Tag Archive for 'Kunda Dixit'

Himalayan myth buster

Kunda Dixit in Nepali Times:

Jack Ives doesn’t suffer fools and he has encountered many during his colourful career pushing the mountain agenda at the Rio Summit in 1992, through the International Year of Mountains in 2002, right down to the present.

A British-born Canadian, Ives was part of the group of experts that oversaw in 1975 meetings that led to the establishment of the International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu. In his 45 years of research in the Himalaya, Pamir, and Yunnan, Ives has relentlessly struggled against sloppy science, alarmist academics and a sensationalist media crying wolf.

Now, Ives has decided to put together a personalised account of the people and mountains he has been acquainted with and the sometimes epic struggle to get the sustainable development of fragile mountain areas of the world recognised by governments and international organisations. The book is an autobiographical travelogue and takes frequent detours to tell stories from places like Darjeeling, Lhasa, the Caucasus, Kathmandu or Khumbu. More:

Social media magnification

“Domestic violence and the victimisation of women is not new in our male-directed societies, what is new is the degree to which its magnification through social media can spread solidarity, and potentially trigger policy change.” Kunda Dixit in Nepali Times:

The street demonstrations in Kathmandu against recent rapes and murders of women would probably not have made it to the #2 news on BBC World on Saturday morning if it hadn’t been tagged to the anti-rape protests in Delhi. And that story wouldn’t have been the #1 item if the protests in India hadn’t snowballed due to outraged citizens on social media leading the charge. As the protests grew and continued in India, it fuelled print and TV coverage, and the chain reaction attained critical mass.

In Nepal, protests over the robbery and rape of a 20-year-old woman by immigration and police broke into the public consciousness last month because of the role of journalists and cyber-savvy activists. Left to the traditional media, the story would probably have died quietly like many other rape stories before. It was a tipping point because the crime involved immigration officials who looted the young woman and a policeman who, instead of protecting her, turned predator. Pending murders and disappearances of women in Kathmandu, and the cases of two young women who were burnt alive by family members in Banke and Bara at about the same time, added fuel to the fire. The protests in Kathmandu would possibly have happened anyway, but saturation coverage in the Indian media about the Delhi rape also helped sustain the public’s interest in Nepal.

These were not isolated crimes. Rape has always been endemic in Nepal, it’s just that women press charges more often now and the media reports it. It is also a cross-border phenomenon because we share similar patriarchal value-systems with northern India. At the time this story was breaking in Nepal, a piece by Satrudhan Shah and commissioned by the Centre for Investigative Journalism detailed many cases in the eastern Tarai of victims forced to marry their rapists by the community, police and even gender rights activists. The story was published in Annapurna Post in Nepali, and as ‘Rape for Ransom’ in English in Nepali Times. More:

Nilam’s story

Kunda Dixit at Nepali Times:

Every once in a while, travelling through Nepal, you come across a sight so incongruous that you have to blink your eyes to believe it.

We were in Gaighat, there was some chukka jam or other, and there were no vehicles on the streets. Neighbourhood children were playing badminton on the dusty road. Suddenly, there was the deep reverberating sound of a heavy-duty motorcycle.

A woman, dressed in jeans and T-shirt was driving past in a 123 cc Enticer. Sitting behind her was another woman carrying a bag. They roared off in a cloud of dust and parked alongside a building down the road. I learnt that she was Najbul Khan Nilam with a colleague from a battered women’s shelter called Muldhar.

Nilam, 33, is an iconoclast. As a Muslim woman living in rural eastern Nepal and being an activist for women’s empowerment is not an easy thing to be. And it is her own personal history has brought her this far. From her childhood, Nilam bore the brunt of the triple discrimination of what women from her community have to put up with it from family, community and society. But there was something in her genes that made Nilam rebel. More:

Of monarchs and Maoists

Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times, in The Wall Street Journal:

It’s been over a decade since the Maoists declared war on Nepal’s monarchy, and two years since King Gyanendra abdicated his throne. If all goes well on Thursday, both eras – of Maoists and monarchs – could come to an end, as voters cast their ballots for a 601-member assembly that will draft the country’s new constitution.

This election is critical for Nepal’s future. Since the King abdicated his throne in April 2006, elections had to be postponed twice because political leaders – both Maoists and from the parties – who thought they would lose colluded to have it postponed. The Maoists resigned from the government and rejoined it, and the country seemed to be on the brink of war again. Then, unrest on the plains bordering India threatened an ethnic conflict.

[Photo: King Gyanendra (left) and Prachanda]

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In Nepal, hope and (some) fear on the campaign trail

Nepal goes to the polls on Thursday in an election that could bring the Maoists into mainstream democratic politics and spell the end of the monarchy. Simon Denyer of Reuters has the story.

High in the Himalayas, impoverished, ill-governed Nepal is hoping its first elections in nine years will help cement peace after a decade-long civil war, and allow it finally to join its booming big brother, India, in a new era of prosperity.

Two years after mass street protests brought an end to an ill-fated period of royal rule, the vote will also formally restore democracy to Nepal. “It is not going to solve everything overnight, but it is closure for one chapter in our history and the beginning of a new one,” said Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times.

Yet the challenges ahead are immense, not least because violence and intimidation have seriously marred the campaign and could undermine the voting day itself.

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Former US President Jimmy Carter is in Kathmandu as an observer. He tells Kantipur Online’s Prateek Pradhan, Narayan Wagle, Damakant Jayshi and Dinesh Wagle that the election will end conflict and establish a republic.

Former US President Jimmy Carter said that the constituent assembly election in Nepal – on Thursday – would end armed conflict and establish a new republic in the country.

“I see this election as doing two things basically: one is ending an armed conflict, and secondly forming a new republic with an end to the dominating royalty,” Carter said during an exclusive interview with the Post and its sister paper, Kantipur here on Tuesday. “We are very excited about the prospects of this country finding peace and also finding democracy based on republic. It is a very wonderful achievement.”

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And on how the Carter Center is observing this historic election click here.