In The News (65)

Rautahat Congress
दिपावलीपछि दसैं आउँदैनः यादव
Nepalese thorn will only get worse for India
Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel however confirm that at least till the third week of September, they had orders from above to intercept fuel shipments to Nepal. ..... Since the time of king Mahendra in the 1960s, Nepal has been using its position as a buffer between India and China but from New Delhi's perspective, the situation has never been so worrisome as it is now. ..... China has greatly increased its presence and influence in Nepal in the last decade, mainly through pecuniary help, financing of infrastructural projects and cultural programmes. It is even planning to dig a tunnel beneath Mount Everest for extending the Qinghai-Lhasa railway line to Kathmandu. This project is strategically important for China as it is now aiming to penetrate the economies of various South Asian countries. ...... For quite some time now, China has been breathing heavily down on India's neck by its presence in Nepal and Bhutan and its influence on Kathmandu can be gauged from the fact that before the convening of the last Constituent Assembly, leaders of almost all political parties had gone to Beijing for confabulations. ....... For the present, we may leave aside the Everest tunnel question because its technical feasibility has been questioned even in China. It is undeniable that India is still far ahead of China in matters of investments and building up of projects in Nepal. But it is also true that China is catching up very fast. Beijing will invest $1.6 billion towards constructing a 750 MW hydropower project in West Seti. Another Chinese company is constructing a similar project in the Upper Tamakoshi region. ... Tibet occupies the central position due to its huge mineral and water resources. As Nepal has a long border with Tibet and more than 20,000 Tibetan refugees, China will never allow its growing hold on Nepal to slacken. ..... China is invading Nepal culturally too. Reversing an earlier trend, Nepalese students, particularly from the elite families are now going to China, instead of India, for higher studies. To facilitate the process, numerous China Study Centres have come up in Nepal, particularly in Kathmandu and in the Terai region bordering India. ...... the Madhesis constitute more than one-third of the country's population. More than 70 percent of Nepal's agricultural produce comes from their areas, which contribute 65 percent of Nepal's gross domestic product and 76 percent of the country's revenue - but they constitute only 9.9 percent of the gazetted-level government employees. ...... China is known to be backing one faction of the MFJ. ..... If the situation goes out of control in the Terai belt, then China might also try to foment trouble on the Indian side of the border.
प्रधानमन्त्रीलाई पत्रः मधेस गएर जनताको आवाज सुन्ने प्रयास गर्नुस्
मशेसी को माग कहिले पूरा हुदैन एमाले नेता :योगेश भट्टराई
एमालेका सचिव योगेश भट्टराईले मधेसी मोर्चाले भने जस्तो गरेर संघीय राज्यको सिमाङ्कनमा कुनै पनि हालतमा हेरफेर नहुने बताउनुभएको छ । .....

‘मधेसी दलका नेताहरूले झापादेखि कञ्चनपुरसम्म जसरी सिमाङ्कन मागेका छन्, त्यो पूरा हुँदैन’,

उहाँले भन्नुभयो, ‘अहिलेको सिमाङ्कनमा हेरफेर हुँदैन । सिमाङकनमा यो गाविस र त्यो जिल्ला यता हाल्ने वा उता हाल्ने कुरा हुँदैन ।’...... ‘मधेसी मोर्चाको वार्ताको नौँटङ्की अब धेरै दिन चल्दैन । आन्दोलन रोकेर वार्तामा आउनुपर्छ ।’ ..... ‘भारतमा लगेर हाम्रा सुरक्षाकर्मीलाई कुटपिट गर्ने त्यस्ता कर्या गर्न पाइँदैन’, उहाँले भन्नुभयो, ‘वार्ता गर्दा मधेसी मोर्चा आन्दोलन छाडेर वार्तामा बस्नुपर्छ ।’ ..... ‘भारतले नाकाबाट सहज आपूर्ति दिएन भने पनि नेपाली बाँच्छन्’, उहाँले भन्नुभयो, ‘हामीले त्यसको विकल्प मिलाउँछौँ । नेपालले अरु अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय शक्तिसँग मिलेर सहज बनाउँछ । अप्ठेरो अवस्थाको मिलेर सामना गर्नुपर्छ ।’
Himalayan challenge
Since 1948 there have been six constitutions of Nepal; the first four were handed down by the Ranas, or the Palace. There was a whiff of fresh air in the politics of Nepal after the end of the Rana oligarchy, until it was stifled by King Mahendra with his dismissal of the government and the imposition of the 1962 Constitution banning political parties and instituting “panchayati raj” under his sole guidance and control. It had taken 30 years of persistent struggle, led by the Nepali Congress, before a jana andolan I [people’s movement] led to the 1990 Constitution. It was a negotiated Constitution between the political parties and the Palace. Though providing a welcome change from panchayati raj, it left loopholes that were to be used by King Gyanendra to attempt a return to absolute monarchy by his royal coup of February 2005. The revolution attending jana andolan II of April 2006 was to result in the termination of the monarchy. In order to provide a framework for governance, the parliament, which was recalled from political exile, passed the interim Constitution of 2007. .......... The interim Constitution was a remarkable, progressive document reflecting the spirit of the times. It presaged a secular republic, with affirmative action assured for large sections of the populace which had remained outside the radar of governance since the formation of the state in the middle of the 18th century. A Constituent Assembly, elected in 2008, was to formulate Nepal’s lasting Constitution within two years. It failed to do so in four years, amid frequent changes of government and the inability of the political leadership to forge a consensus. It is likely that the mainstream political parties, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), had been shocked by their rejection at the elections, became fearful of the Maoists and were unwilling to move forward. Neither did the Maoists encourage confidence with their occasional comments on forging a “People’s Republic”. The activities of the Youth Communist League remained disturbing. For their own reasons, all political parties were responsible for the years wasted in infructuous wrangling over the future of Maoist combatants as they jockeyed for power............

Nepal had officially become a “Hindu” state only in 1962 under the Constitution handed down by King Mahendra, clearly in an effort to fortify his position against the winds of democratic change as not only the symbol of the nation but also the defender of the faith.

..... with half the country in tumultuous protest. ..... it is widely seen as the entrenched privileged classes, the Bahuns and the Chhatris, attempting to perpetuate their dominance. Baburam Bhattarai, the chief ideologue of the Maoists (now the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or UCPN–M) and a former Prime Minister, has resigned from the party expressing his support for Madhesi demands. “Arrogance of the ones who ruled for 240 years regarding the Madhesi demands is uncalled for,” he commented. ...... It is also stipulated that children of mixed marriages cannot aspire to high office. ..... Among those who had been most strident in years past were the Janjatis, the tribal people that were brought into the Hindu fold by the Muluki Ain of the Ranas and treated as members at the lowest rungs. They formed much of the basic support to the Maoists, who had espoused their cause as the major parties at the time remained studiously indifferent after the promulgation of the 1990 Constitution. It would appear that the affirmative action promised to them in the interim constitution has been seriously compromised. Their reaction is yet to fully manifest itself.......

Those who suffer the most from the provisions of the Constitution are the Tharus.

Comprising nearly 7 per cent of the population, the Tharus are an indigenous community at home with nature and in the forests. They have been in western Nepal for centuries. Ruthlessly exploited, they lost their land to settlers from the hills in the last century, as the lands became habitable with the eradication of malaria, and became bonded labourers under the infamous kamaiya system, which was legally abolished only in 2000. It was expected that under the new Constitution they would have a province they could call their own. This has not happened. It is noteworthy that on the question of injustice to the Tharus there is near unanimity among Nepali commentators, whatever their differences otherwise are........ The dhoti-wearing Madhesi, speaking Hindi or its dialects and often with family connections across the border in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, has never been accepted by the hill-centric ruling elite of Kathmandu as equal citizens. The famous geographer and anthropologist Harka Gurung is said to have remarked that Madhes had to be reconciled to its status as conquered territory. Given these attitudes, it is not surprising that Madhesis were targeted as Indians during the Hrithik Roshan riots of December 2000. The Madhesi still recalls that in living memory he was obliged to carry identity documents for visiting the capital. .......

Despite constituting over 30 per cent of the population and contributing majorly to the nation’s revenues, and their region being its granary as well, Madhesis continued to face discrimination in employment in government services, including the army, and with regard to something as fundamental as citizenship, and in terms of investments in their region.

........ A violent agitation followed in January 2007, which virtually cut off Nepal from the rest of South Asia. It was described by a noted scholar as “an unprecedented event parallel to jana andolan II....It was

a landmark event in bringing out regional-based ethno-nationalism as one of the prominent issues in the national discourse on restructuring the Nepali state”

........ “Here is what the Madhesis told the existing Nepali state: change or perish. In specific terms, this meant political representation, substantive inclusion, reframing symbols of nationhood, and treating citizens who wore dhoti, did not know how to speak Nepali, and had kinship links across the border, with dignity and not scorn. If the Kathmandu establishment refused to do so, it would cost the state its legitimacy and erode political authority among one-third of its people. Despite hiccups, resistance by sections in the capital, and the entrenched social prejudices, the Madhes has won the battle politically and intellectually” .......

However, as dictated by the new Constitution, the victory was not to produce constitutional dividends.

...... The Nepali Congress, which earlier had a strong foothold in the region, no longer does so. The Maoists no longer enthuse. ..... there are no differences in the conviction that Madhesis deserve a place in the Nepali sun. ....... The new Constitution stipulates that 12 of the 20 districts of Madhes will be attached to and become appendages of hill districts. Even more tellingly, the delineation of constituencies has ensured that the representation of Madhesis in direct elections will fall from a legitimate 83 to 63, effectively disenfranchising large sections of people and making territoriality, and not population, as the decisive factor in delineation. This is a departure from the specific written guarantees given by the central government led by G.P. Koirala in 2008 and the promises held out by the interim Constitution. This reneging on firm commitments is, understandably, unacceptable to Madhesis. .......

Major violence flared at Kailali, a Tharu area in western Nepal, in which seven policemen were killed on August 23; the perpetrators are believed to be former Maoist cadres.

...... In a degree of mobilisation not seen even in the days of the Maoist insurgency, half of Nepal’s army was sent down to terai areas to deal with the protests. Until now 40 civilians have been killed in the terai, including children and aged men. ....... A stalemate continues, though the army has now been withdrawn. ...... By the beginning of October, Kathmandu remained affected by a shortage of fuel, including aviation fuel. Shortages of essential supplies were felt widely. The situation has been portrayed to the people by the ultranationalists and many in the political classes as the consequences of an unofficial Indian “blockade”, similar to the ‘one imposed by India in 1989. There are calls to open up more routes to China as an alternative to imports from India. India has continued to maintain that it is difficult for transport vehicles to move freely because of the extremely disturbed conditions across the border and the concerns among transporters. ....... What was, and has been, an issue of providing some succour to the Madhesis (and the Tharus and the Janjatis) from centuries of dispossession, largely acknowledged by the interim Constitution, is being converted by Kathmandu into an Indo-Nepal issue where the sovereignty of the latter is being displayed as being at stake. ...... Even more dangerously for the future of Nepal, ethnic divides within the country are being emphasised presumably to distance the Janjatis and the Tharus from the Madhesis, with whom they share common interests. What is essentially a struggle for political rights can become unbearably ugly if it is allowed to assume an ethnic divide.

The condescending, if not mildly contemptuous, attitude of many “hill” leaders towards Madhesis has an eerie resemblance to the attitude of West Pakistan towards the Bengali East Pakistan before 1971.

One must earnestly hope that the analogy is not carried forward........ in the Nepali media, many have strongly demurred with the treatment meted out to the Madhesis, the Tharus, women and the Janjatis, even as there is concern about and criticism of the Indian “blockade”. ..... over the past few weeks, the Tarai unrest has grown and could even head towards a mass movement that is larger than the Madhes movement of 2008 and probably even as large as the Madhes movement of 2007....... To completely alienate them [present senior Madhesi leaders] would compel them to stand with other Madhesi actors who advocate a more radical and violent solution to the problem—to the extent of demanding the

secession of the Madhes from Nepal

........ India wishes to see a stable and prosperous Nepal, a bouquet of different fragrant flowers, where each community has a sense of ownership of the Constitution......... an open border, free movement, intimate familial linkages, a mutually convertible currency,

a treaty that permits millions of Nepali citizens to live and work freely in India

, besides the tens of thousands of gorkhas who fight under the Indian flag, simply does not permit India the privilege of being indifferent to events across the border ....... all movements against autocratic rule in Nepal from the time of the Ranas has found people’s support from the south of the border .....

Nepali activists have always used India to further their political causes.

..... Deb Mukharji is the former Ambassador to Nepal


Bihar election diary: Projecting the inevitability of victory
The accusations sounded eerily similar to the ones other parties made against BJP last year. .... “Have you got 15 lakh in your bank account yet? Remember Modi had promised it. Did he deliver?” ..... Tejaswi sat for a few minutes in the courtyard of a house, and was forced into having a sweet. His host gave a quick speech to the crowd.

“Laluji is a world leader.

And it is your duty to make Tejaswi win without Laluji coming to this village even once. This is about his izzat.” .....

“The RSS chief’s reservation remarks really changed the game. Backwards have come together.

The BJP is making one last attempt in the third phase because there are many urban centres, but I think we will win even there.” ..... In Bihar, caste and development both matter. To posit one against the other is not analytically useful, for often they are also linked. .... “It is everywhere. In US, isn’t it about whites and blacks? Caste has been the way our society has been organized for centuries, and it will be the key for a very long time to come. It matters.”....... A group of women were sitting in a courtyard, and laughed when I asked them who they had voted for. “Why should we tell you?” ...... A man, wearing a white lungi, was more open. He said he – and most people in the village – had voted for ‘teer chaap’, Nitish Kumar’s party symbol. Why? “Because he has done vikaas.” What vikaas? “He has made roads.” Had they voted for vikaas or because they did not want to vote BJP because of their religion? “Because of vikaas,” he insisted.
सरकार –मधेसी मोर्चा वार्ता, प्रदेश सीमाङ्कन मुख्य विषय
A 23-year-old Google employee lives in a truck in the company's parking lot and saves 90% of his income
As for food and showers, that's all on Google's campus. He eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner at work and showers every morning in the corporate gym post-workout. .... "I'm going for a target of saving about 90% of my after-tax income, and throwing that in student loans and investments" ..... saving on rent has allowed him to dine at nice restaurants and enjoy San Francisco more than if he opted for living in an apartment. ..... His commute from a parking spot on the periphery of Google's campus is a few seconds on foot, rather than a few hours sitting in San Francisco traffic. ..... he's usually only home to sleep.
Thoughts from Inside the Box
Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party Prevail With Stunning Rout in Canada
The unexpected rout occurred 47 years after Mr. Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, first swept to power. ..... attributed the party’s extraordinary revival, following a period during which many people forecast its extinction, to Mr. Trudeau, who became the party’s leader in 2013. ..... Mr. Harper’s attempts to ban the wearing of face veils known as niqabs during citizenship ceremonies. ...... The younger Mr. Trudeau proved as adept as his father in attracting crowds, and he, too, had a flamboyant streak — taking part in celebrity boxing matches. As votes were being counted in Ontario and Quebec, the provinces that account for about two-thirds of Canada’s population, the extent of the Liberals’ win was still not fully clear. It is a remarkable turnaround for the Liberals. During the last election in 2011, the party fell to third place for the first time in its history, holding just 34 seats. ...... For much of the 78-day race, all three major political parties were in a statistical dead heat, according to various polls. ..... Many analysts have said that Mr. Harper set a campaign period of twice the usual length in the hope that the more voters saw of Mr. Trudeau during his first term as leader of the Liberals, the less they would like him. Early Conservative ads emphasized Mr. Trudeau’s relative political inexperience and concluded with the slogan, “Just not ready.” ........ Late in the campaign, the Liberals flipped the Conservative slogan to “Ready” in its ads...... In a symbol of the Liberals’ confidence, Mr. Trudeau used part of his final day of campaigning on Sunday to visit Alberta, Mr. Harper’s adopted province and the Conservative Party’s power base. ...... After spending most of the campaign delivering standard speeches to invitation-only crowds, Mr. Harper took a more theatrical approach in the final days.

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