Student unions of various hues have always used the glaring disparity in Nepal's education sector and the unregulated over-commercialisation of schools and colleges as an excuse to extort cash to fund their mother parties. This act is sanctioned by the establishment, and it is regarded as an acceptable fundraising method.
It is the political culture they have been schooled in. Ever since the Panchayat days when political parties were banned and student unions acted as their proxies, students have been the militant vanguards of their parties. The Maoists only honed this into a fine art by making schools a recruitment centre, training ground, and a fertile source of funds for their revolution.
Now that a faction of the Maoist party has broken off and can't purloin the treasury anymore, it resorts to vandalism, arson and terror of schools as fundraisers. It is a time-tested method and works brilliantly.
The reason schools are targeted is simple. They alone have the cash this time of year just after admissions, when all other businesses are struggling because they have been bled dry by extortion, political uncertainty, militant labour and power outages.
The hoodlums masquerading as students who destroyed computers in colleges in Kathmandu this week will in most likelihood be members of a future parliament (if we have one). The arsonists who torched school buses in Lalitpur and Chitwan may well be ministers 20 years down the line. People who blame the old guard in the political parties for letting the country down and pin their hopes in the next generation have a huge surprise in store.
What is outrageous is the lack of outrage at schools being targeted. We mince words and try to justify the attacks, blaming it on the frustration of jobless youth when it is plain this is about extraction and extortion. Just think about it, these are school buses not armoured personnel carriers or riot trucks that are being set on fire. Only cowards use terror against buses carrying children.
It's not just schools. Hospitals are regularly vandalised and doctors and nurses in Dharan, Chitwan and Pokhara are physically assaulted. Police often step in to fire tear gas into hospital premises. Yet there is the same silence from commentators and the public. Terrorism thrives in this silence.
Setting fire to school buses is a crime, vandalising a hospital is a crime, and the silence encourages criminals in the garb of politicians to justify what they do. They have our blessings, they know they are immune and people are powerless.
This impunity obviously thrives because of a weak state, there is no fear of punishment. It's the media's responsibility to highlight the wrongdoing, but when reporters and commentators do take notice, they treat it like an isolated incident. By trying to be 'balanced' and 'neutral' in its coverage the media equates the victims with criminals, legitimising the use of terror and justifying impunity.
This cycle has been repeated so often, the public has been de-sensitised and has come to accept terror, extortion, intimidation and vandalism as the norm. When the known murderersof Ujjan Shresthas, Arjun Lamas and Maina Sunars walk around in broad daylight, become ministers, are promoted or share the podium with the prime minister, criminals down the line get the message.
Our dubious moral standards, and elastic ethics, have become part of the problem. Criminals roam free because our leaders are comfortable with the use of violence as a political tool, and so are we. When a large number of people, including those in power believe violence is an appropriate form of response, this uncritical mass reaches the tipping point.
During the start of the Maoist war, when the Maoists began to carry out political assassinations, many people supported the killings, applauding the guerrillas for eliminating 'class enemies'. When the end justifies the means, anything is justified.
Our values are tainted by ideologies long considered obsolete elsewhere. We support state harassment of businesses, local opposition to infrastructure projects, militant unions on extortion sprees because the profit motive is considered evil. This spooks the few investors who are still here.
Perhaps we should bring the discussion back to the public sphere. When people are more aware of their rights and responsibilities, when they are clear about the core values they strive to protect, when they begin to understand that the state derives power from us the people, and not the other way round and that it is people who are indispensable and not the government, they will be able to assert their rights and protect their freedoms better.
Anger management, ANURAG ACHARYA Attacks on private schools are a manifestation of the class divide in education
1. Krishna S.
Very well written. These hooligans deserve the most strict punishment in the book,if we still have one, and a few lashes if you could.
Now the question of the un-critical mass! Well, If you made a monthly income of about 6000 bucks, which is more than the average national income of about 700 dollars annually, and you have two children who you feel are being deprived of the education in these "avant grade" institutions who charge the average of 4000-10000 monthly, would you be equally critical??
Not trying to justify these act of vandalism, or old cliche'd class warfare, but just trying to look through an empathetic eye!
20 JULY 2012 | 11:27 AM NST
Sharp, clear and to the point. This is the kind of hard-hitting columnists who call it like it is. Not the wishy-washy wooly-headed fashionably leftie anal ysts like the Nepali Times other columnist, Mr Acharya.
20 JULY 2012 | 12:47 PM NST
3. here n there
By your logic Mr. Krishna, that same person should burn all private cars, hotels - all of Durbar Marg, New Road and Kathmandu set it all on fire, his employer first though.
Hell, Nepal should burn America, most of Europe. We should burn the Planet Earth for not giving us any fossil fuel, gold or diamonds, Sea port.
I think you didn't understand this article. May you should burn your computer.
20 JULY 2012 | 1:25 PM NST
Being able to resort to Vandalism, Give threats,Tell Lies, spend some Jail time are the skills and qualification to be a politician in Nepal.
20 JULY 2012 | 2:25 PM NST
Krishna S. views resonate with the other piece "anger management."
Here, Krishna, listen. The class difference is not a creation of the private schools or entrepreneurs who are trying to find their living in this country where all such possibilities have been stripped away by the anti-developmental politicos like yourself.
The businesses have to charge a high fee because they have to pay that extra tax to the revolutionaries, to bribe the bureaucrats, and to please people like you. The teachers in government schools have to part-time in teaching because they have to offer their full-time services in parties' teacher unions and other political activities. Why? Again, for the same reasons.
And don't tell me the bus-burning hooligans are led by innocent, poor and talented-but-cheated youths. They are paid for being whole-timer contributors of the party, and are often given luxuries not available to even the very educated and hard-working fellows- transportation, power and facilities. Go and look at the lifestyle of a local Maoist YCL/ANNFISU-R leader.
When you make such attractive employment opportunities in anti-developmental politics (and such parties) and corrupt state, you don't get equal education or low prices for good quality. You ought to allow people to freely choose the options, and do business in an environment dictated by competition and the rules of economy. That will decrease prices and improve quality.
I have to appreciate your audacity in first being the principle cause of the problem, and then coming front advising a solution involving throwing of stones, burning, and killing (by adding meaningless qualifiers like "not trying to justify act of vandalism").
Rubeena gets my praise for telling it like it is.
20 JULY 2012 | 3:19 PM NST
6. Shyam Basnet
Well written article. I found it a very impressive. I am totally agreed on the writer's opinion. We people are the person who cast votes for these so-called political activists (but actually they are Wolf). Even a dog obeys the rules and regulations but the politicians are even worse than the dog.
## Comment: This article is also lacking to comb out the abnormal profits earned by the private schools. I don't think any of the private schools in Nepal have realized that they have some social responsibility. I would like to call them as solely profit-maximizing firms, not even social profit organizations. These so-called social institutes are heavily sucking the cash from the public with no significant output and exploiting human labours with no incentives (e.g. exploitation of teachers).
## This article seems more targeted to only the Maoist party. Does it mean that the other parties like NC and UML are okay? I don't think. All of them belong to the same category. None of them are above the other.
20 JULY 2012 | 4:28 PM NST
7. China bajya
Where is Jange we need Jange
20 JULY 2012 | 10:57 PM NST
8. K. K. Sharma
Very insightful article. But it missest that targetting private schools will have the effect of our children being compelled to go to schools in India. Which means capital outflow from Nepal.
And yes, Krishna S, # 1, seem to not understand this article at all.
And wondering why those who favor vandalism and destructions,of private schools do not do anything or speak to improve government schools to match those of the private sector. If government schools were better the private schools would not flurish as they have.
20 JULY 2012 | 11:25 PM NST
This panorama makes me angry, fruit of impotence but at the same time we should not lose the sense of humour, in spite of the situation, which would allow us to survive further no matter how agonic it is. Please allow me to tell you a joke on it:
Two men -warring- went to the PMO -Mr. Bhattarai being caretaker PM- to get their job done. They were screaming at each other. The first one said to the other one, " You criminal, dacoit, killer, extorsionist." The other with the same tone and being reactive said, "I've never seen a person like you in my life." All of a sudden the PM came out of his office and said, " Hey didn't you see I'm here."
When one uses the violence it is because he/she suffers from mental bankruptcy and as a consequent is run out of ideas. I repeat, only cowards say, "the end I'm going to achieve justify the violence that I'll be using." So are Baburam and company, cowards who used violence against the most vulnerable people. And still the goons they sponsor are doing the same and the very security agencies that have sweared before the countrymen to the laws of the land have kept mum.
20 JULY 2012 | 12:04 AM NST
It is very widely and wisely covered the so called politicians activities ,and they are slave of their mother parties where slave never be own ,anyone day they will attack their family too.
20 JULY 2012 | 3:32 AM NST
The land of anarchists where the silences of people are killing and the voices of the unworthy are suffocating. The writer expresses with elan the two vices that plagues the nation today. Children are already deprived of education and then hospitals continue to become prime targets. And thinking of these very criminals assuming the leadership role after a decade or so makes one feel queasy at best.
21 JULY 2012 | 6:05 AM NST
Implicitly, a la "Rato Bangala" story!
21 JULY 2012 | 11:46 AM NST
13. Jay Nepal
Have you noticed that the attacks on private schools and colleges in Nepal begin just as there is an Indian Education Fair in Kathmandu? Are the two linked?
21 JULY 2012 | 1:07 PM NST
14. who cares
just keep record of these thugs.
this is the country where people in power cant even protect their family, even cant punish the killer.
where pm dont even have guts to protect himself from goons or punish the goons after the attack.
just keep the records, someone will come.
21 JULY 2012 | 2:08 PM NST
#12 - Spot on! Exactly what I felt as I read this ghostwritten piece.
21 JULY 2012 | 4:15 PM NST
Terrorism. There is no other way to describe the acts of these coward extortionists. Spreading fear and terror to extrat money from schools and colleges that are doing what the government should be doing. Robbers. Gangsters. Vandals.
21 JULY 2012 | 4:55 PM NST
17. Another Democrat
21 JULY 2012 | 5:38 PM NST
18. Flexible 1
This is another well written and well focused article by Rubeena with a dual focus; one specific, one general.
The specific focus draws our attention to the vandalising of school buses under the guise of "cleansing the education system of private schools with foreign names". Ridiculous though this naming practice is to many of us, it doesn't warrant this type of action. There are far better ways for the public or the system to sort it out. There are other specific examples Rubeena has used in her last few articles, but they all seem to point towards the SAME general focus summed up in her sentence:
"Our dubious moral standards, and elastic ethics, have become part of the problem"
This is the real issue here, that the moral fabric of Nepal has completely broken down. It is extremely depressing to list particular symptoms, but from the incompetent and corrupt politicians, to the impunity from crime in general, and the violently enforced bandhs, one has to ask about the values system at work here. If society reinforces incompetence, impunity, vandalism, bandh's corruption by complicit involvement or implicit "turning a blind eye" then society gets what it deserves; a society which is corrupt, violent, incompetent.
Today is a Lalitpur bandh, their cause may be just, but the action is NOT. My 5 days free teacher training course for 20 has been cancelled, my staff still need paying, the hotel where it was to be held has lost money, the well motivated teachers are despondent. And I am completely pi**ed off with the whole affair! In the meantime the politicos discuss consensus, a worthless piece of paper, election dates, whose turn it is to be the next prime minister, and the party named after a foreigner encourage it's goons to vandalise buses of schools named after foreign elements! Welcome to Nepal!
22 JULY 2012 | 1:55 PM NST
19. Mr. Poudel
#12, so true...
I understand journos have not been paid in several months, things are getting quite tough I suppose...
22 JULY 2012 | 4:18 PM NST
To #12, #15, and #19: Is there anything with particular in this article that you don't agree with, or find faulty? What are your arguments, or counter-arguments? Without any such information, I can clearly say you are among the terrorists, or a paid goonda working for the criminals.
See, it is very easy to be be you- to do nothing but badmouth.
22 JULY 2012 | 5:45 PM NST
Targeting schools is of course a extremely heinous crime. But i was also reminded of this article that Ms. Rubeena wrote some months ago.
does Nepali Times not have responsiblity to acknowledge it's connection to Rato Bangala, which was attacked? Would this column really be dedicated to the issue if only other schools had suffered?
22 JULY 2012 | 11:35 PM NST
22. mohan baidhya
#21: First of all, what kind of favor is NT, or this column doing to Rato Bangla? Remember, this is not about Rato Bangla, but about violence and terrorism. I remember Rubeena writing articles with similar tone, and I saw this article as being about the increasing acceptability of wrong means and terror as political tool in our society.
Also, I'd believe that Rubeena wrote this out of her free will, as you can find another article in this very magazine that speaks in favor of terrorism and bus-burning (in the name of Maoist class-war). That is a very apt example of what Rubeena is addressing here: our society is being increasingly dominated and silenced by such people and attitudes.
What is really the point of your comment?
23 JULY 2012 | 12:05 PM NST
Just so typical of some of the apologists for violencle that they crtiicize a writer who is trying to draw attention to extortion and terrorism by drawing attention to an unconnected conflict of interest. Let's not forget who is the victim here. So what if she is highlighting the attack on a particular school (which she hasn't because she has also drawn attention to other colleges and the vandalism of hospitals and attacks on doctors) is that wrong? Every one who condones arson attacks on school buses can go and read the other columnist in this issue, Comrade Anurrag Acharya.
23 JULY 2012 | 4:36 PM NST
New attacks. Delhi Public School Bus attacked with stones/ petrol sprinkled while children still in it. One Prahlad Raut from Baidya's party has owned up to the attacks. He should be arrested and tried as a terrorist.
23 JULY 2012 | 2:42 AM NST
School children injured when Maoist goons attack school buses in Itahari.
26. Anita Khadka
Kudos Rubeena Mahato for your outstanding analysis of the recent attacks on schools. I really appreciate your fearlessness and the 'could care less about upsetting any side' attitude with which you approach your columns. Burning school buses, destroying school computers and threatening teachers highlight the growing culture of violence and impunity in our country. And the saddest part, as you point out, is that these goondas who are currently raising havoc on the streets will be in Baluwater or Singha Darbar 10 years from now. This does not bode well for Nepal at all.
24 JULY 2012 | 1:28 PM NST
What kind of uncritical mass are you talking about Ms Mahato? The same handful clowns from Kathmandu who take a moral high ground on violence and condemn the attacks on 'their school buses' but keep quiet when the schools in rest of the country were made barracks by the army for a decade during the war? Do you know where the students who studied there are now Rubeena? Probably rotting in some desert in the gulf or cleaning dishes in India. Anybody who disagrees with your narrative becomes a Maoist because you wouldn't look at them otherwise, right?
You and your bunch of urban elite commentators in this page can take a piss at Maoists or anybody who disagrees with your idiotic liberal garbage but u know what, your maliced views begin and end in Kathmandu. Come outside and you will know how we are building our future. I was lucky to study at the pittance they call scholarship but my brothers and sisters will never learn what your city education has taught me and they will never sit where you so judgingly sit today. So don't you dare deny that there is no anger. I don't know why you fail to see it, its not about being a Maoist or not. It is about education, health and equal opportunity in livelihood. We dont care who fought who but it has always been about these. I wish people in Kathmandu realise this before the war comes to your streets, doorstep and your schools.
25 JULY 2012 | 2:57 PM NST
28. Flexible 1
What is your point? Your personal attack confuses the hell out of me!
25 JULY 2012 | 9:10 PM NST
29. hyena Ram, #27: You are confused about so many things. It makes your comment very weak. Getting education is one thing, and being educated is another. I think you should have spent more trying to prove yourself worthy of that scholarship so that you could at least frame a good argument.
1. I don't know how you inferred the writer's views about barracks during the war- it sounds arbitrary and an hopeless attempt to attack. One usually trashes away things like this, but let me show you how it sounds. First, one's views about war-time conditions of schools has little co-relation about one's views about deliberate violence against individuals, businesses and children. It is possible that the writer condemns both- I don't know- but how can one put such arbitrary blames about crimes of a war between a state and a terrorist entity on individuals commenting on some different subject about a decade later?
2. To make things clearer, I am one who went to school outside Kathmandu, and I was aware of "liberals" in Kathmandu campaigning for a "peace zone" in schools. Maoist students frequently extorted teachers, schools, forced them to close, provoked students for political activity, called them to abandon the bourgeois education, recruited soldiers out of schools, and also killed many teachers. As a result, schools made parents pay for the extra risk they had to carry out in doing their business. Economic activity was anther casualty of war, and so was income level. This caused a lot of disturbances, as is evident from the different symptoms we see now. As you rightly pointed out, many people had to flee their villages and country, often for menial work and pay.
3. If you allow extortion and terror, more people will be deprived of the opportunity to be educated. If you allow a free society and rule of law, and end of state or party-favoritism, people can compete freely for their services. Price will go down and quality will improve. Income level of people will go up, and they'll be able to use that power to avail the services they find best for themselves.
4. My suggestion to you is to be thankful that you are educated in a scholarship, that has apparently given you so much of hubris. Be thankful because you got this despite the condition in this country. Imagine a free society where more and more people could grow to become like yourself (but with some humility and intelligence, of course).
5. The way, as has been demonstrated by the Soviet system (the British also had a choice of taking the Soviet path, but maybe they wouldnt have the same Oxfords or Cambridges), is not to shout and beat just because you are angry or because you think you know what is right. The way is to take systematic way of things. You cannot achieve one set of goals by adopting totally antagonistic set of policies. Violence, and communism or fascism will never be tolerated and sustainable in the conditions that Nepal has. Be clear about this.
It is sad many people have been brainwashed. I wish they could provide themselves some education.
25 JULY 2012 | 9:49 PM NST
30. terrorists are taking a violent dislike to us!
It is not that the maoists didn't try to bring "their war" into kathmandu, they tried and a lot but they couldn't because people in kathmandu have aren't so easy to be manipulated with terror spreading tricks however the concern now is that still you violent people are running free and again trying with these sorts of cowardice acts of burning school buses, closing schools and attacking people! Your comment lacks any substantial arguments to defend the kind of violence you think is justified. Bashing against those comments just for the sake of bashing will not make you Robinhood of poors and you didn't seem to be so from any angle. With your comment it is seemed that you maoists' goons are going through the psychological damage by the comments published against you here in this page. This makes us be proud of our non-violent resistance against terrorists of any colour.
25 JULY 2012 | 9:55 PM NST
My sons, Andrew, Gavin and Peter Limbu are studying in one of the foreign named college in Capital. I have taken them out of the college already and began a process for changing their names too. I am worried that these thugs might come after individuals with foreign names next............
26 JULY 2012 | 11:27 PM NST
32. Flexible 1
I think you have taken a very sensible decision, I would be tempted to do the same in your position. But as a parent of two children I would NOT do the same.
I would travel every day on the same bus as my children. As a father I will kill to protect my children. I will carry a gun and I will kill any person who threatens my children.
26 JULY 2012 | 2:31 AM NST
Nepal has always been a fertile ground for extremism. Like their former radical friends this group of Reds are dying for distinction. And in Nepali politics is there any other shortcut to fame than resorting to violence or cursing "expansionism and imperialism". There may be several reasons for this but larger section of Nepali society will tolerate "extremism" for some time to come. Krantikaris and some loktantrabadis of all ages have committed acts like these in this country. Violence cant be condoned anywhere but there might be other reasons for this silence than we being comfortable with violence. Any way why are we? what accustomed us to brutalities?. I think writer is too early in branding these angry young men as "terrorists". This might be too naive to say but I feel there is something in the organization of our society that fuels inhumanity and extremism. The sad thing is its youths who succumb to these calls to "pick up arms to overthrow reactionary state power". What writer called "excuse" is not just excuse but also a cause which can be exploited for making such calls. Finally I am also confused that if ends don't justify the means what will?
27 JULY 2012 | 11:21 AM NST
34. free Nepal
I am surprised with some of the comments. The terrorists are attacking the schools scaring the children for life and some are defending the move where as some are attacking the writer for being brave enough to stand up. Also what is the big deal with Anglo name? It is the issue of trademarks. It is up to parents to decide what is good for their kids although names of these schools are ridiculous. I think Nepalis should take a lesson from Americans and start arming themselves. As the Ice-T says when citizens are armed tyranny is discouraged. These dimwits have a second thought when the citizens are armed.