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Newslook: Girijalese, Gurkhalis, Dolma, ADB & Others

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Some 100 Nepalis go missing in America. NEWSLOOK also spots some critical Indian views, some wrangling over Girijalese, and an introspection on Gurkhalis.

To catch up with some recent (beginning with the latest) headlines and opinion online, here are some of the nuggets:


Nepalese Workers Missing From Ala. Plant, Huston Cronicle, Jan 30/08:
Nepalis often go missing-- tens of thousand are missing in Nepal due to conflict, and now this report that some 100 migrant Nepalis in Alabama, USA are missing! For many Nepalis, it's not a secret that once the visa expires, you also expire from public visibility. But that might not have been the case for each individual in Alabama. The report (23/ 1/2008) from Manchester, UK is a bit different, but it is also shrouded by a deadly mystery.

Update: A local television asks: So where are these workers? It then reports: The missing Nepalis may be in New York, on their way to Nepal (Jan 31/08)

The Huntsville Times reports that, unlike illegal immigrants, the missing Nepalis would be easy to track. The workers' passports were on record and each who worked longer than two weeks received a Social Security number. (Jan 31/08)

Related news on the fate migrant Nepalis:
153 Nepalis died in Qatar last year, GulfTimes, Jan 04/08
500 Nepali workers died in gulf countries in 2007, NN, Jan 02/08


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ADB's January 2008 Love for Nepal:

Jan 29: Web access to remote areas, 38 districts to be specific, with wireless broadband networks, Mahabir Pun-style= $25 million

Jan 24: Fair, inclusive, effective and complete education system for Nepal= $8 million (plus $8.7 million from EU, $600,000 from Japan, $110,000 worth technical assistance from Nepal)

Jan 22: Enhancing Air Transport Service to Ensure Sustainable Development (reassess and survey air traffic and transport network updates)= manage grant ($750,000 from Japan, $190,000 from Nepal)

A news story here.

More ADB love in Nepal here.

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Good news here as Nepalis currently battle over 6 hours of power-cut everyday. GMR Energy Limited of India has struck a deal with Nepal on 300 MW Upper Karnali hydro-power project. GMR also got the Arun III (400 MW). There were 14 bidders for UK and 9 for Arun III. Green activists, who during the early 1990s brought about the demise of the massive Arun III project, are nowhere to be seen today. Even the old-time critics would simply remain silent. The politics of shouts and slogans, did not bring any light, and perhaps they know that very well now.

But for the Maoists, this provides yet another occasion for a protest. One regional Maoist leader has likened the deal with a series of "unequal" Indo-Nepal treaties in the past and threatened to launch "deadly" protest if the MoU is not scrapped within 48 hours. But it has been many more hours than that and nothing of such has transpired as yet.

Other related stories: Here, another here, more here. This one, too. And this one also.

More good news for power-hungry Nepalis: Hydro activity is not just limited to foreign bidders. One uniquely homefront effort (309 MW Upper Tamakoshi) is also on the way.


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An untold story, Hindustan Times, Jan 26/08
There was a time that nothing much of what our leaders muttered mattered to our brothers accross the southern border though anything they mumbled would dominate our headlines. So, finally, some saw a serious consternation in some of GPK's nostalgic forays. Is this the result of PM's flaued or inflated memories that he even tried to associated himself (even if negatively) with uranium and fake currencies while in India during the '70s?

No, no way, says the PM's prabakta. But we all are familiar with many Girijalese, as with those of MKN or PKD; their refutations are as common as thier assertions. They first say it anyway, and then say they never said it in the first place. Blame the media, huh!

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Dolma Sherpa should have been the cover story for all Nepali news publications, and she should have been a non-stop news for news channels. But that is not the case. Even the world's media do not seem to be interested in the wide appeal of her familiar surname. Public pressure is also relegated to appeals made by ethnic and indigenous groups, inside and outside (exceptions: NRNA-UAE, Nepalis America Council) the country, particularly based in the United States.

Dolma, 27, a Nepali housemaid in Kuwait, has been slapped a death sentence in Kuwait for allegedly murdering a Philipino woman. A Nepali diplomat is reported to have established contact with Kuwaiti officials, but details about that contact have not been released. Another Nepali official based at the Nepali embassy at Saudi Arabia is met Dolma, who is reported to have appealed against the verdict in an appellate court of Kuwait. The embassy in Riyadh submitted a report to the Foreign Ministry suggesting that the life of Dolma could be saved if lawyers help seek reconsideration of the verdict and forgiveness of the family members of the slain Filipino woman

Except for the scattered news tidbids, information is scarce on Dolma. The embassy website in Riyadh has no mention of her, and in fact it does not even carry any press release. So is the case with the Nepali foreign ministry, one that is currently led by a woman minister. The Embassy of the Philippines in Riyadh also makes no mention of this case.

What use of these websites if they don't serve their own countries' public interests?

Dolma's Kin Concerned About Death Sentence, The Himalayan Times, January 8/08

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Nepal Maoist arms diverted to India..., Sify.com, Jan 24/08
A dangerous revelation by Maloy Krishna Dhar, a senior Indian security analyst and a former joint director of the Indian Intelligence Bureau: ...The Maoist forces in Nepal are extending material and ideological support to the Indian Maoists. Most of the weapons were not surrendered by them. A large quantity were diverted to the Indian groups on pay and carry basis. The western powers so rabidly poised against Maoist threats have so far not interacted with the government in Kathmandu to stop this funnelling which has added sinews of war to the Indian Maoists. ..

So what are the SPA members upto, united as they are with the Maoist bhais in their quest for power?

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Worrisome developments in Nepal, Rediff, January 18/08
Some prominent Indian leaders do not see any hope for Nepal's efforts at reconciling democracy with Maoism. Here is an excerpt from a speech by India's Leader of the Opposition and Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani at a summit organised by the Dainik Jagran group in New Delhi recently:

"...Friends, I would like to make a brief comment on the happenings in Nepal. My party and I stood firmly by the side of the people of Nepal in their desire for effective and fully empowered democracy. But we also backed their other aspiration, which was suppressed by the rise of Maoist forces in the politics of Nepal: namely, preservation of Nepal as a Hindu kingdom with constitutional monarchy. Maoism and democracy are a contradiction in terms. The two cannot go together. It is unfortunate that they have gained ascendancy in the polity of Nepal.

This has grave implications not only for Nepal but also for India, given the close nexus between Maoists on both sides of the border. The prime minister is right in characterising Communist extremism or Naxalism as the biggest threat to India's internal security. It is also a threat to our democracy. Why then has the United Progressive Alliance government remained a silent onlooker, with Communists in India playing the role of a colluder, when constitutional monarchy was disbanded recently under the pressure of the Maoists? The monarchy in Nepal was a symbol of its unique national identity and a source of its stability.

Also, why did the Indian Communists applaud when the identity of Nepal as a Hindu kingdom was erased even before the Constituent Assembly had discussed it? Would they demand that Pakistan or Bangladesh cease to be Islamic republics?

The examples of Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan and Nepal raise two important questions: Should India and other countries in Asia get entrapped in the Western-sponsored normative discourse on Asia's political evolution, or should we imbibe from our traditional values and norms? The former path is likely to ensure that we become the plaything of external powers seeking to shoot guns off our shoulders.

The second question is: Can Asia, or for that matter, the rest of the world, rest in peace if ideologies of religious extremism, exclusivism and global domination -- and these ideologies neither respect democracy nor tolerate secularism and plurality -- are allowed to grow in our midst?"

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Gorkhas in India: Are they being given their due?, Merinews, Jan 11/08
A rare and a fair analysis of the Gurkhali sitution in the Indian media. Restrospection is seldom a virtue of news outlets, but this one defies that culture. In deed, .... whether we [the Indians] like to hear about it or not, but the truth is, Nepalis have been the subject of racist jokes and ridicule. Be it in movies or TV serials, Nepalis are always shown as characters playing the part of a ‘chowkidaar’ with a very funny ‘shaab jee’ accent. As if they are not capable of anything else.

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The tumbrel rolls, The Economist, Jan 10/08
The UK-based economic magazine says there is no need to be surprised why few Nepalis came out on the streets to protest against the impending abolition of monarchy in Nepal when on Jan 7 the SPA and Maoists struck a deal to do away with the 240-year-old institution. The editorial blames the king for his blunders as well as the apathetic behaviors of the political parties and the sorry economic and social conditions of the general public for the continuing Nepali problem. A vote to abolish the monarchy gives Nepal a better, but not certain, hope of peace, it says.

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