Nepali Times
State of the state

As a foreigner who has lived and worked in Nepal for three years between 1998-2002, I applaud the sentiments expressed by CK Lal in 'Time to get the story straight' (#163). It is ordinary Nepalis, not the Kathmandu elite, not the expatriate community and not tourists, who continue to suffer, physically, psychologically and economically, while the Maoists and the government are engaged in their power struggles. While some concern on the behalf of the embassies and tourists is to be expected-as both usually were on the side of caution-it has been frustrating to see development organisations, in some cases, following suit.

Despite the choice of many development and volunteer organisations to remain in Nepal and continue working alongside Nepali community-based organisations whose services are all the more important during times of conflict, several others have decided that working in Nepal is not currently viable. Whilst it is important that organisations (both foreign and local) track security situations daily and diligently, and whilst some removal of personnel from particular regions will occur, it frustrates and saddens me that some organisations have abandoned their development program altogether. As a volunteer in Nepal, I experienced no fear for my own safety. Quite to the contrary, I experienced incredible support and protection from my local friends and colleagues. And in all cases where volunteers worked in areas that were deemed 'risky', they were redeployed without any personal injury experienced.

I applaud development organisations, both local and foreign, who have continued to work alongside ordinary Nepalis during this difficult time. I encourage foreign organisations, journalists, individuals to consider the consequences of their knee-jerk reactions to avoid Nepal, which are fuelled as much by western arrogance as concern for safety. The war in Nepal is not about 'us'. Although experiencing a period of exceptional political instability, Nepal is a diverse and rich country, where much business and development work and holiday-making can carry on, undisturbed.

Christine Mylks,
Body in Toronto, soul in Nepal

. As a regular subscriber to Nepali Times, I read every part of the paper, especially CK Lal's column which I think is bold and interesting. Yet, sometimes some of his arguments sound really naive. In 'Wartime Dasai' (#164) I was bewildered to read that Lal also believes that "maturity brings wisdom". When it is in our capacity to make democracy work, we can't put the national interest at risk and wait for another 200 years for it to mature like in other countries. It's just like our politicians' attitude of passing the buck. Maturity doesn't bring wisdom, it has to come from a sensibility to understand why democracy is in danger.

Yunesh Subedi,

. We have read thousands of write-ups from hundreds of politicians and journalists like Pashupati SJB Rana and CK Lal (#164) explaining the reasons for our present political fiasco. Now the time has come to go beyond 'Kathmandu high society' rhetorics and increasingly stale intellectual debates. Political stalwarts like Rana should now try to find answers to simple questions like why South Asia is lagging behind Japan, South Korea, China and South-East Asia. How does 50 years of a "fully-functional and robust" democracy in India still bring leaders like Rabri Devi? Of course, intellectuals like Lal could write hundreds of pages of arguments to prove that Rabri Devi is an exception. As to foreign concerns regarding democracy in Nepal, suffice it to say that among the two largest democracies in the world, India is whole-heartedly supporting absolute monarchy in Bhutan and the Americans are quite comfortable with a military regime in Pakistan. Maybe Rana is right when he says "time and luck are more important". It seems until time and luck (that of 23 million people) manage to throw out incompetent leaders like GP Koirala and Madhab Kumar Nepal (under whose leaderships both parties split, derailing political courses at crucial periods) from their respective parties, those two parties should not be allowed to fool around with the political fate of the nation. Let us coin a new slogan: "Economy Yes, Politics No."

Sugat Ratna Kansakar,

. There was a time when desperate people in this country had some genuine respect, and expectation from Maoists because they were frustrated with political corruption, internal wrangling, selfishness and most important of all, lack of vision to lead the country. There was therefore a 'lets-watch-and-see' support for the Maoists. While there is no doubt that Nepal needs a socialist approach in the period leading up to economic growth, people are naturally-born capitalists. Everyone wants to become rich, given a choice. We don't need research to prove that. The key issue to be decided by the Maoists, and for that matter the whole community of people who believe in communism, is whether we go about this by helping the poor become rich, or forcing the rich to become poor. Is it the distribution of poverty or the distribution of affluence you want to promote? Killing rich people has never automatically made poor people rich. (Anyway, it is mostly poor Nepalis who are being killed in the name of the peoples' war.) The average Nepali is not interested in the ideology of communism's prophets, they just want to live peaceful, decent lives. Nepal's long-suffering people deserve to be told how the Maoists are going to make this a more egalitarian society so they can decide whether to stick around or migrate elsewhere.

Rajeeb Satyal,

. Dasai this year in Nepal may be different but CK Lal's articles are always all the same. In 'Wartime Dasai' he points out the obvious-that violence has engulfed the nation, people of Kathmandu do not know the condition of the country and we had a very bad period of infant democracy. I think, on this auspicious occasion of Dasai, he should take a break from writing, go to a Maoist stronghold and report on the situation there. I would be indebted to him if he could let us know the form of government they are running and its economic, educational and social care policies. However, this requires huge courage and perspicacity in his part.

A Subedi, Greencastle,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)