A rant on Nepali politics and what not

People in Nepal are too quick to point out what happened in Egypt should happen in Nepal too – that the army should intervene and ‘teach political parties a lesson on how to govern’ (Nepal already has a judge as the head of government)! A coup d’état by the army is certainly not a good way to go about ‘strengthening democracy and instilling good governance’, ends do not always justify the means, and definitely not in a case like this where the society and the political system needs to learn from the mistakes and create a functioning democracy and instil good governance in all aspects of the society. Of course, in Nepal this has thus far failed, even after two bouts of ‘revolution’ with one monarchical misadventure in between.

I am no expert in Nepali politics or the society. Call this a ‘layman’s rant’ if you will on Nepali politics and political classes and those who either make or influence decisions affecting the nation. So lets begin!

First, Nepal has never been a democracy in the truest sense of the word. Definitely not before the 1990 (read between 1951–60), but also not after the 1990’s first people’s movement to end the party-less Panchayet. And not even after the ‘second people’s movement’ of 2006 that brought the Maoist in power among other things. At best, Nepal has been an oligarchy (don’t think of the Russian oligarchs now, read this instead (from Oxford Dictionary of English): {ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from Greek oligarkhia, from oligoi ‘few’ arkhein ‘to rule’.}). I don’t think anyone can claim that Nepal has had a government of the people, for the people as yet. There have been ‘elected’ governments but not really for the people. The problem is that the political parties themselves are not democratic, and are dominated by a few individuals. That has filtered through to the national political arena with wheeling-and-dealing by the so called ‘top leaders’ from these parties. For example, almost all of the major political decision since the 2006 people’s movement have been made by these so called ‘top leaders’ without even properly consulting their own parties, let alone their constituents! And that says it all. And the only solution to this has to be the internal democracy within these political parties to begin withHow can we expect these parties and their leaders to represent the people and follow democratic norms and be part of good governance when they are in the habit of doing just the opposite within their own parties?

But this oligarchic tendency is not limited to the politics and political parties in Nepal unfortunately. The agenda setters, the decision makers (or at the very least those who influence the decisions), the opinion makers, those influencing the policies, and so on are all a small group, mostly residing in Kathmandu and within themselves deciding what should happen to the country, and what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. Most of these ‘elites’ have little knowledge about the life of an average Nepali, say in the far west or in some obscure village in Terai or even in a nearby village bordering Kathmandu, but of course they pretend to do so! They neither know the people nor truly represent them, but they still think they are speaking for the entire Nepali population when they open their mouth or roll their pen, and to me that is another tragedy of our country. This oligarchy in thinking and agenda-setting!

Second, the corruption in and politicisation of almost every sector in the country has to stop. Lets be clear, political awareness among all parts of the society is a good thing and should be encouraged, but not politicisation of every sector from education to healthcare to now even judiciary! The culture of political appointments that started pretty much after the 1990s has gone hand in hand with increasing corruption. Not saying there was no corruption during the Panchayet but after the 1990, the country has seen ‘democratisation of corruption’ more than that of the polity! More worryingly, most of those involved have gone unpunished and/or have received protection from the so called ‘top political leaders’. Since the middle of 1990s Nepalis have been witness to one corruption scandal after the another, almost always involving the so called ‘top leaders’ – from the Dhamija scandal to Lauda to Pajero culture to…(just fill in the blanks!).

Third, the increasing culture of violence and threats of violence has now become a norm rather than exception. Maoist party must take a huge responsibility on this issue, but others are not completely innocent either, especially in recent years with gangsters on the payroll of most of the ‘big’ parties and ‘top leaders’.

In all these years, and despite all the (unscrupulous) going ons in the society and polity, the judiciary was seen as relatively incorruptible and fair, now that is beginning to fade as well with the chief judge at the helm of the government.

Some people might be thinking/saying ‘you haven’t mentioned India yet, what about its role in all the mess?’ – I say to those people, first try getting your own house in order before blaming your neighbours for the mess you have created within! There seems to be certainly some truth in the (not so positive) role our neighbour plays in the politics of our country, but when you really think about it as to who created the space and the opportunity for such incursions then it is glaringly obvious that our short-sighted ‘leaders’ are much to blame. If we don’t allow such space and opportunity for incursions through a well-functioning and incorruptible system then it’ll certainly be harder for our neighbours to do so.

I intended to finish this rant within 1000 words so I have to end here, but you get the point, I hope! 140 characters in twitter was just not enough!