Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nepal in Crisis: Article up at Asia Times

Nepal in Crisis: Article up at Asia Times

It began with snark…

Why Isn’t the Foreign Press in Kathmandu?

Wailing and gnashing of teeth greeted the Indian government’s withdrawal of permission for foreign journalists to cover the Dalai Lama’s mid-November visit to the disputed border territory of Arunachal Pradesh and the town and monastery of Tawang on the border of China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region, as the Guardian tells us:

Four passes to Arunachal Pradesh, previously given to foreign reporters, have been revoked and all other news organisations that applied for permits including the Guardian have been turned down.

"We are incredibly surprised and disappointed to learn that reporters' visas to Arunachal Pradesh have been cancelled ahead of the Dalai Lama's visit," said Heather Timmons, the president of the New Delhi-based Foreign Correspondents' Club.


But nothing was going to happen there—the Chinese and Indian governments have wisely decided to set the burner for “border tensions” on simmer—except an eruption of local color, devotional Buddhist droning, drinking of butter tea, and babbling in Tibetan and local dialects that, it is safe to say, no outside journo could understand.

At the same time, a lot is happening in Kathmandu.

Massive torchlight parades, clashes between the cops and demonstrators, vows to bring the Nepalese government to its knees, a tottering U.N. peace process, barely concealed great-power sparring between China and India—and all this in Kathmandu, a city one could probably walk across in half a day, filled by a tiny, compulsively chattering and confiding Anglophone elite.



So far, Western reporting has reported, remotely and somewhat uncomprehendingly—and, perhaps reflecting the shared desire of the Indian, Chinese, and Western governments not to inflame the situation with excessive attention and rhetoric, with a marked lack of interest--on the massive demonstrations in Kathmandu led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The CPNM has vowed to bring 300,000 activists to the capital to shut down the government.

Andrew Buncombe of the Independent chose to devote his Nepal reporting to the admittedly amusing story of a female government minister who administered a vigorous pummeling to a hapless local official after he failed to arrange a satisfactory luxury vehicle for her tour of a southern district (subsequently a warrant has been issued for her arrest).

Then I realized that the balance of the article was a useful overview of the situation in Nepal. Asia Times Online agreed and ran it today as Sino-Indian rivalry fuels Nepal turmoil -- minus the snarky bits, which I reproduce above for the amusement of China Matters’ loyal readers.

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