Sunday, May 27, 2007

Massacre of Maoists Threatens Nepal's Peace Process

Liam Cochrane | Bio | 29 Mar 2007
World Politics Review Exclusive

GAUR, Nepal -- In a small concrete shed next to Gaur town hospital in southern Nepal, the corpses of 13 young Maoists lay sprawled in a mess of drying blood. A red communist flag was bunched under one outstretched hand and outside the shed another 12 bodies were lined up in the midday sun.

The gruesome scene was the aftermath of the worst single day of violence since the Maoists rebels signed a peace agreement with the government last November. A day after the carnage of March 21, leaders of Nepal's top political parties arrived by helicopter to assess the damage, trailed by journalists and human rights workers.


The politicians walked across an open field still littered with the sandals of those who had fled for their lives 24 hours before, listening to the accounts of witnesses. Locals said the Maoist-affiliated Madheshi Liberation Front had set up a stage just 100 meters away from a rally being held by the Madheshi People's Right's Forum, who have been agitating for the rights of people living in Nepal's southern flatlands. The two groups have clashed in recent weeks and the situation was so volatile that local police informed the U.N. in advance that trouble was brewing.

Reports differ as to how the violence was sparked. Some say people who appeared to come from the Forum side of the field set fire to the Maoist's stage. Other accounts say that Maoists disrupted the Forum meeting. Shots were fired and the small group of Maoists was set upon by people wielding bamboo sticks split lengthwise to create surprisingly sharp-edged swords.

Within a few minutes, several people were killed on the field, while others who sought shelter in nearby houses were dragged out and hacked to death. A dozen Maoists were chased for more than 5 kilometers before being caught and killed in the village of Hajmonia and dumped in a canal.

"What is heinous is that five of the women were raped in public," said human rights activist Mathur Shresthra, who interviewed witnesses. "Later their breasts were chopped off and [their bodies] burnt to deface their identity."
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More than 40 people were injured in the clash and the death toll soon reached 29, with Maoists claiming a further 50 are still missing.

"Not only do we have a very high number of killed . . . but also the killings have been very brutal," said Lena Sundh, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, after a separate visit to the site on March 22.

Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara said the attack was reminiscent of another mass killing of Maoists three years ago in Dorumba and believed the royal palace and Hindu fundamentalists were behind the attack.

"This incident makes us, our party, very serious. . . . I imagine this is just like Dorumba, which makes a political situation disturbed," Mahara said.

The grim face of Home Minister Krishna Prasaad Sitaula as he toured the scene reflected not just the horror of the killings but also the anticipation of political fallout that could end his career. He spoke briefly at a press conference, offering condolence to the families and promising an investigation. When asked by World Politics Watch if the Gaur incident was a failure of the security forces, Sitaula was defensive, saying "this is a crime and the government will control, the government will investigate and the government will take them into custody."

But the Home Minister's words rang hollow to some human rights workers on the scene. Despite the presence of 60 heavily armed police and also military, witnesses say the security forces did little to prevent the attack and it took four days for any arrests to be made -- even though locals had quickly identified some of the attackers.

"Why haven't there been any arrests, ask him that," demanded angry human rights leader Subodh Raj Pyakurel, as he shook his finger in the face of the home minister, the day after the bloodshed.

Madheshi Struggle

The backdrop to the Gaur massacre is not just Nepal's peace process between the Maoists and the government, but also the struggle of the Madheshi community for recognition and rights.

The Madhesh, or Terai, region is a belt of fertile agricultural land that runs along Nepal's southern border with India. Its inhabitants -- Madheshis -- make up more than a third of the country's population, yet claim they are treated as second-class citizens by "hilly people." There are relatively few Madheshi's in key government posts and almost none in the police or army.

"So what we are seeing today is just the manifestation of the long standing issues," said Ram Kewal Shah, a top surgeon and Madheshi activist. "When their silent protest did not work they resolved to violent protest now."

While the majority of Madheshis are peaceful farmers, long-standing discrimination has bred militancy. Two years ago, a group of hardliners broke away from the Maoist army to form the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM), which means Terai People's Liberation Front. Late last year, JTMM split into two factions, and in the past few months new extremist groups have emerged, including the Terai Tigers and the Terai Cobras.

The rift between the relatively moderate Madheshi People's Rights Forum and the Maoists began when a young revolutionary shot dead a Forum worker on Jan. 19. Demonstrations swept across the south and in two weeks more than 25 people were killed -- mostly Forum supporters shot by police.

The Forum sealed the India-Nepal border, stopping the imports that prop up Nepal's economy, and when supplies of petrol began to dry up in Kathmandu, Prime Minister G.P. Koirala promised to amend the draft interim constitution to better include Madheshis. However, ten days later the Forum resumed its protests, claiming the government wasn't serious about addressing issues in the Madhesh. The rally in Gaur was a part of this second phase of protests.

Given the tensions between the groups, the Maoists' decision to hold a rally on the same day as the Forum -- which announced its event two weeks prior -- was a clear act of provocation. But the real story may run deeper still. A well-placed local source claimed that the Maoists had planned to kidnap Forum chairman Upendra Yadav when he attended the meeting in Gaur, but the plot was discovered and a counter-attack was coordinated by the two factions of JTMM, along with the Terai Cobras. There is no hard evidence to back up this theory, but a deputy commander of one of the JTMM factions did claim responsibility for the bloodshed later that day.

The fractured political situation in Nepal, however, means any number of groups could have played a part in the massacre. The Conflict Study Center, a local political think tank, says "six types of forces are found to be involved in the incident," including "agitated [Forum] activists, . . . criminals imported from adjoining district Sitamadhi in India, . . . Hindu fundamentalists along with Nepal's Sadhbhava Party-Badri Prasad Mandal [faction], . . . [the] Jwala Singh faction of Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM), . . . the vigilante groups formed during the King's autocratic rule and provided with weapons against Maoists . . . and hidden forces against peace process, e.g. weapon manufacturers, traders, etc."

Doramba Revisited?

The consequences of this month's killings in Gaur are yet to be fully realized, but the Maoist spokesman's reference to the Doramba incident is worrying. On Aug. 17, 2003, soldiers stumbled upon a Maoist meeting in the town of Dorumba. According to Amnesty International, government troops shot one leader immediately and marched 19 other suspected Maists away, later standing them in a row and shooting them dead. Ten days after the Duramba killings, the seven-month old ceasefire agreement collapsed and the civil war continued for another three years.

"If unity and inclusiveness are not promoted, further bloodshed may result and Nepal's peace process could be imperiled," said a statement released by the U.S. embassy in Kathmandu last week.

Maoist chairman "Prachanda" warned of a "fresh struggle" if the Forum was not banned, and thousands of Maoists fighters left their U.N.-monitored camps to protest on major highways, a clear breach of the peace agreement. There is certainly a risk that the incident could derail the peace process, but the Maoists have much to lose if that happens -- they are closer to power now than at any time during their 10-year armed rebellion.

The peace process, though fragile, is more solid now than ever before. The U.N. Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) to monitor weapons and assist with elections has personnel on the ground and an $88 million budget. It has urged all parties to show "restraint and discipline" and the U.N. Office for Human Rights is conducting an investigation at Gaur.

Nepal faces a daunting task in establishing peace and stability amidst such violent acts of political sabotage. Many fear an organized campaign of mayhem is underway, with the aim of delaying a vote scheduled for mid-June to elect members of an assembly to rewrite the constitution. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly will decide the fate of Nepal's unpopular king and, as monarchy may be the biggest loser if the poll is held, the palace is usually blamed by Maoists and others for stirring up trouble. While some of these accusations may be empty rhetoric, consistent reports from recent clashes in the towns of Nepalgunj, Birgunj and now Gaur have identified known pro-royalists encouraging violence.

In the short term, Nepal's Parliament has established a high-level probe and six people have been arrested by police in connection to the killings. It's too soon to judge the legacy of the Gaur massacre -- it could either result in a strengthened resolve amongst the country's politicians to demand law and order, or it could be a sign of things to come.

Liam Cochrane is a freelance journalist based in Kathmandu.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Restructuring the Nepali state

-Ameet dhakal

Those of us who were busy parroting the cliché of "New Nepal", still intoxicated by the euphoria of the April Movement, were given a rude awakening by the Madhesi Movement in the third week of January. But for a good reason.

It reminded us of the enormity of the challenge of nation building. The Movement has touched our nerves, and let's hope we have realized how costly complacency can be. Hope we have also understood that tough negotiations, a seemingly unattainable balancing act, and hard work await us ahead.

Explosion of Madhesi rage for identity and dignity was overdue. Whether we - especially the people of hill origin - like it or not, it's a fact that Madhesis were denied their rightful place and respect in the Nepali state and society.
It goes without saying that the Nepali state has remained exclusionary. But for Madhesis, it was even more basic than that: It was about the very identity of being a Nepali.

The Nepali identity cultivated by the Panchayat system was both exclusionary and humiliating for the Madhesi. Though never stated in a formal way, Nepali identity was constructed around three distinct features: Fairer skin color; ability to speak Nepali fluently; and cultural orientation that fairly conforms to hill culture. Madhesis lacked all three, thus, their "Nepaliness" was suspect.

Many of those Madhesis who came to Kathmandu for education or work were "Indians" in the eyes of many Kathmanduites and people who had descended to Kathmandu from the hills but had never seen that Nepalis existed as well in the Southern Plains of the country.

Even those who saw that Madhesh existed in the map of Nepal and that not all the people in Madhesh conformed to the Nepali identity constructed during the Panchyat era also harbored deep suspicions that many of these people could indeed be from India. Such suspicions were so deeply embedded in the minds of bureaucrats of hill origin that they denied many Madhesis their rightful claim to citizenship. In this sense, the problem of the Madhesi people is uniquely different from that of Janajaatis and Dalits. Like Madhesis, they are also excluded from the state, but unlike Madhesis their "Nepaliness" is never questioned.

Problem of social exclusion Broadly speaking, the problem of social exclusion in Nepal has two dimensions. First, people from minority groups feel that their cultural, religious and linguistic rights are not protected and promoted by the state. In some cases they even feel that they are discriminated vis-à-vis their culture, religion and language, among other things. And many such complaints are well founded.

For instance, Khas-Nepali (the language of hill Brahmans and Chettris) has remained the official language of the nation. During Panchaayat times, the entrance exams for officers in the civil service used to have one paper on Nepali language, which acted as a major obstacle for competitors whose mother tongue was other than Nepali.

Every country has one or more official languages for a practical propose. So it is not uniquely a Nepali thing to have an official language but we should also acknowledge that in a country with over 60 active local dialects, the special treatment reserved for one language is in itself a form of discrimination.
Overt or subtle it may be, but discrimination does exist in religious and cultural spheres as well. Till recently such discrimination was institutionalized by the constitution itself. The 1990 constitution defined Nepal as a Hindu state. Such a declaration has cultural ramifications. When the state is declared Hindu and the ruling elites subscribe to the state religion, state mechanisms begin to promote that particular religion, thereby discriminating against other religions. For instance, on a New Moon day Hindus generally don't eat meat. As a result, on that day, goat slaughter and selling of the meat is prohibited in Nepal. Local administrations punish those who violate this unwritten code. This means people from other religions also cannot eat goat on a New Moon day, which amounts to a case of imposing one's religion or cultural practice on others.
Exclusion from state organsExclusion of Madhesis, Janajaatis and Dalits from the state apparatus is an even more serious issue in Nepal. However, when we talk about exclusion, we should also not forget that many so called high-caste families have likewise remained excluded from the state for generations. Since Nepal has remained a feudal society, this exclusion is both caste-based and class-based. But this reality cannot overshadow the other reality that Madhesis, Janajatis and Dalits remain the most excluded from the state apparatus. This exclusion is severe in the administration, the judiciary and even politics.
For instance, according to Govinda Neupane's Nepal Ko Jatiya Prasna, 2001, out of 235 judges in Nepal's judicial system, 181 were Bahun/Chhetri, 32 were Newars, 18 were Madhesis and 4 Janajatis. There was not a single judge from among the Dalits! Similarly, of the 245 heads of public administration, 190 were Bahun/Chherti, 43 were Newars, 3 were Janajatis, 9 Madhesis and again none from the Dalits.

The Integrated Index of Governance prepared by Neupane, taking into account the representation in 12 key public and private sectors, shows that Bahun/Chhetris have a 66.5 percent share in the index though their combined population is only 31.6 percent.

Likewise the share of Newars, Janajatis, Madhesis and Dalits is 15.2, 7.1, 11.2 and 0.3 percent and their population percentage is 5.6, 22.2, 30.9, and 7.8 respectively. (The 2001 census result shows a significant variation in the population composition, which is not taken into account here, to facilitate comparison based on older data).

Challenges aheadThe future challenges in restructuring the state are threefold. 1. Secularization of the state 2. Making the state inclusive, and 3. Recognizing identity and fostering belongingness to the Nepali nation.
Secularization of the state

The interim constitution has declared Nepal a secular state. But undoing Hinduism's place in the state takes time and persistent effort. I am using the term "secularization of the state" in a much broader sense and it encompasses culture and language besides religion. The state becomes secular in a real sense when it does not discriminate between one religion and another, one culture and another and one language and another (except for a practical reason, for instance, accepting one language as the official language).

Making the state inclusive

Exclusion has remained in Nepal for too long and is too deep. And perhaps it could also be one of the most complicated issues to be addressed. This is because exclusion is real not only for certain castes and ethnic groups; instead, it cuts across caste and ethnicity. As Nepal has remained a feudal society since centuries only a handful of families with links and connections to the power elites have benefited from state largesse. Be it during the 104-year Rana oligarchy or the king's absolute rule for 30 years during the Panchaayat system, the ruling elites protected and expanded their vested interests through favoritism.

Those who had connections with the ruling elites or were able to establish connections with them prospered while the majority of the populace floundered in poverty. Mostly it's the Bahun/Chettris who benefited from the largesse of the Shahs and Ranas as they were close to the ruling elites since the very founding of the Nepali state some 240 years ago. But there are also a handful of beneficiaries from various ethnic groups who were used by the rulers as window dressing. From Hira Lal Bishowkarma to Narendra Prasad Choudhary to Parsu Ram Rai to Ranadhir Subba all are examples of such window-dressing. Even the late Harka Gurung, one of the finest scholars and social scientists Nepal has ever produced, was used by the ruling establishment during Panchayat times.
The majority of families in Nepal, across the caste and ethnic divide, are not only poor but have never had a single member in the bureaucracy, judiciary or any other state organ. These are the people who have remained truly excluded from the state apparatus and the real challenge that the Nepali state faces in future is how to increase their participation. Inclusiveness will require some affirmative action but designing such action along caste and ethnic lines alone will institutionalize another form of injustice, against the 600,000 so called high-caste families (Bahun/Chhetris) who are below the poverty line and have never been represented in state organs in generations.
But again not opting for affirmative action would mean continuation of historical gross injustices that currently exist in the country. To sum it up, the real challenge that lies ahead is how to strike a balance between caste and class while designing affirmative action. Recognizing identity and fostering belongingness to the Nepali nation.

The Madhesi movement was for recognition of their identity as equal Nepali citizens as much as it was for fair representation in the state organs. No longer can a centralized and unitary Nepali state represent and promote the identity of Nepal's diverse ethnic groups. Nor do these groups identify themselves with the unitary state. Nepal, therefore, has no option but to opt for federalism. But what type of federation we want to embrace is a big question, so is the basis on which such a federation will be constituted. Many models - ranging from a federation based on geography to consociation of various ethnic groups - have been suggested by different scholars, social advocacy groups and political parties. Since questions of the right model will have to be addressed democratically, the process will be again a key issue. The main challenge, therefore, will be to reach an agreement on the process through which we, Nepalis, will settle the critical issue of restructuring the state.

Valentine's Day In Shakespeare's Love Equinox: The Birds And The Bees

Edwin A. Sumcad
February 14, 2007

It only happens in the world of literature. In love, Shakespeare defied Nature’s law by creating his own Vernal Equinox.
Vernal Equinox is “… the first day of the spring season … of the year when the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving northward …” [1] let’s stop here before we reach the edge and fall over the cliff of cosmic science. Here we are talking about love with a spice of literary novelty that knocks at the door of literature which my rusty hand is trying to open.

We are not talking about the Galaxy or about the theory of relativity. We are talking about the birds and the bees in springtime … in Valentine’s Day, if you are Shakespearean. It’s not about Einstein. It’s about Shakespeare. So let’s drop our anchor here before we proceed.
Recalling the rainbow years of my literary days when the sun was shining over the study of Victorian literature as bright as if not brighter than it shines today, it is clear to me that it was Shakespeare who alluded to the 14th day of February as the day sacred to St. Valentine when birds “begin to couple”.
American lexicographer Noah Webster had this lexicon written in stone. [Tryon Edwards, The New Dictionary of Thoughts, Grosset & Dunlap, New York.
It is about six days immediately prior to the 14th day of February [2] that letter carriers bend their back carrying bags of letters and tons of Valentine Cards – approximately half of the total one billion pieces annually -- that profess a lot of love and care for someone dear. [3] This great volume of affectionate cards is second only to an avalanche of Christmas cards that inundates the post office during Yuletide Season.

On top of it, flowers bloom in the heart of lovers – someone’s lover or a lover of someone – and with chocolates and a truckload of gifts, sweep loved ones off their feet!

But let’s say it in a Shakespearean way: It is the time when the birds and the bees start “to couple” – got it?

The preservation of the human specie is no different from the way the birds and the bees preserve their own. As engine of procreation, love works overtime, mostly at night when human couples are too busy working during the day to give each other the required attention, just as bats sleep during the day and works overtime only when the sun is down.

Efficiency-wise, it reminds us of road construction workers who do their thing most cost-effectively from midnight to the first ray of dawn when the flow of traffic is kinder, and roadwork can be done with less obstruction and minimal detractions. On the road, they put the “detour” arrow sign that points “this way”, or “that way to …” In hotel rooms, you don’t knock at the door when you see the “don’t disturb” sign hanging on the doorknob.

Shakespeare would most probably jolt you out of your forty winks. With those peculiar squinted eyes and plaintive smile, Shakespeare would most likely snap: “Don’t knock, it’s occupied. Dig?” That’s because motel rooms are actually “restrooms”. It’s private.

It has been said that Shakespeare’s disciples in the literary world would probe nonchalantly those whose mind snores when attempting to tackle Shakespeare as Shakespeare. In the audience, attention span is normally from narrow to zero. In lectures, there is that irresistible urge to rudely wake them up. I thought of a handy bucketful of ice water that should do the trick.
The sad truth is, high heeled intellectual pretenders would pay handsomely to get to the arts theater to see and attempt to digest and appreciate Shakespeare only for you to see them snore on their seats with their eyes open. The moment you are out of the theater, you cannot talk about the play to a bunch of somnambulists whose minds are blank, and you feel offended when they roll their eyeballs upward because you were trying to strike a conversation which to them was something mentally past midnight.

To me Shakespeare’s emotional tragedy on the stage has also a much more awkward tragedy in the wrong audience

Littérateur extraordinaire, Shakespeare would say in a thousand different words what you think and what I think about the birds and the bees on Valentine’s Day when they “couple”.

The most important point to consider if you want to know more about Shakespeare is that this literary genius may be fiercely dogmatic and brutal in treating the characters of his literary creations -- he stabbed them, choked them, poisoned them, or crowned them with laurels in the throne of success or nailed them down on the cross of failure with unimaginable cruelty like how he exploited the weakness and meanness of man in Macbeth when he wrote about tragic love, trust and treachery with such intellectual aggression and emotional pull, but he was never street-like vulgar, indecently loutish, and has neither been obscene nor has ever been morally compromising with unleashed passion when he wrote his heart out in Romeo and Juliet .

Shakespeare’s natural state of the art skill to obscure the lewd and the obscene [it is not actually what you read or there is more to it than what the words say] when he uses the quill and the ink to good advantage, convinced me that William Shakespeare is one of the smartest brains any investigating scholarly artist may yet discover in the evolving old literary scriptures, and even in the nebulous storybook of modern literature. Trust me for, with conviction, I say this where my mouth, bread and butter have been some years back.

While the legendary fountain has the elixir of youth, springtime has the elixir of love. Yet to Shakespeare it is not in spring but in Valentine’s Day -- just about right in the reclining acme of winter -- that Cupid shoots his arrow and hits the heart and explodes it with infectious love wildly spreading all over the world.
It simply means that Valentine season is when we start to talk about humans, the birds and the bees that “couple”, whereas springtime is about flowers that bloom, which is a strong invitation to romance. It is the Ying and Yang of time when the male pursues the female and vice versa as if it is a natural law only to be obeyed by the living in the animal kingdom.

No one can defy this natural law or go against its powerful command without the specie’s self-destruction [my other self-part in economics established this indomitable finding, i.,e., because of defiance, the progression curve of increase or expansion hits zero and crosses down the negative horizontal axis of the tracking graph]; it is so naturally designed with faultless infinite wisdom that its natural course is like that of the river that only flows downstream, never upstream. Yet, there is a pleasant surprise behind all these.

In literary art as it is in economics, only Shakespeare could make this defiance work with positive results, even turning it into more attractively romantic. At least in the United States and the rest of the northern hemisphere, spring does not arrive until March. If we look at the Gregorian calendar, the first day of spring does not come until in-between March 20th-21st of the year, otherwise known as the arrival of the Vernal Equinox. [Refer to Note (1)] For love, Shakespeare made February the first month of spring.

In springtime, the day is much longer, giving soul-mate seekers ample time for flirting and courting; there is also much more time for the birds and the bees to enjoy life as “couples” loving each other one at a time.
What is happening in spring that makes one feels heavenly attracted to the opposite sex? From the spirit of gardening, Willa Cather has this to say of springtime that seduces the lovestruck:
“The air and the earth interpenetrated in the warm gusts of spring; the soil was full of sunlight, and the sunlight full of red dust. The air one breathes is saturated with earthy smells, and the grass under foot has a reflection of the blue sky.” [4] Pregnant with possibilities, the earth is there lying naked under the sun, only waiting for someone to touch, this I might add.

But like the river parable, Shakespeare moved springtime upstream -- from March upward to earlier February -- thus breaking the law of the Vernal Equinox. For posterity, American lexicographer Noah Webster recorded Shakespeare’s defiance of Nature’s prescribed law. After all, the literary guru could not be wrong on February the 14th as real love’s dateline ex cathedra. St. Valentine was there to back him up.

It then goes without saying that in love, Shakespeare created his own Equinox. And that’s how powerful the Shakespearean Equinox has become to this day, especially on Valentine’s Day.#
© Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad. Access February 13, 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Philosophy of War

Dale Netherton
February 18, 2007

With all the striving for peace by those who want to avoid war there is a fundamental oversight that needs to be identified. War is the result of the choices people make and choices cannot be hamstrung by wishes of peace. No matter how fervent the wish, no matter how desperate the wish and no matter what sacrifice required. There is still the choice for some to defend their values from those who would choose to violate them. The surrender of values at the price of peace is simply death in the form of slavery. Living without any chance to obtain and defend values (i.e. by productive effort) is to deny the nature of one’s self. It is the subjugation of that which makes choices i.e. one’s mind .for the wishes of those who hold the sword of intimidation. This was the result of the Taliban, all dictators and all who aspire to enforce beliefs. These are the initiators of that state where fellow humans are placed in a state below their potential. These barbarians exercise their choice to deny choices to others. They cannot be won over by diplomacy. They have rejected reason as venues of agreement and by doing so have started the engine of war. Peace lovers at all cost will perish under this scenario for by rejecting the response to force with force they in effect surrender to the rule of force. They are the sheep that look to the conquerors for mercy and eventually experience a “holocaust” where the peace they sought is a chamber of torture and death. And all because they did not want to prioritize their life and their rational choices above a dream of nebulous “peace” that ignores the bad choices power seekers inflict on the apathetic.
Retaliation is not a word that can be dismissed when dealing with a perpetrator of forceful repression. If a criminal is not retaliated against for performing a criminal act he continues his ways unobstructed. If an invading (or threatening) army is not retaliated against. the victory of their values is assured whether it be repression, conquest , pillage or total submission. Those who cry for diplomacy in the face of treachery, enemy assistance and threats of annihilation can only appeal to those who ignore human nature and fantasize it can be changed. Remember this was the hope of the Soviet Union and observe the results of that hope.
War is not pleasant but neither is fixing a clogged drain under a small sink, but it is a necessary chore. When faced with war or surrender and submission to dictates by fanatics, the choice is clear and must not be compromised by the mobs chanting, demonstrating and opposing. What the mobs are saying is we want to be able to demonstrate but we don’t want to go to war to defend that desire. After seeing what happened to demonstrators in Soviet Russia and a multitude of other repressive regimes just what are they counting on to insure the ability to demonstrate? Demonstrations show desires en masse but they do not necessarily demonstrate a proper policy. They do often reflect opposition which is exactly what war is all about. But war is designed to accomplish a final solution of a conflict between the oppressor and the invaded. This design is often forgotten in today’s age of fighting stalemates without victory or resolution. Man needs war to retaliate against aggressors who attack without provocation to enforce their brand of ideology, conquer and pillage. But retaliation via war serves no purpose without total victory and unconditional surrender of the invading enemy. A half-war as the one with Israel and Hezbollah only left the initiators of that war ( Hezbollah ) with the will to try again. A war that does not have a victor and surrender is merely an ongoing conflict, unresolved, fermenting and waiting for rekindling. The Middle East conflict is a perfect example of this half war policy. Diplomacy has not worked but it is still the hope of the impractical and the foolish. The Six Day War established Israel as a formidable opponent but it did not instill in the enemies of Israel the respect required to leave them in peace. The Six Day War was a sound defeat for Israel’s enemies but subsequent skirmishes have emboldened her enemies to reconsider instituting attacks. The enemy must admit they do not want to consider conquest for a war to be successful. Of course as new generations arise and new invaders are born the lessons of the past may be forgotten but this can have long term effects as the victory of America over Japan and Germany demonstrates.
To summarize the philosophy of war we need to consider the branches of philosophy and how they apply to war. In the metaphysics of war is the reality of war. It is necessary due to the choices of man which may drift into the irrational desire to rule by force which requires retaliation and defense of rational values. In the field of epistemology there are the alternatives of faith and reason. Here faith must yield to reason if war is to be avoided and by the nature of faith this is often not recognized. It follows that retaliation must utilize reason to overcome the dictates of the adherents to faith intent on conquering in the name of the “true’ faith”. The beliefs in superiority have launched a thousand wars. Reason to survive must reject all such notions and be prepared militarily to defend her stature.
In the ethics department war is not about civilized conduct that requires the sacrifice of ones military to “look good in the eyes of the world”. It is not ethical to send soldiers into door to door searches only to face disguised killers posing as innocents. A building of suspects in war is expendable. An American soldier’s life is not. It is not ethical to fight a half way war. Ethical war behavior requires demolishing the enemy and obtaining nothing less than total and unconditional surrender of the enemy. This does not mean favoring one pack of killers over another. If a country is invaded because it is a threat that threat must be removed whether it is a leader or a complete population of zealots fighting to the last person. War by its nature requires ruthlessness. The cruelty of placing our armed forces in harm’s way to be picked off by snipers and suicide bombers is inexcusable and ethically reprehensible.
Finally the politics of war boils down to restricting civilian oversight to setting the objective of victory. The conduct of war is a military activity and must be delegated to the military to accomplish the goal of victory. This is a function of the commander in chief in our form of government where the executive branch oversees the military with approval by Congress under a declaration of war. Once declared it is a military operation and second guesses by political candidates about the conduct of the war is only appropriate if the war is not progressing toward outright victory. War must not be politicized if the cause is just i.e. the defense of the nation is required.
War cannot be dismissed as something that can ever be abolished. There will always be the irrational who seek conquest just as there will always be criminals who will attempt to live off the efforts of those who produce and trade. Those who would say we need to disarm to avoid wars also ascribe to disarming citizens for criminals to loot and kill as they please without fear of retaliation. The saying goes that “War is Hell’ but a far worse Hell would be the inability to wage war against a vicious invading foe. Just as crime can be diminished by proper enforcement policies so too war can be minimized by a philosophy of war that results in victory and a reputation of competence in the conduct of war. It is in the interest of a nation and its citizens to insist on a proper war policy if that nation and the citizens are to survive and prosper. An eclectic pragmatic policy of appeasement and stalemates as we are witnessing is leading us into a perpetual morass of conflict without resolution. This I submit is Un-American.

Why Do Some Affirmations *Work* - and Others Don't?

-Sebastian Foss
February 17, 2007
By definition, an affirmation is a statement repeated time and again either verbally or mentally -- or written down. The words of the affirmation statement - in themselves -when spoken, thought of, or written *without* a pictorial (visualized) or emotional connection -- make a very weak affirmation.
Affirmations, when worded correctly -- and when emotionally charged - are able to tap into the unlimited creative power of your subconscious mind, and manifest your desires.
Affirmations are not all created equal. Some are, of course, better than others. There are *power affirmations* that have been proven again and again to work - and I'll reveal some of them in a moment.
When you examine the structure of these power affirmations, you, too, can learn how to create your own powerful affirmations for your specific purposes.
Consider the following:
"I am what I choose to be."
"All my needs are met instantaneously."
"I love and accept myself exactly as I am."
"_____________ comes to me easily and effortlessly."
(Fill in the blank with what you desire.)
"I am now perfectly healthy in body, mind and spirit."
"I now create my wonderful, ideal life."
What do the above power affirmations have in common?
1) They're stated in the present tense.
An affirmation is more effective when stated in the present tense. For example; "I now have a wonderful job." Avoid affirming something in the future tense, e.g. "I am going to have a wonderful job" or the results will always be waiting to happen.
2) They express a positive statement.
Affirmations need to be stated in the most positive terms possible. Avoid negative statements. Affirm what you do want, rather than what you don't want. For example: "I am no longer sick." This is a negative statement. Instead, affirm: "I am now perfectly healthy in body, mind and spirit." This statement is much more powerful as it is positive and reinforces your desired goal and doesn't confuse your subconscious mind with the mention of the undesirable condition.
3) They're short and specific.
Short affirmations are easy to say, and have a far greater impact at the subconscious level than those which are long and wordy. Keeping them specific and to the point adds power as the idea is uncluttered by extraneous elements.
The mechanics that make affirmations powerful are:
* Repetition
The importance of repetition cannot be overemphasized. It imprints the affirmation into your subconscious mind.
* Emotions
Get involved, be passionate, and use your emotions. Think carefully about the meaning of the words as you repeat them rather than just writing, typing or saying them.
* Persistence
Practicing affirmations with persistence achieves results much sooner than practicing them periodically. Successive sessions will have a compounding effect.
* Belief
You don't necessarily have to believe your affirmation initially, in order for it to work. Belief will grow with your forthcoming successes. What you do need is the ability to *feel* what it would be like when the desire you're affirming is fulfilled, or your need met. Every time that you have a need -- and that need is met -- a certain "feeling" is produced in you. You need to evoke that same feeling when you state your affirmation. In other words, you need to feel with every fiber of your being that what you desire has already happened. Without this feeling, your affirmation is powerless.
* Impress Yourself
Personalize your affirmations. They must *resonate* with you -- feel right for you. The stronger your connection with the affirmation, the deeper the impression it makes on your mind, and the sooner you will experience positive results.
So there you have it - the simple formula for creating affirmations that work. Based on the above, you can easily create your own affirmations to manifest any desire or need you have in life.

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Lessions from The Madhesi Movement In Nepal

-Nished Gautam
On February 7 the Madhesi Movement that was launched on January 19 attained victory in Nepal. The victory has been good enough to get the movement off the streets. The April Revolution last year lasted 19 days and produced 21 martyrs. The Madhesi Movement, the Maghe Kranti, after the Nepali month Magh, this year lasted 21 days and produced 38 martyrs. That goes on to show royal dictatorship is easier to fight than Pahadi prejudice, Bahun prejudice. The April Revolution got rid of an entire regime. Today the Home Minister has to resign as a basic show of respect to the 38 martyred, and the more than 1,000 injured.
Less than 0.1% of the Nepalis in New York City are Madhesi. In America, there is the n-word. In Nepal, there is the m-word. We Madhesi get called madisey, marsya.
I want to briefly touch upon the April Revolution that happened last year in Nepal. I am the only Nepali outside of Nepal who worked full time towards it for about a year before it finally happened. It is my claim that nothing like that has happened in world history. In a country of 27 million people, close to eight million came out into the streets over a period of 19 days to completely shut the country down until the dictator king bowed out. They came out in every single town, every single village, in every hamlet. The movement was total. My favorite story from that revolution is that in this remote village in the middle of nowhere, the women spontaneously came out into the streets banging their pots and pans, chanting "No more cooking! No more cooking!"
If that many people were to come into the streets in China, that would be big. And China is one billion people. And do note that Nepal is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. It is not like people were coordinating with each other using cellphones or MySpace or Facebook, the prime choice of the Obama crowd, or any of these other online tools. The point being, if Nepal can do it, so can any other country, and every other country without democracy should. I think every Arab country should. Countries all over Africa should. Zimbabwe should. Kick Mugabe out. We can envision a total spread of democracy globally, thanks to Nepal.
And also look at it this way. Nepal has 27 million people, Iraq has 27 million people. Nepal proves it does not cost 500 billon dollars, and 3,000 American and over 150,000 Iraqi lives to launch democracy in a country. There is a better way, there is a progressive way. That is Nepal's message to the world. Heck, that is Nepal's message to America.
New York City is a very special place. There is nothing like it on earth. Nepalis in this city played a key role in Nepal's April Revolution. People in this city from all over the world are sufficient unto themselves to engineer a total spread of democracy, all over the world. That is Nepal's message.
The reason I wanted to briefly touch upon the April Revolution is because I intend to argue what happened recently in Nepal for three weeks has been the second chapter of that same April Revolution. That was for democracy and human rights. This has been for social justice.
There are four marginalized groups in Nepal, Dalit, Madhesi, Janajati, Mahila. The Dalit are the low caste people, the so called untouchables. And I think they should all just go ahead and convert to Buddhism. Screw Hinduism and its caste system. The Janajati are the indigenous people, people with last names like Sherpa, Tamang, Magar, Gurung, Rai, Limbu. Madhesi are the people of the southern plains. Mahila is the Nepali word for women. DaMaJaMa. Dalit, Madhesi, Janajati, Mahila.
We Madhesi are taking the lead right now on behalf of the DaMaJaMa. I am a Madhesi. I have been waiting for this movement all my life. Leaders of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, the organization that has been leading this movement, have been on my mailing list, the largest Nepali mailing list in the world, for a long time now. Just the other day, I was on the phone with Jay Prakash Gupta, for example, who until recently was second in command.
Howard Dean organized his entire presidential campaign in 2004 around one blog. My primary tool both for the April Revolution and the Madhesi Movement has been my blog. It has not been jouralism, it has been activism. Welcome to globalization and the internet. There is not a town in Nepal that does not have at least a few internet cafes.
What is happening in Nepal has to be compared to the civil rights movement in America in the 1950s and the 1960s, only we have intended to achieve in one month what the civil rights movement in America achieved in a decade. This is history fast forwarded, this is social revolution 21st century style. I call it nonviolent militancy. You have a few clear basic goals and you shut the country down until those basic goals are met. You get people to come out into the streets in huge numbers. You completely paralyze the state. The movement has to be intense and overwhelming and the victory has to be total.
So who are the Madhesi? What do we want? What are our grievances? How do we hope to achieve them? As to who are the Madhesi? I am one. Just so you know what a Madhesi looks like. We are 40% of Nepal's population. But we are less than 5% in the state bureaucracy, we practically do not exist in the army. In 1991 a Prime Minister said that is because we are "cowards." We are vastly underpresented in the parliament. Less than 0.1% of the Nepalis in New York City are Madhesi. 40% of Madhesis in Nepal have been denied citizenship papers. That statelessness is a fundamental human rights violation. Madhesis without citizenship papers can't vote, they can't buy or sell land, they can't attend college, they can't apply for government jobs, they can't even legally die. It is living hell for them. The cards are stacked against the Madhesi in Nepal. We have been at the receiving end of structural violence for hundreds of years. We have a rich history going back thousands of years, but we are, at the bottom of it all, not even considered Nepali. We are thought to be Indian. We don't belong. That is the suggestion.
So what solution is there? In a few months Nepal is slated to have elections to a constituent assembly. A constituent assembly is the best way to write a new constitution for a new democracy. I have always bought into that. That is not a problem. But if 40% of all Madhesis who have been denied citizenship papers can't vote, and if although half of Nepal lives in the Terai, but it was to get only 80 of the 205 constituencies before February 7, do you think all that is a huge conspiracy to make sure the Madhesi continue to be second class citizens or rather second class non citizens in Nepal? I think so.
Now it has been promised half of all constituencies for the elections to the constituent assembly will be in the Terai. And that is positive. But the Home Minister has still not resigned. 40% of the Madhesis still do not have citizenship papers, and hence no voting rights.
10 years ago a Nepali Congress government, the party that holds the prime ministerial seat also today, put out a report claiming 4.2 million Nepalis have been denied citizenship papers. In a country where 40% of the people are less than 14 years old, people who were six years old back then must be 16 now. So I am guessing today the number of Nepalis who have unfairly been denied citizenship papers is closer to six million. This interim government has said it will issue citizenship papers to three million people before the elections to the constituent assembly so as to solve the citizenship problem "once and for all." That is a conspiracy to keep disenfranchised a huge chunk of Madhesis. And that is not going to fly.
I feel like Nepal is about to be born for the first time ever. You start with 40% of the Madhesis being disenfranchised. You bring that down to 20%, or at least you promise to. And you were to give only 80 of the 205 constituencies to the Terai, as was planned until 38 Madhesis sacrificed their lives protesting it, and of those 80, 40 were likely to have been Pahadi, going by the past pattern of the biggest parties in Nepal. So you were looking at a scenario in the constituent assembly where one Madhesi is not a full person but rather one third of a person. That was the status of the African Americans in the US Constitution in 1776. We Madhesis can not allow that. We are not going to allow that. That is what this Madhesi Movement has been about.
So what should happen next? The very first thing is that the Home Minister has to resign. And we have to end up with a constituent assembly that looks like Nepal in terms of its ethnic and gender composition. I think there should be reserved constituencies for the four groups, the Dalit, Madhesi, Janajati, Mahila. So if there is a constituency that is reserved for Dalits, there still will be elections, but all candidates in that particular constituency have to be Dalit. And all eight parties have to put forth a concrete map for federalism now. Something very similar happened in India after India became independent. And India seems to be doing just fine. Federalism is a sound concept. It is not possible to imagine a sound, vibrant democracy in Nepal without federalism. All eight parties have now agreed to federalism in principle. They did that on February 7. But they have still not produced any maps. We Madhesis want our own state.
And finally I would like to suggest that the Pahadis in New York City should be able to relate to the plight of the Madhesi in Nepal. Nepalis in New York City can't vote. That has to change. We Madhesis are less than 0.1% of the Nepali population in the city. No Nepali is active in the progressive circles in this city like I am, not even close. I think we should work to attain voting rights in this city for the Nepalis here. You are going to stand by me and my people in Nepal, my fellow Madhesis, in their just struggle for equality in the Nepal context. You are going to do that because that is the right thing to do, because the Madhesis will not settle for anything less, and also because it is in your self interest because you need my help here in New York City to earn your right to vote in the city elections. I hope all of us - Pahadi, Madhesi, White, Non-White - can get behind this Madhesi Movement in Nepal to help it reach a successful conclusion, and that is total equality for the Madhesi in Nepal.
To come back to the Iraq parallel. The political class in power in Nepal right now is less than 20% of Nepal, kind of like Saddam Hussein's Sunnis. But unlike in Iraq, in Nepal the 80% are going to attain their rightful place at the table not through a civil war, but through nonviolent protests. I urge all of you to extend your support to the Madhesi Movement in Nepal. We do want a Nepal where everyone is equal, regardless of ethnicity or gender. Let's work towards that.
But now it looks like the Madhesi Movement will have to go back to the streets since the Home Minister has not resigned. If that happens, the movement has to achieve total victory. Nepal has to be declared a federal republic now, the Madhesh state has to be declared now. And the movement will ask for its share in the interim parliament and the interim government.

( cited from Paramendra Bhagat, a Convenor, Coordination Committee, Nepali Organizations In New York City. He blogs at

Loktantrik Aandolan of Nepal

The 2006 Jana Andolan-II or Democracy Movement ( in Nepali : loktantra āndolan) is a name given to the ongoing political agitations against the rule of King Gyanendra of Nepal . The movement is also sometimes referred to as Jana Andolan-II ("People's Movement-II"), implying it being a continuation of the 1990 Jana Aandolan I .

On February 1, 2005 the royal takeover was further advanced as the King appointed a government led by himself and at the same time enforced martial law. The King argued that civil politicians were unfit to handle the Maoist insurgency. Telephone lines were cut and several high-profile political leaders were detained. Other opposition leaders fled to India and regrouped there. A broad alliance against the royal takeover called the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) was organized, encompassing about 90% of the seats in the old, dissolved parliament.
In December SPA signed a 12-point understanding with the Maoists. Within the framework of that understanding, Maoists committed themselves to multiparty democracy and freedom of speech. SPA, for their part, accepted the Maoist demand for elections to a Constituent Assembly.
At the beginning of 2006, the situation became yet more tense as SPA launched agitation programmes around the country. A series of waves of arrests of opposition leaders were conducted. The agitations reached a peak around the February 8 municipal elections, which were boycotted by the SPA and the Maoists. In total, official figures claimed a participation of about 21%. Opposition sources questioned those claims
(The National Symbol of Nepal :Then ( Jungi Nisan) and Now.)

April general strike:

SPA called for a four-day nationwide general strike between April 5-9. The Maoists called for a cease-fire in the Kathmandu valley. The general strike saw numerous protests. A curfew was announced by the government on April 8, with reported orders to shoot protestors on sight. Despite this, small, disorganized protests continued.
On April 9, SPA announced that it intended to continue its protests indefinitely and called for a tax boycott. The government announced plans to step up its enforcement of the curfew and claimed that the Maoists had infiltrated the protests. Prachanda, the leader of the CPN(M), had said that "this is no longer a protest by opposition parties ... it has become a people's movement," and warned that he himself could lead a revolt in the capital.
Protests continued in the following days, with crowds increasing to sizes estimated at 100,000 to 200,000 in Kathmandu in various estimates, more than 10% of the city population. On April 21, opposition sources claim that about half a million took part in the protests in Kathmandu. More conservative estimates talk about 300,000.
Later the same evening, King Gyanendra announced that he would return political power to the people and called for elections to be held as soon as possible. He called on SPA to nominate a new Prime Minister of Nepal in a speech on a state-owned television station, saying, "We return the executive power of the country to the people. We request the seven-party alliance to recommend a name for the post of prime minister who will have the responsibility to run the government." The position of Prime Minister has been vacant since 1 February 2005 when King Gyanendra removed Sher Bahadur Deuba from office and dissolved the Nepalese Parliament indefinitely. However, the royal proclamation was rebuffed by the opposition. At 3 p.m. the next day, the leaders of SPA met in the capital, and staked out three demands, namely: reinstitution of the old parliament; formation of an all-party government; and elections to a Constituent Assembly that will draft a new constitution.
Reinstitution of Parliament
In a nationally televised address, King Gyanendra reinstated the old Nepal House of Representatives on April 24, 2006.The King called upon the Seven Party Alliance to bear the responsibility of taking the nation on the path to national unity and prosperity, while ensuring permanent peace and safeguarding multiparty democracy.
The reinstitution of Parliament was accepted by the SPA. It declared that Girija Prasad Koirala would lead the new government. The SPA stated that the new parliament will hold elections for a body that would write a new constitution.
The move was rejected by the Maoists. Baburam Bhattarai stated that merely restoring the parliament was not going to resolve the problems and that the rebels planned to continue fighting against government forces. They still demand the formation of a Constituent Assembly and abolition of the monarchy.
On 27 April 2006, however, the Maoist insurgents responded to demands by Girija Prasad Koirala and announced a unilateral three-month truce in the Nepal Civil War. In addition to this, on 1 May, Bhattarai announced that if "the elections [to a Constituent Assembly] are free and fair, one has to respect the result of the elections. Then of course we will abide by the verdict of the people." This was seen as a large step forward as it shows the first signs of Maoist acceptance of the democratic process.
On May 2, Koirala announced the new government cabinet including himself and three other ministers from the Nepali Congress: K.P. Sharma Oli from CPN(UML), Gopal Man Shrestha from Nepali Congress (Democratic) and Prabhu Narayan Chaudhari from the United Left Front. This was followed on May 12 by the arrest of four ministers from the ousted royalist government and an investigation into alleged human rights violations by the army during the General Strike.

18 May Act:

The most dramatic move of the post Loktantra Andolan government came on 18 May 2006 when the Parliament unanimously voted to strip the King of many of his powers. The bill included:
Putting 90,000 troops in the hands of the parliament,
Placing a tax on the royal family and its assets,
Ending the Raj Parishad, a royal advisory council,
Eliminating royal references from army and government titles,
Declaring Nepal a secular country, not a Hindu Kingdom.
The act overrides the 1990 Constitution, written up following the Jana Andolan and has been described as a Nepalese Magna Carta. According to Prime Minister Koirala, "This proclamation represents the feelings of all the people."
However, although they will immediately come into force, the plans are seen as provisional until a new constitution can be drawn up.
May 18 has already been named Loktantrik Day (Democracy Day) by some.

( This article has been published on the occssion of 57th National Democracy Day)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My Words...

Somewhere hidden inside this big world, Nepal now stands tall, defying autocracy, defying blood shed and defying the war. Nothing can stop the peace, unless there is a will. world ! Learn from us.

Nished Gautam

Kathmandu, Nepal.

Great and Historic Event to build a new Nepal.

(At the same time, people light candles at Maitighar Mandala welcoming the peace accord.)

(photo 1 :PM GP Koirala and Maoist supremo Prachanda signing the peace agreement.)
(Photo 2: Congratulation, PM Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist Chairman Prachanda saking hands )
(Photo 3: Talking each other)
(Last Photo: Media’s live coverage.)

(Political leaders of various party.)

End of the war

(The agreement took place at Birendra International Convention Center, Baneswor, Kathmandu. see photo above...)

Much anticipated and long awaited historic deal, Comprehensive Peace Accord, has been signed by the Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist supremo Prachanda on Tuesday (Nov21, 2006) evening formally ending Maoist insurgency in Nepal. The entire cabinet, political leaders, foreign ambassadors, dignitaries and members of the international press attended the historic moment at the Birendra International Convention Center (BICC) hall in the capital at 20:25

Ladai Ma Janata ( People in Civil War)

The real picture of 10 year long civil war.

(Funeral ceromony of Late King , Queen and their family who were killed in The Royal Massacarace in 2001)

(People protesting on the street)

(Nealese soldiers who had shown their bravity, sincerity and courageous in the second war posing for photograph)

(The damaged house by the Maoist)

(Maoist Militia )

(Maios0t combatant )

(The cover page of the book "A people war" .)

Snowfall in valley after 62 years

For the first time in around 62 years, Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday (Feb 15, 2007) experienced brief snowfall. Areas like Kirtipur, Babarmahal, Lagankhel and others saw snowfall for some minutes. It snowed for about 45 minutes, from 1:30 pm to 2:15 pm at Tribhuwan International Airport. The valley is about 4387 feet above sea level. Meanwhile, most areas in the eastern hilly region saw snowfall, while other areas experienced rainfall.
Jomsom, Sankhu-wasabha, Parbat and some other hilly districts saw about 2-3 feet of snow. The snow along with rainfall was due to the western disturbance in Pakistan and North west India.

Nished Gautam

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Awakening Ethnic Identity and Freedom

-By Dr Pramod Dhakal

The events unfolding in the eastern terai have made us conscious of the fact that Nepal is boiling under a crisis that is looming along the blurred lines of a struggle for freedom and a struggle for ethnic identity. This blurring has made it difficult for ordinary mortals like me to figure out what is what. This is a painful predicament for people who stand for universal equality of all humans and harmony in the world. When emotions and passions rule over reasoning and aspirations of people take a wrong turn putting “me” against “you” among the oppressed masses, solvable problems become unsolvable ones. It has, therefore, become important for every conscious observer of Nepal to pause for a bit and think of solutions that are compassionate, fair, insightful and lasting.
A handful of visionless and uncompassionate rulers and their henchmen were ruling Nepal for centuries by keeping the population at large in an illiterate, poor, subdued and powerless state. It was next to impossible for the people who were living in perpetual indignity and neglect to experience any event to shore up their self esteem, confidence, emotions and passions. The changes in Nepal that gradually unfolded after 1990, and especially during the 10 years of conflict, brought a heightened awareness among its previously neglected populace. Every belittled human started to figure out that he/she is somebody like every other human and no one could ever dwarf his/her potentials through the continuation of unjust practices.

This awakening is a tremendous blessing for a society that is in a dire need of transformation. This awakening allows the people in power to take huge and bold steps that they could never have taken in the past. Also, it allows them to correct the injustices of centuries in a timeframe of a decade and release fresh energy required to fuel prosperity. Having said that, the same awakening can also turn into a curse if regressive elements become successful in steering it away from a struggle for freedom and turn it into a struggle for ethnic fiefdom. However, who is going to show the oppressed people who are in the process of awakening and searching for that illusive goal of fairness and justice the light?

The answer to this lies in one thing and that is trust. Whoever can gain the trust of the awakened people will be able to steer them to the destiny of his/her choice. It is not difficult to assume that if the trust were to fall in the hands of oppressors, landlords, and the fiefs, the aftermath of the struggle for the people would be no liberation. A challenge has, therefore, emerged in front of all those who stand for human freedom and to those who can expend their intellectual dexterity beyond protest and into a delightful world of serenity and compassion. We are not required to be compassionate to those who are knowingly exploiting the people’s awakening for unethical profit. But we must open our hearts to all those who are awakened with pure sincerity. It would be important to emphasize that others will trust us only if we prove to be trustworthy to them and vice versa.

For the last ten years, the Maoists steered many Nepali people – old, young, men, women, poor, oppressed, and controlled - towards a fight to gain dignity for the oppressed, the devolution of an old feudal power base, correction of old injustices and the construction of a fair society. They showed some of their positive mettle when they demonstrated a balanced sense of representation when sending representatives to the parliament. However, they disappointed many when they could not gain proportionality and federalism in the interim constitution while compromising with the old guard leaders who thought that Nepal had a just, equitable and democratic society in 1990 itself. The Maoists thought that they would fight through the interim parliament but their inability to produce results outright is now being capitalized by regressive elements.

The seven parties (with small exceptions) thought that because they had bowed to the Maoists on every other front, the only big ticket item where they could demonstrate their bravado was in not agreeing on the proposal of proportionality and federalism in the interim constitution. These leaders did not yield to these points in the hopes of limiting the credit that might go to the Maoists for devolving the old state structure of Nepal. However, this was nothing but a sign of attachment to the past. Ideally, it would have been better if their eyes had opened months ago, but it is better late than never; and they have an opportunity to correct their mistakes now. You do not need to do anything for the Terai. You just give what every individual of Nepal who has faced injustices in the past deserves. When a framework for upholding human equality is ensured, people of all ethno-cultural identities will feel a sense of justice including those living in the Terai.

It would be foolhardy to think that most people in the protests are puppets of bad leaders. It is better to think that many people are in the protests not due to any new vision presented by an enlightened leadership but because they are awake and can see that their grievances are not addressed properly by the interim constitution. And, it is also true that some regressive and opportunistic elements have utilized this as a good opportunity to destabilize Nepal; they could not have any better opportunity for pouring ample fuel than when there is fire. That is the reason why hindu fundamentalists and royalists are working day and night to steer this situation to a wrong end.

There is some burden of responsibility on the conscious leaders of the Terai people as well. Spreading an impression with great ferocity, glorifying separation in the same light as liberation! Although such statements inspire us and motivate us, and there are some examples in history that liberations and separations have come together, the destination of any movement depends on its vision, mission, plan, policies, architecture, methodology and system; and, on top of this, a unifying, compassionate, and visionary leadership, and a seasoned management required to deliver lasting liberty, equity, prosperity and peace. I have not come to believe that such mature leadership is in place at the moment in the Madhesi movement. On the contrary, there is a danger for the movement to be exploited by controversial and manipulative elements and opportunists. Fundamentalists opposed to human equality, opposed to democracy, active in bringing back the royalist regime and perpetrators of crimes are shouting as if they are bleeding for the freedom of the people of Madhesh.

We are better off advancing strong and invigorating debates on justice, equity, democracy and a whole host of other areas required to ensure freedom and fairness for all humans – whether they are young, old, men, women, Madheshi, Pahadi, Dallit, Janajati, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and what not. Let us attempt to build a constitution that is accommodative, that encompasses human ingenuity, and is advanced enough to be fitting to today’s connected and conscious world. If such an endeavor proves hopeless, we could all break apart amicably at that point. Let us make a fair attempt first to build one humanity, and, if possible, one world.

(The author is a former faculty member of Tribhuvan University and holds a Ph D in electrical engineering. He is executive director of the Canada Forum for Nepal and lives in Canada)