Nepali Times
Politically Cracked
Old leaders of New Nepal


It was hard to shake off the feeling of déjà vu as the picture of Sushil Koirala on his hospital bed peered from the front pages of the newspaper the day after his election victory as Nepali Congress's new leader.

He was admitted to the hospital with a case of pneumonia merely hours after he was announced the president of the party. Candidates fielding for major political leadership positions may not have to present a clean sheet of medical report here, so we should perhaps be happy they issue pictures of themselves smiling as the nurses tape intravenous drips on their wrists. After all, they make Frank Delano Roosevelt look like a big scam artist.

You can treat sickness, but not old age. Sushil Koirala may seem like a newly hatched chicken compared to the octogenarian ex-president of the party, but at 72 he is among the lucky 3.7 per cent of the population that goes on to live beyond 65 years of age. Not to forget the fact that the total median age in Nepal is 20 years old. We are an incredibly young country. The leaders are not.

More than half of the newly elected NC's Central Working Comittee are above 50. A majority of the 'youth' members are above 40, only five are below 40. The NC calls itself a serious challenger to the Maoists. When the Maoists led the government in 2008, the party sat in the opposition "to play an active role in the constitution-making". It wanted to preserve freedom, analyse the government's drawbacks and shape policies. Now, its 66-year-old senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel is vying to lead the government. Democracy is supposed to be about choices, freedom, and hope.

At its General Convention, however, the NC showed it was unable to move with the times, unable to adapt to the changing reality. A recent report pointed out that the age gap between the median age of the population and their leaders is higher in developing countries whereas opposite it true for developed countries. No surprise then that 40-year-old Ed Miliband was elected the leader of the Labour Party in the UK this week.

There is also a direct relationship between a country's rank in the failed states list and the age of their leaders, as some of the oldest leaders in the world will testify: Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak, Cuba's Raul Castro and Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and Burma's Than Shwe.

Age is just a number, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might say, who in his 78th year is steadfast in thoughts and physical movements. It is also true that with age one acquires a wealth of experience and wisdom.
Old patterns, however, are still alive and well in our political system and while there is the chatter about New Nepal, it would serve us well if the old indeed gave the new faces a chance.

Merry go round, PUBLISHER'S NOTE
Unreported reportages, CK LAL

1. jange
" would serve us well if the old indeed gave the new faces a chance."

Are the old preventing the new faces from getting elected to the leadership? Or is it that the young simply don't have the necessary votes to get elected?

It must be a pretty pathetic young generation of politicians if they are simply waiting for the older leaders to die off so that they can take their place.

2. biren
if the old have to give the young a chance then the young is not ready to lead. politics is about power. a leader should be able to get it by his/her own merit and not piggyback on the shoulder of another. one sujata is enough.

3. Manik

Hats off Jange!

''It must be a pretty pathetic young generation of politicians if they are simply waiting for the older leaders to die''

It is easier to write, douse your POV[u think its a million dollar one] to others' two cents, dance in the streets or even run-off with the old man's daughter, but alas to the spirit of my generation-something is not right!

You may have put in a sentence all the owes of our nation Jange!---the magnitude of it -is heartbreaking!

4. hange

Jange, the point is that the old are actively blocking the young  look at how long it took Gagan Thapa to get where he is after not being allowed to run by G.P. Koirala. 

So, to answer your question: "Are the old preventing the new faces from getting elected to the leadership?"


5. Anish
It's not just about age. Our leaders never had have to show any kind of potential or promise, neither have they had to be accountable for their actions. As long as they can get away with the abuse of authority, incompetence and sheer lack of leadership abilities, we can never expect this pattern to change. Just look at Deuba, the man who practically gave away democracy, who showed sheer lack of competence in his every office, who was reported to be involved in buying and selling of legislators, who started the tax free ' Pajero' scheme never had been made at least  answer to these charges. He still a prominent leader in Congress and possibly a future PM. I mention him just as an example. Why is he still in politics? Why has not a young leader replaced him? Why are leaders like Deuba never questioned ?

6. Pooja
Good journalistic insights! Well done, Indu!

7. Battisputali
I think prudence is a virtue in politics because, lets be realistic, it takes time to build up personal political capital. Mere idealism isn't enough to get to positions of political leadership, and neither is merit. Both combined with the understanding of the context of power relations that one is operating in can help. 

An older politician isn't merely going to give way all of a sudden. The younger politician will have to build superior political power with the aid of alliances (with media, party networks, and outside networks), and subtle jabs at the establishment that eventually morph into outright challenge. This process takes time.

Building political capital is one thing. Using that political capital to finally obtain leadership positions is another. Most young Nepali politicians--actually, most young politicians everywhere-- fail at the latter. 

Circumstance also has a lot to do with who ultimately comes out on top. The Miliband brothers are a case in point. The reason Ed is labor leader and not David is because because the circumstances favored him. He is more to the left of the the labor crowd and thus closer to the unions(who have voting power in labor elections). In a UK facing a never before seen amount of austerity measures , the unions saw that Ed would probably work towards preserving their interests. Thus he got more of their votes in the final round. 

8. jange
# 3. Manik

Glad you like it.

A very disappointing piece. This author usually has a higher quality of analysis and insight compared to others on NT. But here she is merely repeating "tea shop guff".

"Tea shop guff" is OK as a SOURCE of material as this is what the general public is talking about. But merely repeating it is just sloppy and lazy journalism.

Maybe she is relaxing for the holiday season? And why not?

9. jange
# 4 Hange

Not convinced. Whatever is it that Koirala was supposed to have done to Gagan did Koirala favour an aged person in place of Gagan Thapa?

Unless of course Gagan Thapa is the only "youth" in the congress party. Then your assertion would hold!!

10. Arthur
Yes, it is a pretty pathetic younger generation of Kangresi's. Only relatives of the older generation (like Gagan Thapa and Sujata) have a chance.

Not surprising really. With more than half a million youth in the YCL, how many young Kangresi's could there be, let alone young Kangresi leaders?

There are plenty of young leaders of new Nepal, more young people than ever elected to the Constituent Assembly. But they are Maoists, not Kangresis.

11. King
Youth and experience seldom exists together.This mind-set haS TO CHANGE IN THE nEPALESE CONTEXT; OUR LEAders have no sense of the changed situation and are not equipped to take the challenges of the 21st century. They are in every way social ,economic planning, foreign relation wise below mediocrity.
Britishers accept the one who wins and is capable to lead the party; from Pitt the Younger to Ed Miliband.  The loser quits with grace; look at the defeated Prime Minister ; he leaves the 10 downing Street within half an hour. Our  leaders will continue to the Arya Ghat if they can.Girja as invalid was better than when he was fit. Stammering Deuba and Sujata with hot flush no longer fit in the youth brigade. Now is the time for GaganThapas brigade to take over.
 Many talented,ambitious Nepali youths are believing,their future lies living the country.

Let us keep the cut off point to lead the country at 50 year for some time for a decade and see the result. It will definitely better than in the last two decades.
Only those who can keep up with the time should be in the realm of public affairs.We cannot afford to be ruled by the Dead Woods.
 We must start culling them.

12. gole
Time to have moratorium on aging and failing leaders; let the age limit for new leadership be 50 years.They should be relegated to social service and advisory jobs. Better give them golden hand shake, pension benefit. Better get rid of them as soon as possible. They are not equipped to take the challenges of the modern times.  They have out lived their utility.
How long to support these  dog in the mangers with public fund and their perks ?

13. kamal kishor
Thanks. Once again NC has proved that it is a hopeless party. Look at other parties: they are much much youthful. I believe that a country like Nepal needs someone who is below 50 to change this country and lead to a new path. Old age brings orthodox ideology and beliefs in old traditions and cultures whereas the country has crossed over those boundaries.

Unfortunately, once again a vibrant young leadership missed a very good chance to lead. This is because the so called young turks always want to be lead by their leaders and don't have the guts to lead. It is pathetic in every sense.

14. Sargam

We ain't a bit wiser or the better for it. Give me a piggyback, Dad!

Does somebody remember the question of Sphinx when he asks Oedipus, along with the express menace to attempt on his life if he fails to take the challenge in stride to respond correctly as to what is that phenomenon when it takes birth has four legs, when grows up has two legs, and when fades away has three legs? Oedipus retorts, 'My answer is human being, because when he is born he is on four legs, when he grows up he stands on two legs and when he becomes old he takes help of a stick as a third leg to stand up and walk.

Sphinx acquiesces in his prompt response and lets him go free. All this boils down to the fact that human beings are given a limited span of time to stand on their own feet to fare better on assuming a convenient life, and subsequently, asserting the perennial future to their offspring. Otherwise they are all the time left without any concrete concerns to cope with the natural drawbacks for livelihood. In consequence, their life becomes clueless.

In fact, a combo of Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot that makes quite a totem of hell's bells! And what about the whopping blooper with which a dork like Arthur is as exotic as it gets to eat our minds? He appears quite at ease with being an eclectic mix of influences and identities varying from Anschluss to gulag passing thru' pogrom, Mao's long march, and Chinese mind-boggling panoply of cultural revolution.

For him, the Maoism in Nepal is just a bit of adventure on the side but morbid enough to match up to his diabolic scheme of a zombie in order to annihilate the very best of human fundamental and ethical values that Nepalese ain't as yet deprived of.

Then, as some occasional Op-Ed contributors of a weekly like NT, what's our take on it? There is no specific plan to get out of this blazing inferno that I know of. Should this guy imperatively go on speaking off the cuff as usual to paint the portraits of Nepalese as the scums of the earth? Where is our self-respect when we are treated as the slumdogs day in and day out?

In a way, the newest entrant, Dev Batsya, (*Are you for sure not on this thread to rewrite another 'Mahabharata' intended to the youth of Nepal who are somewhat lost in translation, for they misinterpreted 'Das Kapital'? BTW, you could have advised, in passing, Balmiki to be not so callous toward Urmila the better-half to Lakshman who was left behind alone without her hubby for 14 tedious years. In her place Sita was much more privileged to accompany Ram to his exile. Furthermore, who did enter into the mind of Urmila to teach the man kind what are the real waves and tides of emotions that traversed across her being as a whole? Why Urmila was a negligent factor in Ramayana?), this newbie appears not groping in the dark of life getaways. Anyway he seems quite footloose and care-free, as first impression is.

However, the way he is smacking sense into the brains of those who think that they possess the Holy Grail of verity, must be convincing enough to be a pointer as well as a good rescue for those stranded Nepalese ewe lambs, as they are stuck in the political gridlock created by first off the Maoists and then the CPN led by Jhala Nath and Makuney.

Great job in perspective. Because our lack of wherewithal, dearth of political dungeons and inspiring figures of the past, hence the lack of connection and penury of ways and bearings, have made the denizens of this country easy prey to the international predators who are in search of easy and at worst ignorant victims to satisfy their hellbent interests on recruiting the new sanguinary foot-soldiers to defend their Machiavellian design and cause.

I figure you guys are mistaken about this dude, Arthur, the 'anonymous European'. Better search his whereabouts in Israel. Only the Jews in majority are polyglots and as Marx was a converted Protestant cum Jew, only some of the Jews are diehard desperadoes to the outdated and defunct Marxism which is upright discarded everywhere as a failed ideology, but some of them want to perpetuate the role of eternal victims of Christianity from the time immemorial, albeit they yearn for legitimate reparation of injustice.

Never any country in the past became as much the docile and consenting victim of the worst ever seen smear campaign against it duly orchestrated by some limbs of Satan exalting the morbidity on garbage theory concocted by the defunct political carcass like Marx, Mao, Lenin, Stalin and Pol Pot who are thrown on the trash heap of man kind history by the whole world but in Nepal they are worshiped like the latest avatars by some of the illuminated Maoists and other commies. See how they decorate their get-together with the memorabilia of their illustrated leaders of the yesteryear.

If you look beneath the trappings you will stop denigration of a few home truths. And some times 'truth is stranger than fiction'.

Ipso facto, truth will out when two branches of Nepalese communism, e.g. one the Maoist led by Prachanda, the awesome, and the other the Marxist-Leninist led by Jhala Nath Khanal will join together to wreak havoc and cause further damage to Nepal's lost prestige of the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and the hard-earned moniker of the 'bravest of brave soldiers' a k a Gurkhas for the eternity.

The case in point, it is not at all desirable to see the older and younger generations of the Nepal's Congress party (NCP) in clash of interests. The older generation ought to actually make place for the younger generations and inspire them to be ambitious, toned up and finely honed to serve the interests of the nation by means of forwarding their plea to be the smart political strategists to root the Maoism out from the holy soil of Nepal for good. It could be probable only when the peace and prosperity will prevail in this country thanks to no more generation gap with upcoming politicians.

Only grudge is Ram Chandra Poudel looks in the photo more and more like the carved mahogany trio-monkey figures, the so-called Gandhi's gurus. They are sitting together with deafening silence, as if gesticulating and repeating one by one, 'I won't listen to rumors, I won't be foul-mouthed, and I won't see evil.'

Democracy is at that cost, dude. And indeed you need to put a bit of life into it!?!

15. Akanchhya Gurung

Excellent....simply excellent !!!

Hats off to the writer for bringing out these issues which normally other journalists in Nepal cannot even feel about.......................................

till then, Nepal keeps on suffering..........!

16. Khagendra Prasai

HI Everyone

Why do we just keep blaming others for failed politics? Why don't we step in and demostrate our competence which we think the present leaders lack in? Politics is everone's busineess if democracy is to be vibrant and meaningful.

17. Jay

Repeating same mistakes and expecting different result is INSANITY... Relative short course of democracy in Nepal has explicitly demonstrated what pathetic mistakes these leaders like  Jhusile Koirala, Kujata Koirala, Ram Chandre  are... We have endured them and given them chances , time and again, to rise to the occasion and drift the nation out of hopeless melancholy.... and yet, we do not learn from mistakes... and we repeat them like some mad guy running after a mirage...

Its quite comical to observe how these "leaders" get slammed down and bite the dust in general election where regular Nepalis get to vote.. yet , when voted by their own cadres, they breeze through blazing with glory... what more can anyone expect from an election, where the voters have been hand-picked by the same corrupt politicians , who vote to further expand their riches and their tyranny... its a sham and we are insane to expect anything else.....

18. S. Thapa

I hope that Commentor No. 14 "Sargam" understands that this place is meant for a "comment".........Not a full article....

Readers will be happy if he jotts down his ideas in his own article from next time onwards.........!!!

19. Battisputali
@ Sargam,

Brilliant comment. I love it! Three cheers for you, my Nepali Howard Beale! With the level of knowledge you have you deserve an honorary degree from Greenford University! ;)

20. Ramji

Excellent journalistic insights!

A saying goes around �Old is gold� but remember it is only for antique value. After 58 years of age all Nepalese are get retired. Why? Because they cannot think new ideas and take young decision! A retired super retired has become party supreme leader! How the 72 years old man can lead the Party towards the new destination. It is a blunder decision of Nepali Congress choosing such an old man Party Chairman.

Young bloods definitely make society/country young. In Nepal we need young leader with young thoughts. Young generation never got chance to lead the country. They have to wait for the old leader to die. By the time young generation become dam old. Old leader/old vision makes the country old.

21. Budabaaje
Damn right, Ramji and many others. Nepalis would have been better off to stick with King Gyanendra. At 50-odd years, he'd have been a younger, more dynamic and better leader than all these old hacks!

22. youngthinker
that's why he involved tulsi giri and other old phantoms during his repressive regime, budabaje tries to differenciate his mentor with each and every weakness of these old lots, good for nothing. Gyanendra as well as Gagan Thapa are the same products, no matter how old they are. chakadi chaplusi and chalanchalti are their main policies for survival....

23. k, anil
Arthur is always so very right ! thats exactly what it is. congress is a dying party already on its death-bed. so its obvious for it to have old leaders. As simple as that!

24. yam gurung

Maobadi and Khaobadi are the same.It is like same whiskey pour in the different bottles.Because the regime of Nepal, just love to dance in the tunes of others.

25. wtf

good insightful article, while sometimes it might be that it actually takes that long to climb the political ladder, that you reach that area of aging, I always wished that there were certain criteria for leaders to be leaders, like minimal education, age group, minimal health requirements. I wish the only criteria would not be how long they have been members of a certain party. Hell, we don't get to keep our jobs after retirement age do we? Nor do I get to work indefinitely from my sick bed...Just think, if a leader of a country is not fit enough to be in office 9-5, how productive can he/she be?

The only advantage of being old I can think of are that with time a person starts letting go of temptations and starts thinking of others well being...our leaders seem to be very 'young' in that aspect :-)

26. Budabaaje
Have to agree with youngthinker that Gyanendra's dependence on some "old phantoms" was his mistake. But he did try to give some young talented people a chance as well - Dr. Upendra Devkota, Dipak Gyawali, Prakash Koirala etc. 

But the main point I'd like to make is that Nepali people make a bigger mistake in seeing Gyanendra's regime as just "repressive". Nepalis forget that Gyanendra tried hard to hold long-delayed parliamentary elections. What's repressive about trying to hold elections so that the country can have a legitimately elected government? As someone (Satya Nepali?) has argued, the media has deliberately tried to hide this point about Gyanendra's reign. Instead, they have brainwashed everyone into focussing only on the negative aspects of his regime. But I am sure one day the truth will come out and people like youngthinker will get enlightened. 

The monarchy of Nepal was not perfect. But it was not as "repressive" and evil as Nepal's media and politicians would have us believe. Despite its imperfections, it was a good force for the country. Nepalis should correct their mistake and RESTORE THE MONARCHY!   

27. Anonymous
Age matters not in a physical sense, but in the sense of 'cerebral', i.e. creativity, vitality and the ability to generate ideas. One can be old but not necessarily outmoded in thinking.  One of the crucial factors in the premature demise of the 75-years old Soviet Union was the obsolete (and absolute) rule by the successive leaders of the types of Brezhnev, Andrpov, and Chernenko ('the old generation guys'). By the time the 'young guy' Mr.Gorbachev arrived with the shots of 'glasnost' and 'perestroika,' it was too late to resuscitate the dying Empire. On the other hand, the 200+ years old Empire across the Atlantic, not only survived but outlived 'The Bear' not because it had better genome, but because it was rescued by the likes of former Hollywood star, Mr. Reagan, who was old but still capable to instill vitality and energy into the spirit of America. 'The Bison' won and 'The Bear' lost in the struggle of the fittest! In our own backyard, it was Deng Xiaoping, the Long March generation guy, who gave the much-needed shot of 'Four Modernizations' that revitalized and awakened the sleeping Dragon. China emerged as the economic powerhouse of the twenty-first century! It is not the biological age per se, but the 'obsolete mindset' of our leaders, professionals, and the policy-makers, that is what concerns me the most. It is the content of character and not the age of our leadership that matters the most. The tree of young Republic needs young spirit!

28. Anuj
27. Anonymous, I partly agree with your arguement, " ...not the biological concerns ....It is the content of character and not the age of our leadership.........." This is one way of looking at and trying to find answers out of NOW, which is confused with  "near collapsing" socio -economic condition !  This NOW ( that includes state machinery and political networks) is hijacked by poeple (Yes, > 80 % of them are > 60) whose mind set is obsolete infested with  Bahunism. "Bahunism" is the problem, not the age per se in Nepal. What is Bahunism??? Ask your self first. Do not try to scape away simply by saying " it is age and so on blahhhhh..." from historical wrong doings of what Bahuns and Chhetris have done to Nepal over centuries !!!!!

29. System of the down
We need political participation from the historically less active ethnic groups. Newars should do more than business and use their clout for Nepal's interest and not just their personal gains. The Rais, Limbus, Gurungs, Tamangs, Magars and Rauts should be promoted within the party ranks so there is diverse and dynamic points of view. We see the same old faces in the political arena and the younger ones come through nepotism and family connections.Gagan Thapa is also part of this old system. We will probably see Gagan get his turn to lead the Congress party and the nation in the next few decades.

30. Baburamrai
Old plants are pruned; old animals are culled. Deadwood are to be removed from the system. Streamlining is necessary in every party; we have leaders who have nothing to do with the present  times  Youths with modern thinking unite.

31. Bahunbaje
 #28 Anusj

Jews were hounded because they were thought to be over achievers in Germany in the early days of the 20th century. Bahuns were never the rulers . They had neither economic nor political ppower.They were given the life of poverty, social service teaching  and spiritual practice. They did not control the military. Some Brahmins at the service of the Kings gained somestatus as their priest.They never had the power of the Churches as in Europe. or the Mullas in Islam.They have notcreated inquisitions, holy wars, missionary activities, or aided in conquest and colonization of other countries. They are different from the monks and swamis too. Europeans aristocracy and higher classes were disliked;the priests were also disliked.

 The Brahmins proved to be a great obstacle against religious conversion.Christian missionaries like to appear as saviors of the poor Marxists have projected the brahminsas rich land owning class,which they are not.Recently they have become the new corrupt Brahmins or elites. Anti-Brahminism are of western origin;it is their dislike of the priests,BUt in the Catholic sense they are not priests.Hindus have no obne church,no Vatican or Pope, no eternal heaven or hell. Brahmins administer various sacraments like those for births, the growth of children, marriage and death. They do not give confession.They cannot intercede with God.  They cannot save anybody. They cannot absolve sins. Unlike Mullas they cannot issue Fatwas.Hindus look to the swamis and sadhusas their true spiritual leaders,not simply to the Brahmins,who serve a mere outer ritualistic role..
They have been higher only in education. The hatred of Brahmins resemble the hatred of Jews in Europe. They are of course higher achievers than other groups,but they never achieved the economicopower of the Jews.

 In fact anti-B-rahmins are often the most vociferous anti-brahmins ,because they are trying to deny their own heritage.
They have been guilty of various actions,as have all classes and groups.This occurred mainly when they failed to act like true Brahmins.,as selfless teachers,but took to worldly goals. ;like the present leaders.

They must be blamed for hurting the feelings of other people for their pride.;as superior class.than others.They should take a life of spiritual valueor stop calling themselves as Brahmins. The present Brahmin leaders are Brahma-Rakchhyasas.
Anti=Brahmanism is no more acceptable than anti-semitism or negative stereotyping of any class,religion,or ethnic group.
The basic values thatthe idea of Brahmin class represents,like truthfulness,simplicity,austerityand compassion, aregood and laudableLack of Dharma has caused the problem.
Nepalese society needs integration.This requires that each group in the country recognizes both its faults and its contributions.Common national cause calls for national integration.

32. Anuj

Manu smriti ( 1 - 101): " बाहुनले आफ्नो खान्छ, आफ्नो लगाउछ, यदी कसैलाई केहि दिन्छ भने पनि त्यो उसको आफ्नै नै हुन्छ |अरुहरुले जे खान्छन ति सबै बाहुनको कृपाले नै हुन्छ | 

This is the kind of mind set that is paralysing every sphere of Nepalese society. So, it is time to understand what it means by following passage:

"As long as, in the same nation, some people have all the technical advantages of education and science, while others in large numbers exist without even an alphabet, social peace will be but a mocking mirage"

**James Torres Bodet

33. Ganesh
I don't care how old my elected officials, I want them to be effective. With age comes experience, so there is a lot to be said for older people.

I don't want politicians who are:
- corrupt
- lethargic
- business as usual
- out of touch with the common Nepali
- self-serving (party or individual)
- etc.

None of this relates to age

34. Spec

We need the leader who has got the will and capacity to build the Nation. It's not about age folks.........

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)