If Culture is Dying Why Teach it to our Kids?
CANADA: The Best Country to Live in. For Whom?
A view on the Nepal Massacre article:
WAS DIPENDRA THE KILLER?
NEPAL MASSACRE: Family Feud or Conspiracy?
If Culture is Dying
Why Teach it to our Kids?
By Farah Rahemtula
I am proud to be a Canadian born
Asian! It took me many years of personal cultural rejection
before I was able to say and mean it. Today I can say it
with out any problems, but if had you asked me 5 or 10 years ago I
would have told you I was ashamed of my Asian decent.
Youth today are bombarded with the
newest American fashions, Hollywood stars and the latest music trends,
so as a result learning about their culture is something that many
fail to see as a priority in life. The sad truth is growing up
in this western world has allowed large numbers of youth to reject,
and sometimes even hate their culture. Any parent noticing this
obsession with the western world and rejection of their own culture
will begin to panic, but don’t! Remember, it is important to
begin to teach your children about the dynamics of their culture at a
very young age. Attend cultural festivities, read them books on
your culture, use your mother tongue and allow them to participate in
anything that will broaden their understanding of their heritage.
I grew up rejecting my mother tongue; I
also extended this stubbornness to cultural festivities, fashion, and
traditions. However, the irony of it is, that although it was
the western world that pushed me away from my own culture, it was this
same world that eventually pushed me towards it. While idly
watching celebrities and the latest fashions I began to notice that
the newest emerging trends were descending from my very own culture.
I began to see super stars like Madonna take on Asian fashion. I
saw celebrities wearing bangles, bindi’s and sari’s. And soon
enough I even began to see my non-Asian friends with henna hands,
bindi foreheads and colourful bangles. It was with this trend
towards the exotic Asian culture that I began to become interested in
what my culture had to offer. It was at this exact time that a
lot of Asian youth began to embrace their culture because the western
world was welcoming it. Yet remarkably, when the Asian cultural
trend died down, our passion for our own culture did not!
Many youth realize later on in life that
maintaining and experiencing the richness of what their culture has to
offer is a feeling that can not be achieved by following the latest
trends, of the western world. Partaking in long-lived traditions
and cultural festivities fills a void in every individual, a part that
many look for when they are searching for their true self. Not
only are you discovering yourself in your heritage, you are
discovering your parents, your grandparents, and your ancestors.
Knowing that I can now carry on the traditions and expectations of my
culture creates in me a sense of pride, a feeling only my ancestors
can give me. If you have children who are rejecting their
culture don’t lose hope, eventually they will understand the
importance of it. Never give up teaching them; one day they will
look back and thank you! TOP
The United Nations has designated Canada as the best country to
live in for the last five years.
This year it has fallen to No.
3 behind Norway and Australia.
“The facts and figures that
have now come to light expose (the designation) as extremely
misleading,” says Grace-Edward Galabuzi, releasing the 128-page
study commissioned by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), “While
Canada may indeed be the best country to live in for its white
population, the same can not be said for” all especially the
Canada’s Creeping Economic
Apartheid is the first comprehensive study in Canada documenting
how racism shapes the way our non-white population lives and
works in Canada. This report pulls together data from a wide
range of sources, delivering an all-inclusive and disturbing
picture of how racism is establishing a stranglehold on Canada’s
economy and culture.
Using Statistics Canada,
Employment Equity and Human Resources data, the Centre “has
unearthed a disturbing picture: how Canada’s racialised groups
consistently earn less than Canada’s white population, are
ghettoized in low-paying jobs and segregated in low-cost urban
housing area,” says CSJ Press Release.
‘Racialised groups’ is a term
used in place of the often used term ‘visible minorities’ and
includes persons other than Aboriginal peoples who are
non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour, namely: Chinese,
South Asian, Black, Arab/West Asian, South East Asian, Filipino,
Latin American, Japanese, Korean and Pacific Islanders.
There is an increase in
Canada’s reliance on immigration to address labour market
shortages. Over the last 30 years, there has been a change in
the demographics. An overwhelming majority of Canada’s
immigrants come from racialised groups.
While the immigration to
professionals is offered based on their qualifications and
skills, many immigrants are unable to get comparable employment
and compensation. This leads to some of them not to act on their
immigrant visas, seek employment in the United States or else
choose to split families, with spouse and children living here,
and the other spouse continuing to practice their professions in
the ‘home’ country.
“Immigration status has become
a proxy for racial discrimination as employers insist on
Canadian qualifications despite operating in an increasingly
globalised economy. While European immigrants qualifications
routinely go unchallenged, racialised Canadians often lose
opportunities because of the perceived value of their
qualifications. As a result, racialised group immigrants have a
longer immigration lag than non-racialised immigrants,” says the
Unlike in the past, due to
strict skill-based immigration policy requirements, the average
educational attainment of immigrants has risen. Of the
professional/skilled immigrants selected in 1998, 72 per cent
(or 56 per cent including dependants) had university degrees,
which is four times that of Canadian-born households. However
income and unemployment differentials persist between racialised
immigrants and other Canadians.
An analysis of
recently-published Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC)
Employment Equity Data showed under-representation in more
lucrative industries, motor vehicles industry (7.0 per cent),
primary steel (4,2 per cent) and the federal government (5.6 per
While some 11 per cent of the
population is racialised group members, only 15 of the 1975 fire
chiefs – a percentage of less than 0.8 per cent, 90 judges out
of some 2,455 across Canada – less than 4 per cent, and 3 per
cent of the police chiefs come from the group. Of the unionised
workers, 7 per cent are from the group.
One of the findings based on
the Centre’s analysis of special run data and existing studies
and reports states: “The demands for labour market flexibility
has disproportionately exposed racialised groups to contract,
temporary, part-time, and shift work with no job security, poor
and often unsafe working conditions, intensive labour, excessive
hours, low wages, and no benefits. Many are employed on
exploitative contracts by temporary agencies, with some
assigning work based on racist stereotypes. Racialised women are
particularly over-represented in Canada’s sweatshops –
unregulated piecemeal homework. This labour is a subsidy for
many employers at the expense of quality of life for these
poorly paid workers.”
The report also reviews other
indicators of socio-economic performance such as housing, health,
education, contact with the criminal justice system,
representation in the media, and political participation.
Demographic data show tat with
current mobility trends, racialised groups will soon form
economically disadvantaged majorities in some of Canada’s major
urban centres: Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and
“The racialisation of poverty
is increasingly manifest in urban centres where racialised
groups are concentrated, and in the emergence of racial enclaves
and a growing racial underclass,” says the study. “In an
increasingly segregated housing market, racialised groups are
relegated to substandard, marginal, and often overpriced housing.
The growing social inequalities act as social determinants of
health and well-being.”
The implications of persistent
income and employment inequality, economic and social
segregation, and political marginalisation, are a looming crisis
of social instability and political legitimacy for Canadian
society. It may even lead to violence, as key institutions in
society lose legitimacy among the affected communities, warns
the author of the study.
Economic apartheid is alive and
well in Canada and the reason is racism, says Grace-Edward
Galabuzi. Government, industry and unions must immediately take
swift, concentrated and coordinated action to turn this
situation around and end inequality in our employment practices.
When something like racism threatens our country, government
must intervene before the crisis deepens.
Amidst a wide range of policy
recommendations the study calls on the federal government to
crate a national urban forum bringing all levels of government
together to develop policies and legislation combating racism.
A view on the Nepal Massacre article:
WAS DIPENDRA THE KILLER?
The official report says: Dipendra
The two-member commission led by the
Chief Justice Keshab Prasad Upadhaya and the House Speaker Taranath
Ranabhat presented the findings to King Gyanendra last Thursday
The House Speaker, Ranabhat presented
a summary of the findings live on television and radio at a press
conference at the parliament secretariat. Rifles, magazines,
cartridges and clothes were on display. Most details confirm early
media reports about a drugged and drunk prince going berserk with
automatic weapons, mowing down family members.
The highlights of the report:
Dipendra was intoxicated even before the family dinner and was
carried up to his room where he smoked a joint with hashish and an
unidentified black substance. He made several calls to Devyani Rana in
a slurred voice.
Dipendra’s orderly and governess found him on the floor, trying
to take his shirt off, he went to the bathroom and vomited.
Dipendra donned combat fatigues and, armed with a 9mm MP-5K, an
M-16 and a 12-bore French shotgun went down to the billiard room. Two
9mm Glock pistols were also found at the site, one was used.
He fired at the ceiling and the wall, then at his father, King
He left the billiard room, changed guns and returned to spray
his father with his submachine gun, killing and wounding family
members tending to King Birendra.
He returned to spray the survivors once more, killing his
He then backed out into the garden while a woman in a red sari
(Queen Aishwarya) and Prince Nirajan followed him.
There were gunshots from the garden. Queen Aishwarya’s body was
found on a landing, and Nirajan’s on the lawn, brain tissue, bits of
bone and blood covered the area.
Dipendra was found near the bridge, still alive and wheezing.
Two weapons were found near his body.
Most members of the royal family were declared dead on arrival
at the Chhauni hospital at about 2115 on Friday night. Sruti died at
2155, Dhirendra and Dipendra two days later.
The 200-page report was the outcome
of the commission’s extensive interviews with royal survivors in
hospital and other eyewitnesses, examination of hospital records, lab
analyses, and ballistic and forensic evidence. There were more than 60
specialists who helped in the seven-day investigation headquartered in
the heavily guarded parliament secretariat.
To be sure, the report is shocking
and the public disbelieves it and there are reasons to do that,
perhaps. If Dipendra was “intoxicated and had to be carried upto his
room, where he smoked a joint with hashish and an unidentified black
substance”, he would have passed out immediately as is confirmed when
his “orderly and governess found him on the floor”.
In such a state, for him to have
“donned combat fatigues”, arming himself “with a 9mm MP-5K, an M-16
and a 12-bore French shotgun” and going “down to the billiard room”
would not have been possible.
Dipendra is said to have “fired at
the ceiling and the wall and then at his father, King Birendra”. His
leaving the room, changing guns, killing and wounding and then going
out to the garden and shooting – all this sounds like a fable to fit
the official conclusion.
The matter of fact is either Dipendra
was neither intoxicated nor did he take hashish and the black
substance, and was just pretending to be to cover up what he was
planning to do.
Or he really was down and out, and it
was somebody else, who carried out the royal massacre, and then shot
him to put the blame on him.
The truth may never be known and
nobody can blame the Nepalis and the world for not believing the
official report with all its exhibits. TOP
Family Feud or Conspiracy?
By Suresh Jaura
the only Hindu monarchy in the world, has been mostly unknown to the
world, except as heaven for the “hippies” in the last decade, and as
the launching pad for expeditions to the world’s highest mountain, the
Everest, for decades.
carnage in “the top of the world” has shattered the “peace” in the
Himalayan Kingdom that “traverses the high Himalayas, idyllic mountain
valleys and crowded lowlands that meld seamlessly with India’s
Gangetic plains”, as John Stackhouse has referred to Nepal.
the worst mass murder of Royals since the Bolsheviks, on the order of
Vladimir Lenin, in 1918, executed the Romanovs.
Nepal Times sums up the tragedy thus, “Friday night, faith died.
Belief succumbed to the cruelty of history. Impregnable walls could
not stop the flight of an age towards eternity. The king is dead, may
his soul rest in peace. Long live the king, the symbol of Nepali unity
and cultural identity. It is with this mixture of grief and hope that
we are coming to terms with a tragedy too painful and complex to
said that in 1768, when King Prithvi Narayan Shah, founder of the Shah
dynasty, ascended the throne, a prediction was made that his line
would end after 11 generations. Some years back, another prediction
said to have been made was that King Birendra Shah would not live
beyond 55 years. He was 55 years when murdered.
Prince Dipendra, 29-year old, is rumoured to have “secretly married”
Devyani Rana, the 22-year old daughter of a former Nepali Foreign
Minister and a member of the powerful Rana dynasty, which had ruled
Nepal by seizing power in the mid-19th century until 1951,
when the Shah dynasty returned to power.
According to one report, at the dinner table, Dipendra, who appeared
to have been drinking, is said to have asked his parents to accept
Devyani Rana and declare their “engagement”. The King and Queen did
not accept this. Having been rebuffed, Dipendra opened fire with an
automatic rifle killing at least 10 people before he shot himself in
the head with a pistol. He all but wiped out a dynasty and fulfilled
the 233-year old prophecy.
coma at the hospital, he was proclaimed King. Later he died. King
Dipendra, the 12th generation Shah ruler, “became perhaps
the only monarch in the world who passed his entire reign in a coma”.
coronation platform, in 1971, King Birendra called for Nepal to be
declared a Zone of Peace. It is a paradox of history that he himself
was destined to fall prey to an act of violence.
Birendra will go down in history as the sovereign who made his
subjects sovereign, and transformed them into citizens of his own
accord. He was, in that sense, the very personification of history.
Not many rulers of the world can lay claim to have guided the journey
of a nation from autocracy to democracy with relatively few setbacks
along the way. If there was a price to pay, he ultimately paid it with
his own life and the lives of his immediate family members.
massacre and the events that followed it have destabilised the palace,
which was perceived to be a solid and monolithic structure for more
than 250 years. This last week has pushed the nation into an
unprecedented dilemma and crisis. The Nepali nation is bewildered and
Gyanendra ascended the throne after it was officially announced that
King Dipendra “left for his heavenly abode”. This is the second
time for him. In 1950, the last Rana Prime Minister, Mohan Sumshere,
crowned him king. People refused to recognise the infant-king, as the
then King Tribhuvan and Crown Prince Mahendra were both alive and
well, though in a self-imposed exile in India after China occupied
Tibet. This time it is different. After the decimation of King
Birendra’s family, King Gyanendra is the legal heir to the throne
sanctioned by the customs and traditions of Nepal.
Prince Paras Shah, his
son and future heir, is the least popular royal, having been
involved in three hit and run accidents, and in an accident last
year that killed a popular singer. There are rumours that King
Gyanendra (indirectly as he was out of town) and Prince Paras were
involved in the massacre. Binod Bhattarai writes in the Nepal Times,
“There are slight discrepancies in the exact sequence of events:
where precisely were the members of the royal family during the
first and second bursts of automatic weapon fire, where were the
wounds on the bodies, where were the ADCs, where exactly was Queen
Aishwarya, did Paras leave the room? But on the question of who was
involved, what emerges from extensive interviews is confirmation of
a family quarrel gone horribly wrong”. What exactly transpired will
never be known and any reports that follow an inquiry will always be
considered a cover up.
Gyanendra, in his first proclamation, set up an inquiry commission. He
announced the formation of a three-member probe consisting of the
Chief Justice, the House Speaker and the leader of the main opposition
party. The inclusion of UML general secretary, Madhav Kumar Nepal, was
unanimously hailed as a very astute move—the devastated royal palace
had taken the unprecedented step to open up.
Madhav Nepal decided to pull out of the inquiry commission citing “a
procedural lapse” in the formation of the probe. The party says that
in keeping with the constitution, a committee should have been formed
by Singha Darbar, and not by the palace.
seemed once more to be putting its politics before the national need
to avert deep crisis. “They are haggling over legal niceties when the
important thing is to have a commission with credibility that the
people will accept,” said a leading leftist from within the party.
appears to have been pressured by two members of its alliance (the
Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party, and the Popular Front), which had
decided that the royal crisis was the right time to activate the
long-pending strategy to oust Prime Minister Koirala. “We didn’t like
this being done by royal decree, the government should have proposed
the committee and we would have assigned a member instead of the king
naming an appointee,” was what a party official told us. “This was a
typical ploy by the king, a conspiracy, to get us bogged down with a
possibly predetermined outcome to the inquiry,” said another UML
Madhav Nepal’s withdrawal from the inquiry commission, ruling party
sources say that the panel will continue its work even if the third
member does not join. The respect enjoyed by the Chief Justice, it is
thought, provides the commission with enough credibility to proceed.
The panel is expected to take at least until the weekend to present
its preliminary report, and sources say that rather than immediately
point fingers or name the perpetrator, the commission is likely to
suggest guidelines for a thorough investigation.
great sadness at the death of an enlightened monarch in King Birendra.
There are accusations of a conspiracy behind the killings not only
against King Gyanendra and his son Prince Paras but also against India.
conspiracy theory is to the fore in the Pakistani press. Islamabad’s
The News quoted the former head of the secret service, Lieut -General
Javed Nasir, as saying “India is the main conspirator behind the
Nepalese royal family massacre as it had warned the family not to get
too close to Pakistan and China”.
Rawalpindi’s Urdu-language Nawa-i-Waqt carried a report accusing
India’s premier intelligence service of being behind the killings.
the massacre of King Birendra and the royal family, not only has
Pakistan lost a good friendly ruler in South Asia, but also the
leadership that protected the politics of Nepal from Indian
interference has passed away. Behind this gruesome massacre, one
cannot overlook the role of RAW [India’s Research and Analysis Wing],”
a correspondent said. King Birendra had sought to stop India and the
American CIA putting pressure on the Kathmandu government to support
them in a regional power struggle with China.
banned Nepalese Communist Party, whose Maoist insurgency has resulted
in over 1500 deaths in the past five years, also shares the conspiracy
theory. A statement published in Nepal’s Kathmandu Post said the
“patriotic and liberal” king was unhappy about Prime Minister Girija
Prasad Koirala’s plan to mobilize the army to fight the rebels.
Koirala, and the Indian capitalist, hegemonist rulers and other
national and international fundamental reactionists were not
tolerating the late King Birendra’s liberal thoughts,” the statement
said. “This pre-planned massacre will have long-term effects on the
future of Nepal.”
In India, the Hindustan Times said
““Official circles here are alarmed by the turn of events in Nepal.
Kathmandu-watchers feel Gyanendra not only has an anti-India mind-set
but is also believed to have patronised elements having close links
with Pakistan in the none-too-distant past.”
the Hindustan Times also quoted former Indian ambassador to Nepal
Bimal Prasad as saying: “I did not find any indication of hostility
towards India in my interaction with Gyanendra.”
in The Times of India, Dubby Bhagat concurred. “Gyanendra... is the
pragmatist visionary to his brother’s unfettered idealism... if anyone
can rise above intrigue, and weld together the warring factions of
Nepal’s new found democracy, Prince Gyanendra can.
detractors have labelled him anti-Indian. He is assuredly not. He will
listen to anyone who he sees as having resonance and cerebral worth.
It is for India to provide such a person to manage the fragile
relationship between the two countries.”
countries in its neighbourhood may wonder how tragedy seems to stalk
the ruling families in this region,” The Times of India said, pointing
to similar experiences in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.”
Times of India described King Birendra as “a lofty figure of
continuity who transcended the murky world of parliamentary politics”.
Nepal’s hour of grief, the tragedy should awaken the politicians - who
have fouled the democratic pitch - to their mandated responsibilities,”
the Times argued. “The Maoist insurgency could only be tackled by
raising living standards. There is no reason for such unmitigated
poverty in Nepal with its rich abundance of natural resources and
future holds no promise. “The future of Nepal’s politics as well as
the monarchy hangs in the balance,” said former Judge Bhubaneshwore P
Daibagya. “The new King will have to win the love, confidence and
support of the Nepalese people. But it will be difficult.”
Roka, an independent leftist activist, said, “The circumstances demand
that those who call themselves political powers or even responsible
citizens learn from their past weaknesses and become serious if the
country is to be saved. If the nation does not survive this crisis,
neither will we and our various selfish ambitions”.
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