Nepal Today

Friday, August 9, 2013



Kathmandu, 10 Aug: Bird flu was detected at five more farms in
Bhaktapur Friday one day after a blanket ban was imposed on a blanket
ban on sale and transport and sale of chicken meat and products under
pressure from poultry industry.
Amid severe personnel  shortage, government has instead imposed
monitoring of sale as increased  demand for mutton and fish whose price
have increased
Import into the Valley, is also being monitored at four entry points along the land route/


Kathmandu, 10 Aug.: NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel is flying
for New Delhi for additional treatment Sunday..
He just underwent operation for removal of piles.


Amitabh, Buddha, us and them

Kathmandu, 10 Aug.: Intended or not, Amitabh Bachchan appears to have added several notches to his already stratospheric popularity in Nepal by asking one question on his popular TV show, Maila Baje writes in Nepali Netbook..
During a recent episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), Big B quizzed his male contestant: “Which of these events related to the life of Gautam Buddha happened at a place which is in present day Nepal?”
Sharing a name with one of the five ‘self-born’ buddhas (dhyani-buddhas) believed to have existed eternally, Maila Baje thinks Amitabh has delved deeper than most into the origins and growth of this faith.
But do we really know how much Amitabh recognizes or cares about Nepali sensitivities when it comes to the issue of Siddhartha Gautam’s birthplace? Nor do we know whether he had any role in choosing and/or phrasing the question. What is clear, though, is that even the most skillful attorney couldn’t have worded it better.
In fairness, the contestant should have been a greater focus of our appreciation. After all, he was the one who gave the correct answer (although it did look like he did so through a process of elimination, rather than through certitude).
Amitabh, moreover, had to confirm the answer with the machine before awarding the contestant points. There’s no question that the Bollywood icon’s show gave the issue such a high profile. Yet the host might have been deserving of greater credit had the contestant given the wrong answer and had Amitabh stepped in to correct him. But, then, there are better issues to split hairs over, such as … the issue at hand.
Prince Siddhartha Gautam was born in Lumbini, a kingdom that was not in Nepal (or India, for that matter) at the time. It was quite recently – in terms of the sweep of history, at least – that Nepal really expanded to connote anything outside Kathmandu Valley.
Buddha was a title bestowed upon the sage after he attained ‘enlightenment’ in Bodh Gaya, which, again, is part of modern-day India.
To call Nepal Buddha’s birthplace, therefore, is a political statement, which the aforementioned episode of KBC has addressed to many Nepalis’ satisfaction.
But even at the political level, should we really be so excited to have received this ‘seal of approval’ from what, when you boil it down, is an entertainment show?
Then there’s that other pesky reality: that Nepal’s communists are at the forefront of protests whenever Buddha’s Nepali birth is questioned. Isn’t it interesting how official atheists seek to ‘own’ religious leaders without caring to adhere to their message? At least the reviled mandales of the Panchayat era who jumped around in nationalistic fervor every time this controversy erupted were honest in that they were committed to Hinduism, which considers Buddha one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. (The Nepali Congress doesn’t seem particularly riled by the issue.)
If the development of Lumbini as an international religious and tourist attraction could have moved apace in the spirit envisioned together by then secretary-general of the United Nations U Thant, famed Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and King Mahendra in the 1960s, this whole issue might have no longer been so contentious. If the recent stepped-up interest in this direction were to gain concrete shape, Nepalis would be able to better shed much of their insecurities.
Doubtless, some Indians will continue with their endeavors to ‘prove’ that Buddha was born in what is today the state of Orissa – or who knows where else outside of Lumbini. This shouldn’t bother us too much, either.
Even if they manage to muster enough archaeological evidence, they’ll still have to sort out how synonymous India, Bharat, Hindustan or Hind could be considered with one another, geographically, politically or any other way.


Kathmandu, 10 Aug.: Madhav Kumar Nepal, one of the four communist prime ministers that the Constituent Assembly tossed up since 2008, some weeks ago said that politics has become a “profession” for leaders to make money through easy and dubious means. He appealed for leaders to put national interests above party interest.
If a leader of organization other than any in the four-party syndicate had made the appeal, he would be dismissed as being “regressive,” “rightist” or “reactionary” as if the word nationalism was a dirty word. If the same diction came from the lips of a syndicate party member, his organization and cohorts accept in silence, Trikal Vastavik
writes in People’s Review/.
There is no dispute over the former CPN (UML) general secretary’s statement. But who will initiate the talk into action? If the UML could, for instance, make a beginning, it would be its single-most important contribution to the Nepali political arena. The question is: Will it?
If the political parties and their factions that split like the amoeba were to take an entirely different turn in the larger interest of the nation, people’s hopes would once again begin to rise. Presently, low morale all around is a common feature. Institutions that should not have been politicized are being tainted because of persistent politicization and inappropriate decisions aimed at serving narrow individual or factional interests.
A retired senior police official, who in his heydays created quite a remarkable stir by his praiseworthy efficiency, recently expressed disgust over the recent practice among officers knocking at the doors of the powers that be for favors like lucrative postings, convenient transfers, out-of-turn promotions and such other considerations.
Actually a culture of palm-greasing and sycophancy by bureaucrats and others in the government sector has developed to a new height. The corporate sector stands closely behind in this unflattering practice that has become so infectious that the issue is not whether there is favoritism but who exactly are the few people not chasing the malpractice.
It is a general consensus that politicians in Nepal are ranked poorly by the public. In the absence of a proactive, vigilant and independent civil society with nationwide units, political parties remain the most organized groups. The high degree of politicization infused in all sectors and units of society have produced their fraternal and sister organizations from schools to university campuses, sports to stage-cine artistes, civil service to public corporations, human rights activists to journalists, and trade unions.
As a result, the politically affiliated groups in the guise of various trade and professions function as party units putting organizational interests above the larger national interests. Arbitrary methods for creating opportunities to party workers at the cost of the meritorious and deserving have been a hell for competing aspirants, whether in the employment sector or the trade sector. Issuing licenses is the most potent source for bribery. The biggest bribe-giver gets a job done. Law-breakers unfailingly seek the help of their party folks to get off the hook or in obtaining reprieve from convicts serving jail sentences. There was corruption during the bad old partyless panchayat days but far less of it corruption during the bad old days than during the loktantrik years since 2006.
There is no palpable sign of change of heart for the better in the leaders of the four-party syndicate whose depth of intense mutual trust is reflected in the way they installed the partyless election cabinet composed of retired bureaucrats and chaired by the Supreme Court chief justice. The syndicate constituents blame each other for the existing mess in the country. They accuse one another of trying to scrap election plans and blame everyone else but themselves.
On the eve of Girija Prasad Koirala’s death anniversary, Prachanda rued over not having a “partner” like the NC leader. Is this a compliment for Nepali Congress or a statement that the late Koirala gave in to Dahal’s every move oblivious of the consequences it would have on the NC and the nation?
The division and disagreement among the Maoists and the NC-UML combine is sharper today than a year ago. The pattern and pace of their operation is out and out power-centric. In the run up to the 2008 constituent assembly elections, the parties of pro-monarchy and former panchas were severely restricted in their movements because of the hooliganism and intimidation the local workers of the seven-party alliance and Maoists unleashed. The Maoists, NC and UML activists in the districts imposed on pro-monarchists everything they accused the previous regimes of having unleashed against them.
When the final election results were published and the non-Maoist parties, particularly NC and UML, found themselves truncated from their wonted parliamentary strength, they claimed ballot-tampering and stealing. Voters did not give them any notice because of the belated cry of foul play. They had witnessed widespread harassment and intimidation against the parties of the former panchas, of which the richly, even if dubiously, funded poll observers from foreign lands did not utter a word.
Moreover, the former US President Jimmy Carter gave the poll process a clean chit by noon when several hours of polling were yet to be completed. The NC and UML leaders, who had praised Carter’s standings, real and imagined, to the skies, did not have the confidence to reject his premature assessment and conclusion. If the other parties scorned at the NC-UML cry of foul play, they could not be blamed.
Human rights were shelved for those pleading for monarchy, seeking a thorough debate on the proposed federal structure and the demand for a national referendum on the issue of secularism. The opposing parties were quarantined and prevented from full-throated campaign. The parties in power reaped the harvest of the hate campaign, fuelled by the Maoist frenzy that existing norms and values were either the cause of all prevailing ills or needed to be thoroughly revised for a “forward-looking, new Nepal”.
The consequences were inherent in the approach and attitude the Maoists adopted. The other parties accepted and adapted the Maoist initiative confirming their imbecility. This introduced social polarization to dangerous proportion, breeding fissiparous tendencies all around. The communities accounting for one-third of the 27 million people had been dismissed as “others” while those with the lower side of single digit parentage of the total population have been accorded special status. This went on for more than three years and 2012 was witness to an assertive “others” who let the leaders and sponsoring foreign agencies that they would not take things lying down.
Little wonder then that the mess that we Nepalis face today threatens to persist for long, with what consequences one cannot predict. The mess is likely to grow worse unless conscientious forces with a bent for fair play and democratic norms manage to take assertive roles.


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