Nepali Times Asian Paints
Delayed constitution better than flawed constitution

The most uncertain part of the uncertainty over 28 May is not that we won't have a constitution (we will probably have a stopgap draft and extend the CA's term by six months just to buy time). The real danger will be how to manage the expectations of people who are impatient for change and progress.

If you really get down to it, except for the politically-inclined in the capital and the district capitals, the majority of Nepal's couldn't be bothered whether a constitution is written by 28 May, or of what kind. Talk to the tens of thousands waiting cheek-to-jowl to apply for jobs in South Korea and the common refrain is: "Who cares?"

What a majority of Nepalis want is to be left in peace, to earn enough at home so they don't have to sacrifice their dignity and pride to work in dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs in the desert. They want to earn enough to feed their families, send children to school and have affordable health care.

The delayed constitution-drafting process opens up a pandora's box of issues from ethnicity-based federalism to state structure, and leaves them in open-ended limbo. Most countries have ethnic groups with grievances, but they have institutions to manage them and address long-standing injustices and discrimination. We are now having to deal with the demands of 103 ethnic groups and 93 languages at a time of acute political volatility, instability and public apathy.

The risk is that in a vacuum of a constitutionless polity, virulent multi-ethnic violence will replace the class war that ended in 2006. All the precursors are in place: political fluidity, the lack of visionary statesmanship, joblessness and dissatisfaction especially among the youth, lack of opportunities, cynicism and hopelessness about the future, and an unresolved peace process that is now just a ceasefire.

It is plain to see that power, resources and salaried government jobs are monopolised by a few ethnic and caste groups. The Maoists articulated the grievances of the marginalised and successfully channeled it for recruitment during the war. In the 2008 elections, they channelised it again, this time to get votes. Most Nepalis who don't know about how Lenin and Mao used ethnic autonomy not to devolve power but to centralise it through totalitarian state systems were easily duped.

Now, identity politics has become too hot even for the Maoists to handle. All four militant-minded ethnically-defined groups that exist today splintered off from the Maoists because they didn't find the party radical enough. There could be more. The Bahun-dominated Maoist leadership can't put the genie back into the bottle and donor-supported ethnic pressure groups have replaced political parties as sabre-rattling agenda setters. A morally-bankrupt political class is swayed by those who have the most radical slogans. By default, the agenda for identity politics today is being set by NGOs not by the elected representatives of the people.

It is imperative for the main political parties to analyse where ethnicity-based federalism will take us. This needs to be sorted out in the Constituent Assembly, not in the streets with strikes enforced by violence and terror. Is the instability at the centre just going to be multiplied by 14 with added sectarian and communal flavour? Already, we see overlapping territorial claims over proposed provinces. Ethnic groups themselves have split into sub-groups, all clamouring for their own province.

Maybe it is just as well we don't have to decide all this in a hurry before 28 May. A delayed constitution is better than a fatally flawed and undemocratic constitution.

Read also:
Lost to the land, ANURAG ACHARYA

1. Raghu
What guarentee is thare that if extended for the six moths, the pollies will finish the constitution. I say go for fresh polls.

2. Raghu

"The Maoists articulated the grievances of the marginalised and successfully channeled it for recruitment during the war. In the 2008 elections, they channelised it again, this time to get votes. Most Nepalis who don't know about how Lenin and Mao used ethnic autonomy not to devolve power but to centralise it through totalitarian state systems were easily duped"

All this reminds me of the book " Animal farm"  by George Orwell

During the revolution

All animals are equal.

No animal shall sleep in a bed .

No animal shall drink alcohol .

No animal shall kill any other animal

After the revolution

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.

No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.

No animal shall kill any other animal without cause


3. jange
Pahile budhi manina
Pacchi budhi janina
Bagh lagyo ghichyauna
Budi lagi chichyauna

Stop moaning. This is what you wanted. It is not credible that you were not sufficiently intelligent or knowledgeable to not to have known.

4. who cares
one also should not forget that maoist and jhallur ram are also looking for this kind of attitude.

5. Different view
New Nepal courtesy NT. Congratulations for getting what you wanted...

6. balak
no more smbidhan sabha now... it they extended the time for 10 years, they will do nothing for 9 years and 11 months.. and in that last month they will again plan to extend the time again......

7. Kiran Lamichhane
Timely editorial. We have so many countries which have been destroyed by mixing politics with ethnicity. And the agradhikar demand under the federal provisions will allow one ethnic minority to claim entitlement by suppressing the majority of other minorities. There will be multiple ethnic civil wars. Then god save us.

8. Anonymous

"The Bahun-dominated Maoist leadership can't put the genie back into the bottle..."

Why only Bahun-dominated 'Maoist' leadership? Didn't the Bahun-dominated leadership of all parties + the Bahun-dominated leadership of journalists and civil society egg on the Maoists to uncork that genie from its bottle?!

And ignorance or naivete is no excuse. There were plenty of warnings from the government of 2005 that supporting the Maoists and their ethnicity-based agenda would prise open a pandora's box that could spell doom for the country.

Yet Nepal's political and intellectual elite, including the Bahun leader of this paper, still supported the Maoists. And mind you, it was never qualified support. The political and intellectual elite of Nepal hoisted and hurrahed the Maoists into our cities and government - ethnic politics, violent politics et al!

Now they pretend as if only the Maoists are to blame for the 'ethnic genie'!

This kind of duplicity and dishonesty is why the youth of Nepal are leaving the country in droves! They know they can't trust their futures in the hands of a generation of old, lying Bahun leaders - political, intellectual and journalistic. 

Mr. Dixit, next time you're tempted to blame the political class for dishonesty or insincerity, look to yourself first. Were you thoroughly unaware of the Maoists' abuse of identity politics? If not - and I'm sure you were well-aware of it - why did you shut up about it and back-up the Maoists instead? Answer that first!    

If we can't expect honesty from the so-called 'intellectuals' of our country, how can we expect it from the politicians? No chance! 

9. reb
OK, Nepali janata should agree to extend the Sambidhan Sava; but on once condition only:


All politically elected or selected members of the Sambidhan Sava including the Speaker, the PM, the Minister's all work for "FREE" until the Sambidhan is written.  They get no other privileges like cars, rental money and no other allowances including foreign junkets.  Let's see how committed they are to bring in a new Nepal. 

10. B2B

In a fortnight's time Nepal shall be once more in the eye of the storm. Of course, since the time of the CA elections we are all waiting for this crucial moment when the 601 boondoggled CA members will cease to represent the populace to the Parliament at Singha Durbar thanks to the cutoff date where they got enmeshed in to no avail. Still, I hope there are some of those who haven't lost their self-respect and decency. No more extension, ad vitam aeternam!

According to the German great philosopher Immanuel Kant, time and space are categories of mind, and that it is impossible to conceive the physical world without such prior categories. Equally, consider that you are living in a time warp, enabling you to envisage time in 3D, eg, the past, the present and the future.

The past is no more, the future is a total mystery, but you have the present at your entire disposal. There are all sorts of 'what if' scenarios being rehashed to enhance as well as to coach new ideas and prospects brewed by some ersatz of brilliant think tank.

But you have got to feel the political heat of the moment, so why you sometimes probably require the Faraday's lightning rod for the controversy of a hiatus. Those guys who are meant to conceive the new synopsis of future prospects have no empirically grounded approach of what exactly is Democracy. Oh! no doubt you have book knowledge of how effectively a healthy Democracy does function as you have read in political reviews or seen in the reportage of documentary. Reading volumes and volumes of political treatise will not be sufficient to transform yourself into a real democrat in a few days or months. More so, even if you have seen on the telly the democratic debates between the executive and the opposition of some advanced democratic countries.

Unless you haven't lived through a democratic regime you cannot be very credible while you drone the political diatribes of all sorts. As such you should be very severe to those who ape to be democratic without practicing the same right at home in the family circle. For instance, if women are segregated and not considered equals to men, if a landlord who lords those who work for him on his farms as his slaves or he does not provide them with equal rights, he has not an ounce of democratic fiber. If such a person manages to get popular votes and goes to the Parliament he will seldom serve the cause of Democracy. Instead, he will take this as an opportunity to consolidate his uppishness in the society.

So, all is hinged on your everyday attitudes and behaviors. Those who remain entrenched in the past have to go by a very tough time in this fast changing world.

On such deliberately tough occasions you have to look for those smart people or elites who nonetheless are possessing a touch more of common sense than the commoners. It is true that amongst the mass there are pebbles and gems. Because, those who have poached in the territory of somebody else without learning the alpha and omega of democratic principles in the society will only try to profit out of it either financially or otherwise.

Which is why, some of those people who served for the UN like the former joint secretary Kul Chand Gautam and the former ambassador to the UK Murali Sharma are the distinguished personalities who somehow got themselves indulged in a proximity of some sort of healthy Democracy around the world. It is high time that they came out of their silence as bearers of the torch of Democracy to show the appropriate path to their compatriots.

All the same, you might ask yourself as to how did all go so wrong? Because, apart from some of the NC members the other parties like the Leninist, Stalinist UML and the Maoist (CPN) were the offshoots of opposition parties whose raison d'etre was to snatch power from the NC. and the Royalist movements. Let us shift the blame to the bogeyman from the past. You have observed so far how the UML seems to have taken secret oath to never let a NC member to be the prime minister of Nepal. The Maoists got what they wanted. The more the country is in chaos the more they think they have done their stint for which their partisans had given them the mandate. No Communist parties are created in Nepal to establish Democracy, that you can be sure and certain of that. All those great confabs are nothing more than the sophistry and chicanery to amuse the gallery. After all, are they really Communists or just the opportunists?

Any way, already the UML committed suicide when one of them fell and got trapped into the web of the Baddies, eg, premiership. The next general election will leave no more UML intact, for, half of them will definitely join the Maoists and the rest will join some democratic tendency parties, may that be either the NC or a newborn party more progressive and liberal, though.

When this CA ceases from existing on the 12 coups of mid-night of May 28, 2011, the presidential rule shall prevail in Nepal. An ad hoc committee will be formed to designate some prominent personalities from the civil society in capacity of the caretaker government's cabinet that will at once engage themselves to designate some of those experts in state structure laws, civil society and judiciary as well to jot down the famous Constitution which will be wholesale ratified by a referendum, if need be.

If you consult the US and French Constitutions you shall find all ingredients that could make a healthy Constitution of Nepal. If you want to elaborate the New Codes of Nepal just adapt Napoleon's Codes to the Nepalese temperaments.

We simply want this incoming government to restore law and order and curb violence to make Nepal a safe country where populace becomes business friendly.

You must be knowing that South Korea has already submitted a study to the government pertaining to the International Hub Airport at Nijgar and the estimated cost for this project is about NRs 42 billion, 600 million dollars (approx.). Nepal's annual GDP is about 15 billion dollars. A project worth 600 million dollars is less than 10 percent of the GDP. But if we make a good use of the same Nepal will suddenly make a leapfrog of at least 50 odd years. Ain't that worth a trip, folks?

This should be a joint venture, that means, public and private funds together. According to the International Trade Laws the government with the shares of 33.3 percent can appoint the CEO of its choice. An elaborated financial set up with the help of the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Association of Asian Regional Banks (AARB) could arrive at an arrangement whereof some say 20 percent would be borrowed from the stakeholders who could afford to buy shares.

In a way, I dare talk of only those who are live and kicking. No more do I want to try and work out my frustration on Maoists. Only thing I will not cease to repeat is Nepal cannot possibly afford to run Maoists' experiments which failed elsewhere every time it was tried. It is time to pull all stops and let go. As this government is in a real shambles, whatever comes off from them shall be all much of a muchness.

All too true, we mustn't hesitate to separating the wheat from the chaff. Because every time we for fear of ridicule tried to treat the Maoists equal on footing we were dismissed like nonexistent. They for sure know by now that the ego is a powerful master, it really and truly is.

It is stating the obvious to say that the incessant quarrel amongst those politicos might degenerate to a brawl, and at length the Maoists as pupils will definitely outstrip their teachers in con games. Will their nemesis gawp at them any time soon?

Incidentally, the politics is the art of the possible and neither the ill-informed public opinion nor the deficiency in polity ought to prevent those patriotic entities from preferring the audacity to temerity. For, we want that the citizens of this country could live as free as anything, where none will be looking over their shoulders.

As Immanuel Kant would have uttered, "It is." (es ist gut in German.)

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)