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Spice of life

By P. Kharel
Peer Pressure
Dr Sundar Mani Dixit did it. Candid and even blunt, he does not hesitate to comment critically on his peer Dr. Govind K.C.’s latest fast-unto-death campaign. Associations formed by various interest groups are rarely summon their courage in condemning the misdemeanor or malpractices that their organisation’s fellow members are involved in. Their task seems to be either maintaining silence or defending their peers, whatever the merit of issues at stake.
In reference to K.C.’s series of fast-unto-death spells, Dixit went on record saying that medical doctors working in government hospitals should either not launch such demonstrative protests or should quit the job to go all out for pressing their demands. He says that abstaining from food with the help of “support system” is not full-fledged fasting. What makes Dixit’s comments rare is that Nepalis shy away from passing critical but honest remarks against members of their own tribe or profession.
So far this scribe has never ever arrived late or missed any deadline without proper prior notice, whether in connection with taking academic classes, writing newspaper columns or attending seminars/workshops. Hence he has special respect for Dixit, though he has never been personally acquainted with the reputed medical doctor or visited his clinic. Several friends and acquaintances mention Dixit’s discipline that patients at his clinic arrive on time. He does not hesitate giving a dressing down if someone were to arrive late. Punctuality is a religion for him in a country where such faith and practice is observed more in its breach than honoured in practice.
Profiteering in clinics, hospitals and laboratories should serve as another vital area which civil society leaders could highlight. Wrong diagnoses on notorious scale have so far failed to earn any active notice by medical associations.
But then those in the medical profession are not an exception to offering undue protection to their own kind. Journalists, artistes, party members, labour unions and a host of others do the same. The resultant lack of credibility of such organisations creates public distrust in them, and a running disgruntlement among the people in general acts like a powder keg whenever some protest programmes are organised.
Fear of Europe
Their political opponents privately and disdainfully point out why Maoist leaders do not dash to travel destinations in Europe. Nasty comments are made on this conspicuous feature of the Maoists faction in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
Speculation is that Maoist leaders fear being detained if they visited certain European countries in connection with violations of human rights during their decade-long insurgency. Otherwise, they also have many agencies that would welcome them warm-heartedly for the “immense contributions made to Nepal’s “modernisation and justice being done to margianalised groups”. In fact, standing invitations to Nepal’s Maoist leaders to visit European cities have failed to be obliged.
Brute cronyism
Lust and luxury loiter for the taking when it comes to people with power to dole out positions and pelf. The ministry of tourism doled out Rs 640 million in four months into office. Cronies, sycophants and hangars-on are said to be among the beneficiaries in a country where most people have no access to the barest basic services. Not only the names of the institutions but also the individuals thus receiving tax payers’ money should be disclose in detail. The home ministry has since ages been the centre for such misuse.
The misuse of public funds mocks at the tax payers of the poorest of the world’s poor nations. If only the “fast track” mechanism was employed to fairer and people-caring measures, the prosperity drive that hangs on the Oli-led government’s lips could begin taking pace forward.
Oli’s obsession
That Prime Minister K.P. Oli is obsessed with his “dream” of connecting Nepal and Tibet Autonomous Region’s Xigatse to Kerung, covering a distance of 540 km, is well-known. Insiders admit that their boss wants to “make history”. Well, if dream alone were the issue, many Nepalis and political leaders since more than five decades had such indulgence.
Moreover, are Nepalis prepared to wait for they don’t known how long it will take to be established while the issue of meeting their basic needs gets placed in the back burner? Health, education and employment are the three key areas they ask for fulfillment.
On the eve of the 1789 French Revolution, the notoriously insensitive Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI’s Queen, is recorded as having said in reference to hundreds of thousands suffering from hunger: “If they don’t have bread, they can eat cake.”
Our own Prime Minister Oli in the 21st century would be reminded with the question: How are hungry and unemployed people expected to wait for a railway to turn up after unknown number of years and yet-to-be-established source of funding? Development experts and economists, who do not have to face hunger or unemployment, need not overstretch themselves in vain trying to explain “long-term benefits” of the government’s prime priority for a project whose funding is not known.
Without comment
Parliamentarian Gagan Thapa, of Nepali Congress, quoted in Deshantar weekly: “Now Congress will not stand for commerce in education and health.” MP Gagan Thapa, interview in Deshantar weekly July 22, 2018.
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