Sunday, August 29, 2010

Busy in Exam

dear all,

i know you are following my blog and thinking why he is not uploading any articles?
i am very much busy these days for the prepration of exams. Its starting from the day after tomorrow. so most probably i will be away from the internete and bloging.

appology for that



Monday, August 23, 2010

The only option

Ashe Brooks-cook
It has been called many names—reservation, special privilege, quotas, affirmative action, etc.—but whatever you’d like to call it, this concept is currently in deep debate amongst academics and politicians of Nepal.
Depending on who you are the perception of reservation is seen as either the eliminator of individual rights or the great equaliser of the people. Those in congruence with the ruling elite of Nepal, regardless of caste or ethnicity, are for the most part against the idea of reservation. Opponents argue that it infringes on the rights of individuals and therefore is counterproductive. Proponents of reservation believe that reservation is a way of bridging the gap of inequality between the have and the haves not’s, as well as providing an outlet toward bringing about democracy for a country that craves it with such intensity.
Reservation has the potential to benefit more than half of the population of Nepal mainly Dalits at 14.99 percent, indigenous groups at 36.31 percent and women at 52 percent of the population, and by benefiting these groups it will undoubtedly benefit Nepal as a whole. Reservation is an endeavour that would allow individuals access to opportunities that they otherwise would never have had based solely on a criteria measured by their genetics. These individuals would have right of entry in sectors such as education, civil service, government, the Army and most importantly a chance at a better life. People shouldn’t be questioning the legitimacy of reservation, what they should be doing is questioning why it has not been implemented sooner.
I recently encountered first hand the fear that will stifle Nepal’s nascent modernity at a conference on Dalit issues last month. During a break I spoke to a participant who commented that since the implementation of reservation in Nepal that certain castes were actually being turned down from opportunities over less qualified applicants due to their ethnicity. What I thought was interesting about the statement was that for one, it was coming from a Brahmin who had just received a Fulbright scholarship to study and live in the United States. Secondly, that she automatically assumed that those persons who are getting job opportunities over other castes were undoubtedly less qualified, and therefore were receiving these positions only due to their ethnicity and not because of their merit. The concept of merit is a structuralised concept, created by the elite to keep others out. What they fail to realise is that ethnic preferences in sectors enhance the experience not only of minority students but of elites, too.
There is no denying the fact that there is a need for reservation in Nepal. Statistics overwhelmingly show that Nepal has been dominated by a small minority in any and all sectors, both public and private, historically as well as currently. For example Brahmin/Chhetri make up 88.8 percent of the Supreme Court justices, 68.4 percent of ministers, the mass majority of majors and above ranks in the Army, 70.9 percent of the Nepali Congress, 87.5 percent of CPN-UML and so on, but only consist of 30.89 percent of the total population in Nepal.

Since reservation in Nepal is so new there is not much empirical data on whether or not it has made any difference or what the implications of it will be with regards to the future. But what I can derive based upon my own research in Nepal and my observations of reservation in other countries is that although controversial, reservation can and has been in many areas highly beneficial. As an African American I know all too well the repercussions of oppression and the benefits as well as controversies that affirmative action has caused in my country.
Affirmative action was first established in the United States in 1961 as an executive order. Many people in the United States were greatly affected by this order but if not for affirmative action, if not for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or even the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862, my race would potentially still be stuck in a past filled with injustice and inferiority with even greater limited opportunities to education and jobs. I personally would still be made to drink out of a coloureds only water fountain, or still would not be able to vote, or even still be an enslaved person as others that have come before me have faced. As a result of the implementation of affirmative action in the US the percentage of African Americans began to increase in higher education, job placement, as well as the middle class.
Prominent American figures whose advancement were in part the result of affirmative action are Sonia Sotomayor (Princeton, Yale), Barack and Michelle Obama (Columbia, Princeton, Harvard), and Eric Holder (Columbia) - all of whom who have advocated for the importance of considering ethnicity in judicial selection, hiring and admission. Bill Gates, another prominent American figure, has acknowledged the need for affirmative action by creating the Gates Millennium Scholars programme. This programme grants scholarships for 1,000 minority students to attend college each year for the next 20 years.
I have heard many times during my stay in Nepal of a concept of a “New Nepal” and how Nepal has transcended from a Nepal of exclusiveness and oppression to that of inclusion and democracy. It is not truly possible for Nepal to become a “New Nepal” if only a small percentage of Nepalis are benefiting from this
so-called newness. Nearly 250 years of elite rule does not change overnight, but in order to effect true change and come to a point of equality, certain provisions need to be made and various forms of dominance by particular ethnic groups needs to be neutralised. The only way to do this in a pace quicker than the 250 years that it took to get there is to implement reservation as an amendment to the constitution as well as put into practice protocols that would ensure that it would be followed. It is true that eventually these issues will work themselves out, the bridge of equality in Nepal will eventually be built, domination by elite ethnicities will eventually quell, but until then reservation is the only answer.
Brooks-Cook is a graduate student at The New School University, New York. He recently spent the summer in Nepal researching contemporary Nepali politics

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No ‘graceful exit’

In his book, The Promise, about President Obama’s first year in office, Jonathan Alter describes a brief conversation between the president and Vice President Jœ Biden that took place last November at the end of Obama’s long deliberation about what to do in Afghanistan. Biden asked whether the new policy of beginning a significant withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2011 was a direct presidential order that could not be countermanded by the military. The president said yes. The two men were on their way to a meeting in the Oval Office with members of the Pentagon brass who would be tasked with carrying out Obama’s orders. Among those at the meeting was Gen. David Petraeus, then the chief of the United States Central Command, which included oversight of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to Alter, the president said to General Petraeus: “David, tell me now. I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in 18 months?” Petraeus replied: “Sir, I’m confident we can train and hand over to the A.N.A. [Afghan National Army] in that time frame.” The president went on: “If you can’t do the things you say you can in 18 months, then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?” “Yes, sir, in agreement,” said General Petraeus. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also at the meeting, and he added his own crisp, “Yes, sir.” That was then. The brass was just blowing smoke, telling the commander in chief whatever it was that he wanted to hear. Over the past several days, at meetings with one news media outlet after another, General Petraeus has been singing a decidedly different song. The lead headline in The Times on Monday said: General Opposes a Rapid Pullout in Afghanistan. Having taken over command of US forces in Afghanistan after the ouster of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus is now saying he did not take that job in order to preside over a “graceful exit.” His goal now appears to be to rally public opinion against the very orders that President Obama insisted, as he told Jœ Biden, could not be countermanded. Who’s in charge here? The truth is that we have no idea how the president really feels about the deadline he imposed for beginning a troop withdrawal. It always seemed peculiar to telegraph the start of a troop pullout while fighting (in this case, escalating) a war. And Obama has always been careful to ratchet up the ambiguity quotient by saying the start of any withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that conditions on the ground are awful, so it looks as though we’re going to be there for a long, long while. This is a terrible thing to contemplate because in addition to the human toll (nearly half of all the American troop deaths in Afghanistan have occurred since Obama took office), the war is a giant roadblock in the way of efforts to deal effectively with deteriorating economic and social conditions here in the United States. Look around at the economy, the public school system, the federal budget deficits, the fiscal conditions plaguing America’s state and local governments. We are giving short shrift to all of these problems and more while pouring staggering amounts of money (the rate is now scores of billions of dollars a year) into a treacherous, unforgiving and hopelessly corrupt sinkhole in Afghanistan. (I stand in awe of the heights of hypocrisy scaled by conservative politicians and strategists who demand that budget deficits be brought under control while cheering the escalation in Afghanistan and calling for ever more tax cuts here at home.) The reason you hear so little about Lyndon Johnson nowadays despite his stupendous achievements— Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965—is that Vietnam laid his reputation low. Johnson’s war on poverty was derailed by Vietnam, and it was Vietnam that tragically split the Democratic Party and opened the door to the antiwar candidacies of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. The ultimate beneficiaries, of course, were Richard Nixon and the Republicans. President Obama dœs not buy the comparison of Afghanistan to Vietnam, and he has a point when he says that the US was not attacked from Vietnam. But Sept. 11, 2001, was nearly a decade ago, and the war in Afghanistan was hopelessly bungled by the Bush crowd. There is no upside to Obama’s escalation of this world-class fiasco. We will never build a stable, flourishing society in Afghanistan. What we desperately need is a campaign of nation-building to counteract the growing instability and deterioration in the United States.

By Bob Herbert
The New York Times ( Repritend by The Kathmandu Post)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Job to do

By Mukesh Khanal

In the United States, the technology boom in the 1990s brought an abundance of money. With so much money at their disposal, banks started lending almost for free to whoever wanted them. People started buying houses and land with the loans, and real estate prices were artificially inflated. Around 2005-07, the entire real estate market in the US crashed. People were thrown out into the streets from their houses that they could never have afforded in the first place if not for reckless loans from banks.
The exact scenario is unfolding in Nepal. We have experienced a growth in remittance income. Banks are overflowing with remittance deposits, and have no idea what to do with it. Brokers are being given house and land loans at very low interest rates. ‘Plotting’ has become a popular vernacular, and real estate is being bought and sold at artificially inflated prices. This real estate bubble in Nepal will burst; it’s only a question of when. We will not be able to handle such a crisis as our savings are low and most of the remittance money
has gone into unproductive sector. Once the bubble bursts, millions of Nepalis will see their entire life savings vanish in thin air.
One good thing about remittances is that it gives people some capital. Some use it to send their children to school and some invest it. However, most of the remittance money that enters Nepal has been spent on consumption of goods and services, and does not contribute much to the economic and social growth. Thus, for the nation as a whole, our labour going overseas for employment and sending back remittance money is not desirable for many reasons.
Nations all over the world have been feeling the impact of globalisation, and most are struggling to provide jobs to their citizens. Nepalis who go to work overseas should know that they are going there as a cheaper substitute of the local labour force. There have been news reports, and issues have been raised about Nepalis workers being treated unfairly in some Middle Eastern countries. Nepali workers have complained that their passports get taken away. In many instances, the workers have not been paid for months, and have returned with no savings at all.
The fact that we have a system geared for remittance inflow at the expense of health and dignity of our citizens raises ethical, moral and legal questions. Also, we should understand the reason why many Nepalis migrate. Although highly educated andhigh-skill people have also left Nepal, the focus here is not on exceptions but on the majority. Most of Nepali labour force is uneducated (or undereducated) and low-skilled (or un-skilled). We have a difficult time finding them well-paying jobs in Nepal because of these shortcomings. Until these shortcomings are addressed via regular and vocational education and training, we will always have to find them places overseas in labour-intensive jobs. This is not a desirable outcome for Nepal.
We also have a labour force that is mostly employed in agriculture. The agricultural labour force is the most uneducated and unskilled out of all sectors in our economy. Most of this labour force lives in rural areas, and therefore, lacks basic education, training and healthcare. Public spending on education and health has not increased since 1990. As a result, our labour force has low education, low skill and poor health. Until the government increases its efforts and expenditure on educating and training, Nepalis will always be looking for low skilled jobs overseas.
We still rely on animal and human labour while others use technology in farming and irrigation. In this situation, agriculture in Nepal cannot compete with advanced agricultural practices in countries like US, Australia and China. Our crops and grains are never going to fetch us profitable prices in the market due to heavy competition.
Declining sales and productivity in agriculture has resulted in falling agricultural contribution to GDP, and high unemployment among the agricultural labour force. An average agricultural labourer’s skills are not easily transferable. As a result, most Nepalis who seek jobs overseas are agricultural labourers who have become unemployed.
As nationalistic fervor heats up in many countries in the wake of worldwide increasing unemployment rates, inflation, and sagging economic growth, the pressure in most foreign countries is sure to mount against employing foreign labour. Some countries like Malaysia and Singapore are already feeling the heat, and have reduced the number of Nepalis employed there. Iraq and Afghanistan have been attracting and employing many Nepali workers these days.
But the wars and reconstruction efforts in those countries are surely going to end some day. In addition, Dubai and Qatar will eventually complete their massive construction efforts, and the Nepali labour will not be needed anymore.
Nepalis will, eventually, have to return to their own country. Job creation in Nepal is the only surefire way of keeping the Nepali labour force employed in the long run. There is a widespread belief that remittance income is beneficial to the society, that it lowers poverty and reduces inequality. While remittance income has encouraged an increased consumption and expenditure on education, studies have shown that it does not contribute to lowering poverty or inequality, nor help in job creation.
Remittance has already exceeded 20 percent of GDP, and while this statistic is easy on the eyes (and our pockets), it’s bad news overall. Remittance income depends on foreign workers, and foreign workers depend on demand of workers in the respective countries. If a large destination country suddenly decides that it does not need Nepali labour, we’re in trouble. That is the main problem with foreign employment: the demand for our labour is uncertain and could end any time.
Despite the criticisms, we should be thankful to the remittance income for sustaining our economy during the time of intense crisis in the last few years. If it were not for remittance income, our economy would have collapsed during these turbulent times. However, remittance income has not created jobs, and has made no significant impact in lowering poverty and inequality. It is stupid to let remittance become the largest contributor in our GDP because it is uncertain and volatile.
We cannot afford to lose our laborers in their prime and productive years to some other country. Sending our laborers to other countries because they lack skills, training and education is not a healthy option in the long run. Shouldn’t the government be responsible for the health, education and training of its citizens? Such issues need to be addressed quickly, and solutions need to be found. The best way forward is to educate and train our labour force, and create jobs at home. Otherwise, few years down the road, the country is likely to find itself in hot waters.
The author is an economist at the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS)
From The Kathmandu Post

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Burkas and bikinis

Time magazine’s cover is the latest cynical attempt to oversimplify the reality of Afghan lives

Reprising a legendary 1985 National Geographic cover, this week’s Time magazine cover girl is another beautiful young Afghan woman. But this time there is a gaping hole where her nose used to be before it was cut off under Taliban direction. A stark caption reads: “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan”. A careful editorial insists that the image is not shown “either in support of the US war effort or in opposition to it”. The stated intention is to counterbalance damaging the WikiLeaks revelations—91,000 documents that, Time believes, cannot provide “emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land”. Feminists have long argued that invoking the condition of women to justify occupation is a cynical ploy, and the Time cover already stands accused of it. Interestingly, the WikiLeaks documents reveal CIA advice to use the plight of Afghan women as “pressure points”, an emotive way to rally flagging public support for the war. Misogynist violence is unacceptable, but we must also be concerned by the continued insistence that the complexities of war, occupation and reality itself can be reduced to bedtime stories. Consultation with child psychologists apparently preceded Time’s decision to run the image, but the magazine decided that in the end it was more important for children (and us) to understand that “bad things do happen to people” and we must feel sorry for them. The WikiLeaks revelations of atrocities and civilian deaths are evidence of some rather terrible things that are done to people but are bizarrely judged not to provide a “window into the reality of what is happening”. Time is not alone in condensing Afghan reality into simplistic morality tales. A deplorable number of recent works habituate us to thinking about Afghanistan as what Liam Fox, Britain’s defence secretary, called a “broken 13th-century country”, defined solely by pathologically violent men and silently brutalised women. While Afghans have been silenced and further disempowered by being reduced to objects of western chastisement, a recent judgment against Asne Seierstad’s The Bookseller of Kabul has raised the possibility of challenging their depictions. Based on her stay in the eponymous protagonist’s home, Seierstad’s memoir uses offensive commercial language to describe ordinary marital negotiations and refers to female characters as “the burka”. The tone implies even the most anti-Taliban Afghan men are irredeemably vicious patriarchs. Predictably, some critical reaction deemed Afghanistan a “horrible society”. While there exists a colonial tradition of relegating the non-west to the past of the west—and some suggest leaving it to rot in hopelessness—the trendier option involves incorporating Afghans into modernity by teaching them to live in a globalised present. In non-fiction bestsellers such as Deborah Rodriguez’s Kabul Beauty School, an American woman teaches Afghan women the intricacies of hair colour, sexiness, and resisting oppression. “To all appearances, there is no sex life in Afghanistan,” writes Rodriguez, obsessed—like Seierstad—with the nuptial habits of Afghans. Sex and the City in the Middle East may have tanked as a movie, but as ideology it has displaced meaningful global feminism. Acceptable Afghan-American voices such as Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) and Awista Ayub (Kabul Girls Soccer Club) reiterate the notion that suburban America can “infuse” Afghans with freedom. Formulaic narratives are populated by tireless Western humanitarians, sex-crazed polygamous paedophiles (most Afghan men) and burka-clad “child-women” who are broken in body and spirit or have just enough doughtiness to be scripted into a triumphal Hollywood narrative. The real effects of the Nato occupation, including the worsening of many women’s lives under the lethally violent combination of old patriarchal feudalism and new corporate militarism are rarely discussed. The mutilated Afghan woman ultimately fills a symbolic void where there should be ideas for real change. The truth is that the US and allied regimes do not have anything substantial to offer Afghanistan beyond feeding the gargantuan war machine they have unleashed. And how could they? In the affluent west itself, modernity is now about dismantling welfare systems, increasing inequality (disproportionately disenfranchising women in the process), and subsidising corporate profits. Other ideas once associated with modernity— social justice, economic fairness, peace, all of which would enfranchise Afghan women— have been relegated to the past in the name of progress. This bankrupt version of modernity has little to offer Afghans other than bikini waxes and Oprah-imitators. A radical people’s modernity is called for—and not only for the embattled denizens of Afghanistan.

The Guardian

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

People against people

Dr. Celayne Heaton Shrestha

A student of civil society, I was enthralled by the developments of 2005 and 2006 – the massive citizens’ assemblies across the capital, including Basantapur, where seas of people would cover the steps of the square’s landmark temples. As a researcher, I delighted in firsthand accounts of the programs featuring speeches, songs, poetry recitals and drama, uniting a broad swathe of the population in the critique of an authoritarian regime that had brought neither peace nor prosperity. Civil society, which came forward to lead a democratic movement when political parties were not able to do so, claimed to be ‘the voice of the people’, bearing ‘people’s agendas’ and following ‘the people’s philosophy’. In 2005 and 2006, there seemed little reason to doubt these claims.

Following the historic people’s movement of April 2006, civil society was to be ‘dormant’ for a good four years. At least, it adjusted its approach and we were not to witness assemblies and programs on the scale of those of 2005-6 till last week. The press coverage of last Friday’s program in Basantpur, the ‘peace assembly’, seemed to bring back those times: the artists were there, the seas of people were there. But rather than a cause for celebration, I found myself disturbed by the way the program unfolded. Two aspects, in particular, alarmed me, as a civil society enthusiast.

First, despite the proferred agenda of the assembly to ‘put pressure on political parties to forge a consensus’, the rumours had already circulated within the public domain (electronic and face to face) that the assembly was ‘against the bandha’. During the program itself, similarly, alongside statements that political parties should come to a consensus within two days, noted artistes called upon the UCPN-Maoist to ‘withdraw the strike, violence and protests’. In these highly politicised times, this could easily be interpreted as a move against one single party, namely UCPN-Maoist. Such an interpretation was further supported by developments later in the day. Indeed, the assembly of tens of thousands was then to turn into a ‘peace rally’, during which less savoury slogans were heard (‘hang Prachanda’, ‘death to YCL’). This was, moreoever, against an informal agreement concluded between the organisers of the assembly and UCPN-M leaders the day prior to the rally, that the peace assembly would not march. Unsurprisingly, as the peace rally ran into maoist protest marches, confrontation ensued. What is disturbing here, is not so much the politicisation of civil society, which occurred as soon as it pitched itself against a single party (though this may not have been intended by the peace assembly organisers). I have said in the past (The Kathmandu Post, June 2009) that civil society could and should rethink its role in new Nepal – and that acting as political party or closeness with political parties could be a positive development for Nepali political culture. The blurring of civil society and political society is not uncommon in post-conflict transition contexts and not necessarily dangerous or harmful. What is disturbing, rather, is that instead of pitching people against the state, as we have come to expect of civil society worldwide, Friday’s events pitched people against people. And rather than a counterweight to the state, ‘civil society’ helped to protect the state by countering UCPN-Maoist’s bid to challenge and transform it. This seemed a violation of the very raison d’etre of civil society and of the support that has been extended to civil societies globally by the international community.

A second, most disturbing development was the use of the image of ‘civil society’ in this project of protecting the state. The term ‘civil society’ has significant appeal still today worldwide. In Nepal the protests of 2005 and 2006 did much to increase its credibility. The format of the programme in Basantapur last Friday was clearly meant to evoke the civil society programs against the autocratic regime of ex-king Gyanendra, in a bid to imbue it with legitimacy and power. In the assembly and the hours that followed, however, the image of ‘civil society’ was put to use in a regrettable manner. There, statements were made to the effect that change comes after intellectuals and professionals come to the streets, as were suggestions that ‘the people’ were those assembled in Basantapur. These were widely quoted and proved highly controversial, as was the representation of the hundreds of thousands of protestors on the streets as ‘merely Maoist cadres’, who did not belong to that abstract entity ‘the people’. Articles in the press promptly highlighted the very different class backgrounds of the ‘peace assembly’ on the one hand and the protestors on the other. The privileged position of the middle classes in civil society has been noted in published studies in Nepal and elsewhere, and again, is not a problem in itself. In 2005 and 2006, these classes found common cause with the less privileged and could then reasonably said to represent ‘the voice of the people’. But here, this priviledged group used its status and power in society, as well as the power of the image of ‘civil society’, to delegitimise the agendas and grievances of other social classes. It turned against society itself, rather than the state.

In other words, last Friday, privileged groups in society used the label of civil society in support of a political project that can hardly be seen as falling within the role we have come to expect of ‘civil society’. Drawing on the symbolic power of ‘civil society’, they sought to defend, rather than challenge the state. This latter manifestation of civil society (as defender of the state) is not at odds with theory: indeed, civil society has also been conceived as the site where the state constructs its own hegemony (eg in Gramsci). Others such as noted Indian political scientist Neera Chandhoke, have pointed out that the space of civil society is highly divided and conflict-prone. But the question is, is this the kind of civil society that we want in Nepal? Is it not a violation of the history of the citizens’ movement of recent years? And what might be the consequences of last week’s events, for civil society’ future? My request is that the press, responsible civil society leaders and others be vigilant, so that the image of civil society is not misused and mobilised in support of initiatives that create rather than solve conflicts. For I fear that this might damage the very image and name of civil society and render its ability to gather support against authoritarianism in the future, nil.

(Celayne Heaton Shrestha is a visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex. She is working on a research project exploring Nepal’s civil society during the years of the conflict. This project is part of a research programme directed from the London School of Economics, UK and is supported by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

रक्षा देऊ, नत्र राजीनामा

सञ्चार उद्यमी जमिम शाहको हत्या भएको एक महिना नबित्दै अर्का उद्यमी अरुण सिंहानिया सोमबार जनकपुरमा मारिएका छन् । मंगलबार साँझ राजधानीमा मेडिकल व्यवसायी नागेन्द्र पाम्पटीमाथि गोली हानिएको छ । यसबीच पत्रकार एवं व्यवसायीहरूलाई मार्ने धम्की दैनिकजसो आइरहेको छ । को, कहाँ, कति बेला मारिन्छ भन्ने खालको सन्त्रास समाजमा छाएको छ । लोकतन्त्रमा नागरिकले राज्यबाट खोज्ने न्यूनतम अपेक्षा भनेको सुरक्षाको प्रत्याभूति हो । तर बाँच्न पाउने आधारभूत अधिकारबाट समेत जनता बञ्चित हुन थालेका छन् ।
आम नागरिकको अन्तिम आड भरोसा सरकार हुनुपर्ने हो । आफ्ना जनतालाई सुरक्षित राख्नु सरकार प्रमुखको मुख्य दायित्व हो । तर मंगलबार उद्योगी व्यापारीसँगको छलफलमा प्रधानमन्त्री स्वयंले वर्तमान बेथितिप्रति लाचारी व्यक्त गरेका छन् । सरकारी सुरक्षा व्यवस्थाप्रति भर पर्न नसकेर उद्योगीहरूले आत्मसुरक्षाका लागि निजी सुरक्षाकर्मी वा हतियार माग्नुपर्ने स्थिति आएको छ । राज्य व्यवस्थाप्रति नागरिकको भरोसा उठ्न थाल्नु र सत्ता सञ्चालकहरू लाचार देखिनु गम्भीर दुर्घटनाको सूचक हो ।
पछिल्ला घटनाक्रमको सन्देश हो, कोही कहीं सुरक्षित छैन । जमिम शाह राजधानीको सबभन्दा सुरक्षित मानिएको ठाउँमा मारिए । अरुण सिंहानियाको हत्या त्यसैगरी व्यस्त चोकमा निधारमै गोली हानेर गरियो, त्यो पनि तराईको सबभन्दा ठूलो पर्व होलीका दिन । अनि भोलिपल्ट काठमाडौंमा भारतीय व्यवसायीको हत्याप्रयास भयो । यी घटना एकअर्कासँग जोडिएका छन्/छैनन् प्रस्ट छैन, तर यसले मुलुकमा बढ्दो अपराध शृंखलालाई प्रतिविम्बित गर्छ । यी घटना राष्ट्रको भूगोल छिचोलेर अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय चासोका विषयसमेत बनिसकेका छन् ।
प्रहारको मुख्य निसाना सञ्चार र उद्योग व्यवसाय भएका छन् । संविधानसभा निर्वाचनयता २७ व्यवसायी मारिइसकेका छन् भने ६७ जना अपहरणमा परेका छन् । २०६३ सालयता सञ्चार जगतका छ जना

-वीरेन्द्र साह, जगत जोशी, उमा सिंह, प्रकाश ठकुरी, शाह र सिंहानिया) को हत्या भइसकेको छ । यी र यस्ता घटनासँग सम्बन्धित समाचार नलेख्न थुप्रै पत्रकारलाई दबाब एवं धम्की आएको छ । पत्रकारहरू नै त्रास मनोविज्ञानबाट गुज्रनु परेपछि आम नागरिकका आवाज दब्दै जाने खतरा हुन्छ । त्यसको सिकार अन्ततोगत्वा नेपाली आवाज र नेपाली लोकतन्त्र हुने प्रस्ट छ । त्यसैले अहिले राजनीतिज्ञहरू रमितेजस्तो भूमिकामा देखिनु उनीहरूकै निम्ति पनि आत्मघाती छ ।

जस्तोसुकै सुरक्षा कवचले पनि सबै अपराधलाई रोक्न सक्दैन । तर

मुख्य कुरा भइसकेको अपराधको अनुसन्धान कसरी गरिन्छ, अपराधी पक्राउ पर्छन्/पर्दैनन् भन्ने हो । पछिल्ला घटनामा त्यस्तो तदारुकता देखिएन । एकपछि अर्को हत्या हुनु, मुख्य अभियुक्तहरू नसमातिनु र सरकारले यस्ता रहस्यमयी घटना किन भइरहेका छन् भन्ने कारण नबताउनुले जनतामा संशय बढाएको छ । सरकारका प्रवक्ताले जमिम हत्या भारत-पाकिस्तान द्वन्द्वको परिणाम भनेर गरेको टिप्पणीलाई सरकारले ँनिजी धारणा’ मात्र भन्यो, आफ्नो आधिकारिक

निष्कर्ष सार्वजनिक गरेन, न त खास अभियुक्तहरू समातिए । सायद जमिमका हत्यारा समातिएका भए सिंहानियामाथि हात हाल्ने दुष्प्रयास हुँदैन थियो कि ? अथवा सिंहानिया हत्यामा सरकार तत्काल गहिराइसम्म पुग्न सके हत्या शृंखला रोकिएला कि ? मुलुक दण्डहीनताबाट गुजिररहेका कारण यस्तो भएको हो । मान्छे मार्दा पनि केही हुँदैन’ भन्ने मनोविज्ञान बढाउनमा प्रहरी वा कर्मचारीतन्त्रभन्दा राजनीतिक नेतृत्व सम्हालेको सरकारको सुस्तता, निष्त्रिmयता र लाचारी बढी जिम्मेवार छ । खेलाँचीजस्ता लाग्ने यस्तै घटनाक्रमबाट विश्वका विभिन्न मुलुक द्वन्द्व, असफलता वा अराजकताको दलदलमा धकेलिएको दृष्टान्तलाई प्रधानमन्त्री माधवकुमार नेपालले राम्रोसँग मनन गर्न सकेको देखिन्न । उनले यो विशेष कालखण्डमा पाएको ऐतिहासिक भूमिकालाई पनि गम्भीरतापूर्वक लिन सकिरहेका छैनन् । प्रस्ट छ, जारी शान्ति प्रक्रियालाई टुंगोमा पुर्‍याउन सके उनी इतिहासका नायक हुनेछन्, नत्र धेरैले सराप्ने खलनायक । मुलुकलाई बर्बादीको खाडलमा जाकेर बदनामी कमाउने या ँहिरो’ बन्ने, त्यो धेरै हदसम्म उनकै हातमा छ । त्यसैले उनले परिस्थितिसँग सम्झौता गरेर लाचारी व्यक्त गर्न सुहाउँदैन, जनताले सुम्पेका न्यूनतम जिम्मेवारी पूरा गर्न सक्नुपर्छ । त्यो भनेको शान्ति प्रक्रियालाई टुंगोमा पुर्‍याउने र आम नागरिकलाई सुरक्षाको प्रत्याभूति दिने हो । यदि उनी स्वयंलाई  यति पनि गर्न सक्दिनँ भन्ने लाग्छ भने प्रधानमन्त्रीको कुर्सीमा बसिरहन सुहाउँदैन । राष्ट्र कसैको अक्षमताको बन्दी बनिरहन सक्दैन ।

विशेष सम्पादकीय

फाल्गुन १८ Kantipur


Sunday, February 28, 2010

विवाहमण्डपबाटै खोसिइन् बेहुली

विवाहमण्डपमा जब बेहुलाले बेहुलीको सिन्दुर रंगाउन हात उठाउँछ, एकाएक अर्को व्यक्तिको प्रवेश हुन्छ, जसले बिहे रोक्छ र बेहुलीलाई उठाएर लैजान्छ 
फिल्ममा थुप्रै देखिने यस्तो दृश्य बुधबार कपिलवस्तुमा प्रत्यक्ष देखियो । विवाहमण्डपबाट बेहुलीलाई उनका प्रेमीले उठाएर लगे भने बेहुलीको सिन्दुर रंगाउन ठीक परेका बेहुला रित्तो हात फर्के । कपिलवस्तुको पत्थरदेइया-५ चौवाका रामबहादुर सुनारकी छोरी मञ्जुको रूपन्देहीको रुद्रपुर-८ का कुलबहादुर विकसित बिहे हुन लागेको थियो । जन्तीसहित बेहुली लिन आएको विक परिवारले फिल्मी शैलीमा बेहुली अर्कैले लैजाँदा हेरेकोहेर्‍यै हुनुपर्‍यो । मञ्जुको घरदेखि डेढ किलोमिटर टाढा पत्थरदेइया-४ अमलवानिवासी मधु गौतमसित दुई वर्षदेखि प्रेमसम्बन्ध रहेको खुलेको छ । बेहुलाकै पहिरनमा हुर्रिंदै आएका मधुले बेहुली लगेमा जन्ती फर्किन नदिने चेतावनी दिएपछि खाली हात फिर्ता पठाएको मञ्जुका बाबु रामबहादुरले बताए । उनका अनुसार मञ्जुले आफ्नो थर फेरेर घिमिरे लेख्दै आएकी थिइन् 
'उसको अर्कैसित लभ परेको रहेछ, हामीलाई थाहा भएन,' रामबहादुरले भने । उनका अनुसार मञ्जुले कुलबहादुरसित बिहेका लागि सहमति जनाएकी थिइन् । तर, विवाहमण्डमा सिन्दुर लगाउने वेला अर्का बेहुला प्रकट भएपछि सबै चकित परेका थिए । मधुले धम्की दिन थालेपछि केही समय तनाव उत्पन्न भएको थियो 
बेहुला रूपन्देही रुद्रपुरका विकले आफूलाई खालीहात पठाएर इज्जतमाथि दाग लगाइएको आरोप लगाएका छन् । जन्ती खाली हात फर्किएपछि घरमा अशुभ हुने भन्दै बेहुला विक परिवारदेखि टाढा गएका छन् । परम्परागत मान्यताअनुसार बिहेका लागि लगनगाँठो कसेपछि बेहुली नआए अर्कै भए पनि बेहुली भित्र्याउनैपर्छ । यता, मञ्जु र मधुलाई लिखित कागज गराएर बिदा गरिएको छ । बिहेपछि मञ्जुले आफ्नो नाटकका कारण विक परिवारलाई दुःख पर्न गएकोमा आत्मग्लानि महसुस गरेको बताएकी छिन् । यता, मन पराएकी बेहुलीलाई श्रीमतीका रूपमा पाउँदा खुसीको सीमा नै नरहेको मधुको प्रतिक्रिया छ । 'यस्तो बिहे कहिल्यै देखेको थिइनँ,' स्थानीय उमेश पौडेलले भने । 

नयाँ पत्रिका
कपिलवस्तु, १३ फागुन

Monday, February 15, 2010

दुइवोटा नेपाल : कोहीलाई उपचार गर्न इर अम्बुलेंस कोहीलाई नाइलनको डोरी

उपचार गर्न नसक्दा सामूहिक आत्महत्या
उपचार खर्च जुटाउन नसक्दा रुकुमको एक विपन्न परिवारकी छोरी र उनका वृद्ध आमाबाबुले सामूहिक आत्महत्या गरेका छन् ।
भलाक्चा १ का ७० वषर्य दलबहादुर ओली, उनकी ६८ वषर्ीया श्रीमती कली र २७ वषर्ीया छोरी तुलसाले आइतबार बेलुका झुन्डिएर सामूहिक आत्महत्या गरेका हुन् ।तुलसा लामो समयदेखि छारे रोगबाट पीडित भएको र उनको उपचारमा धेरै खर्च भएपछि ऋण तिर्न नसकेर आत्महत्या गरेको गाउँलेले बताए । आमा कली पनि पटकपटक बिरामी हुने गरेको र आर्थिक अभावकै कारण उपचार गर्न नसकिएको छोरा देविलालले बताए । 'स्थानीयस्तरमा धेरै उपचार गरियो तर सञ्चो हुन सकेन । उपचार गर्दागर्दै धेरै खर्च भएपछि जिल्लाबाहिर जान सक्ने अवस्था थिएन,' छोरा देविलाललाई उद्धृत गर्दै रुकुमका प्रहरी नायब उपरीक्षक होमजंग चौहानले भने, 'बेलाबेला यस्तो अवस्था हुनुभन्दा मर्न पाए हुन्थ्यो भन्थे । हामीहरू घरमा नभएको मौका पारी यस्तो गरेछन् ।' स्थानीय भागिमान बुढाथोकीका अनुसार छोरी तुलसाको उपचारमा यो विपन्न परिवारले एक लाख रुपैयाँभन्दा बढी रकम खर्च गरिसकेको थियो । तैपनि उनलाई निको नभएकामा बाबुआमा निकै पिरोलिएका थिए । उपचारका लागि धामीझाँक्रीदेखि सबैखाले उपाय गरिसक्दा पनि प्रयास व्यर्थ भएपछि ओली दम्पती विक्षिप्तजस्तै बनेको उनले बताए । 'छोरीको उपचार गर्न नसकेका कारण उनीहरू पागलजस्तै भएका थिए,' स्थानीय कली ओलीले भनिन्, 'केही गर्दा पनि निको नभएपछि आज यस्तो गरेछन् ।'
कलीका अनुसार तुलसाका बाबु एक साताअघि छोरीलाई भारतको दिल्ली लैजाने तयारीमा थिए । त्यसका लागि उनी आफ्नो घरमा पैसा सापटी माग्न आएको उनले बताइन् । छारे रोगकै कारण तुलसाको बिहे हुन नसक्दा आमाबुबा निराश भएको देविलालले बताए ।
तीनै जनाले घरनजिकैको चिउरीको रूखमा झुन्डिएर आत्महत्या गरेका थिए । आमाछोरी नजिकैको हाागामा एउटै खाले भिमलको डोरी र बुबा अलि माथिल्लो हाागामा छुट्टै खाले डोरीमा झुन्डिएको प्रहरी नायब उपरीक्षक चौहानले बताए । 'आमाछोरीले पहिले र बाबुले पछि आत्महत्या गरेजस्तो देखिन्छ,' उनले भने, 'अन्य चोटपटकको कुनै संकेत छैन ।'
पाँचजनाको यो परिवारका माहिलो छोरा आर्थिक अभावकै कारण रोजगारीका लागि भारत गएका थिए । जेठो छोरा देविलाल ससुरालीमा गएको मौका पारेर तीन जनाले आत्महत्या गरेको छिमेकीहरू बताउँछन् । उनीहरूले यसअघि पनि पटकपटक आत्महत्या प्रयास गरेको थाहा भएको छ ।
तीनै जनाको शव सोमबार जिल्ला अस्पताल सल्लेमा पोस्टमार्टम गरी छोरा देविलाल र छिमेकीहरूलाई बुझाइएको छ । उनीहरूले दाहसंस्कारका लागि शवहरू आफ्नै गाउँतर्फ लगेका छन् । घटनाको थप अनुसन्धान भइरहेको प्रहरीले जनाएको छ ।

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

इन्टरनेट कूटनीति

इन्टरनेट स्वतन्त्रताको विषय अब अमेरिकी विदेश नीतिमा समावेश भएपछि चीन र अमेरिकाबीचको विवादले अभिव्यक्ति स्वतन्त्रताको बहसलाई अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय आयाम दिएको छ।
बेइजिङस्थित 'फरेन करेसपन्डेन्ट्स क्लब अफ चाइना' ले १८ जनवरीमा आफ्नो वेभसाइटमा 'तपाईंको जीमेल सुरक्षा सुनिश्चित् गर्नोस्' भन्ने सूचना राख्यो। चीनको राजधानी बेइजिङमा कार्यरत संसारका प्रमुख सञ्चारमाध्यमलाई प्रतिनिधित्व गर्ने चार सय अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय संवाददाता संलग्न यस संस्थाले आफ्ना सदस्यमध्ये केहीको जीमेल एकाउन्टमा आक्रमण भएको पत्ता लागेको जनाउँदै सबैलाई सुरक्षित हुन आग्रह गरेको थियो। 'फरेन करेसपन्डेन्ट्स क्लव हङकङ' ले तत्कालै उक्त लिंक आफ्नो साइटमा राखेर सदस्यहरूलाई सतर्क गरायो।
क्लबले यो सूचना जारी गर्दा इन्टरनेट कम्पनी गुगलले चीन छाड्ने चेतावनी दिएको पाँच दिन भएको थियो र अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय संवाददाता गुगलको चेतावनीले जन्माएको बेइजिङ-वासिङटन तनावबारे समाचार सम्प्रेषण गरिरहेका थिए। यहीबीच, चिनियाँ इन्टरनेट कम्पनी बाइडुले आफ्नो सर्च इन्जिनमाथि आक्रमण भएको दावी गर्‍यो। साइबर आक्रमणको यस आतंकले अहिले चीनका प्रायः इन्टरनेट प्रयोगकर्तालाई छोएको छ तर त्यसबारे तथ्यगत रिपोर्ट कसैले पाएको छैन।
संसारको सबभन्दा ठूलो इन्टरनेट कम्पनी गुगलले १२ जनवरीको एउटा वक्तव्यमा चीनमा रहेका ह्याकरहरूले अनधिकृतरूपमा चिनियाँ मानवअधिकारकर्मीहरूको इमेल खोल्ने प्रयास गरेको जनाउँदै आफूले चीन छाडेर जानसक्ने चेतावनी दिएको थियो। उसले चीनका सर्त नमान्ने र आफ्ना सर्च रिजल्टहरूमा सेन्सर नगर्ने पनि जनाएको थियो।
चीनको असाधारण बजारमा प्रवेश गर्ने क्रममा जनवरी २००६ मा गुगल डट सिएन सर्च इन्जिन सुरु गर्दा गुगलले चिनियाँ सरकारका सर्तहरू मानेको थियो। व्यापारिक स्वार्थका अगाडि पश्चिमा आलोचकहरूको सामना गर्दै अमेरिकी इन्टरनेट कम्पनी गुगलले तिब्बतको स्वतन्त्रता, १९८९ को तियानमेन विद्रोह र फालुङ गोङसम्बन्धी पोष्टिङलाई नियन्त्रण गर्ने चिनियाँ सर्तलाई स्वीकार गरेको थियो। तीन वर्षपछि तिनै सर्त नमान्ने गुगलको घोषणाको जबाफ चिनियाँ विदेश मन्त्रालयकी एक प्रवक्ताले 'चीनमा रहेका गुगल वा अन्य विदेशी कम्पनी चिनियाँ कानुन र परम्पराअनुसार चल्नुपर्ने' वक्तव्यबाट दिइन।
अमेरिकी विदेशमन्त्री हिलारी क्लिन्टनले बेइजिङको कदमलाई 'अभिव्यक्ति स्वतन्त्रतासम्बन्धी अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय प्रतिवद्धताप्रतिकूल, वर्तमान समयको 'बर्लिन पर्खाल' को संज्ञा दिइन् र 'गुगलमाथि भएको आक्रमणको विस्तृत र पारदर्शी अनुसन्धान गर्न' बेइजिङसँग आग्रह गरिन्। वासिङटनमा इन्टरनेट नीतिसम्बन्धी एक घन्टा लामो भाषण दिने क्रममा 'बेइजिङसँगको सम्बन्धभित्रै अमेरिकाले इन्टरनेट स्वतन्त्रताको मुद्दालाई सम्बोधन गर्न चाहेको' बताएर उनले कूटनीतिक संवादतर्फ संकेत गरेकी थिइन्।
तर चीनले अर्को कडा वक्तव्य जारी गरी गुगललाई समर्थन गर्ने अमेरिकी नीतिले दुई देशबीचको सम्बन्ध बिग्रनसक्ने चेतावनी दियो। चिनियाँ विदेश मन्त्रालयका प्रवक्ता मा झाओक्सुले २२ जनवरीमा 'अमेरिकाले तथ्यको सम्मान गरी चीनविरुद्ध आधारहीन आरोपहरू लगाउन बन्द गर्नुपर्ने' भन्दै वासिङटनको प्रतिवाद गरे।
अमेरिकाले आफ्ना पक्षमा तर्कहरू जुटाउन चिनियाँ इन्टरनेट प्रयोगकर्ताबीच छलफल नै चलायो। बेइजिङस्थित अमेरिकी राजदूताबास तथा सङ्घाई र ग्वान्झाओस्थित महावाणिज्यदूतावासका अधिकारीले चिनियाँ ब्लगर तथा गुगल मामलामा बेइजिङका आलोचक र समर्थकलाई बोलाएर विदेशमन्त्री क्लिन्टनको धारणामाथि प्रतिक्रिया सुने। चीन र अमेरिकाबीच कूटनीतिक तहमा भएका छलफल हेर्दा वासिङटन यस विवादलाई कूटनीतिक तहमा टुङ्ग्याउन अग्रसर देखिन्छ। तर गुगलको नाममा अमेरिकाले आफ्नो इन्टरनेट रणनीति लाद्न खोजेको भनेर बेइजिङ अझै आक्रोशित छ।
बेइजिङले चीन सरकारको संलग्नतामा गुगलमाथि साइबर आक्रमण भएको भन्ने दाबीलाई आधारहीन भन्दै अमेरिकाले दोहोरो चरित्र देखाएको आरोप लगाएको छ। उद्योग मन्त्रालयका प्रवक्ताले चिनिया समाचार संस्था सिन्ह्वालाई भने, 'खुलेर वा गोप्य तरिकाले, साइबर आक्रमणमा चिनियाँ सरकारको संलग्नता छ भन्ने आरोप आधारहीन छ, हामी त्यसको दृढतापूर्वक खण्डन गर्दछौं।'
अमेरिकी विदेश मन्त्रीको भनाइलाई कतिपय चिनिया सञ्चार माध्यमले 'सूचना साम्राज्यवाद' भनेर परम्परागत टिप्पणी गरे पनि चिनिया अधिकारीहरूले गुगललगायत विदेशी इन्टरनेट कम्पनीलाई चीनमा स्वागत गर्ने तर उनीहरूले चीनको कानुन र परम्पराको सम्मान गर्नुपर्ने बताउँदै आएका छन्। इन्टरनेट स्वभावैले अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय प्रकृतिको भए पनि प्राविधिक विषयमा यसले सम्बन्धित देश र अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय नियमको पालना गर्नुपर्छ।
चीनमा व्यावसाय गर्ने तर उसको कानुन नमान्ने गुगलको घोषणालाई कतिपय विश्लेषकले बुझ्न नसकिने 'जटिल तर्क' भनेका छन्। केहीले यसलाई गुगलको व्यापारिक चतुर्‍याइँका रूपमा पनि हेरेका छन्। गुगल चिनियाँ भाषाको अर्को सर्च इन्जिन चलाउन खोज्दैछ र त्यो अनियन्त्रित वा कम नियन्त्रित होस् भन्ने चाहना राख्छ। त्यसमा चीनलाई मनाउन उसले अहिले जोखिम सहेरै ठूलो विषय उठाएको अनुमान पनि गरिँदैछ।
चीन संसराकै धेरै (३५ करोड) इन्टरनेट प्रयोगकर्ता भएको देश हो। त्यसमध्ये एक तिहाइले मात्र गुगलको सर्च इन्जिन चलाउँछन् र गुगलका लागि यो अमेरिकापछिको दोस्रो ठूलो बजार हो। ६० प्रतिशतभन्दा बढी चिनियाँ इन्टरनेट प्रयोगकर्ता आफ्नै देशको बाइडु सर्च इन्जिन चलाउँछन्। चीनमा बाइडुसँग प्रतिस्पर्धा गर्न गुगललाई गाह्रो परिरहेको छ तर चीनको विशाल बजार छाडेर उ फर्किन्छ भन्नेमा धेरैलाई शंका छ। बरु उसको यो कदम चिनिया कानुन खुकुलो बनाउँदै आफ्नो बजार फैलाउने एउटा प्रयास हुनसक्छ।
अहिले सबैका आँखा गुगलको मुख्यालय क्यालिफोर्नियतिर सोझिएका छन्। गुगलकी एक प्रवक्ताले चीनमा कम्पनी बन्द गर्ने निर्णय गरिसकेको भन्ने हल्लाको खण्डन गरेकी छन्। जेसिसाले भनेकी छन्, 'आखिरमा यो व्यापार हो।' आफ्नो भावी कार्यदिशाबारे छिट्टै निर्णय गर्ने बताए पनि गुगलले कस्तो कदम चाल्छ भन्ने स्पष्ट छैन। तर अब यो चीन र गुगलबीचको व्यापारिक विषय मात्र रहेन, बरु इन्टरनेट स्वतन्त्रतालाई कूटनीतिक क्षेत्रमा प्रवेश गराउने पहिलो घटनाका रूपमा अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय कूटनीतिको इतिहासमा हेरिने घटना बन्न पुगेको छ।
धेरैले यसलाई बेइजिङ र वासिङटनबीचको राजनीतिक विवादकै अर्को संस्करणका रूपमा लिएका छन्। अमेरिकाले कम्युनिस्ट प्रशासनसँग जोडेर चीनमा मानवअधिकार तथा अभिव्यक्ति स्वतन्त्रताको विषय पहिलेदेखि उठाउँदै आएको छ। चीनको आर्थिक प्रगति र त्यसले उसमा बढाएको प्रतिवाद गर्ने क्षमताले गर्दा चीनसँग नयाँ सम्बन्ध कायम गर्ने प्रयासस्वरूप अमेरिकी राष्ट्रपति बाराक ओबामाले चीन भ्रमणको क्रममा मानवअधिकारको मुद्दालाई प्रमुखता दिएका थिएनन्। त्यसमा खेप्नु परेको आलोचनालाई साम्य पार्न ओबामा प्रशासनले तनावबीच इन्टरनेट स्वतन्त्रताको एउटै डालोमा तिब्बत, तियानमेन र फालुङ गोङ्गको विषय उठाएको अनुमान पनि छ।
पहिलो पटक यति उच्च तहमा उठेको इन्टरनेट स्वतन्त्रताको विषय अब अमेरिकी विदेश नीतिमा प्रवेश गरेको छ। दुई ठूला राष्ट्रबीचको विवादले अभिव्यक्ति स्वतन्त्रताको बहसलाई अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय आयाम दिएको छ र साइबर युद्ध अर्को तहमा विकास हुने संकेत पनि गरेको छ।

पूर्ण बस्नेत  Nagarik Daily बिहिवार, 28 जनवरी 2010 10:22

Monday, January 4, 2010

Let’s do a rethink:The process of NGO-isation and de-NGO-isation of Nepal’s civil society


As constitution writing gets stalled and frequently rescheduled, it seems the popular energy and strength that was so much in evidence in the historic People’s Movement II has all but dissipated. Protests and pressure campaigns by civil society groups are routine occurrences — but are these as effective as they once were? Is Nepal’s civil society in danger of losing the effectiveness that it demonstrated forcefully just three and a half years back? How might this be prevented? Perhaps we can begin to reflect on this point through the experience of other countries.
A key process affecting civil societies worldwide has been called “NGO-isation”. One scholar succinctly defines this as “the process through which issues of collective concern are transformed into projects in isolation from the general context… and without due consideration of the economic, social and political factors affecting these projects”. (Islah Jad “NGOs: Between buzzwords and social movements”, Development in Practice volume 17, 2007). NGO-isation takes place through a process of professionalisation and projectisation, and in both Bangladesh and Palestine (at least) it has been associated with the attempts by international donors to promote “civil society”. Professionalisation comes about through the increasing inclusion of professionals on boards or administration; while projectisation involves the transformation of a cause for social change into a project with a plan, a timetable and fixed budget.

Per se, professionalisation and projectisation seem to represent only positive developments. There is, however, a drawback to both processes. Both the case of Palestine and Bangladesh have shown that NGO-isation had a negative effect on social movements, which it contributed to demobilise. This depoliticised civil society, leaving ordinary citizens in these two countries without a means to act politically. By “acting politically” I do not mean to refer only to participating in party politics. I mean to engage with issues of public policy relevance; to partake of public debate, to be heard and have some influence on such debates, through a diversity of channels and institutions, among which political parties are just one. Needless to say, the loss, by ordinary citizens, of the ability to act politically is a setback on the road to a more democratic/participatory, equal and inclusive society. In Nepal too, civil society has undergone a process of NGO-isation, as indicated by the fact that, till 2005 at least, “civil society” was often understood to mean “NGOs” alone. Civil society associations became or aspired to become professional, and their work involved the designing and running of projects. That such modes of operating are depoliticising and hamper the ability to act politically is not news in the Nepal context. Some intellectuals (e.g. Gopal Shiwakoti “Chintan”) have lamented the effects of youth’s involvement in NGOs, arguing that it makes them politically illiterate and apathetic. Others have pointed out that the well educated and full time staff needed to run professional NGOs and their projects generally do not express strong personal opinions for the common good of deprived groups (K.B. Bhattachan), while women hired by INGOs for their fluency in English have little commitment to women’s issues and the women’s movement (Meena Acharya).

Such was the trend till around 2005, in any case. A surprising development within the NGO sector occurred at the height of the conflict and the period of increasing authoritarianism under exking Gyanendra. Here, began a process of “de-NGO-isation” — an increasing and principled rejection of the culture of (mainstream) NGOs; of their dependence on foreign funding, their formality and hierarchy, and their elitism, i.e., their capture by elite, well educated groups. Among certain human rights NGOs in particular, there evolved a kind of “counter-professionalism”: This emphasised volunteerism rather than salaries and allowances for conducting NGO work; mobilising local funds and resources rather than seeking international grants; experiential learning rather than formal qualification — an “anybody can do it” attitude.

It was accompanied by a questioning of the value of projects and the merits of planning, while spontaneity and flexibility of programming were prized. Priority was given to responding to political developments. Informality, a rejection of rigid chains of command and fixed positions was the norm; there were no strict office hours as the office became not just a site of work, but also a shelter. Overall, such movement-organisation hybrids were characterised by material simplicity, non-hierarchy, an enormous reserve of energy and will, and most importantly, the ability to act politically.

The fact that they did not depend on projects meant that they could respond immediately, and in some cases, steer, political incidents — for instance, organising goodwill rallies in the wake of the August 2004 killing of Nepali citizens in Iraq (Nepalgunj). It meant, also, that they felt no fear that funding would dry up when they took a stand in favour of democracy and republicanism against the then regime and some international interests (2005-6). Again, there was no compunction when, in the protests of 2006, they began rescuing the injured and not simply observing from the side — an innovation in terms of human rights practice, but also a political act.

Such modes of working — flexibility, spontaneity — were, of course, a need of the times, the product of a politically volatile situation. The question arises whether these modalities are appropriate in the changed scenario, for flexibility and spontaneity can easily slide into chaos and unsystematicity. Should, at this point, organisations again give priority to project approaches to their work? What might be the costs? Will human rights programmes once again become ritualistic rather than politically effective — unable to reach the ears and hearts of those in the seat of power, let alone those of the general population? In other words, will the ability to act politically, by these civil society actors, be lost once again?

The issue to ponder is, what we can learn from such experiences, namely the attempts at “de-NGO-isation” of organisations under the ex-king’s regime. Perhaps we should take this opportunity to reflect on the idea of professionalism and the kind of professionalism that should be encouraged; whether, in the case of Nepali NGOs, it might be possible to move away from projects or towards much more flexible project approaches; whether we can, ultimately, buck the trend worldwide and here, in Nepal, create new types of civil society actors that are both politically effective as well as well resourced and managed. At least we — meaning those concerned with civil society, with NGOs, with citizen activism — we need to recognise and take up the opportunity to reflect, debate and innovate that the current situation so generously offers.

(The author is a visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex. She is working on a research project exploring Nepal’s civil society during the years of the conflict and she is also a member of New Angle Writers)