Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terrorism - Mumbai, 27-28 November 2008

At the time of this writing, Indian commandos are fighting terrorists in various hotels and other sites in Mumbai. The death toll has exceeded 130, many more wounded, and hostages aplenty. Instead of the usual surreptitious bombs, this time the terrorists made a bold frontal assault with guns blazing. Apparently this is to protest the targeting of Muslims by government authorities, India's current cozying up to the US, the Kashmir issue, etc. It is very easy to find reasons to kill people if one is so inclined.

I have used the term "terrorists" freely above. By definition, it is negative and prejudiced. The attackers in Mumbai surely see themselves as enforcers of justice, preservers of their religion, and protectors of their own. They may be justified, to some extent, in their self perception. The question then is whether their method of protest is acceptable. Right off, it is difficult to justify the killing and terrorizing of innocent people. BUT, and here I am going out on a limb, when there is no other means to make people listen to you, is this sort of violence not the only way?

The end result in Mumbai is foregone. The security forces will kill or capture the terrorists. There will be hostage casualties. Once more, "mindless mujaheddin menace" will be vilified by all and sundry. Violent force will have been squashed by counter-violence. And so it will continue.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Murder Unbecoming

Kathmandu is closed down today with protests against the murder of two youths allegedly by the Maoist youth wing - YCL. Further, the UML claims that the two youths belonged to its youth wing.

I remember a time, when I could call myself a youth, when a killing in Nepal would cause a national furor. Of course those were the days when Kathmandu was not polluted, tourism was in a nascent state, the NC was outlawed (sic), law and order was not even an issue, and, yes, there was no democracy either (but that's a Pandora's box not within the purview of this blog).

So, on the current "bandh"...two political murders, a "high-level" commission set up by the Home Minister to investigate...the capital closed down, which is not a rarity. But this time, let the Government (1) come out quickly with a definitive result of their investigation and bring the murderers to justice, and (2) let all justice-loving Nepalis support this protest - it is not only the YCL and Maoists who have a monopoly of the streets.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Constituent Assembly Regulations finalized - 8 months after the CA election

"The (CA) regulations...have provisions on forming various subject wise committees, methods of passing bills on constitution, ways of their authentication and so on.
The regulations will now be passed by the CA paving the way for starting the process of writing new constitution.
In absence of the regulation, the process of writing the constitution could not start even eight months after the CA election.", 11 Nov 08

It is with great relief and anticipation that this writer greets the above news. Finally, the process of drafting a new constitution can begin. Finally, the 601 CA members can start earning their salaries. Finally...finally...

We the People are holding our breath, dear Samsads. Please don't let us self-suffocate!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Neighbour in the South

A comment I posted on 1st October in the 30th September blog has initiated a lively discussion. It has been felt that my critical remarks on "our neighbour in the South" is unwarranted and is the usual blame game we Nepalis play vis-a-vis India.

Please read the comments on what has now turned out to be an interesting debate...and join in with your views please!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Barack Obama's Victory Speech

Politicians make speeches. However, when someone, who will from January 2009 (arguably) be the most powerful man in the world speaks, it is prudent to listen. Beneath the rhetoric are clear substantive issues. I have 'edited' the speech for brevity.

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
Election Night
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him…(and) look forward to working with (him) to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank… But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you…Our campaign was… built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory…

…we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century…There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair. The road ahead will be long…We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there…

…I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand…This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people…

…Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores…- our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century…What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

A Gracious Loss

-- CNN projects that Sen. Barack Obama has won election as the next president of the United States.

With this e-mailed breaking news, received at 9.51 a.m. on the morning of 4th November, history was made in the U.S.

"...a politics with the maturity to balance idealism and realism, to distinguish between what can and cannot be compromised, to admit the possibility that the other side might sometimes have a point...the difference between dogma and common sense, responsibility and irresponsibility, between those things that last and those that are fleeting." Barack Obama in "The Audacity of Hope". Let us hope that Obama's written eloquence now translates into vision, leadership and action.

Hearing John McCain's speech conceding victory to Obama gave me a few thoughts. A sign of true democracy is when elections are held in as free and fair a manner as possile and the results are accepted as sacrosanct. Some of the current "leaders" in Africa should note this. Our own politicians also need to note this carefully. The gracious speech McCain made before his disappointed supporters was sporting, patriotic, and really befitting a gallant Navy Officer.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

US Presidential Elections, 4th November

Apologies for the 12 days of silence, just in case anyone visited this site. Was away on a brief trip to India, in places where internet connectivity was not always available and I have an aversion to cyber cafes.

48 hours remain for the United States to elect a new President. The possibility of the first African-American in the White House is very real (Obama's mother was white, father Kenyan). 25 years separate the ages of Obama and McCain, a real generation gap. Obama purports to be the voice of change accusing McCain of being a Bush clone. McCain derides Obama's lack of experience (compared to himself). Currently Obama leads McCain by 6 points but the race is expected to be tight.

Nepal, of course, counts for little in these guys' politics. I doubt either could place Nepal on the global map without moving their finger all over Asia. Of course both are for freedom and democracy and against authoritarianism of any sort. I hope they (whoever wins) walk the talk when it comes to Nepal.