Puskar Bhusal's eloquent piece in his Somehwere In Nepal column ("Where are you Tulsi Giri?", #101) contains a factual oversight. Bhusal notes Sher Bahadur Deuba's Western-trained credentials as one of the reasons to explain the prime minister's behaviour these days. Let's clear this myth once and for all. Sher Bahadur Deuba was never a "research fellow" at the London School of Economics (LSE). He didn't "study" at the LSE, neither as an undergraduate nor a postgraduate. He didn't get a degree there. Deuba seems to have registered as a student under a category called "research fee", allowing him to use the LSE library, and have a professor assigned for general guidance, but not take classes.
To what extent Deuba made use of the world's largest social science library at the LSE is unknown, but he was lucky to have been assigned the occasional guidance of Fred Halliday, an Arab scholar of renown. Deuba is said to have done some homework on parliamentary democracies, but since he published nothing at the LSE, one doesn't know how "western trained" he was at the end of his stint at LSE.
Under the urging of Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, the acting president of the then-banned Nepali Congress Party, Socialist International (once led by Willy Brandt, with historically close ties to BP Koirala) and aided by covert processing at the British Council, Deuba is said to have been sent off to London in 1988. Bhattarai is said to have wanted to stave off a possible defection of Deuba to the Panchayat by sending his prot?g? into exile. Deuba, for his part, denied he ever wanted to defect.
When the democracy movement began in Nepal, Deuba was still in London where he is said to have lobbied for the movement. His stipend from the Socialist International had long been discontinued, and he was relying on borrowed money from Nepalis, irregular translation work for the BBC Nepali Service, and subsidised lodging at the Natraj Restaurant, later home of the actress Karishma Manandhar.
Deuba is a simple, humble man whose 30-year struggle for democracy (10 of which were spent in detention) were genuine. His democratic credentials until recently were pucca. But at a time when he himself is as confused as anybody else about what exactly he is doing to Nepal's young democracy, people like Puskar Bhusal should know that by Nepali standards Deuba may be a fine politician. And, sadly, possibly one of the better ones amongst a lousy lot. But it would be to everyone's benefit not to overdo his "western trained" credentials. Deuba was in London on an under-financed holiday, not for any hard academic training.
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