10-16 July 2015 #766

Egos at the door, please

Cheer up, we have a draft constitution and so far it’s only been set alight by Madhesis, women and minorities
Bidushi Dhungel

It’s safe to say that attention has now fully been diverted away from the 25 April earthquake and the limelight is back on our splendid and seasoned leaders. It’s as though the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction (ICNR) on 25 June was but a ploy to shortly side-track the media and citizenry, while leaders rushed in haste to pull together a grand heist.

That may explain why the Prime Minister only stuck around for the inaugural session, and most Cabinet members and leaders of other political parties didn’t even bother to show up. Clearly, the Conference was not as important as it was made out to be. And before the media or the public could even begin to scrutinise the pledges made, a whopping $4.4 billion in grants and debt, national attention almost immediately afterward shifted to the draft of the constitution, which seemed to come literally out of nowhere.

One can only imagine that as the people, security forces, international aid organisations and youth were tirelessly conducting relief work, the political leadership sat around discussing whether or not citizenship in the mother’s name was agreeable to the custodians of Nepaliness, or whether the Nepali press is too free to criticise the state. They forgot that these are rights already guaranteed by the Interim Constitution.

And as if that wasn’t enough, instead of prioritising the recently-announced Reconstruction Authority by nominating members to the board and getting the ball rolling, the leadership manipulated the narrative to make it seem as though a constitution was mandatory for the reconstruction process. That would require some serious multi-tasking abilities, which going by past record, hasn’t been a strength for any Nepali government, much less this one. 

Instead, what we have now is a situation where there is a draft constitution unacceptable to the majority of people, even those who speak in favour of the ‘consensus’. Other pressing rebuilding concerns have been forgotten.

At the ICNR, the PM, Foreign Minister and Finance Minister all shamelessly claimed that the conference was organised in such haste so as to not waste any time, and that monsoon was coming, which meant that unless swift action was taken, more disaster was guaranteed. They must have been referring to next monsoon.

Since then, no progress has been made on the reconstruction front towards meeting the promises the state made in front of 58 delegations attending the ICNR. Unless, of course, we consider the ludicrous argument that the super fast-track constitution is a precursor to the reconstruction zeal of this government. If only the focus were on reconstruction, it’s clear to see that something positive could come of the aid pledges. Big chunks of the promised amounts are loans and reallocated budgets from already existing programs, but the goodwill and eagerness of many countries and partners to help is evident. Even our neighbours came forward and offered token amounts and technical assistance, like Bangladesh which kindly offered expertise in dealing with disaster, and 10,000 tons of rice. Or Bhutan, which basically pleaded with the international community on behalf of Nepal for assistance. Even the Bretton Woods giants offered condition-free loans and budgetary assistance. Yes, there are all kinds of foreign interests and politics at play, but a grant is a grant and a condition free loan is better than one which manipulates the way our economy is governed.

However, the likelihood of any of this aid being channeled properly through the Reconstruction Authority, or even being approved (which would require programme proposals from the Nepali government to each donor and partner for each task) is slim, considering the government priorities and intentions. In all likelihood, the political elite will identify the Big Money and distribute the spoils quota-wise among themselves.

But, hey, cheer up! We have a draft constitution. And so far, it’s only been set alight by Madhesi lawmakers, some women and minority communities. It is an ‘evolving’ document and there will be plenty of opportunities for reform so, in the name of progress, Nepalis, women in particular, should basically shut up and sit down. Only time will tell how ‘gradual’ the ‘evolution’ will be.

What is evident is the intent of this state, leadership and the entire political pack. A quick read-through of current events should be plenty to understand that at the root of all this ‘progress’ are only the pitfalls of the male ego, and its eternal obsession with power and money.


Cartoon by Diwakar Chettri

Read also:

#citizenshipthroughmothers, Tsering Dolker Gurung

There is a draft, Editorial

Burning issues, Anurag Acharya

Citizenship through mothers

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