Do you think the monarchy should be retained or abolished?
We Nepalis are a trusting lot. We never expect much from our political parties, but we still have faith in the state's institutions. We count our small blessings, and see the glass as half-full. Most of us resolutely reckon elections can be held in an environment free of fear.
A public opinion poll conducted in April shows continuation of trends seen in surveys since 2003. Support for monarchy is at an all-time low and more than 60 percent oppose secularism which may mean we are headed for a Hindu republic.
The people are more interested in peace, jobs, schools, and health than on day-to-day politics. Nepalis are proud to be Nepalis, but increasingly identify with their ethnicity or religion. A clear majority support quotas for the excluded. Most Nepalis believe that a constituent assembly will deliver peace and development.
On the downside, most of us still don't really understand what a constituent assembly is all about. We vaguely equate it with lasting peace. We don't know how federalism works. More worryingly, while Nepalis overwhelmingly support democracy over any other form of government, we don't immediately associate it with such important matters as development or justice.
Democracy remains a set of abstract principles, dimly desirable because dictatorship was such a disaster. Close to three-quarters of those polled feel no closeness to any political party. There is deep-seated distrust of those who inhabit the political sphere even though Girija Koirala and Madhab Nepal score mystifyingly high. The Maoists get points for bringing about positive changes in the social structure, but promptly lose them for continuing to harass and extort fellow-Nepalis even in peacetime.
The lesson from this poll is that our politicians still have a window of opportunity to show that they can rise above differences. This poll is a warning: they must disengage from incessant politicking and focus on the economy.
Despite this, things are looking up and that most Nepalis are hopeful about the future.
The people speak
. Support for monarchy at all-time low
. Overwhelming support for democracy
. Priority is the economy, not politics
. Persisting distrust of politicians
. Don't like Maoist harassment despite peace
. Reject violence, favour negotiations
. Mostly sure elections will be free and fair
. Everyone proud to be Nepali
. Majority dislike secularism