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The Kathmandu Post

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Social justice: Where to? By PROF CHANDRA P SHARMA


he Kantipur daily on August 30 carried a piece of news on its front page informing us that the Maoist cadres have been behind the death of Phulodevi Yadav, a widow, who fell in love with a married man, Kisundev Mahto. The 'discreet madness' of Romeo and Juliet became the common knowledge and the Maoist cadres took this opportunity to force their judgement on the victims. First, in name of culture they forced Mahato to pay Rs 3000. Second, by making him pay, they were able to establish their fear in the heart of the local people. Because paying Rs 3000 cash in a village is not an easy task. Moreover, both were warned by the Maoist cadres not to tie nuptial knot and get out of the madness of love. However, the love birds felt like Dryden's Antony and Cleoparta: "All for Love, or the World Well Lost" and decided to make their own world in a different corner, away from the Maoist terror and threats. They eloped to India where they married and lived for three years. At the end of three years, they dared to return to Nepal only after the Maoists had signed the 12point, 8-point and other agreements binding them not to use their old policy of intimidating people. But everyday, the readers come across news stories that show that they have not stopped intimidating people, or coercing them by force to part with their property or life. Nobody knows if coercion has become their second habit or it is part of their national policy to keep people constantly terrorized so that they will always honour their verdict. Whatever is the case, the common-unattached people feel more threatened by them. In addition, this piece of news of the local cadres' brutality towards the lovers raises many questions about their real intention. As far as we can infer the Maoists are a political entity that has been inspired by the desire to create, possibly, a classless society. To do so, the party must have a policy against religious, political, economic and social orthodoxy rampantly practiced currently. At religious level, both the Maoists and the seven parties have advocated for a secular state. At political level, it seems, they are forwarding the idea of a federal government and self-governance. At economic level, they are fighting for the rights of the workers and trying to get respectable wages for all. Similarly, at social level, they must be fighting against the caste system which from the Western perspective is the root cause of all our social anomalies. If so, they should have welcomed this marriage because it kills many birds with one stone. First, it allows the man and woman to

Antibiotics misuse I arrived in Nepal two months ago to involve myself in a village nursery project not far from Pokhara. Although I spent most of the time in the mountain, occasionally I came down to Pokhara to run some errands. One one occasion, my host family (comprising husband, wife and a 4 year-old kid) who rented a room in Pokhara was down with cough and flu. I was deeply shocked when the whole family was prescribed Amoxycillin for what was supposedly diagnosed as viral infection. Such a blatant abuse of wide-spectrum antibiotic has a serious repercussion to the overall healthcare of the community. The underlying cause is primarily living in a very congested environment coupled with poor ventilation. For economic reason, my host can only afford to rent a room, which also serves as the kitchen for the whole family. And for privacy reason, the windows are closed most of the time. Such poor living condition is the precursor for outbreak of infection. As healthcare practitioner, he/she should first seek to find the underlying cause. Besides poor living conditions, other chief causes such as poor dietary habit coupled with poor personal hygiene practice should be rectified. Dispensing a widespectrum antibiotic such as Amoxycillin for simple ailments such as flu would only spread drug-resistance pathogens. The relevant healthcare ministry officials should seriously implement a very clear set of procedures to regulate the dispensation of such powerful drugs. Otherwise, serious outbreak of drug-resistance diseases could be forthcoming in a poor country such as Nepal, which can illafford to face with. Chan Hong Kit Singapore

choose their life-partners and that way propagate the idea of equality between the man and the woman. Second, it presents an ideal situation in which a widow gets an opportunity to ascertain her rights to choose a man and the man gets an opportunity to marry a widow. Third, it is also a case of inter-caste marriage where a widow Yadav dares to fall in love with a married Mahato and then both decide to break all the old bondage for a new one. What an inspiring incident! And what a tragic end? For a student of literature the end is not shocking. Because we have many examples in literature where the orthodox society did not accept this type of behaviour from the individuals. The older societies used to feel threatened and so schemed against this sort of pairing. We can forgive those societies for their excesses. But how are we going to accept this inhuman activity of the Maoist cadres? Can we consider it as an example of failure of leadership, or a local problem? Whatever is the case, the incident raises many questions. Why are the local cadres against this marriage? Is it because of the caste system? Or, is it to appease the Yadav cadres who might have taken it as an insult to their community because one of their women has run away with a Mahato male. Or, is it because the Mahato's family has lodged a complaint against their rebel male and wanted him to be punished? Whatever was the reason, somewhere the social rebels fail to appreciate these two people's efforts to stand against the social ethos. And their beating in front of the mass was done not to chastise these brave people but to unleash terror in the hearts of the mass. It reminds one of the lynching of the blacks by the whites during the 19th century America with a purpose to keep them under control. But history has shown that one cannot rule the people by using sheer physical power. The king who had all the power and resources has failed to gain anything out of his display of power. I do not think that the Maoists could rule long if they act this same. At this point in time, people are very appreciative of the Maoist political effort. Their expectations have gone up. And this sort of social terrorization is not going to pay them in the long run. They have promised and agreed upon that all the displaced should be allowed to come back and resume their usual day to day life. Their efforts should have been channelled in this direction. Millions of displaced people are languishing in India without any job or goal in life. They are all living the life of refugees. They have not returned because of the Maoist terror. And this sort of brutalities will certainly pass a message that they should not return because their fate after the return would not be better than Phulodevi Yadav and Kisundev Mahato's.

UN: The world's scapegoat By PAUL KENNEDY


his has been an especially unhappy summer for the United Nations," Harvard historian Niall Ferguson observed in the Los Angeles Times last week -- and who could disagree? With its mission in Lebanon unable to control Hezbollah, its blue-helmeted observers on the southern border blown away by Israeli shells and its role in the latest Mideast crisis being worked over in that boxing ring known as the Security Council, the UN seems to have fallen far short of its original, 1945 mission to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." Even the cease-fire that was finally negotiated looks incomplete and liable to fragment in the very near future. So, is the UN good for anything? Could we, as US Ambassador John R Bolton once claimed, lop off 12 stories of the UN headquarters building in New York (containing the offices of the secretary-general and his staff) and not notice the difference? What does the UN do that helps humankind? Amid personnel scandals, the oil-forfood fiasco and a constant barrage of neoconservative attacks, that's a fair question. And anyone who holds a belief in the value of the international organization should be ready and willing to answer it. The easy way out would be to point to the many instances in which UN representatives have done well. But that would seem an evasion to the many observers who focus on the grinding struggles along Israel's borders or the war on terrorism. To them, the $64,000 question is: what can the UN do once and for all to settle the Lebanon crisis and assist the parallel Palestine-Israel peace process? And if the answer is "not much," then the critics will feel justified in their more general dismissal of the utility of international organizations. So, any defense of the UN has to be very careful in explaining what the organization can do, and what it cannot. It is, for example, useless (and ignorant) to blame the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) observer force for not disarming Hezbollah when its Security Council mandate expressly forbade it from taking such military action. And it is silly to blame the secretary-general for failing to exert powers that he does not possess -- he is, after all, the "servant" of those two difficult masters, the General Assembly and the Security Council. The first truism is that the United Nations is not, and never has been, a large and centralized actor in world affairs. It is, if you like, a sort of holding company, with governments as the shareholders, and with some of those shareholders -- the five permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council -- having much more voting power than others. Very little about the

UN's peacekeeping powers is clear-cut. Everything depends on the circumstances. This is why it has been and will be so

We will all be able to blame the United Nations for being ineffectual, weak-toothed, anti-Israel or anti-Arab, and thus of no good to the world community. It really is quite convenient that we possess such a scapegoat. If we didn't, we would have to invent one. difficult for the world body to bring lasting peace to Lebanon. First, the five permanent veto members have to agree on what is to be done -- or, at least, not disagree. Second, UN peacekeepers may be very constrained. The resolution authorizing "all necessary action" is actually quite vague in its instructions about where and when force might be used by blue-helmeted troops if HezbollahIsraeli fighting resumes. Above all, even a large UN operation would find it impossible to crush Hezbollah, let alone the Israeli Defense Forces, should either side resume belligerencies. When the foe is weak, the UN can be strong (Sierra Leone, East Timor). But if the players are willful and powerful, it can only hope for a fragile peace to continue. More than that we cannot expect. And the subtle, cynical truism? The United Nations is a scapegoat for the failures of the leading governments to agree or to act. After all, it was not the UN that failed the peoples of the Balkans in the early

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Kantipur Publications Pvt. Ltd. Kantipur Complex, Subidhanagar P. B. No. 8559, Kathmandu; Nepal Phone: 4480100, Fax: 977-1-4466320, e-mail:

Glib talking

I too agree with Rabindra Paudel that if raising voice against the unfair traditions and atrocities is glib talking, then we agree to it. Salik Shah supports the way NA ruled the civilians with the barrel of the gun following the order of a tyrannical and despot king. I wonder if he would have the same views in case his sister might have been detained illegally, tortured, raped and later murdered in the army barrack, the way it happened with minor Maina Sunuwar. I sincerely request Abhiskh Basnyat and Salik Shah to go through the report published in Kantipur Daily dated August 30,2006 and the same in an issue of Nepali times regarding the merciless killing of Maina Sunuwar. The writer duo will certainly get the answers why NA is accused of feudal behavior and is unpopular among the majority of Nepali people. I strongly support the views expressed by Isha Rai in her letter that it is very easy to dream enjoying the comfort of Tokyo and Washington.Ground-level realities are quite different from what the writers in foreign lands think. How can they justify that Madhesi had been denied of entry into the NA during its 238 years of history. If it isn't feudalism, what is it? The case of Maina Sunuwar is not just an

Refugees in confusion The international community has been requesting the Nepal government to work


isolated one. Scores of such incidents such as the rape of Sushila Jaisi in Nepalgunj and the abduction and torture of security personnel from Durbar Marg has come to public notice. Besides, the disappearance of civilians in different barracks where they were imprisoned is another issue that reflects on NA's character. Among the barracks, the most notorious is the Bhairab Nath Battilion, which ironically enjoys extra pay and perks from the state.

I wonder if the NA has any reply to such accusations. If NA is a force which can hold its head high with dignity, then it should be able to answer the above public queries. I would like to make Shah understand that mere talking about being 'plus two'generation won't help. I think Shah should not fall into the category of those Hip-Hop modern Nepalis who repeatedly chants yo desh together for the permanent solution of the Bhutanese refugees. After a recent visit to the refugee camps, some American congressmen said

ko kehi hune wala chhaina (nothing is going to happen in this country)and that 'Politics is a dirty game' without understanding the meaning of either politics or a dirty game.

Pramod Bhagat

Scepticism This refers to "Politics is dirty game"(Sept 3) by Salik Shah. The title itself is misleading. Shah's hasty generalization on democracy has tried to shatter the embryos of political optimism. Of course, there are anarchy, chaos, disjunction and instability everywhere. But it is not as horrifying as Shah presents. While valorizing the negative aspects, Shah has forgotten the fact that there are positive aspects as well. What about the positive consequences of JanaAndolan? Politics is not a game to please the audience. Rather, its failure and success depends on the responsible citizens and selfless leaders. Just to lambast the system is not fair. It creates more anarchy and instability, encourages anti-democratic and antihumanist notion. Naturally, just to amass and pile up the problems is to promote anarchy. Not to be the part of solution is to the part of the problem. So problems should be tackled. No one should be a sceptist. Prakash Poudel CDE, TU

that the interested refugees could resettle in America. However, they did not mention any thing about the exact number that could settle in America and the procedure

1990s; it was the quarrels between the United States on the one hand, and Britain and France on the other, about bombing as an alternative to heavy troop commitments, as well as Russia's veto threats on Serbia's behalf. It was not the UN that bungled the "catch Gen Aidid" operation in Mogadishu in 1993, but the US Central Command, which went ahead with that ill-fated venture without even informing local UN authorities. It is not the UN that has stopped a peace-enforcement mission from being sent to Darfur, but the objections of African states and the possibility of a Chinese veto. Yet, as every secretary-general has discovered, it remains convenient for the major powers to blame the world body for their own failures to cooperate. And this, as some weary UN officials suggest, may be one of the organization's most important roles -- for if there was not a United Nations to blame for inaction in the face of disaster, then the finger might point directly at the various governments themselves. Horrors! This suggests, then, the limitations of what the UN may be able to achieve in bringing stability around Israel's battered borders. We certainly should not expect too much. If Hezbollah keeps the peace and wisely focuses on rebuilding south Lebanese townships, then Israel will also sit still, immensely suspicious but also baffled by the inconclusiveness of the last month's fighting. International aid will pour into Lebanon and various UN agencies will assist in the rebuilding, under the aegis of a UNIFIL force beefed up by much larger numbers of blue helmets. If the cease-fire holds, this operation could go on for years, even decades. Why, future historians might even term it a success! But if radical Muslim splinter groups resume firing rockets and Israel responds (as it usually feels bound to) in a sledgehammer way; if the permanent veto members quarrel about who is to blame, then the many promising UN activities on the ground in Lebanon will end, international staff will be withdrawn and the downward spiral will resume. Still, there will be one consolation. We will all be able to blame the United Nations for being ineffectual, weak-toothed, anti-Israel or anti-Arab, and thus of no good to the world community. It really is quite convenient that we possess such a scapegoat. If we didn't, we would have to invent one. Kennedy is a professor of history at Yale University LA Times

to apply for. Again, another delegation from Home Ministry visited the camps and said that the Bhutanese refugees will be repatriated to Bhutan with dignity and honor. This has created a lot of confusion in the refugees. The Embassy of America has not clarified the procedure to apply for the visa on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Nepal government has put a bar for providing travel documents to the refugees. Either the Nepal government should take strong steps to repatriate the refugees or the refugees should be provided with the travel documents. UNHCR is trying to cooperate with the Nepal government to find out a permanent solution but Nepal has not shown any interest. Why is it so? Why can't a refugee resettle in a third country? Raghu Acharya

Don't talk in Hindi! It was very pleasing to see an article from a very senior and reputed politician and a highly educated citizen, Dr Prakash Chandra lohani, on a very burning issue. While conversing with Madhesis, Pahades tend to talk in Hindi and not in native Nepali. It is very clear to most of the readers that Maithili and Bhojpuri are the mother tongues of most of Madhesis, not Hindi. When Pahades talk to us in Hindi, we feel that we have been treated as Indians. Surprisingly this tendency to use Hindi for Madhesis is seen among high-level government staffs as well. This should be noted that historically Madhesis came to Nepal along with the Pahades, and they are as much a Nepali as a Pahade is. Dr Shivendra Jha Department of Forensic Medicine BPKIHS, Dharan


The Kathmandu Post Kennedy is a professor of history at Yale University LA Times Dr Shivendra Jha Department of Forensic Medicine BPKIHS, Dh...

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