Friday, August 1, 2008
In my previous post on the newly elected executive branch I mentioned that the VP had caused a small international incident by taking his oath of office in Hindi rather than Nepali.
Well, the reaction from the Nepali people was quite strong and the protests effectively shut down Kathmandu on Monday and Tuesday. As one of my friends said, "Kathmandu is CLOSED." I have since learned that this is the phrase that was used frequently during the ten years of political turmoil and insurgency. Here's a photo from a youth group showing just how strongly they feel about their new VP.
The following day the VP offered a formal apology to the people and said he did not intend to insult the people, the nation, or Nepali nationalism, and promised to not offend again in the future.
There are some quite intricate political entanglements between India and Nepal that I am just beginning to understand. Nepal controls the flow of water from the Himalayas to India and has, with the building of more hydroelectric plants, the potential for selling utilities downstream as well. Nepal, as best I can tell, very much wants sovereignty without a lot of control by India or the rest of us. Interesting stuff.