By Prabasi Nepali
The government, civil society and the public at large are neglecting the nexus between open garbage on the streets and the possibility of spreading disease and epidemics. The people in general take it as their god-given right to haphazardly throw their household rubbish at the next possible and convenient street corner. Pedestrians passing by have to bear the stink and health hazards. The households could very well keep their waste indoor until and unless it is collected. The municipality should start a campaign to keep the streets clean and fine delinquents who do not observe the rules and regulations. This is also the first step in inculcating civic sense in society.
There are countless parts of the city that have to be cleaned up, but the writer would like to point to three areas which she/he daily confronts on her/his daily morning walks. First, it is in NaxalChardhunge near a small temple; second, it is the street just outside the Santoshi Mai temple/ Nag Pokhari, and finally it is the street between the GairidharaChowk and the TukucheChowk, the start of the Uttar Dhoka Avenue. This is not at all edifying. The big and small corporate houses in these areas also lack a sense of social responsibility. That the temple precincts should be littered with refuse also speaks volumes about our connection to our religious beliefs – after all, cleanliness is next to godliness! There is, therefore, every reason for the ministers responsible for roads, environment and culture to get their heads together, and not only collect fat salaries and go on foreign trips!
Barbed Wire around Narayanhiti
The devastating earthquakes more than a year ago destroyed the walls surrounding the palace in the Uttar Dhoka Avenue and Lainchaur. As a stop-gap measure and to maintain security it was correct to bring rolls of barbed wire on the remaining walls, although it was definitely ugly and also dangerous for passers-by. Now as a measure to ‘beautify’ these unsightly structures, the Nepal Army has now brought a green cloth screen along the length of the damaged wall with barbed wire – perhaps also to keep out prying eyes from the ‘high security’ area. If the Army itself does not have the money to build a new wall, the Nepal Trust should cough up the necessary amount. After all, it has impounded enough money and land from the erstwhile royal family. This unsightly construction should be removed forthright from a prime area of the city. High time for the Nepal Army and the Nepal Trust to spring into action!
Himal Southasian Magazine to Suspend Publication
The founding editor of this scholarly magazine, Kanak Mani Dixit has announced that it has been forced to suspend publication soon. This is not because of any internal difficulties or financial problems, but because of hassles and obstacles imposed from outside, making the running of the magazine almost impossible. Mr. Dixit did not elaborate, but wrote tersely and acidly: “It may look like it is the state behind the suspension of Himal, but of course it is something more insidious – a malevolent parallel state.” He also hinted that there may be some geopolitical entanglement involved. He has called upon supporters and well-wishers to combat this attempt to sink this well-received journal, the only international publication out of Nepal, this would be a great shame in a supposedly open and democratic society, and it may very well wander to another South-Asian capital.
ShardaThapa reacted thus: “This is an outrage, plain and simple. It appears . . . that petty, vindictive and malevolent operators – bureaucratic and political – have been able to silence this sterling symbol of journalistic craft from Nepal.” She also added that it is incumbent on the involved bureaucrats and politicians to explain fully why they have been denying the permits and delaying the processing in order for the journal to function smoothly. A quick, proper, open and transparent resolution of this issue is badly needed. There can be no excuse, and if there is no recourse soon, the culprits should be exposed in the social media and ostracized.In the meantime, the Ministry of Communications need to answer some serious questions about freedom of speech! In this and other crucial questions of interest to the general public, it can only be hoped that the RashtriyaPrajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) will take its opposition role seriously und put the ‘unnatural coalition government of strange bedfellows’ under relentless pressure.
Myanmar Peace Summit
Myanmar’s diverse patchwork of ethnicities make about a third of the total population. However, the government and military have long been dominated by the members of the majority Bamar ethnic group, to which Aung San SuuKyi, the State Counsellor and Foreign Minister also belongs. She was denied being elected president by a clause in the constitution from the time of the military junta.
The peace conference in the capital Naypyidaw comes nearly seven decades after her father General Aung San signed an agreement with the major ethnic groups promising them autonomy and led the country to independence from British colonialism and imperialism. However, the settlement collapsed after his assassination and was not put into effect by the military dictatorship that seized power. The failure to confront this ethnic problem on the borders to China (Yunnan), India (North-Eastern States/Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram), Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand have been the source of many insurgencies in the country’s borderlands ever since.
The landmark summit which concluded last week was the first step on what promises to be a Herculean task. SuuKyi’s biggest achievement was bringing new players to the negotiating table, including rebel armies that had not signed a shaky ceasefire brokered by the former military regime. She has also supported the minority groups’ demands for greater autonomy in their homelands. However, it will be a formidable endeavor to craft a federal arrangement that meets each minority’s unique demands. In addition, amendments to the junta-era constitution will also require support from the still-influential military, which still has power to veto any proposed changes. Distrust of the military still runs deep, especially in the tribal areas battered by decades of insurgency and maltreatment.
During her two-day visit to Kathmandu, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, NishaBiswal had raised the question whether Nepal could make a commitment to assimilating the remaining 10,000 Bhutanese refugees. These are still languishing in camps in south-eastern Nepal after the resettlement of over 80,000 in western countries.
The Foreign Minister, PrakashSharanMahat flatly refused saying that it was Bhutan’s obligation to take back its citizens. Mahat was very naïve and was not very knowledgeable (nor briefed properly by his own ministry) on the narrative of the Bhutanese refugees. Nothing can be done for the repatriation of the refugees to Bhutan until and unless India puts pressure on Bhutan. It was very telling that he insisted (in an interview with The Kathmandu Post): ‘We vary fundamentally from the Oli government, especially how we view India.” If the Maoist-Nepali Congress government so flaunts the ‘special’ relationship with India, Pushpa Kamal Dahal (in his forthcoming India visit, if he has the guts) could very well request his ‘BadaBhai’ NarendraModi’s help in bringing this crucial matter to closure.
G-20 Summit at Hangzhou, China
At the opening of the two-day summit of leaders from G-20 nations at Hangzhou (south-east of Shanghai), Chninese President Xi Jinping warned that the global economy is threatened by rising protectionism and accumulating risks of high leverage. The global economy is “at a crucial juncture” he said, hemmed in by sluggish demand, financial market volatility and feeble trade and investment. Furthermore, “growth drivers from the previous round of technological progress are gradually fading, while a new round of technological and industrial revolution has yet to gain momentum.”
US President Barack Obama described his bilateral talks with XI as “extremely productive”, but which failed to bring the two sides closer on thorny issues such as tensions in the South China Sea.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker emphasized that China must set up a mechanism to address its problem of industrial overcapacity, saying it was “unacceptable” that the European steel industry had lost so many jobs in recent years. Previously, both the French President and the German Vice Chancellor both had gone on record to state that the US-European Union trade talks had basically failed because of US insistence on over-protectionism.
US Presidential Elections
Two months from Election Day on November 8, Hillary Clinton has a clear advantage over Donald Trump in nearly every measure traditionally used to gauge success in presidential elections. A sophisticated monitoring team with a history of winning White House contests is carefully tracking voters in key battleground states.
However, Ms. Clinton may still trip up over her controversial email practices while still secretary of state and the nexus to the Clinton Foundation.