On this Loktantra Dibas, while discussing about the nature of Nepali democracy and people’s role in strengthening it, one of my colleagues made a rather startling yet profound assessment: “Nepali people are bhedas (ram). They are easily swayed by the false rhetoric of political parties and are hypnotized by them into doing anything bad. But when it comes to real questions they are complacent. This is the time they must wage a revolution for peace and constitution. But they seem to be in hibernation.” He raged.
At the first impulse I was tempted to label his remark as downright cynicism. But considering what is happening in the Arab world, his buoyancy has some ground. Almost half of the world, in the Middle East and Africa, is roiling in revolution. The flame of uprising that was ignited by the self-immolation of a street vendor in the city of Tunisia spread dramatically and has been set to toppling the dictators one by one. This has spoiled the peace of many Nepali minds. “This man is not human. He is devil incarnate,” my brother tells of Muammer Gadaffi of Libya who calls the revolutionaries cockroaches and decrees that they be killed and whose regime has not even spared foreign journalists.
Luckily or unluckily, the agitation of the Arab world has not found any tangible manifestations here, save for the editorials, news reports and op-ed articles in the national dailies. But the wrath of revolutions has deeply alerted and impacted Nepalis’ consciousness. Deep down they have best wishes and sympathies for the rebels and hatred for dictators of those countries. Such compassion is the result of internalization of democracy. A Nepali has learnt through his experiences, how hard it is to live under dictatorship. He and/or his forebears have fought the wars for freedom. Democracy has become his way of life. He, by the same token, is conditioned to loathe dictatorship of any forms.
Had the situation here been like that of pre-2006, the uprisings in the faraway lands may have inspired revolutions here too. But Nepal, at the moment, seems to be in make belief slumber of peace. Various explanations have been advanced for this strange silence. One of them being we do not have a single face as an enemy like in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.
But for me, the deceptive absence of a single face enemy makes the affair more complicated than in the standing presence of a dictator or tyrant. With the tyrants in front, you know who to fight against but without them, threats, however grave they may be, seem inconsequential. After 2006, Nepali politics has taken a purely postmodern course. Now enemies are multiple but amorphous, they are there and not there at the same time. The line between enemies and allies has blurred. In fact, enemies and problems in Nepal have proliferated and compounded.
The country waits for a hero to brave the odds and capture the public sentiment. This is the time to act and purge the nation from all ills. When a leader rises and wages the battle, people join in and the nation begins to emerge new every other day.
It is precisely for this reason that Nepal must fight them. But this battle will and should not be of the kind that Arab World has been witnessing. This should not be for the regime change nor for democracy (democracy has been fairly institutionalized here, the occasional outcries against it are the voices of anachronism) but for justice, rule of law, prosperity and good governance and, most of all, forthe constitution. I have reasons to say this.
Anyone familiar with the political history of the country knows that we have fought almost half a dozen of wars for democracy and republic. You can count them: 1950, 1980, 1990 and 2006. I do not decry the importance of these revolutions, as they, especially that of 1990, acted as catalyst in causing media and telecommunication revolution and brought a sweeping change in the people’s pattern of thoughts and behaviors.
But each of such success was fraught with lacks, shortcomings and delusions. Take for example, the democratic movement of 1950. People rose against the Rana regime. The key objective then was to oust the regime which the movement duly did. What followed was democracy. But economic prosperity remained elusive as ever. The mission itself seemed to be so fraudulently orchestrated that in ten years it was rooted out. So, also happened in 1990; like 1950s, 1990 revolution was aimed to cause the fall of the regime. Panchayat system got ripped off by the storm of multiparty democracy. And in post-2006 politics, despite having had a republic, life for a common Nepali has not changed. Rather problems have multiplied and complexities increased.
And now the country stands at the dire need of revolutionary reforms as ever. For the first thing, countdown for May 28 has begun, the apocalypses thereafter is beyond imagination. Impunity is taking toll. Country has been sans a home minister for months, security situations have worsened with businessmen being shot almost every other day. There is lawlessness and corruption. Perennial load-shedding and sky-rocketing prices have made life infernal in the country. Complacency, one defining characteristic of Nepali people’s personality, is slowly turning into rage. Many have begun to see political leaders of the country as the chief antagonists of time.
Bearing this in mind, I can foresee a revolution ahead. But this one will and should be essentially a revolution for reforms. There will be no violence or strikes, for the people on whose strength it is wrought will not entertain such modes of revolution any more. Two conditions generally fuel revolution of this type; rise of the middleclass and consciousness. In Nepal, the number of middleclass is increasing and with it the middleclass responsibility and consciousness too. These conditions make the prospect riper.
Now the question is who will lead this sort of war? This requires some men and women of the unquestionable probity somebody that has lived for the national cause. But for the birth of such leaders to happen, deeply politicized Nepal should be depoliticized for sometime. One must first learn to be a citizen of the country before he or she assumes the role of party cadre and supporter. This realization seems to be slowly taking root in this country. I was surprised to see two of the prominent and smart leaders Khadga Prasad Oli from CPN-UML and Ram Sharan Mahat from NC attending a peace rally on April 14 in Basantapur and addressing the gathering in a pleasing pretense of being just citizens. This is a good gesture. Besides, civilians have begun to assert themselves. They have begun to appreciate the good and condemn the bad. When the former Kathmandu Valley police chief SP Ramesh Kharel was unjustly transferred, public rose against this in the media forums. When the finance secretary Rameshwar Khanal resigned there was a flurry of criticism against finance minister. A level of awareness seems to have seeped in Nepali people.
Notwithstanding, the lacking factor is undoubtedly the leadership. The surprising success of an old Gandhian Anna Hazare, his methods of waging war for corruption free India has awakened the Nepalis to the need of revolution for reforms. It has also shown that such a revolution is a winning battle too. But it has also made them realize that they lack hero at home. Of late, however, this lack seems to be being recompensed. The country is breeding some capable to strike peoples’ imagination in Nepal these days. Outgoing Chief Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha, former police chief Rames Kharel, finance secretary Rameshwar Khanal, CNN hero Anuradha Koirala and so on have impressed Nepalis greatly.
The country waits for a hero to brave the odds and capture the public sentiment. This is the time to act and purge the nation from all ills. When a leader rises and wages the battle, people join in and the nation begins to emerge new every other day. This may sound like utopian musings but this is what we should demand and dream for at the moment.
Well, frankly, I didn´t read the whole article but the first quoted para did catch my eyes, "Nepali people are bhedas...They are easily swayed by the false rhetoric of political parties and are hypnotized by them into doing anything bad...".
True but we can´t change that with the current level of education, can we? Our people don´t use objective criteria to judge the politicians. If we do, then I think 99% of them wouldn´t dare to join politics