Megalith to Chorten Speak up for the Khas

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Bhutan bashing and not enough propagandising on behalf of

Druk Yul, comes a new quarterly newsletter, The Thunder Dragon, published by the American-Bhutan Council (founded 1993), which is based in Ojai, California. It is a handsomely produced effort, with lots of black and white pictures, and includes an article "Bhutan Deals with Difficult Problem" by Editor-in-Chief Karl Springer which makes clear why the Thimphu felt it necessary to charter the Council and "authorise {it} to undertake activities on its behalf". Springer is also Executive Director of the Council (logo alongside). Also included in the newsletter is a piece by Venerable Leo E. Rose, the Berkeley guru, and an editorial reprinted from Kuensel, "Give Them a Chance".

Checking the email-box, came across this item on the First Lady of the USA: "Brucie is a little suspicious of the latest revelation about Hillary Clinton—that her mother named her after Sir Edmund Hillary. He points out that Hillary was born in '47, whereas Hillary didn't hit his peak till '53." A witticism accompa­nies the sign-off, unrelated to Hi-11-ary: Question: "Is that Sherpa Tenzing?" Answer: "Looks perfectly relaxed to me!"

A documentary film, The Kashmir Story, apparently hangs in limbo due to trembling hands over at Doordarshan. Made by cinemato-grapher-couple Gopal Sharman and Jalabala Vaidya, the film probes the history of insurgency in the Valley and describes the suffer-ings and aspirations of all—Sunni, Shia, Hindu and Buddhist, with the camera crew travelling from Jammu to Banihal to Leh and Kargil and all corners of the Valley. Already said to have been cleared by the Indian Foreign and Home ministries and by the all-

powerful "PMO", Door-darshan should show some guts and air the film.

There are some who dream of a Greater Nepal, while there are others who are working for a Greater Nagaland. The Telegraph reports that some Nagas of Nagaland would like to incorporate into their state the Naga-inhabited areas of neighbouring Manipur, particularly the four hill districts of Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Chandel and Senapati. The Kuki minority as well as the majority Meitei of Manipur, mean­while and understandably, are firmly opposed to the idea. While still on the subject of greater this or that, little bird that flew in from Leh tells me that Ladakhis too have an eye for a Greater Ladakh, to include Leh and Kargil, certainly, but also Himachal and (no!) Tibet. Now, that will require some serious geopolitical realign­ment. There will probably be a Greater Maldives before there will be a Greater Ladakh.

The Indian Army has suddenly become a protector not only of Bharatbarsa, but also of traditional Tibetan medicine as practised by the amchis of Ladakh. The Army has embarked on a project to study herbal medicine in the Ladakh region for possible application in treating soldiers of high altitude illness, reports The Times of India. The study is headed by Maj. Gen. Vombatkere, the Additional Directory General (Directorate of Vigilance), who had this to say: "Patenting this indige­nous system is necessary since it could be under threat from some interested multi-nationals in the wake of the recently signed World Trade Organisation Agreement". The study that the General heads forms part of the Great Himalayan Expedition (HIMEX), which is "a multi-national, multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary adventure conceived by the Army with the larger aim of developing an understanding of the ecology and

May/June 1995 HIMAL

adventure potential of the Himalayan range." Ambitious.

According to the Agence France Presse, the Communist Party of China has picked an ethnic Han Chinese man as Tibet's model hero. On 21 March, the Tibet Daily called on the people of Tibet to follow the example of Kong Fansin, a party official originally from the eastern Shangong province and former mayor of Lhasa, who died in a car crash in December 1994. The daily noted that "by modesty, integrity, hard work and devotion, he is an example to all cadres in Tibet and a symbol of the unity of all of China's races." Somewhat like holding up John Wayne as the paragon of virtues for Native Americans to emulate.

Did you know of the existence of a Council of North Indian States for Cooperation and Regional Develop­ment, which even has its own cute acronym—CONCORD? Tired of the Central Government's disinterested­ness, the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pra­desh and Delhi have banded together to forge a inter-India common market. They plan to coordinate inter-state highways, set up a transportation grid, cooperate on tourism circuits, optimise water resource management, promote cross-border economic growth, etc. etc. If the Europeans can do it, why can't the North Indians, as long as they do not forget to take the Himala­yan region along for the ride. May CONCORD push the throttle and take off like the Concorde!

What to make of the Xinhua news item which states that "scientists have discovered some 3500 species of plants in a virgin forest in south­eastern Tibet"? Do they mean that these previously known plants have now been discovered in this virgin area, or that these are 3500 newly discovered species? Must be the former. The report is ominous when it states that the virgin forest has "a living timber reserve of 1,5 billion

cubic meters, making it the second largest forest in China". Even a news report on a scientific subject is written with an eye of "timber reserves" and don't we all know about Chengdu's timber merchants and how they have raped the rest of Tibet's woodlands. Please spare this

one corner)

Speaking of which (Greater Nepal), Chhetria Patraka'r noticed that sever Indian papers have recently carried photographs of demonstrations by Indians of Nepali origin in New Delhi. Now here is a community that seems to feel that it has spent enough time in the doghouse and is finally testing its vocal chords. Their dema­nd is to be recognised as full-fledged Indians and not as surrogate Nepalis of Nepal. A picture in The Telegraph showed women activists of the All-India Nepalese Unity Society deman­ding "redressal of their grievances".

Some treacly verbiage I picked up from a press handout distributed by Pakistan International Airlines about its Air Safari, which is described elsewhere in this magazine: "The invincible majesty, the irrevocable beauty, the awesome

splendour of one of "7? Nature's grandest feats—the snow-capped peaks, in all their glory and grandeur, provide one of the most moving and awe-inspiring mo-ments of your lives. A close visual, though intangible, contact with the manifestations of Nature is a mysti-fying, mystical, experience—that transcends

one from the peripheral to the spiritual." Clearly, lines written by a plainsman copywriter!

As the column goes to press, the Dalai Lama has named the new Panchen Lama, and he is six-year-old Tenzing Gedhun Yeshe Thrinley Phuntsog Pal Sagpo from Lhari dis­trict in Nagchu province. The previ­ous incarnation passed away in January 1989. The good news is that the reincarnation has been located firmly within Tibet and not in some new age family in Seattle or Madrid. Now comes the part where one bites one's nails and nervously wonders, "What will the Chinese say?" For his part, the Dalai Lama says, "It is my hope that the Chinese government will extend its understanding, cooperation and assistance to the Tashi Lunhpo monastery in enabling Rinpoche to receive proper religious training and to assume his spiritual responsibilities."

Saw this plug for a Kailash trek in

the 16 May Times of India, which pre­sents Indian pilgrims {"whether you are young or old") with a Delhi-Kathma-ndu-Kailash itinerary for IRs 46,666. The trip is organised by Vishnu Inter national Tours, whereas you and I know that it would have been better if the deity were Shiva. For the first time ever, the

succeeds in presenting Mount Kailash as if it were shaped like a beehive turned upside down.

& And'by the way'

what is that logo of Vishnu International all about? A fighter plane—looks like a Mig 21—being tagged by an arrow, which could only be a ground to air missile. Is this a coded insert? Am I missing something?

- Chhetria Patrakar

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