Nepal in dilemma

Apropos of the news story “Chinese rider on Tatopani” (THT, January 14, Page 1), Maoist leader Agni Prasad Sapkota is doing all he can, which the government should have done, to convince our northern neighbour to open the Tatopani border for the welfare of 45 tourist hotels, 350 small hotels, 1,400 vehicle entrepreneurs and 2,800 labourers. China, meanwhile, has asked for a joint command mechanism to contain any undesirable activities against it. Beijing seems to be fully aware of the possible anti-China activities just 30-km inside Nepali territory. This is the reason that the Chinese have asked for a joint command mechanism. Sindhupalchowk CDO Asman Tamang is quite clear about the Chinese concern. He says “Chinese authorities do not have confidence in our security system and want to go for joint a command mechanism”. Nepal is, thus, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is strange how the geopolitics change in our own lifetime. This is all befuddling to a layman. When the road was first built some decades ago we were told of India’s serious concerns because it would afford China lightening access in the event of a war. How times change! It is clear that Nepal is under immense pressure from our other global friends to convince China to open this border. It might be possible, highly probable, that the border opening is inextricably linked with who would be the next prime minister irrespective of the looming last remaining election. A joint command mechanism that will empower Chinese to deal with anti-China activities will clearly be not acceptable to countries that have human rights, freedom, human dignity and human values at heart.

Manohar Shrestha, Kathmandu


A star of humanity was born at 3 Gourmohan Street in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. He told us to serve human beings as God. Yes, he is Swami Vivekananda. If we try to realise his teachings, we will find that his is diametrically opposite of any orthodox religion. Now, let us recall the incident when Swami Vivekananda was in Kashmir in Autumn of 1898. He prayed to a poor Muslim boatman for allowing his four-year-old daughter to be worshipped by Swamiji himself. The boatman was overwhelmed. He thought as if God was asking him through Swamiji and he readily agreed. Swami Vivekananda worshipped the girl as Goddess Uma on Mahasaptami day during Durga puja. Then he knelt down to touch the feet of a poor Kashmiri Muslim girl. With this singular act he defied divisions of religion, region, race, caste, class, creed, occupation, gender and generation to hoist the flag of universal humanhood. As a matter of fact, Swami Vivekananda did a Sri Ramkrishna who himself practised Islam, Christianity and other religions to live his words “many opinions, many paths.” Swami Vivekananda hammered hard at the wall of religion. He did it to make us realise the true meaning of all religions. But what is it? Let us hear it in his own words”: “The poor, the illiterate, the ignorant, the afflicted — let these be your God. Know that services to these alone is the highest religion.”

Sujit De, Kolkata