Saturday, August 04, 2007

Democracy, Transparency, And The Nepali Diaspora

Dear Upendraji. Dear Ambikaji.
Hello Labaji. Hello Nagendraji.

It has been a pleasure and honor to have met all of you and gotten to know you to an extent. I write to all of you at once to try and seek common ground.

Not long back I made a failed effort to launch an umbrella organization of all the Nepali organizations in New York City, almost none of which are members either of NAC - Nepalese Americas Council - or part of the NRNA - Non Resident Nepali Association - structure. I let the effort pass respecting the democratic right of those who failed to show up for a key meeting. But ever since I have been approached by people to make a second attempt.

My premise was simple. Democracy, transparency, one person one vote. An umbrella organization would be formed of all the Nepali organizations in the tri-state area. Each member organization's weight would be how many members it had. That would foster the launching of new organizations, and transparency and membership drives among existing organizations. The umbrella organization would explore issues of common interest, but it would primarily seek voting rights for Nepalis in New York City elections. If there are 40,000 Nepalis in NYC, less than 2,000 of them are members of this or that organization. The same 100 or so Nepalis show up no matter which Nepali event you go to. In short, Nepalis are not organized.

It gets said Nepalis are too busy making money. The truth is a community that can vote earns more.

I attributed the lack of progress to a lack of political consciousness, and frankly also the anti-Madhesi prejudice of not accepting a Madhesi in the lead role, especially when that Madhesi is solely offering political leadership, and not major monetary success, which should happen in a few years, but that should not affect the one person, one vote mechanism.

The Nepali diaspora is not organized in a mass way. The little organization there is reminds me of when America was founded as a country: only land owning white males could vote. Nepalis who have managed small scale successes in their host countries seek recognition from their own community by imposing on the same a nondemocratic, nontransparent organizational structure. That means most Nepalis stay away. Those who bother to show up stay powerless in the bigger picture of where they work and live. People who claim to speak on behalf of large numbers of people can not rightfully claim to be doing so. You are not a leader of anyone who did not vote for you.

Most Nepalis who can be said to be active are so preoccupied with the developments in Nepal, and that is wonderful. Nepal's April Revolution 2006 and Madhesi Movement 2007 showed the Nepali diaspora, and the Madhesi diaspora maintain strong connections to their homeland. But that preoccupation also prevents us from discussing our immediate conditions wherever we might be. "Your status gets defined solely by your passport," Upendra Mahato, founder of the NRN Movement once famously said. It is not fun to say you are a member of a powerless group. The pressure to escape that description is immense. I have felt that when trying to organize Madhesi opinion on behalf of Madhesi rights in the context of Nepal. And I have seen a mirror image of the same when trying to show Pahadis in New York City their dire immigrant status in NYC.

If I criticize the status quo of the way we have organized ourselves so far, it is not to malign the early efforts, but rather to point out there is much progress that remains to be made. If our internal organizing principles will not be democratic and transparent, we will make little headway in our effort to empower ourselves in our many host countries. We have to become mass based in how we organize ourselves.

The concept behind ANONYM - Association of Nepali Organizations in the New York Metro - was to inject democracy and transparency into the organization which would be the third pole to the NRNA and NAC on the diaspora map until the two principles are accepted also by NAC and NRNA, at which point the three become one.

After I let go of that, I have concentrated on my company, which I believe will play a key role in Nepal's economic revolution to last a few decades and is primarily geared with the Global South in mind, and Obama 2008, which I expect to make major inroads on behalf of the larger immigrant population and thus will benefit Nepalis whether or not they participate. For my continued involvement in shaping Nepal's political developments, I have been devoting time to my organization Hamro Nepal. It allows me to focus on key political developments like a laser beam, a digital democracy organization suited for this era of globalization and the internet.

But since my friends in NYC Laba Gaunle and Nagendra Ingam have been pressing on me that I should work again to launch ANONYM, I figured I would make things clear. ANONYM was about democracy and transparency. If NAC were to adopt the basic premises, NAC itself could expand. As it is ANONYM was slated to have a larger number of Nepali organizations than NAC.

And I wonder if it might not be best for Nepalis in NYC to join Obama 2008 one person at a time which is so easy to do at and is inherently grassroots. That way you are never short of numbers. 2300 people in Jackson Heights donated to Obama 2008 this past quarter. For Nepalis to get empowered in the diaspora, we have to forge alliance with non Nepalis. What better place to do that in NYC? Nepalis have to claim the South Asian identity, the Asian identity, and the blac identity, as in Black, Latino, Asian Caucus.

In short, I only have time for my company and Obama right now. But the ANONYM goals can be achieved through Obama 2008 and by the NAC accepting democracy and transparency into its operations. For now I want to leave it at that.

I hope I have clarified my position.

DL21C Annual Summer Bash: Barack Won The Straw Poll

छाता संगठनको कुरा फेिर ल्याउने िक नल्याउने
द्वैध नागिरकता िबना नेपालमा अार्िथक क्रान्ित सम्भव छैन
मई १२ िदउँसो १ बजे सेन्ट्रल पार्क दक्िषण पूर्व कोणा
न्यु यर्कमा छाता संगठनको अावश्यकता
New York Metro Nepalis: Organizational Challenges

In The News

The revolt of the aristocrats CK Lal Nepali Times the Madhes Uprising last winter took everyone by surprise. The international community was asking who these madhesis were and why they were so angry. ...... the farmers of the eastern tarai have the resources to continue with the political agitation. They have the time and inclination to pursue political goals and are unlikely to settle for any compromise they might consider unfavourable ...... the tarai conflict could be long drawn-out and intractable if not handled carefully ...... the Yadav’s landholding makes them one of the tarai’s most influential population groups. Since the cost of agricultural labour is low and productivity is high in the eastern tarai, big farmers (pahadi bahuns and chhetris but also Yadavs) who own land worth, say, half-a-million rupees can afford to explore other avenues. That is why Yadavs dominate tarai politics. ....... Upendra Yadav heads the MJF and Sitanandan Raya is his political mentor. Rambaran Yadav is the second most prominent madhesi leader in the NC after Mahantha Thakur. Jai Krishna Goit leads the separatist JTMM. Matrika Yadav is the public face of Maoist madhesis. NC-D looks more inclusive for having Chitralekha Yadav ....... The UML is making amends for its weak madhesi policies by promoting the interim cabinet’s Minister for General Administration Ramchandra Yadav even though he is a very junior party member. There are Rayas, Yadavs, and Goits among both rightist former panchas and the communists in the leftist alliance. ....... The realisation and frustration that their social and political standing isn’t commensurate with their economic status seems to have fuelled madhesi identity consciousness. ...... But if the landless Chamars, Doms, Dusadhs, and Mushahars were mobilised for the madhesi ‘cause’, Hatlebakk’s worst fears will begin to look optimistic.
Prachanda vs Kiran Mohan Baidya (‘Kiran’) and Ram Bahadur Thapa (‘Badal’) launched an attack on the Prachanda line. Kiran and Badal think the party should launch a republican rebellion even before the constituent assembly election and in this they are supported by Biplab, Prabhakar, and Sudarshan. ..... there is also a small faction that wants to take the Maoists back to armed struggle.
Half revolution Through the 240 seats based on proportional representation the Nepali people will be represented as madhesi (31.2 percent), dalit (13 percent), janajati, (37.8 percent), from backward areas (4 percent), and others (30.2 percent). ....... more than a million Nepalis are landless. In 19 districts, over 20 percent of households have no land. ....... About 15 percent of households do not own a piece of land on which to construct a hut and members are solely dependent on land-based wages. ....... The worries that it will end up being just another coterie of the elites of various groups are genuine. ........ Nepal’s inequity is alarming. In fact it is the most inequitable country in South Asia, which itself is one of the world’s most inequitable regions. ....... Limbus have 71 percent poverty, Kamis 68 percent, Damais 67 percent, Sarkis 65 percent, Tamangs 59 percent, Magars 58 percent, Rais 56 percent, and Chhetris 50 percent ......... Without a mechanism to ensure proper representation of the large mass of the working class people, attempts at caste-, ethnicity- and region-based inclusiveness will not help end existing patterns of social inequality.
Beyond tokenism the Baluwatar recipe for managing the problem is engineering splits within madhesi groups, luring some away with money and posts, using coercive tactics, and asking India to put pressure on them. This may, at best, work in the short-term but will sow seeds for an even deeper and prolonged conflict.
100 days to go for failing to stand up to the NC and not taking a firmer stand on republic. Dahal has compromised with dissidents by agreeing to insist on the declaration of republic as a precondition to elections. .... the Maoist meeting is preoccupied with the possibility of an election defeat. A UML forecast, which many find credible, shows the Maoists may get just 10 percent of the seats in the first-past-the-post part of the election. ....... “The peace process has achieved little, yet our leadership is wallowing in luxury and comfort.” ...... Sharma, Chand and radicals lead by Mohan Baidya feel the peace process is flawed, it has weakened the Maoists and the gains of the revolution squandered. ...... an avowed republican party is converging with the monarchy which doesn't want polls either. ...... “We want elections, that is what we fought for. But we are launching a movement for republic and proportional electoral system in our campaigning.”
Instead of one laptop per child... While computers in schools are a good idea, an over $100 million project to give each Nepali child a laptop is not. ..... Taiwan’s AsusTek has announced a $200 full-sized laptop and Intel has a similarly priced community PC. ...... children learn best as they did before going to school—by exploration, learning from errors, and responding to challenges ..... best evidence of success from Nigeria is 100 percent school attendance and “a lot of smiling kids”. ....... learning only improves if teachers, learners, and parents are closely involved in the design of their content and use.
Dailekh bridges the digital divide The two factors restricting the spread of computers in Nepal are cost and language. ..... More than 80 percent of the computers and internet connections in Nepal are located inside Kathmandu’s Ring Road. ..... a Neplinux 2.0 operating system so everything on the screen was in Nepali.
Web pioneer He gave up a potentially lucrative dot com career in the US to return not just to Nepal, but take the information age to his remote ancestral village in Myagdi. ..... “Given Nepal’s topography and cost, the future is in wireless,” Pun said ..... Today his Nepal Wireless Project in mid-western Nepal is a model of simple, effective, and successful rural internet access. ...... In five years, 22 villages in Myagdi and Parbat have been wired for just Rs 2 million. The network is used for education and to exchange information about locally produced goods and commodity prices, village activities, and weekly markets. The wireless network also provides telemedicine facilities to eight villages with doctors from a Pokhara hospital. ...... Pun’s model is proof that villages don’t have to wait for landlines for communication, and the internet is not just a luxury.

Maoists revolt against their leadership Kantipur “CPN-Maoist Joint Rebel Front” ..... coordinated by Laxman Tharu, the general secretary of the Tharuwan Mukti Morcha. ..... we will pull out the (PLA) army along with the arms .... the expelled central committee members of the party Rabindra Shrestha and Mani Thapa are also included in the new front, Tharu further claimed that 4000 Maoist cadres have joined them. ....... more than 1,000 PLA fighters were ready to join them. ...... Tharu has asked the party to quit the government by September 1. ..... issued an ultimatum to the government to pull down all India-built embankments along the Nepal-India border by the same date. .... they will launch a physical offensive against those implicated in the Rayamajhi Commission report if the government did not take action against them by the same date.
Parties can run local bodies on rotation basis: MoLD The last popularly-accepted local elections was held back in 1997.
Nepal rules out unity if Maoists keep ‘Prachanda Path’ CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal has said his party can unite with the Maoists only if the latter give up the ideology of ‘Prachanda Path’ and become a democratic force. ...... a “common republican front” of the ruling eight-party alliance, and not a front of the Leftist parties, is the need of the hour. ...... The UML stalwart also iterated that the elections should not be deferred, come what may. ...... the party will massively deploy its youth wings for “a successful and free and fair elections”. ..... The party’s last central committee meeting had claimed that it will emerge as the single largest party in the elections.
Prachanda, Sitaula discuss state of affairs Emerging from around one hour long meeting held at Prachanda’s residence at Naya Bazaar, Sitaula said that they discussed the security situation, the Constituent Assembly elections and the ongoing Maoist plenum.
'CA polls no longer a Maoist condition to remain in govt' to quit the government if some of their conditions are not met immediately ..... if the whereabouts of the missing persons are not made public and the Maoist prisoners are not released immediately ..... immediate steps to punish against those who tried to suppress the April Uprising as a condition for the party to remain in the government. ..... the party should quit the government if the elections slated for November 22 is put off.
Parliament passes civil service bill
Parties urged to focus on economic issues
सय वर्षछि नया“ राष्ट्रगान
जनआन्दोलनका दोषी’ र्सार्वजनिक
एकै दिन सत्र गोष्ठी
माओवादी निर्ण्र्ाापर्खौंं’
जनजाति वार्ता सहमति नजिक
विस्तारित बैठक सुरु

Rayamajhi Commission report publicised; Sitaula says action already taken against those named NepalNews
New National Anthem
New National Anthem publicised
Koirala reaches Biratnagar, reiterates CA polls on time Koirala stressed the need of unity of the ruling coalition of the eight parties before and after the polls ..... Koirala said he would react after the conclusion of the fifth plenum of the Maoist party ..... Maoist leadership is said to be divided over whether to go for people’s revolt if the constituent assembly elections are not held in November. ...... The fourth plenum held in India’s Haryana in 2055 B.S had decided to form “base areas” in their strongholds in some mid-western districts.
Maoist plenum beings in Kathmandu
Matrika Yadav withdraws resignation following ‘direction’ from the party leadership. Soon after announcing resignation last evening, he had held a lengthy meeting with party chairman Prachanda, who dismissed his decision to quit the coalition cabinet. ..... lack of cooperation from the Home Ministry in curbing the sandalwood smuggling; dissatisfaction over the ongoing talks with "criminal groups" operating in Terai, and the government's failure to act on involuntary disappearances. He further said his department was gripped by commission scandals. He also expressed anger that many of his party colleagues continue to remain detained. ..... A maverick minister, he had a verbal duel with PM Koirala soon after the Maoists joined the cabinet on April 1.
OHCHR concerned about Truth and Reconciliation Commission Bill provisions which would amnesty the perpetrators of gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), including extra-judicial execution, torture and disappearances. Amnesty provisions, which prevent prosecution for these offences, are inconsistent with Nepal’s obligations under international law ........ UN Secretary General had this week reaffirmed the UN’s policy of not endorsing or condoning amnesties for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or gross violations of human rights ....... the armed conflict between 13 February 1996 and 21 November 2006. ...... the absence of provisions to ensure diversity based on ethnicity, gender, caste, geographic region and religion.
VDC Secys withdraw agitation after govt assures to form local bodies government assured to form local bodies by appointing people’s representatives within two weeks ..... the cabinet has agreed, on principle, to restore the local bodies .... If a VDC secretary is killed, he/she will be declared a martyr, the government has agreed. The Ministry also agreed, in principle, to their demands for Rs 1 million worth life insurance to all VDC secretaries.
Biratnagar witnesses record rainfall
NRNA appeals to Nepali Diaspora for help to flood victims
Prachanda's clarifications: "No decision to launch people's revolt" The only decision we will be making (through the plenum) is whether to go for people's movement or not," Prachanda added. ...... the meeting concluded that the CA elections will not be possible without immediately declaring republic and without opting for fully PR-based election system. "We believe that in order to hold the CA elections, we need to address the demand for PR system raised by Madhesis, Janajatis and others
Maoist central committee meet ends; stresses republic before polls

No comments: