Nepali Times
DANIEL LAK
Here And There
The real story


DANIEL LAK



MIN BAJRACHARYA

It's easy enough, in the tiny cloistered compounds of the discourse of Nepal's elite, to believe in that most damaging national myth-that of uniqueness, of exclusivity.

Of all the nonsense perpetuated by authoritarians, feudals, and the royal culture here, none has done more harm than negative and narrow exclusivity. The notion that somehow this slice of real estate is utterly unique, beyond geographic and cultural context, and possessed of innate virtue by its very existence.

As a patriotic mythology, this is nothing new. America, France, Egypt, and other modern states bask in delusions of uniqueness that serve largely to emphasise exaggerated notions of national decline. The United States has manifest destiny, the thought that American society is a \'castle on a hill\' that all others strive for. Or these days, despise. The truth is less dramatic and more malleable.

French politicians are uniquely boring in their constant parsing of the nature of France and her \'civilisation\'. Never mind that France is an influential, but no means overly-powerful, European state that has contributed much to global society-not least the notion of malaise, a national sickness of heart that moves the locals but bores the rest of us.

Egypt's idea that it is the centre of the universe would be laughable if it weren't so relentlessly and humourlessly promoted by national media and political types. But Cairo is the seat of a tottering dictatorship which must associate itself with the glories of Pharaohs and pyramids to stay relevant, not to mention sucking up to Washington while at the same time spouting anti-American rhetoric.

Nepal's panchayati rulers and kings modelled their myths on such examples, as well as Stalinist and fascist ideas of blood and soil. Thus the land of the Gurkha was born, the land of Mt Everest, the world's only Hindu kingdom, and a list of other exclusionary sub-titles for an otherwise rather pleasant place where citizens didn't actually need their egos and patriotism stoked by falsehoods.

My optimism these days rests on these people, who are troubled at the moment, and possibly rather pessimistic, who long for political surety as a means to guarantee their children a future. People who want to be proud of their country not because it has mountains or kings in funny crowns, but because it is a fair, democratic, dynamic place where merit matters and education produces results. Where corruption and crime are punished by due process, and wealth guarantees nothing but a good meal and a fair tax bill.

Any politician-of left, right or centre-who wants to get the levers of power in this land needs to know something basic but not always within the grasp of the aspiring leader here. Nepalis want good government, not glorifications of national greatness. They want an elite which knows its place and surrenders it gracefully when bidden by voter demand. They want stability, prosperity, peace. National pride comes from these things, not from the mouth of a blowhard aspiring to get his hands in the till.

You can't fool the Nepali people. Surely the political, royal, and revolutionary types are learning this. And if so, that's something to be proud of.



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


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