Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nepal names airport for Hillary, Tenzing


KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal plans to name the only airport in the Mount Everest region after the first two men to reach the world's highest peak more than five decades ago, a government minister said Tuesday.

Tourism Minister Prithvi Gurung said the government was planning to name the airport at Lukla as Tenzing-Hillary airport after Sir Edmund Hillary and his climbing partner, Tenzing Norgay, who scaled the 29,035-foot summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. Lukla airport, situated at 9,100 feet, serves as the gateway for thousands of trekkers and mountaineers going to the Everest region.

Gurung said there were also other proposals to establish an annual award in Hillary's name and also name the trekking route in the Everest region as the Tenzing-Hillary trekking route. Hillary, a New Zealand beekeeper who became one of the 20th century's most famous explorers, died Friday of a heart attack at age 88. His death has been mourned in Nepal, where he spent much time helping the people in the foothills of the world's highest mountain.

Following his famous climb, Hillary returned to Nepal several times and founded the Himalayan Trust, which has built 27 schools, two hospitals and 12 clinics around Mount Everest. Thousands of people have benefited from the trust's projects, and the Sherpa community reveres Hillary as a result.

Source: Associated Press

Nations of Children

by Phileena Heuertz, The Cry

In the early morning, Felipe gathers his assortment of candies and hits the streets in the hope of finding one open-handed customer.

Today, Manoj is shining shoes instead of sitting in a classroom.

At night, Valentino’s bed is the pavement.

Sarah was torn from her family during civil conflict and is now completely alone. She doesn’t know where her family is located – or even if they are still alive.

As you read, Priya is locked in a filthy room, deprived of food and raped repeatedly until her will is broken.

Gabrielle awakes each morning wondering if there will be any food for her.

Ahmad carries an AK-47 and prays that today he will not be forced to kill.

Sylvia watches her mother slowly waste away; she is dying of AIDS. Her family cannot afford doctors or medicine.

These are our children. In the 2005 State of the World’s Children report, UNICEF identifies that poverty, conflict and HIV/AIDS are the three primary issues threatening the health and safety of half the world’s children (more than 1 billion). This means one out of every two children in our world today is being denied childhood! In the developing/majority world alone, more than half of the children live in poverty without access to basic goods and services.
• One in six children is severely hungry.
• One in seven has no access to health care.
• One in five has no safe water.
• One in three has no toilet or sanitation facilities at home (2004, Associated Press).

Also in UNICEF’s 2005 report, they declared that the world has the capacity to reduce poverty, war and HIV/AIDS, and improve the condition of our children. Further, UNICEF noted that human development could be achieved at an annual cost of $40-$70 billion. By contrast, in 2003 the world spent $956 billion on military expenses alone.

Four years ago, we introduced you to Nations of Children, an article that demonstrated the magnitude of children in crisis around the world (Phileena Heuertz, The Cry, Vol.6 No.1).
The statistical data describing the harm occurring can be staggering. When those numbers are compared with populations of countries we see that numbers of children – on the scale of nations – are facing poverty, disease, war, injustice and exploitation.

Sadly, little has changed in the statistics over the years, but Word Made Flesh has been advancing in the fight for the lives of these children.

Many children’s lives are now filled with hope and opportunity because of WMF staff serving among them. Though the numbers seem overwhelming, the individual children we’ve come to know compel us to be faithful. Nations are being changed one child at a time.

The WMF community takes a prophetic, rather than a strategic stance. We believe that by living with and among those who suffer, we encounter Jesus and the Kingdom of God advances, transforming people and nations – both poor and rich. Though it may not seem like the few we are touching make a difference in this ocean of need, Mother Teresa reminded us that it makes a difference to the one who is helped.

Jesus demonstrated this by His life on earth. Though at times He met the needs of the masses, His love was expressed by touching one life at a time. And 2000 years later, His love is still changing lives and nations. His unconditional love for the individual and His passion for justice are what transform and endure.

However, the staggering statistics cannot be overlooked. The dreadful numbers remind us that the battle for our children is far from over. Countless cries are yet to be answered. These numbers remind us why we cannot live for ourselves. The Scriptures tell us that there is no greater love than laying down our lives (I John 3:16). And because the Father first loved us, we gladly give our lives in love to Him.
So together, united with you and supported by you, WMF staff members are giving up their lives of abundance, luxury and ‘success’ to share life with the poorest of the poor. We do this in the hope that one more child will be liberated from the shackles of poverty, war and disease – an enduring sign that the King of Heaven reigns.

Children in Distress (worldwide figures) / Comparative Populations /Cities Where WMF is Addressing the Need
11 million children die each year before reaching their fifth birthday (mostly from preventable causes) / Cuba: 11.4 million /Chennai, Kolkata, El Alto, Rio, Kathmandu, Galaţi, Freetown, Lima
182,000 children go blind every year because they lack sufficient Vitamin A intake / French Guiana: 186,000 / Chennai, Kathmandu, Kolkata
250 million children work as day laborers (ages 5-14) /Approximately 60 million of these children work under “horrific circumstances,” such as forced labor and prostitution / United States: 276 million / Lima, Kolkata
140 million children are growing up without access to education / Pakistan: 141 million / Chennai, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Galaţi, Freetown, Lima, Rio
100 million children work and/or live on the streets worldwide / Mexico: 100 million /
Kathmandu, Galaţi, Rio, Freetown, Lima, Kolkata
25 million children are refugees – that’s more than half of all refugees worldwide / Afghanistan: 25 million /Freetown
10 million children are enslaved in the sex industry: child prostitution, sex tourism and pornography / Portugal: 10 million /Kolkata
300,000 children under the age of 18 serve as soldiers in government forces or armed rebel groups. Some are as young as eight years old / Bahamas: 305,000 /Freetown
3 million children and young people are infected with HIV/AIDS every year / Liberia: 3.5 million / Chennai, Galaţi, Rio
25 million children around the world will have lost one or both parents to AIDS by 2010 /
Uganda: 25.6 million / Chennai, Galaţi, Kathmandu
5 million children have died from AIDS, since the beginning of the pandemic / Nicaragua: 5.1 million /Chennai, Galaţi

Source:, The Cry: An Advocacy Journal of WMF, vol. 11, no. 1 (Spring 2005)

Children in Servitude

by Monica Klepac, The Cry

At a busy intersection in Galaţi, a dozen Dacias (Romanian built cars) are stopped, waiting on a red light. Kids swarm from the sidewalk, slipping between the cars, tapping on windows and waving their squeegees and soap in front of the windshield. In a few minutes the light changes, and a few cars scoot off with cleaner windows while a few kids scamper to the sidewalk with more coins in their pockets.

The sun beams on the city park in Rio. Business people briskly walk with briefcases in hand and cell phones on their ears. Trailing behind is a raggedy boy calling out, offering a shoeshine. Back and forth, the executives parade past the boy with his beaten box and stained cloth. A few find the time to sit, drop some change in his hand and continue their cell phone conversations while the boy vigorously rubs their wingtips.

The street in Kolkata is a moving mixture of bright colored saris and men’s white shirts against the backdrop of gray–brown buildings. She stands against a building, just back enough to be out of the way and leaning just forward enough to see who walks by. She looks down at the calluses on her 15-year-old feet and thinks of the road they have traveled from her village in Nepal. The rumble in her stomach reminds her of why she is there, and she looks in the crowd for a man’s face, any man, anyone that will pay her a few rupees to do the thing she hates to do – that which will help her hunger go away for a while.

These stories are fictional, yet they are happening to real children at this moment in areas all around the world. Every day children are forced into servitude and the statistics cannot be overlooked.
■ UNICEF estimates that there are 100-200 million child laborers in both industrialized and developing countries today (Viva Network).
■ World Vision reports that almost 10 million children work in the sex industry, including areas such as child prostitution, sex tourism and pornography.
■ The fundamental human right to education is denied to as many as 130 million children, the majority of which are girls (Viva Network).

Jesus' TeachingJudith Gundry-Volf gives new insight into Jesus’ teaching on children in her chapter in The Child in Christian Thought. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record an incident when the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest among them. Jesus responds to their self-centeredness with the remark, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all, and servant of all.” He then takes a child into his arms and says, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” The word used for welcoming, or receiving children is dechomai, which in the New Testament is used especially for hospitality to guests. When Jesus held up children as an example of the kingdom, He gave us the mandate to serve them, not to enslave them. Gundry-Volf explains, “Thus to be great in the reign of God, disciples have to love and serve children.”

The place of children at the time of Jesus’ teaching was the lowest rank in society, so to take a child into His arms and declare the child to be the greatest was truly counter-cultural. Gundry-Volf further points out that then, as today, women held most of the caregiving responsibilities. Women were also a marginalized group, so as Jesus embraced a child, He showed that even the highest in society (men) are called to serve children. Though society often devalues children, it meanwhile romanticizes the time of childhood. Since the Romantics, we have tended to idealize childhood as a season of innocence. Unfortunately, having a starry-eyed view of childhood has not translated into commitments to love and serve children. As it was in Jesus’ time – as it continues to be in many of the places where WMF serves – children are second-class citizens. They are seen as strong legs and arms rather than as human beings. Whether they are in a factory or a brothel, these children have been denied their childhood for the sake of greed and lust. According to the Viva Network, India has the most child laborers in the world – the government puts estimates at 18 million. And in Latin America, an estimated 15-20 percent of children work. As we live and work among these children, we celebrate service, yet we oppose servitude.

It is easy to point fingers at the problems of injustices against children in other countries; however, even in materially wealthy, developed countries, we do not actively seek to serve our children. The United States lags behind many materially poor nations in certain areas of protecting children’s rights. According to Human Rights Watch, “Every recognized country in the world, except for the United States and the collapsed state of Somalia, has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, pledging to uphold its protections for children. Today the convention stands as the single most widely ratified treaty in existence.... Only six countries in the world – Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Yemen – were known to have executed juvenile offenders (people convicted of acts committed before the age of eighteen) in the 1990s, in violation of international legal standards. The United States has executed nine juvenile offenders in this decade, more than the reported total for any other nation in the world” (1995 Human Rights Watch Report, ). Though our children may receive a higher standard of living, are we really serving them as we should?

I believe the epidemic of child servitude is a symptom of our unwillingness to serve children. Many of us want to have them around, like an agreeable pet, but we do not want to give of ourselves to serve them. Oh yes, we will give them things: toys, TV’s, cars, video games – anything that will keep them quiet and out of our hair. But to give of ourselves to them our time, our energy, our attention – those things that are truly precious to us – we would rather keep that for ourselves. Although we love to see their round, smiling faces, our society often regards children as a burden, not a blessing. From the womb to death row, children are seen as expendable when they inconvenience individuals or society.

Our Response As Christians, we struggle to live under the reign of God, while the world is dominated by forces of darkness. Like the disciples, we ask the questions that reflect the world’s values. Who will be first? How can I move up in the world? Who is ahead of me? Who is winning? It is in these questions that the children are lost. They become units of humanity that can easily be used for a more efficient, productive society. Yet Jesus shows us another way of living with the radical statement, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” He turns the world’s systems of power on its head and points us to the child, not so children can be used and abused for profit, but so the child can be nurtured, protected and served.

In order to serve children with pure hearts, our attitude should be as Johann Christoph Arnold so accurately names it – reverence. In his book, Endangered, Arnold defines the spirit of reverence as, “the spirit that welcomes children and opposes at all costs anything that despises and rejects them. Reverence is more than just love. It includes appreciation for the qualities children possess (which we ourselves have lost), readiness to discover their value and the humility to learn from them. Reverence is the willingness to accept childhood for its own sake and children for who they really are.”

As much as we revere the image of God in children, we will serve them. As I have explored the issue of child exploitation, I have sought out Christ-centered responses. Below are some ideas for serving children, not just our children, but all children. Like Jesus, we will be turning the world’s paradigms upside down, as we lay down our selfish concerns and gather the children in our arms. May our eyes be open to see His kingdom come and His will be done as we serve the children.
Monica and Joel Klepac serve in Galaţi, Romania, where they are the parents of the WMF boy’s home. They have a one son, Simeon. Monica was an elementary school teacher before moving to Romania, and she continues to use her teaching gifts as she serves the children.

Source:, The Cry: An Advocacy Journal of WMF, vol. 11, no. 2 (Summer 2005)

Nepal: Need and basis for Federalism

by Lal Babu Yadav, Associate Professor, Political Science, TU

Concept of Federalism

"Federalism is that form of government where the component units of the political organization participate in sharing powers and functions in a cooperative manner though the combined forces of ethnic pluralism and cultural diversity, among others, tend to pull their people apart." –Tamuno

In Nepal, people have misconception about federation. It is thought that federal structure is suitable only for large countries. There is a misjudgment prevalent among political leaders that because of its small size Nepal cannot accommodate federal system and therefore this system is not necessary here. However, demographically Nepal occupies 40th position among 227 countries in the world.

More than 100 countries have shown that federalism minimizes violence, insurgency where as unitary structure are more apt to exacerbate ethnic conflict (Frank S. Cohen:1997)
Federal structure has been applied mainly in places of diversity where it is believed that as far as practicable a certain area should be granted political autonomy. Diverse cultural and linguistic sections of Switzerland and Belgium can be cited as an example. Both the countries, which are far smaller in population and area than Nepal, have followed federal form of government.

Federal make-up of governance imparts a greater degree of autonomy and minimizes conflict among different sections and groups. This form of governance has helped establish peace in such places as Baraks of Spain, Moro of the Philipines, Miskito of Nicaragoa, the Chittgaon hill of Bangladesh, and Ethiopia. Similarly, India has managed ethnic and linguistic conflict by creating separate states such as Andhra, Gujarat, Punjab, Hariyana, Jharkhanda, Arunachal, Mijoram, and Chattisgarh. By providing equal dignity and rights to all the minority and marginalized, federal structure has resolved conflict peacefully. It has been seen that rather than causing civil war, conflict or secession federal form of government has ensured stability, established sustained peace, and strengthened social unity in many countries. India, Malaysia, and Switzerland can be cited as an example

Challenges of Federation in Nepal
Historical evidence shows that many a time federal system has failed in solving national problem and chaotic situation. This system might incur a massive expenditure in maintaining parliamentarian and administrative section. In those countries where there is insufficient resource and means federal form of governance might suffer from the lack of sufficient budget. In case of different governments in the centre and province, there might not be proper coordination and cooperation between the two. Such anomalies contain the seed of conflict.
Political parties are unnecessarily apprehensive of the fact that federalism might lead to the disintegration of the nation. They also argue that federal structure will also cause additional financial burden towards maintaining administrative expenditure. No any ethnic or linguistic group is in absolute majority in any region. It is also seen that political democratization process might be overshadowed due to the issues of ethnicities, language and culture. Most of the time great politicians, businessmen and administrators think in a unitary fashion. Likewise, federal system cannot be said to maintain or ensure social conduciveness. Events in Spain, France, Russia and Yugoslavia proved this fact. Federal structure might also weaken national unity and specially, in case of conflict between and among the federal states the situation of law and order might worsen extremely. Because of the presence of one particular ethnic majority in a particular region, other minorities might be marginalized. In no part of the country is any particular ethnic group in absolutely the majority position and in this case there is the possibility for the minority to ascend to power, which can be opposed by the majority. Pakistan, Yugoslavia and Russia are the examples. In Russia, the Russian were in the majority that took decision in their favor. Similarly, in Yugoslavia the Serbs were predominant and so for fear of being wiped out by the majority, other marginalized groups sought independence.

Formal Concept of Federalism in the Nepalese Context
On January 15, 2007 the interim legislation was formed and enacted in Nepal. Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum protested fiercely for not being included in this legislation. To address the demand of the people of Madhesh, PM Koirala, supported by the 8-party alliance, made a theoretical commitment for the federal form of state mechanism. By making necessary amendment in the constitution to authorize his announcement, it was decided that Nepal should be made a federal state.

Needs of Federal State
Armed and communal conflicts take place because of the political exclusion of a large social group. Federal structure minimizes such exclusion and enhances political participation and role. The government formed to take care of a particular group for its common benefit will definitely address structural conflict and violence. Federal structure allows the state power to reach the minimal unit of state mechanism. This automatically establishes mechanism to resolve conflict on the permanent basis. Identity-based issues like culture, ethnicity are given due recognition by the state. This helps a great deal in eradicating communal feeling and conflict.
At the local level, native people have full access to regional resources. Federal form of government enables and expands scope of the people of grass-root level to enjoy the full fruit of democracy. This also ensures and safeguards the rights of all groups of people by ending ethnic and religious discrimination through decentralization. To allow the resources to reach the grass-root people federal system is effective form of governance. Apart from imparting status and recognition to all ethnic, linguistic and regional groups, federal state structure guarantees the overall participation of the common people in the development and democratic process.

Types of Federal Forms
Although the government has decided to go for republic structure, no clear draft has been charted out in this direction. Even though there are different bases for federal structure such as regional, linguistic, ethnic, semi federal and full autonomy, the 8-party is yet to decide which one is appropriate for the country.

Possible Federal System
In Nepal federal state should be made on the basis of geography. Keeping the population, geography, language, ethnic group in view there should be between 15 to 20 federal states in Nepal. Before taking decision about federal system in the country, a wide ranging debate should be launched. The debate should justify three important questions about federal system: why, where, and for whom. In Nepal four levels of political or administrative division should be adopted. The division includes: central government, provincial government, district Municipality or village Development Committee, and local government. In the case of selecting provincial capital or district headquarters, all the concerned people and stakeholders should be consulted. In such issue it will be decided whether the authority will be given to the centre or referendum will be conducted to decide this.

Executive Power
Until the fate of monarchy is decided it is hard to say what type of system is appropriate in the country. However, if we are to adopt presidential or parliamentarian system, executive chief president or prime minister should be selected on the basis of direct election, first past the post system. The executive chief will have the full authority in forming and appointing the cabinet according to his own discretion. There will be a provision to remove the executive chief from his post by 2\3 majority on the impeachment basis. During the impeachment procedure, the parliament should be presided over by the Supreme Court judge. Should there arise any controversy regarding the jurisdiction between the parliamentarians and the executive chief, there should be a provision to settle this through referendum in which case the 51% majority will finalize the matter.
(The article above is the excerpts from the views expressed by the author at a seminar on Analysis of the Need, Challenges and Bases of Federal Structure, facilitated by Shrawan Sharma, Executive Director, CESOD)

Source: 1-8-08

Nepal polls scheduled for April 10

Anirban Roy, Hindustan Times
Kathmandu, January 11, 2008

The Nepal government on Friday finally announced fresh dates for the crucial Constituent Assembly election. It will be held on April 10 in a single phase.
The elections had been announced twice earlier, for June 20 and November 22 last year, but on both occasions had to postponed following the Maoists unwillingness to participate until its two demands were met.

The Maoists wanted Nepal to be declared a republic, abolishing the monarchy earlier, and a system of proportional election adopted, as prevails in many European countries, and not the first-past-the-post system that operates in countries like India or Britain.
A meeting of the top leaders of the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and the Maoists had earlier approved the new date of the election, which was on Friday endorsed by the interim council of ministers before being made public.
The political parties decided to give the election commission 90 days to make the necessary preparations.

The leaders of the ruling Seven Party Alliance (SPA) also decided to invite the armed groups in the Terai region for peace talks. The insurgent outfits have unleashed a reign of terror there.
The government remains worried that the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM), the largest insurgent outfit in the Terai, might try to sabotage the CA election in those 23 districts in the south of the country, bordering India.

The Nepal government on Sunday will officially request the election commission to start preparations for the CA election, sources in the PMO told Hindustan Times, adding that the Nepal parliament would also have to pass some appropriate laws to enable the poll to be held.

Source: Hindustan Times, January 24, 2008