HYDERABAD-When regimes change, frequent flier accessories change too. Since Chandrababu Naidu was defeated in the Andhra Pradesh elections two months ago, laptop bags on planes have been replaced by briefcases of career bureaucrats. At the NTR International Airport, nerds in jeans nattering in Americanese into Nokias are replaced by a sedate crowd of dhoti-clad middle-aged men speaking Telugu.
Outside the terminal building, beggars have staged a come back. Cyberbabu had driven them out of sight. Now, they knock at the car windows demanding their dues.
The vagaries of nature, however, remain the same. In a week when forecasters had predicted daily thunderstorms, not a drop of rain fell on the Deccan. The tar of recently widened roads has started melting. Naidu was too busy turning his capital into a Silicon Plateau to invest resources in renovating storage reservoirs that have traditionally insured farmers against drought.
During the Naidu regime, subsidies such as tax holidays, public investment in infrastructure to facilitate private enterprise and loans from public banks on demand were reserved for the rich, while the poor were expected to fend for themselves in the free market. The tyranny of the market drove many cotton farmers to commit suicide. Others embraced Maoism.
UNDP warns against five kinds of economic growth that fuel discontentment in society. Jobless growth has no meaning for the poor. Ruthless growth increases social inequality. Voiceless growth denies the right of dissent. Futureless growth causes the deterioration of commons. And rootless growth causes alienation among the deprived, leading to social upheavals.
Naidu looked to the US for inspiration, not the UN. So, for Andhra Pradesh's digitally-deprived and marginalised, the swanky Banjara Hills in Hyderabad is another country. Earlier this year, Maoist insurgents from the CPI-ML tried to assassinate Naidu with a landmine. The Chief Minister survived, and his successor negotiated a ceasefire with the naxal. (Lower case 'n' stands for India's Maoists, while upper case 'N' is just outside the palace walls in Kathmandu.) The truce still holds, and there has been no loss of life since 15 May.
Despite the fact that we in Nepal have a Unified Marxist-Leninist finance minister, the budget to be made public on Friday will, in all likelihood, set the same tone for the Nepali economy that had led to the growth of violent insurgency in the country. Which means it will reflect the interests of the Washington Consensus and not the United Nations or Amnesty International.
In Andhra Pradesh, the People's Union for Civil Liberties was successful in convincing the government that political economy and the armed insurgency were closely linked. Hence the ceasefire, though fragile, still holds and the government prepares the ground for meaningful talks with the naxals.
In Nepal, the dilemma is a lack of peace activists bold enough to question a neo-liberal political economy. Unless sincere attempts are made to address the burning issues of social injustice and a skewed socio-economic order, the search for peace in Nepal will remain elusive. Perhaps that is the lesson we need to learn from the truce between the naxals and the state in Andhra Pradesh.