(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)
Updated: Jun 08, 2019 12:30 IST
The countdown to the end of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s rule has begun as she has been trying to suppress her political opponents with a ruthlessness comparable to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Union minister Giriraj Singh said in Patna on Friday.
Singh was talking to reporters at the party’s state headquarters upon his first visit to Bihar after being sworn in as a Union cabinet minister.
“Ulti ginti (countdown) has begun for Mamata Banerjee…fear of an imminent defeat has left her frustrated. The treatment she has been meting out to her political opponents remind us of King Jong-un,” the firebrand BJP leader alleged when asked about the running feud between his party and the Trinamool Congress headed by the West Bengal Chief Minister.
“She has been displaying contempt for the country’s federal structure. She has said that she refuses to acknowledge Narendra Modi was the Prime Minister of India and has never attended meetings of the Niti Aayog where Chief Ministers of all states turn up,” he said.
Banerjee had at an election rally last month defended her inability to take calls from Modi for discussing the devastation wrought by the Fani cyclone, saying he was an “expiry prime minister” and she would talk to the PM upon the formation of a new government at the Centre.
Earlier in the day, she caused a flutter by announcing that she would not attend the meeting of the Niti Aayog scheduled later this month terming it as “fruitless” and suggesting in a letter to the Prime Minister conveying her decision that focus be shifted to the Inter-State Council for deepening cooperative federalism.
Sidestepping queries about Banerjee seeking “professional help” from poll strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor who is also the national vice president of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), a BJP ally in Bihar, Singh said, “I do not know whose help she is seeking. But I am certain that she has ceased to get help from the common people of Bengal.” The BJP recorded a remarkable victory in West Bengal in the recent general elections as it ended up winning 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, only four less than the ruling TMC. The party’s tally soared from only two in 2014.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
First Published: Jun 08, 2019 08:35 IST
(This Article Is Courtesy Of The Hindustan Times Of India)
Updated: Mar 10, 2019 21:31 IST
In 2014, soon after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) historic win in the general elections, a senior leader of the party was asked what lay ahead. He said, “2019. As soon as you win, the clock starts ticking towards the next polls. We cannot be a one-term wonder. A second term will cement our legacy.”
Reeling from its worst ever performance, a Congress leader had a similar response about the next objective. “All our attention must be focused on 2019. We have to survive five years, and come back. Otherwise the party’s very existence will be under threat.”
A key feature of the Indian democratic system is periodic elections. This enables a smooth transfer of power. It ensures circulation of political elites. And it keeps both the incumbent under check (for it is always looking ahead to the next poll) and the opposition hopeful (for one electoral turn can bring them back to office). Both then remain invested in the stability of the democratic system and constitutional order.
Ever since 2014, it appears that both the incumbent, the BJP, and the opposition, the Congress, and a range of regional forces have been waiting for precisely this moment. With the Election Commission announcing the dates for elections to the 17th Lok Sabha, India formally enters poll season.
What will be the nature of this election? What are the issues at stake? How do the numbers stack up as campaigning begins? And what can India expect in the next 50 days?
Under the Indian parliamentary system, in theory, when a voter goes to the polling booth, all he is voting for is a representative from his constituency. This representative is meant to frame laws in Parliament.
But electoral competition is mostly between political parties, and the party with the highest number of parliamentarians, either on its own, or in a coalition, gets to form the government. So the voter is essentially selecting not just a candidate (MP), but also the party the candidate represents, and eventually the Prime Minister (PM). The legislature and the executive are conjoined, unlike a presidential system in which they are elected separately.
This may appear basic, but it is precisely this debate which played out in 2014. Were voters electing MPs, according to local factors and arithmetic, or were they electing a PM, in keeping with a larger national outlook? Did Narendra Modi turn Indian elections into a presidential race? And what will happen in 2019?
Modi is not the first leader who has made a general election all about leadership. Jawaharlal Nehru’s elections (1952,1957,1962) and Indira Gandhi’s elections (particularly the one in 1971) were essentially presidential in nature. Even the BJP’s electoral gambits in the 1990s under Atal Bihar Vajpayee were based on leadership. Modi refined this campaign plank and took it to another level.
In 2019, the BJP is attempting to do the same. It is asking voters a simple question: would you rather have Modi or an unknown leader in a weak coalition government? And it is hoping that the image of Modi will once again succeed in rebuilding a coalition across castes, classes, geographies and override local factors. The opposition is hoping to take the election in exactly the opposite direction. It would like voters to consider local factors, prioritise narrower concerns rather than focus on national leadership.
The outcome of the 2019 election, therefore, depends on its very nature. Will it be national or local? Will electing the PM or MP be important?
But an Indian national election is too complex to be reduced to just one variable. As citizens grow more aware, aided by the spread of technology and mass media, the importance of issues will only grow. If the 2014 election was defined by anger against the past regime for its perceived corruption and inefficiency and hope for a new future, this election will be determined by a set of five issues, with sides pushing forward their competing narratives.
The first issue is national security, or, more generally, nationalism. This has shot up the charts in recent weeks in the aftermath of Pulwama.
The BJP’s story is straightforward and is following this script. The Modi government has cracked down on terror. It has also redefined the response for Pakistan-backed terror attacks, be it through the surgical strikes after Uri or air strikes after Pulwama. The following is the narrative of the government. The air strikes represented Modi’s decisiveness. He taught Pakistan a lesson. He also used India’s diplomatic strength to isolate Pakistan and bring back the pilot. Only a BJP government can keep India secure, a weak coalition government will preside over a weak security regime and would never have the strength to take on Pakistan. And any questions about the strikes come from a position of undermining national interest.
The opposition’s script on the issue is somewhat muddled. There are segments of the opposition which do not want to engage, refer to the air strikes as a matter of pride for the armed forces, and would like to shift the conversation. But there are others in the opposition who believe Modi needs be to questioned on his claims. They ask: Did the terror attack in Pulwama itself not represent an intelligence failure? What is India’s Pakistan policy, for Modi has swung from a surprise visit to the neighbouring country to talking tough? What was actually achieved in Balakot? Didn’t the fact that an Indian plane go down and an Indian pilot captured represent the government’s weakness? Did Pakistan actually land the final blow after the strikes? And what has the Modi government done to improve the situation in Kashmir or end terror decisively?
The second issue is agrarian distress and rural India.
The opposition has a robust case and argues the following. The government has not implemented the Swaminathan Commission recommendations on Minimum Support Prices. Farmer incomes are at a low; either margins are so low that livelihood is difficult or farmers are actually getting less than their cost of production and are thus driven to despair and debt traps. The government has done little to make farming attractive, treats farmers as liabilities and is leaving rural India unprepared for the future. Farmer marches and protests across the country are a symptom of this distress, as is the BJP’s losses in the state polls last year. If elected to power, the Congress has promised a blanket farm loan waiver.
The BJP, for its part, cites the PM Kisaan Scheme — a promise of Rs 6000 to small and marginal farmers, of which the first instalment of Rs 2000 is in the process of being transferred — as a landmark income support initiative. It argues that structural problems in Indian agriculture are a legacy of the past, and, instead, it has attempted to address it through soil health cards, insurance, market reforms. Productivity has in fact shot up. In addition, the Modi story for rural India goes beyond agriculture and focuses on assets. The government cites construction of houses and toilets, the distribution of gas cylinders, and electricity connectivity as big accomplishments.
The third issue is jobs.
The opposition claims that despite promising millions of jobs every year, the government has been a dismal failure on employment creation. They point to both demonetisation and the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax as having actually destroyed jobs. A recently leaked official report appears to substantiate the claim that unemployment was at a low in the year following these initiatives. The lack of progress on Make in India, the stalled private investment, the persisting twin balance sheet problem are all cited by the opposition to make the case that the government has done little to kickstart the economy, and has only favoured a few crony capitalists.
The BJP has an entirely different narrative on jobs. It argues that there has actually been substantial job creation in the service sector; the Mudra loans indicate a spurt in entrepreneurship and self employment; the government has also improved India’s ranking in the ease of doing business, which facilitates investment, which, in turn, facilitates jobs. The Modi government claims that far from encouraging cronyism, it has actually brought in key reforms to institute cleaner capitalism — from the bankruptcy code to the GST — and this will slowly begin showing dividends. As proof of its sound economic management, the government also points to low inflation.
The fourth issue is identity, which encompasses both caste and religion.
For the opposition, the BJP regime is marked by a strong element of Hindu upper caste domination, which is geared against Dalits. By suggesting that the BJP is against reservations, pointing to the presence of upper castes at the top echelons in the party, arguing that there is a tilt towards Thakurs in key states like UP, and claiming that caste atrocities have increased, the opposition hopes to wean away Dalits and perhaps even sections of OBCs from BJP.
On caste, the BJP has attempted to keep intact its wide coalition. By restoring the original provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or restoring department wise reservations for marginalised in universities in the final cabinet meeting, the government hopes to convince Dalits its interests are supreme; by introducing 10 percent reservation for economically weaker sections, it hopes to signal to ‘General castes’ – its old core vote – that the government has taken steps to make the system more just for then; by pointing to the ongoing work of the commission to sub categorise OBCs, BJP will tell OBC groups that it is drawing up a more equitable system where advantages are not monopolised by only the most dominant of the backward groups.
The identity debate will play out in the realm of religion too. Some opposition parties will be vocal in pointing out that BJP’s regime was marked by outright majoritarianism; state backed vigilantism in the name of cow protection; marginalisation of Muslims from the political sphere; and assault on their livelihoods. Most opposition parties – particularly Congress, but also key regional forces in UP like Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party – will seek to capitalise on the Muslim vote, but not make this an explicit part of the agenda for they fear that it will lead to counter-consolidation of Hindus in favour of the BJP. But make no mistake, as subtext, religion will matter. For its part, the BJP will make an attempt to play the Hindutva card, in order to construct a wide vote across caste and class cleavages. From the (temporarily stalled) Citizenship Amendment bill to promises of Ram Temple, from acting tough against illegal (Muslim) immigrants to blurring the line between nationalism and Hindutva and encouraging polarisation on the ground, expect the BJP machine to deploy a range of tools.
And the fifth issue is the state of Indian democracy or institutions.
For the opposition, the post 2014 period has been marked by increasingly authoritarian rule of Modi, aided by BJP president Amit Shah. They allege that all institutions – from the cabinet to Election Commission, from Central Bureau of Investigation to the Reserve Bank of India, from the judiciary to the media – have all been compromised in this quest to create an almost totalitarian set up where party faithful take over all spaces. The BJP argues that distortion and politicisation of institutions is once again a legacy of the Congress. These allegations are only a result of an old entrenched elite having lost power. And in fact, they claim, what is now visible is deeper democratisation with a new segment of people, away from Westernised urban centric backgrounds but more rooted to the soil, exercising power.
But Indian elections are not won or lost only on leadership and issues. It is a complex landscape with multiple states, multiple parties, and a battlefield where arithmetic often reigns supreme.
The BJP begins its campaign way ahead of the rest of the pack. This is both the party’s strength and weakness. It swept north, west and central India in 2014. Replicating the performance in these regions will be particularly difficult because either the party now faces three tiers of anti incumbency in many of these states – it is in power at the centre, in the state, and has the MP from most constituencies across Bihar, UP, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra – or has just lost power in states – be it MP, Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh. It also has an additional challenge in the form of alliances, especially the SP-BSP alliance in UP.
The Modi-Shah machine’s entire effort will be to defend its gains in this belt, and it believes the surge in nationalist sentiment post the air strikes will benefit them most precisely in this belt. The opposition’s entire effort will be to limit the BJP to the bare minimum here. This will either take the form of sharp bipolar contests in which the Congress is the principal challenger, or triangular contests in which the BJP will face a regional force with Congress playing a supplementary role.
If the game in the heartland for the BJP will be defence, in the east and south, it will be expansion. The BJP has invested remarkable energy in West Bengal and Odisha in particular. The opposition is more enthused here, however, for it believes that the BJP has not been able to make enough inroads independently in West Bengal or Odisha to take on the Trinamool or Biju Janata Dal; it has weakened its chances in the Northeast by pushing the Citizenship Bill; and it has minimal presence across all southern states except Karnataka where a Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance will take them on.
It would be foolhardy to make any predictions based on these regional variations at the moment. But what we can say is the following.
The BJP is likely to dip from its high of 282 seats in 2014, but the extent of the dip is not known. The Congress is likely to gain somewhat from its low of 44 seats in 2014, but the extent of the gain is not clear. There will be a coalition in power after 2019 with regional parties probably exercising more say unlike in the post 2014 arrangement, but whether they will indeed exercise the veto or get leadership or play a supplementary role to a national party is not clear. And there will be a reconfiguration of forces after the results are out, with many of those currently on the fence — the BJD, Telangana Rashtriya Samithi or YSR Congress Party — more willing to reveal their cards.
But beyond the outcome, Indian elections are a remarkable exercise in allowing society to have a voice in shaping who runs the state. It is a moment for social conflicts and fault lines to play out in a civil, non violent and democratic manner. It is a moment for the political elites to understand and adapt to the demands of a new, empowered citizenry. And it is the occasion to keep this utterly diverse landscape tied together to a common political unit. Both the campaign and the polling over two months will once again be a tribute to the foresight of the Constitution’s founding fathers, as India charts the path for the next five years.
First Published: Mar 10, 2019 20:11 IST
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF Sohini Mitter)
Sohini Mitter posted on 2nd October 2018
Mahatma Gandhi continues to be relevant even after 70 years of his death. Our pop culture keeps him alive and for good reason.
Mahatma Gandhi would have been 149 today.
Arguably the most influential figure of modern Indian history, Gandhi is also one of the most studied, discussed and dissected personalities of all time. And for good reason.
Dominique Atkinson and Doug Greene in their book The Men Who Changed the Course of History counted Gandhi alongside Jesus Christ, Napoleon Bonaparte, David Moses, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Prophet Muhammad.
These individuals, the book said, “would have been remarkable in any era in which they were born. But by living when they did, each defined the times in which they lived. Their actions transformed the imprint of their countries and the world.”
Even great men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, who played critical roles in the transformation of their respective countries, were deeply influenced by Gandhi’s doctrines of truth and non-violence.
Closer home, the ‘imprint’ of the Mahatma has endured, of course.
His face has been printed across our currency notes for 22 years and counting. Gandhi portraits adorn the walls of Indian courtrooms, police stations, government offices, etc. Schoolkids dress up as Gandhiji in annual functions year after year. And, there is media and popular culture that keeps Gandhi — somewhat like Che Guevara — always topical.
YourStory lists some notable pop culture references that invoke and celebrate Mahatma Gandhi.
Sir Richard Attenborough famously said that it took him 20 years to find a financier for his eponymous film on the Mahatma. When he pitched the life story of a non-violent freedom crusader from India to producers, they dismissed him saying, “Who the hell will be interested in a little brown man wrapped in a sheet carrying a beanpole?” Gandhi eventually released in 1982, with Ben Kingsley essaying the titular role. A year later, it won eight Oscars, including Best Film and Best Actor. The film charted Gandhi’s journey from 1893 South Africa, when he was subjected to racial discrimination, to 1948 India, when he was assassinated less than a year after Indian independence. Attenborough’s film continues to remain the most definitive work on the life and times of the Mahatma.
Shashi Tharoor’s 1989 book, The Great Indian Novel, which drew from characters and personalities in Indian history and mythology added a touch of irreverence to Gandhi and kept readers guessing with clues and references. A character named Gangaji is shown as the leader of the Quit India movement, an advocate of celibacy, a man obsessed with ‘toilet cleaning’, and the one to go on the Great Mango March (an allusion to Gandhi’s Salt March of 1930). There is also a character wittily named Sir Richard Churchill, modelled on Sir Richard Attenborough, who is made to describe Gangaji as ‘Public Enema Number One’. By the end of the novel, Gangaji is, of course, killed as was Gandhi in real life.
For Generations Y and Z, Raju Hirani’s 2006 Bollywood film starring Sanjay Dutt, is possibly the most prominent Gandhi reference in pop culture. The film, a part of Hirani’s Munnabhai series on the life of a Mumbai underworld don, coined a street term to describe Gandhian principles and philosophies – Gandhigiri. Munnabhai played by Dutt is possessed by the spirit of Gandhi and he goes about conducting his life truthfully and non-violently. Like Gandhi, he preaches the benefits of cleanliness and other things to people. He even urges them to co-operate and co-exist in society, all the while maintaining the street credentials of a bhai (local goon).
While the world celebrated the Mahatma, he led a deeply troubled personal life. Feroz Abbas Khan’s Gandhi, My Father explored his tumultuous relationship with son, Harilal. The film was adapted from the biography of Harilal Gandhi penned by Chandulal Bhagubhai Dalal, and it explored the basic conflict between father and son. While Harilal (played by Akshaye Khanna), wanted to become a foreign-educated barrister (lawyer) like this father, Gandhi hoped his son would fight for the country and take his social causes forward. Their relationship was strained beyond repair, and Harilal eventually abandoned his father and left for South Africa. This was a rare project in which Gandhi’s personal, and not socio-political, life was in focus.
This multilingual film delved on the controversial exchange of letters between Gandhi and Adolf Hitler during World War 2. The film, which established the supremacy of Gandhian ideologies over Hitler’s Nazism, opened at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival. However, reviews weren’t entirely positive. Many sections of the media regarded it to be a glorification of Hitler, but the makers clarified that the film was merely an attempt to draw a contrast between Gandhi’s and Hitler’s principles. Nonetheless, Gandhi to Hitler (also known as Dear Friend, Hitler) was a different take on a lesser known chapter of Gandhi’s life.
Noted historian Ramachandra Guha’s latest book on Gandhi is launching in New York today to mark the latter’s birth anniversary. In this magnum opus spanning over a 1,000 pages, Guha traces the three decades of the 20th century during which Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became the Mahatma and the Father of the Nation, and altered the fate of India irreversibly. The book opens with Gandhi’s arrival in Bombay in early 1915 and runs through his 30 years of struggle for India’s freedom, in the course of which he advocated secularism, fought against untouchability, promoted indigenous goods, and challenged the orthodox British rule with ahimsa (non-violence). Essentially, Guha explores why Gandhi remains relevant even 70 years after his death.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||In 1951, the Nepalese monarch ended the century-old system of rule by hereditary premiers and instituted a cabinet system of government. Reforms in 1990 established a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy. A Maoist insurgency, launched in 1996, gained traction and threatened to bring down the regime, especially after a negotiated cease-fire between the Maoists and government forces broke down in August 2003. In 2001, the crown prince massacred ten members of the royal family, including the king and queen, and then took his own life. In October 2002, the new king dismissed the prime minister and his cabinet for “incompetence” after they dissolved the parliament and were subsequently unable to hold elections because of the ongoing insurgency. While stopping short of reestablishing parliament, the king in June 2004 reinstated the most recently elected prime minister who formed a four-party coalition government. Citing dissatisfaction with the government’s lack of progress in addressing the Maoist insurgency and corruption, the king in February 2005 dissolved the government, declared a state of emergency, imprisoned party leaders, and assumed power. The king’s government subsequently released party leaders and officially ended the state of emergency in May 2005, but the monarch retained absolute power until April 2006. After nearly three weeks of mass protests organized by the seven-party opposition and the Maoists, the king allowed parliament to reconvene in April 2006. Following a November 2006 peace accord between the government and the Maoists, an interim constitution was promulgated and the Maoists were allowed to enter parliament in January 2007. The peace accord calls for the creation of a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution. The Constituent Assembly elections, already twice delayed, are set for April 2008.|
Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least 9,000 years. It appears that people who were probably of Kirant ethnicity lived in Nepal 2,500 years ago.
Nepal is mentioned in Hindu scriptures such as the Narayana Puja and the Atharva Siras (800-600 BC).Around 1000 BC, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose in the region. From one of these, the Shakya confederation, arose a prince named Siddharta Gautama (563–483 BC), who later renounced his royalty to lead an ascetic life and came to be known as the Buddha (“the enlightened one”). By 250 BCE, the region came under the influence of the Mauryan empire of northern India, and later became a vassal state under the Gupta Dynasty in the fourth century CE. From the late fifth century CE, rulers called the Licchavis governed the area. There is a good and quite detailed description of the kingdom of Nepal in the account of the renowned Chinese Buddhist pilgrim monk, Xuanzang, dating from c. 645 CE.
The Licchavi dynasty went into decline in the late eighth century and was followed by a Newari era, from 879, although the extent of their control over the entire country is uncertain. By the late 11th century, southern Nepal came under the influence of the Chalukaya Empire of southern India. Under the Chalukayas, Nepal’s religious establishment changed as the kings patronised Hinduism instead of the prevailing Buddhism.
By the early 12th century, leaders were emerging whose names ended with the Sanskrit suffix malla (“wrestler”). Initially their reign was marked by upheaval, but the kings consolidated their power and ruled over the next 200 years; by the late 14th century, much of the country began to come under a unified rule. This unity was short-lived; in 1482 the region was carved into three kingdoms: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhadgaon.
Hindu temples in Patan, capital of one of the three medieval Newar kingdoms
After centuries of petty rivalry between the three kingdoms, in the mid-18th century Prithvi Narayan Shah, a Gorkha King set out to unify the kingdoms. Seeking arms and aid from India, and buying the neutrality of bordering Indian kingdoms, he embarked on his mission in 1765. After several bloody battles and sieges, he managed to unify Kathmandu Valley three years later in 1768. However, an actual battle never took place to conquer the Kathmandu valley; it was taken over by Prithvi Narayan and his troops without any effort, during Indra Jatra, a festival of Newars, when all the valley’s citizens were celebrating the festival. This event marked the birth of the modern nation of Nepal.
There is historical evidence that, at one time, the boundary of Greater Nepal extended from Tista River on the East to Kangara, across Sutlej River, in the west. A dispute and subsequently war with Tibet over the control of mountain passes forced the Nepalese to retreat and pay heavy reparations. Rivalry between Nepal and the British East India Company over the annexation of minor states bordering Nepal eventually led to the Anglo-Nepalese War (1815–16). The valor displayed by the Nepalese during the war astounded their enemies and earned them their image of fierce and ruthless “Gurkhas”. The war ended with a treaty, the Treaty of Sugauli. This treaty ceded Sikkim and lands in Terai to the Company.
Factionalism inside the royal family had led to a period of instability. In 1846 a plot was discovered, revealing that the reigning queen had planned to overthrow Jung Bahadur Rana, a fast-rising military leader. This led to the Kot Massacre; armed clashes between military personnel and administrators loyal to the queen led to the execution of several hundred princes and chieftains around the country. Jung Bahadur Rana emerged victorious and founded the Rana lineage. The king was made a titular figure, and the post of Prime Minister was made powerful and hereditary. The Ranas were staunchly pro-British, and assisted them during the Indian Sepoy Rebellion in 1857 (and later in both World Wars). The decision to help British East India Company was taken by the Rana Regime, then led by Jang Bahadur Rana. Some parts of Terai Region were given back to Nepal by the British as a friendly gesture, because of her military help to sustain British control in India during the Sepoy Rebellion. In 1923, the United Kingdom and Nepal formally signed an agreement of friendship, in which Nepal’s independence was recognized by the UK.
Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1924.
In the late 1940s, newly emerging pro-democracy movements and political parties in Nepal were critical of the Rana autocracy. Meanwhile, with the annexation of Tibet by the Chinese in 1950, India viewed the possibility of her big Northern neighbour’s further military expansion in Nepal and took preemptive steps to addressed her security concerns: India sponsored both King Tribhuvan as Nepal’s new ruler in 1951, and a new government, mostly comprising the Nepali Congress Party, thus terminating Rana hegemony in the kingdom. After years of power wrangling between the king and the government, the monarch scrapped the democratic experiment in 1959, and a “partyless” panchayat system was made to govern Nepal until 1989, when the “Jan Andolan” (People’s Movement) forced the monarchy to accept constitutional reforms and to establish a multiparty parliament that took seat in May 1991.
In 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) started a bid to replace the royal parliamentary system with a people’s socialist republic. This led to the long Nepal Civil War and more than 12,000 deaths. On June 1, 2001, there was a massacre in the royal palace; it left the King, the Queen and the Heir Apparent Crown Prince Dipendra among the dead. Prince Dipendra was accused of patricide and of committing suicide thereafter, alleged to be a violent response to his parents’ refusal to accept his choice of wife. However, there are lots of speculations and doubts among Nepalese citizens about the person(s) responsible for the Royal Massacre. Following the carnage, the throne was inherited by King Birendra’s brother Gyanendra. On February 1, 2005, Gyanendra dismissed the entire government and assumed full executive powers to quash the violent Maoist movement. In September 2005, the Maoists declared a three-month unilateral ceasefire to negotiate their demands.
In response to the 2006 democracy movement, the king agreed to relinquish the sovereign power back to the people and reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives on April 24, 2006. Using its newly acquired sovereign authority, on May 18, 2006, the newly resumed House of Representatives unanimously passed a motion to curtail the power of the king and declared Nepal a secular state, abolishing its time honoured official status as a Hindu Kingdom. On December 28, 2007, a bill was passed in parliament, to amend Article 159 of the constitution – replacing “Provisions regarding the King” by “Provisions of the Head of the State” – declaring Nepal a federal republic, and thereby abolishing the monarchy. The bill, however, is slated to come into force after the elections of April 2008.
Present political status
The country is presently in the middle of a major political transition. The Maoists have won the Constituent Assembly election held on 10 April 2008. This raises the prospect of the current king, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev giving up the title and throne, making him the last ruling monarch. Nepal would then be a federal democratic state with an elected head of state. The Assembly will also decide the format of the next elected government
|Geography||Location: Southern Asia, between China and India
Geographic coordinates: 28 00 N, 84 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 147,181 sq km
land: 143,181 sq km
water: 4,000 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Arkansas
Land boundaries: total: 2,926 km
border countries: China 1,236 km, India 1,690 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: varies from cool summers and severe winters in north to subtropical summers and mild winters in south
Terrain: Tarai or flat river plain of the Ganges in south, central hill region, rugged Himalayas in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Kanchan Kalan 70 m
highest point: Mount Everest 8,850 m
Natural resources: quartz, water, timber, hydropower, scenic beauty, small deposits of lignite, copper, cobalt, iron ore
Land use: arable land: 16.07%
permanent crops: 0.85%
other: 83.08% (2005)
Irrigated land: 11,700 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 210.2 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 10.18 cu km/yr (3%/1%/96%)
per capita: 375 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: severe thunderstorms, flooding, landslides, drought, and famine depending on the timing, intensity, and duration of the summer monsoons
Environment – current issues: deforestation (overuse of wood for fuel and lack of alternatives); contaminated water (with human and animal wastes, agricultural runoff, and industrial effluents); wildlife conservation; vehicular emissions
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: landlocked; strategic location between China and India; contains eight of world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga – the world’s tallest and third tallest – on the borders with China and India respectively
|Politics||Nepal has seen rapid political changes during the last two decades. Until 1990, Nepal was an absolute monarchy running under the executive control of the king. Faced with a people’s movement against the absolute monarchy, King Birendra, in 1990, agreed to large-scale political reforms by creating a parliamentary monarchy with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government.
Nepal’s legislature was bicameral, consisting of a House of Representatives called the Pratinidhi Sabha and a National Council called the Rastriya Sabha. The House of Representatives consisted of 205 members directly elected by the people. The National Council had sixty members: ten nominated by the king, thirty-five elected by the House of Representatives and the remaining fifteen elected by an electoral college made up of chairs of villages and towns. The legislature had a five-year term, but was dissolvable by the king before its term could end. All Nepali citizens 18 years and older became eligible to vote.
The executive comprised the King and the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet). The leader of the coalition or party securing the maximum seats in an election was appointed as the Prime Minister. The Cabinet was appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Governments in Nepal have tended to be highly unstable, falling either through internal collapse or parliamentary dissolution by the monarch, on the recommendation of prime minister, according to the constitution; no government has survived for more than two years since 1991.
The movement in April, 2006, brought about a change in the nation’s governance: an interim constitution was promulgated, with the King giving up power, and an interim House of Representatives was formed with Maoist members after the new government held peace talks with the Maoist rebels. The number of parliamentary seats was also increased to 330. In April, 2007, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) joined the interim government of Nepal.
On December 28, 2007, the interim parliament passed a bill that would make Nepal a federal republic, with the Prime Minister becoming head of state. The bill is yet to be passed by the Constituent Assembly.
On April 10, 2008, there was the first election in Nepal for the constitution assembly. The Maoist party led the poll results, but failed to gain a simple majority in the parliament.
|People||Population: 29,519,114 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38% (male 5,792,042/female 5,427,370)
15-64 years: 58.2% (male 8,832,488/female 8,345,724)
65 years and over: 3.8% (male 542,192/female 579,298) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 20.7 years
male: 20.5 years
female: 20.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.095% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 29.92 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.97 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 62 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 60.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 63.91 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 60.94 years
male: 61.12 years
female: 60.75 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.91 children born/woman (2008 est.)
Will Churches And Parents Ever Quit Lying To Children About Christmas?
This post today is about one main issue; Santa Clause. I am not saying that all parents, Christian or not, lie too their children and tell them that there is really a Santa and flying Reindeer. But at least here in America it does seem that this fantasy is one that is easy to go along with when your children are in the 3, 4, 5-year-old range. But, there reaches a point with every child where they find out that Mom and Dad have been lying to them all of their life. Why, why do so many parents ‘just go along with this’ until we reach a point where our kids are going to realize that Mom and Dad will lie to you because they have proven themselves to be liars. I have heard people a few times in my life say ‘not to ruin Christmas’ for the young kids by telling them that there is no Santa. What do they mean by ‘ruin Christmas’? If you take Santa out of Christmas what would the children have then? How about the truth? Tell your kids the Christmas birth of celebration of a baby child call Jesus. Even if you do not believe in the Christian faith letting your children know what the truth behind the question, why is there such a thing as Christmas? Even if you are Jewish, Islamic, Hindi, Buddhist, or of no faith at all, do you really want one of the first lessons your child learns about you is that you lie to them? Why can’t people just be truthful with each other, is it truly in our DNA to be liars?
In this paragraph I am calling out not just Christian parents but some of the Churches themselves. I have seen and heard first hand of community Churches where even the Pastor is the one who dresses up as Santa for plays inside the Church building. I may be old-fashioned in some of your eyes, but so be it. I know that no one can please everyone, even Jesus was/is hated, so I have learned to only concern myself with trying to please Jesus, then let all of life’s other cards just fall where ever they fall. I personally would like to know how telling our children the ‘Jesus story’ ‘ruins Christmas’? What is wrong with telling your kids that you took a part-time job this fall so that you could have the money to buy your kids a few things extra at Christmas school break? What is wrong with your kids seeing the correlation between how hard Mom and Dad are working so that their kids can have a good Christmas? Is it wrong if our small children learn of the ‘3 wise man’ whom brought gifts to the new-born child as a model for people giving gifts to their own children? Why do so many people whom call themselves Christians have Santa and crew on their front lawns? Why do some Churches do the same? Truth, what is truth? There is only one ‘Truth’, and it is not your version, or mine. We can make-up and say anything, we can call our stories ‘the truth’ if we want to but if we are not telling the actual truth, then the word for us is liars. Now, is Santa real, or is he a lie? What are we telling our children, the truth, or lies?
A (Flaw) That Is A Fundamental Of Islamic Teaching?
Did the young American Muslim man get snookered/taken/conned, by a ‘fundamentalist’ plant in the case of the San Bernardino California murderers? If this is so, then very few would know that for a fact, but damn, that would be low to do to a man wouldn’t it? But now we are thinking with a Christian/Jewish/Hindu/Buddhist theologies. I didn’t say Islam for a reason, at the very core of what a religion teaches, is fundamentally what the religion believes. This is true of all religions, all religions have core items in its doctrines/teachings that the rest of their Scriptures are built upon. People who have been brought up in the Islamic Faith that I have spoken with throughout my years of travels know very well what their teachings say to do to a non-believing Nation, how to bring it down from the inside as they are being attacked by Allah’s soldiers from the outside. They know what they are supposed to do by Islamic teachings! People that kind of hate for any thing living is beyond sad and it is beyond evil, I just wish more people could see reality/truth for what it is and not try to be such fantasy seekers.
Think what a wonderful “gift from Allah” it would be if our young, lonely, Muslim American man got his ‘bride wanted’ ad answered by an ISIS “plant”? Would you not think that this would be a flashing neon light to an intelligent ISIS (or any other hate group) computer person? Talk about getting a sleeper, someone so far under the radar that they weren’t even on it. I am not saying that the young man was or was not a devout Muslim but by what we here on the evening news he was a life long member of that faith. Folks it does appear that the young bride and her husband had to have had at least some training in firearms, this was not the first time they ever picked up a firearm. Two years a bride, two years to bring him deeper into his faith. Two years, not to radicalize, but to fundamentalism. Folks even a sleeper in a religion when coupled up with someone they love who is devout in that same religion, the sleeper tends to awaken. It is very unfortunate for all the folks that believe in Islam as well as very unfortunate for all the rest of the world that at Islams core is the belief that all of the world (and they do mean you and me) will faithfully worship Allah everyday of your life, or you must be killed. Folks no other main religion on the planet teaches such hate and carnage as something that their faithful followers must do. You and the rest of the world are at war right now and this war is intended to kill more people than Hitler ever dreamed of. People, if we let any one disarm us then we are allowing those people who did so, to have you and all of your family set up to be slaughtered. It would be nice if these things were not so but they are and each generation has to learn to cope with what reality is, or as you die will you still be denying when there is a gun at your head?
Does “THE TRUTH” Depend On Who’s Truth We Listen To
If the truth is the truth is the truth, yet they vary, how do you know which is the truth
If my eyes and your eyes we see the same thing, yet we disagree on what was seen
When we both would double down and bet the pickup and the farm on what we saw
Both come together in peace, see where we disagree, does pure honesty begets peace
Even wise humans with best of intents misread what truth was and it came back and bit
Stalin trusted Hitler once upon a time, yet because these two men lived, millions died
Hitler knew the Brits would fall well before the Yanks in America got off her hands
FDR thought Mr Churchill nothing but an obnoxious drunken buffoon, wrong again
Even Mr Gandhi as pure a Soul of a human as any I’d think in a couple of century at least
Believed that Hindu and Islam could side by side together in harmony and peace
In January 1948 Mr Gandhi learned a sad truth, this lack of understanding cost him his life
Pure Truth will be the words the Lord speaks about us, when He is looking us in the eyes
Pure Truth, His Truth, no sliding a little to the left of the right, His Truth it is that decides
Whether we live or die it is the Lords version of Truth that decides, our final resting station
Thoughts And Opinions After Watching Gandhi For The Second Time
As the title says, last night I watched the Movie Gandhi for the second time in my life. The first time was about 10-12 years ago. I remembered all of the movie from the first time seeing it. It was exactly as I had remembered it, as an excellent movie, excellent acting jobs done, but also as a very long movie. I think most folks know the times you turn down the opportunity to watch a good program because you didn’t want to dedicate that much physical time to it. This is one of the times where last evening I had the time and I enjoyed the program very much. This time though it hit me really hard, I guess I paid more attention to details and reasoning in deducting that this man had to be a Saint of a human being.
The human sacrifices he and his beautiful wife made for the sake of basic humanity is just speechless. I would absolutely say that I would tell anyone that I believe in God and that I love God since I was about 10-11 anyway. While watching, and afterwards, made me question myself, the level of my own faith. When we all see Jesus our Lord face to face and He looks us in the eyes and says “do you love me”?, certainly my answer would be yes Lord. But is that the real truth? Truth can not be changed, it is 100%, truth with no but’s included. I am quite sure that our Lord would have looked me straight in my eyes and said to me “then why did you not perform your life in the manner I asked you to do in My Scriptures”? That is what I have to call a “coming to Jesus moment”, when you thought you were hopefully already sorta there. That is a cold slap in the face my friends! I am very thankful I was given that slap before being asked why when He is looking me in my eyes.
I have always known that I am trillions of miles from being close to perfect, I just didn’t realize I wasn’t even on the road yet. I have always used my past and current imperfections to keep me grounded in the facts of my imperfections. We all as human beings think some things wrong, incorrectly, and our actions follow. This is a convenient excuse to not do better in our future. Knowing that anything you say or write in public will always find someone who will hate you for writing or saying what your own personal opinion on a subject matter is. I am glad that I watched the show last evening, hopefully I’ll do better as a person now and as a person that Jesus won’t even bother asking the question of if I love Him or not, because it was not needed to be asked. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch this movie please do yourself a favor and take the time to watch it. Thank you for your time, I do appreciate you.
Shout out to YOLO!
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