Nepal has changed in 15 years, but the issues we were covering then are still here with us. It has been nearly ten years since the conflict ended. The war has been over for as long as it lasted. But the Nepali people never got to reap the peace dividend. Ostracisation and inequality persist. There is chronic mismanagement, poor governance and lack of accountability.
This issue of Nepali Times from July 2001 (pic) is headlined ‘Ke Garne’: the helpless Nepali shrug. The cartoon on the front page illustrates the post-royal massacre political chaos. The bickering politicians are mostly the same ones still bickering. In a faxed interview the underground Maoist ideologue, Baburam Bhattarai, maintains that the Maoists will never be a parliamentary party. “That would be a great betrayal to the revolutionary aspirations of the masses,” he says. Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat has just delivered the war budget to parliament. The Royal Nepal Army has been sucked into the conflict, and is allocated 17 per cent more, the Nepal Police get a hefty 27 per cent hike. Nepal has been able to survive feckless and incompetent rulers because Nepalis stopped expecting anything from them long ago and built our own coping mechanisms.
Nepali Times marks its 15 year this week. We have had a ringside seat to war, a massacre of royals, the return to absolute monarchy, a people power uprising, ceasefire, and a prolonged political transition. We have witnessed deadly floods, avalanches, blizzards and an earthquake. In this Special Anniversary Issue we take a retro look at the past one-and-half decades.