Civil Movement Continues!

Let’s first have a look at the atmosphere on April 24 for last two years and see how people’s power changed that:

Chaitra 11, 2062 (or April 24, 2005): King Gyanendra was in Asian African Summit in Indonesia; his speech hinting that Nepal will soon be free from the state of emergency, whence civil liberties and press freedom will be restored. Girija Prasad Koirala out of house arrest had asked, in weak voice, for reconciliation for multiparty democracy and constitutional monarchy. The bottomline of The Kathmandu Post editorial on the day read: …when the King himself has been spreading the message of democracy and peace, the onus is on all Nepali citizens to help the King fulfill his dream.

Chaitra 11, 2063 (or April 24, 2006): King Gyanendra gave up after 15 months reading out the statement drafted by political parties. The Maoists attacked Chautara killing six. After 19-day protest by millions of people, unprecedented, the parliament restored suggesting not only the restoration of democracy but also the end of Maoists violence, though the Maosits attacked Chautara and killed a few same day. The Kathmandu Post editorial urging Maoists to annouce ceasefire wrote: Though the revolution is yet to be completed, it can be said that upon its completion, it is going to be the most glorious instance of a peaceful movement in the world history.

Chaitra 11, 2064 (or April 24, 2007): A year after the end of 11-year long Maoists violence, monarchy hiding in the dark, political parties showing unprecedented unity for going republic, people are yet to be satisfied. It’s not that nothing has happened, the Maoists are in the government – the biggest achievement for the people who hated reading everyday about attacks and deaths. The Kathmandu Post editorial today noticing that there are still a lot of area where where improvements are required urges: We urge the government to put in more effort so that the complaints of the people ill be less by the time of the next Loktantra Day.

Today, Nepal is celebrating the Loktantra Day (or Democracy Day) as it’s the anniversary of the day when King Gyanendra was brought to his knees by the will of people. After ruling 15 months, millions of people taking streets nationwide forced the King to step back. This day, we celebrate the power of the people – the power that uprooted the regimes trying to stand on the foundation of weapons.

I wonder why not call it the People’s Day.

Sadly enough, the people who braved the curfews, latthis and guns, are not satisfied at what had happened in the gone year. One rightly said, the people brought down the King, disciplined the Maoists but failed to do so with the political parties and leaders. The political arena is back to the old, dirty game – leaders accusing each others and trying to work for the sake to their parties not to the people’s.

While writing this, I am listening to Raamesh’s Raktakranti Ko Jwalamukhi ma (on the volcano of bloody revolution) and remembering how did people participated in the rallies around the country, how did the security forces were forced to step back and how enthusiatic people were for the revolution.

Despite the dissatisfaction around, the celebration of this day is very important – neither to celebrate the restoration of democracy nor to laugh at the ashen-faced King speaking to the nation. But to remember our deeds – what we as a people can do, to regain the faith that people are the ultimate power, to remember the love and labor we had a year ago for the betterment of our country.

On 24 April, 2004, there were no talks about republican, they were for reconcilation because the political parties knew that people had lost faith in them. The leaders were jokers of the circus where a few of their own followed around but the mass mostly laughed at their performance.

A year after, they regained the faith not because they led the protest rather because they went with the wish of the people that were already in the streets. They learnt that going with people’s wish is their only way.

But have they forgotten the lesson?

As people, let’s celebrate the day! As the civil society had in their slogan for the day – Civil Movement Continues! Remember. Review. Warn. Let’s remember our power, the daring courage we showed for the country. Let’s review what had happened in the year since after and let’s warn our leaders that we are not done yet! If you are incapable, we are ready to take over!

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Remembering BLOGAN Initiatives

[KP Dhungana has written an entry about the birth of BLOGAN. At the time when the association is taking shape, it’s an interesting piece of history. I am here translating a bit of his entry and then adding my perspectives. The text in bold are translation of KP’s entry.]

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The Best Blog Meet! So Far

By Jitendra Raj Bajracharya

Twenty-four! The number is certainly not very big, but whenever I look at the attendence of the Blog Meet IV and saw that 24 bloggers attended the April 21 gathering, I feel great. Not only because it was double than the biggest previous meeting, but because the discussion today led us to a new direction.

The most motivating factor was participation of Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, the border issue expert, who will surely prove a big motivator for all bloggers and six female bloggers.

Everybody agreed that we need a formal structure, although there was hot discussion whether is should be registered or not. Going through self-nomination process, KP Dhungana, Ghanshyam Ojha, Deepak Adhikari, Ram Prasad Dahal, Bishnu Dhakal, Rajendra Biswokarma, Avinashi Paudel, Mohd Tajim and Tapas Barsimha Thapa became the members of the working committee while I nominated Umesh Shrestha.

For now, until the formal structure is made, I will be co-ordinating the working committee. Thanks all for approving me for the responsibility.

The other major decision made today include giving kick-start to book publication. KP Dhungana will be co-ordinating the work while all of us agreed to help him by writing what he will ask for. All the bloggers will write their blogging experience (either English or Nepali), Deepak will write a chapter on Nepali Blogging History, I will write the chapter on international trend on blogging while Salik Shah and Mohd Tajim will write a practical guidelines of using blogger.com and WordPress respectively.

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Participatory Model for Television

Audience participation in television is always difficult. It’s difficult for television stations to broadcast letters they receive, though we have seen CNN broadcasting thoughts of their viewers. In newspaper, the opinion page and letters to editor gives readers space to express themselves (of course, they are selected and edited).

In television, there is very little normal audience can do. They are a few ways to integrate the audiences’ voices. One good model of television giving space to their audience in Nepal is Kantipur Television’s Sarokar. The one-hour weekly program has gained popularity and because of the nature of the program, it asks for the citizens’ participation.


The participants of the program.

The program, produced by Bijay Poudel, Somesh Verma and researched by Bhaskar Gyawali (all of whom are my friends), is a moderated discussion between 12 to 24 people on a particular topic.

I watched the shooting of the program on April 16. It was on the election of constituent assembly and there were 14 participants. Four of the participants were invited while other joined by their interest. The station runs an advertisement asking the people to call them if they are interested to come and join the discussion on the subject on Sunday for about an hour (or until there are enough callers).

Normally, no caller is rejected and they all are asked to come for the shooting on Monday. I talked with a few participants who came by their interest and they seemed quite happy. “We were said the democracy dawned in 1951 and then in 1990, but as a normal citizen, we didn’t get forum for such expression,” one of the participants told me.

During the shooting that lasted for 53 minutes the participants participated nicely in the discussions. Though I felt like the time wasn’t enough for the participants to talk all they wanted too.


Somesh and Bhaskar during shooting of the program.

I have seen program called Sarbajanik Sunuwai in Nepal Television in which the programs are organized in districts and government officials are made to answer the questions from people. And, that too is quite participatory.

I believe these two models (of course, I don’t know much about NTV’s program for I don’t have friends producing that program) of participation of citizens in discussion of current events will have some effects and there will be more such program.

Photos by Nepal Photo Agency

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Happy New Year 2064

Happy New Year 2064 AD!

Let’s hope Year 2064 will be fruitful to Nepal in terms of political stability, peace building and smooth transition from conflict-hit nation to once-again-country of peace.

For Nepali, there is three opportunities to wish happy New Year every 12 months; the Gregorian calendar, the Bikram Sambat, and then the Nepal Sambat. Yet, despite making the wish every time, we fail to work for the completion of the wishes and go on wishing that again each and every time.

We all know, wishing alone is not enough; we have to work for that. Yet, we remain ignorant. I am not an exception and I am afraid to make new resolutions. But with the hope of not running away and not ignoring, let’s make a few resolutions.

All Nepali citizens let’s make a promise to be aware of the current situation in the country and then to express our views in anyway possible – at teashops, at letters to the editor and better in blogs.

All Nepali bloggers, let’s try to make our blogs a regular one and to help build the New Nepal in our own way! Let’s raise the voice and let’s discuss.

One of my blogger friends vowed to write for the establishment of republican democracy in his blog and I loved it. Our views can be different, but for the making of the New Nepal, if we could do something, we should do it.

New Nepal is a vague term and this doesn’t only apply for the political turnaround. This applies to socio-economic change too, and most importantly the change in our perceptions. We need to believe that we can build a happy nation.

We can wish for New Year three times a year, but for contributing to the making of New Nepal, we may not get the second chance. Let’s contribute from our side in whatever way we can. Together we can!

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April 21: Lets Make It a Big Day

The Bloggers Meet for the month of Baisakh has been scheduled for April 21, 2007 (Baisakh 8, 2064). Please note that the meeting day in the second Saturday of the month, not the first as we usually used to meet. The first Saturday of the month is the first day of the New Year 2064 and I believe that is more for celebration than meeting.

In earlier meetings, we were around a dozen every time. That’s was not much encouraging and since many bloggers are saying they were not informed, I hope that this early information will work some magic and then we will be there in good numbers for a fresh start in new year.

I am also hoping that this meeting will not only be the biggest but also the most important than the previous meetings. In previous meetings, we talked about various aspects of Bloggers Association of Nepal (BLOGAN) and we (including KP Dhungana, Deepak Adhikari, Mohd Tajim and Umesh Shrestha – with whom I have talked about it) believe that this is now the right time to give a kick start (that is if we all bloggers want).

I hope that this time we will finalize the mission statement and take decisions on formal formation of BLOGAN and its future plans among other topics.

So, I request all the bloggers who are in Kathmandu to set aside that day for the sake of BLOGAN and please, please join us. We haven’t yet finalized the venue for the Freedom Forum we are using for meetings may be a little small if you all decide to join.

You can confirm your participation using the comments on this blog, or by mailing at bloganepal@gmail.com.

Welcome to all the bloggers!

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SLC Exam & Question Leak

Police held two teachers on suspicion of leaking question papers of School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination after Young Communist League (YCL), a wing of the Maoists, bought questions from them.

SLC Exam is something that holds very high value in Nepal. The nation-wide examination, called Iron Gate, is not only attracts attention of all Nepalis but also considered a landmark to judge any school or student.

Private schools are doing business (well there may be slight social service factor). And if they stood out good in SLC examination, there are high chances that they will get more students, can raise the fees thus acquiring more benefits. No wonder if they are buying questions for thousands of rupees.

Last year, the SLC exam questions were printed in Janak Educational Material Center, and some of the questions were suspected leaked. There were questions available which turned out to be right 40 to 60 per cent.

This year, the picture is gloomier (despite printing the questions in India). The questions of English, held on first day on April 4, were exactly the same. Then, my students told me, the boys and girls sitting next to them today’s exam of Nepali was already writing answers – when the question was yet to be distributed.

As I am a teacher to a school, I knew that there were offers to buy questions more than a week ago.

The teachers of Ganesh Secondary School in Bhaktapur who were arrested are not the real culprits. How can two teachers of a school reach the Office of Controllers of Examination (OCE)? There are more people involved, and I am sure, there are millions of rupees involved in this corruption.

Will we get a fair investigation? Difficult! Because such leakage, I think, isn’t possible without the high-ranking officials being involved. And when high ranking officials are involved, you know what.

This is probably happening for a long time. And time for the government to think about minimizing the SLC exam’s affect on the people. One best way could be holding it differently in different district with different schedule and publishing results separately so that it doesn’t cause nation-side interest.

My students are confused about the future of their exams. They happened to be giving exams in the SOS School which is right next to OCE where the YCL held the protest and the students were stopped for half-an-hour. When they asked me about it, I couldn’t answer – I just say, think about your studies rather than all these non-sense things but I know they won’t be able to concentrate and the answer I gave to them wasn’t enough.

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Nepali Blog Directory in Making

Archana Shrestha, the blogger lady with IT background, has come up with a brilliant idea of creating a list of Nepali blog sites. The Nepali Bloggers enlists 170 blog sites in alphabetical order. Bloggers can submit their blogs using a very easy form on the sidebar and that’s the beaty of it.

It is indeed one stop to peek into all Nepali bloggers. It has just begun. I hope that in coming days it will become the directory of Nepali bloggers with subjectwise division of blogs and some commentry. It’s a great effort and let’s support it.

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Maoists in Government: Shattered Thoughts

Finally, the Maoists have joined the government. If their nomination in the interim parliament didn’t suggest the end of the 12-year-long war, then their entrance into the interim government should.

For a Maoist cadre I met at the teashop gossip, it wasn’t a big achievement for them. For him, it was just the shift of power – or he put it, the Maoists joined the legitimate power. They had always enjoyed ruling.

This I found as disturbing as anything else. I thought, what if the Maoists cadres all over the country continue what they used to do during their jungle-rule shouldering on the legitimacy.

I believe this will gradually change, and hope it will soon change.

I am living in the great era of transition. I experienced party-less Panchyat, then the popular movement of 1990, the democracy, the Royal Massacre, King Gyanendra’s rule, in-between the Maoists’ people’s war, the unique peace process and there are still more to see.

Would I die with the happiness that despite all that my mother nation experienced my nation is now going good? Having seen so much in the past two decades, I can’t say anything.

The problem probably lies in our perceptions. We expect too much, and then get frustrated. We tend to change the words for creating new hopes after being dissatisfied from the old word.

Wasn’t the word Prajatantra (or democracy) good enough? We changed it into Loktantra because we get frustrated with democracy era. Properly managed decentralization could have done wonders, but now we are talking about federalism.

We hoped too much from the democracy after 1990. Then there were corrupt leaders adding to the woes. The King tried to cash the frustration of the people, he could have succeeded (weren’t general people taking ‘let’s see’ approach for almost a year) hadn’t he gotten his aides wrong.

Now with all that gone, we are hoping revolutionary changes from the Maoists, and that’s not going to happen. What they have done so far after coming to mainstream politics. The same old cliché: fighting for the positions and driving Pajeros.

Possibly we are all unlucky that we lacked the exceptional leader during all these time.

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