The Kathmandu Post
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Dissecting the ‘feudal’ Nepali Army By ABHISHEK BASNYAT he charge of being a "feudal element" has been used with much frivolity and looseness in Nepal in recent times. Anything that anybody disapproves of is immediately labeled "feudal" and damned to perdition with no accompanying explanations. In his otherwise sensible Letter to the Editor denouncing "Maoists' Crimes," SB Shrestha from Tokyo cannot desist hurtling this over-used charge yet again at the national army. Not surprisingly, he offers nothing in the way of substantiating his accusation. What is it that makes the Nepal Army (NA) so "feudal"? It is high time such glib talkers stared at some hard facts in the face. During the heat of the insurgency everyone—Chhetri, Bahun, Janajati or Dalit—who was chased out of the villages took shelter in areas secured by the army. Did the army resort to any "feudal" filtering process in deciding whom to protect? Detractors of the NA have always delighted in portraying it as a trigger-happy force bent on "annihilating" the Maoists. The truth, however, is that from the very beginning the NA's mission has been simply to "disarm and push the Maoists into the national mainstream." As a result of their operations, Prachanda was forced to publicly admit that the Maoists could never take over the state militarily. After resorting to other measures, the Maoists are currently in the process of joining the mainstream. Can this be labeled a "feudal" achievement of the NA? If maintaining the "feudal" status quo was the sole objective of the NA, why stop when it did during the April uprising?
Though tragic, 19 dead during the course of people's uprising (2006) is a small number compared to the 50 or so who died in people's movement (1990) and to the hundreds who've died in similar revolutions elsewhere. Is 19 just a plain old "feudal" number? On the contrary, it is a testament of the NA's clarity of purpose and the resolve with which they stuck to it. Maintaining security and preventing any situation from getting out of hand are the main objectives of the NA. A far cry from the "bloodbath" that other forces regularly promise us in order to have their way. Continuing on, the "feudal" NA has committed no violations of the Code of Conduct while we're losing count of those committed by the "liberating" Maoists. Ethnically speaking, the top brass of the NA is probably more representative of national diversity than the central committee of any political party (including the CPN (M)). In social work, the NA has built over 500 kms of roads in the country, and mind you, they didn't use "forced labor" for it. No statistic could fully capture the disaster-relief work the NA has done over the years. The current national mood verges on the insane. Students, teachers, doctors, patients, dealers, traders, laborers, the Maoists and Maoist victims are all out on the streets clamoring for their demands, sensible or not. The government is confused over its own decisions. Amidst all this madness that invariably brings the entire nation to a halt, the NA soldier still mans his post sweltering heat or drenching rain. Soldiers are human beings too. They too must want higher wages, compensation for damages and so on and so forth. Yet they have the discipline and the
Part timers’ demand One after the other, the government is making controversial and immature decisions. The recent decision to appoint part-time teachers of TU on contract-basis epitomizes the same. Why has the government underestimated its repercussions? Are the SPA leaders feeling like almighty gods (one in power) as they seem fulfilling each and every demand without any judgment and criteria? Furthermore, if the government can "create" vacancies to appoint the part-timers, what does it do if all the unemployed junks start a strike? Can the government fulfill that too? The government must realize that the part-timers were taken to work until another arrangement was made by TU. And how could the government decide to appoint them without having them to sit for any examination? When and how were their merits and competence evaluated? Were not those appointments based on nepotism, favoritism and political bias? The cabinet must rethink on this issue.
patience to postpone their desires and do their duties even as everybody else goes rampaging, and even as the mudslinging against the "feudal" NA continues unabated. Insurgency or insanity, the NA trudges on. Rudyard Kipling must have had our soldiers in mind when he wrote: "If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…" Despite a concerted effort to condemn,
demoralize and humiliate it, the NA still continues on with its duty with quiet dignity and discipline. When the nation was reeling under the petrol shortage, it was the army pump (and some others) that provided raahat to the Kathmandu-basis. If there were a national emergency now, without doubt an NA unit would be dispatched to bring the situation back to normalcy. The stone-throwers from the stu-
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: email@example.com
Right to space for all
Krishna Prasad Wagle CDE, Kirtipur
Ambassadors' appointments In regard to the stalled appointments of ambassadors to 12 different countries, the government should not only fill these vacant posts as soon as possible but also make sure that the so-called "career diplomats" in the guise of being professional and experienced don't get most of the posts yet again. The previous royal government has already done enough of pampering to these dullards of the Foreign Ministry and lucrative postings to New York, Cairo and Colombo were given to incumbent officers of the Foreign Ministry. Even before these appointments, the Thapa and Chand governments had appointed career diplomats to Brussels, Geneva and Berlin. What service did they render to the democratic movement in Nepal or to the Nepali state at large? Therefore, this silly practice of appointing chameleon-like staff of the Foreign Ministry to different embassies must be stopped. Instead younger, more energetic individuals who can work for the service of the country must be sent not only as ambassadors but also in junior positions such as charge' d affairs a i, first and second secretaries, etc. The private sector must be approached to suggest names for those who can work as economic counselors and labor attaches. Sending the same people of the Foreign Ministry in the dictatorial regime and also in the democratic period again and again is a total waste of taxpayers' money and indeed a shame for the newly won democracy. Anjaman Shakya Baneswor, Kathmandu
Indian flying fox This refers to the article "Indian flying fox on extinction" (August 25) by Pushpa Raj Acharya. It is mentioned in the article that a team has been able to count two last remaining big colonies of the Indian flying fox at Kesharmahal and Sallaghari and came to know from some older people that they could be seen in few other places including Gokarna forest. However, when our team from Bird Conservation Nepal was birding at
dent unions might pull in a medal or two if such a sport is invented in the next SAF games. For now however, it is Kamal Adhikari, groomed and trained in the disciplined barracks of the NA, that has won us a gold and done the nation proud. The immense pressures the NA suffered from all quarters—including those who enjoyed its protection—could have broken up any institution from within. We've seen our political parties split at the slightest provocation. An army that has been through an insurgency surely must have had differences within its ranks too. Yet the army still functions as a single, well-oiled machine. Throughout the 90s when every institution in the country was politicized to its marrow, the army retained its integrity. Even in today's fluid situation, the NA remained steadfast in retaining its "chain of command," to which the political leadership wisely consented. As the parliament embarks on "democratizing" the NA, it would do well to heed the counsel of an institution that is as old as the nation itself. Swept away in the emotionalism and rhetoric whipped up by demagogues we easily forget that ours is an army with a proud history. An army that has never seen defeat in war, it is a force that has continually risen to the challenges of securing the nation. An institution as old as the NA has surely developed, over its 238-year-old history, a set of traditions
The ongoing debate regarding the question whether or not the institution of monarchy and its representative forces should be given space is interesting. But I find both of those, who are in favor of and against granting the space to monarchy, are arguing in rather naive way. They argue as if space is something concrete that cannot belong simultaneously to more than one party. My opinion is that one can create a space for oneself once the right of every one to get space is established. Gokarna forest on February 11, 2006, we counted 45 Indian flying foxes besides recording 45 bird species. We didn't have another birding schedule at the site this year and no further study has been carried out. I hope this information will be useful for the team to carry on further study at this site. Ishana Thapa Bird Conservation Nepal
Is my money safe?
The fundamental mistake that King Gyanendra made was that he rejected to acknowledge the space for the ideas and forces that came in contest with his own. But with the end of his rule that operated in the principle of singular space, we are now in process of establishing a system that grants space to all those, who believe in the principle of space for all. So the king has the right to space the moment he agreed to the concept of multiple spaces. Now the question is what space the king can carve up for himself. The king can try for the space of ceremonial king in the referendum or constituent assembly if he wishes. If he does not, he is of course entitled to look for other spaces in the capacity of a dignified citizen of the country and the globe. Space in new context is a malleable locus, everyone including king is free to look for a suitable space. Tejen Bhattarai Central Department of English, TU firstname.lastname@example.org
Ceremonial Babu Enough is enough. I think, Girija Babu himself should be made "ceremonial". For he must take a rest. What we expect in his next trip to Biratnagar is, he declared himself "ceremonial". By both his age and experience, Girija Babu deserves the space and the title of "ceremonial". I don't know why he is being so much magnanimous towards the king. Sujan Babu Adhikari Chitwan
After reading the article 'Litmus test for banks' (August 26th) by Santosh Pandey, I started wondering how some of the existing banks in Nepal would manage to compete with foreign banks after they open their branches by 2010. I happen to be an unfortunate client of Lumbini Bank with some of my hard earned cash invested in its shares. I now feel that my money is going down the drain with recent developments taking place in the banking sector.In fact, I was lured to open my account with attractive marketing schemes such as chance to win a luxury car through lucky draw every year, which was advertised in most of the newspapers. But to my dismay, it was only an illusion. Ramesh Lazimpat
Nepali and Nepalese
This refers to Sanjog Rai's "Are you a Nepali or Nepalese?" (City Post August 25). Firstly, the title is misleading because it assumes a variant name for the people of Nepal. The terms 'Nepali' and 'Nepalese' can obviously refer to the language, the people, the products of Nepal and many unique features of its social, cultural life. We can thus use a variety of adjective phrases like 'Nepali architecture, Nepali music; or 'Nepalese people, Nepalese customs, etc. The writer quoted the views of several writers and scholars on what is essentially a simple linguistic problem. Dr John Whelpton, to my mind, comes closest to an acceptable solution
and customs that may seem quaint, alien or outdated to many of us. But let this not blind us to all the hardwork, danger and drudgery that our soldiers have gone through in the service of the nation (and even that of world peace). Different and exclusive as their customs and activities may seem, the same could be at the core of their many successes. As Fareed Zakaria argues in his celebrated book, The Future of Freedom, the most credible and effective institutions even in the US are not necessarily the most open and democratic ones. The Federal Reserve and the Supreme Court are successful precisely because they operate in a closed and exclusive environment. For the good of the country, the NA's political independence and neutrality should be maintained even as we make it more responsive to elected bodies. Old and venerable institutions like the NA, can take some time adjusting. But time and again we have seen that our old institutions are malleable and willing to move with the times. They will, no doubt, rise to present-day challenges as well. In short, the manner with which the NA has conducted itself through the vicissitudes of Nepali politics bespeaks a strong, dependable, professional and maturing institution. If all this amounts to little more than "feudalism" then we're probably better off with a "feudal" army. It is likely still the better option to a recalcitrant and untrustworthy "liberating" one! (The writer went to Williams College and Oxford University and works for an international organization in Washington DC)
when he insists on maintaining a distinction between the use of 'Nepali' for the people and language, and limiting 'Nepalese' to an adjectival function. Prof Dr Abhi Subedi, on the other hand, regards 'Nepalese' as an anglicized oddity, which we can do without. Prof Triratna Manandhar and Kunda Dixit claim that 'Nepali' is a high frequency word compared to archaic 'Nepalese', and the latter thus can be safely eliminated or will gradually disappear from the language. In this context, it is worth noting that many language names in Nepal and elsewhere refer to ethnic names such as Tamang-Tamangs, Gurung-Gurungs, etc. The point is that there is no single, unique name for any language or people, and terms like 'Nepali', 'Nepalis', and 'Nepalese' should be allowed to coexist because such variations in usage and meaning are an essential part of our socio-linguisitic expression. Tej R Kansakar Tribhuvan University
Misleading information This refers to the article "King has shares in 17 companies" (August 28). We strongly object to the content of the second paragraph of the article which states that "king and royal family have majority shares in … Surya Nepal". I would like to make it clear that Surya Nepal Pvt Limited is a subsidiary of ITC Limited, a widely held and highly respected company headquartered at Kolkata, India. ITC Limited holds 59 percent of the shares of Surya Nepal Pvt Limited. British American Tobacco holds another 2 percent of the shares. The balance shares are held by 21 Nepali corporate and individual shareholders. Surya Nepal Pvt Limited is a totally professional enterprise and the company follows the highest standards of corporate governance. Taking into account the current sentiments prevailing, your article has put the business, property and employees of Surya Nepal Pvt Limited at unnecessary risk -- which is absolutely undesirable. For your information, Surya Nepal Pvt Limited is one of the largest private sector companies and the largest private contributor to the exchequer in Nepal. Managing Director Surya Nepal Pvt Limited
Chhayadevi’s dream This letter refers to the news "An Icon of Resistance against King's Rule Dies" (August 27). I really felt so sorry that the true demonstrator Chhayadevi Parajuli who fought for restoring democracy in Nepal breathed her last breathes on Saturday. But what is surprising is that the woman police staff, Mira Chaudhary, who dragged late Parajuli got promoted on Friday, August 25, a day before Chayadevi's demise. It seems Inspector Mira Chaudhary got blessed and was approved for misbehaving such a injured and old lady who was already, 88. I think, the old lady protestor might have died of the shock she received on hearing the news of Chaudhary's promotion. Prasish Acharya Mass Communication Student email@example.com