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Musings of a Disenchanted & Hypercritical Citizen

ByPrabasi Nepali
There are incidents and developments here and abroad which excite this ‘Prabasi Nepali’ (having lived in foreign parts more than in this native land) a great deal, but which (according to her/him) would require much further research and reading to comment at length. There is a plethora of news every day from all over the world, but little analysis and review. Short (partisan) commentaries could bridge the gap and awake interest in various and more topics, countries and regions, which would otherwise get lost.
Domestic
Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) & Queen Mother Ratna
Last week most Nepalese in Kathmandu were shocked to read and learn that the NEA had the audacity to cut off electricity from the residence (within the Narayanhiti Palace) of Queen Mother Ratna for allegedly non-payment of bills. The apparatchiks should have first checked scrupulously before taking this drastic step. If they had done so, then it would have been crystal clear that the Nepal Government had undertaken to clear such electricity bills back in 2008, when they had illegally and unconstitutionally abolished the Shah Monarchy without taking recourse to a referendum for a verdict from the sovereign people.
That it has taken more than 8 years for the government and the lethargic government to put this decision into effect, shows the slow-moving administrative machinery (which apparently has no collective memory), and also the complete lack of a human face. If it not have been for some daily newspapers highlighting this effrontery, which was then picked up by social media, the malaise would have continued. This just shows the power of the social media – even supplanting the role of civil society (which in any case has gone to the dogs in the meantime).
RashtriyaPrajatantra Party – Nepal (RPP-N)
It was very disappointing that this party which stands for the restoration of the Hindu State (which was also abolished illegally), and indirectly for the monarchy, kept silent when the Nepalese State and Government disrespected a venerated elderly lady and spouse of a former monarch and head of state. Ex-prime ministers and the former president Dr. Ram BaranYadav all enjoy perks.
There is absolutely no excuse; the party chairman Kamal Thapa should have come out with a strong statement. Many who had supported the party in the last election, making it the fourth largest party in parliament, are solely disappointed, and will reconsider their options in future. If it had played its cards well (and perhaps play it appropriately in the coming months), it could very well become the third largest political party in parliament and wield a crucial role as ‘kingmaker’ in future governments. The party’s decision not to join the current government is sagacious from the tactical and strategic point of view. Its initiative to unite with the parent RPP is laudable, although for the time being, PashupatiShumsherhas taken the part of a Brutus.
Foreign Relations
The new foreign minister PrakashSharanMahat has assured the country that ambassadors to various countries, including India and China, would be appointed soon. The appointment in India should be no stumbling block, and it would be prudent if this happened before PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s official visit there. That in China poses a problem since the incumbent government had withdrawn the names of all 14 envoys – all picked on the basis of their political affiliation – to various countries, including China. The Supreme Court has suspended the government’s decision until its final verdict on the issue. Hopefully, the Supreme Court decides soon, so as not to hamper the country’s foreign policy, which should also not be a play ball of the political parties.
Ambassadorial appointments should not only be made from the ranks of the various political parties. Many such are not even capable of carrying out their manifold duties. There are enough eminent candidates from the business community, the education sector, the news media, as well as the army and police. Especially the Nepal Army has many retired generals who are highly qualified to undertake diplomatic assignments. Their background, training and foreign exposer make them exceptionally suitable. Unfortunately, the political parties in power are only interested in rewarding their own cadres (even if they make a fool of themselves later), with no care for the national interest.
Neighbours
India
It is indeed shameful that India, a country of more than 1.2 billion people, could garner only two medals (one silver, one bronze) in the Rio Olympic Games. The situation is particularly piquant as both medal winners were women (one in badminton, the other in wrestling) – in a hopelessly male-dominated society. The governments at the centre and the states, and the sports federations have all failed miserably to foster the various sports disciplines (not that our own country is any better). India’s low standards have also affected those in South Asia in general. They even failed in field hockey in which they excelled previously and were the undisputed world champions. The writer still remembers his native Kharsang (near Darjeeling) which produced the hockey wizard C.B. Gurung, one of India’s gold Olympians. Where have all those days gone?
The main problem is that India is a one-sport nation. They play well in cricket, which is also the number one spectator sport. It seems that interest in other sports is at a minimum.
India & Pakistan
These two countries are again at loggerheads regarding the disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir – but when were they not? The simmering crisis only blows hot and cold since the very independence of both countries in 1947.The situation is particularly hazardous since both countries are nuclear-armed.There is massive and mutual interference in each other’s internal affairs. To drastically reduce tensions in the area and usher in a period of sustained economic and political development, the two countries should recognize the status quo. In case of an amicable bilateral agreement, the Gilgit and Baltistan areas, as well as the Mirpur-Muzaffarbad sector would remain in Pakistan. India cannot expect Pakistan to sacrifice the strategic Karakorum Highway linking Islamabad to the Xinjiang autonomous region in China through the Khunjerub Pass. This area is also home to the mountains K2 and Nanga Parbat. India would retain the Kashmir Valley, Jammu (Hindumajority) and Ladakh (Buddhist majority). An accord would also mean an end to the prohibitive loss of life and horrendous expense of maintaining troops on the murderous Siachen Glacier(near the Karakorum Pass). A win-win situation, if only the two sides see reason.
International
Turkey/Syria
Last week, Turkey mounted its largest military effort yet in the Syrian conflict, sending tanks, warplanes and special operations forces over the border in a US-backed drive to capture the Islamic State/Daesh stronghold Jarabulus, the last remaining on the border. Turkey is also concerned about the growing influence of US-backed Syrian Kurds because of their supposed links with Turkish-Kurdish insurgents (in the south-east of the country) that Turkey considers a national security threat.
The Islamic State has been blamed for a string of major assaults on Turkey over the past year, including a suicide attack at Istanbul’s international airport, and a deadly suicide attack at a Kurdish wedding recently. Turkey is determined to protect Syria’s territorial integrity. This should not detract from an autonomous Kurdish region in a future federal arrangement. However, the main hindrance for an equitable solution of the Syrian conflict is the president Bashar Assad himself.
North Korea
North Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile or SLBM off its eastern coast near Sinpo last week, demonstrating a significant improvement in its efforts to build a harder to detect mechanism to strike US, Japanese and South Korean forces in East Asia. The SLBM flew 310 miles toward Japan in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
This has been seen as a further attempt by the nuclear-armed rogue state to raise tensions to divert attention from acute domestic problems – the people suffer from incredible hardships and a top diplomat recently defected. It has been alleged that China, Russia and Pakistan have been complicit in its nuclear armament.
United States
The campaigns for the presidential elections on November 8 become increasingly murky. The Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump is trying to revive his fading candidacy by appearing more balanced especially on the issue of immigration, which sharply divides undecided voters. He has been attacking Hillary Clinton for using a private E-Mail account during her tenure as Secretary of Stateand the activities of her family’s charitable Clinton Foundation. His attempts to woo African-American voters have failed miserably because of his condescending attitude. He is also trying desperately hard to stay with the script at rallys, but remains incorrigible in the social media. He also continues his outlandish attacks on perceived foes, especially in the news media. This is more than the usual political attacks. The writer Mark Singer has written of Trump that a “semi-harmless buffoon” has metamorphosed into a political candidate,“a fellow both slippery and naïve, artfully calculating and recklessly heedless of consequences.”

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