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Are Rautes Nepal´s King Kong?
Are Rautes Nepal´s King Kong?
Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2009 //
A supposed interaction with Rautes at Nepal Tourism Board this week reminded this reporter of the 2005 movie King Kong. In the movie, directed by Hollywood´s top league director Peter Jackson, a struggling filmmaker, played by Jack Black, stumbles across a giant gorilla on an island. Sensing the financial possibilities he traps the beast, chains and brings it to New York, and showcases it to the public for a fee. But things go wrong after the gorilla stops enjoying being a showpiece and breaks free, creating havoc in the city.
It would be wrong to assume the organizers of the ´Raute trip to Kathmandu´ had a motive similar to the character played by Black´s. But brief utterances by Raute leader Ain Bahadur Shahi during the interaction proved the organizers were guilty of two things.
1. The Rautes were forcibly made a spectacle of at the interaction, where they could neither understand, nor contribute to heated debates in which the likes of Dr Krishna Bahadur Bhattachan participated with great pleasure and enthusiasm.
Discussions bored the Rautes to such an extent that Shahi intervened at one point. “Enough. I understand what is going on. I understand what you are doing. I am leaving,” said Shahi, who looked sleepy and lost throughout the discussion. He was about to leave the venue when one of the organizers stopped him. And so he remained. Did he have any other choice in a city so crowded with strangers and concrete he wasn’t used to and couldn’t understand? The Rautes are obviously unused to such discussions, and the city way of life. Three years ago, Raute chieftain Man Bahadur Shahi died after falling ill owing to bus travels during his Kathmandu visit.
2. The Rautes were obviously lured to Kathmandu with the promise that all they had to do was put up with a few shows for which they would be financially rewarded.
When asked to utter what he wanted, Shahi said, “Rice loses its taste if you chew it too much. Why talk so much? I have already done a lot (of shows). Now give me my reward.”
It is strange Contemporary Vision Pvt. Ltd., an organization which has been working to protect the Rautes’ rights for two years and was constantly reminding participants at the interaction to respect their rights, made false promises to the Rautes and showcased them as if they were beasts.
The media’s treatment of the Rautes was also objectionable. In its report on the Rautes published on Thursday, the Kantipur daily was making fun of the nomads by focusing on their ignorance and lack of eating etiquette. The most indigestible part of the report was the mention that during their visit to the national zoo on Wednesday, people looked more at the Rautes than they did at the zoo animals. Does that imply that the Rautes are more amusing creatures than zoo animals?
Another dimension of the advocacy for the rights of Rautes, which I have mentioned in a separate story published on the news site and cannot keep from mentioning once again, is the definition of Rautes´ rights. Contemporary Vision maintains Rautes must not be mainstreamed into regular society as doing that would mean denying them their cultural rights.
Isn´t that imposition? Shouldn´t the Rautes rather be explained the benefits of living in a regular society and allowed to choose for themselves? What will Contemporary Vision do if, one day, the Rautes finally say they want to quit their nomadic lifestyle and settle down? Will Contemporary Vision allow them to do that or prevent them in the name of protecting their cultural rights?