Grant then posts Gautam to India, where the Nepali overcomes the arrogance of Indian babudom to help locate UNICEF’s regional South Asia office in Kathmandu. He was a ‘Sherpa’ for the historic World Summit for Children of 1990 in New York, negotiating minefields of protocol, egos and geopolitics to get member states to sign the National Plans of Action, which became the model for the MDGs and the SDGs that followed.
He has great admiration for Vaclav Havel, and notes that the Czech President died on the same day as Kim Jong-Il in 2011, and that Nepal’s Communists trooped off to the DPRK embassy in Kathmandu to sign the condolence book. He is ashamed not one Nepali leader paid any tribute to Havel.
Gautam’s other hero is Nelson Mandela, who impressed him in Pretoria with his disregard for pomp and protocol. Unlike some ‘democratic’ Nepali leaders, Madiba never had to show how important he was by displaying trappings of power.
Years later, Gautam sees lessons for Nepal in Mandela’s handling of truth and reconciliation and the dangers of ethnic Bantustans.
Parts of the book about Gautam’s return to Nepal after retirement are extracted from Lost in Transition, where he recounts the efforts to start peace negotiations with UN HQ, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and directly with King Gyanendra and Maoist leaders.
He understands the anger driving the Maoist revolution, but never glamourises it like many Nepali and international pseudo-revolutionaries. He calls it like it is: a needless carnage that derailed Nepal’s march towards democracy and development.
He is scathing about the organisation he once worked for, the United Nations, and the expats in rose-tinted glasses who led its post-conflict peace mission in Nepal. The past few years have proven Kul Chandra Gautam right: the insurgency was not a revolution but a blatant attempt at state capture by misguided figures espousing an obsolete ideology.
Indeed, today’s united Communists have turned out to be worse than the rulers they replaced. The real victims of that ruinous war were the very people who were supposed to be liberated.
Because of his own life struggle and wisdom, every word in Kul Gautam’s book rings true, carrying the immense power of his conviction.
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Jhamak Speaks, Supriya Sharma
The mistake in Gautam’s years of service and his protest of anti-Vietnam war have been corrected. -Ed