Even by South Asian standards, it is hard to overstate how much of a political basket case Nepal has been over the years. Since a degree of democracy was introduced in 1990, it has suffered a brutal Maoist insurgency, the massacre of most of its royal family, a return to absolute rule, the abolition of the monarchy, and the collapse of every single elected government.
Yet for all the disastrous instability over the past decade and a half, Nepal has also experienced major historical changes. Political power has gradually been passed down to its most oppressed castes and ethnicities. The country’s successful national election on November 19 brings glimmers of hope for one of South Asia’s poorest nations.
We all make mistakes. Well, almost. Some of us make terrible ones at that. In the spur of a moment, we lose people we used to think we are inseparable from. The affection quickly turns into indifference, and then hatred. The things we love get taken away from us. The more we want to believe it would diminish with time, the more it worsens. Sad it is, but is it really difficult to gauge why we get hated so badly. No. It’s not. In fact, it is rather elementary. The hatred was rooted in our ‘mistake’ that betrayed someone’s trust. And we cannot un-break trust. Right? So, we learn. We let go. We laugh at ourselves. We seek solace in philosophy as they are but mistakes committed by famous people from different eras.
Ram Bahadur Shahi, 37, of Bisalla Village in Dailekh District, left the country with his whole family early this week. Shahi, flanked by his wife Hari Maya and two little daughters, went to India through Nepalgunj.
Shahi had his seven-year-old daughter enrolled at a primary school in his village just last year. But his daughter had to leave the school abruptly. He says he made up his mind to go to Shimla, the capital city of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, after failing to sustain his family on farming alone.
“No matter how hard I worked, I never produced enough food to feed my family,” says Shahi, chatting with Republica in Nepalgunj before heading towards India. “I always lived in penury. So I decided to leave the village.”
Acid attack can perhaps be called the most heinous form of gender-based violence, as it causes severe physical, psychological, and social scarring. Victims are left disfigured and need a lot of medical treatments and other support to even regain some semblance of normalcy in their lives.
Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI), based in the UK, has been working to raise awareness about acid attacks and other gender-based violence in six different countries. Currently, the six NGOs that ASTI supports and partners with are based in Bangladesh, Uganda, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, and Nepal. The organizations collectively treat around a thousand victims of gender violence every year.
Imagine yourself in a class that begins with lessons on psychology, and then makes you wrestle with algebraic variables for a while, and finally gets you put in paper a creative piece – bringing both the parts of your brain to work at the same time, the left for organization skills and the right for creativity.
It’s not only difficult but almost impossible, you might think.
“But it’s not as difficult and confusing as it might sound,” says Shekhar KC, a graduate of Masters in Development Studies at Kathmandu University, an interdisciplinary faculty of study.
Style, comfort and more
A woman in a dark suit and white shirt walks up the corridor. Her stilettos click on the marble floor and her ponytail sways in tune with her hips. She smells fresh and carries a black leather purse. Her makeup is just right and her ears twinkle with diamond studs. She sits down at the desk and peers through her frameless glasses at the interviewer in front of her. In her mind she already knows that half the battle is won.
The clothes you wear usually define who you are. Great saints and thinkers may have written epics about the depth of mind and character but nobody can deny the importance of the outfit that one wears in order to enhance their persona. Clothes are our non-verbal gestures. We project a certain persona through them. A vain yet plain truth is that the personality underneath will not be rightfully appreciated unless the outer packaging is attractive enough to hold the initial attention.
In the male Hindu pantheon, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are considered to be the creator, protector and destroyer of the universe. They ensure that the Lila—illusive reality of existence—continues unabated despite apparent stages of construction, continuity and destruction of everything. Brahma manifests himself through his male progenies. Mahesh is in every being in the form of passions and emotions. Lord Vishnu, however, is the emblem of power. In families, he is the patriarch that controls Lakshmi. Among tribes, the chieftain is the custodian of its traditions and wealth. Kingship evolved from chieftaincy and established itself as a symbol of divinity. Perhaps that is the reason monarchy begins to lose its allure as soon as it displays signs of human fallibility.
Brahmans as priests, pundits and preceptors continue to remain the aristocratic as well as the proletarian vanguard. The court and bureaucracy constitute the priesthood of democracy. Professionals of words—professors, judges, lawyers, journalists, writers and lawmakers—are the pontiffs of the republic. Perhaps accountants, doctors and engineers could then be called the preceptors of modernity. Little wonder, the Cow electoral symbol has gained most where the new Brahmins have congregated from all over the country—the Kathmandu Valley.
Nepalis are a prickly bunch. Even the most remote danger of someone taking away what little they have becomes a life and death question. Nepal is poor and small and geopolitically challenged, we are repeatedly told. There is nothing more humiliating to most Nepalis than the steady stream of news on border encroachment, the big neighbor to the south constantly whittling away at the miniscule Himalayan country. And all hell breaks loose if anyone so much as hints that their beloved Gautam Buddha might have been born in ancient India. Makes sense too. Thus far in Nepali history Buddha has been the country’s only true global icon; there are no living ‘Gods’ like Sachin Tendulkar here.
But just when things were looking hopeless, a spate of recent events offer some respite. First came the second serving of the much-awaited Constituent Assembly elections. The enthusiastic voter participation was perhaps indicative of their overwhelming desire for change. If nothing else the elections will bring the political process back on track and we will (hopefully) bid a final farewell to undemocratic, technocratic governments of all stripes.
“Maile krantilai salaami diyi saken, / Krantile marda bhayera salam farkauna baaki chha / Ma tesko pyaro chhu, ma tesko premi chhu, / Krantile malai prem garna baanki nai chha / Ma krantiko bhoko chhu, / Krantile mero chhaak taarna baanki nai chha.”
“Aamako Sapana Kabita
by Gopal Prasad Rimal
Gopal Prasad Rimal is highly venerated for his free-verse style of writing poetry. Poets before him followed and practiced writing poetry in meters, which required paying attention to elements like syllablea and meters. Rimal was the first to initiate the new form of free verse in poetry and his poems have contributed immensely to institutionalize this trend among readers and writers alike. Many poets today draw on Rimal’s style and techniques. The poems of Rimal are powerful with strong philosophical insights, forming and determining them. They aptly capture and depict the then era which was by and large infused with revolutionary spirit. With the society marching towards the struggle for democracy, his characters reflect the fury and passion that were demanded by such a revolution. Rimal’s revolutionary characters and themes gave a break from the till then popular tradition of creating poems around virtues like wisdom, ethics, and high moral values.