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Damage control mode

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Despite the deal on the constitution we face the twin dangers of a demagogue president presiding over a country disintegrating into inter-ethnic squabbles

When things are as polarised as they are in the current constitution debate, and when all sides want all or nothing, any political compromise was sure to be unpalatable to many. And so it was.

The street protests by Madhesi and Janajati groups that followed the deal struck on Tuesday among the four main political forces was necessary muscle-flexing. The political leadership maybe narrow-minded, near-sighted, and greedy for power and money but they have worked out the best give-and-take arrangement possible under the circumstances. They have even averaged out the number of provinces between the demand for 14 provinces and 6.

However, the names and boundaries of the future provinces were too divisive and volatile to be addressed at present. Doing that would have delayed the constitution and opened up a can of worms. By deferring the most contentious issues to the parliaments of the future provinces themselves, the party leaderships passed the buck on to those who wanted such provinces.

This buys everyone some time, but it makes future negotiations over carving up the country even more fraught because of the potential for pitting Janajati against Janajati and Madhesi against Madhesi over what they should call their provinces, what their territorial outlines should be, or worse: raise questions all over again about the 11-state model. But, the leaders must have reasoned, we will cross that bridge when we get there.

It doesn’t bode well for the future of the country if the debate over the state structure becomes a part of the deal-making over power, and the constitution is drafted to suit the ego of one man. It can’t be swayed by a vocal minority of sloganeering activists who hold the silent majority ransom with the threat of unleashing an ethnic holocaust. The extreme hate speech on social media and sections of the press is already having a corrosive effect.

There are serious problems with Nepali society. It remains the most unequal in Asia, and there are historically marginalised groups that continue to live in near-slavery. Despite signs of greater inclusivity, the civil service, the top leadership of all parties, the police and army continue to be dominated by mainly men belonging to the traditionally privileged caste groups. Many of them may have got there through dint of hard work, but no one can argue against the need to have more gender, ethnic and caste balance in officialdom. And it’s not just the numbers, ne has to be a Nepali woman, Dalit, Madhesi or Janajati to know the daily discrimination, arrogance and ethnocentrism with which the ruling class groups treat them. Our leaders don’t seem to realise how absurd it looks to have 11 Brahmin men and a Newar sit on sofas in Baluwatar to design a new future for Nepal.

These are genuine grievances, even if some leaders of marginalised groups may be using it for political ends. They are just articulating the anger that is there. The indigenous and Madhesi groups argue that only ethnicity-based federalism will redress those grievances. Disregarding the opinion of a majority of Nepalis who don’t want to correct a historical mistake by making an even bigger one, the political parties buckled under pressure and have now agreed to carve up the country.

Among the many dangers we face, the two main ones now are the demolition of democracy by a demagogue president, and the country disintegrating into inter-ethnic squabbles

The thing to do now is to go into damage control mode to make sure that the new federalism model does not lead to the country’s disintegration, doesn’t keep us poor, doesn’t turn us into a dictatorship.

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7 Responses to “Damage control mode”

  1. Rekha Gurung on Says:

    ” how absurd it looks to have 11 Brahmin men and a Newar sit on sofas in Baluwatar to design a new future for Nepal.” This the best line of your piece. Every thing changes. Time will devour everyone and everything. This nasty group will one day have to pay its dues. Though we live in the 21st century, the Netas of Nepal belong to the 14th century. I endorse the idea that a Nepali woman can be a better leader and do a better job than these 11 Bahuns and 1 Newar. The 1 Newar is probably deaf and dumb.

  2. Digshit on Says:

    Well, although the author writes in a preachy sentimental way but cleverly omits media being occupied by people from privileged castes. Everybody agrees on paper about the grievances of marginalised groups but when it comes to
    1. recruiting them in army,
    2. making the CDO in their home districts (leave whole of Nepal as that is out of question, wonder how a non-native, non-local language speaking privileged person is more qualified to understand and resolve the problems of locals),
    3. accepting their language at national level (Avadhi, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Maithali etc),
    4. making their dress as a part of national dress and not enforcing the use of topi in official photographs,
    5. promoting their culture and lifestyle,
    6. avoid making slangs and arrogant behavior at them at airports,
    7. giving their toppers the ex-Mahendrabhusan/President’s medal,
    8. Forcing them to read and write all the official documents in Nepali language (a language of few privileged)
    9. to celebrate their festivals at Nepalese Embassy abroad
    10. developing their places of importance in travel brochures
    11. Plus + Plus ++++++

    then all these privileged people start making illogical excuses about correcting one mistake by making another. Ridiculous!

    Why preach on equality when you can’t share resources, opportunities and stand as equals?

  3. BB on Says:

    Your warnings and pleas are coming 6-7 years late. There were people warning about the same fate that many years ago, but you labelled them ‘royalist’, extreme rightist, ‘panche’, ‘mandale’ and so forth and dismissed their rightful concerns.

    ‘Jaba raati taba budhi taati!’

  4. sai on Says:

    It is just a shame that Nepali people do not wont to be Nepali . Rather be a minority and keep difference about theses cast system and create more awareness of these issues to run a political agenda for the parties . This is what happens when a King is removed , I would like to bring the king back no matter what ! Why do people ignore history in the first place. As we all know about it why Prithvi Narayan Shah unified NEPAL and NEPALIS.

  5. tbsnet on Says:

    Kunda ji,
    The sixth paragraph in your piece doesn’t go quite well with the rest. “Most unequal in Asia,” “near-slavery” “the civil service, the top leadership of all parties, the police and army” “dominated” by the privileged groups and “it’s not just the numbers, one doesn’t have to be a Nepali woman, Dalit, Madhesi or Janajati to know the daily discrimination, arrogance and ethnocentrism with which the ruling class groups treat them. Our leaders don’t seem to realise how absurd it looks to have 11 Brahmin men and a Newar sit on sofas in Baluwatar to design a new future for Nepal.”

    How can one explain the deep understanding of the above paragraph with what you have said about “a vocal minority of sloganeering activists,” “sections of the press” and leaders who want structural provision for change. Who knows what the silent majority actually thinks? They were ok with the Rana system and the Panchayat system and after. Doesn’t the silent majority want empowerment for themselves even if they don’t understand as you do how they have been treated and how they have been represented in the state that rules over them? It’s people like you who understand the situation in-depth and yet take wishy-washy position on these matters that breeds extremists and hate mongers. So, speak up like an intellectual and call a spade a spade. Otherwise, by just willing to wound but afraid to strike mentality will only breed more extremists and hate-mongers becase they will be the one whose hate and extremism will be more convincing to the silent majority.

  6. Digshit on Says:

    PNS unification sowed the seeds of today’s unresolved problems. What was his motive behind annexing Tarai to Gorkha and calling it Nepal. Just to reap benefits from Tarai agricultural lands and making hardworking Madhesis his subjects/slaves. Those days are over so privileged groups should forget about occupying Tarai by evoking nationalistic politics.

  7. vija on Says:

    If executive powers are to be given to Future President and the Parlament equally as this is the reason NC and UML have joined the Present Government in hope that it will be as said.Well,well,well,now Maoists don’t need anything,it is their parties game till the end as no one even questioned such an obivious question,who will the Nepali Army listen in case of emergency,will it take Presidents directives or will it wait till Parlament comes to an agreement.Who in the end of the day will protect enthnic based federal states???????????????????????????Having agreed to such a deal,NC and UML must correct the damage by breaking it now and it is better to not have constitution by 27th of May than going away and improvizing on new ideas of Maoist Party and their leadership,it leads only to one,enthic wars and the power of Army.This is not called democracy,it is called power of Executive President and Army combained and only ,as in the emergency no one is gone wait while Parlament decides and most importantly,Army is the only real strength and power.So no matter what goes on ,it is certainly not in the interests of no one Nepali except those,Dahal,Bhattarai as they need to complete their mission of rearranging the state so that in the end the President becomes the single man with the Army behind.There was nothing wrong with the country ,there was nothing wrong with the Kingdom of Nepal,what was,is and will be deadly wrong ,is the division of the country into ethnic states.We are going back to a centuries fought wars of previous Kings of Nepal to keep Nepal as one.PROGRESS in the country is not suceeded by division of the country,by division of powers,progress is succeeded by the work Mr.Dahal and Bhattarai,not by the powers of ideology of your party. If Kingdom of Nepal doesn’t exist,President with his half given powers is enough for one man to do in the country what xecutive powers he has.That was the card maoists played and 27th therefore is very important for them as it will be given power with the new constitution .This is an emergency ,for all of us,to never let it happen,to never accept the new system of President and division of the state into any Federal ethnic states.If the figure of a President is what maoist party fought for,then Kingdom of Nepal with the King as the leader of the country was something we all respected as he represented us in the world and if corruption and lawlessness were the reasons to fight this decade long war,then maoists are doing the worst ever damage to national interests and interests and selfrespect of every Nepali,as now we will treat people as who they are,to which ethnic group they belong ,but not as human beings with simply intitlement to respectful life with all the subpoints etc.Wake up and throw away any deal you signed with the maoists and stick to the Parlamentary system ,without parlouring ,stop thinking of division.Law ,corruption and human respecting rights were the only deeds missing in Nepali society implemented by the Goverments as many of the above mentioned existed among the people itself.People needed rights,protection,law and implementation of such by the Governments,not the what kind of power or what kind of Federal states would be there.Wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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