Nepali Times Asian Paints
Editorial
Theocracy to democracy



MIN BAJRACHARYA

Some have always been more equal than others in this kingdom of the gods. This inequality was nurtured in the name of religion-the treatment of women as lesser citizens, the marginalisation of 'low' castes, the neglect of those who aren't of the mainstream faith. An unpopular king tried to gain legitimacy by promoting a kind of theocracy. By allowing sycophants to call him not just Nepal's Hindu king but the emperor of the world's Hindus it was clear there was a certain delusion at work here. His fundamentalist advisers have used the Hindu Card to exploit politico-religious schisms in India and import that country's religious insecurity.

Now that parliament has confined the monarchy to symbolism at par with the Living Goddess, there are those in the palace who are trying to turn humiliation into fundamentalism. This is a colossal blunder: they are playing with fire and the ensuing conflagration will first consume those who stoke it.

Religious freedom is an integral part of the charter of liberties already enshrined in the 1990 constitution. Even though the kingdom was not designated a secular state, Nepal has never been as Hindu as it was made out to be by the ancien regime. Despite being a Hindu monarchy, the legislative, the executive and the judicial wings of the state are run strictly according to the constitution with no reference to any religious scriptures. At least in intent, Nepal was a secular kingdom long before it was formally declared to be one two weeks ago.

But privileges once acquired, howsoever illegal, are hard to discard. Hardcore royalists benefited from the Hindu kingdom myth. And they are the ones behind the fundamentalist upsurge in Birganj. This is a clear effort to create mischief, sow instability and stir religious discord. Nepal has never had impulsive religious riots. The few instances of communal violence are now known to have been planned to take advantage of the anarchy for short-term political advantage.

The state must demonstrate zero tolerance towards these intolerant fanatics of the Hindu right who have again deliberately mixed up faith with state. The majority of Hindu Nepalis believe in the separation of religion and politics, and non-Hindu Nepalis whole-heartedly support it. Those who are against secularism are of course free to hold that belief but there is no place in the new Nepal for fundos advocating religious extremism. Nepal is secular and it must remain safe for Nepalis of every religion, or for that matter, of no particular religion.


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


ADVERTISEMENT









himalkhabar.com            

NEPALI TIMES IS A PUBLICATION OF HIMALMEDIA PRIVATE LIMITED | ABOUT US | ADVERTISE | SUBSCRIPTION | PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS OF USE | CONTACT