Category Archives: Nepali Society 3

An Analysis of Corruption in Nepal: Is It Becoming Socially Acceptable?

Siromani Dhungana/UWB

It is no surprise that Nepal is a very corrupt country, but a cause of worry today is that politicians are robbing the state coffer openly and sometimes ‘proudly’ in Nepal.

This is an analysis of very recent allegations of corruption against our politicians, which have mostly gone un-answered.

Here are a few examples:

News 1: Nagarik Daily published a series of in-depth investigative reports (by Subodh Gautam) about erosion of Chure Hills in its February 22 and 23 editions. The news has hinted the apathy of the police to control rampant illegal activities in the Chure area. According to the articles, around 0.75 billion Nepali rupees have been misused under President´s Chure Conservation Program (PCCP). Can the commission for the investigation of abuse of authority (CIAA), an anti-graft body in Nepal, and the government agencies concerned, bring the guilty under scanner? Many believe they canno

News 2: On the February 22 edition, Annapurna Post published an article (by Govinda Pariyar) about import of sub-standard medicines worth Rs 500 million from India. According to the article, the government has been importing medicines that the Indian government has banned. The issue should have received a great deal of government attention, especially because this directly relates to the health of a large population, but no legal action has been initiated so far. Continue reading

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Why Khum Bahadur Khadka is a Symbol of Power in a Greedy Society

Lack of accountability mechanism, declining faith of public on judiciary, red tape scandals, inefficient and corrupt politicians and incompetent and greedy bureaucrats are major issues most Nepalis often talks about. Release of Nepali Congress leader Khum Bahadur Khadka, who was convicted of corruption in August last year, from Dillibazar jail today has once again brought the debate about corruption at the fore.

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB blog

We can simply call it euphoric. There were no hint of regret. Khum Bahadur Khadka, comparatively ‘popular’ figure in politics in spite of corruption charges against him, succeeded in showing his political power while getting out from jail today. His supporters, clad in t-shirts with BP Koirala’s image printed on them and Nepali Congress’s chartare (four-stars) flags in hands, cheered and celebrated. Some dubbed his move as a ‘BP with Corrupt Leader’ and blamed Khadka of trying to tarnish image of the most famous leader of Nepali Congress while his supporters argued the following:

Khum Badhaur dai matra bhrasta hoina. Dai hamro asthako Kendra hun, neta hun, daikko birruda shadayantra bhayeko chha (Khum Bahadur dai alone is not corrupt. We have faith on him and he is a leader. Some people has conspired him to put him behind the bar).

Both sides have logics. Generally, popular perception about corruption begins from a common question: who is not corrupt in this country? If s/he is not, it is due to lack of opportunity than personal integrity. It is a bitter fact to a large extent. Lavish lifestyle of politicians and rapid change in their lifestyle provide much room for public to smell rat in their activities. Bureaucrats are no different breed. Continue reading

खुमबहादुरले आत्महत्या गर्नुपर्थ्यो हो ?

सुलभ खत्री
यूडब्लूबी पाहुना ब्लग

खुमबहादुर खड्काले भ्रष्टाचार गरेको कसले प्रमाणित गर्यो ? अदालतले । अदालतले के गर्यो उनलाई ? कानून अनुसार  कसुर बमोजिम सजाय दियो । अनि उनले के गरे? जेलमा बसेर सजाय भुक्तान गरे । कानूनबमोजिम सजाय भुक्तान गरेपछि उनी कानून अनुसारै जेलबाट निस्किए ।

तर अहिले कतिपयले यसरी प्रतिकृया दिइरहेका छन् कि कानूनबमोजिम सजाय भुक्तान गरेका खुमबहादुरले कानूनबमोजिम जेलबाट निस्कने हैन आत्महत्या गर्नुपर्थो या आफैलाई गोलि ठोकेर मर्नुपर्दथ्यो । तर त्यसो गर्नु त कानून विपरित हुन्थ्यो । अनि कानूनले उनलाई हास्न या माला लगाउन या हजारौं समर्थकबाट स्वागत ग्रहणगर्न त रोक्दैन ।  जव उनी जेलबाट निस्कन पाउछन् र त्यसक्रममा कानूनको उल्लंघन हुदैन भने उनी नाच्दै निस्किउन् कि रूदै त्यसले के असर पार्छ ।

पानीमाथिको ओभानो बन्ने पाखन्डीहरू र दोहोरो मापदन्डमा जीउने कतिपयका दृष्टिमा त्यो उति नैतिक नहुन सक्छ । तर कानूनका दृष्टिमा त सजाय भुक्तान गरिसकेका खुमबहादुर रूदै निस्किउन् या हास्दै पटक्कै फरक पार्दैन । उनलाई एकैजनाले स्वागत नगरोस् या पाँच हजारले स्वागत गरून् कानूनको दृष्टिमा केही फरक हुदैन ।

त्यो कानूनी कुरा भयो ।

अब कथित नैतिकताको कुरा गरौँ ।

अदालतले भ्रष्ट भनि प्रमाणित गरेका खुमबहादुर भ्रष्टै थिए । सही हो । तर के त्यसोभए भ्रष्टाचारमा चुर्लुम्म डुबेको तर अदालतले प्रमाणित नगरेको व्यक्तिचाहि  भ्रष्ट नहुने ?

हैन, नेपाली समाज के सारो पाखन्डी हुदै गएको ? यो देशका १४ हजार जनता मार्ने अनि निर्दोष र व्यांकबाट अर्वौं लुट्ने प्रचन्ड दाहाल र लालध्वज भट्टराई चाहिँ महान नेता भइ नै रहने अनि अढाई करोड भ्रष्टाचार गरेर (त्यो पनि मान्छे नमारी) त्यसबापत विगो जरिवाना तिरेर अदालतले भनेअनुसार सजाय विताएको खुमबहादुरले चाहिँ अझैं अपराधी बनिदिइराख्नु पर्ने ? भनिएला प्रचन्ड दाहाल र लालध्वज भट्टराईले जति मान्छे मारे पनि र जति अर्ब लुटेपनि उनीहरूलाई कानून र अदालतले दोषी ठहर्याएको छैन जो खुमबहादुरका हकमा भएको छ । यो आलुतर्कलाई वितेका केही साता, महिना र बर्षहरूमा यो देशका चारजना महापुरूषहरूले चुट्कीका भरमा कानून र संविधानकै पनि प्रावधानहरू मनलाग्दी बदलेका दृष्टान्तहरूले सोझै खारेज गरिदिदैन र भन्या ? अनि शक्ति पृथकीकरणको सिद्धान्तलाई लातहान्दै प्रधानमन्त्रीको कुर्सी समाएका प्रधानन्यायाधिश खिलराज विरूद्ध परेका मुद्दाहरू सुन्दै नसुनी रद्दिको टोकरीमा फ्याकिएको घट्नाले त्यो आलुतर्क गर्नेको मुखैमा थुईय भनेर थुकिदिदैन र भन्या ? मुद्दा जित्न वकिल नै राखिरहन नपर्ने (या भनौं वकिल राखेर बरू नहुने) अनि अरू कोही नै राख्नु पर्ने कुरा सार्वजिनकरूपमा भनिसकिएको र समाजले त्यो कुरा पत्याईसकेको स्थितिमा चार पुरूषले चुट्किका भरमा बदल्ने र बदलिरहने कानूनबमोजिम अदालतले दोषी ठहर गर्दैमा कोही दोषी भइहाल्ने अनि अदालतले ठहर गरेको छैन भन्दैमा निर्दोष भइरने अवस्था छ र भन्या ? प्रचन्ड दाहाल र लालध्वज भट्टराई नेपाली समाजमा महान नेता दरिइरहनु चाहीँ नैतिक अनि खुमबहादुरले सजाय काटेर निस्कदा स्वागत पाउनु चाहिँ अनैतिक । पाखन्डीपनाको पनि हद हुन्छ नि । Continue reading

Kathmandu is Cruel to Animals

A starved donkey...

Very Hungry….a starved donkey in Nepalgunj.

Today I am taking a break from political blogging to highlight cruelty to animals in Nepal. By Siromani Dhungana/UWB

Whatever may be the rationale behind a cruel act, cruelty cannot be hailed. Nepal’s capital Kathmandu is cruel to animals. Stray dogs, cows, oxen and cats starve to death in this city where hundreds of thousands of humans struggle to make their ends meet. 

These unlucky animals are injured or killed in fights and there are dozens of hit and run cases by speeding vehicles leaving stray animals wounded and severely injured. The question is how long can this cruelty will continue in the capital city?

Recently, staunch animal rights activists duo Pramada Shah  and Lucia de Vries sent me an email including link to a YouTube video (below) in which Nepal Police personnel were involved in brutal killing of a dog. I was deeply shocked by seeing the video in which we can see that officers first shoot at the dog and then bludgeoned it to death with bamboo sticks- all in full view of the public. The incident, in Baluwatar, does not make us feel proud and civilized.

Brutality: On the Street

Continue reading

Nepal banda: Bus burnt in Kathmandu

Bus burnt in Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu: A small group of criminals set a passenger bus on fire at the Manohara bridge early in the morning today (around 4:30 am). The bus was coming out from a garage in Balkot, Bhaktapur, to ply on the Nepal Yatayat route, according to my colleague Makar Shrestha who reached at the stop some 15 minutes after the incident. There are two Nepal Yatayat services- one begins from a planned settlement three kilometers away known locally as Town Planning near Old Sinamangal which itself is referred to as Pepsi Cola because the place hosts the factory of the cold drink major. The other begins from near Koteshwor. I am a daily passenger of the first Nepal Yatayat service. By the time I took this photo the bus had already been taken to Koteshwor traffic police post. Seemed to me that the engine hasn’t been destroyed.

I heard that some vandals attacked a van belonging to Kantipur TV. The attackers identified themselves as the activists of a fringe group called Chure Bhanwar Rastriya Ekata Party (presided by Himalayabhakta Pradhananga), according to a report in eKantipur.com.

This is the first instance of a bus being attacked in Kathmandu valley during banda (general strike) in many months. Today’s strike is called by a Hindu group that seeks to restore Nepal’s status as the world’s only Hindu country. But it seems they are not the only groups that have called banda today because Chure Bhanwar group has also claimed the ownership of the strike. Various outfits calling themselves Chhetri Samaj (a group of Chhetri communities) had also called for strike today only to take back that, according a TV network, yesterday.  -by DW

[This post has been revised.]

Background:

1. From the Constituent Assembly town (two pics)

2. From the Constituent Assembly town (two pics)

3. Kathmandu Valley Banda After a Long Time (Tweets, for the record)

4. Strings of strikes take toll on mid-west dweller

Meaning Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask. The Kathmandu Post

Click to enlarge. TKP:07.03.10

By Dinesh Wagle

I lost my confidence in my nasal hairs last month.

I wonder how my former science teacher would react to this news. Buddha Pramod Rai had full faith in his nasal hairs. While teaching science at Adarsha Janapremi High School in Bhaktapur in the 90s he used speak confidently about their capabilities. “You don’t need to wear a mask,” he used to say. “Trust your nasal hairs. They are capable of stopping dust from entering into your lungs.”

I trusted him till last month.

The last time I wore a mask was in 2005 when I was agitating and blogging against the then autocratic royal government. It was part of a political statement. Journalists were rallying for freedom. They wanted to show, by covering their mouths with black masks, that they didn’t have freedom of expression. As a statement against the autocracy, I kept that photo of mine—mouth covered with a black mask—on the front page of my website for several weeks.

This time around there is no king to protest against.

Now, a mask is a key part of my pollution survival strategy. I wear it whenever I walk on the streets or ride pillion. Over the years, the Kathmandu environment has deteriorated to the extent that it’s almost impossible to walk around in the city without wearing a mask if you don’t want to get sick from air pollution. Vehicles are the primary (and most visible) culprits. With the dark exhaust billowing out of their pipes, most buses (of all forms: micro, mini and large) deserve to be banned from roads. Gurujis lack basic driving etiquette. Somebody needs to tell them, perhaps the traffic police, that keeping the engine running for extended lengths of time (like 10 to 20 minutes) when the bus is not moving is a crime against the environment. It is bad for the economy too—just look at the long queues snaking from the petrol pumps.

Our ‘polluted image’ has gone international.

Internet forums are rife with complaints from foreigners regarding Kathmandu’s environmental condition. “Air pollution in Kathmandu is pretty bad,” writes a traveller on an internet forum. “I felt as if I was standing on the top of the factory chimney facing down.” World-weather-travellers-guide.com writes: “Air pollution in Kathmandu is known to cause considerable respiratory problems for travellers.” Continue reading

Power to the people? Load-shedding in Nepal

loadshedding in nepalAs winter power shortages shroud Nepal in familiar darkness, Deepak Adhikari unravels the country’s hydro debate.

“To think big or small is at the heart of the hydro debate in Nepal, a country rich in biodiversity but also endowed with fast flowing rivers that surge through the Himalayas.”

By Deepak Adhikari

With winter in full swing, the spectre of planned power cuts, euphemistically called “load shedding”, ishaunting Nepal’s electricity consumers. The country’s citizens dread this time of year, which not only brings the Himalayan chill but also the inevitable power shortages, beginning in October to November and continuing until the monsoon arrives in June or July.By February the cuts are expected to intensify to 16 hours a day.

It’s a pattern that is fuelling the country’s debate over hydroelectricity – as well as frustration with the failure to move forward with dam projects. With a government eager to build large-scale schemes pitted against an active civil society keener on small-scale hydropower, progress has stalled. And a middle way is needed fast.

Nepal was not supposed to be like this. Or so its people were led to believe. Almost all educated Nepalis know the official magnitude of hydroelectricity that the country’s 6,000 rivers (many of them snow-fed) are capable of generating: 83,000 megawatts. But in a nation that produces a meagre698 megawatts of hydropower – far below demand – such extreme estimates are increasingly questioned.

In a recent article on Nepal’s energy sector, two researchers sought to dispel the “83,000 megawatts” hydro-myth: “A Russian Masters level student, who, unfortunately, was not able to travel to Nepal for his research, came up with this number,” they wrote, referring to Dr Hari Man Shrestha, who carried out his research at the Moscow Power Institute. Citing two other contradictory figures (40,000 megawatts and 200,000 megawatts) that feature in discussion of the sector, the authors opined that a thorough study to establish the country’s true hydro potential was badly needed.

loadshedding in nepalAt a recent seminar on strengthening the Nepal Electricity Authority – a government body that buys, monitors and supplies electricity in Nepal – the energy minister, Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat, sounded cautious but optimistic. Reminding the audience of the ministry’s goal to produce 10,000 megawatts in 10 years, he said: “We’ll have to wait for four to five years, then we don’t have to face load shedding.” When a participant questioned the usefulness of a seminar conducted in a luxury hotel, he replied, “We should think big.”

To think big or small is at the heart of the hydro debate in Nepal, a country rich in biodiversity but also endowed with fast flowing rivers that surge through the Himalayas. The coalition government, like its predecessor, the Maoistgovernment, has promised to cash in on the nation’s “liquid gold”. Though most of Nepal’s hydroelectric power can be generated using run-of-the-riversystems, large dams, some argue, are inevitable for a nation only just emerging from the shadow of a decade-long civil war and desperate for development and growth. Government policy therefore remains large-scale and export-oriented. But Nepal’s “big thinking hydrology” has seen strong opposition from a vibrant civil society, especially since the restoration of democracy in 1990. Indeed, Nepal’s quest to exploit hydropower potential mirrors the political upheaval of the past two decades.

The early 1990s marked the World Bank’s infamous withdrawal from the 404-megawatt Arun III project located on the eponymous river in north-eastern Nepal. On the basis of a petition filed by members of the local community and activists, Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled that the World Bank and Nepalese government must provide information on the project to the public. There were several criticisms of the scheme, including the fear of a rise in the electricity tariff (the project’s estimated cost was US$5,400 [36,800 yuan] per kilowatt), the ecological impact of the plant on the rich biodiversity of the Arun Valley and the claim the project was too big for Nepal (the cost was equal to the country’s entire annual budget).

These concerns eventually forced the World Bank to back out, a phenomenon often equated with the shattering of the dream of prosperous Nepal. Writing a decade later in his book In Defence of Democracy: Dynamics and Faultlines of Nepal’s Political Economy, former finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat rues the project’s demise: “Arun III was lost, and with it the attractive financial package whose benefits included the huge social profit potential to boost the national revenue also vanished.”

Then came the Mahakali Treaty between Nepal and India in the mid-1990s, which envisioned the 315-metre high, multipurpose Pancheshwar dam, with water-storage capacity of 12.3 billion cubic metres and a 6,480 megawatt power house. Nepal’s Supreme Court determined that the treaty required ratification by a two third majority of the parliament. After intense debate, the agreement was finally ratified on November 27, 1996, but deep disagreement split the main opposition party (the United Marxist Leninists). The treaty stipulated that the detailed project report (DPR) would be completed in six months, but more than 10 years after signing it, India and Nepal have failed to make significant progress.

What could be the reason behind the initial euphoria and the now dormant status of the treaty? Some hydro-watchers say that India is not interested in exploiting and developing Nepal’s hydro potential and is, rather, thirsty for water. The critics says that the Indian side is eager to build the 269-metre high dam at  Barahkshetra on the Kosi River, a major contributor to the Ganges in India, as a solution to the annual floods in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, its two most populous states.

Prashant Aryal, a Nepali journalist who has written extensively on Nepal’s hydropower sector, says that India is drawn by water and irrigation, not electricity. “India imports power from Bhutan, its friendly neighbour; it has signed nuclear deal with the US; and has its own hydro capacity in north-east and other parts,” he says. “So, it would be incorrect to say that it is eyeing Nepal’s hydroelectricity.” Electrical engineer Bimal Gurung disagrees: “India, which is increasingly drawn into the climate-change debate, can’t use thermal plant,” he argues. “It would be cheaper to import from its geographically close neighbour Nepal than from remote Bhutan.”

But the Bhutanese model, in which India builds the project and then imports the power, has drawn criticism from experts in Nepal. In an article published inHimal Southasian magazine in August, leading water-resource expert Dipak Gyawali termed the model, a “neo-colonial path to power”. In the much discussed article (Bhutan business news editor Tenzin Lamzang has respondedin the Bhutan Times), he writes: “A rent-seeking, royalty-earning model might enrich governments, politicians and senior bureaucrats for some time, much like the Arab sheikhdoms, but it does nothing to develop national capacity – which is what development is, in the true sense.”

The sentiment is echoed by Ratan Bhandari, a coordinator of the Water and Energy Users’ Federation Nepal (WAFED), an organisation that questions the utility of big dams and says that it fights for the benefit of the local people. “We are not anti-dam or anti-development per se,” he clarifies at the outset, before elaborating on the disadvantages of big dams: “They displace many thousands of people, destroy local environment and benefit only the rich.” In fact, Bhandari’s own involvement in the protest movement parallels the development of a hydro project in his home village in western Nepal.

The 750-megawatt West Seti project has been through many ups and downs, culminating in the sudden withdrawal of its Chinese investor early last year. Initially conceived as a 77-megawatt run-of-the-river project, it was later optimised to a 195-metre, concrete face rockfill dam capable of producing 750 megawatts of electricity. But, if it goes ahead, it is feared the dam will displace the people of four districts. The reservoir will cover 25 square kilometres and have a volume of around 1.5 billion cubic metres. “No project can be successful without the inclusion of the local communities,” Bhandari argues. “We should make sure that the projects are for our benefit not for some foreign investment company.” He says that the very concept of exporting electricity to India is flawed because it is only raw material, not a product to be exported.

Can Nepal itself develop the hydro projects that require huge investment? Bhandari and Gurung, who stand on opposite sides of the hydro debate, agree that there is money in Nepal but lack of security is hindering investment. Gurung argues that, since most of Nepal’s hydro plants would be run-of-the-river, and if care is taken to construct earthquake resistant facilities, even big dams are realistic. “The structure should be designed properly,” he says. “For rapid growth, big projects are what we need at the moment.”

According to US-based NGO International Rivers, 400,000 square kilometres of land has been submerged due to the construction of 40,000 big dams in the past 50 years. Critics of such dams say that there is no compensation for the social, economic and environmental cost of these projects.

How can these opposing development narratives for Nepal be reconciled? Perhaps there is a middle way after all. As Bhandari says, “Not all big dams are bad and not all small dams are good.” The solution may be promoting micro hydropower as well as investing in environmentally friendly and sustainable medium-sized and large-scale projects.

Deepak Adhikari is a Nepali journalist based in Kathmandu.

This article was originally published on Chinadialogue

Nepal Notebook: When corruption is part of the culture…

An inconvenient truth: Nepal has the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

By Surendra Phuyal

That question is asked by all in the Himalayan nation — everyone from international visitors, who have to deal with bribe-taking officials right at Kathmandu’s international airport, to the hapless citizens of this country of approximately 30 million.

In July 2009, Nepal’s anti-graft body, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), came up with a smart idea to discourage staff at Kathmandu’s international airport from taking bribes. CIAA suggested top officials at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) make “pocketless” pants mandatory for all staff.

The suggestion came after widespread reports and complaints by airline passengers about petty corruption, such as bribery and theft, by staff of CAAN, various airlines, customs and immigration, and even by security personnel posted at the airport. CIAA’s pitch made international headlines, but it seems the plan served only to make a mockery of Nepal’s corrupt officialdom. The suggestion even prompted CAAN officials to discuss the idea, but they failed to come up with a concrete plan of action.

The result: The “pocketless” pants are nowhere to be seen, complaints from airline passengers haven’t stopped and bribery continues at the Kathmandu airport, if reports in local media are accurate. Continue reading

Nepal: A Country Cursed by a Widow?

By Krishna Giri

I don’t think any Nepali will raise their eyebrows when they hear- “SATI LE SARAPEKO DESH”. Right from the unification, Nepali have witnessed ongoing severity in terms of governance. Power snatching by any means has become style in Nepal. I don’t want to go back to 17th century to dig the past. Rather I will go back to the recent past. 20 governments in 20 years; that’s pretty impressive, and with all due respect, Maoist supremo has presently announced that another unity government is coming in weeks. Will Maoists allow MK to stay as a buffoon PM for next few weeks or they want MK to continue with his bizarre funny political career until the festive season? This remains a mystery as the ball is in Maoist court. Not just MK but UML is an amusing party. They don’t have any leaders to lead the party; at least, none who can win peoples hearts and votes. Enough assessments have been done about CA performance for various including former DPM to current PM and I should waste no time. The UML Party – neither capitalist nor communist. Simply, lost in ideology and leadership, particularity, after the rise of Maoists. Continue reading

Ex-Prince Paras on Nepali Royal Massacre

Eight years after the royal massacre, ex-Crown Prince Paras Bikram Shah talks to the New Paper of Singapore. Why?

UWB Note: The exclusive interview has been translated and reproduced by many Nepali media including top selling and most influential newspaeprs in Nepal. That is one of the most read items in newspapers in Nepal today and yesterday.

Paras

By Clement Mesenas and S Murali
Original source of the story: The New Paper

‘THE Nepali people need to know the truth,’ said Prince Paras, eight years after seeing 10 members of his royal family gunned down ruthlessly. The persistent, painful nightmares stopped after four years.

What haven’t stopped, however, are the ugly rumours of his involvement in the incident on 1 Jun2001.

But enough is enough, says Crown Prince Paras.

He now wants to clear his name.

Reacting to recent reports that the current Nepali government might reopen the investigation into the massacre, he decided to speak to senior Singapore media men.

Three Reasons for the Massacre

FORBIDDEN love is the oft-heard reason behind Nepal’s palace massacre when Dipendra Bikram Shah, then crown prince, ran amok.

But there’s more to this Shakespearean tragedy than meets the eye, said the last crown prince of the Himalayan kingdom, a cousin of the killer prince.

Opening up for the first time since the 2001 bloodbath that took place before his eyes, Prince Paras Bikram Shah, 37, said there was a web of deep-seated reasons that sparked the killing. Continue reading