You have hit hard on one of the major problems the parties have failed to address so far in 'United we stand' (Editorial, #359)-they gloat over the infighting, disunity, and power struggles within other parties.
In a parliamentary democracy, alliances are supposed to be developed over issues and policies between different parties and even between different groups within parties so programs and policies get implemented. But not in Nepal. Parties in Nepal change their colour according to what will get them the most (personal) advantage at a given time. Just look at the UML.
At this juncture, the seven parties, particularly the NC and the UML, must in every possible way support those willing to go along with the current frame of governance. The media should help discuss this openly so political parties can forge common ground and make less room for hardliners to rumble the peace process.
. The election to the constituent assembly will probably take place, but it will not be an analytical, well-debated exercise. The situation is exactly the same as it was a year ago. The problem now is that none of the political parties are confident of achieving the result they desire in the elections and so we must watch out for them turning the current parliament into a constituent assembly. It does not have the mandate of the people and as for the Maoist MPs, they are appointed by their high command and do not necessarily represent the views of most Nepalis. Democracy is for all, even small parties such as Hariyali.
Green Nepal Party/ Hariyali
LEAVE IT TO US
Prashant Jha addresses the root of the issue, that most madhesi intellectuals want their issues to be internationalised (Tarai Eye, #359). To some extent, that gives them bargaining power. The question is how long can madhesis hold on to that power without internationals taking over the whole game on behalf of madhesis.
Pahadis have always thought that the tarai was India's property and so instead of talking directly to madhesi leaders, the pahadi elite talks to SD Muni, Shyam Saran, Jaswant Singh, and Sitaram Yechuri. Jha rightly points out, the pahadi elite has a deeper relation with these diplomats, than madhesis do. Meanwhile, the US and the UK will want to use tarai power to counter the Maoists, and who knows what China wants?
The mindset of the pahadis will cause a deadlock. But this time, it won't just be the madhesis bleeding as always, it will also be the pahadis who are swinging off the very branch on which they sit.
I agree with much of what CK Lal's says in 'Brain deficit' (State of the State, #359). I am currently researching professional nursing training in Nepal and the migration of nurses to the UK. Although Nepal produces more nurses than the capacity of our health service to employ them, most nurses dream of migrating to western countries. I know none who wants to work in rural districts. It is a vital policy issue for the state to balance the safeguarding of services in Nepal and the dreams of these professionals. The issue is crucial especially at the levels of senior nursing. There is already a severe shortage of experienced and qualified academic nursing faculty in training institutions.
I have met and interviewed a number of highly experienced nurses (in critical areas like ICU/CCU) at Patan, Teaching Hospital, Norvic, and Model Hospitals, senior staff from nursing colleges, and people from other senior public health positions currently working in the UK. They face difficulties in the UK, and have to perform menial tasks way beneath their level of training. They are frequently exploited and face complex institutional discrimination in a country increasingly hostile to migrant workforces.
Yet, despite this, the huge investment required to establish themselves in the UK, and the large differential in pay scales means most are not going home yet. If the current trend of nursing migration does not change soon, our health services will face a crisis emanating from the senior management levels down, as senior staff retire.
Just training more nurses isn't the answer. Nor is Lal's assumption that training more non-elites will somehow make things different (nursing, a least, has long been more differentiated in its ethnic diversity than other professions in Nepal). Why should their aspirations differ? But starting bilateral discussions on the issues at stake would be both an acknowledgement of the problem, and a starting point for developing solutions.
. 'It will matter a lot less that the Bahun-Chhetri-Newar elite is trooping out of the country. As it is, we could do with fewer of them in almost every discipline,' writes CK Lal. I am appalled to read a pseudo-intellectual stoking the flames of casteism at such a sensitive period in Nepal's history. Many of us from all sections of Nepali society have worked hard to reach where we are, and are proud to be ambassadors of our country overseas. We live in harmony with our fellow Nepalis and do not share Lal's communal views. Mr Lal, if you do come overseas on one of your many junkets, please come and see the facts for yourself. This will give you some food for thought and more importantly, readers of Nepali Times a break from your columns which have quite frankly become a bore.
. CK Lal's analysis of the impact of brain drain is extremely one-sided. There is no doubt that the loss of skilled individuals has an adverse effect on poor, unstable countries. But the positive aspects of migration must not be overlooked. First, expatriates make a large contribution to their home country by investing, and sharing the knowledge they have gained. This is especially true in the IT and outsourcing industries. While highly unstable countries like Nepal and Bangladesh may be feeling the negative effects of the 'brain drain', developing countries like India and China are reaping the benefits of 'brain circulation'. The problem, thus, is not the exodus of talent. It is the political condition in the home country.
Lal's prescriptions to stanch the loss of skilled individuals are also troubling.
Delaying the outflow of trained professionals is only going to increase the financial burden on hardworking individuals. The same is true for an exit tax. Lal forgets that it is not just the elite (whom he openly despises) who are emigrating.
It is amusing that Lal thinks that affirmative action is going to alleviate this phenomenon. According to the 2007 migration report by OECD, emigration rates for highly-skilled women are higher than for men by a slight margin (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/57/18/38875143.pdf). The same would be true for janajatis, dalits, and madhesis. After all, they are no different from the elite. It is only in Lal's warped mind that training more janajatis, women, and madhesi doctors and scientists is going to solve this.
Thank you for denouncing the desperate situation adoptive parents and children have been put in ('Kids in limbo, #359). Finally, somebody cares for the kids waiting for their parents. My son was three when I met him. He is now four. He is a real orphan and spends his day in the children's home instead of going to school and being loved by us. It is a scandal and we are hostages of the Ministry for Women, Children and Social Welfare. I am so tired of waiting for the final signature, I would like to just die. Your article was a great psychological support.