Upon reading Kanak Mani Dixit’s article (June, “A tryst with Nepali destiny”), I was struck by the writer’s optimism about 22 November elections for the Constituent Assembly. I wish I could share that optimism, particularly after the Maoist supremo Prachanda’s recent interview, where he seemed to infer that the Maoists are not interested in an election they are likely to lose badly. It seems to me the Maoist strategy is now to disrupt the election, and attempt to take over state power through a putsch. The argument in the article as to why the Maoists want elections reminded me of B P Koirala’s argument that if the monarchy goes, the king has nowhere to go. Since monarchy cannot survive without the support of the people, and the king has nowhere to go, the king will have to concede power, was B P’s argument. It was predicated on the assumption that King Mahendra was as rational as B P himself; it turned out he was wrong.
Like B P, Dixit seems to have an underlying assumption that the Maoists have no choice but to join the mainstream. But Prachanda’s pronouncements seem to suggest that the CPM (Maoist) suffers from the same ideological blindness that all fundamentalists do. He and his flock are convinced of the righteousness of their cause, and their method to usurp power.
In my view, they are merely a communist form of the Taliban: the opinion of the world and the survival of the country is not important to them.
Caste manages sports
Thanks for your recent coverage on sport in the region, particularly S Anand’s look at caste and sport (July, “Caste and the sporting status quo”). Indeed, only games like football and volleyball seem to ‘belong’ to reserved categories like Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes, a finding echoed in the report of the Thorat Committee earlier this year. The report quotes Dalit students saying that they have often been excluded from basketball and cricket. Interestingly, football and volleyball have never really attracted a mass appeal in India, including the attention of the media, while games such as cricket and tennis are elite sports that easily make headlines.
A friend recently reminded us at Himal that we had turned twenty years old. Thanks to all our readers and contributors for keeping us on track through the years, in our Himalayan and (since 1996) Southasian incarnations. Greetings have been pouring in, in response to an invite to an impromptu gathering on 26 July. Here is a sampling – enough to make us blush!
I join Himal’s many friends worldwide in saluting your persistent citizen-effort to evolve a regional mentality and identity for the currently fragmented Southasia. You have challenged assorted tyrants and mono-polies; questioned middle-class complacency; and lampooned Southasian idiosyncrasies. Except for a short period when temporarily taken over by intellectuals (my favourite definition: people educated beyond their intelligence), you have remained readable, passionate and credible. But, hey – who wants this cold, detached objectivity? As Himal comes of age, I hope it will continue to kick ass, puncture inflated egos and remain outside the ‘mainstream’ for a long time to come. Never give up, guys – too much is at stake!
We are proud of your team, for your initiative, political sagacity and commitment, and your sheer audacity. Ashis and Uma Nandy
New Delhi Twenty million congratulations from one who has known Himal from when it was in the womb – already the most promising foetus I had come across, not to be aborted at any cost!
Thanks for two decades of critical, informative and, not least, entertaining reporting, as a ‘Development and Environment’, ‘Himalayan’, ‘South Asian’ and ‘Southasian’ magazine. What will you think of next?
Martijn van Beek
Magazines, journals and people do celebrate their successes, but some achieve success by selling themselves, by compromising and by neglecting the communities and humanity at large. But Himal is a widely respected journal due to its standards and commitment to human issues. Southasia, in particular, should be grateful to Himal and its team for bringing into the mainstream this discourse on peace and
Syed Sikander Mehdi
What this little magazine, an entirely private effort, has done is to bring Southasian people closer. This is precisely what the Southasian governments have miserably failed to do. Don’t say it loud, but the true Secretariat of Southasian regional cooperation is the Himal magazine office in Kathmandu!