Nepali Times

If only Nepal's so-called rulers gave a good read to Ekta Ghimire's letter (#112) and also took a good look at themselves in the mirror and reformed, there would be some hope for Nepal.

Jaishree Bhattarai,
by email

. Every week, the news from home is progressively worse ("Enough", #111 and "Hunger for peace", #112). You think of the ordinary Nepalis caught in the middle and suffering from the conflict. And that is only in the affected districts, what about the rest of Nepal? Youths, particularly men, are fleeing to the cities, and across the border to India. The elderly, women, and little children have been left behind to fend for themselves. Local people are terrorised by the Maoists who extort money, food and other necessities. The army has forbidden the planting of corn for security reasons, and people already reeling under drought have no food. No one makes eye contact, no one talks. Nepal is in the silence of fear.

Who then is responsible now and who can we turn to? The political parties and their leaders have all exposed themselves as being unable to rise up to the task. They are selfish, corrupt, and blatantly shameless, and the people have lost their trust in them. The police was never trained for this kind of war, and the army obviously does not have the necessary intelligence to carry on. Civil society is virtually non-existent, NGOs are fragmented along political lines, donor-driven, and poorly resourced.

Nepal's safety nets have always been the traditional and cultural sense of the family and community, but even these are disintegrating through displacement and other risks from the present times. Where can people turn? What happens to children who have suffered personal losses owing to the conflict and are now filled with hatred and revenge? Maybe this conflict will force us to think about the underlying injustice and inequities and finally act on them, and build a new Nepal. Nepalis need to work together with a common purpose, and we need rulers who have the vision to take us there.

Rita Thapa,
University of Toronto, Canada

. Is anybody getting a good night's sleep in Nepal? Is the prime minister sleeping? Or is he getting sleepless nights thinking about the political vacuum that is leading to the uncertainties? Are the prime minister's advisers losing any sleep over this government-less situation? Can the politicians sleep, now that they have amassed what was supposed to go to improving peoples' lives? Can civil servants sleep when they are posted to remote district headquarters with no guarantee of protection? And those caught in the security or Maobaadi dragnet, how is their sleep? Can businessmen sleep in the face of economic collapse? School teachers and administrators when hounded by both the government and the Maoists? And how about those directly in the fight: the Maoists and the security forces-they are certainly awake through the night. But can they snatch some sleep during the day? Is the chief of police sleeping? The army chief? Ordinary citizens. Families caught in the crossfire. Families grieving for relatives killed. Is any Nepali sleeping?
Then, of course, there are also those who sleep because they are no more with us, caught by the blow of a khukuri, a bullet from a .303 or a light machine gun or a pressure cooker bomb. The only ones alive sleeping peacefully are those without a conscience who do not worry about their motherland, who do not care for others or for the people's future during their waking hours. When will we search our souls and begin the healing process? Who is going to take the first step?

Shanta Dixit
by email

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)