Monday, March 28, 2005

Nepal Journalists Read Blogdai?

Great article written by kantipur. We wish blogdai had said it. Wait a minute...blogdai DID say it. Read "A Compromise" below and see the similarities. For this new article, blogdai disagrees only with the proposed term limits of 8-10 years; it's too long. In that time, politicos could figure out the system and just steal faster. No, keep 'em confused: 4 years maximum for public service. -=blogdai

Democratise parties first Op-ed by Shyam Shrestha in Kantipur, 20 March

February First was no surprise. It was the political party leadership that had an important role in bringing it about. At a time when elections weren’t possible, Sher Bahadur Deuba dissolved parliament. Even though he could have extended the mandate of local councils by one year, Deuba didn’t and left the villages and districts without people’s representatives. None other than Girija Prasad Koirala ruled the country for eight out of the 12 years, yet he did nothing to strengthen democracy, take it to the grassroots and make it more inclusive. He refused to bring the royal massacre to parliament to discuss it. Then there was Madhab Kumar Nepal who jumped ship at a time when the street agitation against the October Fourth move was gathering momentum and declared that regression had been corrected and joined a royal appointed government just because his party got a few powerless seats in the cabinet.

Someone once said, “I’m not afraid of my enemies, I know them: save me from my friends.” Nepal’s democracy needs to be saved from its adherents, not from its enemies. Driven by a lust for power, they have hacked off the branches, trunk and roots of democracy until there is only a stump left.

Even so, there is no alternative to multiparty democracy. If democratic leaders make mistakes, the right to punish them is with the sovereign people and the rank of file of their own parties. Democracy shouldn’t be punished for the mistakes of the political leadership. The alternative to democracy is better, more genuine, democracy. But just the opposite happened here. The leaders made blunders and we penalised the system. It’s like setting fire to a bus because the driver made a mistake.

This is our democratic dilemma: democracy can’t function without political parties, but the leadership of these parties aren’t capable of steering the engine. Restructuring the leadership of the parties, electing new leaders and reforming the parties is the main challenge. There is no point complaining about feudalism in the country if the party runs along feudal lines. If there is no internal democracy within the parties how can they fight for democracy in the country?

Democratisation of the parties must begin with:
1 No leader should remain in the same position for more than two terms, or 8-10 years
2 Party leadership should be inclusive of all viewpoints
3 There should be a free marketplace of ideas inside the party but a unity of purpose in implementation
4 A referendum should be an instrument of reform not just for the country but also for party members to have their say
5 an independent ombudsman should monitor decisions and activities.

If they want democracy to move forward, leaders like Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhab Kumar Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Mohan Bikram Singh and Narayan Man Bijukche should humbly step down. If they don’t voluntarily step down, the party cadre should force them to do so.
After that the parties need an agenda. The king’s agenda is clear but is the parties’ agenda clear? It can’t be something vague like ‘genuine democracy’, it must chart out a path for pluralism and a resolution to the conflict. It could be a constituent assembly election and an all-party conference to take us to the goal of an inclusive, non-dictatorial multiparty democracy.

We must end this excruciating cycle of struggling for democracy and having it taken away. In 1950, we got a sort of democracy, in 1953, it was taken away. In 1959, democracy was restored and in 1960, it was abolished. In 1990 we reinstated democracy and within 10 years, it has gone again. Does every generation have to fight for democracy all over again? We must find a way to make democracy sustainable so no one can ever take it away. It must be the kind of democracy that makes the people completely sovereign, only that will remove the excuse some people have to take up arms.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

AT LEAST WE KNOW HOW TO BREAK THINGS.......Photos taken from a recent anti-government protest. Looks like everyone is getting a little tired of all the demonstrations: no matter what the flavor.  Posted by Hello

Views and More Views

Namaste! blogdai was on a bit of a sabbatical to Washington DC. Back to work...

On India: Still losing ground. The world is only behind you for two reasons: first, they couldn't care less about Nepal and expect you to take care of things in your own back yard; secondly, support for your Nepal position by other powers is mere window-dressing. Every country wants a clean-out in Nepal: Yanks, Brits and other "democracies" want Maoism stopped, period.

On the Western Media: The Economist and the BBC show their disregard for research by treating the whole Nepal issue like Charles and Camilla. ABC and the Yanks merely ape the wire services. Blogdai to the Western media: Get it right or give it up. Readers: stay tuned for an upcomming national geographic piece on Maoism. Some BBC folks will be involved so look for a Maoist-friendly tone.

On Blogdai's Position: Calling me a royalist is simple-minded. Call me a realist. Stop with the knee-jerk recoiling against anything that triggers what you believe to be "supressed democracy" in Nepal and do some research. The political parties were spoiled and abusive brats and needed to be removed, period. This takeover is a painful but correct step-like a root-canal. When the king refuses to restore democracy and it looks like he is becomming the cruel "despot" as western and Indian analysts say, then you can call blogdai a liar. Until then, watch and wait.

On Mysterious Smuggled-Out Reports from Nepal: Blogdai knows this to be fabricated. Even the most controversial of journalists can now get word out of Nepal, so where is this breathless champion of free press now? This whole thing was exploitative careerism by somone on the outside trying to make a name for themselves. blogdai has met with friends at kantipur publications who say that this never happened and it only created a more dangerous environment for those brave journalists who were under constant army scrutiny. Whoever you are, blogdai is calling you a coward and a phony.

On Nepal/China relations: China couldn't care less about Nepal and their worthless trade deficit. China has no use for anything in Nepal that doesn't have to do with either buffering against India or harrassing Tibetans. China built, and is building roads up to the Nepal border at precisely the points where tibetans are known to cross on their way to India, not where any major Nepali commerce centers are located. Nepal lauded this as a free trade victory; bringing prosperity and commerce from China, through Nepal and into India. Sorry, when China wanted to trade with India, they mended fences near Yatung and re-opened that direct crossing into Sikkim. Some trade partner, Nepal...

On Prince Paras: Came back from China a day before the Tibetan Welfare Office in Kathmandu was closed. Since the takeover, China no longer has the likes of Acharya, Khadka or Mahat or, basically, anyone who had the title "foreign" or "home" in their ministerial title. No, now they'll go directly to the source: Killer-P. Blogdai fears that a great mistake has been made in the underestimating of our drunken prince. He's crafty and he's in China's pocket, so we need to watch him very closely this year.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Mixed Opinions

A good chance to clean up some loose ends. -=blogdai

The World Bank. Recently announced the suspension of some 70 million in aid to Nepal. blogdai says: three cheers! World Bank means big, culturally insensitive projects with little concern for human and environmental impact. Mostly, they screw up the developing world by building dams. Their disastrous 121 million dollar failure with the Arun III hydro project in Eastern Nepal is a classic World Bank fiasco. Seems they, and our wonderful former Nepali g0vernment, failed to adequately address and compensate Nepalis who's land was snatched-up to make room for the dam. Big dams don't work in Nepal. Melamchi, Kali Gandaki and others have all had their share of monumental problems. Does this bother the World Bank? Not a chance. Good riddance. Blogdai has a soft spot in the heart for one Deborah Moore; formerly of the World Council of Dams. She is a tireless crusader on water issues and frequently butts-heads with the World Bank. Google her, she's the real deal.

The Political Parties: Well now, Monday is rolling around in Kathmandu and our intrepid, supressed political parties are planning a protest. They are now touting their new "arrest policy" which means they'd rather go to jail for effect rather than actually compromise or negotiate. Is this the best that they can do? Seems that all they want to do is garner that simplistic, knee-jerk world condemnation of the takeover rather than work out a plan. Hint to the parties: The Western media is tiring of the Nepal story so stop with the drama.

We are also hearing reports of former government officials being indicted for conspiring with the Maoists and for Murder. Blogdai and other Kathmanduites are not surprised. These people, throughout the years, have shown that they would ally with anyone or anything that would give them even the slighted political leverage.

Ramesh Nath Pandey: Your inexperience is showing. What did you think would happen during your India visit? India is still posturing for the high ground - it's all they know. Lot's of rhetoric while Pakistan and China are taking care of business on the ground. Sorry mister minister, you've been used. You walked right into that public snubbing.

Anonymous comments: We at ask for contributions from any and everyone. We are more concerned about the strength of ideas than the resume' behind them. Some might feel compromised and inhibited if they were forced to leave a verifyiable name as a source. We prefer to hear your ideas in their fullness and with no self-censoring. So, post away - use a fake name if you'd like - and keep the ideas strong, thoughtful and reasonably lucid.

Predictions: A lot of you say "who the hell does this blogdai think he/she is" when we make predictions on this blog. Blogdai says: read all the postings and all the threads and you will see that we are trying to raise our level of play (RYLOP) past the lazy blathering of the Western media. Keep track. We've been on target and ahead of the media in our predictions. Some of our correct predictions include:

1. Pakistan will step up and sell arms to Nepal (read below)

2. Political parties have been, and will again seek alliance with the Maoists (here and below)

3. China will play an increased role (read below. Also, China's foreign minister announced a
Nepal visit for this April. Knowing the Chinese, look for this to occur around April 1: another

So, for fun, let's make more predictions:

1. India will relent on their arms ban to Nepal.

2. The political parties, sensing futility, will compromise and allow the King something like
a "grace" period to enact reforms.

3. The U.S. will never formally ban weapons sales or aid to Nepal.

4. The political parties will formally align with the Maoists. (No, really, they will)

5. (A stretch) India will back-down on Kashmir negotiations with Pakistan over their
weapons deal with Nepal.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Predictability through Pakistan

Blogdai hates to be a know-it-all but we saw this coming and wrote about it here almost a month ago. Pakistan is stepping up and selling arms to Nepal.

This make Pakistan all bubbly inside because they get to upstage India's brooding and patronizing approach to the Nepal situation and step in and fill a void.

Mind you, Pakistan neither has the weaponry nor the means of delivery to Nepal. All of this military stuff will come from the north. Pakistan is only too happy to act as delivery boy for China.

Blogdai may just head over to Bajhang for a look-see. Blogdai hasn't seen bulk shipments of Chinese weaponry in a while. Let's see how far the King allows these weapons brokers to enter into Nepal. If the Chinese keep up the charade the way blogdai thinks, all shipments will come through Thado and make their way down to the road-head at Chainpur.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Compromise

Unlike the takeover of King Mahendra where political parties were banned as "useless,"
King G. has made no such proclamation. It seems as though he is making overtones towards restoring democratic institutions as well. It occurs to blogdai that it was neither the idea of political parties nor the idea of democracy that King G. disliked: it was the people in charge.

During the last year, the political parties showed an almost uncanny inability to work through a problem diplomatically, democratically or in a spirit of compromise. They did, however, show a real aptitude for raising the level of general chaos in the streets. Whenever anything evolved that was politically contentious, Kathmandu residents could count on an immediate street protest sponsored by the offended party. Remember: Koirala, Nepal, Oli and others learned their political skills as student protesters back in the old days, so it is no surprise that they have real skill in organizing a protest. It escalated to the point that those of us living in Kathmandu during the last few years could count on at least one well-organized protest - full of shiny new banners and slogans - per week clogging up the streets.

So, here is the two-part compromise:

Restore Parliament and democratic institutions immediately.
This will let the world feel that their pressure on Nepal has worked and will get India (who is already starting to give in) to stop posing and posturing.

Make it a condition that no former party leader can hold political office.
Wipe the slate clean. Get rid of the old India-dependent guard and elect real citizens. Ban all former office holders and their family and friends from holding office. Take as long as is needed to develop a fully transparent election system with term-limits that elects those that truly represent of the wishes of the Nepali people. These people are out there, blogdai has seen and talked to them. It should now be their turn to lead. Blogdai can hear it now: "How can you ban anyone from running for office in a democracy?" You can't. But this is a time of correction. The King has established a stronger government oversight board in an attempt to correct the corrupt practices of the past. If you introduce strongly enforced term limits and make them retroactive to Koirala and his bunch then they would be prohibited from running again. Is this democratic? Probably not, but the idea is to eventually arrive at a functioning democracy rather than allow the reintroduction of those forces that led to its corruption.

There is an apparent reality throughout history. Democracies often cannot function without the occasional un-democratic correction. Consider the biggest un-democratic correction in history: The Patriot Act. Americans are asked to give up some fundamental freedoms in order to preserve their democracy. It has been said that democracy is a balance between the needs of the majority with the rights of the minority. Was there ever a majority concensus on enacting the Patriot Act?

To King G: reconsider your three-year rule and call it a three-year democracy reconstruction. Allow international monitors if you feel like it. Build real institutions in that time with real transparency and real citizen representation. You can still be in charge and go kill Maoists during that time. But think about it: you will be building a new democracy by learning from your past mistakes. Make it a true Nepali democracy, not some rose-colored fantasy based on simplistic Western ideology. Actively solicit the pompous opinions of the West, however. It will get them off your back and get them to give you more aid to fight the Maoists.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Another Photo break

Doing a little research, enjoy the photos, MORE to come.....-=blogdai

Clockwise from upper left: Royal Palace (very early Feb. 2005). Everest and Nuptse (Nov. 2004). Mahendra statue with razor wire (Feb. 2005). Russian MI-8 (Dec. 2004) Posted by Hello