Nepali Times Asian Paints

Mission impossible
The Maoists are spoilt children who just demand and demand unrealistically ('Mission impossible', Prashant Jha, #530).They won't give up the threat of violence as they know without it people would rise up against them. Maoist leaders are also scared of their PLA, and know ultimately they must dismantle it and rehabilitate these cadres. They can't say that they will be inducted into the security forces or rehabilitated so they need to bring in the notion of democratising the Nepal Army and combining the two forces as equals into a new force. What a load of baloney! What really does it mean to democratise an army? Asking soldiers to vote on whether to fight or not? What the Maoists mean is that the army should be under their control, which ain't gonna happen.

I think things are turning against the Maoists. India won't support them anymore, the parties are hardening their stance against them, and the Maoist leaders are more divided on how they should move forward. The focus should be on transforming the Maoists into a civilian party that doesn' t need to have an army or a paramilitary YCL. It's no point discussing the constitution if this does not happen.

Our problem is that we indulge too much in scholastic masturbation and 'shashtriya' punditry (perhaps outward manifestations of the deep-seated 'Bahunbaad' syndrome?) rather than standing firmly on ground realities. We love to play with imported jargon both in party manifestos and public discourse. We are obsessed with feeding the people with empty rhetoric and tall slogans. What do 'democratising', 'civilian supremacy', 'revolutionary reform', 'dominant nationalities', and 'mainstreaming' mean?

We need to construct alternative discourses and narratives if we are to succeed as a nation. Why don't our politicians and journalists talk about institution building; character building through self-discipline and abiding by the law of the land; becoming a 'model' citizen; learning from native and indigenous values; doing shramadaan (voluntary) work; community building and networking among villages and cities; planting trees and protecting forests and water resources; respecting our elders and forefathers; protecting women, children, and the disabled; campaigning to eradicate illiteracy; conducting free health camps; boosting production of key staples; feeding the homeless; fostering 'sadbhaav' (goodwill) in our communities, neighbourhoods, and workplaces; in another words, healing the soul of the entire nation?

Why are our politicians, intellectuals, journalists not engaged in fundamental civil discourses such as cultivating the attributes of self-respect, self-reliance and self-transformation to live and prosper collectively as a proud nation? Aren't these values truly foundational for any democracy and republic to evolve? Why has our leadership failed to instill self-confidence in our people? Enough of revolution, people want change!

I am merely speculating here but a one-party Nepali state seems highly improbable. Factors such as geography, ethnic diversity, settlement patterns, wealth inequality, resource scarcity, and geopolitics may mean that no one group will have enough leverage to control the state for quite some time. Geography and ethnic divisions are the biggest worry if Nepal does become a one-party Maoist state. As the comrades showed, mountains favour insurgents. The party's policy seems to be to preempt this problem by arguing for universal military training for every Nepali citizen above 18. If every citizen is made a part of the state and given a common identity as a soldier of the state, then the risks from ethnic divisions may be reversed. But again, going back to what Prashant said, the intention of order is not enough, one needs to have the capability to create order as well. Are the Maoists capable of stopping young officers from joining militias after they finish their army training? Can a party that cannot keep its cadres in check keep an entire citizen army in check?

Sunny debates
Solar power still needs to make a breakthrough in technology in terms of cost ('Bring home the sunshine', Paavan Mathema, #530). The cost of installation is still high and people with limited income will think twice before installing it in their houses. The energy from solar is no doubt one of the cleanest, but when it comes to disposal of batteries, it is still an issue for the environment.

However, in a country with abundant water resources, solar is not the ultimate answer for providing energy to industries since it depends on the number of hours of sunshine. If it needs back up from generators when there is no sunshine it does not make sense. Instead hydropower, small and big, should be advocated since it is more reliable and less expensive. However, inept and inefficient agencies and power mafias like the NEA should be disbanded and handed over to the private sector, which could manage production and distribution well.
Shyam Sharma

I have a solar back-up installed at my house and it is working perfectly fine for me. My electricity bills went down considerably, compared to when I was using inverters. I'm not the techno-savvy kind so for me, the bottom line is that power cuts are here to stay and I don't want to stay in the dark without any light. I could get a generator, yes, but who's going to pay for all the diesel it consumes? Charging batteries from the main line and using inverters consumes more electricity, which in turn increases loadshedding. I'm quite satisfied with my solar power. And as a country, why spend on thermal power from India, when you can do something locally on your own? Although the initial cost is expensive, there are no bills at the end of every month.

Just start a nationwide campaign to ban plastic bags! ('Plastic out, students in', #530). Take your own shopping bags and get plastic out of Nepal. It's the same in France, if you go to a supermarket, there are no plastic bags available anymore. Only paper bags or carton boxes. This is not polluting!
Nepal plastic-free? Bravo!
Bobo Wolf

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)