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.

 

how religion keeps me sane, although I don’t believe in god.

Christmast ball - Hinduism
Christmast ball – Hinduism (Photo credit: nabeel_yoosuf)

A year ago, I embarked upon a reading spree on Richard Dawkings and Christopher Hitchens. To me, they became both inspiring and revolutionary. Their writings were somehow capable of twisting my religious outlook. My family lineage are among those that believe in Hindu Religion (being Nepali gives me some understanding of Buddhism also). Yet, for better or worse, the present me does not completely believe in the existence of God. I now view Religions as a way of life, rather than believing in the almightily power.

am I atheist?
After spending most of my childhood believing in God, celebrating their birthdays and their great accomplishments, visiting temples, watching and listening to God associated preachings, and reading the epic books of both “Mahabharata” and “Ramayana”, I can firmly say that – Religion is a progressive culmination of a way of life. I can firmly establish (for myself) that, Hinduism has NO fix list of good or bad things to do. Has no hard and fast rules, and no established order of political intervention on my way of life. My answer – I believe in Hindu way of life, but do not believe in the existence of god, but love going to temples. Let me elaborate.

1. no political intervention
Four Thousand years of refinement has made a religion that stays out of my political life. Hinduism, as I see it, does not demand political interventions. I can be a capitalist, a socialist or a communist and still be a Hindu. I do not have to follow laws made by religious figureheads, and what ever laws broken does not entail me to get beaten, burned or buried. However, may be because of its maturity, has tons of examples on good governance. Both the above epic plays has something to teach – something to suggest – but nothing to enforce. It gives me the choice of being right or wrong.

2. not one God/Goddess, but many
I can choose a persona of one particular god/goddess and follow it. Hindu mythology has one of the most elaborated sets of mighty powers. The number of gods in this mythology is said to be “tettis koti” which literally means 33,000 gods and goddess. There are tons of named demons and evil beings also, whom, time and again (as per mythology) have shown greatness and kindness. There are multiple persona (God/Goddess) for every personality type. I can literally choose my favorite powerful being, that I can most relate to. For the record – I love Lord Ganesha. The obese God with an elephants head, a broken tooth, who has a mouse as his trustworthy companion. A God that loves food, well literate, and who loves his parents very much. Kinda like superman and batman of the yesteryears. It even has Goddess of Wrath (Kaali) and somewhat Womanizer God (Krishna).

3. a situational religion that can morph as per time/place/person
Hinduism over so many years got elaborated to fit into every possible culture and society with many geographical variations. A religion that has a set of guidelines (not so rigid) for men and women of all ages. It acknowledges and identifies with third gender, which is still a hot debate in most part of the world (and Nepal too, in recent years). It has provisions for being alone or with family; among society or separated from society; for travel; for happy and sad moments, and well almost all the emotions that I can think of.

4. a culture that gives you options
The best thing about this is, it gives me options. I am not obliged to believe in god. I can be a devil/demon worshiper and still be a Hindu. Somehow will not get kicked out of the Religion, although may be demoted of my social status. For better or worse, there are good amount of Hindu priests who are somewhat negative vibe followers (the evil Tantric stuff). A small clarifications that, there are good Tantras and stuffs too, but I have little or no knowledge on either. Even the demons and devil of Hindu religion worship the Hindu Gods, gain some mystical power, and then go on war with each others and Gods themselves.

oh.. but it’s not all white either
Over the years, with the gradual development and expansion of this religion over our way of living, there have been numerous wicked twisted interpretations as well. Almost every religion seem to have it, and Hinduism is no difference. As I see it, the biggest negativity which developed over the years are – the caste system, and gender inequality. I will write more on these bad habits in due time, but here is one example, which we (me and my wife) are facing recently concerning the gender issues.

example – of gender issue with my religion

(my small personal experience)
I have a small sister, a year and half younger. All our life, in any religious events, as a Hindu unmarried girl, she was (still is) given an utmost respect. She (and all the unmarried Hindu girls) get respect, loads of pooja money, every body bows before them. Girls is treated as Goddess incarnations and it is believed that by pleasing them, one appeases the Goddess of Wealth, Health and Education (among many other stuff).

This was similar to my recently wed wife also, until we got married. As soon after we were married, somehow, the twisted religion breaks this high spirit (which got groomed for years and years) and puts her husband on top. Somehow, I am getting most of the attention these days. An girl never bows down in front of anyone (except may be her elder sister) before she marries, and after that, strangely she has to bow down in front of her husband. what strange culture is this?. Think of the ego that gets hurt.

As a boy/male of the society, I bow down to my parents, my sisters (younger or older) and any other elder, out of respect. Given the dates of festivity, like “Dashain” and “Tihar”, I literally touch my sisters feet with my forehead. And since I have been doing this for as long as I can remember, and since it does not hurt or humiliate anyone, I am glad and know that I will do it for a long time to come. Obviously, her feet should be clean, and with no malodor.

Switch it to my sister’s case who will get married soon (or may be few years later) or my wife’s case who recently got married, they had always received this honor. Suddenly, after this marriage, there is a strict rule, that they must bow down and never receive this honor again. Weird. A girls parent now must respect and appease their son-in-law more, she herself has to touch his feet again and again, she has additional feet-touching-work to her husband’s parents too. It’s difficult to imagine from her(wife) perspective, and as a brother difficult also to imagine from my sister’s perspective. They are two people who were given respect, treated as Goddess avatar all their life, and suddenly post marriage become no one. There ought to be a huge mental disturbance here.

Yes, for all the written complains here, I do not want my wife to touch my feet. I am lucky, that my parents are among those few, who want respect and love not from religious gimmick, but through proper family values. I can proudly and boldly write here, that Dr Aditi has not bowed down to touch my feet after we got married, and neither has touched my parents feet. But, yes, we do love each other, and there is a deep understanding, love and respect from her side to my mother and father. what is my relation with my in-laws?. – this needs another post. A hint – it’s a happy one.

PS – happy Nepali new year – 2070 BS

Wikipedia – con men

comparing nepali politicians to world’s greatest

It’s much easier to make fun of our political leaders in Nepal, than to praise them. Some few have been good, but majority are usually corrupt, and uneducated, with a highly dubious personality background, and almost all have a permanent fixture of “Jail Time” as their credentials.

Ten Commandments for a con man
A set of instructions known as the “Ten Commandments for Con Men” has been attributed to Lustig: Compare these with our current leaders in Nepal. Fascinating, that most is dead on seriously accurate for all of Nepali netas.

  1. Be a patient listener (it is this, not fast talking, that gets a con man his coups).
  2. Never look bored.
  3. Wait for the other person to reveal any political opinions, then agree with them.
  4. Let the other person reveal religious views, then have the same ones.
  5. Hint at sex talk, but don’t follow it up unless the other person shows a strong interest.
  6. Never discuss illness, unless some special concern is shown.
  7. Never pry into a person’s personal circumstances (they’ll tell you all eventually).
  8. Never boast – just let your importance be quietly obvious.
  9. Never be untidy.
  10. Never get drunk.

So do you know who Victor Lustig was? He was a con artist who undertook scams in various countries and became best known as “The man who sold the Eiffel Tower. Twice.” Seriously, he did duped bunch of people to thinking they were buying the Eiffel Tower. Look for more about him in Wikipedia.

P.S. Next post on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Its about mHealth.