Nepali Times
Jingoistic jerks



When I first left Nepal to further my studies, the idea that modern western democracies would force their citizens to undergo compulsory military conscription was novel to me. Of course I had heard of the American draft during the Vietnam War, and knew that all Israeli men and women got into uniform and goosestepped up and down their hard-won borders (before running amok along backpacker trails around the world). But being from Nepal, where there is no shortage of interest in voluntarily joining up (from all societal strata), I was simply ignorant of the phenomenon.

Conscription was really brought home to me in London, where I met Giorgos after Giorgos after Giorgos, each determinedly pursuing PhDs, partly because staying in Greece meant signing up for a 9-month stint in the army (or 17 months of alternative service). How ironic that an obligation to serve as a mindlessly obedient 'grunt' furthers the creation of doctors of philosophy! No dearth of future philosopher kings in the land of Plato.

Yet Greece is not the only country that requires its citizens to spend a couple of years training for war during peacetime. Far from it. About half of the world's 192 UN member states still practice some form of conscription, and that list includes nations such as China (no surprise), Brazil (fun in the sun?), Norway (peace mediators now, but Vikings of yore), and Thailand (so much for the land of smiles).

If the UCPN (Maoist) has its way, Nepal will join this list with the promulgation of the new constitution. According to Maoist leader Deb Gurung, compulsory military service for men and women above 18 years of age is necessary because "if we train all citizens, they will be able to protect our sovereignty." Excuse me? China and India may squeeze the little yam that we are, but they certainly don't look like swallowing us up. And if they were, a citizenry adept at wielding bamboo poles and farming implements will hardly prove an impediment to the People's Liberation Army (3 million para/military) or the Indian Army (2.6 million para/military). If we are to believe the Maoists, it's not that the world hasn't changed since the time of Mao, the threats to our national sovereignty remain the same as they were since the time of Nepal's wars with China and the East India Company in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Nepal is already overmilitarised, the civil war is hardly past us, and the Maoists are proposing that every adult receive military training? The Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, and Nepal Police make for a combined military force of about 200,000. Add the PLA, YCL, and any number of non-state armed groups, along with the proposal to create a separate force, and the folly of the Maoist stance becomes clear. Who's going to pay the trainers? Who's going to pay the trainees? Believe you me, no one will do this for free.

What is the intention here? If the collective bellies of Comrades Dahal, Ram Bahadur Thapa, and Janardan Sharma are anything to go by, physical fitness is not a priority. And even the Maoists must realise that they cannot wage an actual war for national sovereignty against India, much less China.

One has to conclude, then, that the Maoists hope to militarise the Nepali population as a whole. They probably feel that the very fact of having millions of reservists newly charged with a sense of disciplined patriotism (for all militaries are about submitting to the state's objectives) will strengthen their position vis-ŗ-vis Delhi, and force a change in the latter's policy towards Nepal. The Maoists also wouldn't mind having a hand in training not just their own cadre but the entire adult population so one day, when the 'historic moment' arrives, reactionary state forces will be easily overwhelmed by a true 'people's army'.

If they had their way, the Maoists would dump the whole lot of us into cantonments and have us do the Physical Jerks for the rest of our productive lives. They've already wasted the primetime of 20,000 of Nepal's youth for four years and running. They shouldn't bank on jerking the rest of us around.


1. Arthur
"The Maoists also wouldn't mind having a hand in training not just their own cadre but the entire adult population so one day, when the 'historic moment' arrives, reactionary state forces will be easily overwhelmed by a true 'people's army'"

It is natural for you to want 200,000 state forces who you admit are quite useless against India or China but have been can again be used  to suppress the unarmed majority and preserve your privileges.

All of your readers will naturally agree with you that enabling an armed people to overwhelm the reactionary state forces is a terrible idea to be opposed at all costs.

Why not just present that honest argument without all the childish distractions?

2. hange
Rabi, very good article- right on the money.  But here's a word to the wise: be careful as Maoists don't take criticism very well and, despite the rosy picture painted by some pro-CPN posters on this site, their idea of "settling a dispute" involves the barrel of a gun vs. actual dialogue.

3. Victor Brazensky
Definitely a good article Rabi. Arthur you must come from the Red Camp or must be an ardent commie supporter otherwise you should have been able to seperate between what is right and what is wrong. At least for peace of mind, do not try to argue what is fundamentally wrong. Think about how much of resources are wasted when you train those conscripts. Tell me something Arthur, how many countries do utilize their conscripts or drafts to a good use?

4. soldier of fortunes
very true, 
but with those things in considerations, there are other maoist have always tried to retain people from joining foreign armed forces (which is not bad, considering working for others) but nepal being one of the poorest of the poor cannot lose that income. So, conscripting might just bring certain laws into effect which will shake plenty of society.

5. Gole
# 1 Arthur.
 Arthur 's labelling  the state force as useless has shown his bias. Look at the armed forces 's actions in the Middle East countries currently. They have been found to take a very correct stand during this crisis . They have taken side with the people unlike the police force in most of the situations in most of these countries , with dictatorial regimes, except in Libya.
 So we are  more secured with our army than with our  political masters, or vagabonds or .....    ....or dacoits  or thieves.
 The reason calling them thieves or dacoits is justified as they have  robbed our corporations or development projects of the cars,jeeps or vehiles by force. There numbers should be about 500.
There are former prime ministers , ministers or political muscle-men in this list of dacoits. What is the definition of thief or dacoit in the dictionary/
The Chamber's Dictionary defines a dacoit as" one of a gang of robbers'.
To rob is to dep[rive wrongfully and forcibly ,to steal from:to plunder : to deprive  : tocarry off , to commit robbery.
A thief is one who takes unlawfully what is not his own. So  Hum sab chor hai.Hamam me sab nange haye.
 Act  ,then the lives of all of our divinities will fall in jeopardy. or not?
 Poor Nepalese   what have you  done in the pastthat you are being ruled by these Car-thieves.
 A thief is a thief is a thief  is a thief, no matter how you thieve. ; and car lifters are more than a robber.  God bless this country of ours
 Let all believers join hands by uniting against these proven thieves.,


6. Bhaicha
#3 Victor &    Arthur.
 Arthur must be a die hard Ultra commie.  He has his agenda . ,as the Democrats have their commitments.
 Let thound communinst flowers blossom as well.  After all we are demanding a pluralistic society and want Pluralism incorporated itself in our forthcoming constitution because of persons like him.
He can be a Nepalese as well in disguise. He may be an expat , emigre or a stowaway. He and his elks are  wellcome to spoil pour youths  towards state-slavery.

7. Kale Rai
5# Gole.

 What a disastrous comment. You mean to say ,those who have hijacked state governments, corporations, or project vehicles by force or illegally;displaying high-handedness are thieves?  Unauthrized vehicle use taking them from institution in which they have no authority or legal right of use is no doubt tantamount to robbeery. This way right from Surya Bahadur Thapa, Sher Bahadur Deupa, K.P. Oli, Madhav K. Nepal or Puspa Kamal Dahal
includinding all other minor functionaries of political parties like Bhim Rawals are confirmed robbers. It gives me the shock of my life that  our destiny will be decided by these crools, who have no shame to preach high sounding lectures to us ,the masses.   Thry who have no shame are like animals.

8. Victor Brazensky
6. Bhaicha: I'm afraid these communist zealots will turn Nepal into a hermit state like North Korea. They praise how "Juchhe" ideology and how efficiently it is working, but in reality as we know it is starving millions of North Korean denizens. What they need is "seed" for Jasmine Revolution. Viva people and Viva democracy!!!

9. For a PhD
The best defense that our nation will have against invading forces is one of diplomacy, not that of warfare. Jingoists, commies and wing-nuts aside, I am sure the rest of the populace understands that we need more daring scholars than sheepled daredevils.

10. B2B
I beg to differ from the above Op-Eds' scattershot comments regarding the youths' enrollment as draftees.

Most importantly, I give my nod to some protestors who heap reproaches on politicos that just expedite our boys to every nook and corner of the world as the UN blue helmet force to avoid carnage of the local populace. Why on earth our boys should put their lives in peril just because our forefathers hard-earned the moniker of the brave and undaunted soldiers in the battlefields? Nope, henceforth no Nepalese should be the soldiers of fortune so that the politicos could brag themselves in the diplomatic saloons to be in the good books of the UN. No, the Nepalese soldiers are no mercenary individuals at somebody's beck and call.

Still, most of the retirees are enrolled as bodyguards all over the world not to mention at the services of a petrodollar Archie-rich Sultan of Brunei, dictator of Singapore and very recently the tainted rulers of the Middle East.

About conscription, it varies according to the locality and political situations of the country concerned.

Just for recollection. Let us remember what the oldest democracy, that means, the USA has in store about it. Remember the saw regarding 'The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants' coined by Thomas Jefferson.

The idea of an armed citizenry is considered to be the assurance of freedom is deeply embedded in American mindset, beginning with the Second Amendment and those maddeningly imprecise words, ' A well regulated-militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'.

As of now, the world is no more like erstwhile when the world was divided into all azimuthal of small rival kingdoms and round the clock they were at the mercy of a felonious traitor.

Specifically in Europe nothing was constant. Which is why, the efforts made to give form to the European Union (EU) was the prelude and thereby the changes undergone into pacification of rival forces.

FYI, the above cited case of Giorgio in Greece is quite remarkable, in a way, Greece was in border conflict with Turkey because of the invasion of Cyprus which followed its division into two parts, namely, Greek Cyprus, now is in the EU and the Turk Cyprus is still under Turkey's occupation.

Also, there are often Turkey's raids in the Salonika region of Greece, evidence of why Greece is resolutely hostile to Turkey's admission as the EU full-fledged member..

Otherwise, in the EU countries there is hardly any country that emphasizes on compulsory military service. They have morphed them into professional soldiers with an exception to do some social works for at least 3 to 6 months when the youth concerned reach the age of 18 to make them aware of becoming responsible citizens. This transformation was mostly in order to cut extra expenses in trainings and maintenance of the military barracks.

In Europe it was one of the ways for the peasants to be introduced to 3Rs, that means, read, write and arithmetic, and the easiest way to make newly converted citizens revive patriotic feelings in their hearts while adopting a new country's citizenship. .

Could that be applicable to Nepal? Only time could say.

In the end, I hope a sea of peaceful humanity will wash away those clowns as tyrants who make a bid for power by using treacherous means involving the youth as cannon fodder.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)