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Inclusive Democracy and State Reformation "Urgent" to Bring Dalits into Mainstream Nepal

D.B. 'Sagar' Bishwakarma
Dalit Rights Activist & National President, Dalit NGO Federation, Nepal, November 20, 2005

General Situation of Nepal:

Inclusive democracy and human rights are the basic tenets of the Dalit movement in Nepal and these are major socio-political processes for the eradication of caste as well as other forms of discrimination in contemporary Nepali society. Dalit movements in Nepal have always been in favor of inclusive democracy and state reformation as part of a process to ensure and promote equality, justice, freedom and the sovereignty of people. Human rights and an inclusive democracy are essential for Nepal to manage conflict, socio-economic and political stability and progress. Without these absolute commitments, the state will not be accountable, responsible or transparent to anyone.
Unfortunately, there has been no democracy, accountable government, human rights, freedom, or civil liberty in Nepal, especially after the royal coup on February 1, 2005. Democracy and human rights in Nepal are in a serious crisis following that royal takeover of power. There are now no guarantees of right to life, security, or dignity for the people of Nepal and this has hit Dalits, women and other disadvantaged groups particularly hard.
The crisis in Nepal is, however, not new. It has been emerging as a result of growing inequality, social and religious fragmentation on the basis of caste, ethnicity, language, religion and gender since the beginning of this royal regime in Nepal, over 200 years ago. That rule has attempted to unite many small principalities, many language and ethnic groups, and multiple religions through assimilation and/or exclusion into the caste and legal system of the rulers based on Hindu religion in Nepal as well as South Asia more widely. None of these forces, then, is new in Nepal although they have been mounting and, finally, the outside world is beginning to look behind Nepal's spectacular scenery to observe its deep social inequalities.

Caste Discrimination in Nepal:

Around 4.5 million Dalits in Nepal are placed at the bottom of society and the state as they are considered ritually 'impure' and 'untouchable'. On this ground, the rest of society often leaves behind Dalits, not only in the socio-cultural and political realms, but also in the economic pace. Though banned by the civil code (Muluki Ain) since the early 1960s, 'untouchability' is still prevalent in the Nepali society. According to the UNDP Human Development Report-04 of Nepal, Dalits are far behind other castes from the same vicinity on a wide range of measures. The situation of Dalit women is further vulnerable on the basis of caste, gender and economic situation.
Similarly, the Madhesi (or Indian-origin) Dalits are also marginalized by both caste and nationality from the mainstream development process. According to research study done by Dr. Bhattachan (scholar), Dalits suffer from over 200 different kinds of discrimination based on caste, occupation and descent in Nepal. According to DNF and other Dalit organization sources as well, there were some 3654 cases of atrocities against Dalits last year. Due to these high levels of fragmentation and economic deprivation, Dalits have been suffering from poverty, illiteracy and lack of access to basic humanitarian services in Nepal, resulting in high infant mortality and low life expectancy.
The movement against this outdated caste-based discrimination towards Dalits, which unjustly denies them a dignified life, should be looked upon not only from Nepal's national perspective but from a global perspective as well. Caste-based discrimination is one of the most widespread social maladies of human civilization throughout history and should not be tolerated in the 21st century. The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) emphasize elimination of all forms of discrimination but there are also loopholes regarding caste issue and Dalits who are the poorest and most victimized people in the world.
In Nepal, the 9th Plan and 10th Plan or Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan (PRSP) -- prepared by the National Planning Commission of the democratic government of Nepal (HMG/N) with support from Dalit organizations and multi/bilateral agencies e.g. UK's Department for the International Development (DFID), World Bank (WB) -- also stress the inclusion of Dalits, women, and ethnic/minorities in the mainstream Nepali society. The attention given to Dalits and ethnic minorities in this plan and other policies of the democratic government of Nepal is encouraging, but their implementation is lacking. This is undoubtedly due to many reasons e.g. an inefficient, non-sensitive governance system and lack of proper representation of Dalits in both policy and implementation levels. The so-called 'high caste' groups that control society, the state, and economy have not shown any sufficiently strong political will to deal with it firmly. Since they are the dominant groups not only in many local communities, but also in the civil service and educational system throughout Nepal, their indifference (if not outright opposition) has produced inefficient non-caste-sensitive governance.
Another important issue is that the ongoing conflict in Nepal has, for the last 10 years, developed into a crisis for the state as a whole and for Dalits, women and other disadvantaged and ethnic groups in particular. During the conflict between the Maoists and the security forces, many innocent people, particularly Dalits, women and ethnic groups, have become more vulnerable than others. For the 80% of Dalits, women and other ethnic minority groups, the long-term conflict and current insurgency have worsened their plight significantly. One of the factors of the existing insurgency in Nepal is based on economic deprivation and class division. Very large numbers of Dalit families (around 27 thousand families according to Media and Dalit organizations) have been internally displaced from their homes and villages. Most of them have gone to India or nearest urban areas and some of them have gone to Arab countries for employment and security. Because of this displacement, they are unable to claim or receive even the most basic and essential humanitarian needs such as, medicine, clean water, shelter and clothing. Their children can no longer go to school and the adults are insecure and unable to find employment or an opportunity to earn their own livelihood in other ways.
The state's policies have, in some cases, been directly responsible for the economic deprivation of Dalits, ethnic groups and women, such as through the caste-biased legal codes and education system. In other cases, widespread practices—without any legal basis—such as discrimination in employment, access to credit, social relationships, constant threat of community reprisals, have severely disadvantaged Dalits.

Dalits, Inclusive democracy and State reformation:

Through my work as a Dalit rights activist and, especially, my work within the Dalit Federation of Nepal, I see some trends emerging. Overall, the discriminatory state policies and socio-economic practices, ironically, hasten the emergence and widespread acceptance of common or collective identity e.g. as Dalits, as ethnic/indigenous people, as women, or as Madhesis ( Nepali people of Indian origin). As Nepal's current situation worsens their socio-economical conditions and frustrates their political aspirations, these emerging collective identifications may push people in either of the two directions -- some may be pushed towards dynamic insurgency within various caste groups, especially the so-called higher caste vs. lower caste or Dalits, ruler vs. ethnic or Hindu vs. non-Hindu groups. Others may turn toward promoting the causes of human dignity, liberty, and inclusive democracy. We have painfully experienced that "caste or Dalit issue" has been used by the ruler class as a political tool, as a "vote bank" to secure their ruling position.
I would like to propose the following major agendas on behalf of the Dalit National Federation to end discrimination against Dalits--deriving as it does from the interplay of caste, religion, ethnicity, gender, education and occupation—and promoting socio-political inclusion, social justice and human rights:

1. Eliminate "untouchability" and all forms of discriminations.
2. Declare the state as secular.
3. Ensure proportional representation, affirmative action policies and reservation for Dalits and other disadvantages groups.
4. Ensure citizenship, land rights, and freedom to use all public places.
5. Encourage, protect an inter-caste marriage and intermixed relationships.
6. Settle issues of Internally Displace Dalits (IDD) due to caste, conflict, inter-caste marriage and displacement from traditional occupations.
7. Declare Dalits as major beneficiaries of PRSP and MDGs programs and implement Card System.
8. Implement a non-discriminatory education system and immediately stop discriminatory education textbooks/syllabus from schools and universities.
9. Establish a "constitutional mechanism" to monitor, direct national and international policies to eradicate caste and all forms of discriminations.
10. Push for adoption and implementation of the "Kathmandu Dalit Declaration (KDD)" by the UN, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and multilateral, bilateral, National non-governmental organizations /governments, civil society and political parties. (See attached file of KDD)
11. Initiate the establishment of the international mechanism (International Commission for Dalit Rights-ICDR) to monitor caste-based atrocities, poverty eradication, social justice and the democratic process and policy advocacy and research on Dalit rights in the contemporary world.

The lack of Dalit presence in the previous Nepali constitutional engineering process contributed to its many loopholes and discriminatory articles. Our past sad experience shows that, when major beneficiaries are not included in the policy engineering process, the chances to ensure that their issues or agendas are addressed is less. To mainstream Dalits into the national socio-economic and political processes, it is urgent that we establish an inclusive democracy and reform the state. We also strongly opposed the new media act launched by the autocratic government. This media act directly affects the Dalit rights movement and their socio-political process in Nepal.
It is the position of the Dalit NGO Federation and overall Nepali Dalit movement that a constituent assembly is needed to support a democratic process that would ensure Dalits their rights, dignity, freedom, and equal representation as well as transform the current conflict into a stable political and socio-economic development process for peace and democracy in Nepal.
(The writer can be reached at or

Who is hitting the nail on the head?

By Mitra Bandhu Poudel
Deventer, The Netherlands, November 10, 2005

Nepal hit the headlines with the announcement of parliamentary election and the controversial new ordinance aimed at curbing the press. The ordinance has brought many contradictions in constitutional provisions related to media. Similarly, another question has been raised -is it a proper time to announce the date of parliamentary election? Definitely not. Perhaps the king thought it was the right decision for the country and its people. One thing is to be noted that "a right decision at the wrong time becomes a wrong decision" (shiva Khera: You Can Win: pp5). It is not only an irrelevant exercise of power by the king but also an attempt to sideline the existence of major political parties. The king's enthusiasm to rule the country with absolute power has only put democracy in jeopardy.
It is clear that the intention of the new ordinance is to muzzle press freedom in Nepal. What exactly is in the new ordinance? Prominent Journalist Yubaraj Ghimire writes in the Indian Express, "The fine for publishing 'banned' items has been increased ten fold to Rs 1 lakh (Approximately US $ 1500) and that for publishing, translating and importing items aiding 'terrorists' has now been made Rs 5 lakh from the earlier Rs 50,000. The ordinance also puts curbs on the publishing of news items that bring the king or his kin hatred or disrespect. The check earlier had dealt only with news against the king." He further adds that there are provisions to ban FM stations from broadcasting news and also restrict a person from owning two media outlets.
Hundreds of journalists are going to face redundancy due to this new ordinance. So, the government's claim that it is helping professional journalism through this is- meaningless. No wonder journalists have condemned this black ordinance and they may take up a desperate struggle against it.
International and diplomatic reactions have been very negative. India also has criticized the newly introduced press ordinance. According to New, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said, "Curbs on the freedom of expression and media, which is a fundamental pillar of democracy, will inevitably be counter-productive."
Similarly, British ambassador to Nepal, Keith G. Bloomfield said, "The new media ordinance introduced by the Nepali government is a threat to democracy"
It is surprising that the king does not understand the displeasure of various organizations -- national and international -- towards his latest move, obloquy has come promptly from every corners of the world.
Back to the issue of parliamentary elections -- we can get a general idea by looking at what happened in 2002. One thing to be noted is that in October 2002, the then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba asked the king to put off elections by a year due to Maoist violence. The king dismissed Deuba terming him "incompetent" and put off elections set for November. Consequently, Lokendra Bahadur Chand was appointed as the new premier. Chand resigned in May 2003 and Surya Bahadur Thapa was appointed as the new prime minister in June. Due to the intense street protests by opposition groups, Thapa also resigned. In June 2004, sacked former prime minister Deuba was reinstated.
It is 2005, and still the gravity of the problem is not being addressed. As far as the Maoist problem is concerned, if the then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had addressed the Maoist 40 points in 1995, he could have easily nipped the problem in the bud. But, it didn't happen and eventually it has become the most difficult problem to tackle.
It is apparent that the palace has not sincerely done an assessment regarding this matter. The king wants to regain credibility especially from the international community, showing them how desperate he is to hand power over to the elected government. The king should stop looking through colored glasses because the reality is entirely different from what he sees. If the election happens forcibly, you will see bloodbaths. The country cannot take it any more. It's a shame the royal government could not welcome the Maoists' 3 month ceasefire either. People seem only to have a choice between anarchy and vindictiveness. It is quite simple that the former is the one that destroys law and order and the latter takes revengeful action. And, that's what Nepali politics have come down to the serious question - Who actually wants to make Nepal a belligerent nation? If the palace does not seize the opportunity to restore peace, the monarch will definitely miss the bus.
Many intellectuals are saying that election is impossible without first resolving the present political dispute. Former chief justice of the Supreme Court, Bishwa Nath Upadhyay, said, "Chairman of the council of ministers is not a legitimate authority to declare polls or conduct elections if we are to follow the word and spirit of the constitution."
Although the issue of national reconciliation has been raised through many Forums, ultimately it's been stymied by the palace because the king has been bearing down on all political parties since he took over absolute power.
The ongoing talks between the Maoists and the political parties will definitely influence the upcoming political scenario of Nepal. The government should not play unhealthy tricks on this by misusing the media. How does the country overcome the crisis? First, the king should sincerely take a conciliatory approach towards solving all the current problems with the assistance of the seven agitating political parties. Secondly, political parties should reconcile with the palace and reassure its rights and duties within a democracy. Thirdly, political parties should not restrict restoration of the dissolved House of Representatives. It is rather irrelevant in the present situation. Nepali Congress President GP Koirala's voice is nothing more than that of someone crying over spilt milk in this issue. Fourthly, the King should stop converting the state-run media outlets into sycophants .As a matter of fact, it is suffering a series of setbacks already. Fifth, the royal government should stop blowing its own trumpet in matters regarding conflict resolution and finally, three parties (king, political parties and Maoists) should apologize to Nepali people for their past defects. Apparantly, these three parties are too stubborn to admit that they were wrong.

End of Monarchy is the need of Nepal

Nepalipost Report
From London, Nov 6, 2005

Student leader Gagan Thapa has said that the end of monarchy, which has exploited the nation for centuries, is the solution to the present day problems of Nepal.
Speaking at an interaction organized by Nepalese Peoples' Coordination Committee, United Kingdom (NPCC, UK) in Wembley, London recently, he said establishment of full-fledged democracy without the king, can be the meeting point for all political forces of Nepal.
The king himself has time and again broken the agreement with the political parties and suppressed the peoples' aspiration for change, Thapa said. "Therefore, there is no possibility of an agreement with the king to resolve the present problem even on adhoc basis."
The old identity has crumbled and we the youths have united for drastic change in the state affairs via social, economic, political and cultural revolution, Thapa said.
We have to struggle inside the parties to make changes to accommodate the feelings of all people of all sectors and ethnic communities to ensure democracy in real practice, he added.
Dr. Ramesh Dhungel said the republic system is inevitable in Nepal if the king does not like to be completely constitutional in real sense without playing any role in state affairs.
Dr. Sampurnand Dhungana said drastic political change is necessary in the country at a time when the king has not changed himself and that the palace has never listened to the voice of the people.
Prof. Surya Subedi said the present problem is due to the king's action of February 1, which was unconstitutional. The king must be a constitutional monarch like in the United Kingdom and the constitution should be reformed to reflect the aspirations of all, he said.
Chairman of NPCCUK Purushottam Paudel stressed the need of unity in all sectors at a time when the country is moving towards a republic system for full-fledged democracy. The country is being run by more than two dozen ordinances issued in the absence of parliament, which is completely unconstitutional, he said.
He also condemned the attack on Kantipur FM and the recently promulgated media ordinance brought to control freedom of the press in Nepal. "Election without the participation of political parties is totally unconstitutional and will not be acceptable," he said.
Coordinator of Solidarity Nepal Krishna Upadhyaya, and a host of speakers including Karna Bahadur Shahi, Surendra Shrestha, Dinesh Ghimire, Sumit Sharma stressed the need of full-fledged democracy in Nepal. A large number of Nepalese living in London and other parts of the UK attended the program.

Overthrow the Royal Regime of Nepal by boycotting the forthcoming elections

Rabin Hara
November 5, 2005

1. Historical Background of the Royal Regime

104-year long autocratic Rana regime ended in 2007 BS, after the peoples' movement and tri-partite agreement between Indian Government, Nepal Royal Palace and Rana regime. Some form of a multiparty democracy was adopted in the country their after.
To show a pro-people facade, King Tribhuvan put forward a slogan of republic Nepal during earlier few years of his arrival in power. Slowly he moved to autocratic line and even a Constitutional Assembly was not acceptable for him in later dates when he himself established well.
Mahendra who was a radical rightist became king in 2012 BS. He was successful to conspire against Nepali Congress Party (the most popular party after 2012 BS and who had formed a government after the general election of 2015 BS). He was successful to invade the Nepali Congress (NC) secretly from the beginning of his rule.
As the King Mahendra's conspiracy was successful, he overthrew the democratically elected majority government of NC in 2017 BS. Later on, his conspiracy was also successful to invade the second popular party of the country (Nepal Communist Party). His new development models, reforms in the administration and successful conspiracy on two major political parties were very helpful to establish and continue the autocratic Panchayat regime for 30 years (2017 - 2046 BS).
Growing awareness among people, failure of the government to fulfil the aspiration for social, economic and equitable development of the country, corrupt and very inefficient bureaucratic system, united agitation of the political parties etc. led to overthrow the autocratic Panchayat regime. King Birendra's loyal-ness to the people might also have contributed to some extent to re-instate the multiparty democracy in 2046 BS without much bloodshed.
Nepalese people got the multiparty democracy second time in 2046 BS. The King Birendra agreed to be constitutional Monarch, and some democratic processes initiated in the country after when the constitution of Nepal, 2047 was enforced. However, nobody cared for the democracy of the ordinary people and the democracy was enjoyed by those who were in power and position including the Palace. Nobody bothered to institutionalize the democratic processes, norms and values at personal, household and at organizational levels (either GO, NGOs or political parties or their sister organizations) through formal and informal education and behavioral changes. On the other hand, the limited fundamental rights available to the people were also not acceptable to the ultra-rightist fraction of the Palace. As a result, the ultra-autocratic fraction came into power in June 2001 after the massacre of whole family members of the king Birendra.
This Palace is ruthlessly clever in adopting the principle of "divide and rule". The present King Gyanendra was not satisfied with the constitution from the beginning though the constitution of Nepal, 2047 has given him abundant of the rights (more than required for a constitutional Monarch) and privileges. That might be the reason that the new Palace started to encroach the constitution slowly after successfully sorting-out the issues of Royal Massacre.
There are numerous instances that the Palace has been encroached the constitution seriously. The encroachment is focused mainly to seize people's power leading to form the Palace puppet government with a big setback to the major political parties and to the democratic processes in the country. The Palace has now prepared sufficient background where it will be possible to form a puppet government under the name of multiparty democracy.
The Palace (Rana and Shah) has never become the part of constitutional forces in the constitutional history of Nepal. Despite this fact, still there is strong illusion (bhram) to some Nepalese elites that Palace is the strong constitutional force. Let us not waste time and realize the fact that the present regime of Nepal will never be a constitutional force. That is evident from the political history of Nepal. Rather it would be easier that CPN (Maoist) could be a constitutional force in this country. For this, people friendly constitution need to be developed from the joint action of all major political forces. Maoist should also join the united force. It is also the responsibility of major political parties and Civil Society to help the CPN (Maoist) to transform them as a constitutional force of the country. Therefore, let us, sooner the better, unite all constitutional forces to defeat the enemy of peoples' democratic republic of Nepal.

2. Steps taken by the Royal Regime to Form a Highly Autocratic System

All educated Nepali people with no any vested interest know well what the current regime is doing for their own democracy, and what the regime is doing to abduct the democratic rights of the people. Let us see what the Royal Regime (the Palace) has done so far in this regard. Only main points are given below:

· Unconstitutional positions created in the Cabinet i.e. the position of Chairman and Vice Chairman,
· Unconstitutional procedure introduced to nominate the ministers in the Cabinet. Moreover, it is very unconstitutional to become King as head of the Cabinet (the Prime Minister),
· Mostly either corrupt and criminals or persons rejected and/or marginalized from Political Parties have been inducted/nominated as ministers,
· Unconstitutional institutions formed at central level for example, Royal Commission for Corruption Control,
· District Monitoring Committees have been formed for political purpose in all 75 districts,
· Unconstitutional Regional and Zonal Administrators appointed with the sinister motive of channelizing and controlling the administrative set up by the Palace.
· The government headed by the Palace has nominated the members of District Development Committee (DDC) including the Chairman and Vice-chairman in all 75 districts. All nominees are the blind supporter of the Palace,
· The Palace and/or the government has been stimulating directly for the formation and networking of journalists for their support outside the gamut of Nepal Federation of Journalists (NFJ),
· Direct intervention of Palace in Civil Service System. More importantly frequent transfer and/or termination of job of senior administrators such as Secretary, CDO, and Chief Justice of the districts.
· Ordinance of various kinds including Media and I/NGO Ordinances formed recently and undemocratic processes adopted to enforce the ordinance.

In a nut sell, the total political and administrative systems of the country have been grabbed by the Palace and they are trying very hard to grab the media. Major political parties have been marginalized and issues raised by the powerful insurgent party (CPN Maoist) have not been addressed. In such context, how can a free and fair election be expected???

3. What should be done to get rid of this problem?

There may be different ways to overcome the current crisis of Nepal. Only boycotting the forthcoming election does not give the way out to the current crisis. Therefore, following actions may need to be taken:

3.1 Strongly boycott the forthcoming elections:

It needs rigorous interactions and consensus among all likeminded stakeholders. Specific and concrete steps should be initiated as early as possible.

3.2 Form a common forum i.e. Forum for People's Republic Nepal followed by the formation of a true government from all agitating political parties

· Change the image of the parties by confessing with people pointing out the specific mistakes made in the past and commit for no more such wrong doings in future,
· Form a high level committee at different levels (at district, zonal, regional and national level) and negotiate with CPN (Maoist),
· Massive campaign (within the country and abroad) to request all donor agencies for not to support the current autocratic regime in any form,
· Massive campaign to block or withdraw the payment of taxes to this regime; the campaign could be through the mass media, public speech, workshops, interaction meetings etc.
· Form a true government at various levels by making representation of all agitating political parties and civil societies,
· Start collecting taxes to operate the parallel government,
· Establish relations and deal with neighboring and friendship countries as true government of Nepal through formal and informal diplomatic relations,
· Try all possible means to manage support from local donor agencies,
· Establish relations with international institutions, mainly UN organizations as the true government of Nepal. Request the UN to return back the RNA from the Peace Keeping Force. This should be applied until when the RNA does not come under the command of Parliament of Nepal and that RNA has been misused by the Palace to be repressive and anti-people,
· Include Maoist representatives in the true government at various levels,
· Initiate meaningful dialogues with the army and try convincing that they should be loyal to the tax paying people and their representatives rather than anti-people Palace that does not pay any taxes for them,
· The parallel government should ask their relatives, friends and their well wishers to resign from RNA,
· Prepare specific and a detailed plan for the Constitutional Assembly as the true government of the country and organise the Constitutional Assembly,
· Develop an armed-force by the parallel government if the regime still exists or show resistance to change. This armed force may be unified with Maoist armed force later on, if things are settled properly.

Advocating Human Rights and Democracy

Nepalipost Report
PORTLAND, USA, November 05, 2005

Advocate Dinesh Tripathi was invited to speak as an international guest on the convention of National Lawyers Guild (Oct 27-31, 2005) held in Portland, USA. On the occasion Mr. Tripathi highlighted about the massive and systematic human rights violations taking place in Nepal. He said that, " there is total disrespect for rule of law and constitutional provision. King acted against the constitution and imposed his personal and direct rule in the country."
He informed the participants that the judicial independence and authority of judicial branch of the state has been seriously undermined and large numbers of court orders were utterly disrespected by the Royal regime. Court system, though still functioning, is under the shadow of growing militarization. Ruthless and undemocratic measures are being used to suppress democratic will and aspirations of the people. There is ongoing and relentless attack against the courageous Nepali press. Black media ordinance was recently introduced to intensify the attack against media and the mid-night raid of Kantipur Radio Station shows the extent of government hooliganism.
Addressing the gathering he informed that at this most critical and difficult juncture, Nepal needs full attention and an active support and involvement from the international community. Violation of human rights is a legitimate concern of global community. But unfortunately Nepal is not getting as much international attention as the situation demands. International civil society and global human rights community must support actively the human rights movement and democratic struggle of Nepal, because violation of human rights and norms of democracy in one country is the threat for everywhere in the world.
Founded in 1937, the National Lawyers Guild is an association of American lawyers committed for rule of law and civil rights. Around 600 hundred participant including lawyers, law professors and legal academics participated in the convention from across America. Guest from Japan, Philippines and Belgium also spoke on the occasion. Guild also agreed to organize international fact-finding mission and delegation to Nepal.

Workshop on Opportunities and Challenges for Nepali Political Parties

Washington, D.C., October 30, 2005

A workshop on Opportunities and Challenges for Nepali Political Parties was conducted in Washington, D.C by Liberal Democracy Nepal (LDN) on October 22-23, 2005. The representatives of six political parties (Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal UML, Nepali congress – Democratic, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Jana Morcha Nepal, Nepal Sadbhavana Party (A)), who were on a visit to the USA, were invited for a face to face interaction on the present political crisis in Nepal. A prominent Nepali human rights activist Mr. Padma Ratna Tuladhar was also in attendance.
The Workshop consisted of four moderated thematic sessions -- dealing with monarchy and Royal Nepal Army; dealing with the Maoists; managing the movement for democracy; and political parties managing themselves.
Several aspects of the themes above, including the restructuring of the state, social justice, and an inclusive party polity, were deliberated in depth by the delegates, LDN moderators and participants.
In addition, Baltimore America Nepali Association (BANA) organized a town hall meeting on Oct 22 to allow the local community to have an open forum with the delegates. Several dozen people participated in the forum. The political leaders from Nepal gave their perspectives on the country's current political condition. The presentations were followed by a lively question and answer session between the delegates and town hall meeting attendees.
The main conclusions/recommendations of the Washington D. C. workshop were as follows – 1) concerted efforts are needed to protect human rights and civil liberties in Nepal; 2) there should be immediate restoration of multi-party democracy in Nepal, and full support for the ongoing peoples' movement for democracy; 3) national sovereignty should rest fully with the people of Nepal; 4) sovereign people should themselves decide the role of monarchy; 5) the CPN (Maoists) should commit to lay down arms and pledge unconditional commitment to multi-party democracy, and pluralism, and respect for human rights; 6) the political parties should commit themselves to full internal democracy, inclusive people-centered politics and healthy democratic practices; 7) a negotiated settlement is necessary to end the current conflict; 8) and, all possible support should be extended towards bringing the three protagonists to a peaceful resolution to the current conflict.
The representatives from Nepal included Dr. Ram. S. Mahat, Chakra Bastola, Jhala Nath Khanal, Pari Thapa, Ashok Rai, Dr. Minendra Rijal, Bilmalendra Nidhi, Anil Jha, Dhruba Pradhan, and Padma Ratna Tuladhar.
The participating members of Nepal Diaspora included several members of LDN, friends of LDN, community leaders and invited participants form the Washington Metropolitan area.
In addition, a panel on the UN's possible role in solving Nepal's crisis was also organized. Assistant Secretary-General of the U.N. and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul C. Gautam and the U.N's conflict expert Samuel Tamrat were guest speakers at this event.

Empty Rhetoric of Good Governance

Krishna Prasad Adhikari
Reading, UK, October 12, 2005

King Gyanendra has repeatedly promised more than anyone else to deliver good governance and alleged the party-led post-1990 regimes of failing to deliver it. However, the unfolding activities of the royal government for the past eight months have shown that it is one of the worst governed regimes.
It is a well-accepted fact that a system of good governance requires wider participation of the people through elected representatives in order to enact and enforce laws. Given that the king systematically orchestrated to destroy the popularly elected House of Representatives and made the upper house virtually defunct, the lawmaking and enforcing system in Nepal is dictatorial. The country is derailed from the constitutional courses with a series of laws being promulgated through royal ordinances. Whatever the king brings out through ordinances becomes law of land without subject to rectification through people's representatives. He is doing so to serve self-interest, which is vehemently being opposed by the political parties and civil society institutions.
Seen from the perspectives of absence of corrupt and unethical behaviours for good governance, this government has the worst record ever. It is an open secret that most of the members of the present cabinet have one thing in common: unethical past or present. Some are bank defaulters, while some others are alleged smugglers. Some of them have even spent jail sentences for alleged attempted murders, while others have corruption cases pending at the court. Many fresh evidences of unethical behaviours of powerful members of the cabinet are coming up. Most recently, the first vice president of the council of ministers was known to be a blacklisted, wilful bank-defaulter. Moreover, even though the official declaration of his property shows that he owns only 10 tola gold as his private property, he managed to pay approx. Rs. 20 million loan back to a bank through a foreigner. Furthermore, recently a team of senior ministers were allegedly attempting to earn millions of black money overnight by masterminding a cross-border smuggling of subsidised fertilizer. Neither has there been any word on refutation nor an action.
Furthermore, in a militarised autocratic regime, rulers attempt to deny people's rights to information and communication and very little is known about high-level corruption. However, it is needless to dig deep to find evidences that the king himself is no better than any other corrupt in terms of amassing money for his expenditure. In the king's regime, there is neither any requirement nor any institution to regulate him from having as many taxpayers' money as he would judge necessary for royal pleasure. Surprisingly, in a war-torn and poverty-stricken country like ours, the king's budget has ballooned to an unprecedented size. It has jumped from Rs. 64.16 million in 1996/97 to Rs. 355 million this year. Furthermore, after the king's February 1st takeover alone, the royal foreign visit has cost taxpayers over Rs. 200 million. Take another example -- In contrast to the nearly Rs. 6 Million expenditure of a delegation to the United Nations General Assembly led by an elected prime minister in 2002, allocation for the king's proposed visit this year was Rs 102 million. Thanks to cancellation of his visit, it saved a huge amount of taxpayers' money from going to waste. These examples show a mismatch between the extravagant royal requirements and the nation's ability to afford them. Can such luxuries be ethically justified as not being white corruption in wider senses?
The present regime stands with a premise that the system of service delivery can be improved and made efficient with the centralised structures of administration in place. The government has gone ahead in this line restoring the old, dumped, infamous autocratic institutions like Anchaladhis, and handpicking Regional Administrators as the institutional pillars to sustain the present regime. The civil service sector is already terrified with the recent incidence of manhandling senior civil servants by the power-obsessed, royal-nominated administrators. The king and his deputies enjoy self-assigned unprecedented power to judge and dictate the grassroots administration and development in an attempt to establish an administrators-centric upward accountability structure. In fact, it is antithetical to the principle of a devolved system of local governance in which people are the master of their destiny. Can denying people the opportunity to champion the cause of their development help achieve good governance?
Militarisation is in rapid rise. There is barely anything left for essential social development since taxpayers' money has been diverted to fund the rapid militarisation process. Army is not confined in the battlefield today; its jurisdiction has been extended in such a way that it censors media and controls news. Most powerful royal advisors and country's ambassadors are the ex-generals. The government's failure to reciprocate ceasefire offered by the Maoists is guided by the military mind of a prolonging war. Naturally, the militarisation is inversely related to the roles of people's representatives and civil society institutions as the actors of a national governance system. Will the process of pulling the army into civil affairs by pushing people's representatives aside lead to good governance?
This government lacks decency and fairness. It has undermined the constitutional institutions like CIAA and failed to respect the judicial system. The extra-constitutional institution, RCCC, which is vested with unlimited power to investigate, charge and convict, is systematically pursuing political vendetta. Rights violations by state forces with impunity have been the order of the day of the present regime.
In sum, a centralised, militarised, un-transparent and autocratic government of never-elected gang dominated by the past or present bank-defaulters, party-defectors, smugglers and alleged criminals neither has shown any sign of delivering good governance nor can it be expected to do so. This is further evident in the fact that those who wanted to give the present government a chance are becoming disillusioned as the February 4th promises have appeared to be mere hypocrisy. Furthermore, as the ultra-rightist mandale activities in the past eight months have shown a worsening situation, the rhetoric of good governance has proved a deception to sustain the bogus regime.

The exploded Head

By Janata Bahadur Nepali
14 September 2005

Things that do not happen anywhere can happen in Nepal. Probably, that is why this country is known as Shangri-La. Just as the myth and the mystery of the Yetis of the Shangri-La; a mysterious royal tsunami occurred on 1 June 2001, which swept away 10s of the royal heads. The Kathmanduers once again witnessed another mysterious scene in the mid of the 2000s. On that day, one human head was exploded by itself. "How?" people whispered to each other.
The experienced doctors tried to find out, actually, how this particular head exploded, but they could not find any clue. However, one of the head specialists hinted that the head contained strange debris, composed of things such as; politics, smuggling, massacre, jealousy, greediness, etc. which had been packed down in that head since the 1950s.
As per the suggestion of the head expert, one investigation team was formed. The team included a Mathematician, Political Scientist, Economist, International Relation Expert, Criminologist, Psychologist, and a Natural Scientist. They collected the pieces of the exploded head in a plastic-bag and took them to one of the science-labs in Kathmandu. The analysis followed right away.
It was the Mathematician, who first began his analysis. He turned the pieces of the brain with tweezers, and started his analysis. He said, "From very childhood, this head used to play with the equation-formula of the algebra."
"That's right. This head did many-many political equations," agreed the Political Scientist.
The Political Scientist turned the pieces of the exploded head around, tapping his nose with a napkin. After gauging into the pieces of the brain, he said, "This head's political equations were like the following:
NC + RPP - CPN-UML = Way to Coup (for abbreviations, see 'What is what' below).
CPN-UML + RPP - NC = Way to Coup.
Maoist + Crook Politicians - Honest Democrats = Way to Coup.
The Political Scientist continued, "In the early 2000s, when the Maoist rebels were gaining popularity, this head went to the jungle and diverted the Maoists' Shining-path aka Prachanda-path towards the Taliban-path. Soon, the Maoists' popularity went downhill."
According to the Political Scientist, this head made the following equations of the leaders too.
Bamdev Up + Madhav Down = CPN-UML's split.
Army + Deuba - Girija = Collapse of the Parliament and the Split of NC.
State of Emergency + The West + 2-October-2002-Coup = Political Parties in the Streets.
Executive Power to Himself + Chand + Deuba + Maoist - Political Parties = Chaos.
Army + Deuba + CPN-UML - Other Political Parties = 1 February 2005 Coup.
Army + Prachanda - Baburam = People's War Down.
The political scientist further explained, "In this head's equations, the feeble leaders readily stayed between his + and - signs. As a master of plotting, this head knew it very well that when and who should be pushed up, and when they should be pressed down. The Sadhus of the Pashupati temple area, living together with the monkeys, were his co-plotters."
Now, it was the Economist's turn to analyze the head. He said, "This head did many trading equations too. Cigarette manufacturing cum hotel operations + antique sculpture cum marijuana smuggling out + gold and luxury goods smuggling in = billions of dollars in his secrete bank account in Switzerland."
In fact, this head did even worse thing to fill in his pocket. The crook Army Generals + foreign hints = Bhatata (royal palace massacre). Bhatata + the royal palace and the property capture = also capture of Pamphadevi (late Queen)'s secrete bank account in Switzerland.
"Wait, wait!" the Political Scientist interrupted. "His motives were not only to capture the property of his late brother and his family, but also to take hold of the crown. His formula was like this: capture of the Narayanhiti Riyal Palace + the crown + a daydream to be a living Hindu god Vishnu = wipe out of his brother's entire family.
The next turn to analyze the head was of the International Relation Expert. He said, "As it was not possible to run his poverty laden country without donations, the right equation of the foreign support was important too. He tried this equation: China + Pakistan + India - Kalapani (west Nepal territory occupied by India) - Nepal's water resources to India = Long Live Autocracy. Although China and Pakistan said yes to him, India played Ping-pong with him. Here, his equation got a disorder. He turned to the other side and tried: War on Terrorism + USA + UK = Long Live Autocracy formula. But Nepal neither has oil, nor is a haven for the Al-Quaida. The USA and the UK did not have much worry for the Maoists, who were nearly eradicated from the world long ago. So, they said no."
Then, the Criminologist took his turn to examine the head. "Although this head used the Maoists in his previous equations, they no longer listen to him, as they had become powerful with looted guns and forcefully recruited guerrillas. The title of the 'World's Hindu King' that he put on him by himself, fell apart elsewhere. He wanted to be worshiped as a living Hindu God Vishnu, but the people cursed him as a sculpture thief instead."
The Criminologist had got a lot more to say about his analysis. He continued:
The memory of the bloody history on the one hand, and the growing revolution on the other; this head slowly lost its control. Whether in the dreams or in the reality, he saw only the blood, corpses, bullets and explosives; and he heard the demonstrators' chanting slogans calling him a murderer and a thief. He could hardly sleep. When he eventually fell asleep, he woke up with nightmares. In his half-conscious state of mind, he sometimes announced for tender notice to apply for the post of Prime Minister, and sometimes he forgot to appoint one at all. He did not trust anyone. He was frightened with his own shadow. Later, he handpicked some of his Here criminal partners, and formed a cabinet. He tried to run the country, but reached nowhere. Some Western diplomats questioned whether he was a leader of the criminals.
An 18th century French style revolution was arriving to his doorsteps. In case he survived, he was sure that he would be taken to the International Criminal Court, where he had to tell about every single crime that he committed. Just as the fleas leave a dog, when it is dead; many of his supporters began to leave him. Those, who were able to flee the country, they did so; while the others either went underground, or joined the republicans.
Under the plot of this head, thousands of Nepalis died, and millions became homeless. Nobody knew, how many people disappeared from the prisons; how many of the children became orphans; and how many of the women were raped and brutally killed afterwards. Thousands of the policemen and the soldiers lost their lives. A handful Military Generals and Police Inspectors, who had their own opinions, were shot dead, and the guilt was put on the Maoists. Now the curtain dropped. The police and the military realized who carried out those massacres. An emergency meeting of the police and the army soon followed, which decided to support the republican revolutionaries. The meeting concluded, to protect the right of survival of the 24 million Nepalis, this head must be shot. The head's own bodyguards, then, prepared to load their guns. There was no possibility to apply his ultimate formula: the army's help + to flee Nepal = to join the former dictators in France. His equation turned upside-down, like this, and consequently this head exploded by itself.
"Wow! What a terrible story!" said the investigators with long sighs, and at once, they clapped their hands.
Why did this head act like a mad monkey his whole of life? The Psychologist had the answer. He said, "In 1950, this head was accidentally crowned due to an odd political situation. However, soon the crown was returned to his grandfather; and then it was transferred to his father; and later to his oldest brother. This head got mad and plunged into deep thoughts; how could the crown be returned to him. Because of his childhood trauma, he became a psychopath. He could not see the difference between human being and mosquito, when it came to killing. To forget his problems, he began drinking raxi (alcohol). He also smoked cigars and marijuana. Thus, he became an alcoholic and a chain-smoker. When the alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and the flashback of his conspiracy, smuggling, brutality, massacre, as well as the failed equations whisked together in this head, it was exploded."
"Your analysis has brought the relation between psychology and natural science together," said the Natural Scientist. "Maybe, we should advise this head's family to establish a 'Bhatata Peace Prize' just as the 'Nobel Peace Prize' established as tribute to those killed by the Nobel dynamites."
Meanwhile, the local radio broadcasted, "The head of the wife and the son of this exploded head also burst, when they were preparing to flee the country. The daughter-in-law of the exploded head instantly fainted. She later woke up, when the servants poured a bucket of cold water on her. She, then, horridly announced: I hereby state publicly to return all properties, looted by this family since the centuries, to the people of Nepal. I will rather support my children and myself by opening a momo hut (Nepali fast food) in the street. However, may I humbly request, not to hand over the properties to the newer versions of Pamphadevis and Bhatatas, but to the clean leaders of the civil society? Because we should not plant the seeds of another revolution, as we did in the aftermath of 1990's revolution, where all former totalitarians were excused by the democratically elected government."
Enormous happiness flooded over the nation. A new national anthem echoed in the mountain ravines and through the flat terrains, as well as in the cities of the Shangri-La, "Democratic Republic of Nepal! Finally; beautiful, peaceful and just great…"
What is what?
Baburam: One of the key leaders of the armed Maoist Party
Bamdev: Leader of the CPN-UML, who once spitted the party but later re-joined
Bhatata: Sound imitation in Nepali of shooting, which symbolizes today King Gyanendra
CPN-UML: Communist Party of Nepal, United Marxist and Leninist
Deuba: Former Prime Minister and President of NC (Democratic), breakaway of NC
Girija: Former Prime Minister and President of NC
Madhav: Former Deputy Prime Minister and General Secretary of the CPN-UML
NC: Nepali Congress (Party)
Pamphadevi: Late Queen Aishworya, who reportedly used this name as an account-holder in her secrete bank account in a bank in Switzerland
Prachanda: Chairman of the armed Maoist Party
Psychopath: A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or immoral behavior without empathy or remorse
RPP: National Democratic Party (a pro-monarchist political party)
Sadhu: Holy Hindu man, but here Hindu extremist
Raxi: Locally brewed Nepali alcohol, colloquially any kind of alcohol

Taking Advantage

Vincent Androsiglio
August 04, 2005

" I had to pay $8000 dollars to get a house cleaning job in the United States", said Sushil---a 24 year old Nepali , who works in an internet café making $30.00 a month to support his wife, two kids and his parents. He wants to go to America to make enough money so he can start his own business when he returns.
He, like thousands of other young Nepalis have completely lost faith in their country. They see that their only option is to get work abroad. Besides --there are very few jobs available in Nepal - even for college graduates.
I inquired if Sushil would get his $8000 back if he didn't receive a visa. He never asked. He feared that if he pushed the agency too much they would reject him. He didn't know if the place was licensed either. He read about it in the local newspaper . They guaranteed a job in the United States .The process : You pay an agency to find you a job in another country, then you are qualified to apply for a visa.
Since I was interested in helping Nepalis with this process, I volunteered to call the agency. They connected me with the head huncho. I asked if they were licensed. Immediately the man suggested that I work directly with his American counterpart. He gave me their name, web-site and phone #--and got off quickly.
We checked out the website and we're especially pleased that you could apply on-line and the total fee was $1300 .Not bad !! We wondered though--how did it get to be $8000 ? That doesn't include a $1500 airfaire and a $200. non-refundable fee for the visa interviw at the US embassy. The average income of a Nepalese is $250 a year. So, my friends decided to go for it. Why pay $8000? Before they took this step , I had a friend in the US call the Agency-- to check them out.
The response: a man's voice said, "Leave a message." The company's name was never mentioned . Calls were never returned. All alittle irregular for a legitimate company. Finally, after days of calling, a live voice . My friend was told that the Nepalis had to pay the $8000.
Immediately, I informed those who had already paid half the fee --to hold off until we finished our investigation. Ironically, even though there was doubt --they were willing to pay the whole fee. They were desperate. Most of them got this money thru loans at very high interest rates. They wanted a chance in another country --even if it took years to cut even and make alittle profit.
The plot thickens: I called the US Embassy and asked what they thought .They guessed that both the American and Nepali agencies cut a deal --and split the cash. There's no way it costs $8000 to find a house cleaning job. This was almost all profit. Later I discovered that this was cheap in comparison. A young women's family paid $ 18,000 to get a job cleaning a beauty salon in New York City. Also, even if they got a signed contract that their money would be returned if they didn't get a visa-- these contracts virtually mean nothing. We checked this all out with the US Dept. of Justice. Apparently, it isn't discrimination.
The poor are taken advantage of --not only by their own wealthy countrymen, but also by the developed nations.. This is but a tiny example of a practice that is ocurring on a grand scale. A recent report on REAL AID states that in 2003 the total aid flow of 69 billion dollars is far short of what donors had pledged. In fact, they barely gave 10% of what they committed. In the same year, poor countries transferred 95 billion dollars to developed countries as interest payments on their loans. Lastly, when George Bush created a 15 billion dollar AIDS Treatment Fund---a hugh portion of that went to paying for expensive brand drugs that the US pharmaceutical companies produce, but cannot compete with the other cheaper --but equally effective drugs on the market.
These events tell us about who we are: Have we lost our souls to profit? Is justice merely a bleeding heart's reaction? Is business simply to just find a market of the disadvantaged --and milk 'em dry? Has greed become the spiritual disease of our times?
We need to remember that the world is ONE Family--we need each other !!. We can , indeed , find meaning in helping one another--without a string attached.

Vincent Androsiglio is a psychotherapist and former Professor at New York Medical College. He lives in Nepal and has an email-therapy practice: vandrosiglio@

Rerservation For Women Not the Answer

By Bashu Dev Phulara
September 02, 2005

Nepal is now plagued with many problems -- debt, disease, conflict, corruption and weak governance. It is pragmatically seen as an unusual place in the reservation system as well. This matters to everyone, therefore. Though reservation mania has found new pastures, how many deprived Nepalese have benefited from this type of compensatory discrimination may never be known. In fact, reservations for Dalits, reservation for disadvantaged groups and reservation for women have all one thing in common. In view of that, it sounds very good to discuss whether or not reservation for Nepalese women is to the point.


The concept of reservation is one in the chain of romantic ideologies churned out in the aftermath of Hegelianism. Some might argue that reservation for the women has gone too far. But, it was never intended to continue forever. The whole foundation of the reservation argument is that the entire community benefits from it.
There is the feminist argument in its favor. In essence, it runs thus: Nepalese women are a deprived group. Their status will not improve unless their depiction in decision-making sector reflects their numerical strength in society. This seems fine. But, there are more immediate problems. By nearly every parameter, there are several other groups in this country that are at least as worse off as women. Reservation is not the appropriate answer, therefore.
The protagonists of reservation seldom offer an explanation, "We're talking about gender, not religion," they declare, although the laws of logic will crumble in the face of feminist indignation. The problem with reservation is that it is based on a number of unsubstantiated premises that simply do not make sense.
Many advocates urge that only members of one group can help others in that group. And then, the only way to improve the Nepalese women's lot is to put other women in power. This is nonsense. In advanced societies where women have made huge strides - such as the United States and the United Kingdom- the proportion of women in decision-making sector is sometimes even smaller than in South East Asia, including Nepal.
Women, for example, dominated South Asian politics, particularly in India, for over a decade. It is not clear how Indian women gained much more from Indira Gandhi than they did from, say Jawaharlal Nehru, or how powerful female politicians like Sheikh Hashina of Bangladesh, Chandrika Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka and alike have helped to improve women of their own countries.
It is obvious that an insightful political activist/leader of any country helps every sector of his/ her country, whether h/she is Hindu or Muslim, man or woman and rich or poor. The problem with reservation is that it wishes to institutionalize this failure. Hence, this very reality would be a great tutorial to all of us.
In Nepal, reservation has been an instrument of the politicians to win the votes of women and other weaker sections of society. The politicians, notably those in power, have exploited the issue of reservation to feather their own nests. The real beneficiaries of this system are not the needy but the politicians and their henchmen.
A small number of women in politics and other levels have reached where they are because they are the wives or widows or daughters or daughters-in-law of politicians or others with clout, and not because of their own achievements or beliefs. The truth is that Nepalese politicians or leaders do not support reservation for women. If they did, there would have been many more female leaders/activists and officials without a single seat having to be reserved for them.
Women are the strongest weapon that any group can possess in a democracy: the advantage of numbers. The voices of Nepalese women, however, have already fallen on deaf ears. All the same, the proposed reservation mantra could do nothing to maintain the gender balance. Despite some pragmatic results, it has completely failed to deliver the promised gains either.
Why do women need reservation? Why don't they fully exploit their rights freely and shift for change? The only way to respond to these questions is: the downhearted partition of women would not be uprooted until and unless the so-called patriarchal rule of society is changed.
Reservation does not seek to eliminate the gender discrimination; it merely aims to uplift some downtrodden castes and individuals, whether at the bottom or the middle of the caste ladder. This ideology is a misconceived populist move. Truly, it degrades women in one form or another. It is the biggest danger because women form neither a separate group nor a separate caste, community, class or section. In fact, men and women cannot be separated from each other. They have common economic and social interests.
The slogan of reservation might have a different deeper purpose. Without a doubt it appears to be a tactical move by certain groups to regain their position through women; they otherwise stand to lose. Despite everything, women do not realize that as women themselves they should not look down on other women and make them feel small.


The proposed reservation ideology is not clear about the manner in which it would uplift women. Also, no concrete yardsticks are perceived so far to make women more deserving than others. No wonder, it is the worst thing we have ever seen in the history of politics. Reservation neither heralds a big change nor does it eliminate the pre-arranged social disorder or sins. At a time when the state is deepening in crisis, the suitable social fabric should be the first and foremost priority of everyone. Instead of putting emphasis on numerical reservation, we have to carry on the everlasting equality between men and women for the good of society and the nation as well. After all, reservation is an insult to everyone; what do you think?

(Advocate (LLM- Gold Medalist, Nepal) – Now associated with Binod Roka and Associates PC as a " Foreign Law Associate", New York-USA. The author can be reached at: )


Soni Thapa
August 24, 2005

The U.N. declaration of International Women's Year in 1975 awakened the world for gender equality. Women's global movements of the 1960s and early 1970s have underscored women's issues in hegemonic patriarchal societies. During the 1950s and 1960s development era, women were not considered as subjects in development practices. On one hand, men's roles in production - economically privileged work – were highly valued. On the other hand, women's significant roles - both productive and reproductive - were greatly devalued. Easter Boserup, in her groundbreaking book Women's Role in Economic Development (1970), highlighted the role of women as active producers.
Boserup's pioneer study - gender as a variable - and the U.N. declaration of 1975 have attempted to corroborate the significant contribution in development arenas by women. In order to "integrate" women into development, the concept of Women in Development (WID) was instigated. The approach of women's "integration" into existing development - without reshuffling existing development paradigms - inhibited women from partaking in formal economic sectors. The Women and Development (WAD) approach that emerged in the second half of the 1970s merely focused on the "relationship" between women and development and deliberately disregarded women's oppression and subordination.
To bridge the gap that WID and WAD had previously overlooked, an alternative approach, Gender and Development (GAD), was introduced in the 1980s. GAD examines not only the sexual division of labor - "Who does what," but also scrutinizes sexual division of resources - "Who has what." Here, "Who does what" scrutinizes and analyzes gender division of labor by acknowledging and validating both men's and women's contributions. Likewise, "Who has what" addresses an access to and control over resources. It values both men's and women's productive, reproductive, and community roles. Here, productive roles involve the production of food, goods, and services for consumption and trade; reproductive roles include rearing and caring of children and elderly people, cooking, fodder collection, and family health care. Similarly, community roles deal with participating in ceremonies, celebrations, group meetings, and involvement in local politics and organizations.
Following the ratification of the U.N. Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979), Nepali government began to address women's concern - primarily with regard to development sectors- from the sixth five- year plan (1979-1984). A Women's Development Section (WDS) was established, and the program titled "Production Credit for Rural Women (PCRW)" was initiated to ameliorate the economic status of poor women through small-scale production activities. Subsequently, the government, International Non-Government Organizations, (INGOs), and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) became committed towards the empowerment of women. In the past, many programs implemented through the WID approach basically focused on income generating programs (goat raising, pig raising, poultry etc). As the approach merely viewed women as consumers, mothers, and wives, it failed to address gender relation, and the redistribution of resources. Later, many NGOs and INGOs started integrating GAD in their programs. Acharya (2003) states that development theories should go beyond the welfare approach by adequately focusing on gender equality.
In Nepal, one of the development practices that has been embraced and acknowledged to empower women is "microfinance." The model that I have internalized, perhaps the most successfully, is the idea that the beneficiaries should have equal responsibility to design, plan, and implement their programs. Formation of women's groups ensures their solidarity, and that groups are guaranteed to get loans for their group without collateral. Apart from starting small enterprises, for example, goat/pig/buffalo raising, poultry, retail shop, and kitchen gardening, women initiate group savings too. After a few years, once women become competent in handling both loans and enterprises, they may turn their small groups into a cooperative: managed and operated solely by women. Women's empowerment is only possible via microfinance when coupled with training components such as; literacy, savings and credit, health care, and gender, to name a few.
As stated by Mayoux (1997) and based on my own experiences, conclusions can be drawn that when a woman has access to loans, she can make decisions to set up micro-enterprises, which can result in both income and repayments. Her status in the family and society may escalate, since her economic contribution to the family may become apparent. Further, Ackerly (1995) states that empowered women who wisely invest money in a successful enterprise and positive outcomes of empowerment may result in the discontinued battering by husbands to their wives, the ability of the wives to finance children's education, improve family status, and finally democratization of her decision-making power in family, as well as in society.
Hence, there should be some intervention strategies aimed at bringing about changes in the status of women. Social mobilization, group formation, informal education, capacity building, and credits are powerful intervention methods for empowering rural women. We still need to address practical needs, which deal with immediate necessities such as food, clothes, education, and so forth. In this context, meeting practical needs alone does not change the power relations between men and women. Results become less sanguine with women's subordination as a result of inadequately addressing strategic needs, i.e., control over property, mobility, political involvement, and decision-making power. The empowerment of women can only be realized by dismantling the hegemonic patriarchal society, and thus legitimizing just, equitable society.

(Soni Thapa is a doctoral student of Sociology at Texas Woman's University, Texas, and can be reached at

Gender Issues in Nepal

By Purushottam Sigdel
July 31, 2005

The definition of gender refers to a condition of being male or female on biological ground. It may be interpreted in many ways but it is just a difference of sex. Gender role refers to the set of behaviours of each sex in any society and gender equality refers to the equal rights and opportunities granted to both men and women.
An ultra-conservative society is widely considered discriminatory towards women. It urges women to stick to its traditions and ignore liberalization and modernisation. Women have been relegated to the roles of mere helpless housewives, not having any personal identity, decency or dignity. Conservatives oppose any changes that smack of most modern norms, which they view as licensuous. They allege that modern societies are waging frenzied campaigns against their traditions, saying that they are trying to incite women to shed their traditional norms, ethics and values, which they are unnecessarily proud of. The religious edicts prevailing in a conservative society like this have done nothing to raise a woman's status, honor her and shield her virtue. The vital role that women play in the building and development of society and their enormous sacrifices are often utterly ignored.
Women have a respectful position in Sanatan (Hindu) Dharma. Our beliefs and traditions consider the mother a hundred times superior than the father. 'Sarawsoti', 'Laxmi' and 'Durga' are greatly revered as the prosonification of 'great wisdom and knowledge', 'great benefactor, love and kindness' and 'great forgiveness, power and strength' respectively. But still the women in Nepal often become victims of abuse and domestic violence. Gender disparities continue particularly in the predominantly patriarchal society like ours, in which women are voiceless and supressed. The women, half of Nepal's population, still face fearful odds in a society that radically curtails their chances of success since birth. They are deprieved of the same rights and opportunities that men have. Traditional mindsets contribute to reinforcing the suppression of women, who are forced to abort female fetuses because the family members desperately want a son. Normally, women in our society don't have the right to decide who they want to marry or where they want to live. In many cases, forced marriages are responsible for driving many women to commit suicide.
The reason behind gender disparities and discrimination against women is lack of proper education and awareness. Had people been taught that only the father's reproductive chromosome, not the mother's, determines the birth of a male child, the mother would not have suffered from the physical violence and psychological trauma inflicted upon her by her in-laws and other family members for not giving birth to a male child. Had people known this simple biological fact, the female fetus would not have been killed in the mother's womb ; the girl child would not have been taken as a burden in society. Had people loved their daughters like sons, no society would have dared to exploit them physically, mentally and socially. Had the law and society guaranteed equal rights to women, they would have been able to compete with their male partners in every walk of life. Teaching against the existing traditional and religious beliefs like child-marriage, forced marriage, witchcraft, untouchability during menstruation cycle, son's right to mortuary rites should be on the curriculum at every school. Above all and most importantly, the state should guarantee educational and financial rights to women so that they don't have to be the victims of their ruthless family members and be lured by pimps and traffickers to brothels.
Nepal has a very feeble gender equality record and will have to do a lot to achieve a certain level of gender equality . Only wishful thinking cannot end the discrimination between men and women. The government should pledge to enact legislation to ensure equal rights for women. It should enact a new law increasing the penalties for men who abuse their wives and children. The law should provide special protection measures for abused women and provide immediate legal recourse for them. In many circumstances, women are betrayed by men. Children, born to unknown fathers, should have the right to claim their citizenship certificates through their mother's nationality. Abortion is also a burning issue in our society and it should be considered as an integral part of women's rights. Abortion should be decriminalized in case of rape, a malformed fetus or if there are serious health risks to the woman. The daughters should be given the right to inherit parental property like the sons. But, it seems that there is still no firm sign of such legislation emerging. One lame excuse has followed another. There has been delay after delay. The time for dithering is over. The lawmakers should match their talk with deeds. Unfortunately, women have a poor number of representation in the parliament and other organisations. If this number could be increased, they would have an important role in the parliament and could influence decision making in favour of women.
Women, on their part, too, should try to be independent and protect themselves. They are a powerful force toward building a prosperous society. They should encourage themselves to be physically, mentally and spiritually enriched. They should involve themselves in promoting women's empowerment in social life. They will have to launch a campaign against violence against women. They will have to take their crusade against inequality to the parliament if not to the streets. If women enjoy sitting behind the walls dependent on their husbands' earnings and limited freedom given to them, society is sorry for them. They become vulnerable to deception, infidelity and adultery. But, an important thing also to be noted is that ultra-feminism is as fatal as male chauvinism.
Violence against women is a 'cancer' eating away at the core of every society, in every country of the world ; it is a human rights atrocity. From the battlefield to the bedroom, women are at risk. Governments are failing to address the real terror in our world that millions of women face every day. Atrocities against women including rape, murder, and mutilation must be stopped. Following the recent upsurge in Maoist violence in Nepal, girls and women have often been used, abused, mutilated, raped and murdered as weapons of war. Violence against women is religiously, legally, socially and morally not acceptable to the civilised world and should never be tolerated or justified. It can and must be stopped.

(The writer can be contacted at

Division of Household Labor: Toward Gender Equality

Soni Thapa
July 18, 2005

Women's overarching inequality inside the home and outside is an upshot of the patriarchal ideology. Even though there is a substantial shift with respect to - women's participation in labor force- gender discrimination in household labor still prevails granting lesser justice to women. An equitable society should embrace equal distribution of power, division of labor, and opportunity regardless of gender. Scholars highlight that to create gender equality both men and women must have an equal opportunity in the labor market and should share equal responsibility toward home and children. Thus, it is important to analyze the division of household labor in the realm of gender equality.
The significance of household labor is unvalued/devalued socially, economically, and politically. Housework is conceptualized as unpaid, tedious, time consuming, but unavoidable for existence. A division of household labor primarily determines who does the housework. Under the rubric of household work, cooking or meal preparation is considered to be valued less and men rarely partake in it. Women's increasing role outside of the household – be it at work or in getting an education – and that inside the home as a "second shift" or "double shift" create an incalculable workload on women that needs to be explored and subsequently valued.
Different theoretical explanations or hypothesis deal with discrepancies on the division of household labor: the time availability, the relative resource, and the gender role ideology. The time availability hypothesis assumes that sharing of household labor is directly proportional to the time availability. Based on different methods and several studies, husbands' contribution toward household work 10/15 hours per week is relatively small as opposed to women spending more than 40 hrs per week. Research in 31 countries, both industrial and developing, shows that women work longer hours than men in almost every country. Of the total burden of work, women account for 53 per cent in developing countries and 51 per cent in industrial countries of household labor. Thus, there is no relationship between time availability and men's contribution toward sharing gender roles within the country and across the globe.
Gender role ideology hypothesis relegates to gender roles that have been defined by society. Household labor is embedded within social values and norms, giving less equity to women. Greenstein (1996) reveals that gender ideology is different than gender role; gender ideology meaning doing equal share of household work rather than believing household work is women's work. The societal sex-role perception has emancipated many men from household chores and detained many women as unpaid labor.
The relative resources hypothesis assumes that those with greater power and resources such as earning, education, and occupational prestige utilize the power to avoid household work (Spitze, 1988). Even though research has shown that women who are employed longer hours, earn more money, have more education, and endorse gender equity, they contribute lesser toward housework, which is paradoxical. Scholars underline that the greater the wife's power via earning or education, the more equity she would get in household labor. However, women's bargaining power is submerged under the pretext of gender-skewed social and patriarchal ideology.
Even though men's participation appears to increase with higher level of education, time availability, changing gender ideology or women's increasing bargaining power, there is still gender disparity in terms of equal sharing of household labor. Still on an average, women perform two or three times as much housework as men.
Despite women's increasing involvement in labor force and education, they still are considered as the primary caretaker of the house. Rendering value to household work and transforming gender ideology could enable a change in men's perception in understanding and sharing household labor. Men limit their household work as voluntary work (whenever they feel like doing they do it, otherwise there is no compulsion), but for women it is their duty. If she performs her duty, she is a good wife; if she fails, she is vehemently ostracized. Our societal definition of a man who cooks inside the house as "gender inappropriate" but if he cooks outside the house as a chef as "gender appropriate" needs to be transformed. Both types of work - whether it is inside the house or outside, whether it is performed by men or women - should have equal value, respect, and justice. A suggestion can be made that the government should give economic value to household work. Giving value to household labor also increases gross domestic income; hence, women's contribution will simultaneously become visible in the country's Gross Domestic Product.

(Soni Thapa is a doctoral student of Sociology at Texas Woman's University, Texas, and can be reached at

Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights Elects New Members

Nepalipost Report
New York July 16, 2005

The Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights in Nepal, USA formally announced its new executive board on July 12, 2005. The elections for the 11th term of its new executive committee were held amidst a gathering of its general members on June 28, 2005. Sanjaya Parajuli, Somnath Ghimire, Yem Rayamajhi and Anil Shahi are its newly elected president, first vice-president, second vice-president and general secretary respectively.
Similarly, Sudeep Lamichhane was elected as the joint secretary and Radha Poudyal as the treasurer. Ms. Mridula Koirala was unanimously nominated as the chairperson of the executive board. Other newly elected members are Rabin Raj Pandey, Krishna Pokharel, Mahabir Chaudhary, Pratap Kunwar, Phurba Sherpa, Sujata Rai, Nagendra Ignam and Binod Roka. Dr. Govinda Koirala and Rajendra Shrestha accomplished the task of conducting the elections as election commissioners.
The alliance is a not-for-profit organization registered in New York State in 1989 in order to support the democratic movement in Nepal. It remained as a watchdog group for democracy and human rights in Nepal and played a vital role in the restoration of democracy in the 1990 popular movement. The organization has been persistently involved in the defense of human rights and consolidation of democracy in Nepal since its inception. The new board expressed its profound concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Nepal and vowed to work towards the restoration of democracy and fundamental freedom in Nepal as its primary campaign.

Maoist Leader Bhattrai's Book Released

New Delhi July 11, 2005

A book by top Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattrai was released July 9 in New Delhi. The "Monarchy vs. Democracy- The Epic Fight in Nepal" is a collection of Dr. Bhattrai's articles published after the infamous palace massacre of June, 2001. The book claims to give a vivid account of the nine-year long People's War led by the CPN (Maoist). Published by Samakaleen Teesari Duniya, the book was released by Prof. S.D. Muni. Prof. Ranadhir Singh, a veteran left intellectual who has written a foreword in the book, chaired the function.
Left intellectual from Nepal Mr. Hari Roka, former professor of political science in Delhi University Manoranjan Mohanty and well-known journalist associated with the Economic and Political Weekly Mr. Gautam Naulakha also expressed their views on the book at the function.
The book's publisher, well-known journalist Anand Swarup Barma, said the book would be helpful in understanding the current political stand of Nepali Maoists. He said the articles in the book and other releases by Maoist party chairman Prachanda and spokesperson Mahara clearly express that the Maoists are committed towards the multi party system.

Autocracy in the Family

V. Androsiglio
July 09, 2005

How can there be democracy in the country, when the Nepali family is autocratic?
How can men who demonstrate on the streets for democracy expect political change, when they are autocrats at home? This also applies to women, who contribute to this by accepting themselves as second class citizens.
If feudal values are to change, it must start socially and in the family. Otherwise, it is hypocritical. Democracy is not something simply instituted by law--that's only a small , but significant start. It is something you live and practice in your daily life. Autocracy can be found in the dictatorial behavior of men over women in Nepal. Democracy and dictatorship are not wedding partners.
Some examples: a Nepali couple are married ten years . They have five daughters. Because the wife has not had a son ( which biologically, in fact is the man's issue) he divorces her and abandons his children. He marries another women and eventually she has a son. A son is depended upon to support the parents in their old age and perform the funeral rites that assures their entrance into heaven.
Another man takes a second wife and invites her into the same household . The first wife is expected to adjust to this complicated emotional triangle.
This is not an indictment of men. Instead, it suggests that antiquated values don't work within the context of the 21st Century. Traditional values that hurt people are of no value.
A university student finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant. He yells and screams at her for not taking birth control pills. Meanwhile, he never used a condom , himself. They never discussed contraceptives. He assumed it was all her responsibility. She tricked me to get married was his theory. This young man was panic stricken. His family just offered to send him the US to study. If he told them , they would never accept the girl. It would bring disgrace upon his family.
He suggested abortion. The girl refused. She wanted to get married . So, he promised to marry her in two years. He lied. She bought it, went for an illegal abortion, and is left feeling fear and shame. Abortion is now legal in Nepal-which involves telling the parents. This, of course, encourages illegal abortions. In the collision between traditional values and modern laws , the Nepali female again seems to bear the brunt of it all--a situation that permeates numerous cultures.
This is not too dissimilar to the traditional witch-folklore, which has been used to "solve" social and psychological issues. A baby dies in a village. The finger is pointed at a women who happened to be near the child before it died. The local priest is consulted; paid, of course-- and pronounces the women a witch and the cause of the mishap. The witch-folklore is a defensive maneuver used to avoid personal responsibility. It is destructive because it blames and dominates women. Ironically, a major part of this problem is that women themselves participate in the blaming.
Drug addiction is quickly spreading among women. Unlike male addicts ,who are given a god-like status in the family and actually given money to buy drugs---the female addict once discovered---is thrown out of the house .Prostitution usually becomes her only option.
Finally, the rapt issue. This is the most outrageous, undemocratic violation of a women. It gives a man the right to marry a women he has raped. If she refuses and has his child, the child cannot become a Nepali citizen (only males can bestow citizenship) and the child, therefore, cannot attend school. This is a law on the modern 1990 constitution. The stories are endless, from wife-beating, to unfair division of labor, to the basic attitude that a wife's life is solely to serve the needs of her husband.
Again, is it possible to have a democracy in a country where there is a dictatorship in the family? When women are no longer dictated to by men ,and women no longer accept this position ,that would, indeed , be a real sign of the spirit of democracy evolving----maybe more so than who's in charge, demonstrations and futile bickerings in the newspapers.

(V. Androsiglio: is a psychotherapist and former professor at New York Medical College. He lives in Nepal and has an email-therapy practice.

As the apology continues, a bit of truth seeps through

Hari Bansha Dulal
June 13, 2005

Recently 39 people lost their lives in Madi, Chitwan when Maoists ambushed a passenger bus in a broad day light. This latest massacre, in chitwan, reveals that all the talk of the Maoists chief about refraining civilian attacks is nothing but hot air. Those killed included infants, women, and some senior citizens. Their mistake was that they were born in Prachanda's Nepal. Prachanda described the incident as a case of mistaken identity. How easy it is for him to describe someone else's irreversible loss as a case of mistaken identity. Had they been his own siblings, he would have definitely felt the pain. Ask families of those who lost their lives in this heinous crime against the humanity and you will know what it is like to loose someone you really love and care about. Mr. Prachanda, "'The wearer knows best where the shoe pinches'.
Out of those 39 people, some might have been the bread winner for their families. Their dreams are shattered. As they are gone now, their families will have to find ways to survive. Survival has become a big thing in Prachanda's Nepal. A herd of ill trained and brain washed guerrillas can sign off anyone's life as they did in this case. The bus they ambushed is supposed to be carrying three security personnel on board. Maoists mass murdered 39 and injured scores of innocent civilians on board to get rid of those three security personnel. This incident exhibits how weak Maoist guerrillas are when it comes to tactical soundness. Killing 39 individuals in order to get rid of 3 security personal is an example of gross miscalculation, ill preparedness, and a tactical error.
This is not the first time that Maoists have killed innocent civilians. They have done it again and again and gotten away with apology. Is human life worth just an apology? Definitely not in civilized society. Mr. Prachanda, ask your guerillas who barely escaped security personnel's bullet and they will tell you how precious life is and how lucky they are to be alive. Attacking innocent civilians riding a bus is not courageous; it is heinous crime and will be punished on the day of judgment, if any. It is by no means courageous to attack innocent infants, women and senior citizens. It is courageous to protect freedom; it is courageous to defend oneself and not to attack.
People learn from mistakes and this is not the first time that maoist guerillas have committed mistake of attacking innocent civilians. There can be two reasons behind the repeated mistakes. Either maoist guerillas are ill trained and tactically weak or they are out of control, or may be both. If Maoist leadership cannot control their ill trained unleashed guerrillas, they should not let them loose. Maoists should try winning the hearts and mind of Nepalese people rather than hurting their sentiments if they want their dream of republican state come true. Power gained through blood shed doesn't last for long. Terror reign of Mullah Mohammad Omar, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussain, and Hitler did not last for long.

(Hari Bansha Dulal is a doctoral student of Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University, Virginia, and can be reached at

ANA Condemns Bus Attack

Washington, D.C.
June 10, 2005

The Association of Nepalis in the Americas (ANA) strongly denounced the June 6th landmine attack on a bus that killed 39 and injured 70 passengers in Chitawan, Nepal.
In a press release, ANA President Krishna Nirola said the organization was deeply disturbed by the heinous crime that killed so many innocent civilians. “We mourn those dead in this senseless violence and send our deepest condolences to their families,” he said.
The Maoists have claimed responsibility for the attack and have offered an apology. But “their apology has become too common to have any credibility,” the ANA press release said, referring to their broken promises in the past. “They apologized when they hung a journalist; they apologized when they killed an innocent school teacher and now, yet another apology.”
The ANA said the Maoists could demonstrate their sincerity only by immediately stopping their tactics of targeting civilians, perpetuating violence, intimidating and terrorizing the Nepali society.
“The Maoists’ claim of compliance with international treaties including Geneva Convention on "Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War" rings hollow when they persistently use landmines to terrorize, maim and kill innocent people,” the ANA said.
The press release highlighted the fact that use of landmines is banned under an international treaty signed by more than 100 countries. It said landmines lay hidden and unexploded and posed threat even after the cessation of conflict and continued to kill. “In Cambodia, people are still being maimed and killed by landmines. We believe that no one with an iota of humanity should use landmines in any circumstances.”
The ANA urged the Nepali government along with the international community to find the perpetrators of these killings and immediately bring them to justice.
The organization also asked the Nepali government and the Maoists to urgently find a negotiated settlement to the ongoing violence, and move towards peace and democracy in the country. “Violence as a means to win any ideological war can never be supported by the people or the international community,” it said. “We deplore such cowardly activities and expect it will never be repeated in the future.”


Srijana Aryal Nepal
Florida Atlantic University, USA, June 01, 2005

There are many non- Nepalis who have done remarkable, outstanding and memorable deeds for Nepal and whose debt the Nepalis will owe forever.
Among them is a remarkable man: explorer, environmentalist, geologist, scientist, teacher, journalist but most importantly, a true friend of Nepal- Dr. Toni Hagen. He so dearly and truly loved Nepal that his love for Nepal has been an example unheard of. And as the environment day just passed by, recalling his contribution around this time would be a real tribute to him.
He helped to put Nepal in the world map and he introduced Nepal to the world. He adored Nepal so much that he lived through the cultures of Nepal and he died with it. His wish was to scatter his ashes from what was left of his (im) mortal remains in a country, very far from his motherland, where he took his las breath. His ashes were brought all the way from Switzerland and scattered over the Khumbu icefall, along the very path, which he had taken 50 years ago in "Uhileko" Nepal.
"My father's wish was to be cremated and his ashes brought to Nepal," said his daughter, who was satisfied that his ashes joined the mountains of Nepal that he cared for so much.
He proved that he loved Nepal- the country, which was not even his birthplace.
People close to Toni Hagen, describe him as an optimistic person, who always believed that Nepal had progressed remarkably in the last few decades and most importantly, was not disappointed with the political disturbances. They say he was a great source of inspiration. He used to ask opinion about different activities in Nepal, and strongly place the opinion at relevant place and always took it in positive light. He believed in development, democracy and decentralization. He believed in indigenous capacity of Nepal.
"The people have to participate in shaping their own destiny. No one can dictate to them, and you cannot have democracy through violence and bloodshed."
This is what I read in the newspaper, about his hope for Nepal.
I would like to rephrase a line from a famous poem for Ahileko Nepal.
"Peace, peace everywhere, nor a pinch to feel."
Why can't there be unity in anything and among any party?
Do not we want to shape the destiny of our own country?
A bitter truth, in Toni's Uhileko Nepal all the Nepalis and non- Nepalis were optimistic and there was peace, whereas, in Ahileko Nepal very few are optimistic and there is all but peace. In Ahileko Nepal every Nepali is dreaming for peace. The king is seeking peace. The ruling party wants peace, revolutionaries are for peace, and the opposition parties need peace. The teachers, the students and the parents, all are for peace. Though, the air in Nepal is full of peace talks there has been no peace but only protests. Peace has been the 'mantra' to play with the peace of Nepal. It seems, for us the protest has metamorphosed into peace and we see peace in protest.
But no, at this crucial moment also, we are witnessing protests and closures. Can Nepal afford more? We celebrated the 50th year of the ascent of Mt. Everest - the world's highest mountain, which undoubtedly drew worldwide attention. Sadly enough, equal attention was drawn by violent protests that marred the celebration in the capital. And such events can be tall enough to shadow even the highest point on earth. The history is there to evaluate how high did Nepal climb, in all these years.
Even the only need of the country- the 'Mt. Everest need', could not awaken our leaders and followers to make every effort to offer peace to Nepal. Mt. Everest, no matter how many ascend and descend over it, in no matter how many years- is getting polluted climb after climb and no matter how many projects and people come and work for Nepal, the country is being enlisted as one of the poorest nations in the world year after year and no matter how many parties come to power - the Nepali people, are forever searching for peace, day after day.
Now, with the latest political development, let's hope there will be lasting peace. And that peace will prevail as envisioned by all the Nepalis and non- Nepalis of Ahileko Nepal. Let's hope the political parties will take this opportunity to prove that they are not after power and position but for the people.
Talking about Toni again- the scribe had the opportunity to meet this personality, quite a few times. At all those times I found him so concerned about Nepal and only Nepal. Despite his advanced years and ill- health, he was always thinking about Nepal- dreaming about transforming Nepal. While talking to me he had said, " Nepal is my second home". At that time these five words meant very little to me. I thought he must have said so, just to please Nepalis, like every other foreigner. But I had never thought that this very statement would ring in my ears one day, and keep on ringing for the remaining years of my life, whenever I recalled his contribution and love toward Nepal. How true those words proved to be.
He was about to leave for Nepal. This time, he came to Nepal and never left. Even his death could not prevent him from visiting Nepal. So strong was his commitment, so ardent was his love for Nepal that he has come to live with us forever.
Our Ahileko Nepal needs powerful leaders, a few peace makers, who prove their commitment and show that they love Nepal beyond everything -- above power, position, party, politics, personal interests and protests.
Be it the exemplary love like Toni's- which was even above his place of birth.
Uhileko - a Nepali word meaning former times or during old days
Ahileko - a Nepali word meaning current time, these days

Immorality: The Root Cause of Our “Samassya”

By Shankar Kunwar & Umesh Giri
May 22, 2005

Samassya ka jara khojaun, samassya ka jara chinaun!
Khojera dharilo sastra, jara kati nirmul garaun!!

Let’s look for the roots of the problems, let’s identify the roots. Having found a sharp weapon, let’s cut the roots and eradicate them.
We got multiparty democracy, one of the best political systems on earth, in 2007 BS. A decade-long, full-fledged democratic practice did nothing better but help the king to assume executive power. The king’s three-decade- long active rule, the Panchayet, was widely condemned and multiparty democracy was resumed in 2046. In other words, the year 2007 was repeated. Most of us have witnessed this fourteen-year- long democratic period, boy, was it a perfect mess! The king found enormous reasons again to dismiss multiparty system and condemn its advocates. We are back in 2017. We believe the cycle will continue.
This political system doesn’t work. That political system doesn’t work. We keep changing system after system as if that was our destiny. There has always been a good ground to condemn every preceding system by the leading system, but none of them could really survive and be sustained. Let’s stop condemning each other, now we have enough data to claim that the political system is a problem but not the problem.
We are living with centuries-long problems like poverty, illiteracy, discrimination, irregularity, corruption, injustice, so on and so forth. Why could neither king’s nor people’s government solve our problems? The answer is fairly simple, because none of them knows the roots of the problems.
We believe most of the heads of governments want to do well in their tenure, because no one wants to be condemned, everybody loves to be praised. But, they fail to do so because they can’t reach to the roots of the problem. You can’t destroy a bush just by slashing it.
The roots of the problems are in society. Society has sunk in a black hole of immorality that none of us can escape out of. No political system has the strength to change the people’s mentality. Those who ran multiparty democracy during 2007-2017 BS were from the same society as were the people who ran the Panchayet. Today’s democratic leaders and Panchayeti leaders are from the same community and tomorrow’s leaders will also be products of the same society, no matter what names do they give themselves .
We are accusing the leaders. Who are the leaders? They are among us. We make leaders, we choose leaders; we are part of the system. If we were the leaders, we wouldn’t be doing any differently than what these leaders have done and have been doing. Leaders make the country, there is no doubt, but to have such leaders we need to have good society. Good society may produce good leaders, which can be anticipated. But, immorality is widespread in our society; whether we are heads of the country or of small communities, we are unaware of morality. It is said that there is a political crisis in Nepal, but we say there is a crisis of everything and morality crisis is the cause of all the crises.
Three decades of active monarchy and two and a half decades of multiparty system have already shown us what they could do (or not do). Now, there are some people who believe communism will work, but we can see from others’ experience that communism offered nothing good to the world. How can we be exceptional? Some people think that the king is the major source of the problems and the country needs to be transformed into a democratic republic. Our neighbor Bangladesh has been practicing it since its birth, and we don’t think it is the best country as an example to follow. Nothing will work until society possesses significant number of good hearts, those who have morals.
Freedom is a human being’s birthright. A competitive democratic system, and the rule of people, by people and for people are necessary for development, but it is not sufficient without morality. We can take Bihar, a state of one of our neighbors, India, as an example. It was a highly dominant place in ancient India and the richest state when the British left. It is now the most lawless and poorest state despite having practiced one of the best political systems in the planet for more than half a century. Until and unless morality is installed in society, don’t expect any political system to have the caliber to transform society. Morality is an unconditional requirement for progress.
My philosophy is better, his philosophy is wrong. I care for my country, he doesn’t. My philosophy addresses the major problems of the country, his philosophy doesn’t. This is what we have been doing. There is only one problem, immorality, and it is the seed of all the problems. Why have so many different, complex philosophies? “Be moral and do moral” is the simplest and most efficient philosophy ever. You don’t need to crack down on corruption, irregularity, segregation, poverty, illiteracy etc, they will automatically fade out once you crack down on immorality, just like the shrub will dry out itself once you destroy its roots.
After all, what is a country? A country is an assembly of individuals. Each individual should feel it is his/her personal responsibility to be a moral person. No one can be moral for you and no one can make you moral. We (the writing duo) can make only ourselves moral individually, that’s why we, as responsible citizens, are struggling to practice morality. We believe this will be the greatest contribution to our country on our part.

Political Parties Present Road Map To Democracy

Nepalipost reporter
May 22, 2005

The representatives of six Nepali political parties met with India’s Minister for External Affairs K. Natwar Singh on May 20. The delegates presented the minister their joint “road map” for the restoration of full democracy and peace in Nepal.
The delegates were Pradi Giri – Nepali Congress (D), Rajan Bhattarai – CPN (UML), Dr. Shekhar Koirala and Mathura Prasad Ghimire – Nepali Congress, Hridayesh Tripathi and Rajendra Mahto – Nepal Sadbhawana Party (A), Chandra Dev Joshi – United Left Front, and Ganga Paudel – People’s Front.
According to a Nepal Democracy and Human Rights Advocacy Center press release, the delegates at the meeting raised the issue of India’s resumption of arms support to the present Nepali government. Reiterating India’s commitment to Nepal’s fight for democracy, Minister Singh explained the specific conditions under which India’s arms supplies to Nepal have resumed.
The meeting concluded that unity among political parties alone could ensure a sovereign, prosperous and peaceful Nepal. All agreed that Nepal’s political system is to be the handiwork of Nepalese people alone.

100-day Anniversary of King Gyanendra's Executive Power

Somnath Ghimire
May 21, 2005

King Gyanendra had pledged to restore Nepal 's democratic institutions by now. May 11 marked the 100-day anniversary of King Gyanendra's takeover; the deadline he set for himself to restore democratic institutions in Nepal. We all are still waiting for the king to prove his commitment to restore democratic freedoms as quickly as possible.

King Gyanendra provoked widespread international condemnation when, backed by the military, he dismissed the government, and arrested scores of political rivals, journalists and activists. The king said he had to act because Nepal 's political parties had failed to organize elections or to defeat the insurgency plaguing much of the countryside.

On April 29, 2005, the king lifted the formal state of emergency and released some high-profile political leaders. But, hundreds of people are still in detention, the lifting of emergency is nothing more than an attempt to appease the international community. The king has done nothing to restore democracy and civil liberties in Nepal . Regardless of the king's takeover, fighting against rebels in the countryside continues unabated. On May 9, 2005, clashes between security forces and Maoists left more than 40 people dead in Siraha.

Since the king seized power, the bloodshed has worsened. According to human rights groups, nearly seven people a day have been killed since King Gyanendra’s takeover and most of them are innocent civilians.

King's Step: Constitutional Perspective

On February 1, 2005, at 10.0 am, King Gyanendra declared dissolution of the eight-month-old four-party government (the coalition government formed on June 2, 2004) and assumed executive power. The proclamation was broadcast through the state-owned media, Nepal Television and Radio Nepal .

He proclaimed, "As it is our responsibility to preserve our nationalism, national unity and sovereignty, as well as to maintain peace and security in the country and ensure that the state of the nation does not deteriorate any further, we have by virtue of the state authority as exercised by us and in keeping with the spirit of the constitution of the kingdom of Nepal, 1990, taking into consideration Article 27 (3) of the constitution, dissolved, effective from today, the current council of ministers to fulfill the people's desire for the restoration of peace and security and to activate soon the democratic dispensation. The council of ministers to be constituted will be under our chairmanship. This council of ministers will give utmost priority to reactivating multiparty democracy in the country within three years with the implementation of effective reforms by restoring peace and security."

Article 27(3) reads as follows: "His Majesty is to preserve and protect this constitution by keeping in view the best interests and welfare of the people of Nepal." Primarily, there is no provision for a 'chairperson' to head the council of ministers under the present constitution. The king 'holds' the chairmanship of the cabinet. The king has very limited power to exercise at his discretion: Article 28 (2): King enjoys exclusive power to enact, amend and repeal the law relating to succession to the throne by his descendants. Article 34 (1): He can constitute a Raj Parishad.

Whatever words he has gathered to justify his move, his is an unconstitutional move. However, he has repeatedly cited the constitution of the kingdom of Nepal-1990. So, it would be relevant to match his actions with the constitutional provisions. It is worthy to mention here that Article 35(2), reads, "Except as otherwise expressly provided as to be exercised exclusively by His Majesty or at his discretion or on the recommendation of any institution or official, the power of His Majesty under this constitution shall be exercised upon the recommendation and advice and with the consent of the council of ministers. Such recommendation, advice and consent shall be submitted through the prime minister."

King sacked Deuba government, declared nationwide state of emergency. By whom was the king recommended to terminate Sher Bahadur Deuba and impose emergency?

Some Key Provisions Today:

Article 35 (1): Executive power the kingdom of Nepal has vested in His Majesty and the council of ministers.

Article 36 (1): constitution of council of ministers- The king appoints the leader of the party which commands a majority in the House of Representatives as prime minister.

Article 36 (3): King appoints deputy prime minister, state ministers and assistant ministers on the recommendation of the prime minister.

Article 36 (4): Prime minister and other ministers to be collectively responsible to the House of Representatives.

Article 36 (7): proviso- If prime minister dies, king appoints deputy prime minister or the senior most minister to act as prime minister until a new prime minister is appointed.

Article 42: If no one party has a clear majority in the Lower House, a member of the House who is able to command a majority there is to be appointed as prime minister.

Article (43): Duty of prime minister to inform the king on decisions of cabinet, bills and other concerned issues.

Article (117): Prime minister is the chairperson of the constitutional council which has the responsibility to recommend names for appointment in constitutional bodies.

Article 87: Appointment of Chief Justice

Article 97 (2): Appointment of chief commissioner and commissioners of commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority

Article 99 (1): Appointment of Auditor General

Article 101 (2): Appointment of the Chairperson and members of Public Service Commission

Article 103 (2): Appointment of chairperson and members of Election Commission

Article 109: Prime Minister recommends to the king for the appointment of Attorney General of Nepal.

Article 115: Prime minister recommends for the imposition of the state of emergency.

Article 118: Prime minister is the chairperson of National Defense Council of Nepal. The same Article incorporates that army operates on the recommendation of the council. The king is now the defense minister of Nepal . Defense minister is also a member of the council.

Accountability Deceived:

In accordance with Article 31 of the constitution, no question can be raised against the king. The provision reads: No question shall be raised in any court about any act performed by His Majesty. So, the king's acts cannot be challenged even in the court. And, he is responsible to nobody as such! Is it rule of law that no one is held responsible for his deeds, especially misdeeds? Who is responsible for the deteriorating state of affairs after the king's assumption of power? Should anybody be given impunity for his/her misdeeds?

The much talked about Article 127 of the present constitution, that the king has been mentioning frequently while changing governments five times right from 2002, reads as follows: "Power to remove difficulties: If any difficulty arises in connection with the implementation of this constitution, His Majesty may issue necessary orders to remove such difficulty and such orders shall be laid before parliament."

The preamble of the constitution of the kingdom of Nepal, 1990, reads: "Guarantee of basic human rights to every citizen of Nepal, the parliamentary system of government, constitutional monarchy and the system of multiparty democracy by promoting amongst the people of Nepal the spirit of fraternity and the bond of unity on the basis of liberty and equality; and also to establish an independent and competent system of justice with a view to transforming the concept of rule of law into a living reality." But, the king's present step has crushed the major thrust of the constitution, formulated after the Popular Movement in 1990.

Formation of the Royal Commission on Corruption Control (RCCC):

The Royal Commission on Corruption Control (RCCC) is not aimed at addressing corruption but at silencing all forms of dissent whether by political leaders or judges. The Royal Commission on Corruption Control has paralyzed the existing body for investigation into corruption i.e. the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA)

A special court meant to consider the CIAA’s prosecutions. The RCCC can even investigate “the judges of the Supreme Court and office bearers of all constitutional bodies”. The RCCC may proceed with prosecution against such individuals as long as it has informed the king. With the Supreme Court already submissive and intimidated, the independence of judges has been destroyed.

The royal edit on the RCCC forbids any criticism of the commission and gives punishment for such criticism. It also prohibits anyone from protesting an investigation being conducted by the commission and gives punishment for such protest. While there is provision for appeal to the Supreme Court within 35 days of a decision by the commission, with the Supreme Court judges coming under the purview of the Royal Commission on Corruption, there is no forum to seek justice.

By now, our king should know that there is no military solution to the existing problems in the country. Ultimately, it has to be resolved on the negotiating table with the inclusion of the political forces. We are anxiously waiting for the decision of our king, as how many more days he needs for the revival of the democratic process, civil liberties and press freedom in Nepal. In the 100-day anniversary, King Gyanendra could not come up with a new military strategy to deal with the insurgency, and the chances of developing a viable political strategy, without which any military operation cannot be effective, have been further reduced. Although the international pressure has forced the king to reconsider some of his actions, the questions of restoring democracy and tackling the insurgency have not been addressed yet.

Only when a broad-based strategy can be agreed on and implemented by all democratic political forces in Nepal will talks with the Maoists be possible that stand any chance of success. But, without further strong international pressure, the king will continue to entrench his power at the expense of democracy, and Nepal will continue to suffer from demoralizing conflict that might lead to cold war.

It is hoped that the demonstration held on May 15 in front of the White House in D.C. will put tough pressure on King Gyanendra to restore democracy in Nepal.

Out of The Silence

By Kristin Jones
May 07, 2005

At 10:25 a.m. on February 1, King Gyanendra of Nepal delivered a stunning proclamation- Nepal's multi-party government had been dismissed and a state of emergency declared. Simultaneously, telephone lines across the country were cut, mobile phone service discontinued, and fax and Internet connections shut down. Backed by the Royal Nepalese Army, the king seized state television and radio, placed the country's political leaders under house arrest, and silenced the press with military occupations of major media houses and wide bans on reporting.
In the silence that followed, a surprising thing happened.
The king was unable to shut off Nepal from the rest of the world. Rather, in the days after the coup, smuggled e-mails, clandestine Web sites, and the unlikely emergence of a handful of Nepalese bloggers threw the government and independent journalists into a cat-and-mouse chase. The king's unintentional result: While attempting to plunge Nepal into a communications dark age, he spawned a small legion of online journalists.
Shortly after the announcement, Tara Nath Dahal, president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) emerged from his home to find the streets deserted. When he arrived at the umbrella organization's building, "no journalists had come to the office for fear of arrest," he said in a CPJ interview. Resolved to take a stand against the king's curtailment of Nepal's hard-won press freedom, Dahal met with FNJ General Secretary Bishnu Nisthuri and decided to risk arrest by writing a statement that would condemn the king's actions and boost the morale of his colleagues.
"The royal announcement made yesterday, by ending the spirit and value of the constitution of Nepal, is a coup against democracy and peoples' rights," the explosive first sentence read. The following morning, Dahal met with other central committee members of the FNJ and secretly printed out the statement.
Now came the hard part-distribution. Without telephone, fax, e-mail, or Internet, the statement was delivered to international non governmental organizations, diplomatic offices, media houses, and foreign journalists by bicycle and motorcycle couriers. Within hours, it had been photocopied countless times. Soon, it was translated into English, and, via satellite connections accessible to diplomats and foreign journalists, an electronic version appeared in in-boxes across the world.
Dahal went into hiding. When security forces surrounded his house and harassed his family, Nisthuri wrote and distributed a statement calling attention to the treatment of the FNJ president. On February 4, it was Nisthuri who was arrested.
In those initial days, the coup seemed to generate little national protest. Racked by a civil conflict between Maoist rebels and the government, Nepal had been run down by violence. Faith in political parties had been compromised by corruption. Some Nepalese believed that the king's drastic actions were in order; many feared that dissent would mean arrest. And in a poor country where only about 80,000 of 27 million citizens are regular Internet users, where illiteracy is high and phone lines don't reach large swaths of the mountains, a communications blackout isn't a life changing event for many people.
Dinesh Wagle, an arts reporter for Nepal's major daily Kantipur and a pioneering Nepalese blogger, was entirely absent from the blogosphere during the first week of the coup. The Internet remained down until February 8, and he lacked access to expensive satellite connections. Regardless, his United We Blog! (UWB,, had rarely dealt with politics. The site was primarily an English language diary with threads on music, parties, and the media.
But when Internet communication resumed, Kantipur and all other media outlets were still barred from any reporting "that goes against the letter and the spirit of the royal proclamation." So, while the king's army dismantled community radio and choked dissent in the country's Nepali-language publications, the Web site posted its new motto: "United We Blog! wants Peace and Democracy [to] be restored in Nepal as soon as possible."
Wagle's colleagues began to see the blog in a new light, he said. "Even those folks at Kantipur who didn't read my blogs or simply ignored them are now following daily," he wrote in an e-mail to CPJ. "Political reporters also share info with me that they can't write in Kantipur." The site provided extensive, street-level coverage of political protests and reports on the arrests of colleagues. Interest soared, both inside and outside of Nepal.
The king restored communications with a caveat: security forces could monitor and block media outlets as they saw fit. Were online journalists putting themselves at risk? Wagle admitted that there were submissions he would not post-for example, statements calling for an end to the monarchy. Radio Free Nepal, another blog that emerged after the coup, posted comments anonymously in order to protect contributors.
By April, these two blogs had escaped direct government censorship, but other news Web sites such as the Nepali Post, a Washington, D.C.-based Nepali-language online magazine, had been targeted. Editor Girish Pokhrel said that the government blocked the Web site in Nepal shortly after the resumption of Internet service.
Despite its resolve, the Nepalese government may not have the resources for sophisticated Internet surveillance and blocking. Pokhrel found that readers in Nepal soon accessed the site through overseas proxy servers, which retrieve Web site contents on the user's behalf. When those proxy servers were blocked, readers found new ones.
Newslook, a U.S.-based English-language Web site that culls international headlines, saw its readership in Nepal multiply by five during the month of February. Editor Dharma Adhikari, a Nepal-born journalism professor at Georgia Southern University, told CPJ that the number of hits from Nepal dropped by only 10 percent when the government blocked the site around February 23. Somehow users were finding a way to get through.
For the most part, Nepalese authorities showed greater tolerance for critical commentary in online news sources than in print publications, and allowed more freedom in English-language media than in Nepali language media. In a country where the Internet is prohibitively expensive and most people do not speak English, the government may not have viewed most online journalism as a threat. Internet journalists, in general, were not in a position to report on the political conflict that raged in the country's rural areas. On the other hand, the king's post-coup directives struck at the heart of community radio, a primary source of information for the many Nepalese who are illiterate. Independent newscasts were banned, and reports on the Maoist insurgency were restricted.
As Nepalese began to report electronically to the world, however, the world responded. The international outcry over the imprisonment of Nisthuri helped to win his release on February 25. Though under pressure from the government, Dahal evaded arrest and teamed with other advocates to launch the Web site Press Freedom Nepal (, which posts press freedom violations and relevant news. The fight for the Internet is not over, but Newslook editor Adhikari pointed out the greatest hope for budding online journalists.
"Censoring the 'Net is not that easy," he observed. Even for an absolute monarch.

Kristin Jones is research associate for CPJ's Aisa program. (This story on Nepali journalists getting on-line will be published in Dangerous Assignments, the magazine published by the Committee to Protect Journalists.)

India: Our Friendly Big Brother or an Imperialistic Hegemonist?

Avantika Regmi
May 03, 2005

King Gyanendra lifted (?) the 3 month old emergency yesterday at the 'order' of India. There is no doubt that this move has not been without an ulterior motive, which is to get the much anticipated arms and ammunitions rolling into Nepal.

It appears that after the recent meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia, King Gyanendra was successful in convincing the Indian government of the necessity of his Feb 1 step to protect Nepal's [Monarchy's?] future from the grave "risks" of a total Maoist victory. If India resumes military aid and legitimizes the king's move then this would be nothing short of back-stabbing the democracy movement in Nepal in which regional stability again scores over democracy. Pro-democracy people of Nepal still genuinely believe that the Manmohan Singh government has not caved in to the king's lies, and yet in the last 55 odd years there were several occasions when democracy could have gained a credible and long-lasting foothold in Nepal, but for the foisting of wrong candidates by India, who then tarnished the word democracy itself.

The first democratic adventure of Nepal was when the puppet king [Tribhuvan] was restored to power in 1950. This happened with the nod of India. Such was the clout of India in those days that if India had wanted the Ranas would have continued as the de facto rulers of Nepal. On the other hand if India wanted to annex Nepal it would also have been possible. But Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru decided to let Nepal remain as a "free" nation. On hindsight, if India had not intervened at that time an indigenous struggle may have been successful in the ushering of a democratic regime through struggle, and not the one planted by India. Both the Kingship and Ranaship may have been completely destroyed through an indigenous struggle for democracy.

India remained happy [at least on the outside] with Nepal's King Birendra till 1989, when India economically blockaded Nepal [March 1989 to April 1990]. Rumors doing the rounds at that time were that Sonia Gandhi on a Kathmandu visit was not allowed to visit the Pashupatinath temple on the ground that non-hindus could not be allowed into the temple's sanctum sanctorum. This had apparently piqued Rajiv Gandhi and led to the blockade. Others said that the blockade was to teach Nepal a lesson for daring to purchase some arms from China and other countries instead of only from India. Whatever be the actual reasons, on the outside it was passed off as Nepal failing to sign two trade and transit treaties with India after the expiry of the previous ones.

The Indian blockade led to sky-rocketing prices of food, kerosene, oil, petrol inside Nepal and the resultant anger of the common got directed towards the King. These 13 months of immense hardship made people realize that the King, who haplessly watched their suffering, was nothing but a tin pot dictator.

At the same time the political parties and the people who led them got emboldened. The final push came when the former Prime Minister of India, Chandrashekhar, and known close family friend of the Koiralas, came to Kathmandu [Feb, 1990]. From the garden of Ganeshman Singh's house, who afterwards got catapulted as the supreme leader of Nepali Congress and supreme commander of the 1990 democratic movement, Chandraskeshar publicly chastised the King and sang paeans of the democrats.

In his weakened state King Birendra, the absolute monarch, could do nothing. This further emboldened the democrats and common people joined hands with them. Daily rallies and protest meeting with the active participation of Nepalese people from all walks of life started occurring almost spontaneously all over Nepal. The movement reached its crescendo when the police fired on protesters who dared to desecrate the statue of King Mahendra [Birendra's father]. At this time tens of thousand of protesters were surging towards the heavily barricaded royal palace, a couple of meters away. Dozens were martyred and King Birendra decided to step down [April, 1990]. It was not that Chandrashekar's Kathmandu sojourn that brought the downfall of absolute monarchy but certainly it added momentum and hastened its end.

In a way the embargo did well for Nepal's democracy, even though it resulted in misery to the ordinary people. It is quite apparent that without India's involvement (embargo plus emboldening the democrats) the movement would have failed. India hoisted its favorites [the Nepali Congress stalwarts] to the top-posts in Nepal.

Once hoisted to the top, Indian prime ministers and top bureaucrats began to build up false profiles of their favorite boys. P. V. Narshimha Rao and subsequent Indian PMs publicly lauded Girija Prasad Koirala's and the late Ganeshman Singh's role in the Indian freedom movement when in fact neither had taken part in the Indian freedom struggle. At the same time India began to pump in hundreds of crores of rupees to fund projects associated with the Koirala name.

Most Nepalese had come to regard King Tribhuvan as the father of modern Nepal but after democracy arrived in 1990, B. P. Koirala, the founder of Nepali Congress Party, replaced Tribhuvan as the "builder of modern Nepal". This was hyped up even by the Indian media time and again [Ramchandra Guha, The Hindu, July 21, 2001]. The royals were quickly sidelined and the Koiralas took over.

The interference of Indian ambassadors in Nepal's daily political affairs has ticked many. There are other prime ministerial candidates like Madhav Kumar Nepal, General Secretary of United Maxist Leninist Party, who somehow always gets pipped to the top post and there is a lot of suspicion amongst Nepalese that this is because India wants to foist its blue-eyes boys only to the top slot. Since this has happened repeatedly, it's now an old game which fools none in Nepal; only generates ill-will to Nepal's big brother, India.

Indians must have been really surprised when rumors that Indian film star, Hritikh Roshan, had made disparaging comments about Nepal and Nepali people in an interview to a TV network fueled rampaging crowds to target people of recent Indian origin and their properties in 2000. In the backdrop of the big brotherly, couldn't care less attitude that has been going on, this should be hardly surprising. All Nepalese have a deep appreciation of the benefits that accrue due to the special friendship between the two countries but resent interference down to the point that India even chooses Nepalese PM.

The gross insensitivity of the Indian politicians to the plight of Nepal can be seen in the recent utterances of Yashwant Sinha, "We have not bothered about democracy elsewhere... so why are we so concerned about democracy in Nepal." Of course, if his party BJP was still in power then perhaps the only Hindu king, King Gyanendra of Nepal would not have faced such a hard time to convince an Indian PM that his kind of 'democracy' and 'peace' and his illusive 'roadmap' for Nepal are the best for Nepal and Nepalese.

Since he came to the throne we have seen the many different animal-like characteristics of Gyanendra. Two of the clearly identifiable ones are those of the hyena and chameleon. He is dealing with Nepali people like a hyena, and in the international arena behaves like a chameleon. He has tried all means: sam, dam, dand, bhed [persuasion, carrots, sticks and divide respectively] that rulers since time immemorial have used to rule. The only words that he is uttering these days are jhut and chal [lies and tricks respectively]. The heady feeling of owning an entire country and being at the center of international media attention seems to be the reason why he is able to make all delusional lies. If the final [and I might add the biggest weapon] in the form of India's support reaches him he will certainly, break havoc on all those who fought for democracy and are therefore naturally opposed to him. The tacit approval of India is already showing its results.

It is therefore in the best interests of the big-brother [India] and younger brother [Nepal] relationships that the elder brother be extra sensitive to the ground realities in Nepal and first actively promote democracy - the latent desire of all Nepalese [and not monarchy] and secondly promote the democratic movement [and not its blue-eyed boys]. For once, India should chart a new path and help the Nepalese to choose their own leaders, and not choose it for them.

Parties Demand Full Restoration of Democracy

New Delhi May 3, 2005

A six party coalition in Delhi has asked the outside community not to be confused with the so-called lifting of emergency. The coalition says the royal government's recent lifting of emergency has not brought about any change. The six political parities had demanded the restoration of the duly elected House of Representatives so that the constituent assembly could convene to address the restructuring of the state, the outstanding socio-economic problems as well as the Maoist insurgency.

In a press release, the parties said, "The so-called lifting of emergency in Nepal by King Gyanendra appears to have confused friends of democracy in Nepal, India and abroad."

The statement pointed out that political prisoners are still in jail, press censorship remains, civil liberties are still suspended and the autocratic rule of the king continues. It said that the irresponsible and illegal Royal Commission continues to harass political leaders and activists. "We, therefore, strongly condemn the attempt of King Gyanendra to hoodwink people at large, and earnestly ask our friends everywhere to see through the new ploy of King Gyanendra," it said.

The parties said that the ever deepening problems of Nepal cannot be solved without King Gyanendra surrendering every vestige of the power he has usurped unconstitutionally. The restoration of the duly elected House of Representatives can bring democracy back on track, they said.

"Oppressed and restless Nepalese people are moving towards full democracy along with the political parties in greater unity, cohesion and clarity everyday. We are fully conscious of the need to concentrate and intensify the struggle within Nepal," the press release said. "However, the support of the international community and media are equally valuable to the ongoing struggle," it emphasized.

While seeking the support of the outside community and world media, the parties asked their supporters and well-wishers to have faith in the victory of full democracy in Nepal in the near future. The statement was undersigned by the following party leaders of the coalition:-

Nepali Congress Krishna Prasad Sitaula
Communist Party of Nepal (UML) Rajan Bhattarai
Nepali Congress (Democratic) Pradip Giri
Jana Morcha Nepal Dila Ram Acharya
AcharyaNepal Sadbhawana Party (A) Rajendra Mahto
Communist Party of Nepal (United) C. D. Joshi

A Democratic Conundrum

John Narayan Parajuli
Columbia, SC, April 30, 2005

In the last week of Chaitra, we completed our fourteen years of theoretical exercise in democracy. The number of "Jeffersonians in these hard times" who came out to register their opposition to the king's rule was apparently the biggest since Feb.1. However, the number is not the biggest or in any way at par with pre-Feb. 1 demonstrations. This is partially due to the state of emergency and partially because people aren't convinced that immediate restoration of democracy alone is a panacea for our problems.

Or, is it?
Like the chicken and the egg conundrum, the realpolitik of Nepal has seemingly put two basic tenets of democracy one up against each other. Which should come first - liberty or law and order?
The conventional wisdom says that both features compliment each other. They are not mutually exclusive antagonists: both are quintessential. But, often, ideals fail to anticipate constraints that may arise during their application. Perhaps, that's what has happened in Nepal. Both the nation and the democratic set-up that was ushered in some 15 years ago are at a crossroads. From here, things threaten to degenerate further. This may be our best chance to review our ideas about how we want to conduct our state business and, possibly, to draw a much needed lesson from our democratic experience.
The rapid erosion of the rule of law in the last few years had already stripped Nepal of an important aspect of the ideal democratic polity. The democratic rights of people in the countryside have long been curtailed. Democracy is not just for elites and those who live in cities or other power centers, is it? Belatedly crying hoarse over the king's power grab, as some prefer to call it, won't change the facts.
The armed Maoist insurgency that started in 1996 has exacted a heavy toll. A small band of ragtag guerillas who intend to establish a communist state and abolish the monarchy have grown so powerful that they have paralyzed the state's machinery. This is not good news for those who care about the state as our common entity, regardless of which party governs. The intensifying Maoist insurgency has debilitated the state's hold throughout the country, thereby weakening its ability to maintain a semblance of law and order, while those in the mainstream did more to accentuate the decline than to reverse it.
Disagreements among the mainstream parties only perpetuated chaos. The king's Feb.1 takeover of executive power to establish "peace and restore democracy" is but the culmination of degenerating democratic polity in the country. The royal putsch can be interpreted in a number of ways to suit one's own political affiliation and other interests. To the idealist, it is a setback for democracy, a regression. But, let's try to measure what happened on Feb. 1 against the ground reality. I don't see any sincere Nepali - or even an outsider who is familiar with the ground reality - not mellowing his tone. Just step outside Kathmandu to get a feel for public sentiment.
It's easy for us at the commentariat to display our attack-dog journalism and ignore the fact that the deteriorating law and order situation had come to the point of no return-meaning a failed state. With so much of the system ailing, a corrective measure had become, though undesirable for our democratic penchant, both necessary and inevitable. The state's ill health, which the king outlined in his takeover proclamation, is real, not made up. (Whether or not he has acted in good faith is a different matter altogether.)

What ails our system?
Immediately after being freed from the nearly forty days of house arrest following the royal takeover of Feb.1, former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was again back in action. While talking with journalists at his residence in Kathmandu, he seized the moment to make another self-deprecating statement. In his blunt style, Deuba blamed the media for Feb. 1. He gave the impression that whatever "good" he had done during his premiership, he did from his personal pocket. The debate on whether he did good or bad aside, Deuba's bites are representative of the type of personalized administration our leaders ran since 1990. Institution building or leaving a legacy was last on their agenda; instead, instability, insecurity and mob-politics became institutionalized. Deuba's statement also reflects what ails or ailed the parties and their leadership and the way their narrow definition of democracy contributed significantly to the present chaos. The king's contributions to the failure of the system are less obvious, while most unverified conspiracy theories circulate every now and then. Yet, he clearly missed an opportunity to right the wrongs when he immediately dissolved the parliament in 2002 on the recommendation of the unthinking prime minister. Did the king acted irrationally then? If not constitutional, was his Feb. 1 step a logical recourse for a head of state? The response would include criticisms of his tom hardiness, yet it would be unwise to think that the king is or was ill informed or that he failed to grasp the severity of the crisis.
When King Gyanendra sacked prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in February this year for the second time in as many years, he certainly knew the risk he was taking. He has removed Deuba twice from his office on charges of incompetence and has also sought the resignation of two other prime ministers before Deuba. He surely must be cognizant of the magnitude of the job he has assigned himself. Amid the denunciation and support, the king's actions have stirred a debate: liberty vs. security.
In reality, the big debate is not about which obligation of the state should be the first priority. Most citizens agree that both are necessary in equal measure. The debate is about which should prevail as a corrective measure if they begin to step on each other's shoes. Should the state leave people to die while allowing them their liberty, or should the state curtail some liberties to ensure that lives are protected? Curtailing some liberties, some argue, enhances the state's ability to identify bad guys from good guys. The logic is that the more powerful the state grows, the more it can protect its law-abiding citizens. There aren't many takers of this hypothesis. Without a shadow of doubt, the increase in the state's power over the individual is a cause for alarm. But, who said that this is the same world anymore? Post 9/11, like it or not, things have changed everywhere.
Understandably, most Nepalis have been shocked, despite having had reasonable warning, from former Minister Mohsin among others, of what was to befall. The ambivalence is not new and not limited to Nepal. Even here in the United States a subtle debate over security vs. liberty is going on. This might have been unthinkable before September 11, but not any longer. At the heart of the discussion is the issue of governmental access to personal data, and that's not all.
Since 9/11, America has overhauled its role in the world order as a self-appointed prosecutor of terrorism. This maybe annoying to the rest of us, but that hasn't deterred America's newfound globe-arching commitment to combat terrorism. Perhaps, because of the experience borne out of post 9/11, Washington hasn't withdrawn its military aid to Nepal, even when traditional allies like India and Britain decided to do so after the royal takeover. A former US defense secretary and an influential Republican recently told me that the US would continue the "military to military relationship as far as practicable." He argued that maintaining a military relationship can enhance American ability to influence changes in any particular country. The American quid pro quo for continuing aid, according to Cohen, is willingness in the military and the regime to commit to improve its rights records. The Royal Nepal Army has already given a signal that it is willing to come clean by speeding up the trial of a brigadier general. But, securing backing for the three years that the king has declared his timeline to return to democracy is going to be a tough job without visible progress.
Apart from keeping the house in order, the king also needs to secure the backing of the international community for the period of his rule. Keeping the house in order will require him to handle mainstream dissidents more gently while forming a "coalition of the willing." So far he has had little success in this regard.
Beyond pointless rounds of mutual recriminations, apologists and critics of both democracy and authoritarianism haven't been able to offer much. There is no alternative to democracy, however, doubt persists that returning to it immediately, as the international community and the mainstream parties are demanding, would alone prove to be a panacea to our pressing woes. Some argue that a period of "benign authoritarianism" will be helpful in engineering sustained improvement in the security situation, provided that this is done in good faith. I am not sure about the validity of this proposition, but what I am sure about is that we chanted more democratic mantras and did less to preserve it: we have been ignoring our problems at our own perils for too long. And, like everything else, democracy has its price, which we blissfully chose to forget after it was restored last time.
Democracy certainly isn't a magic wand, as we have experienced first-hand. Without some sort of stability or a kind of normalcy, it's unlikely that it will be strengthened in Nepal. This is neither advocating a military solution to the other big problem, the Maoist insurgency, nor playing devil's advocate. However, I am not in favor of allowing the state to be weakened as the talk for the talks lingers. As a journalist, I want immediate restoration of democracy and the basic rights. But as an individual, as a Nepali citizen, I am willing to give the benefit of doubt to the king, though I am not big on allowing the royals to run amok.
For obvious reason, this stopgap in our exercise of democracy (of elites only?) is undesirable; nonetheless, it had become a necessity. It was only a question of who was to execute it: the bitterly and hopelessly divided parties-who haven't been able to renew their mandate to rule from the people-or the king. The parties had their chance; shouldn't the king have his-to prove his competence?
The writer can be reached at

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