DIVIDED WE FALL
Re: 'Fuelling change' (#335). Federalism is a basic way to decentralise-if local and regional governments are elected locally and have the power to tax, spend, and enact laws accordingly, they will rely less on the central government. This is how you take control away from the upper caste dominated bureaucracy and government.
But federalism should be based on geography, not ethnic enclaves. Federalism based on ethnic identities will lead us back to the bayese and chaubese rajyas.
Think of all the questions: What if a particular ethnicity passes laws that discriminate against others in its state? Ask what if all ethnic-based federation have their own police and armed forces? These are easily manipulated into being rogue force and warlords-look at Somalia. How will commerce take place in an ethnic-based federation?
Federalism based upon emotional outbursts is no solution. We require proportional representation at all levels and affirmative action to empower ethnic groups. The House of Representatives should be elected on population basis, and the Upper House on equal geographic and ethnic representations. National laws should remain supreme in case of disputes.
We are all Nepalis, and united we stand. Just look at Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Kosovo, or Chechnya.
For any madhesi who had doubts about having a separate madhes state, this movement has been an eye-opener. The brutal suppression by the state, comments and articles by some leading pahadi intellectuals and policymakers, and mainstream media reporting all have exposed the depth of the pahadi prejudice against madhesis.
Had it not been for this sudden uprising in the tarai, the pahadi upper caste regime in Kathmandu would have got away with a rather spectacular rigging of the constituent assembly in their favour. How could our 'democratic' leaders not know that one-man-one-vote is a central tenet of democracy, and how could they justify suppression of a justified demand?
Madhesis need to stay united and realise that upper caste pahadis will again try to divide the country in a way that maintains their hegemony. The next battle is going to between the 20 percent upper caste educated urban pahadis who want to maintain their control over Nepal and the rest, who want them to loosen their grip.
. Sheetal Kumar makes valid points in 'Acute hearing' (Eyes Wide Shut, #335). The government should involve all sections of society through dialogue, interactions, and roundtable talks to decide what sort of federalism and proportional representation would be appropriate for Nepal.
Neglecting an agenda that was raised peacefully will only help extremists like the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, and Jwala Singh's group, whose only aim is to see their names in the headlines, and who will probably earn their living through maintaining terror and instability on both sides of the border.
The MJF's demand for the resignation of the home minister is understandable to some extent, but many madhesis and pahadis believe that Krishna Prasad Sitoula's resignation, instead of solving the problem, would jeopardise the peace process and upcoming CA polls.
The eight-party alliance government has handed the Rayamajhi political hot potato to the CIAA so it can give a slap on the wrist to royal ministers for misuse of funds. But it says it has no legal authority to take action against them, the king, and the police for all the deaths and injuries. However, ordering the shooting of an unarmed person is premeditated murder, and beating defenceless, non-resisting persons with clubs is battery. Had the previous kangresi governments not refused to be accountable to the International Criminal Court, we'd have other options, but the lack of prosecution for the deaths and injuries represents a longstanding tradition of impunity and denial of the value of human life. It is not law that is lacking, it is political will and moral decency, just as it was after Jana Andolan I. Perhaps this is to protect themselves from prosecution for their own violations.
Artha Beed is correct to compare Nepal with its Asian neighbours ('The long view', Economic Sense, #335). Thanks to the Maoist conflict, Nepalis finally know the real meaning of democracy. But the new government hasn't yet addressed the demands on Nepal's economy by the 'revolutions'. Generating employment is a major task s the country does not have to run on remittances. Nepal is landlocked and has no other option than to trade with its neighbours. We can make lucrative hydropower deals, for example. The East-West Highway network should be expanded, by taking on international loans of necessary, to serve the needs of the giant economies of India and China. Private business houses should be encouraged to explore new tourist sites in the thousands of worthy places between the Mechi and the Mahakali. It's time the New Nepal government change itself to Nepal Inc.
Kudos for publishing both David Miliband's article which fuels the media frenzy for developing countries to jump on the climate change bandwagon and Bjorn Lomborg's more balanced retort. In a country where people die every day from preventable and curable diseases, and where power outages, fuel shortages, and water rationing are a fact of daily life, it is difficult to muster enthusiasm for what is speculation on small long-term changes, especially since these are changes that we neither helped to create nor can do much to address. Let's keep things in perspective.
Backside is hardly that-I get to it before anything else. That said, the entire paper is indispensable. It's rare for media outlets in Nepal to maintain balance and courage. At the worst of times, Nepali Times was unafraid to stand up to despotism or inspire others to do so. That your readership extends to other continents is telling. There is something missing, though. Until a couple of years ago, you used to run creative pieces, such as those by Manjushree Thapa. Quality newspapers aren't comprehensive without artistic, literary or spiritual writing.