Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nepalese Going Nuts

RelatedNothing New in Nepal

"UN, India plead for peace in Nepal after 11 die in violence; Ethnic protests seen hampering quake recovery"by Binaj Gurubacharya Associated Press  August 25, 2015

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala to express the concern that political and social instability would seriously compound the tragedy caused by the earthquake that devastated Nepal earlier this year.

Modi appealed to the government, all political parties, and the people of Nepal to eschew violence and maintain social harmony, the Indian Embassy said in a statement.

Police officers and soldiers were rushed to Tikapur, 250 miles west of Kathmandu, after Monday’s clashes.

Government administrator Raj Kumar Shrestha said authorities were in control of the town and surrounding areas and there were no protests or reports of curfew violations.

At least 20 police officers hurt in the clashes were being treated in hospitals.

Seven police officers, the 2-year-old son of a police officer, and three protesters were killed. Many protesters fled into the jungle and nearby villages after troops were called into the town, and it was not clear if other protesters were killed.

The embassy statement said Modi told Koirala that the political leadership of Nepal should resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue between all political parties and through the widest possible consultations, including with the public, to strengthen trust and arrive at solutions that reflect the will of all citizens in a united, peaceful Nepal.

Giant neighbor India surrounds Nepal from three sides and has major influence over the Himalayan nation.

Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam told Nepal’s Constituent Assembly that the protesters surrounded police who were enforcing a curfew and attacked them with stones, knives, and spears.

The protesters from the Tharu ethnic group are demanding a separate state in the new constitution, which is being finalized in the Constituent Assembly. They say a separate state would give them a stronger say in local affairs. They have organized strikes and street demonstrations, but the protests turned violent Monday.

In a separate clash Tuesday, police shot a protester in Gaur, a town 100 miles south of Kathmandu, official said.

Nepal has been governed by an interim constitution for years. The earthquake that killed thousands in April created new urgency for politicians to agree on a draft of a new charter.

The main political parties have agreed on seven federal states, but smaller political parties and ethnic groups oppose either the number or makeup of the states.

New York-based Human Rights Watch called on the government to order an independent investigation into the deaths and said the security forces must respect basic rights.

The United Nations also urged political leaders and protesters to sit together to find a peaceful solution before violence spirals out of control.

The spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville in Geneva urged Nepal ‘‘to create a climate where minority or dissenting views or beliefs are respected, and security forces only employ force as a last resort.”


Sorry for skipping the trip this time. Maybe next time.

"Powerful Indian clan demands to share in government aid; Huge rally urges systems for poor to include more" by Annie Gowen Washington Post   August 26, 2015

The ‘‘megarally’’ brought the city center of Ahmedabad to a standstill as thousands of members of the Patidar, or Patel, community marched in the streets. They waved banners demanding inclusion in government programs for those on the lower end of India’s ancient social order, the caste system.

The Patels have historically been politically powerful landowners and diamond polishers in India. They have also been a driving force of the Indian diaspora globally — more than 40 percent of hotels in the United States are owned by Indians, for example, many with the last name Patel.

But long-held resentment of what they see as the government’s preferential treatment of the underprivileged, twinned with economic woes, simmered this summer in series of rallies and protests. After one, a local politician’s office was torched.

‘‘We are angry. We are frustrated. We want the system changed,’’ said Ankit Patel, 25, who said he was passed over for admission to a master’s program at a state university in favor of three classmates from tribal communities who had lower marks.

Many at Tuesday’s rally — held on a university grounds with capacity for 300,000 — also said they felt left out of progress in Gujarat, the home of state of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who rode to national victory last year showcasing his state’s economic success.

‘‘He hasn’t done anything for us. We start sweating at the mention of his name,’’ said one protester, Keyur Patel, 25. In the past, Patels have been strong supporters of Modi and his political party.

Gujarat, as with the rest of India, has high numbers of unemployed younger workers. The state government said in November that 900,000 ‘‘educated but unemployed youths,’’ including 30,000 with post-graduate degrees, had registered with various state employment exchanges between 2011 and 2014.

In recent weeks, a 22-year-old activist, Hardik Patel, began tapping into this discontent by forming the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (Patidar Reservation Agitation Committee) and holding dozens of rallies calling for inclusion. A virtual unknown, he has rocketed to prominence in weeks and is treated like a hero by his followers. A photo of him mugging with a gun has been widely shared on social media.

‘‘He has shaken Gujarat in the last 50 days,’’ said Manoj Patel, 29, the owner of a textile export firm. Patel’s movement has also sparked counterprotests by protected communities who feel that their government support is under threat. The two groups clashed briefly after Tuesday’s protest.

Since its independence from the British in 1947, India has sought to protect its Dalit — formerly ‘‘untouchable’’ — and tribal communities with special seats reserved in universities and for government jobs.

Those set-asides were later expanded to include some socially disadvantaged castes, a designation called ‘‘Other Backward Classes’’ (OBC), according to Sonalde Desai, an expert on caste and a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland. Modi, who rose from humble origins as the son of a tea-seller, is from a caste that falls into this category.

In contrast, members of the Patel clan have historically been farmers, landlords, diamond merchants, and other business owners. They count among their ranks numerous politicians, including Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the revered founders of the country whose image was everywhere — on masks, on T-shirts — in Gujarat on Tuesday.


Didn't make the march, either. Sorry.