Empowering Nepalis In New York City



New York City News
NYC Nepali

I don't know how many Nepalis there are in New York City. 35,000? 40,000? Nobody really knows for sure. But we have got to earn voting rights in the city elections. The idea is not new. Those with green cards should be allowed to vote. There are activists and organizations that say that. A bill to that effect has been talked about in the past in the city council. But nothing has come to fruition because the issue has not become a mass movement. The people who will benefit have not been clamoring for it, and so it has not happened. We have got to get organized, and if we get organized the right way, we Nepalis could very well become the nucleus of the movement in the city despite our small number.

I have been pushing for an umbrella organization of all the Nepali organizations in the city. The idea so far has met with an enormous resistance that reminds me of the hardships of trying to get organized the Madhesi community. For Madhesis to come together is to have to say that we are Madhesi, and I guess it is not a whole lot of fun to claim that identity because the Madhesi are a powerless group. It is a chicken egg situation. To become powerful you have to come together, get organized. But when you try to come together, it is like looking at your face in the mirror. You get reminded of your powerlessness, and it is not a good feeling.

That exact same thing has been happening to the Nepalis in New York City.

NYC Nepali Are Madhesi, Powerless

We have to deal with it. We have to face it. We have to take some tough decisions. But ultimately we do have to end up with an umbrella organization.

ANONYC: Proposed Constitution

I guess it can't be just a New York City thing. It has to be a tri state thing, the organization has to. How about an ANONYM? Association of Nepali Organizations in New York Metro. That for the name.

And then we have to shape up the framework of that organization. For me the anwer is simple: one person, one vote democracy, and transparency. Every member organization would have a voting weight. If you have 50 members, you get 50 votes. If you have 200, you get 200 votes. Why do this? Because democracy is one person, one vote. And also because we want to keep up the pressure on all organizations to constantly expand their membership and reach out to as many Nepalis in the metro area as possible. We want people to expand their existing organizations. And we want people to launch new organizations. The idea is to get organized as many Nepalis in the city as possible. Right now less than 2,000 Nepalis in the city are members of this or that organization, by one estimate. Can we grow that to 20,000? That is the challenge.
What does transparency mean? It means the internet. People tell me not everyone is online. That might be true. But despite that fact, the only way to reach the largest possible number of Nepalis in the city is online. There is no other way. At the largest Nepali events, you meet a few hundred people at most. But there are thousands online, tens of thousands. I have not been to any Nepali's residence where people are not online.

I have also been told most Nepalis in the city work crazy hours, maybe 16 hours a day, 6 days a week, working below minimum wage. It is said people who are depressed are too depressed to get physical exercise but they need physical exercise more than the rest of us. That applies to the Nepalis working the below minimum wage jobs, which is practically most Nepalis in the city. They need political empowerment more than those who are working better paying jobs. Before the civil rights movement for blacks, it was common to find blacks who had advanced degrees but who worked odd jobs for long periods of time. That is where Nepalis are today.

Think voting rights. Think money. A community that can vote makes more money. Get politically organized because you want to end up making more money.

People are busy. It is so hard to get Nepalis to show up for events. It is easier to get them to show up for cultural events than it is for political events. In business they say if the customers don't come to you, go where the customers are. No matter how busy, most Nepalis party. A dozen of them will get together, maybe once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month, and they will party. Most Nepalis in the city do that no matter how busy. It is like saying no matter how busy you are, you are still going to brush your teeth. So Nepalis do meet in small groups all across the city. Almost all of them do.

And that is why I have been pushing the concept of house parties. The idea has to be to build
The Matrix. The beauty of The Matrix is that once it is launched, it is not going to be just a Nepali thing. It could end up a Desi thing, Hispanics could join. It could go global. I have been talking to the Bhutani leader SK Pradhan, suggesting that he use The Matrix to organize the 100 Bhutanis in the city. I have been wanting to get a Bhutan, Burma, Tibet triangle going in the city. We need to export the April Revolution those three places. And The Matrix would do it beautifully. You have to think of The Matrix as an invention. It is so simple to do, and so efficient. You become your own media. You can have a global reach. It can be so very powerful.

Ultimately, we do have to think in terms of some big rallies. There is no escaping that. And I am hoping we will celebrate Nepal's Republic Day as the Nepal Day in the city. But those events are rare. And as to political empowerment of the individual, there is no beating The Matrix. Rallies will be the icing to the cake. The Matrix is the cake.

If we can weave 10,000 Nepalis into The Matrix, I think at that point we are going to have earned the right to vote in the city. Other communities will join in. And that will be sufficient pressure on the city council.

Nepalis in the city think about Nepal a lot. And that is a good thing. But the community does have to grow beyond its Nepal fixation. We do have to realize we are in New York City, and that we are a sorry lot in the city, politically speaking.

Those Who Resist

Every f_____g Nepali organization in the city thinks it is The Umbrella Organization. That ego and ignorance has been getting in the way.

Prejudices alive in Nepal are alive here as well. Somehow organizations led by Bahuns are supposed to be have more gravitas than others. That is not going to fly. Bahuns don't got no voting rights in New York City either.

I am the natural contender to be the founding president of ANONYM. That causes some major heartburns among some Bahuns in the city. How can a Madhesi be the leader of the Nepalis! I don't take kindly to expressions of anti-Madhesi prejudices. Some people have burnt their fingers in the process. But you are going to accept my leadership because I am the one to take you to the promised land. I am best positioned. Noone else comes even close. You swallow your Bahun pride and prejudice because you want to earn your right to vote in the city elections. You are going to choose to be driven by self-interest, not ethnic prejudice.

And I do intend to get elected democratically. Others are welcome to throw their hat into the ring. I am up for it.

Tara Niraula Has Been A Problem

He has done a good job as the president of the America Nepal Friendship Society (videos). He is a well educated man. He speaks well. He can lead. He is devoted to the community. He gives time. He is networked among the leading Nepalis nationally. And he took the lead on trying to get together the many disparate Nepali organizations in the city. That was progress. That was initiative.

But then he feels like we have reached the peak. There is nothing beyond that. He has carried this patronizing attitude that the America Nepal Friendship Society is the seniormost Nepali organization in the city, and it is the ANFS that brings all Nepali organizations together, and basically he has suggested that the ANFS is The Umbrella Organization, all others are too parochial. ANFS is for "everybody, I welcome you all to join it." That is hogwash.

During the November meeting, Khagendra GC pushed the concept of a coordination committee, and that made a little more sense. But Tara Niraula played foul. He refused to put my proposal for an umbrella organization on the agenda, although I had emailed way in advance. And during the heat of the Madhesi Movement in Nepal, he emailed suggesting I was not to run the meeting of the coordination committee in May, he was, and that was a blatant attempt at foul play. The November meeting decided I was to run the next meeting.

That tendency is going to be countered.

Democracy, Transparency

Those two are going to be the basic organizing principles. Transparency means we are going to help every organization in the city go online. You can do it for free. I helped Tek Gurung get a homepage for his organization at Blogger: United Nepalese Democratic Forum.

We could write in Nepali or English at our sites. We could use audio and video, all hosted for free.

Each member organization is to stay autonomous, but I do think we should push to suggest that all organizations should keep their bookkeeping online. That is going to be empowering for the individual member.

Decision making should also be as transparent as possible. We should take and publish minutes of meetings. We should also blog the meetings, photos, audio, video, as much as possible. Those can be great tools to communicate with members, very few of whom can come to the meetings, and also a way to introduce our organizations to prospective members.

The City That Never Sleeps

New York City is the Kathmandu of the world. It is a very special place.

My idea is to form the ANONYM, to inject democracy and transparency as its founding principles, and to break it from the rest of the Nepali diaspora until they all accept democracy and transparency as the founding organizing principles also, and then we stitch it all back up. I expect Tara Niraula to resist this, by foul means if necessary, because he is tied to the unelected powers that be of the diaspora leadership, people who think they are the solution, but who really are the problem, people who stand in the way of a genuine empowerment of the Nepalis outside of Nepal. We Nepalis in New York City have to take the lead on that one. I am not for projecting false unity. Work begins at home. We have to tidy things up among the Nepalis before we can go face the non-Nepali institutions that stand in the way of Nepali empowerment.

I guess what I am saying is feelings are going to get hurt as we work to set up the ANONYM.

Nepal

Better organized, we can make more money. With more money, we can do more to engineer an economic revolution in Nepal. The Nepali diaspora will lead the economic revolution in Nepal. We are the ones who will be the primary investors over time. 95% of the good in Nepal will be done through the for profit sector. And the Nepalis in New York City stand to play a central role in that. We have to set up an example so the rest of Nepalis all over the world can follow.

Curiously, it all really boils down to democracy and transparency.

Constitution| Mantra

Nepali Convention 2008

I want the ANONYM to take over the Nepali Convention 2008, NYC. I was going to do it as a private business project. But it would make so much more sense to turn that into the flagship event of the umbrella organization. We will want to turn it into the top Nepali event outside Nepal.

The managers of the Nepali Convention 2008, NYC would still get paid a percentage of the profits. But the largest chunk of the profit would go to ANONYM.

Executive Committee

It has to be formed in a democratic way. I hear Anil Shahi is about to become president of the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights in Nepal. If he were to do that, I think it would be great to have him as the Vice President of ANONYM. He is a progressive, dynamic Khas. I would want the Ex Com to have a balanced ethnic and gender composition. We have to set an example for the new Nepal. New generation leaders like Tek Gurung, Luna Ranjit are quite promising.

Nepal is about to be born for the first time.

Events

ANONYM would take over all events for the visiting Nepali dignitaries. Profits from Nepali Convention 2008, NYC would pay for those. But until then we could do the ticket thing. $5 per person.

Community Center

We have to move towards that as well.

Community Center Idea: A Few Options
Nepali Community Center

On The Web

Suffrage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Historically, many groups have been excluded from the right to vote, on various grounds, because their members were subjects of feudal kings or princes or otherwise not free humans.
Voting rights in the United States
History: The Right to Vote | Scholastic.com
The Right to Vote
Rights of the People: Individual Freedom and the Bill of Rights
Beyond the Voting Rights Act:
Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.: The Right to Vote
Susan B. Anthony Speech - Women's Right to Vote
The Right to Vote
Amazon.com: The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy ...
The Nineteenth Amendment

Immigrant Voting Project --Democracy for All
VOA News - Bid to Restore Voting Rights for Non-Citizens Stirs ...
Immigrants and Politics Blog » Noncitizen voting rights in New York
All Headline News - NY Alliance Works To Grant Voting Rights For ...
[PDF]Voting Rights for Immigrants
AALDEF: Voting Rights

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असामान्य परिस्थिति भए असामान्य चुनाव’ अन्तरिम संसद्बाट कोइरालालाई प्रधानमन्त्रीमा निर्वाचित गर्ने र तत्काल सानो आकारको मन्त्रिपरिषद् बनाई त्यसको पहिलो बैठकले चुनाव तिथि घोषणा गर्ने सहमति भएको छ ।
चुरेको फेदैफेद वैकल्पिक बाटो यो बाटो बर्दिबासदेखि पर्ूव सप्तकोसी चतरासम्म फैलिएको छ । आन्दोलनका बेला काठमाडौंदेखि का“कडभिट्टा चल्ने अधिकांश दिवा सेवाका सवारी यो मार्गमा रातिको समयमा चलाइएकोे छ । ..... 'बैंकको ऋण तिर्नुपर्ने, कर्मचारी पाल्नुपर्नेलगायत समस्या आएपछि वार कि पार सम्झेर हामीले गाडी चलायौं ।' ..... यो मार्गमा काठमाडौं-कटारी -उदयपुर), गाईघाट र का“कडभिट्टासम्मका यात्रुवाहक बस चलेका थिए । अधिकांश यातायात एकसाथ रातिको समयमा मात्र चलाइने गरिएको थियोे । ..... काठमाडौंदेखि सिन्धुलीको बर्दिबाससम्म मुख्य राजमार्ग पहिल्याइन्थ्यो । त्यसपछि सवारी साधनलाई बर्दिबास-सिन्धुलीगढी बीपी राजमार्गतर्फमोडाएर कमलामाई नगरपालिका पुर्‍याइएको थियो ।
प्रेसमा विचलन ः प्रचण्ड
बन्दविरुद्ध ऐक्यबद्धता
फोरम अध्यक्षद्वारा राजीनामा मधेसी जनअधिकार फोरम बर्दियाका अध्यक्ष अर्जुन गोडियाले साधारण सदस्य समेत नरहने गरी राजीनामा दिएका छन् ।
तीन सय चौकी पुनःस्थापना गर्न बा“की
राजालाई कोइरालाको सल्लाह कोइरालाले आफ्नो जीवनको अन्तिममा आएर बुद्धि पुर्‍याएको .... जनजाति तथा मधेसी समुदायद्वारा जारी आन्दोलनमा राजाको प्रत्यक्ष/अप्रत्यक्ष षड्यन्त्र रहेको अनुभव सरकारले गरिरहेको छ । प्रधानमन्त्रीले वक्तव्यमार्फ् राजालाई त्यस्तो षड्यन्त्र बन्द गर, नत्र आठ दल गणतन्त्रमा जान्छन् भनेर धम्क्याएकामात्र पनि हुन सक्छन् । ..... हृदयेन्द्रलाई राजा बनाएर भए पनि राजसंस्था टिकाउने प्रस्ताव लिएर नेताहरूको ढोका चाहरिरहेका छन् । कोइरालाको 'ज्ञानेन्द्र र पारसले गद्दी त्यागे नया“ वातावरण बन्न सक्छ' भन्ने अभिव्यक्ति ...... विश्वमै शान्तिपर्ूण्ा आन्दोलनमा अभूतपर्ूव सहभागिता भएको इतिहास रचेका जनता मतपेटिकाका माध्यमबाट राजतन्त्रलाई बिदाइ गरेर थप ऐतिहासिक रर्ेकर्ड कायम गर्न आतुर छन् । .... संविधानसभाको निर्ण्र्ाााट हट्नुभन्दा आफैंले राजगद्दी त्याग्नु ज्ञानेन्द्र र पारसका लागि सम्मानजनक निकास हुनेछ ।
संघीय राज्य, समावेशीकरण र बहुलवाद राज्यको स्वरूप संघीय हुनर्ुपर्छ भन्ने विषयमा प्रँयः सबैको सहमति देखिएको छ । यसलाई अन्तरिम संविधानको संशोधनले पनि लिपिबद्ध गरेको छ । तर त्यो संघको स्वरूप कस्तो हुनेछ भन्ने प्रस्ट हुनसकेको छैन । संघको स्वरूपबारे विभिन्न मोडेल छापामार्फ र्सार्वजनिक भएका छन्- जातीय, भौगोलिक, भाषिक आदि । मधेसी तथा जनजाति संघीय प्रँन्तलाई जातीय दृष्टिले परिभाषित गर्नर्ुपर्छ भनिरहेछन् । प्रँन्तहरूको विभाजन जातीय आधारमा भयो भने देश विखण्डनतिर जान सक्छ भन्ने अर्काे तर्क उठेको छ । ........ जनसंख्याको ३० प्रतिशत ओगटेका तर स्थानीय दृष्टिले प्रँयः सबै प्रदेशमा अल्पमतमा परेका बाहुन-क्ष्ँत्रीको आफ्नै चिन्ता छ । ..... एउटै नेपाली भाषा, पहाडे संस्कृति र राष्ट्रियता सबैमाथि थोपरिएको छ । ..... सप्तरी, सिरहा, धनुषा र महोत्तरी जिल्लालाई जोडेर एउटा प्रँन्त बनाउने हो भने त्यहा“ ७७ प्रतिशत मैथिली बसोबास गर्छन्, ४ प्रतिशत थारू र ४ प्रतिशत भोजपुरी छन् । त्यस बाहेक त्यहा“ बाहुन-क्ष्ँत्री र केही र्राई-लिम्बू पनि छन् । यो भूभागलाई मिथिला संघ बनाए राम्रँे हुनसक्छ । ...... र्सर्ुखेत, दैलेख, जाजरकोट, अछाम, डोटी, बैतडी, डडेलधुरालाई मिलाएर एउटा संघीय प्रँन्त बनाउन सकिन्छ । उक्त क्ष्ँेत्रमा ५५ बाहुन-क्ष्ँत्री र ९ प्रतिशत ठकुरीहरू छन् । तर त्यही क्ष्ँेत्रमा केही र्राई, लिम्बू र मैथिली पनि पक्कै होलान् । ...... कति र्राई, लिम्बू वा मगर, गुरुङको बाहुन-क्ष्ँत्रीस“ग विवाह भएर सन्तान जन्मेका छन् । कति पहाडे र मधेसी मूलका मानिसको विवाहबाट जन्मेर 'मिश्रति' संस्कृति बोकी हर्र्ुकर्ंदै गएका बालबालिका पनि छन् । अहिले जातीय आधारमा संघीय प्रँन्त बनाई विभिन्न जातिहरू मध्यराजनीतिक पर्खाल लगाउनर्ुपर्छ भन्ने किसिमका तर्क उठेका छन् । के त्यस्ता जातीय-राजनीतिक सीमाले नेपालको बहुजातीय मिश्रति संस्कृतिमाथि न्याय गर्न सक्लान् -

Global Media Ignoring Madhesi Movement In Nepal
http://newsblaze.com/story/20070313231213nnnn.nb/newsblaze/OPINIONS/story.html

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Leaders discuss forming interim govt within a week
Prachanda corrects his remarks on weapons Prachanda has said that thousands of grenades remain outside cantonments. ..... after addressing a conference of All Nepal Revolutionary Journalists Association. .... Moriarty said he was still waiting for evidence from Prachanda over the latter's allegations of royalists' plot to kill Americans. Either he should provide evidence soon or he should retract the statement like he did about the weapons
MJF activists go on a rampage setting offices to fire in Rangeli Angered by the police move to open the locks at the government offices in Rangeli area of Morang district, the activists of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) set half a dozen offices to fire. ..... They lit fire at postal office, Agriculture Development Bank, Rural Development Bank .... Papers and documents were burnt. .... Following the incident, the entire southern area of Biratnagar has remained tense. ..... Although it has withdrawn bandhs and strikes, the MJF has announced indefinite closure of custom points and government offices in the region obstructing business and other activities.
Over 1.7 million citizenship distributed: Home Ministry
Refugees planted bombs in Phuentsholing, says Bhutan

Comments

Anonymous said…
Paramendra:
You are to Nepal and to Nepali community in New York what a potent filterless Gaida cigarette (or bidi?) is to a smoker.

She enjoys the smoke and keeps going back for more, knowing well that it's a poison in disguise (thougg slow). She will keep inhaling the deadly slow-killing poison, because she likes the neurological rush, although she may not always like the smell or the taste of smoke. As this cigerette comes, she can't separate the rush form the smell or the taste.

First, let me sincerely appreciate what 's good in you. God clearly gave you some gifts that are not rare, but not that common either. You have the gift of lucid but richly textured writing style and good verbal skills that people find easy to follow and even entertaining.

Without fail, there are numerous nuggets of truism with healthy sprinkle of egalitarian concepts in your writings, that are frankly very positive and heartening to read. There is much to agree to and relate to in your writings.

You are an intelligent, well-educated and energetic guy with some bold ideas and an agile mind that wanders around far.

This sums up the "rush" you provide your captive and very often unwilling and most often disapproving audience.

Here is the poison in you (or in the character you have projected to the public so far).

You abuse your talents daily to further self-aggrandizement (feeds your jupiter sized sense of importnace well), to spit venom at others, mostly undeserved (that clearly soothes your soul), and to spread hatred, meanness, divisive insults fit for a super-bigot that at times tend to rise to treason against the people, the society and the nation you purport to care about, revolutionize, and, god forbid, lead.

It has "worked" for you so far because in your writings, you build a base of all the good stuff that you are gifted with, that draws people to your writings, and then on that faultless and admirable foundation, you impose your rarely sensible and generally huge but selfish, laughable, deadly and at times bizarre opinions, ideas or projects.

If your writings didn't have the redeeming ("entertaining" is perhaps the word) qualities mentioned above, your pompous, pie in the sky schemes/opinions would just perish in the pit of obscurity, because they are often a prosthetic hash of multitude of your ideas/ideals in your head that clearly confuse you. And also because most people I know are not interested in a megalomaniac bigot with grand self-illusions.

Ok, people read/listen to Ann Coulter, but it's not because they like her or agree with her. It's for the same reason people might stop to see a drunk guy beat his wife, because it's so dramatic and appalling. It's for the same reason people sometimes waste time at checkout counters reading the outrageous supermarket tabloids like The National Enquirer or Star. Most have no respect for them, nor do they believe a word of what they say. People just like finding out what preposterous story did they come up with this time...they like wondering how these silly papers get away with what they write.

To be fair, you do sometimes have highly qualified ideas, perhaps even brilliant, but you have the unique talent to set these social (presumably collaborative) ventures up for rejection and failure by presenting them as a proprietary venture nicely wrapped around your abrasive and pompous style.

Talk about having an umbrella organization in New York metro. Nothing wrong with it. But after ample name calling (bahuns, khas), after bad-mouthing individuals/organizations...and after hoisting yourself on the pedestral of the most qualified person to head it ("nobody comes even close"), you lost it even before you began.
You claim to study group dynamics. I don't, but I somehow know that you *earn* a community's trust and respect and the right to be its leader. You don't claim it, you don't snatch it, you don't proclaim it. So far you are the only guy I have heard say you are qualified, much less the most qualified. Not a good sign.

Your style perhaps fits a cut-throat business, but it will get you nowhere in the public/social arena. Politics is a different beast, but even there you will need to temper yourself much more.

As an aside: a lasting tree grows slowly from the ground up by building a network of roots underneath the ground. The fruit that suddnely jumps down on the ground perishes. You are in New York and want to create an organization of Nepali organizations whose constitution you have already written and whose leaders you have already picked. You want to have the exclusive right to entertain the "dignitaries" visiting from Nepal. Looks to me like you are trying to lord it over the Nepalis and the organizations they have built over decades (however imperfect). Wonder how that reconciles with your illuminating ruminations about freedom, democracy and equality. Not to mention your expertise on group dynamics.

The day you learn that brain without character is a non-starter, you will begin to make some progress and I can see you have what it takes to go far. If you decide never to realize this tragic dichotomy in your persona that is obvious to everybody else, it will be a terrible waste of your abilities and ambitions.

In this sense, you will have proved to be a smart fool. Not to have wisdom or ability is being a fool. That's how god (or genes) created these people, so it's not their falut. In this sense they are not real fools. To possess wisdom and abilities, but to squander them in vanity is to be a *real* fool, the smart fool.

You perhaps think you are popular--or are a leader--because people know you, but look in the mirror. You are squandering your public image. It's one of those things that are hard to reclaim, so you are doing a considerable irreversible damage to yourself, if you have any real ambition for future with the Nepali community.

Even if you disagree with everything else above, please take what's below for what it is, a sincere wish for you from me.

If you will never learn some humility and never learn how to inspire, persudae and lead rather than scream, bicker, impose, push and shove, I sincerely hope that you succeed in one of your business ventures you often talk about (preferably not related to Nepal and Nepalis), so that you spare Nepal, Nepalis and particularly the NY based Nepalis your (in)glorious and obscenely loud, distracting and polarizing--albeit theatrically entertaining--presence.

Yes, business, especially the U.S. style, could perhaps use somebody like you. Go for it. Make Nepalis proud. I will be proud of you.
However, I personally vote you down even before you are on the ballot...for any leading position in Nepali community anywhere. You have shown that you are not made of the stuff that genuine social leaders are made of.

The only reason I took time to write this is because I do believe you have some talent that *could* take you somewhere. Nothing will please me more than to see years from now that I was right. People don't always have their fate in their hands, but in your case, it seems to me that you are the only person who has been in your way so far. And you are the only person who can defeat you in future.

I have nothing more to say. If you refuse the image you see in the mirror I am trying to hold for you, that's your prerogative. Rest assured, you won't be hearing from me again. I don't have any more time to dwell on this.

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