Monday, December 19, 2005

Major Revisions

Major Revisions To The Proposed Constitution

I made some major revisions two days back. Funny how people do not make use of the comments section at this blog. Instead they need personal attention. They have to meet you in person, or get on the phone with you to give feedback. Like it was Sanjaya Parajuli, Anil Shahi, Deepak Khadka and me with Gagan Thapa driving Gagan off to the airport. And that is when Sanjaya went on this tangent about the need for direct elections for Prime Minister. Recently it has been Diwaskar Adhikari in Texas harassing on the phone on the same topic, and many others in between. I have been working with Diwaskar on the video blogging project. But he has been spending more time on this topic. He has also offered some valuable insight on some other topics to do with the constitution.

And three days back we had our largest Sunday get together so far, and there was this major discussion on what a constituent assembly was, how it would come about, and so forth. For me the highlight was the social justice theme. In attendance were Binay and Tara Shah, Sarahana Shrestha, Ritesh Chaudhary, Anil Shahi and myself. We decided to meet once a month now on. Once a week was too much, and it was getting cold, and the seven party alliance does not seem to have the goal of bringing this regime down by February.

Sarahana was totally steering the talk. She had brought along her laptop, a fancy Apple one on that. She took copious notes. From that talk I added this to the Proposed Constitution:

The Pratinidhi Sabha will have reserved seats for the four groups, Dalit, Madhesi, Janajati and Mahila, 10%, 20%, 10%, and 25% with some overlaps. So the half of the seats for women will cut across that of these four groups as well. For example, of the 10% seats for Dalits, 25% of them will have to be women. And the 10% for Dalits will be half in the Terai, but that is not to cut into the Madhesi reserved seats. 10, 20, 15 and 25 are half the supposed shares of the populations of these groups, to be revised each census. The reservation for a group is discontinued once its share in the Pratinidhi Sabha hits 80% of its share in the national population. When identifying the seats for the Dalit, Madhesi and Janajati, the Election Commission will seek constituencies where the groups have their largest share of populations. No three contiguous seats may be reserved seats.

I think this is a major addition. Democracy as we know it does not automatically lead to social justice. America and India are good examples of that. Look at the blacks in America, the Dalits in India, and the women everywhere. Look at the recent spectacular riots in France. (French Society: No Easy Solutions, Sick Sarkozy, Riots In France) Democracies that have traditionally only recognized only the individual identity of individuals and not their collective identities have ended up recognizing the collective identity of any one group alone. It is not like the collective identity got negated or anything.

My problem is as to how to make this scientific, and possibly of universal use. One, you recognize the collective identities, but you also make room for change, especially positive change. That is what the provision for constitutional amendments is for. And the reservations come up with the automatic dissolution provision. Or the Dalit identity itself could go away. If all Hindus were to inter marry across the castes, or if all Dalits were to convert to Buddhism en masse, the Dalit identity might merge, or take a whole new meaning, although the history will always be there.

What is a collective identity? One measure is marriage patterns, I think. If at least 80% of the people in that group marry among themselves, I think that is a collective identity. What do you think? Another is to ask people. If I say I am a Madhesi, I am one.

Nepal Democracy Forum

I don't miss it. The key people I used to interact with there, I do so now better and much more productively on the phone. Now I have much more time for the projects. I am making a more productive use of my time. I have been meeting more people offline. I have a newfound interest in the ANTA. A few days back I helped launch the Baltimore-DC chapter. I was on the phone with Dinesh Tripathy who is taking the lead on the Legal Action project. He asked me if I knew Madhesis in his area. He wanted to get to know and hang out. I told him with that comment he had just made himself the President of the Baltimore-DC chapter of the ANTA. Immediately I conferenced in Guneshwar Shah who is in Virigina. He found himself the Vice President.

A lot of Madhesis are excited that I locked horns with the Nepal Democracy Forum. That has been one clear, positive fallout of the episode. The temperature has been raised a little.

Internet Access Down

For the past four days I have had only sporadic access. I don't know what went wrong. But now I am back. In a way I was lost. On the other hand I cleaned the bathroom and made my roommates happy. They had been doing all the cleaning forever, these poor Estonians. I also feel more rested. Otherwise I never have a day off. Don't get me wrong. I do take time off, randomly so. But it is good to have a chunk of 24 hours off.

Talking To Girija Koirala

It was such a good feeling. I have had many people write to me and call me about that.

Girija is like this huge presence. Like him or dislike him, he is there. For me it is not a like, dislike thing. I want to do business with him.

Boycotting The February 8 Polls

Personally I think it would make more sense to try and bring the regime down by February. But it is a tall task.

So how do you boycott polls? You can not organize to gherao polling booths. The police will come after you. More importantly, those who might choose to vote will have a right to. You can not obstruct their freedom to move around. It is not like the police is going to go into homes and force people to come out to vote. People have a right to show up and vote, and they have a right to stay back home and boycott the polls. So basically it is a political battle of opinion making.

I am with the seven party alliance. If their immediate goal is to organize a boycott of polls, I am with them. They are the legitimate leaders of this movement.

Getting people to stay home and not show up at the polling booths might be easier than getting them to come out into the streets in large numbers, perhaps.

Someone At Google Visited This Blog

20 December20:55Google Inc., Mountain View, United States

Who is that! Hello Sergei. Hello Larry.

The King Has Invented Something New

Is this monarchism? Militarism? Musharrafism? It is each, but it is also something new. In monarchism there are no political parties. In militarism things are several steps worse, and Aan Sang Su Kyi is in jail. In Musharrafism, Benazir and Nawaj are in exile. Looks like our guy has introduced something new. The virus has mutated.

In The News

Govt okays RNA’s proposal to buy two MI-17 choppers NepalNews
Students, police clash at Trichandra Campus
Giri’s remark an attempt to prolong autocratic rule: Leaders
Election symbols of only nationally recognized parties secure: EC
Maoist atrocities still ongoing: RNA
Government returns equipment of Kantipur FM
Former PM Deuba keeps himself busy in the custody
“US Prez’s letter not going to work”: Koirala
Govt not to hold talks with the Maoists: Dr Giri
India concerned about Chinese arms supply to Nepal: Mukherjee
Students organise sit-in against NSU reshuffle
ANNISU-R leader produced before SC
Melamchi project under review: ADB
Students urge to repeal NSU ad-hoc committee
Home Minister Thapa warns parties
Bhutan king to step down after three years
NC reconstitutes NSU central committee
King grants audience to Moriarty
Dozens `arrested’ in Chitwan, situation returns to normalcy
UML Gen Secy urges King to accept Constituent Assembly
Thapa did not commit suicide: HURON
Bhattarai urges King to return power to people
Media Ordinance constitutional: Government
2008 will be a significant moment in Bhutan's history, says India
Democracy gets royal sanction Hindustan Times, India
King's decision to give up rule shocks Bhutan Times of India, India
Bhutan looks at controlled democracy, UK

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