Monday, April 17, 2006

Chronicles of Misfortunes

Let’s go back to 1990. A massive wave of people marching on the streets compelled King Birendra to relinquish absolute power and give way to democracy.

All throughout the people’s movement of that year, and a few months into the interim government’s time we heard a great deal about how evil and corrupt the pancheys, mandaleys and royalists were. People were really fed up with the system, and deservedly so.

So guess how many people from the Panchayat days were punished or faced jail time after the re-emergence of democracy in Nepal? 0, zero, zilch, nada. Why? Well the leaders would make you believe that they were showing their magnanimous sides—forgive and forget. Or, they would give you the laharo tanda paharo (domino effect) theory and refuse to dwell on the issue.

Yet, we kept hearing the new politicians blame the old ones for all the misfortunes and difficulties facing Nepal.

The primary reasons that people wanted to get rid of Panchayat—corruption, nepotism, non-transparent governance and lack of meritocracy—all went on as if nothing had changed. Even the concept of freedom was murky at most times. Newly emerging free press of Nepal reported that more people were killed by the state during the first tenure of Girija Prasad Koirala than during the entire Panchayat rule.

Yes, people did get a chance to elect their “representatives,” who shamelessly played games with politics and took the voters for granted. The very MPs who rented out their Land Cruisers and Pajeros to third parties pretended to investigate the misuse of parliamentary benefits. Who received what ministerial portfolio appeared more important than chalking up strategies to steer Nepal towards the path of renewed progress and prosperity. RNAC was milked like a Holstein cow.

Was Panchayat really as bad as it was purported to be? Absolutely. But the democratic leaders were no better. Years spent in jail became a far more important qualification than academic credentials or experiential competence. By the middle of Mr. Koirala’s first tenure people were saying yo bhanda ta panchayat nai ramro (panchayat was better than this). Were they right? Probably not, but it was a clear testament of how the democratic leaders were failing the common people.

Does it appear that I am beating dead horses? Yes, but it is for a reason.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good points, but what's next?