A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘nepal

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Collingwood, Ottawa, Seattle, Sayatón, Kathmandu

  • Quite honestly, this CBC report about pet owners in Collingwood who are complaining that they cannot let their pets roam for fear of coyotes makes me feel sorry for the poor pets.
  • CityLab reports on the problems that Ottawa has had in getting its light-rail transit network operational.
  • CityLab reports on how Amazon may be distancing itself from Seattle, the better to not get caught up in big-city politics.
  • The Guardian reports from the Castilian town of Sayatón, a disappearing town that has become a symbol of depopulating rural Spain. What, if anything, can be done to reverse these trends?
  • Ozy reports on how Kathmandu is literally uncovering elements of its past as it continues its post-earthquake reconstruction.

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Detroit, Calgary, Tijuana and San Diego, Kathmandu, Chernobyl

  • CityLab looks at how, facing the impending closing of a General Motors plant that brutally displaced and mostly destroyed the (mostly) Detroit neighbourhood of Poletown, there is question about what to do with this space. Can Poletown live again?
  • Taylor Lambert at Sprawl Calgary writes about how Calgary is learning to adopt Indigenous names for its growing communities and roads, and more, how Calgary is learning to do so respectfully.
  • Guardian Cities notes the extreme sensitivity of the binational conurbations straddling the US-Mexico border in the Californias to the possibility of border closures.
  • Guardian Cities notes how people in Kathmandu, struggling to rebuild their homes after the 2015 earthquake, are now facing terrible levels of debt.
  • The Guardian reports on a remarkable rave/art party held in Chernobyl not far at all from the ruined reactor.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Architectuul reports on how architects, at a time of new environmental pressures on water, how some architects are integrating water into their works.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about what books she is (and is not) reading these days.
  • D-Brief notes a new study suggesting that the prospects of planet-based life at globular cluster Omega Centauri are low, simply because the tightly-packed stars disrupt each others’ planets too often.
  • Hornet Stories notes how some American conservatives wish to prohibit states from mandating adoption agencies not bar same-sex couples as applicants.
  • JSTOR Daily notes how the tattooed heads of Maori first became international trade items in the 19th century, then were returned to New Zealand in more recent years.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair writes about his favourite Nepali expression, “Bāphre bāph!”.
  • The Map Room Blog notes the release of a revised vision of Star Trek: Stellar Cartography, including material from season 1 of Discovery.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw explains how, in 1976, he appeared on Australian television talking about the Yowie, the Australian equivalent to a Yeti.
  • Drew Rowsome reviews Folsom Street Blues, Jim Stewart’s memoirs of the leather/SoMA scene in San Francisco in the 1970s.
  • Peter Rukavina writes about the newly liberal liquor laws of Prince Edward Island, allowing children to be present in environments where liquor is being served.
  • Window on Eurasia shares suggestions that the government of Ukraine needs to take a much more visible, and active, approach towards protecting its international tourists, for their sake and for the country’s.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell talks about the redefinition, at least in the United Kingdom, of Euroskepticism into a movement of extreme suburban nationalists, away from rational critiques of the European Union.

[LINK] The Inter Press Service on India, Nepal and their relationship

The Inter Press Service’s N Chandra Mohan writes about India’s missteps in its relationship with Nepal, trying to determine that country’s constitutional future at no small economic cost. This behaviour honestly reminds me of Russia’s treatment of its smaller neighbours.

South Asian integration remains a distant dream as some member countries like Nepal resent India’s big brotherly dominance in the region. They perceive that they have no stakes in India’s rise as an economic power. Ensuring unrestricted market access perhaps would have made a big difference in this regard. Their resentment has only deepened as this hasn’t happened. Instead they have registered growing trade deficits with India! The on-going travails of the Himalayan kingdom vis-a-vis India exemplify the problematic nature of integration in a region that accounts for 44 per cent of the world’s poor and one-fourth of its’ population.

Nepal appealed to the UN to take “effective steps” to help remove an “economic blockade” imposed on it by India. According to SD Muni, Professor Emeritus at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, this situation is reminiscent of what happened in 1989 when King Birendra’s decision to import anti-aircraft guns from China and his refusal to reform the Panchayat system in the face of a democratic movement precipitated tensions in bilateral relations. India closed down the special entry points for trade and transit, resulting in a severe shortage of essential supplies. Twenty-six years later, Indian trucks have been stopped from entering Nepal.

This blockade similarly has resulted in a shortage of fuel, food and medicines in the Himalayan Kingdom. Supplies of vaccines and antibiotics in particular are believed to be critically low. UNICEF has warned that this will put more than three million infants at risk of death or disease as winter has set in. More than 200,000 families affected by earthquakes earlier in the year are still living in temporary shelters at higher altitudes. The risks of hypothermia, malnutrition and shortages of medicines will disproportionately affect children. As if all this weren’t bad enough, fuel shortages are resulting in illegal felling of forests.

Nepal’s non-inclusive constitution is the proximate cause of this development disaster-in-the-making. The blockade is being spearheaded by ethnic communities who make up 40 per cent of the population like the Madhesis and Tharus from the southern plains or the Terai These minorities have strong historic links with India and are protesting that the recently promulgated constitution marginalizes them. They have stopped goods from India entering the country by trucks since September. India of course formally denies that it has anything to do with the blockade but it is concerned that the constitution discriminates against these minorities.

As Nepal shares a 1,088 mile open border with it, India is concerned that the violent agitation over the constitution will spill over into its country. The bulk of the Himalayan Kingdom’s trade is with India, including a total dependence on fuel. It is also a beneficiary of special trading trade concessions and Indian aid. Nepali soldiers in the Indian army constitute one of its leading infantry formations — the Gurkha Regiment. Nepali nationals freely cross the border and work in India. Normally, such interdependence should occasion closer bilateral ties and integration. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened till now.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 23, 2015 at 2:15 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO notes that Toronto has been ranked the 12th most expensive city in the world.
  • Centauri Dreams is impressed by Pluto’s diverse landscapes.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that the debris disk of AU Microscopii hints at planetary formation.
  • The Dragon’s Tales observes Russia’s fear of American hypersonic weapons.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a GoFundMe campaign for a man who was harassing a lesbian colleague.
  • Language Hat notes the adaptation of the Cherokee language to the modern world.
  • Language Log examines the complexity of the language used by Republican candidates in a CNN debate.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a major difference between national and international markets is the latter’s lack of regulation.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at how migrant labourers in California can be cheated out of their pay.
  • Registan notes the likely sustained unpleasantness in the Donbas.
  • Peter Rukavina quite likes the new Island musical Evangeline.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares photos of Lithuanian castles in Ukraine.
  • Spacing notes the cycling infrastructure of Toronto.
  • Towleroad observes that the new constitution of Nepal explicitly protects LGBT people.
  • Window on Eurasia wonders if Syrian Circassians will go to Russia as refugees and examines the complexities of Karabakh.

[LINK] “New to America, Bhutanese refugees face suicide crisis”

More, via Al Jazeera America’s Betsy Kulman, on the plight of Bhutanese refugees in the United States. I fully expect similar psychological issues among Bhutanese refugees elsewhere in the world, including in Canada.

[Som] Subedi is one of almost 76,000 Bhutanese refugees who have come to the U.S. since 2008. He’s now a naturalized American citizen, who helps Bhutanese refugees adjust from life in a refugee camp to life in Portland, Ore.

Suicide is not usually associated with Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan nation of legendary beauty that measures its success in gross national happiness. But Subedi and the other Bhutanese refugees are not technically Bhutanese, according to the country’s government. Known as Lhotsampas, their ancestors migrated to Bhutan from Nepal in the 17th century. And in the 1990s, more than 100,000 of them – one-sixth of the country’s population – were trucked out of Bhutan as part of its “one-nation-one people” policy, effectively an exercise in ethnic cleansing. They’re now one of America’s fastest-growing refugee populations.

They’re also committing suicide at a rate higher than any other refugee group in America, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For every 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, 24.4 commit suicide, almost double the rate of 12.4 for the general population. Twenty-one percent of Bhutanese in America are also depressed, nearly three times the national rate. According to the Wall Street Journal, since November 2013, there have been seven known cases of Bhutanese refugees taking their own lives.

“It’s an epidemic,” Subedi said.

The suicide rate in the camps in Nepal is similar to the rate among resettled Bhutanese in America, according to the CDC. But Subedi believes the promise of the American dream is part of what’s killing his people. Many are excited to leave the Nepalese camps, where a generation of children have been born and raised in legal limbo with “no hope,” “no future” and “no identity,” said Subedi. But he said many Bhutanese refugees arrive in America believing there’s “money in the streets,” and instead end up isolated, unemployed and in debt.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2015 at 10:49 pm

[LINK] “Decades of human waste have made Mount Everest a ‘fecal time bomb’”

Peter Holley’s profoundly disgusting article in the Washington Post notes the extent to which completely unregulated climbs to the top of the world’s tallest mountain has left vast amounts of waste scattered about. Connections could probably be made to the extent to which mountainclimbing generally can be problematic.

When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953, it was arguably the loneliest place on Earth — an oxygen-deprived desert perched atop an icy, 29,000-foot ladder of death.

Over the last 62 years, more than 4,000 climbers have replicated the pair’s feat, with hundreds more attempting to do so during the two-month climbing season each spring, according to the Associated Press.

Along the way, people have left oxygen canisters, broken climbing equipment, trash, human waste and even dead bodies in their wake, transforming the once pristine peak into a literal pile of … well, you get the idea.

“The two standard routes, the Northeast Ridge and the Southeast Ridge, are not only dangerously crowded but also disgustingly polluted, with garbage leaking out of the glaciers and pyramids of human excrement befouling the high camps,” mountaineer Mark Jenkins wrote in a 2013 National Geographic article on Everest.

This week, Ang Tshering, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, warned that pollution — particularly human waste — has reached critical levels and threatens to spread disease on the world’s highest peak.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm

[LINK] “For aspiring Nepali migrants, the risks start at home”

Al Jazeera’s Pete Pattisson notes the plight of migrant workers from Nepal, who seem to find themselves facing cheating by employment agents and dangerous work conditions at every turn. That their remittances play a critical role in the domestic economy makes things more complex.

Every day, almost 1,500 Nepalis join the long queues at Kathmandu’s airport to follow their dreams of a job abroad, typically in the Gulf or Malaysia. Over 525,000 Nepalis were issued permits to work overseas in 2013-14, well over double the number issued just five years ago.

According to an Open Society Foundations report on migrant workers, Nepal now sends the most workers abroad per capita of any country in Asia.

And for many, migration works. Official remittances account for over 29 percent of Nepal’s total GDP, and have increased by 400 percent between 2003 and 2011. At the arrivals gate of Kathmandu’s airport, dozens of migrants arrive off each flight balancing bulging bags and flat-screen TVs on their trolleys.

But wait till they have left, and another set of trolleys emerge from the terminal carrying a very different load — coffins bearing the bodies of migrant workers, like Umesh Pasman. Every day, three or four are flown back to grieving families in Nepal. In 2013, at least 185 Nepalis died in Qatar alone.

[. . .]

It usually begins with an introduction to a local recruitment broker, or agent. Typically, “the individual agent [is] someone personally known to the migrant worker… Consequently, migrant workers have great trust in their agents to look after their interests,” said the Open Society Foundations report.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 17, 2014 at 11:50 pm

[NEWS] Some Saturday links

  • National Geographic notes the high intelligence and capability for suffering of elephants, wonders if given California’s pressing need for water the Salton Sea can survive, and notes that building a Nicaragua canal to supplement Panama’s could create an environmental catastrophe.
  • io9 notes that, economically, we’re heading for a cyberpunkish “Blade Runner” future of disparities, and observes that apparently the first animals on Earth didn’t need much oxygen.
  • The Atlantic places official homophobia in Russia in the context of prudishness about sex generally, and observes that casual sex app Tinder works in Antarctica.
  • The Daily Mail tracks fertility in the United Kingdom’s different immigrant groups by nationality.
  • The New Republic suggests that Pussy Riot’s recent arrest by Cossacks in Sochi might have been a PR ploy on their part.
  • The Huffington Post notes that Tennessee, by cracking down on unions in its Tennessee Volkswagen plants, may have discouraged Volkswagen from making further investments in the area. (In the German co-management system, unions have a critical say in determining investment.)
  • Al Jazeera notes the plight of the Hindus of Pakistan, persecuted in Pakistan but unwelcome in India.
  • The New York Times observes that a decade of tunnel-digging has given geologists in New York City wonderful crosssections of the city’s geological structure.
  • The Dodo notes the discovery of a feline species, Pallas’ cat, in the Himalayas.

[BRIEF NOTE] On South Asian Maoism and indigenous peoples

Open Democracy’s Rakesh Mani wrote a provocative article, “On Red Alert”, suggesting that India’s Maoist guerrillas, the Naxalites, are strongest in the Adivasi, India’s tribal peoples, in eastern and central India. Why? India’s tribal populations are terribly disenfranchised.

In the public lexicon, the narrative of the Naxalites being a grassroots reaction to decades of economic neglect has become an unchallenged truism. It is true that in the tribal areas of states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, poverty is so desperate that joining the Naxalite factions is often the only way out. There are no other alternatives to make a livelihood.

Many argue that the answer lies in investment and infrastructural development on a massive scale, which will create jobs, bring economic advancement and draw the tribal areas closer to the union.

As Aaradhana Jhunjhunwala, the Kolkata-based writer, once pointed out, it is not simply underdevelopment and economic backwardness that lies at the heart of people’s distress. It lies in the deficiency of efficient and democratic governance. Why have Naxalites had the most success in tribal districts over the last decade? It is not accidental. There are clear correlations between areas of tribal habitation and sub-standard levels of socio-economic conditions. The helplessness of tribals in their own matters makes them perfect breeding grounds for revolutionary ideology.

[. . .]

As part of their strategic and tactical approach, the Naxalites have consistently presented themselves as a better alternative by taking up battles on tribal issues and drawing up pro-tribal governance policies.

As the historian Ramachandra Guha has argued, “what the Naxalites have going for them is their lifestyle – they can live with, and more crucially, live like the poor peasant and tribal, eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, eschewing the comforts and seductions of the city. In this readiness to identify with the oppressed, they are in stark contrast to the bureaucrat, the politician and the police officer.”

Mani’s thesis doesn’t seem so far-fetched to me. Indigenous peoples–especially badly-off indigenous peoples–might be generally attracted to oppositional ideologies if only because they might offer them space to organize their lives. Maoism in Nepal was strongest among the country’s non-Nepali populations, offering them self-government and language rights.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 12, 2010 at 7:05 pm