Thursday, July 13, 2006

What We Must Do: Part I

Back in the saddle again... blogdai has received quite a few requests for an actual plan of action to save Nepal. "Let's do something before it's too late" is the cry. Well, what exactly can we do here on a blog? Do we have any power to change events? The answer is not only a resounding "yes" but blogdai argues that, in the absence of a credible "main stream" media presence in Nepal, blogs are actually at the forefront of political innovation and ideas. How many times have our comments here at blogdai and other blogs resurfaced as political rhetoric in the world areana? Quite a few.

Now, we are not necessarily the forum chosen to muster armed forces nor are we pretending to advise either King or government; but we CAN make a difference here. So, now, while we're still in the monsoon season, let's get a jump on the upcoming turmoil in Nepal and move proactively. The next few columns will give out practical suggestions that each of us can use to make a difference in Nepal, right now. These will be suggestions; some obvious, some nasty. Take or leave as many or as few as you like, but GET INVOLVED.

So, without further commentary, the first thing we can all do is to spread the word that....

NEPAL IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

That's right shoppers, each of you tell ten of your friends that one of the best ways to defeat oppressive Maoism and breathtakingly remedial governance is good old fashioned capitalism.



And what is one of the best and most effective means of helping the Nepal economy get back on its feet? Tourism. Funny, while our rabid Western consulates are telling all of us to "avoid any unnecessary travel" to Nepal, Indian tourism has increased by upwards of 15% in the last year. What do they know that we don't?

blogdai was in the thick of the big Maoist protest, as you all know. Hundreds and hundreds of Maoists walked right through the streets of backpacker central: Thamel, without so much as a flinch of a threat to business and property. Why? Because they weren't Maoists, that's why. They were part of that now famous edict laid down by our boys in Red that every household in rural Nepal had to supply at least one participant in the Kathmandu rallies or face the consequences. The point is, the Maoists STILL can't muster enough forces to take Kathmandu or to even make much of a battle--and yes, I stand by my opinions about this, once again, knowing full well that many of you are still starry-eyed by accounts of Maoist power in the field. I say, BUNK! The Maoists know that they haven't the capacity to overrun the RNA and take over the country on their own. That's why they're playing these idiotic bullying games with SPA. Without SPA, the Maoists are isolated, politically and logistically.

So where does this leave a Westerner's favorite pastime, trekking? Everest is now and has always been open and safe for trekking. Maoists routinely get the shit kicked out of them by wealthy Sherpa shop-owners everytime they seek to make inroads into the upper Khumbu region. Go there, hop a plane to Lukla and trek away. Looks like Annapurna is opening up also. We have heard that maoists have stopped extorting rupees from trekkers and things are quieting down, but this still may change. Kathmandu? Even when Maoists were crawling out of the woodwork last May, all the major historical sites were open and harrassment-free. blogdai had no trouble walking down any street in Kathmandu at night. You are more likely to get a smile and some literature from a 15-year old "Maoist" than you are getting useful information from your own consulate.

So what's the simple logic behing all of this? Supporting the economy with your tourist rupees supports and increases wealth and education among Nepal's citizens. An educated populace is an informed populace; not as vulnerable to either Maoists intimidation or inept government promises. Plus, a closed-up and fearful Nepal is an isolated Nepal. Tourists, especially Western tourists help spread an accurate accounting of events in Nepal and provide, to a certain extent, a different and perhaps hopeful perspective to locals. A blogdai favorite is that Western tourists can balance and refute a lot of bad journalism that currently surrounds events in Nepal.

We cannot turn our backs on the Nepalis in this regard. I'm asking each of you to view any warning about travel to Nepal skeptically and with an eye towards secondary verification. Don't take at face value what diplomats say. Do your own research. Why? Because, aside from the protestations of some overzealous Xenophobes, Nepal needs foreigners. Nepal must not be left alone during this time.

Isolation leaves citizens to trust either politicians or Maoists. It creates despair and increases neediness. Those in physical or economic need tend to rally around those who can provide the most tangible and immediate relief. Add a dose of intimidation and that leaves most Nepalis with nothing more than a Maoist choice. Put another way, rural Nepal is poor, isolated and undereducated. Maoists thrive in rural Nepal; 'nuff said.

Not convinced? The best thing you can do is ask someone who has recently returned from Nepal for their recommendation. Specifically, ask them if it was as frighteningly bad as Western diplomats and media painted it to be. You may be surprised at the answer.

The important thing is to GO! Go to Nepal. Bring the weight of your currency and opinions and distribute both freely.

At the very least, spread the word.

-=blogdai

Flash! Update August, 2, 2006: Travel and Leisure Magazine has voted our little Kathmandu 3rd best city in Asia. http://www.travelandleisure.com/worldsbest/2006/results.cfm?cat=citiesasia See you all there! -=BD

7 Comments:

At 11:27 PM, July 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai,

I, just as you, believe in the death of SPAM...but I wouldn't agree with this first move of yours...anyway, we can go different ways, try to amalgate some of our ways, and reach the final assimilate of end-SPAM.

The most important thing is whatever path we follow, we co-ordinate with each other...Rule of Thumb...we can learn a bit from SPAMmers on how to control media...and on this, I give it to them (SPAM) and accept the fact that we need to get equal or better than them.

as someone somewhere said, Media and Westerners will listen to the word Democracy even if it comes from a Yeti...

I will set a list of priorities soon.

Movement must be on.

 
At 3:13 AM, July 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been critical of Blogdai over all these past few months. But I have to agree on this one -- a constructive suggestion for helping set things right. Not that I agree everything with SPA, but would you rather be constructive or be a spoiler? Bravo to Blogdai for coming to the constructive side. Better late than never!

 
At 7:29 AM, July 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why that nice Mr. Pranchanda was saying the same thing just the other day, presumably he needs the tourist 'donations' to boost his coffers until they get some money for the 'militia'to join up with the NRA

 
At 8:01 AM, July 14, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

This issue is, should we isolate Nepal? I say no. Refusing to visit Nepal plays right into the hands of the Maoists. We must engage in the problem, not shy away from it. Yes, I agree that Maoist might benefit from stealing this newfound income, but what have they done with their money in the past? It has never been an issues of full coffers with the Maoists. They've always had money. They just have not had access to larger weaponry or advanced professional training.

Do you think an increased foreign presence with its observational objectivity would allow Maoists to obtain a higher level of military sophistication without immediately drawing world attention to such advances?

And patience, 11:27, more activities like the one's you prefer are in the works. Will post soon.

-=blogdai

 
At 12:12 PM, July 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read a comment on the internet posted by someone:

Girija and Maoists Killed King Birendra

News is coming in that Girija and Maoists killled HM King Birendra and family. They did so on India's behest because King Birendra entered into some sort of treaty (for development of Nepal) with China just 7-10 days before his death. As India doesn't want Nepal to get closer to China, it conspired for the Royal Palace killings.

Waiting for more on this. If anyone hears anything, please share.

 
At 4:14 AM, July 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girija and Maoists Killed King Birendra

Sounds like Gyanendra's ultimate pipe-dream. Wow, what a strategy! LOL

 
At 9:16 AM, July 26, 2006, Anonymous Nepali said...

Well, well…. Long but not lost. Thanks for coming back with loads of good article blog dai. Yes, I believe in what you believe and we should make other believe as well. Lets spread this belief like wild fire.

 

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