With regard to Maoist leader Mohan Baidya’s interview (Oct-Nov), in my opinion the Maoists of Nepal should move ahead by completing the peace and constitution-writing process for now. But that does not mean that they should stick to the status quo in the name of completing the peace process, as Baidya has rightly pointed out. The Maoists must ensure forward-looking state restructuring; otherwise, they will not be able to justify the blood of 13,000 people.
While violence could be the last resort for a free society from oppression and injustice, as Baidya argues, Nepal had democratic space – no matter how restricted it was – for social change in the aftermath of the of the Panchayat regime in 1990. For this reason, the Maoists cannot use this rationale to justify the insurgency’s bloodshed and the subsequent chaos in Nepal. And with the political strength they have in the current political configuration, the Maoists have the ability to do many things to change society for the better and ensure their rule for the next few decades to do further; instead, they seem to be unaware of this opportunity, and are instead waiting and biding their time to launch a revolt to seize state power. It is high time the Maoists change their ways for a peaceful and prosperous Nepal.
The plight of others
Mehjabeen Abidi-Habib et al have written a well-researched article (Revisiting Attabad, Oct-Nov). I would just like to point out that while the writers do discuss the miseries of 450 displaced families that have come about as a result of the formation of Attabad Lake, they have left out the plight of others who may have also been crippled as a result of this. As usual, the government is busy dealing with other scandals to look at such a ‘nitty-gritty’ issue.
At the gates
Weena Pun’s article (Departure lounge, Oct-Nov) paints a very familiar picture. It is amazingly sad to see migrant workers lined up in front of the main airport gate, mineral-water bottles in hand, having little understanding of the hardships they may soon face. It is even sadder to see the ones who have overlooked the extreme labour conditions in West Asia and are going back again.
Edward Gonzalez (Slowly and deliberately, March) rightly points out that by promoting an inclusive and transparent decision-making process to plan flood relief in Pakistan, democratic principles will be mainstreamed. Once citizens become more familiar with making demands and being part of the decision-making process, it will facilitate their involvement in other areas of policy-making. If there is any critique of this argument, it may be that people do not care enough to be involved in politics!
More plain tales
Richard Simon’s fiction piece (A plain tale from the hills, September) reminded me of British actress and 1960s icon Julie Christie, who was born in British India. At the centre of Julie’s private drama is a key figure she is never known to have spoken of, never met and, according to acquaintances, has gone to every effort to block out of her mind: her secret half-sister. The girl, called June, was the result of a relationship between Julie’s father Frank St John Christie, the manager of a tea plantation in India, and one of his Indian tea-pickers. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
Charles Haviland’s is a true account of what is happening along the A9 highway that goes to Jaffna (The road north, Oct-Nov). We hope he will be able to travel to the villages later and show the world how the war-affected families, many headed by single women, manage to survive.
Adelaide, South Africa
No-one won Sri Lanka’s war except those who sold arms and enjoyed the spoils of the conflict. It will take a long time, but things do now have a chance to settle and achieve a new prosperity.
I share Padraig Colman’s scepticism of travel (Just stay home, Oct-Nov). Tourism makes commodities out of human beings and their land, putting them on the market like cattle. It destroys both humans and the environment – one more way by which the rich exploit the poor. Commodification of nature and humanity is evil!
Arshia Sattar has done an excellent job of tracing the influence of mythology on India’s literature (The flaw in the crystal, September). I am also glad that the writer has praised Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses – something that ‘progressives’ generally do not do, out of fear or something else.
Image: Penguin India
Penguin India withdraws The Hindus
On 11 February 2014, Penguin India decided to recall and destroy all remaining copies of Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History. The decision was part of an agreement between them and Shiksha Bachao Andolan, a Hindu campaign group that filed a case against the publishers in 2010, arguing that the book was insulting to Hindus and contained “heresies”.
From our archive:
Diwas Kc reviews The Hindus: An Alternative History. (March 2010)