Monday, November 30, 2015

Economic Blockade and Role of NRNA

Rabin Man Shakya
State Education Director, NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter

I was pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed to see Diwakar Maharjan, president of NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon chapter on the Facebook wall calling on the Prime Minister of Nepal K. P. Oli together with Mr Rastra Rai of the UK's UUNTF. It was equally good to see Mr Maharjan's Nepalese Rebuild activities and taekwondo programs in Kathmandu on the Facebook pages.

There is no doubt that tremendous strides have recently been made by NRNA for the cause of earthquake victims. The outpouring of support for the Nepalese people facing the Indian blockade from NRNs from across the world has been tremendous too.

NRNs across the world have been lobbying and rallying against the Indian economic blockade. The lives of the Nepalese people have become miserable and vulnerable because of the blockade. The blockade imposed more than two months ago has become increasingly unbearable for the Nepalese people, and it is taking its toll on the Nepalese people.

According to the news reports, hundreds of NRNs have taken to the streets of the world capitals and other prominent cities to raise voice against the blockade of the Indian government, which has caused nation-wide crisis of essential goods, including life-saving medicines in Nepal.  Internationalization of the blockade issue by the NRNs is a significant step which must be whole-heartedly hailed as the right move.

According to another media report, NRNA recently handed over medicines worth Rs 3.8 millions to the government of Nepal. It is to be noted that the NRNA had pledged to provide medicines worth Rs 30 millions to mitigate nation-wide drug  crisis resulting from the trade blockade by India.

It goes without saying that the social and economic situation is very critical and vulnerable in Nepal, the gauntlet thrown down to the Nepalese people (first by the earthquake and then by the Indian blockade) is unprecedented.

The challenges facing the Nepalese people are indeed formidable since the Nepalese people are confronting the consequences of the earthquake as well as effects of the Indian trade blockade - it is just double whammy.

Therefore, it is evident that in the perspectives of contemporary Nepal, in its elaborate process of national development, at the time of national disaster like the earthquake and during the economic crisis arising from the blockade,   the scope and role of NRNA is getting to be vital.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Annapurna Post's Bias Against Dr Tuladhar

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

In Nepal, there is no dearth of newspapers which try to damage the image and reputation of some people by publishing concocted, fabricated and misleading materials about them. The practice of irresponsible journalism and mud-slinging is not uncommon in Nepal especially in the weekly newspaper journalism and online news portals. But it is unbelievable when a responsible broadsheet daily newspaper also does that.

On Nov 20, 2015, the daily Nepali newspaper "The Annapurna Post" published a news story headlined: "What does Nepal want? : Rae" splashed across the front page, created sensation in the Nepalese news media, stirring a debate on the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where many criticized the Annapurna Post, for what they said,  publishing false allegation against Dr Padma Ratna Tuladhar and Tula Narayan Shah and unnecessarily sensationalizing the episode.

The news story was related to an interaction program hosted by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu at Shangri-La Hotel. Political, social and medical elites of Nepal were invited to the program. The question headline of the news story was attributed to Indian ambassador to Nepal Mr Ranjit Rae.

The news story went on to falsely claim that Dr Padma Ratna Tuladhar had demanded a total blockade from India. In fact, an attempt on character assassination of  Dr Tuladhar and Mr Shah was carried out by the Annapurna Post.

Meanwhile, in separate statements, both Dr Tuladhar and Mr Shah had vehemently denied about their quotes in the story. The statement by Mr Shah was published in the Annapurna Post,  while one by Dr Tuladhar was not. It has raised questions about the equal treatment of the affected people by the Annapurna Post.  Dr Tuladhar had clarified in his statement that he did not make any comment or views at that program, much less about the blockade.

The correction of the Annapurna Post did not offer an unequivocal apology to Dr Tuladhar for the character assassination. The newspaper just posted a correction by saying that the allegation was mistakenly published in lieu of someone's accusation and obviously the source or the identity of "someone" was missing in the correction.

While hardly unusual in its journalistic activities, the Post's allegation against Dr Tuladhar, it is believed, is motivated by the vested interest of the South Block, since the newspaper is widely believed to be pro-southern neighbor. That probably is precisely the reason why the Post is so paranoid about Dr Tuladhar.

There is no doubt that the Annapurna Post has, kind of, lost the trust and credibility of the people of the Kathmandu valley with this kind of news, and it should refrain from publishing biased and untrue news stories to regain its credentials as an independent national daily.

By the way, it was in 1994 and I was still with The Rising Nepal. It was at that time that I had the honor of interviewing Dr Padma Ratna Tuladhar on behalf of The Rising Nepal. My interview or encounter with him was focused on literature and journalism, not on politics and human rights. In other words, I interviewed Dr Tuladhar as a member of the luminary club of Nepal. For taking the interview, I still remember I went to Dr Tuladhar's house which was located at Lazimpat in Kathmandu.

Dr Tuladhar was associated with the "Nepal Bhasa Patrika" (edited by late Phatte Bahadur Singh) for several years until the only daily newspaper in Nepal Bhasa ceased its publication in 1983. Dr Tuladhar had written a number of thought-provoking articles in the Nepal Bhasa Patrika under the pseudonym Paratu.

Dr Tuladhar is a politician, ethnic leader, journalist and human rights veteran. Apart from that, he is a very sober, responsible and erudite gentleman who, I believe, will never say stupid things as was falsely reported by the Annapurna Post.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nepal Sambat New Year 1136 Celebrated in Portland

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
President, Newah American Buddhist Association

News of Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat New Year 1136 being celebrated in Nepal, the US and in other countries of the world have been pouring in in the digital journalism and social media sites. Various organizations like Nepa Chhen and Nritya Mandala Maha Vihar have been celebrating Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat for last few years in Portland.

Last year, about 100 people performed group Mha Puja rituals at a ceremony organized by Nepa Chhen.  This year's Nepal Sambat New Year 1136 was celebrated jointly by Nritya Mandala Maha Vihar and Nepa Chhen in Portland on Sunday, Nov 22, 2015.

At a program to celebrate Nepal Sambat New Year 1136 in Portland, a lecture on historical aspect of Nepal Sambat and its usage in current context was delivered by advisor of Nepa Chhen and vice president of World Newah Organization Mr Daya Shakya.

Mr Prajjwal Bajracharya of the Nritya Mandal Maha Vihar briefly threw light on the activities of the Mahavihar at the program which was attended by more than 50 Nepalese and American guests.

A documentary film "Revival of Nepal Bhasa" was also screened on the occasion to entertain the guests. A potluck dinner was served at the end of the program in which Chhoela Baji, Aalu Tama, Aalu Achar, Bhuti, Simpu Curry, Musya Palu, Pachhai Tarkari, Dhau etc were served. At the Nepal Sambat New Year program, all the Nepalese women were seen wearing traditional Haku Patasi sari.

Belated, but the Nepal Sambat New Year 1136 was observed here in Portland like in other major cities of the US was a testimony to the fact that Nepalese Portlanders are always aware about making it not just a national celebration of Nepal, but also an international event. It is the proof of keenness of Nepalese Portlanders to observe major festivals and national days of Nepal.

It is to be noted that Nepal Sambat - a national lunar calendar of Nepal - kicked off in 879 AD during the rule of King Raghav Dev to commemorate the reimbursement of all the debts of the Nepalese people by a Newar trader Shankhadhar Sakhwa who was declared a national hero of Nepal on Nov 18, 1999 by the then His Majesty's Government of Nepal.

Though Nepal Sambat was declared a national era of Nepal in 2008 AD by the government of Nepal, this Sambat has still not been given full recognition and not been used for all practical use and official purposes in Nepal. Thus, the Nepal Sambat New Year should be celebrated to remind the government of Nepal to respect and give due recognition to it.

Celebration of the Nepal Sambat in Nepal and in other countries of the world is a chance for the advocates of Nepal Sambat to raise voice for bringing Nepal Sambat into use as Nepal's official national calendar,  and  to remind the government of Nepal that Nepal Sambat be declared a public holiday, Nepal Sambat be printed in bank notes and coins.

Nepal Sambat was grossly neglected not only during the rule of Rana oligarchy but during the 30-years period of Panchayat regime too. Even today, Nepal Sambat has not been given full state level honour and recognition which it deserves. In such conditions, the advocates of Nepal Sambat should voice their opinion in rational and convincing manner, should try to build the broad public opinion for its cause. They should make optimum use of media, digital media as well as social media for making a convincing case for it.

Overall, there is a sense that despite all the gains (Nepal Sambat being declared national era, all of Nepal's languages being declared national languages, Sankhadhar Sakhwa being commemorated in stamps, road signs in Kathmandu being written in Nepal Bhasa, all major mainstream daily newspapers of Nepal mentioning Nepal Sambat date below the masthead) in recent decades, Nepal's political, social and economic trajectory is still highly uncertain.

That is why Nepal's prime minister K. P. Oli's speech at the Nepal Sambat New Year 1136 program organized  by the Nepal Sambat 1136 National Celebration Main Committee in Kathmandu was a populist rallying cry when he said Nepal Sambat has played an important role in terms of making the social life easier and simple. Let Oli's words not just be like shedding crocodiles tears. Let the government take some effective measures and steps to really honor the Nepal Sambat.

In fact, the discrepancy between the rhetoric and action is the main problem with our politicians. The Nepalese people are sick and tired of the rhetorical tautology of the Nepalese politicians. Nepalese politicians should stop paying lip service to the cause of Nepal Sambat.

Last but not least, Nepal Sambat National Celebration Main Committee should always be able to play a watchdog role and never be a lapdog at the hands of the government.

**Dr Shakya, a Portland based writer, is former assistant editor at the RSS, former associate editor at The Rising Nepal and former lecturer of journalism at the Peoples Campus. He is also advisor of Nepa Chhen, a Portland based non-profit and Education Director of NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Indian Blockade Hitting Hard on Nepalese People

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal
State Education Director, NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter

With Kamal Thapa, one of  Nepal's  six new deputy prime ministers speaking at the United Nations in Geneva about the Indian blockade imposed on Nepal, it looks like Nepal has started to internationalize the issue. And  rightly so.

That the Indian blockade has hurt and suffocated millions of Nepalese is no secret. It has hit hard on the Nepalese people during the holiday season like Dashain and Tihar. The lives of the Nepalese people are becoming more and more miserable and vulnerable because of the blockade.

The impact of the blockade has especially underscored the vulnerability of children, hospital patients and senior citizens among others

Nevertheless, the role of the Indian media vis-a-vis Indian policy on Nepal has always been pro-establishment and intentionally biased.

The mainstream Indian media is still colluding with the South Block to spread the bizarre fiction that it is not India which has imposed the blockade, but the Madheshi parties' agitation that is responsible for situation.

However, some Nepalese political pundits believe that the Madheshi agitation was masterminded and orchestrated by the South Block. It goes without saying that Indian maneuverings are not something new in Nepal.

Anyway, press reports note that Nepal is facing a humanitarian crisis due to the blockade imposed by India. Necessary things like petrol, gas and medicines are becoming rare commodities.

As a result, India's acts against Nepal and its people have unleashed a strong backlash of anti-Indianism in Nepal, with a growing number of Nepalese social media users speaking  out against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi  in the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Amidst the unfolding economic uncertainty and scarcity of basic and essential commodities due to the blockade, the India-bashing by Nepalese journalists and social media users is just natural and spontaneous.

Internationalization of this issue should be more effectively enforced by Nepal at different international and regional conferences and platforms.

It is a matter of satisfaction that non- resident  Nepalese (NRNs) in the USA, Japan and other countries have condemned the blockade imposed by India on Nepal by organizing protests and demonstrations.

Finally, one important fact to be noted: The inability of the mainstream political parties like the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoists to skillfully negotiate with the Madheshi parties has also to be carefully and critically analyzed.