Nepali Times Asian Paints

Bhagirath Yogi's quote of Saubhagya Shah's statement in the article "Peaceniks on warpath" (#119) may have been taken out of context like my own quote. That Shah "could agree [with the petition] if [the petitioners] talked about overall US policy including the enormous military assistance to Israel every year" seemed rather disingenuous. First, the tragic legacy of US military assistance to Israel is the best proof against the logic of military aid. Second, as I cannot speak for all the others who signed the petition, but I know that some of us have strongly opposed US military aid not only to Israel but to many other countries including Vietnam, Colombia, Central America, Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, and to Iraq prior to the Gulf War when the US was arming Iraq to the teeth against Iran, in protest activities and our journalism-including my letter you quoted from and in an article of mine (in last August.

Everything has a context. Referring to Deuba's justification of his policy in terms of the war against terrorism mentioned by Yogi, the Afghan war and 9/11 were both aspects of US global foreign policy aimed at getting control over dwindling reserves of oil and natural gas reserves in the sunset years of the global oil-based economy.
Similarly, in Nepal, one should ask what legacy can motivate young people from the countryside to be so angry and cruel to their fellows for the promise offered by an ideology, such that they may be becoming the image of that they wish to overthrow? It is clear that people know that something is essentially wrong with the past, because statements calling for intensified military activity are always combined with the oxymoronic acknowledgement that intensified war must be combined with development in the countryside.

My question is, if this is the case, then why has 50 years of development led to this war? This whole project euphemistically called development, without principles or clear objectives, has largely been a war of metropolis against the countryside and of petroleum-based polities against solar-based societies, combined with a willingness to sacrifice people (particularly villagers and women), communities, cultures, knowledge, biodiversity, and the environment for benefits accruing largely to a relatively small portion of the urban population, largely outside of Nepal (e.g., as early as 1989 the Third World was handing over $52 billion more in debt payments than it received in new credits).

Arms or no arms, Maoists or no Maoists, drastic, basic changes are going to have to be made in the direction of society in Nepal and in the lives of its citizens. And if it is any consolation, it is a situation that the rest of the world is going to have to follow as oil production peaks within the next five to twenty years (per capita production has been declining since 1978) and the end comes to the oil-based global civilisation, possibly as soon as 30 years from now.

The question is in both cases whether we act now with the hard choices and build for the future, or will we remain mired in the past and watch people continue to die in Nepal and, on a world scale, possibly in billions.
I agree with one of your correspondents that such change will come not just with reinstitution of local elections, as he argued for, but with a democracy that builds from the bottom, allowing real needs to direct society, rather than being legislated from the top according to compromises made between powerful special interests.

Stephen Mikesell,
by email

. The new council of ministers should read your editorial "What are we waiting for?" (#121). They should have the guts to say "no" for invitations to chief-guest workshops, talkshops, seminars, book releases, prize-giving ceremonies, etc. There are plenty of other people with precious little to do who could do it instead of you... just don't go...don't create the demand. Currently the trend is to invite a high-up official, the higher-up the better, to open ceremonies, as they ensure good TV coverage. That has led to a culture of seminarism and workshopping where no one is really listening and no one really cares. The chief guest never stays around long enough, and neither does the press. So what you get in the evening news is lazy workshop journalism with speech excerpts. Enough of this, let's call a moratorium on inaugurations and speeches. Enough talk, let's see some action.

Rupa Joshi,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)