Monday, January 17, 2011

“A big storm is imminent”: 21st century communism in Nepal

Noaman G. Ali, BASICS Community News Service, Canada

“We are ready to convert academic institutions into barracks. And ourselves into soldiers,” says Ramil Bhum, a student leader from Nepal’s far-west region of Seti Mahakali.
Sitting on the grass outside a large hall of Tribhuvan University on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Bm is surrounded by a group of international observers, of whom I am one. We’ve been invited to observe the 18th national convention of the All-Nepal National Students’ Union (Revolutionary), or ANNISU-R.
With 1.4 to 1.8 million members, there is no doubt that ANNISU-R is the largest, best-organized and most militant of students’ unions in this poor, land-locked country of 30 million. It is a mass organization of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the country’s largest political party.
“A big storm is imminent in Nepal,” says Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a Maoist leader, sitting with us now in the large conference room on the roof of his party’s headquarters. “Our party is not confused about our immediate and ultimate goals. Our immediate goal is the people’s federal republic, then socialism, then communism.”
Communism? Conventional wisdom in the West is that communism means tyranny, mass murder, inefficient economies, and perpetually grey skies. It’s good in theory, bad in practice. If anyone speaks seriously of communism, it’s usually a member of a small and marginal group.
Yet, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and its associated mass organizations count millions of farmers, workers, students, small-business owners and many more as members. Millions more support the party indirectly. Why?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some research issues in contemporary revolutionary movements: the context of Nepal

by Mukti Nepal

The context of Nepal :

Nepali revolutionary movement has been widely accepted as an exemplary movement in the application of Marxism today. It has passed through decades-long educational/preparatory/nonviolent movement and recently through a decade-long violent movement. For the last five years, since the communist party of Nepal (Maoist) entered a Peace Deal (confinement and dismantle of the revolutionary army and participation in the mainstream politics through the promulgation of a new constitution and through the abolition of monarchy) in the mediation of the United Nations and the government of India, the movement looks to have become relatively stagnant.
During this peace period, the CPNM has tried to bring political economic changes through a top-down approach. During this period, CPNM established itself as the largest ruling party in the country, ran the government for less than a year and voluntarily got out of the government owing to the issue of insubordination by the old monarchy-oriented army. The government led by this party was able to remain free from corruption charges and was able to bring minor but pro-people changes in the education and health sector and to give a significant relief to some farming population (freed from the outstanding bank loans, for an example). It was not, however, able to institutionalize structural changes nor was able to make people feel significant changes in the economic life. It was largely also not able to withstand the pressure from the opposition to return the properties (the land and houses) seized during the violent Peoples’ War, nor was able to even keep its grassroots parallel government structures established during the violent War. On the other hand, it appears to be able to save part of its militia in the form an organization called the Young Communist League. However, be it in tactical terms, the party does not seem to be able to defend the legitimacy of the violent War in the official papers or peace agreements and examples exist to blame the party leadership not to be adhering to some traditional concepts and jargons of Marxism Leninism Maoism. This non-adherence has been reflected in various speeches, writings and even in the draft constitution submitted to the constituent assembly by the party. The party is claiming to establish a new model of revolution.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

UCPN(M): Constitution of the People's Federal Republic of Nepal (draft English translation)

Now available in a draft English translation: the Constitution of the People's Federal Republic of Nepal as proposed by the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

Nepal News described the constitution when it was originally released in 2009:

Maoists unveil their proposed constitution for federal Nepal

Dr Baburam Bhattarai, who heads a committee formed by his party, Unified CPN (Maoist), for determining the party’s vision on democracy has unveiled the party’s draft proposal through his personal website.

The Maoists’ draft maintains liberal stance on fundamental rights of the people such as freedom of expression, right to form political parties, right to assembly, among others. The draft divided into 21 parts and 145 articles authorises the state governments to form paramilitary force or militia but the national army would be formed after integration between the People’s Liberation Army and Nepal Army.

The party has proposed an Audit Commission as the highest auditing body of the country in place of the Office of the Auditor General. The Women’s Commission and Dalit Commission as the constitutional bodies of the country have been removed and three new commissions have been proposed – inclusion commission, development commission and inter-state relation commission.

The party has proposed a three-tier judiciary- Supreme Court, State Court and local courts. Besides, a separate constitutional court has been proposed to look into disputes on constitutional issues.

According to the draft, executive power of the government should rest with the President while daily administration should be run by the prime minister and council of ministers. Three assemblies have been proposed – 75 member national assembly and 245 member house of federal representatives. The 13 states proposed by the party will have 25 to 35-member state assemblies. All representatives will be elected through mixed election system.

The Maoist party in the proposed constitution has accepted most democratic values such as human rights, press freedom, periodic elections, rule of law, multi party system, supremacy of judiciary etc.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

From the Ivory Tower the Himalayas Cannot be Seen

Addressing academic depictions of Nepal's Maoists on the ground

by Noaman G. Ali / December 12, 2010, Kathmandu
Reporting for

Noaman Ali is the Assistant Editor / Vice Chairperson of BASICS Community News Service. This article was written directly from Nepal, on the second day of the 18th National Convention of the All Nepal National Independent Students' Union (Revolutionary).
"No, we do not accept that," says Prabha Kini, lecturer of sociology at Tribhuvan University. She is referring to an academic article that argues that the Nepali Congress and  Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) or, UML, relied upon the heavy-handed oppression of landlords to gain votes.
These two parties are considered to be the leading status quoist parties in Nepal, in opposition to the revolutionary Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

"Yes, this is true," say our Maoist student handlers -- one a student of law, another a student of agriculture and the third a student of public health. They are referring to an academic article that argues that cadres of the Maoists used force to prevent free campaigning of Congress and UML in certain districts.

The stark contrast in the reactions to academic articles on Maoists could not be more surprising.

I am in Nepal as one of many international observers of the 18th national convention of the All Nepal National Independent Students' Union (Revolutionary), or, ANNISU-R. This student union is associated with the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). After a People's War that lasted from 1996 to 2006, the Maoists put down their arms, became a legal party and have since been attempting to further the revolution through establishing a new and more just constitution.

I have with me an academic book on the Maoist insurgency, from one of the most reputable scholarly presses in the world that I picked up from the University of Toronto's library the day before I left for Nepal. The Maoist Insurgency in Nepal: Revolution in the twenty-first century is edited by Mahendra Lawoti and Anup K. Pahari, and published by Routledge. I figured I would test the reactions of various Nepalis to contentious arguments in the book's various articles.