Nepali Times
Plain Speaking
We're with you


New Delhi - At a reception hosted by General Chhatraman Singh Gurung in the lawns of the expansive Nepal embassy grounds here on Tuesday, the who's who of the Indian defence establishment made an appearance. Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor; General Gurung's batch mates from the Indian Military Academy, now in the top echelons of the military; PM's special envoy Shyam Saran; defence attaches from foreign embassies; and retired and serving diplomats queued up to greet the Nepal Army chief.

The bonhomie was palpable. The old tradition of honouring the army chief of a neighbour had just been given continuity. General Kapoor's Nepal visit itself is in the pipeline. The conversation hovered around 'traditional and historic' army-to-army ties. The Indian army brass was impressed with General Gurung's 'sober and apolitical' outlook. "He is focused and knows where the army's job ends and the government's job begins. And he is a very intelligent man," said a top Indian officer. And a member of the Nepali delegation observed, "They are really giving him the royal treatment. Their support to the Nepali state and the Nepal Army has been conveyed in clear terms."

Both sides insisted that it was a conventional goodwill visit. But the underlying political message and concerns were hard to miss. There was a sense that the Nepal Army had just passed through a difficult political challenge, and may face testing times again, during which it will have India's full support.

In informal conversations, the Indian defence brass conveyed its desire to see a 'democratic, professional, and apolitical' army. The argument was that the Nepal Army is the only stable institution in the Nepali state, and the only force capable of standing up to the Maoists. Former Maoist combatants will be welcome to join as individual Nepali citizens after meeting the established criteria. But there should be no integration in a manner that would 'politicise' the army and harm its 'institutional integrity'. The Maoists were 'untrustworthy and had to compromise'. When the Maoist argument about how integration was necessary to change the army's 'feudal character' was pointed out, a top Indian general responded, "Is your present army chief a feudal? Don't fall for Maoist rhetoric."

Across the Indian establishment, there is a consensus that the Maoists intend to capture the Nepali state and establish a form of totalitarian rule. The non-Maoist Nepali political class has conveyed the same impression to Delhi. The sense is that too many concessions have been made to the Maoists in the past and this time, the 'Nepali state and the democratic political class' cannot blink in the face of Maoist aggression if they want to survive.

The bottom line is that until the Maoists reform themselves; accept multi-party democracy in principle and practice; entirely settle the PLA question and disband the YCL; return seized property; and agree to be a constructive opposition, instead of the 'irresponsible' one they have been, their participation in the government - far from leading it - is out of the question.

But there is also a recognition that this is not happening. The Maoists are seen to have upped the ante and become even more 'obstructionist'. Earlier, there was a feeling that this was meant to boost their bargaining strength. More recently, Maoist activities have given Delhi the impression that the situation may spiral out of control. The next few months are seen as crucial and if there is no broad agreement soon, Delhi believes the country may slide into a violent confrontation.

Noone here believes that the constitution will be written by May or knows with any precision what will happen after that. Any kind of presidential takeover is not a preferred outcome, for Delhi understands that it would not be a sustainable political arrangement. But if the Maoists 'push the country into conflict', then anything may happen.

India is now deeply worried about the unfolding events in Nepal. It recognises that the process it initiated may be in its death throes. But the consensus is that the onus rests entirely on the Maoists to reform, compromise, and cooperate. If that does not happen, Delhi feels Nepal will head into a 'conflict between multiparty system and one party rule, between democracy and communist dictatorship'. If that happens, India is prepared to back the Nepali state with all its might.

Friends like these - FROM ISSUE #480 (11 DEC 2009 - 17 DEC 2009)

1. gangalal
Reports say that Chhatra Man Gurung also offered to open Nepali soil to recruit Nepali men into the Indian Army. This brings up the question one wants to ask the Nepali media establishment. What does it say about Nepal's status among nations when, at the dawn of a new millennium, half a century after the defeat of white colonialism in Soutasia, the head of Nepal army goes to another country and offers to open his country for recruitment of her men into a foreign army, to fight their battles against their enemies? Which other country in the modern world sells her sons as mercenaries? That, too, in the name of poverty! The sad irony of this newspaper is that the picture on home page of Nepali Times calls Prachanda a traitor. Who is the real traitor? Prachanda or Chhatra Man Gurung or Madhav Kumar Nepal? If poverty is the reason Nepali state feels compelled to turn its men into mercenaries, then shouldn't the government wage a war against poverty and not against its own people? "India is now deeply worried about the unfolding events in Nepal," writes Prashant Jha. Actually, there're a lot of us who are even more worried about events unfolding in New Delhi.

2. golthey
India can benefit only if nepal is dilapidated. They don't want any neighbours to flourish. So, they will do anything to keep nepal in trouble like rest of the neighbours.

3. B. Thapa
Agree with points made above. Prashant Jha is an otherwise good writer but sometimes it is hard to make sense of what he is saying. For instance, take the following passage from his article: "The bottom line is that until the Maoists reform themselves; accept multi-party democracy in principle and practice; entirely settle the PLA question and disband the YCL; return seized property; and agree to be a constructive opposition, instead of the 'irresponsible' one they have been, their participation in the government - far from leading it - is out of the question." Whose words are these? Is this the Indian position, is this Jha's position, or is this the position of the other half of Nepal's political elite lined up against the Maoists? It seems to me in the sequence of his article, it would be important to point this out. India bashing is sometimes facile in Nepal, but at the same time one wonders how Indian policy in Nepal can be so short sighted. I mean, what sense does it make to sell Nepal out-dated tanks at this particular point in the peace-process? Anyone with even a bit of intelligence can understand how this compares to Chinese assistance offered in the last few days which not without coincidence stresses on 'non-leathal" assistance. And India wonders why there is frequent animosity in Nepal towards Indian policies and positions? They might as well make me (a Nepali) the Indian Ambassador in Kathmandu and send Mr Rakesh Sood packing, I could do an infinitely better job of promoting truly better relations between our two countries!

4. Ram
Gangalal ... then what do you say about our Political leaders that encourages young nepalese to go for foreign lands for employment as there is no avenue for employment here in Nepal......... At least in the Army, be it British or Indian these people have dignity..... thats not the case for other migrant workers. Another point Gangalal ji have you ever heard our Political leaders talk about Unemployment, Underemployment. How may jobs were created or lost in that Quarter. Till the time you do not hear this from the political leaders people will continue to go to foreign land to seek employment be it in the army or otherwise. How can you fight poverty when you have 3 days strike at a stretch.... We first need to gety our house in Order before we try to lay all the ills of Nepals problem at another person door.

5. Peace lover
Its sad to find stupid comments from Gangalal, Golthe, B Thapa. Their comments are politically infected, one trak selfish minded, and they are zero in regional politics - as per their comments. Such comments help more to missguide our society and push the nation towards more controversies. If you dont know SHUT YOUR MOUTH and DON'T MESS IT HERE. Thanks Prashant Jha, Its worth going through the page !

6. Maaiili
"back the Nepali state with all its might". As if India has ever backed out of helping the Nepali state! Behind our back- Hoshte! Hainshe! I think Indians have had enough of Maoists- so Indian army chief Deepak's statement to not include Maoists into Nepal army is symbolic of a turning point in India's stance towards Nepal. And the donation, of course. Are Indians looking forward to bloody streets in Nepal??

7. akhanda
who in the devil's name sold you the story of India agreeing to sell T-72 tanks to Nepal. First of all, they are not entirely outdated and secondly why wud India sell tanks to Nepal when there is no forseeable need for such weaponry. Besides, I'm sure Indians are 'smart' enough to realise that the NA cant use them on the Nepal-Tibet/china border and can only be possibly used in the Terai or maybe a handful of KTM streets. people, you need to read beyond what mainstream media throws at you. and secondly, if you have been reading the papers it was only recently tht India agreed to re-start 'non-lethal' military assistance to Nepal, which the last time i consulted a dictionary does not constitute tanks. also, i wonder why most people on these comment sections do not ever bother exploring the Maoist-China angle. its only as dangerous and potentially debilitating as an India-NA nexus. I mean are we going to just train our eyes away from the UCPN-M bull crap in the name of upholding civilian supremacy. where was this feeling when the YCL was running riot under the watchful eye of PM Terrifico?!? Jai Nepal!

8. Peace basher
Peace lover, does your version of "loving peace" consist of bashing all others that disagree with you? If you have legitimate differences of opinions with gangalal, Golthe, & B. Thapa, state your case clearly and calmly. Any idiot with a keyboard can use the Caps Lock key- you being a case in point.

9. prabhat kumar
We as nepali citizens realy welcome the military rule of NA. They are far better than thugs under "Nepali Kim Jong" 2. The maoists history or for the matter communists history will show you that the communists before power will shout "pro poor" and "pro people" but once they catch power they will shout "down imperialism" or "down zionism". the only similarity in both the stages are empty stomachs of people. Two examples of this communists agenda and its results can be seen in North korea and Indian state of Bengal (where revenge against communists by people who starved for 32 years of their rule is resulting in daily murders) Both are shining examples of communism's capability in bringing up beasts to power.

10. Gus
India is staying nuetral politically between NA and Maoist. Some of the views to put India in diff. light is media created one. Prachanda and other maoist operated from India and any anti India statement from them is to play with sentiments and grab power. Indian colleges and institution allow Nepali citizen to study. I have studied in colleges with lot of student from Nepal , Vietnam and Bhutan. So there is lot of friendship and this should be seen from that perspective only. regards Gus

11. Nepal1
First of all the root cause of issue is poverty and until it is tackled the blaming game will continue. I am very confident we Nepali can tackle our own issues and don't need the "development" support from our neighbors. We should respect the verdict of the majority of Nepali population and if they buy the Maoists propaganda then so be it. All of us are responsible for the nations current state as we were mere onlookers when poverty and injustice were taking place in front of our eyes. If the Maoists come to power by force, their governance will be a short term because they can't fool all the people all the time. Their downfall will be their own support base.

12. jange
Nepal 1- The root cause is not poverty. If it were so, there would be no end to violence. It is this kind of sloppy thinking that gets people tied up in knots and makes it easy to fall for glib slogans. Was it poverty that led Mr. P and Dr. Bhattarai to go on their murderous rampage? There are very few poor people in the murder, loot and extortion enterprise called Maoism. And it isn't poverty that has driven them to murder, loot and extortion. As in all societies there are injustices but the answer to that is hardly to go on a rampage of murder, loot and extortion. How does adding injustice upon injustice solve the issue? And, Nepal1, please be specific about what injustice it is that you think is the "root cause of issue" as you put it. Then perhaps we can start to do something about it. When someone tells you that the crow has run off with your ear do you run after the crow or do you stop to check if your ears are still in place?

13. Sargam
@Nepal1, Which just about sums up that the moment you realize that you were deliberately duped by the Maoist you loose at least 30 years of you precious life like the ancient Communist countries did. Last fall after the fall of the Berlin Wall we went over to the Eastern Europe to ask them as to how come they accepted so quickly to be Communist and at the same time to be sent to the Sovietic Gulag. "You see we were completely blinded by the propaganda of the Communist activists. They all told us about the facile life, easy jobs and life sans angst. We were all in wrong. There is nowhere the easy life. Everybody has to earn his pittance, even an animal." was their response.

14. Peace maker
What types of peace Nepal is looking for? Indian flavored/favored peace or Nepali desired peace?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)