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Expectations & Prospects for the New Year 2019:

• Nepal in Limbo / Reinvigorating Dynamic Sanatan Dharma ?
• World in Flux — Restoring World Order ?

BY SHASHI MALLA

Whither Nepal?
The general public and even parts of the governing monolithic Communist government are of the opinion that the past year has not been particularly favourable for Nepal. Even with a two-thirds majority in parliament, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) has not been able to achieve good governance, curb rampant corruption from top to bottom and realize sustainable development. The economy is in a dismal state – the balance of payments is in dire straits. Amelioration is not in sight.
The ruling Communists have been unable to fulfill their election promises, because the CPN itself is in a state of multiple contradictions — above all among the various factions, between their policies and the aspirations of the people. Have they become American, i.e. Trump stooges, as a cog in the wheel of the US Indo-Pacific grand strategy to contain a rising China? Are they even willing puppets and handmaidens of an obscure Korean Christian church. Are they, in fact, closet Christians hoodwinking the Nepalese with their show of respect for Nepali Sanatan Dharma traditions and ceremonies? A lot of relevant questions, but no answers are forthcoming.
The Himalaya Times reported this Sunday that the CPN leaders are utterly confused because they are still debating whether to focus on “People’s Democracy” (K.P. Sharma Oli faction) or “Socialism” (Pushpa Kamal Dahal group). Actually they should all be focusing on the people’s welfare. As the great German political economist Karl Marx famously said: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Our doctrinaire comrades should, in fact, throw out all the Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist garbage, which in any case is not applicable to Nepal, and concentrate on realizing first of all Marx’s core principle: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
And where are our former democratic socialists, the Nepali Congress? They too have lost direction, because their old-fogeys as leaders have allowed themselves to be over-ridden, although they had the better ideas and a better history. Most unfortunately, they have lost their way and are in a quandary to find the genuine path to “Shangrila”! The solution for the genuine socialists and the country at large? The answers are right in front of their faces — hidden in plain sight! Let the Young Turks find the right path, they are better adapted to finding the right clues and spurs. They may be young, but they have learnt the lessons of history.
The main point is to beat the Communists at their own game. They won the electorate with their ‘great re-unification’. The Nepali Congress — if they want to avoid being thrown into the dustbin of history (as is the destiny of most democratic socialist and social democratic parties around the world) — must again re-charge themselves with their historical antecedents. The alliance with constitutional monarchy first made them great — let history repeat itself. They must take a bold first step forward and fully embrace the cause of progressive Hinduism (tolerant to all other religions) or Sanatan Dharma, i.e. the return of the Hindu State. They are bound to win the hearts and minds of the majority of the Nepalese people. This is the tactical stage.
After the initial stage and inevitable success, the Nepali Congress led by young and innovative leaders should then proceed to the kill and their strategic second stage — the promotion to reinstate constitutional monarchy. The re-establishment of Nepal as the only Hindu State in the world with all its trappings and flourishes will be immensely attractive to the Nepalese people. The Nepali Congress will have to tread carefully and promote the grandson of former King Gyanendra, Prince Hridayendra as the future maharajadhiraja as a heart-stopping enterprise. Till his coming of age, his mother the Crown Princess should be the Queen Mother. The future maharajadhiraja and Queen Mother are bound to win wholehearted support of the people as they will be the genuine and glittering representatives of the great Sanatan Dharma, not fakes masquerading as pious Hindus. A referendum to this effect is indeed a foregone conclusion. The Nepalese will then enjoy both the old and the new — they can eat their cake and have it too! Hindu culture and traditions will be in safe and reliable hands.
[Personal disclosure: The writer’s father was a founding member of the Nepali Congress, and an area commander in the Revolution of 1950-51: his mother was from the Rana clan].
World in Turmoil/Restoring World Order
In the last two years, since the presidency of Donald J. Trump, the world has become a more scary and nasty place. Instead of taking a leadership role and contributing solutions to the world’s potential geopolitical challenges, the US itself has become part and parcel of the various problems. In the New Year 2019, the situation can only become worse, until and unless Trump is removed from office.
According to Elizabeth Drew, a Washington journalist who covered Watergate (that brought down President Richard Nixon), an impeachment process against President Trump now seems inevitable. The Editorial Board of The New York Times has written that Trump imperils the Planet, his administration is taking the country, and the world, backward. Professor Allan Lichtman of American University who had defied mainstream wisdom by forecasting early on that Donald Trump would win the 2016 presidential election, has now forecast that he will be impeached this year! This was revealed to the German TV channel “Deutsche Welle”. Prof. Lichtman has a phenomenal record of predicting 30 years of presidential elections correctly.
There is now considerable turmoil in the main capitals of the world, and a lack of direction as to how to restore international order. Perhaps an inkling of what can be done will emerge at the international pow-wow of leading nations, institutions and highbrow personalities this January at Davos, Switzerland.
There is a definite slowing-down of the global economy, and the Trump instigated US-China trade war has aggravated matters. It is uncertain how the UK’s decision to exit the European Union (EU) will impinge on regional and international trade. Brexit (to take place in March this year), this self-inflicted wound, will this year not only have economic and financial effects, but also geo-political ramifications. For one, Russia may be emboldened to take more military risks in Europe (above all, the Ukraine) and the Middle East (as a result of US withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan).
International institutions, including the United Nations, have been weakened and are stretched thin, also as a result of US machinations. Unfortunately, they have had to defend themselves against unfounded criticism. The US has withdrawn from some (like the Paris Climate Accord) or its engagement is lackluster. It also intends to cut its contribution to UN Peace Keeping Operations — a very short-sighted policy. To underscore his disdain for the UN, Trump has designated a low-caliber replacement for the high-profile Nikki Haley as ambassador to the UN.
On the other hand there is a ray of hope; since the beginning of the year, Germany has taken a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for two years and vowed to make it more effective. International expectations are high since Germany received overwhelming support in the General Assembly last year for its Security Council membership. It will push for Security Council reform, extensively discussed and long and highly necessary for the geopolitics of the 21st century. In a highly innovative move, it has already called on the world body to accord women a bigger say in peace mediation, both as active participants and enablers/interlocutors. The insight and vision: peace talks would progress more quickly and with better success if women took part as mediators and negotiators!
In the sphere of international cooperation, Trump has moved only backward and nurtured the growing spirit of unilateralism in many parts of the world, as well as a rejection for collective action — an extricable tool for action with respect to threats and breaches of the peace, pacific settlement of disputes, and above all, common dangers and risks to the world at large, like natural catastrophes and calamities, pandemics and climate change. Various imponderables and variables in the equation complicate matters for solving gathering threats. In addition, only a shrinking set of available policy responses may be available to confront myriad geopolitical challenges.
In such a scenario, enlightened leadership for collective action is a sine qua non for both preventive action and problem solution. As the former and then acting director of US National Intelligence, Michael Dempsey has written (for the Council on Foreign Relations): “ . . . . the best hope for preventing simmering problems from mutating into full-blown crises is through proactive and dynamic diplomacy; a judicious use of military force; the creative exercise of soft power; and a return to a Western leadership model [ Trump notwithstanding] that embraces the importance of allies, multilateral organizations, and the enforcement of international norms.”
The writer can be reached at: shashipbmalla@hotmail.com

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