Monday, April 13, 2009

Which Map Do You Like And Why?

I have listed my favorites from top to bottom. The first is my favorite. The one at the bottom is my least favorite.

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Who Are Nepal's Martyrs?

  • The martyrs of Nepal's April Revolution 2006 are martyrs.
  • The martyrs of the Madhesi Kranti I are martyrs.
  • The martyrs of the Madhesi Kranti II are martyrs.
  • The martyrs of the Tharu Kranti are martyrs.
The people who died during the decade long civil war - 13,000 to active combat, twice that many to suicide resulting from that combat and social dislocation, over a thousand disappeared - are not martyrs. They are victims of political violence.

There is a difference.

The Maoists are not the authors of the magical April Revolution. The April Revolution was an ultimate example of a nonviolent revolution. The Maoists had been pushing to make even that revolution into a violent bloodbath.

Baburam Bhattarai May Not Preach Violence To The Seven Party Alliance (January 2006)

The Maoists were never right to have engaged in violence. Violence was always wrong. There are no ifs and buts about that. Why only the country as a whole, even the Maoists only started making political progress after they took a break from violence. Their unilateral ceasefire of the fall of 2005 was when they started turning around as a political force. And they have made steady progress since.

I feel the pain of the Maoists who died during the civil war, I feel the pain of the citizens who died, I feel the pain of the Nepal Army soldiers who died during that period. But all that pain has to be processed by establishing a Truth And Reconciliation Commission. That commission might even recommend monetary compensation for many of the victims of that civil war period, but any such proposal has to be discussed and passed by the parliament, not quietly and stealthily by a cabinet.

The idea that the 7,000 Maoists who died during the civil war are martyrs is a mistake, and it is to mete out disrespect to the legitimate martyrs of the four mass movements.

The Maoists as a party are free to enact a shrine in the name of those 7,000, but they don't get to lump those 7,000 with those tens who died during the four mass movements, and especially the April Revolution.

In The News

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Friday, April 10, 2009

A Fragile Peace

ICG: Nepal's Faltering Peace Process

We ended the civil war. We ended military rule, absolute monarchy. We had elections. We have a duly elected parliament. Everything feels like is on track. But we have to watch out. Things could still go very wrong. The peace train could get derailed.

Maoist Qualms

It is possible the Maoists think they might be able to get an absolute majority after the next elections. And that hope possibly makes them more at ease with the multi-party idea. But the recent student elections were a setback for them. And it is possible they are deeply uncomfortable at the prospect of losing power after the next elections, or even before that.

The UML Smells Power

It is possible the UML wants to displace the Maoists. They could muster the numbers. This is why I am for a directly elected president. Otherwise you will have parties wanting a new government every few months, every year or two.


I have a feeling the NC will face an even bigger defeat in the next elections than it did last year. The Congress people have made mistake after mistake. They got routed at the polls, but they never accepted defeat. They did not get into power but they acted like the army honchos were with them and not the parties in power. Their score on internal democracy, already bad before, is even worse now. They have absolutely no vision on federalism, or restructuring the army, or on land reform except wanting to instinctively try and fall back to the status quo.

The Army

I don't think the Nepal Army is anywhere close to thinking in terms of a coup, but the top honchos in the army have been acting obstructionist all along. An absolute monarch could not pull a coup. Katuwal stands absolutely no chance, and he knows it. They could not take over, but they could mess up, slow things down, and they have been doing it. It is as if the monarchy has ended everywhere else except in the Nepal Army. Vestiges of the old order, old ways of thinking remain.

Lawlessness In The Terai

The elections did not bring a cure. The Pahadi police force is intentionally detached from the scene. They are unhappy the Madhesi parties won so big. The Maoists have been holding the drama of holding peace talks with small outfits and not the big ones. The elected Madhesi leaders are in the safety of Kathmandu, a little too detached from the ground.

Madhesi Parties

If they can unite, or at least seek common ground on a few basic issues, they could grow some more, but how much more? Unless they acquire national character they will be regional players of the future Terai state, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Worst Case Scenario: A Return To Civil War

I don't feel the possibility. But we can not fully count it out. What we have to remember is if there is a return to civil war, the second round will be much worse than the first round was. And the first round was bad enough. And that is why all parties concerned have to stay away from that possibility.

Dictatorship: Not An Option

I am sure there are Maoists who daydream of capturing state power the traditional Maoist way. But then there are also NC people who feel somehow we can go back to the 1990s.

Step 1: Bring The Army Under The Parliament, Completely

Trying to deal with the army through cabinet decisions has been a mistake. Instead it should be upto the parliament to hold full blown discussions as to the shape and size of the future Nepal Army.

The starting point has to be that we don't want an army that is 110,000 strong which is what you would get if you stitched the two armies together. So the Maoists can not possibly be serious with their talk of army integration. Also any Maoist who ends up in the army has to meet the physical and other criteria that might apply. You don't end up in the national army by virtue of being a Maoist.

The talk should not be of army integration, the talk has to be of downsizing the army. Maybe we will end up with a national army that is about 3,000 from the Maoist army, about 20,000 from the traditional army, and about 7,000 from elsewhere so as to ensure ethnic and gender diversity. The other 17,000 Maoist soldiers get to be retrained to be turned into health care workers. We need health, we need education. We need health care workers, and teachers, we don't really need a huge army.

Retire The Brigadier Generals

I am for retiring them. Unless you retire them, how are you going to promote new officers? The Rana-Shaha-Thapa brigade sitting atop the Nepal Army is utterly lacking in diversity. They are not the future face of Nepal. But that retirement has to be brought about by due legal process. And if the Supreme Court were to decide against the retirement decision - I hope not - then we will have to wait another day to retire them. Maybe next year. How about next year?

Land Reform

I am also for land reform. But whatever reform proposal is implemented, it has to be passed by the parliament after plentiful debate and discussion.

Step 2: Force All Parties To Make Their Book Keeping Transparent, Public

This is a must. I would like to know how much money the Maoists have.

Who Will Win The Next Elections

I could take a guess, but it is hard to tell. But one thing is pretty sure. We are destined to have a hung parliament for at least a few rounds. No party is big enough to claim a majority of its own. Even if the Maoists were to emerge the largest party after the next election, I expect them to have a smaller comparative size than what they have now. So the winner party will be the one that goes out of the way to work with other parties. And now is when you start doing that. If the Maoists exhibit bad behavior, they can expect isolation. Maybe they don't want isolation. So behave.

In The News

CA by-election conducted at six constituencies, results to be out within three hours NepalNews
PM Dahal confers with President Yadav
Reporters’ Club Chairman Rishi Dhamala freed by Appellate Court
SC issues show cause order against six Maoist leaders including PM for contempt of court
Minor clash in Dhanusha, two injured
Koirala says by-election will give new direction, bring changes in national politics
Indian aid of Rs 90 million for schools and road in 3 districts
NC cadre brutally murdered in Nuwakot
Ex Nepali king trying to restore monarchy
‘Foreign Minister Yadav has violated all diplomatic protocols’
Voting resumes after some disturbances, no violence reported
Exercise has begun for a new PM, says UML GS Pokhrel
PHSC endorses ambassador nominee for 5 countries
Government working towards establishing new industrial areas
Ambassador nominee refutes allegations of leaking information
Hetauda Cloth to get new lease of life
Biratnagar tense following clashes between Unified Maoists and Matrika Yadav led Maoists
Media associations condemn PM’s remark
DoFE launches measures for manpower agencies
Oli for replacing current govt by UML led coalition
UML to allow adjourned House to resume
Unified CPN (Maoist) expels Sujit BK from party
New commerce policy launched; export industries to be promoted
Maoist cadres assault govt lawyer for defending murder case in Surkhet
NA need not boycott games just because PLA is allowed to participate: Home Minister
PLA commanders challenge UML, NC leaders to prove cantonments as safe haven for criminals
PM Dahal says country’s media under the control of feudalists
Maoists form committee to investigate Butwal incident
House deadlock continues as guilty of Thaiba case remains at large
PM Dahal vows to take peace process to 'logical conclusion, intensifies parleys to find consensus
'UML won't quit govt early'
Koirala continues his verbal barrage against Maoists
FNCCI to build hydro projects
PM's foreign affairs advisor seeks action against ambassador nominee
'Bandh' called by left parties brings nation to a halt
Sub-committees submit report to CC
UML to change ministers after by-elections
FM embarks on a week-long visit to China; discusses bilateral issues with TAR chairman
Early start of army integration process a must for peace: Khanal
Three youths found slain in Dhanusha
Maoists trying to establish totalitarian system: Koirala
Former king holds consultations on 'baby king'
'Passport system at Nepal-India border essential to protect national interest'
Maoists, UML present their concepts on future Judiciary system

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