Nepali Times
By The Way
Textbook history



Kathmandu's mainstream pundits and twitterati seem to mistake the people's lack of interest in pointless gossip as silent endorsement. Bored by the lack of action on the political front for the last two weeks, op-eds and the blogosphere have been abuzz with speculation over a seven-year-old letter written by Nepal's current leaders to India's then leaders to allow them to stay on in New Delhi, while they waged war back home.

If the Indians really believed that the Maoists would go on to dig trenches and tunnels in preparation of an Indian invasion, they wouldn't have sheltered their enemies. The Indians knew Gyanendra's regime was collapsing and by engaging with the Maoists, they were just trying to ensure that they kept their leverage with all major political forces in Nepal. The Maoists, for their part, used the same leverage to enter Kathmandu politics by signing the 12-point agreement in New Delhi in November 2005 with the seven parties.

Just because after all these years a professor who carried the letter from his friend, Nepal's current Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, to Raisina Hill spills the beans it doesn't mean that Kathmandu's intellectuals have to go into paroxysms, and froth at the mouth. Let the professor enjoy his day in the limelight, let's move on.

This week, two other reports made headlines: the unpublished DFID-World Bank paper on inclusion and the UN's Development Assistance Framework report, whose content were deliberately leaked to the media because powerful people in the government reportedly wanted to censor them. The editor and columnist who revealed their contents accused powerful Brahmins inside and outside the government for pressuring both agencies to make substantial changes in it.

We have it on good authority that it is indeed true that the National Planning Commission (NPC) as well as line ministries led by the Foreign Ministry have been breathing down the necks of the UN, DFID, World Bank and others to remove paragraphs, sentences and phrases that mention caste, gender, ethnic, regional and linguistic discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion in Nepali society. Nothing new there. What is new is this new-found assertiveness on the part of the NPC and the Foreign Ministry. And the Foreign Ministry's aggressive stance comes from the top boss himself, a non-Brahmin minister.

Deepak Thapa, who was part of the team that worked on the DFID report told me he doesn't know whether there was pressure from high up to stop its publication. "But I do know that there are very influential people who strongly hold a self-serving view that the debate on federalism and identity in Nepal was started by the donors," he said, "which is not only a gross misreading of the history of such movements, but also a form of intellectual dishonesty since these people certainly know otherwise."

On a visit to eastern Nepal earlier this month, political science lecturer Yadunath Pokhrel and journalist Bhawani Baral recounted how Kathmandu-based media had wrongly portrayed local movements for identity as sectarian and divisive. They told me how the Limbus have exercised self-rule in the region for centuries through 'kipot' system, which is often wrongly assumed only as a land management system.

The identity movement in Nepal started much before the donors arrived here. The Nepal Bhasa Andolan throughout the first half of the 20th century, the establishment of the first Janajati organisations, the Tharu Kalyankari Sabha in the 1940s, the women's movement that began even earlier, and the many attempts to enter Pashupati by Dalits in the 1950s were all early assertions of identity. Even federalism and autonomy which many claim to be a Maoist concoction in Nepal was first raised by the Tarai Congress in the 1950s and then by Gajendra Narayan Singh
of Sadbhavana Party in the 1980-90s.

There is nothing in the DFID report that we didn't know, or hasn't been acknowledged by past governments in this country. The Ninth and Tenth Plans are replete with references to systemic marginalisation and the need to correct them through gender, caste, ethnic and regional empowerment. So, why this new ultra-sensitivity? Who in the Maoist-Madhesi dispensation is directing the Foreign Ministry and the NPC to censor anything in donor documents that mention discrimination or are the top bureaucrats acting on their own? To blame outsiders for creating an ethnic bogey and orchestrating movements here is at best a failure of imagination, and at worst intellectual bankruptcy.

The biggest obstacle to this nation's progress is the resistance from the powerful to incorporate the voice of the subalterns by constructing a discourse to suit their understanding of history. But we have seen throughout history that whenever the powerful have used their privilege to oppress, the weak have always risen up.

Read also:
"A dangerous racism"

Listen to the interview of vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission on BBC Nepali Service
(starting from 9:53)

1. Funkymonkey
Okay. And what about BRB saying "the keys lie elsewhere"? Is that current enough or it's still 'history'? 

Maoists were getting training while operating against the Government of Nepal and killing thousands of Nepali people. You want me to take that as India's shrewd observation of changing political landscape in Nepal? No thanks, I will use my own judgment and call it state-sponsored terrorism. 

2. K. K. Sharma
All movements to be effective need funding. Identity movements has become more effective than never before. From where does the funds come from. ?

3. Niranjan Regmi

There are several  obvious problems with this write-up.

Does anyone believe an INGO,which is financed by a foreign country,would listen to some Nepalis and not publish what they want  after spending all that money? Even the prime minister acknowledges that nobody listens to him,and the key to Nepal lies in a foreign country.So how realistic is it to believe that DFID,run by the British, would follow  the directives of some Nepali bureaucrat or politician?

The Britishers should just go ahead and publish their report instead of playing the blame game,and let the Nepali people be the judge as suggested in an excellent write-up by Bidhusi  Dhungel in Kantipur:

More bothersome is the fact that Mr Acharya seems to have no problems with a seven-year-old letter written by Nepal's current leaders to India's then leaders to allow them to stay on in New Delhi, while they waged war back home.

Anyone who asks help from a foreign government to wage a war in their home country  to kill fellow Nepalis,and in return be willing to serve as stooges and work for the foreign government would be considered a traitor by most people.Mr Acharya obviously wants the people to believe that there is nothing wrong with that.

This writer would do well to try to write something original instead of just serving as an attack dog for corrupt politicians belonging to Prachanda/Bhattarai  faction and the Madhesi Morcha ministers .But that maybe asking too much.

4. Soni

There is a government in the centre that stridently supports ethnic division in the name of federalism, led by a man who actively advocated the murder of anybody who showed any reluctance to accept that divisively and criminal thesis. And, you are suggesting that a report was suppressed by the opponents of federalism?

What can I say <??>

5. Suman Karki
Maoist led by Dahal and Bhattarai are "  traitors and killers of Nepalis, both Dahal and Bhattrai are pawns in the hands of their Indian masters, if we want serious change in Nepal, then we must change the lop sided Nepal India Relations and throw all the traitors in jail."  The Nepali Army should stop acting like cowards and take charge. What is the reason for delay, more bloodshed ?????? Go figure that ! 

6. Shushil
1,2,3 & 4 completely missed the point. These four naively believe that DFID & UN are the reasons behind identity politics and sweeping and suppressing it will bring social harmony. Makes me wonder if these four believe they live in panchayat kaal.

Good work Anurag! If only there were more real journalists like you.

7. who cares
6. Shushil

just tell me. those british mombo jombo, dfid, un hates commies all over the world from cuba to n korea ... but supports commie in nepal. why?

commies in the world only kill those who go against them but in nepal, maosit terrorists killed/still attacking even those who begs to stay neutral, who has got nothing to do with their politics. 

so the terrorist in nepal are far worse and evil than the commies history has ever seen and those self proclaimed agents of democracy, humanity, freedom like dfid, uk, un, world bank, who etc etc support maoist terrorist ... is not it amazing.

if you know the history, british always enter into some country as a friend and later shoot you behind your back.  remember, how they were hugging and kissing gadaffi a few weeks ago before they got him killed (i am not supporting gadaffi)...... that is what british has always been and irish knows them. 

one wise irish man said "the sun never sets in britian (during those days) cause god does not trust british in the darkness".

just look at what british has been trying to promote in the world (ethnic politics) and what goes in britian. has any nepali- gorkha- become general, or pm? no.. has any minority reached that high? none....

so kiss my @%$  @%$%.

8. Brahma
What a load of bull crap. I may have agreed with this commentator's conclusions about identity-politics, but his casual dismissal of SD Muni's expose of India's role in fomenting war in Nepal against a democratically elected government shows where this guy comes from. It is not just flawed analysis, but lacks credibility. The real puzzle is why Nepali Times lavishes a weekly column space to Mr Acharya. Can't you find someone who is more believable and persuasive?  

9. Dev
Man! You could have done better. C'mon get out of the box and see a bigger picture. Funny how these organizations just considered 'Caste' as a bar in their inclusion strategy rather than ones access to resources and the ability to make choices in their lives. I am just fed up with these organization trying to pull-in people only by ones 'surnames'. Sad but true its not working, anyone can see it is dividing us yet we all are turning blind. We meet 100s of privileged rich from so call marginalized caste and 100s of deprived one unfortunetly from so called higher caste yet the first one wins just because we mistaken them in "marginalized" group. Of course the inclusion of the excluded is 101% correct target but we might have choose the wrong arrow.

10. Krishna S.

The British also gave Knight Grand Cross to all the Rana Prime Ministers! Maybe, now they are more enlightened with more educated population with more benign viewpoint. Maybe they are trying to correct their past mistakes. I don't know. I don't care what they think!

Good piece of work Anurag. Don't listen to these descendant of Knight Grand Cross weeeeeeners and their wannabe's.

11. Reason
Nepalitimes has found a writer who is unbiased and puts stories of both sides of a coin. Good job.

12. who cares
# when the terrorists murdered 18k nepalese: "lives spent well", they said.

# when the terrorists were sheltering in indian or should i say, killing nepalese from india: "so did nepali congress", they said.

# even after peace deal, the terrorists kept on killing, looting: "it takes time to change". they said.

# when terrorists were/are looting billions from tax payers money: "Nothing" they said.

# when it came to light that it were indians who helped those terrorist in killing nepalese: "all the political changes have occurred in nepal with the help of indians", they said.

# when it is found out that it was the terrorists who begged/surrendered to indias: "so what", they say.

# when nepal, if, sikkiminized: "remember euro zone", they will say.

to eliminate all the dalals, we either need to unite- which is not possible, or we are gonna  need nationalist psychopaths just like in US.

13. who cares
and cause just some terrorists gang is some kind of power, does that give some govt. or elements license to have relation with them.

14. who cares
"The Indians knew Gyanendra's regime was collapsing and by engaging with the Maoists, they were just trying to ensure that they kept their leverage with all major political forces in Nepal."

Maoist terrorists became a force in nepal after they received help from their master. its not the other way round. 

15. Binu

Let us accept that Nepal is a hotbed of conspiracy theories that sees outsider's hands in each and every affairs in the home ignoring our own experience that when the consensus unravels and back-stabbing starts among our politicians, outsider's role is counterproductive but  when domestic actors stats working together, outsider's role can be channeled constructively.

Let us accept that Nepal as a state is exclusionary and its bureaucracy is appropriated by  hill Hindu elites. More than 83% of special and equivalent position in bureaucracy is occupied by CHHE.

For such a monolithic bureaucracy, It is not surprising when they lobby and pressure for keeping their privileges intact.But it is a Gordian knot  for present M-M government.

16. Niranjan Regmi

Nobody can deny that the present Bhattarai  government is not only the biggest with the most ministers but also the most corrupt one since 1990.

And it has been propped up by a foreign government only to protect its own interest,and not that of the Nepali people, Madhesis or Pahadis.

People may be fed up and have differing opinions about other political parties too,but no one can  dispute the above facts.


I believe that the author could have done much better by coming out of the narrow shell and by opening his ears and eyes fully to grasp the present reality.

What he is saying about SD Muni is unpardonable. How can you just say to enjoy a good day to an agent of traitors. It is now beyond any doubt that India wanted instability in Nepal and wanted to control Nepal's politics. When King Gyanendra showed his nationalistic feelings. India used Maoists as a pawn.

India will suck Maoists and when their purpose is over, they will throw Maoists in a corner. Maoists should be discrded by all of us. This article fails to capture the reality of Maoist Terrorism.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)