Nepali Times

History on canvas

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

If you have time to see very few art exhibitions in Kathmandu this week and you adore the traditional art forms of Nepal, then this selection of 70 paintings by artist Hari Prasad Sharma should be it.

Hari Prasad Sharma with his favourite painting

Hari Prasad Sharma with his favorite painting Bhrikuti. Pic: Nischhal Pradhan

Sharma is self-taught and was an apprentice with Chandra Man Maskey and Kalidas Shrestha. Now 78 his interest in depicting Nepali history, religion and culture on canvas has left an indelible mark on the country’s art scene.

hari prasad sharma painting


“The most appealing aspect about this exhibition is the artist’s commitment and hard work in bringing historical events of Nepali history into life size paintings with great detail and precision,” says Salim Shakya, a businessman with an interest in Newari art.

The exhibition visualises personalities from Nepal’s past like the wedding ceremony of Bhrikuti to the Tibetan king Tsrong Tchong Gampo. The ceremony is carefully detailed, the temples are accurately rendered and even the contours of the hills surrounding Kathmandu correspond to reality.

hari prasad sharma painting

The paintings may not be historically accurate but recreating such events on canvas takes a lot of effort and imagination which Sharma displays in abundance.

Hari Prasad Sharma painting

Part of the excitement is seeing historical moments and events alongside the lifestyle of pre-modern Kathmandu Valley. Although not a Newar himself, Sharma has studied the culture intimately and this influence is reflected in the strokes of creative genius on his canvases. He gives us a rare glimpse of ancient Kathmandu Valley captured in almost photographic detail.

Hari Prasad Sharma painting

Nischhal Pradhan

Hari Prasad Sharma

Kathmandu Valley Down the Ages: Reviving Glorious Culture & Architecture

Nepal Art Council, Babarmahal, Kathmandu

Through October 7th

Read also:

Surrealist history on canvas



Carter to visit Nepal

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Former US President Jimmy Carter will be traveling to Nepal for Habitat for Humanity’s annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in November.

Carter and his wife Rosalynn have been volunteering with Habitat for Humanity for decades. This year will mark the 32nd year the former president has volunteered for the housing non-profit.

Carter who is set to celebrate his 91st birthday this week is battling cancer. In a statement, Carter said that he had received consent from his medical team to travel to Nepal. “Since Rosalynn and I first volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in 1984, we’ve never missed a single year,” said Carter. “I am grateful that we can join with other volunteers in November and continue to help shed light on the critical need to address inadequate housing around the world.”

He will be traveling to Nepal to build homes for Dalit families in Chitwan. 1500 volunteers from within Nepal and all around the world will be joining him in the build set to take place from 1 to 6 November.

No fuel for private vehicles

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Photo: RSS

As fuel crisis deepens further, the government has decided to not distribute petrol and diesel for private vehicles from Thursday.

A meeting of Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and Department of Transport Management (DoTM) on Wednesday decided to distribute fuel only for public vehicles and emergency service. Even trucks and tippers will not get fuel.

After India imposed an unofficial blockade against Nepal last week, the NOC had been distributing limited amount of stock fuel. People are queuing up for hours, sometimes even for two days, to buy fuel.

The NOC says it will run out of stock fuel in little more than a week if it continues to sell petrol and diesel for private cars and motorcycles.

Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) has already stopped providing Aviation Turbine Fuel for international airlines.

India has denied imposing a blockade against Nepal, and Indian security personnel even escorted around 70 Nepali tankers laden with fuel and vegetables to Sunauli border post on Wednesday. But more than 1100 tankers carrying essential commodities are still stranded across the Sunauli border.

Thousands of Nepali containers are stuck across various border points. Nepali trucks have not been allowed to pass through even those border points where there are no protests at all.

The Madhesi Front, an alliance of four Madhesi parties, has also been staging sit-in protests at various border points, enabling India to claim that the blockade is because of political unrest within Nepal.

The Front has objected to boundaries of plains provinces, omission of the word ‘proportional’ and demarcation of election constituencies.


8 international laws violated

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

From the Nepali press

Naya Patrika, 29 September

A week has passed since India imposed an unofficial blockade, cutting supplies of fuel and other essential commodities to Nepal. Experts of international relations say the blockade has violated at least eight international laws and conventions, and this is tantamount to aggression.

1) The Vienna Convention

The UN passed the Convention on Transit and Trade of Land-locked States in 1965, allowing land-locked nations like Nepal to import goods from other countries without any hindrance.

2) Law of the Seas

UN Convention on the Law of the Seas 1973, to which both Nepal and India are signatories, allows all land-locked countries unhindered access to the sea.

3) WTO laws

More than 165 countries, including Nepal and India, are members of World Trade Organisation, and they are entitled to the right to trade with each other.

4) Transit Treaty

In 1989, India imposed an official economic blockade against Nepal when a transit treaty between these two countries expired. The treaty was renewed only after restoration of multiparty democracy the following year. The treaty is still in force but India has imposed an undeclared blockade against Nepal.

5) Bilateral Trade Treaty

Nepal has signed a trade treaty with India to access to sea via Indian territory, which has been violated.

6) Asian Highway Agreement

Asian countries, including Nepal and India, have signed an agreement to connect their highways for regional trade. Nepal’s East-West Highway and Arniko Highway are parts of the Asian highway.

7) SAFTA agreement

South Asian countries have adopted the concept of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) to promote trade and business with each other. SAFTA law does not allow any country to block other country’s goods.

8) Member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have started Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) which guarantees free trade among its member countries.

Tarai talks

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015


Tufan Neupane

After the constitution was promulgated on 20 September, the Madhesi parties agitating for amended provisions in the new constitution changed their tactic of demonstrations and shutdowns and started blocking the border with India.

One week later, as Nepal reels under a shortage of fuel and other essential commodities the top three parties, which pushed through the constitution, have formed a three-member committee to negotiate with the disgruntled Madhesi parties expected to begin in a couple of days.

But what are the major demands put forth by the Madhesi parties? They are not different from the seven points that India reportedly pressed Nepal to address.

The Madhesi parties want the five disputed Tarai districts in just two plains provinces, rights for naturalised citizenship holders to assume important posts like President and Prime Minister, proportional representation in all state organs and demarcation of electoral constituencies in proportion to population.

Are these demands genuine, and are they too difficult for the government to address? Madhesi leaders belonging to the top three parties say two of these demands are genuine and can be easily addressed. But they say other two, if addressed, will hurt the long-term interests of Nepalis.

Nepal’s Interim Constitution 2007 adopted principles of proportional representation in all state organs. The new constitution has partially incorporated them. In its preamble, the new constitution states that an equal society shall be created on ‘the basis of principles of proportional representation’. In Article 285, it again states that principles of proportional representation shall be adopted to appoint civil servants.

But the word ‘proportional’ is missing in the fundamental right to social justice. The new constitutional merely talks about principles of inclusion in state organs. The Madhesi parties are suspicious that the top three parties are trying to wriggle out of the earlier provision. They believe that the word ‘proportional’ was deliberately omitted to exclude already-excluded communities.

“Madhesi parties have misinterpreted it to spread the lie that 45 per cent of government jobs will no longer be reserved for them,” says Mahendra Yadav, a Nepali Congress (NC) member of the parliament. “This is not a big issue, and it can be resolved through an amendment.”

UML’s MP Satrughan Mahato says the top three parties are ready to include this word even in the fundamental rights. “It can be addressed in the next parliamentary session,” he says.

UCPN (M)’s MP Surendra Prasad Jaishawal says the demand for demarcation of election constituencies in proportion of population is genuine but the top three parties are ready to address it.

“Proportional representation and demarcation of constituencies in proportion of population were our demands, too,” he says. “We signed the constitution only after our respective parties promised to address these demands by amending the constitution.”

All Madhesi leaders of the top three parties believe that addressing these two genuine demands will ease tension in the Tarai. Mahato of the UML says: “People in the Madhes are angry because the state quickly responded to protests in the hills, but did not wake up even after so many deaths in the Tarai.”

Article 289 of the new constitution bars naturalised citizenship holders from becoming President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speakers of both houses, Head of Provincial Government, Chief Minister, Speaker of Provincial Council and Chiefs of security agencies. But the Madhesi parties say this is a discrimination provision and naturalised citizenship holders should have equal rights.

Madhesi parties say people in the Tarai share kinship and cultural ties with Indians, and this constitutional provision is a discrimination against those who settle in the Tarai after marrying Madhesi men or women. But Madhesi leaders of national parties believe that allowing naturalised citizenship holders to assume important posts would be detrimental to the long-term interests of the Madhesi people.

“Reversing this constitutional provision would mean that those Madhesis who were born in the Tarai will have to compete with Indians married to our sons and daughters to become Chief Minister of the Madhes province,” explains Jaisawal of the UCPN (M). “And this provision does not stop our children from becoming Nepal’s President even if we are married to Indians.”

Madhesi parties want not more than two provinces in the Tarai. The new constitution has also created just two plains provinces. But Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa in the east and Kailali and Kanchanpur in the far-west have been put in hill provinces. Madhesi parties want these five districts to be in plains provinces. But not all Madhesis support this demand.

UML’s MP Shital Jha says: “I am fighting for a Mithila state, but I do not have reservations about how provinces have been demarcated in the Tarai. What if we insert Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa in the Madhes province, and people from these districts rise up against it? We should listen to what a majority of people living there want.”

Also read:

Before it’s too late


Before it’s too late

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Southern Nepal is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, we need to act soon


Madhes protest

The country, its capital and the media have been largely silent about the humanitarian crisis in the Tarai and the human rights violations. Most of the victims are children, journalists, and ordinary Nepali civilians who have nothing significant to gain from the constitution or federalism. They simply want to live with dignity in a safe environment, earn a living and feed their families. Millions of Nepalis in Terai who have no say have been caught up in this political unrest.

As the protests turned violent, millions of ordinary Madhesis have locked themselves inside their homes for more than a month now. They are not even safe in their homes as police often enter while chasing fleeing protesters. The blockage of the border is now making life even more difficult.

Most Nepalis of the Tarai have no interest in participating in any of the protests with the Madhesi Morcha, or to attack the police. Please do not let violent methods of a few thousands overshadow millions of peaceful Nepalis who are suffering. There was an acute shortage of basic foodstuff and fuel even before, now it is worse. The unrest in the Tarai has become mere statistics, but there is a human side to the story and it affects half of Nepal’s population.

Millions of children in the Tarai have been unable to attend schools and several have died in protests. Children have been victims of police brutality, and many are psychologically traumatised. My three-year-old nephew is terrified of the police. Army trucks patrol the streets, pointing guns at whoever dares to poke their heads out.

In response to a few greedy political leaders, we have the response of a rogue state. The headlines are all about clashes between protesters and police, but this is a much bigger disaster. The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal will most likely investigate these deaths and send thick reports to the government. But how is that going to bring back the dead?

We have to end the blame game between the Madhesi Morcha and Kathmandu. Who started it doesn’t matter anymore, what matters is that it needs to stop. When innocent children and civilians inside homes are killed by police, or a mob lynches policemen things have gone too far, and we need to speak out.

The state and most of the Kathmandu-based media have only criticised the violence against the police while the brutality against civilians continues unchecked. A majority of Nepalis are still indifferent, and this needs to change to save Nepali citizens in the south from a full-fledged humanitarian crisis.

We know there are extremists on both sides. People face discrimination in the Madhes and in the Pahad. It is time to move beyond those differences and build a better and united Nepal. Except for a few, most Nepalis are tolerant and want to live in harmony. When a policeman was lynched in Jaleswor two weeks ago, a Madhesi Nepali saved another policeman’s life by helping him escape from the mob.

Many young Nepalis in the Pahad and Madhes feel a sense of alienation. Many wonder what has befallen upon us that we have become so deeply polarised that reconciliation seems to be a challenge. The provincial demarcation was all gerrymandering. The number of federal states have oscilated between 14, 11, 6, and then 7 which shows that political agreements can change to accommodate grievances. Sooner or later, political squabbles will be solved, with or without India’s mediation. We know this from history. But innocent lives cannot be brought back, and communal tensions need to be healed.

When the earthquakes struck in April, Nepal was united. People in the Tarai collected food and relief to the hills. Today, the Tarai is in the midst a humanitarian crisis, yet the rest of the country appears indifferent towards the people there. How can one part of the country celebrate while the other is mourning for its dead?

This constitution is historic because it was formulated through a democratic process by members elected by the people. It has also institutionalised federalism and the republic, which are big achievements. Yet, it has still not guaranteed gender equality for women and citizenship for their children. People in the Tarai and elsewhere have also been cheated on the basis of citizenship, proportional representation, number of constituencies, cultural, and linguistic freedom. We should fix these deficiencies.

Irrespective of the constitution and the federalism model, most Nepalis will still have to fend for themselves, like they always have. The survivors of the earthquake are still waiting for help that never came, but somehow they have tried to make do.

The Madhesi people also know that they cannot depend on the government for jobs, education, healthcare or basic services. Most of us will gain little from the new constitution or the federalism structure. All we want is to live with dignity but for the last month we have faced oppression, death, fear and humiliation. Even moderate and indifferent Madhesis are resentful. It is still not too late to heal and unite.

Puru Shah is the founder of Madhesi Youth.  


Read more: 

Fighting our own battles Jivesh Jha

Costly constitution Anurag Acharya

Anger at Kathmandu

Blockade against Kathmandu

A constitution, like it or not Bidush Dhungel


Fuel crisis deepens

Sunday, September 27th, 2015
People queue up outside a petrol pump at Bhadrakali. Pic: RSS

People queue up outside a petrol pump at Bhadrakali. Pic: RSS

Nepal has asked international airlines to refuel their Kathmandu-bound aircrafts at origin airports, citing the looming shortage of aviation fuel due to an unofficial blockade by India.

India has blocked all border entry points with Nepal, expressing dissatisfaction with some provisions of the Himalayan nation’s new constitution. Madhesi parties, who feel left out of the constitution writing process, have also blocked the East West highway and feeder roads leading to India, worsening the fuel crisis in Kathmandu.

As the fuel crisis deepens, Nepal has been left with no choice but to focus on the efficient consumption of whatever stock of fuel Kathmandu has. Top political leaders are holding talks with Indian officials to make a breakthrough, but an end to the crisis does not look in sight.

An emergency meeting of government officials on Sunday requested International Airlines to refuel only in small quantities at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), if really needed. Kathmandu’s stockpile of aviation fuel is not going to last more than a week, say government officials.

However, the government’s decision is unlikely to affect most of international airlines as they avoid refuel their aircrafts in Kathmandu. Only a few long-range airlines, like Turkish Airlines, are likely to be affected by shortage of aviation fuel in Kathmandu.

Domestic airlines have also been asked to refuel at airports in the Tarai, according to government authorities.

The government has also decided to ask China to export aviation fuel. Other alternative the government has come up with is to reduce the flights that are put on hold due to traffic congestion. Although the government had mulled over the idea of transporting aviation fuel in Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC)’ aircrafts, the NAC has said its aircrafts are in no condition to transport fuel.

The government has also decided to implement an odd-even system for all types of vehicles starting Sunday.

Issuing a press statement Ministry of Home Affairs said that obstruction in the cargo movement coming to Nepal from India has created an abnormality in fuel supply as Nepal has not been able to receive any oil from Indian Oil Corporation.

With the fuel stock decreasing the government decided to implement the odd-even system for vehicles other than those carrying essential goods, those used by security forces and those involved in monitoring.

Following the rationing, long queues of vehicles could be seen outside various petrol pumps since early morning on Sunday.