Nepali Times Asian Paints
Kanchha’s life


A few lines in the News in Brief section announces 'Teenager commits suicide'. The casual, commonplace, no-comment death by hanging of a 15-year-old 'domestic aide' known by the name of Kanchha. This is all we learn about this boy. This is the only trace of his passage on earth. His death doesn't seem to shock anybody anymore.

Another headline on a 60-word brief a few weeks ago, 'Compensation for torture', cited the case of a Damak resident who agreed to pay compensation in the form of 17 dhur of land worth Rs 150,000, to an eight-year old domestic worker who was repeatedly beaten and tortured by his owner. Owner, I presume, is the term best describing the master-slave situation prevailing with domestic help in Nepal.

This sort of occurrence is so common. "This is Nepal," you shrug. "What to do, Kathmandu."

An NGO spends great amounts of money and energy trying to kidnap a handful of not-so-grateful or downright resentful girls and boys from Makwanpur previously sold by their parents, then exported to work in a circus in India. They are re-imported with no financial compensation to the buyer and exploiter, they relish the excellent career-prospects a teenage circus performer can expect in Nepal. No doubt, they will end up in some seedy massage parlour in Thamel, or be recruited by either of the warring sides, or go back to a government school.

When a product is sold, one cannot just grab it back by force. One has to refund the initial payment, plus compensate the years of training in this particular case. Likewise, some Christian do-gooders from Britain and the US regularly fly to south Sudan to buy back kids sold on the local slave-markets, $300 dollars apiece, then return them to their families.

No doubt, some of them are getting sold again every time these bulk-buyers are announced. The market prices for Sudan's child slaves has increased tremendously thanks to them, to the extent that it has become a prosperous concern. Very similar to buying caged birds from Buddhist shrines in order to release them to obtain merits. How many just fly back to their cages? Or like the lines of Nepalis queuing to pay to work abroad.

Lucky Nepal, so docile to the West through its cash-guzzling NGOs that the US State Department forgot to mention it in its 4th annual 'Trafficking in Persons Report' last month. They nailed Bangladesh, Burma, Cuba, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Venezuela, but India, Nepal and China were omitted.

Nepal is the most African country in Asia. Its palace increased its annual allowance six-fold from Rs 110 million to Rs 620 million this year, which comes to Rs 1,700,000 per day. That is $22,000 daily-not bad for a country whose poverty ranking is 142 out of 177 and where 82 percent of the people live on less than $2 a day. Nepal is certainly a long way away from socialism.

Hope your next life is better than this one, Kanchha.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)