Confessions of a Madhesi

Yours truly has been affected, both emotionally and ethically, with two cases this week.

Case 1: Most of the people who subscribe to daily newspapers were shocked while having their morning tea, reading of the arrest of Former Minister and current lawmaker Shyam Sundar Gupta (Longer power cut hours has made sure not many can watch Television). The reason was simple, somebody as powerful as a former minister getting nabbed in course of investigation of high-profile abduction case. This was certainly no storm in a teacup.

Case 2: Government decided to appoint Nagendra Jha as Director General of Survey Department. Not many have forgotten that the man in question is the same person who has been accused in past, of giving Rs 800,000 to the family of late Hindu Yuva Sangh leader Kashi Tiwari. That was no gift but an offer of payment to keep their mouth shut and not to drag then Land Reforms and Management Minister Prabhu Sah into Tiwari’s murder case. Minister Sah was the prime accused in the murder case. Now Mr. Jha is the same person, who, during his tenure as Chief District Officer of Parsa was held by the locals of Birgunj while using a stolen vehicle last year.

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Of Awards, Missions and ‘My People’

Jess Owens oncesaid, “Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
And Owens wasarguably one of the most influential athletes of all time, winning 4 gold inBerlin Olympics in 1936, when Hitler staged the game to showcase the Aryansupremacy.
Despite what Owenssaid, awards do, and would continue to, mean a lot to the athletes. These arethe reasons why they play for, when the game they play is not enough to buythem sustenance. Probably that’s why Pulsar Sports Awards gets a lot ofpublicity. So much that players go ahead players or their fans go ahead gettingpamphlets printed and paste it around the walls. So much, fan groups rallyaround requesting for SMS votes. The national football team went to the easternregion, to play friendly matches against Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa – with thepermission from ANFA – to gather support for its captain, who happens to be oneof the nominees for Popular Player of the Year.
At the risk ofirritating a lot of sports journos, yours truly would also like to argue thatthe awards have become popular also because it is organized by Nepal SportsJournalist Forum. Most sports journos are affiliated with the forum, and thenews gets month long (or more coverage in popular newsprint), making it widelyread, and thus popular. One question could be asked here: Would it get as muchcoverage, if some other organization covered it?
If the answer isyes, there is nothing wrong with it. But if the answer is no, rethinking is needed. Are we overdoing it?

Following the Royal Takeover

[This article, written by yours truly, was published on Radio Free Nepal, an online blog, where articles were published anonymously, following takeover of Executive powers by then King Gyanendra. This article appeared under the headline: An Account from Kantipur TV News Staff on Censoring, on February 19, 2005.]
The army began cordoning our office premises at around 9:30 (0445GMT) in the morning, some half an hour ahead of the Royal Proclamation… the state-owned radio and television had already announced that King Gyanendra was going to address the nation. Nothing more than that had been said, except that the King had summoned the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and chiefs of security agencies for a Royal audience.

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Olympic spirit: Did we not lose it?

More than 200 countries – 205 in theory – marked the Olympic day on June 23rd. The day has significance in history as it was the same day in the year 1894, when International Olympic Committee was formally established.
As every National Olympic Committees marked the day, their focus was the slogan – Sports for Everyone. Only we, perhaps, marked it without getting the message. For us, it was not for everyone. That has to be exactly the reason why there were two Olympic Committees organizing their own program in two different places. While one chose birthplace of Buddha, the other one chose the capital (as if Buddha was against unity).
If you find it astonishing, you’re in for more shock. Two of our best known sportspersons, and the only players we have produced so far to get ‘qualified’ for an Olympic event, were not the part of celebrations. Yes, Deepak Bista and Sangina Baidya were not present in either of the programs. And why would they? After all, they would not like to be linked with yet another controversy. And which celebration would they choose to attend? They’re affiliated to National Sports Council and would not like to go against what their bosses say.

Change in Guards at NSC: Will it be change of attitude?

The National Sports Council has a new head. Former Karateka Yuvraj Lama has made a comeback into the field of sports, after a gap of almost two decades, as the most powerful (potentially) person in Nepali sports – The Member Secretary of National Sports Council (NSC). Following his appointment, many a person were found asking, why is he back? Or what can he give back to sports?
Being able to talk to him the day he took office, I, too, was bound to ask him – Why? But Lama, as anybody who takes up such a post should be, appeared prepared. He tells you he’s presented a working plan to the party leadership. Party leadership? The question may amuse many. But that’s the way cookie crumbles here. Member Secretary of NSC, like in many other institutions that ought to be autonomous, is a political appointment.

The Royal story: A decade and counting…

The story begins in 2001…
The Information:
Yours truly got a call just a couple of hours after midnight from a friend. You never feel good getting a call before dawn, unless you’re in your prime teenage. The phone ring is always eerie (mobile phones were not in the range of entry-level job holders then), if you’ve just hit the best part of the sleep. And it was a male friend. Nothing friendly about the call, no greetings exchanged. A shock: “Did you hear about what happened at the palace?” Now you don’t expect a Royal palace to be a topic of ice breaker, that too, at such a time.
That’s enough to dispel thoughts about your friend being lunatic, because he’s a fellow journalist. Journalism is a serious business. A year into journalism – that too in the country’s best read English daily – makes you feel that you have to be an expert on whatever happens in the known universe (although I was primarily supposed to be know-all in Sports). The news was sketchy and we did not really figure out at the moment that we were talking of a massacre. The sleep, that had started only a few hours ago was nowhere in sight. After all, it was an issue about the Royals. And then you think, you were near the place of incident (Thamel), only a few hours ago. “How did I miss something then?”, a question makes rounds in your head. No answers.

The Inconvenient Truth

It’s official now. The honourable Sports Minister is going to lead our contingent at the Asian Games. He will be the chef de mission as we’re being represented by our players at the biggest stage in Asia. That, effectively, has killed the speculation and a lot of claims and counter claims over who’s to head our contingent as top athletes from all over Asia parade in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
You would breathe a sigh of relief at such a piece news, or maybe throw your hands in despair, depending upon how you view the participation. But, if you were an athlete, you’d just nod, and say, “Well, what difference does it make?” Given the nonchalance of our sport officials towards the players in previous visits, the lines speak volumes.

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The Politics of Sport

Not long ago, our Finance Minister dropped a bombshell on sports fraternity. Of course, like any other politician, he wasn’t thinking sports while talking. Rather, like any other politician, his reasons were political.

The Finance Minister said that Nepal may not be participating in the 16th Asiad, in Guangzhou, China, this November. He said, if the government cannot bring in budget before the festivals, it will not have any money to spend for the participation. His logic, albeit founded on political premises, sounds very simple. His explanation was, ‘what is the point of nation’s pride when there are dangers nation may not remain so’.

Bravo, Mister Minister!  Bull’s eye!

Times they are a’ changin…

The government today announced that the office of President of Nepal will be outsourced to India as of March 29th‚ 2010 (coinciding intentionally with birthday of yours truly).
The statement said that the move is being made in order to save the president’s salary‚ and also a result of billions of rupees in deficit expenditures, mostly managed coolly by the ever-donating-to-the-party-cadres Prime Minister, and other non-related overhead that the PMO and ministerial cabinet has incurred during meetings held over past 6 months, on how to save the government in case Mr. Koirala restarts adoring his daughter.
“We believe this is a wise financial move. The cost savings are huge‚” stated the Finance Minister, who’s also considering getting an Indian voter’s card with new-learnt tricks of govern-minting. “We cannot remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay‚” Mr. Minister.

The Year that Was!

And finally, this year (2009) comes to an end. At one point, yours truly thought this might never come to an end at all, rather the year 2009 would continue till eternity, maybe even surpassing the ‘doomsday’ announced sometime in 2012. But then every good thing comes to an end – and rather surprisingly, bad ones last too, albeit longer – and this one had to bid goodbye too.
However, this year has been a notable one, for yours truly, and he is sure, as he always is (whether it’s about his buffoonery or somebody else’s), it would have been similar, if not the same, for you too. For this has been the year when entire Nepal was more interested in the exact site, setting and semantics of mole on Namrata Shrestha’s parts-in privy (as it should have been) than it was on how to walk to office (or back) in case some nincompoop party announced a bandh at its whim.

Masters of War

As yours truly writes this, he fears if the dust has already been settled on the issue revolving around the Army Chief (of course the official army of Nepal). But fearless that he pretends to be, yours truly is almost sure the last word is yet to be said on the issue – which he assumes would be a big Amen – as the powers that be pledge another round of commitment on national TVs with a look on their face, which say Man-You-Still-Believe-Me-Don’t-You? The whole TRP grabbing episode is likely to be followed by a more private-and-only-comrade –journos-invited-for drinks served by the yet unofficial but more influential combatant outfit (Did you ever witness former RNA men chanting slogans other than Yes Sir or Hajur Saap, whichever has easier spelling?).
As the major players (not to be mistaken by Major General kind of post) of the issue go round and round, probably trying to catch the other’s tail and stamp on it, with spiked football boots, hardly realizing it’s their own tail, until of course they holler with pain, we – yours truly along with thousands of mouthless people (
nimukha janata) – are left wondering, is this the biggest shithole we are in, after we conveniently flayed the British troops and ended getting Malaria prone region as a reward? While the already-in-grave British Army question the abovementioned statement, we ignore it – saying this is as trivial an issue as writing a constitution, working for development, Bhutan acquiring nuclear arsenal from North Korea or President Obama signing stimulus package in an office where President Clinton got his package stimulated.

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Shoo-in or Shoe-eing???


Yours truly is pretty excited these days, for these are probably the best times for being a journalist (even if you’re just faking it). Committee to Protect Journalists (or the Committee of Protected Journalists?), CPJ, may go to hell, or any of the venues for Nepal’s National Games, whichever is nearer, for saying “Journalists are in Danger.”
A proud journalist that yours truly is (for no apparent reason), he has no qualms rubbishing the CPJ (Centre for Pseudo-protectionist Jamboree) report ‘Getting Away with Murder’. These actually are the best times we’ve had. In past 4 and half months we’ve thrown shoes at 3 world leaders, from the most powerful of the nations – US, China and India.

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