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Mar/Apr 1993 HIMAL . 19


Iodised Salt for the Nation's Health

Goitre and cretinism have always been a curse on the Himalayan region, but only recently have we been able to do anything

tt is a curse that came guaranteed with geography. Normally, humans get their supply of iodine, which is an essential 'micronutrient', from foodcrops. In the Himalayan belt, however, natural iodine in the soil gets washed away easily. As a result, loodcrops are low on iodine and the population does note receive the required dose.

It is iodine deficiency that causes goitre. If the deficiency is severe, cretinism results, characterised by mental retardation, deaf-mutism, and lack of muscular coordination. About 40 percent of the Nepali population is said to be afflicted with some degree of goitre. And it is estimated that four out of every thousand citizen shows symptoms of cretinism. Controlling the Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) is therefore one of the Nepal's gravest public health challenges.

Since 1973, a unique collaboration of private business and government has been actively engaged in battling the ageold endemic. His Majesty's Government, the Government of India, and the Salt Trading Corporation have been involved in iodisising and distributing salt throughout Nepal's high himar, hill and tarai districts.

Salt is one condiment that everyone uses. And salt that is iodised is considered to be the most efficient way to get the iodine micronutrient into the diets of the country's far-flung communities. It has been Salt Trading's responsibility to ensure that all the salt distributed in Nepal is iodised.

And it has been working. Studies have shown that the incidence of goitre in Nepal has gone down considerably. Whereas 55 percent of the population

was afflicted in the 1960s, one study showed that the incidence was down to about 40 percent by 1985-86.

Because iodine tends to evaporate from salt that is in storage for too long, with the help of the Indian Government, Salt Trading has set up three rodisation plants, in Bhairawa, Birgunj and Biratnagar, so as to reduce the time gap between iodisation and consumption. These plants presently iodise up to a quarter of the salt that is distributed in the country, while the rest of the salt comes iodised from India.

Since the last three years, polythene packaging has been used, which eliminates the evaporation of iodine. The Ayo Nun is powdered iodised salt. Since the communities of the high himal prefer to use salt crystals rather than powder, Salt Trading recently introduced Bhanu Nun. This new brand uses iodised crystals of granular size.

We at Salt Trading are committed to ensuring even better delivery of iodised _salt to Nepal's population and the introduction of Bhanu Nun is just one demonstration of this commitment. We are presently engaged in adding three more iodisation plants in the Western Tarai, and by 1994 Salt Trading expects to be iodising all the salt in Nepal itself.

In so doing, we will also proudly continue to be .part of this unique experiment in bilateral cooperation between Nepal and India, whose goal is to eliminate IDD in Nepal by the year 2000. This is a programme which is directly helping to raise the standards of public health in Nepal, and saving hundreds of thousands from the curse of goitre and cretinism.

Together with the nation, we look forward to the day when goitre is virtually eliminated from these hills and plains.

Iodised salt is distributed by the Salt Trading Corporation Ltd. both in loose form and in one kg packets. Packet salt is available under the brand names Ayo Nun and Bhanu Nun. An Ayo Nun packet costs four and a half rupees. Bhanu Nun is distributed only in the remote areas at subsidised prices.





Programme Implementing Agency: Salt Trading Corporation Ltd. Kalimati, Kathmandu. Tel: 271593,271014 Fax: 271704

Bhutan Conference:

Staying Afloat

Traditional virtues were abandoned by many scholars of Bhutan, when confronted with the Southern Problem.

by Robbie Barnett


am a journalist and know my place at academic conferences: keep quiet, take notes, and let the experts do the talking. Compared to us hacks, the academics have longer views, deeper knowledge, and are more committed to impartiality. Or so (he theory goes.

It didn't quite work like lhai at the London conference on Bhutan, organised by the School for Oriental and Asian Studies of the University of London, 22-23 March. There were solid papers on non-political subjects, but in the political arena, where everyone's focus seemed centered, the traditional virtues were abandoned by many scholars, and it was left mainly to three journalists who presented papers — a British, a Bhutanese and a Nepali — to demonstrate the ait of rational debate.

This was inpartasignofgoodhealth: at least controversy was aired. The Bhutan scholars were not ostriches, and walked bctoss the sandrather than stick their heads in it. And a good third of them, more like ducks than ostriches, plunged straight into the turbulent waters of what is politely called "the Southern Problem".

The ducks, steered towards the maelstrom by the conference convenor, who thrust controversy forward at every opportunity, are to be admired for entering the debate. But not all of them knew how to swim, it seemed. In theexcitement of the controversy, or perhaps eager to show affection to friends in 'high' places, some of them forgot the basic skills of the trade: check your data and cite sources.

ExpertsoflhestatureofOxford'sMichaelAris, or Berkeley's Leo E.Rose knew how to hover above ihesurface of anissue, providing balanced overviews based on evidence thai is not in dispute. Lesser mortals tended to immerse themselves in one current or another; without the benefit of documented evidence they had trouble staying afloat. One researcher from Hong Kong accused the Bhutan People's Party of "a clear attempt to sow disease in the mind of the reader/ viewer", but gave no evidence. A Dutch ethno-linguist had four references in his paper, all of which were to studies he had written himself. An otherwise exemplary Frenchman sank to the level of assassination by innuendo: that "so-called democracy movement," he said en passant of the Southern Bhutanese campaign.

There was a deeper problem: none of the scholars who dealt with politics had surveyed the refugee camps or done field work in Southern Bhutan. They thus could not assess allcgatioas either of violence by Nepali-speakers or of oppression by the Bhutanese Stale. To describe, as one scholar did, Bhutan's implementation of the single language policy as "characteristically Bhutanese and in keeping with a benevolent Buddhist view of life" was not only, strictly speaking, meaningless, but, unless the perceptions of Nepali speakers had been assessed, invalid even as banality.

The journalists who spoke at the conference were canny rather than angelic, but they did nol make those kinds of elementary errors: where they stated facts they backed them up as well as they

could. Otherwise, they trod water and stayed out of trouble. They had another lesson to offer the academics: do not take sides. A learned professor from Shillongsank under the weight of his own rhetoric about the *'anli-feudal" efforts of the 'LancLent, material and substantive Nepali commonwealth" to bring civilisation to the "relatively thin, simple and recent Drukpa fold". The researcher from Hong Kong appeared to have the trays mixed up onhis desk: we got the paper from the tray marked "Advice from Thimphu on Damage Control". He must have sent his "Objective Research" files to Thimphu by mistake — probably more useful to them in fact.

The journalists paddled in circles around calmer patches of the pond. Kanak Dixit shmgged off his apparently assigned role as token Nepali, demolishing others* theories without revealing his own partialities. Nick Nugent, a hierarch in the BBC World Service, used Thimphu's own reluctance to admit journalists as an excuse For not revealing which side or sides he thinks are lying on the Southern Bhutan issue. And Kinley Dorje, whose newspaper Kueissel frequently prints unattributed stories, knew nol to do that when speaking under his own name: his comments were always prefaced by "the Bhutanese Govern­ment claims", or "the Ministers' view is that", and were all the more useful for that. These are simpleprecautions,LessonOne for hacks, and vital for survival if you are going to enter into contemporary debates.

It was not just academics who got into difficulties at the conference. A bigwig from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees used the platform to describe another speaker as "mischie­vous and idle"; it did not help that his victim was not allowed the opportunity to reply. UNHCR has a diminishing reputation for dealing with criticism—see for evidence Iherecent correspondence from their special envoy in Cambodia on the Yim Sakun affair — and their representatives need to builddialogue rather than exchange abuse. The UNHCR must realise that if they do nol have a process of individual status determination (and this February they told me they don't), then uncertaintiesaboutrefugeeclaimsareineviLableand deserve acivilised response.

As for Bhutan's Secretary for Home Affairs, no one expected him to be impartial. But, having agreed to come to an academic conference, he could have played by the rules. He began nobly enough with an academic discourse on the central issue, which is the history of Nepali migration, but soon descended to unsubstantiated allegations against the absent Bhim Subba. a senior civil servant now a refugee living in Katnmandu. This was ungracious, not least since his Ministry had refused to attend if either Subba or any other Southern Bhutanese were invited to the hearing. Neither was his monody about ihe immi­nent swamping of the Drukpas of Bhutan convincing: it smacked of emotional blackmail andsounded too much like inciting other Bhutanese to xenophobia and revenge.

The Secretaiy's real failures were not unlike the academics: he too had not been to the refugee camps. Ho could not bring himself to acknowledge, still less to answer, the refugee's allegations of abuse by the Bhutanese military, reported impromptu to the conference by a young woman who had worked in Jhapa. Her emotions were unaca-demic but eloquent. His silence was damning: il was a failure of morality as well as intellect.

The tragedy is, of course, that the Minister and his ideologues are right: Bhutan faces acute danger from demographic pressures from the plains, and at ihe same time incidents of horrific violence are continuing. But they need to encourage debate not rhetoric to solve this, and the greater number of dispassionate scholars whom they can get involved the better. 1 salute anyone who takes the plunge.

R. Barnett is editor of the Tibet Information Network, based in London.

Mar/Apr I'J'B HIMAL . 21





rate interviews to questions by The Independent of Kathmandu on how they found Nepal. Madan Tamang is President of the Gorkha Democratic Front, and Chhatre Subba is Chief of the Gorkha Liberation Organisation.They apparently cannotstandeachother, but seem to agree on other things.

Q: What differences have you found between pre-Jana Andolan Nepal and post-Jana Andolan Nepal?

Tamang: I've found dirt, ail over. Democracy has, of course, come to Nepal. But people don't seem to understand what that means. To urinate on the streets is not democracy. I've also found considerable indiscipline in the people.

Q: What don't you like about Nepal or Nepali politics the most?

Subba: The politics here is dirty. It is the politics of begging for aid. Self-respect seems lacking. Countries, even poor ones, must stand firm in their position,

Q: Was there anything that you liked in or about Nepal?

Subba: Let's see. I didn't really sec anything like that (laughs). I saw that a lot of trees had been felled. The hills were naked, forests all cleared. Also corruption is there in a big scale.


hardly cool, a reporter for the recently launched Kathmandu Post daily discovered. A fundamental freedom of Nepal's MTV genera­tion is threatened by a suddenly puritanical Nepal Police, (For more about barbers, see May/June 1992 Voices.)

It has become a time of terror for those wandering youths who have long hair. This is the outcome of get-rid-of-long-hair campaign launched by the police.

In the past three days the police have shaved the hair of 400 such youths.

The 'punishment' for these long haired youngsters varies. Boys with only long hair are merely shaved and released, but if they are also found intoxicated they may have to pass more than 24hours in police custody.1 If they are found rambling around annoying girls then the punishment gets even more severe. They could be taken to court for public offence. So far cases have been filed against ten such youths.

Two days ago in Dillibazar alone 200 youths with long hair were shaved by the police.

"We have had tobemostactiveinThamel and Man arajgunj in this regard," a police source informed this Post reporter.

The recent procession of youths at Thamel chanting slogans on hair right, however ridiculous it may sound to majority of people, has reflected the torments of the youth with long hair.

L'In a country where there is no hair right why talk about human rights?" says Sanjeeb Nar Sing, a sufferer and an active participant in the procession.

"How about the long hair of Lekhnath Poudel? What would police do to such a person?" Sanjeeb questioned throwing light on the objectives of the campaign.

S.P. Rewati Bahadur Thapa of Kathmandu district police says "It has been launched 10 check growing social aberration."

However, a guardian at Hanuman Dhoka calls it a fools campaign. "Smugglers and hooligans escape from prison with police help. Who cares about that?" asks another guardian.

These days police are said to be bothering even youths walking in the streets. Bikiam Rana, a computer trainee says that he was harassed by the police on his way back home.

Some people have taken this police action very posi­tively. Fathers who have been highly annoyed by their sons' long hair have expressed their satisfaction. And girls have also started walking in the streets without any apprehensions of being harassed.

On the other hand the youths with long hair are raising their voice against this police action. They say, "We won't keep quiet."


M.EN, said Nepal's Prime Minister Chandra Shumshere to Lord Morley, the Secretary of State for India, at the India Office,London, on 9 May 1908 at 12 noon. But he was not being rude, as will be clear from these minutes, reproduced in Asad Husain's British India's Relations with the Kingdom of Nepal (George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London).

Secretary: Are you quite comfortable?

Maharaja: Perfectly at home. Your Lordship knows that we Gurkhas are true and loyal and devoted friends of the British Government. I assure you that we wish to prove by deed should occasion arise the sincerity of our devotion to the British Throne. Secretary: Oh, I have no doubt of that and we will not forget what the Gurkhas did during the dark days of the Mutiny. Maharaja: Your Lordship, I hope the kindness and goodwill which we were so fortunate to enjoy at the hands of your Govern­ment will be continued.

Secretary: No doubt it will, whether it will be this Government, or another Government. I am so sorry that there is no good book on Nepal. I was reading the other day a book on Nepal by Ballentine. In it he spoke very badly of Nepal as well as our administration in India. Who was he?

Maharaja: He was an American and the book was written some eighteen or twenty years ago.

Secretary: Oh, I see, he was an American and the Americans are aiways against our administration in India.

* *

22 HIMAL . Mar/Apr 1993




Secretary: Last year a very important society, the Geographical Society, demanded a pass from me to explore Everest. 1 refused it. Is it not as you wish me to do?

Maharaja: It was so good of Your Lordship. My object in keeping my country isolated is so that the Gurkhas may continue to respect the British as they have been doing so far. I think I am right when I say that their respect of the British official in their cantonment equals, if it is not greater than, their respect for their sovereign. But if we agree to let a party into our country others will gradually follow and alt Englishmen, Your Lordship, cannot be expected to be gentlemen. If unfortunately there may be a quarrel between the British subjects and Nepalese subjects and if there be frequent association between them in the hearth and home of the Gurkhas, it may breed contempt and they may not respect the British in the same manner as they do now, which would be a dangerous thing for the interest of Nepal.

Secretary: Iquite understand. Iquite understand. I agree with you. Was not an exploration party sent to Everest? Maharaja: Yes, it was, under a native overseer. I have no mind to keep anything secret from the British Government in my country and, if the British Government want, I have no objection to allow native overseers to go through my country to get any information they wish and so it was sent at the instigation of Major Manner-Smith. It has been found out that it is in Nepal.

WHAT IS A VILLA GE ? And why are villagers a marked categorywhen Nepal is acowtry of'villages? Excerpt from a paper by Stacy Leigh Pigg in Comparative Studies in Society and History V34 n 3:491-ST3, July 1992,

Nepal is a predominantly rural nation: Most people live in villages and make their living as subsistence farmers. The Nepalese govern­ment, assisted by international donor agencies, administers projects directed at improving the conditions of life for these rural people. Images of villages and village life accompany the promotion of development ideals. Radio NepaJ has actors playing the part of villagers in didactic skits aimed at convincing rural people dial they should consult doctors for their health problems or should feed oral rehydration solution to children suffering from diarrhea. School-books contain illustrations of village scenes and talk about village life as they inform children about development .programs. When development policy makers plan programs, they discuss what villagers do, how they react, and what they think. Together, these images coalesde into a typical, generic village, turning all the villages of rural Nepal into the village. Commonplace as these representations of the village and villages are, they mold the way in which people in contemporary Nepal conceptualize national soci­ety and the differences within it.

The village crystallizes into a distinct social category in the context of this national project of development. Further, the conceptual joining of village, development, and nation reworks an

abstract, internationalized development, rendering it Nepalese. This Nepalization of development accounts for why the village becomes a marked category in a society in which the vast majority of people are villagers.

KASHAG CONFOUNDS, unless you happen to be clued-in to Dharamsala-style elections. This item is from the Tibetan Bulletin, the official journal of the Dalai Lama's Tibetan Administration. (For an explanation of what is really going on,see Briefs, page 25. Kashag is the Cabinet, kalon, a minister.)

In light of the amendment to the Charter relating to the elections of the kalons (see report of ATPD session), the five members of the Kashag, Kalon Gyalo Thodup {Chairman), Kalon Kalsang Yeshi, Kalon Tenzin N. Tethong, Kalon Tashi Wangdi and Kalon Jetsun Pemasubmitted their resignation toHisHoliness the Dalai Lama on January 25,1992. The resignations were to enable the elections of fresh members under a uniform system. (Prior to dieir resignations, the kalons had met on January 17, 1993 in Dharamsala to elect a new Chairman. Kalon Gyalo Thondup was re-elected to the one-year post).

His Holiness the Dalai Lama accepted the resignations of the kalons and the process for fresh elections started. As per the amended Charter, His Holiness provided the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies with a set of 14 candidates. They were, in addition to the names of the outgoing Kashag, Rinchen Dharlo (presently Representative of the Office of Tibet in New York), Rinchen Khando (presently president of the Tibetan Women's Association), Kelsang Gyaltsen (Special Assistant to His Holiness the Dalai Lama), G. Nyesang (head of the Reception Centre for Newcomers), Dongag Tenzin (Auditor General), Dawa Tsering (Chairman of the Public Service Commission), Kesang Y. Takla (Representative of the Office of Tibet in London), Pema Dechen (member of the ATPD) and Rigzin Zalul (former Chairman of the Tibetan Community in Switzerland).

Under the supervision of the Election Commission, vot­ing took place on January 20, 1993. There were 38 members of the ATPD who participated. Six candidates, who included all the members of the outgoing Kashag and Mrs. Rinchen Khando, were declared elected in the first round. Two c;indidales, Mr. Rinchen Dharlo and Mr. Kelsang Gyaltscn, secured equal votes for the seventh position. In a subsequent re-election, Mr. Rinchen Dharlo was declared elected.,

Mr. Rinchen Dharlo had submitted his resignation. How­ever, at the time of going to the press, no decision has been taken on the matter.

The following arc the new members of the Kashag (with the numbers secured by them in brackets).

  1. Jetsun Pema (27) 5. Gyalo Thondup (18)

  2. Tenzin R Tethong i21) 6. Kulsang Ytshi (18)

  3. Tashi Wangdi (20) 7, Rinchen Dhurlo (15)
    4!Rinchen Khando (20)

Mar/Apr 1993 HIMAL . 23



fiarhwal onFHm

Themostbeautiftl areas of the Garhwal Hifnalaya'are practically inaccessible to the average tre kker arid t jurist. ;

... Victor Banerjee;'gw iherci I .,

Banerjee Rap scripted; directed ind filmed a 28-mirfuie documentary film, The Splendour of Garhwal and-Roop Kiinll, which is 10 premiere next" month.. He captivates the viewer with vibrant colours amd autumnal hues of the route from Dewa) to Roop JKund, and ; beyond Uttarkashi to Sahastra

Tat The cinematography is excelleM, and the panorama is enhanced because Barierjee fil-

: me4.during the monsoon, when

'Ifte mountain^ are at'their best As fur as I kiiow, no one has ever made a similar film on these parts. Anyone who wishes to rush Up to Roop Kund

'fora "summer weekend" will of course be disappointed. Sorry.

- itctlive-star acconiodation up here! The people are poor and have little to offer the visitor. Nevertheless; their kindness and hpspitability ever-present, in a way that is Unique to the mountain people of Garhwal.

'When "I lived in Dehradim in the 1950s,! remember the sensation diatwas created by the discovery of a large number of skeletal remains in the frozen lake of Roop Kunci. There was much speculation at the time as to how they got there. Were th?y the remains of General Zorawar Singh's army, or a band of pilgrims trapped in the defile? Or were they Tibetan traders crushed by an avalanche? Presertt-day theory favours the idea of a royal pilgrimage, or the Raj Jaat Yatra, of a king of Garhwal. But who knows?

Banerjee does not enter into any controversy on this point. lie merely presents the place as it is — picturesque and eerie™ and captures the magic of the mountains in a way that

view, documentary film-makers ■■■• do; B anerjee, does Mt mtrU'dS 0it'"' the frame himself, but uses. a. ., ....

'■ trekker inmost flUhjswidocir ■ He H successful in -.-.. •..

6ttly Roop Kund itself, but the cnMre trek, from valley to: « l .... ;,. treelinejo sntMlin^ Stime of ■■ the highlights: of the fjlmM^ the tretrare the magrrificent ■■■■ ■■ ■■ -meadows at Kusfi Kalykrii anti pedrii Bagyal, the haunting temple" at tata, and the: images of Kali in tlie forests of K-Cji;" Kandhara. ;

For one who lov^s the HimaJaya^ELS Fdii, it is^goodlo) -..: see item being presented ^artistically by a professional ± ......

filra-maker. Wh4 ^ Aiore, seldom do Government ageiigies have the courage and enterprise to"sponsor such i project; ^ : : A country \\%l^gpfil gets, thpusatids of trekkersievery year. Why not (Sarhwal? Tlw answer, of Coiirsei, is that basic facilities need to bebroitght up tointemationalsiaiidaids; The Trelddng Division of Uje": '": SarhwaLMahdaiyikasNigam ... is cleaily doing its best. ;

The rianative is heJd tdgether by an interesting arid; effective musical score, working in thenies from Garhwaii iolk music, imerspersedbythe whirl of a bagpipe. Incidentally,ine bagpipe is veiy much a pai't of Gai;hwali folk musie, -having been introduced here by Gaihwali soldiers who had: sef ved'in British regiments during World AVar I. The lnashak; as tliey catl it, is also placed at mamageSvanoccasions. An other derivative from the Scots is the word dram* popularly used to describe a peg of the Garhwaii local brew.

Who Soiows, given a bagpipe and a few dram$,l rhighl get there n>yself someday!

in Bond. Musst)orte

Hiiiiiait ffi


CaregilDrial meeting ifi
Bangkokin early April;
Asia's affluent autocracies got
away with a rigid stance oa
hutnan rights. Cbuntries
speaking up weakly for 4ivjl;
Siberties and political pluralism
were the continent's economic
laggards: Bangladesh, the
Philippines, India and Nepal.

" The meeting had been, called to put together Si Asian agenda tor the U.N. World Conference on Human Rights, which is to beiield this June m Vienna. The ^t9 counti:ies of the^ Asia-Pacific region adopted a-watered-down 'Bangikok Declaration:* on human-rights,

; China, Iran and south­east Asia's newly-affluent nations'vociferously pushed for a recognition of economic, social'arid cultural rights, arguing that a iuO stomach was more important than the right £o' vote. China sliuck off a-1! mention of tovture in the- final resolution, and together with Southeast Asian nations, staunchly defended the "sover-■sign'ty issue" — an. euphemism . for their call to the West to mind its own business. Paradoxically. Asian human rights activists found themselves on llie same


side as' We.sterrt gdvesmntents. ori many issues... ,

For four days precede nig official meeting; some 2§0 human riglits activists from the region Had met at Bangkok's Cbuldongkpm University to hainrper out then own resoliK, ■ tiotL They succeeded in drawing tlie? attention to-Asia's human rights hot-spots like East Timor, Bui-ma, Palestine and-— jlnew entry — Bhuian. Indian, Nepali iuid Biiutanese human rights groups told their ASian cpilegiiues of tiie plight of fihuianene refugees in eastern Nepal and called for a tri-pailite dialogue between NepaJ, India and Bhutan to resolve: the;crisis.

Bhutan's Foreign Minister Dawa Tshcring was presenVto iouriter all this NGO rabble-" rousing. As member of the Conference Stcering!Gommittee, he Stayed in Bangkok for the duration of the intcrrggvemmen-tal meeting.

Glanng by their absence among the NGO aciivistit were any of the Tibetan exile groups, or Kashmiri or -Qiinesc dissidents. Perhaps they find it more productive to lobby eispwheie — directly where it masters.

24 HIMAL .





hewhoSe world jfiCiw wants ..idfflotracy. And the. Dalai Lama;wants democracy, Like:a mother. His Holiness lias been : coaxing &Assembly ef ■ ■■■"

,Ti|>etan People's Deputies to: take the first step; but withj>6 I little success'thaf he is:getfcing^ '■&% asperated. The Pal a | Lama

^wo^rd tike to reign, but (he ; Tibetaiss jji exile seem uornrrnV ted 16 seeing himjfule; :■:

The followingreport is taken frOjti the Tibetan Review of Match 1992,

..', .... ".. " : Residingc^ar (he ; ;. " swearing-in cereniprty of the ,new Kasliag; (cabinet) in. . ;. "

iFsamary,: the; Dalai Lairsastressed

'■tBeiieed for distaric|n| Mis name from the administrative, prbbessl

?HftwaS;%l up With? hearing that..

■■ any decision was carfi&ioat "in ici ordartce with the wishes of

way o/do]ng piijti|sjwhere ^ ■■:■ everything usedi% be ■ascribed-

Tse^timg, My a.Si o -" ;feng and row Deng :;}fiaoping.....This sort of ■ihirig had'nts place in :■ a democracy. i; v ■■ ■■■■

■ ■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■ When die ..." "'

present; Assernbiy was elected.nearly two years ago, :tfe Dsla! X^ma had asked the..... ,, jnemr^r^ t;b;elecC ■■■■■ ■:■■ ,-■■ ^ministets .thenjs^lye|, abolishing fee old : sysjteini ;in which he made nominations. This democratic move backfired, hp.weyer. Trie rfiinisteriat candidates, were ftr; recerro a naiuinsurn 70. percent of the ■■> : .. .., ' Assembjly,..v pteSj btit: °eveRafteKlowerinE ■■■■■■■

Fe elected Sihc^ .

^FiteCtia Charter calls Tor at least seven ministers, ihe Dalai Latha was.jfort^d: to appoint ministers hiroself "to gel the work stsrtdd", says ih&Jt-evfe

'■' ' Afraid, of a "repeat embajprSSsrnent,:ihe Assembly ai its iariaiary. |993 session: . . .. amended rhe Charter pertaining t0 elections; It asked the dafai " Laina tp jipminate at least14 candidates, out of which flie Assembly wouldelect

seywiiii a straightforward V ote withou t any ...percejhtile


The Daki Larna based .his choice of H candidates on « poll he conducted will the" -employees of the Centra] Tjbetan Admmt strati on; In ^>e. elections ihat.foJlovieii, >l| five ' of theokLcabinet were wfelfas two ' . , Sg tni^rj; tor" deiiiticraey. for Eh

^bira ministerial,: commission to identify flie- ■ .-..■■ ■ refugees w^s easily sciirtled by-

stickmg r|omfc, reported Koirala I at his press.xonfejencji back: in Katrur^ridu, was the Bhutanese insistence lhat 111; the residents pf thecamp5tiniJhapa,and; " Moring:(82,328 W»f 31 March te.called -"displace*!

s!!. They- Wete nettling of the sort, said Koirala:, wafnuig: '; that the preseniee of te.refifgees. ; was creatiing a'Ehreefold problem in Nepal: ;an e^onorriic burden1; : ehvironmentai degradation; an"^oci^l polluttbtt".::; :

In the end, Nepal's Prime Mmister was kft muuer-,

forced to-international ise tfie,

^ Irog!


here ^fu|iefpiayeti with fingers:. ., * called machhq mafliha bhyaguto 1 ffishyfish,jtrog.--ihbther :! words, a damp squib.)

As expected, the long-awaited Bhutan-Nepal ^umiriit ;iaeeting;af the'E>hak» SAARC Was a dud* The Bhutaiiese made the most of it. "Die Nepalis w.ete, leftfoundering.

King Jigms, who knows th^ value of television : fofbtag&r-grabbed a visibjy uflcomtortftble Girija Koiiala j:and gave him ain im-South ^Asian.hug, His'Majesty then : made himself available to the, medift ahd insisted that the-talks had been positive and [ ih&e woBld: be & joint press statement

Nothin^of the jsort

Whaj aboutjRV: " bimha Rao^ alsapjesetit in Dhaka? Koirala said he had

"•informally" raised the questioti with Rao, "He listened m me very attentively..."



Humble Cummerbund receives Scientific Applause

[inascles to

«lj and :■;


Ja staple....; J : langiage, the;



more than normal:use of ih^sjmi^aad '[ /back rMs^les J . forlabour aiicfc

At a time

Pktukb bmae^slstef '; ■■■■■ *■ .,' ."' : ,: ." increased;incidence'


traiiition|iclothing,teduce^f .,U
beun4rtQ' lead to

Althpu^h ttie sample
i tbp small tp really ."

reepmrnend t|ie-iwe:of psfttfcs in,
clinkaj andergotiorm
S , the.-,

why a- iow ; incideiice of-backpaia arnorig Nepalsy- for people fac ing the frisk ©F ''mechanical bacjtpam'i: piel^fore, ^ewauldrecoroniend * i&ttse as a simple and cost-* effective pitventiy e, method. : AH of which rhearts

wise-to the-idea,! government or some super-NGP should^ (juicy y patent the pattika in tecarae of (he Nepali Naifon •—to be foiiowedby amarkeV;, ing bhtz so that the world can > benefit from this healthcare product that Nepal's liili people Jiave evolved over the course of centuries.

Nepal . ■■■■ ■■■ = .1 / ■"■■ '■■ ■■■

r v" ■" ... :.■■ spinal ■' ■■■■....

; : ;■■ ■■■ ., TKeteamdisco

ver§d. / movements, -

that theje was '*sprrte Jsek

snrific ; .■■:■.-.,allowsspin id



the teafli;found '"aj incidence of backspairi in the patjika wearingpeople de|pfie : doing heavy physiq at works ift the field: or "carrying loads or '.


, ohder what Mtjyapu lady toiling away m her; ■ Kathm^du- Valley vegetable J patch of the Ftai elder cliriibirig op a trail towards Tapjejiing : would say if they learnt that research done on jhfe patukq they w£af bad jyst been awa+ded a ■ gold niedai fot the; Most OrigWlResearch by the;.......

fdifficmlt mpuwtato ttn

rs,..Was carped out ■ in ..central S^afiWf aLsoIexperimcriteid on

tirj the*Uiyied

University bfliiveipoof! : :..:.. The paflika is a wide gjeeeof cjotfi; abpuji five meters long/that is tightly wrapped •■; d the yaist by the men and i Of Nepal's Mil and .':' : valleys. This ciimtnerbund iis a? ;. Nepali aS thetopt, and evolved , . as' |means (0 pruusci thebody!

.e. Joshi :: :: -...conducE^d a pilot ^iudyendtled

g loaded and stessel3'^. ifrffilpedraise tttsintra* ,,. '. ';■'■■ < abd(uninalv pressure, which is... ;the Nepati Patuka' oil LumNJsto.: \ .'responsible for su

t". Accordrng tb pi i the.te?irrt studiMthe.. advantages of wearing

High RiM ft} Tibet

I Fouid^smUknor^wardfronxpte

ojfsimikoi in NepaVsHttinty

smack in the middle of the Tibetan plateau,

rises a BongKojrig-styie edifke/Thk place M

Burning, which serves as. ttie administrative

centre far the regianl &nd the high-tech

' building, it is said, willserve asabantLThe

old trade route from Tibet up thetipulekh

PUhomgarh was reopened fast July,nn4 the

Chinese apparently expect the trade to pick

up—*- imports of tea, textiles and vegetable

oil, and exports of mi£ borax pQwdei and

sheepskin. Enough to make Tibetan

bankers in this glass and concrete

structure yakkish, er.« buMsh.

ip tjalaJidnJcr^'baKkpain of heavy .,; resete suggest ih^t the pap^a warkersf attd Efippiitain porters at




Tibet Review, the v^nerabiefrfoiithiy from Delhi,

if that means thai indcpefidericeyautoijomy/self-
detcrrninatic-n is at hand. 'Ssraausly ihougK, the
Review repom that || Dbarams^
in-exile has decided that "it is: lime
relations with {Bhutan) artd^tpp/taJkirjg abaut old
disputes"; The old disputes reJate to hard linnet.
given toTtbelan refugees in Bhutan following King
figime Dorps death in the oiid-1970s; He had a
Tibetan mistress Vhh;:a;s9n elder loiCjng ligme ■■■
Singye, and apparently there wereTiears of.^a Ti-
betan-jed coup d' etat. Thimphu haslang reserved
the Tibetans' reluctance to take Bhutanese citizen­
ship: In rapproachment mrxJe^Dharamsala how
says that the lOMor so Tibetans couMeither te
brought over to India, or they may''even take up
Bhutanesecitizenshtp-since the/Fi beta n Charter has \
so.objeclkirt to Tibetans holding dual cilizenship
provided they>ay the voluntary TifetanJax and ■■■■
remain; loyJJ to Tibet," Wonder what Thimphu will
say to thai last proviso. : ' ;

to those who thought Kathmandu; wa& row the :: center of ttit DJtarmd, hete comes compefiiionj : from BodhGaya. Reports Farzand Ahmed M India -Today,some Bodh Gaya-ifesars going pverboard ■—one teacher of meditation said that-fe town "has jdj fhe;riotentfdoi-timing into a worid spiritual center." Big money has come gram Buddhist lands tosei up splendid-monasteries *M!n tanka, Bunpa. -J, Thailand,; Japan1, Bhutan,; Vietnam, Nepal,. ;tdhd^ithX?. And whatwf ail fhe! disparate architecture? Not to Worry, says Rav|ndra Singh Venha, an arcrutetf pko has studied the "Morphological Development of BodhGaya" apd; who believes that because all rhe'styles arebasedon; ' Buddhist pijnciples, they all haveintcgri^ in fheir architectural styles But if thaliapanese templeaud the Tibetan monastery are supposed to fooksimiiar Jiist because they are Buddhist, we'd better-get omselves anolher morphplcgist.

Nothing's sacred. With the current spate of bomb­
ings in India, even Dharma buffs are in danger of
being labelled ternirisU. As reported by TtieStates-
mmi of Calcutta, one Astrid Veddai, aDufchtourist
sent a parcel to a friend back home. .Unbeknownst
to her, the Calcutta Police Department to keep its
honour intact, was on the lookout for a suitable
pared bomb todiscovcr. Soofficer^woopedinoft
Army's Bomb Dis^
posal Squad slit
ojien fhe parcel and
found the following
paraphernalia for
brijiging down this
Hooghly Bodge: a
wooden bust of Sri
Ganesh, several
boots on Buddhism
and meditation, a
tourist guidebook.
Subversive titerstuw? Kathmandu atid tlte

fictets; a tr^kfcuig permit .issued by the i^^ d

.di© cassette jhat tarries % man Vmesiagei "! miss ■■ y°V- T9M areifi: India and I am iiri IMjiarld. We are : ^he wasgoodefiougfi for.the Galc«tta
^ p

, thata parcrfwith; %cigji lusts had been fouhd;andl destroyed- Which, think ©lit. Was irut-.

ing todosoine faitcy foo^orfcTtdmaintain his grip on SifckimvDivisionsaiixingthe.dorninani Nepali^ speakers alung ethnic, lines has led him to wob Ihe

^f^^a-tepeba tribai cotVununity, who have re -cendy beeaslengthened by a Sopitenie'cpufl deci-sioa confirming theifrighftci B seats in jhe State

'Assembly. There had earlier been a move: to do:

..the Nepali community is diiftmg away from Bharidiri: arid towards Pawan Kamar Chamlmg, President of thfcSikkim democratic FW?t,^ays the wporteE Ever the tacdeian; Bhandari quickly dei-clared a pubSc Miday to celebrate,thevyictoryori v the seat reservation issge... ... . . .

Bhutan has won accbladtis jforVantirig restriclingi tourists i dp its wondrous ipalp, iSit the sceptics have always said, "Wait andiSee, wait and se&"5o what h Thimphu up to printing glossy four-tolour come-Jittiier agency-produced ^d^ in the\NepaC. traveller toutist iriagaKine? One is by ihe Govcm-

meiilandanotherbySrukAitTt-coHldeiiHerbeihat" the "high (io$t low volume" tpurism is not: quite-working out and some hardsell is nowdee tried accessary. Or it could be that Druk Air,' which""' ^c?n!b'w^nt info;a second BAe 146 four-engine ■ jet, now has seals to fill up. But it willnol help to bring in mpretoiirisu if they are going to be kept out of theDawlgsajidhave !o be satisfied with watch­ing -regurgitating yaks. It,is old^styl^capitalism, versus medievaJ rornance-, the latter touted with abandon in the two ad inserts,

AjwwecX-',fweekly:"NewsMap"f6r3rMarchcon- * tains an intriguing bubble ppinteTitretborder, staling, "AGreen Light: China says it will construct a second road linking Lhasa and Kathmand u. The; Sjno-Nep^j esejroad w i (I ease grb w-ing (raffle on the existing road built in 1967T" Sounds plausible, perhaps; buth^w corns nooiie has heard of it before? And w)to-saj.s there is gridlock on the: Kodari highway? It js not clear where anew alignment would enter Nepal, C6nne!tto



JC^thsn^ndu ijorth-west toTrisuIi; Which connects1 with the-Arrny-buihroad up towards1DJiuncheflt is known that th&Chinese have started a bus service .down to the head of the Trisuli rivervalleyiat; Kyarung. Only a few lalbmeters of read-building-up from flic Nepali'rcjadiiead at Syabrubesi, it is said; wouldeasiiy connect Nepal yet again with

But wfty, for Mahakala's,sake, a wholeneiw , second load at!: the way

"The beauty ofthisregion is proverbial and taiiis Mhe visitor fipni the plains ;by surprise. Tt is well-wadded, ijnllyjatiitg^nd intersected with sircars, T|e.riiec.s^ad:.shrBbs have..:frt!shncssi..!whi!st thet ipouptaisson the norfh,;th°e hilts v?n the sou tli;give' a charniihg vapation^ta theviaftdscape.1* Is this a Harkihg back to-a iong-lost Kiilhmandu Valley? Sfope-. An;excerptfrbmabookoritteOoon V^ley, irepom UNl^lie"new«ditk)n--of Memoir ofDehm
:DO(i>i; writtefl tale in the last century by G.R.C: riyij servatit, was relfeasetf afa funciitm ^n5April. Ail of which; h&s one ^linking ■ffii i! woujdiieit be a Sad idea; for the city lathers and mothers of Dchra aiid^Ka thmandu to get together t« compare flbtesabout I ^irrespective,.,rapidly de­grading;, yd) leys.

'*AU arc equal before the tew and are entitled any discrimirjarioxi to equal,protection of i

Declavatim ofjluman Rights!'Fhe Chinese Gbv-eoirnent* heri* not-merely defending but bragging about human rights available in Tibet 4 brochure titled "Reecad of Human Righ^ in^Tibe! which starts witbi the UDHR^uote, was distributee) auhe.Conference on Human Rights in Bangkok in" end-Marcb; Beijing is responding to sophisticated Dhararasala piibiic'reiations with its own volley. , 'Ehe paper is glossy, but the message is worp. pne

* pictuiesofmutilatediirnbsi.gotiged-outeyes,slaves, poverty, and s)i|heads like 'Three Classes and Nine .
Grades", "Discrimination against" Women-', and "Barbarbtis and Brutal Puru'shmerit" The' flip side :

; i S cream- coio u redi, and waxes lyrical a bou l democ­racy, Equality, Cuaranlee of Personal drools over the Living Buddha who' is now Wee- * chainiian of iheRegibnal People's Congress, cad- " res visiting, the Lhasa Welfare Institution, and, a fanner wurnari serf svhois now a women's leader. Everyone in the modern Tibet smiles and claps. Tibet'under the Cshineseis in lovely four-colour, whereas theBad Old Days was all blackand white.

Thc.Tjbetaij refugees teught NepaSis tQ make car­pets, and nowteaching Tibetans how to make mmtey on carpets. Xitiluta newsagertcy reports thara"Si no-Nepal esc j oift [ caipe t manufaeturi ng co mpaay" has j ust bee n setupinljvasa. And just in case you did not know where lhqtl: was, it is the "capital of Southwest China'sTibetautCHi onwus regi on. "The worldly wi se Kath man d ^company has appatenilyjitarteda joinl ■ Venture? to tall ing~25 milrioniyuan (nearly U$4,G iniilion) with the Li»asa Administration Bureau of Natioiriai Handtcrafts. The company will design, produce and sell 'carpets and also market Tibetan wool, By,1997,,tbeic will be \% factories producing 72,000 sq meters of rugs, A giut, obviously, in matiing, brie that will lasl awhile, because the "two sides h<»ve agreed fp Cooperate "for 50 years."

- Chketfia f*dtrakar


H1MAL . 37




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Exile Politics and the 'Third Spread"

When future historians look

back, they may

find that it is

the dharma's universalism,

rather than

Tibet's victimisation,

that explains the


worldwide public

support for the

Tibetan cause.

by Kesang Tseten


nthe play Fantastics.itis asked—"What in the world happened to X?" — of a character who left his village to escape its suffocating enclosure. Someone answers: "The world."

What happened to the Tibetans in exile was precisely trie world.

Starting three decades ago as labourers breaking boulders on road-building sites in Nepal and India, Tibetans in exile today enjoy a decent, even enviable, standard of living, compared to any group in South Asia. In Nepal, they own a sizable share of the carpet manufacturing business, one of the country's two highest sources of foreign ex­change earning.

In India, thousands of farmer-cum-traders thrive six months of the year from selling mass-produced sweaters from Bombay to Nagaland, passing them off as Nepali or Tibetan. The remainder of the year, on land once thought unpromising (given by the In­dian government), they produce enough to affect the price of cor% in the southern states where their settlements are located And from Kathmandu to Gangtok to Manali to Delhi, they run bustling restaurants and "Hong Kong " bazaars".

"This entrepreneurial achievement of individual Tibetans is not all. The exile government's success in ensuring the preser-

vation of Tibetan culture, too, is remarkable: monasteries, secular schools for Tibetans, in­stitutes of Buddhist dialectics, Tibetan medi­cine and drama. All these slowly brought about the awareness of Tibetans, their plight and, most importantly, respect, to fuel the extraordinary public support that is, today, the Tibetans' greatest gain.

The Dharma

The Tibetan identity is rooted in culture in its broadest sense. As a nation, Tibet is defined by a common language, religion, and history, notwithstanding its bias to religious events and interpretation. This 'cultural nationalism' is what glues the Amdo-wa of the northeast to the Khampa of the east, and the Toi-pa of the West, some 2,000 miles separating them. It is why they call themselves bod rigs ("Tibetan kind").

In spite of its one-people cohesion, however, Tibet was essentially a pre-political society until gorged by its giant neighbour; that is, politics had a minor significance in Tibetan daily life as to its role in modern societies.

As ironic as it is that aTibetanpoliti-cal culture emerged'in exile, it is understand­able. Exile, after all, is a fundamentally politi­cal condition. Exiledom, in the politicised arena of the modern world, coalesced the

100,000 or so Tibetans into a state, albeit without a territory. This identity, with its ac­cent on the political, was propagated through various institutions' (schools, newspapers, political groups), which were embraced, then bolstered, by the outside world.

Above all, it is the spread of Tibetan Buddhist tradition that has been the single most potent force in theencounter between the notion of Tibet and the World. Propagated by the greatest masters as well as a younger generation of teachers, the appeal of Tibetan Buddhism has been phenomenal, and its con­tribution to contemporary Western culture, to the disciplines of philosophy, psychology, and the arts, Is widely acknowledged.

At the heart of this public and moral support for the Tibetan cause, therefore, is what might be called the "third spread" of the dharma. And I do not refer to the support of actual Buddhist practitioners as much as the respect for Tibetans as socio/cultural expres­sion of humanism, or universalism, or the dharma. For all its flaws, Tibet was an ex­ample of a society shaped by Buddhist prin­ciples.

Third Spread

Public sympathy for-the Tibetans, if theirs' were not a Buddhist culture, might have been drawn from romance (the Shangri La myth, et

Mar/Apr 1993 HIMAL 29

al): the sympathy might have remained on the level of mere sentiment for the victim — and we know how far that goes. Besides, if it were a matter of measuring the degree of victimisation, can the claim be made that the Tibetan's suffering is more tragic than the Africans' from perpetual starvation, disease and mter-tribal rampage; or the killing fields of Bosnia/Herzogovnia; or Kampuchea at the hands of Pol Pot; or the Bangladeshis siraved by natural disasters? One calamity in Ganga-Brahmaputra delta last year claimed 100,000 lives, which is the entire population of Tibet­ans iri exile.

Though Tibetans were central in this spread of the dharma, the world's (mainly the West's) receptivity was equally significant. In full circle, as it were, the dharma had been revitalised, spreading to the land of the "red man" — in fulfillment of a ninth century prophecy — as well as to the otherwise "mar­ginal" Tibeto cultures of the Himalaya.

Future Tibetan historians mightwell view this period of exile, which began in mid-twentieth century, as epochal, as it spawned the "third spread." Their unabashedly "Buddhologised" history mentions two "spreads". The "first spread" occurred from the fifth to the seventh century, in aheightened way during the reign of the great Songtsen Gampo, and took hold with the building of Tibet's first monastery at Samye, south of Lhasa, in Yarlung.

According to historians, a period of "darkness" followed when the Black BonKing Langdarma set out to destroy every Buddhist edifice in the land, persecuting its followers in the farthest reaches. This paved the way for the arrival of Pandita Atisha from the south and the "second spread". A king's life and the saint's weight in gold were offered to Atisha to make good the invitation. Moved by the Tibetans'faith, and perhaps as a result of the plainman's instinctive reverence for the land beyond the sacred Himalaya, Atisha accepted and stayed on to almost single-handedly re­store the dharma to its former grandeur.

It was because of the dharaia ele­ment that this sympathy for the Tibetan cause went beyond sentiment. It changed the rela­tionship between the sympathiser and victim to one in which.they stood at par. From respect for the dharma came respect for Tibetans, and the sympathy for the Tibetans that grew out of it became an expression of the supporters' own convictions as much as a response to what was out there.

An analogy that is illustrative: While trekking in the Khumbu, Western travelers are invariably impressed by the Sherpas' hardi­ness, their cheerfulness and forthrightness.

30 . HIMAL Mar/Apr 1993

But what also makes an impression on trek-kers are the Sherpas' bizzare deities, and nu­merous other items of exotica. The admiration risks turning into a fetish, to becoming one more thing in their make-up: "I think the Sherpas are cool, and boy, those guys don't need oxygen like we do." Whereas, if they had to contend with the philosophy that underpins the Sherpas' worldview, the same travelers might see the Sherpas in a way that transcends the economic relationship of client and em­ployee, saheb and porter. That is, instead of voyeuring, they would have to experience encounter — the culture intellectually.

Sudden Fame

Turning to recent history, by the mid-1980s Tibet had escalated into an international con­cern as never before. With'swelling public support, more and more public figures and politicians took note. Unthinkable a decade ago, state leaders met with the Dalai Lama; some backed resolutions that expressed con­cern for human rights in Tibet or for Tibetan self-determination; others wrote and spokeon behalf of the Tibet-support groups that had mushroomed. The firmament of supporters included personalities like actor Richard Gere, who helped launch the International Year of Tibet campaign.

These developments coincided with the dramatic change within China in the form of Deng Xiaoping's more liberal policies. For Tibetans, the reforms triggered momentous events: reunion between relatives in and out­side Tibet, who after 35 years had given up on each other, and the opening up of Tibet to tourists. Overtime, the achievements of exiles and their politicisation rubbed off on their compatriots within, who until then had been suffocating in the enclosure of Chinese rule. Also, of the thousands of tourists who trav-elledto Tibet, anoverwhelming majority came away sympathetic to Tibetans. Some dollars dropped into Chinese coffers, but the gain for Tibetans was increased political awareness in Tibet and increased people-support outside.

In 1987, headlines splashed with reports of the bold, if reckless, demonstrations by monks in Lhasa. An outcTy for indepen­dence in such a tightly sealed, policed state? With the massive public support in place, the tarutality of the crackdowns that followed only nudged the Tibetan issue deeper into the inter­national consciousness.

For the first time, Western politi­cians were calling for linking human rights abuses in Tibet to therr governments' eco­nomic and diplomatic relations with China. Beijing was visibly rattled by the outcry of Tibetans and their supporters. It had always

chosen to depict exile activities as either a mere irritant or the "spliitist" activities of a maverick feudal god-king.

In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an event greeted with greater elation in the West than in South Asia.

Meanwhile, to Tibetan-exiles, his­tory has been hurtling, and they are the sub­jects who cannot keep up with it, not unlike an obscure artist forced to make enormous ad­justments to sudden fame. Just as their cause and their life in exile was slowly slipping into a routine, Tibetans were jolted into renewed hope.

Clearly, the strides made by the Ti­betan cause is largely due to the phenomenal moral support it has received. What is aston­ishing is the role played by the "third spread" of the dharma in this support, and the fact that so little of realpolitik motivated it.

It is, I believe, the universalism of the dharma's appeal in a world spiritually vacuous and politicised to its teeth—as much as explicit activism —- from which accrued respect that makes the Tibetan cause more compelling than the fact of the Tibetans' victimisation.

K. Tseten is a Kathmandu-based writer and was an editor of Himal.

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The Paradoxical Support of Nepal's Left for Comrade Gonzalo

...or perhaps not so paradoxical. For the conditions exist in the hills of Nepal for a Shining Path-like movement,

equally sectarian and equally violent.


by Stephen L. Mikesell


he London staff of the International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life of Abimael Guzman, the impris­oned leader of the Shining Path guerrillas of Peru, has been astounded by the volume of mail received from Nepal in support of him. From nowhere in the world has such a large number of letters been sent by so many mem-bersof a national legislature, to say nothing of common citizens.

Why should a country on the far end of the globe from Peru, known through the international press, travel brochures and an­thropological monographs more for its medi­eval romance and mysticism than for militant political movements, suddenly gain notoriety through support for Comrade Gonzalo? He is a man who some in his own country have painted as a ruthless terrorist. Others, particu­larly the coalition of small Maoist parties known as the Revolutionary International Movement, Tegard Comrade Gonzalo as the new center of world revolutionary struggle, of Mao's "people's war".

Perhaps this support from a world away springs from ignorance of the less than

complementary picture portrayed by the inter­national press and western analysts of the Sendero Luminoso (theparty's name in Span­ish). Or does it derive from a naive romance of Nepal's intellectuals with the revolutionary tradition? Or could the affinity for Comrade Gonzalo's ideology have deeper underpin­nings, based on similarity of certain underly­ing characteristics of Himalayan society with those of the Andean hinterland of Peru? If this were the case, could we then expect tenden­cies similarly violent to emerge in Nepal?

Masked Violence

Appealing geo-cultural analogies can be drawn between Peru and Nepal. Both countries straddle major mountain ranges of their re­spective continents, in which isolated valleys and high ridges have given rise to a wide variety of cultural traditions. While neither country hasahistory of recent foreign military conquest and occupation, as was the case of China in the 1930s, both have large rural indigenous populations subordinated to small ruling elites from whom they are divided by racism or caste-ism and regionalism.

Mural of "Chairman Gonzalo", Huancayo, 1990.

Both Pern and Nepal have experi­enced the sharp and growing divisions be­tween the city and the countryside, as well as the rise of new mercantile and bureaucratic classes over the countryside. The develop­ment of these classes in both countries has been influenced and underwritten by outside industrial and financial interests and ideolo­gies. Direct multinational investment andown-ership has been long entrenched inPeru, while Indian interests are consolidating their posi­tion in Nepal, particularly with the liberalisation process that is underway inSouth Asia.

Finally, both countries have strong communist movements that have experienced a history of divisions along similar ideological lines: Soviet and Chinese communist parties, parliamentary roaders vs. cultural revolution­aries, democrats/revisionists vs. extremists/ pure line Maoists, and so oa

In Peru, these cultural, historical, urban-rural and inter-communist party divi­sions have led to inter-community strife, mani­fest genocidal violence and peasant struggle, which the Shining Path took up and used as a

Mar/Apr 1993 HIMAL . 31

Far-left activists burn effigy of Peru's President Fujimori outside U.S. in Kathmandu

basis for its own programme. In Nepal, however, these various divisions have yet to sur­face with the same intensity and ferocity.

There are, how­ever, ample forms of masked violence present in Nepali soci­ety, and perhaps the type of sectarian violence espoused by Comrade Gonzalo is but a short step away. These masked forms of violence include expro­priation of lands, rural debt, rent servitude, liigh child mortality, misappropriation of resources, inflation, cor-niption in favour of a few, labour migration, and trade of women for prostitution. Besides the communist movement, these factors are also giving rise to new forms of janajati con­sciousness and nationalist movements in the hills. If respected as a cry for recognition, autonomous development and substantial change, theycould evolve intoapositive force; if ignored or suppressed, they could lead to sectarianism and violence.

Recruiting the Foresaken

The Shining Path has drawn its cadres from among the millions of Peru's young who sought to raise themselves out of their poverty through education but found that opportunities were limited to the informal sector, the drug trade, or the bottom of the state and military bureau­cracies controlled by the Spanish speaking upper class. Consisting of 50 percent women, the Shining Path is also the one significant women's movement in the strongly male-domi­nated Peruvian society. The Shining Path offered these youths recognition and a sense of achieve­ment in directly confront­ing a society which blocked their aspirations. In Nepal, young people and their families front all over are desperately seeking edu­cation as a means to bet­ter their economic and social conditions. Those who pass school and col­lege are increasingly faced wi th the same prob -

31 . HIMAL Mar/Apr 1993

lenis of unemployment and unsatisfactory sub­ordinate jobs in government, military, indus­try and commerce. The Government bureau­cracy is saturated and actually casting off civil servants; Gurkha recruitment shows a down­ward trend; and industry's sluggish growth and ability to take in die labour surplus has been badly hit by recent power outages (which are expected to iast the rest of the decade). The submission of more than 50,000 applications for 55 openings in the Nepal Telecommunica­tions Corporation exemplifies the desparate situation faced by Nepal's educated young.

The School Leaving Certificate ex­aminations are designed so that an extremely low proportion of the population outside of the Kathmandu Valley succeeds. Nepali educa­tion simultaneously prepares the students for bureaucratic and managerial jobs and dis­qualifies most of them from these jobs. As is the case in Peru as well, the educational cur­riculum has not been built according to the situation and conditions of the rural popula­tion. It is instead an imposition onto the village communities of an alien system of knowl­edge, priorities, values and methods evolved from Western colleges of education. Class­room discipline, examinations and certifica­tion authoritatively determine what is "true knowledge", and devalue the know ledge, prac-tices and languages of the villagers. The pro­cess of failing examinations serves to con­vince rural youth of the need to submit them­selves to the patronising and presumptive au­thority of 'certified' individuals — extension workers, health professionals, foresters, engi­neers, doctors, contractors, political leaders, foreign advisors and so forth.

An immense class of people is pres-

ently being schooled in Nepal to despise their own rural background. The situation is ripe and ready for the rise of movements such as the Shining Path, which provide the popula­tion widi an alternative and convincing-sound­ing "true knowledge". One form of absolut­ism and negation of social being thus can easily give rise to new ones as people become disillusioned with the old unfulfilled promises of jobs, development, land reform, health for all, basic needs, etc.

Filling a Political Void

The goal of the Shining Path has been to destroy the old society and replace it with its own paramountcy. The problem has been that the society which the Shining Path sought to replace was already filled by people and their independent organisations and initiatives: grassroots village and slum dweller organisations, labour unions, and political parties. Certainly they were imperfect and filled widi contradictions, but they too were trying to positively change the society in favour of the oppressed.

It is enticing to interpret, as did Com­rade Gonzalo and theNaxalites of South Asia, Marx's concept of "negation" in terms of Mao's adage: "Power comes from the barrel of a gun." Marx's concept, developed from Hegel, was a much more complex one of an up-and-coming class creating a new society and culture which increasingly displaces and transforms the old one (Hegel's "sublima­tion"). This process has been going on in Latin America over the last five decades, with the vibrant growdi of thousands upon thousands of grassroots organisations in barrio, village, and factory. These in turn have given rise to larger solidarities—popu­lar committees and coun­cils, and even entirely new kinds of parties which are controlled through forms of direc t democracy internally by the grassroots organi­sations rather dian by party bureaucrac ie s, offi c i als and sponsors, as so-far characterises parties in Nepal.


Elsewhere in Latin America, the Sandinisla Front of Nicaragua, the Workers Party of Brazil, and the 1.5 million strong Slum Dwellers Committee of Chile, were quite suc­cessful in building broad alliances among a variety of groups and interests,

without destroying their autonomy and initia­tive. Rather than advancing the independent initiatives of the peasant, worker and slum-dweller organisations, the Shining Path inter­preted their goals as "revisionist" or "reform­ist" and thereby "complicit" with the regimes. It sought to infiltrate and compromise them in the eyes of the Peruvian Government so as to force them to its side. Lacking the military organisation and secrecy of the Shining Path columns, the groups were left exposed to violence by undisceming authorities, who saw any popular initiative as subversive. Indig­enous organisations were put in an uncomfort­able position between two armed camps, suf­fering violent retribution from both.

Though these organisations initially supported the Shining Path to the extent that it advanced their own goals, when it demanded that they serve its particular military and po­litical purposes, they organised themselves against it as well. Consequently, the Shining Path has been least successful in areas where these organisations were already strong, And it is these organisations that have proven ef­fective against the ruling elites and powerful corporate sponsors of the Peruvian regime, on the one hand, and as bulwarks against all kinds of sectarianism, on the other.

In Nepal, the Panchayat regime's repression of political activity denied the growth of the independent grassroots organisations and movements that might have provided a bul w ark here against both military-bureaucratic over-extension and sectarian ten­dencies. Today, consequently, Nepali society Finds itself vulnerable to political extremism and violence.

For the purpose of catering to the most recent international funding priorities, the present local government \aw has been crafted to appear as if it encourages grassroots initiatives. Actually, all the machinery of the local government is manipulated back into the control of the center. True NGO activism is discouraged by bureaucratic ally determined constraints of registration. And some anthro­pologists have demonstrated that the recently passed labour laws are even more restrictive and anti-union than those of, the Panchayat period. Thus, the dominating tendencies of old continue to exert themselves in the present, albeit in the guise of a new "democratic" legitimacy.

The international development agen­cies in their latest slogan-Taising and report-writing have exhibited support for grassroots activism through non-go vemmental initiatives. But the tendency of these agencies to work through the educationally certified English-speaking group co-opts this potential class of

organisers with high salaries and perks. It removes them from sharing the difficult con­ditions and working alongside of the oppressed. Consequently, most of the funding for grassroots initiatives goes to developing this class into yet anew burden on the countryside, further subverting the position of the people it is to help.

All this leaves just the kindof void conducive to the development of a highly sectarian movement such as the Shining Path, whose disciplined and ideologically commit­ted cadres are willing to spend years or de­cades among the villagers, intimately research­ing their situation and helping them to organise themselves. Lacking their own independent organisation to advance their goals or protect them from ruling class and governmental ex­cesses, the rural and urban poor have few alternatives besides ethnic, nationalist or re­ligious sectarian movements which build their base on real social divisions and exploitation by playing on illusory ideological antago­nisms.

The militarisation of various nation­alist movements within the country, spillover of violent repression of farm labour in adja­cent Bihar, or a military response by the Nepali Government against indigenous social move­ments, all could lead to the growth of violence and sectarianism.

Alternatives to Sectarianism

One of Comrade Gonzalo's mistakes has been to try and transfer Mao's categories of revolu­tion, which really only referred to the China of the 1930s, to a Peru of the 1980s. Neither do those categories apply to the 1990s Nepal. Although there are many patronistic feudal-like aspects in Peruvian and Nepali society, using Mao's characterisation of them as "semi-feudal" and "semi-colonial", tossing about epitaphs such as "revisionist" and "reformist", and designating one national group of capitalists as "national bourgeois" and another as "imperialist", seems a mechanistic exercise aimed atjustifyingapeople'swar programme to the exclusion of other initia­tives.


the central paradox of the path taken by Shining Path is that it has not succeeded in transcend­ing the same authoritari­anism, violence and nihilistic denial of people's own alternatives which characterises and sus-

tains the present oppressive order. Strategy must begin with humans in the given condi­tions of a world intimately interconnected politically, economically, culturally and envi­ronmentally. The old leader-oriented bureau­cratic national parties and national struggles seem to be obsolete, as people buy things, sell their labor, share ideas, interact and submit to or struggle with conditions determined far beyond their local communities and national boundaries.

What is required is careful analysis, self-eduction and organisation according to this analysis — not by outsiders, political leaders, intellectuals, experts and elite NGOs, who interpret the situation according to their own relatively privileged situations — but by the poor and oppressed themselves and others who choose to live and work alongside them and share their conditions. The problems and powers overshadowing the world today are so vast that confronting them requires coordinat­ing a wide variety of strategies and initiatives, particularly those which cannot be anticipated according to old bygone theories transformed to present-day dogmas, whether Jhey be "Mao Thought," "Gonzalo Thought," or a recently exhumed and rehabilitated Adam Smith. They must be developed through practical effort and engagement

The future, if humans are to have a place in it, will require immense tolerance, willingness to work together, and also sacri­fice, especially of a powerful few for the demands and needs of the weak and of the earth.

S. L Mikesell is a research scholar and editor at the CentreforNepaland Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University.

Mar/Apr 1993 HIMAL . 33


Indigenous good, Appropriate bad


elf-Reliance in Small Communities exam­ines the choice of technologies with which to help villages achieve self-reliance. The author argues for a revival of indigenous tech­nology through a community-nurtured ap­proach. He conducted action research on the possibility of using "appropriate technology" for earth roofing in two small communities, spaced apart by geography and stages of eco­nomic development; Maryborough, Australia andGorbung in Deurali Village Development Committee, Nepal. He concludes that appro­priate technology per se will not work, and forwards what he calls the PARFTTS model (Participatory Action Research in the Facilita­tion of an Indigenous Technological System) as a strategy for community development

The book is divided into 13chapters and comes with an extensive bibliography running into 27 pages and 26 appendixed units. The first chapter sets up the rationale for action research: the Nepali villagers* tradi­tional reliance on timber roofing juxtaposed with the dwindling timber resources. Manandhar therefore decides to borrow the indigenous technology of Egypt as appropri­ate technology for Nopal. The seed of failure for this experiment is sown early—by choos­ing indigenous mud-dome architecture of a dry and arid Egypt foT possible appropriation in a wet and moisturous Nepal. By the author's own definition of technology appropriation (page 8), theexperiments at both Maryborough and Deurali are failures and he bravely comes around to the finding that the "appropriateness of an appropriate technology is place and culture specific" (p. 241).

In the second and third chapters, the inappropriateness of industrial technology and the economic growth model for development is argued with the help of a profuse literature survey. Pitfalls such as technological deter niinism, depiction of natural resources, unbal­anced distribution of wealth, waste and pollu-

Self-Reliance in Small Communities

by Ramesh Manandhar Oxford and IBM Publishing

New Delhi 1992 Nrs900

by Sudarshan R. Tiwari

tion, are all tackled Whereas one would agree that one of thecauses of hunger is "increasing inequality in the control over productive re­sources" and inequitable distribution, the author's argument that overpopulation is not an important aspect of underdevelopment is unrealistic.

Local self-reliance movements, such as the Chinese communes, the Ujamaa of Tanzania, and the Kibbutz of Israel, among others, are discussed and variously termed "failures" or "perFect failures". Eyen though the author is not explicit, Mahatma Gandhi's path seems to be his preference, and the Gandian model reinforced with Freire's ap­proach finds place further down in the sug­gested PARFTTS model (Chapter 12).

Chapter 4 picks up the debates on appropriate technology and raises questions about its efficacy. It proposes to investigate socio-economic and political dimension of AT through the experiment on earth roofing technology. The author presents adobe tech­nology as a panacea for mass housing, but his arguments tend to be simplistic. To suggest that mud bricks are stronger and last longer than concrete by citing archaeological finds from the second millennium B.C is rather farfetched. These are available today mainly because ofthe protection offered by the desert sand deposited over the structures thousands of years ago.

Chapter 5 is a weak deliberation un the title, "Decision Making is 'Top-Town'

and Based on Caste". Rana rule is blamed for introducing the top-down process of formal decision-making in Nepal. That the power continued to rest in the hands of a few, writes the author, was the major cause of the popular revolt of March 1990. Was it ail that simple?

The following three chapters offer a detailed account of the earth roofing experi­ment at Maryborough and Deurali. While at Maryborough, a sense of local participation is evident; at Deurali, it was not forthcoming. A fire incident at Salyangiri in Deurali comes as an eye-opener to the author, which is when he decides to move away from' appropriate tech­nology' and starts the journey into 'indig­enous technology'.

Chapter 9 takes up some of these indigenous technologies and finds them virtu­ous in many aspects. A revival of handloom for making cloth and mat weaving is tried and meets with Temarkable success in generating income as well as self-reliance. The findings of these experiments show that facilitating peoples' indigenous skills and technological systems can nurture self-reliance. This, then, is the PARFTTS model for community self-reliance.

That the villagers of particular vil­lages were not too keen on mud roofing does not however mean all ATs are inappropriate. Nor would it be wise to conclude that all indigenous technologies would lead to self-reliance. Indigenous technologies work in as much as they are results of local materials and socio-cultural practices. To expect them to be able to survive, compete and lead to a self-sufficient society without innovations, is far­fetched. It will hardly do toreplace 'industrial technology determinism' with 'indigenous technology determinism'. Why are some in­digenous technologies dying away? Are in­digenous technologies not in crisis? How come the villager ignores this saviour indigenous technology even as he becomes impoverished day by day? The book does not answer these questions. But these must be answered, and answered in positive, before the PARFTTS model may be a tool for self-reliance.

The book has a strong undercurrent, which is likely to find new takers. A fitting tribute to the late author would be further research in the area he has treaded on

S.R. Tiwari is an architect. He is Reader at the Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University.

34 HIMAL . Mar/Apr 1993


A Sweeping Review of the People's Movement


he partyless Panchayat system, estab­lished by King Mahendra after he toppled parliamentary democracy in I960, acquired 'legitimacy' through the plebiscite of 1980. But such legitimacy could not be translated into performance. A decade later, the political opposition (the Nepali Congress and theUnited Left Front) declared war on the Panchayat, and the people responded with alacrity to its call for a multi-party system.

Spring Awakening, a posthumous publication, gives an account of critical tran­sitional phases in recent Nepali politics — the People's Movement (February-April 1990), the promulgation of the new Constitution (No­vember 1990), and the parliamentary elec­tions (May 1991). The main focus, however, is on the People's Movement

Analysing the underlying reasons behind the Movement's success, authors Raeper and Hoftun discuss changes brought by the modernisation process. Advances in some service sectors — growth in literacy rate, development of commun ications and mass media, and improved transportation eastward from the Karnali river — opened up new horizons. The book, however, does not deal adequately with Nepal's stagnant economy and the gap between the public's expectations and governmental performance.

The political mischief following the 1980 referendum, write the authors, was also conducive to the success of the uprising a decade later- While the Third Amendment to the then Constitution introduced some re­forms, such as direct elections to the national legislature, there was the ominous emergence of conservative institutions such as the Panchayat Policy and Ev aluation Committee, the Sports Council, the Bhumigat Giroha (a murky underground network), and other organisations headed or patronised by the members of the royal family.

Unity between the Nepali Congress and the communists is seen as another factor, and the Left's acceptance of multi-party de­mocracy is seen as crucial. But they overlook another turnaround, that of the Nepali Con­gress, which moved from attempts at recon­ciliation with the King to confrontation.

With the country so heavily depen­dent on foreign aid, the Panchayat govern­ment was not able to resist Western pressure

Spring Awakening:

An Account of the 1990

Revolution in Nepal

by Wiiiiam Raeper and Martin Hoftun,

Viking, Penguin Books India Pvt. Lid, 1992

IRs 200, NRs 320

by Krishna Hachhethu

for human rights. The book touches on this, but barely. And while Nepal's relations with India is extensively discussed, a perspective on the changing global scenario is lackmg.

During the Cold War era, when rela­tions between India and China were also far from cordial, all sides granted protective sup­port to the Panchayat regime in its attempts to contain the oppositioa But by the dawn of the 1990s, the world had changed. The West's heightened concern for human rights/democ­racy and the thaw between India and China substantially reduced the Panchayat's maneu­vering ability. Last ditch attempts to divert attention from theMovement by stoking anti-India feelings backfired completely.

Raeper and Hoftun divide the runup to democracy in three stages: the first, Feb/ March 1990, was when people chanted for democracy in streets hoping for a royal proc-lamationannouncing political reform. Instead, King Birendra remained aloof, as presented by the official radio, television and press. This prepared the ground for the second "revolu­tionary" stage, at the beginningof April. Whole households mobilised themselves, and the women and children of Patan and Kirtipur took to the streets with kitchen utensils and agricultural tools. On 6 April, lakhs demon­strated around the country.

The King's belated response of lift­ing the ban on political parties was too little, too late, and die Movement entered its third stage. It was clear that the public wanted sweeping change, and this emboldened the opposition leaders to demand the total dis­mantling of the Panchayat.

The Movement thus ended success­fully, with theparty chiefs quite incredulous at how quickly democracy was achieved. The tussle between the King and the parties on the nature and content of the new constitution began. The royal palace made every effort to

retain the King's sovereignty, but the popular force prevailed, and a new Constitution based on popular sovereignty was promulgated on 9 November 1990. Elections followed, with the Nepali Congress obtaining a comfortable majority in May 1991.

One of the book's shortcomings is that it leans too far towards the Left and gives short shrift to the Nepali CongTess. This tilt is obvious from the persons die authors chose to interview, and the text goes as far as to connect the goals of Nepali communists with the tradi­tion of Nepali society (p. 88-94).

The book views the 1990 "revolu­tion" as having openedNepal to the possibility of another revolt, "this time of a religious and ethnic nature". Many Nepalis may share the authors' concern about the rise of regional politics between the Tarai and Hills, and also communal politics between the Tibeto-Bur-man groups and Bahun, Chettri and Newar, But such fears could be exaggerated, and it is clear that the authors get their own impres­sions from three sources. Firstly, they wit­nessed the ugly ventilation of grievances dur­ing the highly charged moments of constitu­tion-making and elections. The pitch of re­gional and communal politics has been con­siderably subdued subsequently, in the actual practice of parliamentary democracy.

Secondly, rather than speak to the people at large, the au thorsrelied on the claims of different communal and regional leaders, who naturally tend to exaggerate the problem to their advantage. Thirdly, they have spoken to the former Panchas, who have long con­tended, most erroneously, that democracy would lead towards national disintegration. As one of them is quoted, "Every thing can now happen, Nepal can become another Kampuchea, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka."

In this otherwise well-written and painstakingly researched text, Raeper and Hoftun have tended Lo forget that political parties are integrative forces, andit is to Nepali society's advantage that the two main political parties wield strong influence throughout the country. In highlighting the problems of con­temporary Nepali politics, perhaps they failed to appreciate all (hat is positive,

K. Hachhethu teaches at the Center for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhiwan University.

The Ihree authors reviewed in these pages, Wiiiiam Raepar, Martin Hoftun and Ramesh Ma.nandhai, died in an air crash near Kathmandu, Juiy 1992.

Mar/Apr 1993 HIMAL . 35


Unstartling Reportage

"Startling Discoveries"

Magazine article by Raj Chengappa

India Today 16 March 1993

by Amod M. Dixit


his investigative special by a well-known reporter of the Indian environment pre­sents the different geological phenomena and processes active in the Himalayan region in easy-to-understandprose. The complex theory of plate tectonics isexplained withoutresort to jargon. Interesting findings such as the dis­covery of a hippopotamus skull in Ladakh, which proves that there was warm climate here in the recent geological past, will help awaken the public's interest in this most inter­esting of mountain ranges.

But the article, unfortunately,Teaches for scientific sensationalism when it makes claims of new and startling discoveries by the Indian scientists quoted and pictured herein. Chengappa seems not to have gone for second opinions. The knowledge of the geology of the Himalaya has accumulated steadily, bit by bit, through the efforts of hundreds of Western andTegional scientists, over the last 150 years. It is foolhardy to suggest that a few years of work by the handful of scientists quoted here has led to an unprecedented spurt in the under-

standing of Himalayan geology.

For example, it is reported that the recent geological findings in the Himalayahas substantiated the theory of plate tectonics. But the theory has been firmly established since the 1970s, and one can hardly claim now that the "major findings by Indian geologists radi­cally alter old theories of mountains,' origins." And it is unfair to present the recent rise of the Himalaya as a "startling discovery by Indian geologists" when A. Gansser in his important monograph on Himalayan geology had al­ready concluded as much in 1964. It was Gansser in fact who proposed that for primi­tive man the Himalaya was probably a collec­tion of low hills rather than today's insur­mountable barriers.

Perhaps the most troublesome as­pect of the article is its loose talk on the impending earthquakes of enormous magni­tude. It is known that several models for earth­quake forecast are being developed in differ­ent countries, but to date none of their findings have been accepted even by their authors as

being conclusive and foolproof. It is therefore premature for Chengappa to present unquali­fied the alarmist prediction that anearthquake of unimaginable magnitude is likely to strike soon in the Himalaya. Such statements should be made only with the utmost care because of their ability to influence decisions on major infrastructure development projects such as high dams.

Many accepted geological findings have been presented by Chengappa as break­throughs, albeit he has made the effort to fill in the details. While not disregarding the possi­bility of major seismic events in the Himalaya, the alarm raised about a truly 'ground break­ing' earthquake should be regarded as specu­lation. Big earthquakes have been taking place in the region and there will be more in the future. But "soon", in geological terms, could be from now to the next 500 years, or more.

Chengappa's article is good reading as a primer on Himalayan geology.

A.M.Dixit is a geologist and consultant

Kailash and The Himalayan Research Bulletin


ecause there are less than a handful of academic journals on the Himalayan region, it lias been worrisome that Kailash and the Himalayan Research Bulletin have not been sighted for more than a year. Kailash is published in Kathmandu by Ratna Pustak Bhandar, while HUB has been handed around US universities rather like a waif.

Fortunately, the news of the demise of both journals was found to be a bit exaggerated. The editorial team at the South Asian Institute of Columbia University in New York has handed the HRB over to the West Coast. It is now with the South Asian Studies Center at the University of Washington. Himal has learnt that Volume 11, No. 1-3 1991 (a triple issue, 166 pp) is available, and Volume 12, 1992 will be available in June 1993.

Kailash is edited alone and valiantly by the scholar John K. Locke in Kathmandu. According to Locke, Volume 16, No. 1 should be out of press by June, to be followed quickly by No.2. Difficulties with the printers has been a major problem, says Locke, "but we are also not getting enough quality papers to choose from." Even as a "Himal ay an journal", Locke says Kailash tends to receive contributions that focus on Nepal and Tibet, and very little on the Indian Himalaya and Bhutan. Contact:

HimalayanResearchBulletin, South Asian Studies Center, Jackson Sciiool of International Studies DR-05,303 Thomson Hall, Univer-'sity of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. Fax: 206-685^787 Kailash, Father John K. Locke. GPO. Box 50, Kathmandu.

36 HIMAL . Mar/Apr 1993

Arun III, Nepal's Reluctant Narmada

by Binod Bhattarai


he Indian Government's decision not to use World Bank money to build the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Project was a vic­tory for Indian environmentalists and human righters. The Bank heaved a sigh of relief, as questions on the environment, equity and re­settlement of "oustees" had made the project an albatross that promised endless public em­barrassment. Better to bail out from this one and continue with projects elsewhere in the Bank's realm.

It is business as usual for the Bank elsewhere in South Asia, though, particularly where there are no groups with the single-mindedness, media savvy and grassroots reach of the Narmada activists. Nepal's Arun III Project, for one, has no Medha Patkar. And Bradford Morse will not come out of retire­ment to do another evaluation (as he did for Narmada) on a project which all but a handful hope will slip through while no one is watch­ing.

The World Bank has pushed the Arun III under the fig leaf of its "Least Cost Generation Expansion Plan", which in 1987 passedjudgementtbat this was theonly project in Nepal that was ready for implementation. A "no option trap" was set, and despite Prime MinisterGirijaPrasadKoirala's allergy tothe Bank when he took office, the NepaJi Con­gress Government has walked straight into it. The communist opposition, which has main­tained such a barrage over the Tanakpur case, has been strangely silent, possibly because the eastern hills of Nepal, which includes the Arun river basin, is aLeft stronghold. Aboon-doggle is a boondoggle. A Left parliamentar­ian who questions the project confessed, "Our voter strength is in the east, so we cannot openly oppose Arun. Sadly, we do not have enough representatives from the West of Nepal."

Then there are the commission mer­chants as not-so-silent partners. A 10 percent kickback is accepted even by officials as the minimumfor aprojectlike Arun. Whichmeans that iheBaby Arun agentscouldmakeoff with U$ 70 million, the sort of money that rarely makes an appearance in bulk in Nepal. This was what got fJepal into the no-option trap in the first place.

The possibility of generating power in the upper Arun basin was first identified by the Japanese in 1985. The project's detailed design and even its tender documents were prepared by aconsortium of Western consult-

ing companies, the Joint Venture Arun III. Since the mid-1980s, Bank, Government and Royal Palace officials, as well as the commis­sion-wallahs, stalled all progress on alterna­tive projects. For thisreason alone today there is heavy load shedding in Nepal, expected to stay in place well into the 2000s.

The original plan was for a 268 megawatt project. When there were no takers, it was upgraded to 402 MW, costing U$ 1.2 billion, with die idea thai prospects of sale of power to India would make the project more attractive. But when everyone balked at the price, rather than look to other projects, the Bank pulled "Baby Arun" out of its bag. So now the project will generate only 201 MW, and the 'quoted figure' is down to U$ 764 million. To put things in perspective, Nepal's total annual revenue comes to about U$ 300 million.

Where will the money come from? U$ 355 million andDM235milli on have been committed, according to official information, by donors who include the Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Kredittanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau, and the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund, The Japanese would also like to construct the powerhouse and provide electrical equipment. The Finns have agTeed to provide deisel-generators for the power required during construction.

One reason the bureaucrats are so bent on Arun JH is that, as one official claimed, "89percent of the financing is through grants." This, however, is not proven, especially be­cause high-profile donors include the OECD, the ADB and the World Bank, all of which provide loans, albeit some of them soft.

The project will use helicopters to ferry construction material including cement and equipment. Hiley and Tumlingtar will be transformed into "air support" bases and heli­pads will also be constructed at the damsite, powerhouse and the permanent and tempo­rary camps of contractors. The cost of the helicopter services is expected to be about U$ 50 million. (For comparison, the United Na­tions Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) will reportedly spend U$ 47 mil­lion for an armada of helicopters, including heavylift Russian MI-7s, for two years of continuous support.)

The Nepali Government is commits ted to proceeding with Arun III and the Na­tional Planning Commission'is staunchly be­hind the project. Neither Government offi-

cials nor NPC members found it worth their while to attend a public hearing on Arun III organised by some Kathmandu NGOs on 12 February. Ironically, when it was learnt subse­quently that the Bank requires a public hear­ing for "Category A" projects such as the Arun.somc officials were quick to claim that that requirement had already been fulfilled.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on an environmental impact study of rneroad up to the project site, but this report is now waste paper. Because, to make Baby Aruncheaper ancimorepala table, theplanners decided to take the low road, a route along the steep valley bottom. Meanwhile, no environ­mental impact study has been carried out for the project as a whole.

The projected per-kilowatl cost of power generation for Arun III is U$ 3800, which experts say is more than twice the cost of power from projects of up to the 60 MW range (about $ 1,500 per kW). Arun's power would cost four times the cost per kW ex­pected from the First Phase (1000 MW) of the controversial Tehri Dam in Garhwal, claims RajendraDahal, ajournalist who has followed Arun III for more than four years.

Load-shedding, which averages 10 hours every alternate day, is not likely to improveregardlessof Arun III. Overtime, this will blow the fuse of tolerance of the middle and lower-middle classes, and when that hap­pens, Arun III will be of no help to the Govern­ment.

Are Nepali officials and the Bank free to blunder into projects that will mire the country in economic quicksand, just because activism is weak in Nepal? The day when Nepali activists are able to organise villagers to challenge faraway bureaucratic decisions is still remote.

Says Dahal, "The Bank and the bu­reaucracy love to keep the information close to their chest. We will ultimately bring out all the information on Arun III, and the alterna­tives that are being neglected."

Like journalists, Kathmandu's engi­neers and economists too have begun to speak out. A group calling itself the Alliance for Energy (see overleaf) has begun to ask ques­tions about Arun III, and promises to be insistent.

B.Bhattarai reports lor The Independent of Kathmandu.

Mar/Apr 1993 H1MAL . 37


Look before you leap..

by Bikas Pandcy and Janet Bell


World Bank mission arrives inNepal in mid-May to appraise the feasibility of the modified Arun III scheme, affectionately known as "Baby Arun". Thisrather oversized baby is still small fry in the eyes oftheWorldBank, but Baby Arun has serious implications for Nepal's future development path.

If the World Bank is truly committed to the development of Nepal, swely it should be looking at ways of helping to build up local capability rather than perpetuating the cycle of dependence on foreign aid and offering a convenient channel for the marketing of Western goods and services. The objective of gigantic power projects shouldnot be measured merely in terrnsof the numberof megawatts produced, but on the establishment of greater capability to produce power, in order to continue the cycle of development.

Neither the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) nor the coun­try itself has the capability to take on a project as large as Baby Arun. Consequently, all the technologies, expertise and funding will be shipped in from abroad. The aid package is almost entirely tied to the provision of goods and services from the donor countries.

There is another way. There is a far more practical, cost-effective and environmentally sound approach to hydropower than the current obsession with large-scale projects that are driven by the donor. By investingin smaller schemes usinglocal capability, more power can be generated more quickly from theU$ 764 million budgeted for Baby Arun. Through this approach, load shedding could be overcome in five to six years instead of the ten to twelve anticipated with Baby Arun.

We need to move steadily forward in manageable steps, rather than leaping uncontrollably ahead. This would give the local hydro industry a chance to grow and mature, developing a solid base from which Nepal can eventually achieve self-sufficiency in hydro-power. Baby Arun may well be appropriate in 10 years time when local industry can take it on confidently, but Nepal simply is not ready for it now. Evolution, not revolution, is what is needed.

Other countries which rely heavily on hydropower, such as Norway and China, have successfully adopted this evolutionary ap­proach to power generation, and still gain significant percentages of their total power from smallscale schemes. In Switzerland early this century, more than 99 percent of its power plants generated less than 750 kW each. The success of these hydro programmes is largely attributed to policies of decentralisation and local management in these countries. China was able to achieve a 3000 fold increase in its small-hydro capacity in 27 years.

The potential for Nepal's hydro industry to follow a similar path is already apparent. Over the last 25 years, local capability has been steadily growing and maturing. It took the Butwal Power Com­pany (BPC) 12 years to buildup its capacity to produce equipment and expertise for the 1MW Tinau scheme. Over the next dozen years, that capacity has grown to more than 50 MW, BPC recently signed an agreement to build the 60 MW scheme at Khimti, which it will build at almost a third the cost per kW as that projected for Baby Arun. Nepal should be looking to consolidate its expertise with schemes of this size before moving on to more ambitious projects.

Engineers at the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) them­selves have never had a chance to design and build their own schemes.

As the Authority takes on larger and larger turnkey schemes, these engineers, many of them trained at the world's best universities, are reduced to serving as 'counterparts' to contractors.

It is well within our capability to meet the country's ever-increasing energy needs without looking to outside support. Using Nepali engineering expertise at NEA and in private power companies like the BPC, 25 to 30MW of hydropower can be added to the grid every year. With sustained growth, in ten years' time, figure could reach 100 MW a year.

Not only does this new approach offer the chance to eliminate load shedding within a few years and increase the amount of energy available on the national grid, but far more Nepal is will be able to enjoy the benefits of electricity. A strengthened hydro industry will not only be able to provide larger schemes (such as Khimti) to fuel the urban centres, but will also enable micro- (up to 100 kW) and mini-hydro (up to 1 MW) schemes to flourish in the rural areas with no grid attachment, giving a boost to local economies.

Hydropower is not a simplecommodity like oil or coal—you cannot just dig it up and sell it; the actual process of harnessing the power is critical. ItIsn' t an easy route, but we are already well on the way to understanding and developing that process in Nepal. If we miss this opportunity to develop hydropower through local industry, we will condemn urban Nepalis to escalating electricity prices and periodic power shortages, and will deny many rural Nepalis access to electricity.

Baby Arun's malignancy lies no! in the'dam itself, but in the context of its conception and realisation. You cannot leapfrog your way through the development maze. Amn'sro tten core perpetuates thecycle of donor dependency and the stifling of indigenous capacity and creativity. There is a cure,, but its strength is finite and will fail to work if the malignancy is allowed to spread any further.

B. Pan day is member of the Alliance for energy, a Kathmandu group that seeks to educate on hydropower issues. J. Bell is with the Intermediate Technology Development Group, London.


is looking for a

Managing Editor.

His\her responsibilities will include interna­tional and regional marketing, administration, and public relations. Lack of experience Is no bar. but we seek a person who can adapt to Himal's unique demands. Starting salary NRs 5000.

Mall a hand-written application with curriculum vitae to PO Box 42, Lalitpur, Nepal. Applications post-marked later than 30 May 1993 will not be considered.

38 HIMAL . Mar/Apr 1993



by Rishikesh Shah Third Revised Edition Manohar Publishers. New Delhi 1992 [SBN817304 0206 Ks320

The first edition oflhis book was published a&Essays in the Practice ofGovernment in Nepal in 1982 and was confis­cated by the then Panchayal government. The 1990 revised edition did not contain the essays dealing with pro Pancliayat political history contained in the first edition. This third edition contains the 11 well-known essaysof the 1990 volume and three new ones —"Performance of the Interim Coalition Government {19 April, 1990 - 26 May, 1991)"; "Formation of the Post-Election Government"; "Visit of Prime Minister of Nepal to India and After"; and a brief epilogue. Text of the Nepalo-India Treaty of Tran­sit, Treaty of Trade, and Agreement of Cooperation to Control Unauthorised Trade — the three separate docu­ments signed by the Nepali Government and the Govern­ment of India on 6 December, 1991 — are provided as appendices.


by Ashvin Meiha Text by Prof PV Bole Mapin Publishing Pvt Ltd, Ahmedabad IRs 695

Photographer Mehta captures the beauty of wild Hima­layan flowers. The book contains 150 colour plates of different species, including Himalayan poppies, anemo­nes, primroses, peonies, monkshood, buttercups, black pea, spurges, mentha, thyme, balsam, gentian,campanula and chrysanthemum have been captured in full bloom. With its serious text, this more than another coffee table glossy. Mehta's earlier works include Himalaya: Encoun­ter with Eternity and Coasts of India.


Satellite Image Trekking Map

Compiled by R. Kostka CartoconsuH, Austria 1992

This new trekking map, scale 1:250,000, is based on LANDSAT satellite imagery and hence contains correct information on rivers, routes, ridgelines and snow-cover on the trekking region around AnnapumaHimal. This is perhaps the first trekking map with professionally laid out three-dimensional shaded information tricolour. To serve as a hands-on map for trekkers, however, it requires more mute details.


by Chandi Prasad Bhatt

People's Association for Himalaya Area Research


Nainital 1992 DCs 30

"The Himalaya is a vast store of natural resources," writes Chandi Prasad Bbatt. "We need hydro power and the rivers of the Himalaya are waiting for their use." Al the same time, "...the mountains ore the water towers of modem civilisation and thi s resource should not be the cause of the mountain tragedy''. The fear of tragedy looms large in Bhatt's reckoning, which is why he presents this small book (50 pages) as an attempt in "overcoming incomplete knowledge and unsound beliefs". Bhatt, who back in 1983 wrote to Indira Gandhi questioning the need for big dams ' in the Himalaya, here chronicles the history of floods in Aiaknanda, the earthquakes and landslides that wrought havoc to the region, and traces the emergence of Chipko movement. There are no two opinions about the 'sensible'

use of the Himalayan resources, and there is a need for "small", "good" dams, and run of the river projects. "But not.,,projects like Tehri or Vishnu Piayag."


by Adrian Sever Oxford and India Book House New Delhi, 1993 ISBN 81204 07709 Price not listed

This book g ive s an sec ounl of the more than a century long Rana rule in Nepal and concludes with an analysis and assessment of the same. The book starts with Prithvi Narayan S hah's conqu est of Kathmandu Val lev, and delves i ntn Jang Bahad ur' s rise, and allocates separate chapters to the reign of each Rana Prime Minister. Sever, an Austra­lian diplomat much enthralled by Nepal, also includes brief descriptions of the people and cullurc of Nepal, as well as the contemporary state of trade, mining, slavery, education and so on. The book includes many old photo­graphs from Rana albums, most of which are said not to have been published before. It concludes with an analysis and assessment of Rana rule. On Jang Bahadur, Sever writes, "By any standard, he ranges along with Prince Bahadur Shah and (Prime-Minister) Bhimsen Thapa as one of the great political leaders of unified Nepal." There is an exhaustive appendix which covers, among other things, the genealogy of the Rana family and the rolls of succession as drawn up by various Prime Ministers.


This series of small monographs on the natural resources

of Bhutan is available from the National Environment

Commission of Bhutan, PO Box 466, Thimphu, Bhutan

CTel 23384, fax 23385):

Common Trees in the Temperate Forest ef Bhutan,

(no author). 1992

Hydropmw Development in Bhutan. BTaniang, 1993

Environment, Shelter and Energy, Ananda P Sharma,


A Comparison of Traditional and Modern Farming

Systems in Bhutan, Mahesh Ghintiray, 1993

Erosion Due to Roads and Canals in Bhutan, Chenclw

Narbu and Yadunath Sharma, 1993

Micro Hydro Power Development for Remote Areas in

Bhutan, Chewang Rixin, 1993

A Preliminary Annotated List of Fish Expected to

Occur in Bhulanesc River Systems, P Tamang, 1993.


Indus Publishing Company, New Delhi 1993 ISBN 81 85182 841 DU500

TheDoon Valley nestles behind theShivalik and is bounded by the rivers Oanga and Jamuna. The history of Doom's decline, says author Thadani, began as outsiders came in to plundered its forest wealth. The Gorkha invasion of the late 1800s, followed by colonial policies of the Raj, and the introduction of modem-day hydel projects, have all af­fected the carrying capacity of the valley negatively. The author has analysed this impact in terms of floods, defor­estation, earthquakes, landslide, soil erosion and poverty. This book documents how the Ooon's population pined hands to save their valley from ecological disaster.


Vol 18, No 1

CNAS, Tribhuvan University


Six research papers and a review of the book, Boles: The

Ferrymen of Tanahun, are contained in this recently re-

leased January 1991 issue. Anthropologist Prayag Raj Sharma reviews Suraj Subba's book on the Bates and describes it as "an ethnological manual on a people ad­versely caught up in the development and modernisation process in Nepal," Stephen Mikcsell and Jamuna Shrestha argue that "caste" and "class" are not necessarily two ends of a pole, but that caste is just one of the fonns taken in the development of class society; Prem R. Uprety writes that in South Asia, small polities like Nepal have no choice but to adjust according to security perceptions of India. Alex Kondos studies Nepal's manufacturing industry and con­cludes that unavailability of data relating to caste and ethnic identity does not allow researchers to explore class relations in different enterprises. Annnta Raj Poudyal looks at the issues of "Nation, Nationalism and National Consensus" from a political science perspective. John N, Gray explores "how marriage implicates gender relations and how these in turn mediate and constitutes a particular configurational relation between hierarchy and equality"; and Bhtm Subedi's paper examines two international migratory flows in Nepal, from the hills, and tolheTarai.


Issue 28, Autumn 1992 Thomas P Mathoi, editor Unicef (South Asia Regional Office), Kathmandu This quarterly on "development perspective on children" has resumed publication after two year's of silence. Pub­lished by the South Asia Regional Office of Unicef, it seems to have received a new lease following that office's recent move to Kathmandu. The present issue carries articles on community action, global monitoring of child rights, China's approach to basic education, as well as a 'Document' section carrying declarations such as "The Statement after the South Asian Consultation of Parlia­mentarians in Kathmandu, 18-19 May, 1992"and "Report of the South Asian Consultation of Social Statisticians in Islamabad, 8-lOJone, 1992."


University of Hong Kong

This new biannual journal, expected to start publication this Spring, will be an inter-disciplinary periodical focus­ing on environmental management problems of Asia. "The goal is to facilitate information-sharing among envi­ronmental managers, businesses, research institutions and environmental groups. All articles are to be refereed by an international team of experts." Confaa. Managing Editor A/EM, Centre of Urban Planning and Environmental Management, Knowles Building, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfalam Road, Hong Kong. Fax: (852) 5590468.


by Ram Prasad Rajttahak Lancer Publishers New Delhi 1992 ISBN8172I20060 IRs 200

In contrast to previous studies on Nepal-India relationship which have treated the open border between the two countries as a constraint, this refers to "the importance and effectiveness of Nepal-India open border as an instrument which facilitates the establishment of durable relationship through developing interdependence in vital aspects of national life ofthe two countries," Amidst piatitudes of the age-old "people-Uvpeople" relationship between the two countries, some aspects of trade, transit and friendship treaties signed between India and Nepal since 1816, King Birendra's efforts to replace the "special relationship" between the two countries with a "normal" one, implica­tions of the 1989-90 trade impasse and specific policy issues, are discussed.

Mar/Apr 1993 HIMAL . 39


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Jyatha-Thamel. Kathmandu, Nepal

Phone: 2-25455, 228998

Fax: 977-1-220143, Telex: 2669 GLOCOM NP
























Back Issues of HIMM.



Colour Issue Cover Story

3" 4 Blue Nov/Dec 1990

Hill Poverty



Green May/1987 The Valley Chokes

4 1 Purple Mar/Apr 199!

Tibetan Diaspora



Green Jul/1988 Highlanders on the Move

4 2 Grey May/Jun 1991

Troubled Waters

I 1


Blue Nov/Dec 1988 Dharma's Changing Landscape

4 3 Orange Jul/Aug 1991

Nepalis in Foreign Uniform j



Red Jan/Feb 1989 World of the Girl Child

4 4 Green Sep/Oct 1991

Keeping Women Down



Purple Mar/Apr 1989 Prosperous Himachal Pradesh

5 1 Red Jan/Feb 1992

Weakening Spirit of Kalhmandu



Orange Jul/Aug 1989 An Obsession with Tourism

5 2 Purple Mar/Apr 1992

What to do with Foreign Aid?



Green Sep/Oct 1989 Changing Food Habits

5 3 Grey May/Jun 1992




Blue Nov/Dec 1989 Development Refugees

5 4 Orange Jul/Aug 1992

The Dragon Bites Us Tail



Red Jan/Feb 1990 Trie Shangri-La Myth

5 5 Green Sep/Oct 1992

The Stress of Change



Grey May/Jun 1990 A Nepali Interregnum

5 6 Blue Nov/Dec 1992

Himalayan Face of Mountaineering



Green Sep/Oct 1990 The Tarai, A Backwater?

6 1 Red Jan/Feb 1992

The Trade in Himalayan Herbs

Some back issues are still available at Kathmandu bookshops and at Himal's office.

Bound back issues

(some photocopied) in three volumes are available from Himal for NRs






Himal Index no* allows readers and researchers access to live years of Himal Magazine's output — articles in 23 issues till Nov/Oec 1992. The fully computerised Index .s available in diskette or printed form (WordPerfect 5.1). and has ail tools tor access and sorting, including: serial number, title, author, synopsis, keywords, dateand / volume number, fhe index uses UNESCO's CDS/ISIS library package. For further information or purchase of the Himal Index dataffle, please write to or fax the




Managing Editor, Himal. HIMAL PO Box 42, Lalltpur, Nepal. Tel:

977 1 523845 Fax: 977 1 521013