Saturday, October 22, 2005

Word On the Streets

Live from Nepal.

Real people with real voices. Life goes on here in the valley. Not one person on the street gives a whiff of priority to the state of democracy in Nepal. Everyone, repeat, everyone wants PEACE first and foremost and by any means necessary.

It's not some easily grasped concept that makes Westerners feel good, that's for sure. It's not some sort of self-esteem exercise that ignores research, like the vehement "democracy at all costs" movement either.

Truth is, the Maoists are costing this country a bundle in lost business and increased expenses; the political parties are seen as obstacles at worst, irrelevant at best; and the King is frustrating everyone with his lack of decision-making. THAT'S the word on the street.

Some other news I tend to believe because it comes from a real Nepali and not an expatriot:

1. Kantipur FM was shut down because it encouraged, if not outright supported, Maoists in the field. Quit whining about a supressed media because everyone here feels the media represents the monied elite.

2. The King will make a major reshuffle of his cabinet in the next few days. Word is he will select members from the 7-party alliance to fill a few vacancies.

3. Nepalis take the idiotic babbling utterances of James Moriarty and Keith Bloomfield VERY seriously. They are scared to death that Americans feel Maoists are ready for a takeover.

4. Maoists are in deep, long-term, trouble.

Ideological maoists are now in their 30's and 40's and are deserting and fleeing to india. This is the age of men in Nepal where there is tremendous pressure to settle down and raise a family, or at least make something substantive of oneself. Nepalis, men and women, flee to India at the rate of around 500 persons per day to either desert the Maoists or escape conscription.

Upcoming young Maoist recruits have neither the zeal nor the ability of their predecessors; most were forcibly conscripted.

Current active maoists fighting forces number about 10,000. They are unorganized and operate with little or no coordination with each other.

There will be no more large-scale Maoist attacks.

So, blogdai will now tend to respond less to high-minded ideological arguments and pseudo-erudite pontifications from those with out-of-Nepal perspectives.

We are in Nepal to give a voice to average Nepalis, we are listening, and we are getting dirty.

-=blogdai

18 Comments:

At 9:13 AM, October 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Everyone, repeat, everyone wants PEACE first and foremost and by any means necessary."

Fine. So how do we achieve peace? What is government's roadmap to peace? Any examples of initiatives, any thing done in past 8 months that lead to peace will be helpful.

"Quit whining about a supressed media because everyone here feels the media represents the monied elite."

Ok. Who is everyone? Did you conduct any kind of poll or something? Who does King, Tulsi Giri, and the crowd represent? Do they come from average Nepal and do they represent average Nepali?

 
At 11:15 AM, October 23, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Truth is, the maoists are costing this country a bundle in lost business and increased expenses"

So does the government. How is the Goverment's midnight raid in Kantipur FM differ from Maoist attack on Nepal TV station? Do they have the same motive? Same agenda?

Didn't King G's decision to shut down mobile phone for 2 months to help his son in law help Nepali businesses? Does King care about average Nepali's business or his own personal business interest?

 
At 9:02 PM, October 24, 2005, Anonymous PoliticalKanchha said...

blogdai,

where did you get point 4 from.

for the first three, it is understandable that you spoke to people (unlike the liberal elites who live in their ivory towers).

 
At 11:07 PM, October 24, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

blogdai can't comprehend the the short memories on display here.

So the kings's big crime is that he's hired bad people and that he's moved too slow or indecisively over the past 8 months? Where was the nepali congress during the LAST 10 YEARS? We are now, and have always been, on nepali time. So the new administration hasn't saved the world in 8 months and you call it a complete failure? Were any of you this vocal during the first 8 months of the former government's tenure? What about the last 8 months?

You obsess over some ridiculous phone company scam when girija and his minions stole the country blind over the last decade and created the perfect environment for maoist prosperity by their incompetence?

Oh, yes, and the abject human crime of shutting down Kantipur FM. yes, much more severe than maoists blowing up civilian busses or torturing women and children.

Is it so hard for kantipur fm to play ball with this king for a little while? There are so many loopholes and ways to get around the news ban that this defiant move by kantipur shakes-out as a publicity stunt. Bottom line is, QUIT WHINING about the kings failure if you're going to fight him every step of the way. When he fails after the world has given him his fair chance, then blogdai will be the first to denounce him.

Blogdai smells your agenda. It is the only explanation for the almost comical lack of perspective in some of these postings.

As for the points, look for a big cabinet shake-up after Tihar, that's the word for now. Would love to see tulsi giri out on the streets but feel that he will keep his post and be marginalized by another cabinet member and not allowed to speak publicly in the future. Stay tuned....

Maoist reports, like all else presented here, have come from our rural friends and kathmandu business leaders. Blogdai has basically talked to representatives of all communities (except expatriot: we hear too much from them anyway).
i am still looking for ONE person, without political party affilliation, who feels democracy must be restored (or introduced) before peace is restored.

Blogdai and the people we have talked to are all very frustrated with the King; no denying it. But we are ambivalent about the choices offered by the parties and downright hostile to their destructive posturing and arrogant isolation.

-=blogdai

 
At 10:40 AM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don’t have problem with your latter views, but simply on those about Kantipur FM.

How is Kantipur FM to play ball with the King if he has their equipment seized at gunpoint?

"yes, much more severe than maoists blowing up civilian busses or torturing women and children."

That justification is just solipsistic and cheap. It's pretty self-explanatory.

"There are so many loopholes and ways to get around the news ban that this defiant move by kantipur shakes-out as a publicity stunt."

It's not about finding loopholes. If you look at some of Kantipur's previous defiant moves, you'd realize they weren't done for the sake of publicity stunt. The fact that they did it meant that they were in risk of being closed down every single day. It's not as one-dimensional as you make it out to be.

The reason why it's done that way is because it's the only way to accomplish anything.

 
At 11:58 AM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So the new administration hasn't saved the world in 8 months and you call it a complete failure? Were any of you this vocal during the first 8 months of the former government's tenure? What about the last 8 months?"

I believe in learning from mistakes. Just because you were mum about corruption in the past does not mean that you need to be mum on it in the future as well. This does not just apply to criticism to the King but anyone who is in power. And the benchmark for King or any future government is not Girija. We have higher expectations.

I was not expecting King to save the world in 8 months. I just would like to see some semblance, or an honest effort to bring peace. What has been done in this regards?

BTW, muzzling press does not count and setting up RCCC to send political enemies to jail does not count either. BTW, where is RCCC these days? Do they think that their job is done after sending Deuba to jail in a phony trial? Aren't there bigger fishes to fry? What is stopping them?

 
At 1:14 PM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My take on all this is:

1) You can't stop corruption overnight. If you did the country would grind to a halt. Who else has experience of running the country but the corrupt politicians that are around at the moment. Unfortunately, at times you have to do what is politically expedient and use these scumbags' expertise. In the medium term though what is required is a new generation and a cultural shift and not just at the top - through the whole gamut of society c.f. the police wallahs who pay a big fee to get a posting at the airport. Needless to say this will take time once the wheels are in motion.

2) I asked this question before - are there any independent watchdogs out there? Is there one for media such as the PCA in the UK and various ombudsman bodies? Who polices the fourth estate? For example who came up with the forumula for the so called "liberty gauge" on the Nepali Times? Surely somewhat objective..

3) I would still like to see some kind of UN involvement in the current situation perhaps in these independent commissions I'm talking about. But countries don't like doing this. It's an admission of their ineptitude.

4) As mentioned before I'm quite happy to see the king "serve" out his 3 year term and if he hasn't achieved anything by then we can label him a failure. Forget about instant gratification and the "wai wai" culture. At least he's trying to get the municipal elections under way. The government has offered amnesty to Maoists. Let's see what happens. Instead of being a thorn in his side can't people work with him until the 3 years are over and then judge him. Hasn't he promulgated that Nepal become some kind of trading zone - a transit point for trade between India and China - the next big super powers? I guess the idea is to feed off the scraps but it's a start and that's better than nothing. What have the other old school, political genius' come up with? As for his dodgy dealings with Spice Telecom - it must mean he sees some reason to invest in business in the country and that business has a future in Nepal. Another point in times of "war" you don't go around spelling out your game plan. You hold your cards close to your chest.

5) I've seen this on several sites: I find it sad that whenever someone brings up the fact that the ordinary and poor rural folk want peace first so they can make a living and feed their families their posts get completely overlooked. Only for the thread to continue on with whatever inane argument preceded it. It seems that middle class aspirations are more important than that of the lowly born. Part of the reason we're in this mess is for that very reason. People should think about their fellow country men first, whatever jhat they may be and not about their own selfish interests. J'accuse!

Naagboy

 
At 9:22 PM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Blogbhai said...

Dear Blogdai,

I think you are too stuck up with the form of democracy we saw during the post 1990's era and the terrorist label on maobadhi. The problem exists because of the lack of complete/real democracy. Let's stop confusing each other with a democracy that never was. Gyane with all his good intentions might defeat maoist for now (which itself is a long shot), but down the road someone else will rise up against the state as long as they are oppressed. The question you ought to be asking is why is there maobadhi and who are they? And for once don't stop at the terrorist label, you are not doing any justice. For a person with your intellectual level...surely you can do better. Political parties are/were a fuck up but so is Gyane. There would have been no maoist had there been a real democracy, with real participation of the people to begin with. What we need is a new constitution through constituent assembly, and therefore defined by the people as oppose to the 1990 constitution that came out of a compromise between the palace, NC and UML...in short a democracy only for bahuns and ranas. I guess this is what Gyane is refering to when he talked about buda-budi ko relation...haina?

 
At 6:48 AM, October 26, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

good stuff blogbhai,

Let's forget the terrorist labeling of Maoists. They are butchers and random murderers. "Terrorist" is a Bush administration buzz-word that has devolved to mean any group that doesn't agree with U.S. policy. Too bad, Maoists ARE in fact terrorists in the most brutal sense of the word, but their savage acts are almost minimized by the rampant overuse of the term.

Maoists were first rejected by the political parties and then ignored by them. It was this comprehensive refusal of the government to acknowledge the power of Maoists that led to their unscrutinized growth.

We saw Maoists gain power through the 90's. Why was this? Having been in Nepal throughout those years, blogdai can say that maoist power grew in direct proportion to the Nepali's dissatisfaction with government.

It was government's open corruption coupled with a complete refusal to address issues outside of kathmandu that led to frustration among rural nepalis. This frustration led to a willingness to hear other political forces; i.e. the Maoists.

Before turning brutal, Maoists enjoyed fairly widespread support among rural Nepalis. And why not? No one in Singh Durbar even remotely cared about the average Nepali; so, alienated citizens were looking for any form of political representation they could find at the time.

Democracy is a biproduct of a safe society under the rule of law. It cannot come first, it is only a reward for compromise and cooperation. Right now, Nepal is all about the Maoists, nothing more. Every one of your high-minded western-learned concepts takes a back seat to getting rid of the Maoists. You will never have a real democracy without all parties first agreeing to live peacefully under its terms and concepts, period.

-=blogdai

 
At 8:30 AM, October 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kangres le loote
Komnist le loote
Tiniharu kai pala ma
Police, army le janata kute

Janata ko samman lai chute
Bhrasta haru jail bata chhute
Netaharu ko afnai swartha le
Party futaaye, aafai fute

Ahile aayera jhoot ko katha bhute
Afnai ijjat paare thute
Tara dos kahile na swikaarne
Ani raja lai gali garna sabai jute

Wah Nepal. Gazab Chha Ba...

 
At 6:51 PM, October 26, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

a lovely lament....

-=blogdai

 
At 7:51 PM, October 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would someone please translate to English the "lovely lament?" Thank you.

 
At 9:44 PM, October 28, 2005, Anonymous Blogbhai said...

Dear Blogdai,

Lets not make it a chicken or an egg problem. There is no peace because there was NO REAL democracy. Maoist insurgency as we see it today is a byproduct of post 1990's system that many people like to call it democracy, which you also rightfully agree. The 1990 constitution at its core, marginalizes many ethinic groups that are part of the diverse social/culture that Nepal is. It failed/fails to address many needs and issues of these backward groups, because while drafting it, there was no participation of the people in real sense, and maobadhi were part of the neglected group. Had there been CA back then, there would have be less room for maobadhi to complain, raise issues that people can sympathize with. Being a democratic minded person that you are, don't you wonder why there was no CA to begin with? Did we really have democracy then? And isn't CA maoists primary demand as well and has always been? So I disagree with you...what we need is complete democracy and peace will follow. People and parties come and go, some of them are corrupt and some honest but what needs to be in place is a better inclusive system where people can really participate, that has proper checks and balances so that in future nepal bandh and corruptions are minimized, and real needs of the people are addressed.

Yours sincerely,
Blogbhai

 
At 11:49 PM, October 28, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

No, you are actually agreeing with me bhai,

Your first two sentences sum up blogdai's philosophy quite nicely: there has never been a true democracy in Nepal and the maoist's current level of power and influence is a biproduct of that fact.

Blogdai always likes the idea of a constituent assembly. But in order for a CA to work, there has to be complete transparency in the assembly selection process; even in the most remote districts of Nepal.

One great enigma in Nepali Maoist philosophy is their insistence on this seemingly purely democratic principle. A constituent assembly is, one would think, the purest form of democratic representation, right?

A closer look tells us why Maoists like the concept: Maoists could manipulate the election process in districts they control and thus gain an unnatural advantage in such an assembly. So, until their is an impartial monitoring of such elections, a constituent assembly just won't work. Too corrupt, too coerced and to controversial.

-=blogdai

 
At 8:42 AM, October 30, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Sorry anonymous, here's your translation:

Looted by Congress
Looted by communists

Students are punished by the police and army during their session.
Pupil (status?) was badly hit by them.

Corrupt are released from custody
Although split, the politicians tried to split the parties by their own arrogance.

Now, they have all forgotten the split they caused.

They destroy their own power but never felt guilty and, trying to save themselves, they united to speak about the king.

Wow! What a surprising Nepal!!


-=blogdai

 
At 6:25 PM, October 31, 2005, Anonymous PoliticalKanchha said...

I'm having much difficulty understanding what "REAL DEMOCRACY" means.

I'm guessing BlogBHAI would want, in the very least, land reform, more affirmative action for women and minority groups, and the government being more active in helping people people rebuild their lives. (I wonder if a poor and corrupt Nepali government will ever be able to do any of this.)

As BlogDAI reminds us (and I've written in NepaliTimes http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue250/guest_column.htm), constituent assembly is just a tool for Maoists to further their revolution through democratic means.

In the end, REAL DEMOCRACY, is just a pipe dream that in reality translates to POPULISM. In the end, what we'll have is a Hugo Chavez or a Robert Mugabe who will do more harm to the people they purport to help.

Sadly, this is what "progressives" and the Nepali MainStreamMedia do not understand. We will never have DEMOCRACY with Prachanda and Badal around. They are just as dangerous with their guns as they are without them. (expanded in http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue253/guest_column.htm)

 
At 5:41 PM, November 14, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai,

You are getting confused. Maoists are a menace, yes, but so is your beloved Army.

Since you've never been outside Kathmandu, let me tell you that according to people who have been, your beloved Army far outsrips the Maobadi in terms of its ability to use psychopathic violence. Anything you want to call the average Maobadi--butcher, murderer, thug, brute, could be better applied to the average Army man.

Everyone who comes back from the villages says the same story: scared of the Maoists, petrified of the Army.

Maybe you should get a sense of the situation yourself, eh? Take a trip to the boondocks, away from all that nice Kathmandu comfort?

 
At 7:23 AM, November 15, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of this blog will tell you that blogdai has stated, over and over again, that there are no clean parties during these times.

But ask yourself, what precipitated RNA atrocities? Do we have evidence of this behavior prior to the era of Maoist brutality? NO! It is a sad reality that an army (not my beloved army as you misguidedly state) dealing with a guerilla insurgency that threatens as well as blends in with local villagers, will make a mistake and/or act in frustration. It is a dirty, immoral war. Place your blame on those who started the whole mess in the first place: the Maoists.

Honestly, I cannot understand your preoccupation with the RNA when just this week, Maoists killed two citizens, kidnapped hundreds, and forced thousands to march against an army facility. How deep are the blinders that you are wearing? And what is an army supposed to do under these circumstances?

I also just returned from Dolakha, which is a hotbed of Maoist activity, and an army and paramilitary police stronghold. It is one of many ground zero areas in this conflict. People have no preference over who does what, they just want peace. There is no overwhelming fear of the army in Sindhupalchowk as you suggest. Have you been out in the boonies yourself? I think not. Your English is too good and you ape the position of Nepal's gentrified elite: The army is as bad as the Maoists and the king is a despot. One trip to Dolakha would tell you otherwise.

-=blogdai

 

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