Nepali Times Asian Paints
Vacancy announcement


Wanted: a hero.
Must be farsighted, charismatic and humble. Must put the nation's interests first. Compensation: a better country and the loyalty of the people.

To His Majesty:
You sense correctly that the people want a strong leader. But what your advisers won't tell you is that only a few of your subjects want you to be that strong leader. Fewer still want anything to do with authoritarianism or a return to the Panchayat. You can't turn back the clock. Your subjects know what freedom of expression is: they won't give it up. And they want to elect their leaders, however flawed.

Most of the people believe you when you say you are a democrat. That's why the only demonstrators in the streets right now are hard-core party cadres. But that could change. Ordinary Nepalis are appalled by stories of the security forces' brutality and what seems to be a 'shoot first and hide the truth' policy. Your subjects are also wondering why your governments aren't any more effective than the parties. What happened to the anti-corruption drive? What about all those wonderful intentions to be pro-business, pro-poor and to operate efficiently?

The good news is that you could easily be the nation's hero. Be flexible, intelligent and diplomatic. We know you have those skills. There is no desirable future for Nepal without the political parties. Patch up a working agreement with them. By stepping back you could move the country forward: the people would love you for it.

To party leaders:
You surely don't believe you are personally responsible for ruining the country, and perhaps you have not grown wealthy by abusing your positions. But you must understand that the vast majority of people blame you and think you are corrupt. Ordinary Nepalis don't believe for a minute that your movement against 'regression' is based on principle or that you would do anything differently the next time you are in power.

Those of you over the retirement age should step aside gracefully. Those who held senior berths in the successive failed governments should apologise individually and publicly to the nation. Turning over party leadership positions to new faces would increase your credibility a lot.

Now the hard part: you have to explain to the people why they should trust you and give you another chance to serve them. What can you do to identify your own mistakes? How will you clean up corruption and deliver services efficiently? If you can't do that, why should anyone vote for you? It will be hard work to convince your fellow citizens that you mean it this time and then to do it. But there is no other way. Get off of the streets while you do it. Your movement is hurting your credibility and polarising the situation.

Want to be a hero? Pursue reconciliation and restore peace, and your party can rule the nation for decades.

To the Maoists:
Congratulations. You have won. Actually you won two years ago and have been losing ground since. Bandas, blockades and bombings hurt and alienate the people you say you are fighting for. Every brutal murder and every terrified citizen weighs against your cause. The Great Helmsman would have told you so. It may not be the victory you planned, marching into Singha Darbar at the head of a battalion. That's never going to happen. But you can march into Singha Darbar at the head of a majority party.

You control enough territory to ensure your representation at a constituent assembly or in the next parliament. It's time to stop fighting and use what you've won to make this a better country. Show us that you mean what you have been saying.

Comrade Prachanda, are you ready to be a hero?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)