Aug 20, 2012

Nepal-India ties: Have section of Media and thinkers gone berserk as Muni claims?

By Dwarika N. Dhungel
Senior Researcher, Social Sciences, Nepal

Dwarika N. Dhungel
It may be recalled that a book on Nepal entitled Nepal in Transition: From People's War to Fragile Peace, jointly edited by Messers. Sebastian von Einsiedel , David M. Malone and Suman Pradhan  and published by Cambridge University Press recently (2012) is available in the market.

In relation to launching of this book, a talk program of its contributors was recently held in Kathmandu on July 31, 2012 by the Social Science Baha at the Yala Maya Kendra in Lalitpur. One of the contributors of the book Prof. Dr. S D Muni who has contributed with the title Bringing the Maoists Down from the Hills: India’s Role, was also present at the program in person. He was supposed to provide the main highlights of his paper. But he, if I understood him correctly (I was also present when he was speaking), Dr. Muni touched upon various facets of Nepal-India relations, including the so called letter written by late King Tribhuvan to India for the merger or having some type of linkages with India, the letter written by then CPN Maoist to the then Prime Minister of India Shree Atal Bihari Bajpayee assuring India about safe guarding of their prime interests. It was also claimed by Dr. Muni that he delivered the CPN Maoist’s letter to the then Prime Minister Bajpayee in 2002 (June) through his National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra. In addition he also touched upon the issue of nationalism in Nepalese vis-à-vis India. He expressed his repugnant displeasure of the publication of an article by one Nepali fortnightly magazine [Himal] based on his article without seeking his permission in advance.

Prof. Muni’s comments were carried by various media and found a place in the reality bites (Oped.) of Gyanu Adhikari, which has been posted on August 7 edition of the Kathmandu Post. The reviewer writes that:

Muni claimed during the book discussion that king Tribhuvan Shah had written to India during the anti-Rana agitation in 1950,  offering that Nepal be a part of Indian federation. Muni’s claim appears to be a rumor—he hadn’t seen the document himself, but some of his friends in India’s Ministry of External Affairs assured him that it existed. Muni said other things too. For example, that the Maoists had written to India during their insurgency, reassuring India that its vital interests in Nepal will not be harmed by the Maoists. The Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai agrees that they wrote to India, as they wrote to other international actors and that there’s nothing new in the revelation.

Like Mr. Adhikari others, media and intelligentsia, have also come up with their observations, comments on the revelations of Prof. Muni, especially on the so called letter of King Tribhuvan’s, which is yet to be published and authenticated, about which one of the participants in the talk program had logically challenged Dr. Muni to show the evidence. In reply he had said that ‘he was told by Indian Foreign Ministry officials that they had the letter from the king stating his intention and that he would publish it when he got a copy’ ( The Kathmandu post , August 1, 2012).  

People from different walks of life started writing in the NNSD, an electronic net work through which they make free and frank discussion on contemporary issues, challenging the observations and revelations of Dr. Muni. Some have even questioned his credibility in their observations in the network dialogue and discussions. As a reaction and rejoinder to these developments, especially views expressed in the NNSD network, the other day (August 16, 2012), with a subject heading entitled Humble Request, Dr. S. D. Muni, now a Visiting Research Professor, Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore, Singapore, has posted the following message in the network, which I too, received through NNSD. The message reads as follows:

You are all talking rubbish. There was no letter written by the Maoists leaders to the Intelligence agencies. The section of the media and the Nepali intelligentsia have gone berserk on the whole issue. You have no idea how compromising have been a plethora of Nepali mainstream politicians, including the royalty (not the Maoists) in furthering their respective interests to gain access to power and retain it ( SD Muni, dated: August 16, 2012). 

Reading such a rejoinder, I, for one, am tempted to inform Dr. Muni,  although I have stopped writing in the dialogue of the network due to some reason, that the NNSD is an open forum in which one could contribute her/his views, comments, observations on contemporary issues as a part of  healthy discussion on the subject matter concerned.

Exasperatingly, some-body, who had worked as a teacher of a school which is claimed to stand for democratic values, represented the land of Gandhi and Nehru abroad, should have thought of the importance of such open forum and enjoyed the responses and comments received from the different sections of the Nepalese society. With humility, let me mention that Nepalese intelligentsia is no less erudite and talented than their counterparts from elsewhere including South Asian countries. So their views expressed through media or other means national issues including that of the CPN Maoists and their behavior during the insurgency, I think demands to be given serious thoughts, listened to and read with due interest. Furthermore, people living in the different parts of the country are the ones who know the sufferings and hardship they had faced during those chaotic ten years. And there is a sizable silent group in the country, which is very closely watching the CPN Maoists, the life style of their leaders, their country’s functioning pattern  and their kowtowing to the foreign masters just to remain in the seat of power to enjoy and capitalize it for the sake of serving their own interests rather than that of the country and Nepalese people in the real sense. The group is also watching the behavior of other political actors and Viceroy of a friendly nation. This group is really getting worried about the increasing anarchy in the country, its deteriorating situation and lawlessness and the absence of the State worth the name as such. Interestingly, watching the exodus of the political leaders to neighboring country in the name of getting treatment. 

Observing such frequent visits, I have started asking myself whether our political leaders were interested to serve their country, maintain its identity and peculiarities or interested to serve their masters. May be they think that without the support of the so called Nepal experts in the neighboring country and their political players, it is not possible for them to occupy the hot seat at Singhdubar. Otherwise, known leaders of the country would have come out with their statements on the remarks such as those made by the learned professor. Unfortunately that is missing.

In such a context, I think Prof. Muni has come out strongly challenging the capacity and capability of a section of media and Nepali intelligentsia.                 

Having known Dr. Muni from his research scholar days at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, being one of the contributors of his edited work of 1970’s, met him as a teacher and scholar-expert on Nepal during his tenure at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, where I had stayed for some time during my research period in India, and seen him behaving as a reliable advisor to some Nepali politicians including CPN Maoists, it is interesting to read his use of vituperative words like, rubbish, Nepali intelligentsia have gone berserk. He may be right, as he claims, that Nepalese media and intelligentsia may not have the access to all the information on the covert role played by India in relation to Nepal on different subjects and issues, such as sending the CPN Maoist to Kathmandu’s main stream politics, getting the main stream political parties and CPN Maoist  sign 12 points agreement ( tentatively a treaty) which many people take it as the Delhi agreement II, getting the Madeshis together and fight for Madhesh with a view to counter the possible influence of the Northern neighboring country in Nepal’s politics and her influence in our northern area, and above all, abolition of Nepali monarchy and declaration of Nepal into a Federal Republic of Nepal eventually. But I also, think that the local media and intelligentsia have every right to express their views on these matters. It is only the history which will judge whether all that have happened so far and contribution made by the neighboring country and foreign scholars/writers have done good to the country called, Nepal and her people or instead landed Nepal and Nepalese people in deep trouble and in more complicated situation even endangering her independence, integrity and social harmony that existed in the country since time immemorial? When I read and hear the type of views and opinions similar to those expressed by Dr. Muni, I wonder whether our friends from neighboring country and so called Nepal experts were really happy to see Nepal still remaining an independent and sovereign country or want Nepal to be totally subservient to her neighbor ? If they really do not want to see Nepal remaining independent and assert her rightful place in the international arena, it would be better for them to suggest the Government of India (GoI) to take over Nepal, merge it as one of the provinces of India, send its own person as Governor, and find somebody of its liking placed as the Chief Minister and have scholars of repute as its principal advisors in the new incarnation of yesterday’s Viceroy, for those who are not aware and interested to read more about this institution, there is a very good book by David Gilmour entitled The Ruling Class: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj published by Frarror, Straus and Giroux in 2005. Once Nepal is taken over, some might think that the problem is solved forever. Others may be happy as they would not have to face the chronicle problems, such as electric energy, petroleum products and fertilizers and unemployment. 

Now we the sovereign people of Nepal have to decide whether we the Nepalese people want to die an unsung or a memorable death? Only two options we have under our sleeves.

If I and others have understood Dr. Muni wrongly, then would not be his duty as a teacher, scholar and expert on Nepal to educate me and others by providing all the information, which he claims he has, about all the matters that led to the latest political developments in Nepal without being bias to any group or party.  I would not mind if Dr. Muni, comes out again with volley of remarks to my views. But I would not react negatively.

At the end, let me make a sincere request to Prof. Muni to read and honor the views of others, as you expect others to read and hear your views and writings patiently. Reciprocity must be maintained in academic circle. And I do not think the use of term, rubbish suits to your stature. Also please educate Nepalese intelligentsia, media and reader’s at large through publication of all the information whatever you have on Nepal-India relations. By doing so, Dr. Muni, you would not only be educating us but also be contributing to further strengthen the ties that exist in between the peoples of Nepal and India. Kathmandu, Nepal, August 18, 2012.

Courtesy:, August 20, 2012

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