Himalayan magazine



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Lahouk The Mystery Land in the Himalayas

by Ram Nath Sahini Indus Publishing Company, 1994 ISBN 81 9387 017 9 IRs395

Saliini explores "the beauty and the development potential" in 300 pages of a book that is divided into four sections—the mountains and gladers of Lahoul; history; social customs, occupation, festivals and languages; and religious beliefs, temples, monasteries and mythological stores. With two annexes—on folksongs of Lahoul and family trees of local Ranas and Thakurs—the book is a useful guide for people looking for more than just touristic treatment of the valley. Lahoul has a great potential for build ing itself and becoming a model, states the epilogue. "The sincerity, hard work and intelligence of the people who live here can lead Lahoul towards this direction."

North-Eastern Frontier of India Structural Imperatives and Aspects of Change by AC. Sin to

Indus Publishing Company, Delhi, 1994 ISBN 61 7367 009 8 IRs300

North-EasternFrontier of India looks at the structural
imperatives and the components of social change
in the Indian North east. The volume is divided in to
two parts: the first provides geograplucal, historical,
ethnic and religious ba ckground of the region, and
the second records the agrarian, urban and
environmental transformations taking place. "It is
high time that we realize that the Indian union does
notbelong only and even mainly to the mains (ream
and the frontiers are to be ruled and subjugated
and treated as supplicant," writes Sinha. "It must
also be borne in mind that frontiers do not need
pa tern alistic proppin gs, but a recognition that they
are trusted to take significant decisions affecting
national life and that they are capable to continue
in the national common-weal th as equal and proud
partners." .

Consolidated Index to The Himalayan journal

(Voll to 50,1929-1994)

Dhiren Toolsidas, compiler

The Himalayan Club, Bombay, 1994

This index to the Himalayan Journal makes it

possible for mountaineers, journalists and

researchers to access to people, events, mountains

and information appearing in Volume 1 to Volume

50 of the hallowed mountaineering publication of

the Himalayan Club. The index is user-friendly,

with articles, expeditions and notes listed under

author, peak and region.

Nepali A Guide to the Art and Architecture of the Kathmandu Valley

Michael Hutt with David Gellner, Axel Michaels, Greta Ratia and Govinda Tandan Kiscadale Publications, Oxford, 1994 ISBN 01865 67575 £ 25

This guide begins with an overview of history of Nepal, followed by an introduction to religion and architecture. The rest of the book consists of descriptions of specific sites within the Valley. There is a chronology and a full glossary of Nepali, Newari and Sanskrit terms. Written by academics, the book is intended for a general readership, and seeks to give "more informa tion than is imparted by the average tourist guidebook."

Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer

by Patrick French

HarperCollins, United Kingdom, 1394

£20

Sir Francis Younghusband spent his early years as

a leading player in thebattleof wits for control over

the unknown territory of High Asia. Yet, he was

also a soldier, explorer and philosopher, often

compared to Marco Polo and Lawrence of Arabia.

In 1903, he single-handedly turned a small

diploma tic mission to Tibet into a full-scale military

invasion; found a new route to India from China;


HIMAL January/Febniary 1935

47

andin the post-First World War era, led the way in religious and sexual free-thinking. He was also Tfie Times' correspondent during the siege of Chitral and held the world record for 300-yard dash. French travelled in the Gobi, Sikkim and Tibet to research Younghusband. He weaves his own adventures with Younghusband's exploits, and using his subject's letters and papers—many previously unseen by historians—pays tribute to this remarkable personality. In a blend of historical biography and travel writing, the book celebrates the last of the great imperialists. The Manchester Guardian critic says this is an "excellent and entertaining biography".

Cairn

No.1 October 1994 Amnye Machen Institute Mdeod C Sanj

Cairn is a newsletter of the Amnye Machen Insti­tute, the independent research centre established by Tibetans in exile in Dharamsala. This first issue contains information on lectures and seminars on Tibet, plans to open a Centre for Occupied Tibet Studies, and information of books in Tibetan just released (including a translation of Animal Farm). Contact: Amnye Machen Institute, Mdeod Ganj 176 219, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. Email: ami@cta ,und. ernet .in.



Mountain Research and Development

Vol 14 no 4, November 1994 Jack and Pauline lves, Editors University of California Press This issue of MRD takes a look at natural hazards and catastrophic geomorphic events in mountain terrain. While most of the papers concern the Alps, there are also contributions on the Andes, the Himalaya, the Hengduan mountains and New Zealand. The editors have sought to "present our collective experience relating to a series of mountain events that occurred during the past 10,000 years or so, and that are occurring today." An article on the growth of a lake on the Imja Glacier (below Ama Dablam in Khumbu) states that there is rapid expansion of the lake toward the west. "As this proceeds, the possibility for catastrophic outburst will

become greater, even if the lake is lowered... The potential for a major outburst is much higher than previously anticipated." (Subscription: UJ38 annual. University of California Press, 2120 Berke­ley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA.)

Indigenous People; Mobilization and Change

by Ganesh M. Gurung Hisi Press, Katmandu, 1994, NRsl60

Sociologist Gurung presents a collection of seven papers on the various ethnic groups of Nepal, providing descriptions of the customs and traditions in the light of social change, mobility and development. The author also discusses the questions of ethnic identity, politics and inter-ethnic relationships. Among the papers presented are ones on: the adaptation of poly androus practice to local conditions; the process of identification andsanskritisation among the Duras of West Nepal; the formation of 'mothers groups' among the Gurung in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project region; economic modernisation among the Chepang; socio-economic networks a mong the Rana Tharu; and the phenomenal rise of ethnic forums and parties since 1990. Critic Saubhagya Shah says this book is "a useful handbook for students of Nepali society and culture".

Bhutan: Perspectives on Conflict and Dissent

Michael Hutt, Editor Kiscadalc Asia Research Series Oxford, 1994 ISBN 1 870838 02 5 £ 17.50

Since 1990, the lastShangri-La'kingdom of Bhutan has been undergoing political crisis. Camps in neighbouring Nepal now accommoda te thousands of refugees and a dissident movement in exile is calling for radical changes in the political system. There is increasing insecurity in the country's southern districts. In order to discuss these and other questions, a conference on contemporary Bhutan was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London in March 1993. Theauthorsofthetenessays presented in this book (239 pages) include academics, journalists and a representative of the Bhutanese government. There are also summaries of reports produced by the Royal Government, human rights groups, and refugee organisations.

Bhutan: Aspects of Culture and Development

Michael Aris, Michael Hutt, editors Kiscadale Asia Research Series Oxford, 1994 ISBN 187083817 3 £ 17.50,

Since Bhutan turned away from isolation in the 1960s, theWngdom has consistently pursued "the worthy but difficult goal of harmonizing a programme of modern development within the country's traditional Buddhist culture". This 239-page volume, which considers a selection of issues relevant to this policy, is the second to result from the SOAS conference on Bhu tan, menti oned above. Eight specialists focus in on the decentralisation of

development, the growth of diplomacy, language policy, context of religion, and the material culture embodied in architecture and textiles.

Himalaya Today

(An Indian Quarterly) Vol5no3,Oct-Decl994 Mahendra P. Lama, Editor New Delhi, IRs 15

The latest issue of Himalaya Today features the Uttarakhand movement for statehood in its cover, with articles by Navin Chandra Joshi and Annapurna NautiyaL Also featured are articles on "the ethnic cauldron in Bhutan" by Mat thew Joseph C; Mizoram in geopolitical perspective by S.N.Singh; tourism in Himachal Pradesh by Manoj Jreat; the Gaddi heritage byS.N.Sachar; and on the Himalayanist Rahul Sankrityayan by Rattan Lat Bisotra. The issue also carries articles on the vpgeta tionalwealthofUttarakhand,agriculturein Ladakh, Kedarnath shrine, and themonal pheasant. (Subscriptions: IRs 55 annual. 145 South Avenue, New Delhi 110 011.)

REFLECTIONS

Vol No. 1 and 2

Raina Nakari, Knnchan Vertna Lama, editors Sodety for Partners in Development and Utthan, publishers, Kathmandu This journal has been brought out to dear up "confusion and misunderstanding of the concept of gender and development in the context of Nepal". The latest issue contains articles on the girl child in South Asia by Kamla Bhasin, women's perspective on a sustainable future by Arja Vainio-Mattila, the statusofwomenintheHindureligionbySangeeta R. Thapa, women's life in Nepal by T. Nakari and "Reminiscences of a Rural Nepalese Woman" by K.V.Lama. (PO Box 2594, Kathmandu)



Hard Livelihood

Conference on ihe Himalayan Porter

3,4 August 1995, Kathmandu

Hirnal is organising a two-day meeting to discuss portering in the mountains. Topics will include: portering life and changing economy; impact of roads and air cargo; health, nutrition, physiology; load, muscle and bone; equity and collective bargaining; future of portering; etc. Contact: Kanak Mani Dixit P.O. Box 42, Lalitpur Phone: 977 1 523845, Fax: 521013 e mai I: h i m al @mo snepal. e met. in


48

January/February 1995 HIMAL

M




No Sops for Uttarakhand

Manisha Aryal's "Angry Hills: An Uttarakhand State of Mind" (Nov/Dec 1994) should be accepted in Dev Bhoomi as a good chronology of our loss of innocence, laced as it has been with the deadly ingredients of government intransigence and ambivalence, peddled propaganda, rumour­mongering, damaging exaggerations, opportunistic leaders, irresponsible press, puffed-up egos, haywire priorities, and ill-considered demands. The good and gently brave people of these hills have been deflowered.

In many ways, we only have ourselves to blame for being so poorly informed about the world around us today, and for not knowing how to participate in it. Of course, we hope that history-will not judge us too harshly, but will consider that by our very nature, we mountain people are hermits—aloof as are our peaks from the rush and tumble of life down there! One cannot be blamed for believing that, somehow, we are untouched by travails of the cut and thrust of today's society.

All of this now seems to have changed, and the silver lining to the apparently dark cloud of the past few tumultuous months in Dev Bhoomi is a growing pragmatism—god willing!

Instead of the

unplanned, angry and single-point agenda of a demand for statehood, which saw us led like lambs to slaughter, people everywhere in Dev Bhoomi have begun to sit down to explore what we 'know1 we want—economically and culturally. In the larger scheme of affairs, the Dev Bhoomi may be geographically too small to counter overriding interests and concerns of the Uttar Pradesh State and Centre, but the emotional and spiritual support it has throughout the Subcontinent can give it a clout that could surprise many a Goliath!

A dominant and spontaneous theme of the agitation has been the total rejection of current political leadership and a disenchantment, expressed

vociferously by the young, of the goals and values of the sort of progress they stand for.

In the process of getting to know what kind of Dev Bhoomi we want (and currently there is a great deal of introspection going on), it is just possible that this 'Abode of the Gods' may lead the way—inspiring the rest of the apathetic national policy to think and act for themselves in partnership with the leaders of the country. The UP hills, historically famous for not taking things lying down, could usher in an era of genuine participation all over the country.

It isn't time to be fooled anymore by the politics of subsidies. It is time to move away from the economics of welfare towards the economics of empowerment. The UP hills will not be interested in accepting truncated sops to 'bachao' its 'izzat'. They will speak and negotiate through a group of representatives (recently agreed upon at a meeting in Kausani, Almora) with earthy wisdom which appreciates the constraints of its tormentors. We will demonstrate that the andolan in this pristine, last-bastion of peace and good neighbourliness is not just another fanatic effort of a region trying to splinter the nation asunder, but is rather a movement of sincere nationalism designed to achieve the goals of equity and justice in a world that has for too long forgotten what such a concept means anymore.

Cyril R. Raphael

Hill Employment Labour

Production Academy

Anjanisain, Tehri Garhwal

Stagnant Grief

Your timely issue on intellectuals ("The Intelligentsia Has No Clothes", Sep/Oct 1994) brings to mind many thoughts. In a world in which modernisation has been equated with Westernisation, our Nepali intellectuals, as well as many of their counterparts in other Third World' countries, have rushed to embrace ideas of rationalisation and the universalisation of social life. Whilst primordial ties have been portrayed as merely prolonging the agony of traditional societies, paradoxically, Nepal's dependence on tourism has ensured the com modification of a narrowly conceived and a historical *Nepali' culture that appears embedded in the past.

Moreover, it has been intellectuals, quick to become part of the tourism and development bureaucracy, that have served to categorise or more glaringly 'help', 'feed', or 'guide' the


HIMAL January/February 1995

49




50

'Other'—the poor natives with whom they have imagined themselves to have so little in common. In the same breath, they have lamented the onslaught of Star TV, capitalism and globalisation in general. To lament over the loss of 'our culture' in this manner is to grieve over a stagnant concept of culture, which is ever-changing. Culture has never been and can never be frozen in a timeless manner.

The challenge for intellectuals should thus be not the internalisation of Western goods and ideas, but a reconstituting of them in a selective manner. Ideals' of secularisation and all of its modernisation baggage must be balanced within the context of our history of tolerance and pluralism. Indeed, much can be learnt from the experience, both successes and failures, of our South Asian neighbours. To be a copy-cat appears to have worked remarkably well in economic terms for the NICs. Culturally, this has been more problematic.

Whilst globalisation cannot be reversed or halted, our interpretation of it need not be linear, or 'Western'. The role of intellectuals must be, as it has always been, to question, interpret and reconstitute that which is old with that which is new, without losing sight of what we collectively imagine ourselves to be.

Seira Tamang Washington DC

Refugee's Lament

The rhythmic singing of our sweet national anthem sung by the students during assembly time brings back peace to their fragile and rather wounded hearts. Thinking of Bhutan early morning makes us Bhutanese even outside Bhutan.

The serene atmosphere and the sky painted in peaceful colours within the camp territory makes us realise the we come from a place where milk used to trickle down rather than tears. Our heart brims with contentment, silently wishing to go back home which gives a hidden gesture and emphatically beckons us. Heaven help us to keep the flame of progress burning.

Lila Ballab Dahal

Beldangi Camp

Damak, Jhapa

Brain Drain to Brain Gain

Even by the consistently high standard of journalism for which Himal has now come to be known to mountain-lovers worldwide, your article "Dukha during the World War" by Pratyoush Onta (Nov/Dec 1994) stood out. As a longtime trekker in Nepal with a special interest in the Gurkhas and Gorkhas, and as a longtime reader of Himal, I found the article to be an eye-opener.

The research is ground-breaking, the de-mystification and de-mythification of Nepalese mercenarism is devastating and complete. Gurkha heroism was not glory, it was gory. But it was sanitised and ruthlessly used, like Sagarmatha, Tenzing Sherpa, danfe, monal and gums as a unifying symbol for your nascent nation. It was used by your slavish Anglophile feudocrats as a sop for sovereignty.

At best, Nepal's soldiers fighting for foreign governments can be seen as overseas contract workers who bring in revenue to the national exchequer. They are in the same category as Nepalese sex slaves in Bombay's Falkland Road or their brothers in the sweatshops of South Korea or the garages of the Gulf.

At worst, the Myth of the Brave Gurkha, glorified in countless songs and speeches can lead to a dangerous romanticism of conflict—especially when ascribed to a particular ethnic group or nation. A nation whose collective conscience is not pricked by the misery of its men used as cannon fodder or its women used as rags is a nation numbed by fatalism.

I found Onta's article especially poignant since I had just finished reading The Sorrow of War, the brilliant anti-war book by Vietnamese war veteran and author, Bao Ninh. In his own way, Bao breaks

January/February 1995 HIMAL








his country's taboo on the war by puncturing the myth of the great Vietnamese war machine that used bicycles to defeat B-52s. The semi-autobiographical book shows that the Vietnamese solider was as frightened, homesick and demoralised as the American enemy — or for that matter the Gurkha soldiers in Flanders Field whose censored letters Onta has brought to our attention.

As 1997 draws near and the brave lahureys head home from the further reaches of our erstwhile empire, it may be a good time to see how Nepal can use this 'brain gain'.

Ronald Burroughs

Edinburv. ScoAmd

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