Nepali Times
Military security vs social security


How come the countries that can't feed their populations have lately started testing long-range ballistic missiles? India fired a guided missile last week that can deliver a nuclear payload as far as Beijing, and North Korea's rocket turned out to be as unguided as that country's government. Then Pakistan had to rattle its sabre, too.

Pyongyang's disastrous totalitarianism has made that starving country a case study in how an outdated ideology can allow despotic dynasties to survive in the 21st century and use nuclear blackmail to get the world to feed it. India, on the other hand, may be rising and shining but half its children are still undernourished. Pakistan should have other priorities than firing expensive rockets into the sky.

Having nuclear warheads and the rockets to deliver them, do not a more secure country make. It's not just tyrants who are obsessed with military security, elected democratic leaders supposedly accountable to the welfare of their citizens do so, too. Part of the reason could be that ever since the Pharaohs and the Greeks, the history of empires have been based on the glorious battles they fought to expand territory. The modern history of nation states are annals of military conquests, history books are long lists of leaders who killed large numbers of people to get to power. Histories are rarely about ordinary people, they ignore descriptions of the everyday life and the sarifice made by citizens during the reign of Mr So-and-so the Great.

To this day, security is wholly defined in the framework of national sovereignty and the need to guard sacrosanct frontiers of nation states. Our obsession with expanding and defending territory shows we have evolved little from mammals who have to regularly irrigate the perimeters of their domains. That is why we reserve a special place for militaries in our nation states. When it comes to the army, even the most democratic nations shroud them in inordinate secrecy, they give the brass unquestioned leeway, and a lavish budget.

Numerically, South Asia has most of the world's poor. If governments in our part of the world were really concerned about the welfare of their citizens, they would pay less attention to military security and pay more for social security. Traditionally, security has always been about training people to kill other people, whereas human security is about trying to save people's lives.

One of the early proponents of human security in South Asia was the late Mahbub Ul-haq who used figures and statistics to prove just how absurd the military budgets of India and Pakistan were in relation to the mass deprivation of citizens in both countries. If Pakistani leaders had listened to Ul-haq and done more in the 1990s to ensure education, health and jobs, perhaps the country wouldn't be in the explosive political situation it is in today.

Here in Nepal, the successful conclusion of the peace process offers the opportunity to turn our attention to long-term peace building. An essential part of that must be to harness the peace dividend by cutting back on our bloated military budget, as well as investing in human security.

The induction of ex-Maoist combatants and extra Madhesis into the army are political compromises, and make a mockery of the glaring need for Security Sector Reform. There is no reason to keep the Armed Police Force, the paramilitary army that was set up to fight the insurgency. And if we must have a military, its size must be slashed to focus on disaster relief, infrastructure and UN peacekeeping.

In the constitution debates, our leaders split hairs about presidential and parliamentary systems. But if we look around the region, we see democratic governments so beholden to their militaries that they have no money left for anti-poverty programs, but we also have governments that may not be democratic but have done a much better job in cutting military spending to ensure social welfare. We can have any kind of government we like, but it must put human security at the top of the agenda.

For Nepal's long-term peace, underlying social injustice, discrimination, exclusion and inequities must be addressed. Maintaining an outsized, expensive army drains resources away from human development. The threats to Nepal's survival come not from external invaders, but from domestic instability caused by the state's neglect of its citizens.

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1. Bikas Rana
Its nothing but pure greed !  The Generals make easy money and the arms merchants make money ! Screw everyone else. Oh yes, the politicians make money as well.    

2. KAM
Having nuclear warheads and the rockets to deliver them, do not a more secure country make.

Daant ma dhunga lagyo malaai!!!!!!!

3. Arun S Khadka
You read about corrution in the Military ! You read about corrution in the Police force - armed  or unarmed !  Then you read about corruption in government, rampant and unbearable corruption in most govt. Agencies and to top it all, there is obnoxious and disgusting  couuption  among all the political parties and party leaders !  This is an open secret that every one knows including the public, civil society and even foreign diplomats in Kathmandu.  Corruption is now a Nepali way of life.  Think about it, is there no honest man or men or women who can oppose this decay of Nepal and Nepali Society. Where is the hope for an ordinanry citizen, what is there to look forward to.  All leaders of Nepal should hang their heads in shame. The current generation in charge is not going to cut it,  a new generation needs to take over, by hook or by crook.   

4. AD
I agree with KAM's comment on the grammar error on the editorial guys!!

But the point of the editorial is awesome, the last line sums up great thoughts, The threats to Nepal's survival come not from external invaders, but from domestic instability caused by the state's neglect of its citizens

5. Anil K Sharma
I have zero faith in today's leaders of Nepal. I also do  not trust any one of them. I think that they are not capable of solving the problems Nepal is facing to day. When corruption takes centre stage, and no is there to fight it or speak against it,  we are doomed.  Look at  size of the CA - that is corruption, look at size of Govt. in power now, that is corruption. These old, senile and mental retards have not brought any comfort or peace to the ,  say 95 % of the populace.  Govt. funds which is in reality people's funds is squandered and looted each single mniute, hour or day. People need jobs, jobs and jobs. People need law and order. People need education.  People need independence from finance.  So first take care of the internal security, all other will follow suit. Nepalis are a smart group, we just need to excrcise our rights and not be fooled and swayed by inept and immoral leadership that are visionless and also mute and have no shame. I do not respect them and believe them or have any hope in them.      

6. Dinesh Gurung
We need some high profile politicians to be sentenced and serve in prison. What kind of people and society will allow to continue the loot of the nation and the people. In India, BJP chief Bangaru Laxman was sentenced for 4 years for BRIBERY ! In Pakistan, Yousuf Reza Gilani, the Prime Minister was guilty of contempt of court for protecting the President Zardari from BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION. So, when people in high positions of power lose all forms of morality the Nation cannot prosper and its people will suffer. What is there to write about the scandals and bribery of Nepali leadership,  NC or CMN UML or MAOIST or MADHES or the Army or the Police or the Judges....  its useless to talk about external security when internally the country is ready to blow.  Its too bad we do not have a Taliban style of Justice in Nepal.  Its too bad that criminals are in power and they protect each other.  BUT - we can hope for change for things will Change.  

7. Gopal Dongol
Internal or external -  lets see what happens after 27 May ! The writings on the walls are omnious - not good for the public. If the leaders are failing miserably, then they need to be removed from power. We do not have a capable man to lead Nepal. A leader who loves the people and is not tainted by corruption and nepotism, a leader of strength and vision, a leader who can hold his head high instead of hanging it down with shame and gulit. The near sighted, male dominated, class dominated, unjust and unfair, selfish, egotistical, weak and corrupted group of people cannot deliver Nepal to the 21st century.  What can we do about this. Or what are we going to do. Dishonest and lying politicians have ruined Nepal. This must be the sign of an evil curse.  

8. Bishnu Ghimire
I choose Social Security !  Feed the people. Provide homes to the homelss. Educate the children ! Take care of the elderly. Grant equal rights and pay to women and minorities. Create jobs for the unemployed. Restore law and order. Most of all, punish the thieves disguised as leaders.  The leaders that know how to lie and cheat, those  leaders  are well known to society but are above the law. Now that is really, really, really screwd up. People who belong in jails are feted as heroes and worshipped. If this is not a recipe for Nepal Spring, then what IS.     

9. PeterS
#2 and #4:

From a remark by Aristotle (384 BCE - 322 BCE): "One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day".

Similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.

Thought-provoking editorial on human security. But you are expecting too much of politicians in Nepal (or elsewhere) to think like this.

10. Radha Acharya
Rotten politics makes a rotten Nation. Take the power away from the politicans and give them to bureaucrtas. Then life will go on.  It won't matter much if Dahal and Nepal go at each other. Maybe be then honest men who want to make a difference will enter politics. The bottom line is let the power lie with those who know how to use it, not how its today, in the hands of corrupted and shameless individuals. So, less talk more work is needed,  less politics and more commerce and less quarrel and more kinship, less hate and more love.  

11. Anita Sharma

rithout a question,  definitely Social Security !  Mind you, not limited social security to Dahal or Bhattrai or NC party leaders or UML or the ruling class, you know what I am trying to say.  Social Security for all Nepalis. The politicans ARE the problems of Nepal, corrupted individuals that pose as honest leaders ! Take the example of a giant Nation, China and its sinister and dirty politicis. I am talking about Bo  Xilai ! China's powerful leader involved in murder and wire tapping of its highest political leaders. Why did this happen, you guessed it, because of corruption at the highest levels of government. NT,  keep the intense focus on corrpution. This is your duty to bring down these vile individulas.  Nepali leaders consume 95 % of their time in politics,  instead of a pro market, pro growth pro opportunity, jobs creation, investment in education and infrastructure, the list is long and keeps going. We need a intense conversation about fiscal abuse and waste in government.  Lets not forget,  politcians cannot be trusted for they lie each day for a living. We  need a vibrant civil society and business leaders to solve Nepal's problems. Dahal or Nepal have no capacity for this tall order. 


12. Nirmala Pradhan

I want read about good and happy news in Nepal ! I think there needs to be a media blackout on the politics and its leadership. Why focus on lies,deceptions and corruptions.  There are many Nepalis working hard each day and making a difference in people's lives.  I am sick to my stomach to look at the same faces of old and immoral politicans that have destroyed Nepal for their personal gain. Nepal is currently led by traitors and until we get rid of them there will not be any kind of security. Just get that fact in your thick heads. 

13. Bandana Wagle
The Maoist leaders like Dahal and Bhattrai need to tell the world that they have renounced politics of violence and thuggery ! Same applies to CPN UML, its sad day every day in Nepal when Nepalis have Communist as their leaders in the 21st Century.  I cannot believe one word these pseudo Netas utter !  Bankrupt and visionless mentally, these leaders employ thugs and use violence and inimidation to push their agenda. Always there is useless back and forth and we lose time as well as our future. PM is an office of public service. You also have to take an oath. Then you become a Caesar in Nepal ! Then you loot the people and the nation. If this is not disgusting, what is ?    The Nepali people have to blame themselves only for accepting these killers and looters. 

14. GG
As far as the much hyped 'logical conclusion of peace process' is concerned in the current Nepali political context, it is all about integration of PLA into the national Army in such a way that their bloodied hands reaches the cache of arms and armoury..

15. Raju Shrestha
Maakuney said he would not resign from the PM's job. Khanal said the same thing. And now, Bhattrai wants to be PM for life. This type of selfish individuals cannot provide military or social security. The only security in their mind is their own personal security. In today's Nepal, we do not have a leader that cares about Nepal or Nepalis. We do not have any leader at all, that the people love and respect. We only have crooks and criminals in leadership positions. Unless we wipe the slate clean, we cannot move forward. Followers of mass murderers like Stalin or Lenin or Mao, can never deliver the goods the Nepalis are yearning for. Lets face it, only criminals have thrived in Nepal.    

16. Mahendra Singh
N C wants a no confidence against Bhattarai !  Get rid of Bhattarai, the most corrupted and oversized govt. of Nepal, ever. Communist cannot deliver progress and peace in Nepal for communism is a dying concept. Just look at China and Russia ! Its a pro business, pro people govt. that can deliver the goods we need.  Educated Nepali political leaders are known as functional illetrates, they have a degree in name only, but no brain power behind it. Why would Nepalis suffer so much, if the leaders were capable and honest. They are all crabs in a barrel.   

17. Shyam SJB Rana
Let the Maoist split. Sooner the better . . Let the Army take over ! Even that Shah Kings would be better than the present thugery.  All securities will become available once the communist are chased out of Nepal. Its that simple. Does the NC have the guts. Lets wait and see.    

18. Surya Thapa
In total agreement with Shyam # 17.  The Maoist are nothing but killers and looters.  The Maoist shold be arrested and put in jail or driven out of Nepal. Let them go and live in India . As long as there are communist thugs in Nepal,  we will never prosper. We need free enterpise and hard work to prosper, not a beggars bowl or entitlements from donors. Nepal needs leaders than can stand on their own feet, and are not slaves of foreign powers. Be a proud Nepali. 

19. S.J. Thapa
Yes, human security should be the top priority of the government.  Education, basic services, social security and physical security are things Nepal's government must really concentrate on and prioritize.  That said, it would be foolish and dangerous to question the very existence of the military just because corruption exists (just like in any other government bureaucracy in Nepal or elsewhere in South Asia).  Without a standing army we would be leaving the country open to every imaginable threat, be it encroachment by foreign powers, threats from domestic terror groups, or extremist groups from both ends of the political spectrum who want to threaten or divide the country.  It is a given of realpolitik in this modern age that states are created from warfare and consolidation.  To wish for something different and more peaceful is commendable and idealistic but also totally naive and blinkered.  The armed forces must exist, they must have a reasonable budget, and at the same time human security of the population cannot be compromised.  Hard choices will have to be made, but a good start would be to elect a smaller parliament that serves out its term (and does not self extend for years and years), to spend less on vanity items such as funding political expeditions to mountains, and to cut down on the jet setting of our ministers whose performance these last five years has been dismal.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)