Nepali Times Asian Paints
The power to change


It is hard to remember a winter in urban Nepal that was bleaker than this one. Till this time last year, if there was no power people could at least fire up the diesel generator. Now there is no diesel, either. Nor petrol. Nor LPG.

Industries have ground to a halt, productivity is down, transportation is crippled, it's a miracle this country is still functioning. The only explanation is that long-suffering Nepalis are so used to hardships they take each day as it comes. Survival takes up all their energy, and there isn't any left to protest. Successive politicians of every hue have taken advantage of this.

The energy crisis mainly affects the urban middle class, which is now getting a demonstration of what life is like for a majority of the population. After all, 80 per cent of Nepalis still depend on burning biomass to meet its energy needs. Yet unless Nepal's politicians set in motion short- and long-term solutions to their energy emergency, the economic repercussions on politics of a prolonged energy crisis will ultimately unseat them. Unfortunately, in their political lexicon 'power' only means political control, it doesn't include electricity.

Let's face it, it's not original anymore to complain about fuel lines. It has become hackneyed to bemoan 16-hour daily power rationing in a country that has one of the highest hydropower generation capacities per capita. So, Nepalis on gas station queues are resorting to black humour: "I burned the petrol that was there to look for petrol that wasn't there." There will be a tipping point when the jokes will turn to anger, just like it has this week in Pakistan, Nigeria and Chile.

The electricity shortage is the result of colossal and chronic bungling by successive governments that squandered a god-given resource. And the kleptocracy fattened itself from the government's monopoly on the import of petroleum products. Even professional saboteurs paid to systematically wreck the economy could not have done a better job than what Nepal's rulers have achieved.

There are countries around the world with massive oil reserves that remain poor because of state capture by an unaccountable and corrupt leadership. Nepal is different, it has no oil but is still mired in poverty and corruption because a rent-seeking political class sucks the oil and power utility dry.

The conflict is often blamed for today's power cuts. But the war ended five years ago and precious little was done so supply kept up with demand growth. Petroleum is going to get more scarce and more expensive, yet we have no strategy to lessen the economy's dependence on imported oil. Borrowing billions from the Provident Fund to pay the Indians is not going to solve the problem of petrol lines.

To be sure, there have been politicians who took the bull by the horns. The previous Power Minister Gokarna Bista was one such do-er. If the Jhalanath government hadn't come to grief, Bista had plans in place at NEA to make this winter less dark. And the wisest decision any previous government made was to introduce parity in diesel and kerosene prices despite pressure from fuel adulterers within NOC and among private dealers.

No matter what we do, the power shortage is here to stay for another five years. Question is, does the government have the political will to make necessary policy changes so that Nepal Investment Year will attract investors and capital into this sector in 2012? As for fuel, the first step would be break the NOC's monopoly on imports.

Prime Minster Baburam Bhattarai would do well to spend more time on organising this, than to distract everyone with removing statues of kings, changing the calendar, or widening roads on which there is no fuel to drive.

Read also:
Final showdown, ANURAG ACHARYA
It does not matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it is accountable and ensures stability

Our PhD prime minister is fond of symbols and signals

1. Rajesh Rajbhandari
Where is the civil society in Nepal ! The Prime Minister or other Ministers you are writing about are nothing but SERVANTS. THEY ARE SERVANTS OF THE PUBLIC. So as servants can sacked, these thugs should be sacked as well. But becuase we Nepalis are cowards, we treat the servants like Masters. What a joke ! Why do only the poor people have to suffer. Lets blast the power line to the PM's residence like they are blasting gas pipelines in Syria. Lets banish from Nepal people like P K D and gang, Deuba and gang, Maakuney and gang the same way Ben Ali was banished from Tunis. You know the businessmen need to meted out the same punishment as politicians. They are hand in glove. People of Nepal, its time rise, its time  to revolt, its time hit back and take revenge, its time to teach the few that the needs of many are greater than theirs.  Right now, there is nothing to be proud about Nepal or to be proud to be a Nepali. Its time for a change. Saddam is gone, Gadhafi is gone, Mubarak is gone, Saleh is gone, Assad is on his way out. We can also kick the filthy and professional politicians of Nepal out from Nepal.  Its time to Occupy Nepal.

2. Mahesh Gurung
Hello Editor of N T !  Your editorial piece paints such a gloomy and dismal affairs of Nepal. Day after day and week after week, all we Nepalis read about is how bad the corruption is and that there is no HOPE and no FUTURE for the general Nepali public. When will the Nepali people get fed up like the people of Middle East!  Its a shame that we cannot find honest men and women in Nepal today. How can that be. BRB is a public servant, a killer and looter of Nepal. Its time to treat him like a servant. The Nepali people need to rise up and kill the current leaders of Nepal, only then will Nepal have a bright future. These thugs in power deserve to die. That is all there is to it, Kancha.     

3. here n there
This will cheer you up.
Starting Next week sixteen hours darkness!!

Every winter same shhhh.,
Fool me once, shame on you ..etc.....

power shortage is here to stay for another 5 years - How did the writer come up with this number. All things being equal it could be like this for 10, 15, 20 50yrs. Who knows?

4. Nirmal
So often, when children are small they tell everyone, "I want to go with the big boys and girls." This caused me curiosity and I tried to make them understand that being amongst them there is no certainty that they'd feel like adults.

Do you know what is the fundamental difference --apart from do-er and definitely he is--  between Gokarna Bista and "dear leader" Baburam Bhattarai? Baburam pretends to do big business in Nepali politics with hallo style and big talks while by overlooking small details which help to create big thing whereas Gokarna Bista is a man who knows what he is talking about, who knows where the holes are thus he knows how to think big. Politico like Gokarna Bista has more probability to be the winner in any big league of politics however Baburam can get out of people's mind the day the patronage system and the coercive instruments work ineffectively and you know greed and fear never last long.

5. Yanpras
Dear fellow countryman! Namastay
Lets not spend time only criticizing people and leader around us. , With every politician they have some backing of people like you and me. the real problem is not with leaders, its with in US. We are the one who choose them one way or another. So its just stupidity to criticizing people whom we created. What is real lacking in nepal is self awareness. Its our weakness to choose good leader, good politician. Lets try to change our society being a master not the servent of the people whom we created.

First of all, lets think positively for every problem we face. thats the only way we will accomplished what we want. Instead of arguing of problem why cant we discuss about the appropriate solution. Lets not judge people just because of mere incidence. Lets give appreciation to our leader if they have done something positive and criticized them if they failed to deliver as per the expectation.  And the most important thing we are lacking is tolerance. Tolerance to exist together as a nation. It does not matter if you are a member of NC, UML or Maoist, or whatever. if the price of commodities goes up, roads breaks, transport halts, hospitals cant render service, school closed, it affect all. 

I personally believed we nepalese all love our country so much. We want to see good and prosperity to nepal. But to get that we need patient, tolerance, self awareness, respect to each fellow and work as a team. we cant do it alone until east and west , hill and madash unite. 
peace be with all of us........

Nepali des hamro, sansar mai sabai bhanda ramro.... mero nepal mero des

6. Mahesh Kunwar

There is another revolution in the making in Nepal these days. Just like the Shah kings that were blind, the current political party leaders are 10 times more blinder. They are not reading the writings on the wall. Remember, revolution is not limited to stinking communist like Pushpa Kamal and Baburam. There are others sons of Nepal ( not Bahuns, but Thapas and Basnyats, chettris, warriors class), that can also revolt. Do not forget the brave Gurungs and Libmus and Rais, that have won V C in battles. So, here is a shot accros the bow- Bahuns of Nepal watch out. You corrupt swines - you only know how to fill your disgusting bellies. Pranchanda, Dueba et al, all of you, we will strip your looted wealth. Enough is enough. The Nepali people are suffering every minute, hour, days, months and years for so long. The people are deprived of electricity, gas, deisel, petrol, jobs, education, health, food, clothes. If this is not a recipe for revolt than what is.  Lets talk about jobs, jobs and jobs. Lets talk about perosonal security. No one talks about these issues. Just freaking politics, all day every day.  We are sick of politics. We are sick of democracy. Shitty democracy cannot feed its own people. People are tired, hungry, and very angry.  Enough is enough.        Â

7. Michael Peterson

Namaste ! Having spent a few years in Nepal, I try to keep in touch ! I love Nepal ! Its so beautiful. God's country. I also love the Nepali people. So warm. So friendly. So trusting and so innocent. But the politics stinks. Sucks. The American  govt. is too big and wasteful and its sucks, just like the Nepali govt., one after another. The American people are disgusted with their politicians and Congress. Why ?? Because the Republicans and Democrats are famous for partisan politics, govt. shut down and do nothing Congress. Just like the Nepali politicians that are always fighting with each other for power and pelf. Same can be said about India. And in all three countries the leaders are always harping about how great a democracy is.  Democracy sucks, when people are hurting and there are 11 millions homes undereater and being foreclosed. Democracy sucks when big Wall Steert Banks and Billionaires and Millionaires get bailed out, based on the pretext of too big to fail. Democracy sucks when there is 17 hour power outage and no cooking gas and no water and no  petrol and no jobs and no education and no future for the people of Nepal. And the leaders in both America and Nepal say its all right, it will take more time. They will fix all the problems. So this is the current status of American and Nepali people, both are suffering, both hate their governments, both are just fed up. Welcome to the 21st century.        

8. Dravin
lol...urban slums and Baburam PhD the saviour....Isn't it ironic that the buildings have been brought down to widen the roads? How do you run the vehicles without fuel, idiots? What would the SAARC representatives say when they see the people lining up for the fuel? Oh, he is the saviour, he might have some sort of solutions in his shitty PhD brain. In his village, he would not have been able to ride even pushbikes.

Not up until the civil war started, Kathmandu had not been that congested as it is now. Lack of security, Maoist cruelty, intrusion and extortion of peoples properties led the locals to run for their lives. Since then the population of Kathmandu dramatically heightened. Urban slums were reportedly increased destroying once beautiful mighty rivers such as Bagmati and Bishnumati as they dug out sands for their living and also for the home builders and buyers who migrated from various other parts of Nepal.

The numbers of vehicles basically imported from neighboring India, despite lack of road ways and other infrastructures, and also the zero interest loans without any credit checks on the vehicle users helped the numbers kept growing. Failing to address such erroneous urban planning, and financial mismanagement, Baburam went too far to bring down the buildings in the name of widening the road. Why can't there be narrow lanes and "one way" roads in the inner cities?

Kathmandu is not that big. Bicycles would help to keep pollution down and could avoid a long queue for the fuel as well as the road would not seem congested. Public transport system could have replaced large numbers of polluting private vehicles.

Urban middle income earners possess their overpriced properties. BFIs are also happy to see them sitting on their Balance Sheets. That's why, no public outcry is heard yet. Can they burn their concrete pillars to warm up in the winter? It wouldn't even be appropriate to ask to review the 1950 treaty as he has already signed the BIPPA. The Indians have scared him off too.

The lotto winners are the Indians. They own the companies and businesses, swarm of Indian workers can be seen everywhere, no VISA is required to work and stay, and they flee with the savings. What do we get? A little commission just to look after their men. Where do we go? To the gulf...Why are BFI's still surviving? Thanx to the Nepalese migrant workers hard earned remittance. This is how our economy is running till date.

How bad the situation is in Kathmandu Baburam would not mind after seeing the pictures. Would he? Nah, it's because the government is run by the people deprived of even basic needs. They love slums rather than my home. That's why the slums are not brought down yet. The slums still have got the government protection. Baburam, has brought up in the dark. So, why would he care about us?

9. Shiraz
Ha ha! Mike,
One big difference- your governments squandered away the money you had, leaving you with trillions of dollars in debt. Nepal's pollies squandered the money we didn't even have!

10. Ratan Thapa

Corruption and  a rent-seeking behaviours (dakshina) are in the gene of the Brahmins of Nepal (Brahmin of Hindu caste in general) who are leading political class in Nepal's all political parties; and leading bureaucrats in Nepal government, foreign aided projects, INGOs, NGOs. 

 Nepal is heavily dependent on foreign aided projects. INGOs, NGOs for development but these projects have mafia linkage amongst the Brahmin politicians, Brahmin bureaucrats, and Brahmin projects consultants. 

 Unlike India, where majority of world's Hindu reside, the Brahmins are losing their traditional superiority over other Hindu castes in society, politics, and bureaucracy. Nepal is still the safe haven for Hindu Brahmins to rule and make wealth out of it. .Majority of these Brahmins migrated from poor village in remote hills but now are leading politicians and rich citizen of Nepal. The wealth and influence of Nepalese Brahmins are flourishing in Nepal. Brahmins are major players everywhere in politics, government bureaucracy, and foreign aided projects. INGOs, NGOs. In all political parties top 100 influential leaders are Brahmin, in bureaucracy top 10,000 bureaucrats are Brahmins, in foreign aid projects, INGOs, NGOs the majority of decision makers are Brahmins. It is so easy to start a project of business in Nepal as Projects and businessmen give bribes to the government's policy makers- bureaucrats to make sure the programmes are running smoothly. According to transparency International Nepal is ranked 156 out of 178 countries on corruption index. Nepal got only 2.2 score out of 10.00 in TI's corruption ranking index. According to TI's last 20 years report one can conclude that Nepal has never been a corruption free country because it scored less than 3.00 score out of 10.00.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)