from higher up? They respond to this question with such a laughter, which means- “are you so innocent as to not know what even a five-year-old kid in Nepal knows?”

Cross the border and ask the same question on the Nepali side. It elicits a stunning question, “what kind of neighbors are you?”, as if this journalist is representing the Indian government.

Then they say, “no sooner had we made our constitution, than you started to demand an amendment. When we refused, why did you stop our bread and butter?”

Custom officials claim that these days about 100 trucks are allowed to pass after inspection. But there are several details that go into determining the trucks that will be allowed to enter Nepal.

In Kolhui and Nautanhwa of the Maharajgunj district on the Indian side, LPG (cooking gas) trucks of Nepali and Indian oil corporations have been separated from the long queue of trucks and parked on nearby fields.

151210080205_nepal_sunauli_gorakhpur_624x351_manojkumarsingh_nocredit
LPG tankers taken out of the queue and parked on nearby fields in Nautanhwa (Picture Manoj Singh/BBC)

Trucks carrying medicines are prioritized and allowed to pass, but police stop trucks carrying petrol, diesel and cooking gas. Trucks carrying marble stones, cars and bikes are also being allowed to pass.

The biggest difficulty Nepal is facing is of fuel. And those who come to enjoy the spectacle of trucks queuing on the highway also admit that India wants to bring Nepal down to its knees by shutting down fuel and transportation.

Truck drivers say, police take bribes to select and allow trucks from among the long queue that has been standing for two months. The rates are INR 300 for normal trucks, 500 for big trucks, and more for containers. This is because the importing company in Nepal faces a loss of about INR 13,000 for every additional day a container is standing on the queue.

Is is estimated that goods worth INR 20 billion are queued up on the Indian side on the road of Sunauli border and Nautanhwa railway station.

151116150203_fuel_shortage_nepal_bharatbandhuthapa_624x351_bharatbandhuthapa
People in Nepal queuing up for cooking gas (Picture: Bharat Bandhu Thapa/BBC)

There are attempts to unload goods from the trucks to smaller vehicles and carts in order to take them across the border.

Nepal’s businesses and factories are cancelling their orders because no-one knows when the blockade will end.

When asked about corruption, the police reply that the accusations are unsubstantiated.

The police say, “Our officers are getting calls from ministers and big politicians in the state of UP and the center. They ask us to allow trucks belonging to certain industrialists. When we allow such trucks to get out of the queue and pass because of our officers’ orders, we face these accusations.”

#IndiaBlockadesNepal: UN aid agencies & partners appeal for access to life-saving medical supplies

Millions of children at risk this winter due to severe shortage of essential supplies, UNICEF warns
Ban expresses concern over blocking of essential supplies on Nepal-India border

4d544f5c-91c6-499c-8909-684687524e35.jpgUnited Nations agencies and their aid partners based in Kathmandu have expressed their deepest concern over critical and growing shortages of lifesaving medicines and supplies across Nepal.

The agencies urged all sides to address restrictions on the import and free movement of essential supplies including vaccines, drugs and other medical goods as a means of respecting and facilitating the human rights to access quality health care services.

“The health and humanitarian implications of the present scenario are grave,” reads a joint statement by World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Department for International Development (DFID), German Development Cooperation (GDC, GIZ, KfW), and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

“In recognition of the right to timely access to quality health care services, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and as detailed in the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment No. 14 on the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, we emphasize the seriousness of the present situation and its humanitarian implications,” the statement said.

 

 

Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s Misinformed Comments on #Nepal at Indian Rajya Sabha

– by Nepalforeignaffairs Team

Dr Karan Singh, speaking about Nepal in Indian parliament
Picture: @subhash580‘s twitter feed

Dr. Karan Singh’s statement (click here to watch his full statement) in Indian parliament yesterday is full of factual errors and lies. Perceived as a person who’s knowledgeable about Nepal, Singh’s understanding of Nepal’s complexities and nuances appear to be very insufficient and based on a distorted view on Nepal’s situation, probably fed by a few sources who do not understand Nepal very well. Here is a point-by-point evaluation of his claims versus the facts.

1. The constitution alienates a large section of the population

Fact: The constitution was voted for by almost 90% of all members of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, the elected body that was drafting the constitution. It has been approved by a large section of the population, including many Madhesis. A large majority of Madhesi elected representatives voted for the constitution.

2. Madhesis are 51% of Nepal’s population

Fact: Madhesis constitute less than 20% of Nepal’s population (see this factcheck article on the widely misreported Madhesi population statistics). Nepal is a diverse country and Nepal’s plain area, called the Terai/Madhes is home to various groups. The total number of people living in the Terai is about 50% of the country’s population, but it includes a large number of non-Madhesi people.

3. If the present constitution is continued, identity of Madhes is going to be destroyed

Fact: The constitution ensures a separate province for Madhesis, thus protecting their identity (although majority of Nepalese expressed in last elections that there are better ways to protect identity than through such ethnicity-based provinces). The constitution has provisions for multiple languages to be used in local bodies. No province has been created for other ethnic groups including Gurung, Magar, Tamang, etc. Madhesis are treated specially by the constitution, which many argue, is against the spirit of equality in democracy.

4. The eight-point agreement in 2007 with the government headed by GP Koirala has been jettisoned

Fact: Previous governments have made such agreements with many ethnic groups including Tharus, Limbus, Chure-Bhawar society and so on. Like explained in point 5 below, multiple groups live together and have competing claims. It has been a subject of long political debate in Nepal and so far there has been no consensus. The arrangement proposed in the current constitution is the only one that has received least opposition and was accepted by about 90% members of the Constituent Assembly. The constitution ensures a separate province for Madhesis, while other groups’ demands for similar provinces have not been respected. There are voices within Nepal who think this special treatment to a small section of Madhesi politicians is unfair for the rest of the groups who share these regions.

5. Madhesh has been sliced up in such a way that they are marginalised in all but one province

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Geographical distribution of some major ethnic groups in Nepal, from among more than 100 different groups (based on 2001 census data)

Fact: Nepal is a diverse country with more than 100 ethnic groups and languages (see this post for a statistics on some of these groups). The settlements in Nepal are mixed (many ethnic groups live close together) and it is extremely difficult to carve out provinces that is exclusive to each group, while still being fair to others. There are competing claims by different ethnic groups for provinces in the same areas. For example, in the Eastern Terai, Madhesis constitute less than 20% of the population but some Madhesi politicians (most of who have lost elections there) want it to be named as an exclusive Madhesi province. Other ethnic groups like Tharus, Limbus, Rajbamshis, Chure-Bhawar society also demand similar provisions in the same region. For over 8 years, this discussion has been going on in Nepal, including during two elections for the Constituent Assembly, that were dominated by this very debate. Finally, various parties agreed on the current federal solution that has the least amount of opposition. During the election of the Constituent Assembly, the agenda of ethnic-based provinces was defeated by huge margin. Similarly, the previous constituent assembly failed to draft a constitution because the ruling parties of that time wanted ethnicity based provinces while the opposition disagreed.

6. Proportional representation theory has not been accepted

Fact: This is wrong. Please see Article 50 of the current constitution. More details on this can be read in this article about the many factual errors in Indian External Affairs Minister’s speech.

7. In marriage, discrimination regarding citizens as far as citizens marrying Indians

Fact: This is also wrong. Please see Part 2, Article 10-15 of the current constitution. More details on this can be read in this article about the many factual errors in Indian External Affairs Minister’s speech.

8. Madhesis have been looked down in that country for many centuries

Fact: Madhesis have been treated specially in Nepal’s history. They used to be part of the Royal court in Kathmandu. Today, several Madhesi groups (like Dalits) are among the most backward and disadvantaged in Nepal. At the same time, several other Madhesi groups (like Madhesi Brahmins, Kayasthas, Rajputs) are ahead of all other ethnic groups in Nepal in terms of Human Development Index (HDI), education, wealth, access to government services and opportunities. Madhesi is not a single homogeneous population group.

9. The current constitution goes back on the provisions made in the interim constitution

Fact: The current constitution is drafted by an elected Constituent Assembly that was sovereign. The Assembly was elected to replace the interim constitution based on the popular will expressed through elections. Current constitution ensures more progressive provisions including for language, women and minorities. It includes affirmative action provisions for additional groups like disabled and poor, which the interim constitution lacked. The current constitution ensures federalism, and a separate province for Madhesis. which the interim constitution did not have

#IndiaBlockadesNepal: Demystifying #India’s Propaganda on #Nepal’s Madhesh

Nepal Foreign Affairs – Some of the top myths Indian government and media have been spreading to justify the ongoing Madhes agitation against Nepal’s new democratic constitution. These myths are also utilized to convince the Indian people so that the ongoing economic blockade against Nepal is not opposed inside India.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”, taught Joseph Goebbels, the German Minister of Propaganda for 12 years during which Second World War had taken place.

The War ended, perpetrators punished and the idea debunked; but states have picked his education by choice. The recent and glaring instance has been India, whose diplomats and experts seem to have outdone Goebbles in dishing out Goebblean “Big Lies” with regards to Nepal’s Madhes agitation and secular, new constitution.

It is no secret by now that India’s ruling Hindu Right detastes Nepal’s democratic constitution for its secular character, and therefore, wants to shoot it down spreading all kinds of myths.

But more problematic is a recent joint statement between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron, suggesting how far this propaganda has reached and how India might have duped the “Great” Britain as well. We are sure India will continue it lying spree while imposing an economic blockade against Nepal, creating an unforeseen humanitarian crisis in the absence of fuel and medical supplies.

We have gathered some of the top myths Indian government and media has been spreading to justify the ongoing Madhes agitation against Nepal’s new democratic constitution, a reason forwarded also to justify the ongoing economic blockade.

Lie Number 1: Nepal’s Madhesi population is 51% of the total population of the country.

Fact: Nepal’s Madhes has half of the country’s population. Ethnic Madhesi population is 13%. Muslims are 4.4% and Tharus are 6.6%

This is a statement one finds in almost every Indian commentary and report on Madhes agitation. Read an example where Indian Home Minister claims to protect the interest of ten million Indian-origin Hindus in Nepal.

However, the truth about it is something different. Nepal’s Madhes region comprises of its southern plains. It has 22 districts of Nepal’s total 75. The people living in Madhes are not all ethnic Madhesis as opposed to many in India and abroad tend to think. The region is as diverse as the rest of Nepal. Ethnic Madhesis make up a large share of population but majority of the people there don’t want to be identified as Madhesis.

According to the 2011 Census, the population share in Madhes is 48.4% of the total.

Yadav community, the biggest Madhesi group, has the population of 1,054,458 (4%); other Terai groups (OTG), which also includes dominant caste groups of Bramhin, Rajput and Kayastha is 4% (the populationof each caste groups is mentioned in the census data), Muslims are 1,164,255 (4.4%)and Tharus are 1,737,470 (6.6%) and Terai Dalits make up 5% of the total population. (See here the population monograph of Nepal 2014)

Rest is the population of Terai Aadivaasi and people of hill origin. The census data has been processed, refined and used by the UN also.

By this account, even if one clusters the Dalits, OTG including dominant community, and Yadavs, the actual population of ethnic Madhesis stands at 13%. This is the share of Indian-Origin Madhesis Rajnath Singh, India’s Home Minister,  is referring about. Tharus and Muslims don’t want to be called Madhesis as their fight for separate identity runs parallel with Madhes movement. If one puts all of them together in the same basket, the population share is 23%, almost half of the total population of Madhes. This argument is not to say that the voice of smaller section of population has to be ignored, but to prove that the population claim on Madhes is wrong and is a propaganda created to give a false notion that Nepal’s new constitution is challenged by majority.

Lie Number 2: Tharus and hill Janajatis are with Madhesi parties against Nepal’s new constitution.

Fact: Tharus have a separate identity. They have their own demands incompatible with the Madhesis. Hill janjatis are in support of the new constitution.

Another non-stop myth spewing out of Indian media as well as its government bureaucracy about the current agitation claims that the Tharu indigenous people and the hill Janajati groups stand with Madhesi parties in this agitation. This is an out and out lie.

It is true that the Tharu people have demanded greater autonomy. Like the Madhesis, their demand is for a province without adjoining hill district in the west of Madhes region. While saying so, clustering them together with the Madhesis is a huge injustice since their claim of a separate identity from that of the ethnic Madhesis has a long history.

For an example, Arjuna Gunaratne has done an extensive research on Nepal’s Tharu community. His work“Many Tongues, One People: The Making of Tharu Identity in Nepal” is an outstanding academic work that appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies 2003. See a UN assessment how Tharu movement differs from that of the Madhesis.

Most importantly, the largest representative of the Tharus at present is Madhesi People’s Rights Forum-Democratic led by Bijaya Gachchhadar, who has remained the part of the constitution making process and is a Deputy Prime Minister in the current coalition led by Prime Minister KP Oli.

Many of Gachchhadar’s detractors would love to say he has been discredited recently, but they close their eyes to the fact that he is the only Tharu leader who has NOT lost an election since 1991. There is no single Madhesi leader of his stature at present.

The claim that hill Janajati groups have rejected the constitution does not sustain at all as there are no signs as such. On the contrary, Janajati leaders have stood as the most vehement defenders of this constitution. They reject the Madhesi demand of clustering eastern Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari districts in Madhes state.

Lie Number 3: Entire Madhes is agitating against the constitution.

Fact: Madhes has 22 districts. In seven of them, there is a reverse agitation building against Madhesi parties. In another seven of them, there is a somewhat agitation. Eight districts, which have got a province they wanted, are agitating.

Nepal’s Terai region has 22 districts: Kanchanpur, Kailali, Banke, Bardiya, Dang, Kapilabastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Chitawan, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Dhanusha, Sindhuli, Siraha, Saptari, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Udayapur, Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari.

Among them, Kanchanpur, Chitawan, Sindhuli, Jhapa, Udayapaur, Morang and Sunasari have a very small share of Madhesi population, 6.3%. They have Tharu population at 13%. There is a reverse agitation brewing up in these districts against the Madhesi demands.

Kailali, Banke, Bardiya, Dang, Kapilbastu, Nawalparasi Rupandehi, have Tharus, Muslims, Madhesis and hill people. These areas were initially somewhat agitated but have returned to complete peace now. With Muslims and Tharus getting Constitutional Commissions, one of their major demands has been addressed by the constitution. India is provoking the Tharus by extending an alliance with the Madhesi parties, so far unsuccessfully, to demand a plains-only province. A fulfilment of this would be used to whip up the expansion of province-2.

This limits the current agitation strictly within the eight districts: Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Dhanusha, Siraha, Saptari, Sarlahi, Mahottari. This is also the precise Province 2 according to Nepal’s new constitution. So the demand of the agitating parties here is an expansion of the province as it became small for them. What they are saying is like this: My house is small, but my neighbor’s is big; so I want that one too. This is the reason why many in Nepal say Madhes agitation has no genuine political demands but they are used only to serve India’s strategic goal: keep bargaining with Kathmandu.

General Rana’s Political and Undiplomatic Statement

Update: The Nepali Army today issued a press statement claiming that comments attributed to him are false and that he didn’t give any formal interview to any news outlets during his trip to India last week.

“The news reports published in a few media outlets in the past few days that Chief of the Army Mr Rana gave interview commenting upon the security of Nepal and neighboring countries and issues related to that are inaccurate and misleading. As Chief of the Army Mr Rana, during the week-long visit, didn’t give any types of formal interview to the media those comments, it seems, those comments have been disseminated out of context.

“Nepali Army is a professional and apolitical organization that, while remaining within constitutional authority, respects civil supremacy. There is no possibility of Nepali Army or the leadership of the Nepali Army passing comments of such irresponsible nature. It is to let all know that the military leadership hasn’t made such comments.”

UWB note: The Nepal Army statement, worded in Nepali, is a very badly written note with confusing sentence structure- as if it were a work of a liar who unexpectedly found himself/herself in a police interrogation room. If Mr Rana didn’t give any formal interview, were his comments published in the Times of India informally provided to the reporter? The Nepali Army statement seems to be implying that as it states Rana didn’t give any FORMAL interview to any news outlet and that news reports and commentaries seem to have come out of context (so what was the context?). Nepali Army may still be apolitical, professional and under civilian control as claimed in the Army statement but we refused to believe that the same can be said to the army leadership- namely Gaurav Rana. He should come clean.

Was it merely a slip of the tongue or our Army chief actually wanted to show how childish he can be when it comes to dealing with international issues? Was he intending to appease the Indians (if yes, he failed to do so) and hurt our relationship with the Chinese? If he fancies working as a political/strategic commentator for Indian newspapers, he should first resign from the post of the Chief of the Army Staff and cross over to India. Also, you can’t be a spokesperson (a bad one) of the Indian Army while still holding the top position at the Nepali Army.

Continue reading General Rana’s Political and Undiplomatic Statement

अमेरिकी राजदूतको फेसबुक कूटनीति

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ठूलो पार्न क्लिके हुन्छ

दिनेश वाग्ले
वाग्ले स्ट्रिट जर्नल
यो लेख आज  कान्तिपुरमा प्रकाशित भएको हो । पत्रिकाकै पन्नामा हेर्ने भए: तलका तस्बिरमा क्लिके हुन्छ – प्रथम पेज बाँकी

सामान्यतः टाउकोभरि कपाल र सफा गाला मनपराउने केही नेपालीले अचेल तालु खाली भएका र झ्याप्प दाह्री पालेका एक अमेरिकीमा नायक भेट्टाएका छन् । देशको बिग्रँदो चालाबाट निराश सर्वसाधारणले दिनहुँजसो अमेरिकी राजदूतसँग गुनासो गरिरहेका छन् ।

अनि स्कट एच. डेलिसीले पनि लोकप्रिय भावनाअनुरूपका वक्तव्य सार्वजनिक गरेर इन्टरनेट प्रयोग गर्ने केही नेपालीहरूको वाहवाही पाएका छन् । तर फेसबुकमार्फत इन्टरनेटमा पहुँच भएका नेपालीहरूसँग भइरहेको अमेरिकी कूटनीतिज्ञको बढ्दो र कतिपय सन्दर्भमा खुलस्त अन्तक्रिर्या मूलधारका पत्रिकाहरूमार्फत बृहत् नेपाली समाजमा पोखिन थालेपछि त्यसले नेपालका केही शक्तिकेन्द्र र राजनीतिक दलहरूलाई अप्ठ्यारोमा पारेको छ ।

‘असन्तुलित विचार’

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ठूलो पार्न क्लिके हुन्छ

नेपाली कांग्रेसले पाँच वर्षपछि पहिलो पटक सोमबार देशैभर गरेको बन्दप्रति सार्वजनिक रूपमै असहमति राखेका डेलिसीले लोकतान्त्रिक मान्यता विपरीतको त्यस्तो हिंसात्मक विरोधले नेपाली अर्थतन्त्रलाई राम्रो नगर्ने आशय प्रकट गरे । तर डेलिसीको त्यो दबाबमूलक फेसबुक अभियानबारे जानकार तथा अमेरिका र अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय जगत्सँग राम्रो सम्बन्ध भएको पार्टी कांग्रेसका नेताहरूले शनिबारदेखि नै डेलिसीलाई टेढो आँखाले हेर्दै राजदूतको अभिव्यक्तिलाई ‘असान्दर्भिक’ र ‘राम्ररी सुसूचित नभएको’ भनी प्रतिवाद गरिरहे । हडतालको ‘कारक’ (चितवनस्थित जेलमा थुनिएका कांग्रेस कार्यकर्ताको हत्या) बारे ‘नबोलेका’ कूटनीतिज्ञले त्यसको विरोध कार्यक्रमप्रति ‘नकारात्मक टिप्पणी’ गर्नु ‘असन्तुलित’ भएको उनीहरूको तर्क छ ।

‘जेलभित्र मान्छे मारियो, यत्रो ठूलो घटनाको भत्र्सना गरेको सुनेनौं,’ अमेरिकाको न्युयोर्कस्थित युनिभर्सिटी एट बफेलो र न्युयोर्क युनिभर्सिटीबाट क्रमशः एमबीए र पीएचडी गरेका कांग्रेस सभासद मिनेन्द्र रिजालले सोमबार कान्तिपुरसँग भने, ‘जनसुरक्षामा त्यत्रो आघात पुग्दा त्यसबारे नबोलेको तर बन्द ठीक भएन मात्र भन्दा असन्तुलित भयो ।’ रिजालले सुसूचित र न्यायिक भए मात्र अमेरिकी दृष्टिकोणको महत्त्व हुने उल्लेख गर्दै डेलिसीका विचारलाई आफ्नो पार्टीले अमेरिकी सरकारको आधिकारिक धारणाका रूपमा नभई एक राजदूतले व्यक्तिगतस्तरमा सामाजिक सन्जाल साइटमा पोखेका विचारका रूपमा लिएको बताए । रिजालका अनुसार विदेशी राजदूतहरूले चाहँदैमा नेपाली दलहरूले आफ्ना आन्दोलनका कार्यक्रम स्थगित या परिवर्तन गरेका छैनन् र गर्दैनन् ।

यो लेखको बाँकी भाग यहाँ छ ।

नि हाओ नेपाल !

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नेपालमा कसरी बढ्दै गएको छ चिनीयाँ रुचि, लगानी र व्यापार, अनि त्यसले कसरी बढाउदै छ राजनीतिक र सामाजिक प्रभाव ? [This article, titled “Ni Hao Nepal!” and published in today’s Kantipur looks into the growing Chinese investment and trade in Nepal and how that’s expanding China’s political and cultural clout in Nepal.]

दिनेश वाग्ले

प्रधानमन्त्री बाबुराम भट्टराईले चिनियाँ प्रधानमन्त्री पुस ५ मा नेपाल आउने घोषणा गरे पनि भनिएकै समयमा उनी नआउने भएका छन् । तर पछिल्ला केही वर्षको प्रवृत्ति नियाल्दा प्रधानमन्त्री नआउँदैमा नेपालमा चिनियाँ चासो घट्ने देखिन्न । काठमाडौंमा रहेका केही चिनियाँ र चीनलाई नियाल्ने नेपालीका अनुसार अबका केही वर्ष चिनियाँहरू अझै बढी पैसा, सामान र सम्भवतः राजनीतिक प्रभाव पनि लिएर नेपाल छिर्दैछन् ।

[UWB note:  and looks at the growing Chinese investment, cultural influence and the political/strategic influence in Nepal as well as Nepal’s rising trade deficit with its northern neighbor.]

बढ्दो व्यापार, बढ्दो घाटा

चिनियाँ नेता देङ सियाओ पिङले १९७८ मा आर्थिक सुधार कार्यक्रम लागू गरेपछि उन्नति गर्न थालेको चीनले ठ्याक्कै १० वर्षअघि विश्व व्यापार संगठनमा छिरेर अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय व्यापारमा दरिलो यात्रा थालेको थियो । ‘त्यसपछि धेरै चिनियाँ बाहिर निस्कन र अरू देशमा आएर व्यापार गर्न थाले,’ २८ वर्षे चिनियाँ शी सानले भनिन्, जो डेढ वर्षदेखि पति हुङसँग मिलेर काठमाडौंको बिजुलीबजारमा एउटा चिनियाँ रेस्टुरेन्ट र होटलसमेत चलाइरहेकी छन् । ३५ लाख जति नेपाली रुपैयाँको लगानीमा खोलेको रेस्टुरेन्टबाट सन्तुष्ट शीले भनिन्, ‘यहाँको वातावरण पनि एकदम राम्रो, मेरो गृहसहरको भन्दा ।’ Continue reading नि हाओ नेपाल !