Nepali Times
Publisher\'s Note
Been there, done that


'Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his comrades in the bush want the present constitution scrapped. Presumably, they want to have a dictatorship of the proletariat declared in its place. The Unified Marxist-Leninists, on the other hand, saw the Maoists stealing their thunder so they half-heartedly put forward their own bright ideas for constitutional amendments. Then there are the people on the hard right who are furious that their masters lost power, and now want a new constitution that will set right the "wrongs" of the Jana Andolan.

So, there you have it: the entire political spectrum except for the centrist NC organising to remould the constitution. We have to ask ourselves: What are they after? Why now? And who benefits?

Our view is: it ain't broke, so don't fix it. The snowball effect of public cynicism about the state of the country has little to do with flaws in the constitution. It has to do with short-sighted, narrow-minded and self-serving politicians who don't deserve to rule. Blame the driver, not the car. Blame the carpenter, not his tools.

The most curious call for change in the constitution comes from the ultra-left. As with all their revolutionary forebears, the end justifies the means in the single-minded pursuit of power by the shortest route available. Care a hang for the consequences. Then there are erstwhile partyless parliamentarians like Rajeshwar Devkota, who really has nothing left to lose by calling for major rectifications in the constitution.

As the UML's General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal says elsewhere in this issue, we need a national government to ensure that the next elections are clean. Pretty clever move by the comrade from Balkhu in taking the wind out of the sails of Messrs Pushpa Kamal Dahal to his left and Rajeswar Devkota to his right.

Nepalis, being generally gradualists, have indicated by their ballots in the past ten years that they like things to evolve in less unsettling ways than total revolution. Nepalis aren't prepared to give up the essence of the Constitution - that of creating a pluralistic society with a parliamentary form of government, and independent institutions to monitor its functioning.

Changes in the constitution are perfectly natural, and even desirable. However, change for the sake of change may be good politics, but it is bad democratic practice. Having said that, Madhav Nepal must be thanked for bringing the discussion back to where it rightfully belongs - to strengthening democracy, not discarding it altogether. Which seems to be what the two lean and hungry Bahuns from Gorkha, Comrade Baburam and Pancha Rajeshwar, want.'

Those who say nothing has changed in Nepal in the past one year are wrong. Nothing has changed in 10 years.
It is to prove this point that we are reprinting nearly verbatim the editorial from this paper from issue #18 of 24 November, 2000 titled 'Left, right. Left right'. It is a tragedy that a country's politics, its main political discourse, has made so little progress in 10 years.

The paralysing infighting and factionalism are the same, the shocking lack of commitment to national development and economic progress is identical. Even the dramatis personae are the same, as seen in the front page picture of the issue from which the above editorial is reprinted.

READ ALSO:
India changing, PRASHANT JHA
The lure of the national, CK LAL
The failed people
, INDU NEPAL
Who's bad?, ASHUTOSH TIWARI



1. manik

Dear Editor,

Your 'terms of reference' says no hateful words can be directed towards any group of individuals. So I guess I am forced to say I love what our politicians are doing, three cheers for them, and may god keep them safe in their cozy homes.

Manik



2. gangalal
I see no qualitative difference, no more nuanced thinking, between the writings of editor and the views of a typical high school student that goes to Rato Bangla, or Malpi, or Shuva Tara etc.


3. May Ball
Ha ha...! damn right nothing has changed. The news on the left "Buddha Air to Bhutan". They also took 10 years to do that...? 

4. DG
Teach exactly  what a democracy is,and what it is not first and foremost.Democratic republics are a tragic examples of the bogus use of a political label. Democratic despotism,tyranny of the majority.Totalitarianism is always practiced in the name of the people. to punish incarcerate,or destroy the  fundamental rights,freedom o0f conscience and religion,unrestricted and secure ownership and use of private property,security against unwarranted intrusions by the government into one,s private life.
Our fight presently is Democracy in the globally accepted standard  or  one party dictatorship of the ultra- left Maoist. Let us decide this question first; every others will follow  on.


5. Arthur
"Those who say that Kunda Dixit has stopped thinking in the past year are wrong. Actually he stopped thinking more than 10 years ago. To prove that point we are reprinting nearly verbatim this editorial from 24 November 2000. It is a tragedy that Kunda Dixit actually thinks it makes sense to keep repeating the same thing for 10 years."

"The absence of any proposal for actually ending the paralysis and shocking lack of national development and economic progress is identical. So is the preposterous claim that the constitution is not broken and does not need fixing despite producing paralysis among short sighted, narrow minded and self-serving politicians who rule 'constitutionally' but don't deserve to."

All that Kunda Dixit can do is call on people to keep up the  pretence that the Maoists are no better than the others by turning their weary eyes away from politics and letting the others just keep on blocking progress.


6. jange
Looks like the NT's frustrating is showing. Having backed the Maoists as the only party representing change, particularly in relation to throwing out the monarchy, they are beginning to realise that they may have backed the wrong horse.

As the saying goes- Pahile budhi manina, pachi budhi janina, bagh lagyo ghichhauna, budhi lagi chichauna.


7. Nirmal
It is, not at all, a easy job for any Nation to overcome a labyrinth that the Maoists, non-maoists and military leadership has altogether created before people. We have parties, so called democrats, whose behaviours contribute to the decadence of the system. Then we have the Maoists, so called mesiahs but crude politicos who do not mind to imply violence as a political instruments and then we have military leadership manifesting MacArthur syndrom every now and then.  Then it is obvious that the political discourse remains the same, publisher!

The solution lies within the Big 3 parties, and above all in the Maoists: Leave their dogmas once forever and present a solution before the country. the country can no more afford the status quoism of the thre pricipal actors of the conflict.


8. Johann
If Arthur the Maoist thinks Kunda Dixit is anti-Maoist and Jange the anti-Maoist thinks he is a pro-Maoist, then the publisher must be on the right track. This is exactly why the Nepali Times is my favourite news site,it doesn't toe any particular line. The debates here are of a very high standard and the commentators for the most part argue about issues not personalities. JD 


9. Gole
#5

Worshipping False Gods wpould be the greatest disaster that could happen in this country in the coming days.We have drunk the plebeian wine,its better ,tastes better.


10. Correction
@ Johann #8: Don't think Jange is saying Kunda Dixit is pro-Maoist. He is saying Dixit was pro-Maoist, but is wisening up now. That makes him an anti-Maoist now, and explains why Arthur the Maoist is usually pissed with him.

11. trish

moral lesson

if.......u  want CHANGE........be the change................dont ...for god sake  complain......all we r doing ..is sitting on our asses and keep complaing.............



12. Devashish
Totally agree with Trish, it is quite convenient to point out what is wrong with anything or anyone. There might not be magic pill to set everything right but I do know that change can start within rather than expecting so much from politicians. If the public voted them to office, then maybe it is time to address root causes of that by providing quality education to the country's people. What do we teach out children in school that leads them to choose a career and life outside of Nepal?


13. jange
"Our view is: it ain't broke, so don't fix it."

I take it you are talking about the 1990 constitution.




14. Slarti

Over the recent years, with media's obsession with politics - and with communists seeping into every sphere of public life - real issues, real concerns of real people and important ideas about the scope and effectiveness of governance have been completely sidelined.

Everybody, and that is everybody, has completely forgotten that politics is merely an enabling function of a society. Democracy acts as a conduit for different opinions and apportions powers to the representatives of these ideas so that none of them get carried away with their own madness. Politics is nothing more than that. 

These same men will continue to call the shots, corruption will continue unabated, inefficiency will continue to mar governance, name calling will only intensify, you will keep writing the same editorials and communists will find new reasons to blame everybody else for all problems.

Things will change only when you and I take clear stand, whether left or right. And state the reason clearly, repeatedly, and vehemently, again and again, whether anyone likes it or not. 

This kind of "oh won't you please improve" is not the way, with all due respect, I assure you it is not.



15. Satyajeet Nepali (1)

Devashish, agree with you in principle. Providing quality education should lead to a more enlightened electorate. But that's a long-term solution. Change can only come when the next generation grows up and votes. We need change in the short-term. Not only because we can't wait forever, but because even providing good education requires a good, stable government first. Right now we have political leaders who threaten to shut down the few quality schools that have srpung up in the country. Even good schools are fed up and may start shutting down because of constant threats and harrassment from various Maoist organizations!

Secondly, in the name of peace and democracy, this crop of leaders have brought us to a stage where the top leaders (ministers) of the country are unelected! Those who fail to get elected in first-past-the-post are now sneaked in through the 'proportional' system. This is a TRAVESTY of democracy!



16. Satya Nepali (2)

...Worst scandal of all, we, fatalistic Nepalis, continue to support this TRAVESTY in the name of supporting "democracy". This paper, for instance, calls it being the "golden middle"! When so-called "intellectuals" support such dishonest, incompetent and deceitful individuals and their fake and hollow system just so they themselves may be seen as keen supporters of democracy, as the "golden middle", then no doubt true democracy is only going to get weaker!

Mr. Kunda Dixit, don't just whine at the politicians. People like you are responsible for getting them there and keeping them there while deceiving the people with your LIES and false promises such as "mainstreaming-the-Maoists", "peaceful solution", "New Nepal", "golden middle" and what not! Why demand only the politicians to change? As #11 puts it, why don't you change yourself? You're still busy re-packaging the same old lies (and defending a corrupt, hollow and fake system)!  



17. Satya Nepali (3)

...Too many mistakes have been made in the recent past. The one way to make up for them is to hold REFERENDUMS on all major issues that these ILLEGITIMATE governments have passed since 2006. That will teach these politicians (and intellectuals) a lesson! That will show them in no uncertain terms where true power lies. That will be the true victory of the people and that is the most hopeful way of bringing about real change in our country.

If you truly want change, ROOT FOR REFERENDUMS instead of trying to prop up this system that was born and brought up on - and therefore, consists of - nothing but LIES, CLICHES and DECEIT!



18. Nirmal
If some people continue attacking the publisher for his postures that he has taken during different times, then it is not the fault of the publisher but of these people who rarely understands that people changes and so their thoughts and the environment. Guys we are taking about ecology! By changing opinions and postures according to time and space, Kunda Dixit proves that he cares about intellectual ecology, to the contray he will be seemed rather alike hindu and leftist crooks whose standing has not changed since 3 centuries.


19. jange
#18 Some principles do not change with the times. For example- that violence has no place in a democratic political  system.

No problem with people changing their way of thinking as they learn more. Most of Nepal is waiting for the Maoists to learn that violence is not the route to democratic politics.

The issue with the NT is that they supported the Maoists up until the time the Maoists beat them up. This suggests that the NT change of mind is a tactical issue and not a fundamental change in thinking.

NT will need to be reminded of it until such a time that the NT can clearly and unequivocally say that Maoist violence was wrong; Maoist violence is wrong; political gains made on the basis of violence can only be maintained by violence; there can be no democracy in Nepal until and unless Maoist violence  is stopped.


20. jange
#17 Referendums are not possible under the democratic system as practised in Nepal. Nepal follows the British system filtered through India. Notice how our MPs also bang on the tables just like our Indian MPs???

Under this system the people voice their political aspirations through their REPRESENTATIVES, mediated by the political parties. That is why the Maoists are not too unhappy with it since it is entirely possible to have just Maoists become MPs- the others can be killed off or otherwise prevented from becoming MPs.

You will NEVER see NT arguing for a referendum. That, in their book, would be undemocratic.

Ever heard of a referendum taking place in the UK???

Thought not.



21. Satya Nepali

Nirmal, just as you have the right to defend whoever you choose (including this publisher), others have the right to crticize them. Just because some of us stand up to challenge the media and 'public intellectuals' of our country, that does not make us "hindu" fanatics or "leftist crooks"! The media and 'public intellectuals' are not above criticism. Moreover, when they cast all blame on the politicians and behave as if they are spotlessly clean themselves, it is sensible to hold a mirror up to them as well. Let us see them bear responsibility for their actions for a change instead of just pontificating upon others like high Hindu priests!



22. Dr B
The saddest and most frustrating thing for me is and has been the permanent obsession with "the constitution". Certainly it is important, but not to the exclusion of everything else whether your politics are right wing, left wing or somewhere in between. 
Imagine a new constitution being declared tomorrow, does that solve poverty in Nepal, the numerous hydro electric fiascos, does it pay the teachers salaries currently put on hold, does it build a new highway/new hospitals, does it end corruption, does it improve the security situation or the Kathmandu traffic situation?
Holding referenda is not the answer (and Jange how about UK referenda to join the EU/Common market, or the ones for Scottish devolution?) and I don't pretend to know WHAT the answer is. But part of the answer, a very large part, depends on the national commitment and policies of political parties as well as the individual ethics and behaviour of individual politicians.
Where are the policies and strategies for healthcare, education, transport, power-supply, the economy etc? Before the elections were held I tried hard to find manifestos of each party describing what they would bring and give to the country and only found such a declaration from the Maoists (I've forgotten what it was called ... "12 points etc?). At least they outlined where they wanted to take Nepal and heaven forbid I would ever believe in the principles of Mao I thought they deserved a chance. That chance was blown, but the current ruling coalition has done even worse with no policies whatsoever and personal behaviour that makes me despair. 
Somewhere out there, there has to be a Nepali Gandhi or Mandela who will take hold of the country, all parties, his/her own party and by their own voice, behaviour and ethical standards lead the people to sweep this pathetic lot away.


23. Nirmal
Well, I have not seen Kunda Dixit glorifying the violence anywhere in NT. Yes, for the sake of peace, he's written for a pacific negotiation with the violent Maoists. This is something that the whole world follows. I am not going to say If it is the ideal way, but by now, it seems the most used alternative.

 #19 Yes, some principles do not change with times like the one you mentioned but If because of "this principle" there is a possibility of inviting violence in big scale then you must do some thing to prevent it without damaging the spirit. Jange I think it is ingenuine to mix the YCL scandal in Himal Khabar office with NT publisher's changing mind. sounds useless irony than a logic.
It is indispensable to indicate a democratic frame where each and every political project could be prepared and with the help of dialogue;the negotiation; the accords between political agents, there is established some kind of compromises in order to respect what has been decided.
It would be an intellectual dishonesty to say that the peace process has not made the maoists change their modus operandi, although they are virtually armed now.  Would not it be to retrograde if they again take arm ie return to the origin? Yes, that's what the success of all the compromises so far made is. The things are not always black or white, sometimes they possess other colours too, #19 jange.

Satya Nepali, i didnot mean that those who criticise the publisher are hindu fanatics or leftists crooks, you are right in assessing that nobody is above criticisms. i just said that a modern person changes so his thoughts. For me it is good that Kunda Dixit does not accomodate into any fixed ideological position, otherwise between him and hindu fanatics or leftitst crooks there will be no difference, that's what I meant.


24. Dr B
The saddest and most frustrating thing for me is and has been the permanent obsession with "the constitution". Certainly it is important, but not to the exclusion of everything else whether your politics are right wing, left wing or somewhere in between. 
Imagine a new constitution being declared tomorrow, does that solve poverty in Nepal, the numerous hydro electric fiascos, does it pay the teachers salaries currently put on hold, does it build a new highway/new hospitals, does it end corruption, does it improve the security situation or the Kathmandu traffic situation?
Holding referenda is not the answer (and Jange how about UK referenda to join the EU/Common market, or the ones for Scottish devolution?) and I don't pretend to know WHAT the answer is. But part of the answer, a very large part, depends on the national commitment and policies of political parties as well as the individual ethics and behaviour of individual politicians.
Where are the policies and strategies for healthcare, education, transport, power-supply, the economy etc? Before the elections were held I tried hard to find manifestos of each party describing what they would bring and give to the country and only found such a declaration from the Maoists (I've forgotten what it was called ... "12 points etc?). At least they outlined where they wanted to take Nepal and heaven forbid I would ever believe in the principles of Mao I thought they deserved a chance. That chance was blown, but the current ruling coalition has done even worse with no policies whatsoever and personal behaviour that makes me despair. 
Somewhere out there, there has to be a Nepali Gandhi or Mandela who will take hold of the country, all parties, his/her own party and by their own voice, behaviour and ethical standards lead the people to sweep this pathetic lot away.


25. Billa
8. Johann
If Arthur the Maoist thinks Kunda Dixit is anti-Maoist and Jange the anti-Maoist thinks he is a pro-Maoist, then the publisher must be on the right track.
Arthur is an naive, poorly informed little Western cheerleader for maoism, probably delegated by his tiny political sect to post pro-maoist comments here or is just doing it to try to impress them. He doesn't seem to grasp that - apart from a few thousand rank'n'file party cadre obediently following orders (and, at present, taking sides between the opposing Bhattrai and Dahal party factions) - most Nepali 'supporters' of the maoists are not themselves maoists, they are merely making a limited choice between political parties. They are either;
opportunist intellectuals/professionals cynically backing the political horse they think will win - in the hope they will provide comfortable positions for their intelligentsia supporters;
or; opportunist gangster YCL thugs, extorting and running protection rackets called 'donation drives'. (the maoists are not the only party to indulge in this long tradion - they are just the most ruthless at it)
or; the rural and urban poor and others - who are not ideologically maoist - but seek genuine change in the hopelessly corrupt political system; unfortunately the corrupt, authoritarian maoists are just another bunch of politicians who will offer little real change to the mass of society.


26. Satya Nepali

#22: Fully agree with you that there is way too much focus on "constitution" writing and not enough on building policies that "really" matter. But our politicians say anything they want and never deliver. They have come up with hundreds of "points of understanding" that they never seem to stick to. This is because they are not held accountable to what they promise or agree to. Holding referenda is one way to DISCIPLINE our politicians. It will go a long way in showing them that their authority too has limits. They cannot impose whatever they want in the name of democracy. It will make them more ACCOUNTABLE to the people, and make the people feel more RESPONSIBLE about our collective destiny. Such an exercise will help create an environment where policies are not only written but also delivered on.

To Jange, referendum is not such an absurd idea even for Nepal. In fact, we already have a precedent, the Referendum of 1980. It is a curious fact that an authoritarian regime (the Panchayat) was more willing to go straight to the people to decide the fate of the country, whereas "democratic" parties balk from doing the same! They rather prefer to get elected once and make changes that last forever. Politicians do NOT have this kind of authority. And this point needs to be driven home. It will help make them more ACCOUNTABLE.



27. jange
#26 Satya Nepali

I am not suggesting that referendum is absurd. Just that the NT would never support it.


28. Sargam
Those who are the backers of referendum have a tiny part of a dictator in them. As such they are never satisfied unless they have upper hand.

Democracy has different facets and referendum is one of them. It is seldom used because it is deadly by nature.

When all other democratic ways and means fail to satisfy what the majority of citizens really yearns for the ruling party makes it a deadly weapon to reinforce its grip of power when it is sure and certain to have majority for that. Otherwise it is useless, waste of energy and public money.

Sometimes it becomes a handicap because one portion of folks is deadly against what usually the state longs for. For instance, look at Switzerland. This country is located right at the heart of the EU. But thanks to German speaking Swiss who are quite well-off and are always against the EU every referendum fails to integrate Switzerland into the grand ensemble. They have to pay taxes to have facilities of the laws prevailing in the EU.


29. Arthur
Nirmal #18, 23 the whole point of the article is Kunda Dixit boasting that he has not changed his position for 10 years and can even repeat an editorial from 10 years ago believing it still applies today. Both criticisms of him for changing his views and your defense of him changing his views are equally pointless faced with the sheer absurdity of his own stance that nothing has changed for 10 years.

Dr B #22, 24, the Maoist election program can be found here. (Other parties are linked from same place). It spells out "policies and strategies for healthcare, education, transport, power-supply, the economy etc". Of course adopting a constitution would not immediately solve any problem. But it would immediately result in elections in which a larger Maoist majority could no longer be blocked from carrying out these policies by lack of "consensus" from the other parties. That is why the others are blocking adoption of a constitution - they naturally fear the election that will follow. Only suppressing the PLA and YCL and unleashing the feudal army could enable them to win an election.

Billa #25, "...most Nepali 'supporters' of the maoists are not themselves maoists, they are merely making a limited choice between political parties. They are either;
...[opportunists]...
or; the rural and urban poor and others - who are not ideologically maoist - but seek genuine change in the hopelessly corrupt political system; unfortunately the corrupt, authoritarian maoists are just another bunch of politicians who will offer little real change to the mass of society."

Although you pay more attention to the opportunists, at least you mention that the rural and urban poor and others seek genuine change. In a country where the large majority are rural poor and live on less than $2 per day (with many on less than $1 and majority of children under 5 actually malnourished, stunted, wasted etc) it is hardly surprising that Maoists demanding change are the largest party.

For others pretending to be democrats to prevent the Maoists from carrying out changes you also have to pretend that real change is impossible and that Maoists are, like yourselves,  only pretending when they propose change.

If you only said that the Maoists are pretending without also saying (and perhaps believing) that real change is impossible anyway then of course you would have to want a new party to replace the Maoists in fighting for real change (as for example Matrika Yadav).

But your position is much more comfortable with the fatalistic belief that real change is impossible anyway. That way you don't have to do anything, nor feel bad about not doing anything. You can just go on living off rent, corruption and donor funds, because that's the way the world is and everybody you know either does the same or are "opportunists" and hypocrits who would do the same if they could.

But in most countries of the world a majority of children under 5 are not malnourished and people do not have to live on $1 or $2 per day. So your claimed belief that change is impossible is simply absurd.

In reality you do not believe that. You fear that change is possible and that unless Maoists are kept out of power they will do it. Then how would you go on living off rent, corruption and donor funds?

The last year has shown that all the opponents of the Maoists can achieve is to delay things. Step by step you are eventually being forced to retreat and carry out the changes that only the Maoists support.

The sooner you stop wasting time and effort on this rearguard action, the sooner you can start figuring out how to do something useful for a living in the new Nepal.



30. Dr B
Arthur 28
Thanks for the link, very interesting to read all this again, it's more detailed than what I read at the time and an extremely comprehensive document.
You seem to have greater faith than myself in a positive consequence once a constitution is completed. I fear that a radical change in ethics and behaviour of the politicians of ANY ruling party is the only way that we will see positive change in Nepal. All parties are blockers rather than builders is my perception and there is never any acceptance of a policy or strategy unless it has come from one's own group. It's why I have always been against a federal republic based Nepal, for the time being anyway, since the established mindsets are far too egocentric. And before "anybody" accuses me of being anti-maoist I have argued this point with some senior Maoist politicians, who happen to be relatives of mine, and who never get past the idealogical rhetoric about feudalism etc and discuss the practical issues such as how a region like Humla benefits from federalism! 
However, I stray from my main point about the constitution and believe that the sooner the damn thing is completed, filed and forgotten about the better. Maybe then the real development of Nepal can begin, whichever party leads, with all contributing to a manifesto as highlighted in 28.


31. Billa
From the safety of his Western bedroom Arthur stereotypes all who disagree with his naive maoist obedience as ruling class landowners! If you like stereotypes so much; I'll predict - you're a 1st Worlder in your early 20s, student or recently ex-student, involved in a tiny leftist sect, have probably never even set foot in Nepal but just uncritically swallow maoist propaganda from afar - and you spend far too much time on the internet.
Your crude belief system seems to need to assume that anyone who disagrees with you must be less radical than yourself - you are wrong, and it is a very weak attempt to avoid dealing with what others actually say. But carry on lying to yourself if you must.

The maoist leadership have already feathered their nests very comfortably, as everyone in Nepal knows. They'll never achieve one-party domination - geo-political realities of Big Brother neighbours won't allow it. They just want to manage capitalism slightly differently from other parties, as described in their programme - not a great outcome for the poor, either way.



32. Bikas

"Nepalis, being generally gradualists, have indicated by their ballots in the past ten years that they like things to evolve in less unsettling ways than total revolution." Interesting. I guess "Nepalis" here mean Nepalis like the editor himself and the whole she-bang of Nepali businessmen, landowners, school proprietors, media barons. It's understandable that these fat cats like things to evolve in "less unsettling" ways and the very thought of a "total revolution" take away their sato.  



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