Tag Archives: In the News

Recent Stories of Nepal in the News

I came across a few articles on the BBC this morning about Nepal so I thought I would share the links. Then I thought I’d pull together a few other links I’ve been thinking about lately for good measure.

The first article was about a reprise in a call for “Gorkhaland” in the Darjeeling area of West Bengal. There are many Nepali speakers and ethnic Nepalis who live in this region of north-east India, including P’s grandfather’s family who hail from Kalingpong. When P’s father was young P’s grandfather sent him to live with his wife’s parents in Kathmandu. Eventually his grandfather and the rest of the family moved to the KTM valley as well, but when P was young the relatives still living in Kalingpong wanted P to come and live with them and attend primary school in their “ancestral home.” This was in the early 80s when the original “Gorkhaland” separatists were involved in skirmishes, and it was eventually deemed too risky to send P, and he spent the next 15 years of his life living in Kathmandu.

I guess recently a new state was created in southern India and this has rekindled interest in fighting to create the state of “Gorkhaland.” The  article talks about the situation in more detail: “India new ‘Gorkha’ state talks to continue.”

The second article has more details about the Maoists in Nepal. I was on a roll for a little while talking about Nepali history, and I’ll get back to that at some point, but where I was leading to was a discussion of the “People’s War” and the Maoist insurgency. Fighting was put on hold during the past few years as the Maoists and the government tried to reach a peace agreement. Among other things this led to the removal of the king and the Nepali monarchy in general, and electing Maoist officials into the national government. However various events have led to a disintegration of the fledgling peace, and lately large demonstrations and strikes have occurred. You can read more about this at: “Growing fragility of Nepal’s peace process.”

This piece I’ve been sitting on for a while waiting for a time to mention it. The New York Times runs a multimedia series called “One in 8 Million” which feature stories about various (and diverse) people living in the 5 boroughs of New York City. A while back they had a feature on a man named Tika Chapagai, a recent immigrant from Bhutan (the country known for measuring its “Gross National Happiness”) by way of Nepal. This topic probably warrants its own post some time, but I just wanted to mention briefly that one of the newest refugee populations currently resettling in the US are Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugees, many of whom have spent many years in refugee camps in eastern Nepal. I don’t really know all the back story to this refugee situation, but according to Human Rights Watch, Bhutan stripped the minority ethnic Nepalis of their citizenship and forced about 100,000 into exile in the early 1990s, allegedly in an attempt to ensure a homogeneous culture. I have several friends that are employed as translators for the Bhutanese that have been resettled in our city. I believe one of my readers also works with this population, so perhaps he can chime in, and I’ll look into more information to write a proper post sometime soon.

Another article that has recently featured in the New York Times was about two Nepali taxi drivers in New York City who shared the driving duties for a cab. One drove the night shift, the other the day shift. One day the night shift driver tried to kill the day shift driver with a meat cleaver, and after the attack jumped to his death from one of the city bridges. The article unravels the events that led up to the attack. P and I have a friend who works as a taxi cab driver in New York, and on a visit to the city a year ago we got an inside view of what the job entails. The article is both interesting and sad.

Last but not least I wanted to link to another article which was kind of interesting and bizarre. It was a Time Magazine article called “Somali Refugees in Nepal: Stuck in the Waiting Room” and it was about a community of Somalis who were trying to get smuggled to Europe but wound up stranded in Kathmandu.

Happy Reading!

“Namaste: One Teen’s Look at Nepal”

Due to some recent events in Nepal,  I really wanted to write something about the political situation in the country. As part of my blogging prep I wanted to interview my “political” friend N for a quick overview of the (unfortunately) ongoing conflicts. Instead a giant momo party was organized (literally… there were between 40-50 people there… we made and ate at least 550 momo… if not more!) and our friends R and S came for the weekend to attend the party. I know–excuses excuses–but my plan is to write about Nepal’s conflicts a bit later in the week.

One reason I want to write about the situation in Nepal is because most people don’t realize there has been (essentially) a civil war going on there for nearly a decade. Around April of 2006 the king of Nepal was overthrown, and more recently the Maoists were elected into power. Since then, several things have happened which have caused high-ranking Maoists leaders to quit the government, and within the past two weeks large demonstrations have taken place, and the Maoists guerrillas are starting to train again.

As I’ve noted before, many people don’t even really know where Nepal is, let alone that there is so much strife in the region. To give a silly example, I remember in the Disney/Pixar movie “Monster’s, Inc.” the two main character monsters were banished to the Himalayas to live with the Yeti (who in the movie was portrayed as a jolly white hairy snow-cone making beast). At one point one monster was giving a pep talk to another monster who said, “I picked out an easy door for you in nice… quiet Nepal…” as if nothing ever happens there (earlier there was mention of “wait until you see the village… its just the cutest little village… and I haven’t even started telling you about the free yak’s milk!”) Not that Disney and Pixar are known for astute political representations of things, but I remember at the time I thought it was a bit ironic.

Anyway, my goal this week is to write more in depth on this subject, but in the meantime a friend recently posted a link on facebook that was pretty interesting. In 2008 an American teenager from California was awarded a grant from the Asia Society and the Goldman Sachs Foundation to make a mini film about her experiences in Nepal. Her project is called, “Namaste: One Teen’s Look at Nepal.” It is only 6 minutes long and definitely worth a view. She did a wonderful job juxtaposing life in the US to life in Nepal, as well as giving a brief insight into some of the issues large portions of the Nepali population face everyday.

American Kantipur 2: Money and Dashain

Over the past week or so, while talking to family back in Nepal and wishing “Happy Dashain” we kept hearing about the Nepali currency shortage. As part of the holiday, many families (such as P and U) send money home, and families are unable to retrieve the electronic cash transfers due to lack of bank notes. So when I read the news this morning, I thought I’d share:

(you can read the article in its original format on the BBC)

NEPAL ACTS ON CURRENCY SHORTAGE

The authorities in Nepal say they will introduce measures to alleviate a shortage of bank notes in the country.

Lining up for cash

Nepalis have been queuing at ATMs in hope of getting cash.

As a result of the shortage, banks have limited how much cash they dispense and some businesses have been unable to pay employees and suppliers.

The finance ministry says it will introduce old but flawed bank notes that were printed but never circulated.

The crisis threatens to disrupt the country as it celebrates its biggest annual festival, Dashain.

Increased demand for rupees during the religious festival has exacerbated the shortage.

Long queues were seen at ATMs across the capital.

The BBC’s Joanna Jolly in Kathmandu says that although credit cards are readily available, most Nepalis rely on cash for everyday purchases.

Bank governors blame the crisis on a late consignment of new bank notes from France.

The French company contracted to print Nepalese rupee notes is two months late in delivering most of them, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The government has also said that it plans to airlift some of the late consignment to Nepal.

The finance ministry has formed a committee to investigate why the shortage happened, our correspondent says.

Many commentators suggest poor financial management since the end of Nepal’s 10-year civil conflict has contributed to the shortfall.

Dashain is a 15-day Hindu festival marking the triumph of good over evil. During the annual festival Nepalis return to their home villages with gifts and foods for relatives.

American Kantipur 1: Goats and Missing Krishna

Kantipur” is one of the main news agencies in Nepal. It’s a printed and online newspaper as well as a nightly news broadcast.

Krishna in Queens

Krishna in Queens, New York

In lieu of a proper post this evening, I decided to pass along two interesting news articles that P found. The first article was from the BBC, and amused P, “only Nepal would have an article highlighting a goat crisis,” and the second was an article from New York Magazine.

Apparently an older Nepali woman was visiting her daughter in Queens. It was her first trip to the US, and she become disoriented while taking an early morning walk. She wound up lost for three days while her family feared the worst. Well written and interesting, I recommend checking it out:
Krishna Gone Missing: A Nepalese woman’s 53 hours lost on the streets of Queens.”

The BBC goat article talks about Dashain, a Nepali festival that just started. Apparently Nepal is experiencing a goat shortage, and there are not enough goats for ritual sacrifice. I’ll write about Dasain later in the week.

goatOf course, that reminds me of a story. Two years ago we were going to have a party around the time of Dasain. Some of the neighborhood guys were interested in driving to a goat farm somewhere nearby and bringing back a goat for the festival.

Me: “So you want to drive 2 hours away, buy a live goat and bring it back in our car?”

P: “Don’t worry, they will kill it first.”

Me: “Wait, so you want to drive 2 hours away and put a dead goat in the trunk of our car?”

P: “Don’t worry, they will cut it up into little pieces first.”

Me: “Your story is not getting any better…”