Tag Archives: society

Deconstructing Baburam Bhattarai: Conflicts and Contradictions

Two Baburams: Baburam Bhattarai, left, talks to a Kantipur journalist four days before the Maoist started “People’s War” in 1996. He goes to assume office of the Prime Minister in Singadarbar in August 2011 after taking oath to secrecy. Pics by Bikas Rauniar via Kantipur

Two Baburams: Baburam Bhattarai, left, talks to a Kantipur journalist four days before the Maoist started “People’s War” in 1996. He goes to assume office of the Prime Minister in Singadarbar in August 2011 after taking oath to secrecy. Pics by Bikas Rauniar via Kantipur

On Friday (9 August), Kathmandu Post published a piece by Suman Khadka (a PhD candidate at Monash University, Australia) that critically analyzed Baburam Bhattarai’s contradictory personality with focus on his bourgeois education that the Maoist leader stopped many Nepali youths from pursuing. (His party forced many students in rural Nepal out of schools to join the Maoist ‘militia’ reasoning that they shouldn’t waste time pursuing bourgeois education. At the same time, Bhattarai sent his daughter Manushi Yami Bhattarai to prestigious schools in India.)

De-schooling doctor Baburam

Baburam Bhattarai’s rise in politics has much to do with this perception of him being a ‘learned’ man. This reverence largely stems from the degrees he has earned, rather than wisdom per se. His wisdom is difficult to ascertain because his writings are abstract. Neither have many of us have read his PhD thesis or his books, which I find far too incomprehensible, even though I don’t consider myself stupid. Even CK Lal has noted the difficulty of deciphering Bhattarai’s writings. But it is precisely such writing and rhetoric that succeed in creating a feeling of intellectual inferiority among others, so successful that even the opposition parties once wanted Bhattarai to be prime minister. Although Bhattarai’s popularity has nosedived recently, many accept that he is the most knowledgeable politician, not because they understand him but rather, because they don’t. When Bhattarai defended Dekendra Thapa’s accused murderers, a question people had was “how can such a learned man do so?” Interestingly, this group forgot that Bhattarai is the Maoist ideologue based on whose scholarly arguments many people like Thapa were killed in the first place. This article continues here

Yesterday, the Post carried a rebuke to the Suman Khadka’s piece, a hagiographic defense of Bhattarai by two men (one of them a fulltime Maoist cadre who also writes articles idealizing Bhattarai on Maoist publications including a pro-Bhattarai website that is promoted by Bhattarai.) The article, by Resham Thapa, who teaches in TU, and Dhruba Raj Adhikari, states setting up of a complaint box, branded ‘Hello Sarkar’, in Singhabarbar during the tenure of PM Bhattarai as one of his biggest achievements. The piece was so adulatory that it prompted a well-known pro-Maoist (pro-Prachanda, to be specific) journalist, Kishore Nepal, to tweet this: “Glorification of Comrade BRB in TKP: “Bhajan-Kirtan” of politician in this season of Bird flu! It is highly infectious. Beware Dr Saheb!” Continue reading

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Who is Serious About Holding Elections?

Prospects of election continue to dominate the national discourse in Nepal but the key question is: are political parties serious about facing ballot boxes?

By Siromani Dhungana
UWB

The political arena hasn’t changed since May last year when the then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and his party UCPN Maoist and their power-hungry Madhesi collaborators let the Constituent Assembly die without drafting a constitution. No political party has changed their stands on several important issues and their tones and (dual) stances remain same. Essentially, all parties have lost their credibility and it seems they are not really interested to go for a fresh mandate. In this backdrop, it is very difficult to believe that election, let alone a genuine, free and fair one, can be held anytime soon.

Chairman of the interim electoral council of ministers, Khil Raj Regmi, might have realized by now that ruling the country is entirely way more challenging than issuing the court rulings that he is used to doing. On the one hand, the government has not yet to fixed the date of CA polls. On the other, Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist cadres have continued to disrupt the work of updating voter rolls in various districts forcing the Election Commission to suspend the work altogether. The problem here is that this non-elected apolitical government can do nothing against the organized political forces like the CPN-Maoist. In an interview with the website setopati.com, Chief Election Commissioner Nilkantha Upreti has clearly hinted that the poll dates may be pushed to later this year. Continue reading

Constituent Assembly: The Day the Deadline Expires

congress vs maoist. game of talks

As the clock ticks down to the expiry of Constituent Assembly (CA) term, the political parties have intensified internal and cross-party talks from early Saturday. The political parties are holding intense negotiations to forge an agreement for the extension of the CA term.

The Legislature-Parliament slated for 8 am in the morning convened at 11:12 at night.

Updates via eKantipur:

01:30 Sunday: A meeting between the major three parties and the SLMM begins.

00:52: The Legislature-Parliament session, which was supposed to resume at 00:00 am, has not been started yet.

11:49: The major three parties have finally clinched the agreement to extend the CA term.

11:45: The session of the Legislature-Parliament has been put off till 12:00 am.

11:43: Law Minister Prabhu Sah has tabled the government’s bill to amend the government’s bill to amend the Interim Constitution.

RPP-N Parliamentary Party leader Chandra Bahadur Gurung has delivered his speech regarding the party’s protest proposal against the bill registered by the governmet to extend the CA term. The proposal has been disapproved by majority. Continue reading

Bryan Adams in Nepal: Perspective of a Nepali Youth

A brilliant piece on the rockstar’s tour to Nepal.

by Ushaft

The attendants of the at Dasarath Rangashala last week expected no more understanding from the cynics among us than what we are already known to be capable of. The performer hasn’t been known to be an active promoter of drugs like many other rockstars are, and I would be surprised if his lyrics would offend anyone reading this piece. He represents a brand of music bordering between pop and rock, that is easy to understand and popular among many youths in Nepal, a country which is said to have “opened up” after the late 80s’, which incidentally happens to be the hey-days of this artist. This is why I failed to understand the rationale behind all the self -righteous comments, blogs and some video commentaries on the internet, describing why they don’t belong to the crowd that flocked Rangashala in almost an uneducated and outdated manner, at a time when the writers had more important things to do and take care of. All such pieces came from young men and women, inside and outside Nepal, and from both sides of the political spectrum.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

The economic realities of Nepal’s middle class didn’t allow most children to attend expensive boarding schools and feel-as-one with the western culture, or even the English language. Most of these families used to, and still do live outside Kathmandu, and believe it or not, even the luckiest of people in some of Nepal’s big cities only got to watch Nepal Television years after it started broadcasting in Kathmandu. FM Radios didn’t happen until a few years ago. While Kathmandu was humming the tunes of Def Leppard and AC/DC, many kids in Nepalgunj, Butawal, Dhankuta and Hetauda were still dancing to Mithun Chakravorty’s “I’m a disco dancer,” and later Michael Jackson’s beats, if at all they were dancing or singing. I think kids in other lesser known cities were dancing to Kumar Basnet’s “geets” or the “madals” and flutes in their own locality.

If  I can attend a concert, why can’t my countrymen do that in Nepal?

Few years later, people in mofasal (a nepali word that means: part of the country excluding the capital city)  would move on to boybands and pop music, and more often than not, Bryan Adams’ voice would be the one they’d first listen to. The AC/DC generation would move on too. This process continues today also. A majority of the educated ones from other districts come to Kathmandu after their higher secondary school (earlier, they had to come right after the school, but things have improved a bit) and almost a proportionate number of Kathmandu’s youth leave for the West to pursue their dreams. A country of modern nomads, our people continue to migrate from mountains to hills, from villages to towns, from hills to plains, from outside to inside Kathmandu and from Nepal to abroad. All in search for a better and respectable lives for themselves and their children.

I have observed that that most pundits who loathed the Rangashala crowd are the ones who have themselves already attended rock concerts elswehere. You and I can shrug our shoulders for being trendy cosmopolitans, not knowing who Bryan Adams is, but for many in Kathmandu, the city where thousands of students from all over the country come to study, dream and work, he is still something. When Scorpions (another 80-90s band) toured India 2007, I remember my friends lamenting why western rock bands could not come to Nepal when they could go as far as Shillong. Artists like them tour many parts of the world every year, and people pay money to see them everywhere. This one was the first of its kind for Nepal, and people were naturally excited. It should not have been a big deal.

Let’s talk the issues now

It is always refreshing to have diverse arguments and opinions, but they should not come at the cost of deliberate omissions of facts and fallacies of  reasoning. I agree that the concert tickets were expensive. There was no connection between the concert and Nepal Tourism Year (some people still confuse it with “Visit Nepal Year”) or development and it was just a propaganda, a rather poor one.

It’s not about a concert

Come to think of it, aren’t the reactions brought out by this one concert the symptoms of our other social diseases? Also, if just one concert could evoke such reactions, doesn’t that speak for itself of the more deep-seated issues?

We are a country discovering itself, in search of a new identity. Yes, we are very much in search of even the most insignificant of things that we think makes us visible around the world. We have an obsessive fascination for foreigners and especially fair-skinned people. We think that the world loves us because we are the best country in the world- with a wonderful history, marvelous landscape and amazing people. Did we already forget how some people were killed in the aftermath of a rumor that some actor down South said something bad about us? We are so much in search of our lost (or yet-to-be discovered) pride and recognition. The things we do in search for attention could be compared to a toddler crying for sweet. At the same time, we are also a very young population, almost half of our people were born after the 80s. We are restless, very ambitious and maybe stupid. But our national issues mostly revolve around boisterous arguments over issues that most people never cared about. While our youth population knows what it wants, they perhaps don’t know how to achieve it. Neither does anybody show them the way.

Why humiliate the youths?

In response to a very long general strike called by a political party last year, thousands of youths spontaneously came out to the streets asking for peace and freedom. Everybody knew there were armed goons in the streets to beat and scare them away, there were strong worded warnings and the civil-society’s leaders were literally peeing in their pants (there were on and off rumors of cancellation of the event). By and large, it was a gathering of educated, young (middle class) people, including those who couldn’t attend it. But another day, some top notch leaders called names and criticized those who attended the protest. Almost at the drop of a hat, there were pieces in big media that said that the gathering went a bit too far, carried the agenda of the regressive forces and was made to appear big by the trickery of camera lenses. Nobody defended the young people and even those who used it for their political mileage said no word about clubbed goons in major streets who were intimidating people.

If one has to criticize the way some newspapers crossed the limits while mixing business-promotion and news, one should remember our newspapers also promote the annual pen-drive sales named CAN Infotech, education-consultants’ events and regular (also insignificant) meetings of political parties in similar ways. I despise the way the event organizers were given media space but how no coverage was given to the disrespect Nepali artists had to face at their hands. But let’s not mix symptoms with causes here – these are topics for a separate debate.

Similarly, the spending habit of our people might be another subject of debate, as can be how quick-riches has become more of a norm than exception in our society. Then there’s also how consumers in Nepal are looted at every step, and there’s no monitoring whatsoever these days. But I also know many self-earning, hard-working young people attend the concert- why let our personal biases come in the way of them trying to have some fun?

If we’re a poor country, there are already plenty of things we do that we perhaps shouldn’t be doing. We have lavish and gold-studded marriage parties in Kathmandu, all the imported goods in our malls and expensive Japanese SUVs that crowd our roads. At a time when our exports have hit rock bottom, we have the most corrupt leaders in history and a lifestyle where we can’t grow our own vegetables. At the same time, we have public commentators who criticize the youths for attending a concert, as if a crime was committed. Let’s not compare apples and oranges- attending a concert of a artist you admire is one thing, and its another thing if the media blew the story out of proportion or if I smell foul in the way the concert is organized and promoted. As goes a popular movie quote, I missed the part where that’s my (concert-goer) problem.

A friend tweeted last week, about the way concert goers were criticized: it is as if we are entitled to live in agony, always talk about poverty, beg for fund and rant about bad politics. Of course, anyone who takes the newspapers too seriously should not forget that some of them sold us a bloody war, many of them sold us a futile revolution and went on to their usual business when things started getting less interesting.

[This article was originally published in Ushaft's blog.]

Nepali Politics: Floor Crossing During Prime Ministerial Election

nepali lawmakers floor crossing

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

Khasi Nepali Ethnic Conflict in Meghalaya, India

Existing mistrust between the Nepali-speaking population and the Khasis has widened after the recent ethnic clashes

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

Shaym Prasad Pokharel, a coal mine labourer from Nepal during an interview near a mine in Ladrampai, Meghalaya

Shaym Prasad Pokharel, a coal mine labourer from Nepal during an interview near a mine in Ladrampai, Meghalaya

MEGHALAYA, INDIA- “Ethnicity-based enmity,” said a Nepali-speaking Assamese coal mine labourer in Meghalaya, “is the most frightening and unpredictable thing I have ever experienced.” “The man you were friend with in the morning”, Bhumi Raj Limbu continued, “becomes your killer in the evening.”

This is what is happening in Meghalaya today. Existing mistrusts and contempt between Nepalis and Khasis have widened as the latter recently killed and assaulted several Nepali migrant workers and Gorkhas (Nepali-speaking Indians).

At the heart of this conflict lies a beautiful village called Lampi (or Langpih), claimed by both Assam and Meghalaya. Both states are strongly backed by villagers sharply divided along ethnic lines. The Gorkhas want the present Assamese authority in the village unchallenged, while the Khasis feel the area belongs to Meghalaya. Continue reading

Women and Society: Nepal vs India

Nepal has already seen/done some of the things that are happening in India today

Click here to read on the OpEd page of today’s TKP

By Dinesh Wagle

Following the latest happenings in Indian politics and society is a kind of déjà vu experience for many Nepali people. The upper house of the Indian parliament last week passed a bill that provides 33 percent reservation for women in the parliament (Lok Sabha) and state assemblies. We already have that in action. The Delhi High Court last year decriminalised gay sex. Our Supreme Court did that at least two years before any court in India acted upon it. And we have at least one openly gay MP in Nepal who appears on the pages of The New York Times and Time. Who in Nepal could believe that an Indian newspaper recently reported the plan of the Delhi Police to hire women in its traffic police department?

Even in fighting, or compromising for that matter, we seem to be ahead of our Indian comrades. They are talking about possible talks between the state and the Maoist rebels. One side is asking for a halt to the violence, the other is demanding an end to the armed operation against them. One side has proposed the names of mediators while the other side has mutely frowned upon that move. The press here is also reporting an alleged rift in the top Maoist leadership. We reported about all these things a long time ago. We have lived through offers of talks, several rounds of talks, their breaking, rifts in the leadership and all. We have been there, done that. Continue reading

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

Height of Lawlessness in Nepal

A few days ago a minister of state, Karima Begam, publicly slapped a senior government official in latter’s office for not sending a better car to pick her up at the airport. Today the Prime Minister directed the Home minister not to take action against the culprit. Prime Minister chooses to save his chair at rather than performing his duty to uphold the law of the land. Nepal, the country, is doomed, friends.

durga prasad bhandari

karima begam

Karima

Today: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has directed Home Minister Bhim Rawal not to take action against State Minister Karima Begam who physically assaulted a senior government official, fearing an imbalance in the political equation in the coalition government he leads, eKantipur reports. According to a source, the PM told the Home Minister that any action at present might affect the equation in the coalition. State Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives Begam represents Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik, the third largest party in the UML led coalition.

Tuesday, Nov 10: Karima Begam assaulted Durga Prasad Bhandari, the Chief District Officer (CDO) of Parsa. An enraged Begam grabbed Bhandari’s shirt collar and slapped him four times for sen-ding an old vehicle to receive her at Simara Airport. She was in the district to attend a programme. “I was preparing to welcome her when she attacked me without even hearing my explanation,” Bhandari said. He claimed the vehicle sent to receive the state minister was recently repaired and in good condition. Continue reading

Unifying Nepal via Marriage: Pahade Wives and Madhesi Hubbies

At a time when some people are trying to create rift between the Madhesi and Pahadi (lowland-hills) communities in Nepal, we look at some exemplary personal stories and marital bond between folks from Madhes and Pahad.


Sanjib Mishra and singer Nalina Chitrakar

By Deepak Adhikari

Sanjib Mishra, executive director of Urban Pixel had not set foot in Balari in Sarlahi district for three years. Three months ago, he went to the district headquarters Malangawa to attend a relative’s wedding. While driving to his hometown, a strike called by the Chure Bhawar Ekata Samaj forced him to postpone his journey. He had to leave his four-wheel drive behind at Hetauda and get to Sarlahi via Raxaul, India. When Sanjib married Nalina Chitrakar, a Newari girl and one of Nepal’s top pop stars, in 2003, he received many congratulations. Their son, Sakchham, is now a twenty-one month old toddler and times have changed.

Almost as soon as the decade long bloody Maoist conflict ended, the country was plunged into another crisis. The news of violence and counter violence coming from the southern plains hurts both Sanjib and Nalina. Nalina, who dislikes the way the Madhesis are treated in Kathmandu and is writing a song about the harmony among the people of Madhesh (plains) and Pahad (hills). Continue reading