Any way you look at it, Israel’s disproportionate use of force in Gaza Strip is unjustifiable. In the two weeks of Israeli ground incursions and shelling of Gaza—supposedly to destroy militant tunnels and stop the steady stream of rockets being fired into Israel—over 580 Palestinians have lost their lives. At least 70 percent of casualties have been innocent civilians, including 100 children. Not even hospitals have been spared. Responding to Israel’s shelling of a hospital in the Gaza city of Deir al-Balah, killing at least five, including doctors, Amnesty International rightly termed the attack among “possible war crimes” that call for “an urgent independent international investigation.” Even the US, Israel’s strongest military allay, has urged Israel to take “greater steps” to spare innocent lives. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has, for his part, said the violence should “stop now”. The strongly worded reactions from the US and the UN, both of which traditionally peddle soft lines on Israel, indicate the severity of the crisis.
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, is probably coming to Kathmandu soon. For the last 15 years no Indian PM has visited our country, although every government in Nepal has requested such a visit. It is wonderful that the Indian PM, much admired in Nepal, is finally coming.
A visionary leader
Modi has clearly indicated that improving relations with neighbors is his priority, which was evident when he graciously invited government heads of all South Asian countries to his inauguration. He conveys the image of a confident and forward-looking leader who wants to go the extra mile in promoting an atmosphere of trust between India and other South Asian nations. Therefore his visit is an opportunity both for India and Nepal to build the relationship between the two nations based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual gains.
After the rapid food test at Kalimati Fruit and Vegetable Market, it was scientifically revealed that we were eating poison every day. We often heard news of high pesticide/insecticide spray in the vegetable and fruit gardens but were not serious. Thanks to the initiation of the government and the pressure groups that such findings were disclosed. The inspection team detected that almost all vegetables at the Kalimati market have three times higher poison contamination than the level allowed by World Health Organization.
The agriculture census report of Central Bureau of Statistics shows that our farmers use 1098 different types of pesticides and insecticides including 15 banned pesticides such as DDT, Chlordane and Dieldre. These toxic materials can cause gastro-vascular, respiratory and hormone disorders and some can even cause mental disorder and cancer. Bir Hospital administration has reported that patients infected with such toxics are increasing at an alarming rate.
Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Palestine and the South China Sea witness continuous strife. The problems of extreme poverty and political violence in Africa and South Asia persist. Many parts of the world are in unrest. Given such bleak scenario, it is natural for Nepalis to question whether the United Nations (UN) can provide global leadership. Is it able to save succeeding generations from the scourge of inter-state wars and violent internal conflicts or ensure freedom from fear?
Both its critics and supporters agree that the UN needs to change. It should not be done away with altogether but can only be improved for better. Without it the world would be in an even more dangerous situation. Nepal in the UN represents that vital relationship between a member-state and the only global forum where nation-states come together to try to resolve problems beyond the classical exercise of raw national power. This makes Nepal-UN relations important.
To show its centrality in state affairs, the bureaucracy is often referred to as permanent government. Even when there is no plenipotentiary executive—as was the case in Nepal after the demise of the first Constituent Assembly—the bureaucracy ensures smooth day-to-day governance. But ‘permanent government’ has not always been used in the Nepali context as a term of merit. The marginalized communities rather use it to indicate how certain caste elites have permanently hijacked Nepal’s bureaucracy and made it next to impossible for representatives from these communities to rise through its ranks. We need only look at the names of the 18 joint secretaries who were recommended for the five vacant posts of secretaries last week. There is one Madheshi among the 18, and absolutely zero janajati or dalit representation; nor is there a single woman. No wonder the Nepali bureaucracy is accused of being completely in hock to the male Brahmin and Chhetri leaders who control all our major parties. For not only is the Nepali bureaucracy exclusionary, it is also thoroughly corrupt and under total control of the executive.