Monday, January 29, 2007

Wishful Thinking or Pitiful Excuse?

There we go again! Instead of sitting down and focusing on solving the problem, our politicians with “exceptional democratic principles” are once again blaming others and trying to shrug off responsibility.

I’m talking about the Terai unrest. From what I understand, the issue at the table was the interim constitution not adequately addressing the problems of the Madhesi community. The way the interim constitution was hastily pushed through probably lends credibility to the Madhesi people’s complaints.

Instead of analyzing the problem and trying to solve it, the politicians in Nepal are once again blaming the whole issue on phantom “regressive forces.” However, if we look at the motive, the group that benefits the most from this chaos is the current leaders in power.

On one hand we have a very rigid—almost autocratic—interim constitution. On the other hand, we have activities going on that threatens the holding of the elections which will pave way for a new and, hopefully, more sane constitution. So one could argue that the current leadership is behind the chaos because they want to cling to the tremendous power that they are currently enjoying. How’s that for an argument?

If the regressive forces—assuming that they are the “royalists”—are instigating the Terai violence, then they are far more stupid than I thought. To reestablish credibility through chaos is nothing more than wishful thinking. However, if blaming the regressive forces is simply a ploy of the politicians to deflect blame (and oh yes, they have done it in the past and will do it again), then it’s pitiful.

Monday, January 15, 2007

What's Next For Nepal?

We are hearing good things about the historical promulgation of Nepal's new constitution. If things improve as well as the events in the last few days, then we have good reason to be optimistic about Nepal's immediate and long-term future. However, Nepal is very good at disappointing its people. As I have said before, constitution is just a piece of paper. It is up to the political leadership to make it work for the people.

Here I have tried to come up with three scenarios for Nepal as a result of today's developments. While I sincerely hope that the best case scenario plays out, I pray that we never have to see the worst case. My likely scenario is not very appealing, but making it better requires the vigilance, understanding and unity of the Nepali people.

Best Case Scenario
Everybody gets back to their senses. They not only talk the talk but do the work and in a relatively short period of time, we are able to see signs of Nepal climb upward from the deep abyss that it is now in. The Maoists prove that they are astute leaders not only with bullets but also when facing the ballots. The NC and UML people go through comprehensive introspections and find ways to govern with dignity and poise.

In a few years, monarchy—regardless of its status then—will be rendered irrelevant, and reinvigorated Nepal and Nepalis will have learned to find ways to enjoy lasting peace and prosperity. With prosperity, the common Nepali will find it easier to fight poverty and the root cause of our problems will be addressed effectively.

Worst Case Scenario
It is hard to teach old dogs new tricks. Our 50+ year old yuba netas will never learn from their mistakes. Once the chaos and commotions are over, they will once again go back to their old ways of looting the national coffers. The army will be heavily politicized, demoralized and turned into a cash cow for the ruling party just the way RNAC was milked. Dissenting voices will be quelled.

The concept of democracy will be blurred and confused with "anybody-can-do-and-demand-anything" and small splinter groups will try to usurp and exert power in every possible situation. The country will be badly divided and we'll see demands for autonomous/independent states along communal lines. The Maoists, used to ruling by fear and terror, will be unable to perform any magic tricks and will go back to their old ways of violence and killing. With no one in apparent control, Nepal will head into a rapid downward spiral allowing our "friendly neighbors" to heavily intervene politically or militarily.

Likely Scenario
After a few months and years of blaming all the ills of Nepal on the king and the shah dynasty, reality finally takes control. Without anyone with the kind of leadership and integrity to lead Nepal, it will be business as usual with ministers and political leaders talking big and doing very little. Corruption may not be as blatant as before, but will continue.

The major parties will squabble on petty things and national consensus will be a thing of the past. Before we know it, a couple of decades will have passed without Nepal making any major progress. Religious and communal tensions will be more common than anytime in Nepal's history.

Once again, I hope things turn for the better for all of us. Jaya Nepal.