Nepali Times Asian Paints
By The Way
New Nepal's old school



The parties have once again locked horns and the peace process is stuck. The debate about executive president vs parliament has spilled out into the op-eds with politicians writing opinion themselves or through proxies.

Kathmandu's powerful prefers coterie politics and has chosen to disengage from the masses and their needs. A majority of bemused Nepalis don't care either way as long as their lives get better, and their hard-won freedoms are protected.

This week, the NC and UML coagulated with 16 other parties to pressure the Maoists, who themselves are going through the throes of internal turmoil. The utter disregard shown by both sides for cooperation and compromise goes against the spirit of 2006 people's movement and the mandate of the 2008 interim constitution.

The NC fears that an executive head directly elected by the people will lead to a totalitarian president, especially if the person is Pushpa Kamal Dahal. The NC's Ram Sharan Mahat and his cohort in the media and civil society feel the Nepali people are incapable of choosing the right leader and must therefore leave the task to the traditional parliamentary parties. This sums up the up arrogance of the political elites who consider majority of the population as 'cattle-class' with no aspiration or understanding of democratic norms and culture, not to mention the party that has been in power for most of the period after 1990 has repeatedly let the people down.

There is growing anxiety in Kathmandu's power centres about losing their kingmaker role and stepping into the unknown domain of mass politics. Their long writeups in the Nepali media reflect this uncertainty over treading in uncharted territory.

This is not so much about whether or not Pushpa Kamal Dahal becomes Nepal's executive head, but who gets to call the shots, the reluctance of kingmakers to let go of what they passionately enjoyed doing for so long. The people no longer want to be told what they should or should not want. If the people don't want Dahal as leader (either as MP, Prime Minister or executive president) they will not vote for him. If they want him, that is their democratic choice. And if he turns out to be a dictator, the same people will also throw him out. The cynics would do well to look to last year's Arab Spring which uprooted military dictators after decades.

In the last two months, after the signing of the seven point agreement, the parties made a remarkable progress on both peace and constitution.

There were 200 contentious issues resolved by the dispute resolving sub-committee, and there are only two main ones left on state structure and form of governance. There were many give and takes, compromises along the way that made it possible for parties to get this far. This is not the time to let anyone's personal or partisan agenda to dominate the discussions. There is no alternative to give-and-take with an intent to come up with a workable model that is acceptable to all and reflects the public good.

When the history of New Nepal is written it will feature those who thought outside the box to take Nepal out of the paralysis of the past decades. The absolute monarchy didn't work, the parliamentary system floundered, we now need to devise a stable system with sufficient checks and balances, details are besides the point. It is up to Ram Sharan Mahat and his likes to decide whether they want to be a part of this change or watch history pass them by.

1. bibek
Very well.

But don't you know that Hitler, Suharto, Hugo Chavez, Rajapakse, Mugabe and more were all "elected by the people?" Or do we need to waste another 20-30 years and wait until "Our Spring?"

Can't you write a few-hundred-word article based on pure arguments and critical thoughts? Why do you have to bring in your personal prejudices in advocating a governance system for the country? So what if you don't like the "old"- let's do away with a democratic system too because it is- you know- so 1990.

2. jange

When the history of New Nepal is written ....

Resorting to history means you have lost the argument and have nothing to say.

3. LG

 Bibek, You forgot to mention how wonderfully Manmohan Singh-Chidambaram are doing going on war against their own people to save democracy. You forgot to mention Gordon Browns and Tony Blairs who go on global war disregarding even the domestic mandate. You forgot to mention how Yousuf Raza Gilani has been a silent spectator to Americans micromanaging their affairs. You also don't read history to recall atrocities of parliament bred dictators like Indira Gandhi during the emergency. I am amazed that among the directly elected 'dictators' of the world you conspicuously left out the most infamous one: the American President. This shows you don't have problem with dictators per se but only with a particular kind. Oh, but wait, you don't even mention Hu Jintao . So I wonder what is all so common about these people that you choose to forget. Bingo: they are all free market advocates. There you go, and you talk about personal prejudices. Shame on you. You think people are fools? They don't need Anurag Acharya to tell them what system they want. You only need to listen and you will know they definitely don't want the rotten democracy that the illustration in the article aptly shows. By the way, you talk about Hitler, let me refresh your history: the rise of Hitler and Mussolini was under the parliamentary system.

4. bibek
I am impressed with your ability to assume. People like you make online discussion so funny. I am not debating in support of parliamentary democracy here, although I could if I wanted to. I am only asking the writer to use arguments instead of prejudices and meaningless labels like "elites," 1990, etc.

If we do not need elites (without even defining them properly) or their opinions in this country, then let's say so. If we do not need democracy because it's so 1990, let's say so. In that case, I will use other arguments. Instead, if you say that the only reasons we do not need parliamentary system is because the "elites" want it and because it's 1990-ish, then I'll attack such reasoning.

Another reason you should spend some time practicing debate is because you have introduced all terminologies you know in your above comment. It is ridiculous to reply to you, but I am being kind so that you may learn.

Let's assume I like free market. So what? These days even Baburam, who spent all his life dreaming of state-controlled market likes it. I can say that's even more reason you and Anurag should listen to more of Ram Sharan Mahat or Prakash Chandra Lohani than Baburam.

I could go on to answer your curiosities about my knowledge of history, India's Maoist problem or the US-UK democracy, but I do not see you worthy of it. Moreover, I was here to discuss other things, especially to make a point that it is ok to vouch for directly elected president but it's better if you use reasoning rather than prejudices.

5. B
Bibek, are truly amazing.

I really do not think that parliament elected prime minister will not work because, it will allow people like GPK, Sushi K, MKN, JK, PKD to completely conrtol their parties. These inefficient people will control what happens in these parties. They will be the king makers....where as, a directly elected prime minister or president will ensure that these thugs will have to stand infront of the public with all their achievements and failures who inturn will judge them. Parliament elected system ensures that, the person most beneficial to certain parties will be elected where as, direct election system ensures that the person most beneficial to the country is elected.

6. ushaft
What's this thing with "new Nepal"- what does it precisely mean? Are we talking about some consumer brand here or a country- which embodies certain geography, history, people, heritage, identity etc.? I also fell for this "new" trap some years ago, but isn't it time to grow up now? Do we want a new territory, wipe out our history, disown our heritage and identity and replace our people? Past, present and future of a country are always a continuum, at least in terms of some essential portions. You can improve, change or add some elements but you cannot replace it with something totally "new."

If you do not agree with the above because you believe in the "kram-bhangata," "bhadragolata" and "creation only via destruction" doctrine of people like BRB and PKD, then I ask you: what is "new" about Nepal of today? What is "new" in the Nepal you project for tomorrow? What part of of it has not been already tried here or in other comparable situations of the world history and geography?

My friend, you need some serious introspection if you still buy this "new Nepal" crap.

As #1 wrote, if you think everything belonging to the 1990s (and all of Nepal's history as some would want us to believe) was wrong, then let's also do away with democracy. For the sake of a "new Nepal." Please?

7. asok
let me put it this way, from janta perspective new nepal were expect to be a peacefull country with rural people access to health treatment, education and road so they don't have to die of some minor disease like malaria and dairiea, And from leaders perspective.. get rich by hook or crook. if u compare present nepal to 1990s.. this is new nepal maoist brought many things in mew nepal. extortion explosion kidnaping for ransom burglary etc. etc.  

8. Mr. Reader

Guys your points well put, but i wonder what Mr. Acharya is trying to empahisze by change he wants...... from hinduism to securalism from kingdom to republic, from 14 zones to probably 6..8.  from one country to divided countrymen..... etc.... enough changes we had  dont you think so, any system is good as long as its caretakers are stop being usefull idiot by just writing for the sake of writing!!! please note only change we want is  our dear poltical leaders being righteous...can you please write on that ..our  future will always be proud of  this!!...and we have already made mockery of any system by having 601 clowns in a circus.

9. Deepak Gurung
Who gives a crap. All the people that are writing comments to express their superior intellect, the Editors at NT, who gives a crap to you. Just create freaking jobs. Restore law and order. Stop the looting of public funds by govt servants including Army and Police. There is no water, no power, no gas, no jobs, no rule of law, no personal security. There  is only loot. So who gives a freaking crap. Its just a battle of egos, The honest Nepalis need to rise and revolt. PKD or Deba or Makuney or whoever, they will only understand the rule of an eye for an eye.  Nothing will change until this filthy lot is treated the way Ben Ali or Mubarak or Gaddafi were treated. WHY. Because this filthy lot are like Gods in their mind. So its time for a BIG BANG,  what do you think            

10. Devraj

You need to acknowledge that "New Nepal" is a buzz word, and you need to use "common sense knowledge" to understand what it is usually perceived as. 

You seem to be misled by the title, and such quibbling over semantics is inappropriately hilarious.

11. Ghoe Chaku Naran
Let us have a code of conduct laid down to the Presidential Candidates with a dos and don'ts.
 Let them have to take an oath and sign a document with the Election Commissioner's Office stating that they abhor dictatorial tendency   and uphold the Democratic Norms ,( laid down,) and the spirit of the constitution.
 Will someone draft the democratic norms so that authoritarians tendency cannot take root once again for ever.
I request all bloggers to  participate in the making of such norms , so that we can feel safe in the forthcoming presidential system ; which can usher faster development.

12. ushaft
#10. Devraj,
I think the article is centered around that very "buzzword." It seems to imply that since we are either headed to or are already in a "new" Nepal, elements of the "old" Nepal do not even qualify for anything in this land of dreams. I find this very wrong. For a moment, forget this article. Elsewhere too, this seems to be the argument many are making these days- don't you think so? Symbols are very important and do not underestimate their power, more so when they are systematically and continuously repeated by many people in the public sphere. I hope you know what Goebbels and the term "Ministry of Propaganda" are known for.

By the way, I find your quibbling over my "inappropriately hilarious quibbling" no less hilarious.

13. Muni
The JNU mafia ruined India, now they are having a go in Nepal too.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)