Monthly Archives: July 2007

Tibetan Personality Test

Normally we get so many spam emails. I do too. But this one was surprising. It is a self proclaimed test by Dalai Lama that asks four questions and based on that tells your personality.

I took it and it said I value pride the most, then family, then career, love, and money (true…although once I find my love, it might shift one step higher…) . It also said I love my mom (true), my aunt is my friend(true), and Mahendra da who is my brother and a dear friend is my real friend (cool!). According to the test, I am honest(true) I like my partner to be cunning (not really!) my enemies are destructive (oops!) I think sex is stimulating (no comments) and my life is peaceful (getting there).

If you got some time, you might want to try it for your self!

tibatiantest2.pps

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Stephen Colbert on Kumari

This is a real funny take on firing of Kumari Sajani Shakya by Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central

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Difficulties for Nepalis in obtaining Nepali Citizenships

Sushma Joshi

Nation Weekly Magazine, Sunday November, 7 2004
Hetauda is a one-day trip for Harimaya Praja. The only path to get down to the town is by walking next to the river edge, and the narrow mountain trail is often washed away in places by the rain. Holding her year and a half old son Sanubabu Praja, Harimaya fords raging monsoon waters and emerges soaking wet in her only set of clothes before reaching Manohari, where she pays twenty-five rupees as busfare to get to the district headquarters in Hetauda. Although she has come down three times, March, May and again in October, she has been unable to fulfill her mission – to get her citizenship papers.

Nepali citizenship papers are remarkable difficult to get for bona fide citizens, especially for indigenous groups far away from state bureaucracy. Eighty-five percent of Prajas (the Chepang ethnic group) do not have citizenship. Chepangs have been publicized as a “backward” group. A highly organized national Chepang conference was held in early October in Hetauda, disproving urban myths about Chepang backwardness. Like other ethnic groups, the upper strata of Chepang society have been caught up in the uneven flow of democratization and are informed of contemporary issues. But for many people eking out a living in the hills, information and access to state agencies is still out of reach.

The first hurdle is the requirements – in order to get the certificate, a person needs to prove that a male relative (father, husband etc) had Nepali citizenship. Failing this, a letter from the ward chairman is often taken as proof of residence when the application is registered at the CDO’s office. But women and children living in marginalized communities often have difficulty getting these letters.

Harimaya’s husband, a dhami (shaman) died after a three day illness, vomiting blood. None of her male relatives are alive. The V.D.C chairman has been helpful, but ineffective, in helping her with her citizenship quest.On her first trip, Harimaya was merely given a second date to come into town. On her second appointment, the V.D.C chairman told her he was working hard on her case, but he could not really do anything to help her at that moment, but that she should come again. On her third visit, Harimaya met with some people from local NGOs who could potentially advocate for her case. Many of the suggestions they give her are unfamiliar to her.

With seven children in the house, however, Harimaya cannot stay in town even for one night – she is soon back on the road to get back home so that her thirteen year old daughter, who has been left to cook for her siblings, will not have to do all the work herself. Krishnaprasad Koirala, a neighbour who accompanied Harimaya on her trip, says: “State teams would come to give citizenship certificates until 1998. They no longer come anymore.” The police post in the area has been withdrawn, leaving the area to the Maoists.

The Maoists, upto forty of them, come and demand food from relatively wealthy households, putting people in financial difficulty. Harimaya is poor, and the Maoists do not ask her to feed them, but she is affected by their presence in other ways. There is a Maoist ban on cutting big trees, and Harimaya has left her leaky roof unrepaired for fear of reprisals.

Rumors of a Maoist draft which would take a man from each household prompted Harimaya’s eldest son to go to Kathmandu to find work. The twenty-two year old was stopped at the checkpoint in Thangkot, and asked for “proof.” Unable to show his nagarikta (citizenship certificate) , he was not allowed to enter Kathmandu. Wealthier families, however, do have sons working in construction jobs in Kathmandu. Caught in-between two malevolent forces, young Chepang men await the time when they can escape the land that has become their prison.

Harimaya, because she does not have citizenship papers, is unable to register her land, buy and sell property, and pass on her nationality to her children. “Citizenship creates many rights,” says Sapana Malla of the Forum for Women, Law and Development. “But citizenship is difficult to get for both urban and rural, literate and illiterate people.” Citizenship in Nepal is handed down through a patrilineal line of descent. Unlike men, women are not recognized as kin and they cannot pass on their nationality to their children.

This anachronistic provision in which citizenship is passed only through patrilineal descent exists in few countries, including the most conservative of Muslim countries – Kuwait and Algeria. The fact that women cannot pass on their nationality is a breach of Nepal’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

“Given the precedence of the Convention over Nepal’s domestic legislation, there is no reason why some very significant steps can not be taken to eliminate that “blatantly discriminatory” legislation against women. Some specific changes can be ensured, even in the absence of Parliament. The citizenship law, in particular, requires serious attention,” Ayse Feride Acar, the Committee Chairperson of CEDAW, said in a closing statement of the meeting in January 2004.

The fact that Nepal did not give the same rights to women nationals of Nepal as it did to its men nationals in passing on citizenship to their offspring “flew in the face” of the Convention, and some urgent action was required, she said. The current discriminatory citizenship law causes difficulties for women who have married foreign citizens, or who are single mothers abandoned by their husbands. This has been an issue especially for women in the Terai who marry Indian citizens across the border. In cases where women have divorced or been abandoned by their husbands, they return to Nepal to find that their children are not eligible for citizenship.

Citizenship is also difficult to acquire for marginalized groups like the Badi, where traditional prostitution makes paternity difficult to establish. The former Kamaiya have also repeatedly asked for easier access to citizenship, without which they cannot process the land that Parliament had allocated for each family. People internally displaced by floods, whose lands have been washed away and who are now squatting on public land, also face special difficulties.

The history of discrimination of citizenship rights in other countries, especially the USA, is an interesting contrast. Women were discriminated against till the nineteenth and earlier part of the twentieth century. Not only were women unable to transmit their U.S. citizenship to children born abroad, they even risked losing their own citizenship when marrying a foreigner. By mid-century, however, legal changes granted equal rights to women. The country’s citizenship laws did not discriminate against women; instead, in one area at least, they discriminated against men.

Operating under the stereotypes that US servicemen were promiscuous with women, the Nationality Act of 1940, for the first time, decreed that unmarried fathers of children born overseas faced prerequisites for transmitting citizenship — prerequisites that women did not encounter. These rules became stricter in later versions of the country’s immigration and naturalization law. The US law’s bias against unmarried fathers means that children born outside of marriage to foreign women are subject to deportation. Indeed, if an American man and a Nepali woman had a child out of wedlock in Nepal, the child would not be eligible for citizenship from either country, and would become stateless.

Nepal’s recent courting of non-resident Nepalis (NRI), in which proposals for dual citizenship was floated, is ironic in light of the discrimination that most residents of the country face in acquiring their citizenship. Activists worry that the Nepali state may soon start distributing citizenship rights to non-residents for their investment capabilities, but exclude its most marginalized citizens. Bribery and corruption is rampant in the process of acquiring citizenship, observers have noted. The process of getting the bureaucracy to move can often be greased with money. And there may lie to clue to why many of Nepal’s poorest citizens remain excluded from their citizenship rights.

The current shut-down of state agencies has left a void in most parts of the country. A peaceful negotiation with Maoists is necessary before state teams start going out and distributing citizenship papers to remote areas. Unsurprisingly, even when the state sent out teams to grant citizenship before 1998, the process was not user-friendly. A child had to be a certain age before they could be registered as citizens. The teams would bump up children’s ages in order to register them, since the state teams was unlikely to visit remote mountainous regions frequently. These problems would still have to be tackled seriously.

A few cosmetic amendments have been made to ease the process of acquiring citizenship, including a clause that allows non-governmental organizations to recommend an individual for citizenship. Legal observers say this right granted to civil society organizations is unprecedented in other parts of the world. While it may work as a short-term remedy, civil organizations cannot permanently take on the responsibilities of the state.Only by changing the Citizenship Act, and the Constitution, will the problem of exclusionary citizenship be completely solved, say legal experts and rights activists. Future changes in the Constitution, of course, are contingent on the restoration of the suspended Parliament.

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Story of Ancestry through Skin Color

This article was originally published in BBC

 

In this year’s Rio Carnival competition, he sang a song celebrating Brazil’s African roots in a performance that won his samba school the title.

But having learned to be proud of his African ancestry, he was shocked to find out that about 67% of his genes are European and only 31% African, according to an estimate based on an analysis of his DNA.

“People will think I’m joking if I tell them this”, said the singer, who knew very little about his African ancestors but nothing at all about his European ones.

Neguinho da Beija-Flor was among nine celebrities who were tested for a project, called Afro-Brazilian Roots, by the Brazilian Service of the BBC.

 

 

Brazil has more people with black ancestry than any other nation outside Africa, and its mix of Indians, Africans and Europeans gave rise in the past to the claim that the country was a “racial democracy”.

But it is also a country where black people remain socially disadvantaged.

The results of the DNA tests surprised many by showing that skin colour does not necessarily reflect the ancestry of a person’s genetic make-up.

Sergio Pena, professor of biochemistry at the Federal University of Belo Horizonte, who led the genetic analysis, explained the apparent contradiction.

“Only a few genes are responsible for someone’s skin colour, which is a very poor indication of ancestry. A white person could have more African genes than a black one or vice-versa, especially in a country like Brazil,” he said.

 

Brazilian actress Ildi Silva. Photo by Fernando Torquato.

Actress Ildi Silva says she is seen as neither black nor white

 

Soap opera actress Ildi Silva found that matches of the Y chromosome in her family are common in northern Europe, and that 71% of her genes are European and 19% African.

“I knew I had a Dutch ancestor from my mother’s side, but I didn’t know there was an European link in my paternal line as well,” she said.

Genealogist Carlos Barata, co-author of the Dictionary of Brazilian Families, notes that as well as the Portuguese, immigrants from many European nations – including France, Ireland, the Netherlands, England and Germany – sought a new home in Brazil.

“The surnames might have disappeared by today’s generation, but genetics can bring their contribution back to light,” he said.

Controversial quotas

Musician Seu Jorge found that although 85% of his genes are African, the rest are European, confirmation that he is, as he put it “also the son of the guilty ones” – a descendant of the European slave-owners who had children with their African slaves.

“You need to be black to understand what it is like to get on a bus and see people getting off, afraid of you, or calling the police,” he said.

“My daughter, who has a privileged education, came home one day telling us that her colleagues at a ballet class didn’t want to hold hands with her. She will have to grow with this pain.”

 

Musician Seu Jorge. Photo by Jose Maria Palmieri

Seu Jorge: Proud of his African heritage

 

The BBC Brasil series has had an impact in Brazil, where the issue of racial quotas is highly controversial.

About 40 universities in the country have set aside places for black students.

Manolo Florentino, head of the Social History Department at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said the results “show race is a failed concept in Brazil”.

Referring to the university quotas, he added: “Policies that ‘racialise’ this country, following the example of the US, create hate and tension and will make the situation worse.”

But for organisations that defend the quota system, genetics should not be used to attack anti-discrimination policies.

They argue that genetics might prove that all Brazilians are very mixed in terms of their racial ancestry, but it is naive to believe that society will consider all equal.

“I’ve never seen a policeman asking for a genetic ID before stopping someone. In Brazil, discrimination is based on appearance, not on genes,” said David dos Santos, a priest who co-ordinates a scheme to prepare underprivileged Afro-Brazilians to go to university, and who was himself tested for the series.

‘Face of the future’

Musician Sandra de Sa said that despite its racial tensions, Brazil could teach the world how different races can integrate.

 

Footballer Obina

Footballer Obina was not aware of his indigenous roots

 

She was happy though to find out she was about 93% African.

“I can’t believe I’m almost 100% African. I usually jokingly say that I can still feel the chains around my ankles,” said the singer.

The ancestry of the nine celebrities revealed other surprises.

Obina, a football player in Flamengo, the biggest team in Brazil, had 25% indigenous genes, the highest percentage in the tests.

His Y chromosome was traced back to the Middle East, possibly an indication of a Jewish ancestor among the many escaping persecution in Portugal and Spain some 500 years ago.

“No-one is pure in Brazil. That’s why the country has the face of the future,” said Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr, co-ordinator of a similar project in the US.

The mixing of races so evident in Brazil will become more prevalent around the world, Professor Gates believes, with people originating from a sole geographical area becoming increasingly rare.

Two readers of bbcbrasil.com chosen from among more than 2,000 who applied to have their DNA tested will have their results published this month.

Their story will focus on how genetics is revealing black ancestors long excluded from family history because of racism.

 

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Thangmi Radio

Weekly Programme in Thangmi Language “Thangmi Wakhe” is on air since
May 16, 2007 through HBC 94 FM every Wednesday from 1830-1900
NST(12:45 to 1315 GMT).

The program can be experienced Live through internet at www.mazzako. com. For those who cannot understand Thangmi language, the scripts of the programme in Nepali will be available through the internet in nearest future.

For more info, contact Bhaba B Thami, Coordinator of Thangmi Wakhe at thami.society@ gmail.com or check out www.geocities. com/thamisociety/.

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13246: A movie by Apil Bista

wallpaper-of-13246.gif

Apil Bisht has made a movie regarding the Maoist rebellion of Nepal it is titled 13246. Due to some disturbing images viewers’ discretion is advised. You may leave comments/questions for the movie maker on comments section below.

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New Wonders, Old Wonders, We all wonder

The original Seven Wonders of the World were man made structures that were stunningly beautiful, amazingly astonishing, and simply wonderful! Even today we wonder how in the world did people then resurrected such landmarks that may still not be convincingly explainable by modern day science? Unfortunately though the only original Seven Wonders of the World that exists today is Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Of the six others, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Colossus of Rhodes, and Lighthouse of Alexandria were destroyed by earthquakes and Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus were demolished by men.

While the original Seven Wonders of the World are history now, NOWC, a Swiss corporation has attempted to name seven hallmark construction by men as the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” These new wonders were decided based on the voting over the Internet. While, the Taj Mahal (India), Roman Colosseum (Italy), Petra (Jordan), Machu Picchu (Peru), and The Great Wall (China) were my favorites, two others pretty impressive new wonders are Chichen Itza (Mexico) and Christ the Redeemer (Brazil). I was surprised to see that the only remaining original Wonder and incredibly impressive landmark, the Great Pyramid of Giza was not voted one of the wonders.

I guess the trend to select the wonders is to look for macroness. The original Wonders included huge statues and landmarks and the new wonders do the same. I bet if one is seriuosly looking for wonders, they should also look at microness, the art of including many many engravings in a small piece of material. That is equally hard, if not harder than erecting mammoth statues. If microness were respected by the wonder selectors, may be the Fifty Five Window Palace or The Nyatapola temple of Bhaktapur would also be called wonders. I msut admit though that they are only a few centuries old while the newly selected wonders are much much older.

Listen to the July 19, 2007 NPR’s Forum discussion on New Seven Wonders of World

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