An existential matter

From Himal Southasia, Volume 21, Number 8 (AUG 2008) Southasia exists – at different levels of intensity and urgency, yes, but it does exist. To many, the region provides the fourth or fifth level of identity, beyond the clan, language-ethnicity, province and nation state. Despite the overwhelming seductive, chauvinistic power of the national identity as
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Form vs content

From Himal Southasia, Volume 21, Number 8 (AUG 2008) Akbar: Ufff! Birbal: What? Akbar: Why did Afghanistan have to join SAARC? Birbal: What do you mean? What’s wrong about getting a new member? Akbar: Don’t you see it ruins the design? Birbal: What design? Akbar: The SAARC logo, budhoo! Birbal: It looks very nice –
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The lady and the gun

From Himal Southasia, Volume 21, Number 7 (JUL 2008) 24 May 2008. Somewhere in the ‘forward area’ along the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir. Pratibha Patil, President of India, is handed an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle. She reaches for it, smiles like a kid, and brandishes the weapon. She notices a camera and
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Three feet of sovereignty

From Himal Southasia, Volume 21, Number 6 (JUN 2008) When you pass through the security checks and head over to the apron of Kathmandu’s international airport to board an Indian airline, you are asked to enter a strange contraption. It is a covered platform on wheels, and about three feet above the ground. Here, your
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Fallen Majesty

From Himal Southasia, Volume 21, Number 5 (MAY 2008) You can be a republican and still be nostalgic when a historical institution bites the dust. That is what Nepal’s 240-year-old monarchy is about to do. The New Year (Bikram Sambat 2065) greeting card that recently arrived in the mailbox from “Their Majesties Gyanendra Bir Bikram
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From Nepali Times, ISSUE #395 (11 APRIL 2008 – 17 APRIL 2008) The real work now begins to build a New Nepal They said the people would never rise up, until the People’s Movement surprised us all. They said the parliament could never be revived, but it sprang to life. They said elections would never
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Lets take over the world

From Himal Southasia, Volume 21, Number 4 (APR 2008) I confirmed this fact a couple of weeks ago while attending a conference in Beijing. The organisers delivered us at Badaling, beyond which lay the Mongolian wastes from which the emperors of the Middle Kingdom had wanted protection, for which the Great Wall was built. Down
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The newest national anthem

From Himal Southasia, Volume 21, Number 3 (MAR 2008) For decades, the national anthem of Nepal was of the kind that made citizens cringe. “Sri maan gambhir…” sung to a Western martial tune that had nothing in common with the Southasian folk or classical traditions. Against a backdrop of Western instruments, it sang praises of
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The gentle adventurers

From Himal Southasia, Volume 21, Number 2 (FEB 2008) To say that someone is a ‘Southasian’ is, in Himal’s lexicon, a complement of the highest order. And that is not intended to imply any racial or regional chauvinism – it’s just an idea that the values of Southasian-ness, beyond nation-statism, imply confidence, competence, commitment, empathy
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Getting there

From Nepali Times, ISSUE #384 (25 JAN 2008 – 31 JAN 2008) We have to get to 10 April as there wont be a fourth chance Those who say with cynical certitude that elections cannot happen on 10 April do not know what they are talking about. They are the kind who would very much
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