By P. Kharel
Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel has charged Prime Minister KP Oli’s Nepal Communist Partty (NCP) of making constitutional commissions a recruiting ground for communists. Well, well. This is only a continuation of the brutal practice the Nepali Congress sowed, cultivated and harvested for most of the past three decades when it had the pie at the helm of the state affairs.
Poudel and his party peers in parliament in 1992 thumped with glee when his Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala introduced a three-exit mechanism to forcibly retire civil servants. Although the move was to weed out bureaucrats considered not “loyal” to the ruling party, the posture maintained by Koirala and his troops was to “streamline” the administration, and enthuse and encourage the youth.
Scrapping the retirement age of 60 years, civil servants not favoured by the government were indiscriminately phased out. Some with 20-year service were forced out into retirement and others with 30-year service were also given a similar directive. In order to fill the top posts with “dynamic” ones of the Nepali Congress variety, the upper age bar was lowered to 58. Overnight, the effect was drastically visible. So sweeping was the measure that almost exclusively “democratic” bureaucrats (which meant, those pledging loyalty to the ruling party) became secretaries at various ministries. Their successors were also groomed on party lines, with a handful of exceptions. The rules were announced as applicable to public corporations too.
For that matter, the then main opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) also supported it. The bureaucrats who saw their seniors ousted so suddenly found their career-graph shine with extra sparkle, and hence considered the victims of the axe a good riddance of bad pence.
Hence the late Koirala can be called the father of the poison sown in the country’s bureaucracy. A Supreme Court verdict that only one exit should be applied aided a wee bit to stem the intensity in politicisation of the permanent government but the evil had been too sharply and too far. And Nepalese suffer the consequences for the next 25 years, with immediate prospect of the situation being remedied sound and proper.
The Omni-presence foreign exerts in Nepal is well-known. They gobble up bulk of the funds supposed to have been earmarked for the poverty-stricken people of this country which, in their perspective, there is an acute shortage of skilled hands and chronic lack of experts. The answer is found in the huge numbers of experts that come as a heavy baggage of the support package.
This comes into sharp focus as to why these know-all super-individuals don’t rush to the United States where President Donald Trump has had to battle with the Congress over the budget proposals incorporating also demand for money to raise a wall along the US border with Mexico. The consequent shutdown of the federal administration in the world’s richest and militarily the mightiest nation saw the-less-than-flattering linen being cleaned in global public.
Is it that the superpower is in short supply of experts on conflict resolution? In Nepal, however, there are literally thousands of Western experts claiming to possess such expertise, though they are found to be experts on conflict provocation rather than experts on conflict resolution. Foreign experts in Nepal have become not resolution but conflict-inviting experts. As a result, we are experiencing the worst series of conflict since democracy was ushered in 1951.
It would have been a rational thing for foreign NGOs operating in Nepal and other developing countries to spare some of their expertise to the US and prevented if possible, and, if not, at least help find an early resolution to the shutdown. One has a creeping suspicion that the self-righteous ones don’t have the courage to propose to the maverick Trump their prescription for early resolution. What is rejected by others in the “liberal West” is expected to be swallowed without question in industrially backward countries, it seems.
The Rs 67,000 question!
Former Vice-President Parmanada Jha chased controversy wherever he served, first as the Hon’ble one on the Supreme Court bench and then as VP. As VP, he refused to wear the dauara suruwal national dress. When he realised he was hardly invited to grace non-State functions and lost the limelight, he returned to the dress he had worn for decades as a judge. He then complained about not having any meaningful role as the vice-president.
The latest is that Jha owes Rs 67,000 to the state exchequer, as taxes were not deducted from his salaries and perks. “Why should I be punished for someone else’s wrong?” he asked.
Had Jha been a sitting judge would he have handed down verdict accordingly?
It has become a sadistic ritual for Tribhuvan University’s Central Library to come out every now and then with a reminder to the press that many borrowers had yet to return books issued in their names many years ago. There are many libraries with such traits. It could pursue the case with due regulations.
A large fine could also be imposed to the defaulters. If the existing rules don’t work, press for new ones that act with retrospective effect and end the farce at the soonest.
Deputy Prime Minister Upendra Yadav, quoted in Drishti weekly: “Madhes is atop a dynamite.”
Spice of Life
By P. Kharel