#279 30 December 2005 - 5 January 2006 16+4 pages Rs 30

2006 PEACE

Weekly Internet Poll # 279 Q... What do you think 2006 has in store for ? Total votes:3,986

Weekly Internet Poll # 280. To vote go to: www.nepalitimes.com Q... Who stands to benefit the most if the conflict resumes? Looking back on 2005

hile the rest of the region looks back on 2005 as a year of natural disasters, Nepal’s disasters were entirely manmade. The Indian WOcean tsunami and the Kashmir earthquake devastated Asia but Nepal was thrown into turmoil within a month of the last new year with the royal takeover on 1 February. The rest of 2005 was a political see saw as the political parties protested on the streets, the media struggled against efforts to control it, the Maoists launched their bloodiest attacks ever and then announced a truce for Dasain that has lasted till this week. Front pages of the Nepali Times in the past year summarise the tumultuous year. Our new year resolution: to live in less interesting times. And ahead to 2006: Editorial: Let's not go there p2 Guest Column: A ceaseless ceasefire p3 State of the State: The year of the hawks p3 Economic Sense: More of the same p5 Star Gazing: Year of the eclipse p11 Under My Hat: 2005 headline grabbers p 16 2 EDITORIAL 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279

Published by Himalmedia Pvt Ltd, Chief Editor: Kunda Dixit Desk Editor: Marty Logan Design: Kiran Maharjan Web: Bhushan Shilpakar Vicepresident Corporate Affairs: Sneh Sayami Advertising: Sambhu Guragain [email protected] Subscription: Pushparaj Sharma [email protected] Sanchaya Kosh Building, Block A-4th Floor, Lalitpur [email protected], GPO Box 7251, Tel: 5543333-6, Fax: 5521013 www.nepalitimes.com Printed at Jagadamba Press, Hatiban: 5547018 A ceaseless ceasefire The goal is not just to stop this drift towards dictatorship but to steer the Maoists back to pluralism and non-violence LET’S NOT GO BACK THERE here are rampant rumours entrench the king’s international admit that the revolution has Nepal waits with a deep sense of foreboding for the unilateral that the king is isolation. alienated the people. Unless there Maoist ceasefire to end next week. Nepalis are also bracing T contemplating finishing off The Maoists have vowed not is better political indoctrination, themselves for a conjunction of anniversaries that portend an on 1 February 2006 what he started to let the elections happen and it will be difficult for the Maoists ominous start to the new year. out a year before. Two weeks later, threatened anyone supporting it. to ensure that the rank and file On 1 February it will be one year since the royal takeover on 14 February the Maoists are Since the polls are mostly in abide by the MoU with the parties. turned the country topsy-turvy and made it an international expected to commemorate the urban areas, the rebels want to use To bring the people to their side pariah. There will be many occasions to post mortem the royal coup in the month ahead, but for now suffice it to say that it tenth anniversary of their war with it to launch the next phase of and to strengthen their alliance failed in the king’s avowed goal to restore democracy and a big bang, possibly in their revolution which is to ‘rise with the parties, the Maoists need peace. The regime can’t even take credit for the relative calm of Kathmandu. As we go into a new up from the villages to enter the to prolong the ceasefire. The the past four months. Instead of working to restore democracy it year, Nepal’s three political corners cities’. Maoist-party front then has a has systematically taken it apart and tried to gag media, are making their own calculations. The municipal polls will also tight-rope walk: it must prevent a especially citizens’ radio. be an important test of the 12- return to war at all cost while also Then on 8 February is the municipal election that will invite GUEST COLUMN point agreement and whether the keeping up the pressure on the direct confrontation between the government, parties and rebels. Puskar Gautam parties and the Maoists really king. On 15 February it will be the tenth anniversary of the ‘people’s mean it. If they do, they will use But reports that the Maoists war’ which the Maoists are preparing to mark with fireworks. it to create the atmosphere for an have adopted the doctrine of Rebel commanders have made no secret of their intention to The king doesn’t really want urban uprising that both hope ‘climbing on the shoulder to hit foment an urban uprising in Kathmandu (see op-ed piece). Instead of marking the tenth anniversary with more municipal elections slated for 7 will put pressure on the king. the head’ has shaken the political bloodshed, the comrades would do well to use it to enter the February: it’s just a sop for There is intense debate within parties and raised doubts about political arena. They are much more likely to catapult foreigners who keep pressuring the Maoists and outside about whether the Maoists are really themselves to state power that way, and what’s more they don’t him to restore democracy. But if whether or not to extend the four- committed to a peaceful struggle. have to wreck the country in the process. Besides, without an there is violence, he can use it to month unilateral ceasefire. Radical The parties are also worried about enemy to fight the king can’t use the insurgency as an excuse to keep the war going and remain at republicans are trying to instigate the Maoists increasing the number return to autocratic monarchy. the helm. the Maoists not to extend the of military divisions to seven The Maoists must know by now that all the conflict has done The seven-party alliance is ceasefire so it will be easier to from three, and implying that in the last ten years is make the king more powerful, increase hoping low turnout in municipal prevent municipal polls, a move they will kill anyone who foreign interference, debilitate the nation, sideline moderates, elections will be a referendum that ironically sections of the supports municipal polls. introduce a culture of settling scores through violence and bring against active monarchy, it will army that want the war also want. The Maoists can’t regard the untold misery to the Nepali people. The past four months has also proved that just because fire up their street agitation and If the ceasefire is not 12-point agreement just as a tactic, fighters on two sides aren’t extended, the biggest beneficiaries its aim is to forge a common killing each other, it doesn’t will be the king and army who can people’s movement as an mean there isn’t violence. In turn around and tell the alternative to violence. The Gulmi, Agrakhanchi and Americans, Indians and the Maoists themselves call it across the country families British: “We told you so.” This ‘Fusion’—the transformation of with brothers and fathers in will help hawks in those their armed struggle into a the Gulf or are countries who want to lift the peaceful urban-based people’s being forced by Maoists to arms embargo. A return to war will movement. The seven-party pay a flat Rs 30,000 tax per also allow the army to lump the alliance is not a tool the Maoists year. This is violence—not political parties in the same can use and discard when they against class enemies but the very people the revolution ‘terrorist’ category as the Maoists. don’t have use for it. After all, the was supposed to liberate. The rebels may then be pushed to goal is not just to end this drift Not extending the protect party cadre from being towards dictatorship it is also to ceasefire will only benefit targeted by the army. But the help steer the Maoists back to those in charge of the Maoists also stand to lose the pluralism. unaffordable and immoral limited political recognition they To stay on that peaceful path militarisation of this country. got during the ceasefire from the is a long, hard struggle towards a Comrades, if you want to international community. The people’s movement. If the king is make up for the destruction of comrades have replied to Ian thinking of another February the past ten years and win Martin’s query clarifying that First, it will be people’s non- back free and genuine ‘people’s action should by no violent power that will inevitably support of the Nepali people z you will not be provoked into means imply that our cadres have counter it. going back to war. been instructed to abduct or kill those participating in elections’. Translated from a longer article in this The Maoist leaders openly fortnight’s Himal Khabarpatrika. The year of the hawks Could this just be the storm before the calm? s we say good bye to 2005, it is hard functioning properly even in 2006. In fact A quick review of 2005 is also a reacted on 1 February, 2005 by dismissing to be optimistic about the new year. there is more confrontation around the checklist of February First and its the prime minister, put political leaders A Sometimes, a single event is a corner as the country lurches along the aftermath. A whole new superstructure has under house arrest, severed telephone pointer to the future. King Gyanendra this path of ‘monarchical democracy’, a been created to restore the Panchayat with lines, cut the internet, sent soldiers into week appointed Laxmi Bahadur Nirala as Panchayat-era notion propounded recently handpicked sycophants in every branch of newsrooms, imposed a state of emergency the new Attorney General. Earlier, he by one of its last surviving dinosaurs, government. Continuity in such a system and assumed all state powers on the accepted the resignation of Pawan Kumar Tulsi Giri. requires that their legitimacy is never strength of a single royal proclamation. Ojha, reportedly tipped for justice in the Leaving aside the question of political, questioned. That he had the full backing of the Royal Supreme Court. constitutional, socio-cultural legitimacy of The past year has been a period of lost Nepali Army was abundantly clear. The Both were lacklustre lawyers picked the current regime, 2005 saw its dismal hope and missed opportunities squandered year of the hawks had begun. from failure in even the fundamental test of any away in a spiral of self-destructive In retrospect, the First February obscurity authoritarian regime: maintaining law and confrontation between the palace and the takeover was perhaps necessary to STATE OF THE STATE solely order. By refusing to even respond to the people. December 2004 had ended in complete the process that was set in motion CK Lal on the unilateral ceasefire declared and extended confusion. By January 2005 rumours were with the dissolution of parliament on 22 basis of by the insurgents, let alone take proactive rife that Sher Bahadur Deuba had opened May, 2002. King Gyanendra needed to test unflinching loyalty to absolute monarchy. measures to initiate a peace process, it informal channels of communication with his hypothesis that in his kingdom all state Their last contribution to the cause of rule proved that its priorities are different from the Maoists to hold long overdue power emanated from the institution of of law has been defending the those of the people. parliamentary elections. King Gyanendra monarchy. Few bought this logic, but who constitutionality of the RCCC—perhaps the One can make a fairly educated guess were we to question it? The problem with only body in the free world empowered to what those priorities are. It’s clear that military-backed coups is that the engine probe, prosecute, and punish just about addressing the concerns of the Maoists or doesn’t come with a reverse gear. anyone it deems guilty. mainstream parties is still not in the agenda The Nepali Times office is shifting in Nepal may have the best constitution in of his government. The regime is engaged the new year. Pointing out the chaos around the world as Chief Election Commissioner in establishing the unquestioned authority his desk, a perceptive colleague remarked Keshab Raj Rajbhandari continues to of the palace with single-mindedness that optimistically: “This is the storm before insist, but we are unlikely to see it defies logic. the calm.” z 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 3 LLL ETTERS

BAFFLED Bihari Krishna Shrestha has and a firm believer in technology I have been reading Nepali been writing in Nepali Times for all, I think the entry of Times and have a pretty good without any novelty or substance. NepLinux will do little to ‘set off impression of your team’s in- The rhetoric in his latest guest a debate in Nepal about licensing depth independent analysis of column (‘Rebuilding democracy’, and pirated software’. What’s news and events. But one thing #277) is no different: political there to debate after all? We that baffles me is your parties are bad, it is good for have well respected Pvt Ltd continuous pursuit of the them to be kept out of the political dealers who sell Windows XP idealistic viewpoint that mainstream and King for Rs 125 (I got a Rs 25 coupon somehow the palace and the Gyanendra’s February First move with mine) or deliver new PCs parties will come together and was a brave attempt in the with OS and tons of applications, find a peaceful solution to the interest of the nation. He touches all of which is fondly termed Maoist problem. This may be on fragmented bits and pieces ‘New Road Software’ and free of the first item on the wishlist of and never forgets to make a charge. Can anything be called every Nepali this new year but illogical link with community ‘pirated’, ie stolen when, a the ground reality is so forestry. His arguments mix up licensed business in Nepal sells completely different. This is the right issues with wrong ones to it? And can one pick on software same regime that wants to justify a biased conclusion. when the majority of Chinese piggy-back on the war on terror Perhaps there would have been hardware sold in the kingdom to legitimise its rule. The some people at some point of time also contains so called ‘pirated’ moment a credible peaceful who agree with Bihariji’s attempts firmware? Can a working family solution to the Maoist problem to portray the essence of the of four living in Nepal ever think appears focus would shift to the February First coup as good. of affording an educational restoration of democracy, However, it did not take long for Windows application if the price meaning the current regime their ‘euphoria’ to turn out to be tag is $ 50 instead of the would have to relinquish power an illusion after they saw the customary Rs 50? So the debate and act as second fiddle to the February First move was not comes down to something elected government. So let’s invented for peace making, good simpler and one that has been face it, a negotiated solution is governance and consolidation of waged for decades: should not in the interest of the active democracy. It was all about computing be affordable for all, king and his cronies. It would reinventing the panchayat or just a select few in society? be political suicide for them. L autocracy, if not a mandale Raj. I Linux and the concept of Open Ron Hubbard’s merchant of do not believe that Bihariji lacks Source software is the chaos theory holds that society the knowledge that permitting alternative but unfortunately, is in the hand of merchants who people to govern their destiny these models are decades thrive on chaos. We don’t have through their representatives can behind the commercial offerings to go far to find its application help rebuild democracy. What all as far as ease of use and in Nepal. Maybe after they this sycophancy is about is device-independence. crush NTC, destroy NEA and difficult Educational discounts for establish themselves as to tell. software licenses offer 30-40 unshakeable arms merchants Krishna Adhikari, percent of the full retail price: for for both sides, they might forgo Reading, UK example that reduces the price their grip on power. By now tag of Microsoft Office to Rs it must be clear to all why 10,000, which is more than Pop every royal speech ends makes in monthly salary. Sounds with “Pashupatinath le hami crazy but this scenario can be sabai ko raksha garun”. seen in all venues of life where There is really no one else. people of limited means can Let it be said as a post script benefit from new technologies. that this letter is not in So if we are to debate ‘piracy’ support of the corrupt, let’s first examine just what is immoral, useless and utterly being stolen from whom and disgusting so-called ‘political who needs what the most. leaders’ of Nepal either. Jigme Gaton, Kathmandu Binod KC, email Every political force in this Thank you for the article on Shiva Gaunle (‘To country should read ‘100 Nepali computing. Although it Kathmandu’, #278) quotes nonviolent ways’ (#278) if they was more concerned about the Comrade Biplab as saying haven’t already. It should be technical details and operating “Feudalism cannot be amply clear to the Maoists that system philosophies, it is clear abolished by attacking small armed struggle has taken them that NepaLinux has a difficult security posts in the villages…” into a dead-end street. The king road ahead and its penetration So, can it be uprooted by killing should realise that his army is not will depend on how well Madan more people than they have going to protect him forever. He Puraskar Pustakalaya can target already and implementing a must have the foresight and users in Nepal who have never totalitarian regime? Sounds like statesmanship to devolve power used computers before. A first they are desperate. Whatever so it doesn’t have to be wrested time user of computers may be force they have managed to from him. And the political parties more amenable to Nepalinux and gather so far will get destroyed can’t say bandas are non-violent remain loyal. We must not forget by the RNA machine once it because they are enforced with the structure and dynamics of the gets going. If the Maoist plan is the threat of violence. Nepali computer market and to put political pressure through Jaya Gauchan, email NepaLinux must have a targeted the parties and armed pressure and strategic plan to move through the ‘people’s army’ The Maoists may have ahead. I request all computer then they are pretty naïve. First, charted out a new strategy as users to try and make it a the Maoists have a limited Shiva Gaunle mentions in his success. supply of arms coming in, report from Rukumkot but have Rajani Swar, email especially in the aftermath of they thought about what this will Indian crackdowns along the do to their pact with the parties? CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE border. If there is a prolonged The ceasefire and the agreement Typos are one thing but for such engagement, which is very with the parties gave the Maoists a snafu to pass through the likely, how will they sustain unprecedented public relations editorial desk tells me that their force? Second, dwindling mileage within the country and someone needs to brush up on support and credibility from with the international community. their business grammar. A sympathisers will undermine True, the king has not responded ‘debtor’ is someone who owes their ‘peaceful’ campaign for a to their ceasefire. But the answer you money and a creditor is ‘democratic republic’. An armed to that should to be reinforce the somebody you owe money to struggle against the RNA is a commitment to join mainstream which in this case of Cosmic Air bad idea, both as a strategy and politics, not revert to violence. is a tiny bit of relief at best (‘Pull general policy. Rather, the Otherwise they will find that up…Pull up…, #278). I am sure Maoists should make an violence is a genie they can’t that the creditors of Cosmic were attempt to deal with the king control. not amused. Naresh Newar’s directly or through a third-party Name witheld, email article reversed the books for if it comes to that. Or they can Cosmic with one simple word. go for peaceful civil NOT PIRATES Now if only the poor CFO at disobedience with the parties Great article by Vibek Raj Cosmic Air could figure out a because only they can Maurya (‘Windows of opportunity piece of such magic to keep his legitimise the Maoists. for Nepali computing’, #278). But airline flying! ‘Pradip’, email as an ex-software giant employee Tsedo Sherpa, email 4 NATION 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 Thoughts escape Indian sinophobia

oving to last year, my personal reality warped But there are limitations on Nepal’s use of the card and shifted. I functioned efficiently enough, cleverly masking M my unfamiliarity with everything from push-button pedestrian KUNDA DIXIT ‘pushing Kathmandu into the ed piece recently in the Indian crossings to obscure Kiwi slang. in NEW DELHI If nothing else, growing up in a bi-cultural, trans-national family Chinese fold’. There is worry this Express characterised the in Kathmandu—with its own heady mix of ethnicities, histories, would ‘diminish ’s sentiment among a segment of religions, languages, classes and realities—teaches you how to standing in the region’. the establishment New Delhi adjust and cope. Inwardly, however, I longed for my home. I still find week before King Gyanendra One retired Indian official thus: ‘This too-clever-by-half myself biting my tongue when tempted by comparisons and fear took over on 1 February last summed it up: “To counter king has to be taught a lesson he boring people with the never-ending commentary on life here that A year, he got Sher Bahadur American policy of containing won’t forget in a hurry.’ runs through my head. Deuba to close down the Dalai China, Beijing is containing The sinophobia here is also More complex still is coming up with suitable responses to the Lama’s office in Kathmandu. India.” He is convinced China restricted to a relatively small questions people ask about Nepal. Of course, I’d expected it to be Ever since, the royal regime engineered the Nepali veto at section of the military- obscure, a bit of a novelty, but nothing prepared me for the fact that has been bending over backwards SAARC in Dhaka. intelligence establishment and for many people here, where I come from—and every other country to lean on China. The king Till recently, conventional the political opposition. like it—simply doesn’t exist. “Kathmandu” is an adventure brand, Asian means Chinese, Nepal could be somewhere in the Middle East himself traveled to the Boao wisdom was that rapprochement Political and business opinion and Everest is a mountain that a New Zealander climbed. Summit in April, Foreign between China and India and in favour of increasing trade and There are no comparisons, no points of reference. Every Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey has closer economic ties meant the other links with China is much comment, explanation or anecdote I tried only made me feel worse, been commuting to Beijing, COAS two weren’t competing with each bigger. This section is more knowing how completely Pyar Jung Thapa was there in other in Nepal or elsewhere. worried about how India can misinterpreted it would be. How November. And there has been a NEPALI PAN do you explain, in what is an Jemima Sherpa procession of Chinese delegations essentially a middle-class, in Kathmandu, including a high- developed, easygoing island, level Tibetan visit and one by another country that has a 45.2 percent literacy rate and over 40 senior PLA officials this month. percent of its 27 million people living under the poverty line in a By trying to ingratiate itself to landlocked area smaller than the South Island alone? Statistics like these mean nothing in the ‘Pavlova Paradise’ but Beijing. King Gyaenendra is using neither do my bumbling attempts to sketch a true sense of my life at his father’s policy of playing home. Here the concept of having household workers equates with India off against China. Critics being filthy rich. ‘Poor’ means a broken down car, the unemployment point out that policy was made at benefit, beer bought with student loan money and clothes from The a time after Nepal’s two giant Warehouse. neighbours had just fought a Kathmandu, with its bowl of old carved wood and new plastic bruising war in 1962. Today, they waste, its hordes of people at rush hour and the eerily empty streets add, China and India are bhai- during violence-tinged political strikes is far away. I find myself bhai again this strategy is unable to even explain pollution here, where the famous wind blows hopelessly outdated. air so bracingly Is it? Going by the shrill clean that my lungs feel sinophobia in sections of the New scrubbed raw. Delhi chatterati, military, Equally alien business and political is the concept of a establishment it looks like the place with old king’s effort to use residual social traditions Indian paranoia about China as still dictating leverage to build support for arranged himelf is working. The benefit marriages, taboos, may be short-term, but that is all beliefs and the king needs to ride it out. This superstitions ‘inside track’ into Indian policy- around every conceivable issue making circles is probably why and yet no the monarch exudes so much drinking age, no confidence despite his smoke detectors international isolation and While many still adhere to this keep pace with China’s and future unpopularity at home. view, some aren’t so sure any blistering economic growth and elections that are Last week, the New Delhi more. In fact, those who talk emulate its success in wooing ‘not applicable’. papers prominently extolled the about a benign China are now foreign direct investment A story about a virtues of Bhutan’s King Jigme’s often labeled in the Indian press China is already India’s bomb scare at my announcement that he was as ‘Beijing apologists’ and part of second-largest trading partner former workplace stepping down in 2008. Every a ‘pro-China lobby’. and it is unlikely that New is too dramatic, Indian paper made unfavourable implying an all-out King Gyanendra’s strategy of Delhi will want to jeopardise its war zone. My comparisons with King obtaining military aid and future relations with Beijing by Friends in cyberspace friend’s traditional Gyanendra. ‘There are kings and buying arms and ammunition quibbling over Nepal. Neither parents sound too there are kings,’ said the Times of from China and has side would benefit if Nepal’s united only by our repressive, India. The general refrain: here is worked brilliantly to stoke fears conflict raged out of control. alienation echoing Saudi- Bhutan’s king taking his country in New Delhi about Nepal going Besides, New Delhi and Beijing style restrictions, towards democracy while Nepal’s over to the other side. Sections of demarcated their spheres of my work in the local media too impressive connoting levels of king is taking his country away the Indian military influence long ago. One former celebrity and pay that simply don’t exist in Nepal. from it. establishment who have all along official in Kathmandu told us I have found it easier to revert to a simple, “Well. It’s certainly This week, the papers are full been against the arms embargo senior Chinese have been telling different…” and try to leave it at that. Still, everyone needs their fix of $25 million unpaid RNA take this as proof the MEA’s Nepali officials for the past 25 of home and Wellington’s miniscule Nepali population has caused arrears to various Indian me to seek communities and connections of a different sort. Like policy is pushing Nepal to years to “sort it out with India”. many young educated Nepalis abroad, I find myself escaping companies for military hardware. China. Even though the recent $1 The only issue that could worry regularly into cyberspace to ease bouts of homesickness and The underlying message is: we million military grant and the 18 the Chinese now is persistent reassure myself of Nepal’s existence. could overlook it but not if you trucks of grenades and bullets talk among American hawks Most days I ritually check the local news sites and then scour keep taunting us. last month may not have been about ‘containing China’ and BBC and CNN for mentions, before logging on to the various forums But the divergence of Indian substantial, its prominent how the Indo-US strategic and chat programs where others like me seek common refuge from policy towards Nepal is often coverage in the Indian media alliance will pan out in the all over the world. played out in the media with the stoked suspicions again. future. Here I keep old friends and sometimes make new ones, most of pro-democracy line espoused by Nepal’s strategy of needling The royal regime thinks it us united only by our alienation. Against a backdrop of bytes and the Ministry of External Affairs India by brandishing the China can stoke this primordial pixels, I trace people’s lives as they crisscross the globe. Linked in and leftist politicians and the stick, however, is fraught with distrust to its advantage. It must a common beginning, I hear impressions of places I will probably counter opinion pieces that never see. dangers and is already triggering a see Burma’s junta as a role Bangkok, Delhi, , LA, Utah, , , , portray the king and the army as backlash here. Even some hawks model: getting away with … and still we talk, of life and love and losses, in a strange bulwarks against a Maoist now think King Gyanendra has crushing democracy for 35 years new language of Nepali words typed in English and interspersed with takeover of Nepal. gone too far. despite international outrage the instant messenger smiles and frowns and tears. For now, India’s lingering memory of “He’s pulled a fast one, and and western sanctions. And the I suppose, that’s as close to reality, and home, that we’re going to being ‘stabbed in the back’ in we mustn’t allow him to get fact that New Delhi tolerates and get. z 1962 is so strong there is growing away with it,” a policy adviser does business with Burma’s alarm that South Block’s usually sympathetic to the junta is probably not lost on diplomacy towards Nepal is monarchy told us. Indeed, an op- Nepal’s ruler. z BUSINESS 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 5

John Players Collection

○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ John Players has released its Fall Winter Collection 2005. Focusing on youth, it includes options for work and party wear— More of the same Structures@Work and Cosmopolis. The former offers premium textures such as jacquards, dobbies, chevrons and Indications are that the new year will be no herringbones, in vibrant colours. The bottoms come in regular fits with earthy tones of beige, charcoal, different than the old one greens, browns and greys. Cosmopolis features trim fits and soft fabrics, with prints, motifs and paisleys on hen the streets of corduroys. The Fall Winter Collection 2005 will also Kathmandu became see the introduction of casual jackets in polyviscos W cleaner and garbage heaps Lycra, corduroys and 100 percent wool fabrics. Its subtle colours will contrast with the cold winter world. disappeared after February First, people said; “Wow, things are working.” A year later the streets

Domestic quarrel are back to the way they were, ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ garbage is a familiar sight. Walk Royal Nepal Airlines pilots flying domestic routes have given an around the streets of New Road ultimatum to management till 31 December to meet pay, progression and benefit demands. Salaries and allowances in the state-owned on a Saturday afternoon and you airline are much lower than in private airlines even within Nepal and will find that vendors have taken the carrier has seen a haemorrhage of pilots to the private sector. over sidewalks, makeshift stalls Nepali private airlines, on the other hand, have suffered an exodusto selling momos and other finger private carriers in India where there is a severe shortage of flight food. Traffic discipline is non- brokers who can provide or deny, of people happy. But in the crew. Eight Nepali pilots currently fly with Air Deccan and others with existent. In India in 1975 when favours at will. Someone must be current system one just needs to Air Phuket in . Sources said Royal Nepal Airlines’ domestic providing protection for the be cosy with a few political flights may come to a grinding halt in the new year if negotiations proliferating stalls around masters and some of them may with management are not fruitful. ECONOMIC SENSE Dharmapath—just as someone even belong to one’s fraternity. Artha Beed must be steering the much, much One issue haunting the

New bank bigger usurpation by cronies of current administration is that ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ Indira Gandhi declared an state-owned utilities. despite the end of corrupt Pokhara entrepreneurs have established the Himchuli Development emergency, the trains ran on time In the current system where democracy, things are still as Bank in the resort town. The bank was inaugurated last week by Nepal Rastra Bank Deputy Governor Krishna Bahadur Manandhar. for a while and people celebrated. many business people are holding corrupt as before. In the absence Customers can open an account at the new bank with as little as Rs However, things went back to important offices, it becomes even of an opposition watchdog, errors 1,000 while the interest rate for a daily savings account is 5.5 normal pretty soon. Same here. more important that such and omissions in anti-corruption percent. Most economists would agree regulation is taken seriously. How campaigns are overlooked. that autocracies can make reform can office holders ensure that Unfortunately, with the absence difficult, especially in this era of they draw a line between the of parliament, state finances do

High five for Laxmi pressure for free market changes. business they conduct as not become an issue of public ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ Laxmi Bank recorded 150 percent growth in net profit in 2004-2005 When parliamentary democracy individuals and their new debate. Similarly, the role of the compared to the previous year, it announced at its 5th AGM in Birganj is suspended, the mood turns responsibilities as officials? How Auditor General’s office becomes on Monday. It was the first annual meeting since the bank obtained anti-establishment and everyone to be sure that they are not fuzzy as its employees are approval to operate as a full-fledged branch in Kathmandu. Other blames the government for profiting from the knowledge uncertain if their objective should results announced included deposit and lending growth of 53 percent everything that goes wrong. they have about laws to be be to act as strong auditing or to and 56 percent respectively during the same period. Total paid up Similarly when vibrant amended or policies the keep their jobs. capital stood at Rs 609.84 million. opposition exits, self-regulation government is planning? How not Domestic and foreign emerges. Governments in , to be swayed by personal interests investors are encouraged by strong NEW PRODUCTS India, and and stall important regulatory regulation, the absence of HAIR STUDIO: the reputed beauty parlour in Bhat Bhateni have changed on many pertinent bills? How to implement new conflicts of interest and a Department Store, has shifted to another location within the economic issues. policies without bias? government focused on economic Deptartment Store itself. The new premises, in the same modern and Democracy ensures that the Business people by and large growth. In 2006 we will see how comfortable style, are much bigger for the convenience of customers Laludom can’t go on and on. A are politically conservative. highly placed individuals balance and finally also include a Gents section. system without accountability Democracies are just too messy their political ambitions with the breeds shady backroom power and one has to keep too many sets country’s economic needs. z “Prospects for Nepali tea really good”

Nepali Times: How do you rate Nepal’s tea quality? the machines are being supplied by India, even though Wolfgang Heilman: Nepal’s tea is of really high quality, they are very expensive. especially that from east Nepal, which has a better taste than Darjeeling tea. The prospects for exporting Nepali tea Your organisation, Senior Expert Services, has provided are really good. technical advice and training to a number of tea and coffee producing countries. Any concrete results? Most tea-producing countries are focussing on instant and Our purpose is to transfer the knowledge of retired organic tea products. Should Nepal also look that way? managers to the firms because after working for 30 I believe that instant tea production is possible in Nepal. years you are able to share that knowledge easily….We You have 6 million kg of tea available for such production helped build a coffee factory, which has been and on top of that, Nepal can afford to sell at a lower price very successful at exporting. We also played a role in than other countries. Most importantly, Nepal’s tea quality is the decaffeinisation of tea, just starting in China and so high that even if you sell instant tea at market price you ’s industry, which is building a factory on can still compete with others. roasting and packaging.

Can we compete with China and India? What should Nepal do to improve exports? The main difference between China, India and European Nepal should focus on two things. First, it needs good

NARESH NEWAR companies is the labour cost, which is very low in Nepal. functioning industries free from bureaucracy and So this is where the competition ends. corruption. Second, you need good international marketing. ’s famous mountaineer Reinhold Germany’s Wolfgang Heilman has Where are the best markets for Nepal’s tea? Messner has been taking the initiative to tell German worked as an expert in raw tea Europe especially. If you start producing organic tea, then people that Nepal is not only about the Himalaya but there will be more opportunity. Europeans are becoming also about high-quality tea and agro-food and coffee processing and more interested in organic products. products…Nepal is a well-known in Germany, so in production for the last 30 years, principle, Germany should be a good market. The only specialising in mechanical and You visited manufacturing plants in Nepal. What was your thing this country should manage is its political situation impression? and things will be easy. thermal process engineering, Some of the machines have been running for many years food packaging technology and and should be replaced. I was however impressed with a But isn’t it difficult to establish a market in Europe? green tea factory that has expensive Japanese equipment. Absolutely not. We are a very free and open market, as quality assurance. He spoke to You have to keep in mind that the market for green tea is long as you follow quality and legal restrictions. We Nepali Times last week during his increasing a lot while that for black tea is declining. don’t like pesticides in tea and coffee. There’s also a market for low-cost tea products because there are visit here to address a seminar on But can Nepal afford to upgrade those machines? also poor people in Germany who are interested in Nepal’s tea industry. In principle, it is a huge investment. For the time being, all cheaper tea. 6 FROM THE NEPALI PRESS 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279

Have faith Sushil Koirala disbanded the ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ NSU leadership and named his Rajparishad lifetime member own man, Mahendra Sharma, as Bhadrakumari Ghale in chairman, the dispute has The king goes east, Gorkhapatra, 26 December spilled out into the streets. The NC working committee is History has shown that bad days planning to take action against do not last forever. The night student groups protesting the the army goes west may be long but daylight will new leadership. If that happens, certainly break. All we need now leaders such as Gagan Thapa Jana Aastha, 28 December the Maoists, who used to vacate even their is patience, everything will be and Pradeep Poudyal will also strongholds as soon as the army arrived, chose to fine when the day dawns. Truth be prosecuted. Both were Call it a coincidence or a calculated move, the attack this time—to expose the army offensive will prevail and those who will accused by the NC working king is starting his visit to the eastern region just during the ceasefire. The clash also demonstrates be judged right by the people committee, led by Girija Prasad when the Maoists’ extended unilateral ceasefire is that the rebels have decided to counter-attack all will remain and those who will Koirala’s daughter Sujata set to end. army operations. This week we may hear of more not shall no longer exist. Koirala and vice-chairman The trip, from 1-22 January, is aimed at clashes, and more casualties particularly in Rolpa Elusive, incorrect and anti- Sushil Koirala, of being bolstering the morale of security personnel and because Gairigaun marks the gateway to the people activities will not be ‘royalists’. In an interaction royalists. Another coincidence is that on the same Maoist heartland. program organised a few days day last week when the Maoist leaders announced sustainable. Ours is a culture that the ceasefire would be ending, the army that has witnessed practices like ago by the Reporter’s Club, launched its biggest operation so far in the Maoist self-immolation and compared Sujata Koirala clearly stated that heartland of Rolpa being coordinated by the RNA’s to such incidents what is all who chanted slogans and mid-western headquarters, which has been happening in the country now is raised black flags of protest relocated to Surkhet from Nepalganj. nothing. Our past has taught us against the party chairman were Since 22 December, thousands of soldiers from to be patient and hopeful for the royalists. Thapa and Poudyal Dang, Salyan, Rukum and even Kathmandu have future. We are of the society that are popular leaders within the been deployed. On the fifth day of the army’s sees god even inside rocks. That NSU and have direct influence advance towards Rolpa, there was a fierce battle is why we need not panic. within the NC as well. The between soldiers and Maoists in Dumlachaur of Whatever problems we have now party’s Narhari Acharya, Ram Gairigaun. At least one soldier and two rebels Chandra Poudyal and Arjun were confirmed dead. However, the battle looks like it will gradually be solved. No one was more serious than that, 15 soldiers have been should doubt that. Peace is what Narsingh have shown their admitted to the military hospital in Chhauni. everyone wants today. National solidarity with Thapa. But the Reportedly, the army did not have much agencies have been mobilised to Koirala family shows no sign of difficulty overcoming the rebels near Holeri but the restore peace permanently. Now relenting. This fight is not new. real fight began after about 3,000 soldiers reached is the time for everyone to help The process of staging coups Gairigaun on Monday. The rebels tried to pin them re-establish peace by actively and bringing in new leaders is down by firing mortars from nearby hills. The army taking part in elections. This is starting to become a trend retaliated with long-range weapons and by evening something the political parties within the NSU. the two sides were involved in close combat. should understand. The Maoists Perhaps anticipating more such clashes, the army should stop being adamant and

is keeping half-a-dozen helicopters on stand-by in Encroachment ○○○○ Rukum’s headquarters Libang, at an army base in join peaceful mainstream ○○○○○○○○○○○○ Dang and at mid-western headquarters in Surkhet. politics. There is space for every Sanghu, 26 December For this biggest-ever offensive against the Nepali when there is a king. That Maoists, the army has deployed 25 companies, space is constitutional India’s encroachment into one from each battalion in the country. The monarchy and multiparty Nepali territory has been operation is being led by the chief of the army’s democracy. occurring for some time now, training directorate, Brig Gen Sharad Neupane, who and this week there was another previously led the No 4 Brigade in Surkhet at the violation of the border in

time also responsible for Rolpa and Rukum districts. Capital plans ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ eastern Kailali. Indian security This is the army’s fourth offensive in Rolpa with Dristi, 27 December forces personnel recently Thawang as the target. Officials claim this effort is ploughed land and encroached different because it is more result-oriented while past actions focussed on propaganda. In a bid to help the seven-party nine metres beyond the border Indeed, details of the operation have been kept alliance end autocratic pillar. Confronted with tightly guarded and first reports came out only monarchy, the Maoists have evidence the Indian side three weeks after it began. If the army had selected new commanders for responded by saying they were publicised the move beforehand, it could have the and made making roads for SSB security created a PR nightmare because the Maoists’ their third division responsible forces that patrol the area. ceasefire was still in place. That could explain why for military activities in the Locals complain that when the MIN BAJRACHARYA valley. Its commander is Bibidh border area was ploughed, crops and co-commander is Sanjiv. including potatoes, mustard Previously, Bibidh was co- and sugarcane were destroyed. commander of the western Ram Prasad Sharma, chief division and Sanjiv was district administrator of Kailali, commander of the eastern says he knows nothing about command’s Mechi-Koshi the encroachment. seventh brigade. Maoist sources we shall also ignore the borders say the two men will now lead and encroach upon their lands,” the 13th and 15th battalions in they warn. Kathmandu and that they were

chosen because they are Wilful defaulter ○○○○

unknown to security forces in ○○○○○○○○○○○○ the valley. The Maoists also now Ghatana Ra Bichaar, 28 have a special command for the December valley and surrounding areas. Last year, the central committee The Indian government has had annexed the capital to the asked Nepal to pay unpaid bills eastern command. Maoist for military assistance it sources claim they have made supplied to the Royal Nepali ‘all necessary arrangements’ to Army since 2002. Sources in enter Kathmandu, including New Delhi say the palace has ‘learning from past mistakes’. not responded to repeated The idea this time seems to be to requests. The equipment Tulsi Giri: “Give me one example to prove there deloy forces in adjoining included vehicles, helicopters, is no democracy here.” districts and bring them in machineguns, motors, Insas “Let me hear you give one example...” Nepal , 1 January when required. rifles, ambulances and bulletproof jackets worth IRs 5

QUOTE OF THE WEEK Kicked out billion and was provided on ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ condition that Nepal pay 30 “ Jana Bhabana, 26 December percent of the cost while the (Planned disruptions to municipal polls) should by no means imply that our cadres Indian government bore 70 “ have been instructed to abduct or kill those participating in the elections. The quarrel within the Nepali percent. The unpaid bills Students Union (NSU), sister amount to over $26 million, - Maoist leadership in a letter to UN human rights chief in Nepal, Ian Martin organisation of the NC, has according to reports. But it peaked. After NC Vice Chairman appears that the government is SELECTED MATERIAL TRANSLATED EVERY WEEK FROM THE NEPALI PRESS FROM THE NEPALI PRESS 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 7 simply not interested in paying bankruptcy, the national flag the bill. While New Delhi has carrier is sure to plunge deeper not heard from the Nepali into crisis thanks to the state’s government, private Indian abuse of authority. According to companies that sold the RNAC officials, the 757 was hardware are now preparing to chartered at the rate of drag the Indian government to Rs 770,000 per hour. During the court because they have not been 21-day tour, the king used the paid. The firms include Ashok plane to attend the SAARC Leyland, Tata Motors, Hindustan summit in Dhaka and then the Aeronautics and Bharat information summit in Tunisia. Electronics, among others. In He then travelled on to Burundi, contrast, the Nepali government South , and has paid Rs 70 billion to the Egypt. The government is Chinese government for military paying the airline only for the assistance received a few months hours it was in the air, which ago, according to Nepal Rastra totals Rs 37 million. If the plane Bank records. The equipment had flown its scheduled flights includes 18,000 grenades, arms during those weeks, RNAC and ammunition. would have earned more than Rs 93 million, according to a senior

Royal airline pilot. This doesn’t even count ○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○○ the ground handling charges, Samaya, 29 December landing and parking fees at various African airports and Royal Nepal Airlines the airline’s losses for Corporation put one of its rerouting and cancellation of Boeing 757s at the disposal of booked passengers. So the king’s King Gyanendra’s recent 21-day visit cost the airline and tour but it looks like it will get ultimately the Nepali people, Rs paid only for 48 flying hours. 56 million. And that is only the Already on the verge of airline’s losses.


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Suran KC, management trainee Suran KC, 23, is a management trainee for customer care in Serving Minds. A graduate from Nepal College of Travel and Tourism, she earns Rs 15,000 a month. “A friend of mine was working here. I saw an opportunity and took it. When I first joined, there were only about 40 people but now there are more

than 200,” says Suran. Her parents were concerned that she would be working late at night but once they saw the potential for career growth and the working environment, they got comfortable with the idea. Asked about the work environment, Suran says, “there is a lot of pressure working as an PICS: ANUP PRAKASH agent but I guess I did quite well as in about six months I was promoted to a Kathmandu’s call centres sales supervisor”. The best part of the job is the work environment, where finally put Nepal on the everyone has become friends, she adds. “ You come to office to meet friends and Nepal calling world’s outsourcing map have a lot of fun while you work.” Shrijan Khadka, agent Shrijan Khadka, 21, joined as an agent AARTI BASNYAT keeping, software development, That facility will include a gym, recreation after getting a BBA from Kathmandu maintenance and filing tax returns.” centre, 24-hour cafeteria and feature state- University and earns around Rs 7,500 a “Hello, may I speak to the business owner In fact, call centres aren’t called call of-the-art technology. month. “I wanted to join earlier but due please? This is Sarah,” says a sales agent centres anymore. The preferred name is “Nepal has the demographics of a mini- to the late-night shifts, I wasn’t able to using one of the many pseudonyms she business process outsourcing (BPO) and metro in India but with a higher arrange time as it would have hampered uses to talk to clients halfway across the because of the Information Technology unemployment rate among graduates,” says my college work,” he says. What drew world. Sarah is among 200 young Nepali revolution it can be located anywhere in Kapoor, “The level of English literacy is men and women at Serving Minds, one of the world where there is trained manpower. also the same if not better, so why not the country’s biggest call centres. Serving Minds helps clients grow and Nepal?” Re-launched in 2003, Serving Minds expand their home markets anywhere in Though one hears stories of sales was Nepal’s pioneering call centre and has the world with most of their workforce agents being put through rigorous accent become proof that Nepalis can compete located in Kathmandu. training to make them sound more with better-known businesses in other Serving Minds has now become one of ‘American’, this is not the case at Serving countries that serve clients in the the largest employers of Nepali graduates. Minds. The accent is hardly important but globalised economy. Starting with only six employees in 2003 confidence is considered an essential asset, “We are more than a call centre,” Kapoor says it hopes to have 500 staff by says the company’s human resources and him to Serving Minds is the chance to explains Serving Minds president, Ashish next year and eventually about 1,000 administration manager, Chetna Shrestha. talk to people from other countries, Kapoor. “We also serve all other needs of people working in the soon to be “Some of them acquire accents with the which he feels will help to build up his clients like customer acquisition, book- completed premises near Soaltee Hotel. work they do, so it is not really a confidence and communication skills. requirement,” she says. His family completely supported his Staff are constantly evaluated to decision. Shrijan is sold on the performance-geared work environment determine the promotions and benefits that but says it’s not easy. “It gets harder as each employee receives. But doesn’t this you start becoming better at the job. If “Nepalis have excellent work ethics” produce a high-stress environment, with you want to work you need to have the conditions in many BPOs in India and the courage to succeed as it is so Ashish Kapoor, president of Serving Minds, on some Philippines now being described as competitive.” Asked if he plans to stay at key issues facing this new industry in Nepal: “sweatshops”? the job, Shrijan replies: “I haven’t Kapoor responds with another decided as yet. For now the work circle On bandas and environment is really good and you We have excelled in being able to work during bandas question: “Which job is not stressful? And get to meet a lot of people.” and other political upheavals. We have our own where do you not have to work hard to earn communications links, backup power and even our own promotions? We have incentives and a Reshma Gurung, water. We have few touch points with infrastructure in work culture completely geared towards assistant sales manager Nepal so we have been able to continue business better performance.” A BBS graduate from Shanker Dev without any hiccups. Also, our staff is very dedicated. So we asked one of Serving Minds’ Campus, Reshma Gurung, 26, earns Rs 15,000 a month as an assistant sales management trainees, Suran KC if he found Employee turnover manager at Serving Minds. She has Almost 70-75 percent of people do not stick to their first it stressful. “There is a healthy competitive been with the firm for about two years jobs for longer than a year. There are two reasons for environment which makes us want to do and before that worked in medical this— one, you’ve never worked before and are still better,” he replied, “The pressure to trying to find out what you want to do and two, you take a improve performance is there but when you quick promotion and jump jobs. Most of our employees see your colleagues doing well you feel you are first time jobholders and because we have a heavily can do better.” geared performance oriented environment, for some it is The BPO market in India is now a $5 a culture shock to work in such a demanding job. billion a year annual industry with 2.5 Competing with Indian firms million young college graduates employed We benchmark our standard with Indian business process outsourcers (BPOs). Our in the sector. Boosting the purchasing salary and working conditions are at par with them—it is only a short distance from power of millions of young people has Kathmandu to Delhi and we definitely don’t want to lose our employees to better actually transformed India’s economy with prospects there. So we have been able to maintain salary and career growth a boom in sales of consumer goods and a opportunities to match theirs. transcribing businesses in Nepal and whole new mall culture among Indian India. After realising that she was tired youth. Recruiting of working in India, Reshma saw the Our recruitment processes are thorough. We have telephone interviews and discussion Kapoor thinks Nepal could easily cash perfect opportunity at Serving Minds. groups. We then have a final one-on-one interview. The candidates selected have to in on the BPO boom just as India has. He “It’s fun and I don’t remember the work have important speaking and communication skills but we also look at EQ and IQ adds, “I don’t understand why people say pressure so much. The people are just levels. The candidates selected are mostly graduates and we only take intermediate Nepal can’t compete in the global market. so friendly and helpful,” she says. students if we find them to be exceptionally talented. Our workforce here has been as competitive Asked if it is different than her work experience in Delhi, she replies, “I think and competent as anywhere else in the Nepali work ethics in terms of salary and work environment The workforce here competes internationally. I don’t understand when people say that world. It’s all about the ability to serve and professionalism, it is exactly the the Nepali market can’t compete worldwide. We are doing it and have very motivated efficiently and scale up to meet customer same if not better than the workplaces and dedicated employees who have excellent work ethics. needs. The question: ‘why Nepal?’ in Delhi.” shouldn’t arise.” z ENVIRONMENT 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 9 Glacial research frozen Another government squabble stalls study of melting Himalayan glaciers


ot on the heels of the Why measure glacial retreat? Conservation International The earth’s poles and mountain regions are where the first indications of the effects of climate change are most clearly seen. H research fiasco in the Barun Higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by Valley in November comes fossil fuel burning is raising average annual temperatures by 0.06 Celsius a year another government turf tussle in the Himalaya. That may not seem like much but for people living on the that is endangering an important borderlines of permafrost in the mountains and the poles the effects are seen research station on Nepal’s within their lifetimes. For example, Sherpas in the Khumbu have noticed receding snowlines and in Manang farmers are growing vegetables they couldn’t longest glacier. before. A weather station on the More ominously, glaciers in the eastern Himalaya are growing dangerous Nzugumpa Glacier below Cho Oyu because of snow melt and new lakes are popping up where none existed. has been buried not by an Scientists say the frequency of glacial lake avalanche but by Kathmandu’s outbursts is increasing in Bhutan and Nepal where there are 44 glacial lakes that could bureaucracy, whose right hand burst at any time. seems unaware of what the left However there has been little field hand is doing. The unmanned research on the threats, which is why glacial station designed to measure the monitoring is important. “We urgently need to glacier’s retreat due to global update our glaciological data with field studies, otherwise we won’t have any warning when warming is state of the art, but it disaster strikes,” says a glaciologist with the is in a state of limbo as Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. bureaucrats in Kathmandu fight Scientists have chosen the Nguzumpa over control. Glacier because at 36 km it is the longest As usual, the Ministry of glacier in the Himalaya and studying it will yield better understandig of the dynamics of Forest and Soil Conservation and glacial melting in the Himalaya. One part of the station will be installed on the the Department of National Parks glacier to record data like solar radiation, relative humidity, air and soil and Wildlife (DNPWC) are temperature, wind speed and direction, radiant heat and precipitation. The other involved. The two also clashed other part will be kept in the river directly fed by the Nguzumpa glacier to in the Barun episode, but this measure changes in the flow of glacial melt. (See satellite picture) Long-term computer simulations show that global warming will affect the time another government agency flow of Himalayan rivers in this century itself. Spring flow will increase over the that has appeared at odds with next 50 years, but after that there will be so little snow in the mountains that the the ministry is the Department of rivers will run dry in the hot season. This will affect not only people living in the Hydrology and Metrology (DHM) Himalaya but also hundreds of millions of people downstream. that installed the weather station provided by the World Wildife Fund (WWF). already reached the Nzugumpa expertise,” he told us. “It has The ministry says the glacier glacier and was being installed. already installed a number of monitoring station was installed “The hydrology department had weather stations in different high without its permission while the no patience to wait until we altitude places in the country.” DHM says it did receive a nod. received the go-ahead from the Sources at the DHM said “We got verbal permission Forest Ministry—that is why the they applied to National Parks for from DNPWC to go ahead,” says project is in trouble now,” a permission in November but DHM Director General Madan Lal DNPWC official told us heard nothing. “Since the Shrestha, “we have learnt that the privately. equipment had to be installed process is being followed up at WWF’s Nepal Country before winter sets in, we the Forest Ministry and that it Director Chandra Prakash Gurung decided to go ahead while the would be sorted out because we believes the weather station is of permission was being are mandated to install such immense importance in terms of processed,” one official told us. weather stations.” There are examining the impact of global The buck now stops at the already six other weather stations warming. “We provided the Ministry of Forest and Soil operating in the Makalu, Lantang, weather station to the Conservation. Despite an Simikot and Dingboche regions. Department of Hydrology and appointment, Minister for Forest By the time the Forest Metrology because it is the right Salim Miya Ansari refused to Ministry learned of the plan, government agency that has the speak to us on this issue saying it however, the weather station had authority and the necessary was “too technical”. z 10 REVIEWS/COMMENTARY 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 God isn’t big enough for some people uman beings are religious animals. It inquiry, and freedom, I am depressed by is psychologically very hard to go “I don’t believe in God. I believe in something greater” that tendency. This is not just because of H through life without the justification the association between the occult and and the hope provided by religion. You can fascism and Nazism, although that see this in the positivist scientists of the association was very strong. Himmler and 19th century. many of Hitler’s henchmen were devotees They insisted that they were describing of the most infantile occult fantasies. the universe in rigorously materialistic The same was true of some of the terms: yet at night they attended seances fascist gurus in (Julius Evola is one and example) who continue to fascinate the tried to neo-fascists in my country. Today, if you NEW EAR summon browse the shelves of any bookshop Umberto Eco up the specialising in the occult, you will find not spirits only the usual tomes on the Templars, of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet Rosicrucians, pseudo-Kabbalists, The Da scientists who, outside their own narrow Vinci Code, but also anti-semitic tracts discipline, are superstitious: to such an such as the Protocols of the Elders of extent that it sometimes seems to me that Zion. to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have I was raised as a Catholic and although to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest. I have abandoned the Church, last week as We need to justify our lives to more you are forced to realise that of the Christian God, has been usual I put together a Christmas crib for my ourselves and to other people. Money is an your possessions can’t make sense of accompanied by the birth of a plethora of grandson. We constructed it together, as instrument. It is not a value but we need your death. new idols. The pianist Arthur Rubinstein my father did with me when I was a boy. I values as well as instruments, ends as well It is the role of religion to provide that was once asked if he believed in God. He have a profound respect for the Christian as means. The great problem faced by justification. Religions are systems of belief said: “No. I don’t believe in God. I believe traditions, which, as rituals for coping with human beings is finding a way to accept the that enable human beings to justify their in something greater.” Our culture suffers death, still make more sense than their fact that each of us will die. existence and which reconcile us to from the same inflationary tendency. The purely commercial alternatives. Money can do a lot of things but it cannot death. Ideologies such as communism that existing religions just aren’t big enough: I think I agree with Joyce’s lapsed help reconcile your own death. It can promised to supplant religion have failed in we demand something more from God Catholic hero in A Portrait of the Artist as a sometimes help you postpone your own spectacular and very public fashion. So than the existing depictions in the Young Man: “What kind of liberation would death: a man who can spend a million we’re all still looking for something that will Christian faith can provide. So we revert that be to forsake an absurdity which is pounds on personal physicians will usually reconcile each of us to the inevitability of to the occult. The so-called occult logical and coherent and to embrace one live longer than someone who cannot. our own death. sciences do not ever reveal any genuine which is illogical and incoherent?” The However, he can’t make himself live much G K Chesterton is often credited with secret: they only promise that there is religious celebration of Christmas is at longer than the average life-span of affluent observing: “When a man ceases to believe something secret that explains and least a clear and coherent absurdity. The people in the developed world. in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He justifies everything. The great advantage commercial celebration is not even that. If you believe in money alone, then believes in anything.” Whoever said it, he of this is that it allows each person to fill sooner or later, you discover money’s was right. We are supposed to live in up the empty secret ‘container’ with his or Umberto Eco’s latest book is The Mysterious great limitation: it is unable to justify the a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of her own fears and hopes. Flame of Queen Loana fact that you are a mortal animal. Indeed, outrageous credulity. As a child of the Enlightenment and a Secker & Warburg the more you try to escape that fact, the The ‘death of God’, or at least the dying believer in the values of truth, open £17.99

Robbing the poor Banks are using ‘anti-terror’ rules to suck up more of workers’ remittances Studies have shown that expense of smaller, cheaper East and its Chinese and other remittances could rise by an channels. The report notes: equivalents—informal systems average of 50 percent overall if ‘Hundreds of money service based on trust. Their charge for a costs were cut significantly. businesses in the US have been $200 remittance is from one to The war on terror is only one closed by banks for fear that they two percent. Fraud is very rare but part of that cost but it is a may be targeted by authorities for these systems are just the ones significant one at a time when servicing customers regarded as regarded with most suspicion by charges should have been falling. high risk.’ regulators who put their trust in The sheer scale of migration and The report shows just how form-filling and big institutions remittance has been increasing fast high costs can be. For a $200 as the barrier to illicit transfers. and communication costs have remittance through a major Big transfers, say from Myanmar been dramatically reduced by the money-transfer organisation, the drug dealers to businesses run in internet and the collapse of cost ranges from 12 percent from or , go international call charges. For to , to 11 percent through the more formal routes. example, in Nepal, remittances from Britain to India and 4.5 But regulators in developed accounted for 11.7 percent of GDP percent from Hong Kong to the countries find it easier to focus in 2004, according to a recent Philippines. Banks mostly charge on the mysterious than on the World Bank report, Global somewhat less but are more obvious. Economic Prospects 2006. In the difficult to access. Smaller The Philippines, where first four months of the current money-transfer firms are also migrant workers have political fiscal year the number of people cheaper—but they are the ones clout, has shown how addressing PHILIP BOWRING cross-border remittances can be leaving Nepal for jobs soared 51 that have been squeezed hardest those issues cuts costs and leads in HONG KONG mind-boggling. This regulation percent over the same period last by regulation. to a significant increase in does almost nothing to stop year. By far the cheapest remittance remittances. But over all, migrant here are many non- either terrorism or drug dealing. The report draws attention to method is the hawala system workers could be losing between combatant casualties of the Most terrorist acts have required the high costs of remittances used in India and the Middle $5 billion and $10 billion a year T War on Terror. Not just no more funds than needed to resulting from regulation and lack because of high profits made by victims of mistaken identity buy a second-hand car. of competition, some of that banks and transfer organisations. stuck at Guantánamo Bay but The losers are not terrorists or attributable to anti-terror Potential remittances frustrated migrant workers and their drug dealers but Nigerians in measures. The bank uses cautious because of costs and difficulties families, whose global Belgium, Indians in Britain, language but it notes that the cost could be $50 billion a year. remittances now run at over $200 Senegalese in Germany, of post-9/11 regulations has been billion a year or three times Colombians in the passed on to users and that ‘know Global Economic Prospects 2006: official aid budgets. and Nepalis in Gulf states who your client’ requirements are a Economic Implications of Even for a higher-income send home perhaps $200 a month hazard for workers who may have Migration and Remittances individual with a long- to their families. Costs for the no bank account. World Bank Group established banking relationship small amounts of remittances Regulations have also November 2005 in a developed country, the typical of unskilled migrant benefited large money-transfer ISBN: 0-8213-6344-1 SKU: 16344 bureaucracy now involved in workers are also a deterrent. organisations and banks at the 180 pages NATION 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 11 Year of the eclipse 2006 will see four eclipses and spaceships to distant planets

n the eve of the New Year, amateur astronomers worldwide are busy preparing observation calendars for 2006. However, O such rsearch will not take place in Nepal, where practical astronomy has not reached this level of development. We have our own traditional (astrological) calendar–the Patro, which gives 20/20 VISION: positions of the planets, the Sun and the Moon. A patient emerges In 2006, many space missions will be launched. On 11 January, from the operating NASA will send off the New Horizons Mission to Pluto, which is theatre after a scheduled to reach the distant planet in 2015 and to explore the successful outer regions of the solar system as well. Four days later, NASA’s cataract surgery. STARDUST Mission will return MALLIKA ARYAL to Earth with this world’s first STAR GAZING sample of comet dust. Kedar S Badu Astronomers believe the dust, collected from a comet, will provide clues to the solar system’s history and structure. Long-term vision With two solar and two lunar eclipses on the way, astronomers are calling 2006 the year of the eclipse. On 29 March, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that One of the world’s largest eye hospitals is in the middle of nowhere in Lahan traverses half the Earth, from to . A partial eclipse will be seen from Nepal. The next annual solar eclipse will occur on MALLIKA ARYAL Early in the morning, 22 September but will not be visible here. A penumbral Lunar in LAHAN hundreds of patients line up with eclipse will be seen on 14 March, again partially visible from Nepal. family members at their sides to Another partial Lunar eclipse will occur on 7 September as well. aleswor Sharma, 73, of register. In the afternoon, their We shall talk more about these celestial events in the coming Barauni in Bihar gave up on vision and blood pressure are months. Bever being able to see again. checked, sugar level tested and the In January, watch for the following: He suffers from cataract and doctors determine if they need has been blind for the last two surgery. The majority of The Sun years. He went to doctors in India operations here are cataract The Sun is in the but they made him run around in surgeries, performed in simple Australians, too constellation of circles taking expensive tests. operating theatres furnished with Suman Thapa, a Nepali eye specialist, Sagittarius (Dhanu) “Then I heard about this eye what looks like basic equipment. has got together with Australian Kae and crosses the border hospital in Nepal so that is why I At the same time, the patient Walls to treat glaucoma patients in into Capricornus am here,” says the frail-looking spends no more than 10 minutes Nepal. Glaucoma is a condition where (Makar) on the 19. As man who travelled for a week to in the theatre. the pressure within the eyeball the sun is ‘climbing’ exceeds the level that can be normally cross the border and reach Lahan. “It is a hospital for the poor, northwards, can spring tolerated by the eye and can result in be far behind? “They say if I can’t see after being everyone is treated equally and we blindness. “It is the second largest operated here, I will never see never turn anyone away,” says cause of blindness in Nepal,” says The Moon again.” administrator Bindeswor Mahato. Thapa. The first quarter moon In the early 1980s, the UN’s A cataract surgery including With a small support team in , Kae Walls has raised $ is on 6 January (18.56), World Health Organisation in medicine, lens and bed costs Rs 50,000 to begin construction on a the full moon on the 14 Nepal (after a survey) decided that 900. Patients can pay more for a glaucoma clinic at Tilganga in (09.47), last quarter on the 22 (15.12) and the new moon on 29 the tarai was the region most in better ward but the medical costs Kathmandu. Nepal Glaucoma Eye January (14.15). The Moon is at perigee (closest to Earth) on 1 need of an eye hospital. In 1982, don’t change. There are no nurses Clinic Association (NGEC), based in January and at apogee (farthest from Earth) on 18 January. Sagarmatha Choudhary Eye at SCEH because family members Melbourne, is raising the money which will be directly used to build the clinic The Earth Hospital (SCEH) was set up in take care of patients. Last year the and to hold various eye camps around Lahan with the support of hospital performed 2,550 Earth is at perihelion (closest to the sun) on 4 January at 21.14, at a the country. This new glaucoma clinic distance of 0.9833 AU (147 million km). Germany’s Christoffel surgeries that were subsidised or will be an addition to other services at Tilganga, a world-renowned centre of Blindenmission (CBM) and Nepal free. The hospital also has Mercury Netra Jyoti Sangh. facilities of counselling for those excellence in eye surgery. Walls, a glaucoma patient herself, Mercury rises at 05.36 at the start of the month and will be at It had only 12 beds then but who are incurably blind. says her personal understanding of the superior conjunction on 27 January. That is the date when Earth and today it is the second largest eye About 90 percent of patients disease prompted her to establish the Mercury will be on opposite sides of the Sun. hospital in the world. It spreads come from northern India, most clinic in Nepal. across 7.4 hectares has 550 beds, of them after the Chhat festival in Suvecha Pant in Sydney Venus five operating theatres with a total November or in February. The The first evening of the year will find the crescent Moon to the left of of 20 tables and its doctors hospital is easily accessible to 82 ophthalmologists perform up to brilliant, retrograding Venus. Look fast—Venus is visible in the perform 55,000 operations million people who live in 250 surgeries.”People say that we evening sky for just one week. After an inferior conjunction with the annually. SCEH has also neighbouring Bihar where word of are only providing service to non- Sun on 14 January, it quickly becomes a predawn morning star visible after the 20. established a reputation mouth has made it more well Nepalis,” admits manager Kristina Hennig, “but we are also operating for affordable and high known than in parts of Nepal. On Mars quality service. a busy day in peak season, on a large number of Nepalis.” Mars, in the east at nightfall, is at its most brilliant now. NASA’s two SCEH doctors also travel across robot explorers, Spirit and Opportunity, have successfully Nepal to hold cataract-screening completed a year of exploration on the surface of the red planet. Wanted: Nepalis camps and bring them to Lahan or It’s not just Indian patients that outnumber Nepalis in Lahan, it is also the a satellite hospital in Malangwa if Jupiter doctors. Of the 10 ophthalmologists now working at SCEH, eight are from India. they need surgery. The paediatric Jupiter, in Libra (Tula), rises at 2.36 on 1 January. With a 100mm Like Debajit Ray, a young ophthalmologist from Kolkata. “Operating on so many department examines children at telescope, you will be able to see the planet’s equatorial cloud people every day is challenging and unique and it is also what I appreciate most bands. about the place,” says Ray. the hospital and the camps. Unlike other hospitals, SCEH also In fact, the biggest challenge is attracting Nepali ophthalmologists to train Saturn and getting them to stay in Lahan. “It is so difficult to get Nepali ophthalmologists has a lodge where family members Saturn, in Cancer ( ), is also at its brightest this month and who want to work for us long-term because we are literally in the middle of Karkat of patients can stay and cook. reaches opposition on the 28. It rises by 7 and is out the rest of the nowhere and lack many facilities that cities offer,” says Program Director Albrecht Travel agents in Bihar now have Hennig. night. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been exploring this distant SCEH is now planning a 50-bed branch hospital in which should fixed-rate cataract package tours for world for a year, sending home incredible pictures of the planet and take some of the load off Lahan, encourage more Nepali doctors to work, and Indian patients to Lahan, which its moons. treat more Nepali patients. include cataract screening, transportation and food and the Meteor showers surgery fee. This little known start The Quadrantids meteor shower will peak on 3-4 January. Typically, to Nepal’s medical tourism 40 or so bright, blue and fast (40 brought in 7,000 patients last year. km a second) meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, Baleswor Sharma emerges from some blazing more than halfway across the sky. A small percentage of them leave persistent dust trains. This shower usually has a very surgery and the doctors say he will sharp peak, lasting only about an hour. see when his bandages come off. “it was surprisingly quick, I will END OF A LONG DAY: Doctors at SCEH relax after a full day [email protected] recommend this hospital to my of operations. villagers.” z 12 INTERNATIONAL 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 Elections are not enough Democracies must not tolerate those who set out to destroy the system

here can be no liberal order without political democracy but today we are frequently reminded that political democracy alone T does not guarantee a liberal order. Free and fair elections may lead to the ascendancy of a president of Iran who wants to ‘wipe off the map of the Middle East’. Or to a president of whose intolerance of the business class causes jubilation in the streets but emigration by those whose initiative is crucial for the welfare of the people. COLLEGE WOMEN : CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS! Less damaging, yet problematic, is the election in of a minority government that ruthlessly pursues its members’ personal interests and breaks all promises of cooperation made before the polls. 10+2, BACHELORS & MASTERS In other words, elections are not enough if one wants to bring COMMENT democracy to the world. Elections Ralf Dahrendorf can lead to illiberal democracies and worse. They must be embedded in a more complex institutional framework, which I would describe as the liberal order. The first feature of the liberal order is that democracies must not tolerate those who set out to destroy democracy. Some countries, like Germany, have laws that make it possible to ban political parties whose programs are recognisably anti-democratic. In the past, the law has been used to curb parties of both the extreme left and the extreme right. This has clearly contributed to preventing any sign of a possible return to the totalitarian ways of the twentieth century. However, it is not always evident when people and parties stand for election what they are going to do if they win. This is where rules that impose term limits on officeholders, such as the 22nd Amendment of the United States WHAT IT TAKES constitution, have their • Leadership experience • Involvement on campus and in your community place. Elsewhere, notably • Excellence in your field of study • Unique, inspiring goals in many of the Soviet Union’s other successor WHAT YOU WIN states and in Latin • Rs. 10,000 cash prize • Opportunity to meet with top women professionals America, those in power • National recognition in VOW’s April 2006 issue • A gala luncheon awards ceremony have often simply changed the constitution, To get an application for including rules on term Sarbinda KC VOW Top 10 College Women Competition 2005, MBA, KUSOM limits, to their advantage. collect it from the address below or download it from Winner- 2004 This is where the second www.vownepal.com. Last date for submitting pillar of a liberal order completed application is December 30, 2005. comes into play: the rule Now extended to January 6, 2006. of law. It cannot be said too WHO CAN PARTICIPATE? often that democracy and All women in 10+2, Bachelors & Masters the rule of law are not the same thing. There are Mail to: lawless democracies and VOW Top 10 College Women Competition 2005 undemocratic ‘states of G.P.O. Box: 2294, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu law’ (Rechtsstaat). The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadineja Tel: 4780394, 4780450 Email: [email protected] constitution of liberty or drop it at ‘the boss’ office requires both and the rule of law is the more difficult of the two to next to Everest Hotel establish and maintain, for it requires not just a constitution but, almost more importantly, an independent judiciary that is sensitive to violations of constitutional and other legitimate rules. We know from history that it takes but one Enabling Law to unhinge the rule of law and replace it by an ideological tyranny, as happened when Hitler came to power in Germany. This is where the third element of a liberal order comes into play: Official Host: Supported by: Official Newspaper: civil society. A plurality of civic associations and activities, regulated but not controlled by the state and free to express its views and even to demonstrate its (diverse) sentiments publicly, is the most powerful pillar of a liberal order. A vibrant civil society will mobilise when the rule of law is violated and it can also check the illiberal inclinations of democratic majorities. The near-universal availability of information makes it much easier than it was in earlier times for the voluntary non-governmental organisations that form civil society to emerge. However, there is no ultimate guarantee against the abuse of power, especially if that power is democratically gained. The international community must therefore recognise that it is not enough to promote, organise, or monitor elections in hitherto undemocratic countries. The program of spreading the liberal order requires a much more sophisticated approach. Above all, it requires international agencies and groupings that remain alert to the risks of illiberal democracies. z Project Syndicate

Ralf Dahrendorf, author of numerous acclaimed books and a former European Commissioner from Germany, is a member of the British House of Lords. SPORTS 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 13 Hoop hoop hurrah Basketball is finally a spectator sport as the national tournament takes off ANOOP PANDEY Opening day saw defending men’s champs Himalayan White he indoor basketball hall at House College drubbing Public Dasrath Statdium was Youth Campus 52-28 while T unusually packed for the women’s number 1 Rato Bangala launch game of this year’s Club edged Holy Garden 23-18. Samsung National Basketball The tournament is a club event Championship organised by the open to all players but teams are Nepal Basketball Association. limited to three national players per (NeBA). roster. It is also a chance for players Spectators participation was from around the country to get to intense as fans sang their team know each other and to play under songs and booed referee decisions, international basketball federation music blared from speakers rules. The tournament is becoming during the half-time break, more of a national affair as the years dancers from Learning Realm pass with the introduction of men’s International School performed teams from Chitwan, Rupandehi, traditional dances and music Kaski, Parsa and Sunsari. Says icon Nirnaya NSK made an Shakya: “This championship will appearance to sing live. help spread basketball to the other In fact it looked more like a urban areas outside Kathmandu.” rock concert than a basketball It now also includes a three day game but it was proof sports in training camp for referees from Nepal has now become a spectator around the country at a basketball sport. Six years in the running, clinic organised by the NeBA. the NeBA’s national tournament Krishna Maharjan, coach of Rato just keeps getting bigger and Bangala’s women’s team and a better. This year 16 male teams tournament official, says, “The and six female teams are battling tournament is a great way to it out. develop the sport in Nepal, gain “The most amazing thing is publicity and discover new talent. the spontaneous participation of Nepali basketball needs events women’s teams from all over the like these.” z country,” says Mahendra Shakya of NeBA. “we are really Samsung National Basketball Tournament encouraged by the enthusiasm.” Finals: 3 January 2006 KIRAN PANDAY Leaving home t was great to meet so many Nepalis on my recent visit who are genuinely concerned about the future of tennis in this country. I Everywhere I went, in meetings, at clinics or just walking in Kathmandu’s familiar streets, I came across old friends and colleagues who wanted to talk tennis and were genuinely interested in batting around ideas for advancing this wonderful game. Their interest being so clearly demonstrated, I believe now is the time for all of us to look forward and begin some serious brainstorming on practical ways to put the bounce back into GAME POINT Nepali tennis. We should also Sujay Lama mull over some ways to involve our youth in this process, for they are the ones who will be leading our efforts in coming years. I was impressed and encouraged particularly by the young people who participated in the clinics that I held in Kathmandu. (Pictures above are ones at took at the Nepali Times tennis clinic on 17 December--thanks everyone for coming!) The young Nepalis were energetic, positive young people who were eager to learn. Some of them had that burning passion for the sport that could take them to impressive heights of accomplishment in competitive tennis. Others have an interest for the game that will allow them to enjoy it as they grow older. I pledge to do my utmost in coming years to help them to get all they can from the game. I encourage all our upcoming stars and all Nepali tennis players, fans and officials to send their thoughts to me directly at this email address: [email protected]

Happy hitting! 14 CITY 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279

ABOUT TOWN Flamboyant filmmaker, Carl Denham, sails off to remote EXHIBITIONS Skull Island to film his latest epic with leading lady, Ann Darrow and script writer Jack Driscall. Natives ™ Contemporary Paintings from Tibet at Siddhartha kidnap Ann to use as a sacrifice for ‘Kong’. But instead Art Gallery, till 11 January. of devouring Ann, Kong saves her from the wild creatures. Ultimately, it is the attention of a beautiful FESTIVALS AND EVENTS human woman that soothes Kong long enough for him ™ Clean Up Valley Week workshops at school, essay and to be subdued by the explorers and shipped back to poetry competition, 24-31 December. www.thequest.org.np New York, where his bleak future involves being put 1 January. on display in front of humans... but how long can even ™ New Years the mightiest shackles of man hold back an ape 25 ™ Worship Program at Assumption Catholic Church, feet tall? Dhobighat, 31 December and 1 January. Quest Entertainment Quest Entertainment Quest Entertainment ™ Kids Art Camp 2-15 January, 9-14 years age group at Park Quest Entertainment Quest Entertainment Call 4442220 for show timings www.jainepal.com Gallery. 4419353

MUSIC AND PERFORMANCES ™ 1974 AD live and loud at Moksh, 30 December. 5526212 ™ Bari Lai a play directed by Birendra Hamal, 21-31 December, 4.30 PM, Gurukul. 4466956. ™ Paleti 12 bid farewell to Aavaas, 30 December. 5.30 PM, Rs 500 at Nepalaya- R- sala. 5552839 ™ Sur Saptak band at The Organic Village, Baluwatar, 6PM, 31 December, student discount. 4414383 ™ Cadenza Collective live every 31 December, (Afro-funk and Latin) 8PM at Upstairs, Lajimpat. ™ Pulse plays at Jatra on 31 December, Rs 300. 4256622 ™ Eternity plays at Himalatte Cafe, 31 December. 4256738 ™ Live Music every Friday 7PM at Rum Doodle. 4701107 ™ JCS Quintet at Moksh every Tuesday. 5526212 ™ Unplugged with Strings, Jatra Saturday nights. 4256622 ™ Live Music at Juneli Bar, Hotel de l’Annapurna. 4221711 ™ Live Jazz by the pond at 1905, Kantipath. 4225272

FOOD AND PARTIES ™ New Years at Dwarika’s with welcome drink, live music, special menu and door prizes. 31 December. ™ New Year’s Eve at Garden Terrace, dinner, drinks and live music, 31 December, 8:30 PM onwards. 4273999 ™ Shakin’ All Over salsa, tango, flamenco and belly dancing NEPALI WEATHER by MAUSAM BEED at Megha Malhar Hall, 31 December, 8:30 PM onwards. Still waiting for that westerly front ™ New Years with Samba dancers from Brazil at Hyatt that stood us up. December has been Regency, 31 December. 8PM onwards, Rs 1499. 4491234 KATHMANDU the second consecutive dry month ™ Special Dinner and New Year's Brunch with this winter. Western Nepal got freak blizzards and it looks like all the Summit Hotel. moistures headed our way ™ New Years Eve at K-too! Party Hats, Balloons, precipitated out over there. This dinner and a free Irish Coffee, 31 December. 4700043 satellite picture taken on Thursday ™ Catch 22 a rock band at Rum Doodle, 31 December. morning shows high altitude cirrus 4701107 riding the jet stream and headed our way but these are not moisture- ™ Celebrate New Years with Rosemary Café, Baneswor. bearing. All they will do is block off 4781591 the sunlight keeping the day ™ 1905 Offers three course meals and Sunday brunch. temperatures lower than usual. So, 4225272 for the Valley expect foggy patches ™ Great Dining options at Al Fresco, Bukhara, China Garden into the new year with mild afternoons, chilly nights and morning frost. and Garden Terrace restaurants, Soaltee Crowne Plaza. 4273999 KATHMANDU VALLEY ™ Barbeque at Le Meridien, Kathmandu. 4451212. ™ Plat du Jour at the Shambala Garden, Shangri-La. Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue 4412999 ™ Wonderful Wednesdays at Fusion, happy hour 5-9PM. ™ The Sidewalk BBQ with Shades of Blue,Shangri-La. 22-2 21-2 21-2 21-2 21-2 4412999 ™ The Chimney Restaurant at Hotel Yak and Yeti. 4248999 ™ Jazz Gourmet fine dining at Hotel Shangri-La. 4412999 km/L] ;rf?' GETAWAYS ™ Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, Christmas and New Year offers. 4361500 Christmas and New Years getaway g]kfnL package with Dwarika’s, 20 December – 5 January. 4479488 ™ Bed and Breakfast at La’soon. 5537166 Daily 2045-2115 on 102.4 ™ Junglewalks, rafting, elephant rides all at Jungle Base Radio Sagarmatha Camp Lodge, Bardia. [email protected] P.O. Box 6958, Bakhundole, Lalitpur, Nepal ™ Escape Kathmandu at Shivapuri Heights Cottage. Tel: ++977-1-545680, 545681, 9851012245 Fax: ++ 977-1- 530227 ™ Conferences at Godavari Village Resort. 5560675 [email protected], www.radiosagarmatha.org HAPPENINGS 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 15 A yearning for learning

or a Magar woman from the women would have settled down. MPhil. What sets Menuka apart is her eastern hills, Menuka has But not Menuka. She decided to commitment and drive to push F covered more territory than push on and did her Masters in herself to the limit, not letting most more-privileged Nepali Sociology at Tri Chandra others set it for her. As a woman women. The first of 11 children in Campus. After that, it was back to from an indigenous community, the her family to pass SLC, she the field with a DfID-funded odds were stacked against her but wanted to study nursing but was Livelihoods Forestry Program in Menuka credits her father who MIN BAJRACHARYA one of three girls from Terathum to Pyuthan. encouraged her to study. “I had to JUMPING THE GUN: This display by the RNA of its recently acquired receive a scholarship to study What next? You guessed it– balance my household chores,” Forestry Science. she recalls, “it was difficult to find Chinese armoured vehicles at Ratna Park was billed as a Shiva Ratri She set off to Pokhara’s time but I worked hard.” rehearsal but that festival is still two months away. Forest Science Research Centre It’s paid off. At 29, Menuka is to graduate in 1995 and landed a paying for her brother’s education job as temporary forest ranger in in Kathmandu urging him to Dhankuta and later in concentrate on his books and Sankhuwasabha. But that was not not worry about money. That is the end of her trail. She next because Menuka has applied to work as a forestry something money can’t buy: a technician for the Nepal Centre for yearning to do something with Agro Forestry. She got the job and her life and help her community moved to Siraha and Saptari. and country. There, Menuka not only worked ALOK TUMBAHANGPHEY with women in community forestry projects but also learned to speak Maithili fluently. That success only whetted her appetite for learning and travel. Her next job in the Forestry RAM HUMAGAIN/NEPALNEWS.COM Partnership Project of CARE TEARS FOR THE DISAPPEARED: Family members of disappeared Nepal took her to Banke-Bardia Nepalis wept at a program in Kathmandu on Wednesday organised and then to Rukum. by the Association of Families of People Disappeared by the State. While others with contacts got They demanded the government immediately reveal where their scholarships and moved abroad, she enrolled in Patan Campus relatives are. where she got a BA majoring in population studies. After donning another graduation gown, she again went west, this time to Kailali, where she worked for the next two years and met her husband-to-be. At this point, many Nepali

KIRAN PANDAY ROSY-CHEEKED FANS: Children enjoy Nepathya’s fundraising concert at shelter on Friday. 16 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 2005 headlines

t is that time of year again when it is mandatory for every respectable newspaper worth its salt in a civilized country like ours to take a retrospective of the year I gone by and say: “Glad that one’s over. Gimme another one.” This year we have taken the novel approach of inviting nominations for Best Headlines of the Year 2005 and have begun short-listing the well-deserved finalists. Readers will later be asked to vote on the basis of adults franchise for the best headlines, unless of course you decide to boycott the poll (naughty, naughty) in www.nepalitimes.com which case we have to think of something else to keep you busy over the holidays. So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado let’s run down the headline- grabbing finalists and a round of applause for these actual news stories in actual UNDER MY HAT hardcopy newspapers that shall remain Kunda Dixit nameless for the duration of this column. (Disclaimer: None of these headlines are from this newspaper which takes absolutely no responsibility for the veracity, if any, of the information contained therein in case feathers are ruffled as readers go on a wild goose chase, or if alleged feelings are inadvertently hurt. Conditions apply.) These headlines are brought to you by Nepal Engineers’ Wives Society (NEWS).

Vegetable Farming Yields Fruit Dhading—Farmers in Dhading have been astounded this week by the fact that their tomato fields have yielded a bumper harvest of oranges. “I think this proves once and for all that the tomato is actually a fruit,” stated one farmer.

Flesh Trade Mushrooming Kalanki—As the living standard of the Valley’s middle class rises, so has demand on the flesh trade, according to Hoof and Mouth Pvt Ltd, meat packing wholesaler at Kalanki. The same, however, couldn’t be said of the mushroom industry which according to latest figures has not been mushrooming at all.

Koirala Smells Rat on Thapa Stance Biratnagar—President of the Nepali Congress, Girija Koirala, has once more sniffed out rodent activity in the vicinity of his ancestral home here, and has credited a keen olfactory sense bequeathed him by his forebears. “I can smell a rat even before it appears,” Koirala boasted, “and I know Surya Bahadur is up to no good.”

Cannabis Farming in Parsa Reaches All-time High Simara—Excuse me, oijdf if I can’t seem dkjf to type this jdf in straight;.[? , but it gives me great pleasure to ;ljklkjoi report that ganja harvests kdjf this year in Parsa was goooood, yar. “Yup, this is good sh%& and there’s lots more where that came from,” said a notoriously reliable source who was also stoned out of his %$#@ mind and didn’t want his name disclosed. Roger, Foxtrot Tango Two, over ‘n’ out.

Headlines that made it to the Runner’s Up List: Man Renews Passport Before Expiry Wild Elephant Injures Farmer with Axe Two Trucks Collide, One Hurt

And Consolation Prizes to: Nepal Goes to India Nepal Goes to India Again Nepal Still in India

Editors who recognise their headlines are requested to come and collect their prizes with me personally. Anonymity guaranteed. ISSN 1814-2613 CDO Regd No. 194/056/57 Lalitpur, Central Region Postal Regd. No. 04/058/59 PAX VOBISCUM 2006 The Nepali Times guide to where to go, what to drink and how to write new headlines for the New Year


t’s that time again. The last days of the year, when many of us begin setting positive goals for the coming 365 days, things like taking up yoga, eating right, quitting smoking and reading at least one book a week. Others among us have been planning New Year’s Eve celebrations since Dasain and Tihar came toI an end. We at Nepali Times have also been bitten by the New Year’s bug and are discussing our various plans. Some of us are planning a wild time party hopping, enjoying loud music and dancing the night away. Others will escape to warm tropical places and return with enviable tans. There are still others who plan to order in pizza and enjoy a movie marathon, while some of us are just glad to be away from the billboards, lights and loud music. You’ll even find some people so sick of everyone turning the day into such an event that they are going to sit back in a reclining chair at home, in front of a kerosene heater, wearing mittens and ear plugs, to read a good book and drink lots of hot chocolate. If some of you get new clothes for New Year, we at Nepali Times are getting a new office at Hattiban. A whole year of planning and anticipation is over and the moving process has begun. Issue 280, the first of 2006, will be put together at our new sunny office. Our team is keenly looking forward to spending the cold winter working under the sun— with plenty of breaks for football matches and potluck lunches. But that is not all we are looking forward to. Throughout 2005 the pages of this newspaper have seen many gruesome and disturbing headlines about crackdowns, clampdowns and shutdowns. So in 2006, we would like the world to unfold in such a way that we can write headlines like the following. Please do all you can to help.

‘King Gyanendra, parties and Maoists hold talks’ ‘Peace breaks out’ ‘Nepal U-19 win ICC World Cup’ ‘Nepal voted the best travel destination’ ‘ crowned 2006’ ‘Traffic flows smoothly, no accidents reported’ ‘New species of fish discovered in Bagmati River’ PRATEEK RAJBHANDARI B Where do you want to be on New A 10-party alliance is gearing up t swing to welcome the new year on Sa at the cash bar. There will be a Jimmy, you will welcome 2006 in dance troupe performing and later full party style. 8.30 PM onwards, Dj Raju will be taking over in Rs 2,499 per person. typical Indian fashion by playing Children’s New Year’s Eve– only Hindi remixes. Book your why should parents be the only tickets before they are all gone. ones who have fun? Let the kids 8PM onwards, Rs 5,000 per welcome the New Year with couple. Attractive door prizes. cartoons on a large screen, a special buffet, games. 8.30 PM No Hangover onwards, Rs 800 per child. Soaltee Crown Plaza Shakin’ All Over–this party is Most people really want to party all about dancing, led by belly hop but because of long distances dancers from the dance troupe and the dangers of drinking and ‘Latino’ at the Malhar. The driving, they restrain themselves. package also includes a bottle of This year, Soaltee Crown Plaza sparkling wine and a huge buffet has solved all your problems by dinner. 8.30 PM onwards, Rs organising four different events. 4,999 per person.

ANUP PRAKASH Food and Fanfare–Al Fresco, Bukhara and China Garden, High Energy he New Year may not live up to the high Night in Gokarna Soaltee’s three restaurants, come Himalaya Hotel expectations we are placing on it with the wild Kajra Nite at Le Meridian together to offer you incredible You will definitely need a surplus An exclusive party organised by food along with a lucky draw and of the renewables if you plan to T parties slated for the weekend. But, hey, maybe the Le Meridian on 31 December. incredible prizes. 7.30 PM party the night away at Himalaya’s that is precisely why all you midnight children need to This theme party is based on the onwards, Minimum cost Rs 2,000 Chalet and Rato Baithak. With hit the dance floor. Here is the exhaustive (we were streets of Mumbai and will even 31 December 1 January Rs 700 free imported drinks, snacks and exhausted preparing it) list of places to go. If you aren’t have young boys trying to hustle for lunch and Rs 1,000 for dinner. a sumptuous dinner. To work off the partying type, there are tasty dinner deals and if the guests into buying New Year’s Eve at Garden the calories there will be live knick-knacks. The party will Terrace–if more than food is on music by Buzz and DJ Asha will you are a true party hopper, with the finances to back include free food being cooked your menu this is definitely the take over the dance floor. 7PM up your claim, we suggest you mix and match according before your eyes, though the place to dance and listen to good onwards, Rs 1,999 per person and to your preferences. drinks will have to be purchased music. With a live band and Dj Rs 3,499 per couple. 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 C wYear’s Eve? C H OH to be in full In Style Dwarika’s Hotel 2 5 aturday night If you’re looking to welcome the New Year in style, Dwarika’s cloves, can’t be guaranteed. Nites of Passage offers the entire package. The Restaurants and hotels in Kathmandu still Rhythm Nites and Just party starts with a drink at the refrain from serving aila, which is technically illegal Divine Nite’6 Fusion bar next to an open fire, believe it or not. So you’d be breaking the law if you What is PartyNepal doing this year, with live classical music by Anil are partaking of it in the three places that serve it: you’re wondering? The Surya Shahi. Next, enjoy a 5-star dinner Dhokaima Café’s Rukhmuni Bar in Patan Dhoka, Lights Rhythm Nites is all set to in the Toran restaurant. Then Jatra in Thamel and Krishnaarpan t Dwarika’s Hotel. rock with three simultaneous Ciney & Par-e-jat will get you Dhokaima also serves an interesting Aila Mary parties at the Liquid Lounge. Afro swinging on the dance floor. Rs made with tomato juice. Jatra, in Thamel, has the Dj Neblu will be poolside and Dj 3,000 per person. most innovative aila mix ever produced. For Rs 140 Sakar at the consoles in the you get a 60 ml shot of flavoured aila with lounge. Take a warm and cosy Stay Over Yarchagumba, which will definitely get your motor break with a bonfire at the Godavari Village Resort running. Mezzanine. 8PM onwards, Rs 800 Want to escape the city’s chaos? per person with two free drinks. Godavari offers the perfect retreat. Marpha Brandy The package includes a night stay The best local brandy in the market comes from the PartyNepal’s second treat for with an opulent gala dinner and two Thakali villages of Tukche and Marpha in the capital is the Just Divine Nite’6 breakfast, door prizes and a Mustang. Distilled from the tastiest apples, apricots, at Latin Quarter. Jack Daniels Just complimentary glass of wine. A carrots and naked barley, Tukche and Marpha are Divine Nites are already popular in live band with Deepak orget all the fancy beverages this New both name brands even though you buy them in beer Kathmandu and this New Year’s Bajracharya will sing you into the Year’s Eve. If you want to savour all those bottles. Tukche Brandy however is available only in edition features Dj Vibe. 8PM New Year. Rs 5,555 per person. sweet n’ sour memories of the past year a few select locations, one being Tukche Kitchen in onwards. Rs 1,500 with a free drink and imagine the next round of ups and Darbar Marg. While there try Jwhai Khatte, a local per person. F downs of life in Nepal, there is no better way than by Thakali spirit spiked with butter. slowly sipping on some of our local spirits. Here’s 1905-2006 Hangover cures our guide to Made in Nepal drinks. Khukri Rum Fiesta New Year’s Blast Here are a few tips to avoid that Considered Nepal’s finest, the Khukri XXX Rum Billed as the Hottest New Year’s painful banging in your head on Aila has a lingering aroma and a smooth, balanced Eve Party, Get Ready For It. 31 1 January Newari firewater is distilled from rice and is an flavour with a hint of oak. Produced since 1959, December, 6.30 PM onwards, 1905 important part of all festive affairs. Aila is poured as Khukri XXX is comparable to other world-class Kantipath, Rs 600 with unlimited 1. Do not drink alcohol, try fruit a long stream into a small clay dish called pyala rums and is used in most of the rum-based drinks. juices or other non-alcoholic from a bronze/brass vessel called aanti. Most cocktails served here because of the heady punch it drinks. (mocktails like Virgin connoisseurs of this Nepali spirit (and there are produces and its after-taste. Some of our favourite Have a Ball Mary) many who prefer aila to scotch) prefer a plain aila to Khukri cocktails are Rum Punch, Cuba Libre and Hyatt Regency 2. If you do, avoid the temptation the flavoured ones because the quality of flavoured Khukri Knock Out, available at most watering holes in The Hyatt Ballroom is all about to go from tipsy to tipsy turvy. aila, made by spiking it with spices like cinnamon or Thamel. dancing this New Year’s as 3. Down a glass of water or fruit Bollywood sensation Shubangi juice after every drink to drops into Kathmandu to burn up rehydrate. the dance floor. 8PM onwards, Rs 4. Eat a proper meal before you 3,000 per person, Rs 5,000 per start drinking or while imbibing. couple. 5. After you wake up, drink lots of water or fresh lemon soda. Trauma-free 6. The traditional Nepali Kura Thai hangover cure is a small shot of Thai food lovers—here’s an aila. Unless you’re planning a opportunity to savour your favourite long weekend we suggest you tastes at discounted prices. With apply all the former steps before live music by the Trauma band and you try this one. free cocktails. D 30 DECEMBER 2005 - 5 JANUARY 2006 #279 Nepali films in UK

fter the British film festival in Nepal organised by the British Council there is now a Nepali film festival in Britain organised A by the group, London Chhalphal. The ‘Kindom in Motion’ film festival 13-14 January will raise understanding about Nepal’s conflict and the situation facing Bhutani refugees here, according to the organisers. They hope the knowledge will result in greater international pressure on parties involved to work towards lasting peace. ‘Kingdom in Motion’ will also raise donations for internally displaced people in Nepal. The featured films include:

Mukundo This is a tragic story of a young working class Kathmandu family and the influence of culture, religion, desire and shamanistic ritual on their lives.

Schools in the Crossfire The Maoists have increasingly targetted schools. Pupils and teachers find themselves caught between the government, which accuses them of being Maoist sympathisers and the insurgents, who accuse them of spying for the state.

Numafung Set in eastern Nepal, the film depicts the life of Numafung and her experience with Limbu rituals, death, family life, marriage and happiness.

Spirit Does Not Come Anymore This film explores the Tibetan belief in invoking sprits to cure family ills and disease. It narrates the conflict between a father and his son who wants to break away from family traditions.

On the Road with the Red God This month-long celebration of colour, sacrifice and devotional worship is held every 12 years and was filmed in 2003.

Kumari, the Living Goddess of Nepal A documentary on the stories of three former Kumaris, including their ‘lost childhoods’ and lives after they are retired.

Kingdom in Motion 13-14 January, 2006 International Student House Great Portland Street Regents Park, London