Satyagraha and Duragraha

“Heroes die so that cowards may live.”

Who wrote this immortal line? Harold Robbins? A cursory search into the Internet revealed nothing, but this line continues to ring in yours truly’s mind, confused as ever at this crossroads of time and space. Perhaps, the greatest feat in these troubling times, even for a progeny of the brave Gorkhalis living still in this chaotic republic, is to not lose his sanity. He and fellow progenies – real Lahures, intellectual Lahures or the working hands that keep sweat shops around the world running – deserve the Victoria Cross, Paramvir Chakra, the Iron Cross or all of them together for this courageous act!

The general tendency of political parties has been to ignore Dr KC’s demands while in power and raise voices together for the fulfillment of those demands after the change of guard

Yours truly has lost count of the times Dr Govinda KC has sat on a hunger strike in a bid to make successive governments address his demands for reforms in the field of medical education and public health. Governments of different hues and colours have come and gone since the good ole doc launched his hunger strike, without bothering to fulfill his demands. The general tendency of political parties has been to ignore Dr KC’s demands while in power and raise voices together for the fulfillment of those demands after the change of guard. So, it would be appropriate for our opportunistic political parties to contest upcoming elections with the slogan: We run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, so vote for us if you are a hare, a hound or anything in between.

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Initially, a public always searching for a god-like figure to bow their head to found in Dr KC what they were looking for in a country perennially short of contemporary heroes. But such an image does not last long in a country that has witnessed wave after wave after wave of revolutions serving foreign interests and successive political leadership competing with their predecessors in amassing wealth through illegal means. These days, even people have started questioning the motive of Dr KC’s strike, though the media, by and large, continues to treat him as a god of sorts.

Indeed, the doctor may have been staging a hunger strike at different public health institutions with the best of intentions, but it will be naïve to ignore its negative impact on public health and medical education. Ignoring Dr KC’s appeal to not disrupt medical services, fellow doctors have gone on to stage a strike consigning the Hyppocratic oath to the dustbin of history and causing great distress to service-seekers, all in the name of the people. So, this strike is ‘unprecedented’ in medical history. One can only hope and pray that doctors around the world do not resort to similar strikes at the expense of the rest of humanity.

Right now, we seem not to have thought that much about the consequences of Dr KC’s strike. Consequences, there may be too many. For one, it may further promote anarchy in the medical sector, which has been witnessing sporadic attacks on health professionals and institutions on the charges of gross negligence in the treatment of patients. This fresh round of strike is likely to deepen the public distrust towards health professionals and health institutions of Nepal, driving more and more medical students and patients abroad for education and treatment.

Needless to say, this exodus will not benefit us. Rather, it will benefit a medical mafia that makes good fortune year after year after year by forcing Nepali students and patients to go abroad for medical education and treatment by creating anarchy in the national health and medical education sector. It may have been using Dr KC, without his knowledge, to promote and protect its interests that are best served by wrecking Nepal’s public health and medical education systems.

It is no secret that civil society members, human rights activists and political parties of different hues and colours have been supporting Dr KC. Historically, political parties have turned to civil society, including the rights fraternity, when they are very unpopular. As a movement gains strength and apologies pour in, the gullible public forgives the political parties. That’s when the power-hungry parties ditch the civil society and chart their course on their own.

It should be noted that Dr KC’s ‘hunger strike’, staged mainly at hospitals, is now called Satyagraha, though hospitals should not have been a launchpad for such a movement. Yours truly has no knowledge of Mahatma Gandhi, a pioneering Satyagrahi, spearheading such a movement from a public place and causing great inconveniences to the people. Did Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Junior take such a course? Enlightened readers and leading thinkers of our society know better.

In this day and age, a civil disobedience movement can be a double-edged sword. Nefarious forces can use it as part of a strategy to deepen crises in a floundering, earthquake-hit and uncertainty-plagued country that has been grappling with the challenge of saving lives of and providing relief to multitudes reeling under landslides in the Hills and flooding in the Tarai, resulting mainly from unilateral construction of infrastructure in blatant violation of international practices.

Should a compassionate doctor and his team not have been serving those multitudes of his country, who have lost their homes and hearth, thanks largely to mindless construction activities of an environmentally-criminal state? Is this not the time for Dr KC and his team to go and care for our helpless people that have become homeless in their own country instead of turning hospitals into battlefields?

Granted that the KP Oli government has earned infamy for using force in a Jumla hospital to bring the doctor to Kathmandu. Granted that the government may have used indiscriminate force against protesters expressing solidarity with Dr KC. But what exactly has Dr KC earned by choosing health institutions for his hunger strike? By striking at the very core of the public health and medical education systems, what shining example has he set for his students? How will future generations remember him? As a doctor, who brought a fledgling state to its knees by disrupting health services and affecting thousands of people, in the name of doing greater good?

Dr KC’s Satyagraha 2.0 may end up serving forces that have Duragraha – ill intention – towards Nepal’s public health and medical education systems.   

The onus is on Nepal’s ruling and opposition parties to sit together with Dr KC and resolve this crisis. The sooner they do it, the better.

Here’s hoping that Dr KC does not end up as a host to hostile elements that are bent on smashing Nepal’s medical education and creating a fresh round of political unrest meant to weaken the Nepali state further and fulfill their never-ending vested interests.

The onus is on Nepal’s ruling and opposition parties to sit together with Dr KC and resolve this crisis. The sooner they do it, the better.

  • Devendra Gautam


Food for thought: Reservation and Chure exploitation

A recent protest for reservation near New Road, the heart of Kathmandu. 

Affirmative action has always been an emotive issue around the world and will always remain so. 

While its supporters say this provision is crucial for ensuring inclusion of indigenous nationalities and other marginalised communities in state organs, those against it argue that this is against the very spirit of free competition and meritocracy. Taking part in this debate are those, who say reservations should be for a certain period. They say that instead of allocating seats, the state should focus on boosting the capabilities of disadvantaged sections by taking appropriate measures, pointing that the reservation regime has benefited only a few people from upwardly mobile sections at the expense of ‘others’.         

So much for the intro from yours truly. Now the news. 

The Kantipur daily writes that activists favouring reservation clashed with police personnel while they were rallying to Putalisadak from Bhrikuti Mandap on Saturday afternoon.

The immediate fallout of the protest on the road.

Around six protesters, including Jagat Baram, president of the Nepal Indigenous Nationalities Federation, sustained injuries in the clashes. As per the report, police have also detained more than a dozen protesters.   

The demonstration, a part of series of protests, was for cancellation of a Public Service Commission notice about some upcoming examination, which activists say is against legal provisions on reservation that covers Janajatis, Madheshis, differently-abled peoples and women. 

The Annapurna Post daily writes in a report from Biratnagar that encroachment upon and exploitation of the Chure forest, which is spread in seven districts of Province 1 (Sunsari, Udayapur, Morang, Ilam, Jhapa, Bhojpur and Dhankuta), has been going on unchecked. The report points that the Chure region has become a hub for smugglers of forest resources like timber and wildlife as well as  construction materials like sand and aggregates. Apparently, unchecked and illegal mining of sand and aggregates has led to increased instances of landslide and erosion.

The report further points that in Sindhuli district, which comprises the largest chunk of the Chure forest — 1,12,631 hectares — a large chunk of the area is fast turning into a sand dune, thanks to illegal and unchecked exploitation. Alarmingly, the report points that this has been going with the connivance of office-bearers of local community forests and local peoples.

Is any government authority paying heed to this unfolding crisis that threatens to turn the Terai, the grain basket of the country, into a desert?

Was something that I wrote in bad taste? Please me know.

An evening view of a rain-soaked and illuminated Kathmandu

For now, yours truly would like to leave you all with this visual treat and the message: Read, write and comment. 
PS: Please bear in mind that any unauthorised use of these materials will be subject to legal action as per relevant copyright and intellectual property rights laws

Some respite for Sagarmatha, trying times for the Judiciary

The report

The world’s tallest peak, Mount Sagarmatha*, will surely get some respite if the government chooses to implement the report of a taskforce formed under Joint Secretary Ghanashyam Upadhyaya, it appears. 

According to a report in the Kantipur daily, the taskforce report submitted to Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Yogesh Bhattarai, has proposed that only climbers, who have scaled six-thousanders and seven-thousanders, should be allowed to attempt the tallest peak

The report, to be made public at the ministry at 1 pm on Wednesday, quoted a source as saying that a climber should have scaled a peak of around 6,500 metres before seeking to climb Sagarmatha. 

This comes in the wake of increasing concerns worldwide about traffic jams at the world’s tallest peak that has not only put climbers at risk but is also contributing to the degradation of the fragile Himalayan environment. 

Indeed, rush on the part of some mountaineers to set one record after the other and the mountaineering industry’s bid to capitalise on it is also giving an impression as if it’s man versus the tallest peak. 

Humanity need not interpret that Sagarmatha is challenging their greatness. Some of us, like yours truly, can marvel at the beauty of the peak, write some lines, draw an image or scale a hillock in their neighbourhood without having to mention the time and date of the ascent and how you felt reaching your own Sagarmatha!        

Mountaineering agencies may not be that happy with the report’s recommendations, but if implemented, the move will surely improve the image of Nepal at a time when it is preparing to observe the Visit Nepal Year 2020.

PS:  Yours truly prefers to call the peak Sagarmatha, the Nepali word which means the mountain whose head touches the sky. Yours truly sees no reason why the peak should be named after a person.

Judiciary in crisis?

One may argue whether the political system that we have in the country is a real, functioning democracy. Indeed, secret foreign visits of our political leaders, reports of their hush-hush talks with the top sleuth of our ‘dear neighbour’, their tendency of keeping such exchanges under wraps, corruption at the policy level and opaque ways of government functioning make one wonder if we indeed have a democratic polity in place. 

Amid this, what transpired at a recent meeting of former chief justices makes one wonder if the whole thing is in crisis.   

The Nagarik daily reports about an alarming verdict of sorts coming from the ex-CJs: The judiciary is in a crisis. 

It further points that appointments and activities of the judiciary have landed the crucial state organ at such a pass. They stressed the need to take initiatives for improving the image of the judiciary by working together with concerned agencies, alarming that time to do so was running fast. 

The report quotes the former CJ Kedar Nath Upadhyaya as appealing former CJs to improve the image of the judiciary. 

“There’s a need to move ahead in consultation with all concerned agencies. We should make our point straight and clear before the Chief Justice, Justices, Judicial Council, Nepal Bar (Association) and Supreme Court Bar (Association).” 

“Who is responsible for these anomalies (in the judiciary)? Why has become the judiciary so weak, where have the lapses occurred. We should speak our minds clearly.” Another former CJ, Ram Kumar Prasad Shah, said the image of the judiciary has suffered due to flawed appointment of judges and flawed decisions. He pointed the need to form a study team to identify mistakes in verdicts on the basis of jurisprudence. Former CJ Dilip Kumar Poudel also said they still can play an important role in resolving problems facing the judiciary. 

Powered by a majority in the Parliament, the Executive enjoys monopoly over the legitimate use of force and often shows authoritarian tendencies. As the sole interpreter of the Constitution, the Judiciary is the only body that can rein in the Executive, especially when the Opposition is weak, by exercising its moral authority. 

Reining in the Executive will be a tough task for the Judiciary, especially at a time when its own house does not seem to be in order, if what the former CJs said is anything to go by. What effect will all this have on civil liberties is anyone’s guess.

Text: Devendra Gautam

A  magnificent view of the high skies and city landscape from Basantapur, Kathmandu

Before you leave, a visual treat for you from the amateur shot (that’s me)…. Thanks a tonne for visiting my page. Comments (decent ones) are welcome. Visit Nepal again and again and again. Also visit this page again and again and again.    

Navigating the future: Through gushing rivers and waterlogged streets

What do the rivers tell you? 

While observing the gushing waters of the Vishnumati from the bridge and the river banks at the Balaju Chowk with a number of other curious peoples the other day, the rivers’ message to humanity seemed, including those with houses and properties close by, to be loud and clear: Don’t ever mess with us. Interfere with the ways of the Nature at your own peril. 

Yours truly could surely have spent some more time over the bridge, but to his own peril. With such a huge amount of water flowing beneath, he got a dizzying feeling, it seemed to him as if the world around him was spinning and the ground beneath getting swamped. Aware of the inherent danger, yours truly headed home, only to find streets turning into gushing rivers, pedestrians and motorists trying hard to wade through them on the shallow waters of Dhungedhara. 

Ironically, Mother Nature seemed to have realised our political leadership’s vision of running vessels on our rivers! If we had such vessels, we could surely have navigated through the swirling waters! 

Of course, the state, too busy in helping our leaders amass huge wealth in compensation for their struggle for political change, for their sacrifice, for their years spent in jail, cannot provide us these vessels. 

On a more serious note befitting the huge, irreparable loss of life and properties in the recent spate of landslides and floods, due mainly to environment-unfriendly development activities in the Hills and India’s act of blocking the natural course of rivers by building structures at many places along the no-man’s-land in blatant violation of international practices and the principle of good neighbourliness, may yours truly ask: Can the state at least provide training to the people on ways to remain safe during natural disasters? Can it train security personnel and equip them well so that they can at least minimise the loss of lives and properties?

Boat rides can wait, further taming of the wild rivers like the Saptakoshi, Gandaki, Karnali and the Mahakali can wait, hush-hush talks on the design to localise the destructive power of the Saptakoshi in the Eastern Region of Nepal and channeling its waters for irrigation in Bihar and augmenting water required for the operation of India’s river linking project can wait, but emergency response to natural disasters cannot. 

Selling of the country down the river through similar acts of high treason like the Koshi Treaty, the Gandak Agreement and the Mahakali Treaty Agreement can wait, but the demand for compensation for huge losses, mainly the weakening of national sovereignty and loss of water sovereignty, cannot. 

Does this government have the guts to raise these issues during the visit of India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar to Nepal? Or will it be able to raise them during the upcoming Nepal visit of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Will it be forthright in saying that Nepal’s rivers are simply incapable of providing water for roughly two-billion peoples across the border and it is wrong to see surplus water flowing in our rivers and any ambitious project to tame these rivers will be disastrous for a quake-prone Nepal?

Will it be able to say loud and clear that Nepal will not be able to welcome a sea of disaster-displaced humanity searching for dry lands?  

The recent secret visit of India’s top sleuth and not-so-transparent visits of Nepal PM and CPN Co-chair thereafter indicate that something’s cooking. 

What is it? Top leadership of the ruling party won’t tell, the main opposition doesn’t have the courage to do so, the media and lawmakers won’t probably write/talk about it, especially after attending a grand feast of late at Lainchaur, and yours truly has no way of knowing. 

All he can do is read into the recent events and say the tidings aren’t good. 

How will Nepal deal with a humanitarian crisis unfolding right across the border?

Introduced without much fanfare (ribbon cutting, coconut smashing, big promises and all that jazz), this column aims to offer a cursory reading of news reports appearing mainly in the Nepali print media. Though no big name in the Nepali media firmament, yours truly will try through this forum to offer an unbiased and insightful analysis of the stories by not discriminating against any publication big or small. The effort will be on coming up with this column daily, though yours truly admits that the task will not be that easy for a juggler. Hope you all will be with yours truly through thick and thin. 

No, we should not be indifferent to this extent.A recent report in reveals that around 50 peoples from 10 ‘flood-hit’ families have come all the way to Dharan from Tikamgadh of Madhya Pradesh, India. 

According to the Google Map, the distance between Tikamgadh and Dharan is 1,138.5 km via the National Highway 27 with the travel time of around 22 hours (21 hours 58 minutes to be precise).

The map suggests that one has to travel through the Indian territories of Kanpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Patna, Dharbhanga, Ghoghardiha (Madhuvani) and Biratnagar before entering Dharan of Nepal.  

It is quite possible that security apparatuses at the Indian cities did not bother to check where these people, rendered homeless due to flooding of their hometown, were going, understandably because it’s not easy even for an emerging global economic giant like India, which has been reeling under floods like Nepal, to provide for 1,350,438,098 peoples. 

But what were our security appartuses doing all along? Almost nothing?

Above all, shall they let such people, of which there’s no dearth right across the border, continue to stream into Nepal on humanitarian grounds, regardless of the fact that around 3,500 Nepali youths leave the homeland daily to land dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs abroad and many return home in coffins?

The report quotes a homeless fellow from Tikamgadh as saying that they came to Nepal because there was no dry land in Bihar. It quotes that there’s no worry as there’s no threat of flooding in the highlands. 

Does it mean we should let aliens enter our territories, slash and burn our forests and settle there for a) enabling political parties to use these people as vote banks? b) strengthening our much-touted people-to-people ties? c) ‘further diversifying’ our ethnic diversity and empowering the new entrants by providing them instant voter card, citizenship and reservation in government service?

What does the provincial government plan to do with them? Will it continue to welcome the poor, homeless people from across the border on humanitarian grounds or will it say a firm no?  

And what will the federal government do with them? Will it, first of all, bother to check with law enforcement as to how these people first managed to enter through the international border? 

Will it call the all-powerful New Delhi for some guidance on the matter or consult its man in Kathmandu, who has gained ‘fame’ for his clout here, for throwing lavish parties to power-hungry politicians, lawmakers and journalists every now and then (May I dare ask, with due regard to the wannabe vice-roy: Shall the Indian state not first provide for its poor peoples instead of our power-hungry, corrupt lot?)  

Or will it firmly say that it cannot bear the extra burden of what appears to be a fresh humanitarian crisis unfolding right across the porous border? If it says so, will the two-third majority government, weakened due to crisis after crisis after crisis, go? 

I leave this question to the powers that be. 

Text: Devendra Gautam
Pictures: Google Map

Officer’s arrest in organ trafficking case will do little to boost APF’s image

Good god! What is this world coming to?

One of the online news portals of Nepal,, has claimed to have made a revelation that will do little to boost the image of Nepal’s paramilitary force, the Armed Police Force. Citing a source, it reports the arrest of Sub-inspector posted at the APF Battalion Number 1 Yogendra Raj Thapaliya, former constable Thanithan Singh Gurung, Ramesh Karki and Narayan Parajuli on the charge of their involvement in an attempted case of organ trafficking.

This came to light after police rescued Vishnu Khadka (24) of Bangthali (Kavre) from Kathmandu about a week ago.  

Fanindra Prasain, chief of the Metropolitan Police Circle, Maharajgunj, admitted the arrests.

The report quotes Prasain as saying: The investigation into the case is going on, so we have kept it a ‘secret’.

Gurung, the former constable, reportedly claimed during interrogation that his sister was a kidney patient and needed the kidney.

But the investigation officer has found papers showing that the sister had already undergone transplant after both of her kidneys failed.

Yours truly hopes that APF will do more in coming days to rule out involvement of its rank and file in possible cases like this at a time when one state organ after the other is losing credibility. 

What can the Nepal House do to alleviate disaster woes? Press for diplomatic efforts

Kathmandu: A team from the State Affairs Committee of Nepal’s Parliament has made a kind of groundbreaking ‘discovery’. 

On the basis of a recent field visit conducted to different affected parts of the country, the committee has come to the conclusion that India-built dams are to blame for inundation of Nepali territories. 

Apparently, this is understatement of the problem that Nepal has been facing for decades. 

Every monsoon, swollen rivers and streams gushing southwards from the north ram into water regulatory structures that India has built at no-man’s land in violation of international practices and good neighborliness. With the natural flow obstructed, floodwater gushes into Nepal with increasing ferocity, leaving behind a trail of death, devastation and loss of properties worth a fortune. 

The degradation of the Chure and the Shivalik ranges resulting from unchecked mining for construction materials like sand and boulder may too have contributed to this recurring environmental and humanitarian catastrophe. But the fact is that criminal elements from across the border are mostly behind smuggling of these materials to India to feed the construction frenzy going on there. So, we are at the receiving end of this environmental exploitation and the mostly man-made disasters. 

This environmental crime, this crime against humanity, this very unfriendly behavior towards Nepal has been going on unabated, thanks to a meek, weak and subservient regime that appears bent on putting the interests of a big neighbour above national interests! 

Amid all this, all that parliamentary committees like the SAC can do is come up with the oft-repeated line: Nepal and India should take ‘diplomatic’ initiatives to resolve this problem. 

Naturally, a subservient committee cannot prod an equally subservient government to press India for demolition of illegal water regulatory structures built along the border through bilateral talks. It cannot suggest the government to seek demolition of such structures by using international fora if the talks don’t work. All it can do is to pretend not to know that India is capable of protecting life and properties on its territories by localising the negative impact of monsoon disasters in Nepal. 

Even as the spell of disaster continues and losses keep mounting, all that the Nepali state can do is issue flood warnings and urge vulnerable populations to move to safer places that are few and far between. This is not to undermine in these trying times the praiseworthy role that security forces have played through search and rescue operations by putting their own lives in line. 

But the Nepali state as a whole has appeared very very helpless when it comes to a) taking disaster mitigation measures b) protecting lives and property during disasters c) making the inconsiderate neighbour mend ways by threatening to internationalise this problem if bilateral engagements do not work.    

At this juncture, all that the Nepali state can do is stress the need to take diplomatic initiatives for alleviation of the problem, even as monsoon disaster losses mount with each passing year, it appears.

In other words, that means letting the neighbour submerge more and more of our farmlands, kill more of our peoples and cause further loss of our infrastructure year after year after year by allowing the construction of water regulatory structures that obstruct the natural flow of rivers originating in our territories. 

From Nepal: Tragic Twist and Troubled Waters

Introduced without much fanfare, this column aims to offer a cursory reading of news reports appearing mainly in the Nepali print media. Though no big name in the Nepali media firmament, yours truly will try through this forum to offer an unbiased and insightful analysis of the stories by not discriminating against any publication big or small. The effort will be on coming up with this column daily, though yours truly admits that the task will not be that easy for a juggler. Hope you all will be with yours truly through thick and thin. 

Tragic twist in Lalita Niwas Scam

The Lalita Niwas land scam, which has already drawn some big-time politicos into controversy, is becoming more suspicious with the death of a former Nayab Subba (non-gazetted officer) of the Dilli Bazaar Land Revenue Office, in suspicious circumstances.

According to a report in the Naya Patrika daily, Yukta Prasad Shrestha (54) died after falling from the seventh floor of the Samakhushi-based Himalaya City Centre, a shopping centre, on Saturday.

Along with some other staff of the revenue office, Shrestha was accused of forging papers to transfer ownership of the land that government had acquired after payment of compensation about 55 years ago to land mafia.  

The same report, quoting DSP Hobindra Bogati, spokesperson, Metropolitan Police Complex, said an investigation is ongoing to establish whether it was a case of suicide or of suspicious death.

Bogati, quoting eyewitnesses and staff of the centre, said (as per the report): We saw (Shrestha) heading straight to the topmost floor of the shopping centre, the eighth floor, and jumping off.

It appears that Shrestha died while being rushed to People’s Hospital, Bogati said.

Water crisis

A report in the Republica daily covers the shortage of water in Surkhet, the provincial capital of Karnali, pointing that the concrete jungle continues to expand despite this shortage.   

Till 2008, as per the report, Surkhet Upatyaka Khanepani Sanstha (SUKS) was able to manage to supply drinking water to 9,000 families of Birendranagar with the estimated population of 52,000. The population has reached two lakh now, but the capacity of the supply system remains the same.

The report, quoting Kulman Devkota, SUKS chairperson, points that authorities have not been able to meet the demand for water that has gone up with new settlements coming up and population growth. 

Probably, this line sums up the crisis facing Surkhet the best: SUKS is currently supplying water only once a day.

Surkhet is just a test case that shows the water crisis facing Nepal. In many parts of the country, schoolchildren have to trek for hours to fetch a pale of water, that too contaminated. In cities, young children and women have to wait for hours at stone spouts to fetch water that’s barely enough. Groundwater is getting scarce, wells are drying up and taps are running dry. 

This is because largely because subservient political leadership has already gifted our lifelines, our rivers and streams like the Koshi, the Mahakali, the Gandak, the Arun and the Rapti, among others, to the southern neighbour through very controversial treaties and deals, at the cost of Nepal and the Nepalis. This has tremendously weakened our national sovereignty and water sovereignty.  

Instead of learning from the past, recent buzz in the social media like Twitter indicate that the regime may be wanting to hand over total control of the Koshi river to India by letting it build a high dam project in the Eastern Region. 

High dams are most likely to have huge environmental costs as Nepal lies in a highly seismic region and is vulnerable to natural disasters like quakes, landslides and flooding. 

Here’s hoping that better sense will tread with caution to prevent the further weakening of Nepal’s water sovereignty by not falling into the trappings of a low-cunning and scheming neighbour.