Tag Archives: politics

Dinesh Wagle

Nepal Votes. And I Also Voted. Again.

Dinesh Wagle

DW: Just before the vote.

As you can see from the excerpt of an old entry below I was super excited about voting and about the election process back in 2008. It was because I believed, as I do now- sort of, those were the ‘historic’ elections for the CA. If same thing happens in exactly about five years, it can’t be as historic as it was the first time, I think. Okay, I am excited today as Nepal votes for a second Constituent Assembly. But I was super excited back in 2008 when the country voted for the first Constituent Assembly.

Read a paragraph from my 2008 Election Day entry:

It was a thrilling experience to vote after so many years. I came to this computer a few minutes ago after casting my vote in the historic elections of Constituent Assembly this morning. I had reached at the polling station in Gandhi Adarsha High School, a minute of walk from my home in Gothataar village of Kathmandu constituency 2, at 6:20 AM. That was 40 minutes ahead of the opening of the voting time at 7 AM. There were already about 50 people in the line! One guy came behind me with his identification card saying: I was eagerly waiting for the morning. My hand is itching. I want to vote! I will be voting after 16 years.

After standing in the queue for 40 minutes I went inside the polling station. There the lines got divided into three sections (six in total for males and females). As a result of this division I found myself standing in the third position! Cool!

Seems like the decline in excitement level was a slow process. It happened over the time- slowly. As things remained the same more or less around my life- as a citizen, politically speaking. For example, In 2011 while registering with the Election Commission I was a bit more excited than I was today and a less excited than I was in 2008. Here’s an entry that I wrote detailing my experience of registering myself with the Election Commission in 2011.

dinesh wagle

Coming out of the polling station.

पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

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Dinesh Wagle

सेप्टेम्बर 24, 2011

हामी सबै वाक्क र दिक्क भएका छौ नि हैन दलहरू र तिनका नेताहरूको निरन्तरको झगडाबाट । किन होला ? आजको पत्रिकामा मैले एउटा लेख यो वाक्यबाट टुङ्ग्याएको छु- नेपाली राजनीति ‘एकले अर्कोलाई स्वीकार्न नसकेका’ औसत क्षमताका मानिसहरूको नियन्त्रणमा छ, जो साना समस्याको बुद्धिमत्तापूर्ण समाधान खोज्न दिमाग लगाउनुको साटो गालीगलौज र झगडाको निम्नस्तरमा ओर्लिन्छन् । http://wp.me/peeGe-vY सहमत हुनुहुन्छ ? नभए किन ?

Last day of Constituent Assembly […if not extended]

As seen outside the Constituent Assembly complex in New Baneshwor, Kathmandu today. The CA’s term will expire today (midnight) if it is not extended. There are have been signs that it could be extended for a few months.

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Yet another Nepal banda. Bus burnt (no one killed).

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Kathmandu: A small group of criminals set a passenger bus on fire at the Manohara bridge early in the morning today (around 4:30 am). The bus was coming out from a garage in Balkot, Bhaktapur, to ply on the Nepal Yatayat route, according to my colleague Makar Shrestha who reached at the stop some 15 minutes after the incident. There are two Nepal Yatayat services- one begins from a planned settlement three kilometers away known locally as Town Planning near Old Sinamangal which itself is referred to as Pepsi Cola because the place hosts the factory of the cold drink major. The other begins from near Koteshwor. I am a daily passenger of the first Nepal Yatayat service. By the time I took this photo the bus had already been taken to Koteshwor traffic police post. Seemed to me that the engine hasn’t been destroyed.

I heard that some vandals attacked a van belonging to Kantipur TV. The attackers identified themselves as the activists of a fringe group called Chure Bhanwar Rastriya Ekata Party (presided by Himalayabhakta Pradhananga), according to a report in eKantipur.com.

This is the first instance of a bus being attacked in Kathmandu valley during banda (general strike) in many months. Today’s strike is called by a Hindu group that seeks to restore Nepal’s status as the world’s only Hindu country. But it seems they are not the only groups that have called banda today because Chure Bhanwar group has also claimed the ownership of the strike. Various outfits calling themselves Chhetri Samaj (a group of Chhetri communities) had also called for strike today only to take back that, according a TV network, yesterday.

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[This post has been revised.]

Khabardaar! 19 days to go… for the Constitution (that may not come by the deadline)

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One of the two western entrances of the Constituent Assembly building in New Baneshwar, Kathmandu. Political class has given strong signals that the constitution may not come by Jestha 14, 2068 (28 May).

And there was: Khabardar! 74 Days to Draft Constitution in Nepal

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[झक्कुलाई झापड] A Man, Teashop Owner, Slaps a (Maoist) Lawmaker (Tweets- for the record)

For the record: Premraj Devkota, the teashop owner just outside Kantipur complex- where my office is located- slapped Maoist lawmaker Jhakku Prasad Subedi. Like many staffs at Kantipur I too have gone many times for tea and quick snacks at Premraj daju’s place (though its not my favorite teashop- didn’t even know his name till today. Is it Premlal or Premraj? Ok, will go with the latter). Last time I was there was some five days ago when a doctor from Nepalgunj had come to see me at my office. A week before that I had gone there at his teashop along with a representative of American INGO NED. Premlal dai is a politically conscious person- that I know from his talks. He almost always talks (a lot) to his customers- especially to journalists- about politics and gives his own analysis of the situation. He had voted for the Maoist party in the CA election- to Jhakku himself who was elected from Kathmandu-2. I also voted in the same constituency though I would not like to reveal my electoral leaning here 🙂 So here are my tweets of the incident. I couldn’t gather much info during the day as was busy translating a long Osama bin Laden obituary for the paper..so just presenting tweets here in reverse chronological order.

The slap to a CA member comes months after a similar incident in which a man in eastern Nepal slapped JN Khanal who, after couple of monts of receiving the slap, became the Prime Minister of Nepal. Here’s my story, in Nepali, on shabasad that appeared in last Saturday’s Kantipurबिचरा सभासद !

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65029168504635393

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65028789972893696

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65028267542986752

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65028023308652544

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65027825559810048

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65027616939327488

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65023971929763840

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65023576436248576

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65023321233829888

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65022928772800512

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65022531744186368

https://twitter.com/#!/wagle/status/65022283349102592

Khabardar! 74 Days to Draft Constitution in Nepal

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This one is for the members of the Constituent Assembly. A board has been put up at the gate of the Constituent Assembly complex in New Baneswar, Kathmandu to remind the CA members the deadline.

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A Man from Gorkha in Delhi who Voted for Dr. Baburam Bhattarai

words of wisdom

Kathmandu Post 08July2010

The young man is from Dr. Bhattarai’s constituency in Gorkha district

By Dinesh Wagle

It was the hottest June day in five years, Delhi boiling at 45 degrees Celsius. I was waiting for someone at the international airport. There I met him. He had gone there to receive one of his relatives from Kathmandu who was supposed to stop overnight in Delhi before flying to Moscow the next morning (He had a 16-hour long transit). That didn’t materialise. The traveller wasn’t allowed to go out of the airport. We drove back to the city centre together.

“I have been living in Delhi for the last four years,” he said. “India is the best place for a Nepali like me who doesn’t mind working hard for a living.”

There’s no official data but there are estimated five million Nepalis living and working in India. Vast majority of those who work do so in unorganised sectors: security guards, cooks/waiters and other lowly positions in private and government institutions. There’s no reason to complain for the poorest country in the region that has miserably failed to create jobs for its citizens.

Sujan Lamichhane came to Delhi to work as a peon in a private office three years after finishing his school. He worked as a waiter in a restaurant in Kathmandu for some years before coming here. The man from Gorkha district admitted himself in a college in Delhi while he continued with the job as peon. पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्

Politics of Religion and Conversion

By Dinesh Wagle

A conference of Nepali and Indian ultra-Hindu rightists in Mumbai last week has decided to launch “a coordinated campaign to re-establish Nepal as a Hindu state”. Kamal Thapa, who sees his future in religion-based politics, participated. Thapa said the conference expressed concern over sinister plans being carried out in Nepal to wipe out the identity of a Hindu state.

On a sweltering April afternoon in New Delhi, I met a former Nepali Congress lawmaker who is best known these days for pulling strings at the highest levels of the Indian establishment to get his wife deported to Nepal a few months ago. But Amresh Kumar Singh is not a man to be taken lightly when he talks about political happenings in Nepal.

“Do you think Ramdev went to teach yoga?” he asked referring to the Indian yoga guru’s highly publicised trip to Nepal a week earlier. “No. He was there to explore possibilities of establishing a new political party. That is why he met and talked to a variety of people during his stay.”

“You mean Ramdev will open a party in Nepal?”

“No, he and other people [from India] will help Nepalis to form a political force,” Singh said.

“Mark my words; we will soon see a rightist party in action in Nepal that will advocate restoration of Hindu Rashtra Nepal.”

The chronic disease of Hindu fundamentalism that has been spreading the viruses of hatred in India has slowly been asserting itself in Nepal in recent months. Under the more appealing banner of Hindutva, Nepali agents of the Indian Hindu right are gradually pushing the agenda of restoration of the monarchy. As the popularly elected political leadership is struggling to draft a constitution and take the peace process to a logical conclusion, these religious zealots are equating the issue of Hindu Rashtra with the dead monarchy.

What I know for sure is that people like me, liberal Hindus with a secular mindset, are in an overwhelming majority in Nepal. We want the country to be a forum equally accessible for people of all faiths. My own view — expressed first on my Facebook profile — is that religion is certainly not opium but a cigarette that should be smoked in private without disturbing other people. It’s a very personal thing. Politicising religion is dangerous as it inevitably invites conflict and violence in society. I even feel that people shouldn’t be classified according to their religious standing. They shouldn’t be asked about their religion in the national census. People should be given complete freedom to have or not to have faith in religion. That is precisely what our Interim Constitution does. More importantly, it bars forced conversion. While the constitution, for example, lets me dump my current religion and go for another if I wish to do so (because this act involves no one but me) it bars me from luring a person of a different faith to my religion (because this act involves a person apart from me).

But some people with vested interests are not happy with this constitutional provision. Take, for example, our cash rich European brothers who believe that they can buy Nepali dignity with some scratched euro or pound notes as if it were a stale pizza on sale in a rural Italian bakery. I was shocked to read a report in the Post few weeks ago that said, “The European Union… urged the [Nepal] government to allow ‘full freedom’ to proselytise while drafting the new constitution.” A letter forwarded by the French Embassy, in its capacity as the EU local presidency in Kathmandu, to the government said the current constitutional provisions on religious rights were “limited”. The sinister motive of the letter is clear: Buying poor Nepalis to Christianity should be legalised.

Who are the Europeans kidding here? This letter is a textbook example of unsavory forces trying to fish in the troubled waters of Nepal that is going through a difficult transitional crisis. Instead of doing so, the Europeans should look at themselves in the mirror where they will see countries like Malta, Monaco, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and England that, with their official religion, have a long way to go to become a secular nation like Nepal. The EU should write such letters to Germany and Finland, apart from the aforementioned countries, where the Evangelical and Roman Catholic Church and Finnish Orthodox Church enjoy de facto privileged status. Okay, for once, forget all this. Go and tell the Vatican City to become secular before lecturing us on religious freedom. Ask the BBC to give equal coverage to Benedict XVI and Ramdev, will you? This type of brazen intervention undermines our, secularists’, fight against Hindu fundamentalists in Nepal. This intervention also strengthens people like Kamal Thapa.

And France, by the way, should be the last country to advise us on religious affairs. The country, where religious minorities are treated very badly, has a terrible record on religious freedom. I am not saying this. In its 2009 edition of the annual International Religious Freedom report, the US State Department says the French government’s “discriminatory treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists remained a concern”. The report says, “Some religious groups voiced opposition to legislation passed in 2001 and 2004, which provides for the dissolution of groups under certain circumstances and bans wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public school employees and students.”

France not only violated its own 1905 law on the separation of religion and the state that prohibits discrimination on the basis of faith by banning Muslim symbols and allowing Christian symbols to be worn. No one has left Nepal because of an unfriendly religious environment; but according to several reports, many people belonging to the Muslim faith have been forced to leave France because of tightening control over religious freedom. No student has been expelled from a Nepali school for their faith, but two female junior high school students, Dounia and Khouloudewere, aged 12 and 13 respectively, were the first to be expelled under a draconian French law for refusing to take off their headscarves on Oct. 20, 2004 from a school in Mulhouse, Alsace.

The Europeans, instead of unnecessarily poking their nose into Nepali affairs, should rather go for trekking in the Himalaya and enjoy their Nepal assignment which anyway is nothing but a long holiday for them. If trekking is not enough and you miss your home, here is a suggestion: The Roadhouse Café in Thamel serves mouthwatering pizza; Délices de France, a restaurant run by a wonderful French woman and attacked by Maoist thugs during the recent strike, serves excellent chicken liver terrine; and nearby Dohori Saanjh restaurants serve unlimited glasses of beer. Chew, drink and cheer for your favourite football team. The World Cup is coming.

This article first appeared in today’s Kathmandu Post.

Shah Rukh Khan: Don’t Apologize to Shiv Sena

Update (04-Jan): Speaking in London where he is promoting his movie My Name is Khan, Shah Rukh Khan today said:

“I don’t know what the issue is all about…I don’t know what I am supposed to retract. Am I supposed to retract the fact I’m an Indian but I don’t want anyone to come to my country. What all that I’ve said is that I would like people to come to my country to participate in the biggest event and it scarce me to say anything because our stakes are very high. I have no idea what people would like me to say. If somebody could tell me this is what you would want me to say, I’ll say it. What all I have been taught by my father who was a freedom fighter for this country is wrong and my kids are steering wrong. It’s not a stand or a statement against anyone. It’s actually a sort of what I individually feel and normally when a film is releasing-to be really honest and I wouldn’t comment on it on a larger scale because it’s not nice when a Hindi film hero who is thought of as an icon, to say this. I am really sorry. I would like to apologise Karan Johar, to Kajol and I am immensely sorry to all our business partners that because of what I said, or what I believe in, their film and their work is going to be affected.”Karan Johar, producer and director of the film and co-star Kajol were present. (source)

::::::::::::::::::Original Post::::::::::::::::

We’ll Watch Your Movie Twice

There are limits to political hooliganism. The two ‘political’ gangs of Mumbai- Shiv Sena and Maharastra Navanirman Sena- have crossed those limits more than once. The Indian state and its much revered Democracy are mute spectators of the Sena anarchy. It is shameful that the Senas have taken the city of Mumbai hostage and rest of India is unable to do anything. So much with the super-power dream of new India.

I am not an Indian but as an admirer of Indian democracy, lover of Indian movies and songs and observer of Indian politics, I find the Shiv Sena’s latest threat to Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan absolutely preposterous and downright condemnable. So many other people, inside India and outside, share the same feeling. Yet, as of today, Khan finds himself virtually isolated. No one, not even from his own film industry, is daring to speak for him who expressed nothing but truth while commenting upon the recent IPL fiasco. Khan had recently regretted publicly saying that it was humiliating for him as an IPL team owner that no Pakistani cricketers was taken by any of the teams despite the fact that several talented Pakistani players were up for auction. He also praised the Pakistani cricket team, current T20 world champions, as being, well, the world champions.

I see nothing wrong with that. The Shiva Sena sees nothing right in that. They feel the actor shouldn’t have praised Pakistani players and expressed regret over their exclusion from the tournament because, according to them, it’s a matter of patriotism. Now the Sena is demanding that Khan should either retract from his statement (apologize) or go to Pakistan, as in leaving India for good. As if India belonged exclusively to the Thackeray clan and their goons at the Senas.

It is clear why Shiv Sena is targeting Shah Rukh. Shah Rukh Khan, the mega star of Indian film industry, is a Muslim. Shiva Sena, who plays the politics of Marathi Manoos, is a right-wing ultra-Hindutva outfit. That is the sole reason for the latest Sena outrage against Khan who has the right, constitutionally speaking, to say what he said in Indian democracy. The Sena’s act is clearly an example of religious chauvinism and highhandedness. Look at this statement by Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi, a former speaker of Indian parliament: पढ्नेक्रम जारी राख्नुहोस्