Nepali Times Asian Paints
Politically Cracked
Nay to the government



The stretch of road between St. Xaviers School in Maitighar and Martin Chautari in Thapathali houses some of the richest people in the country, at least judging by the McMansions, long driveways and lush gardens. The road leading to these houses is a reminder of a remote village in the hills where a four-wheel drive can barely maneuver across the potholes.

The obvious disrepair of very basic and essential infrastructure isn't due to the helplessness of the people in the community. Rather it seems to indicate a pervasive willingness to wait for someone else, i.e. the government, to fix it. When it comes to access and improvement of services the residents of Thapathali, Sanepa and Lazimpat seem to be as dependent on the government as those of Taplejung, Simikot and Lamidada.

Last week, the publisher of this newspaper wrote: "15 per cent of Nepal's population is working abroad at any given time, and they send home $2 billion a year. This is improving family cash income, but it doesn't always correlate with access to services like years of schooling, safe drinking water, electricity, or chronic hunger in children. Many of these basic services are the prerogative of the state..."

Perhaps if we were talking about new age concepts like happiness and satisfaction, the role of money would have required deeper investigation. If it is tangible services like school education, some iodine pills for your water or food for your children, why does a family with an improved income need to wait for the state to access these services, especially when the government has proven to be anything but effective?

Statements like these may be the perfect kicker to an article, but are worrying because because they gloss over the details. A few weeks ago, the host of Sagarmatha Television's primetime news program ended a segment about child labour by grandly announcing that "the government needs to look after these children." There was no discussion of how he thought the government should go about doing that. Did he mean we should have more Bal Mandirs, the state-run orphanage long accused of corruption and even child trafficking?

There is merit in welfare services provided by the state to the poorest of its people and the most helpless, but none whatsoever in everyone waiting for the government to spoon feed us. The government is unable to manage expectations and even less able to get things done. More than 30 years after identifying Melamchi as a source of water for the residents of the capital, the project has yet to begin in earnest. Major hydropower projects like Arun III have been stalled in the planning phase for years and are yet to deliver more value than just as talking points.

One could argue that the reason we are stuck in a cycle of violence, or in the continual threat of one, is because the government is deemed so important. Foreign aid is distributed through the government. It has the largest share in the economy. It runs health services to the majority of the population in Nepal, as well as education, while it is clear
that it is the private sector that is better at providing more choices and better services in both these areas.

Instead of asking for the end of state intervention in every aspect of our lives, we seem to be crossing our fingers and hoping that with one perfect government we can have a Swedish socio-heaven in this country. It might not happen in our lifetime, so we are better off looking elsewhere if we want our roads to be fixed.

Hard choices, PRASHANT JHA
Tail between our legs, PUBLISHER'S NOTE
Following the paper trail, CK LAL
Systemic failure, ASHUTOSH TIWARI

1. suresh
wow  very nice article . this is a problem of so called rich of our country .if we compare  kathmandu to the smaller town like mine we can see the difference the smaller town are cleaner with wide road and lots of social activities . kathmandu is surely lacking in the communal thinking and becoming like who give a  care kind of society. hope everybody will realise . the same society who beleives in guthi why cant they sove these problem in the same place?

2. dudley dud
Deep metaphysical question: What am I, a preacher or a journalist?

3. Akanchhya Gurung

Once again an excellent article based on ground facts and realities..........

Nice job!!!

4. Daniel Gajaraj
Swedish Type Social Welfare System-good for Nepal's present situation.
First of all it is based on high tax from the earnings.Nepalese fist of all should be encouraged to create wealth and then the tax base should be gradually enlarged. People will willingly ,say, will pay taxes when they know that it is being used for produtive purposes and in alleviating poverty and in raising the quality of life of the greater section of the deprived people.;if it is not misused by the ruling class of the political overlords.If it is judiciously spent with austerity.

 Our political bosses go for medical treatment to United States, when Jajarkot -basi die without getting Oral rehydration and Citamol.
They ride a limousine worth crores.  They distribute goodies to their Card-holding members and colleagues
 , the fund reserved for the poor and the deprived.

The first principle p of Democracy is; No Taxation Without representation."
Public accountability is a must in a Democracy.

 Sweden's type democracy is a good model to copy at this time of constitution writing.
Tage Erlander was the Prime  Minister at that time for already 22 years, if I remember correctly. He was living in an apartment flat for all these year.
Can our great leaders take him as their role model? .

5. kabulekanchho
Way to go, Indu.

6. Koji
"It might not happen in our lifetime, so we are better off looking elsewhere if we want our roads to be fixed."

Where elsewhere?

7. Anish
I find the article very very superficial. I wish editors of the magazine put a little more effort in their job and provide space for well- researched, substantial and analytical writing rather than dabbling of a wanna-be writer.

 I am all for public- private partnership or social initiative taken at local levels but these can be no substitutes for a proper government. Governance is necessary, no country can do without it. There must be a system of various institutions assigned with different rights and responsibility. That's what we really lack, ' Institutions'. We never really had any state institutions to look over public affairs. The politics of the country has always been fluid and so called representatives of people have engaged in nothing more than a never ending game of constructing and toppling a house of cards called ' Government'. Sure, there has been a bureaucracy, a myriad of offices bloated with old termite infested cupboards and stacks of dusty files but they have never really been anything more than lolly pops awarded for political loyalty and family ties of the high and mighty politicians.

I don't think Nepal ever had a proper system of 'governance'. There have been governments but our statehood has never been institutionalized. So, when we talk about failures of government, responsibilities of government,  corruption in government or anything that pertains to government, We are just alluding to an entity that should be there but is not, never has been and by the look of current affairs, we have no reason to believe there ever will be.

8. Sargam
# Anish, What is the meaning of being so harsh? Have you ever heard of Nepal Public Works Department (NPWD) attached to the Ministry of Industry and Development? They haven't done their job.

I hereby remind you that these two ladies, namely, Ms.Indu Nepal and Ms. Raveena Mahato are doing excellent job and at the same time these ladies are our eyes in Nepal, for us the Diaspora, to bring to light what goes wrong and also what goes fine over there. If the publisher of the NT agrees I will request him to give space to Ms.Indu Nepal every week so that she could deal with every subject and issue she deems interesting to present in the NT.

Next fall if you behave like a son-of-a-gun toward ladies you will be tagged as a 'Bad Robert.' You got it!?!

9. jange
#7 Anish

There have been governments but our statehood has never been institutionalized.

Thanks for this. Pure NGO waffle-speak. Very impressive. I will remember to use it next time in my fund raising spiel.

10. Satish Shrestha

I spent 19 years in Kathmandu, Nepal. In retrospection, I find that the community I grew up in (and most other communities) noticeably stood up as a community in only two occasions, viz. wedding and funeral (*janta and malaami*). I am in no way trying to demean our social values. However, I believe it is a time to redefine our social existence.

Irresponsible dumping of garbage in the neighborhood, frequent leakage of sewage, streets with plethora of potholes were common problems to name the few (which is still true after 4 years). Like Indu mentioned, people in my community too wanted and waited for the municipality to take care of their problems. While there is a big group of people that perceive lack of proper governance as a root of problem in Nepal, it also has to be taken into account that Nepal has embraced democracy since 1990 and now we have power to make changes in our societies. Unfortunately, we have been wasting our power. We ought to soon realize that individuals make families, families make societies, and societies make a nation. Ergo, We can not expect a stronger/prosperous/systematized nation from weaker/irresponsible individuals.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)