Category Archives: Nepali Society

To All Privileged Bahun-Chhetri Elites of Nepal [and Zamindars of South]

By a nonelite, unprivileged Bahun

I am totally amused, almost to death, by the hypocrisy of REAL Bahun Chhetri elites whose parents (bureaucrats, judges, ministers etc) were lucky (or corrupt or influential or combination of all) enough to make money to send their kids to top schools of Kathmandu (xaviers, ‘kanthas etc), D’ling and D’doons and to the collages and universities of amrika and belayet (Columbia, Brown, SOAS for example).

Is it a coincidence or just that I am selectively getting to read views of such ‘educated and rich’ Bahuns/Chhetris whose parents and grandparents had access to resource? A minister’s daughter or a judge’s son or a sachib’s grandson. Of course these elite Bahuns/Chhetris can rightly think that since they are privileged, well off and can live in between Kathmandu and (London, NY or Toronto) they don’t need any more facilities from the state.

These elite and privileged Bahuns/Chhetris- not sure if they are sympathizing with the Janajati/southern movement or patronizing it- with their rosy glasses see all Bahuns and Chhetris of Nepal as rich and privileged as they are. But these elite Bahuns/Chhetris CAN NOT speak for the millions of poor and rural Bahuns and Chhetris in rural areas of Nepal or those in Kathmandu who had to come here as a compulsion during the difficult times of conflict or those who somehow have built homes in Kathmandu by selling whatever they had in the villages and still live in incomplete/unfurnished or rented buildings in Kathmandu.

In this context comes the declaration of Khas Arya as indigenous people. The privileged and rich Bahuns/Chhetris and Thakuris AND politically indoctrinated ones can ridicule this decision. But to portray ALL Bahuns, Chhetris as rich and privileged is simply wrong. When Khas Arya were promised to be counted as indigenous yesterday that included Dalits too- one of the most underprivileged class in Nepal.

By the way, some of these elite Bahuns/Chhetris/Thakuris may rightly claim that they went to those elite schools because they deserved that and were capable to getting partial or full scholarship (from the university or the likes of Fulbright for example). However, they shouldn’t conveniently forget that there could be equally talented and deserving people out there in some remote areas of Nepal. But those in remote areas- yes, poor Bahuns and Chhetris (and of course poor Janajatis and Dalits too but now my point is about poor Bahuns and Chhetris) didn’t have neither ACCESS nor resources to learn, to begin with, about the scholarships or the schools.

They were not in Kathmandu, where everything was/is, because their parents (or grandparents or great grandparents) were not the bureaucrats, judges, ministers (or other influential people like royal priests) based in Kathmandu. Their parents were the farmers of the villages who had to toil day and night in the fields and look after cattle.

Just as there are two classes- poor/destitute and rich/elite- of Khas Arya, the Janajatis and Madhesis too have distinct classes in terms of wealth, access and education. There are elite Janajatis and elite Madhesis as there are poor, underprivileged Janajatis and poor, underprivileged Madhesis. There are zamindar and feudal Madhesis and there are super rich Janajatis. There are Dalit Madheiss and there are destitute Janajatis.

Therefore the clear demarcation of rich and poor, privileged and unprivileged CAN NOT be done on ethnic or regional lines. It has to be done on the basis of the poverty index. If one person gets more benefit form the State than other, that has to happen on the basis of how poor (financially, culturally and politically) the person is. It CAN NOT be done in a wholesome manner, along ethnic lines, with false claims that all Bahun Chhetris are rich, privileged and oppressors and all Madheis and Janajatis are poor, unprivileged and oppressed.

Federalization of Nepal can not be done on such flawed argument. That is why there can not be ONE Madhes ONE Pradesh or Provinces carved along the ethnic lines. It has to be done on the basis of need- who needs to get priority over whom. That prioritization should be done on the basis of, as stated earlier, poverty index (which is another way of saying resources, not identity) so that the same benefit can be offered to a Dalit of Dhanusha, a poor Panajati of Taplejung and a poor Khas Arya from Okhaldhunga or Kalikot.

Advertisements

फर्कियो पिसकोर

peace corps returns in nepal Andrea Wojnar-Diagne and former volunteer Steve Leclerq
पिसकोर नेपाल कार्यालयकी निर्देशक एन्ड्रिया वज्नार-डायाग्ने र ७० को दशकमा नेपालमा स्वयंसेवा गर्न आएर यतै बसेका स्टिभ लेक्रेक शुक्रबार काठमान्डूमा ।

दिनेश वाग्ले
वाग्ले स्ट्रिट जर्नल
यो लेख आज कान्तिपुरमा प्रकाशित भएको हो । पत्रिकाकै पन्नामा हेर्ने भए यहाँ (पीडीएफ) क्लिके हुन्छ ।

समाचार पुरानै छ । पुष्पकमल दाहाल नेतृत्वको माओवादी पार्टी अझै पनि अमेरिकी गृह मन्त्रालय (होमल्यान्ड सेक्युरिटी डिपार्टमेन्ट) को आतंकवाद बहिष्कार सूची (टेरोरिजम एक्स्क्लुजन लिस्ट) मै छ । पछिल्लोपटक झन्डै पाँच महिनाअघि अमेरिकी विदेश मन्त्रालयका प्रवक्ताको कार्यालयले दिएको जानकारीअनुसार ‘पार्टीले केही सकारात्मक कदमहरू चालेको’ भए पनि ‘सूचीबाट हट्न हामीसँग बाँकी चासोहरूको सम्बोधन हुनैपर्छ ।’

बितेका पाँच महिनामा पनि ती उल्लेख नभएका ‘चासोहरूको सम्बोधन’ पूर्णत भइनसकेको कुरा माओवादी त्यो सूचीमा रहिरहनुले प्रस्ट पार्छ । तर यी पाँच विशेषगरी पछिल्ला दुई महिनामा अमेरिकाले त्यो सूचीलाई पूरै बेवास्ता गर्दै माओवादी नेतृत्वको नेपाललाई एकपछि अर्को सहायता, कूटनीतिक सदाशय र द्विपक्षीय हार्दिकताले पुरस्कृत गरिरहेको छ । यी अमेरिकी कदमहरूको जस माओवादी एक्लैले लिन पनि सक्छ किनकि पछिल्ला ‘पुरस्कार’ हरूलाई अमेरिकाले शान्ति प्रक्रियाको सफलतासँग जोडेको छ । माओवादीइतर दलहरूले बारम्बार भन्ने गरेकै कुरा हो, शान्ति प्रक्रियालाई टुङ्ग्याउन सबैभन्दा आवश्यकता माओवादी गम्भीरता र चाहनाको छ जो निकै कम रहेको ती दलहरूको ठहर छ । Continue reading फर्कियो पिसकोर

Population of Nepal is 26.6 Million (26,620,809 to be exact)

people of nepalThat’s the preliminary result, which the Central Bureau of Statistics Director General Uttam Narayan Malla said, may change after the final result is prepared.

This report was prepared and distributed by the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS)

The population of Nepal has reached 26.6 million, according to the preliminary result of the National Census 2011. The result released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Tuesday (today) said the population of Nepal is 26,620,809 in 2011 including 12,927,431 male and 13,693,378 female. The census showed the population growth rate of Nepal was 2.25 per cent per annum. Nepal’s population was 23 million according to the last census held in 2001. Continue reading Population of Nepal is 26.6 Million (26,620,809 to be exact)

The Earthquake that Rocked Us in Nepal

Read a news report on the quake here र नेपालीमा: भैचालो जसले हामीलाई हल्लायो

By Dinesh Wagle

The scary thing (or good, depending upon how you see things) is that the epicenter of the 6.8 earthquake that rocked Kathmandu and eastern Nepal this evening was, according to the US Geological Survey, 272 kilometers away (east) from Kathmandu. (68 km north west of Gangtok, Sikkim, India). It was so terrifying. (Personally speaking, the Quake Moment was the most scariest I have experienced in a looong time.) Imagine the situation if Kathmandu WERE the epicenter! [Three people have died in Kathmandu, and two in Dharan, after the British Embassy compound wall collapsed. Many people have injured themselves as they tried to ran out of buildings.] Continue reading The Earthquake that Rocked Us in Nepal

Food in Kathmandu (and possibly all over Nepal): Almost Everything’s Contaminated

Trishuli Minerals and Beverage was selling 'mineral water' filtered thorough the filters that didn't exist. Check out the second 'filter' from the top

All Pics by Makar Shrestha

Around 80 per cent of the total 4,113 samples of foodstuff randomly collected from factories and shops across the country failed food quality test in the last fiscal year, while 23 among the 29 categories were found contaminated, according to the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC). According to a DFTQC report, government lab tests even showed presence of radioactive elements in samples of milk packets collected from the market. Products ranging from salt to pickles and chocolates to meat were found substandard and containing high quantity of inedible substances. Forty percent of the samples of refined milk contained harmful bacteria and pesticides, the report says. It further says that samples of “mineral water’ that is sold in jars contained 34 per cent bacteria and 27 percent harmful chemicals. “Seventy percent of the samples of meat products were not fit for consumption,” the report says.

Continue reading Food in Kathmandu (and possibly all over Nepal): Almost Everything’s Contaminated

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.]

Kathmandu Connection: Complaints and Compliments

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

Soon after Tihar celebrations were over in Kathmandu last week I was in Thamel with a colleague who was leaving the newspaper for good. As he took his bike to a nearby parking lot I stood a few metres away from the entrance of the Roadhouse Café. I started fiddling with my phone. As soon as I tapped on the email application of the iPhone it caught six WiFi signals in the area.  I was astonished.

Not in Khan Market or Connaught Place in New Delhi (where I have been living for the past two years) have I received so many signals at once. Not in Paharganj, Delhi’s Thamel, the backpacker’s ghetto. Not in Park Street, Kolkata or Colaba, Mumbai. I am aware that it will be a gross injustice to Kathmandu if I compare it with some of the biggest cities in India. Kathmandu has suffered tremendously at the hands of incompetent, quarrelling and power hungry politicians. The overall politics of Nepal has become so disgusting that Kathmandu, the capital, has no option but to cover its face in shame. Kathmandu is a humiliated city. Humiliated by its politicians and lazy bureaucrats who are unwilling to think out of box. On the other hand, Indian cities have prospered under the stability that the relatively functional democracy provides.

Kathmandu connection kathmandu post 14 Nov 2010
Kathmandu Post. 14/11/010

A few days later I was pillion riding on the bike of a colleague in Tinkune. He showed me a few signboards that advertised WiFi connections. One signboard read: “You have entered Subisu WiFi zone.” (Subisu is a cable Internet service provider.) One couldn’t have expected availability of such services in places like Tinkune until recently. Dozens of ISPs have come up in the past several months in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. Despite the bad politics the country has witnessed a silent revolution in telecommunication. We have installed a third generation mobile phone tower on a hill that is not very far from the Everest. Thank you, Ncell. Continue reading Kathmandu Connection: Complaints and Compliments

Talking About Revolution #Nepal

Talking about revolution Kahtmandu Post 23 May 2010
Click to enlarge

On the Maoist, French restaurateur of Kathmandu and Nepali leaders in Delhi

By Dinesh Wagle

News reports from Meghalaya are disheartening. Nepali migrant workers and Nepali-speaking Indians are being chased away from their homes and workplaces (coal mines) by the Khasis who are in a majority in the North-Eastern Indian state. Some Nepalis have been killed; one of them was burnt alive during the ruthless eviction that began early last week. Some Khasis of the state have issued an ultimatum to the Nepalis to leave Meghalaya that, some say, is against the 1950 Indo-Nepal peace and friendship treaty. The Indian state, so far, has done nothing to stop the ethnic conflict. May be they will act, but part of the problem is with us. Nepal hasn’t been able to provide jobs to its own citizens. Unemployed folks, therefore, are forced to go to the hills of Meghalaya (and other parts of India, not to mention the Gulf countries) to look for jobs Continue reading Talking About Revolution #Nepal

Politics of Religion and Conversion

By Dinesh Wagle

A conference of Nepali and Indian ultra-Hindu rightists in Mumbai last week has decided to launch “a coordinated campaign to re-establish Nepal as a Hindu state”. Kamal Thapa, who sees his future in religion-based politics, participated. Thapa said the conference expressed concern over sinister plans being carried out in Nepal to wipe out the identity of a Hindu state.

On a sweltering April afternoon in New Delhi, I met a former Nepali Congress lawmaker who is best known these days for pulling strings at the highest levels of the Indian establishment to get his wife deported to Nepal a few months ago. But Amresh Kumar Singh is not a man to be taken lightly when he talks about political happenings in Nepal.

“Do you think Ramdev went to teach yoga?” he asked referring to the Indian yoga guru’s highly publicised trip to Nepal a week earlier. “No. He was there to explore possibilities of establishing a new political party. That is why he met and talked to a variety of people during his stay.”

“You mean Ramdev will open a party in Nepal?”

“No, he and other people [from India] will help Nepalis to form a political force,” Singh said.

“Mark my words; we will soon see a rightist party in action in Nepal that will advocate restoration of Hindu Rashtra Nepal.”

The chronic disease of Hindu fundamentalism that has been spreading the viruses of hatred in India has slowly been asserting itself in Nepal in recent months. Under the more appealing banner of Hindutva, Nepali agents of the Indian Hindu right are gradually pushing the agenda of restoration of the monarchy. As the popularly elected political leadership is struggling to draft a constitution and take the peace process to a logical conclusion, these religious zealots are equating the issue of Hindu Rashtra with the dead monarchy.

What I know for sure is that people like me, liberal Hindus with a secular mindset, are in an overwhelming majority in Nepal. We want the country to be a forum equally accessible for people of all faiths. My own view — expressed first on my Facebook profile — is that religion is certainly not opium but a cigarette that should be smoked in private without disturbing other people. It’s a very personal thing. Politicising religion is dangerous as it inevitably invites conflict and violence in society. I even feel that people shouldn’t be classified according to their religious standing. They shouldn’t be asked about their religion in the national census. People should be given complete freedom to have or not to have faith in religion. That is precisely what our Interim Constitution does. More importantly, it bars forced conversion. While the constitution, for example, lets me dump my current religion and go for another if I wish to do so (because this act involves no one but me) it bars me from luring a person of a different faith to my religion (because this act involves a person apart from me).

But some people with vested interests are not happy with this constitutional provision. Take, for example, our cash rich European brothers who believe that they can buy Nepali dignity with some scratched euro or pound notes as if it were a stale pizza on sale in a rural Italian bakery. I was shocked to read a report in the Post few weeks ago that said, “The European Union… urged the [Nepal] government to allow ‘full freedom’ to proselytise while drafting the new constitution.” A letter forwarded by the French Embassy, in its capacity as the EU local presidency in Kathmandu, to the government said the current constitutional provisions on religious rights were “limited”. The sinister motive of the letter is clear: Buying poor Nepalis to Christianity should be legalised.

Who are the Europeans kidding here? This letter is a textbook example of unsavory forces trying to fish in the troubled waters of Nepal that is going through a difficult transitional crisis. Instead of doing so, the Europeans should look at themselves in the mirror where they will see countries like Malta, Monaco, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and England that, with their official religion, have a long way to go to become a secular nation like Nepal. The EU should write such letters to Germany and Finland, apart from the aforementioned countries, where the Evangelical and Roman Catholic Church and Finnish Orthodox Church enjoy de facto privileged status. Okay, for once, forget all this. Go and tell the Vatican City to become secular before lecturing us on religious freedom. Ask the BBC to give equal coverage to Benedict XVI and Ramdev, will you? This type of brazen intervention undermines our, secularists’, fight against Hindu fundamentalists in Nepal. This intervention also strengthens people like Kamal Thapa.

And France, by the way, should be the last country to advise us on religious affairs. The country, where religious minorities are treated very badly, has a terrible record on religious freedom. I am not saying this. In its 2009 edition of the annual International Religious Freedom report, the US State Department says the French government’s “discriminatory treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists remained a concern”. The report says, “Some religious groups voiced opposition to legislation passed in 2001 and 2004, which provides for the dissolution of groups under certain circumstances and bans wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public school employees and students.”

France not only violated its own 1905 law on the separation of religion and the state that prohibits discrimination on the basis of faith by banning Muslim symbols and allowing Christian symbols to be worn. No one has left Nepal because of an unfriendly religious environment; but according to several reports, many people belonging to the Muslim faith have been forced to leave France because of tightening control over religious freedom. No student has been expelled from a Nepali school for their faith, but two female junior high school students, Dounia and Khouloudewere, aged 12 and 13 respectively, were the first to be expelled under a draconian French law for refusing to take off their headscarves on Oct. 20, 2004 from a school in Mulhouse, Alsace.

The Europeans, instead of unnecessarily poking their nose into Nepali affairs, should rather go for trekking in the Himalaya and enjoy their Nepal assignment which anyway is nothing but a long holiday for them. If trekking is not enough and you miss your home, here is a suggestion: The Roadhouse Café in Thamel serves mouthwatering pizza; Délices de France, a restaurant run by a wonderful French woman and attacked by Maoist thugs during the recent strike, serves excellent chicken liver terrine; and nearby Dohori Saanjh restaurants serve unlimited glasses of beer. Chew, drink and cheer for your favourite football team. The World Cup is coming.

This article first appeared on the Op-Ed page of today’s Kathmandu Post.

Nepal Scraps MRP (Machine Readable Passport) Print Deal with India

People Power Supreme, Sujata Resign

History has shown time and again that Nepali people, not their leaders or the kings in old days, are the best protector and guardian of their country and national interest. One leader may come up once in a while with a price tag of Nepali nationality and pride and try to sell that to foreign powers but people of Nepal united in such occasion to unmask such ‘leader’ and torn him/her apart. With the decision of cabinet today evening to cancel the controversial and anti-national Machine Readable Passport printing deal with India it has proved once again that the people power in Nepal is supreme.

The Cabinet meeting that took place in the official residence of Prime Minister Mahdav Kumar Nepal decided to select a supplier through a competitive bidding process as directed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the parliament. It is also victory of rule of law and democracy and freedom in Nepal. It is a severe blow to the likes of Sujata Koirala who put the national interest at stake to appease her Indian masters. It is also a punch on the face of MK Nepal who bowed to Sujata’s and India’s pressure to give the MRP printing deal to Indian government agency.

It is the second instance of the failure of foreign power in Nepal- the first being in 2006 when India openly advocated for a form of monarchy in Nepal. The Nepali people kicked that Indian design and continued with their historic protests that ultimately declared Nepal a republic.

The Indian intervention and some Nepali leaders’ surrendering was so stunning in this MRP scandal that even pro-Indian establishment newspapers like Times of India are writing that Indians did what they should have never done.

It also shows up India’s Nepal policy in a poor light yet again. The passport contract was discussed by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna himself and the ministerial involvement, when it was common knowledge that a tender process was already in place, shows the Indian establishment’s chronic tendency to become dubiously involved in deals.

The Nepal government had floated a global tender and shortlisted four foreign companies to prin machine-readable passports. However, the tender process was stopped on the insistence of the Foreign Minister and given to the Indian state undertaking despite it quoting a higher rate and despite the Public Accounts Committee of parliament asking the government to follow the tender procedure.

The issue is now in court as well after two individuals filed public interest litigation applications separately. The Supreme Court will begin hearing them from Monday when it has asked the prime minister and foreign minister to appear before it.

Let Sujata Koirala carry Indian passport. We have no objection. Let her go to India and apply for the job of Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna’s private secretary, we have no objection. But the woman of suspicious character can’t sell our country to India. For failing to protect the national interest and working against the very oath that she took while assuming the post of Nepal’s Foreign Minister, Sujata Koirala must resign now. If not, she should be sacked. Prime Minister MK Nepal should publicly apologize to the nation for putting the Nepali people through such demeaning and demoralizing situation. We have so many other things that we procure from India. But for God’s sake, we don’t want to travel the world carrying a passport that is printed in India. And that too, by brazenly disregarding the legal competitive process of tender. We don’t.

Another good news of the evening is that the UCPN (Maoist) has called off its nationwide general strike scheduled for Monday (tomorrow) against the MRP deal with India. “We called off the general strike as the objective behind it has been addressed,” said Maoist senior vice chairman Mohan Baidya, according to Republica. He said that the scrapping of the MRP deal with India proved that the government was wrong. “We have expected that the government would be dissolved on moral grounds.” Baidya said.

Continue reading Nepal Scraps MRP (Machine Readable Passport) Print Deal with India