Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rich and Out of Touch

Saint Bill Posted by Hello


Well, it seems ‘ol Bill Gates has come to the rescue again by giving a donation to provide more electricity to the people of the Solukhumbu region. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-04/14/content_2828664.htm Bill’s heart must have sank when he realized that there were children that could not watch TV for 24 hours straight, plus the horror of seeing rural children without video games must have been too much for Saint Bill to bear.

Never mind that the Khumbu region is one of the wealthiest in Nepal. Never mind that there is an adequate hydro-electric plant at Thame that keeps Namche Bazaar lit up like a Christmas tree, and never mind that there are at least three internet cafes in Namche and satellite dishes running all the way to Lukla. No, Bill realized that people were missing a lot of the sluggish, bloated conveniences of Western civilization that only a glut of electricity can provide, and he decided to act: Bravo Bill!

This is a “boutique” donation. The $185,700 that was donated does not even represent pocket change to the Gates Foundation. It looks like Bill's dad took a typical tourist trek to the region and reported back about his adventure in Nepal. This donation is no more than a gratuity for showing dad a wonderful time. More so, it is a microcosm of the random and poorly researched nature of foreign aid in Nepal.

Each year, some 28,000 to 40,000 children die in Nepal from lack of basic sanitation knowledge and facilities. Nepal has areas of need where poverty takes the lives of people on a daily basis. It is this extreme poverty that must be addressed before we can start looking at luxuries like electricity. In fact, blogdai says for the record: forget electricity. It falls far down the hierarchy of needs behind food, clothing, shelter and medical services.

In a study outlined in Charly-Pye Smith’s “Travels in Nepal” a brand new mini-hydroelectric plant was introduced over 20 years ago in Namche Bazaar, of all places, in an attempt to find alternate sources of fuel to stem the tide of rapid deforestation in the region. The typical Sherpa day that had revolved around getting up with the sun and going to bed at night was now extended into the evening by electrical illumination. This in turn actually added to the levels of deforestation as people required more wood to keep themselves warm through their newly extended evenings.

It is the height of hubris to think that a culture is in need of help simply because the do not have all the toys of Western civilization. Giving donations that would ultimately “Westernize” the Solukhumbu region is a recipe for trouble. We in the West have come into our selfish convenience-based lifestyles gradually. We have cultivated our spoiled tastes over time. We have also learned how to separate the "wheat from the chaff," if you will. As much as we consume, experience has taught us to be skeptical and not to fall for just anything. Granted, every culture has the right to electricity, fast food or whatever, but do we really stop to consider the damage that can be done to a culture that is hit immediately with the full force of our Western concepts? Are there cultural liasons who go to each village before electricity and its inevitable subsequent onslaught of Western media is introduced and teach these people how to view things with a critical eye? Of course not.

Namche Bazaar is a good laboratory for viewing the consequences of introducing Western concepts rapidly. The Sherpa community there is rich-swimming in money. Recently, I gave a pair of my shoes to a young Nepali houseboy who was working in a lodge in Namche. It was cold that day and the boy was obviously shivering from exposure. The Sherpa owner of the lodge had just finished giving me a long speech about the price of Rolex watches (she had two). She was unresponsive to my gift to her boy until she had confirmed with her neighbors that my Columbia shoes were a good and trendy brand.

Wheat or chaff?

-=blogdai

40 Comments:

At 8:53 AM, April 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, the last post I commented on was deleted, which I guess is a good thing. Thanks.

 
At 8:57 AM, April 21, 2005, Anonymous A said...

So Mr. Gates finally cracked Babu Ram's code did he? Namaste!

 
At 9:30 AM, April 21, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

yes, blogdai often tests the boundaries of good taste-especially when it comes to Paras- We were getting a lot of negative responses so the photo was deleted.

blogdai apologizes to all.

We will, however, continue to seek new and creative ways in which to skewer Paras (and Sujata as well) so stay tuned.

-=blogdai

 
At 12:14 PM, April 21, 2005, Blogger blogbahini said...

Phew! Thank god I aint no politician of Nepal!!

 
At 12:30 PM, April 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, saw that earlier on and thought it was a bit out of order but it's good to know that you can relate to Nepali sensibilities.

Apologies for not posting in a while. Been v busy and it's been a kind of lull period - we're coming up to the 3 month anniversary and no real fireworks as of yet but IMO the situation is better than the previous status quo.

The king has not been a draconian despot to the general public as some would have wanted us to believe.

Naagboy

 
At 1:07 PM, April 21, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

hello naagboy, yes, where is that 'ol despot?

To me, India got the raw end of the deal by turning their noses up at Nepal just long enough for China to step in.

Still waiting for the old parties to announce an alliance with the Maoists. They are starting to realize that constant protests are not working so their frustration is mounting. After all, protests are all they know.

-=blogdai

 
At 1:20 PM, April 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo to you as well, Blogdai! You admitted you mistake and took the right and proper action by removing that photo of the Prince.

Actually, I thought you were too full of yourself to admit a mistake but I see that I was incorrect. Apologies to you and you now have my undivided attention. Repentance is good for one's credibility.

(p.s. I laughed at the photo and the comment)

 
At 7:37 PM, April 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai. Thanks for removing the bit on Paras...despite his rapid character it is best to stay at the human level and not sink to his. I had posted the second Anon comment regarding having it removed and applaud you for taking the right steps. Please do keep up the attack on the parasite Paras but at an intellectural level...not at his gutter level. Thanks...and keep up the flow of information.

 
At 4:29 PM, April 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, by all means keep the information coming. We have all beaten blogdai to death about this Paras thing so let's move forward.

I love the analogy about the Gates donation being an example of the reckless way foreign money gets to Nepal. They must get sick of the ridiculous foreigners and their Quixotic agendas for "saving" the poor villagers.

 
At 6:39 PM, April 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo B.Gates. Letting the whole world know the amount of foreign aid entering Nepal is hugely important. The flow of international monies good or bad will effects the economy of the People's War and also show how the present Regime handles the economy, both at the end may work in favor of the masses. Quickening the pace at which monies flow to the masses must be done.

Also the US-RNA joint military exercise isn't a widely known fact. Is it a ground-level assessment?

Both of these instances should be read as signs that a revolution is taking place not just an insurgency.

Revolution Student

 
At 8:20 PM, April 22, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

You'll need to back track a little for me there my red ideologue friend.

The flow of money never really made it to the "masses" as you imply. It fairly well stopped at the corrupt prior government.

The U.S. has always had people in Nepal as advisors. U.S. involvement fairly well centers around placating world opinion on the surface. This is evidenced by the recent stoppage, not the continuance, of U.S. military exercises with the RNA. It is more a political tool of leverage than an actual military alliance. An "assessment" as you call it cannot be done without significant public exposure.

I'm also not sure that this matters to your way of thinking judging from the fact that none of your statements appear to be related or support your impending revolution theory.

I suppose one can read into things whatever one wants when one is not bound by either cogent thought or lucidity.

Just once, blogdai would like to hear a Maoist, communist, or whomever make a good salient defense of their position. Some of us in the "masses" might actually agree with a point or two - if well presented.

It is a debate we all await.

-=blogdai

 
At 8:27 PM, April 22, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree! this dude babbles like Babu. I want the debate you mention. Let's get it all out on the table eh? Smart Commies bring it on!

Kevin---Ontario

 
At 2:56 PM, April 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent comments. Most aid agencies and donor nations seem to totally "out of touch" with the needs of the Nepali people.

Any one else see the tinted windows on the UNDP 4x4 in the middle of Kathmandu?

Has any one noticed that there is more aid work going on in the Kathmandu Valley than there is in any part of Nepal?

Poorly researched and understood projects seem to make the bulk of all aid to Nepal.

Its easy to blame the corruption but Westerners are guilty of the greatest crime -ignorance.

'An English man who loves Nepal.'

 
At 4:14 PM, April 25, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Yes I have seen the UNDP 4x4's. The UN is famous for "touchdown" assessments. On those horrible days where they actually have to leave kathmandu, a helicopter takes them out to a project site where they touch down for 5 minutes or so and then get back into the helo where martinis are waiting, I'm sure.

Read "The Lords of Poverty" by your own Graham Hancock if you really want to get worked up. Also, "Bleeding Mountains of Nepal."

For a while, the Indian made Pajero SUV was the direct symbol of government corruption. Aid officials would often blatently state that there was "Pajero money" in their projects. No Nepali official could afford one of these monstrosities without taking some pay-offs. They are so wide that they cannot negotiate most old town Chowks like Tahiti and Asan.

UNDP's vehicles are bad, but some agencies, at great expense, fly their own fully equiped Land Rovers, complete with mechanic crews, into Nepal. When they break down, parts are hard to come by. These agencies could have 10 cheap Indian-made Maruti off-road vehicles, brand new and made for the conditions in Nepal, for the same price as one of their Defender Series Rovers.

As blogdai has always said: you can't spell "unnecessary" without "UN".

 
At 8:59 AM, April 27, 2005, Anonymous A said...

I hear Sujata is in New York trying to generate support among the diaspora for the revival of democratic process in Nepal.

Thought Blogdai might just want to meet her and say hello!!

 
At 8:32 PM, April 27, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is imperative that clarity, to the regime's reasons of sending police to the CPN's event be made clear. If it was done solely for control of government, with no supportive data, we must all know the truth. Is the regime planting news reports to build a case for prospective military US support? Debunk it. Building a case around under the guise, the regime will will aid the US on its "War against Terrorism" must be dispelled, NOW! There's already supportive evidence to make that case and the regime will use that for their benefit. The Maoist must not hate US and other international countries as imperialist, but make US understand that there support as a "Great Democacy" goes along with Maoist demands for a new constitution. Humanize the Young (Peasant, Women and Student)Rebels.
Would someone please blast India for proposing to supply military aid to this regime, when they won't, after fourteen+ years intervene on behalf Bhutanese refugees for return to their homeland. Also, how is India to gain monetarily by support of the present regime, when the masses are not economically doing any better than they were before Feb 1. Also, clarity is needed as to why Pakistan would offer money to King's regime if they also supporting terrorism. We must all know.
Present-day Nepal has all the trajectories of a Revolution.
A Revolution Student

 
At 2:25 PM, April 28, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Revolution Student,
A pity your education has been so interrupted. You clearly have only a hazy and somewhat distorted understanding of real-life polictics to imagine that the reality of maoism has anything in common with democracy. True democracy gives every person a right to contribute his/her own views in government. - By the very use of the term 'prachandapath' the maoist faction are focusing on one individual - the word to describe this is mon-archy!

 
At 3:52 PM, April 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I'm writing my final titled Nepal: A Social Revolution,I am focusing on economics and producing financial benefits for the masses.
For my one-sided critic here’s a definition of social revolutions:
A revolution is a rapid, basic transformation of a society’s state and class structures. It contains mass discontent, and state structures a mess, both occurring at the same time. Battling over ideologues is not the aim of my paper, nor is it debating ontological conditions with you, so lighten up. Anyway taking sides would not be objective on my part. But the way India leans is of much more relative importance. The Maoist and the regime both have relations with India, and how arms and funds are acquired seems to be on everyone’s mind. The World Bank and the US State Dept. aren't making eye popping statements - over the conditions in Nepal. Any wonder why? Are they just taking India’s lead or assessing the ‘War on Terror” threat of the Maoist? Where's the report: “On-The-Ground Assessment”(?) by the US military officials earlier this month in Nepal? And who receives the report? Also how real is the Russian report on terrorist threat, when only a selected (28?) journalists are allowed to report condition? Postponed/Withdrawn financial support by the WB to the present regime removes legitimacy, and could damage the king. World Bank report recently published 3/25/05, titled: Development Policy Review - restarting growth and poverty reduction: Figure 7.1, on page 74 – Nepal: Real Per Capital Incomes: Peace and Conflict Scenarios may be used as supportive data. How many people really look at these charts? But it tells me, that whichever party picks up the pace and create the scenarios that are most benefits to the masses, will be the winner.
You are right to question/fear the legitimacy of the 'Prachanda Path', because truth come to pass and real mobilization occurs simultaneous while the king attempts to legitimize his regime by holding quickie elections, then you have REVOLUTION.
After several months of reading information on all kinds of revolutions, here goes another similarity between two revolutions. The US revolutionist sent several pleads to British king to hear them out, didn’t the Maoist also do the same.
A Revolution Student

 
At 4:38 PM, April 29, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Can't wait to read that paper, Rev.

Ok, blogdai will try something here, just once:

Rev, please answer simply; we are not as articulate as thou and require simple, easy to understand , answers. If you want people to understand your point of view, help blogdai by answering these questions:

1. Do you currently follow Maoist practices in Nepal?

2. Do you believe in Democracy?

3. Can you tell us what made you want a "revolution" in Nepal?

4. Compare and contrast (with expamples) modern Western democracy with that which was practiced in Nepal. Show relevant parallels with Marxism and neo-fascism when relevant. Expand on the philosophical dichotomy of representative legislature vs. unilateralism; not forgetting to include examples from the European colonial period and the totalitarian eras of the post-Chang dynasty in China.

Again, simple, short answers help us to understand your position better.

-=blogdai

 
At 5:34 AM, April 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well a game i used to play...maybe someone out there could help me with the answer..it needs simple mathematical capability... what is the sum total of all international aid to Nepal per year.. divided by the number of citizens in the country...from that can we work out how many $$'s per person per month ? multiply into the current exchange rate for Nepali Rupees and then laugh out loud

 
At 7:05 AM, April 30, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

laugh or cry. I read some time ago that since 1950 hundreds of millions of aid dollars has poured into nepal and yet, as of 2005, there has been little or no improvement in the lifestyles of the average nepali citizen. In fact, aid has caused deterioration in some circumstances.

Nepal is a cash-cow for aid agencies. It is a black hole of accountability where money goes in and nothing comes out.

-=blogdai

 
At 6:32 PM, April 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, Rev...

Dude.

Americans supporting democratic ideals as promoted by the Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist? Were you seriously suggesting this, or did I just misunderstand you? At any rate, it ain't gonna happen. Ever. Right or wrong, to most Americans, Communism (along with facism, which is ironically what the US is moving towards) is the OPPOSITE of democracy.

It's not that Americans don't support equality and justice for all, it's just that they don't think Communism is the way to get there. They've all been brainwashed from infancy that Communists are the bad guys.

CPN-M needs to put down the guns and start using their brains. Period. It's the only way anyone is going to take them seriously. It doesn't matter how I or anyone else views their philosophy... no one is going to negotiate with them over the barrel of a gun, and the world will never let them win control of the country. As far as most of the world is concerned, no matter how lofty the ideals of communism may be, it has proven a failure time and again. Of course, this is just my perception. Get over it, negotiate, move on. That is, if you truly have the well-being of the Nepali people at heart...

And regarding more recent posts, this issue of integrity in foreign aid is admittedly new to me, but WHY is there not a neutral third party auditing group that can provide some kind of rating system to show what percentage of all foreign aid from the various NGO's is actually getting to the people. This type of auditing system exists elsewhere...

Your Highness, if you're listening, you need to invite a group like this to monitor what is going on with foreign aid in your country. The country is bleeding, as I'm sure you're aware. And everyone on the outside can see it too. It looks like a lot of the blood is flowing towards India, but maybe I am just seeing things. I know very little about this issue, but it is one of the first questions I asked when I first visited Nepal. And I'm not sure the RCCC is really going anywhere. It kind of looks like the fox guarding the henhouse...

Thanks for the book recommendation, too, Blogdai... I will read this one.

Ramta

 
At 8:43 PM, April 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

b-dai, your response to rev was classic. you are one cheeky, hilarious bastard... keep it up.

 
At 6:24 PM, May 01, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Can't tell if that was a compliment or not. Anyway, thanks.

Ramta, great idea. People don't seem to realize that democracy is not some animal that should be let loose to run around free in the hopes that everything will eventually work out. Third-party mediation/oversight is almost essential to cultures that haven't been born and raised with democracy.

A media idiot named Conn Hallinan once told me, in response to the inherent corruption that was the old government, that "..I'll take a messy old democracy any day." Old Conn should not be taken too seriously since he has never been to Nepal and just recites wire-service tripe, but his view is indicative of the way democracy is approached in the West and why it doesn't automatically work in Asia. How much damage should we let a "messy old democracy" inflict on its people without oversight?

Nepal's old CIAA started a nice trend in oversight, but they were essentially toothless in their ability to enforce. This new RCCC has more bite but will, no doubt, be criticized as just an arm of a despotic ruler's opression. This is not so. See how former PM Deuba is sweating under his new arrest. He's been nailed for dipping into the cookie jar and now has no political clout to buy his way out.

Plus, why would a "despotic" King bother with such foolishness in the first place if he were not commited to some type of reform?

-=blogdai

 
At 11:56 PM, May 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monarchy and reform? Now don't talk about England, or any other figureheads around the world. Absolute rulers like KG can be more dangerous than the Maoists. The Rev. stu is true in pointing out that this absolute rule was the cause for revolution- but there's little doubt that communism and democracy dont go hand in hand, as has been illusioned by the maoists. But he's right in saying that the fragile populace will support the aggressor who can fake reform agendas or assure quick peace.

 
At 7:06 AM, May 02, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Fundamentally incorrect.

Maoism gained it's strength as a result of governmental ineffectiveness at the rural level. Various GP Koirala administrations thumbed their noses at the rural populace. When corruption became so blatent and overt, like the Lauda Air deal, Nepalis realized that they were not getting representation and began to listen more to alternative voices: the Maoists. Forget the corrupt land owner arguements as well. While this is a problem, it did not lead to either the Kings takeover or a strengthening of the Maoist movement. This is an Indian concept that came up to Nepal through the RIM and the PWG.

To say that Monarchy or absolute rule is enough reason for a revolution is both simplistic and formulaic. Corrupt, oppressive rule, sure. Take North Korea. But what about Thailand where King Bhumibol is revered as a God and has brought substantial reforms?

What about a corrupt and unresponsive parliament that presided over the gradual downward spiral of a nation towards anarchy? Wouldn't that be cause for revolution as well?

When you say ".. the fragile populace will support the aggressor who can fake reform agendas or assure quick peace.." are you not describing the Maoists rather than the King?

-=blogdai

 
At 1:08 PM, May 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai, you dont seem to have a grasp of how revolutions take place- well yes, long years of corrupt, reppressive govts could lead to revolution, but when there is already a democratic system, people have the choice to overthrow the corrupt govt, there is no need to overthrow the entire political system. And protests to overthrow a particular govt is dif than revolutions channelled to overthrow a political system. Give me one example where people have overthrown a democratic system of governance.

Neither do you seem to have any idea when Maoists went underground and for what reasons. If you haven't already read Baburam's dissertation 'The nature of underdevelopment and regional structure of Nepal', read it. It lashes out on the inability of democratic governments to bring out reform, but his thesis is based on the premise that development in nepal was not possible because of the kind of social formation it is in- feudal and colonial. Cause? I wouldnt say monarch, his policies; even how Nepal has been structured spatially, in some degree contributes to how your democratic govt was ineffective at the rural level. What i see people doing these days is a surfacial analysis of what is happening at present, but ignore the root cause of it.

Thailand's monarch being revered as god? Don't we in Nepal view the king as incarnate of Vishnu? Comon, I thought you knew better than that! Thailand also went through a revolution in 1932 that shut the king into a constitutional cubicle. And they have been modifying constituitions to suit changing needs of a democratic society. Yet, I'd say Thai govt is very pro-monarch and hence very reppressive (you must have heard about the escalating insurgency and brutal govt reppressions in response- although I wouldnt count these as the only premise for authoritarianism).

About the fragile population, yes, maoists or the monarch, right now anyone who would offer a better solution to the prevailing condition, people would vote for it. I would too. But looking at the history of reppressive regimes of monarhs in Nepal and around the world, I wouldn't jump in for a 5 month peace contract, eventually to fall into the ditch of underdevelopment marked by high level of suppression! Now don't ask me whether there's a corelation between authoritative regimes and development :S Some other time.

 
At 5:14 PM, May 02, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Ok, you've had your benefit of the doubt.

First, since when was there a rulebook for conducting a revolution? You think that revolutionaries would just overthrow a government and not its entire accompanying political system? Do the Maoists believe in any system in place in Nepal, be it monarchy or democracy, and not its leaders? They have stated openly that they would overthrow the king and yes, an elected democratic parliament and install their communist republic. What kind of revolution shows the type of restraint you mention? Just because you say there would be "no need” to dismantle a political system doesn’t mean that Maoists would follow such an arbitrary formula should they come to power. This is poorly researched nonsense with no basis in reality. You give me the example now of where a "revolutionary" movement picked and chose what it wanted to keep and discard from a prior regime. Perhaps they were led by just a "partial" ideologue as well, right? Blogdai fears that you are making this up as you go along.

What is this assumption about Maoists going "underground?" When were they above ground? You imply that there was some singular event that forced Maoists out of the mainstream. Prove it? When did it happen? The only reason Maoists exist at all is because they ARE underground. Always have been, always will be; or is this another re-write of current events.

I have read Babu Ram's rant. It is indecipherable. But if he in fact says that democratic government is incapable of rural reform, then it really isn't a democracy is it? Would a rigid ideology based on intimidation, torture and kidnapping be considered reformist? With what kind of "formation," as you put it, would the Maoists govern Nepal if not "feudal and colonial?" People are scared and intimidated. They are forced to join Maoist militias against their will and are tortured and murdered if they refuse. Sound like liberation to you? Please, please don't make me drag out the mountains of proof of Maoist atrocities as I anticipate a denial in your next response. Yes, the army was bad also but now we are in a guerilla scenario and there will be no clean hands for a while. Consider the cause of it all, again: Maoist atrocities.

You give no background for what you mean when you say how Nepal is "structured spatially" or what is meant by a "surfacial" analysis. The word “surfacial,” if used at all, applies to a method of describing physical events on a geologic plane. Are the people making these assumptions engaged in some sort of scientific testing? Are they collecting rocks? What we do know is that Nepal's forbidding geography, not geology, plays a most significant role in any government's ability to enact reforms on a rural level. I'm sure this is improved at the barrel of a gun as our Maoist friends seem to think, but this assumption is a falsehood also enabled by Nepal's geography--No security forces can arrive anywhere on time in rural Nepal to prevent a Maoist attack, so why not intimidate with a gun, it seems to be working, right?

Oh forget Thailand now. I can see that I might as well be talking to the ground. You would call "repressive" any king that does not allow armed insurgents to roam freely. Suppose-just for example-that your glorious communist regime is in power somewhere and a rogue band of freedom-loving democracy mongers is on the loose spreading the message of tolerance and passing out flowers. If you stop them you're the "repressor," if you allow it then you are a democrat.

Perhaps THE fundamental pillar of a free society is the protection of its citizens. It is first and foremost and comes before wide-ranging personal freedoms can be established. This was/is true in America and is true everywhere, especially in Thailand.

You are more on track with your assessment of repressive regimes and foreign aid. Nepal was the worst in this area. Big Aid paid big money to big ministers in a big mess of a corrupt government. As mentioned above, that's what gave Maoism its brief positive audience with the rural citizens of Nepal: the desire for an alternative.

Perhaps, initially, the Maoists were right. Their idea of a constituent assembly seemed like a good and reasonable choice (at least "surfacially"). What happened? Brutality and chaos happened. Blame the lack of anything above the most simplistic of ideals as a premise for their movement and blame geography for making a unified front impossible.

Your wonderful "revolution," I'm sorry to say, has deteriorated into warlordism. Maoism in Nepal is now relegated to marauding bands with neither a cohesive mission nor message.

-=blogdai

 
At 7:37 PM, May 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, nowhere in those paragraphs did I say I supported those bastards. But I did say that I ain't going to support the other bastards either, the monarchs. And all my rantings about Maoists was to give you an idea of why they went 'underground', yes, if you don't already know, they were fighting elections in 1991 as a faction of the Communist Party of Nepal, and when they were denied political space, they went 'underground' (they were already a declared NCP Maoist party at the time of elections)! Gee where do you get your information from?

My point was to explain that years of reppressive policies implemented by the Monarch and the Ranas is what brought out this shitty situation in Nepal today. By saying that, nowhere did I say that I supported Maoists instead!! I vehemently oppose monarchy doesnt mean I want Maoism to rule, or does it? And tell you what, when you defend your arguments, don't compare it with 'what will it be like when there is Maoism instead', next time, try to come up with arguments that will support Monarchy, independent of Maoist or Democratic arguments, alright?

 
At 8:16 AM, May 03, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Finally, a bit of clarity. Now, was that so bad? Why couldn't you have said this first?

When you lovingly cite Babu Ram's ramble, what am I supposed to think, that you were a royalist?

At no time were Maoists considered part of the mainstream. You cite 1991 as an example, the very year after democracy was established, as your turning point. Doesn't it occur to you that a group without even the remotest respect for democratic priciples would might not be welcomed in a group where the majority of those in power, even the communists, chose to play by the democratic rules? Maoists then had no clout, no central viewpoint and were not even willing to give the brand new democratic system a try. They were neither powerful nor serious in 1991. So they went "underground" as you say in 1991, fine, so what? Who were they then?

I know it's an advanced principle, but the Maoist story was designed as an ironic analogy, it's a literary device designed to add clarity. Yes, clarity. Perhaps that's why you didn't get it.

I don't know why you feel that I need to support a pro monarchy arguement either. I am neither pro-monarch nor pro former parliament no pro maoist.

Blogdai tries hard to bring out the point of what you are doing in an effort to keep you engaged in the discussion. Since your writing is slightly less confusing than the Rev's I thought we could find good debate points. but I see now that you will plead misunderstanding at every turn. Perhaps I should steer away from clarity and go with the babbling rant?

-=blogdai

 
At 12:59 PM, May 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai you are strong with this guy, but I think fair. We are all tired of reading things from these people that we cannot understand. Let's get it out in the open and stop trying to impress everyone with words and phrases that do not seem to fit together. We must be clear as you say. Keep it up.

Sushil, Basantapur

 
At 4:02 PM, May 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai, when you're in a debate, you present arguments. And so I did, but your aligning me with the Maoists and replacing the Monarchy with Maoism whenever you have to cite examples didn't make much sense. And you were right, I will come up again to clarify what a debate is (tomorrow I will come up with arguments that says Monarchy is the best solution for today's Nepal- what then, you will call me a pro-monarch?).

If I were to argue that monarchy is a better solution today, I would say that political stability that we all envy so much today was always there during the Shah regimes. And although there was not much reform, one could say the M.P Koirala's govt in 1951 left economic crisis and political chaos to be dealt with, and King Mahendra was the first one really to start a five yr development plan and gear towards economic reforms (Economic growth rate around 1959 onwards was pretty good compared to the democratic rules then and now).

And of course, I'd bring in more arguments, not just lash out on maoism to defend monarchy. Get it?

And oh yeah, the maoists broke off as a faction from the communist party (when there are two different nepali congresses now because of difference in ideology, what do you say, they were never a part of the mainstream?). And about maoists not wanting to give a try to the 'brand' new system of democracy- there lies your blaming the maoists for lack of ideology- they were not happy the way new constituion was written: giving prerogative to the monarch to declare emergency in a national crisis, suspend parliaments, and most importantly, giving him the right to veto. He is also the supreme commander of the Royal Nepal Army (while the military should have been under the parliamentary govt in democracy). How then is the monarch constitutional while he enjoys rights of authority over the government? Maoists opposed the idea and when they were unable to make any significant change being above ground (again, they were denied political space in election), they decided to fight off the trend of Monarchy shadowing Nepali politics. And they went underground in 1991 (although their historic PW was initiated only in 1996, they were out of political scene and underground from 1991- i will cite it next time i write), which should leave you with little doubt that they weren't against the democratic government (the first democratic govt was elected in 1990-91: and maoists would at least need 4/5 yrs of democratic rule to whine about the failure of the democratic govt).

Again, if you read my postings, I never said that Maoists chose the right strategy, all I said in those blogs was that Maoists wanted to fight off this rigid system of autocracy that was still enjoying prerogative rights through the constitution, so they wanted a revolution, basically to overthrow the regime. And if you read their postings and speeches in maoist.org and other sources (the peruvian one, i forgot), you will realize that they are not clear about their plans after the regime is overthrown. They've always been advocating for a republic, but were never clear on how they will create a republic- in a society that has undergone massive democratic and economic change since 1990 (with global economies and countries depending on each other for economic and political gains, Nepal can no more be isolated from the world and created into a communist republic!). That is why I always thought they chose a wrong strategy. Nevertheless, Maoists are not the solution doesn't mean Monarchy is.

And well, obviously, I don't understand your 'ironic analogy' because you seem so clear when you say it! Blogdai, I visit your website because I thought you bring up good points, but if you keep lashing out on posters and filling the void with verbose sentences than logic, you'll miss out on interesting discussion, which if i may assume, is one purpose you created this blog for.

 
At 5:12 PM, May 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry there old man, I'm going to have to side with blogdai on this one. Your opinions are all over the spectrum and none of them make sense. Yes, blogdai is a pompous ass from time to time but anyone can see that he's trying to provoke an honest opinion from you.

The most I can gather is that you espouse some style of revolutionary movement yet you say you are not pro-Maoist.

It's not cheeky to use the Maoist example the way blogdai has done. It simply turns the tables and gives one an opposing perspective.

I for one do not care to hear any more of your disjointed phraseology until you are able to establish at least your basic position. If you can, answer this:

1. What type of government do you want in Nepal?

2. How would you propose this type of government be achieved?

In retrospect, I sincerely believe that the failure of alternative political philosophies has much to do with their inability to adequately communicate their positions and methods. I suspect our friend falls into that category.

Roger, U.K.

 
At 7:35 PM, May 03, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Easy Roger, it will take a while for us to get our friend down to his core tenets. At any rate, this joust is fun.

Blogdai would like to comment on our friend's "root causes" argument from a different angle. The prior years of oppressive monarchy seemed to act as a shield for the excesses of the Koirala parliament. People were accustomed to years of corruption and abuse under the Shahs, so they were not necessarily quick to condemn their new parliament's misdeeds; it was just the same old story for many Nepalis. Our friend's mistake lies in the ease to which he condemns Nepalis to a repressive future simply because a monarch has once again taken over. I think we see now that King G. could not be a Rana even if he wanted. World opinion and pressure are not only yeilding positive changes, but are also preventing any deeper slide into authoritarianism.

I tend now to agree with the autocracy argument and how the early Maoists were not allowed into the "old boys club" of the new parliament. It forshadowed the governmental excesses to come. But saying that the Maoists were forced "underground" is a concept that is hard to swallow. The Maoists of 1991 had neither the political strengths nor contacts to give them a voice anywhere. They were nudged aside because they were irrelevant. Since they were not part of a democratic majority, should they not have worked towards relevance if they had, in fact, believed in the democratic process as you say? If they didn't like the constitution, would it not have been more effective to work for change within the system rather than to chuck the whole thing and run? All political groups must, at one time, have had to start from the beginning, so why this impatience from a fledgling political party. It only demonstrates that they were not prepared to compromise democratically and thus, did not buy into the process.

The NC split is a good example. Koirala and Deuba were at each other's throats over the most petty of issues, yet old Girija never cut and ran out on the system when Deuba was first elected PM.

In a democratic system you are often forced to live with decisions and structures that your particular faction does not like. You work the system to get the majority opinions needed to change things more to your liking. If the Maoists "were not against the democratic government" as you say but only elements of the constitution, why didn't they follow the system to change the rules democratically?

This flies in the face of that "change the leaders and not the system" argument of your first posting. So, I don't buy that the Maoists were ever pro-democracy in any shade or form. If they were pro back then as you claim, why aren't they pro now? No, the Maoists had a singular, uncompromising agenda. They did not get what they wanted on the first try, so they quit.

Blogdai must confess, with apologies, that I was purposely antagonistic in my responses. That damn Roger was right: I was just trying to bring you out. Your initial postings were rambling but had some noteworthy ideas, so blogdai wanted to light a fire under you in order to scrape your ideals down to their essence.

I'm not sure it's worked. Perhaps my confessional will help.

 
At 2:32 PM, May 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. The political state is weak in Nepal: politicians in the name of "democracy" were eating at its heart like some bubonic plague.

2. The Maoists are criminals led by idealists. Its a very potent cocktail in politics and leads to the ensuing destruction that they have brought to the people.

3. The choice of political system is irrelevant when 1 and 2 apply

4. The choice of political system is irrelevant when the poltical state is on its knees and begging for life.

5. The most effective means to bring strength to a weak system is to project strength through leadership, a united voice and the authoritarian power required to bring stability.

6. Democracy could not offer this to the Nepali people because the politicians were divided, were self-interested, and rarely spoke with a united voice.

7. Democracy can work in Nepal but lets forget it for now and concentrate on practical issues like peace and stability.

8. The most important thing? The people of Nepal. The people who have to endure this instability whilst watching the Western world preach and Democrats cry "foul" when they have milked the country like a cow. Shame on these people.

'An English man who loves Nepal'

 
At 3:29 PM, May 04, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

To all our revolutionary students, friends, pontificators et. al.:

Please take note of the above posting from "An Englishman.."

THIS IS HOW YOU STATE YOUR POSITION!

Whether you agree with Englishman or not, he is clear, concises and makes valid points.

So, Maoists and Revs, it looks like Englishman has thrown down a challenge. Can any of you make at least half as much sense in your writing as our English friend has done here?

This is a joy to summarize and critique. Englishman rightly defers to the need to maintain the foundation pillars of democracy. Without security there can be no political system. Without considering the needs of Nepalis who are suffering, there can be no democracy.

blogdai is inspired.

-=blogdai

 
At 12:52 PM, May 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes finally someone is talking sense and *common sense* at that.

I haven't been posting recently because I'm downright bored with the propoganda, petty abuse, inane arguments and contradictions that have been going on various NGs/blogs. For some reason the Monty Python sketch about the argument clinic comes to mind http://orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/argument.htm

Informed decision making is the way to go and a helping of common sense in the equation won't go amiss for example think about the present socio-economic forces in place.

Here are some of my observations:

The king
--------
* The unifying figurehead of one of the poorest country's in the world, a non-secular Hindu state with a racially diverse populus and small middle class.
* Not trusted by a large chunk of Nepalis/conspiracy theorists.
* Apparently frustrated with sitting on the sideline and watching Nepal go down the pan.
* Declared his intentions with a timeline of 3 months state of emergency and 3 years cooling off period before reinstating democracy.
* Has stuck to his first point by lifting the state of emergency within the 3 months albeit with other restrictions in place.
* Has shown that he is a shrewd and clever statesman and has strong leadership qualities.

The main proponents of an immediate return to democracy
-----------------
* The same old bunch of vain and oily men with third-rate intellectual abilities who ran the country into the ground and their cohorts.
* No sense of civic duty.
* Fond of holding demonstrations especially with their politically-affiliated student's unions who's leaders end up dropping out every year just so they can hold on to that position.
* These student leaders also like to coerce other students and teachers by fear of various threats.
* Essentially selfish and couldn't give a damn about issues outside their immediate environs.
* Ironically feel safe in said immediate environs due to the security afforded to them by the RNA but love to criticise the RNA and police when it suits them.
* Haven't really done their homework and thought about the future.
* Have no coherent plans/ideas about the redistribution of wealth and regional policy.
* Lazy and rely on various, ineffective aid agencies to do that for them.
* Think that democracy is some kind of miracle panacea that can be retrofitted template-wise onto Nepal and will solve all the troubles of Nepal without thinking about the context of democracy in Asia and the complexities of Asian societies.

The Maobadi
-------------
* A bunch of ideological thugs who live in the past and press-gang and indoctrinate new blood into their ranks.
* Fond of sound-bites pertaining to a discredited system.
* Lazy and literally feed of the "proletariat".
* Arrogant and think the "proletariat" should be grateful for their presence when in fact their lives are suffering more for this presence.
* Wouldn't have a chance in a democracy and know this.
* Legacy will be a large group of disenfranchised Nepalis who will know nothing better than violence, thuggery, gangsterism and will make up the future criminal elements of Nepal.

Instead of calling for the immediate restoration of democracy based on a failed system, which I find incredibly naive; I for one would rather take the king at his word to stick to the 3 year timeline. What is there to lose? Think positive! Some good can come out of this. This 3 year period can be used to ask pertinent questions about why democracy in it's past guise did not work. To formulate various ideas and plans and how to action them so that we can mould democracy for the good of Nepal.

Questions need to be asked like:
* Does the constitution need to be redrafted yet again and which bits need to be addressed?
* How do we reform the democratic parties for the better?
* What other mechanisms can be put in place to mitigate official corruption in future?
* What can be done to ensure that we have a good enough calibre of perspective politicians? Someone remind me here of what the official salary of the PM is?
* How do we ensure that politicians are actually addressing the needs of their constituencies? They need to be visiting at least...
* How do we enfranchise the poor in the rural areas?
* Should Nepal be a secular state like India?
* Are there lessons to be learnt from democracies in other Asian countries?
* How can we encourage the learned Nepali diaspora back to Nepal? Well from time to time at least..
* How can we mobilise them to use their minds for the common good e.g. economic policies?
* Is there an argument to allow for dual nationality?
* How can we steer the various aid agencies to get more bang for their buck?
* How do we re-integrate ex-Maobadi back into Nepali society?
* How do we address the dalits and improve their lives?
* The marwadis are amongst the most successful business people in Nepal. Originally from India (e.g. the Chaudharys), I would say they are more Nepali than most Nepalis. Should we engage them for their expertise in certain fields into the dialogue?

If more Nepalis were engaged in doing something constructive and not just braying like hysterical, spoilt children for the restoration of a failed system of democracy, don't you think this would *encourage* the king to stick to his timeline for democracy? There's that old saying that Nepalis don't have a lot of ideas and when someone does everybody else copies it cf "kua ko vyaguta" (the well frogs). We need to start thinking for ourselves and not letting others think for us. Everybody needs to contribute towards this. Surely, when the time comes we don't want another system that will fail us.

My extremely long, 2 paisa worth..

Naagboy

 
At 6:50 AM, May 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading this blog with much interest and concern since 1 February 2005, but have not really felt knowledgeable enough to add to the discussions.

However, I would like to thank Naagboy for his summary - as someone who has received most of their information from the media, and who visited Nepal for the first time in March/April 2005 - this was an extemely welcome post, as well as being understandable to the political layperson.

Admittedly from an external perspective, the key points that I identified with were as follows, particularly since the lifting of the state of emergency:

1. if the leaders of the political parties REALLY have the interests of Nepal and its people at heart, what can they possibly have to lose by requesting a serious dialogue with the King with the aim of developing a long-term strategy for the political future and stability of the country. However, the reporting of yet more planned agitations suggests to the outsider that they are more concerned with their own agenda than for the wellbeing of Nepal and its citizens - this leaves things exactly where they were six months ago, and reinforces the notion of "vain and oily men" as articulated by naagboy . And certainly provides no confidence in the abilities of the political parties or their leaders (regardless of their detention status) to effect change.

2. The Maoists (and their affiliated student organisations) will NEVER garner local or international support while they resort to violent and reprehensible tactics involving citizens and children of Nepal. The continued targeting of schools - regardless of the perceived inequities of the private system - is affecting CHILDREN, the future of Nepal. There is simply NO excuse for this behaviour, under any circumstances. The children of Nepal have enough to contend with without reduced educational opportunities.

(Please do not interpret my lack of comment on the RNA as implicit support for any atrocities they may be involved with - I simply do not feel that I can provide informed comment)

3. The king took a drastic step - there is no disputing this point. Why not try and work with him to further the aim of a peaceful Nepal, rather than simply attacking him for the sake of it? And no, I am not defending his actions, however they are now reality and efforts would be better to concentrate on the present and future, not the past.

Alison (South Australia)

PS - Blogdai, one suggestion: this thread is now far removed from the original item on Bill Gates' donation - perhaps you could edit the blog so that the evolution of subsquent posts reflects this?

 
At 8:37 AM, May 06, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Yes, Allison, our readers are opinionated and informed and threads do seem to wander. Will take your advice and try to move this thing forward.

Naagboy's comments are always salient and it is a pity we do not hear more from him.

Allison, your point #1 is well illustrated by the reaction of Nepal's top political bosses on their release from prison. G.P. Koirala hit the streets and is travelling the country to drum up support for more demonstrations against the king. M.K. Nepal's first comment after his release was that the parties have no option other than to resume protests against the king.

They just don't get it, do they? Incessant demonstrations got them into this problem in the first place. Blogdai believes that King G. is actually waiting for these guys, anyone in the parties actually, to come forward and admit some mistakes and sincerely make an effort to work with the king. It is so simple to do this. Why has it not happened?

-=blogdai

 
At 9:40 AM, February 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

shame on these people for degrading our king and country if they are so concerned about its future why dont they come forwrad..!!!!!!and tell us the direction to move forward .
His Highness King Gayendra is trying his best to pull the country out of this crisis and here these people sit on the butts and do nothing but just blabber...do something for a change!if you cant then shut the hell up...!

 

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