This week the Beed has been reflecting on the different kinds of gaps and schisms in our society, and the need to find a middle path.
At the graduation ceremony of Silver Mountain Hotel Management School, young Nepalis training to make a career in the global hospitality industry put on a world-class show, exuding confidence and competence. At the same function, watching from the front row were dignitaries who perhaps found it difficult to relate to these young, ambitious compatriots of theirs.
You see such divides more and more in Nepal. On the one hand, young, educated people eager to make their mark in the global workplace. On the other, physically and mentally older policymakers, conservative supporters of the status quo. What could be a productive meeting ground for these two sets of Nepalis?
One curious aspect of the currently fashionable backlash against the perceived homogenisation of Nepal starting with its unification is the revival of centuries-old customs and traditions, and reverential videos and films about them. The Beed wonders why we can't keep the good old things while still moving with the times. For example, why can't we make movies in mother tongues, but about progressive, successful students and professionals?
Our clash and lockdown of ideologies has led to a vacuum at the centre, and no space for debate. Say we abolish the monarchy. Who is talking about what will follow, whether the next head of state will be a president or chancellor. We talk about federalism but haven't a clue how power will be devolved to the village level. To start talking about the details in which the devil resides-essential things like how villages will collect revenue, how allocations from the centre will be channelled to the villages-we need to first clear a space for proper conversation.
But our eight-party leaders can't seem to get their heads around important things such as a reconstruction budget, energy security, foreign exchange rates, labour laws, investment flows, and fiscal discipline, they're so busy consolidating their positions, feathering their nests and doling out favours. This lack of informed, open-minded debate is one reason people are sliding back into 1996-style apathy.
If we're not careful, we'll see a return of the myopic power politics of that time, and the last ten years will seem like a picnic. As citizens we all need to engage with the big questions. If the politicians don't start the essential discussions and debates, we need to. It's time for a real citizens' movement. And this one doesn't need to go to the streets or play on old differences. Instead, it needs to view the diversity of identities and ideas in Nepal as the starting point for innovation, to strengthen those things that we do share. Extremist politics of difference or homogeneity only harm the common person. We need to move towards the middle if we want to see a prosperous New Nepal in our lifetimes.