FDR – ministers, crashes, and cuts

A recollection of what has happened in the last seven years since Nepal became Federal Democratic Republic. First of the two part blog series has some facts with some negativity. Part two will be more difficult to write – as the hope is to get a better and brighter picture.

Prime Minister/s

Expectations were high even in 2008. Nepal came together and made history with Federal Democratic Republic country and the new constitutional assembly. Sure, we removed the monarchy in hope to better the political structure that we thought was more akin to feudalism under the then ruler. Introspection reveals a neglect and a disaster. Members of the second Constituent Assembly, elected in November, chose S Koirala of the Nepali Congress (NC) party on February 10 as the fifth prime minister since Nepal held its first democratic elections six years ago. Disclosure – I am inclined towards democracy, neutral towards the old monarchy, and despise the communism

#
Name
(Born-Died)
Term of Office
Political Party
Took Office
Left Office
Days
1 Girija P koirala.jpg Girija P Koirala
(1925–2010)
28 May 2008 18 August 2008 83 Nepali Congress
2 Prachanda 2009.jpg Prachanda
(1954– )
18 August 2008 25 May 2009 280 Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (Communist)
3 Madhav Kumar Nepal2.JPG Madhav Kumar Nepal
(1953– )
25 May 2009 6 February 2011 622 Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
4 J.n (2).jpg Jhala Nath Khanal
(1950– )
6 February 2011 29 August 2011 204 Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
5 Baburam Bhattarai.jpg Baburam Bhattarai
(1954– )
29 August 2011 14 March 2013 563 Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (Communist)
6 Khilaraj regmi.jpg Khil Raj Regmi(1949– ) 14 March 2013 11 February 2014 334 Nonpartisan
7 Sushil Koirala.jpg Sushil Koirala
(1939– )(Acting)
11 February 2014 Incumbent 12 Nepali Congress

Source – Wikipedia Article

Seven prime ministers in seven years. Seven head of state, elected (and/or selected) to bring the country out of tragedy and darkness.  GPK was experienced, skillful and capable leader. However, he was inadequate and incompetent for the time, corrupt, greedy, and old.

Koirala ruled the longest as five-time prime minister in the democratic era after 1990, and by that token also made more mistakes than others, besides earning the animosity of the mainstream left which opposed him in Parliament and on the streets. Koirala can take some of the credit for the advances made during the dozen years of democracy till 2002, including the advance of community forestry, press freedom, the FM radio revolution and the brief interlude with local government. He was a true believer in open society. And yet, he was party to the ills that dog us to this day, from energy shortage, static economy and the impunity that has spread like wildfire. Clearly, Koirala was unable to come to grips with the newer challenges beyond pluralism, posed by identity assertion and economic globalisation, among others.

– – Kanak Mani Dixit (The Hindu – March 22, 2010)

The next four prime ministers were from Communist Parties. Though not a big fan, ours is one of the few nations which has the leftist participate and win democratic elections. Among the four PM, it was B Bhattarai from whom the expectations were pretty high. He failed. The remaining three communist leaders are mockery at best. In my personal view, Francis Underwood could learn a lot from PK Dahal on how to lie; and MK Nepal on how to become head of state even after loosing the election (plot line for season 4)

Autumn 2003, I found myself at the same university which shaped up Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai, the chief Maoist ideologue. Now, popularly known as ‘Laldhwaj’ among his comrades, Babu Ram Bhattarai did his PhD in Urban Planning from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (1986). This famous Leftist bastion drew him to the communist fold despite his earlier fondness for BP Koirala and even GP Koirala. Taking a U-turn from his Nepali Congress leaning in JNU, he wrote a thesis, replete with leftist polemic and revolutionary rhetoric, now available as a book- “The Nature of Underdevelopment and Regional Structure of Nepal: A Marxist Analysis.” He has himself admitted, “I learnt the ABC of Marxism in Delhi’s JNU.”

– – Shrishti RL Rana (Kantipur Online – March 29, 2006)

Then came the chief justice of Nepal, who somehow managed to get the government going for sometime. and now we have a bachelor as prime minister. Nothing against his bachelorhood. Just too many incapable politicians around even in the new CA.

Plane Crash/es

Next on the list is Plane Crashes. Here is a list of accidents and incidents involving commercial and non-commercial [NC] aircraft in Nepal from 2008.

  1. 2008 October 8 – Yeti Airlines Flight 103 De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter crashes 60 nmi (110 km) from Mt Everest, Nepal, killing 18 of 19 people on board.
  2. 2010 August 24 – Agni Air Flight 101, a Dornier Do 228, crashes outside of Kathmandu, Nepal in heavy rain, killing all 14 people on board. 
  3. 2010 December 15 – A Tara Air de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter crashes in the Bilandu Forest near Shreechaur, Okhaldhunga District, Nepal, killing all 22 passengers and crew on board.
  4. 2011 September 25 – Buddha Air Flight 103, a Beechcraft 1900D, crashes in dense fog while attempting to land at Kathmandu Tribhuwan International Airport, killing all 16 passengers and 3 crew members
  5. [NC] 2011 October 18 – Royal Nepal Air Force, a Britten-Norman Islander,  Nepalgunj, performing an ambulance flight from Nepalganj to the capital city Kathmandu with a patient, one accompanist, two doctors, a nurse and a pilot. It crashed in unknown circumstances near Dhorpatan, killing all six occupants.
  6. 2012 May 14 – In the Agni Air Flight CHT, a Dornier Do 228 crashes near Jomsom Airport, Nepal during a go-around; of the 21 on board, 6 survived.
  7. 2012 September 28 – Sita Air Flight 601, a Dornier Do 228, crashes on the bank of the Manohara River, Kathmandu, Nepal after a bird strike, killing all 19 on board
  8. 2013 May 16 – Nepal Airlines Flight 555, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6, overruns the runway on landing at Jomsom Airport, Nepal, injuring seven people
  9. [NC] 2013 May 27 –  Cessna 208B Grand Caravan in Simikot,
  10. [NC] 2013 June 1 – Sita Air Flight – Simikot, Karnali,
  11. 2014 February 16 – Nepal Airlines Flight 183, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6, crashes near Khidim about 40 nautical miles south-west of Pokhara, Nepal, killing all 18 people on board.

Source – Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archive [NC] – non commercial flights

For comparison, India which is around 21 times the size of Nepal, and well with 1 billion+ population had 10 plane crashes from 2008 onwards (till 2014). Next neighbor, China had 7 accidents. Well to be honest, we can exclude the three airplane crashes in Kathmandu, TIA, for being one of the worst air strip for aviation and landing a plane. Still, We have one accident every 8 months. I am horrified to board a plane.

the Middle Class Migration

Before I begin ruining my thoughts of how I miss my friends and family, here is a small excerpts from New York Times, Feb 21, Opinion section. A very strong word – Social Mobility, and how the authors compared wealth and knowledge among the haves and not haves – around the world. Authors talk about Indian (Nepali) society and how our cast system and religion has prevented the social mobility. One question,  is why all the prime ministers in Nepal are from upper class?

When you look across centuries, and at social status broadly measured — not just income and wealth, but also occupation, education and longevity — social mobility is much slower than many of us believe, or want to believe. This is true in Sweden, a social welfare state; England, where industrial capitalism was born; the United States, one of the most heterogeneous societies in history; and India, a fairly new democracy hobbled by the legacy of caste. Capitalism has not led to pervasive, rapid mobility. Nor have democratization, mass public education, the decline of nepotism, redistributive taxation, the emancipation of women, or even, as in China, socialist revolution.

– – Gregory Clark (New York Times – Feb 21)

That said, here is the number of people in last decade (and so on) that have left Nepal and gone out for education for work. Most of them are from Middle Class, Upper Middle and few from the Elite Nepali Society. This probably is not selection bias, on my part, as I could very well not choose my family and friends from a broader group of society hierarchy based on economy. Disclosure – I represent the middle class family in Kathmandu. Coaxed  into more studies and less play – with broad shoulder that could carry a heavy back pack filled with books day-in-and-out.

Family

Four of my first cousins are not in Nepal, gone outside for education. I am not good with extended family (don’t remember them) but seven among all the second cousins I know are outside Nepal.

Friends

School, High School, and then School of Medicine – some of my close friends are outside Nepal pursuing higher educations and/or working with really good future prospects. Some in pursuing medicine, some in public health, and some in everything else, that I cannot understand. We had a small eight boys group in school which represented the small-dull-nerd group (seriously). Five of them are outside Nepal, settled and prospering. High School saw a huge magnitude of friend circle/s, but among the closest friends – 10+ are in USA, few in Europe and Australia. Then unto medical school, we had 45 of us, and around 6 are doing (or will soon) their residency here in USA.

Neighbors

Third on my list is how my friends, family and most of the neighbors have at least one of their family members aboard. I have a small map below, which puts my place in the center, and all the houses that surround the one that I live in. They all have one thing in common, either their daughter is married to someone outside Nepal, or son/daughter is outside Nepal for further education, or the whole family got into DV Lottery.

Migration of Neighbours

Keywords – D = Daughter, S = Son, m = Married, fam = familu, DV = USA DV Lottery,

e = Education, AUS = Australia, w = work

The middle class exodus is in the rise, specially after the 2006/7 pseudo(corrupt)democracy. This being the intellectual herd (personal opinion) Not saying that there aren’t any left in Nepal, but a big portion is going out. I know (hope) they will return one day to help build Nepal a better place. Disclosure – I myself, at the moment am in USA, till the end of April 2014. 

Somehow, I feel that our social culture dictates this. Any parents would want to see their kids grow up into better life. Educate them, and see them work in better position. When the times were difficult, my grandfather migrated from the hilly regions in Nepal to the fertile flat lands in Terai. My father migrated from this fertile agricultural society to the capital Kathmandu for service based economical model. Now I take this progress,  few steps further. Its either sending your kid to a rich, developed nation or coaxing him/her into a respected profession (by time/place)- a doctor, an engineer etc.

Power Cuts ~ the rolling blackouts

Seven years of FDR has done nothing to reduce the Power Cuts. Below is just a small list of power cuts that we had during the peak season of misery. I wanted a more elaborate 12 month graph for seven years, but I couldn’t find any materials on the Internet. I did mail to the NEA asking for the information. Putting this for another post.

  1. 2008 – Mid – February – 16 hours / day – Source – Reuters
  2. 2009 – January 11 – 16 hours / day – Source – Reuters
  3. 2010 – December 28 – 11 hours / day – Source – Ekantipur
  4. 2011 – January 11 – 12 hours / day – Source – Ekantipur
  5. 2012 – January 19 – 12 hours / day  – Source – BBC
  6. 2013 – January 19 – 14 hours / day – Source – Ekantipur
  7. 2014 – January 05 – 12 hours / day – Source – Nepalnews

Interesting Read //

  1. Nepal Logjam (Part 1 of 3): Civil War, Peace – Deal…
  2. The Unlikely Tale of How ARM Came to Rule the World.. 

Technology //

  1. Mobile ApplicationHamro Keyboard is a Nepali keyboard for all of us who love Nepali language. This is still work in progress, however, this looks promising.
  2. Two great news from Mobile World Congress 2014 – – Nokia X family of phones and Firefox OS built phones.
    • Nokia X – Sturdy Smart-phones at reachable Nepali economy.
    • Firefox OS build phones which in partnership with a Chinese Chip company – Spreadtrum Communications – hopes to built a 25 USD smartphones.

 

privacy – not so third world problem?

Yes, developing nation like Nepal first needs food, shelter and clothing first. Then comes the health, education, and better society. Somewhere in the middle, what we need to balance are the three Ps  – privacy, piracy and plagiarism. I will write about “privacy” today. Remaining two will take some more time.

Privacy International 2007 privacy ranking map. Orange – Extensive surveillance societies. Red –  Endemic surveillance societies. Green – Consistently upholds human rights standards

privacy

what is privacy in Nepal?

Before anything, I would strongly suggest reader to know the variation in definition of privacy in Eastern vs. Western society.  Nepali culture as like many South Asian, has fair share of situations which might get misinterpreted as breach in privacy. We have pretty thin line in few too many situations where privacy in not so big a deal. However, there are limits, and we do have bigger issues, when privacy does get messed up. The lines of privacy when compared, are drawn in different places.

example – one usually does not own a private room in most of Nepal. the notion of your private space is probably at best only in bathrooms and toilets. Not many understand the luxury of  this a private space.

how private is Nepal?

Sure, In Article 22 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 1990, the right to privacy was addressed as a fundamental right for the first time in the constitutional history of Nepal. The right to information was also included in this Constitution. The right to privacy was retained in the 2007 Interim Constitution, which remains in force today. Article 28 provides:

Except in circumstances as provided by law, the privacy of the person, residence, property, document, statistics, correspondence, and character of anyone is inviolable

However, individual privacy is something else. Privacy has rock bottomed for majority Nepali, part in due to the cultural dogma.  Although there is constitutional protection for the right to privacy, no law or acts have been made to protect this fragile right. However, the right to privacy is addressed by some laws, such as the following:

  • Postal Act, 1962 (Section 47 and 58)
  • Telecommunication Act, 1962 (Section 23 (a), 24 and 27 (b))
  • The Chapter on Court Procedure (Section 172) of Muluki Ain

In September 2012 right to information activists launched a public interest litigation seeking a court order that the government promulgate an Act specifically protecting the right to privacy as guaranteed in the Interim Constitution. The writ petition referenced measures taken by police to access individuals’ text messages while investigating the murder of Supreme Court Justice Rana Bahadur Bam. The petitioners requested the Supreme Court direct the government to promulgate the Right to Secrecy Act to protect the private communications of individuals from government interference.1

There is no government authority to receive complaints regarding violations of privacy rights, although people may submit applications and reports concerning violations of their privacy rights to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). However, to date, not a single application/report/case has been brought to the NHRC regarding privacy rights violations.2

my (personal) privacy related problems

  • Public Transportations – These have the worse privacy records for me. I usually travel through the battery powered three wheeler (aka. Vikram Tempo) in Kathmandu. Whenever there come a time to send in a SMS, or call someone, there are at least two pairs of eyes watching me dial/type in my mobile device. Somehow, they think its there to watch. I try to avoid bus and micro bus rides for this same reason.
  • Sod Casting –  next to my worse list on breach of privacy. Not to be  prejudice here, but there certainly is that demography of Nepali population cohort here, who could really learn something more about privacy. I do not want to hear Bollywood songs, especially those from 90s, and English Pop culture – from Justin B, and gangs. I regret that very few listen to Kings of Leon – Queen – Daft Punk – Bob Dylan genres that I am comfortable with. For the record, Indian remixes of PSY – Gangnam style is abomination to creativity.
  • Walking a busy street – One is sure to get hit by too many hands and shoulders. For women, it gets worse. This is more a problem of not having personal space, but all purpose intended, I consider this to be a privacy breach as well. Privacy of walking safely, and not banging to every other person. I strongly believe that, one can walk in a huge crowd of hundreds or even thousands, with least possible number collisions.
  • The telephone call conundrum – Growing up adolescent life meant one landline per household in Nepal. A friend’s call to a landline in the late 90s and early 2000s was a double edge sword. You could never leave with that short cord, and the cordless phone were usually listened to.

“Who is? TA or T?”

  • If there was a call for me, the first question my mom would put – “Who is? TA or T?” Literally “Ta” meant short for K-ta, which is basically “a boy” and “T” meant short for K’T, meaning “a girl”. I kept things at minimum, usually didn’t pick up any call at all.

what is privacy?

Privacy can simply be defined as the right to be left alone. ‘It is a comprehensive right and it is the right most valued by a free people. It is a fundamental human right.  A society in which there was a total lack of privacy would be intolerable; but then again a society in which there was a total privacy would be no society at all’ (the is a balance needed).

Privacy is the right of people to make personal decisions regarding their own intimate matters, it is the right of people to lead their lives in a manner that is reasonably secluded from public scrutiny, and it is the right of people to be free from such things as unwarranted drug testing or electronic surveillance (from Answers.com http://www.answers.com/topic/privacy)

‘Privacy’ is a broad, abstract and ambiguous concept

UN Declaration of Human Rights.

The UN Declaration of Human Rights defined Privacy as this:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone had the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

what if there were no Privacy?

Without privacy life would be hell. It would mean that you would be highly vulnerable to the control of others, you would lose your freedom which may lead to inhibition and tentativeness and you may be less spontaneous and you would be more likely to be manipulated. Given below are four aspects of privacy that I think are important, in Nepal.

privacy I: the internet

Yes, because I am a tech enthusiast, I made sure this was written in the beginning. The Internet threatens privacy in a number of ways, partly because it is possible to record everything that you do on line (IP addresses remember?).The governments of developed nations and few developing countries regularly monitor electronic communication as do commercial companies such as Google, and Microsoft. Nepal Government may not have so much a control over its netizens, but since India has already initiated a tighter control; I won’t be surprised if Nepal did the same thing. In any manner, If there is communist government in Nepal, internet will be watched even more so ever, including this post (“read as a political satire, please don’t arrest me”)

Info Graph by – 1984 in 2013: Privacy and The Internet via HostGator

privacy II: medical?

Since August 2009, when the USA government regulated that any breach affecting more than 500 patients be publicly disclosed.3 Nothing sort of it is in Nepal, as far as my understanding goes. Medical privacy breach is rising in the world, and we in Nepal, have very little or no clue about this. As a student we are taught not to speak of our patient, and there is a tremendous effort put into making a Case Report (or any other Medical Journal article/s) anonymous.

My personal experience has given me the glimpse of complete lack of data privacy in most of the Nepali Health Setting. There is privacy screened from the public eye, but within the medical fraternity, be it a doctor, nurse or a paramedic; or within a hospital/clinic/health post setting there aren’t even rules or contingency plan in case of privacy breach.

Legally, Nepal has prominently recognized the confidentiality of medical records. But there are some major systemic loop holes.

privacy III:  for women?

Legally speaking, men and women in Nepal are equal. But there still remains a deep rooted caste and cultural divide. The existing hierarchies that does not let these two gender have equal footing. This is true for every aspect including the privacy related to the following three things.

Ask your self, if we need privacy for

  1. family planning,
  2. violence against women, and
  3. women empowerment.

The former two require privacy to be neglected for the benefit of a woman, while in latter case may require a stronger support. In any case, I definitely would love to read more before writing anything else. From what I think, I have already written absurdly in the last few sentences, better keep mum till I know more. In the mean time, I would like to share here a wonderful passage from Martha C. Nussbaum. (web link). A very intriguing article where the author talks about privacy being bad in few cases – which are elaborated in detail.

Despite its commitment to sex equality, Indian constitutional law increasingly relies on the concept of privacy in matters of sex and family. This concept, traditionally conservative and associated with “family values,” has long been criticized by feminists as a bad way of gaining rights for women. Feminists typically make four criticisms of the privacy right: the concept of privacy is unworkably murky; the privacy right protects male bad behavior; protecting important liberties under the rubric of privacy unfairly discriminates against those who perform the same acts in a space denominated “public”; and privacy is simply irrelevant to a number of important liberty interests that need explicit protection.

privacy IV: Organizations

Here are some of my suggestions on what should be guiding principals on privacy in Nepal. I do not know, if its already written somewhere in Nepali, but most here are compiled (and no original ideas). I am listing some that is in my mind.

  • Only collect personal information that is necessary for performance of functions.
  • Use and disclose of personal information only for the primary purpose. Use for other secondary purposes should have the consent of the person.
  • Organizations (or anything similar) must be open about how they handle personal information.
  • Individuals have a right to seek access to their personal information and have it corrected if it is inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date.
  • Individual option of not identifying themselves when entering transactions with organizations (if its would be lawful and feasible) should be present.
  • Sensitive information must require consent when collected and higher levels of protection should be afforded. These includes information of – caste, ethnical group, political views, religious views, criminal record, professional association, etc.

conclusion

I read a a total of seven web articles and three papers, but this was not enough. I could write more about the Internet privacy breach and its threat, and probably could lay out some ground work on how to stay secure on one of my next post. I definitely  need to read more with privacy concerning the social aspect (focusing on women).  I am not, at the moment, interested on the medical privacy breach (despite being a doctor). May be some day.

references

  1. Newspaper Article – Secrecy right Act sought. web link.
  2. Web Article – Privacy International Report – on Nepal. web link.
  3. Journal Article – Roger Collier. Medical privacy breaches rising.  CMAJ. 2012 March 6; 184(4): E215–E216. doi:  10.1503/cmaj.109-4116. –  web link.
  4. Website – Privacy International

more reading (highly recommended)

  1. Web Article – by Seema Dhami – Balancing Individual Privacy with Press Freedom. Nepal Monitors. 2008. web link.
  2. Web Article – by Martha C. Nussbaum – Is privacy bad for Women? – Boston Review. 2000. web link.
  3. Book Read – by Martha C. Nussbaum –  Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (The Seeley Lectures). Amazon.com. haven’t read it myself but would love to if someone gave  it as a gift.

Tune in Next Wednesday for –

where did the cotton go? Bangladesh, China and Nepal