Nepal is in crisis, and it has nothing to do with the earthquake. Here’s what you need to know.[courtesy: The Washington Post]

November 2

Nepalese protesters throw rocks at police during clashes near the Nepal-India border at Birgunj,  south of Kathmandu, on Nov. 2. On the same day, Nepal police fired into a crowd of protesters trying to block a key border checkpoint and killed an Indian civilian as anger over a new constitution boiled over. (AFP/Getty Images)

Nepal is edging closer to a humanitarian crisis potentially even bigger than the massive earthquake that struck in April. This time, however, it’s a political crisis rooted in Nepal’s social divisions.

Nepal’s new constitution, passed in September, has generated significant controversy. Ethnic minorities have taken to the streets in large-scale protests against the discriminatory provisions of the new governing order. Amid the dispute, fuel exports from India have halted, creating an escalating emergency as the winter approaches.

Here’s what you need to know to understand the crisis.

  1. Nepal’s new constitution is highly controversial (and clearly flawed).

Nepal’s politicians had been drafting a new constitution for seven years. The long-stalled writing process accelerated after the earthquake, which placed pressure on elites to resolve their political disputes. But the parties saw this an opportunity to rush through a constitution that consolidated the conservative establishment’s power.

Even though 90 percent of Nepal’s parliament endorsed the constitution, the new constitution has left much of the nation deeply disappointed. It is the people of the plains area bordering India, called Madhesis, who are angered most. New provisions reject full citizenship to children born of a Nepali and a foreigner and ban these offspring from being elected to higher office.

To the Madhesis, who often marry Indians across the border, this is blatant discrimination. When coupled with new federal boundaries that deny them a province, Madhesis view the new constitution as an overt attack on their community.

  1. The political crisis has resulted in a fuel shortage.

For over two months, indigenous groups have been both violently and nonviolently protesting the constitution. Security forces have brutally suppressed these demonstrations while political elites have ignored their demands. Escalating their tactics, the Madhesis have deliberately disrupted trade routes from India into Kathmandu.

However, there is debate surrounding the blockade. There is a belief that India is complicit in the fuel disruption. India has strongly criticized the new constitution and many in Nepal argue that India has imposed an economic blockade to pressure change. Although the exact truth is unclear, it seems likely the Indians have played a deliberate role in the fuel shortage.

  1. The current unrest is rooted in Nepal’s national identity.

The long-standing ambivalence between Nepal and India is vital to understanding the present crisis. Even though India and Nepal share a long history of cooperation, India has also been portrayed in Nepal as a meddling foreign power that manipulates Nepal’s domestic politics. Because of the Madhesis’ close geographical and cultural ties to India, many in Nepal view Madhesis with suspicion.

India’s sympathy for Madhesi demands has heightened tension. Many view it as evidence of an Indian-backed Madhesi “fifth column” determined to undermine Nepalese national identity. In this environment, Nepal’s politicians have ignored calls for reform while vilifying the opposition.

The hyper-nationalistic notion that India – and not the Madhesis – are behind the protests has weakened the movement.

  1. China is unlikely to benefit from the tension between Nepal and India.

A recent article in Foreign Policy argued that India’s actions, which have left a substantial proportion of the Nepali population angered, will push Nepal toward a closer relationship with China. But this position misunderstands local realities.

China is unlikely to assume India’s strong position of influence in Nepal. Despite tension, India and Nepal share many religious, cultural, and linguistic commonalities and have a long history of cooperation. In addition, the sparsely populated and mountainous border between Nepal and China is inhospitable to trade. While Nepali nationalists would like to see Nepal move into China’s embrace, India remains the country’s natural ally, despite recent strains.

  1. What happens next will be transformational — for better or worse.

Nepal’s young democracy is at a critical juncture. While resentment between the political elite and indigenous groups has risen significantly, accommodating Madhesi demands would bring broader buy-in for the new constitution. The resulting political stability would end the fuel crisis, avert humanitarian disaster, and could facilitate much needed development.

The alternative path is perilous. If Madhesi and other ethnic demands are ignored, the anti-constitution movement could become more radical. Separatist factions could emerge while the fuel shortage could hurt millions. The decisions of Nepal’s political establishment in the coming weeks and months will have lasting consequences.

[Nirabh Koirala worked for the Centre for South Asian Studies in Kathmandu, Nepal, and studies political science and economics at Grinnell College.

Geoffrey Macdonald, PhD, is a consultant at the United States Institute of Peace and a lecturer at George Washington University.]

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Konviktion’s note: India could have shown a bit more tolerance towards Nepal and for Nepal THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT TIME TO RAISE POLITICAL CRISIS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY ITS MAKING THE SITUATION MURKY ENOUGH, ITS TIME FOR HUMANITY, MILLIONS OF DELEGATES ARE THERE TO HELP TO RISE THE COUNTRY FROM THIS DREADFUL DISASTER AT THIS POINT OF TIME THE POLITICAL PARTIES  COULD HAVE WAITED UNTIL THE SITUATION GET A LITTLE BIT SETTLED. VERY PATHETIC TO SEE SUCH INTOLERANCE. I DONT THINK THIS IS A WISE DECISION TO GO POLITICAL WHEREAS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS UNDER CRISIS. THUS THEY MIGHT  LOSE COMPASSION AND  SYMPATHY FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD.

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Nepal is angry with India, so it turns off the TV[ courtesy: The Washington Post]

September 29 at 9:24 AM

Students protest near the Indian Embassy against the blockade of cargo trucks along the border with India in Kathmandu on Monday.

At first India was publicly unhappy with the new constitution that its Himalayan neighbor passed last week. Then Indian trucks carrying cooking fuel, gasoline, salt, sugar and rice stopped crossing the border with Nepal after local protests erupted against the new charter.

The result: There is now a groundswell of anger against India in Nepal, a country still struggling to recover from the devastating earthquake in April that killed over 9,000 people and left tens of thousands more homeless.

The Nepali people are accusing India of punishing them by deliberately blocking the supply of essential goods. What makes matters worse is that the landslides caused by the earthquake have destroyed alternate supply routes from China and increased the landlocked nation’s reliance on imports from India.

People in Nepal are calling it the “unofficial economic blockade by India.”

On Monday, Nepal’s Home Ministry said the country is facing an “emergency” situation in fuel supply. Long lines are a common sight at gas stations across the country. Angry protesters are shouting anti-India slogans on the streets. Nepal’s cable television association has stopped showing 42 Indian news and entertainment channels across the country because of rising anger among the people.

Indian officials say that there is no official embargo and that the truck drivers carrying goods are afraid of going into Nepal because of the violent demonstrations by the ethnic minority groups living in the country’s southern plains. The groups, considered close to Indians, are seeking greater political power in the new constitution.

Dozens of people have been killed in the protests. “The reported obstructions are due to unrest, protests and demonstrations on the Nepalese side, by sections of their population,” Vikas Swarup, India’s foreign ministry spokesman, said last week. But analysts in Nepal contest the Indian statement.

The head of the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, Narayan Man Bijukchhe, said India has declared a “communal war” with Nepal. The former attorney general in Kathmandu, Yubaraj Sangraula, called the lack of supplies “an act of aggression.”

The shortage of fuel and goods has brought back horrific memories for many people in Nepal who suffered an official economic blockade by India in 1989. New Delhi shut down border crossings into Nepal and cut off links to an Indian port after a trade dispute. That blockade lasted 13 months.

Children miss school, fear abuse after Nepal quake: aid groups[courtesy: The Daily Star, Lebanon]

LONDON: Inadequate shelter, school closures and a lack of safe water and sanitation are the three biggest concerns of Nepali children affected by two huge earthquakes, said a major survey published on Saturday, the three month anniversary of the first quake.

Children interviewed by aid agencies in the aftermath of the disaster also expressed worry about the lack of privacy and space, with younger children fearing attacks by wild animals, and girls feeling vulnerable to sexual harassment.

“Living under the sky increases our exposure to abuse,” an adolescent girl from Sindhupalchowk, a district hit by the earthquakes, told an aid worker.

At least 2.8 million people, around 10 percent of Nepal’s population, need urgent help according to a U.N. report published earlier this month. Almost 9,000 people were killed by the quakes on April 25 and May 12.

Nearly 2,000 children were interviewed by four charities, in what they described as one of the largest ever child consultations ever undertaken following a disaster.

“Tens of thousands of children are living in inadequate shelters, said Lucia Withers, author of the report. “It is still a race against time to provide basic needs of shelter, sanitation and protection.”

Withers is humanitarian adviser for Save the Children, which conducted the survey alongside Plan International, UNICEF and World Vision.

Separate research carried out by Oxfam in Dhading district to the west of capital Kathmandhu found that women and adolescent girls feel at risk of physical and sexual abuse in temporary shelters which are often overcrowded.

The situation is particularly bad for single women, often widows and divorcees, who tend to be isolated and receive little in the way of community support, Oxfam said on Saturday.

“After living through two massive earthquakes, this situation is only compounding their trauma,” said Cecilia Keizer, country director for Oxfam in Nepal. (Reporting By Joseph D’Urso; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://www.trust.org)

Quake-hit Nepalese children express fear, insecurity report[English news]

English.news.cn   2015-07-26 14:14:22

KATHMANDU, July 26 (Xinhua) — Nearly 2,000 children who survived the earthquake in Nepal have expressed fear and insecurity at having to live in tents and overcrowded shelters, anxiety about the risks to their health from unsanitary conditions and worries about their future if they cannot return to school, said a new report.

One of the recent child consultations undertaken following the disaster highlighted the need to strengthen the resilience of communities against major disasters. It also warned of severe risks to children’s health, well-being and protection during the monsoon season unless urgent humanitarian needs are met.

The aid organizations Plan International, Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Vision carried out the consultations together in which 1,838 children were consulted in total in the 14 most affected districts by the earthquakes on April 25 and May 12.

A joint press release issued Saturday said that children shared their top priorities as adequate shelter, to be able to return to school and to have access to safe water supplies, sanitation and health care. Girls and boys described the difficulties of living in temporary shelters that are neither water or wind-proof in the aftermath of the earthquakes.

Save the Children’s Humanitarian Advisor and author of the report Lucia Withers said”Tens of thousands of children are living in inadequate shelters. Despite efforts to help earthquake- affected communities, it is still a race against time to provide basic needs of shelter, sanitation and protection.”

Children suggested that schools be run in tents or other temporary shelters until new schools have been built and called upon the government to replace the books, stationery and other school materials that were buried under the rubble of their homes.

They also called for stronger protection for themselves and other children in their communities.

UNICEF Deputy Representative Dr. Rownak Khan said”These children have provided us with valuable insights that could have been missed by adult eyes. These suggestions now need to guide our programs in the rest of the country to better prepare all communities in Nepal for impending disasters.”

Stuck in a limbo: Nepal earthquake victims after 3 months[hindustantimes]

  • AFP, Kathmandu

As dark clouds loomed overhead, Rabi Baral hurriedly secured his tent to the ground at a camp for victims of Nepal’s earthquake, three months after the natural disaster upended his life and disrupted the Himalayan nation on April 25 this year.

The 7.8-magnitude quake, on April 25, destroyed the 41-year-old’s home and left him without a job, forcing him and his young family to take refuge in a makeshift camp in Nepal’s Capital Kathmandu.

“The rain has made life even more difficult, but we have no choice right now,” Baral told AFP.

As his wife Parwati nursed their 18-month-old son, Baral said he was desperate to return home to the hills east of Kathmandu but was too afraid to risk travelling on quake-hit roads that now face the threat of landslides triggered by heavy rains.

“We are in limbo right now. I am counting days for monsoon to end so we can plan ahead,” he said.

Three months on, Nepal is still reeling from the impact of the earthquake that killed over 8,800 people and flattened nearly 600,000 homes, leaving thousands in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), landslides are already hampering delivery of relief supplies to mountainous villages and there are concerns that the monsoon could trigger an outbreak of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases.

Edwin Salvador, Emergency and Humanitarian Technical officer at WHO Nepal, told AFP that the agency had already delivered three months’ worth of medicines to remote villages at risk of landslides to ensure adequate supplies in the event of an emergency.

“After the earthquake hit, we were thinking forward to prepare for the monsoon,” Salvador said.

“There hasn’t been a health crisis so far, but preparedness is key. We are working closely with the community to prevent any such outbreak,” he added.
Devastated economy

Nepal’s economy — one of the world’s weakest even before the disaster — was hit hard by the quake, with the country’s annual GDP forecasted to grow just 3%, the lowest in eight years.

Growth prospects have plummeted in crucial sectors like agriculture and tourism, with the disaster destroying crops and triggering deadly avalanches at the Mount Everest base camp and on the popular Langtang trekking route, which remains closed to visitors.

In a bid to lure foreign visitors back, Nepal recently called in international experts to assess the safety of the popular Everest and Annapurna trekking routes.
Engineers from Miyamoto, a US-based firm, found that the Annapurna route was largely unaffected, with only six of 250 guesthouses assessed, showing repairable damage. They plan to release their findings on quake-hit Everest next month.

“Our priority right now is to send out a positive message that Nepal is safe for travel,” said Tulsi Gautam, chief of Nepal’s tourism department.

“If we use this time to reassure our visitors, I am sure that tourism will bounce back in our next peak season which begins October,” Gautam added.

According to government estimates, the Himalayan nation will need around $6.7 billion to fund rebuilding, with donors already offering pledges worth $4.4 billion for reconstruction.

The government wants reconstruction funds to be channelled through a new state body, raising concerns that bureaucracy and poor planning will delay rebuilding.
One month after the government pledged to lay out a clear roadmap for recovery at a donors’ meet, Kathmandu is yet to set up the new body, while homeless victims have received just $150 out of a promised $2,000 to rebuild their houses.

“The new fiscal year has just begun. We are in the process of establishing the reconstruction authority,” said finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat.

“We are at the beginning of the reconstruction phase. Our ministries are preparing rebuilding plans”, Mahat told AFP.

The remittance sector was one of the rare areas that saw growth even after the quake, with money transfers increasing by 11.2% to $5.55 billion in the first 11 months of this fiscal year, according to Nepal’s central bank.

Every year, thousands of young people leave Kathmandu in search of jobs in India, south east Asia and the Gulf nations, keeping the economy afloat with the earnings they send home.

After the disaster, many Nepalis are looking overseas to secure the funds they need to rebuild their lives, with quake survivor Baral saying that he hopes to go to India to find work.

“Where else will the money come from? I have a family to take care of, I have to rebuild,” he said.

[courtesy:BBC……………….Nepal earthquakes: What I saved from the rubble]

If you could save just one object from an earthquake, what would you choose? Three months on from the Nepal earthquakes that killed thousands and devastated the capital and its surrounding areas, nine survivors tell the stories of the precious items they managed to salvage.

Dalli Maya Maji, 65 – A water jug

Dalli Maya Maji

Dalli lives in the village of Chandani, where several people lost their lives during the earthquake. After her home was destroyed, she dug through the rubble to rescue her brass water jug.

“Somehow in all the chaos I found my water jug. I can’t remember how long I searched for it, I just kept searching. I had worked many hours in the field to save up and buy this water jug. I had had to travel to the neighbouring village to buy it,” she says.

“Having the jug means that when visitors or family come I can serve them water in the right way.”

Meena, 33 – Her baby

Menna and baby Sundari Maji

A few minutes before the earthquake hit, Meena put Sundari, her seven-month-old baby, into a wicker basket. While the baby slept, she took her grain to the mill to be ground – but then the earth started rumbling.

“I ran home. I ran while the ground was still shaking under my feet,” she says.

By the time Meena got home, her house had collapsed, and a wooden beam had fallen on the baby’s wicker basket. She could hear Sundari crying so she knew she was still alive.

“My husband and I started to remove the debris, but it was taking so much time. I rushed to ask neighbours to help us, but they were dealing with their own suffering, there was distress everywhere, screaming and crying. And all the time I could hear my baby crying.”

She says that for a desperate hour, she scrabbled through the rubble to free her child – eventually some neighbours were able to help, and together they freed Sundari, who was covered in scratches, but not seriously injured.

Sangata Tamang, 41 – Prayer beads and bells

Sangata Tamang

Sangata keeps her most precious items – a collection of brown and black beads, small brass bells and what look like carved effigies or figurines – wrapped tightly in a muslin beige cloth.

She says: “If these were lost for ever, I would feel so bad because our beads are holy and important to our worship.”

Rahar Singh Tamang, 60 – Larja Purja (red paper)

Rahar Singh Tamang

Rahar’s house was badly damaged in the earthquake, and is now held together with corrugated iron sheeting and tarpaulin. He says the most important items he saved were the “Larja Purja” – or red papers – which are his certificates for proof of land and house ownership, as well as the yellow papers that prove he has paid his taxes.

“My Larja Purja papers were kept inside a small black book that I keep locked. For the first days after the quake I could not return to our home, because the shaking just kept coming. Then, after about 10 days, I found the courage to go inside and get the box.

“Without official papers, things can go wrong. You need to prove that you are the one who owns the land and the building.”

Panch Maya Tamang, 40 – Her drum

Panch Maya Tamang

Clasping what looks at first sight like a rusty hub-cap, Panch breaks out into a smile as she makes rhythmic music with her instrument – a home-made drum made out of deer skin. She regularly plays the drum at weddings and religious festivals, and she was desperate to save it after the earthquake.

“I can’t remember how long I’ve had this drum. It has been with me always. I remember when it was new and the deerskin was newly stretched across it. It plays just as well today as it did then,” she says

“Music is important for us during special occasions. Even with the misery of this earthquake, we still need music. That is why the drum is important for me, my family and for my community.”

Krisma Lama, 19 – School certificate

Krisma Lama

Krisma lives in the village of Balthali, which sits on a plateau amid terraced rice fields.

Krisma had already sat her School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams before the earthquake struck. Without the certificate to show that she had passed, however, she would not have been able to continue her education.

She says: “I was proud to receive my SLC certificate. It is a good achievement for me. I kept it locked away in a cupboard. After the earthquake it was still there safe, inside the cupboard.”

Shyam Bahadur Tamang, 70 – Woven wicker grain separator

Shyam Bahadur Tamang

Shyam says his home was taken down after the earthquake by the army, as it was deemed unsafe, teetering on the edge of a cliff top. The most precious item he saved was his wicker grain separator.

“I was right here in the house when the earth started to move. I spent a lot of time dashing in and out of the house collecting my belongings.

“Although its women’s work to separate the grain, I do it. I’m old but I am still useful. When the family sit down to do this work, I join in with them. It’s important for family to clean rice together.”

Suku Maya Tamang, 35 – A bag of rice

Suku Maya Tamang

Suku says her five-year-old son was playing outside the house when the earthquake struck, and her 15-year-old daughter was working in a nearby field.

“When the shaking started, it was difficult to keep a hold of my son. He kept slipping through my hands, like rice grain through fingers,” she says.

“I don’t know how, but I rushed inside the house and pulled out our sack of rice, and ran down the hill holding my son and the sack.

“I met my daughter down in the village. She was crying, and we were all afraid.

“We have been careful not to eat all the rice quickly, because we first have to find our feet again, so for now this bag of rice is still feeding the family.”

Rama Napal, 53 – Gajali the calf

Rama Napal

Rama remembers working in the fields when the earthquake struck. She ran home to make sure that members of her family were safe – but after that, she was determined to rescue her prized calf, Gajali.

Animals are crucial to subsistence farmers like Rama, providing milk, meat and a source of income. They are also an important part of the spiritual life of communities. Rama named her calf Gajali – which means “eyeliner” – because of the animal’s sensuous eyes, which look as if they have eyeliner around them.

Rama says two of her cows and five of her goats were killed in the earthquake, and she spent three days digging through rubble to find Gajali.

She says: “I heard no sound from Gajali, after digging the earth looking for her. Then on the third day as I was moving the earth, I saw her tail shake. Many people in the village came to help me dig her out.

“I was so happy I cried, and I gave Gujali water and grass. This is a very special calf to me. I’ll never sell her.”

Rama Napal

Pictures and interviews courtesy of Cafod

Terrawatch: After the earthquake – the monsoon brings landslips[courtesy:the guardian]

errrrrr

A damaged village seen from the Araniko Highway after the earthquake in Nepal last May. Landslides during the monsoon season could bring more devastation. Photograph: Alamy

by 

It has been just over two months since the devastating earthquake in Nepal and, for much of the world, the event has faded from memory. But for Nepalese people the nightmare continues and now that the monsoon rains have arrived a new threat looms.

Every year landslides are common in Nepal during the monsoon, which usually runs from June to September, but this year is likely to be particuarly bad. Steep hillsides have been seriously destabilised by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in April and its subsequent aftershocks, and it is feared that the heavy rains will trigger multiple landslides from these precarious slopes.

Of particular concern is the Araniko highway, the main road linking Nepal with Tibet and China and a major conduit for goods from China. Unfortunately, this region, to the north-east of Kathmandu, was hard hit by the earthquake, and the road has only recently been reopened after mammoth clearance efforts.

But travelling down the highway is likely to be exceptionally risky during the monsoon. Cracks created by the earthquakes have left entire hillsides hanging and falling rocks are a constant hazard. Meanwhile, sludge-like landslides pulse down the rivers that the highway crosses. The usually bustling trading towns are now empty, their residents evacuated to makeshift tents in Kathmandu. And the new threat makes it too dangerous to return.

Utahns create documentary of devastating Nepal earthquake[courtesy :KSL.COM]

By Faith Heaton Jolley

NEPAL — After capturing drone footage of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal, several Utahns and a California resident created and released a documentary.

The earthquake hit April 25 and killed more than 5,000 people, becoming the most powerful recorded earthquake in Nepal since 1934, according tothe Associated Press.

At the time of the earthquake, Salt Lake City residents Lindsay Daniels and Chris Davis were in Delhi, India, with San Francisco resident Casey Allred filming “Stolen Innocence,” a documentary about human trafficking in India. The filmmakers had friends in Nepal and decided to go see how they could help.

Allred said the group arrived in Nepal 24 hours after the big earthquake and stayed there for five weeks to help with relief efforts. They teamed up with the largest volunteer group in Kathmandu, Nepal, with over 200 volunteers, 75 motorbikes and two dozen trucks, Daniels said. They began delivering medical and food supplies to victims of the earthquake.

“For many Nepali who are suffering, we are the first ones to help them,” she said. “What started as a trip to find lost friends has turned into an amazing effort of local college students and entrepreneurs saving lives.”

The crew brought their camera equipment to Nepal and decided to document the damage of the earthquake.

“Amongst so much destruction and grief, we saw locals taking it upon themselves with zero alternative motive except to give a helping hand and save lives,” Allred said. “We wanted to make the documentary to, first, highlight the destruction and pain the people of Nepal are going through, and second, to show the success of the local Nepali and what they are doing to get out of this mess and how everyone else can help make a difference through donating.”

The group released the documentary “Nepal Rises” on June 24 and hopes to raise money through their online charity* to build temporary classrooms and provide clean water for Nepali citizens.

Allred said he had been working in Nepal for six years and that the documentary was very personal for him.

“I felt as if I had arrived to a war-torn country, as many things were not familiar to me,” he said. “National monuments were destroyed, many homes wiped out and the people were afraid of ongoing aftershocks. … The people of Nepal banded together as neighbors, friends and families and helped each other out. Many went out of their ways to provide food, shelter and medical supplies. The true heroes of this tragedy are the people of Nepal themselves.”

The full documentary is available online.

[*KSL.com does not assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.]