If all goes smoothly, we will have a budget today, whether or not the integration numbers are fixed or a 'real' government is formed. Don't expect any more progress on either of these last two until the dust settles from the Maoist plenum that begins 21 November.
As far as our politicians are concerned, this is progress enough. The public, and the business community in particular, will heave a sigh of relief, and with a last brace of curses thrown in the direction of politicians in general, will get back to worrying about other things. Politicians will mouth platitudes about how the public interest was at the heart of their compromises, looking smug, as if to say, See, we sorted it all out. Budget bhaye bhaihalyo ni, jaile bhaye pani bhayena? (as long as you get a budget, does it matter when you get it?)
If it wasn't clear to everyone by now, it's doubly clear that the modus operandi in Nepali politics is to negotiate ad nauseam, and give the impression that one is really trying very hard, without actually being flexible until other factors force one's hand. In this case, the factor is impending economic paralysis (more cynically, an imminent delay in salaries to CA members and Maoist combatants). Doing so allows the negotiators to hold out for concessions as long as is feasible.
Holding out for concessions when so much is at stake may seem like standard operating procedure anywhere in the world. But the problem in Nepal is that the sense of proportion is all wrong. We're talking about the national budget here. While 'holding the nation to hostage' as far as the political impasse is concerned is a grave enough matter, the consequences of doing so by delaying the budget and having to make do with a 'special' budget are altogether more immediate.
For some, it's a minor inconvenience, more moral than anything else, if the salary's a week late. For others, it's a matter of survival. For many, it's somewhere in between, but the cumulative costs of missed investments and knock-on effects can be far-reaching.
Take the delay in issuing tickets for athletes competing in the Asian Games, which was primarily the result of a lack of funds. Mental and physical trauma for the athletes could well have cost us medals, never mind the national humiliation. The effect on the sporting fraternity is lasting. Further, the National Sports Council borrowed from the Cricketing Association of Nepal, which was meant to use the money in question for infrastructural development.
These funds have now been expended elsewhere. Even if the Council pays back the loan, it will be after some delay. So the development of a sport in which Nepal has a serious chance of excelling internationally has been delayed, too. Take Nepal Tourism Year, which is almost upon us. There may be valid criticisms of the way preparations have been handled, but you can be sure that many such preparations have been delayed or curtailed because of the budgetary crisis. There will not be enough time to make up for all these delays in time for 2011, even if you flood the tourism sector with cash now.
These are a couple of obvious, publicised, examples. Any individual who wasn't able to invest in something that matters to his or her future, as a direct or indirect result of the budgetary debacle, has already incurred a loss that is not necessarily erased simply if the budget is passed today. Multiply this by the population of Nepal, and you get an idea of the scale.
This is how seriously our leaders should be taking the budget. The budget, if they need to be reminded, is the sum total of expenditure of the state across all sectors of the economy. It affects every single Nepali, because all of us have to buy and sell products in the market, whatever they may be. Arguably, this is more important than who is in government. Holding the budget at bay, once more, is akin to suffocating the patient while operating on the rest of the body. It's nothing short of criminal.
The damage was done when the parties signed the 12 point agreement. They should have known that fundamental principles are not negotiable- allowing the Maoists to take part in elections without disbanding their armed gangs is against the fundamental principle of democracy.
That is why we have the mess that we have.
19 NOV 2010 | 11:45 AM NST
The phenomenon of creating problems and abetting chaos is nothing new to the political fraternity in Nepal. And yes, they do know at long last to show how they have all tried hard to resolve a dispute that should not have been there in the first place. The subject of mockery the nation has been for quite some time - it is difficult to see any respite with the bunch of steadfast fools at the helm and in the opposition.
19 NOV 2010 | 6:06 PM NST
3. who cares
does anyone know the inside story between maoist and the budget?
till morning, it looked like maoist were supporting budget but now we have a mind changer.
19 NOV 2010 | 9:40 PM NST
The damage was done when the parties that signed the 12 agreement refused to carry out the required democratization of the Nepal Army and integration of the two armies and sided with its arrogant COAS in defying civilian supremacy over the army.
They should have known that fundamental principles are not negotiable and that one cannot govern a country without winning an election and cannot conclude an agreement for peace without carrying out its terms.
Meanwhile Nepali Times will continue to blame "politicians" or even just "Maoists" for a mess that is obviously the result of decisions taken by anti-Maoists.
20 NOV 2010 | 8:37 AM NST
The Maoists' behaviour in the CA re the budget vote has amply demonstrated their real nature. To be fair to the Maoists they have never denied that their goal is to capture power by whatever means and that the CA charade is only a means to that end. The problem has been the rest of the political parties who continue to give the Maoists the benefit of the doubt despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Kamred Arthur- It is the Maoists who have obstructed the rehabilitation as it suits their political agenda.
20 NOV 2010 | 3:42 PM NST
I can't understand why you blame all when only the maoists are to be blamed. Who is to be blamed for budget delays? NC, UML and other parties were ready but it was the maoists who refused to agree. Why don't we see that they are the ones who are bent on putting up one after another obstacles in the democratic process as well as in running the government???? The fact that they are on one side and rest of the parties are on the other sides. What proof you need more to verify that all their actions lead to proving that democracy can't solve people's problems??They just are playing a game to prove that only their brand of authoritarian democracy is able to do so.
It is as simple as that and no body seems to be pointing to it. That is how they started and that is what they aim at. Why people are so confused and don't see the game plan???????????
22 NOV 2010 | 12:12 AM NST
More than the blame game, its time to look back at what it was like when the so called peace treaty hadn't taken place and the country was moving in a definite direction. Amidst all this 'peace' and bickering, the direction (be it good or bad ) has all but been lost and it increasingly feels like another wave of 'revolution' and more chaos is heading our way.
What the intellectuals commenting and posting their valued comments are not taking into account is the country is fragmented and the majority of people are begging for a solution that will make their life better and they don't care too much where the solution comes from.
Most articles written in major papers are so keen to chastise the western form of democracy, allowing foreign interest groups to stick their nose where it don't belong forget the Maoist revolution was supported by a major portion of the population. The resentment these papers voice come from people in the cities with access to computer and influenced by the media propaganda...represent a very small percentage of the country.
As for the other parties, they once supported the monarchy (all of them), they then opposed it, they later went back to Gyanendra and well dumped him in the end... again these parties first ignored the Maoists, later outright opposed it... even raising arms against them, then they began courting and later whole heartedly supporting them, now these suckers feel they have enough influence from the external interest groups and the 'elitist' crowd within the country, they are raising their head to scrape some loot for themselves.
Its not a pretty picture all around, and a revolution is a distinct possibility... and I would hope the revolution wipes out the rotten at the helm and spare the general public... oh yeah maybe rid of the elitist sycophants too...;-)
23 NOV 2010 | 7:35 PM NST
8. Slarti "This is how seriously our leaders should be taking the budget."
But they should be taking a lot else a lot more seriously, but they won't because they don't care. Their deepest desire is to maintain their hold on power indefinitely. They enjoy the present stalemate because they know that the people are confused and can't figure out what to do to deal with this time of darkness.
And a time of darkness, pitch black night of indecision it is. Who is right and who is wrong no one can know. Everybody appears to be saying the right thing. Let there be democracy, federalism, secularism, prosperity at the scale of Switzerland and Singapore, and environmentalism, they keep chanting. Journalists are writing about either dietary habits, or mouthing their paymasters diatribes. And intellectuals? The less said the better.
There is no way out of this misery and we will keep stumbling through the days.
Everyday will bring new headlines which would be the rehash of the old headlines. Trust, faith, dignity, pride, and peace of mind would be daily casualties. We will, in time, need to carry certificates of victim-hood as a license to survival. Everybody will need to proclaim their outrage at something, tiger conservation to rights of god-knows-who.
Those who work, those who provide, those who keep quiet, those who wish to see good will all be condemned, to the alter of phony, hollow, meaningless socialism and politics. Politics would underpin virtue, that no one could define and therefore all good would be dead. Just like the King and just like all those soldiers who fought for us and died.
Virtuous would be the criminals who murdered with abandon, stole children as young as 10, preach a political philosophy of hate and thievery. Virtuous would be those with dark, dead eyes, angry at themselves, hoping that making others angry would sate their thirst, absolve them of guilt. Virtuous would be those who can hurt the peaceful. Virtuous would be those who can insult.
The death grip of fools is upon us, they will let lose when evil would emerge from this confusion, calling themselves nationalists and socialists, those who are for workers. The proto-Nazi's, calling themselves the Maoists.
24 NOV 2010 | 9:23 AM NST
9. Thinley, France
patience is good because we can perceive our strenghts and errors
detached from any emotions.
too much patience kills patience. we might as well call it inaction
inaction is the outcome of undecision or disagreement.
too much inaction is the result of the will to keep things as they are ( in the case of nepal that isn't even hidden in political games).
You have in front of your eyes what could be called the paradox of Nepals Politics: not patience and inaction, but too much of it.
Either their are institutions working against Nepals stability, Either the Nepali Institutions (so a few) profit from this situation.
We think of Nepal like a rice grain stuck between two rocks. Infact, it is more like a castle too high to reach with a view point reaching 360 degrees around itself.
It has hydropower in abundance and considering the nature of it's geography, there is no doubt of the riches still to be discovered here.
Without taking sides whatsoever, staying untouched with what might effect one or the other, if we look seriously at nepal from a strictly political and economical point of view, it is the stronghold of this part of the world. we may be missing man power, we may be missing the technology, but we are sittting on one of the biggest piles of ressources in the world.
Our waters could provide electricity for the whole of the himalaya touching regions (andhra pradesh, bhutan, nepal, uttar pradesh, kashmir, tibet, pakistan, afghanistan, etc) and more. Our high alttitudes could accomodate wind mills that produce unprecedented records of electricity, and we could be the experiment grounds for better solar energy researches. Our rocks and metals could build many a road and skyscrapers. observation posts pointing to the sky would have the best view imginable. The abundance of hemp coud help produce in mass what is now known to be the least polluting biofuel, and ropes and clothes and paper to stop the deforestation.
All this would profit more than a Nation. Infact, there would be too much for all of us. taking the example of electricity, hydropower, if used well, could produce a 5th of all jobs in nepal (take in count the permanent jobs and the labor used to build roads, pipes, electric lines) and produce electricty, considering the demographic evolution of the region, for the next 50 years. That is just one of the short term projects which could help build the future.
But it is clear, that if many have thought of this, none are ready to put in motion the mechanisms necessary. This is because profits are still done and they are good. A nation like nepal, permits illegal exploitation of ressources, illegal trade in humans and drugs. it provides India with prostitution labor and cannabis in abundance for the Neo Hippie and babacools. It provides malaysia and the arab states with man labor. It provides the english armies with frontline soldiers ready to serve at any cost. It has provided the world with it's intelligence, since the intellectuals and graduates all immigrate. And what is left once that purification has been accomplished?
A Nation of rocks and rubbles, with a people in rags and biting the dirt.
It is clear that we have no one left but ourselves to turn to.
What can be done? As simplist as it may seem, when all has been tried, but the tears of our peers do not wear off and the cries of our children aren't silenced, we must turn to our own intelligence. If intellectuals cannot (more likely will not) help push this country to the light, we may not possess their organised minds, but we do have our experiences and our hearts. They have given a price for everything, we know the value of them.
A thousand sorrows can unite and become One hope. A thousand truths will silence their lies. This is our pedigree. And if it is all that we have left, we will build upon it, stone by stone, until we can pe proud and stand on our two feet.