Nepali Times
Guest Column
Regression analysis


Despite the public awareness that the anti-'regression' movement has generated, it has undermined larger issues by encouraging a limited interpretation of what is perceived as regressive.

Regression is defined as 'a trend or shift toward a lower or less perfect state'. Any deviation from the eventual attainment or consolidation of a superior form of democracy, therefore, qualifies as regression.

Although the cause of 'regression' has universal accord across political boundaries, proposed resolutions to it do not. The source of perceived regression in Nepal is an interpretation of Article 127, which allowed for Sher Bahadur Deuba's dismissal and the nomination of prime ministers at the king's discretion. To the casual observer, Deuba's reinstatement two months ago would amount to a reversal of this 'regression'. But, according to the alliance headed by the NC-G, the casual observer is wrong.

Depending on who one engages, there are different definitions of regression. Although the dissolution of parliament was not an extra-constitutional move, some previous parliamentarians maintain that its re-instatement is the only way to end the 'regression'. For Girija Koirala and his coalition of four, it appears that 'regression' will continue until he himself becomes the prime minister. Despite the anti-'regression' rhetoric, this predisposition towards power-mongering is hardly progressive itself.

Democracy is easily manipulated by those with ambition for power and political office, especially in the presence of a complacent, silent majority. To express discontent over dinner and cocktails is of marginal value. To effectively voice dissatisfaction and enact a system of checks and balances, is where real value lies. Harnessing this value is not just a democratic option, it is every Nepali citizen's civic duty. The failure on our part as responsible citizens to challenge questionable motives also qualifies as a form of regression.

Yet another regressive attitude is our innate tendency to blame others rather than accept responsibility ourselves. The political parties seem to find great comfort in blaming the palace for 'regression'. They also find it convenient to sideline the issues that allowed for (or forced, some would say), a constitutional monarch to assume a politically assertive role. All the political forces in the country blame each other for the Maoist uprising. Meanwhile, the Maoists extracted most of their power base by capitalising on the blame levied on former governments for their dereliction of civic duty.

This blame game has all the elements of a vicious cycle that only a collective consensus can break. Perhaps a radically induced change in the attitudes of our leadership is required, followed by an immediate adoption and implementation of similar changes at all levels of societal strata. The sooner we are able to come to terms with our own misdemeanours the sooner this form of 'regression' will end.

Ironically, in the midst of all this confusion and chaos, the Maoists appear to be the only actors who practice a literal interpretation of societal progressiveness. Sadly, though, when this test is expanded to include the means used by the Maoists to accomplish their ends then it is not progressive anymore.

To err it is said, is the human condition, to forgive, the most noble of virtues. But what if one continually errs? And does bestowing forgiveness upon those who repeatedly equivocate and engage in Machiavellian conspiracies constitute a virtue or a sign of weakness?

For the sake of peace and that of future generations, one can only hope that more of us will have the courage to choose virtuosity over aggression and by default, progression over regression. The current interpretation of 'regression' as that which can only be accomplished by royal decree offers what is in statistical parlance, a 'weak model'. There are simply too many dependent variables in the equation for 'regression' to be explained by one factor alone.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)