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Spice of Life

By P. Kharel

Confined to paper
Among the promises made by the KP Oli government is poverty eradication in five years. People have to accept the declaration to the same effect, whatever their actual experience. In fact, it is in for repeating the “urbanisation” story. Even without the basic services befitting a municipality, loktantrik Nepal has numerous municipalities that are merely villages without the minimum essential services. It’s like the government’s pledge to create 500,000 jobs in the next five years. This means, the government should have created 50,000 new jobs in the last seven months. But has it come anywhere closer to achieving the target?
Or is it going to be a repeat of the last-minute rush for spending development budget at the eleventh hour during the dying days of any financial year? If the government’s promises were all sincerity and drive, 500,000 new jobs might be created in 2022, that is, in a single year. In these anarchic and irresponsible climes, it would be hardly any surprise if the government simply made a formal announcement to the effect that the target had been fulfilled.
Unwelcome Sigha Durbar
With Singha Durbar at your doorsteps cometh the taxes galore, making it most unwelcome to an average Nepali. What is it to have the core symbol of power and bureaucratic mechanism arrive closer to an average Nepali’s home? Voters can’t really complain much as far as the Rana period palace having reached the nooks and corners of the country is concerned. Indeed, the central secretariat at Singha Durbar has reached the villages following the 2017 local elections.
With Singha Durbar so close, how could tax jack-ups be far behind? Inefficiency too has arrived. So have nepotism and favouritism rubbed shoulders within for personal gains rather the collective good envisaged by universally accepted principles of democracy.
Singha Durbar symbolised many unflattering characteristics since ages. The past decade has broken all records in this respect. Promises are predictably made routinely, only to go predictably unfulfilled. Oh, Singha Durbar!

Triplicated tax
With the implementation of the 2015 Constitution, the country has made progress by leaps and bounds in hiking taxes. Taxes are not only duplicated but triplicated thanks to the widely criticised federal structure of the state at least three tiers. Spurt in taxes and federalism have come to be equated. When the pocket of an average Nepali in one of the poorest nations in the world is punctured, public fury wells up. Its full implications should be clearer in the coming months. Meanwhile, the sudden spurt in taxes might cost the ruling communist party dearly in the next elections, even if the people bear the brunt of the merciless decisions.
Unsporting
After the worst ever performance of Nepal in the just concluded Jakarta Asian Games, it will take time for the participating athletes to recover from the low morale and somber gazes darted at them at home. People have started comparing the achievements made in Asiad during the bad old days of Panchayat and those in the loktantrik years. The record eight medals in boxing and taekwondo collected at the 1986 Asiad is yet to be bettered in the quadrennial sporting meet.
Given the size of the Nepalese contingent and the Rs 700 budget for the Jakarta participation, a responsible government would pull up the Nepal Sports Council and Nepal Olympic Committee for the lackluster performance, collecting but one silver. However, this does not happen because of the worst of politics. There used to be demands for action against in 1980s when the national team fared badly in the Olympics. The press at least made critical appraisals of such issues. Three decades later, the supposedly vibrant press appeared meek in reporting the critical aspects of poor show in Indonesia.
The casual way in which the sports sector is treated, imposed as it is with less than responsible and capable leadership, the prospects of the national team and players making a consistent headway for the better is unlikely for years to come.

Wired up
Guess who, among journalists, are wired up? Some foreign embassy officials based in Kathmandu confided to separate groups of journalists that they had identified some members brandishing their press cards and yet being clandestinely wired to monitor and record what is said by whom on what topic in which tone. They claim that such individuals, working for foreign intelligence agencies, go to the washroom as soon as they enter the reception venue to get wired and set their concealed tape recorders live.
Obtaining foreign scholarships for their children is a top priority for many a journalist. Their vulnerability in this respect gives not just an elbow room but virtually an open window for the vultures to pick and choose for their clandestine operations.
They give a bad name to not only themselves but the rest of the community of journalists whose total number is estimated at more than 15,000!

Without comment
Prof. Dr. Dilli Oli, in Naya Patrika daily: “The late Prime Minister Marich Man Singh Shrestha did not sign any infamous agreement [with foreign governments]. He did not hanker for favouring his family members, relatives or hangars-on. He did not treat politics as a profession.”

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