20/21 June: Any talk about development aid can spark a huge and passionate debate about pros, cons of the aid and if and how it should be delivered. In an aid-dependent country like Nepal mechanism through which the aid money is disbursed and delivered matters a lot. This can make or break a society. Or, make some people very dissatisfied with the donors as is the case in Nepal. I do believe Nepal will, unfortunately, remain an aid-dependent country for at least a decade to come because of the way things are now. Of course, it’s better to be in a position where we don’t need aid. But we are not in such a position now. So I think aid is needed. That’s my personal opinion. I am a big supporter of aid in infrastructure projects rather than in something that can be loosely termed as ‘capacity building’ (whatever that is). Continue reading
So you thought bandas solely belonged to us Nepalis? India saw a Bharat Bandh (the spelling used here) last week in protest against soaring inflation and rising prices in recent months. As it happens with many Indian things, this also got world attention. The term “Bharat Bandh” was the top topic trend on Twitter on July 5 meaning most Twitter messages posted that day were related to the Indian strike. Many opposition parties including Bharatiya Janta Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) had called for a strike that would affect normal life and economic activities throughout the country. But India is too huge be completely banda (closed). It was just like a normal day in large parts of Delhi while protestors demonstrating in other parts disrupted the Metro rail service for several hours at some stations. Public buses, many of them operated by the Congress-led Delhi government, were on duty as were the privately run auto-rickshaws. Mumbai, the ultra-rightist Shiv Sena’s bastion, was perhaps the most affected. Delhi where the ruling Congress party is strong was less affected. Many shops remained closed in some markets, but many others were doing business as if it was a normal day. Even a cinema hall, newly opened Eros of Jangpura, was running shows without any sign of Bharat Bandh. I went there to watch a movie called “I Hate Luv Storys”. I loved the fact that the theatre was open during a banda, which is unimaginable in Nepal. But I hated the movie.
(This article, first appeared in the Kathmandu Post yesterday, continues here.)