Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Medieval republic



"Boil water and cool it for drinking. Keep the well and water source always clean. Don't drink water from rivers and canals directly." That is how King Rajendra Bir Bikram Shah had directed Kathmandu dwellers in 1840 in his royal address.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal offered the same instructions to the people of Jajarkot last week. Nepal is where it was 200 years ago. How many Nepals are there within Nepal? By how many years is Jajarkot behind Kathmandu? By creating Newa Autonomous Region and Khasan Autonomous Region, will Jajarkot come to the level of Kathmandu? Nepal's population and infrastructure have grown in two centuries, but can we say the same about our development?

We are centuries behind other countries in development parameters. Hundreds of thousands of our children have never been to school. Even those who enroll drop out. Half the population has no access to clean and safe drinking water. More than 50 per cent of children below five are malnourished.

The irony is that these are not priority issues in politics. We have never seen any party discuss its vision for health and education. They talk of making education "people oriented" or "scientific", but that is all propaganda. They never actually sit down and plan an implementation strategy. They don't discuss on how to reduce the maternity mortality rate, how to make sure that children have enough to eat, how to provide people with access to health services. They don't give a damn. They treat these as "soft" issues for INGOs, NGOs and the bureaucracy while the political parties engage in serious politics.

We have never ever heard Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhav Kumar Nepal or Pushpa Kamal Dahal speak on fulfilling the peoples' basic needs. So these are never priority issues for political discussion. You can't hide the truth for long. We are struggling to resolve the problems that other countries achieved centuries ago. Unless we address these issues republican prime ministers will have to keep repeating what a medieval king said 200 years ago.



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


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