New Nepalese government faces both challenge and opportunities

As Nepal’s previous constitution assembly was not able to successfully draft a constitution, a new government has been created under the leadership of the Nepali Congress. Shusil Koirala has been elected Prime Minister, UML and NC are both represented in the national government, and Bamdev Gautam is home minister once again. The new minister is promising a finished constitution within the year. The United Marxist-Leninist party remains in opposition to the aforementioned groups and it appears as though the Rastriya Prajantrata Party will join the government soon. The Nepalese people have regained hope that a constitution will be created under a new and functioning government soon, and these political quandaries will be left in Nepal’s past. However, we cannot overlook the fact that Nepal’s last constitution assembly made this identical promise twice but to no avail. Can we place our faith in this new government knowing how said situation played out multiple times in recent history?   

In 1951, the Nepalese people effectively ended the 104-year Rana regime with the implementation of an autocratic Panchyet system. The leadership of this 30-year period was characterized by nepotism, anarchy, and the pursuit of personal gain at the cost of the Nepalese people rather than the facilitation of national development and constructive government-populace relations as anticipated. In response to the corruptive leadership, the Maoist Party (UML) took root in Nepal by way of guerilla warfare. After 10 years of war the party eventually adopted a more peaceful, democratic approach and partook in the national election. They wanted the lifestyle of Nepalese leaders to remain similar to the privilege and luxury enjoyed by Chinese communist leaders in Mao’s time. Soon the Maoist dictators, their relatives, and other high-ranking party members began to earn exorbitant amounts of money in similar fashion to the preceding leaders who were ousted for this precise reason. The country continued to spiral into economic and social distress, as well as widespread public discontent with the government. The Nepalese people expected much better socio-economic reform from the Maoist party due to their unique approach to work and the principles their party was once founded upon. Today the Nepali Congress and UML are the two major parties, and the Nepali Congress has gained more seats in the elections making it the largest party in the country.

Shusil Koirala, president of the Nepali Congress and Prime Minister, lives a simple life. He has been involved in Nepal’s political scene from the grassroots level to the officiating position he holds today, and thusly has witnessed a diverse range of political, economic and social changes in his time. Many people say doesn’t even have a personal home for accommodation. In stark contrast to the fraudulent and insincere leaders of the past, he has no record of ever receiving money under-the-table. Although some think Shusil Koirala tends to favor a small faction of his party while ignoring the rest, the emergence of his party as the biggest in recent elections contradicts those who doubted his ability to effectively lead a large group. It is now the time for him to prove himself a capable leader by practicing effective consultation and collaboration with others, upholding a standard of nationwide unity and co-operation, and avoiding involvement with the Nepalese mafia or other malicious individuals eager to sacrifice the wellbeing of Nepal for personal gain. In the new constitution, Koirala must find a way to preserve the positive aspects of the old constitution while adding clauses that reflect the needs and aspirations of the 21st century Nepalese population. This task, albeit difficult, provides Koirala with the opportunity to stand out in Nepal’s history as an honest leader and progressive policymaker.

As previously mentioned, the Nepalese people are very unhappy with the inability of the previous government to create an effective constitution despite multiple attempts. The current government faces the task of enhancing flexibility, openness, and unity among individuals and whole parties alike in order to create a constitution that constructively serves every citizen of Nepal, from the high-ranking urbanite to the rural villager forced to sell his kidney to pay off his debt. The constitution must be absolutely clear on two points. Firstly, there is will be no centralization of power. Secondly, there will be no compromise of security or sovereignty for any group people throughout the Nepalese Kingdom, because we are all brothers and sisters regardless of factors such as geography. It should also clarify that absolutely any acts of corruption, present, past, or future, will be prosecuted.  We must show the world we are able to write our country’s constitution for ourselves. This government is facing a unique turning point, not only because of there is currently no rule of law, but because it bears the responsibility of determining the future for all of Nepal. 

Ultimately, the Nepalese Kingdom wants peace – a sustainable peace that will follow in the wake of a timely constitution, one that may forge a road to happiness and success for every person in our nation. When there is a constitution, there is a rule of law. When there is a rule of law, there is a stable government. When the government is stable, it can accomplish goals vital to the wellbeing of its country such as creating new public policies, focusing on constructive development, enhancing the education system for children and establishing a balanced job market for adults. It is not an easy task to draft the constitution that can make this a reality, but it a possible task, and perhaps the last chance we have. As loyal and proud Nepali it is our duty to work for our country in hard times such as this so that it may flourish in the future. We must form a new voice for Nepal today by finding common ground amongst all parties and eradicating prejudice so that there will be no uncertainty for the Nepal of tomorrow. If we wait for tomorrow we may become a failed state. The present government has an invaluable opportunity to work together in the creation of a historical constitution that will pave the road to prosperity and joy for Nepal. 

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Nepalese Literature and Creative Writing

Nepalese Literature and Creative Writing  

                                                                                                      FD Regmi 

Creative writing has become a popular method of observing and expressing commentary on the world in the 21st century – every day, writers, journalists and editors are publishing articles and writing books. However, the growth of Nepalese literature cannot be compared to that of English literature at a higher level; comparatively, its roots remain firmly rooted on the ground where they began. Starting during the old Bhanu Bhakta era and progressing to today, Nepalese literature has come to occupy its own genre. Similar to how we possess great pride for Mount Everest, literature has also become a powerful source of pride for the Nepali people. The questions now come to mind, how is our literature moving ahead today? How is the writing form and overall genre changing? Does an international level of writers exist? How is creative writing linked with contemporary Nepalese literature? Has anyone from Nepal received a Nobel Prize for writing?  What has the legacy of Nepalese literature evolved into throughout the past, and how will it change in the future? This article will examine Nepalese literature at the global level from its inception and the ties it bears stylistically to creative writing.  

It is my personal view that our literature started in the ancient period. Many ancient yogis in the Himalayan Mountains regularly performed yoga and meditation. The yogis in these areas used to meditate for months to purify their body and minds, upon which they would transcribe their purified thoughts into simple poems and stories, which gives us the very early stages of Nepali literature.  They wrote in Sanskrit and expressed their thoughts and emotions in such a way that always provided a moral lesson with themes often including international brotherhood, peace, well-being and prosperity. Later, Bhanu Bhakta started to change this legacy by developing “Ramayan,” a groundbreaking shift that has not only influenced writing in Nepal but has also spread into the Indian subcontinent. The literature of India is often fused with Nepalese literature, and we can in fact learn much about our pre-literature from India because issues such as their culture, migration, language, and religion are so intimately related. I believe that our country’s talent has been inspired by Indian literature and in turn, Nepalese writers have learned several writing habits and styles from Indian writers. We may assume that Bhanu Bhakta has undertaken the task of changing the once-typical story format, and it could very well be true that he was inspired by Maharishi Valmiki.

After the Bhanu Bhakta Era, poet Devkota played an imperative role in the historical timeline of the Nepalese written word both pre- and post-revolution. As we are aware of concerning Devkota, it was useless to introduce him by his writing career and no Nepalese were at his level until after his death.  Many people often say that he was the Shakespeare of his time. When we read his books, we find a fresh kind of flow, new thinking, and creative and inspiring ideas. Other great figures before and after the revolution (before 2007) include Parijaat, Bal Krishna Sum, Bhupi Sherchen and Lekha Nath Poudel, as well as many others. These people we read about in our country’s history were taught about writing through resilience, courage, and inspiration. Just like we do, they learned how to write through trial and error. When we examine their books, we find ourselves immersed in a different world. Their words, paragraphs, and styles are more intense and commanding than today’s creative writing. In their essay, books, and poems we can always find embedded in the writing themes supporting essential elements of humanity such as unity, cooperation, love, and morality. We get rarely see this today in modern books. These great writers of the past provided thoughtful commentary on and beautiful descriptions of nature, water, men, women, monsters and heaven. In their literature we can plainly see that their creative writing skills were at top-notch.

There were many emerging writers at this stage and we may see Nepalese literature beginning to transition into a new stage. More and more people have developed a fascination with words and an inclination towards reading, and can find many books in the market. Emerging contemporary writer include Narayan Waggle, Narayan Dhakal, Krishna Dharabasi and Manjushree Thapa as well as many others. Through many blogs, works of and nonfiction, poems, journalism, Haikus, Muktak, Gajal and so on, there are many ways we can see the views of the people in written form. With this new growing interest, the development of Nepalese literature here enters a different era with a fresh, golden future.  On one hand, literature is developing at its own pace but on the other, the course of evolution for Nepalese literature often experiences many ups and downs due to uncontrollable external factors. For example if there is political stability, there is an optimistic future for literature; however, if there is political instability, there is instability in literature. Writing literature is an act of analysis and expression and we have developed an insatiable thirst for expressing ourselves. Let us keep it up, as we need to continue to develop our culture surrounding writing in order to create a stable future for Nepalese literature, where our expression of our culture can continue to thrive.

While it is true that Nepalese literature is affected by the political climate, violence, war, poverty, and peace, it is also true that we have developed and continue to maintain several steadfast reading and writing habits. There are several emerging writers in the country today, and in the past, we have of course the great Laxmi Prasad Devkota. In fact, we as a country have developed our own niche of creative writing at a very high level of skill. Our language, culture, and society have touched and continue to touch all aspects of our literature. We have literature taking place in the mountains, rivers, jungles, lakes, and villages. We have literature like we have water flowing from Himalayas. We have words so incredibly beautiful and poignant that we cannot even express them in the English language. Whether Parijaat or Devkota, whether Balkrishna Sum or Lekha Nath Poudel, we come to the stage at Palpasa Cafee and many more.  Even though we do not have a Rabindra Nath Tagore yet, and there has yet to be a Nepalese to receive the Nobel Prize, our literature is magnificently moving and vivid and speaks the truth of the Nepalese people. It is redder than roses and whiter than melting snow. It may even be bluer than the blue, blue sky.

 

Many say that if we show Devkota’s writing at international level he could still receive the Noble Prize. Yet whether a Nepalese has won the Noble Prize or not, Nepalese literature is inspiring regardless, and evolving today by way of music, dance poetry, essays, and books. We will undeniably come upon many possibilities in the future to develop our culture and society through literature and creative writing. Even though creative writing in English-speaking counties is moving through many more changes and styles in a rather competitive manner, our Nepalese way still possesses massive potential of its own. Sooner or later we will emerge on the world stage, although we cannot know how many years will pass until our new Laxmi Parsad Devkota emerges. As the pool of Nepalese literature is as vast as an ocean, or as huge as the journey between the earth and the sun, slowly and slowly we are rising. We must be ready and full of hope for the day we emerge onto the world stage, ready to share our unique literature and impassioned culture on an international scale.

fdregmi@yahoo.com

 

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No to Monsanto

                                       No to Monsanto

 

                                                                                                                               By: FD Regmi

 

Recently, the issue of Monsanto’s presence has started a heated debate in Kathmandu after the Chaudhari group announced their partnership with Monsanto. It seems they were attempting to develop different hybrid corn seeds intended to be sewn across Nepal, but later the group announced that this partnership was a mistake- it looks like their association with Monsanto will not develop further at the moment because of the large amount of public protest against this partnership. Whether the Chaudhari Group or any other group associates with Monsanto, or if Monsanto comes to Nepal in any way, we will witness long term effects and those effects will be directly related to the Nepalese people for a long period of time. As Nepal is a predominantly agricultural country, and our economy is largely dependent on agriculture, this article will try to analyze the debate and discussion over why or why we shouldn’t embrace Monsanto and its consequences.

About Monsanto:

Monsanto is a multinational biotechnology corporation based in the United States and is the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds, yielding genetically modified foods. Recent statistics have shown Monsanto turning over more than a billon dollars in profit while employing more than 22,000 people. It hires the world’s most preeminent law firms and sues the people and organizations who speak out against it. Monsanto says that agriculture should be improved like other technological revolutions, and that genetically modified food is part of a worldwide food evolution since the technology of modern conventional agriculture is not sufficient for stopping world hunger. They say they want to protect human rights while making agriculture more sustainable, but their actions do not reflect these supposed intentions- they seem to be on a mission to capture and control worldwide agricultural markets.

Why People are Against Monsanto:

Monsanto says that genetically modified seeds are the alternative to world hunger, but very many people across the globe (biologists, food scientists, etc.) are learning more about these foods through research. Some studies have come to conclusions that contradict what Monsanto is saying; studies have found that some genetically modified foods are unhealthy to eat, they disempower organic farmers, that the agricultural economy may develop a dangerous dependency on them, and that they rob natural nutrients from the soil. Perhaps the biggest and most verifiable issue with Monsanto is that under their influence, a growing corporate greed controls all widely distributed seeds while owning the patents for these seeds, effectively establishing a hegemony and monopoly over international food production and leaving the rest of the world’s sustainable farms, communities and organizations little to no power to develop their own seeds. When a farmer buys Monsanto seeds, the farmers must sign an “End User Agreement”, a contract which the company uses to protect and enforce its own intellectual property rights while maintaining a level of control over the famers and their products. Every year, farmers need to buy seeds from Monsanto, because once they buy their seeds from them in one instance, they will have to buy seeds from them again the next time. This way, the farmers develop an economic dependency, and Monsanto keeps expensive teams of lawyers on hand for use against farmers or any other people who speak out against their system. For example, Argentina has become one of the first countries to convert half of its arable land into GMO food production centers, and is now a country with a major agricultural nightmare which has resulted in more than 20,000 farmers losing their land and livelihood to super-powerful, mutated weeds that have destroyed the soil and are now becoming a serious agricultural crisis in the world. Brazil has the same growing problem. These are just examples; unfortunately, the nightmare of Monsanto is slowly coming to Nepal.

More about Monsanto:

Organic and small-scale farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup. Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) seeds are harmful to the environment; for example, scientists have indicated they have contributed to Colony Collapse Disorder among the world’s struggling bee population. It is also known that GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying efforts for biofuels (crops grown for fuel rather than food) – while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as an opportunity to promote their own GM foods! As the main aim of Monsanto is GM foods, it is better to talk about why GM food is not appropriate in the first place. GM foods won’t solve the global food crisis- GM crops increase pesticide use, GM food is not safe to eat, and GM crops are a long term economic disaster for farmers. In a nutshell, Monsanto and the big biotech firms pushing their GM foods have a terrible history of toxic contamination and public deception. GM is attractive to them because it gives them patents that allow monopolistic control over the world’s food supply, and numerous studies have found that they have taken to harassing and intimidating farmers for the “crime” of saving patented seeds or “stealing” patented genes – even if those genes got into the farmer’s fields through accidental contamination by wind or insects through cross-pollination. As stated earlier, farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, did not want in the first place, will not use and cannot sell.

Monsanto in Nepalese Context:

Last year, many people marched against Monsanto in Kathmandu, just like in other parts of the world. It is worth noting how fast the Chaudhari Group withdrew their decision and chose not to become associated with Monsanto. Thank you very much to the CG group for your great decision. Even if we are poor, the Nepalese youths and elites alike have become the true idea makers for a better society. Thank you very much to those who have taken part in this process directly, indirectly, through social media or through journalism. Thank you to the Nepalese media who have openly published this issue in the public. In the country where a farmer sells a kidney for $500 so that they can pay their debt, in the country where the majority of people depend on organic agriculture and work hard to realize their prosperous dream for the future, in the country where our fathers and mothers keep their seeds themselves in the corner of their little home and use them at the time when they need to, we undoubtedly have vibrant agricultural possibility. Why should our poor farmers make agreements with a billion dollar company and make themselves dependents? Why should Monsanto come to Nepal as we already have other methods for developing more sustainable agriculture? If possible, we need an organic agriculture movement working to find out other modern solutions for the development of our agriculture. But it is sure that Monsanto and GM food is not part of this solution. Let us hope that no one dares to commit the crime of bringing Monsanto to Nepal, giving poison to the Nepalese people, making poor Nepalese even poorer and turning our Himalayan Kingdom into another laboratory for Monsanto. So let us say, no to Monsanto; this is where we invest in a better future.

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Nepal Election 2070, an Analysis

                                                                                                                                 FD Regmi

We’ve all been aware of the suspicious black cloud surrounding Nepalese skies as we’ve tried to write a new constitution through our constitutional assembly over these past few years. The efforts during our last resort ended in tragedy, as the Jumbo assembly became meaningless and dormant, even after being extended twice, ending with the result of being “work without any purpose”. Yes- the constitutional assembly couldn’t succeed, even though they tried, with their last breath, to consciously forge an effective constitution in the past. It is true that even if the last constitutional assembly threw out the king, it has been broken up over many different agendas, and ultimately it has become agenda-less in the process. This is because of so many new issues relating to “One Madesh, One State”, caste and tribe rules, and the issues joined with the federal states that are quite new to Nepal.

The issues raised by the Madesh-based party, calling for the “right for self determination,” have both directly and indirectly played a role in the last constitutional assembly. With this new election, 2070 people have stopped, taken a deep breath, and seen a new dream again for the development of New Nepal. They have become hopeful for their future in such a sense that it seems this hope will never die. Some argue that Nepal has no future from now on. Some say that Nepal will start to grow from now on. Some simply shrug their soldier and shake their heads left and right, remaining silent on the subject. Whatever arguments people make are their own individual choices, but I am very hopeful and positive when it comes to the idea of a bright future for Nepal.

As the results have shown, the Nepali Congress and the United Marxist Leninist party have become the largest parties, and the United Marxist Leninist party has become the third largest. Very qualified people are aware that the Maoist party becomes the third party before the election. The party has been broken at the time of election- the party couldn’t do anything progressive while they were in the government, and people become so surprised with the leaders, their relatives and others at the center because of all the wealth they earned in such a short interval of time while they were in power. The Ten Years’ war turned the party leaders and their aristocratic life styles over few years and so on, causing much frustration for many people who thought that there would be drastic socio-economic changes while they were in control of the government.

In fact, people have become tired with thinking that they couldn’t feel the real changes and they show this in their actions. Thank you to the power of the people. These are the same people who fought many times to get democracy into the country. It is debated why Maoist leaders have no right for rich life styles in the country- it is because the people thought that they would help bring change by showing simple living and high thinking, but as is now recorded in history, that what they say and what they actually do are very different. This is how people evaluate good leaders, and that is why they were defeated in the election. It is not that Congress and UML leaders are doing good and that they are better, everyone has the ability to test power. That is why ex king Gynandra is a simple citizen now. The reality is that leaders think that they are everything, and that they are somehow above the people, and then people do the power test as a last resort.

As the results are supposed to come, the United Maoist Leader Prachnada announced that they are not going to join in the constitutional assembly, which came as a surprise to the international community. With their recent movements, we could believe that they ultimately might take part in the constitutional assembly. According to Prachnada, there were election frauds during election process, and this was the reason they took few seats over the election. The Maoists have taken this issue to the highest level and announced that they will take this issue to people at the grassroots level to tell the truth, marching peacefully against it and bringing awareness to the people. Prakash Chandra Lohani also challenged and argued the same issue, but without any future drastic developments, it is very difficult to make this claim and justify it.

On one hand it is hard to believe there were election frauds, but on the other hand nothing is impossible in this planet. That country where a ruling king and his whole family were killed and a story was created to defend the idea that he was killed by his own son, and no one in history has dared to investigate the case. That country where a supreme leader of the communist party was killed in a road accident, and the history becomes cruel when nobody dares to bring the truth to the surface, and his last witness was been killed without any trial and hopes that everyone has left this issue from their mind. Whatever the result, whether there were election frauds or not, people have given the mandate to congress, and we could guess that sooner, the new government will be formed under Nepali congress leadership. But the roles played by the neighboring countries and their vested interests, and who would become their favorite candidate to play the political game- this is an experience of Nepalese politics.

As the largest party, Nepali congress, has said that they are making government in consciousness. Which party rules the country and who becomes the prime minister is not important to all of us- what is important is to work for the country. I think this is what we need at this time. Since we are hanging out, whoever wins the election, the first and foremost thing to do is make a constitution. Since there were already break-ups and people being divided over the subject in the past, we need to show strength, resilience and courage for unity to save our nation, as we have a responsibility to make our nation change from being unsuccessful to successful. We can learn from late prime minister Krishna Prasad Bhattrai, who said that he would have success making a progressive constitution in 2046 while facing pressure from powerful Palace. This is the same congressional party who didn’t work for people’s aspirations, even if they have majority in the parliament. If we remember, this party has been broken and united again. As a United party, Congress can become an example to the society.

People are saying that all Nepalese leaders in history have earned money and abused their power while in the government. Directly or indirectly, we have not seen any leader without corruption. May be, late BP Koirala , Man Mohan Adhikari and Krishna Prasad Bhattrai are better examples, but besides that of developing nations and the party cadre, leaders and national leaders are all directly and indirectly involving themselves and their parties in the process of earning money and keeping power. This is not the kingdom we are looking for. We need a bold man like Gandhi who thinks for others, who listens to others, who does not make himself rich by abusing power. We do not need such leaders who become deaf while becoming Prime minister. The cruel reality is that a bold and gentle men throughout Nepalese political history end in corruption with bad reputations after becoming prime minister.

We need someone who is ready to sacrifice his life for the nation, who is bold enough to drive the country and has the capacity to forge a national unity and write a constitution. This is the sole aim of election 2070. Someone must bring change and make a new Nepal, a corruption free Nepal, and a rich and progressive Nepal by writing a constitution on time and by becoming an example in history. This is what our election 2070 is for, and this is the hope all Nepalese people have who really love this country more than their own lives. Only through this can we get the true spirit of election 2070.

fdregmi@yahoo.com

 

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Nationalism, Lhendup Dorje Culture , and Political Discourse in Nepal

                                                                                                                                      FD Regmi

For many years, Nepal has been moving through many different political circumstances. From the one hundred and four years of Rana’s Regime, to the twenty-eight years of the Panchyat System followed by the subsequent multiparty democratic government, Nepal has seen much political turmoil, and the concept of nationalism has proven to be a central issue each and every time. In fact, Late King Mahendra, B P Koirala, King Birendra and Mohan Smasher, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and a few other personalities within this part of political history are both directly and indirectly the center points with the above discourse- and unlike India and China, we have a different government with different foreign policy. It can be observed that one rival party who is out of power might tell the ruling party that he/she is on the “Lhendup path”. The ruling party will always try to be nearest and dearest to India in order to continue running the government. In fact, historical observation and analysis shows that India has the power to facilitate the government in Nepal. That is the reason the simple army chief Katuwal ignored Prime Minister Dahl a few years ago. In fact, if there were no support from India, there would have been no abolishment of the autocratic Panchayat System nor the abolishment of Monarchy.

India’s dominance within Nepalese politics is growing day by day. The Ten Years War lead party supreme leader Prachanda said a few months ago in Hetauda that the Nepal’s border issue can be solved by referendum- and thank you very much to those Maoist supporters who ignored their leader and spoke out against it. This is just one example of how Lhendup culture has influenced the political parties of Nepal, and it seems there are no parties left without such a culture, minus a few new established parties. Professor SD Muni’s recent book exploring how the Maoist leader made a surrender and agreement with India has developed controversy and confusion amongst the public, causing people to ask themselves, “who are the nationalists left in the country?” The issue is not that there are no nationalists left; the debate arises when politicians say one thing but do something different instead. They say we’re always against India, even though it’s obvious they have realized that ruling the country is impossible without Indian support. This is evident in Prachanda’s recent inclinations.

Lhendup Dorje is a phrase that has been continually appearing in modern Nepalese politics. It is ridiculous that one party says to another party that it is heading towards the “Lhendup path”. In light of this, it is appropriate to address the question- who was Lhendup Dorje? Kanji Lhendup Dorje was the first chief minister (1974 to 1979) of Sikkim.  People branded him a traitor because under his leadership, the tiny Himalayan kingdom Sikkim lost its identity. The Indian government honored his actions with the Padma Vibhusan in 2002. He later died of a heart attack. So even if Lhendup Dorje was an actual person, it appears that his name is being used to describe a culture that is noticeably influenced by India. India has dominant foreign policy over much of South Asia, hence why they introduced Lhendup Dorje to Sikkim and captured the country. Sikkim is in the past now, and India has maintained its influence in Bangladesh by raising Mujibar Rahman, while Pakistan was broken to create Bangladesh. Many Bhutanese refugees in Nepal have now settled into their third country without getting a chance to return to their own country due to the Indian stance against refugees. In Nepal, India has introduced the demand of ‘One Madhes One State’ by giving support and induction of ten thousand Madhesi youths into the national army, creating political chaos as thousands upon thousands of people died during the political unrest caused by the Madesh movement.

By looking at many comments from different political parties, we can easily discover some tussle and mussel. If we dig up the history, we see lots of leftist people claiming that late BP Koirala was less of an nationalist than King Mahendra. Mohan Shamsher has also made many treaties that benefitted him rather than Nepalese national interests. A few years ago, the United Marxist Leninist party was broken into two pieces for Tanakpur issues, and Bamdev Gautam charged KP Oli and Madhav Nepal as traitors while introducing the New Lhendup Dorje in Nepal, making a new party and later uniting once again. Interestingly enough, the United Maoist party has broken into two pieces recently because of the BIPA Treaty and other issues. Now Baidya Group’s leader CP Gajurel has said many times that Dahal and Bhattrai are very weak in issues of nationalism, and now both are among the new “Lhendup Dorje” parties in the country. A few years ago when there was a murder of King Birendra, Dr Babura Bhattrai wrote an article in the Kantipur saying that the country was heading in Lehndup Dorje’s path. So, it is very difficult for the common people like us to find out who is actually heading towards the “Lhendup Dorje Path”.

Like players in a casino with their own vested interests, the leaders of Nepalese political parties have proven weak while in the government, only to act like nationalists once out of the government.  It is also true that Nepal was far stronger during the Panchyat system when dealing with national issues than we are today. We have to remember, when the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said in an international forum that Mount Everest belongs to India, the late BP Koirala disputed this, and Pandit Nehru eventually apologized to the international community, but we can still read about this bold claim in our historical records.  It is time that we put aside our political differences to unite under a national interest. Nepal has to learn from other countries, especially from India.

Similar to other developed countries, we need to make a strong bureaucracy and responsible think tank to look after foreign affairs.  Only an educated and well-trained group of people can work to preserve Nepalese national interests while explaining the broad theory of international relations. And in due course of time, we could find out which parties are truly going in the “Lhedup path”, as only time will tell. Rather than creating havoc and unnecessary artificial words against India, it is very wise to unite for foreign policy- a policy which always gives priority to Nepalese national interests, a policy which always grants equivalency to our great neighbors China and India, and a policy for the development of a new Nepal. This is the only sustainable solution for the long run, so that we may fight Lhendup culture and allow no man in Nepal to give us a fate similar to Sikkim. With this solution, we can shine with the symbolism of Buddha and Mount Everest forever.

fdregmi@yahoo.com

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My Recent Visit to North America

My Recent Visit to North America

–  Fanindra Regmi

 Since my childhood, I have been very interested in visiting the United State of America.  My dream to see the American culture and people became true on May 21st, 2012, when I flew to Los Angeles, California to participate in the International World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) conference.  Although the main purpose of the trip was to attend the conference, I took the opportunity to visit around. I was first landed in Los Angeles. I have heard before about the stringent US immigration rules. It was an opportunity for me to experience through the immigration process of USA. After I passed through the immigration process, I hopped on a bus to catch a train to go to San Francisco.  However, I found out that the direct train to San Francisco had already left and my only choice was to catch a train for 3 hours followed by an overnight bus.  So I waited until evening to get on the train and travelled all night.  At 4 o’clock in the morning I reached San Jose, California, one hour away from San Francisco.

 I have made an advance arrangement to pick me up in San Jose but I couldn’t recognize any faces or find my host.  With the help of a security guard at the station, I got on a taxi that took me to where I was going to spend the night.  When I eventually met with my friend, she told me that she was waiting for me at the station; I apologized to her twice for having missed her and for not being able to recognize her despite our numerous conversations through viber.  I spent a week in California. In the afternoon, my host toured me around the local area: we went to Google Headquarters and Stanford University.  In the evening, we went to San Jose city to look around and have dinner. Next day, early in the morning, Rajesh and I went to San Francisco by car.

I had a very nice stay in San Francisco.  I visited the major tourist spots in the city like the San Francisco Bridge and visited organic fruit and vegetable markets, and also explored the mountains and jungle in the area.  I met lovely WWOOF members and hosts at the International WWOOF Conference which lasted seven days.  There were people from more than 30 countries; we celebrated and had fun together.  The conference provided an opportunity to learn and share about ecological farming practices. After the conference was over, I said good bye to San Francisco and headed out to Canada.

I flew from San Francisco to Toronto with Air Canada and it took almost 6 hours.  When I landed I was so surprised, I had no idea that Toronto was so hot in the summer.  Shiva came to pick me up at the airport and I stayed with him for 2 days.  I walked around and visited the city by myself.  I walked from Shiva’s place to downtown and saw nice, big buildings on both sides of the streets, restaurant, shops, just like in Australia.  I found Toronto as a vibrant city.  From Toronto, I travelled by bus for 4 hours to Ottawa and there I stayed with my brother for 2 days.  I had not seen him and his family for many years, so it was great to see them again!

During my stay in Ottawa, I have visited Parliament Hill and downtown area.  At the end of my stay in Ottawa, we exchanged good-bye at the bus station and I went back to Toronto via the same route.  While my stay in Toronto, I joined with other friends to visit to Niagara Falls. We reserved a taxi to go there. The drive was about 3 hours long but never boring because the driver, an Italian- Canadian, was very funny and made lots of joke, told us stories and shared his experiences.  We did lots of sightseeing on the way – LakeOntario, one of the Great Lakes, vineyards and wine shops, Mississauga city – and also met people from different countries.  When we arrived in Niagara Falls the taxi driver gave us 3 hours to explore the area.  The most incredible and exciting experience for me was the boat ride in the lake to see the water falls.  There were boats from both Canada and USA, each of them carrying their own country flag.  After the boat ride, we walked down the road to look at the USA side of the falls, and then we had a home cooked meal for lunch in a nearby park.  It was an opportunity and inspiration for me to see such a well managed facility available around. It is a great job that both the American and Canadian governments had done to make Niagara Falls so accessible for tourists.  It was already 8 o’clock in the evening when we got back in Toronto.

The next day I boarded on a plane to Rhode Island, USA.  Rhode Island is a very nice island near New York City.  Naran came to pick me up – I could hardly recognize him again.  Then I met Devkota, who is an entrepreneur of a Nepalese restaurant.  We had lots of chat about Nepalese politics and other issues, which I believe is an important issue for every nonresident Nepalese. No matter how far they are and what are they doing but their “antar atma” always remembers and worries for better Nepal. That same night we attended a local Fire Festival and met lots of local people.  It was clean, green with awesome restaurants and parks everywhere. We had lots of walking around during the day and got tired. Naran and I spent sometime gossiping about the trip. We went to bed quite late. In the early morning I had to fly back to Australia.  My connection flight to Los Angeles was scheduled for 7 AM and I had to get to the airport 2 hours before the departure time. Naran told me not to sleep, but I Insisted that I go sleep for couple of hours so that I could get some rest.  I sent a SMS message to Shushila in Sydney asking her to give me a call in 2 hours to awake me in case the cell phone alarm does not work but the battery on my phone was not working we couldn’t find a charger either.  Anyhow, I managed to get up at 5:30 AM. “Oh my god!” I was panicked that I might get late. I packed everything in 10 minutes and we immediately ran out to the airport. We reached the airport in about 20 minutes.  Naran drives very well.  At the airport, I saw huge line-up of about 500 people waiting to pass immigration.  I never imagined so many people would be ahead of me. I begged them to give me a way to pass me on the line explaining that my plane was leaving in 5 minutes, and that I would be in trouble if I didn’t get on the flight but nobody cared.  At the last hour, almost losing my patience, I decided to walk over to immigration. I could not miss this flight otherwise my entire schedule and plans in Sydney would have been affected.  So I became bold and kept on moving, pleading to get my way through, until I reached an officer.  I begged for their pardon, and finally was successful to pass immigration screening and to board on the plane.  The plain in fact was waiting for me and within 5 minutes it vanished into the American sky.  It was like in the movies – I was sweating so much and my heart was pumping.  I cheered that I was lucky to get into the plane.

As this was my first trip to the USA and Canada, I had a nice time to see and personally feel and get the sense of North America. I still have so much feelings yet it is difficult for me to write about everything. This travel gave me an opportunity to see new places, where I have not visited before. I also learned a lesson that you need to be organized and arrive early in an airport. This makes your life very easy and relaxing. I learned a lot during my trip to North America.

 

 

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Monsanto, GMO Seeds and the Future of Nepalese Farmers

Monsanto, GMO Seeds and the Future of Nepalese Farmers  

 – Fanindra Regmi

Recently I attended an International Organic Congress conference in Korea organized by IFOAM. During that time I met a few Nepali friends, one of them Basanta Ranabhat who is very active in the organic agriculture movement in Nepal. During this meeting, we discussed an important issue affecting Nepal and agreed it should be raised at a national and international level. I have therefore prepared this article about Monsanto, an American multinational company which is going to extend its pilot projects of Monsanto hybrid maize through USAID in three districts of Nepal. Let us start by discussing Monsanto, and what consequences its proposals to introduce GMOs (genetically modified organisms) to Nepal might have for the future of Nepalese farmers.

Genetically Modified (GM) or Genetically Engineered (GE) crops are created unnaturally by inserting genes from one species into another, unrelated species. This kind of insertion does not happen in Nature. There is growing scientific evidence about the lack of safety of GM crops and the majority of countries have shunned this so-called gene revolution path for agricultural development. It has been 15 years since the first GM crop was introduced for commercial cultivation and today 75% of GM crops are cultivated in just 3 countries; USA, Brazil and Argentina.

Last year, India witnessed a loud and intense debate on BT Brinjal (an aubergine with a gene introduced from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis) which was the first GM food crop to be commercialized in the country. Due to the negative public reaction and the lack of evidence on the safety of the product, the Minister of Environment and Forest declared an indefinite moratorium on BT Brinjal. In India, unlike in many other countries, there is no express statutory regulatory regime governing the regulation of transgenic organisms. The regulatory bodies are also infamous for their lack of independence and scientific impartiality, and generally lack credibility in the eyes of the public as the Bt Brinjal debate has shown.

If we look closely at Monsanto, an American Seed company, we find that it has an infamous history as manufacturer of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. This defoliant poisoned the land and caused many thousands of deaths and birth deformities. The Monsanto company, many people believe, is one of the most dangerous and evil global businesses because it is responsible for poisoning people, wildlife, farm, animals and the environment at large – in other words Monsanto is a deadly threat to life on Earth. Monsanto is a global bio-engineering company that tampers with and alters the very building blocks of life. Monsanto is one of the major manufacturers of genetically-engineered crops, crops that have genetic material that Mother Nature would never have combined together because the inserted genes are often from totally different life forms. Monsanto has also engineered crops to have a “suicide” or “terminator gene,” which means that they cannot produce seed for future generations. This means that farmers are compelled to buy more new seed from Monsanto. The old traditional way of harvesting seed from your crops has been destroyed by Monsanto.

In India, because of this approach, not only did these new crops fail but the farmers were too poor to afford Monsanto’s prices and thousands were driven to commit suicide. We have read stories of the suicide of thousands farmers in South India in recent years, many of them as a direct consequence of the debt occurred for fertilizer and seeds. These farmers were conned and lied to for the sake of Monsanto’s future sales. This is an example of where Monsanto is directly responsible for causing the deaths of people. Not surprisingly; a massive protest organization has been formed. Known simply as Millions against Monsanto, their website has a wealth of detailed information about why people are rising up against the company.

If you consider that Monsanto are at the same time doing their utmost to take over ownership of all food crop plants and replace the natural ones with their genetically-modified varieties, then alarm bells are bound to ring. Could it be that the elite of the world are planning to kill off as many of us as they can and use food shortage and poisoned foods and water as part of their weapons against humanity, whilst at the same time making sure they have healthy and natural seeds to plant out after they have succeeded in their New World Order plan? This is the 21st century and we must react globally in the strongest of voices against this monopoly.

Monsanto’s record for environmental/biodiversity degradation, threatening the livelihoods of self-reliant farmers, extreme patent rights issues, monopolizing and strong-arming of seed industry and bribing officials to promote their products, is well documented. Their seeds destroy the soil and environment and once we start using their seeds, we are then totally dependent on them. It is like a drug addiction – first develops habituation and then addiction; this is how they move in and try to monopolize global agricultural production. We need to prepare to fight against them.

As an agriculture country almost all Nepalese farmers have only small area of land and up until now date the farmers saved their own seed. We still do not buy maize, wheat and rice seed from others. The introduction of Monsanto seed products into Nepal would have disastrous consequences for the people of Nepal. Nepali farmers would be forced into a relationship of dependency with the Monsanto Company. Farmers will be worse off economically, their soil and land will be irreversibly damaged with the need for increased use of fertilizers thus decreasing their chances of a future livelihood in farming and food production. Nepal’s international trade would also suffer. The health of the population will be threatened and pose a problem for our generation. Our clean and green dream will be wiped out and that is why it is high time to start advocacy against Monsanto, stop this USAID program going ahead and prevent Monsanto from controlling the seed and controlling the people in Nepal.

In fact, any hybrid or GMO which cannot be reproduced by the farmer should be avoided. They will lose their own varieties. No pesticide-dependent crop should be used by the farmer and Monsanto products are only for short-term benefit. So we have to advise Nepalese farmers, students, teachers, journalists and others not to threaten sustainability by depending on Monsanto. If not, we   will have pay heavily after five years because in that time we can lose will lose insect pollinators and bees, aquatic fishes, frogs and everything.

The best we can do is to educate people, let them know the consequences and encourage them to stay away from Monsanto.  The more people who know about how to live and grow organically, the more they will realize that it is the best way to go. As human beings we must give our voice in maintaining that soil, food and health are directly related to a healthy planet. In fact, if we use GMO farmers will become slaves. They will lose the right to have their own seeds; they would have to buy them. First they get seeds for free and then year after year prices increase. Monsanto Corporation works with other corporations who are involved in buying land, producing agricultural equipment and supplies. All this must be purchased from only licensed corporations. Most of the time they keep a monopoly and extremely high prices. But they start talking to farmers in a very cunning way. As I mentioned – first they try to give for free, like drug dealers. When you are used to the needle, then they squeeze you until you have nothing. Also a Canadian has made the movie called “Corporation” and those people who made the movie are still fighting in courts for what they said because Monsanto hires the best public relations monsters and most expensive lawyers and try to dominate others and prohibit any attempts to speak against them.

As I said before, the last resort we have left is to educate farmers, make strong advocacy, and make Nepalese civil society understand the nature of the threat they are facing.  If people have at least one drop of blood and responsibility for our mother Earth, we would never go for GMO. Could I appeal to the Nepalese political leadership to give strong voice in our support. Even if you are busy for drafting constitution and finalizing the peace process, this issue has a high priority. If we let this happen the Himalayan Kingdom will lose its agricultural independence and we become more poorer. Let us speak with one voice – let us show unity and cooperation again and let us make common understanding on this issue. Since our future aim is to make a sustainable, vibrant and prosperous Nepal, we will never ever succeed in these efforts if we allow Monsanto to come and start its business with poor Nepalese farmers. We shouldn’t forgot that lots of farmers in Nepal have sold their one kidney because the money they have taken in loan couldn’t return to others.

 fdregmi@yahoo.com

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