Nepali Times Asian Paints
Here And There
Chancing it


At the end of the day, you never know. This useful thought can tame most egos, given a chance. It does, like it or not. Time, chance, and whatever else you fear, all catch up with you.

No matter how highly you regard yourself, or are venerated by various versions of the masses, despite the high esteem in which you hold your own-self, it all comes down to the passage of time. Or chance. A small cancer cell sidling against some others in a part of the body; a worn spot on a fuel line on the airplane engine; storm cells swirling in a distant, unperceived place. It's all chaos theory.

Life is random. Our ego tells us we're in charge. And if we are President George W Bush, Gyanendra Shah, Comrade Awesome, or Salvador Allende of Chile, for a time we are in charge. We even get to where we are legitimately, a little stealth, a lot of popular support or natural momentum. But you know what? At the end of the day, nothing is guaranteed. The supposition of divine sanction serves only to let us down harder than the airier confines of fatalism.

So when you look at the state of Nepal these days, perhaps the best approach is-"what's the big deal". Okay, the various attempts, fair and foul, of recent actors to positively influence events have failed or gone horribly wrong. The king and his dynasty repose discredited yet snappish and angry utopians of right and left sweat bullets as their dreams collapse around them. Democrats are grovelling in the dirt or wallowing in sloughs of despond.

So we missed the CA elections. Maoist cadres aren't happy in crappy cantonments. Tarai grievances are seething merrily and dozens of other complaints are being brought to Kathmandu in torchlight processions from the provinces. Read and weep, oh ye of the comfortable classes.

Look further afield. Development is picking up but, for the most part, not nearly efficiently enough. Kathmandu's aid-o-crat elite is doing its best but it take time to shed the habits of years of perceived conflict and shelter-seeking. Back in donor capitals, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other hotter hell holes are displacing funds and interest. It's not easy to be tasked with developing Nepal.

On the human rights front, there are hopes but little prospect of great strides being made towards accountability and an end to impunity and natural justice. No one in politics right now has un-bloodied hands. All share some guilt for the dire state of the nation, so who's going to take the first step towards truth and reconciliation? No one who isn't pushed, or promised immunity, that's for sure.

Yes we need a Nelson Mandela, a Martin Luther King, an Oliver Cromwell. But giants don't walk the earth anymore. Ordinary, mediocre, timid folk like us are going to have to do it ourselves. And risk the randomness of existence. Take a chance on failure, irrelevance, or worse.

Just taking that first step could be crucial. It could do all sorts of things but if it really gets going, it will re-invent civil society and put the good people a half step ahead of the political classes. Just taking that chance, breathing deep, stepping into the gap, going for it. Stating boldly what's needed and when, and explaining the time-bound consequences of failure. Not the politicians, but the poli, the people.

Is there any other alternative?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)