Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Loktantra: A Magazine In The Offing

There has been talk in Delhi that a new magazine in Nepali dedicated to the democratic movement and to be circulated all over Nepal is to be launched. I already wrote and sent off my article for the first issue.

This is more like Lenin's Iskra.

It might have to be smuggled into many parts of the country. It will also be a vehicle for the new generation to assert itself more within the democratic movement. The formal seven party alliance has so far not put up an impressive show. There are major shortcomings in terms of vision, tactics, organization and energy.

I will publish my article at this blog after it first comes out in Loktantra. I will try to publish the entire magazine infact. The goal is maximum dissemination. We are also trying to get other sites to participate.

The idea also is to use the term loktantra, and not prajatantra no more. Praja mean's king's subjects. That image has to be washed away.

In The News
  • Nepal Govt blocks two websites of independent media network Afternoon Dispatch & Courier, India The International Nepal Solidarity Network (INSN) said the government has blocked its websites www.insn.org and www.samudaya.org from being accessed in Nepal.
  • The echo chamber next door Indian Express a gagged media perfectly symbolises a hijacked nation .... Long live the emergency. ... Nepal’s media professionals, in contrast, are being tested every day and a considerable number of them have continued to defy the royal writ in some of the most innovative, radical and imaginative ways ever devised by the media anywhere in the world.... stirred the Nepal Supreme Court recently into issuing notice to the royal government on its order banning private FM channels from airing news. ..... the state-owned Nepal TV was joined by four private channels and some 25 new radio channels became part of the media scene. Together they helped to create a public sphere out of largely illiterate, impoverished and scattered communities living in inhospitable terrains and at a time when democracy was still a fragile, nebulous thing..... He set in place a regime of zero tolerance for media freedom through the expedient of ratcheting up the Maoist threat. ... As news mutated into propaganda, the shadows over the kingdom darkened. The damage perpetrated during the earlier period of emergency and its role in encouraging violence, palace impunity and Maoist coercion has never been properly assessed. In the growing anarchy, information became a caricature of itself. The military’s claims that they were on the verge of decimating the Maoists were as much an exercise in mendacity as Maoist claims that the fall of Kathmandu was imminent. It was the ordinary citizen, at the centre of this vast echo chamber, who was the biggest loser since it became increasingly difficult to report even on issues of ordinary social concern and quite impossible to expose the innumerable violations of human and democratic rights..... the palace’s coercive apparatus remains on overdrive..... Gyanendra has a fine array of intimidating legal instruments to use against the media. They include the Offence Against the State and Punishment Act of 1989, the National Security Act, 1989, which prohibits the spread of terror and the Terrorist and Disruptive Acts (Control and Punishment) Act, which was brought in as an ordinance in 2001 and is now the law of the land.....Gyanendra has gone one step ahead by labelling as “terror” general public anger against his regime.... A gagged media is synonymous with Nepal’s fractured public sphere.
  • Nepal's triangular conflict Kathmandu Post, Nepal a fourth element .. the international community, donors and neighboring countries ...... Monarchists, Maoists and the parliamentary forces ..... until the conflict is transformed into bipartite one, finding a possible solution to the conflict is very remote ..... Nepal's unique topography, geo-political reality, poor economy, use of indigenous war technology, home-grown nature of the conflict and the absence of a neutral, altruistic, thirty party mediator/negotiator ..... Given the stubborn stand taken by the parties, there is a little possibility of converging the three-party conflict into two..... in contrast to one-dimensional move in bipartite conflict, there could be many possible permutations and combinations of solutions ..... the monarchists have an interest in peace, which may also imply status quo. They are also concerned with nationality and which is unfortunately often (mis) interpreted as anti-India. Parliamentary forces are concerned with democracy, freedom and respect for human rights while the Maoists are concerned with social justice, social inclusion and doing away with all form of structural discriminatory practices...... Monarchists like to have active and constructive monarchy. Maoists want to abolish it though they have also stated that they are ready to give a "respectful space" provided there is "enough sacrifice" from the monarch. The parliamentary forces want to restrict the role to a constitutional one though the idea is now slowly waning. ....... Monarchists are concerned with the past. That is why they like to churn out past glory and tradition, history and religion as the unifying force. Maoists are concerned with the future. And so they talk of change and revolution. In spite of geriatric leadership, the parliamentary forces are preoccupied with the present....... the upper class would support monarchy, the middle class would go for the parliamentary forces and lower class will side with the Maoists .... the Maoists draw their power from the rural poor while monarchists from the urban rich .... The parliamentary forces emphasize attitudinal aspects, they talk of mutual distrust and loss of confidence; monarchists talk of behavioral aspects, they talk of killing and violence while the Maoists talk of structural conditions and contradictions as the root-cause of the conflict...... The Maoists prefer interest-based resolution, monarchists desire power-based solution while the parliamentary forces like to have rights-based resolutions..... There are various shades of monarchists ranging from hard-liners, moderate to soft-liners. Recently, Nepali media carried stories of possible differences within the Maoist camp. No need to mention the differences within the seven-party alliance - they are united for the moment simply because they were divided too much in the past.
  • The Chronic Poverty Report 2004-05 Disabilities.AFreePress.com, UK Between 300 and 420 million people globally are trapped in chronic poverty.... People in chronic poverty are likely to be poor for much or all of their lives. Many will pass on their poverty to their children..... multidimensional deprivation - being hungry and poorly nourished, having access only to dirty drinking water, not being literate, having no access to health services, and being socially isolated and often economically exploited.... in a world that now has the knowledge and the resources to eradicate it...... opportunity is not enough.... they need targeted support, social assistance and social protection, and political action that confronts exclusion..... The largest numbers of chronically poor people live in South Asia, somewhere between 135 and 190 million people..... In Tamil Nadu, India, over a million destitute older people now receive $5 a month.... All the economic growth, all the improvements in governance and all of the improved public policies have not reached the chronic poor or helped them escape poverty
  • Students upset at removing Nepali from grade XI Himalayan Times, Nepal decision to shift compulsory Nepali subject to Grade XII from Grade XI.
  • Thapa calls on Indian PM, Sonia Himalayan Times, Nepal
  • India finally sends non-lethal aid: Reports Kantipur Online, Nepal
  • King should give up post of chairman: Thapa Kantipur Online, Nepal
  • Incoming call free in mobiles Kantipur Online, Nepal . There are over 55,000 post-paid subscribers in the Valley alone....The NT has nearly 175,000 pre-paid mobile phone users but the service hasn’t resumed since Feb. 1.
  • NT cuts tariff on outgoing calls Kathmandu Post, Nepal
  • Professional organizations demand House restoration Kathmandu Post, Nepal Himalaya Shumsher Rana, member of Citizens' Peace Committee (CPC), said restoration of the dissolved House of Representatives would settle the current political imbroglio. "House restoration by the Supreme Court was the best process for reinstating parliament" ..... peace and security have not been restored even five months after the king's direct rule. "The nation has further deteriorated. The king is responsible for the entire political instability in our country".... Thapa said the present constitution has not envisioned a ban on political parties.
  • Total foreign trade down by 3pc Kathmandu Post, Nepal
  • 'Legalizing flesh trade can improve adolescent health' Kathmandu Post, Nepal Chief specialist at the Ministry of Health, Nirakar Man Shrestha, said..... 50 percent of young people in Nepal experience sex by the age of 16, with only 50 percent of them using condoms. And 16 percent of these youngsters have had sex either with strangers or sex workers.... 60 percent of pregnant women are adolescent .... 100 percent of suicide cases recorded in those districts are due to pre-marital pregnancy.... adolescents constitute 32 percent of the country's population.
  • Teenagers Long and winding road ahead Kathmandu Post, Nepal
  • Nepal: Miasma Of Maoist-Mainstream Alliance Scoop.co.nz (press release), New Zealand Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala and Unified Marxist-Leninist leader Bamdev Gautam held talks in New Delhi with senior Maoist leaders ..... Gautam, in several interviews after returning to Kathmandu, has stated that Maoist supremo Prachanda and one-time chief ideologue Dr. Baburam Bhattarai had voiced their firm commitment to the establishment of a democratic republic..... Until recently as last year, Koirala maintained that a constituent assembly would open a “Pandora’s box.” He sidelined voices, especially among younger leaders and activists, that pleaded for opening candid discussions on the continued relevance of the monarchy. Koirala has now asserted that the Nepali Congress would be in favor of a constituent assembly if the Maoists abandoned violence and agreed to hold a dialogue...... The Nepali Congress has not determined that the monarchy in any form is now unnecessary for the country..... The Unified Marxist-Leninists, although ideologically wedded to a republican agenda, have not come out in full opposition to the monarchy, either..... Demands for leadership changes are growing ..... rifts between Prachanda and Bhattarai have complicated matters ...... Bhattarai has reportedly spoken of threats to his life from Prachanda supporters. Moreover, doubts have been raised over Prachanda’s actual control over his army, which has been systematically violating his instructions not to target civilians...... The rebels have inflicted heavy casualties on the forces.... the buoyancy with which key government ministers and palace advisers are going about their business..... Given their mutual antipathy, reconciliation between the palace and parties would seem distant, if not entirely impossible.
  • First lot after freeze: Bullet-proof jackets and jeeps for Nepal Indian Express, India
  • Gurkhas send 659 letters to British House of Commons Kantipur Online, Nepal
  • Tulsi Giri, Nepal’s royal deputy, is holding a semi-secret ... United We Blog, Nepal holding a semi secret meeting with “young” Nepali journalists hoping, probably, for a favorable coverage in future..... Mocking at T Giri’s inability to pay bank loan that he took some 20 years ago, people from around Nepal are collecting money, rupee after rupee, to help him pay back the loan..... As per Article 31(a) of the Corruption Control Act, Dr. Giri has not submitted his property statement. If not submitted within sixty days, all public authorities are liable to pay a fine of Rs5000..... it is because he does not own any property inside Nepal.
  • Nepal's king fights a losing battle against corruption Monsters and Critics.com, UK In the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal corruption is said to be so rampant that if one has connections and resources, he or she can get away with almost anything...... "Political leaders who came to Kathmandu ten years ago with nothing on them now live in palatial buildings. Where did they get the money to build and own such houses?" ..... It is only the small fries that get convicted in corruption ..... Political leaders and top government officials regularly take commissions when awarding big contracts, ranging from eight per cent to as much as 30 percent ..... Donor-sponsored projects are the worst, he said. "For instance, the government estimate for an 11-kilometre Malekhu-Dhadhing road in central Nepal eight years ago was 30 million rupees (about 429,000 dollars), but the same project was constructed a few months later by the Germans at 390 million rupees (5.6 million dollars)." ...... almost 40 percent of development expenditure - whether funded by the government or donors - is wasted in corruption...... a World Bank report noting that Nepal's efforts to reduce corruption declined sharply in 2004 compared to 2002.
  • Let’s talk about caste Manjushree Thapa Nepali Times, Nepal caste remains a strangely under-articulated topic ..... Many enlightened Nepalis abhor the caste system, though few have broken caste taboos in their personal lives..... the political parties remain the bastions of Bahun men.....the Chettri caste that had monopolised power before 1990 returned..... The heads of all the cabinets under King Gyanendra’s rule have been Chettris: Chand (a Thakuri sub-caste), Thapa, Deuba and Shah (also Thakuri)....... the king’s closest friends and advisers ..... Prabhu Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana, a childhood friend who accompanied the king to Indonesia and China. His nephew Prabhakar Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana heads the Soaltee Group and is also close to the king. Another trusted friend is Birendra Shah, better known by his nickname ‘Lava Raja.’ He was in Pokhara with then-Prince Gyanendra during the 2001 royal massacre. Sharad Chandra Shah is Lava Raja’s nephew. He heads the Information Technology Commission but his informal powers are extensive. Another adviser, DB Rana, used to work in the Soaltee Group. Mahendra Kumar Singh, married to King Tribhuban’s daughter from out of wedlock, sustained a bullet wound at the 2001 royal massacre. Ravi Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana and Queen Komal’s brother Suraj Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana are also advisers to the king. Similarly close is Shanta Kumar Malla, former army chief, oversaw a five-person military inquisition into the 2001 royal massacre. Among other advisers are Sachit Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana, Bharat Keshar Simha and Kesharjung Rayamajhi. That’s 11 Chettri men, all but one a Thakuri...... tempting to reduce the struggle between absolute monarchists and democrats to a struggle between Chettris and Bahuns ..... the non-political sectors that embody the present democratic movement—the media, the legal profession—are also overwhelmingly composed of Bahun men......
  • LTTE, JVP and the Maoists Nepali Times, Nepal The rise, fall and conversion of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Sri Lanka’s Marxist radicals of the 1970s and 1980s turned Buddhist-nationalist parliamentarians has parallels with Nepal’s Maoists...... The nationalism and anti-Indianism of the JVP is akin to the chauvinism of Nepal’s Maoists ..... the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) led an identity-led war, which makes their battle that much more heartfelt, longlasting and angry ..... The LTTE has total command of the area that it would like to liberate ..... the Maoists .. do not control any part of the country in the sense that they can prevent the state security apparatus from entering ...... the Maoists do not have the ability to combat the Royal Nepali Army in conventional warfare, which should give pause to those Kathmandu-based ambassadors who panic at the prospect of a Maoist takeover of Kathmandu Valley and the state..... The full economic cost of the Sri Lankan civil war, including military expenditure, damage of physical assets, tourism and commercial losses, and expenditure on displaced persons, is estimated at $4.7 billion. The total including the cost of foregone economic possibilities comes to $14 billion.......
  • Things are a lot better: govt Nepali Times, Nepal
  • 'Maoist victims still neglected by state' Kathmandu Post, Nepal the Association of the Sufferers from Maoists in Nepal (ASMN).... Maoists have not stopped targeting common civilians and political cadres despite repeated commitments by Prachanda... the victims have not received a single penny though the government has already disbursed about Rs 540 million for Maoist victims
  • INSN denounces govt for blocking sites Kathmandu Post, Nepal Usha Titikshu of INSN.org ....
  • 'Exact repetition' baffles Panchayat-era journo Kathmandu Post, Nepal What is happening there today is a repetition of what was happening when I was there
  • Parties smell rat in Rana's remarks Kathmandu Post, Nepal political parties have charged that a pre-planned conspiracy could be in the offing to take the country toward an autocratic partyless system..... Narayan Man Bijukchhe, chairman of Nepal Workers and Peasants' Party (NWPP), said that some feudals always hurt the king and the entire monarchy to achieve their petty interests.
  • Maoists ambush bus again Kantipur incident is a part of a series of Maoist attacks on passenger buses, CPN (Maoist) chairman Prachanda's statement that civilians would not be attacked, notwithstanding
  • Security forces thwart second Maoist assault on Diktel Kantipur Online, Nepal the second Maoist offensive on Diktel town, after they had attacked it on June 19 earlier
  • Shrestha leaves for India tomorrow Himalayan Times, Nepal Nepali Congress (Democratic) Acting President Gopalman Shrestha will discuss with Indian leaders the political situation in his country, including the Maoist problem, during his week-long visit from tomorrow.
  • NC local polls over in 70 districts Himalayan Times, Nepal "We have received final reports from 70 districts while we are yet to come in contact with party leadership in Mugu, Mustang, Jhapa and Dolakha." ...... the team which is overseeing the entire process, which is marked by rivalry and acrimony over claims and counter-claims of anomalies in the way organisational elections were held, said, "We will be looking into complaints from 15 to 16 districts from tomorrow."
  • UML puts off central committee meeting Himalayan Times, Nepal to find out ways which can be instrumental in enhancing mass mobilisation at a time when the movement for the restoration of the constitutional process is not very impressive
  • Parties, Maoists talks soon: Koirala Himalayan Times, Nepal he would lead the political parties in that effort.... as the "King does not want to talk to the Maoists"...... Commenting on Ashok Koirala's defeat in yesterday's election for the party's leadership in Morang district, Koirala said the results of the election have given a message that the party leadership should now be transferred to the younger generation.
  • Aryal prevails, setback for Koirala camp Himalayan Times, Nepal defeated Ashok Koirala who had been holding the post for the past four terms ..... the first time in NC history that a non-Koirala family member has been elected to the top post in Morang ..... “A healthy trend of electing old party cadres has started in the party”

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