Guest post by SAJAN VENNIYOOR
Now that government agencies in India — some half a dozen of them working with the exceptional coordination we have come to expect from government agencies — have blocked Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos supposedly originating in Pakistan, perhaps we could contemplate other trans-border electronic transgressions committed by our neighbours.
In August 2011, The Times of India reported that Punjab border farmers still tune into Pak FM radio stations. According to villagers on the fringes of Ferozepur, the limited range of India’s “national radio” broadcasts and the absence of any local FM station have made radio services from Pakistan the most popular source of entertainment in border areas.
About the same time last year, the Indian government had become alarmed by the popularity of Nepal’s FM radio channels in Bihar along the Indo-Nepal border. According to various sources, some half a dozen Nepal FM radio stations are broadcasting programmes – “anti-India advertisements and vulgar songs”, according to one outraged newspaper report – into Bihar, especially Madhepura, Supaul, Madhubani, Kishanganj, Araria, Sheohar, Saharsa, Muzaffarpur, and East and West Champaran districts. Continue reading Borderline madness: Sajan Venniyoor
In an interview with this writer for The Hindu newspaper last week, Maoist chairman Prachanda explained the sudden decision to send the Nepal Army to the cantonments, revealed the possible meeting points on constitutional issues, said that he would have no objection to an NC-led government promulgating the constitution, and declared his personal ambition of wanting “5-10 years” to “implement his vision”. But the bit that has drawn the most attention here in Kathmandu is his public acknowledgment of India’s role in Nepal’s political transformation—from the 12-point agreement, to the CA elections, to the declaration of republic and the progress in the peace process.
Expectedly, ultra-nationalist websites have latched onto this as proof of Prachanda’s “subservience”; right wing stalwarts have the “We told you so” smug look about how they were right all along that this was an external plot. In a different context, there has also been commentary projecting India’s current phase of engagement with the Maoist as somewhat opposed to the Nepali people’s aspirations for peace and democracy.
It would be useful to look at the several issues enmeshed here separately, based on the evidence currently available. Continue reading On the India hand in Nepal
The Constituent Assembly’s ‘Committee to protect and preserve National Interests’ has suggested that a passport regime be introduced at the Nepal-India border. Committee Chair Amik Sherchan has said this is necessary to ‘protect waning Nepali nationalism’ and ‘to treat both China and India equally’. Sherchan claimed that ‘majority of the Nepali people share this view’, an assertion hard to believe.
The clamour to end the open border relationship comes from three different quarters of the Kathmandu (and yes this is confined to the capital) political spectrum. The first is the nationalists who borrow the Westphalian notion of absolutely sovereign nation states. In this version, the Nepali state has never been totally independent because it has not controlled the movement of people across its boundaries. The act of walking across unchallenged is seen as an attack on state authority. Continue reading Closed minds