Category Archives: Guest Column

Eight Point Something

Maoist Maneuver of June 16

UWB received this article by Jabarjast who has not revealed his identity but beautifully pointed out few shortcomings of eight-point agreement between SPA government and Maoists on June 16.

(Pic via Kantipur)

Last week, the Maoist strongmen, Pushpa Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai, emerged triumphantly from daylong negotiations with SPA leaders. An 8-point agreement was declared that effectively placed a stamp of approval on 12 years of methodical murder, political cleansing and intolerance for anything that remotely resembles western-style, liberal democracy. Continue reading Eight Point Something


A Nepali Girl's American Experience

By Kanchan Burathoki
Saturday BlogDiary of a Nepali student

Every now and then some girls who take politics classes ask me about Nepal and express their sympathy, but I wonder if they really care…. On a recent bus ride, an American asked me, “I know you think we are dumb because we don’t know anything about other countries.” Sick of being undermined just because I am from a poor country, for the first time I dared and said, “Because you are.”

I work in the dining hall of my college twice a week on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 5 to 8. On Tuesdays I am the checker and the job is easy; just sit and swipe the students’ cards for two hours and at the end, clean up the salad bar and sweep the dining hall. Wednesdays, I clean up the “Pots”—literally huge utensils used for mass cooking. It is the most dreadful work, but well, I get paid. Continue reading A Nepali Girl's American Experience

A Nepali Girl’s American Experience

By Kanchan Burathoki
Saturday BlogDiary of a Nepali student

Every now and then some girls who take politics classes ask me about Nepal and express their sympathy, but I wonder if they really care…. On a recent bus ride, an American asked me, “I know you think we are dumb because we don’t know anything about other countries.” Sick of being undermined just because I am from a poor country, for the first time I dared and said, “Because you are.”

I work in the dining hall of my college twice a week on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 5 to 8. On Tuesdays I am the checker and the job is easy; just sit and swipe the students’ cards for two hours and at the end, clean up the salad bar and sweep the dining hall. Wednesdays, I clean up the “Pots”—literally huge utensils used for mass cooking. It is the most dreadful work, but well, I get paid. Continue reading A Nepali Girl’s American Experience

Is Monarchy Relevant for Nepal? (Part III)

This is the last part of the article that proceeds debate on the necessity/relevance of monarchy in Nepal at a time when the country is heading for Constituent Assembly.

By Mahesh Poudyal

The culture of monarchy

What answer do you get/expect to get if you ask a British or other European who has a constitutional or ceremonial monarchy in their country – “what has your monarchy given you?”? The first thing I get from them is the sense of pride they have in their royal institution and their tradition. They (most of them anyway) seem very proud to have a father(/mother?)-of-the-nation-like figure in their country who they could look up to, like a model-family, role model for the people to follow. I have to admit this is more so with regards to the Dutch and the Nordic royal family than the British. Nevertheless, the British royal family never ceases to amuse its people – like Hollywood celebrities. Anyway, coming back to the point – our own monarchy – are we proud of our monarch? Do we accept him (its always him in case of Nepal sadly!) as a father-of-the-nation figure who unites our multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural society? Are we proud in the culture of our monarchy? Continue reading Is Monarchy Relevant for Nepal? (Part III)

Restoration of Parliament: Not Real Achievement for Nepal

History Repeats in Nepal: Is Jana Andolan II compromised just like Jana Andolan I ?

By Santosh

Seven parties and most of protestors are euphoric about royal proclamation to reinstate parliament. However, there is very less realization that it’s not a real achievement but rather a continuity of the post 1990 scenario.

Royal Intentions

The intention of King is not sincere. The act of reestablishing parliament is a bargaining chip and way to keep the royalties involved in power. If you look at the sequence of royal announcements, this dishonesty is clear. First, Gyanendra ordered ban on protests and shoot-on-sight curfew. Second, he invited Surya Bahadur Thapa and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, royal leaning politicians, to arrange a new power sharing agreement. Third, a couple of days later after record demonstrations, he announced that PM post will go to seven party alliance. Please note that security personnel imprisoned Bam Dev Gautam and Jhala Nath Khanal at the Tribhuvan International Airport the same day when he was preparing to hand over the executive power. Fourth, when protestors rejected and protests got bigger, he announced the reinstatement of parliament.

If you look at intentions of Gyanendra, in each and every stage, he tried all he could to retain his absolute powers. At any given instance, he could have declared what people were asking.
Even at the day of declaration, King was bringing more security personnel from Pokhara and neighboring cities. The pro republicans such as Narahari Acharya and member of civil societies were still under royal custody when the declarations were made. This proves the degree of honesty of the current king.

Royal Declaration

The royal declaration does not address the demand of constituent assembly and handing over of security personnel to the parliament. One might attribute King’s pride for not declaring all the demands of protestors but when security personnel start to kill protestors, the question of preserving pride of one person becomes irrelevant.

Constituent assembly is not possible under the constitution of 1990. Even with 2/3rd of parliament endorsing new constitution, the king has the final decision to any changes in constitution. The upper house is still dominated by 1/3 rd of royal appointees. After repeated breach of constitution by King, practically the 1990 constitution is dead. There is no provision in constitution that allows King to safeguard executive powers in him or to create post of the Chair of the Council of Ministers. Gyanendra has no respect for the constitution of 1990. This point has been proved by media crackdown of the last two years, by political revenge seeking through unconstitutional royal anti graft commission, by appointment of royal sycophants in constitutional bodies like election commission, attorney general, and Supreme Court and by massive waste of national resources in royalties who cannot be prosecuted under the 1990 constitution.

It is useless to ask Supreme Court for any constitutional advice. The 1990 constitution is a tool which king is using to legitimize his illegitimate acts to ordinary Nepalese and international community. The effort to revive such dead constitution is tantamount to continuation of the monarchy and undermines the popular movement of Jana Andolan II. Restoration of parliament is a royal setup to keep on preserving monarchy.

The provision of Security Council under the 1990 constitution does not guarantee that army will be under civilian control. King has showed no intention to leave the control of army. The Security Council can only recommend actions and the final decision is taken by head of the army, which is king. The Supreme Court can not decide on any military affairs. The promotion in army is controlled de-facto by king. You just need to look at the current list of army general and colonels to see the number of Ranas, Shahs and Thapas. Royal Nepal Army is a plutocracy where only die hard royalists and extended member of royal family have top places. As the top army brass is composed of royal members, military has always remained loyal to king and not to elected government. The incident of GP Koirala resigning after refusal of army to rescue police trapped by Maoists proves this point. The plutocracy and irregularities in military funds (arms purchase & army employee provident fund) is sustaining this situation. As long as army and police are under control of King, there is absolutely no guarantee that King will not backtrack once the protests have subsided.

Officially, 14 protestors have died and several hundreds injured. The real death toll and the number of victims can be far higher. As the security apparatus ultimately reported to king, King should be held accountable for the loss of lives. Extending heart-full condolences to the death victims after giving orders to shoot them is not sufficient. Prosecuting only the police/army officers who gave orders to shoot is ignoring the fact that these people were just tools and order came from somewhere else.

Royal Booby Trap

The king has thrown ball in parties’ court. The objective of this action was not to restore democracy but to ridicule it. King handed power, as he knew that political parties will fight among each other for power. By trying to sow a seed for fight, King hopes to regain credibility in the eyes of ordinary citizens. This is the same strategy like CPN UML who used to say and repeat 10 thousand times that GP Koirala is bad to mean that they are good.

King Gyanendra’s is the last ditched attempt to save monarchy and we Nepalese seem to be falling in his trap. Paras might never be recognized as a legitimate ruler without proving that he has not killed Praveen Gurung et al. It is in the interest of king to declare the navayuvaraj the crown prince. Stripping Paras of his crown prince title will at least bring some solace to the falling institution of monarchy. Let us hope King does not get that clever.

The current arrangement has made impossible the entering of Maoists in the mainstream. This marriage of convenience between SPA and Monarch imperils the peace efforts of Nepal and risks prolonged civil war.

Fear of Maoist takeover

SPA leaders as well as Royalists are afraid of imaginary Maoist takeover. This situation is impossible due to national and international considerations. But propagandists have been using and spreading this fear to maintain/justify their favorite regimes. Fear is the most easiest and convincing tool in the times of uncertainty.

In the international front, Maoist takeover is a day dream. The US won’t accept at any case Maoist coming to power as this will challenge the global US hegemony. They don’t want these Maoists to keep on exporting some revolution. The current global regime suits US. US has all new discoveries, all best companies, all minds of universe, a very favorable international trade regime, a highly protected local market, a very good living standard for nationals and financial/technical power to exploit resources around the world. EU has same commercial position as US and tries to project itself as champion of human rights.

Try to talk about trade in services and reduction of agricultural subsidy in developed nations and these democracy champions will make you international enemy like Mahathir Mohammad or Hugo Chavez. The US/EU don’t need to colonize developing countries. World Bank, IMF and WTO act on behalf of these countries to get the favorable trading regime. The extremists such as Maoist are threat to this delicate international balance. The hypocrite world regime will do all it can to destroy the Maoists and that is the destiny of the Maoists.

Just look at FARC, any other South American countries, or any African country. A couple of hundred million dollar injection to Nepalese army will give it so much firepower that Maoists simply fade off. Imagine the havoc created in Maoists by those Old Russian helicopters and flying cage-like cheetah chopper. And now imagine, bulletproof and missile proof Apaches replacing them. Hundred million dollar or even a billion dollar injection in the current world is actually peanuts compared to the size of economies of developed world.

The India Factor

Similarly, historically India wants instability in Nepal to create favorable water/energy deals. Koshi and Mahakali are the live examples. Their current priority is economic development and energy is a key issue in this development. As with all powerful countries, India tries to use its muscle to have favorable trading regimes and that includes energy. But just for water/electricity, they don’t want instability to go so far that the state of Nepal fails. They just want a favorable regime in Kathmandu. If there is chaos in Nepal, there will be chaos in India as there is no border between these two countries. The Indian army is already overstretched. They already have enough warlike situations in Kashmir and North East India. Fear of Indian takeover of Nepal is unrealistic. This is too big a problem to digest for India and this step even risks the whole integrity of India as a country in a danger. This is one of the royalist fear creating campaign. The worst case scenario of India is to have government led by Maoists who try to fight India’s historical hegemonic role. The Maoist should realize that this is impossible.

The convenience marriage of SPA with King might sound like music to international community but it creates a great danger to the state of Nepal. If the Maoist- Nepal Army fighting continues and so called representative government can get military support of foreign countries, the result is going to be an ever bloodier war. The Maoist will be defeated. They don’t have nay chance to win militarily. But the victims will be thousand of Nepalese people. This killing of each other must stop.

Respect for Nepalese People

It is disgusting to see utter disrespect of Nepalese people in the political discussions. This is the people who fought against autocracy of Ranas in 2007 (1950). This is the people who fought against autocracy of King Birendra in 1990. This is the people who fought against autocracy of King Gyanendra in 2006. If the Maoists come to power and start a dictatorship of proletariat, the same people will rise again and throw them away. The same people will rise if ever a foreign country tries to invade Nepal. I see absolutely no reason why constitution assembly should not be declared as soon as possible. Choosing a government is a fundamental right and not a privilege given by somebody else. The current stage is not an achievement.

If there is referendum on the future of monarchy or if there is constituent assembly polls, we can be certain that it was a right decision to accept reestablishment of parliament. But most signs are not positive. Judging by history of unholy political compromises done till now, I think this Jana Andolan II has been compromised by king if the protestors lose their voice in the days and months to come. I would like to end this article with a positive note.

Revolution means a process through which change is initiated. Once started this has no end. It is a process of improvement in itself. This has started in 1990 and it will have only positive results in the future. The Nepalese people deserve a pride and respect for fighting for what they believe is right.

Can Parliament Declare Constituent Assembly?

Whether Constituent Assembly with or without a Condition

By Surendra Bhandari
Lawyer, in Japan

The country is still undergoing through a volatile political situation. The political changes induced by the people’s movement followed by King’s declaration for the restoration of the House of Representatives on April 24th 2006 has unfurled immense opportunities to move ahead but the path is still full of challenges and risks. The issue of whether a constituent assembly should be with or without condition has become a center of the political dynamics in the country.
Maoist has declared cease fire with a hope that the Parliament shall declare constituent assembly without any precondition. Many civil society leaders have also asked the same thing. All the political leaders of the SPA have confirmed that constituent assembly will be the single most priority agenda item of the (to be restored) Parliament. But they have not yet declared whether it will be with or without a precondition. Indeed, the leaders are at altar now. If they succeed, they come off with a light and become able to enlighten the society otherwise there is a risk that they will burn out the fire of the altar. If they fail that will be a big boomerang both for the democratic process in the country as well as to the leaders. Continue reading Can Parliament Declare Constituent Assembly?

Is Monarchy Relevant for Nepal? (Part II)

Though this article was written immediately after king’s first address, UWB has published it in order to bring the issue of monarchy for public debate.

By Mahesh Poudyal

The politics of monarchy

You must be thinking I must have made some mistakes with the heading “politics of monarchy,” you must be thinking “monarchs don’t get involved in politics.” Oh, yes they do, they do in Nepal if you didn’t know already! Of course, in this 21st century it is hard to find monarchy in any form – constitutional or ceremonial, let alone active monarchs. However, by the grace of god or his curse, we Nepalese have got an active monarch, so much active that he had for the past 15 months suspended political and press freedoms, and had tried to “rule” over his “subjects” – we Nepalese people – by any means he could. Okay, enough for the sarcasm – now back to the serious business. The question here is – does Nepalese politics need a monarch(monarchy)? Continue reading Is Monarchy Relevant for Nepal? (Part II)

Is Monarchy Relevant for Nepal? (Part I)

Though this article was written immediately after king’s first address, UWB has published it in order to bring the issue of monarchy for public debate.

By Mahesh Poudyal

Friday night’s talk – after the royal proclamation – was mainly about king Gyanendra trying to split the SPA-Maoist alliance by offering the post of PM to the SPA. However, people seemed to have realised his ploy as soon as his speech ended. We heard about the overnight demonstrations in Kathmandu and in a number of districts and cities outside Kathmandu – most notably those in Butwal area – rejecting palace’s offer. SPA leaders, after meeting on Saturday morning, had no choice but to follow the will of the public and they finally rejected palace’s offer officially late on Saturday morning. So it seems we’ll be seeing more demonstrations in days to come and it also seems Nepal is heading towards being a republic and not stay as a kingdom. The hot topic today in most of the online discussions, as well as in radio forums, has been whether or not we Nepalese will be better off keeping the white elephant in the form of monarchy – especially the current incarnation. So is this white elephant worth keeping? As a layman in my own country’s politics, I think this question should consider three main aspects of our society, namely economic, political, and cultural. Considering the pros and cons of keeping monarchy with regards to these aspects of our society should help us answer this question. Continue reading Is Monarchy Relevant for Nepal? (Part I)

In Defense of Democracy

UWB received this write up in comment section by the name of apples and oranges. But, we thought it deserves a different space here

Sometimes unnecessary debates come into existence because we fail to
distinguish between the ‘political system’ and ‘individual leaders.’ What
the people are calling for right now is a democratic political system.
They are not fighting to choose between Gyanendra and Girija or Madhav
Nepal. They are basically making it clear that they do not want a
dictatorship of the king (by all definitions, an absolute monarchy is
simply a dictatorship–but a much more entrenched kind than other types of
dictatorship). If we are clear on the distinction between ‘system’ and
‘individual leaders’ then the question of whether we need a hereditary
ruler or not (whether absolute or ceremonial) is almost irrelevant. A
serious flaw in reasoning on the part of critics intent on discrediting
the democratic system in Nepal is that they deliberately equate individual
political leaders to democracy itself. And often we ordinary citizens also
make the same mistake in reasoning and end up repeating the flawed
arguments of such democracy critics. Continue reading In Defense of Democracy

The Talk of reconciliation…From Another Perspective

Note: UWB received this article in which the writer states, “Let us Reconcile and Transform the Movement into a New Height.” We at UWB strongly think that the peoples’ movement should intensify to give more pressure to the king. We are publishing this article here because we are demanding for democracy that ensures views from all quarters of a society.

By Raj Chettri

Reading the address of His Majesty King to the nation on 21st April 2006 one can palpably notice three points – transfer of executive power to the people, readiness to abide by Article 35 of the Constitution and invitation to Seven-party Alliance (SPA) for premiership. Article 35 of the Constitution is the fabric of the whole thread of constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy. A true respect and enforcement of Article 35 can run democracy on to its full vigor.

But the SAP, civil society leaders and Maoist have dismissed the address of the King as a ploy. They have reiterated movement as the address is too little. The question that arises is what is enough? Continue reading The Talk of reconciliation…From Another Perspective