Thursday, April 16, 2015

Four Year Old Aditya A Miracle Boy

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Some call him as a Goggle Boy and some as an incarnation of God because of his exceptional mental ability and knowledge. But he says he is a common man. Aditya Dahal, a four year old boy, who has never set foot in school nor is he physically fit, possesses exceptional mental state that he has answer to every question and everything from politics, religion and philosophy to mathematics. Given his special quality and mental state, despite physical deformity, Aditya is, without any shade of doubt, a miracle boy.
He cannot speak, stand and even hold his own head for which he needs support from others. Yet he writes and gives answer to every question in multiple languages including Nepali, Sanskrit and English. His parents claim that he can also write in Korean, Russian, German, Japanese and Chinese languages.
Is this not a miracle?
When asked to say something about The Rising Nepal, Aditya wrote in English ‘Barun Shamsher did well as the first editor of The Rising Nepal’. Yes Barun Samsher Rana was The Rising Nepal’s first editor in chief who gave good leadership to the paper in the initial phase and is still remembered as a thorough gentleman. Awestruck by his answer, this scribe asked in Nepali the date of the first issue of The Rising Nepal. Aditya with his trembling hands wrote, “2022, Poush 1 start date’. Perfectly correct as The Rising Nepal was first published on Poush 1, 2022 Bikram era or December 16, 1965.
Aditya was born to Sesh Raj Dahal and Ishwora Guarani, both government employees, on July 23, 2010. According to his father Shesh Raj Dahal, Aditya was normal until he was two and a half year old. Physical deformities were seen in him later and Aditya finally lost his speech and movement. However, his disease has not yet been diagnosed, let alone its treatment and cure. Dahal couple visited almost all hospitals in Kathmandu and also consulted with expert doctors. They even took Aditya to Gangaram Hospital in New Delhi of India but his disease has not been diagnosed.
“We have taken Aditya to many doctors including pediatricians to neurologists both in Nepal and India, but his disease has not been diagnosed,” Aditya’s father said. According to Dahal, doctors are puzzled as all test reports are absolutely normal but his illness continues to afflict Aditya. However, they are optimistic that Aditya will be alright in a few years as the boy himself has told the parents not to be worried too much because his disease will be cured by 2073 Bikram Era (2017). Aditya says, according to parents, that his treatment will be possible only in Stanford Hospital of California, the United States. However, Aditya was denied visa from the United States Embassy in Kathmandu for lack of fund to cover the costs of his treatment.
Parents are now running from pillar to post to arrange fund for his treatment as lower level employees they cannot afford for Aditya’s treatment abroad. In view of Aditya’s extraordinary mental state, the government has decided to provide 2.5 million rupees (US$ 25,000) for his treatment. But this is meager amount if he has to be taken abroad for treatment. According to Aditya’s father, “it is too low, as it does not cover the cost of treatment”. 
Aditya’s father Shesh Raj Dahal demands to know whether the state is interested to save Aditya and his security as he can be an asset to the country. According to him, Nepal will one day be known in the world as the country of Aditya Dahal in addition to its present identity as the country of Lord Buddha and Mt Everest. Asked what exactly he expected from the government, Dahal said “we expect the government to bear the entire cost of Aditya’s treatment and also his security and management.”
Parents are worried about Aditya’s security as crowd of visitors throng their residence every day to see him. As both the parents are government’s employee, they leave Aditya to the care of a teenage girl Sushma Guragain, Ishwora’s own niece during office hours. Sushma is the first witness to Aditya’s miraculous talent and behavior.  According to parents, on July 9, 2014, Sushma, who was responsible to take care of the boy at day time when parents were in office, called Dahal couple and told that Aditya started writing both in Nepali and English. They initially did not believe her words as they did not expect the boy, who has never gone to school or was ever taught, to write English and Nepali fluently. But they believed only when they saw it with their own eyes. They also call it a miracle and ‘divine power’. “I thought she was just joking and did not believe her in the beginning but got exhilarated when I myself saw his writing,” Aditya’s mother Ishwora Guragain said. “Now we have realized that divine power has dawned on him, which has also changed our thinking as we have now become more spiritual because of Aditya,”, Ishwora explained.
Sushma, narrating the story, says:  “I was busy in my own study while Aditya, who was just beside me, tried to take my pen and a paper. I gave a pen and paper thinking that he will be busy and let me study my own course. But he immediately started writing Nepali alphabets followed by English alphabets and words. This astonished me and immediately called uncle and aunt in office’.  
Upon hearing the miracle and his ability to predict—and predict correctly— crowd started to throng his residence every day. Dignitaries like former Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal, former chief justice and former chairman of election government Khilraj Regmi, Health Minister Khagraj Adhikari, chief secretary Lilamani Poudel and secretary at Ministry of Information and Communication Suman Bahadur Malla visited Aditya’s house and were astonished by his mental ability and power. In a meeting with Health Minister Khagraj Adhikari, Aditya asked him ( minister Adhikari) in English, “Can you make me fit?”
As the number of visitors continued to grow and many of them expressed willingness to donate in Aditya’s treatment, ‘Aditya Protection Foundation’ was formed with Aditya’s father as its chairman, whereas Aditya himself is its patron. The objectives of the Foundations are to ‘protect the rights of differently-abled and handicapped people, raise awareness against drug abuse and alcoholism, help and rescue victims of natural disasters, assist marginalized people, promote peaceful co-existence in the society, establish community health posts, hospitals, ayurbedic hospitals with due permission from the concerned authorities and establish and operate a Fund for Aditya’s treatment’.  The Foundation has opened a bank account in SBI Bank (Account No 20525240200231) to facilitate the well-wishers to donate for Aditya’s treatment. “We have done this as per the Guru’s (Aditya) suggestions and it mainly seeks to make arrangement for his treatment, security and management,” said vice chairman of the Foundation Laxmi Prasai. However, Aditya’s father demands that the state should take the responsibility of Aditya’s security as well as treatment. Aditya’s father said that they do not accept any donation with conditions. Dahal has expressed gratitude to all those who have offered voluntary support to Aditya and Aditya Protection Foundation.  
Aditya’s mental state is extra ordinary but he is physically handicapped. If parents are to be believed, all medical test results including MRI reports are normal and doctors themselves are puzzled as they have not been able to know what exactly is Aditya’s disease. Thus, this is the subject of research for medical science to solve this mystery.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New scenario emerging in politics

Lately, politics in Nepal seems to be slowly limping back to normalcy. New political polarization is in the offing with UCPN-Maoist adopting different approach to let the constitution writing process going, while the ruling parties especially the Nepali Congress also appears to be little more flexible and accommodative to opposition’ demands and concerns. If these positive developments keep going for another couple of weeks, political parties are expected to hammer out a new formula for delivering the new constitution upon which the fate of the country and its thirty million people is directly linked. However, it is not yet certain that parties will really strike a compromise because of their dwindling credibility. In fact, parties’ credibility has declined so badly that people do not easily believe that our leaders will really make compromise for the country and the people.
The new situation has installed optimism among the people as the opposition parties led by the UCPN-Maoist withdrew the three-day nationwide general strike. In response, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have been flexible to defer the majority process in the Constituent Assembly for some time. Given the tone and tenor of the parties and their leaders, they appear to be tired and exhausted and do not have enough energy to advance their own stance and arrogance further. But they are still not in a mood to easily give up and accept the defeat. The present situation is something like the state of ceasefire, which have two equally strong possibilities. It may yield positive results in Nepalese politics by creating conducive atmosphere for consensus-based constitution and there is equal chance that this optimism may live short and lead to another round of conflict. In other words, it can also be described as a lull before the storm given their moods and arrogance. But let us hope that positive scenario emerges and country enters into a new era of peace and prosperity.
The crux of the problem in constitution writing and its promulgation appears to be federalism. However, this is not the only issue behind the deadlock and crisis. There is something else, which even our leaders may not have visualized clearly. The key to unlock the present political gridlock is not in the hands of Nepalese leaders but it is somewhere else, which is the fundamental factor behind the present crisis. The external forces are using our political actors to suit their own interests while our leaders and parties are unfortunately dancing to the tune of the external forces which do not want stability and peace in Nepal.
Nepal is currently in the process of social, political, economical and cultural transformation, which was the agenda of the Jana Andolan II. The popular April movement of 2006 had clearly spelled out some fundamental issues in Nepalese politics. They were inclusive democracy, secularism and republican set up. Although the Maoists were the ones to raise federalism in Nepal, it came to the fore strongly and prominently only after the Madhes movement.
Nepal needs to be restructured administratively and from the point of view of governance because development has not reached the villages and grassroots level.  Plans for the development projects are made in the capital without assessing the real needs of the local people and accordingly imposed from the center, which did not cater to the genuine needs of the local people.  But federalism may not be the solution of all the problems that the country has suffered. What is needed at present is the genuine devolution of power and governance at the door step of the people. Nepal is a small country and can be easily managed. If the concept of local self governance, the idea once mooted, is genuinely and honestly implemented, there is no need of federalism. But the people who hold power in the center are not willing to delegate power to the local levels in true spirit of decentralization and local self-governance. This is the fundamental problem, which failed the concept of local self governance in Nepal. This is why the necessity of federalism arose.
But federalism is not the prescription of all ills Nepal is faced with. The concept of federalism was accepted and incorporated in the Interim Constitution without sufficient debate. Thus, people do not exactly know what federalism is all about and whether Nepal really needed it. Had national debate been launched on this issue, people would have been better informed and better educated on this subject and they could have given their verdict accordingly. Now federalism is being defined by different individuals differently. Supporters of federalism think that federalism will cure all problems and diseases, whereas anti-federalists take it in such a way that federalism may ultimately lead to Balkanization of our country. But federalism is neither the prescription of all ills nor it is as bad as claimed by its critics. One thing is true that the way federalism is being propagated, it will lead us nowhere. Now federalism is being mooted in a way that leaders and parties are trying to create more unitary provinces out of one unitary state. That is the fundamental flaw in the present concept of federalism. If federal states are created in a genuine motive of empowering people at the local level, federalism does not disintegrate the country but it rather unites and strengthens our national unity.
Nepal is a small country which can be governed well, provided our rulers and political actors possess good intention and quality of governance.  Now they are trying to block the delegation of power to the local level and empower local people in the name of unnecessary debate of federalism. Federalism has been constitutionally accepted and we cannot go back from this. But federalism has to be made manageable so that it may not complicate problems in future. What is needed at present is the end of the present political transition and establishment of durable peace in the country. Durable peace and end of transition can be achieved only through the promulgation of the new constitution possibly on the basis of consensus and agreement among major political process. If consensus is not possible, the disputes need to be settled through other constitutional and democratic methods. Consensus is good to settle the disputes and deliver the constitution because consensus-based constitution ensures ownership of all sections and sectors of the country. But the country cannot always be made hostage of indecision in the name of consensus.
Political parties have now slowly started realizing this and they are expected to come up with a new formula to resolve the present political crisis in the country. Both the ruling and opposition parties appear to be flexible to compromise and give an amicable outlet to the ongoing deadlock in the constitution-making process. Further delay in the constitution writing is not in the interest of the country. It will only prolong transition that will be in the interest of the elements that are willing to reap benefit out of the chaos and instability. Thus, political parties are required to set aside their partisan agenda and come up with a common and acceptable proposition in unlocking the present political gridlock and delivering the new constitution ensuring federal democratic republic of Nepal.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Country hostage of indecision

Nepal is currently has become hostage of indecision. The indecision is not because of anything but personal and partisan greed and arrogance of leaders and their parties. The country is in the worst form of transition for a long time but there have not been serious attempt on the part of key political actors of the country to steer of the country out of the transition and give an amicable outlet. Instead parties and leaders are trying to reap benefit from the situation of crisis, which is the most unfortunate part of our politics. And this is the fundamental reason why country is mired in political crisis one after another.
Niccolo Machiavelli, a 15th century’s historian and political philosopher of Italy, once said that politics is the art of cunning. Machiavelli’s definition is not always true especially in the modern day’s politics. Until medieval era, politics was taken as a means to control resources and use it for personal and group’s interest. In such a situation politics became brutal exercise of power, which resorted to all tactics, moral or immoral, to gain power and retain it.  In modern concept, politics is an art of governance. However, developing country’s governments/governance are often characterized by the Machiavelli’s definition of politics, be it democracy or otherwise. In dictatorship of all forms, which many developing countries of Asia and Africa still continue to practice, the case is exactly the same, as rulers are masters and the rest are subjects but not citizens. Even in democracies of some developing countries, the rule of the game has not changed and the people continue to suffer from misrule and bad governance where rulers are masters and people are servants. In a way, Nepal, too, is not an exception, as the concept of modern democracy is still far from being fully put into practice to the best satisfaction of the people.
The present scenario of Nepal is the manifestation of our utter failure to put the democratic norms and values into practice. Parties are not functioning as parties. There are parties (factions) within parties. Factional bickering and squabbling are so ugly that they are behaving not like party leaders but tribal lords. Internal democracy is least observed and practiced in parties. Until two decades ago, parties used to choose their chiefs during the national congress and all other members of central bodies including office bearers would be handpicked by the party chief. It was not a democratic practice, which did not promote internal democracy within parties. This gave rise to the system in which party chief was all in all and everything revolved around the party boss. Other members had virtually no saying in decision making. The fate and future of cadres and leaders of the party depended upon the whim and will of the party chief. Thus, none could dare raise any question against the party chief.  But the system of selecting central committee of the party began two decades ago as the CPN-UML for the first time in the history of Nepalese politics made it mandatory that at least half of the members were elected by the delegates in the national congress. Later other parties followed suit. Now all parties have the provision of directly electing most of the central leaders and office bearers, which has no room for handpicking members and office bearers in the party’s top decision-making level. This has prevented the party chief to be arbitrary. Despite this general rule, all is still not well as party chiefs still continue to have sway in all decision-making processes.
Norms and values are also not strictly observed and maintained in parties and also in the policy and decision making process. Decisions are made in a way that suit personal and partisan interests rather than the overall interest of the country and the people. As a result, parties’ functionaries are not functioning in a democratic manner.
The country is currently in a protracted transition that has lasted for almost a decade. Although Nepal has been in perpetual transition right from the time the country was founded, the current has been more severe. Throughout history, only experiments were made in our political spectrum. As a result, the country was run on ad hoc basis, which led the country to be in transition from one system to another. Every time when systemic change took place in Nepal, it was expected that it would bring about stability in governance and political system. But that has hardly happened in Nepal’s political history. This situation is due to parties’ narrow and sectarian tendency that makes the parties and leaders to be focused heavily on partisan agenda and personal benefit. As parties and leaders get too much engaged in personal and partisan interest, it is obvious that national agendas and interest take a back seat. This is exactly what has happened in our country.
This is the time to give the country a new, democratic and patriotic constitution that could be owned up by all people, irrespective of their ethnic, ideological, lingual, cultural and regional affinity and connections. But parties are not trying to give a constitution of the country but the one that incorporates their partisan agenda. This is exactly the problem that has stalled and obstructed the constitution writing process and complicated the political situation of the country. It seems that no party is serious to write the country’s constitution and give an outlet to the present political crisis. Parties and leaders are calculating their gains and losses out of the present political situation. Until and unless the parties rise above this narrow and sectarian attitude, the constitution cannot be promulgated and political crisis addressed.
Now ruling and opposition parties are sharply divided not on the issues but on the methods and approaches of constitution promulgation. It does not matter whether constitution is written through consensus and voting process. What matters is the issues and contents the constitution will contain. The crux of problem in constitution writing is the federalism and its model. The parties are divided on this issue. The ruling parties want minimum federal provinces on to be created the basis of economic viability, whereas the main opposition UCPN-Maoist is advocating identity-based federalism and accordingly more federal states. Madhesi parties are not concerned with both the models and their only demand is the single Madhes provinces incorporating the entire plain areas of the south right from the eastern border and western border point. The demand of one single Madhes province is not feasible as it has been raised with ill intention of some Madhesi leaders. In fact, Madhesi people are not in favor of this demand. Thus, parties now need to sit for dialogue and settle the issues taking the national interest at the top of all other agenda. If dialogue was held rising above partisan interest, solution can easily be found and the country can be given a constitution that ensures ownership of all section and sectors of Nepalese citizenry.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Boao Forum and Yadav-Xi meeting

Yet another chapter has been added to the age-old friendly relations between Nepal and China. Chinese government invited Nepalese President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to address the Boao Forum for Asia 2015, which has been taken by all Nepalese as an honor to Nepal and Nepalese people. This is the testimony of the fact that China attaches greater importance to relations and friendship with Nepal more than with any other countries in the region.
President Yadav is the third Nepal’s Head of State to address the Boao Forum for Asia as King Birendra and king Gyanendra had earlier addressed the Forum. It is the first time that Nepalese head of state was invited by China to address the Boao Forum after Nepal was declared a republic. Thus, President Yadav’s China visit and his address to the Boao Forum for Asia are highly significant in terms of friendly relations between these two close Asian neighbors and also for peace and prosperity in the region and in the world at large.
The Boao Forum is Asia’s largest gathering in which leaders of this region and beyond participate to share views with their counterparts in the region with the objective of transforming the world in general and Asia in particular into a safer and more prosperous zone through better understanding and meaningful cooperation. Boao Forum for Asia is a non-governmental international initiative and its idea was first mooted in 1998 by Fidel V. Ramos, former President of the Philippines, Bob Hawke, former Prime Minister of Australia, and Morihiro Hosokawa, former Prime Minister of Japan. Although the idea was floated since 1998, the forum came into the shape in 2001 when the first conference was held. The name Boao Forum for Asia was given as Boao city of China’s Hainan Province serves as the permanent site of its headquarters. Since then, this forum has been annual conference at Boao of China. As the headquarters is in Hainan, China’s role is, therefore, more important in shaping its agendas and functionaries. 
This is a forum which has mainly focused on meaningful cooperation in the region for greater benefit of the people. All leaders including Chinese President, who was the center of attraction in the conclave, laid more emphasis on greater degree and constructive partnership and connectivity in the region for development and prosperity. In fact, this part of the world, despite having tremendous resources and potentials, has lagged behind in development, although some of the countries of Asia are well ahead in economic growth and level of development. Many Asian countries are still struggling hard to get out of poverty, backwardness and hunger. This situation requires greater degree of connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries—both developed and developing countries alike. China, thus, deserves appreciation for hosting and facilitating the conference.
This conference is important in the sense that it provides opportunity for world leaders to exchange ideas and build a framework of cooperation. More importantly, this forum has become an important opportunities for Asian leaders and others to learn the development experiences mainly from China as it has emerged  from a poverty stricken country to a global economic power within a short span of a couple of decades. As Boao Forum for Asia is headquartered in China, it has greater significance in the present global scenario. At a time when global power is being shifted to Asia with particular focus and attention on China, Boao Forum could be turned into a center of world economic focus in the 21st century. Countries in Asia and beyond are expected to extract maximum benefit from this forum for the benefit and interest of Asian countries.

There have been quite a number of initiates being taken in the international arena under the leadership of China, which are expected to have a greater impact both in Asia and the world. The BRICS, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Boao Forum are some new and noble initiatives that have already left an indelible mark in the international development and relations, thanks largely to some newly emerging economies including China.
Nepal has attached importance to Boao Forum as it has been participating in this conclave right from the beginning and takes this forum as an opportunity to enable greater degree of cooperation among developing countries of Asia. This is exactly what Nepalese President Dr Ram Baran Yadav raised during his address in the Boao Forum for Asia 2015. He clearly called upon the world leaders to get engage in more meaningful dialogue, cooperation and partnership for peace, development and prosperity not only in Asia but in the entire world.
This forum proved to be an important opportunity for Nepal to exchange ideas with other leaders of Asia and also with Chinese leaders and official. On the sidelines of the Boao conference, President Yadav met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in which they discussed ways for boosting cooperation between Nepal and China. It was during the meeting with President Yadav, Chinese President Xi announced significant increase in the volume of Chinese aid to Nepal.
Welcoming Yadav to the annual conference, Xi said China-Nepal relationship is a model of peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation between big and small countries. President Xi more particularly laid emphasis that China cherished friendship with Nepal and that China is willing to be Nepal's good friend of mutual respect and mutual support, good partner of common development and common prosperity and good neighbor of mutual assistance in security. In response Nepalese President appreciated China’s good neighborly attitude and increased aid to Nepal and said that Nepal always valued highly the friendly relations with China.
The Boao Forum for Asia 2015 provided the opportunity for both Nepalese and Chinese presidents to meet and interact on issues of bilateral interest in a more focused manner. As close neighbors and true friends, Nepal and China are, therefore, required to share such regional international forums not only for their bilateral interest but also for world peace, brotherhood, friendship and cooperation.