Nepali Times
Personality occult


Having endured the most spine-chilling 12 months in Nepali history, our 23 million souls deserved to enter 2059 Bikram Sambat with some heart-warming thoughts. But before we could sketch our resolutions for the new year, astrologers belonging to almost every school of thought concluded that planetary positions would take a turn for the worse. Seismic upheavals, freak downpours, mid-term elections and the ascendancy of political sidekicks are some of the more benign forecasts for the year. The times and effects may vary, but the soothsaying consensus is that the country is neck-deep in trouble and may sink another couple of centimetres before it can hope to get a lifeline. The main culprits are Mars and Saturn, which are sitting eerily close to each other. Going by some accounts, we are already in the worst phase of the year, which will last until May 20.

If you consider the first two weeks of the year, 2059 has hardly had a predictable start. A state of emergency hasn't stopped the ruling party president from censuring the prime minister on Star TV. The leader of the opposition returns from Bhutan with suggestions on resolving the refugee row before Nepalis realised he's subcontracted that part of Nepal's foreign policy. And our idol-desecrating Maoists have provided a preponderance of evidence that they are the most ardent international supporters of the Ram Mandir construction project in Ayodhya. If you can't understand what all this means for a country that may already have become the next front of the global war on terrorism while the rest of world is looking at Saddam Hussein, blame the stars.

Or start believing in them. There are about 15,000 astrologers in Nepal that follow the Indian and Chinese-Tibetan traditions, we are told. Now that's a deep pool of talent-one-seventh of the bureaucracy-that we're wasting. Instead of grappling with the national debt through arcane Keynesian theories, why don't we convene a weekly round table of crystal-gazers under the auspices of the finance ministry and the central bank. We might succeed in maintaining high employment and low inflation by varying interest and tax rates and public expenditure in keeping with interplanetary motions. If we get our rahu and ketu right, we might be able to appreciate the mercurial disposition of some our leaders and understand why plutocracy is an inalienable part of our destiny. After that, we can move on to the specifics of our cyber laws.

This admixture of ancient wisdom with artificial intelligence could provide us a providential escape from our worldly woes. More importantly, though, it would conform to official policy as enunciated by Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Purna Bahadur Khadka in his World Intellectual Property Day message last week. "Our traditional knowledge and folk culture, too, are the products of the creativity of our ancestors [and] it is indispensable to continually encourage the creativity for future generations," Khadka exhorted us. Nepal's successes in intellectual property protection would help us not only gain membership of the World Trade Organisation but also bear the responsibilities that come with it, the honourable minister added.

In the true spirit of globalisation, we should strive to harness the accumulated wisdom of the wider world. Let's invite the world's best tarot card readers, gypsy clairvoyants, hieroglyphists and TV psychics to offer purposeful thoughts on ways of expanding our revenue base. The savant from Turkey who said all those wonderful things about our prime minister a few weeks ago could be asked to help us recruit fortune-tellers from all civilisations.

Instead of blaming one another for the plunge in tourist arrivals, we should start road shows specifically promoting Nepal as the prime destination for all futuristic voyagers and their fellow travellers. To protect Nepalis and foreigners from the possible depredations of confidence tricksters, a strict licensing procedure should be imposed. We should then ask the folks at the Bureau of Standards and Metrology to work out a ratings system based on annual audits of prediction hits and misses.

Since almost everything in Nepal revolves around politics, we might stand to benefit the most if we used the stars more extensively in this firmament. Political parties should ensure mandatory screening of birth charts before granting election tickets. Those who clear that hurdle should be tested for any possible mismatches with other nominees. That way, losers won't be able to complain of conspiracies and start scheming against party colleagues. Winners, for their part, would be humbled by the knowledge that their success rests on celestial forces and might learn to be a little patient with signature campaigns regardless of the side they're on. Once our leaders acquire occult following, they would be able to guide us to national salvation in all its splendour. Those of us inspired by Churchillian commentaries will realise that never in the field of Nepali civilisation would so much be owed by so many to so few. The precise moment we accept that blood, toil, tears and sweat would no longer determine our common future could prove to be our finest hour.

Make no mistake, we will have other onerous responsibilities, such as watching for the next spell of perspiration that grips the deity in Dolakha. If you want to rate your chances of making an eternal contribution to this astrological endeavour, set up an appointment with the gentleman in Bhaktapur to get an egg smashed on your forehead. If you get it on your face, well, tough luck.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)