Showing posts with label Government of India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government of India. Show all posts

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pahadi Men, Take Note

English: Nepali people
English: Nepali people (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: A picture taken in Bhaktapur, Kathman...
English: A picture taken in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Nepal. A Nepali woman smiles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: A hindu devotee in Nepal
English: A hindu devotee in Nepal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nepali Writer Manjushree Thapa
Nepali Writer Manjushree Thapa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nepalese writer Manjushree Thapa explains why she burned her country’s new constitution
The new statute bars Nepalese women from conferring citizenship to their children independently of men. It also prohibits children of Nepali women and foreign men from holding high office.
I don’t know when I realised I wasn’t equal to my brother. My mother was a medical doctor, my father a PhD; there was never any question that my sister and I would have the same educational and professional opportunities as my brother. When we were old enough to understand such things ‒ I may have been nine or ten ‒ my parents explained that when the time came, they’d will their property to us evenly. My sister and I were promised that we were, in all ways, equal. But by that time I already knew that the rule of our family wasn’t the law of the land. I understood that outside the shelter of our exceptionally socially liberal family, in Nepal, my brother was more valued than I. ...... Concepts such as rights come later in life, but the feeling of our lesser worth is inculcated early in Nepali girls. Is it when we’re praised more for our looks than our achievements? Is it when the expectations of us are shaped, violently, to make us fit an impossible ideal? Is it when we’re reminded, over and over, to behave demurely, to be pleasing, to agree, to smile? The messages come from all directions, all the time. We’re taught early in life that we’re just girls. ...... I’m in my forties now, and living, for the moment, in Canada. I’ve successfully eluded the impossible ideal of Nepali womanhood. I haven’t married, I don’t have children, my family life is happily unorthodox. My mother didn’t make my sister and me spend our menarche hidden away, as girls of our caste were expected to do; we’ve never been considered untouchable when menstruating. I don’t defer to my partner; I don’t defer to men in general. From the age of fourteen I’ve identified as a feminist. ...... But by law I’m a Nepali woman, and therefore, by law, lesser than a Nepali man. Though I’ve lived in the US and Canada for half my life, I have, against the advice of well-wishers, and with some abiding, perhaps misguided, loyalty, retained Nepali citizenship......... Nepal’s civil code has been guided by Hindu law, which sees women as the property of either their fathers or husbands. There’s a Nepali adage ‒

“Women have no caste”

‒ which goes to the heart of the Hindu patriarchal devaluation of women. Our identities are defined by men; we have no essence, no identity, of our own. ...... When I first became politically aware ‒ in my early teens ‒ Nepal’s civil code was so hateful it

assigned punishment for rape according to whether the victim was a virgin, married, or a prostitute, because her worth relied on her sexual purity.

Women couldn’t inherit parental property. Abortion was illegal. There were only one or two women in government at any given time; often there were none. There was no concept of affirmative action to correct that. ......... The adage, “Women have no caste,” has been interpreted by constitution after Nepali constitution as, “Women have no nationality.” Our bodies are considered mere vessels for men to pass on their nationality, be that foreign or Nepali. ...... When I turned eighteen I obtained my own citizenship through my father, not my mother. ..... If I’d had children I wouldn’t be able to confer citizenship to them.......

No other country in South Asia discriminates between men and women’s citizenship rights; only 26 countries worldwide do. Nepal long ago ratified the UN’s Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. A young generation of Nepalis is forward-looking, progressive, embracing of social liberalism. So we really believed things would finally change.

...... all of Nepal’s major political parties, be they conservative, liberal, leftist, or radical, have consistently been united on one point: that equal citizenship rights for women threatens Nepali sovereignty. ....... in the mind of the Hindu patriarch ‒ since women have no caste/nationality, their bodies are possibly traitorous, hosts to foreign babies, and ‒ given Nepal’s open border with India ‒ specifically to Indian babies. These traitorous female bodies have to be controlled for the sake of the nation; women must not be able to confer Nepali citizenship independently of men......... In the past few years Nepal’s feminist movement did everything short of taking up arms to change the minds of Hindu patriarchs. They put on demonstrations, rallies, and marches to the point of exhaustion. They sat at meetings with party leaders, with the president, the prime minister, the speaker of the house. They led awareness drives and media campaigns. They even went on hunger strike....... When all other arguments were exhausted, Hindu patriarchs returned to

the same hateful argument: “It isn’t about women, it’s about the open border with India.”

Nationalism beats, as a final refuge, in the hearts of Nepal’s Hindu patriarchs. Incredible as it sounds, they are ruled by

a deep-seated xenophobia, a fear that Indian men will marry Nepali women, and the children ‒ born of Indian seed! ‒ will populate Nepal.

Nepal will then no longer be Nepali; it will be Indian. “We agree with you,” Nepali feminists have been told. “But you have to consider our national identity.” If women are to be loyal to Nepal, we must accept unequal citizenship rights. ....... Not only can women not confer citizenship to their children independently of men, the children of Nepali women and foreign men will be barred from high office. No such restriction applies to the children of Nepali men married to foreign women. And Nepali men can, as ever, confer citizenship to their children independently of women.......

News of this vote felt violent, like a slap, a blow, a punch to the gut. I spent days reeling, in shock, raging and impotent, bewildered and ill, thinking: a country that betrays its women doesn’t deserve women’s loyalty.

....... Unequal citizenship rights will leave more than

four million stateless

in Nepal. This means they’ll have no recourse to government services; the stateless are intensely vulnerable. ..... it feels deeply personal, as though I’ve been dealt a psychic wound that won’t ever heal now. Perhaps my shock is a post-traumatic response to having my worthlessness ‒ just a girl, just a woman ‒ reinforced every day for all of my life. As I’ve grown older, and more confident, I’ve come to feel that

being a Nepali woman is akin to being in an abusive relationship.

The relationship in this case is with a state that holds our paperwork captive, and uses its power to humiliate, demean, and demoralize women, to keep us down. ........ I’m through with being abused by my own country. I can’t accept the constitution’s privileging of the male bloodline over the female, of semen over ova. I can’t accept the empowering of the male body and the negation of the female body, the erasure of women’s agency as full human beings. ...... I read about BR Ambedkar burning the Manusmriti, the text that enshrines caste, and also gender, bigotry in Hinduism. After September 16, I followed the news of others in Nepal who were going to burn the constitution ‒ in the Madhes, in Indigenous communities. I was hoping not to have to do so myself. ....... I’d gone to the banks of Boulder Creek and quietly, without ceremony, burned it. ...... The act felt funereal rather than defiant. I was mournful rather than angry. Something in me ‒ hope, perhaps, for a better future for Nepal ‒ had died. My loyalty had faded. “Mann nai maryo,” were the only words I could speak. The fire flared, blazed briefly, and flickered out. My emotions toward my country burned away.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Media Coverage

English: Durga, Kathmandu, Nepal Español: Durg...
English: Durga, Kathmandu, Nepal Español: Durga, Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are the Thakres in Mumbai, and the Owaisi brothers in Hyderabad, and (in media) the Dixit brothers in Kathmandu. Kanak Dixit cemented his reputation with the Himal magazine a long time ago, and they have branched out since. I have thought of Kanak as a distant comrade on the democracy issue back in 2006, in the more recent years I have thought of him as an opponent on the federalism issue.

Let me make it clear, I have never had issue with any trending topic on Twitter, and #GoHomeIndianMedia was no exception. Free expression is a beautiful thing. I can disagree and celebrate at the same time.

But I have been curious. I have had the disadvantage of not seeing the TV coverage that brought about that Twitter storm. For the most part. I have seen a few minutes here and there on Facebook. But I have yet to come across something I might find offensive.

TV coverage is what brings in the help and the aid. TV coverage gone, most of the incoming help also comes down to a trickle, as it predictably did.

Of course the media is going to report on the extremes and the dramatic. That is how they work everywhere. The Dixit brothers are in the print medium. Maybe they should jump into the online video segment as well. That will help them appreciate.
In fact the first foreign correspondents to parachute in the next morning were surprised on the drive into the city that they didn’t spot a single ruined building. Had they flown into the wrong hotspot by mistake? ....... there is a formula for news and it’s hard to file a story that doesn’t fit it........ Which is why from Haiti to Haiyan, from Nargis to Nepal, it is, quite literally, the same old story. ...... The international media arrives in herds and hunts in packs. Everything has to conform to a preordained script: you parachute in and immediately find good visuals of ‘utter devastation’; recruit an English-speaking local who doesn’t need subtitling; trail the rescue teams with sniffer dogs you flew in with as they pull someone out alive, after 12 hours (the rescuers need their logos on TV as much as you need them in the picture). ....... Then it’s back to the hotel bar to swap stories of derring-do, before calling the desk to plan tomorrow’s story of slow government response, and the day after tomorrow’s account of yet another survivor pulled out alive. After that, get a ride in a rescue helicopter for the out-of-town visual of utter devastation in a remote mountain village.
Why is this surprising? Is this Dixit trying to pull a Go Home Western Media?
To my knowledge no foreign correspondent went around shooting streets in which all the buildings were still standing. They didn’t have time to look at farmers harvesting potatoes by the roadside as they rushed to pan across more historic ruins. ...... No-one found it extraordinary or newsworthy that the phones were working, that they could tweet even from the hinterland, or that Kathmandu got back electricity in three days. Such bits of information didn’t fit the script. ...... Because competing TV channels are in the same helicopter, there is a temptation to over-dramatise, embellish and overstate. And countries like Nepal better have their disasters on a slow news day in North America - otherwise they might not make the bulletins.
And now the money quote.
But in Kathmandu this month it was the arrival of Indian TV journalists that exposed the worst shortcomings of the international media. It was as if the reporters were selected for their archetypal crudeness and rudeness, and ability to be insensitive to survivors. Nepali villagers who had just lost relatives were treated like hard-of-hearing hillbillies who should have been thankful to be on camera. ..... the most biting criticism came from India’s own public sphere, with many criticising the country’s TV coverage of the Kashmir floods last year as equally crass and overbearing.
This always happens, no?
Although many correspondents tried to get more minutes on air, the media had moved on to the UK elections, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. The challenge now is to keep the spotlight on Nepal when another disaster strikes. Not another earthquake, but when the monsoon rains in July-August trigger landslides on mountains destabilised by the tremors.
Do that on social media. Become your own media.

Summary: I am surprised Kunda Dixit is surprised the global media was interested in fallen temples and houses and not those intact and standing. That is how TV works. Of all people, he should know.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Earthquake: Facing The Facts

  • In terms of loss of life and sheer destruction and damage to property this has been the biggest devastation the country has faced for as long as it has existed. The magnitude of the tragedy is enormous. 
  • Nepal was a poor country. It is now even more poor. And that will not immediately change. 
  • Nepal was a poorly governed country. The quality of governance will suffer further in the immediate future. 
  • Nepal has had a corrupt government. The corrupt elements are in no mood for a timeout. If anything, they will attempt to go on a hyper drive. 
  • The law and order situation was weak before the earthquake hit. Many criminal elements are intent on fishing in these muddy waters. 
  • By some estimates, the loss is in the $5-$10 billion range in a country whose GDP is $20 billion. There is no power out there that feels the need to compensate for that damage, dollar for dollar. The reality is Nepal just lost a decade of growth. It went backwards. 
  • The pledged donations from outside are in the $100 million range. Less than that. Expect 80% of it to be spent by those governments to hire their own people and buy relief goods in their own countries. Only 20% of it will go "native." Half of that 20% might be lost to local corruption. 
  • Elected governments at the local level might have helped, but only to an extent. And the politicians have still not moved past their chicken-egg situation on federalism. The blame game is still there. It is best to take some time off from the federalism debate, for at least until after monsoon. 

Friday, May 08, 2015

In The News (8)

बामदेवलाई गृहमन्त्रीबाट हटाउन ओली निवासमा छलफल
पहिलेदेखि नै गौतमको कार्यशैलीबाट असन्तुष्ट भएपनि पछिल्लो समयमा महाभूकम्मको विपत्तिका बेला उनको भूमिकाले पार्टीको मात्र नभई आफ्नै व्यक्तिगत छविलाई समेतलाई धमिल्याउने काम गरेको निष्कर्षमा अध्यक्ष ओली पुगेको स्रोतको दाबी छ । विपत्तिको यो घडीमा कार्यबाहक प्रधानमन्त्रीको समेत जिम्मेवारी सम्हालेका गौतमले जति गर्न सक्थे, त्यसमा सिन्को भाँच्नेसम्मको काम नगरेको र सरकारको दोषको भार एमालेले बोक्नु परेको भन्दै ओलीले गौतमलाई हटाउन छलफल चलाएको बताइन्छ । विपत्तिका बेला काम गर्नेभन्दा भड्किला अभिव्यक्ति दिने गौतमको कार्यशैलीबाट एमाले नेताहरु बेचैन भएको बुझिएको छ । ...... कमिसन आउने विषयमा उनको नांगो हस्तक्षेप देखिएकाले उनलाई दर्खास्त गर्ने विषयमा कुरा भएको ....... हतियार खरिदमा हुने कमिसनको खेलमा गृहमन्त्री गौता चुलुम्म डुबेको एमालेको एक नेताले बताए । हतियार खरिद गर्दा तीन वटा देशसँग गोप्य कोटेशन आव्हान गर्नुपर्छ । जसले सबैभन्दा सस्तोमा कोटेशन गर्छ, उसैसँग खरिद गर्नुपर्ने हुन्छ । तर, यो पटक गौतमले त्यो ऐन नै संशोधन गराएर एउटै देशबाट कोटेशन आव्हान गरेहुने बनाए । ...... यसो गर्नुको खास कारण उनका व्यापारिक साझेदार दीपक भट्टलाई खुसी पारेर उनीमार्फत आफूले कमिसन खानु रहेको एमाले स्रोतको दाबी छ । चीनियाँ हतियारका कारोवारी भट्ट गृहमन्त्री गौतमको खास मान्छे हुन् ।
Would like India to help us restore the glory of Nepal: Envoy
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) came in for a special praise from Nepalese Ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay for their rescue operations in his country following the killer quake last month, who also sought assistance from India in rebuilding the quake-ravaged country. ...... The Home Minister said Nepal is a part of "Bharat parivar" and India stands committed to stand by it. "Nepal is a sovereign nation and we consider it part of Bharat parivar (family). We will be standing where ever the Nepalese want us to stand by it." ...... Giving brief of the NDRF operations for nine days in Nepal under 'Operation Maitri', Director General of the force O P Singh said that

out of the 16 people found alive, 11 were rescued by his men

. ..... The specially-trained force rescued 11 persons, retrieved 132 bodies and provided medical aid to 1,157 injured and sick victims.
The Best Way to Help Nepal Recover From the Quake? Go There on Vacation
Ganga Sagar Pant, CEO of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN), says there is no reason for Nepal’s tourism — currently contributing around 10% of GDP and jobs — to grind to a halt. “The world must go on,” he said. “The tourism products are still there — mountains, flora and fauna, jungles, trails.”
Nepal earthquake: UN says it has only received fraction of necessary aid
a race against time to deliver relief supplies to remote areas – some of which are accessible only on foot – before the expected arrival of heavy monsoon rains next month. ..... “Someone has to open the tap....We cannot run our responses on credit cards. Those who have offered help need to make good on their pledges.”
That other jolt from Nepal’s earthquake
Many years after the great Ethiopian famine of 1984, a British television reporter—a veteran of many conflicts and disasters—conceded with remarkable candour that his reports may have inadvertently ended up reinforcing racial stereotypes about Africa. By repeatedly showing images of white charity workers coming to the aid of helpless starving Ethiopians—ignoring African workers for instance—journalist Michael Buerk and cameraman Mohamed Amin’s reports may even have caused a loss of self-esteem among blacks in Brixton and other London neighbourhoods, where they already suffered from racial discrimination at the time. ....... From being the land of wildlife born and roaming free, diverse Africa had become the continent of dying babies. ..... Last week, social media in earthquake-hit Nepal was set abuzz with criticism of the way the tragedy was being reported by Indian television channels, which were busy focusing on the relief and rescue work being carried out by Indian disaster relief forces. A Nepali cartoon showed an Indian television cameraman peeking out of the pocket of an Indian disaster relief worker. The Twitter hashtag #GoHomeIndianMedia went viral in Nepal, before being picked up by the Nepali mainstream media and travelling to India. ........ Indian television may have helped raise awareness of the Nepal earthquake. .......

But Indian television—news as well as fictional serials—is a bit like Hindi-language films: factual documentaries, largely, do not exist, and everything is black-and-white in colour. Forget nuance, balance and objectivity and, most of all, forget reasoned and informed debate.

....... Eight people, all shouting at the same time while wagging their fingers at the camera, may well be how television news in India wants to style itself and attract advertisements. If that is how debate is meant to be aired in a particular cultural context—debates in Parliament can be similarly noisy—then who is anyone to tell them otherwise. ........ The problem happens when they step outside familiar ground. Nepal, for instance. Anchor after anchor has spoken about how familiar they are with this country, yet few have really studied its politics, history, society and economics. ....... Few Indian journalists are hired for their specialization, few develop specialisms at work, say South Asian politics and culture. Why bother—aren’t they all a bit like us. Does anyone even speak Nepali? The result is loose talk of conspiracies—that foreign office favourite—apparently hatched by “anti-Indian sections in Nepal”. ....... The problem occurs when they cover international news, or even South Asian news, which has been scaled down the order of priorities for years, so that even for conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan or, to a lesser extent, Sri Lanka, much of the Indian media has taken its news from global media outlets—primarily, the big western wire services, American and British newspaper syndicates, the BBC and CNN. Anyone who has ever visited Nepal and mixed with Nepalis will know the amusement and slight irritation that Indian television news causes there. One prominent Indian television reporter told me from Kathmandu it’s not all Nepalis—it’s just “the intelligentsia and media”. ........ “Look, there’s been a race from day one, on who would be the first channel to get to the epicenter of the earthquake. And the government of India brought these reporters along, like embedded journalists, trying to copy the Yanks. .... “The Indian guys were hobnobbing with the Indian journalists. The local journalist was left out, and that’s why this whole thing happened. The local media were given access only a week later. ....... “On the one hand, it was like an Indian PR exercise. On the other hand, just about every one of the Nepali journalists has been affected by the earthquake in one way or the other. They have been camping out, living in tents. But still, the way they (Nepali media) have covered the disaster, they’ve really stood out in my opinion.” ....... Every reporter wants to save a baby, every reporter wants their army to pull someone out alive, every reporter wants to be the first on Ground Zero. A temple stood in the midst of rubble, we were told—over and over again. ....... This is the problem of parachute journalism, and there is nothing new in it. We have all done it. Western media have practised it for decades but they have also become acutely aware of the problems this can sometimes cause—chiefly bad journalism. Which is why you see more and more local journalists working for international media the world over. Sadly, news across Indian television channels is a mere platform to hyper-ventilate with hyper-nationalism.
What India can learn from Nepal
Nepal is this conflict-ridden poor country that hasn’t been able to frame a new Constitution for eight years now, has ego issues with India, plays the China card before New Delhi ..... Nepal’s image as a country that can’t manage itself is reinforced by the constant political instability in Kathmandu, because the politics is too bitter. ..... If we could, we’d be surprised that there are ways in which Nepal’s polity is more progressive than India’s. ..... Nepal has gone from war to peace, monarchy to republic, theocratic to secular state, a monolithic hill-centric nationalism to inclusive citizenship, and is slowly moving from unitary to federal state. These are processes, Jha argues, that countries and societies have taken decades to achieve. ...... Consider, in contrast, how India’s various conflicts, in Kashmir, the North East and the tribal belt, have been dragging on for decades, with New Delhi “managing” rather than seeking to resolve them. ..... Bringing the Maoists to the table was no mean achievement, one that India came around to supporting. ........ It is curious, for instance, why Nepal has almost no internet censorship, a claim no other South Asian country can make. Internet censorship, more than even press censorship, is a sign of how free a society is........ Nepal is also the only country in South Asia with no restrictions on community radio. Anybody can set up a local community radio station. News and politics are allowed. There were 263 operational community radio stations when the earthquake struck; 20 of them have been destroyed. ... Unfortunately, India is too afraid of radio, and does not give community radio licenses to anyone other than small NGOs and universities. India doesn’t even allow news on FM radio. ..... Nepal is the only country in South Asia where homosexuality is not criminalised. .. In 2008, Sunil Babu Pant became a member of the first constituent assembly (2008-2012), thus becoming the only openly gay politician in South Asia. ........ The first constituent assembly was described by the United Nations as having set a “gold standard on inclusion of minorities.” A third of its 601 members were women, Dalit representation was up from 0 to 49 in just a decade.
Alibaba's Jack Ma Joins Nepali Billionaire Binod Chaudhary's Rebuilding Efforts In Quake-Hit Nepal
Through his charitable arm, the Chaudhary Foundation, the billionaire is contributing $2.5 million in efforts to reconstruct 100 schools and 10,000 houses. The Foundation will pay the cost of 1,000 homes and raise money from other wealthy donors for the remaining 9,000 units. ...... Jack Ma’s Alibaba Foundation has agreed to fund 1,000 homes and will be sending a team of 10 executives to Nepal, reports Chaudhary. The Indorama Foundation, the charitable arm of Indian-born Indonesian plastics tycoon Sri Prakash Lohia, has pledged funds for 1,000 homes. ..... Alibaba’s Ma, whom Chaudhary met a year ago, was quick to respond to his request for help. So too his friend Lohia. ..... The houses to be constructed are expected to cost


each and are being designed by Seeds India, an Indian non-profit, which has done similar work in northern India and Habitat for Humanity, which already operates in Nepal.
Destiny Dev Bungie Raises $400,000 (So Far) for Nepal Earthquake Relief

Does this ‘Nepal’ image make you want to build these children a home? Think again
An estimated 1.7 million children have been directly affected by the disaster, and the viral photograph seemed to perfectly encapsulate their situation. Desperate, vulnerable and alone. ..... We feel sympathy and pity, and these emotions create a power dynamic. They are helpless, we can help. They are vulnerable, we can protect them. ...... The standard response to images of displaced or at-risk children after a disaster overseas, is to build and support orphanages. It seems like an easy way to ensure children have a roof over their heads, and hopefully food and education, too. It was a response to the tsunami in 2004. It was a response to the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. It was even the response to the 10-year civil war in Nepal that ended in 2006.

It was the wrong response.

...... In Haiti, an estimated 80% of children in orphanages have a living parent. Some Haitian “orphans” were even adopted by American families, only for it to be revealed that they were not real orphans. Foreign aid can end up unnecessarily denying vulnerable children the chance to live with their families and instead condemning them to a lifetime of institutionalisation. ......... In many countries across the world, including Nepal, children are deliberately separated from their parents and trafficked to orphanages. As in any situation that attracts a large amount of cash, the willingness of foreign donors and volunteers to support orphanages can be exploited for profit motives. Aid money can be unknowingly lining the pockets of corrupt businessmen and fuelling the commodification of children. ........ “We are now deeply concerned that the earthquake will accelerate [child trafficking] beyond our worst nightmares. Aid money is flooding in to the country, children’s homes are offering hundreds more places for children, and not enough is being done in the rural areas to stop the flow of children away from their families into profit-making orphanages.” Children who have been separated, displaced or orphaned are among the most vulnerable in society. If we stand by while they are trafficked into institutions – many of which keep children in woefully inadequate conditions and some of which are dangerous – we will fail them. ........ It is always disempowering to hear that things are more complicated than originally assumed. That good intentions can backfire, that obvious solutions create even worse problems. We are being warned against rushing to Nepal and giving the “wrong kind” of aid. ..... we are mustering support for nuanced and considered responses that aim towards real solutions that we would accept in our own countries.
Nepal earthquake survivors turn to rebuilding homes and lives
Six years ago, Paru Shrestha's family tore down their old home in the Nepali town of Sankhu and replaced it with a modern, five-storey house. It probably saved their lives. .... Ten days after the 7.8 magnitude quake, many people were still searching debris for the bodies of loved ones, or struggling to recuperate from injury and trauma. ...... But many survivors do not complain simply because they know other Nepalis are suffering, too. ..... The quake has affected 8 million of Nepal's 28 million people, with at least 3 million needing tents, water, food and medicines over the next three months, said the United Nations. About 519,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed. ...... "If we can't rebuild our homes, we'll be displaced. We can't let that happen," said Madan Shrestha, 35, a bookseller who is not related to Paru. But most Nepalis cannot afford even to demolish their damaged houses, never mind build new ones.
Earthquake Strains Nepal's Already Shaky, But Potentially Powerful, Electricity Sector
Now, with many villages and municipalities here about to enter their second week without power — and with little expectation that the outages can be addressed quickly, given the extent of damage to the nation’s already fragile delivery infrastructure — many communities could be facing a long, slow journey just to get back to a crude baseline of regular power shortages. ...... More than a dozen hydropower plants — the chief source of electricity generation in the country — have suffered damages as a result of 7.8 magnitude earthquake, reducing the country’s domestic power production capabilities by as much as much as 30 percent ...... At least six other power projects that were under construction by NEA and a variety of smaller independent producers, have suffered damages. ....... at least eight private generating facilities remained completely offline. ..... “The number of all damaged distribution transformers may be in the many hundreds or even thousands,” Bhat said in an email message. “Reports of such damages are yet to be collected from remote areas where communication is yet to be restored. Similarly, distribution lines — including distribution poles, insulators and conductors — are damaged in large quantities. The exact quantity is yet to be confirmed.” ........ The rapid deployment of small-scale, increasingly independent hydropower projects in dozens of remote communities had helped to reduce the portion of Nepal’s 28 million inhabitants without any access to electricity in recent years to between one-quarter and one-third. ......

one of the critical needs besides food and shelter is electricity for lighting and mobile charging

...... someone from his village comes down to the nearest town with 70-80 mobile phones every alternate day to do mass charging ..... a Nepalese solar firm, Gham Power, which is working with other businesses and stakeholders to identify areas most in need of power and dispatch solar charging and lighting kits as quickly as possible ..... With more than 2 percent of all global water resources at its disposal, Nepal has long been poised to be a self-sustaining electricity powerhouse. A prodigious monsoon season and vast water stores of the Himalayan glaciers feed thick arterial river flows up and down this mountainous nation, representing as much as 83,000 megawatts of hydropower potential — enough to overhaul a woefully underdeveloped economy and turn Nepal into a powerful regional electricity supplier. ...... Beset by political bickering, however, the nation has only managed to harness less than one percent of that potential thus far, and the recent earthquake is only likely to set things back further — though China and India will be keen to get things on track as quickly as possible. With burgeoning middle-class and electricity-hungry populations of their own, both countries have been eyeing Nepal’s hydropower sector in recent years
Here’s how broke college students are helping Nepal recover from disaster
crowdsourcing information, in real time, that people need on the ground. ..... Sevier used social media to draw in more than 60 volunteers – during final exams, no less – to learn the mapping software. “They were really excited to have a chance to help,” she said. ..... It only took about 20 minutes to an hour to learn how to do it, she said, and now she keeps seeing students working on the maps around campus, at the library, at coffee shops. ..... an international charity is using the maps to help guide its decisions in Nepal
Nepal earthquake rocks its economy
preliminary economic losses from the Nepal earthquake likely to reach and possibly exceed $5 billion. That would equal at least 25 percent of Nepal's GDP. ...... the IMF expects the Nepalese economy to "decelerate" in the short term as the nation deals with the loss of essential revenue from tourism and absorbs higher costs for imported goods. ..... preliminary reconstruction costs in Nepal could climb above $5 billion .. "Their tourism economy has obviously come to a halt. I don't know when it would be realistic for tourists to again visit Nepal." ...... less than $3.50 is spent per capita annually in Nepal on property and casualty insurance, versus the nearly $2,300 spent each year in the U.S.
Nepal asks India to provide only much-needed items
Kathmandu has asked Indian agencies not to send items like water or clothes, and focus instead on supplying tarpaulin sheets and dry rations for its citizens rendered homeless by the unprecedented disaster. ....... "I am proud of the NDRF. They have carved a niche for themselves as an able rescue force,

having rescued alive 11 of the total 16 people and recovering 133 bodies in all. This, when rescue agencies from 34 different countries had been working in Nepal

," Singh said. ...... All 780 NDRF personnel engaged in the rescue mission are back home
Israel lauds India’s efforts in rescuing nationals from Nepal
no known Israeli national is stranded as of now. "We only lost one Israeli youth who got buried in the debris. His body has already been flown back to Israel."

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

In The News (4)

Video: Bamdev Gautam

Nepal, Before and After the Earthquake
The accounts hint at the trauma of seeing an environment mostly taken for granted as stable and secure suddenly disintegrate. There was the house that fell on a little girl who had just walked inside to fetch water. There was the nursing mother who looked up and saw the unthinkable: “The hills all came down.” ...... scientists project that this residual shaking could continue for years.
Indian media criticized for 'insensitive' coverage on Nepal quake
Hours after Nepal was shaken by its biggest quake in decades, India rushed to the rescue -- its army, air force, and rescue teams were applauded for their nimble and generous response. ..... Local news channels have been proudly trumpeting that they were the first ones to reach "Ground Zero" and to bring "exclusive" reports to households in India and across the world. ...... Indian journalist Indrani Bagchi argued that it's unfair to criticize India's media with one brushstroke -- if it wasn't for India's media, many of the stories of what's happening in Nepal would go untold ...... "Indian media coverage has been largely responsible for how the rest of the world sees the Nepal tragedy. Even driven global response. Even if it is slightly over the top sometimes"
India's TV journalists have damaged our relations with Nepal
For years, Indian journalists reported stories about “big brother India” in Nepal, and how Delhi’s policies towards its northern neighbour often resembled the third degree being meted out to a recalcitrant, moody, stubborn child who simply refused to listen. ....... This patronising treatment was primarily the prerogative of Indian diplomats posted in that Himalayan nation, and it was no coincidence that the ambassador was often called the “Viceroy”. ..... God forbid you were seen in public with an Indian diplomat; it was as if your credibility was already suspect. ...... Some of the Nepali reaction was certainly justified — remember the time, a few years ago, when the Indian ambassador applied enough pressure on Indian companies to pull advertisements from Nepali newspapers because he didn’t like the line they were toeing? ..... Certainly, the visiting Indian tourist, who behaved abominably in the bars and restaurants of Thamel or in casinos elsewhere in the city, reconfirmed the ‘Ugly Indian’ epithet that the poorer Nepalis applied to them. ...... There was an intimate dislike between Indians and Nepalis — precisely because both citizenry shared language and religion and colour of skin. ...... Having gone there to cover the earthquake and show solidarity with the pain and trauma of those who had suffered, several Indian TV journalists instead behaved like callous and insensitive jerks, one of them repeatedly asking a woman who had lost her young son: “How do you feel?” ...... It’s enough to make you throw up. The exact same thing happened in the Kashmir floods in September last year. Some TV journalists got into boats that the National Disaster & Rescue Force (NDRF) had employed to rescue residents of Srinagar, and, thrusting their mics in the face of traumatised people, asked: “Are you grateful that the Indian army/air force/NDRF are rescuing you?” ...... When some Srinagar residents shouted back into the cameras: “We are Indians too, we don’t need to be grateful,” the TV journalists replied by reporting that Kashmiris had divided loyalties towards Pakistan. ..... Several Nepalis have caustically pointed out how several Indian journalists reporting the Nepal earthquake behaved as if the people’s trauma was only a sideshow to the “amazing” help that the Indian government in general, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular, displayed towards Nepal. ...... No wonder Doval and Jaishankar — and joint secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Javed Ashraf — flew into Kathmandu a few days ago to reiterate the message, that Nepal was leading the entire operation and India would only help Nepal as long as Nepal wanted help. The fact of the matter is that the NDRF has specially exhibited such sterling service that it has left every other country far behind. India is the only country that doesn’t have the name “India” emblazoned on every tent, every all-weather jacket, every milk tin, every grain bag that is being flown into Nepal. Every other country — whether China, the US, Israel, Britain as well as every two-bit Scandinavian do-gooding nation as well as NGO — is behaving like they’re there to “save the people”.

The Glory That Was Hippie-Era Kathmandu Finally Died in the Nepal Earthquake
60% of all heritage buildings were “badly damaged” in the quake. With them, a whole way of life has finally vanished. ..... The Kathmandu valley lies at an ethereal altitude of 4,600 ft. (1,400 m), and, besides the natural beauty of the encircling Himalayas, boasts some 130 monuments, including several Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. Or perhaps we should say “boasted.” ...... The 1975 Bob Seger classic “Katmandu” immortalized the escapist allure of Kathmandu. “I’m tired of looking at the TV news,” sang Seger. “I’m tired of driving hard and paying dues/ I figure, baby, I’ve got nothing to lose/ I’m tired of being blue/ That’s why I’m going to Kathmandu.” ...... Goodman, a 67-year-old Ohio native, describes his time in the ancient Newar city of Bhaktapur, just 8 miles (13 km) outside Kathmandu, and where at least 270 people were killed in the most recent quake, as like “living in medieval Europe in the 13th century.” ....... “I used to wake up around 7 a.m. to the sound of birds at the window, distant temple bells and giggling girls at the water tap by my house,” says Goodman. “I’ve never woken to a nicer sound in my life.” ...... Those halcyon days began to fade towards the end of the 1980s. The government made visas harder to obtain, and many long-term expatriates, like Goodman, were strong-armed into departing. The Iranian Revolution and civil war in Lebanon made the old overland route to Nepal far more difficult. New arrivals had to come by air, and thus needed deeper pockets. Later, Nepal’s own civil war, which raged from 1996 to 2006, deterred many visitors. ...... Today, income inequality has soared and land values within the Kathmandu ring road rival those of New York City ...... While the trickle down of tourist dollars has helped some, particularly the Sherpas, “marginalized groups who are not in the trekking areas do not receive any of the benefits” ........ And once all the rubble has been cleared (or looted), there seems almost no chance that the traditional but vulnerable red brick and timber structures will return. The old city will be rebuilt in reinforced concrete and hippie Kathmandu will become merely a memory. The Kathmandu of an even earlier era may not return either.
Recovery In Nepal
One view holds that no government could have dealt with a crisis of this magnitude, let alone Nepal’s ....... Nepal is in a seismically vulnerable zone, the government should have been better prepared. No one disputes the contributions of foot soldiers in the rescue effort, but there is obvious frustration with the government response. Reaching out to all locations immediately may not have been possible, but there is emerging criticism of the government’s actions in the first three days, when rescue needs were most acute; its neglect of rural regions; its failure to have stockpiled basic supplies; the inertia of political parties that have not been on the ground helping citizens; and the government’s confusing and contradictory directives on requirements for receiving international assistance. ........ There have already been protests of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s management of the crisis. Koirala, who was in Bangkok when the earthquake struck, reportedly received the news from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweets. Delhi, meanwhile, has been a remarkably energetic first international responder. By the Thursday after the earthquake, India had sent five hundred and twenty tons of relief materials, eighteen medical teams, eighteen engineering teams, and sixteen disaster-relief teams. India also sent National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar for a ground-level field assessment. An editorial in the Kathmandu Post, Nepal’s leading English-language daily, noted that the hashtag #ThankPM was trending on Twitter, and caustically commented that it was, in fact, to thank Modi. ........ The debate about the Nepalese government’s capacity and effectiveness has real policy implications: it will help determine the balance of power between the state and other actors when it comes to determining relief priorities, distributing aid, and working on a long-term reconstruction plan. Nepal’s finance minister, Ram Sharan Mahat, has said that the country will need at least two billion dollars to rebuild, and has issued an international appeal for help. The United States has pledged almost twenty-six million dollars; the U.K., 7.5 million; and the E.U., 3.2 million; there have also been pledges from individual European countries, and aid has been channelled through international N.G.O.s and private charities. These numbers are constantly changing as actors scale up their assistance. But the question is whether Nepal’s government is in a position to effectively coördinate the aid that is coming in and deliver it to those who need it. ......... Young people of Nepalese origin all over the world have been quick to start fund-raising initiatives. ...... the earthquake has brought Nepalese society together in ways that were difficult to imagine until last week, when a polarized political climate and deep social cleavages had almost eroded the ethos we shared and the sense of belonging we had
Use Data, Not Nepotism, to Deliver Aid in Nepal
On the day the earthquake hit, after finding out that relatives and friends in Kathmandu Valley were alive, I worked to connect volunteers and people affected by the quake, using low-tech solutions including a Google Doc and social media. As I helped crowdsource resources and needs, and read reports from the ground, it became apparent that there was little relief available for villages outside of Kathmandu Valley. When we look at the data coming out of the disaster so far, it’s clear that these villages need relief, too. ....... The data show that villages outside the Kathmandu Valley need aid the most, not just based on the lives lost and houses destroyed by this disaster, but also because historically people in the villages had less to start with. ..... For instance, in Nuwakot, a district about 60 miles northwest of Kathmandu, about 45,000 houses have reportedly been destroyed or damaged. According to Nepal’s 2011 census, there are about 59,000 households in that district. That means that potentially only one in four houses are left intact in Nuwakot. Yet only about 1,300 people in the district have been reported injured by the earthquake—a figure that’s likely underreported. ....... we have been regularly updating an interactive map of the effects of Nepal’s earthquake. It uses district-level data to show injury tolls, death counts, and houses damaged to determine where aid is needed the most.
Nepal’s Only Billionaire Begins His Own Earthquake Aid Program
Nepal’s richest man–noodle king Binod Chaudhary–said his group has already handed out hundreds of thousands of packets of Wai Wai noodles ...... His Chaudhary Group is Nepal’s largest conglomerate with revenues of more than $800 million. It has interests in everything from cement to hotels to supermarkets but its best known brand is Wai Wai. ..... The group sells about two billion packets of the instant noodles worldwide every year. ..... While many of the group’s 6,000 employees had to sleep outdoors for a few days, none were killed by the quake and its production facilities in the district of Nawalparasi, more than 100 miles west of the capital, were undamaged. ...... If Nepal doesn’t get back on its feet quickly, he said, there is a real danger that a lack of opportunities could trigger a new exodus of workers from Nepal. ...... More than two million Nepalis already work overseas—most of them in India and Persian Gulf countries—sending home the equivalent of close to 30% of the country’s gross domestic product comes in remittances.
NASA's Radar Found 4 Men Trapped in Rubble in Nepal By Their Heartbeats
After the earthquake hit, rescuers in the village of Chautara got two prototype units of the device called FINDER, or Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response. The core of the device is a system that bounces microwaves around to “see.” Crucially, it can discern faint heartbeats and breaths in people buried under several feet of rubble....... In this case, FINDER was apparently able to detect the heartbeats of two men each in two different collapsed buildings. The men had been trapped for days, under as much as 10 feet of rubble.
Rolling Stones' Jagger, Wood record Nepal quake charity single
Horror in Nepal's 'worst-hit' village
Why hasn’t more money been raised for Nepal earthquake relief?
Just over a week after the devastating earthquake, only 2 per cent of the $415M (U.S.) flash appeal has been pledged. ...... the problem is that there is only a limited amount of money available for humanitarian relief in the world, and an endless supply of crises. ...... when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, aid flooded in from around the world...... the turmoil in the Middle East and Ebola in West Africa have taken their toll on the world’s coffers, and may have tilted the balance of available donors — mostly governments — away from Nepal. .... “The world’s kind of tapped out,” he said. .... global humanitarian expenses rose almost 30 per cent to US$22 billion in 2013. ...... Compounding the issue is that even when governments do pledge aid, it can take a long time to deliver. As of Monday, about 85 per cent of the money that has been raised for the flash appeal is still outstanding. ...And while countries across the world wait to send their checks, Nepal is running out of time... “Rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, as the monsoon season approaches, is likely to become an added logistical challenge to the provision of humanitarian assistance,” Doyle said.....“Funding is needed immediately to continue the relief operations.”

Sunday, May 03, 2015



Apparently these two hashtags started trending on Twitter. The Indian media apparently was disliked in both Nepal and India.

I do not know what exactly is being talked about. What particular coverage, what article. I have yet to come across any article in the Indian newspapers I would disapprove of. So the reference must be to TV. What footage? I have not seen anyone elaborate.

Two snippets I caught. (1) A TV journalist stands next to a survivor and asks, "How are you feeling?" (2) An Indian journalist confronts a Nepali policeman at the Pokhara airport saying, "Who are you to stop me?"

India has bee the first and the largest donor. Modi was the first to respond. The Indian government has been doing exemplary work. The Indian corporate houses have been stepping in. State governments have been stepping in. Bollywood stars have stepped in. Ordinary Indians across the country have been generously donating.

Media coverage is what makes all this possible. And TV is the most powerful medium. The help that comes from the Indian government is paid for by the Indian taxpayers. The Indian taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going. And the media helps communicate.

My worry has been some idiot will blow up some cafe somewhere and the global media will rapidly lose attention in Nepal and the donations will slow down. Happened in Haiti. The world was very interested for a few days, and, as always happens, the media got fascinated by something else.

So don't be ungrateful. Thank the Indian media that they keep covering Nepal. You should pray they don't stop. Because relief work has not even begun. Reconstruction is far away.

That Pokhara airport incident: I have a feeling the police officer might have talked to the Indian journalist the way he might have talked to a Madhesi before. India is a vibrant democracy. The media there takes pride in challenging authority. Also, the state might have been trying to prevent Indian journalists from getting to parts where relief work has not reached yet. That cover up is not something a media person would be interested in. But then I don't know the particular details.

This knee-jerk xenophobia is by people whose houses are still standing and who subscribe to the Bamdev brand of "nationalism" where as long as you can badmouth India, you can be corrupt, you can be in bed with the mafia, and nobody cares.

An appropriate hashtag to trend in Nepal would be #ThankYouModi -- another would be #NepalthanksModi --- European countries thanked him for Yemen. It is not beneath Nepal to thank Modi, currently the most popular politician in the world.

After his second Nepal visit Modi said, "ट्रस्ट डेफिसिट जितना कम होगा, काम उतना जल्दी जल्दी होगा।" The guy feels it. After all, look at where he rose from. He was selling tea as a young boy. He was trying to do so much for Nepal, and people like Bame kept getting in his way. He is the busiest person on the planet. He doesn't have time to handhold you while you are busy nursing your xenophobia.

बुद्ध ले मोक्ष प्राप्ति गरेको गया मा --- गया पर्छ बिहारमा ---- बिहार पर्छ भारतमा ---- बुद्ध भारतको होइन भनेर कस्ले भन्न सक्छ? बुद्ध जन्मेको बेला नेपाल भन्ने देश थिएन। बुद्ध काठमाण्डुमा जन्मेको होइन। त्यति बेलाको नेपाल भनेको काठमाण्डु होइन? बुद्ध मधेसी। बुद्ध लाई आफ्नो भन्न चाहने ले मधेसी समावेशी राज्य (state) को निर्माण मा खुट्टा घिसारन सुहाउँछ? तिब्बती शरणार्थी लाई बुटले कुलचनेले बुद्ध लाई आफ्नो नभन्ने।

काशी लाई नेपाली ले सधैं आफ्नै भनेको छ --- पशुपति लाई भारत ले आफ्नो भन्यो, के बिगार गर्यो?

एक एक हप्ता सम्म तामांग को बस्तीमा आफुले राहत पनि नपुर्याउने अर्काले पुर्याउन खोजे रोकने हरुको hashtag हो यो Indian Go Home भन्ने hastag.