Nepali Times Asian Paints
The writing on the wall

The post-1990 political decay in this country led to widespread disillusionment with democracy. Frustrated with patronage, corruption and rigged elections, the ultra left turned to armed struggle as the way out. The ultra right, still smarting from the loss of its absolute power, tried to capitalise on the mass cynicism as a way to regain lost authority. The people were not given the right to choose the middle way.

So, the October Fourth process decapitated national level parties, while the Maoists tore down an emerging culture of electoral accountability at the grassroots. Together, the left and right have taken this country back to medieval Robin Hoodland.

The first casualty of this erosion of democratic values and a tolerant, pluralistic culture has been the rule of law. It is now a free-for-all. Every individual, every group, every party is for itself. A minister who tries to control corruption in the labour export industry is hounded from all sides. The old mafia has been replaced by a new mafia. In the absence of democratic checks-and-balances, a new generation of well-connected individuals has its hands deep inside the honey pot. Besides the Maoist tax, there is this new layer of patronage that anyone who wishes to trade, invest or do business in this country has to now buy protection from. There is little room anymore for values that benefit the nation and society: like transparency, honesty, integrity and corporate social responsibility.

Eight-and-a-half years, and this is what the Maoist war has done to this country. It has created the conditions for a return to absolute monarchy, militarised the kingdom to a level not seen since the Anglo-Nepal wars 200 years ago, brutalised society with ruthless cruelty and snatched away from the people the civil liberties they secured in 1990.

And who benefits from this mad war? A few arms merchants and their clients in Kathmandu, plus a handful of hardline comrades spellbound by a discredited ideology. But the conflict does provide an opportunity for us to reform the structural problems in this society: the top-heavy military-monarchy combine, genuine devolution, redistribution of opportunity and restoring the people's right to electoral representation.

The people want the middle way. There is a lesson in this week's internet poll for the Maoists: at press time, nearly a quarter of the respondents were saying they would vote for the CPN-(Maoist) party if it renounced violence and took part in elections. What are you waiting for, comrades?

1. nepali cheli
this article makes me extremely sad.  if the little blurb on top was not present this could as well have been an editorial from April 2012. the country  is in the exact same position as it was 8 years ago - "disillusionment with democracy", no rule of law, every party for itself, the old mafia and kings replaced by the new kings. and if we let this madness go on, NT can repeat this editorial  in 2020 again and the situation might still be the exact same.  

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)