Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Take on Current Indian Blockade

As I see it:

There is a blockade of essential goods coming into Nepal from India. Sure, it may be "unofficial" but there is no denying the reality of it. Rumour has it that things will improve when Mr. Modi returns to India from the US, today perhaps. Others link the blockade to a flexing of muscles by the politicians in Bihar, where elections - to conclude, by phases, on 5 Nov only - are underway and they want to look strong; apparently 80% of Nepali Madhesis are from Bihar.

On the home front, I do not see any serious dialogue between the government and the Terai parties yet. The former has to push for this; the latter needs to cease hiding behind Bihari dhotis.

Meanwhile, rationing of petroleum products is operational. Prices of food products have risen. There is a cloud of anti-Indian phobia across the land. Since yesterday, all Indian TV channels have been blocked out here.

Unfortunately, the Tatopani border point with China is still not operational after the earthquake's devastation. So essential goods not yet forthcoming from our Chinese friends.

Still a work in progress. Let us see who comes to their senses first!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Post-constitution Musings

To continue the last blog...well, the nation has been well and truly teased. Question remains whether we laugh or cry.

We have a federal constitution to which there is vociferous opposition from the Terai-based political parties and various indigenous and ethnic groups as well as those who see no need for federalism in this country. We have a secular state which will "preserve the Sanatan practices passed down through the ages"; a peculiar definition of 'secular' decipherable only to the troika who shoved the constitution down the throats of the sheep-like Constitutional Assembly members. We have annoyed Big Brother to the south by not listening to their suggestion to put off the promulgation until the Terai issues were ironed out. We rejoice at the success of a fast-tracked constitution which was delayed for seven years then approved in around seven days.

I'm not laughing. But who gives a damn! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Teej and the Teasing of a Nation

Today is the fasting day of Teej, observed by women all over Nepal. The singing and dancing sober down today as women fast for the health and long life of their husbands or, for the unmarried, to find a good husband. Not being a believer in getting benefits from others' sacrifice,  I believe that, if they wish, they can fast; but they should not feel obliged to do so. Wearing red sarees, green beads joined by a gold ornament slung over a shoulder, women bear a certain aura today.

While Teej is being celebrated, the nation is being teased to an ominous situation by a cabal of politicians who cannot see further than their self-interest. Yes, of course, it is the new constitution "fast-tracked" for promulgation on Sunday 20 September 2015. If only our reconstruction and development efforts were fast-tracked in this manner! In four days, if the situation remains as is, this release of the long-awaited document may very well release the political fury of the Terai-based parties, the ethnic Tharus, Magars, Limbus, as well as those who have not given up yet on a Hindu state. The constitution was promised by a year after the last elections. That self-imposed deadline went by months ago. Now, in the name of I know not what, it is being rushed through without serious attempts at ameliorating the differences with the disgruntled parties. Various politicians are saying that prolonging the constitution drafting process will endanger the nation. Pardon my ignorance, but all that will be endangered is: Mr. Oli may have to wait a bit longer to be Prime Minister, the current Prime Minister also may have to wait to be President with the additional accolade of having promulgated the constitution during his watch, and the comrades are in a rush to ensure that a federated state comes into being quickly so that they don't look like fools if it does not.

Armageddon or Arcadia? Either way, the die is cast. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

An Open Letter to the United States of America

I posted this in the blog NepsliPerspectives 6 years ago, 2 years after taking retirement from the U.N. and prior to the writers' block that followed. Found it while Googling myself! Quite a bit of it is, not surprisingly, still relevant.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Why Sanatan Dharma in the Constitution


Monday, September 7, 2015

21st September & Beyond

I understand that the new constitution will be promulgated on Monday, 21 Sept. 2015 by the bumbling leaders (and I use the word with distaste) of the three parties - Nepali Congress, United Marxist-Leninist, and United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists).

NC takes pride in being the party which brought democracy to Nepal. That was when the astute visionary B.P. Koirala led the party. His youngest brother, the late Girija, left behind a hollow party sans principle sans direction. Its present leader and PM, another Koirala, is a septuagenarian suffering serous health problems.

The UML is neither united, Marxist or Leninist; at best it is mildly socialist, straddling the political fence between the NC and Maoists.

The Maoists are now divided into three factions: Prachanda's (UCPN-M); Baidya's, the more doctrinaire faction; and Chand's, which is the far left and even espouses armed rebellion once again. The first faction has the money, and money talks. The other two factions boycotted the last CA elections in protest and now want to flex their unelected muscles.

But it is the Sushil Koirala, KP Oli and PK Dahal troika who are in the process of coming out with a secular 7-state model constitution. Should they have the short-sighted hubris to do so, the constitution will be opposed by the Terai-based political parties, the Janajatis (inigenous ethnic groups) and the forces calling for a Sanatan Hindu state.  Reasons for this are already discussed in previous blogs. Women's groups aso have representational issues with the constitution draft. Why, many CA members of the three high-handed parties are opposing the current draft.

About two weeks still remain till "D-day". Whether the constitution will land safely in the mountains, valleys and plains of Nepal or whether this country will go up in the flames of religious and ethnic strife depends on how well the three oligarchs and their henchmen read the situation and prepare and plan. A pity I don't see the likes of Churchill or Eisenhower among them! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Proselytization Conundrum


Francois Gautier is a French political writer and journalist based in India since 1971. The above link is a post by Gautier in FaceBook today.

He pinpoints the Jesuits, which is not necessarily true for Nepal where proselytizing is mainly the domain of Protestant groups. Churches are mushrooming in the country; the last census put the Christians as 1.5% of the population, that proportion has increased rapidly over the past 4 years. A significant portion of the blame is due to the non-reformist nature of Hinduism. A Dalit or an untouchable treated as a pariah by their fellow Hindus has no stake in Hinduism. Given the right motivation, not just spiritual but also education, health and finanancial, he/she will readily convert to Christanity. And who is to blame them for that? On the other hand, the missionary zealots who see Jesus Christ as the exclusive saviour of souls are no less to blame. They are tearing apart the intrinsic culture and traditions of society for their own purposes.

The caste system has been illegalized, but exists socially especially in rural areas. Without awareness raising and education, this social disease cannot just be litigated away. Further, if the judiciary system cannot, and it does not, enforce the fact that casteism is illegal, reforms become well-nigh impossible. There are needed reforms which must be addressed by the pro-Hindu state advocates. Not enough to just shout for a Hindu Rashtra while turning a blind eye to areas in Hinduism which need imminent reform. The status of women, the barring of non-Hindus to convert to Hinduism, the monopoly of Brahmins in rituals and ceremonies, the eclipsing of spiritualism by pedantic ritualism, and the list could go on. A concrete example: Pashupatinath Temple is arguably the most sacred Hindu site in the country; there is a sign at the entrance "Only Hindus Allowed". As a Hindu, I have visited churches, mosques, and Jewish temples all over the world. Why do we feel threatened by non-Hindus entering our holiest shrine? And, actually, the sign basically keeps out only Caucasians and Africans because anybody who 'looks' like a Hindu can enter. Or as a friend told me, there is a church in Cracow, Poland, with a sign outside "Enter to pray only". Pretty practical, I daresay.