Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dismantle The Two Armies

Would you do it? How would you do it? Is it desirable? Is it worth it? Is it possible?

Is it desirable? I think yes. To dismantle the two armies before going into the constituent assembly elections would be a great way to ensure free and fair elections to the assembly. A population that has suffered from both for a decade will still feel a cloud of fear as it goes into the polling booths with the two armies standing. According to the 12 point agreement, the two armies will still be standing when we go for the assembly elections. I think that can prove problematic. And we can not afford to not have free and fair elections to the constituent assembly, now that we have it: the parliament voted for it unanimously.

The army as a social institution has been as archaic as the monarchy. Both symbolize feudal mindsets. Dismantling it is as appealing as the idea of a republic. How else could the country get a fresh start?

Nepal is a poor country. It needs to be spending on education, health and micro credit, not on defense.

How Would You Do It

The idea would not be to render 60,000 RNA soldiers - or however many there are - jobless. The same applies to the 12,00o Maoist soldiers, or however many there are. The idea would be to offer them all a smooth transition into the private sector.

That would require money. Where would that money come from? There are several sources. If you were to sell the arms and ammunitions the two armies have, that will generate a pot of money. The RNA has a huge fund which is money the RNA has made through its peacekeeping operations to do with the UN. And the Maoists are the richest political party in Nepal: they are going to have to cough up some money. But the biggest chunk will come from the foreign powers, namely India, China, America, Europe and others. If they have sunk tens of millions of dollars into military aid to prevent the worst case scenario, I am sure they will pump in tens of millions of dollars for peace. Because Cambodia will not happen in Nepal.

What will you do with that money? The idea is not to offer job guarantees to these soldiers in the two armies. The idea is to make their transition from the army into the private sector rather smooth. It will be like offering them an early retirement. You would perhaps give them each a year's worth of salary. And you would create a fund that will give them low interest loans if some of them want to start businesses. Or you would give them super low interest loans if they might want to go to school, college, vocational school, job training. As to how much they would get would be determined by a formula that takes into account as to how much they are making now. The top salaried people would get proportionately more.

Likely noone will get devastated economically. They will likely stay in similar income brackets. It will not feel like their lives got disrupted. It will feel like a career change.

GI Bill of Rights - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The GI Bill was designed for American soldiers returning home from World War II. There was no way all of them or even many of them could have stayed on in the army. And the education they received is a big reason for the amazing economic boom America saw over the next few decades.

Will It Be Done

I don't know. It depends on many things. Most of all it depends on how gutsy the seven party alliance leadership can be, how imaginative. This is a bold vision.

I think it should be done, and I sure am pushing for it.

Double Digit Growth

I think dismantling the two armies is key to being able to imagine rapid economic growth for Nepal once it becomes a federal republic.

Ending 238 Years of Civil War in Nepal

Dr Brian Cobb, May 2
After years of things going from bad to worse, Nepal is recovering. Democracy is back on track and a permanent truce seems possible. A long and painful decade of conflict has killed 13,000 people officially, but in reality far more. The official figure includes only those shot or blasted to death but far more people, not enumerated, have died from disruption of health care, water and food supplies and other more subtle and indirect but surely numerically greater causes. Many more have been physically handicapped, psychologically harmed, impoverished, bereaved or orphaned.
Most analysts date the beginning of the violence to 1996, but this is erroneous. The overt violence—that due to bullets and bombs—started then, but structural violence has been endemic to Nepali society. Structural violence is harm due to poverty, discrimination, lack of access to education and healthcare and other forms of injury due to inequality. Consider the disparities in life expectancy, maternal and child mortality and other health indices between the rural low-caste citizens and the urban high castes. It is clear that the death, disability and suffering caused by structural violence far exceeds that due to overt violence.
There is a nexus between the two. It was the frustration turning to rage at the savage inequalities of Nepali life that fueled the Maoist insurrection. What the Maoist leaders actually did was to merely transform structural into overt violence, as a lighted match transforms the chemical energy of petrol into thermal energy. A similar transformation occurred in mid-April of this year; the pent-up frustrations of life under chronic war and military dictatorship were ignited by the heavy handed police response at Gongabu into a national revolution that has sidelined the monarchy and its brutal stooges.
National security, a concern in any state, evolves into an obsession in a totalitarian regime. Lacking popular support and aware of the dangers, autocrats rely on violence or its threat to maintain their power. The Shah and Rana dynasties depended on it. But this very violence, both structural and overt, leads to a level of popular discontent that boils over and cannot be contained by force. Therefore, the only way to maintain stability is to eliminate all forms of violence, both structural and overt, and govern based on the consent and support of the citizenry.
This means addressing poverty, unemployment, discrimination, lack of educational and health care services, lack of infrastructure and other root causes of conflict. One teacher or doctor or road building engineer provides more stability than a hundred sadistic soldiers or predatory police. Well governed countries do not experience civil wars or revolutions.
The Royal Nepal Army does not and cannot protect the people. Should India or China attack, it would be of no use whatsoever. It is a breeding ground for human rights abuses, corruption, nepotism, coups d’etat and colossal waste. It tempts leaders into thinking they can repress and control the people rather than meeting their needs. It diverts the meager resources of a poor country from investment in health, education and infrastructure to consumption by unused weapons and idle soldiers.
The answer lies in rational use of public funds. The RNA should be immediately placed under competent command by UN or retired Gurkha officers with a bilateral ceasefire to function as a peacekeeping force and to voluntarily disarm the Maoists, after which it should be combined with Maoist cadres and put to work attacking the structural violence that has undermined Nepalese democracy from its origins. Its personnel, trucks, helicopters and other resources can take on the work of healing, educating and reconstructing the nation. A portion of its light weapons and equipment can be transferred to the police, who should be screened, trained and monitored to prevent further corruption and rights abuses. Remaining weapons can be sold off. Nepal needs an army like it needs a navy.
But there is another, far more sinister form of violence in Nepal. It lurks, literally, underground. There are 10,000 RNA planted mines and an unknown number of Maoist planted devices. Hundreds of people per year are being killed or maimed by these horrific, indiscriminate weapons. They will continue their vile work for decades; they recognize no truce, nor do they distinguish between civilian and combatant. Landmine violence, like other violence, falls disproportionately on the most vulnerable. Farmers, children and the poor suffer and die. Even domestic animals, so important to the rural poor, are at risk.
The landmine problem must be addressed in five ways: 1, landmine awareness education for villagers, including children; 2, danger zone fencing and signage; 3, healthcare provider education in basic trauma management and creation of a trauma care system; 4, immediate signing, ratification and RNA and Maoist compliance with the 1997 UN landmines treaty; and 5, mine removal by qualified international teams with assistance of the RNA and Maoists to locate them.
Nepalis are warm, gentle and peace-loving people. The land of the Buddha must become a zone of peace, prosperity, justice and progress. All forms of violence must be eliminated. Is someone who traffics young girls to India to become infected with HIV any morally different from someone who shoots them with a rifle? In fact, which fate is crueler? Is the government that perpetuates the kind of poverty and desperation that leads to trafficking any different from the one that bombs the village? Is the parliament that spends money on guns or personal luxuries instead of health posts, thus causing death and suffering, any different from the one that orders those guns to be used? Is the official who diverts precious development funds for his own use any better than the commander at Belbari?
This is not the kind of hair-splitting casuistry debated in academic philosophy departments. These are literally life and death issues. Only by recognizing and extirpating violence root, stem and fruit can stability be achieved. This is why millions of brave Nepalis risked life, limb and liberty to bring about change. They didn’t do it to put certain parties or leaders back in Singh Durbar; they did it because they want a better life for themselves and their children. Sweeping away the monarchy alone will by no means end violence or feudalism. The whole zero-sum, exploitative and corrupt mentality must be replaced by true democracy, equality and progress. Only then will the andolan have accomplished its aim: true and lasting peace.

King of Nepal bowed before peoples' power By Michael Van De Veer Asian Tribune - Bangkok,Thailand


Kathmandu, Nepal
April 30, 2006

The struggle to create a Democratic Republic in Nepal has surprised the world.

People’s Power and largely peaceful nationwide demonstrations have laid the basis for Nepal to break the chains of a 208-year-old Monarchy.

Many compare the recent peoples’ victory to the “Peoples’ Power revolution” in 1968 when the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos was brought to an end in the Philippines, or the successful nonviolent “Orange Revolution”in the Ukraine in 2004.

In Kathmandu a 19-day general-strike left piles of rotting garbage lining the streets and there were serious water and food shortages, as well as LP-cooking-gas, kerosine, aircraft-fuel and medicine shortages. Each day the peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations grew, and each day they were met with increased Police and Army brutality. People from every level of society, even children, were brutalized, shot with live and rubber bullets and in at least 14 cases, killed by Security Forces.

At around 5:00 p.m. last Monday the 24th of April, as an estimated 2-million Pro-Democracy demonstrators were encamped around Ring Road which encircles the Capital, the enraged Crown Prince Paras piloted the Royal helicopter around Kathmandu Valley to survey the massive crowd.

As reported by a Nepali Weekly, Jana Astha, at around 6pm.the Crown Prince stormed into the Palace and along with other Royal relatives demanded the “king hang on to power and incited the Security forces to shoot at demonstrators.”

The embattled King, faced with a bloodbath, addressed the Nation at 11:30 p.m.(April 24) on local TV and radio. In a few words the King relinquished absolute power and reinstated the parliament which had laid dormant for four years.

It reportedly “took the King to nearly midnight to pacify his enraged son and send him back to his residence.”

Within hours the 7-Party Alliance (SPA) chose the ailing Congress Party leader, 84 year old G.P. Koirala, as the Prime Minister-designate.

On Friday, April 29th in the dusty parliament building at Singhadubar, the historic Parliament meeting was convened at 5:30 by Deputy Speaker Chetra Lakha Yadav. Her militant voice filled the chamber and the message from PM-Designate G.P. Koirala was met with thunderous applause.

For the 1st. Time in history there was no Crown in the Gallery Batithak and Royal-Power was replaced with People’s Power. Even with senior political leaders assuring that the Parliament is committed to the 12-Point Plan Agreement and Constituent Assembly elections, and tens-of-thousands of demonstrators demanding an end to Autocracy, the establishment of a Republic, the parliament adjourned without voting on these important matters.

A Constituent Assembly not only represents political jurisdictions but caste, class, oppressed minorities, unions, civil society groups, women and other under represented groups. In 1786 after the French Revolution, the first Constituent Assembly was formed to draft a constitution. This form of drafting a constitution was followed in 1918 when, during the October-revolution, the Russians adopted a draft-constitution. In 1946 a Constituent Assembly met in New Delhi to draft a constitution for an India. It took 165 days to complete this historical task.

It is clear that anti-monarchy sentiment is seething and that if the Maoists are brought into the government, the King, the Crown Prince and the Royal Family who no longer enjoy the support of the government or the Nepali people will either remain in Nepal as ordinary citizens or have to seek asylum and exile.

D. Michael Van De Veer-Freelance Journalist-in Kathmandu
Contributor to UnitedWeBlog-Voice of Democratic Nepal, &
Pacifica’s Free Speech Radio News.
Member: SAJA (South Asian Journalist Association).
PO Box 21218, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

Saturday, April 29, 2006

To: The Kathmandu Media

Hamro Nepal
April 29, 2006 (sent to The Himalayan Times)

I am the only Nepali person in the diaspora I know of who has been doing Nepal work full time - more than full time - for almost a year now. Even before that I was giving it a whole lot of time right after 2/1. And so I keep getting suggestions that I should go to Nepal to enter politics. I think that suggestion does not take into account the two megatrends of the contemporary world: globalization and the internet.

Instead of going back to Nepal, I have invented an organization: Hamro Nepal. The name has a definite ethnic flavor, like Taco Bell, and was coined by the founding Vice President Anil Shahi.

Hamro Nepal has been talked about for months. It has been taking shape. Finally it was launched on the D Day of the April Revolution, when the people were going to gather around Ring Road and march onto Narayanhiti. It is an organization committed to a Democratic Republic. We believe the revolution is very much on, and we hope to see it through. Money, message and organization: those are the three tools of power in a democratic setup. We hope to marshall all three to the cause.

The organization hopes to achieve the goal of a republic, and then it hopes to contribute to rapid economic growth. Other than that, it also hopes to earn voting rights for Nepalis in America. Blacks earned it half a century ago. Nepalis don't even realize they don't have it. It is not true Nepalis in America are ahead of the Nepalis in Nepal.

We hope to grow the organization in as many countries as possible. Each country chapter will be locally registered and autonomous. The goal is to politically empower the members and Nepalis in general. The organization will also work to expand and reach out and forge a stronger Desi, and a newly coined blac identity, Black Latino Asian Caucus, to inject some much needed pride and dignity among the non-whites of America and Europe. The April Revolution just might have launched the Asian Century. The revolution's reverberations are already being felt in New York City. It has been a novel experiment in non-violence.

Hamro Nepal has been hailed in the blogosphere as the "world's first digital democracy organization." Lofty as the goals are, the real innovation Hamro Nepal is offering is in the way it is set to be organized. I would like to believe it is cutting edge.

At the core of the organization is to be a virtual parliament. The organization hopes to cultivate a culture of transparency, democracy, egalitarianism, empowerment and efficiency. Elections are to be held for the five Officer positions each year, online. There is face time, there is screen time, and there are bridge activists, members who connect the offline members to the organization's online interface and vice versa.

I expect the organization to grow at a rapid pace, and I expect its culture to become infectious. Hamro Nepal might be a much needed antidote to the racism prevalent in the west, as much as it might end up the most effective bridge among the Nepalis worldwide.

Going Forward
April 29, 2006 (sent to The Kathmandu Post)

The April Revolution of Nepal will go down in world history as the first major revolution of the 21st century. Nothing like this has happened in recenty memory in any country. Not in Eastern Europe, not nowhere. It was like the entire country poured out into the streets for 19 days. The entire country was shut down. People were out literally in all towns, all villages, all cities, people from all walks of life. The people surprised the seven party alliance, the Maoists, the king, and the world. The people surprised themselves.

House revival was a political decision. There is no particular provision in the 1990 constitution that would have allowed for House revival. And thus this paves way for the next few political decisions all the way to an unconditional constituent assembly.

But challenges lie ahead. The Maoists are still an armed group. The seven parties are still unclear on many specifics. If the spirit of the revolution is to be respected, all seven parties need to formally adopt the concept of a federal republic. So far the parties have been saying on the monarchy that it is for the people to decide, and that is skirting responsibility. Each party is going to have to take a formal stand on the monarchy. The two Congress factions, the Sadbhavana are going to have to come out and say if they are for a republic or not. The UML, the Maoists and the Jana Morcha are formally for a democratic republic. The other parties need to follow suit. And if not, if they are going to come out for a ceremonial monarchy, I believe that is going to cost them a lot of votes.

Looks like the two Congress factions will stay separate, and that is not a bad thing at all. It will be healthy for democracy to have four large parties - the two Congress factions, the UML, and the Maoists - and three small ones: the RPP, the Jana Morcha and the Sadbhavana. Like in India, we might be about to enter an era of coalition governments, and that can work beautifully. A united Congress was too much bigger than the UML in the parliament, and there was not enough healthy competition for power.

I believe the April Revolution has given Nepal an opportunity to shoot for a cutting edge democracy such that the April Revolution can stand in the same league as the October Revolution in Russia, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, and the Indian Struggle For Independence. But whether or not we will qualify will depend on if or not we can give an original twist to the concept of democracy in our next constitution. I think we should shoot for a democracy where parties do not get to raise funds, instead they get state funds in direct proportion to the number of votes they earn, and they keep all their book keeping online.

The people have barely earned the right to free speech, the right to peaceful assembly. Now they need to use it. The Madhesi community comes to mind. Madhesis in all towns and all villages and in all parties need to organize and march for a federal republic, for language rights, for one person one vote democracy. The same might apply to other marginalized groups like the Dalit, the Janajati, and the Mahila. All four groups qualify for reserved seats in the parliament. The pressure has to be maintained or the political party leaders might go slack.

But the key issue still is Maoist disarmament. I propose that we dismantle both armies. Nepal does not need an army. We are not about to go to war with China or India. We need to be spending on education, health and micro credit, not on defense. Dismantling the two armies is the least complicated path to lasting peace. A second choice option would be partial or total integration, but that has to be tantamout to reorganizing the army to make sure all communities get represented, the Madhesis more than most, since the army so far has acted like the Madhesis are not part of Nepal.

Many questions have been raised as to the procedures of a constituent assembly. I think the solution is easy. Divide the country into 300 seats of roughly equal population, roughly squares or circles or approximations, ignoring the district boundaries, and hold elections. The largest may not have more than 5% more people than the smallest. Otherwise it will not be one person, one vote, but something else.

I stand optimistic, but I do realize there is still a lot of work to be done, a lot of revolutionary work. The revolution is very much on. People came out into the streets when they had to face batons and bullets. Now they will have to come out in the streets when they do not have to fear batons and bullets. This is extra true for the DaMaJaMa: Dalit, Madhesi, Janajati, Mahila.

Hamro Nepal, Latest
Hamro Nepal: Draft Constitution
Organization: Hamro Nepal
Your Many Identities

Ensuring Victory Was of the People

By Anil J. Shahi

The most recent proclamation by the King to restore the dissolved House of Parliament, and the subsequent welcome of the decision as the “people’s victory” by the Seven-Party Alliance comes as a bitter disappointment to those who believed the movement could have – or should have -- achieved much more: A Republican Democracy. What Nepal needs, we believe, is a total structural transformation, not just a power shift from feudalistic guardians to political elites. The total annihilation of the feudal structure, which protected the monarchy, and which, as in the post-1990 revolution, will probably continue to protect the political elites, should have been the ultimate goal of the recent movement. Given that the movement had gained tremendous momentum towards achieving that goal, sudden “agreement” to end it is seen by many as a great opportunity sorely missed.

Well, we have been hit by a heavy dose of realpolitik. The masses on the streets were probably beginning to feel battle-fatigue; common Kathmanduites beginning to feel the pinch caused by soaring prices of food, or the lack thereof. Many were likely getting tired of almost three weeks of curfews and unrests. The international community, particularly the Indians, still held firm to their long-standing policy of “twin pillars” in Nepal. And, most importantly, our so-called leaders never had the courage, or the vision, to believe in Nepal without the monarchy. Their demand of the revival of the dissolved House of Parliament was fundamentally flawed right from the beginning -- I am still wondering how the House that is to be governed by the Constitution of 1990, which does not allow amendments on the issue of a constitutional monarch, will be able to announce a Constituent Assembly that would ensure that the fate of the monarchy will be decided by the people.

Given that the outcome of the movement, however bitter, is probably sealed for now, I, for one, am willing to accept defeat and look forward, and try to make the most out of it. If the political leadership is to prove to the Nepalis that the movement was genuinely targeted at restoring sovereignty on the people, and not merely another grab at power, they must then act swiftly and decisively on several issues that are of utmost urgency at this transitional period.

First and foremost, they must consider replacing the Constitution of 1990 with an interim constitution. The new constitution must severely curtail the authority of the king. This should include, but not be limited to, his command of the army. Given the king’s notorious past records, there is a distinct possibility of him ordering the troops back into the barracks once again, making it extremely difficult for the new government to rule. In order to ensure firm loyalty of the army to the civilian government in the new structure, it might even be advisable that the new interim government replace senior army officials who might still hold utmost loyalty to the king with those who would be likely to submit to the collective will of the people of Nepal. The declaration of a new interim constitution would also pave the way for an unconditional Constituent Assembly election, ensuring that the fate of the monarchy would be in the hands of the people of Nepal. [The Constitution of 1990 sets forth the consolidation of “Constitutional Monarchy” in the preamble, making it not subject to any amendments.] This insistence on an unconditional Constituent Assembly does not presuppose a republican government as the ultimate goal; rather, the matter should be left for the Nepali people to decide through a Constituent Assembly. The wounded tiger is likely to strike back with greater vengeance, thus the new government must take into consideration any measure that would prepare them for any such surprises.

As stated in the agenda of the Seven Party Alliance, the issue of bringing the Maoists into peaceful mainstream politics should be of utmost priority as well. They should not only work to enhance their 12-point Memorandum of Understanding with the Maoists, but should make serious and honest efforts to reach a permanent peace accord with them. The peace agreement must be comprehensive and far-sighted – every aspect of conflict transformation must be addressed. Some that come to my mind at the moment are: Issues of gender, caste, and ethnicity; displacement; rehabilitation; disarmament; transitional justice; post conflict development; integration of the Maoist soldiers into the national army, etc. It would be prudent to seek international help in this regard. Maoists must also learn two important lessons from the recent Jana Andolan: a) Peaceful protests proved far more effective than armed revolution; and b) If the Nepali people were capable of making the monarch with a solid backing of the army capitulate, they can surely handle the Maoists too if it came to that. The Maoists must give up violence and their extreme communism.

It is also imperative that the interim government at least establish a framework for prosecuting any serious cases of corruption in the past, and of gross human rights violations during the conflict. The latter should not only include violators from both the security forces and the Maoists during the years of Maoist rebellion, but also those who committed such grave crimes during the 18-day nationwide uprising. From army generals to high-ranking officials of the king’s government, to the corrupt officials from the parties themselves, these criminals and rights violators must not be spared.

Many Nepalis have also been disappointed by the old leadership’s (leadership in this sense is already plural) refusal to recognize their past mistakes, step aside, and pave the way for new faces. That is to say, democratization of the leaders’ respective parties should also be in the agenda. After all, one cannot fathom a truly democratic country until the elements ruling it are democratic themselves. A good start would be for the members of the interim government to commit themselves to resign permanently from politics after the results of the Constituent Assembly are in and the new constitution formulated. I am sure people have appreciated all of their contributions to the country, and to the cause of its democracy, and would respect them even more if they submitted to new leadership, for the betterment of our country, in the nearest possible future. It would be a farce in the name of democracy if the people were to see the same Prime Minister who has failed the country in the past be allowed to assume the responsibility again.

Finally, the Nepali civil society that played a highly praiseworthy role in the fight for democracy must also not rest so fast. They must remain vigilant and alert of not only the king’s surprise actions, but also of the future democratic governments. It would be their duty to continue to ensure that people’s voices are being heard, and that the victory will not go futile, for the war is still going on.

While it may not have met the expectations of many, the end of Jana Andolan 2006, has ushered in a new era in Nepal, and has opened a window of opportunity for a better future. It surely is up to the leaders of Jana Andolan 2006 to prove to the disenchanted that it is not going to be an utterly disappointing déjà vu all over again. It is incumbent upon the leaders to prove that the Andolan was truly about the people and not just the political leaders. Nepalis have had to fight for democracy five times in nearly six decades -- almost once every ten years – in 1952, 1962, 1979, 1989, and 2006 – and one would hope that this time, it’s for good.

Chitralekha Yadav: Speaker

I think this is of a great symbolic value. She earned her way to the top. She was a student leader when she was a student. Now she is Speaker. She is a Madhesi. She is a woman. She is a Yadav, which not exactly a Dalit, but it is not traditionally high caste.

Chitralekha Yadav is proof democracy is a wonderful thing.

This is a good start for the revived parliament.

On The Web

Ranabhat resigns; Chitralekha Yadav to take over as Speaker in Nepal
Chitralekha Yadav to take over as Speaker in Nepal
People's Review:July 01-July 08, 1999:Chitralekha Yadav elected un ... UML general secretary Madhab Kumar Nepal had demanded to provide the post of deputy speaker to the opposition party in the Parliament for the betterment of enhancing democratic exercise and balance in the Parliament. But, the NC didn't listen to Nepal.
NEWS FLASH ARCHIVE 49 Mrs Yadav was elected to the House of Representatives from Siraha-2 constituency. .....
Front Pagers May 31st, 1999 / Jestha 17, 2056 Awake Weekly ...
Nepal Home Page Results of Parliamentary elections held on November 15th, 1994 Siraha 2. UML Mr.Narendraraj Pokhrel Ms.Chitralekha Yadav, Congress
Metro The diploma engineers accorded a reception to the deputy speaker of the Nepal parliament, Chitralekha Yadav, at the Institute of Diploma Engineers, Bangladesh in Dhaka on Tuesday. Since the formation of the SAARC Diploma Engineers Forum in 1990s, Nepal parliament deputy speaker Chitralekha Yadav, also a human rights activist, helped the forum a lot, said the organisation’s secretary general. The biggest challenge of South Asia is poverty, said Chitralekha Yadav. By ensuring economic justice, poverty can be eradicated, she said. The general secretary, Kazi Nazrul Islam, handed over a crest to Chitralekha.
Tin tuc va su kien
Women and Armed Conflict: Reaching Towards Focused Solutions The guests on the occasion were Honorable Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Ms. Chitralekha Yadav, Mr. Yog Prasad Upadhyay, former home minister and Ambassador to the United States of America, and Mr. Dev Raj Dahal, Country Representative, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Ms. Chitralekha Yadav, Deputy Chairperson, House of Representatives and Chief Guest on the occasion after expressing her thanks to the organizers mentioned that the topic of the interaction is very relevant to our times. She mentioned that today the nation and particularly its women are facing a critical problem as a victim. The war widows of the current insurgency are from all sectors- be it Maoist, Police, Army or the civilian masses. These women are under immense pressure in a particularly traditional society like ours. Relating her personal experience while interacting with these women she mentioned that the husband's family attributes the death of their son to the bad omen brought by the son's widow....... ...... According to her reasoning the qualifying factors for the current conflict is the lack of education, poverty, lack of decentralization and need for structural change. In the years of democratic rule in Nepal she points out that neither organizations, which strengthen democracy, were developed nor could the existing organizations be really democratized. This is a particular failure of democratic politics. She mentioned that war widows specially their children face a difficult and bleak future. The challenge and need before us is to mould and implement our policies and programs to face these emerging problem areas. She mentioned a lack of political commitment in policy formulation and a few self-centered politicians as having held the country at ransom for their own personal stakes. The current dilemma is a result of self-centered and profit centered politics at the expense of people centered politics, which is the core of democratic value......... Women in particular have been deprived of opportunities for full participation even though wherever they have reached important positions; they have been able to perform efficiently and optimally. She further mentioned that participation is necessary to women's development. In this context she provided an illustration of the lack of such participation right at the top- in the Cabinet. There is a quota system in cabinet, which is applicable in the case of Women, Madhesi (People of tarai), Scheduled caste (Dalits) and scheduled tribes (Janjatis) community. She questioned the appropriateness of the same in the context of limitless seats for the other general communities regardless of their qualification. This is an unjust situation and a big question mark on social justice. She felt that if such a situation persists in the membership of the cabinet who themselves are supposed to be precursors of change; the situation is unimaginable in the rest of Nepal.......... Ms. Yadav differentiated between the conflicts of 20th and 21st century by pointing that while the former was mostly external the latter, particularly in the case of Nepal is absolutely internal. In such internal strifes and conflicts a common man faces difficulty in differentiating between what is right and wrong and who is right or wrong. She mentioned that external voices like UN can only speak and advise us but the onus lies in the hand of Nepalese who have to deal with this problem. She lamented that in this era of information and knowledge, we Nepalese have both but lack virtuousness and are caught in self-centered thinking. She feels that at the root of present conflict is lack of social, political and economic justice. She stressed the importance of economic justice and economic development, which should move simultaneously. She mentioned that imbalance between village and cities, caste, ethnic and gender based discrimination results in loss of opportunities of various kinds like in job and education sector. As one of the solutions she advocated that only when a nation invests in women that things can change, citing the quote, " Invest in women and invest in change". She mentioned that conflict results when nation's people and particular sections get disillusioned, dissatisfied and irritated due to lack of justice. This is a typical stimulus response situation, which if not addressed adequately will only further the reasons for conflict. Therefore she called upon all women and men to come together to uproot this problem by finding out avenues and opportunities. She pointed out though, the need for us to be clear about our mission and vision and work in a determined manner to achieve our goal of a just and peaceful society. She also pointed out to the need of fine-tuning national policy and program to the needs arisen out of the conflict. She expressed confidence in the ability of ordinary people to do extraordinary work, once they are exposed to ideas and knowledge the bottom line being involvement of all parties (related to conflict) to chalk out workable solutions.
New Signature
Present Composition of Parliament of Nepal
Terai Dalit Women - Violation of Political Rights Chitralekha Yadav (Nepali Congress), one of the women MP’s from Siraha district in Terai was elected Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives. Renu Yadav (RPP) was appointed Minister in the Government formed under the premiership of Surya Bahadur Thapa. Although both the women were not Dalits, the election of two women from the Terai and their appointment to important posts is a significant development....... No Terai Dalit woman was ever nominated by any major political party for any seat in Parliament. Terai Dalit women have remained unrepresented in Parliament since restoration of multi-party democracy in Nepal in 1990. Although some Dalits have been nominated as members of upper house of Parliament (Rashtriya Sabha), these have not included Terai Dalit women.
Table of Contents for the report of the Asia-Pacific Women ...
Highlights from Plenary1 of the Asia-Pacific Women ...
Trang web tỉnh Đồng Nai - Delegates from Nepalese Parliament visit ... On April 11, Nepalese delegation headed by Chitralekha Yadav, Deputy Chairperson of Lower House of Nepalese Parliament, has paid a visit to Dong Nai.
NDF QUOTES - Nepali Times “Heaven is what it is because three women are in charge of three important ministries: Mahalaxmi manages money, Mahasaraswati is in charge of education and Mahakali looks after defence. We can also turn Nepal into heaven, why not?” - Chitralekha Yadav, Deputy Speaker
The Hindu : International : Nepal's Deputy Speaker, two others ... Deputy Speaker of Nepal's Parliament Chitralekha Yadav and two other women activists were on Saturday stopped by security personnel at the Tribhuvan International Airport here from boarding a flight to Delhi, where they were going to participate in a conference. ...... ``This was the third time that I was prevented to fly abroad since the February one power grab by King Gyanendra,'' Ms. Yadav, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, said.
Bao Dong Nai Recently, Nepalese delegation headed by Chitralekha Yadav, Deputy Speaker of Lower House of Nepalese Parliament has paid a visit to Dong Nai.
South Asia Monitor
Militarisation and WTO are key challenges in the fight against HIV ...
Trade union activists call to fuel the fight against HIV/AIDS
News Archive - Millennium Campaign
Non-Resident Nepali Association
The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - World
[PDF] Summary of the Proceeding of Workshop on Decentralization, Local ...
[PDF] NTPEPC 79#.p65
Financial Express Chitralekha Yadav, Deputy Speaker of Lower House of Nepalese Parliament, told Vice State President Truong My Hoa during their meeting in Hanoi that she was impressed by Viet Nam's socio- economic achievements as well as its progress in legal reform. News
Viet Nam News
BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Nepal women win abortion rights The former Deputy Speaker, Chitralekha Yadav, says the legislation has now been given royal assent and is on the statute books.
Democracy For Nepal (DFN): Peace First, Then Democracy, Democracy ...
Democracy For Nepal (DFN): Three Years: Too Long A Wait
Hội liên hiệp Phụ nữ - Việt nam
South Asian Media Net Among the elected ones, Prakash Man Singh won the largest number of votes (1192). Other outstanding winners were Pradip Giri with 1040 votes, Umakanta Chaudhari with 1036, Chitralekha Yadav with 991, Gopal Man Shrestha with 969 votes and Bimalendra Nidhi with 929 votes.
People's Review:July 01-July 08,1999: Table of Contents
A third of Maoist guerrillas are women: report
South Asia Partnership - South Asia: The Canadian delegation in ...
.:: THE BANGLADESH OBSERVER - Net Edition ::. “Without ensuring and increasing participation of women at various levels of the government, a better society cannot be built,” Chitralekha Yadav, Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of Representatives of Nepal, told reporters at a news conference.
The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - World - Nepal's No.1 News Portal He also suggested the parties oust Speaker Tara Nath Ranabhat for his lack of commitment to the movement for democracy. "We should elect Deputy Speaker Chitralekha Yadav in his place," Sherchan said.
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Mock parliament meets in Nepal The deputy speaker of the dissolved parliament, Chitralekha Yadav, took the role of chairing the meeting which was held in a public square in Kathmandu

In The News

New Nepal commits to Maoist talks
Calcutta Telegraph, India - 21 hours ago
... Deputy speaker Chitralekha Yadav was in the chair as Speaker Taranath Rana Bhat had been forced to resign for not joining the democratic movement. ...
Koirala to be sworn-in as Nepal PM tomorrow
Hindu, India - 16 hours ago
... During Friday's meeting of the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker Chitralekha Yadav tabled a motion, on behalf of Koirala, proposing a ceasefire with the ...
Yechury in Nepal democracy pantheon
Calcutta Telegraph, India - 18 hours ago
... parliament, it was left to former foreign minister and a good friend of India, Chakra Prasad Bastola, to send a note to deputy speaker Chitralekha Yadav. ...
Parliament meets in Nepal
Hindu, India - Apr 28, 2006
DEMOCRACY ENTHRONED: Speaker of the Nepalese Parliament Chitralekha Yadav addresses the House at the first session of the reinstated Parliament in Kathmandu on ...
Nepal Parliament meets after four years, India - Apr 28, 2006
... The House of Representatives session was today presided over by the deputy speaker, Chitralekha Yadav. Taranath Ranabhatt, the previous ...
After four years, more delay for Nepal's parliament, India - Apr 28, 2006
... Meanwhile, the seven parties expected to form the government met at the chamber of deputy Speaker Chitralekha Yadav to discuss the changed modalities. ...
Nepal seeks to learn from Viet Nam's development experience
Viet Nam News Agency, Vietnam - Apr 4, 2006
Chitralekha Yadav, Deputy Speaker of Lower House of Nepalese Parliament, told Vice State President Truong My Hoa during their meeting in Ha Noi that she was ...

KP Oli likely to be deputy PM; Cabinet strength not to exceed 21
Arjun Bhandari
Kathmandu, April 29:
The seven-party alliance is learnt to have finalised the list of ministers for the all-party government led by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.
Koirala is scheduled to swear in tomorrow morning at the Narayanhiti Royal Palace before the parliament debates his proposal for an election to a constituent assembly. The proposal to hold the election to the constituent assembly for drafting a new constitution was tabled in yesterday’s session of the 205-member revived House of Representatives.
Alliance source said the number of ministers would not exceed 21. Sources said at least six ministers each will be drawn from the NC and the CPN-UML, three from the Nepali Congress (Democratic), one from the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi) and two from civil society.
The Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party and Janamorcha Nepal are learnt to have decided to stay away from joining the all-party government. Sources said they want to join an interim government of which the Maoists are also a part.
The sources said NC general secretary Ramchandra Poudel may be asked to look after either Physical Planning and Works or Local Development, joint general secretary Dr Ram Sharan Mahat Finance, Chakra Prasad Bastola Foreign Affairs, Mahesh Archarya Defence, Mahantha Thakur Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, while Tirtha Ram Dangol was likely to be appointed Health and Population minister.
UML standing committee member K P Sharma Oli may become deputy-prime minister in addition to holding Home portfolio, Pradip Nepal may be given either Information and Communication or Water Resources ministry, Rajendra Pandey Local Development, Pradip Gyawali Civil Aviation, Tourism and Culture, Urmila Aryal Women, Children and Social Welfare, while Prof Mangal Siddhi Manandhar may be given the charge of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Ministry.
NC-D general secretaries Prakash Man Singh and Bimalendra Nidhi may be given the charge of Labour and Transport Management and Education and Sport, respectively, while Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat is likely to be Environment, Science and Technology Minister. NSP general secretary Hridayesh Tripathi is likely to take the responsibility of Forest and Soil Conservation ministry.
Two ministerial berths for civil society were yet to be finalised. Sources said alliance is considering former speaker Daman Nath Dhungana, Dr Devenrda Raj Pandey, senior journalist Kanak Mani Dixit and Dr Sundar Mani Dixit for the remaining portfolios.
(Source: The Himalayan Times)

Could Girija Be President?
Girija's House Revival Stand: The Real Reason
Phone Talk With Girija Koirala: Meeting History Itself

Seven Party Forum In Jackson Heights

Hridayesh Tripathy Released
Hridayesh Tripathi Arrested
Phone Talk With Madhav Nepal, Hridayesh Tripathy
Hridayesh Tripathy
Phone Talk With Hridayesh Tripathy
Hridayesh Tripathy In Delhi: Good News

Kanak Mani Dixit, Rhoderick Chalmers

Friday, April 28, 2006

Zimpundit: Zimbabwe

The First Major Revolution Of The 21st Century Happened In Nepal
Democracy Spreading Mechanism
The Demosphere Manifesto
5 Steps To Democracy
Proposed Constitution

I first found Zimpundit at Mary Joyce's blog.

Zimpundit and I just crosslinked to each other. This is exciting. I first found him out because he had a blog entry where he was waxing eloquent about Nepal. As in, look at Nepal, why can't we have it as good in Zimbabwe? That caught my attention. One thing, though, Zimpundit, noone saw the April Revolution coming on April 5. But when it finally came, it came like a tsunami.

Well, I went ahead and looked around. I have read bits and pieces on Mugabe over time, but never much thoroughly.

Looks like the guy is a former freedom fighter gone despotic, if he ever was anything else. I mean, how else has he been in power for two and a half decades non stop? It is not possible for someone like him to be popular. This guy is black, but he is totally colonial. He is your typical Third World dictator. He does not understand property rights, he does not understand land reform, he sure does not understand you can do both. He does not understand, or much care about things like free speech, freedom of press. He hounds poor Zimbabweans living in shanty towns because they oppose him. How much of a freedom fighter can you be if you do that?

He bungled land reform horrendously, and collapsed the economy. Now he turns around blames Britain for the collapsed economy.

The goal can not be to reform Mugabe. This guy is beyond repair. The goal has to be to oust him. I think the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) needs to build a strong base globally, and at the same time build a strong organization inside the country. The goal has to be to get people to come out into the streets in one big jamboree of protest. But there is a lot of homework you have to do beforehand. Lessons can be learned from the Nepal experience in that Nepal is a poor country also, one of the poorest. But then poverty is a big reason why the people need to rebel and topple a despot. Be desperate, act desperate. On the other hand, the Zimbabwe experience will be unique, very much of its own. Nepal can be a lesson, but the idea can not be to replicate. There is much improvisation in any democracy movement.

We should take it a challenge to drive Mugabe out. I propose we deport him to Britain.

The challenge is to raise the political consciousness of the people enough to get them out into the streets in large numbers. The
Zimbabwean diaspora could play a key role.

Zimpundit, in solidarity.

But looks like the Zimbabwe strategy might be hovering around the 2008 presidential elections in that country. Fair enough. Give it a shot. And looks like South Africa is a ready base for the
Zimbabwean diaspora. South Africa might be Zimbabwe's India.

One flaw I see in the opposition. Why is there talk only of beating the despot at the election booth? Is the constitution okay? Does it need to be amended? Or replaced? It must be a flawed constitution that has kept him in power for so long. The stink in Zimbabwe is bigger than that the opposition has been losing elections. So more than electoral victory has to be the political platform.

On The Web

CIA - The World Factbook -- Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Zimbabwe Independent - The Leading Business Weekly Newspaper
Zimbabwe Financial Gazette
New News :: The Zimbabwe News You Trust
BBC News - Country Profile: Zimbabwe economy is in tatters, where poverty and unemployment are endemic and political strife and repression commonplace...... the forced seizure of almost all white-owned commercial farms, with the stated aim of benefiting landless black Zimbabweans, led to sharp falls in production and precipitated the collapse of the agriculture-based economy ....... hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, including much-needed professionals, have emigrated...... Aid agencies and critics partly blame food shortages on the land reform programme. The government blames a long-running drought, and Mr Mugabe has accused Britain and its allies of sabotaging the economy in revenge for the redistribution programme...... government's urban slum demolition drive in 2005 ...... critics accused him of destroying slums housing opposition supporters..... The former Rhodesia has a history of conflict, with white settlers dispossessing the resident population, guerrilla armies forcing the white government to submit to elections, and the post-independence leadership committing atrocities in southern areas where it lacked the support of the Matabele people....... Mugabe played a key role in ending white rule in Rhodesia and he and his Zanu-PF party have dominated Zimbabwe's politics since independence in 1980....... the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ..... members have been killed, tortured and harassed by Zanu-PF supporters ...... Mugabe belongs to the African liberationist tradition of the 1960s - strong and ruthless leadership, anti-Western, suspicious of capitalism and deeply intolerant of dissent and opposition...... His economic policies are widely seen as being geared to short-term political expediency and the maintenance of power for himself. Mr Mugabe has defended his land reform programme, saying the issue is the "core social question of our time"....... All broadcasters transmitting from Zimbabwean soil and the main newspapers are state-controlled and toe the government line...... The private press, relatively vigorous in its criticism of the government, has come under severe pressure. A leading privately-owned daily, the Daily News, is subject to a publication ban. ....... A weekly newspaper, The Zimbabwean, is produced in London and is distributed in Zimbabwe as an international publication, and among Zimbabweans living abroad..... State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) operates the country's only TV and radio stations........ The Voice of the People, set up by former ZBC staff with funding from the Soros Foundation and a Dutch NGO, operates using a leased shortwave transmitter in Madagascar...... Another station, the UK-based SW Radio Africa, aims to give listeners in Zimbabwe "unbiased information". The station's signal was jammed in March 2005, a period coinciding with the run-up to parliamentary elections....... Zimbabwe
African Studies Center | Zimbabwe Page - linking the world to Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Travel Information | Lonely Planet Destination Guide

In The News

Zimbabwe: Espionage Plan Unconstitutional, Washington
Zimbabwe: Govt to Print $60 Trillion to Meet Salary Bill, Washington
ZIMBABWE: Government to tap cyberspace Reuters AlertNet
ZIMBABWE : Govt defends plan to monitor cyber-communication African News Dimension
Zimbabwe: Opposition Gangs Up OPPOSITION political groups and civil society movements have started consultations to form a united front to support one candidate in the 2008 presidential election, 23 months ahead of the crucial poll....... factions of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), other opposition parties and civil society groups in a bid to form a broad united front against Zanu PF along the lines of Kenya's National Rainbow Coalition which brought President Mwai Kibaki to power in 2002....... South African-based Zimbabwe Diaspora Civil Society Organisations Forum ...... formed in November 2005 as a network of at least 20 local civic movements based in South Africa working for a democratic dispensation in Zimbabwe....... United People's Movement -- a shadowy assemblage of disgruntled Zanu PF officials ...... the MDC split in October last year.... there has been a lot of SMS messages and phone calls flying around among the officials trying to come up with a united front against Zanu PF....... Both Tsvangirai and Mutambara have been calling for the formation of a united front against Zanu PF.
Zimbabwe: Don't Burn the Whole House, Washington
Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Piles Pressure On Rump Mutambara Group, Washington
Arthur Mutambara Faction of Zimbabwe's Opposition Struggles to ... Voice of America
Zimbabwe: Taking It to the Streets
Zimbabwe: Labour Day's Soulful Prayer, Washington
Zimbabwe: ZFTU Members Bury the Hatchet
Zimbabwe: RBA to Rule in ZABG Dispute, Washington
Zimbabwe: RBZ Warns Market to Brace for Liquidity Storms
Zimbabwe: Govt Orders 'Flying Coffins' for AirZim, Washington
Zimbabwe: Tobacco Season Off to a Bad Start, Washington
Zimbabwe: Govt Stranger to Reality, Washington
Zimbabwe: Zimplats Cautious On Fresh Mine Seizure Threats
Katsonga Contradicts Mugabe
Zimbabwe : Hospital fees up 3000 percent
African News Dimension, South Africa
Zimbabwe : Foreigners to pay hospital fees in forex African News Dimension
Zim wants foreign currency News24