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Doctoring the body politic

BY MAILA BAJE
When Dr. Govinda K.C. demanded the impeachment of Lok Man Singh Karki, the last thing he expected was a prompt official diagnosis of the state of his own mental health.
Dr. Govinda KCLokman singh KarkiYet that was what the prominent orthopedic surgeon got in return for pressing parliament to start proceedings to dislodge the chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) for gross dereliction of duty.
Responding to the anti-corruption crusader’s latest campaign, a spokesman for the CIAA went beyond proffering a diagnosis and urged the government to provide prompt and appropriate medical treatment to Dr. K.C.
It’s not hard to understand why the anti-graft watchdog would growl and bite so sharply. Forget the success rate of Dr. K.C.’s hunger strikes. Who does he think he is to so blatantly encroach upon the CIAA’s jurisdiction? If that body’s actions, or lack thereof, were a problem, there are proper remedies for the sovereign people to pursue.
If all it took to fight abuse of authority was for someone going on an indefinite hunger strike, we wouldn’t have had to keeping on bestowing on the CIAA the constitutional responsibility to do so regardless of the political system, right?
And, moreover, doesn’t this penchant for starving yourself go against the Hippocratic oath every doctor, we are told, is supposed to breath in and out at all times? Now, Dr. K.C. isn’t his own patient so that oath doesn’t count, you might say. Okay. But, still, why does such a prominent medical expert get to harm himself, regardless of the nobility of the cause, when millions of Nepalis are in dire need of his healing touch?
Far more people have the ability to deprive themselves of vital nourishment at will than to use surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors, and congenital disorders. What happened to the concept of optimizing the utilization of a nation’s scarce resources?
Yet the issue Dr. K.C. has raised requires investigation at a broader level. Consider the career trajectory of Karki. During the final decade of the bad old partyless system, he was one of the last ‘direct hires’ of the palace. Which meant he didn’t have to go through the normal civil service procedures – exam, interviews, background checks – mandatory for the rest of us schlubs.
Although that degenerate system collapsed a few years after Karki’s induction, many of its ills persisted. During the early multiparty years, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala wanted Karki as the top bureaucrat in the lucrative water resources ministry so bad that he was ready to sacrifice his loyalist minister, Baldev Sharma Majgaiya.
During the much-maligned royal regime, Karki rose to become chief secretary and was accused of aiding and abetting the subversion of democracy and the suppression of the people. Yet half a dozen years later, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal lobbied so hard in favor of Karki’s appointment as CIAA chief that no one could just say no. To cut a long story short, how does someone like Karki continue exist in our body politic? Maybe Dr. K.C. has a diagnosis?

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