Nepali Times
100 days

Sooner or later, when this conflict burns itself out as one day it must, we must be ready with a state apparatus that has learnt lessons and is ready to rebuild. We can't go back to 1990 and try to re-invent the wheel, wasting another 12 years waiting for the leaders of political parties to get their acts together and figure out what it is they got elected for.

We can't afford another lost decade of governance paralysis. No more scandals that are named after foreign companies and have become household words synonymous with the stench of corruption: Dhamija, Pajero, Lauda Air, China Southwest. Nor can the country take another 12 years of political horse-trading at the Shankar Hotel, MPs being whisked away to Bangkok to be wined, dined and entertained at tax-payers' expense just so that they wouldn't vote for a rival coalition. We will not stomach the sight of the demolition of our democratic institutions because of petty politics, ministers who regarded public sector companies as ripe for plunder, and others who saw the civil service as a mass employment agency for their flunkies. Not after so much suffering and pain.

This is why it is so nauseating to hear the same kleptomaniacs demanding from the pulpits that the king correct his mistakes. "Democracy", "pluralism" and the "constitution" have become mere words for these amoral and sanctimonious chieftains. Words that they hope will propel them and us back to the days when they ravaged the nation.

For its part, the "interim government" has just completed its 100 day honeymoon period. And aside from attempts to streamline government (and a health minister who performed a successful brain surgery on the sick leader of a political party) we haven't seen the flashes of brilliance we'd hoped to witness from the royal appointees.
In fact, going by the lavish coverage on state media of various interaction programmes, conferences and foreign trips and events that they mandatorily attend, it seems to be all a ho-hum busines-as-usual style. Let's hope we are wrong, and there is a lot more happening behind the scenes than we are privy to.

However, at the public level, optimism that the Fourth of October decision would give us a clean slate, efficient government and restore peace is beginning to wear thin. That public trust is critical for the legitimacy of this royal interregnum.

We do not under-estimate the challenges at hand. The 3,000 VDC buildings, health posts, hydro power plants, bridges and the district headquarters that the Maoists have destroyed have to be rebuilt brick-by-brick. We will have to catch up with lost time in the delivery of basic health care, primary education, nutrition, agricultural extension and all the other aspects of development that have come to a standstill. Lack of money should not be the excuse: we just need to show the donors we are willing to make a new beginning.

The absence of peace is also no reason to delay problems like kamaiya rehabilitation so that their children don't die of exposure. The war is no excuse not to send medical personnel and equipment to at least district hospitals, and vigorously start pushing education reform.

For lack of a better way to put it, development needs to go on a "war footing". We don't need to wait till complete peace is restored before we begin to attempt this, and the job of the Chand adminsitration is to get the ball rolling. The honeymoon is over.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)