Category Archives: Guest Column 2

Moriarty Musing: Bye Bye Nepal But I couldn't Shake Prachanda's Hand…

…because of Pushpa Dahal’s failure- and his party’s failure- to renounce violence.

Speech by U.S. Ambassador James F. Moriarty To Friends and Supporters of the Community Information Center, Pokhara on June 12, 2007Shangri-La Hotel, Pokhara

Thank you all very much for coming today. It is a pleasure to be back in Pokhara again. Soon I will depart Nepal, after completing my three-year assignment as Ambassador here. I love Nepal and its people. My wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of living among you, enjoying your culture, and making many new friends.

Concerns for the future

It is because of my own personal admiration for Nepal, and my country’s interest in your successful democratic transition, that I came to speak with you today. I am concerned about the future of Nepal.

This year can be a turning point for Nepal. A successful Constituent Assembly election, carried out in a free and fair manner, should prove a giant step forward in the establishment of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Nepal. That is the hope of the Nepali people. That is the goal of American foreign policy in Nepal. Indeed, my Embassy has been working hard over the past year to support your election. We will continue to do this, especially now that the Government of Nepal has decided to hold the election in Mangsir [mid-November to mid-December]. Nepal has many friends and admirers in the United States, all of whom want to see Nepalis decide their own future through a free and unfettered democratic election. Former President Jimmy Carter is one of these friends, and, as some of you know, he is visiting Nepal for three days beginning tomorrow.

The promise of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Nepal is, however, in danger. These threats are growing; we read about them every day in the newspapers. Maoist Young Communist League cadre kidnap businessmen and attack political leaders from other parties during their meetings. JTMM cadres confiscate private property in the Terai and kill locals. The list of these crimes is long and growing. Continue reading Moriarty Musing: Bye Bye Nepal But I couldn't Shake Prachanda's Hand…

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How Can The Declaration of Republic of Nepal Be Legitimate?

What counts in Democracy is the majority of the vote of people, their aspiration, their sentiment and their demand for the fundamental change that will establish their rights to ‘self-governance’, and ‘self-determination’ in nation building process. Therefore, the legitimacy of the declaration of the Republic solely depends on the aspiration of people that can be demonstrated either by the votes or by the uprisings. Since the opportunity to cast vote has been put under uncertainty, we must act as per the last year’s uprising that had only one voice: do away with the monarchy.

By Prakash Bom

The argument of the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel in opposition to the leftist call for immediate declaration of Republic of Nepal through the parliament can’t be justified. Mr. Poudel, who has just fought to penalize the monarchy, might have under estimated the people’s power in last year’s uprisings that can legitimate changes.

People’s power has already legitimated several fundamental changes- “proclamation of the sovereignty of people, declaration of secular state, suspension of monarchy, and so on.” It is obvious that these political leaderships, whose dream is to stick to the status quo of an ‘elite group’, keep forgetting the strength of people that has been taking momentum for fundamental changes in the current democratic evolution of Nepal. That is why people could not accept the elements of status quo in Interim Constitution and therefore demanded their right to ‘self-governance’ and ‘self-determination’ through the establishment of federalism. People know now what will guarantee their “civil liberty’, “civil rights” and “human rights” which have been traditionally denied by the establishment of an ‘elite group.’ Nepali people are watching closely some cunning politicians who grab the power out of people’s uprising to dishonor people in return.

In order to declare Republic Nepal immediately through the Parliament the Interim Constitution needs further amendment to make the declaration constitutionally legitimate and internationally acceptable. The ball is in the hands of eight political party leaderships. Bills that have been recently endorsed by the eight political party leaderships- “bill that can give the Parliament right to declare Republic with the two third of votes if the monarchy conspires against CA elections, bill that can give the Parliament right to impeach the Prime Minister for his or her removal, and bill that will allow the Parliament amend the dates of CA elections”, are getting rusty on the table of the cabinet. Why the cabinet is keeping these bills away from the Parliament is very distrustful. However, people are very much aware of such intention that is antagonistic to the people power. People know declaring Nepal Republic will empower them with the right to ‘self-governance’ and ‘self-determination’ under the federalism.

Political elements that are obstructing these bills in the cabinet are obviously the rudiments of the elite group, which are intrinsically exclusive with their politics of power. The longer the cabinet obstructs the worst will be the consequences. Most probably it will be detrimental to the status quo, and unfortunate to the nation that has dream to create a new democratic Nepal. Naturally, where there is no constitutional option for the people there will be uprising. People’s uprising is the ultimate political struggle for the historic change. The historic change is inherently legitimate, and internationally acceptable.

Logistically, if we accept the assertion that the first meeting of the CA will decide the fate of the monarchy at this critical transition where CA elections are not possible to be held as scheduled in the Interim Constitution, there must be other option. After all it is inevitable that eventually Nepal will be declared Republic- “The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.”

The political power of the ‘elite group’ with the institution of the feudal monarchy is under demolition. The club must accept this reality in which major political parties such as Nepali Congress and UML have participated and how much they are addicted to the club depends on their individual leaderships. Principally, party politics wise UML has been able to commit with the sentiment of the people for the republic setup. But, powerful Nepali Congress leaderships have failed to liberate themselves from the addictions of status quo in support to this cause and to the sentiment of people of Nepal. If the majority of people’s vote rules the democracy then what other option Nepali Congress parties have other than politics of obstructions.

Nepali Congress party, as the largest in the Interim Parliament and as the leader in the Interim Government, must decide how it wants to address this crisis- introduce the bills or the referendum, or make reassertion for CA electoral first meeting with new CA elections dates or do nothing thus ignite the public uprising. Since it leads the government, Nepali Congress will be held accountable for any bitter consequences: pro-republic or pro-monarchy.

[UWB: All comments posted under this post were deleted. The Comments table in the UWB WordPress database was removed by someone or somehow- we don’t know- which meant all comments posted in the Comments section were also deleted. We have reposted the backup which didn’t include the comments posted in recent posts including this one. Our apologies to those who had posted their thoughts and arguments.]

Loktantra and Ground Reality

In view of these unwarranted events, for average Nepalese, a change in political leadership and declaration of Loktantra is yet to bear any significant fruit.

By Chattra Bahadur

Officially Baisakh 11, 2064 was declared as Loktantra Diwas and the celebrations were spread over three days. The leaders of major political parties took an opportunity to self-congratulate on this occasion. There was usual rhetoric of achievements and what future holds. They didn’t forget to exorcise evil spirits of ‘regressive’ and ‘reactionary’ forces, and also made the Nepalese aware that they are doing their best to keep these demons away. Their voices grew bolder and shriller when they vowed that they won’t let these dead demons rise from the grave. Of course, they promised to uphold the dreams of martyrs by clinging on to the power no-matter-what-may-come and as-long-as-possible till they fulfill the martyrs’ dreams. The only issue that didn’t find any mention is the current situation and possible strategies to overcome it. Perhaps, strong commitment and over-emphasis on immediate declaration of republic state was thought as a panacea of all ills in the short-run and the long-run.

The civic society and human-rights activists, who had been associate and collaborator of the political parties during Loktantric movement in April previous year, did not find any significant reason to share the same enthusiasm as the political parties did. They had a rather long list of aggravations, allegations and complaints. They unequivocally expressed dismay at the political brinkmanship of the coalition partners, instead of moving united towards the agreed-upon goal of holding the Constituent Assembly elections at the earliest to create ‘new’ Nepal and equitable society. In the end, they issued stern warning to initiate and lead Janandolan III if the political parties continued to ignore the ‘people’s mandate’ of Janandolan II. Continue reading Loktantra and Ground Reality

Deciphering Nepal’s Recent Turmoil

By Biswo Poudel in Berkeley, CA

“The passion of men for equality is ardent, insatiable, eternal, and invincible” (De Tocqueville, 1860)

For a brief moment last winter, it seemed as if Nepal was on the brink of being disintegrated. The demands made by Janajati, Madhesi and other groups made the political environment muddled. There were demands of all kinds. The demands ranged from the demand for quota, and jobs to the demand for reservation on the parliament. Occasionally, it was laced by Brahmin-bashing.

It seems like an eon ago, but around five years ago, this author was shocked by the prevalent attitude in Nepal, especially among the elites of Kathmandu. Remember this was before the Madhesis or other groups were in the street. The parliament was in the thrall of NGOs. I met several friends who used to recount the tales of parliamentarians coming to them and asking them to take small projects to their districts. In return, the NGOs, often run by the western educated people, had such an access to the parties and parliament that they seemed to be running the government and writing the bills. NGOs were parallel government, they were different from the existing government in that the government was theoretically subject to popularity test every five years, while NGOs were like a permanent government, never subject to any test by the people. Continue reading Deciphering Nepal’s Recent Turmoil

The Maoists in 'Lose-Lose Situation'

The recent escalating violence between the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF or MPRF) and the Maoists, and level of brutality involved therein, indicates that some groups are indeed well-prepared to answer the Maoists in the same language that the Maoists spoke and understood the best.

By Chattra Bahadur

We have had mixed results in terms of ‘achievements’ when we consider events that unfolded since April 2006. The ‘reinstatement’ of democracy, comprehensive peace treaty, renouncing of armed struggle by the Maoists, the SPA government, the Interim Parliament, proposed Constituent Assembly elections, etc were milestones. However, these path-breaking events were severely undermined by the lack of sincerity of the Maoists, indetermination and meekness of the SPA government, lack of contingency planning, and lack of proactive approach of all the major political parties. Though the Maoists are well placed in the Interim government, it is too early to comment on the performance of the Maoists ministers. It is also uncertain whether there would be any change in the functioning of the Maoists after joining the government.

Though it may be euphoric moment for the Maoists, the events are increasingly becoming difficult for them. Ultimately, they may be the only major political force facing ‘lose-lose’ situation. Their continued reliance on heavy-handedness has evoked widespread criticism from every sphere of the Nepalese society. The international community, with feedback from international donor agencies, has always expressed strong reservations regarding their style of functioning, actions and motives. Moreover, repeated and open violations of party directives by the party cadres have raised many questions regarding the party’s hold over its cadres and control mechanism that exists within the ‘dedicated’ and ‘disciplined’ Maoists.

The recent escalating violence between the MJF and the Maoists, and level of brutality involved therein, indicates that some groups are indeed well-prepared to answer the Maoists in the same language that the Maoists spoke and understood the best. And this does not augur well to the Maoists’ strategy of total domination either by terror or by indoctrination. If the MJF continues to retaliate against the Maoists in the future as well, Terai is most likely to slip away from the Maoists grip. This definitely spells doom to the electoral chances of the Maoists. At the same time, the Maoists understand that Terai would be dominant and vital political battlefield since the number of seats in Terai will see dramatic increase if population is given preference while determining number of representatives. Precisely for this reason, the Maoists do not want to accept that there is a possibility for them to lose their grip over Terai. In addition, the Maoists cannot also ignore the fact that the retaliation of the MJF may embolden other groups to actively fight back the Maoists’ coercion in the same manner. Continue reading The Maoists in 'Lose-Lose Situation'

Ethnic Federalism in Nepal is a Recipe for Disaster

Ethnic Groups and Race Based Federalism: A Recipe for Disaster for Nepal

By Khagendra Thapa

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” It seems that Nepal has no leader who can speak out the truth and not just repeat like a parrot what the Maoists comrades have been saying ever since the SPA came to power with the blessings from the Comrades as well as our friendly neighbor to the south.

With the untimely death of the 1990 constitution, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and their comrades the Maoists together code named as SPAM have claimed to represent all the people of Nepal and the interest of the Nepalese people whether the people like it or not. SPAs claim to represent the people because they were elected more than seven years ago. The Maoists comrades claim to represent the people because they have been able to coerce the people to support them by intimidation, extortion, armed kidnapping, and cheap slogans. Together the SPAs and the Maoists, the so called SPAM have become the most powerful political force or so they claim. With the mighty Prime Minister Mr. Girija Koirala in the driving seat and his Comrade Prachanda in the front seat together with all the heroes of Janandolan II and eleven years old insurgency veterans, the bus carrying the Interim Constitution was in motion. Unfortunately, the arrogance of SPAM was challenged by both the Terai residents (Madhesi Group) and the Janajatis. The Interim constitution also made provision to form an interim parliament with the addition of 83 Maoists and 48 other members who are part of SPAM. After all, the scrapping of the old constitution may not have been an excellent idea.

Lack of Patriotic and Visionary Leadership

It is indeed very sad for the people of Nepal that there is not a single national level patriotic and visionary leader with clean image. Right now, Mr. Girija Koirala is the leader of SPAM. However, Mr. Koirala is not accepted by all the people. First of all, he is the leader of the half Congress party. The other half of the Congress party is led by Mr. Deuba. Mr. Koirala’s behavior during the Tanakpur Treaty with India and his lack of interest to safeguard the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country puts a question mark on his patriotism. In addition, Mr. Koirala as a Head of State and Head of Government failed to express his opposition to the encroachment of Nepalese territory in various border areas by India including in Kalapani, Susta, Illam, Jhapa. Saptari, Banke and Bardia. In fact, even the Ranas who ruled the country for 104 years were more patriotic than any of the SPAM leadership. For example, during the British Rule of India, Nepal maintained all even numbered borders and the Brirish maintained all the odd numbered pillars every year. That kind of border maintenance was abandoned both by multiparty rulers and Panchayati rulers.

Secondly, Mr. Koirala does not have a clean image. His involvement in various scandals during the time he was prime minister for the major part of multiparty government from 1990 to 2001. In fact, Mr. Koirala refused to present himself to the court when he was summoned by the court on corruption charges.

Thirdly, Mr. Koirala does not have any vision or any other plan to develop and help the country and the people. He is a happy camper as long as he is in power.

Fourthly, majority of the leaders of all political parties do not have clean image. Many of them have been involved with corruption, nepotism, favoritism, and influence peddling. Some of them even have criminal records including murder.

How about the Maoists Comrades? What kind of credibility do they have? Well, as we all know 13,000 Nepalese people lost their lives as a direct result of the so called people’s war started by the Maoists insurgents. Another 26,000 committed suicide because they could not bear the pain and suffering caused by the war. Over a million people were internally displaced. Many more people left the country in total despair without any hope for themselves and for their children. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Nepalese people working as laborers (often doing the most dangerous and life threatening jobs which nobody else would do) in many Gulf countries as well as in Malaysia and South Korea. Continue reading Ethnic Federalism in Nepal is a Recipe for Disaster

Nepal in Transition and Its Difficulties

By Chattra Bahadur

Nepal is at throes of change and transition appears difficult than anticipated. Of course, transition is never easy anywhere since it calls for dismantling of existing mechanisms and structures to be replaced by newer mechanisms and structures. And this is where we have collectively failed to take adequate measures.

Present political scenario in Nepal exactly points at our failure to chart the course of actions clearly to achieve the broader objectives. The irony of current situation is that our political leaders are quick and eager to provide perceptual impression of ‘change’ whereas, in reality, everything has remained the same, except for the authoritarian rule of the King. And, even the editorials of national newspapers and political commentators frequently forewarn that, if present trend continues, the authoritarian rule of the King may be replaced by the authoritarian rule of the SPA and the Maoists.

The SPA, alliance with diverse political ideologies, joined hands to achieve two objectives, rising above their respective political interests; the objectives being, to bring back democracy and to bring the Maoists to the political ‘mainstream’. Though the Maoists are not able to provide credible evidence of behavioral change, at least they have signed the peace deal renouncing their bloody armed struggle. At the same time, though ‘inclusive’ democracy has been widely publicized, the functioning of the political parties and actions of the functionaries of political parties often fail to provide assurance of ‘inclusive’ democracy.

On each political rally, on each press conference, on each political speech, on each page of newspaper, and on each interview, ‘new’ Nepal finds reference as long-term priority. And the first step to create ‘new’ Nepal, as any speaker clarifies, is the elections to the Constituent Assembly and the new Constitution that it will prepare and promulgate. To put it simply, there is broad consensus that the immediate priority is the elections of the Constituent Assembly and long-term priority is prosperous and equitable ‘new’ Nepal.

However, the actions of various stakeholders appear working against the very cause that they all have joined together to achieve. The Maoists, for instance, have not shown sincerity to upkeep the peace deal with the SPA. Their strong-arm tactics, extortion, vandalism, and brutal repression of any opposition have continued unabated. The frequent strong-worded statements that veil threats, unsubstantiated allegations, and statements without accountability of the Maoists leadership will not help the process of the Constituent Assembly elections. The government, on other hand, appears meek and feeble in handling any situation either head-on or proactively. It must understand that some situations require stern actions since its foremost responsibility is the safety and security of the citizens. In fact, negotiation about everything under-the-sun may not be applicable in all situations and, definitely, it is not panacea in itself. Other political parties continually place onus of failures on the government, whereas they themselves are part of the government holding important portfolios. It appears that they intentionally fail to understand that the failure of the government is the failure of the respective political parties as well.

In totality, stakeholders are caught in other peripheral issues rather than addressing the immediate priority. For the Constituent Assembly elections to acquire any credibility, three issues appear important: distribution of citizenship cards to the excluded groups, law and order situation, and understanding of why and how the Constituent Assembly elections define the future of Nepal and her citizens.

Continue reading Nepal in Transition and Its Difficulties

Real Problems Of Nepal And What It Holds For Future Generation

[Blogmandu: Maoist guerillas are busy these days rearing thier children in the cantonment. Here is one story, in Nepali, from Ilam. ???????? ??????? ??????? ???????: ‘??????? ?????? ?????? ?????????? ???? ?????? ??? ???????? ?’ ?????? ???? ???????? ???????? ?????? ????? ?????? ???? ???????? ??????? ????? ‘??????? ????? ??????? ????, ??????????? ????? ??? ? ?????? ??? ??????? ?’]
…….

A young man’s feeling about the current scenario in the country

By Jiwan Limbu

Given the strong (often derogatory) responses that the issue of “Jatiya” has generated in this blog and to which I admit I have often reluctantly found myself in the thick of it, I think the issue deserves yet another mention, but this time hopefully in a better perspective. I do expect differing views but I am willing to accept them and I believe accepting our differences is the only way to come to a peaceful compromise and graduate to the next level where we can start some serious discussion on rebuilding Nepal.

To begin with, let me start by pointing to the roots of all our woes today. We all know it but I think its worth mentioning again. Maoists didn’t come to power solely by the power of the gun. They had support. Support from disgruntled majority of the population. Why are Janjatis, Madhesis, Dalits etc. threatening to go to war today? Our leadership be it Seven Party Alliance(SPA)/Monarchy/Maoists might be rouges, but to think that it is simply them who are holding the country hostage is a misgiving. They have been able to do it because people are unhappy thereby giving rise to ample political opportunity for such leaders to fill in. Over 13,000 people have died. The law and order situation has worsened and there isn’t a single day when the strike has not struck millions of poor citizens all over the country. Should we still deny the real problem after all this? Should we still blame artificial reasons like Monarchy/Maoists/SPA?

In our country, lets face it; the real problem is our inequitable society. The more we deny it, the more we are in trouble. Let us understand and accept this simple truth and work to correct it. And to misinterpret the struggle of these groups as something of a freebie that is being demanded really doesn’t solve it. We need to understand that nobody is against any group, Madhesis is not fighting Pahades, Janjatis are not fighting Bahuns/Chettris. Everybody is fighting for their rightful place and a legitimate stake in a new Nepal, having said which, not all demands are correct and not all need necessarily be fulfilled. A fair system must be implemented and the govt. must exhibit fortitude against unreasonable demands that endanger our nationality in the long run. I think this is really what the Madhesis and ethnic communities are demanding. Listen to them closely and you will hear them loud and clear. And to say things like “nobody is stopping anybody from progressing, so why the fuss” is to really pretend that there is no problem. We must first accept that the past systems were highly skewed in favor of some communities while excluding others. Moreover, we had politicians who did nothing to correct them except fill their pockets. Democracy for them became a nice substitute to maintain status quo, except a change of hands.

So what will it take for us to correct this legacy? Instead of one community fighting against another and playing into the hands of corrupt leaders or foreign powers, who should we be fighting instead? Being educated citizens that we are, where should we mobilize our energies. I look at SPA-M and Monarchy. They are throwing all their energy to oust each other but really not giving any attention to the real problems of this country. And ironically both claim to be for the people. We need to fight such elements whose real interests are more power than people. And we need to fight protectionists whose interests lie in status quo. These are the two greatest enemies of Nepal today. I have come across some interesting protectionists who assert superiority by virtue of birth which I think is an obsolete concept and makes one lazy and conceited which is not good for Nepal. Such groups/nations normally face what western Europeans are increasingly facing today, with the advent of newer/hungrier groups like Chinese/Indians/Taiwanese into the global economy. It is also natural that such groups will try to build walls and practice closed door policies, but this will only be counterproductive for Nepal when the rest of the world are desperately trying to integrate into and be a part of the global supply chain.

I am still young and I have a lot of hope for a new Nepal. I also understand the enormity of a wounded legacy that is being left behind for our generation to heal. A legacy where violence is the only way to be heard. A legacy where caste system and corruption is rampant and nationlism is nil. I look at Nepalese communities in India or abroad and find little unity amongst them, just enough to meet few times a year, eat good food and depart, and I trace its reason back to its mother tree from where the seeds found their way. Centuries of State sponsored division has had a self sustaining effect and has even shown in a foreign land. Animosity and division within people of our country has for too long allowed external forces like India/US/China to spread their influence and endanger our sovereignty. We are one of the poorest and most unstable country in the world. When I speak to my Indian/Chinese/American counterparts, I hear some want to start a company, while others want to save earth, and almost all seem so sure of what their role is going to be in building their country. An Indian graduate is no longer enticed by a six figure salary Wall Street job, they want to stay back. All Chinese seem to go to MIT and almost all return home. I dream of returning to build my country someday myself, but I am yet to make a head or tail out of it. This is the 21st century and we are sandwiched between two powerful neighbors. In a world where capitalism is dissolving all boundaries leading to the very concept of nationhood being redefined, and where the whole world is realigning in terms of natural and intellectual resources, we are still struggling with the most basic social issues. We are still grappling with our nationality and sovereignty. We are still stuck in the barriers we have created ourselves. Can we not come out of it? Can we not do something about it? Or in my favorite phrase – Can we not catch the bull by the horns?

Whatever the near future holds for Nepal, I know one thing is for certain. I know my generation will spend a lot of time correcting the ills of old Nepal. We will need help, a lot of help. We will need elders who will co-operate and are willing to adapt to the realities of modern world. It wont be easy for them, but that’s the least they should be able to do. We will need parents who wont feel its a crime to marry their children to another caste. We will need young and strong leaders with a vision and for old ones to make way. We will need wisdom of the elders to help incubate fresh ideas of the young. Sure they will hardly taste the fruits of their sacrifices, but increasingly their coming generations will. Right now, I am more concerned that the generation that will come after me should not find themselves in the same deep hole that I have found myself in today.

All these sound idealistic and boring I know, but really there isn’t anything else worth writing about.

Limbu is a 26 year old Business Development Manager for a leading Delhi based IT company. His hometown is Damak, Jhapa and blogs at UWB with the name of Patriot.

My Perspective on Current Nepal

By Gaury S Adhikary
Letter from Michigan

I just got back from Kathmandu yesterday (2 March). Here is my perspective on current Nepal and where we might be heading in future. Nepal has many positives in the making, for example:

1. Little more than 10 percents of youth are heading out of Nepal for better opportunities outside India. I met many of these young lads on the way to Doha . Many of them are working in semiskilled and unskilled works, Mostly they are in service industries. It looks like the market has matured and Nepali workforce in Middle east has adopted its new workplace.

2. Kathmandu is awash with money: Real or imagined. Valley is built up form pillar to post and there is no spare land within the center of the city. There are more than 200 large brick factory working on overdrive. Financial institutions are lending money as if there is no tomorrow. So much so, Karmachari Sancahya Kosh is worth 55 Billion rupees and still needs vehicle for investment. Every hill top around Kathmandu is built up with a monastery or private house.

Kathmandu rivers are thoroughly polluted and it shows that valley is at the phase of meteoric growth rate. Similarly, as Kathmandu grows out of being a small trading route town to big metropolis of 3 million inhabitants, it has its share of vices: gangs kidnapping people for ransom, dancing bars for brothel etc. etc.

Kathmandu Growth rate soon needs to be stabilized and consolidated. I suspect this will start soon as the roads out of valley will connect rest of Nepal in next phase of growth.

3. Service sector in Kahtmandu is exploding. Means of transportations are plenty. Microbus Rs 10 per trip, Safa tempo, and taxis are plenty. Motorbikes and cars are freely available for credit (unheard in the past). Hospitals, both public and private, schools and tourist center are flourishing and maturing in its services to public as we speak. Almost all the roads within the valley are black topped.

4. Wholesale increase in professional group of Nepali is evident by what happened to me. I just stepped in my friend’s home for a dinner party. Someone handed over a phone and asked me to speak to the person on line. It turned out Kantipur was coming out with a Naya Nepal issue for Falgun 7th day and was seeking peoples’ opinion. I was briefly interviewed and my photograph was taken by a digital camera and sent over the internet. Next day issue was published on time!

While I was in Kathmandu, my brother was interviewed live in one of its “call in service” by a FM radio at Dang, Chitawan and Pokhara at various times. People asking questions were precise and animated, it felt alive!

5. I spoke to Bhim Bahadur Tamang, Nepali Congress Central Committee member and former minister after his visit to Nuwakot to assess Party position. He felt NC has its voter base intact and people are animated politically. I also got the feedback that CPN UML is well organized and looking forward to elections. Maoists are militant and committed and well organized. They are the wild card and their voter base is “unknown quantity” at the time. Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (MJF or MRPF) is a very recent spontaneous movement; its total impact on body politics of Nepal is unpredictable. However it has given enough energy to Madheshi people to organize better for future. Similarly, Limbu, Rai, Magar etc will have similar voices in Nepali politics in future. There is no question about it. What will be total impact is too early to predict at this time.

6. Finally, I had an opportunity to visit a village in Kavre (Bahune pati) on a day trip. What I saw in the village astounded me. It is in Panchkhal valley. From what I remember from my past memory is that this valley used to be surrounded by dry arid hills with little red dirt peeking out of naked hills all across. There was hardly any greenery in the past. This time the whole valley was irrigated, potato was planted row after row with Indrawati flowing on the side. All the naked hills were covered with lush green pines: thanks to community forestry; villager were looking after it as if life depended upon them. In the village I spoke to few community leaders which included ladies form local Fishermen community. They all seemed to be doing quite well for a village in Nepal. There was disposable income with them, village was served with a local health post connected with Dhulikhel hospital, it had 10 +2 school and the area was connected with rest of Nepal by all weather road.

[Just to digress: A novel “Abiral Bagdachha Indrabati” was based on social condition of this place. Basically this novel depicts a local village headman exploiting the poor condition of local Majhii community. It ends upon sad note that the condition has prevailed form time immemorial and must likely will continue. Just to prove it wrong, Majhi women I spoke to were assertive and seem to live in self dignity. Nepali village has definitely changed. Houses across the hills were two storied, with galvanized zinc roof top. I did not see any thatched low house of the past.]

To my pleasant surprise I found Nepali villager animated, sharing pain and pleasure as before, I saw children running around carefree, girls singing and dancing (it was Shiva Ratri day) and there was no evidence of depressed mood (that I expected following 10 years of violence in the villages). It looked like Nepali villagers have taken the changes in stride and are looking ahead for Naya Nepal.

What does it tell me?

I think Nepali have used their time to do the best they could on given situation. I feel Nepali people know and they have said: we want to be left alone to live in dignity, and they have a clear and loud message to political big wigs that they would like to have permanent peace.

This message has been heard loud and clear by all parties concerned. It includes major political parties, Nepal army and police, India and the US. There is lot of undercurrent for that power positioning in the center. That is what gives a sense of despair in Kathmandu but underneath everyone is jockeying for their consolidated power before going to Constituent Assembly election. At the time, politically Nepal is at the cross road. Any prediction is going to be laced with lots of uncertainties. But when we look at overall growth of Nepal and Nepali capabilities , political process cannot go backward or be hijacked by anyone group. I am confident Nepali people with their resilience and wisdom will bring the Nepali politics back to where it belongs: at the Center!

With best,

Gaury S Adhikary
Ann arbor, MI
United States

[UWB: This article first appeared in a private discussion group on the Internet and is reproduced here with writer’s permission.]

Complexity in Nepali Politics

Continuous and intentional violations of peace deal and meekness of the government to take any corrective measure created a vicious cycle of state-of-flux and lawlessness. …Because of frequent indefinite strikes, distribution of citizenship cards across Terai and collection names for voters’ list has been severely affected.

By Chattra Bahadur

A leading daily newspaper recently published the results of the survey stating that almost 70% of the respondents pointed out that the foremost challenge before the government is to maintain law and order situation. And the response is not entirely surprising. We are witnessing frequent and increasingly violent indefinite strikes, shortages and unavailability of essential food items, rocketing price rise with shrinking job opportunities, growing insecurity, etc. At the time of height of the Maoist insurgency, it was often reported that the presence of the government was restricted to the capital and the district headquarters only. However, at present, it appears that the government is not even present in the capital or in the district headquarters.

After the fall of the royal regime and the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) coming into power, the Maoists returned to the negotiating table; and finally, the peace deal was brokered. The longstanding demand of the Constituent Assembly was agreed upon and, in return, the Maoists renounced their armed struggle. For the most Nepalese, it was huge relief and offered a ray of hope of elusive political stability and prosperity.

However, hopes of people were dashed soon to considerable extent when the Maoists could not forego their love for brute force, intimidating tactics, kidnapping, open extortion (often phrased as willful donation), forced indoctrination, swift rebuttal and brutal repression of any opposition, and the top leadership continuously being in state of denial of all the wrongdoings of cadres instead of taking disciplinary action. At the same time, the SPA government stood as a silent spectator even when the Maoists violated every single article of peace accord citing lame excuse of ‘fragile peace process’ and ‘still looming threat of reactionary and regressive forces’. And inability to enforce the peace deal in the letter and spirit, and inability to enforce strict measures for each violation on the part of the government have significant share wherein any sane Nepalese sees a remote chance of normalcy coming back.

Passive posture of the government to take any concrete stand on any issue has cost the nation dear. Continuous and intentional violations of peace deal and meekness of the government to take any corrective measure created a vicious cycle of state-of-flux and lawlessness. It is becoming evident that brutality and devastation of any nature could be justified as a political compulsion and crucial means to achieve the end without accepting any moral responsibility of such actions. All these actions have gained new ‘respectability’ and ‘acceptability’. The organizers of indefinite strikes dominate media space upholding such actions as ‘venting frustration’ in response to the government apathy and police brutality. In the end, they hold the government and reactionary elements responsible for all the damages because, in any case, their demands are genuine and their protests were peaceful. The civic society and human rights activists find the government and ‘unseen forces’ (regressive and reactionary forces) accountable for loss of lives and damage of property. The government surprisingly does not respond either positively or negatively. Continue reading Complexity in Nepali Politics