Generally speaking, every country is characterized by some uniqueness in terms of positive attributes. Being known world over, as an open and law-abiding country, USA does not need tooting being so as people from elsewhere still try to get in there, legally or otherwise. China does not go trumpeting being the world’s biggest exporter of all sorts of manufactured goods. India is labelled as the “largest” democracy, based on the number of voters. Saudi Arabia does not shy away from following strictest of religious laws to the extent it carries on public beheadings - unconcerned. The Japanese, on the other hand, are seen as being extremely polite in their manners but getting them to say “yes” or “no” does not come easy. They prefer not to commit unless absolutely sure, often, after long deliberations with all sorts of consequences considered.
At times counties get negatively labelled as well. Bangladesh was once called the basket case. But that did not stop Bangladesh from gradually improving its standing by attracting big fashion or sports industries in setting up factories there. Bangladesh is not landlocked, but it gets waterlogged as mighty rivers draining waters from both South and North of the Himalaya during the monsoon. Even if not naturally endowed like us, it is increasingly doing well in every field by virtue of sheer hard work.
Visitors to Nepal often wondered as to how a general Nepali appears so content even in the situation of deprivation? Much has changed in the last 15 years with the smile being replaced by suspicion these days. Historically “Gorkhali”, a term referred to people from mid-hill region, became synonymous not just for their bravery but honesty as well. Nepal thus became known world over as the country of the braves. An Indian journalist, seeking to embarrass prime-minister KP Bhattarai, during his India visit, asked something like, why there was no representation of people from tarai in the Nepal Army. Being extremely sharp KP asked the reporter to pose it to the Indian PM why there was no representation of people from tarai of Nepal in the Indian Gurkha regiment instead!
We take pride in Sagarmatha and also Bhagwan Buddha. We should introspect as to what has been “our” contribution in the making of both. The tallest mountain landmark is the outcome of tectonic push against the bigger landmass creating the upward drift that created the Himalaya. Prince Siddhartha, on the other hand, was born 2556 years ago or 23 centuries before Nepal got unified under Prithivi Narayan Shah. Siddhartha is believed to have attained enlightenment at the age of 35 or around six years after leaving Kapilvastu. We often get hurt while others wrongly lay claim to our icons. I had a contrastingly warm incident while visiting Kandy’s tooth temple in Sri Lanka. On being told I was from Nepal the person behind the ticket counter got so excited that he let me in free for having come, as he said, all the way from the “Buddha country”!
There is yet another Nepali item that is undisputedly unique. It cannot be anything other than our flag. While every country has a rectangular flag we have a bi-triangled one. It is often described as the most mathematical flag. Dr James Grime of Cambridge is so excited for its mathematical construction being actually detailed in our constitution. One can search for the “most mathematical flag” and watch the video recording of flag making process. A flag has to have, basically, two characteristics, it should reflect the country’s diversity and, most importantly, be “flutter friendly”. I think our flag is lacking in both. The complexity in its making is perhaps seamstress’s nightmare and it is no wonder we see badly proportioned or a rather elongated rectangular flags with forcibly put in two odd shaped triangles every time a Nepali dignitary goes abroad on state visit.
Talking of flag, there was much excitement on making of the largest Nepali flag erected at Maitighar Mandala. First of all the pole was too lean or “sinkey”, as we depict in Nepali, and much too shorter to match flag’s grandeur. Even the pole appeared to tilt on one side due to its load. On the other hand, the event of creating a largest human flag that was recorded to have participated by 35,907 at Tundikhel can be seen as a fun event with some purpose. The same cannot be said of the flag at Mandala.
During the interim period we had an “interim constitution” but a new national anthem - not interim, and the same flag. We might as well have come up with better ones if both were treated as interim then. Is there any prestige in this uniqueness? By keeping the present triangular design proportions and colors as it is, we might as well have a comparatively larger rectangular flag instead. For any flag the side strung to the pole should be shorter of the two, in our case it is a third longer than the other. We only need to lengthen the horizontal portion so that it appears more proportional. If so, it will be a matter of deliberations as how best to fill the extra area that we get as bonus. Be assured the flag will look basically the same, but being rectangular it will flutter much better as like all flag should do.
Challenges for reconstruction
One of the major challenges faced in the reconstruction process of Nepal is the absence of elected local government. Lack of government in local level was reflected in the major pre-disaster and post-disaster events, where it took months to reach the affected region and still no widely-accepted data is available. In the absence of an elected local government, top-down approach of governance has its own accountability deficit.
Apil KC/Keshab Sharma
Making sense of Adityanath's rise in Modi's India
The most notorious incitement of communal hatred by Adityanath was his exhortation to 'kill ten woh log ['them' meaning Muslims]' rather than knocking the doors of legal system 'if one Hindu is killed' in riots.
Identity and nationhood
Whoever says nationhood is not important would be lying. For example, belonging to a particular nation may give certain advantages to a person that one belonging to another nation would not get.
The shankha blower from Bichour
Coincidentally, Ram Lal Joshi, the Radio Nepal singer had his house adjacent to ours and had been hearing him blow it every day. Hari worked as a bagainche in Singha-durbar during day. Ram Lal got him to blow the shankha as a part of musical instrument for Radio Nepal’s iconic signature tune.
Traffic Police in Kathmandu
As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.
Menstrual taboo outdated
I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.