By Shambhu Deo
Neo-political dimensionssuch as democracy, proportional representation added with federalism and secularism are clichéd views ofNepalese politics used in constitutional process. These are borrowed dimensions for Nepal, which do not match majority of peoples’ aspirations and national interests. Thesecontainmuch of external interests in finding space in Nepalese politics for their sake. Nepal is a country of peace, freedom, independence and sovereignty. Any effortto minimize Nepal’s integrity, sovereignty and independence will go in vein. Keeping Nepal continuously unsettled may thwart Nepal’s progress, but the whole world will find Nepal firmly stood than earlier. Some of the examples of unsettling and cripplingNepal are Prime Ministers’ tenure of less than a year for almost three decades, changing of political situation in every decade, separation and unification of political partieson external’s guidanceand providing shelter to Nepalese politicians and use them for own sake. Providing hidden financial support to individuals and institutions, support to religious and ethnic institutions and campaigns, information and legal and illegal networking supports are other examples.All these activities are being done in the name of institutionalization of democracy, human rights, peace and creating equality.
A12-point agreement between Seven Political Parties within the Parliament and Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) concluded in New Delhi, India and the Peoples Revolution of 2062/063 BS is the building blocks of the present constitution. Maoists were in revolution disregarding state’s authority. Leaders of NCP (Maoists) had the access to shelters and other facilities in India. In all the major political changes in Nepal after Indian independence in 1947 AD, India played a significant role. In many cases India has staged the change. Now many more international forces came forward. These all forces including India seek their stake in the change as per their contribution. In this constitution too the change reflected in the constitution as per India harbored the political actors and western countries supported financially and technically. Major concern for Nepal, Nepalese people and the leaders is whether to accept such supports. Is it ethical? Such supports were being exchanged during colonial British in India to retain the power. Since 1950 AD receiving such supports is more prevalent and Nepal’s nationality sufferer with every change.
Most of the communists including ultra leftists in Nepal started their revolution for equality through a ‘class struggle’. Some of them such as Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center), Naya Shakti Party, and prominent leaders of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal and others have now eroded to identity-based federalism as a means for equality. It can be for their political survival ignoring the conflicts threatening national integration. It is hopefully guided and fed by those who are trying to use Nepal as a basecamp to unrest Nepal’s neighbors growing economic giant India and China. Another reason can be a ploy for ethnic clashes for weakening the Hindu, Buddhist and Islam religions patronized by late King Prithvinarayan Shah after unification of Nepal and to reduce Nepal’s dignified presence.
Democracy and creativity of a country
Democracy is a product of twentieth century reflecting as a universal value. Democracy featured with periodic elections, a democratic government, a free press and active political opposition to serve the people for a quality life with freedom. Democracy is to take people out of calamities and disasters. But in recent global trend the democracy,especially in European countries, has slowed down progress with decrease in a country’s creativity as compared to USA, Singapore and China. There is lack of accountability to the voters, which is one of the essences of democracy in Indian constitution. For example, there is missing mechanism of accountability of Head of State, President to Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) the voters. In Nepal, political parties have much to do for intra-party democracy institutionalization. The appalling conditions of earthquake victims even after a long time of the incident flout the political party’s faith on democracy and peoples’ wellbeing. There is quassi-democracy obstructing development, freedom and peace in Nepal. Nepal has to explore or invent a democracy favoring development, freedom, peace, well being of people and creativity to join hands with the growing neighbors India and China and the world.
Proportional representation and accountability
Proportional representation is a system to represent diverse population through elections. Experience in Nepal proved the system, complete lack of accountability to the voters, misuse of power to select the representatives based on the votes. Representations were gifted to non-political wife, relatives, sold for money by most of the party leaders. The parties derided the innocent voters after getting in power by leaving the agenda while making the constitution, such as agenda of Hinduism and Monarchism. There should be directly elected peoples’ representatives for accountability to the voters, development of a place, leadership development, strengthening democracy and to for fair representation.
Federalism and disintegration of a country
Federalism always not assures progress and development, such as ever-independent landlocked Ethiopia, a poor country is a Federal Democratic Republic state since decades. Ethiopia got separated due to identity and economic clashes and state’s power hegemony in 1993 AD through a referendum leaving her integral part with coastal areas to form an independent country Eritrea. Eritrea has one-party government considered having the worst Human Rights record and the least press freedom conditions in the world. Probably being landlocked is a vital reason for poverty and undermining one’s existence creates conflicts resulting in national sufferings. Countries such as Canada and Australia having abundant land invite foreigners as settlers for enhancing multi-cultural and ethnic balance, which is not possible in Nepal due to scarce of land and inflow of outsiders and internal migration.
Identity based federalism is not appropriate for Nepal. It has not categorically addressed Dalits, minorities, deprived among seventeen percent of Chetris and that of thirteen percent of Brahmins. An individual’s class is more important than identity for upliftment and that should be addressed. In fact, identity based federalism is creating conflicts among people of different regions. There seems a strategy of suppressing people of mid-hills by uniting the people of plain region and high hills. This will never be successful and result in a disaster for Nepal and ultimately the perceived masters favoring this view through federalism. People of mid-hills, will not a loser in Nepal. Reassessing federalism in Nepal is of prime importance. Nepal’s adjoining Indian states Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal has an approximate population of 204, 100, 92 millions respectively whereas Nepal has about 29 million population who can reside in a single unit as doing after unification.
Secularism and conversion of religion
There was not cultural or religious suppression as indicated during constitutional making process. Secularism was not peoples’ demand in the revolution or anywhere else. Nepal has already consolidated as a very cohesive society. In terms of religion, both the Hindu and Buddhists have same word ‘Om’ to start praying. Muslims market the most important symbols of Hindu married lady having husband alive, the Chura, sindur, Pote.Wedding ceremony of Hindus in plain region, very important festival Chhat and other festivals need bamboo basket and other items sold by a so called low caste community ‘Dom’. Worshipping Kumari by Head of states, celebrating Hindu festivals by Muslims, Buddhists and celebrating Muslims festival, Buddhist festivals are examples of cultural harmony and religious tolerance. This may rarely find in other parts of the world. Rampant conversion of Hindu and Buddhist recently into Christianity in Nepal must be stopped. State has a responsibility for it. Eighty percent of people are Hindus and they must be satisfied in terms of religious set-up.
Future course of action
These neo-political dimensions have made Nepal’s progress stagnant and retarding in some cases. These ceased Nepal’s progress in all sectors. Production oriented infrastructures are destroyed leading to import rise, unemployment, labor outmigration and halted productivity of the country and heading towards a hub of foreigners’ political playing ground for their interests. The negative effects of these neo-political dimensions must be resisted and take our country out of the trap.
(The writer is the senior agriculture extension officer in the Ministry of Agriculture Development. He can be reached at: email@example.com)
Peoples’ desire of preventing externalities in constitutional process
By Shambhu Deo