Nepali Times Asian Paints
RUBEENA MAHATO
This Is It
The age of cyber patriots


RUBEENA MAHATO


Despite being from a country that lags behind in every development index ever devised, some of us still seem to be astonishingly thin-skinned about what outsiders say about us. Instead of being outraged about the hundreds of thousands of young Nepali women rotting in brothels in India, we react over forgettable remarks made by foreign actors or authors.

Ten years ago, Nepal's cities were convulsed by paroxysms of violence over something Hrithik Roshan was thought to have said. The politically-instigated riots were supposed to be against India, but six Nepalis were killed, Nepali businesses and tourism suffered, and our international image was badly dented.

Things haven't changed much. Taslima Nasreen is silly enough to forget to take her passport to the airport and misses her flight to Kathmandu. And she tries to make light of it by tweeting innocently that she didn't know she needed a passport to go to Nepal as she didn't consider it foreign. So what? But trust our cyber pseudo-nationalists to get their knickers in a knot and flame her with hate tweets.

They tweeted profanities, but what made things worse was, as usual, a mainstream portal that misinterpreted Nasreen's original tweet to say she had thought 'Nepal was a part of India'. If Nasreen had any plans to take next morning's flight to Kathmandu, she was advised to cancel.

The eruption of self-fanned anger on twitter's timeline later spread to the blogs, Facebook and news portals. People made fun of Nasreen, said she was ignorant not to know Nepal was a sovereign country.Why is it so important for us what Nasreen says or thinks about our political status? Even if she actually thought Nepal was "like India" as did Indian actress Madhuri Dixit few years back, just for the sake of argument, why should we let that bother us? There is no dearth of fools in the world. Should we go around answering everyone?

As a well-known writer, it was careless of Nasreen not to measure the repercussion of her tweet, which although said in good faith, she should have realised could translate as a political statement to many. And it would have been wiser if she just issued a simple sorry and moved on. Instead, she retorted with more tweets, and added fuel to the fire, going on to say fatwas will be issued to her in Nepal now and her books would be burnt.

But much more than an exiled Bangladeshi author, it was Nepal's cyberwarrior community that exposed itself as insensitive and insecure. If Nasreen is guilty of plain stupidity, why grace it with any more importance than it deserves? The way Nepalis reacted was perhaps scarier than what Nasreen said or implied. But most disgraceful in all this was how 'nationalists' of another kind chose to respond. They bent over their backs to issue apologies to Nasreen in a bid to save 'Nepal's face', proving once again how desperately we desire validation by foreigners.

The edifice of our nationalism seems to rest on whipped up jingoism and the faded glory of our past. Our otherwise laid-back nationalism erupts only when some ignorant fool somewhere is quoted saying that Buddha was born in India. Is our nationalism so fickle that we have to get worked up about this even as we know, Nepal as a nation state did not exist when Buddha was born and neither did India? Is our patriotism so brittle that we get into a frenzy when someone says Mt Everest is in China, even though half of the mountain is in China anyway?

If we were truly nationalistic, we should work towards resolving our political stalemate, taking pride in incorruptible leaders, ensuring 24-hour power and double digit growth. True nationalists would be helping create jobs at home so our compatriots wouldn't have to work for a pittance in 50 degree heat in the desert. Yet, one of our greatest source of nationalistic pride seems to be that our young men fight and die for a foreign nation or that the second shortest man in the world is a Nepali.

Ultra-nationalism and politically-fanned jingoism has always been a danger in Nepal. Ten years ago it was hardcopy tabloids being used by politicians to fan the flames of street unrest over Hrithik Roshan. Today, with social networking sites on the Internet, demagogues have an even more powerful instrument to spread hate wider and faster.

Chauvinistic Facebook pages that spread racism get thousands of likes. It's time for peace-loving moderates on social networking sites to speak up to drown out the messages of hate. The core issue is, we take our nationalism too seriously and our socio-economic backwardness not seriously enough. Let's put our own house in order first, let's work to build a prosperous and peaceful Nepal that we can be truly proud of, and nationalism will take care of itself.



1. B
Yes, the whole world is one. Forget Nepal. If most people did not care about what others thought, said, printed, promoted or claimed to be true...we would of course have a utopia..However, the society we live in has made us who we are. We are insecure may be....that is how our teachers and parents have made us....with constant verbal, physical bashing and treating us unequally. So, do you think Pakistanis would react differently if any Indian celebrity said something like that about their country...or Indians themselves would be ok if a chinese guy innocently said something similar about India. I agree with you in the sense that this is stupidity. Why create so much hatred about something so small. But i would say, why even need a country? just get rid of all the borders. Do i only belong to Nepal? NO! i belong to this world.

2. downtoearth

Taslima sure knows how to whip up controversy. Just look at her tweet about a likely fatwa and her books being burnt. I mean seriously? There must be at most 10-15 hate tweets which she might have got, out of which one was profane, but she got dozens and dozens of tweets defending her by Nepalis. What about those? She proclaims herself to be an empowered woman, a feminist and now she is playing victim here? She is not stupid- to the contrary, she is so smart that she spinned a careless remark and a stupid response it generated to a media uproar. Helps a lot, when you haven't published in the last couple of years.

Of course it is not possible to forget a passport in a stopover destination: remember she was traveling to Kathmandu from Sweden- where did she forget her passport? In the Delhi hotel or friend's place she checked out from ?

Lets forget Ms Nasreen for a while and give the lady a break, the lady has gone through so much in life, an exiled existence, numerous fatwas and so on. But then whats with our own Mr and Ms oh-so-important and know-it-all here? The way they were lapping up Nasreen, appeasing her, apologizing to her on behalf of the sun, moon, rain and sundry, saving Nepal's face as they say. So very typical. I don't bother saving Nepal's face. I have better things to do. People like me who work, pay their taxes duly, earn some honest money don't have that guilt-ridden conscience. I am a Nepali, I don't care if anyone tweets- Nepalis sell their mothers and daughters in market (actually this is true). There are all kind of crazy people in the world. I can't afford giving a shit about everyone.

More than those ultra-nationalists, who I can only pity for their ignorance, I hate this self-styled crop of Nepal's 'liberal, US-returned, cosmopolitan jerks'. You are slaves, go and lick the soles of foreigners. There was white-worshiping first, now its yellow, brown, red, black;, anything but a Nepali. Shame.

And on a final note, a certain Ms columnist in Republica (who on earth let that happen?), good fodder for a column yeah? And a chance to get on the good books of Madame Nasreen. You Ms Thapa along with Nasreen are the most responsible for fanning this controversy. You kept on pursuing it long after others had stopped. If anyone made look Nepal bad, its you, flooding the timeline, keeping a dead issue alive. Get a life and yes a geography textbook too. Looks like Nasreen is not the only one who may need it, as few argued. Ms Thapa for your kind information, Nepalgunj and Rupandehi are hundreds of miles apart. You probably meant Rupediya, and yes I am not going to burn tires over it.

Like I said, I don't care much


3. villager
Agreed with downtoearth.
"
So what? And some know-all go ranting all these high words and again fell on the mercy of their unknown masters.


4. Loki
Awesome piece! This is exactly what I've been saying all this time, it's like you read my mind! Taslima was stupid but we acted even more foolishly.
I'm sick of these fake patriots, people creating facebook groups and events against 'dho****' who we are suppose to hate for the most absurd reasons. They maybe¬ encroaching our land but these fools who've lived in Kathmandu all their lives don't even know where exactly where these places are (hell even I don't!).¬
There are a few people out their that just want to create trouble, sociopaths who enjoy chaos like the people who tried to organize a protest agains Amir Khan a little more than a month ago because they claimed that he said that Nepalis are idiots for banning Delhi Belly. And when asked where the proof was they simply said that the Indians are very smart and have hidden all the footage already! STUPIDEST THING I'VE EVER HEARD!¬

@downtoearth, hey buddy I agree with most of what you have said but the bit on "Nepal's 'liberal, US-returned, cosmopolitan jerks'." was just a very very cheap shot. Come on! You can do better than that. I'm am not a US or anywhere else returned Nepali. I'm lived in Nepal all my life and I feel no hostility towards these people who've returned. "You are slaves, go and lick the soles of foreigners"? How much lower can you get? That's just pathetic!¬
And Sradda Thapa may not know Nepal's geography that well but she has all the right to express her views. The issue might have died a little in the social media but people are still talking about it, if you have no problem with Rubeena Mahato writing about it why do you have a problem with Sradda Thapa writing about it?

I just have one theory about people like you who feel the need to constantly pour out your anger at these 'US¬ returnees'. You are jealous! You hate them for leaving, hate them for having opinions and then hate them for returning. And then you say that they only returned because they are rich and can do anything they want when they come back. Do you know how confusing all that is? How do you manage to hate someone for so many different and even contradicting reasons?¬
Anyway, the way I see it, the only reason you really hate them is because you are jealous.¬


5. downtoearth

@villager, I agree with the writer on this. We are giving nationalism too great an importance. This is exactly what I want to say.

@Loki, I hate some US-returnees who treat Nepalis like dirt. Comment directed only towards them. No problem against US returnees in general.

Thanks



6. ASP
Let me turn this around...

We all seem to take things a bit too far than they deserve.

Examples:

1. Nepali blogosphere complaining about a tweet from a Bangladeshi writer (see my note below).

2. Nepali Times columnist writing a column about the blogosphere complaints.

3. My writing this comment.

All 1, 2 and 3 above are unnecessary.

Note: I had to google up to find out who Taslima Nasrin was as the writer of this column did not identify her the first time she mentioned her name. I was too impatient to read on without finding out who she was.

I think NT editors should nudge their columnists to be a little more imaginative when writing their columns. You know, there are dumb readers like me. The writer could have said "the exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin" when she first introduced her in the column.


7. ap
You have spoken what actually lies beneath the heart of many youths. Actually, i would like to call this kind of nationalism "ETHNOCENTISM" we youths who have forgotten our own traditions and cultures and act to be modernization which again i would lyk to call "westoxication" If we have problem with what other's say, we should improve ourselves first. If a fool comes and beats tantrums, is it wise to run behind it without any logical thinking! nice work Rubeena!


8. Soni
"Despite being from a country that lags behind in every development index ever devised......."

I fully agree with what #2 has to say. But I find this and other articles with similar tones extremely puzzling. 

I may be wrong, and I always am, but do you mean to suggest that citizens of poor countries are not expected to feel outraged about their nation?

I find the following things absolutely fabulous about this country, a) it is the most stunningly picturesque country in the world, b) It is the most diverse country with an incredible cohesive cultural practices per square kilometer than any other in the world, c) before this present generation of supremely stupid criminals it was also a surprisingly peaceful country relative to the level of income, d) compared to some other countries with similar level of political turmoil our people have amazingly well in the face of extreme political-media-criminal nexus, e) where educational, medicine and other education is available, Nepalese tend to perform very well, f) I see absolutely no reason in feeling ashamed about being part of a nation whose people are recognized the world over for their valour and unlike any other nationality in the world are trusted with the defense of a foreign land by its government. 

And there is more to be proud of but I am not going to take your time on that.

Of course, you then go on to give us little people, uneducated in the ways of our modern world, some spiel about our duties in the most insulting manner possible.

"If we were truly nationalistic, we should work towards resolving our political stalemate, taking pride in incorruptible leaders, ensuring 24-hour power and double digit growth." 

Really, I mean really, very seriously are you serious, did you take something, are you feeling better now?

In a country where chaos and destruction has been endorsed by leading intellectual goons, any voice of dissent receives insults instead of reason, where the right argument is first characterised as rightist and so on..and legs are broken if you wish to as much as speak your opinion, you bullyrag me about what my and other people's duties ought to be?

"True nationalists would be helping create job (ha ha Surya Nepal and more that 2000 more industrialists, and many thousand more small businesses including confectioners laughter at the idea....) and the of course, ............................................at home so our compatriots wouldn't have to work for a pittance in 50 degree heat in the desert (more deranged laughter).

This article is a continuation of intellectual terrorism that plagues Nepal, I cannot tell you how glad I was to see #2 have a go. Thanks downtoearth.



9. jange
What's all the fuss about?

10. dinesh
superlike.


11. argeniter
Couldn't agree more. One of the best pieces I've read in Nepali Times! Also, our sense of nationalism is totally fractured - Mt. Everest, Gautam Buddha, 'Brave Gurkha soldiers' and anti-Indian sentiments unite us! I'd rather have us take pride in something more tangible like perhaps, multiculturalism, though the means through which multicultural stability has been achieved is totally open to arguments.

12. N
As a bideshi married to a Nepali I sometimes have to try hard to keep a straight face, who cares where Buddha was born. No India isn't about to annex Nepal...
Looking for my tin hat.


13. sukha
@downtoearth.. thanks for very nice response, far better than the usual rheotric of NT..
i feel ashamed when a ordinary foreigner with a ordinary  book,(sorry!! i read "lazza" that one and that was more than enough) is given such a response and brouhaha that followed
may be we should start talking about JHAMAK KUMARI... i wish jhamak recieves similar recognition from the organisers...





14. H
well said......



15. maan
couldn't agree more downtoearth and Soni..thanks guys..very very well said..

16. downtoearth

@soni, sukha and maan, thanks. But I support the writer here. I haven't written anything different, just affirmed her views.

Just a thought though, if my comment√ā¬ had appeared as an article, some one would have accused me of intellectual terrorism too I guess. : ) Writers have it hard. :)

√ā¬



17. Soni
But I don't suppose you realise that I don't oppose the fact that these cyberpatriots are nuts, but I do very strongly oppose the way this article has been written. If somebody does not thats a shame

18. villager

Mistakes and ignorance can not be undone by spilling arrogance and stupidity. That's all I want to say.


19. Keynesianist
1. Though I would write for economics, Tasleema's case has stunned me to death.
Tasleema is a nice writer (for some), but her writings are reproduced versions (of what feminists all over the globe end of putting into well sounding rhetoric).

And, given the descent reality, so the Tasllemites don't have to worry about what actually paves us of all ills back in Kailali and Karnali where Tasleema's presence in a Kathmandu Seminar doesn't put rosy dialogue among poor rural folks and maids especially during habitual nightmares. 

So this coming and not coming or departure or cancelling and remembering to forget, forgetting or remembering itself  etc. for anything, anytime (and all stochastic permutations possible) don't yield anything than demarcating some neophytes as Humanists and Uhhhh, Feminists. Smells 'highly' highfalutin.

2. Nationalism?
This is nationalism, what cyber patriots did, all over the world. I don't say ultra-nationalists are good people, but don't yell at my back about its definition and how its petals are strewn.

A love for a country is mostly irrational, like I got plunged into the dive of my ex-. I don't say irrationality should lead us. Rather, this definition, deification and  myth-making are all too bad for real change, but good for earning popularity.

3. I don't have any particular regard for Tasleema for her poor credentials. Read Abhi Subedi (AS), CK Lal, Shreedhar Lohani (SL), Rameshor P. Khanal  (RK) and..Oho mancheho!! wonderful Jhamak than just controversy-fanning-and-getting-popular-for-popularity's-sake-cum-self proclaimed-feminists. All mentioned writers write so so better than her (at least for us). 

She might have twitter fans, but it doesn't bother my sleep, not my daybreak. But AS, CK, Jhamak, RK, SL can change my each dream imagery, the time I wake up and the day I spend.
..........................
I'd 've personally liked her coming here, for another reason.
Number of people expecting her was high than not.
.........................
4. And, she should never come here as she as a dishonest writer tried to fan the controversy to become more popular... for the sake of conscience ... deliberately putting Nepalis and Nepali media in fire.

All comments are wonderful, whatever.

--Keynometrician


20. Mr. Poudel
Good one madam... mad am!

Soon our children are going to start crying in hindi, wrote one commentator in some other post. Sad but true. Imagine your child with Nepali physique (wonder for how much longer with thousands of couch potatoes we are reproducing) but bollywood mind and temperament, loud, obnoxious, eccentric... indeed Horrifying...

Except, it's not really that difficult to imagine. Kids don't do much these days other than sit at home dazed by dubbed hindi cartoons on TV. Have you listened to children talk these days? Even their tone of voice sounds 'dho**'... lol. But call them 'dho**' and they start their 'behen****' and 'mother****' at you... hahaha. Totally mindfu**ed!!!

Still that is mild, I think, compared to our mothers dancing to digitally mass produced bollywood re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-mixes on Teez. I don't even know which God's name I should conjure-up to express my bewilderment. Will 'Jesus Christ' do the trick? I wonder. Jesus Christ!!! Nah! That didn't help. God help us. lol.

Meantime... Considering all the blogs and hate mongering on the internet... and including the so called 'facebook and twitter activists/ revolutionaries/ whoever'; here are a couple of links:

http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/blackspot-blog/vision-post-clicktivist-activism.html√ā¬ √ā¬

http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/93/activism-after-clicktivism.html



21. nirpan
It was a good read. Felt like I was talking to about the idiocy of (some) Nepalese people in the websphere. It really is not Talsima but when I think of why does this happen every time when it comes to Buddha, Everest, etc, I see people using their stupidity more then a little bit of their brains. I think it does come from this sense of insecurity we feel but moreover it's because of the lack of a coherent and modern national identity that we go all out guns blazing to defend 'our' Buddha, Everest, Bravery. People hate to accept Gurkhas as Mercenaries (albeit a different sort) and in the UK people whose family had no Gurkha history, the way they desperately create a lineage always made me aghast.  

And I think most of our people are politically overzealous for our own good. We see everything in political sense and that mostly means taking sides and for that reason so many of our young population has been misused to carry this or that flag. And a whole socio-political structure has developed around this. 

There are many ways to defend the social, geographical and cultural heritage of a nation. If someone says Buddha was born in India, I have seen people throw a barrage of profanities instead of simply showing them the large amount of proof there exists. Because most of the time,these people themselves are unaware of this. 

This incident reminded me of a youtube video I viewed where there was some Nepali saying we will win Jordan easily because we won East Timor as such. A Jordanian replied saying it would be very hard. The Nepalese reply was that we will win because we are a country of Buddha, Everest etc along with useless profanities. The Jordanian asked what was the relation of it to a game? Sure enough he was correct. 


22. Hypocrite
Hey downtoearth, if you stay back in Nepal, u will need to worship the Indian and the Chinese masters. Choice is yours!! Dont understand your hate for US returnees, not all went there to blow their parents fortune. Trust me, experience of being a slave is not that bad either, it gives u a whole new perspective towards the world and the life. In a feudal system like Nepal, 90% of the population are slaves anyways. Lucky for you, that you were born in a right family.
BTW totally agree with the author, nationalism is overrated not just in Nepal but the whole world.


23. ASP
Taslima Nasreen (or is it Nasrin?): "My Nepali friends, I missed my flight to go to Kathmandu today. I forgot to bring my passport as I didn't consider Nepal a foreign country."

Suggested correction, Ms. Nasreen/Nasrin: "I didn't bring my passport as I didn't consider Nepal a foreign country." And add, "I should have known better."

Ms. Nasreen/Nasrin, if you admit you forgot, then you couldn't have not considered Nepal a foreign country.

Make up your mind, Ms. Nasreen/Nasrin. Did you forget or did you decide not to bring it along because you didn't consider Nepal a foreign country?

You, an accomplished writer, couldn't made made this error in sentence, right? Right?

I think you do need to make up your mind, just like you need to make up your mind about the spelling of your last name. 

I'm bored. I should be doing something more interesting that this. Talk about the age of cyber critics. :)


24. B
Hahaha...this is funny..what we mostly have above are educated profanity.

Yes...we Nepalis are insecure...yes we are low in confidence....we suffer from inferiority complex....

This is not going to change just because some holier than thou commentators and authors ask us to act otherwise.....if you really knew how these things worked you would understand...lack of self esteem does breed rage!

Are these emotions normal for citizens of a country like ours? i think so....why do you think we are insecure?

So, stop babbling and accept that we are going to react the same way until we can prove to our selves that our existence is not threatened. We need an idol....we need things to show us that not everything with this country is going wrong....

Maybe Baburam can make a difference.


25. John Kelleher

@ #24

>> "We need an idol....we need things to show us that not everything with this country is going wrong.... Maybe Baburam can make a difference. "  <<

Hilarious.  Pseudo-messianic expectations like this are going to be a millstone around Baburam's neck in the months to come.  I almost pity the poor sod.



26. YK Shrestha

Good article! Keep it up Rubina!



27. smooth criminal
thinkin' of givin'  a geography book to help her know more about countries that persists...:P...how dumb?....n how did ppl allow her to board the plane...anywayz a bad joke(intentionally)by MADAM...!!!

28. saz
"kaali kalau girje girje ladangtang"
this was the verse mentioned to us in our childhood by my big uncle. when we children use to quarrel with each other...
well not to mentioned much we need someone to say this verse agian and again and again and again...
Come On Guys be positive we r gonna build our nation............
First need to recylce all the waste and utilise for our future use..........
ayee by the way " World is our home it does not matter which coutry we belong to because the air we breathe in is the same air, thank you god u did not make this air like land otherwise we human would have made nepals air, indias air, china's air. USA air.....and so on... but let us try to make our world  a better place to live without hatred, racisim, discrimination, caste creed, breed, gender and colour".
'i am  a fool will always remain a fool if u dont enligtenment me'
jai nepal , jai gorkha.....my mother world....pls save it...:)


29. Ken pahim
Sad sorry! .. Its come to one thing. Nepal is so much influenced by India, from A-Z in our country. There is no doubt people in India would consider Nepal to one of them.  We dont have true identy


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