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Machhapuchre Bank

‘Lubricant’ Grease

Dr. Tulsi Giri who died last week was staunch in his analysis that the multiparty system functioned on moneys that lubricated the party system and, given Nepal’s geo-strategic system made it incompatible with a monarchy in the country. He was thus vilified by champions of the multiparty system to the extent that he was ridiculed the ‘mother of the Panchayat system’ (the father, of course, being king Mahendra). But the experience that backed his conclusion then and the growing people’s awareness now perhaps spared him the kind media words with which his passing was remembered although it is part of the Nepali culture to bestow kind words on the passing. Giri was not off the mark though, as experience tells us. The challenge for Nepali democracy however, is to limit the lubrication to serve national interest. Giri served under Kings Mahendra, Birendra and Gyanendra and with all three he made his difference known. Evidently, the task of the monarchs was to evolve democracies while Giri’s conclusions on the lubricant at times ran the inevitable gauntlet. The task for those who seek political development in Nepal through participatory democracy perhaps is to distinguish the lubricant on the basis of national interest but, politicians being politicians, as is our experience, find national and international grease available and tempting enough in the absence of any effective national deterrent and the ease with which national interest has been sacrificed at the alters of convenience propels the search for national options.
The fast changing international system should be giving the search an impetus. Trump’s America can now openly allege Russia as sabotaging their elections and China of stealing state secrets through espionage. Western academics openly confess that the West can’t do more because they have been doing the same in China and Russia. The widespread use of grease is an accepted method of pursuing national interest internationally and the ideological scare regarding China being red no longer works in a system largely transparent even in the conduct of diplomacy. China may still be communist in a one party state but that country can no longer have hang-ups about it as long as the world is aware that some one hundred and fifty families fund the American election machinery. The East-West ideological divide works even less when it is applied to today’s Russia since Vladimir Putin is no longer red but instead heads an elected government. Of course, China with its new monetary clout is the larger threat at the moment but if Putin continues to be the threat the rest of the world should be asking how the three combined should be lubricating our systems and corrupting our politics to suit their national interests. Indeed, if these three can do so much harm to themselves through the spread of what is essentially ‘grease’ their share of corrupting our politics should be substantial given our limited means to withstand their monetary might and their increased awareness of the need to compete for geo-strategic advantage in Nepal. It is not surprising in this sense that our Southeast Asian neighbors who have maintained remarkable growth records displease the West with their styles of democracy while, in the Indian case, the West is an admirers of the more than Indian democracy. How India copes with these double standards is their business, but how we should cope is something best left to ourselves.

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