Friday, July 08, 2005

The Road To The White House Goes Through Nepal

(..... written for DFNYC, more specifically The Lower Manhattan Democracy For America MeetUp Group, whose meeting I attended a few days back in East Village. I also went to the after meeting of all the DFNYC MeetUp Organizers in the city ....posted at the Message Board ...)

The Republicans have the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and a majority of the state governments. You have a Republican Governor in California on the "Left Coast" and a Repubican Mayor in the "Liberal Capital" New York City. If this is not a low point for the Democrats, I don't know what is. I recently read a LA Times article that compared the Democratic Party to General Motors, and the Republican Party to Toyota.

It is time for some reality check. Things are not okay as they are. And it is time for some fundamental reorientation.

I have toched upon this topic before: The Three Pillars. And I hope to elaborate upon that much more.

But something new has showed up that I am very closely involved with: the civil war in Nepal. I am involved for emotional reasons: I grew up in Nepal. But I also think Nepal offers a great opportunity to the American progressives.

John Kerry lost over Iraq.

The War On Terror is the same magnitude as the Cold War. If you are going to imitate the Labor in Britain during the Cold War, espousing unilateral disarmament, you are not going to win.

But then after that my disagreements with the neocons start.

The American progressives should be at the forefront of the idea of a total spread of democracy on the planet. That is the only thorough way to fight terror. Everything else, including spending upwards of 200 billion dollars and thousands of American lives, and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, is half-hearted, and frankly a doleout to the military industrial complex. You end up with a corporatized war where the poor kids die and big "pharma" makes money.

I feel the American progressives need to adopt Nepal. To say, we are going to spread democracy but we are going to do it the sensible way. Instead of $200 billion in taxpayers' money, we will maybe spend a million or two raised in the private sector. Instead of sacrificing American lives, we are going to fund the local democrats in their non-violent agitation. Instead of military technology, we are going to bathe the country with communications technology so as to provide the maximum support to the movement for democracy in the country. And with blogs and digital photos, we are going to document everything online, all deliberations and actions, so as to inspire similar movements in the neighborhood.

Proposed Constitution
Reorganized UN, Methods
Wiki: Shape The Movement

The progressives need to become more "militant" about the idea of a total spread of democracy than the conservatives. You can not fight and win on domestic policy alone. You have to offer an alternate vision on both fronts.

I think without this fundamental reorientation, the Democrats do not much stand a chance. The 2006 Congressional elections, and the 2008 race for the top prize. Both could be lost all over again.

Summer is monsoon time in Nepal: heavy rains. But after that the movement for democracy is expected to snowball. Will the American progressives step in and help and do themselves a favor? That is the question.

Nepal can be turned into the Democrats' Iraq.

The tide can be turned.

In The News
  • 21st century belongs to multiparty democracy: Crown Prince NepalNews .... both our countries recognise the people as the strength of the Institution of Monarchy and the Institution of Monarchy is totally devoted to the service of the people. We in Nepal know well that the twenty-first century belongs to peace, human rights and multiparty democracy, to serve in the interest of which we are committed and duty-bound...... rid the world of the ensuing socio-cultural problems and create a global society in which different cultures and civilisations can co-exist in peace and harmony ..... many companies involved in environment-friendly technologies.....
  • Dr. Giri declares his property ..... has said he has no mobile and immobile property in the kingdom of Nepal..... he had left Nepal in the eighties after late King Birendra introduced reforms in the then partyless Panchayat system
  • Ayodhya attackers came via Nepal: Report ... terrorists who attacked the famous Ram temple in the Indian holy city of Ayodhya on Tuesday .... During these four days, they were coming to Ayodhya every day from Kichuala for a recee of the area
  • RNA To Manufacture Military Equipment Kantipur .... “additional efforts” were being made to manufacture necessary military equipment to make the army self-reliant
  • People ultimate power of monarchy: Prince Paras Nepal and Japan recognized the fact that people were the ultimate power of the royal institutions in both the countries.
  • Royal move for meaningful democracy: Army chief “The Maoists are weakening physically, mentally and morally each passing day,” he said “Because of their defeated mentality they have started targeting families of security personnel.”
  • Battered Nepal Seeks Foreign Aid Hindustan Times .... foreign aid, tourism, and remittances having been badly hit after the royal takeover .... Gyanendra.. also faces a decline in his personal assets with the sliding economy..... his direct involvement in manifold business ventures had ‘considerably declined’ since he became king...he has large stakes in almost every sector of the country’s economy, including transport, tourism, hotels, power, tea, tobacco, FMCG, automobiles and construction, any in collaboration with Indian companies. He also heads numerous trusts, none of which have been audited ..... the Soaltee Hotel Ltd., Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Surya Nepal Pvt. Ltd (tobacco), Himal Internaitonal Power Corp (the first privately funded power projects), Sirpadi Trading Pvt Ltd., Himalaya Goodricke Pvt Ltd., Maersk Nepal Pvt Ltd., Himalayan Helicopters, Amravati International Ltd. (consultancy in pharmaceuticals, chemicals) and Amravati Travels Private Ltd. His active business partner is Prabhakar Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana...... The palace has an annual budget of Nrs 60 crore, most of it spent on renovation and upkeep of palaces and lifestyle maintenance. The budget was hiked four-fold from Nrs 15 crore per annum in 2003.... Hotels reported that occupancy in peak tourist season dropped by over 50 per cent. Garment export, a big source of revenue, saw a year-on-year decline of 50 per cent. Domestic sales, especially FMCG and durables, are showing significant signs of decline and the leading ad agency reported a drop in revenue of 80 per cent in February 2005.
  • Tulsi Giri: Monarchy Or Democracy NepalNews .... Strengthen either monarchy or democracy, not both: Dr. Giri .... “Even if the parties ignore the King’s call, the nation will move ahead” .... the multi-party system was not at all necessary for democracy ..... “Democracy means freedom. Freedom to speak, vote and expression and they are possible even without the multi-party system.” ....
  • King Gyanendra's Royal Splurges Tribune News Service .... the luxurious splurges by the royal palace..... In 2002-03, the royal expenditure was 38.79 crore Nepalese rupees. Of this, around Rs 3.18 crore were spent on the King, the Queen and royal family members. A sum of around Rs 35.73 crore was spent on palace affairs, security and maintenance of the palace secretariate...... A royal ordinance was promulgated during the tenure of the Lal Bahadur Chand government (after the dismissal of the Deuba government on October 4, 2002) which amended an existing law..... This empowered the King to enjoy discretionary powers over making any changes on royal household budget on his own. The government had no control over such changes and thus the royal financial withdrawals remain beyond scrutiny...... In 2003-04, the royal palace took out Rs 14.2 crore from the state treasury to purchase three new luxury cars. This amount is over and above the government’s budgeted expenditure of Rs 32.9 crore allotted for the royal palace in 2003-04...... In 2002 also, the palace had withdrawn from the state treasury Rs 8.7 crore to buy two imported bulletproof cars..... In October, 2004, the Nepal government released 90,000 pounds (Rs 1.2 crore) to Princess Helen Shah for her medical treatment...... There have been many other instances of extra appropriations over and above the budgeted amount, including Crown Princess Prerna’s wedding in January, 2003, King’s health check-up in London and Crown Prince Paras purchasing a Harley Davidson motor cycle for $30,000...... King Gyanendra has no reason to be wholly solely dependent on the state treasury as he has wide-ranging well-oiled business interests in a number of hotels, banks and other industries. The flagship of the King’s business empire is Soaltee Group which has two investment companies - Soaltee Enterprises Private Ltd and Surya Enterprises Private Ltd. The other companies in his group are in hydropower, agriculture, transport, market research and shipping.
  • Consensus Of A Deeper Convenience Rewati Sapkota, Delhi. INSN Deals were apparently struck in 1950 and 1965 in Delhi by kings Tribhuvan and Mahendra respectively, which set back the Nepali democratic movement by decades. Information about the latter deal became public only in 1980..... rumours were desperate attempts by the military to scuttle a possibility that they foresaw — an alliance between the mainstream parties and the Maoists .... the first time that the mainstream parties have accepted the possibility of working with the Maoists in an equal alliance ..... The Maoists also asked the seven parties to frame their slogan for the agitation, keeping in mind the needs of a Constituent Assembly, complete democracy, and multiparty democratic republic...... With the journalists, lawyers, students, workers, and other mass organisations already in protest against the regime in Nepal, the political atmosphere is charged. There is little possibility of those who ally with the palace being able to retain their legitimacy in the long run..... The coup of February 1 has drastically changed the complexion and grammar of politics in Nepal..... Till now, it has been customary for a handful of families and platoon of donors to assume that Nepal belonged to them. It will be difficult for these segments to give up habitual modes of thinking. They are left now with little option but to either throw in their lot with the king and his illegitimate rule, or swallow their reservations and accept political needs of the moment...... There are also hardliners among the Maoists who have been brought up on a diet of class enmity. These sections will find it equally difficult to give up their ingrained practices..... whether Nepal sinks under the burden of its feudal elite or stays afloat in a polity whose buoyancy is ensured by its inclusiveness.
  • Printer's Devil Gets The King Anil Bhattarai HardNews news items exposing the financial scandals of the king’s family members and his cabinet members, and opinion pieces openly arguing for the questioning of the very relevance of monarchy in Nepal, among other critiques, have made their place in the print media nowadays.... fierce and remarkably creative resistance ..... almost all the print newspapers and magazines carry ‘Press Freedom for Peace and Democracy’ under their editorial page in every issue..... king’s rhetoric about “nationalist education” was nothing but an attempt to teach schoolkids the “glorious past” of the royal past...... “Without re-establishing the rule of law..freedom of the press is a mere chimera.” ... king does not seem to be in any mood to back down. And, more importantly, the resistance that political parties have put up has been a bit feeble.
  • A 10-day Trek Across The Maoist Heartland Suman Pradhan Kantipur A lean middle-aged man with a baseball cap raised his hands to stop our jeep.... It was difficult to tell that this revolutionary was once the biggest businessman of Musikot, routinely trading lakhs of rupees in commodities and supplies..... Comrade Prashant, a central committee member .... was once a student of Govinda Raj Joshi in Tanahun .... “The Shining Path failed when Comrade Gonzalo misread the international situation. He could not take advantage of the contradictions in the international situation at that time. Without taking such advantage, he mounted a last-ditch attempt on Lima and failed. We are not making that mistake. We know the international situation and are determined to take advantage of it before we make the final push.” ...... whether other parties were allowed to contest, etc, etc. “Of course they can contest. Not as parties but as independents.” ..... despite all the rhetoric, parties could contest only if they accepted overall supremacy of the Maoists and their Janasatta. ....the similarities between the Panchayat-era elections and this election ..... the expression on the locals’ faces. It’s not fear or even concern, but rather stoic acceptance, even resignation. They all seem to say: The satta is here to stay. You can’t fight it, so accept it and carry on with your lives..... we have cooperative shops here, agricultural communes, Janabadi schools and now we are building the road .... As the local village chief, Inkar is also the judge in the local Janaadalat. “I have to combine many roles” ..... meeting with dozens of young men and women in the Maoist army, militia and party, the irony was stark. Very few we met had studied up to SLC. Most had dropped out in grades 5, 6, 7 or 8..... “I could not study in school because the police and army kept harassing me. So I joined the party to fight oppression.” ..... the party had asked each family from within Rolpa to send one member to work for 15 days on the road. It was the worker’s responsibility to bring his/her own food for the duration...... “A degree of forced labour is required if the road is ever to be constructed,” Ratna said as we kept trekking. “People won’t organize themselves until you force them to.” .....
  • Recognizing The True Obstacle To Reconciliation by Madan Prasad Khanal Scoop ... Camp expressed Washington’s concern at reports that Nepalese Maoist leaders were meeting mainstream politicians from Nepal and India on Indian soil...... Despite the lifting of the emergency and the release of most detainees, many curbs on liberties remain in force...... his takeover is an unpleasant albeit temporary measure aimed at reactivating a democratic process eroded in large part by conflicts and contradictions within the political establishment...... the palace’s efforts to bolster internal cohesion and raise the kingdom’s international profile between 1960 and 1990 .... The contradictions are painfully obvious. The mainstream alliance demands the revival of the last House of Representatives, dissolved by the last elected prime minister exercising his constitutional prerogatives. The Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the dissolution. A political class whose endless bickering prevented a single House of Representatives since 1991 to complete its full five-year term is struggling to define how reviving the legislature would help end the conflict...... The two largest parties in the mainstream alliance simply want avoid facing a fresh popularity test because they recognize that realities on the ground have changed. The “democracy” excuse has come in handy to cover their real intentions: a return to power on the back of Indian intervention..... The mainstream alliance knows well how much violence and instability Nepalis would face when the Maoists infiltrate their movement and prompt a government crackdown.
  • Constitutional Expert Dismayed At Generals Holding Forth On Constitution And Rule Of Law NepalNews ... quoted ancient Rig Veda as saying that law is the king of kings..... “Gone are the days when an individual would run the country through a decree” ..... Quoting Napoleon’s famous saying “He who thinks is my enemy” ... The emergency was imposed only to avoid protests from the political parties.... this government is afraid of an independent press
  • Gov Bans Double Passenger Motorcycle Ride In Kathmandu UWB ...yet another public unfriendly decision... . not to allow second person sit on their machine
  • Giri: I Have Not Resigned UWB A rumour has been circulating in Kathmandu since yesterday that has caught the capital city like a wild fire
  • King Birthday Protests UWB ... some 5 hundred pro-democratic students converged in New Baneshwor and burned the effigy of the head of the state.... Prominent student leaders like Gagan Thapa and Ram Kumari Jhakri led a rally that was interrupted by the police at least three times ..... Jhakri was famously lathi charged by the police a year and half ago when she was participating in a rally organized against the regression. At that time, photographers caught her severely injured and blood flowing out from her head..... Krishna Pahadi, prominent human rights activist who was recently released after more than 5 months in detention warned the monarch to listen to the people. “Monarchy has deliberately chosen the path of self-immolation,” he said. As he was saying this, a police officer was keenly taking notes standing side by side with other reporters......
  • Giri: Either Monarchy Or Democracy UWB .... among constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy, only one can reign. .... choice between active monarchy and democracy .... Like all our political parties who despite loud voices from students leaders to go for republic have been maintaining the need of monarchy ..... India is saying that constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy is two pillars for Nepal (Giri questioned India’s stand saying if they can go with one, why can’t we)..... And as a man grown up reading ‘king is our god’ phrase, I can’t imagine what it would be like without the monarch. Maybe that’s because I have rarely thought of Nepal without monarchy..... I need to think from a new angle, I need to begin from the territory I have never been before
  • Tulsi Giri, United We Blog And Bleak Future Of Nepal UWB .... waved them with three pages of documents: Printed form of a UWB post that appeared on this site on Monday. The post had mentioned about T Giri’s planned and semi-secret type of hobnobbing with journalists...... venue, Deepak Bohora’s house ..... Dr. Giri’s house, about 150 meters away from the Bohora residence..... Bohora, general secretary of Rastriya Prajantra Party (RPP) .... effort to introduce two generations with each other..... Giri started his conversation stating that he couldn’t ignore request made by Deepak Bohora to meet journalists..... he asked for Dinesh Wagle. Is here Mr. Dinesh Wagle? ..... Then he read out the UWB blog, written by Wagle, refuting words after words, disagreeing with sentences after sentences, countering the essence of the blog and terming it “an unethical thing to do.” He said that the information should not have been revealed. “This is unethical” ..... “I am not a rhino,” he said. ..... “I am not doing a PR.” .... “I am not doing this to get favorable coverage in future.” “This is not necessary for me. I don’t care what media writes about me.” ..... after reading out the date, time and venue info, “Look, Dinesh Wagle does not know that the venue has changed.” .... “Hum…anyone of you who asks me lots of question, will be that person who revealed this meeting” to UWB. ..... I found scribes in a shocked and awed condition seeing Dr. Giri reading out the blog content. Many of them did not know what a blog was and had not heard about UWB...... he never left his hard-liner stand over the issues. He answered almost all questions, even the most difficult ones, with smile in his face..... “We are eagerly awaiting the day when you again become Prime Minister.” Then Giri replied, “Tapaiharu ko mukh ma dudh bhat jaos.” ..... He repeated that he was totally against democracy. But then he also said that RPP should be strengthened to counter democratic parties like Nepali Congress and CPN UML..... Tired Tulsi Giri Feels Plunged Into A Mess Tulsi Giri in PR Campaign Wagle responds: “Ma Gainda Hu. Alochana le malai kehi garna sakdaina.[I am a rhino. No criticism can do any harm to me.]” .... You changed the venue, at the last minute, from Deepak Bohora’s house to yours. Even those journalists who were invited there were keeping that as a secret. I somehow managed to know about that and instantly blogged....... Do you know that what you eat is bought by our money, Nepali taxpayers money? Do you know that the rent of the place where you lived is paid by Nepali people’s money...... You to the pillar of autocracy and I to the pillar of democracy. Transparency and dissemination of information are the key in democracy. I know your autocracy frowns upon them..... Rumor is that the anti-establishment faction within RPP is actively involved in forming a party in your leadership.....
  • Tired Tulsi Giri Feels Plunged Into A Mess UWB .... forsook Bisheswor Prasad Koirala, founding president of the largest democratic party Nepali Congress and joined the partiless autocratic Panchayat system in 1960..... such person who had sacrificed so many years in strengthening and consolidating democracy in Nepal could mortgage his ideology for partiless autocratic system..... left Nepal in 1986, became a staunch christian and lived an apolitical life in Sri Lanka and Banglore...... Sita Ram Prasai’s house, where Dr. Giri has been living on rent ..... Dr. Giri’s residence was surrounded by barbed wire.... how insecure Dr. Giri feels.... Dr. Giri seems to have tired of pulling a heavy load of restoring partiless autocratic system after 12 years’ of democracy in Nepal. He said it was just an accident he came to Nepal when King Gyanendra took executive power in February 1 2005. “I was really happy and living a peaceful life in Banglore (India). Now I am plunged into a mess. I feel restless. But I am committed to fulfill the order of the king” ..... he left the country not because he was against the adult franchise. It was a difference on political system, he had with the then king Birendra ...... “It was a partiless democratic system, we were trying to experiment whether or not parties are required in democracy” ..... I thought partiless democratic system can’t function when there is adult franchise. I decided to leave the country so that I would not be an obstacle for the system. And my decision was proved right. Ultimately, the system collapsed because of that reason...... It was crystal clear for me, what Dr. Giri has in his sleeve. He is again trying to experiment that partiless “democracy” in Nepal....... there can’t be autocratic monarchy nor constitutional monarchy. “Both these forms of monarchy are the perverted forms of monarchy. Monarchy is monarchy” ..... Nepal should have only one pillar between constitutional monarchy and multi-party democracy. “India has only pillar -it is multi-party democracy. We should also make our only one pillar strong. The conflict is on which pillar to make strong” ..... “The government is committed to hold elections for municipalities and the parliament election will also be held in three years period” ..... “NC has now 30 per cent of total vote whereas RPP has only 18 per cent. And my mission will be to secure 30 per cent of total vote to RPP and 18 per cent to Nepali Congress” ...... looked to have been bitterly hurt by The Kathmandu Post and Kantipur daily ..... “You know I can take any action against Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post through this letter. But I won’t do anything because the Jesus says vengeance is mine. So I have no any vengeance.” ..... “I wasn’t aware of the loan and now I am negotiating to settle it” ..... he said there are many pubs, many buildings and everything has changed .... I felt Dr. Giri is really tired and is fed up of the changes that have come as big obstacles for him to fulfill the king’s mandate. He wants to resume his happy and peaceful life once the king permits him. “But you know, I won’t return to India though Kantipur has already asked me to leave Nepal” ..... the UWB post stole the show

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