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Aug 28, 2011

When intentions and policies contradict

Source: www.ekantipur.com
Two recent happenings which are in sharp contrast to each other raise concern. The first one is the government draft of the Employment Guarantee Act promising to provide a job to all the families living below the poverty line. The act, if implemented, is supposed to provide a job of at least 100 days per year to at least a member of poor families. The act considers guarantee of employment a critical part of socio-economic security and fundamental rights of citizens.

The second is that Surya Nepal's permanent shut down its garment production unit due to constant agitation by trade unions. The decision is likely to render at least 3000 people jobless and a significant loss in government's revenues. The company's decision shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, since the prevailing trend is of industries shutting down, scaling down or relocating out of country. Militant labor unions and inflexible labor laws have been the primary reasons for such trends.

The Irony

On the one hand, the government is purportedly concerned with the high unemployment and underemployment rates of the country and the poverty it engenders. Whereas, on the other hand, the government is shamelessly blind to the plight of Nepalese industries which are being forced to close down resulting in joblessness of thousands of employees and loss of revenues to the government.

Employment Guarantee
In it's noble attempt to gain cheap popularity and with its misguided sense of responsibility, the government has brought yet another scheme that looks great at face value but is bound to fail eventually. If the findings of the latest Nepal Living Standards Survey tells us anything, then it's that people are better able to lift themselves out of poverty than the government trying to plan and do it for them. The steep decline of absolute poverty by 18 percents is accompanied by a steep rise in the number of households receiving remittances from foreign employment. According to the report the number of households receiving remittance income have also risen dramatically to 55.8 percent from 31.9 percent reported in NLSS 2003/04. 

While the politicians were bickering over power and positions and bureaucrats busy making money, the poor people were quietly and steadily lifting themselves out of poverty. Fortunately, when people are left alone to fend for themselves and grow and politics isn't involved, they tend to achieve their objectives very efficiently. Poor people of Nepal have not only managed to lift themselves off poverty but they have also been contributing more than 17.4 percent of the GDP through their remittance incomes. In other words, it's not the government that's helping the poor but the poor that are helping the government officials get their salaries.
Source: http://kardiesel.blogspot.com/
It was fortunate that government failed to realize the potential of foreign employment and didn't dabble in the sector. Had it tried to plan and guide foreign employment sector it would have ended up like every other sector guided by the so called numerous five-year plans . We are already on the 12th  plan but are yet to see any significant economic growth or development done by these plans. Previous attempts of government to provide employments such as Youth Self Employment Scheme have failed to achieve their obectives despite the huge fanfare they created initially and are currently limited to a room or two at the Finance ministry employing less than a dozen people at mostly administrative jobs. The government should review and scrutinize its previous attempts at providing employments to poor or youth segment of the population before preaching lofty dreams of guaranteeing jobs. The committee which drafted the act is said to be holding discussions with private sector so that jobs could be created in the industrial sector which in itself is truly ironic.

Hypocrisy and insensitivity
The government that was deaf and dumb while many major industries of the country shut down their operations and whisked away their capital and resources abroad to establish more enterprises in friendlier environments is holding discussions with the private sector to provide jobs for the poor. What could this step possibly mean except sheer hypocrisy and insensitivity in the part of the government?

Surya Nepal Garment's permanent closure the government's apathy at the incident highlights how serious the policy makers and government is about finding practicle ways to adressing the abject poverty of Nepal. Surya Nepal  had been providing direct employment to around 650 people and indirect employment to more than 1400 people most of whom come from the poor segement of the population and consist mainly of women. 

As evident in this case, militant trade unions who claim themselves to the voices and protectors of poor are in fact the very enemies of the poor. It is high time the government got rid of policies that merely sound good and bring in those that are realistic. For starters, bring in realistic and practical policies to provide jobs through protecting job providers and encouraging industries to flourish.


If Nepal is serious about achieving economic growth and prosperity, the government and policymakers should shift the role of government from a feudal patron granting favors to its citizens towards the role of a protector of citizens and productive forces in the country and facilitator of peaceful interactions between the members of the society. Employment Guarantee Act may sound great at face value but the bitter truth is it's another avenue for the politicians to garner short term popularity and loads of wealth for themselves.

-Surath Giri
(Published in The Himalayan Times of 28th August 2011)

Aug 23, 2011

Peter Weir's The Way Back (2010) and some lessons in freedom

I just watched The Way Back (2010), a war drama directed by Peter Weir who is very well known for his great movies like Dead Poets Society (1989), The Truman Show (1998) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) all of which are among my favorites. Although The Way Back (2010) pales in comparison to Weir's previous movies, the subject matter of the movie and visually spellbinding cinematography makes it a good movie. However, while watching this epic story of survival ,solidarity and indomitable human will about a group of prisoners who escaped from Soviet Gulags (labor camps) in Siberia to India seeking freedom walking more than 4000 miles , I was more engrossed in the lessons on freedom it delivered than its cinematic elements and its cinematic value.

The story follows Janusz, a Pole condemned by accusations secured by torturing his wife by Soviet officials and sent to a labor camp in Siberia. The labor camp is a melting pot of criminals and dissidents of Stalin and Soviet communism from all over Russia and its occupied territories like Poland, Hungary, Estonia. Even a cynical American named Mr. Smith is in th camp as a prisoner. Janusz with Mr. Smith forms a plan for escape. the duo is later joined by a Russian thug, a comic accountant, a pastry chef who draws, a priest, and a Pole with night blindness making the group seven membered.

The group escapes under the cover of a snowstorm but their escape is just the beginning. The group faces freezing nights in wilderness, deadly starvation due to lack of food and water, storm of mosquitoes, an endless and hostile desert, a desert storm and the Himalayas before finally reaching India and achieving freedom. Not all survive the journey but those who do, walk more than 4000 miles.

Some lessons I drew from the movie are as follows:

  • Liberty is in fact something that makes all the difference in the world.

In his article 7 principles of sound public policy, Lawrence W. Reed has put this as one of the principles of sound public policy. Watching the struggle of the characters in the movie thorugh the freezing nights and arid desert, one is tempted to ask, "Is freedom worth it? Is liberty worth all these risk and troubles?" But in the scene where the Pole with night blindness respond to the remark that he might die while escaping with "..then I will die a free man" and the last scene when these characters reach India and achieve freedom, the joy in their eyes and the obstacles they overcame says it all, 'yeah, it's worth it'.

  • The greatest harm totalitarianism does to freedom of mankind or society is the way it destroys even basic sense of morality in the society and alienates people from each other.

Janusz's wife is tortured and forced to make accusations against her own husband condemning her to life long regret and guilt. People cannot speak what they think even at the gulags (labor camps) as one character says at one scene "...Stalin has ears everywhere" and "...whole Russia has become a huge prison". Another brilliant movie called "The Lives of Others (2006) also deals with the way totalitarianism destroys lives and morality of people.

  • The huge and vicious net of propaganda and lies  created by totalitarian systems creates an artificial reality for common people and perpetuates such systems.

The character Valka in the movie truly represents the common folks (in thoughts not in activities) living under totalitarian systems like Communism. They fail to understand the implications totalitarianism has in their lives and tend to adapt to the system. For them the dictator always remains a hero no matter what he does. The scene where Valka assaults the comic character for making fun of Stalin (although Valka himself has been sentenced to labor camp) and asserts that Stalin is a hero who takes away from rich and gives it to the poor reflects how common people generally tend to look at communism and communist dictators. The point can be further emphasized by the fact that even though Mao Zedong is said to have killed more than 30 million people directly and indirectly and yet he is still considered Godlike by the older generation. Although the same can't be said about the new generation. I think it's because of the huge and vicious net of propaganda created by totalitarian systems that people tend to think that way. And I believe it is one of the incentive for communist dictators as no matter how many their wrong doings they will still be celebrated and cherished more by the common folks who survive their misdeeds.

Aug 22, 2011

केही लिबर्टेरियन भनाइहरु - ५

Source: Teamster Blog
  1. मानिसलाई दास बनाउनका लागी सबैभन्दा राम्रो र प्रभावकारी उपाय उसलाई निहत्था गर्नु हो ।  -George Mason
  2.  आगो, पानी र सरकार -यी तीन कुरालाई दया के हो भन्ने थाहा हुँदैन ।  -Albanion Proverb
  3. जब शब्दहरुले आफ्नो अर्थ गुमाउछन तब मानिसहरुले आफ्नो स्वतन्त्रता गुमाउछन ।  -Confucious
  4. राजनिती भनेको दुबैलाई एक अर्का सँग बचाउछु भनेर धनीसँग पैसा र गरीबसँग भोट लिने कला हो ।  -Anonymous
  5. मुद्धा जे नै होस्, सरकारद्वारा एउटाै समाधान सबैमाथि लाद्नु भन्दा स्वतन्त्रतालाई सयौ विकल्पहरु प्रस्तुत गर्न दिनु नै असल हुन्छ ।  -Harry Browne
  6. स्वतन्त्र बजारले अनुत्तरदायित्वलाई सजाय दिन्छ, सरकारले भने अनुत्तरदायित्वलाई पुरश्कार दिइरहेको हुन्छ ।  -Harry Browne
  7. त्यो समाज जसले समानतालाई स्वतन्त्रताभन्दा माथी राख्छ, अन्तत उसले न स्वतन्त्रता पाउँछ न त समानता नै ।  -Milton Friedman
  8. आफुले गरेको निर्णयको मुल्य नचुकाउनु पर्ने व्यक्ती हरुलाई निर्णय गर्न दिने जस्तो मुर्ख र खतरनाक निर्णय गर्ने तरिका अरु कुनै छैन ।  -Thomas Sowell
  9. राजनितिज्ञहरुले बम हान्ने व्यक्ती जस्तै आफ्नो शिकारलाई बिरलै मात्र देख्छन ।  - Donald Boudreaux
  10. सबैभन्दा जटिल प्रश्न "सबैभन्दा उत्तम के हो ?" भन्ने हैन बरु "सबैभन्दा उत्तम के हो भनेर कसले निर्णय गर्छ ?" भन्ने चै हो ।   -Thomas Sowell
  11. राज्यवाद लुटेर मौलाउछ भने एउटा स्वतन्त्र देश उत्पादन गरेर मौलाउछ ।  -Ayn Rand
  12. कल्याणकारी राज्य संसारको सबै भन्द ठुलो ठगी खेल हो जसमा पहिले तपाईं खुसुक्क मानिस हरुको पैसा लिनुहुन्छ र त्यसको केहि हिस्सा पछी तडक्-भडक सँग फिर्ता दिनुहुन्छ ।  -Thomas Sowell

Aug 21, 2011

Top 7 myths about Linux and why you should start using Linux!

As of today, I have been  using Ubuntu (exclusively) for 21 days and looks like I'll keep using it for a long time. Although I had been thinking of using or rather say learning to use Linux for more than two years, it took me seeing through my eyes a person actually using it effortlessly that finally convinced me to start using Linux. I was not sure if I could survive by using Linux alone (I had heard the rumors that Linux was too difficult for ordinary people to use and lacked the myriads of useful applications as in Windows). So, I dual booted (installed two operating systems) my laptop with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04 aka Natty Narwhal.

Alas, it didn't work! 

Ubuntu 11.04 failed to boot at all! My fears of losing my data resurfaced and I wanted to run back to the covers of Windows 7. Later, I came to know a misconfiguration (easily fixable by laymen) had caused the problem. But then, the geeky pride in me prevented me from giving up and compelled me to give it another try. So this time I installed Ubuntu 10.04 aka Lucid Lynx. 

I haven't had to boot Windows (except to transfer my remaining files) ever since.

Today I present here the top ten myths about Linux that I have come across and the facts that I have learned while using Ubuntu:

Myth 1: Linux is not as easy and user friendly as Windows. Linux is too difficult for ordinary people to use. It requires writing codes and knowledge of programming to get things done.

Not at all. Not only is it as easy to use and as user friendly as Windows,it's even more so because of the quick updates and creative features developed by thousands of programmers around the world. No knowledge of programming is required at all and some versions of Linux like Ubuntu, Edubuntu are being used to teach computers to young students for the first time.

Myth 2: It's hard to install. There are high chances of my data being lost and I'll have to migrate all my data from Windows through a tedious process.

I installed it within 30 minutes almost by clicking next, next and next only. Not only the installation process asked me time and again what I wanted to do with my data but it also showed me graphically what my hard drives would look like if I chose a certain option (cool, aint it?). But the coolest thing is, I can access all my files, folders and date stored in my Windows partition and work on them easily through Ubuntu. 

Myth 3: There are not enough applications for Linux. I won't be able to use with Microsoft Office documents and presentations.

Alternative to MS-Office: Libre Office
Not enough applications? Well, as far as my experiences goes for the last three weeks, I have been overwhelmed with so many cool applications to choose from to perform almost any job a computer can perform. There are just too many alternatives for any program you must have been using in Windows! And best of all, in Linux you just don't have to worry if the software is trial version, demo version or shareware. I have already installed 100 plus applications and every one of them was free and almost every one of them was open source. In fact, some of the very popular applications used by general users are open source and run flawlessly in Linux such as Firefox, VLC media player, Thunderbird, Pidgin, Eclipse, Audacity etc.

For your word documents, excel sheets and presentations there are two cool application you can use in Linux: Open Office or Libre Office . Both are free to use and come packed with features and are updated with new features every six months or so.

Myth 4: Linux is not compatible. It's hard to find drivers.

As I interacted with a couple of members of the Ubuntu community I came to know: there are very few instances of hardware and software remaining that can't be used with Linux. If you are using a well known brand (which one isn't in today's world?) , it's very likely that Linux will run easily and almost flawlessly.

Myth 5: If something goes wrong, there is no place to turn for help.

I  encountered a problem with my DVD drive once and as mentioned earlier with Ubuntu 11.04. When I posted my plea for help in one of the Ubuntu forums, I got a reply within 20 minutes and it worked. Unexpectedly, I also got a couple of more replies telling me how to perform the steps the first reply had mentioned because i had mentioned I was new to Linux. I am so surprised by the huge community of Ubuntu users & experts and their eagerness to help!

Myth 6: Linux's interface is not as attractive as Windows.

My desktop in Ubuntu 10.04
As i have experienced, this myth usually derives from myth mentioned in number 1 i.e. since Linux isn't user friendly, it's interface is not attractive as windows. I found this is the greatest myth of all. Compared to the aero effect in Windows, the effects in Linux are AWESOME! Rotating cubes for different desktops, wobbly windows, animated window behavior, inherent cool effects like watery desktop etc will make you conclude that it's windows that's ugly not Linux! I wouldn't say the same for Mac though, it's equally awesome!

Myth 7: You can't play games in Linux.

It's true only until you download two wonderful programs called WINE and PlayonLinux. Once you have these programs installed, "you can't play games in Linux" is just a myth. However, if you are seriously into gaming then I guess Linux is not for you yet as there are couple of games yet to be supported fully by Linux.

Well, that's it. I hope I have been able to convince you to switch to Linux (Ubuntu) although getting a Linux (couple of hours to download the latest version or Rs. 50 for the DVD) is as costly as getting the latest version of Windows in Nepal (Rs. 50 for the DVD). But the real reason you should start using Ubuntu or any other linux distro is not because they are free but because they are AWESOME!

--Surath Giri

Aug 13, 2011

When lions descend on the ground...

When I wrote my reflections regarding our government's noble attempt to save us from ourselves through smoking ban, most of my readers felt I was doing injustice to the government by having second thoughts about such noble attempts. "All you do is criticize government on whatever it does. Is there anything at all that government can do that you will welcome?", remarked one of my aspiring bureaucrat friend of mine. Well, he has a point I admit. Is there anything that government can do that will make me pleased?

Source: http://www.ekantipur.com
Fortunately, YES! I would be happy if the government saved us(30 million sheep as I mentioned in my earlier posts) from the lions that are about to descend on the ground. As you might be well aware, Mahesh Basnet maalik is pretty pissed off with  Nagarik daily, its editor Narayan Wagle and all the journalists and bloggers for discriminating against the lions (Youth Association Nepal) by failing to appreciate their noble efforts to slaughter a journalist of Republica daily and has recently warned us that if we keep discriminating against those poor fellas of Youth Association Nepal for their activities, the lions will soon descend on the ground and sweep us all like Saptakoshi river. He has also threatened to throw Narayan Wagle behind bars and informed us that he knows where the police chiefs live and that they better watch out for their wives and children.

With due respect, Maaliks in the government, please save us! It is one thing if you did, I would really feel grateful. We keep paying our hard earned money hoping that you would save us when our lives and properties were in danger! It's not our fault that newspapers, journalist and bloggers failed to praise their noble efforts to slaughter a journalist. When we were young, we were taught that taking/attempting life of someone is a heinous criminal act and is punishable by law. We , as good citizens should condemn such criminal activities and do every effort on our part to deter such activities.So how come it's our fault that we failed to praise those poor lions for their activities?

Maaliks, you should have taught us that Maaliks were different. They are above the law and deserve praises for stealing, robbing or killing! You should have taught us that maaliks of new Nepal too were exempt from clutches of law just the way Gyanendra Maalik and his families used to be. You should have taught us law was not applicable to you folks. Folks like Narayan Wagle and journalists (and me too!) live in the illusion that it's a person natural right to express freely which includes criticizing wrong deeds of Maaliks as well!

By the way, I would feel very happy if the government decided  to punish(and actually did) the murderers of Rosy Maharjan. But as I hear the person accused to be responsible for the murder is the son of one of the Maaliks at Forest ministry (Disclaimer: I just heard it and am not sure about it.), I am not sure if we are supposed to ask for him to be punished! Who wants to be wiped by lions or swept by Saptakoshi river anyway?

Aug 10, 2011

Thou shalt not smoke: Nepal's anti-smoking law as I see it

I have mentioned in my earlier posts time and again that Nepalese government doesn't really care if you may die in the hands of a criminal but it surely is concerned that you may die of cancer caused through smoking cigarettes. In it's noble attempt to save its citizens from themselves, the government has taken two new measures:
  • Has made it mandatory for cigarette companies to include anti-smoking messages in the cover of every cigarette pack. And such messages are supposed to cover 75% of the cover area:
In case you didn't know smoking could create health hazards and even cause cancer and if you were worried that you could accidentally smoke cigarettes and die, you needn't worry anymore. Every time you buy a pack of cigarettes , you'll know.Thank the government , you can afford to be naive now!
  • Has banned smoking in public places.And the so called public places include government offices, educational institutions, airports, public transport, children homes, old-age homes, public toilets, work places at industries and factories, cinema halls or theaters, hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, hostels, guest houses, stadiums, fitness centers, department stores, mini markets,religious places, bus stops and ticket counters:
Source: http://www.abc.net.au/
I am racking my brains to figure out , how come hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, guest houses, fitness centers are public places? Last time I checked , they used to belong to private individuals and whether to allow smoking in their premises or not depended on the owner and the wishes of the costumers. Since religious places will also see the banning of smoking, I see a tough time ahead for Babaji's. I hope they will consider giving up smoking for the greater good of the society.

I am also wondering who will punish the guilty ones and who charges the fines and if we have enough of Shepherds for the 30 million sheep? But Shanta Lal Mulmi maalik, whose Resource Centre for Primary Health Care (RCPHC) played the pivotal role in pressuring the government to pass the anti-tobacco Act says he has the solution to the problem. Mobilize the city police to follow every smoker around and check if he/she smokes in a public place. That's a very good idea and you're nothing short of a genius. You correctly assumed that city police has done all it could to save our lives and properties and now is lying around doing nothing! What better job to give them than implement the law of such primary importance.

But I am very happy for some of my friends who are overjoyed at the thought of never having to stand beside a smoker and inhale secondhand smoke and are thanking the government for this noble deed. I just hope their belief turns out to be true and they won't have to inhale smoke while running for life when "Pashurams" (oh I meant 'Parshuram' but 'Pashuram' has a better ring to it, doesn't it?) are coming after them as the policemen are busy chasing the smokers.

Source: http://www.chroniccandy.com
I also hope they won't realize someday that acts like this which sound as good as apple pie, do more harm than good by providing a new avenue for corruption for the police personnels and nothing else. Unclear laws and acts are another words for "opportunities for corruption". I have faith that editor sa'ab at Republica will someday realize that when we too often remark "we have very good policies , it's only the implementation that's not happening in Nepal", we should also consider the question if policies/laws (such as this and trust me we have tons of them) which are next to impossible to implement are good laws/policies at all? And if in its attempt to garner cheap popularity, the government isn't turning into The Boy Who Cried Wolf day after day?

Aug 8, 2011

Top 10 Classic Movies (pre-1960) you shouldn't miss!

 I was inspired to write this post when for a 100th time I was asked how could I manage to watch slow and or black & white movies. And what classic movies should one watch so that he/she doesn't fall asleep during the movie and develop a distaste for the oldies? I have compiled here a list of my most favorite classic movies made before 1960 along with a short synopsis and the reason why I loved the movie. I am sure if you are able to find these movies and finish them, you'll start loving the classics. A warning though: Once you get used to watching the classics, it hard to get you out of their world. Proceed with caution!

1. 12 Angry Men (1957, Sidney Lumet,96 minutes)

Adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose, this courtroom drama has inspired countless remakes in countless other languages. 12 Angry Men tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they deliberate the guilt or innocence of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt. Except for the opening titles and a few other scenes, the whole movie is set inside a room in a court. The viewers are always engaged and on the edge of their seats as the 12 men discuss and debate the innocence or guiltiness of the defendant. I really loved the way the movie keeps the viewers interested and glued to their seats even though all it consists is 12 people discussing and debating, nothing else.

2. Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz,102 minutes)
Of the 1100+ movies I have watched so far, Casablanca is the ultimate romantic drama for me. Set during World War II, it's a triangular love story. During the world war, Rick Blaine, exiled American, and former freedom fighter runs the most popular nightspot in Casablanca which is under German occupation and is a transit point for refugees escaping to the United States. Blaine comes into the possession of two valuable letters of transit. When a Nazi Major arrives in Casablanca, the local police Captain Renault does what he can to please him, including detaining Czech underground leader Victor Laszlo. Much to Rick's surprise, Lazslo arrives at Casablanca with Ilsa, Rick's one-time love. Rick is very bitter towards Ilsa, who ran out on him in Paris, but when he learns she had good reason to, they plan to run off together again using the letters of transit. But fate holds different plans for them...
 3. Some Like It Hot (1959, Billy Wilder, 120 minutes)
Some like it hot is the ultimate comedy from one of the greatest film directors ever- Billy Wilder. Two struggling musicians witness a massacre and try to find a way out of the city before they are found and killed by the mob. The only job that will pay their way is an all-girl band so the two dress up as women. In addition to hiding, each has his own problems; One falls for another band member but can't tell her his gender, and the other has a rich suitor who will not take "No," for an answer. American Film Institute has named it the greatest comedy of all time. Thirty minutes into the movie and you'll be laughing till your stomach hurts. Need I say more?

4. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951, Elia Kazan, 122 minutes)
"I've Always Depended On The Kindness Of Strangers." I found this famous quote from the movie very hard to get out of my mind. Based on an immensely famous play of the same name by Tennessee Williams, this was the movie that launched Maron Brando's career into stardom. Blanche Dubois goes to visit her pregnant sister and husband Stanley in New Orleans. Stanley doesn't like her, and starts pushing her for information on some property he knows was left to the sisters. He discovers she has mortgaged the place and spent all the money, and wants to find out all he can about her. Even more, friction develops between the two while they are in the apartment together... A simple story but legendary acting by every actor in the story is what makes this movie unforgettable for me.

5. Witness For The Prosecution (1957, Billy Wilder, 116 minutes)
This Agatha Christie's story is so full of one surprise after another that you get used to them and don't see the largest twist come and blow away your mind in the end. Even today, the movie feels fresh and new. At previews of the movie, audience members received, and were asked to sign, cards that read, "I solemnly swear I will not reveal the ending of Witness for the Prosecution." Have I enticed you enough to watch the movie? If not here's a short plot summary (except the ending of course): 
When Leonard Vole is arrested for the sensational murder of a rich, middle-aged widow, the famous Sir Wilfrid Robarts agrees to appear on his behalf. The case is so difficult: Vole's only alibi witness is his wife, the calm and coldly calculating Christine Vole. Sir Wilfrid's task becomes even more impossible when Christine agrees to be a witness not for the defense but for the prosecution...
6. Sunset Blvd. (1950, Billy Wilder, 110 minutes) 
As I list the third Billy Wilder movie on my list, I am realizing how brilliant and versatile Mr. Wilder was. He surely is one of the greatest directors of all time. This movie of his made me fall in love with the "film-noir" genre of movies. This is such a great film on so many levels I can't really settle on where to begin. Let's begin with a plot summary. An unsuccessful screenwriter is drawn into the fantasy world of a silent-era movie star (played by Gloria Swanson) who refuses to believe that her days in the silver screen are over and dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen. She lives with only her butler, Max who was once her director and husband in an old mansion at Sunset Blvd. After meeting the screenwriter, she begins a relationship with him which results in various complications. Gloria Swanson's acting in the movie is considered one of the greatest performances on the screen ever. I totally agree with that!

7. The General (1926, Buster Keaton, 107 minutes)

If Charlie Chaplin is the only image that conjures up in your mind when you hear the term "silent comedies", then you are in for a treat with Buster Keaton's The General. Not only will this silent comedy keep you laughing uncontrollably till the end, but it will also provide a refreshing look at silent comedies. Buster Keaton who not only directed the movie but also plays the main character in the movie is absolutely amazing. While funny, Keaton is much more than just a clownish figure – he manages to evoke a lot of sympathies as well, and he genuinely becomes what can only be described as an action hero as well. His timing, whether for a joke or for a tender moment, is absolutely impeccable. You can be sure of one thing after watching the movie, it's not possible to make movies such as this anymore and there is more to silent comedies than Charlie Chaplin.

Plot Summary: Johnnie loves his train ("The General") and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he's more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it's because he's a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnny must rescue both of his loves.
8. The Wages Of Fear (1953, Henri-Georges Clouzot, 131 minutes)

Very few thrillers have glued me to the seat as much as this French thriller by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Four European adventurers who are stuck nearly penniless in a festering town in an unnamed South American country agree to drive a load of highly dangerous and explosive nitroglycerin to be delivered to a remote well fire 300 miles away burning out of control. The route is through jungles and over crude and treacherous mountains and those men are desperate enough to take the chance. None of these men is heroic or generous, they are in for the money. Their long, harrowing ride over bad roads with their cargo ready to explode at every jolt and jar; the drivers are gambling with their very lives against the opportunity to escape from their steaming, sordid environment. Every possible jolt brings the viewers' hearts to their throats. I am sure these four characters will remain etched in your mind for a long time after the movie.

9. Singin' In The Rain (1952, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 103 minutes)

Until I watched Singin' In The Rain, I had never thought a musical would be so fun to watch. I didn't like musicals. They never made any sense to me. This movie changed my perceptions totally. "Singin' in the Rain" is one of the best musicals of all time. Even today it's such fun to watch. Although it was not a big hit when first released, it was accorded its legendary status by contemporary critics.

Plot Summary: In 1927, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a famous on-screen romantic pair. Lina, however, mistakes the on-screen romance for real love. Don has worked hard to get where he is today, with his former partner Cosmo. When Don and Lina's latest film is transformed into a musical, Don has the perfect voice for the songs. But Lina - well, even with the best efforts of a diction coach, they still decide to dub over her voice. Kathy Selden is brought in, an aspiring actress, and while she is working on the movie, Don falls in love with her. Will Kathy continue to "aspire", or will she get the break she deserves?
10. North By Northwest (1959, Alfred Hitchcock, 131 minutes)

Of course, any list of best classic movies would be incomplete without at least one movie by the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. I have watched and loved almost every one of his movies but none surpasses the perfectness of this 1959 thriller about a New York advertising executive who is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive and figure out the mystery. North By Northwest never lets you leave your seat even when you are dying to answer nature's call. I watched this movie twice. Both of the times, it reminded me what a perfect movie should be like and how it takes a legend to make a movie this unforgettable. A feast for a spy-thriller lover like me!

Some honorable mentions (Movies I would have surely included had I not been concerned about the length of the post and had I had enough time) :

1. On The Waterfront (1954)
2. All About Eve (1950)
3. Nights of Cabiria (1957)
4. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
5. It Happened One Night (1934)
6. Double Indemnity (1944)
7. All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)
8. M (1931)
9. Brief Encounter (1945)
10. It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
So what do you think about this list? What are your favorite classic movies?

Aug 5, 2011

अफ्रिका किन गरीब भयो ? भाग ---३

भाग १ यहाँ छ:

भाग २ यहाँ छ:

Source: http://www.wcr10.co.uk/
...उक्त समयमा अफ्रीकाको संस्थागत विकासको गति ज्यादै फरक थियो । ईथोपिया एक्लो र स्थिर थियो भने अन्यत्र सम्पत्तीको अधिकार को असुरक्षा र दासको व्यापार ज्यादै चर्किएको थियो जस कारणले राजनैतिक बिकासको बाटो अवरुद्ध भयो र कन्गो जस्ता राज्यहरु जो लगानी नभईकन दासप्रथामा निर्भर थिए को उत्पत्ती हुन गयो । अफ्रीकामा सुरु हुदैं गएको आर्थिक पछौटेपनले यसलाई उपनिवेशको खतरामा पार्न थाल्यो जसले गर्दा एक किसिमको अधिनायकवाद अर्को किसिममा परिणत हुँदै गयो । पछि सम्पत्तीको अधिकार सापेक्ष अवस्थाको सिर्जना गर्यो । यसको उपर्युक्त उदाहरण सिएरा लिओन हो जसको बेलायती उपनिबेशको रुपमा भएको अस्तित्व भनेको महत्वहिन अस्तित्व थियो । १९६१ मा स्वतन्त्रताको ६ वर्ष पछि सिएरा लिओन साईका स्टिभेनको अधिनमा पुग्यो जस्ले रेलको विस्तार देशको दक्षिण भाग तर्फ  गरे र आफ्नो बिरोधी बढी भएको मेडल्याण्ड क्षेत्र लाई एक्ल्याउन अरु  ट्र्याक र रेल्गाडी चै बिक्री गरिदिए । त्यसले गर्दा भएका सडकहरु भात्किदै गए बिद्यालयहरु पनि टुकृए । राष्ट्रीय टेलिभिजनले आफ्नो प्रशारण सन् १९८७ मा रोक्यो । 

द सिएरा लिओन प्रड्युस मार्केटिङ बोर्डु ले खेती योग्य जमिन जफत गर्न थाल्यो । जब केन्द्रिय बैंकका गभर्नरले आर्थिक अनियमितताको बारेमा १९८० मा उजुर गरे उनलाई केन्द्रिय बैंकको कार्यालयको छतबाट खसालेर हत्या गरियो ।स्टिभेन र उनका उत्तराधिकारी जोसेफ मोमोहले एकाधिकारको सुरु गरे सम्पत्तीको जफत गरे अनि हिराको खजाना लुटे । १९९१ मा यस्तो शाषन सत्ता पतन भयो र गृहयुद्धको शुरुवात भयो । आज सिएरा लिओनको धेरै भाग १४९ प्रमुखहरुले संचालन गर्दछन् जो शाषक घराना बाट आजिवनका लागि निर्वाचित हुन्छन् । जनताको यस्तो प्रमुख र शाषक घराना सँग सम्बन्ध हुंदैन र जनताको सम्पत्ती चाँडै कब्जा हुन पुग्छ ।सिएरा लिओनको प्रति व्यक्ति आय ५० वर्ष अघीको भन्दा धेरै कम छ र संसारको अरु देशको तुलनामा धेरै कम बाँच्नॆ उमेर भएका नागरिक बसोवास गर्दछन् ।
सब-साहारन  अफ्रीकाको गरिबी लामो समय देखि देखा परिरहेको छ । तर यसको उत्पत्ति र निरन्तरतामा भुगोलको कुनै दोष छैन ।

Saika Stevens
धेरै अफ्रीकीहरु आफ्नो स्थीति परिवर्तनका लागि सङर्घषरत छन सम्पन्न बनी लामो फलदायी जिवन बाँच्ने उनीहरुको सपना छ । यही सपना पछयाउदै उनीहरु ज्यान जोखिममा राखेर युरोप प्रवेश गरि आफ्नो र आफ्नो परिवारको सुनिश्चित भविष्यका लागि सङर्घषरत छन । हामीले उनीहरुलाई सहयोग गर्ने कि नगर्ने ,यदि गर्ने हो भने कसरी? मेरो विचारमा धेरै कारणहरुले उनीहरुलाई हामीले सहयोग गनुपर्छ । सर्वप्रथम हामीले नजानिकन गर्ने धेरै कार्यले अफ्रीकालाई असर पुर्याएको हुन्छ त्यसैले पनि हामी त्यसमा संलग्न भइरहेको हुन्छौ । त्यसका साथै अफ्रीकामा रहेको गरिबीका कारणले उबजिएको असन्तोक तथा गलत मसिहाहरु जस्तै ओसामा बिन लादेनले संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिकालाई प्रभाव पार्ने हुँदा त्यस क्षेत्रको दुःखले हामीलाई धेरै चिन्तित बनाउनुका साथै हाम्रो नैतिक जिम्मेवारी माथि पनि प्रश्न उठेको छ ।

हामी यस विषयमा के गर्न सक्छौ त ?  

सर्वप्रथम वैदेशिक सहायता बारेमा स्पष्ट हुनु आवश्यक छ वैदेशिक सहायता समस्याको समाधान पनि होइन न त यो कारण पनि हो । १९७० र १९८० को दशकमा जब स्टिभेनले सिरिया लिनोनलाई दुगर्ति तर्फ धकेलिरहेका थिए त्यसबेला सिरिया लिनोनले वैदेशिक सहायता पाएको थियो । यसता सहायताहरु विशेषगरि भ्रस्ट राजनितिज्ञले छायाँमा पार्ने कार्य गछर्न । वैदेशिक सहायताले यसता भ्रस्ट  राजनितिज्ञहरुलाई श्रोत साधनको दुरुपयोग गर्न मद्दत पुर्याउँछ । अफ्रीकाको आर्थिक समस्याको मुल जड वैदेशिक सहायता आउनु भन्दा धेरै पहिलेको हो ।

सब-साहारन  अफ्रीकन समाजलाई आर्थिक तवरले सहि मार्गमा ल्याउन तीन मुख्य कुरा आवश्यक छ ।

सर्वप्रथम सब-साहारन  अफ्रीकीहरुलाई अझ बढी आर्थिक अवसर दिइनुपर्छ त्यसको मतलब उनीहरु माथि पैसा खनाउनु मात्र होइन । अफ्रीकीहरुलाई आर्थिक अवसर दिनु भन्नाले अफ्रीकाको निर्यात तथा कारोबारलाई विश्वको लागि खुला पार्नु हो । सत्रौ  शताब्दिमा बेलायती  कारोबारले यस्ता व्यक्ति विशेषलाई बलियो र विकासशिल बनाउने गरेको थियो जसले अन्ततः राजनिति र साम्पत्ति अधिकार परिवर्तन गरेका थिए । यो सम्भवत अफ्रीकामा पनि हुन सक्छ ।

दोस्रो अर्थशास्त्रले परराष्ट्र नितीमा ठूलो भूमिका खेल्नु पर्छ । अफ्रीका केन्द्रीत परराष्ट्र निती आर्थिक विकासमा केन्दित नभई अल्पकालिन राजनितीले डोरयाएको देखिन्छ । अफ्रीकाको समृद्धीलाई प्रोत्साहन दिनु असल दिर्घकालिन परराष्ट्र निती हो ।

अन्तमा विकासको सहायताले समाजको राजनितिक परिघटनाहरु परिवर्तन गर्न सहयोग गर्नुपर्छ । मेरो यस भनाईको मतलब प्रजातन्त्र लादनु भन्ने  होइन । तर पनि नयाँ प्रजातन्त्रलाई सहि ढङ्गले संचालन गर्ने हो भने यो राम्रो कुरा हुन सक्छ । ऐतिहासिक  प्रमाणले के दर्शाउछ भने समाजमा  शक्तिहरु सन्तुलित भएमा  राम्रो राजनितिक र आर्थिक सस्थांहरु उब्जिन्छन । यस लक्ष्य प्राप्तीका लागि हामीले नागरिक समाजको सहायताका साथै संचार माध्यमको प्रर्वधन गर्न आवश्यक छ ।अफ्रीकाको लागी कागजमा सिमित रहने व्यवस्था भन्दा यि राणानितीहरु बढी उपायोगी हुन्छन ।


लेखक : जेम्स रबिन्सन
अनुवाद : सुरथ गिरी

"When you see corruption being rewarded...

Just read this news! An Ecuadorian newspaper when penalized by the court for publishing an opinion article criticizing President Rafael Correa, has retaliated beautifully by running an almost empty front page full of white space except for an Ayn Rand quote at the bottom of the page. The quote reads: 

Source: www.cato.org
"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed."
The newspaper's directors and its former opinion editor have been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $30 million for an opinion article about President Rafael Correa. The newspaper has been ordered to pay $10 million. 

Doesn't the quote sound as if it was said after observing the current scenario of Nepalese society? Corruption is not only rewarded but rejoiced. Being honest isn't only a tough job but also an unrewarding one. Criminals receive far better protection than normal citizens. Politicians are setting new records of lowliness and dishonesty. In order to establish an enterprise a producer/entrepreneur has to get consents from people who have never produced any wealth and getting that consent is costly in terms of money, time and self-esteem. Committing a crime is easier and more profitable than running a business. To quote Ujwal Thapa, an entrepreneur and activist, "जुन समाजमा घुस खानेलाई कमाएको भनिन्छ तर नाफा कमाउने उद्दमीलाई लुटेको भनिन्छ !" (Rough translation: A society where bribes are termed income but entrepreneur's profit is termed as loot!). The laws protects the government and criminals from us rather than protecting us from them. Alas, our society is headed towards doom for sure!

We better wake up to our rights and senses soon or be prepared for living in a doomed society!

Aug 4, 2011

Whistling in silence

No, I didn’t hear
The approaching footsteps
I was listening to the rain
And controlling my rage
But I felt a wave pass through my heart
Was that you?

No, I didn’t see
The imminent death
I was dancing to the lights
And kissing the abyss
But I tasted
The bittersweet taste of existence
Did you?

No, I didn’t feel
The pain of the inflicted
I was sympathizing the inflicter
And cursing the hatred
But I smelt
The freshness of wounds
Did you?

No, I didn’t smell
The sweet fragrance of grace
I was whistling in silence
And pleading to a stone
But I heard
Repressed sobs in the distance
Was that you?

-Surath Giri

Aug 2, 2011

अफ्रिका किन गरीब भयो ? भाग ---२

भाग १ यहाँ छ:


...यसरी पेटेन्ट कानूनको स्थापना जसले अन्तत बौद्धिक सम्पत्ती अधिकारको संरक्षण गर्‍यो, सदन र राजाबीचको संघर्ष र सदनद्धारा राजाको शक्तिमा अन्कुश लगाउन गरेको प्रयासको उपज थियो ।

Medieval London illustrated by Larry Dowell
सन् १६४० को दशकको गृहयुद्ध देखि सन् १६८८ को गौरवशाली क्रान्तिसम्मका राजनैतिक सङ्घर्षहरुले बेलायतबाट निरङ्कुश राजनैतिक शासनलाई हटाउने काम गरे । जबकि कङ्गो र इथियोपियामा भने निरङ्कुश राजनैतिक शासनले अझसम्म पनि असुरक्षित सम्पत्ति अधिकारहरुलाई निम्त्याइरहेको छ । हामी देख्न सक्छौ चौधौं शताब्दीमा दासप्रथा अन्त्य भएदेखि बेलायतमा राजनैतिक परिवर्तन शुरु भएको हो । सन् १३४० को दशकको महामारी पश्चात बेलायतको राज्यले श्रमिक ऐन पास गरेको थियो ताकि ज्यालामा भइरहेको वृद्धि रोक्न सकियोस । उक्त ऐनको विरोधमा शुरु भएको बिद्रोहले राजालाई उक्त ऐन खारेज गर्न बाध्य तुल्यायो जुन उनको उक्त कानून लाद्न सक्ने क्षमताको कमीको प्रमाण हो।

बेलायतको त्यसपछिको राजनीतिको वक्ररेखा नितान्त भिन्न किसिमको थियो र यसले सम्पत्ति अधिकार र समृद्धिमा ठूलो प्रभाव पार्यो। काङगो र इथियोपियाका राजाहरुले पनि आन्तरिक प्रतिद्धन्दीको सामना गर्नुपरेको थियो तर तिनका प्रतिद्धन्दीहरु पराजित भए । यदि उनीहरु विजयी भएका भए पनि उनीहरु आफैं पनि निरङ्कुश राजा हुने सम्भावना ज्यादा थियो । बेलायती अनुभवको भिन्नता नै के हो भने निरङ्कुशताको ठाउँमा अर्को निरङ्कुशता आउनबाट पनि वन्चित भयो ।

बेलायतमा भएको निरङ्कुशताको पराजय र सदनको उदयलाई के ले व्याख्या गर्छ त सदनको उदयले किन आर्थिक व्यवस्थामा परिवर्तन ल्यायो यसको उत्तर यो हो कि बेलायती त्यस्ता थुप्रै झट्काहरुबाट गुज्रेको छ जसले सुरक्षित सम्पत्ति अधिकार चाहनेहरुको संख्यामा वृद्धि मात्र गरेन बल्कि उनीहरुलाई सशक्त पनि बनायो ।

कालो मृत्यु महामारी को झट्का भन्दा पनि बढी महत्वपूर्ण त हेन्री आठोंले १५३६ मा  गिर्जाघरहरु खारेज गर्नाले भएको भूमिको पूर्नवितरण, नयाँ विश्वको आविष्कारले ल्याएका वृहत आर्थिका अवसरहरु र १४९२ पछिको अन्तर-सागरीय व्यापारको विस्तार थिए । "व्हिगहरु", जसले निरङ्कुशताका विरुद्ध सङ्घर्ष गरे र सन् १६८८ मा हासिल गरे राज्यको नीति तथा व्यवस्थालाई आफ्ना आर्थिक हितलाई पाएक पार्ने गरि परिवर्तन गरे । तर उनीहरुको गठबन्धन यति ठूलो थियो कि उनीहरुले चाहेको कुराले सम्पूर्ण समाजलाई नै फाइदा पुर्यायो निरङ्कुशतामा नगइकन । जनताको खर्चमा राजालाई विशेष सुविधा दिने, राजासँग नजिक रहेका साभ्रान्त वर्गलाई फाइदाजन्य व्यापारहरुको एकाधिकार दिने जस्ता व्यवस्थाहरुलाई खारेज गरियो र तिनका ठाउँमा समाजको ठूलो हिस्सालाई बचत लगानी र आविष्कार गर्न प्रेरित गर्ने खालका व्यवस्थाहरु स्थापना गरियो ।

सन् १६८८ को गौरवशाली क्रान्ति र राजतन्त्र माथि आधुनिक संसदीय प्रजातन्त्रको विकासको एक शताब्दी भित्रै बेलायतको औद्योगिक क्रान्ति हुनु संयोगको कुरा होइन । महान आविष्कारकहरु जस्तै रिचार्ड टेभिथिक जसले पहिलो रेलगाडी बनाए, जेम्स वाट जसले वाष्प इन्जिन पत्ता लगाए, रिचार्ड अर्कराइट जसले धागो बुन्ने यन्त्रमा जलशक्तिको प्रयोग गरे र इसम्बार्ड किङ्डम  ब्रुनेल जसले आफ्ना डिजाइन मार्फत सार्वजनिक यातायातको क्षेत्रमा क्रान्ति ल्याए, सबै जना आफ्नो सम्पत्ती अधिकारको सम्मान हुनेछ भन्ने कुरामा ढुक्क भएर आफ्ना आविस्कारले ल्याएको आर्थीक अवसरहरुको फाइदा लिन सफल भएका थिए ।

बेलायतमा भएको राजनैतिक परिवर्तन जसले गर्दा सम्पत्ती माथिको अधिकारको सुनिश्चीतता र आर्थिक अवसरहरुको सिर्जना द्वन्द र एकतन्त्रको हारको परिणाम थियो । यसैगरी यो घटना संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिकामा पनि लागु हुन्छ ;जहाँ राम्रा बेलायती संस्थाहरु जेम्स्टाउन कोलनीमा स्थापना गरिएको थिएन । यसको एक कारणमा बेलायती संस्थाहरु १६०७ मा पूर्ण रुपमा स्थापना भैसकेका थिएनन् । यसको अर्को कारणमा त्यहाँ बसाई सरेर जाने मानिसहरुले सोचेको उपनिवेशको नमूना स्पेनी योद्धाहरु हेर्नान कोर्टेस र प्रुान्सीस्को पिजारो बाट उत्प्रेरित भएको थियो जसको आशय शाषकलाई कब्जा गरेर आदिवाशीलाई शाषन गर्नु थियो । तर यस्ता रणनितीहरु उपनिवेशमा युक्तिसंगत भएनन् ; १६१९ सम्ममा भर्जिनिया कम्पनीले आदिवाशी जनता र नवस्थापित आगन्तुकलाई शाषन गर्न नसकेर साधारण सभाको स्थापना गर्यो जुन पुरुषहरुको सर्वव्यापी मतदानबाट गरिन्थ्यो ।

जब बेलायती उत्तर अमेरिका बिकशित भयो बेलायती विशिष्ठ अधिकारीहरुले धेरै हदसम्मको राजनैतिक र आर्थिक अधिकारमाथीको हस्तक्षेप गरेर शामन्ती समाजको रचना गर्न थाले । सबै प्रयासहरुमा भर्जिनियामा जस्तै यो नमूना असफल रह्यो किनभने बेलायतमा नै  सुरक्षित सम्पत्ती माथीको अधिकार र अधिकतम फैलिएको आर्थिक अवसरहरुमा बिश्वास गर्ने मानिस प्रभावशाली  रहे ।

नयाँ बिश्वमा जहाँ जमिन अत्याधिक थियो  र श्रमको अवसर न्यून थियो   मानिसहरुको जमातहरु शक्तिशाली थिए  किनभने उनिहरु आर्थिक अवसरहरुको लागि उच्च वर्गका व्यक्तिहरुसँग निर्भर रहँदैनथिए। यसको विपरीत उच्च वर्गका शाषक हरु जनतामा निर्भर रहनु पर्ने अवस्था थियो । यसका यस्ता शुरुवाती  द्वन्दहरुले वृहत्तर राजनैतिक र सम्पत्तीको अधिकार सहितको अमेरिकी संबिधान र समाजको निर्माण भयो जहाँ त्यस समयमा आर्थिक अवसरहरु विश्वका कुनैपनि अरु स्थानमा भन्दा धेरै थिए । जसकारणले गर्दा संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिकाको आर्थिक सफलता १९ औं र २० औं शताब्दीकै उच्च रहन सम्भव भयो । 

लेखक : जेम्स रबिन्सन
अनुवाद : सुरथ गिरी  

भाग ३ यहाँ छ:

Aug 1, 2011

Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations: A review

After reading Francis Fukuyama's “The end of history and the last man” , I went through a couple of reviews before posting my own review. Almost every review had a mentioning of Samuel P. Huntington's “The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order” which enticed me to seek the book and read it. I found “Clash of the civilizations” a brilliant and insightful read. These two books  are said to have had a huge impact in shaping up USA's foreign policy after the collapse of USSR in 1991.

Unlike Fukuyama, Huntington doesn't find the post-cold war world unifying into a single type of government system- liberal democracy and finally achieving lost lasting peace. Instead he sees the post cold war world as a chaotic world where the conflict between ideologies and economic systems have been replaced by more vicious and dangerous conflicts between civilizations. According to Huntington, the West rather than rejoicing its victory over communism should start preparing itself for a more complicated world order where at least 7 superpowers based on different civilizations will exist and will continuously be conflicting with each other although not necessarily militarily. Rather than trying to impose Western lifestyle and Western style of governments on the rest of the world, the West should realize that the Judeo Christian values, liberalism as form of governance and capitalism as economic system  are purely western products and hence are far from being universally applicable around the world. In his 1992 article on which the book is based ,Huntington wrote:

It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

The post-cold war world will have more than 7 major civilizations namely Western Civilization which encompasses North America and Europe and is led by United States of America, Orthodox Civilization which encompasses the world of the former Soviet Union (excluding the Baltic states, most of Central Asia and Azerbaijan), the former Yugoslavia (excluding Slovenia and Croatia), Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, and Romania and is led by Russia, Sinic civilization which encompasses East Asian countries and is led by China, Hindu Civilization which encompasses some countries of South Asia and is led by India, Japanese civilization with Japan as the only member state, Muslim civilization which encompasses all the Muslim dominated countries around the world and doesn't have a clear leader yet, African civilization which encompasses all the sub-Saharan African countries and will most likely be led by South Africa and Latin American civilization which has a possibility of merging into Western Civilization. With these civilizations conflicting with each other in culture, tradition, social values and religion, the world will be a complex system with a delicate balance of powers. The civilizational conflicts are "particularly prevalent between Muslims and non-Muslims", in the "bloody borders" between Islamic and non-Islamic civilizations. The problems of future world will mostly derive from "West's arrogance, Islam's intolerance and Asia's assertiveness", says Mr. Huntington.

Although in the initial pages I was quite skeptic about Huntington's thesis of the clash of the civilizations, towards the end of the book I was fairly convinced with his ideas. Yep, it looks likely that the future world will be characterized by the inter-civilizational conflicts. However, I disagree with the author on the extent of such conflicts. I don't quite subscribe to the author's version of a more chaotic and always-on-a-brink-of-a-war world. However, my most severe disagreements with the author is that I don't believe liberalism, free market capitalism, rule of law are entirely western concepts. The way Huntington has presented these ideas as alien to every other society except the Western societies seriously undermines the universal appeal and applicability of liberal ideas. The concepts of free market capitalism, rule of law, parliamentary democracy may be somewhat hard for non western societies to grasp but if historical trends are any guide to us then, we can be fairly sure that eventually these concepts will be integrated to all societies around the world. Muslm societies may be the last ones to fully accommodate liberal values but they can't be forever immune.

Huntington thesis fails to account for the fact that the trend of economic freedom (free market capitalism) is spreading all over the world although with varying paces. It is a folly on authors part to believe liberal values are not native to other societies. Hindu societies, at least Nepalese society has remained pretty much liberal in terms of social issues and in most part so is Indian society. Besides, these concepts are relative , you can't either have liberalism or non-liberalism. There are degrees of liberalism. Asian societies under the Sinic civilization may have less degree of liberalism prevalent but if one notices the trend towards which they are moving one can be sure of the universal appeal of liberalism. The current trend of Western societies moving away from free market capitalism (especially the USA) and Asian societies (namely India , South Korea and China) moving towards more free market economy repudiates his hypothesis that free market economy is purely a western concept and is unlikely to be adopted by non-western societies.

Although Huntington's seminal work helps us to have a clearer and deeper understanding of post cold-war world and in many ways may guide the global leaders of powerful countries to shape up the future, it makes too many naïve and premature assumptions especially with the concepts of liberalism, parliamentary democracy, free market capitalism with regards to non-western societies and hence fails to capture the true essence of the dynamics of the rapidly growing societies of non-western world. But overall, a very highly recommended reading from my side. Anyone wishing to get a better understanding of world affairs and relations between countries in today's world must read the book!

-Surath Giri 

Book: The Clash of Civilizations (1996)
Author: Samuel P. Huntington
Length: 367 pp.
In Nepal, available in : American Library, Maharajgunj