By P. Kharel
Prime Minister KP Oli’s public pledge that he would not engage in corruption and would not let others to do so either proved jinxed when that same day Transparency International ranked Nepal 124th out of a list of 180 countries. This meant two rungs worse than the previous year’s. Much difference stands between a public pledge and a politician’s practice. Clearly, there is a vast gap between the cup and the lip.
The state-owned Nepal Airlines’ purchase scam in connection with a wide-body aircraft indicated how wide the room was for malpractice, involving as it did Rs 4 billion in bribe money even as the cost of the public corporation was fast shrinking into financial collapse and gasping for state help after years of misuse and abuse by political leaders of every colour.
Oli, at the start of his term, had said he would not even see the face of any corrupt. Well, will he now refuse to see the face of those announcing the corruption level?
If and when the Commission for Investigating Abuse of Authority started putting the corrupt under an unreachable scanner, it would bear results of reckoning. That is, if the anti-corruption body engaged in the serious business of exposing the guilty in real earnest and relevant speed.
Indian politician George Fernandes, who died the other day, found space in the Nepalese media primarily because he was one of the half a dozen or so Indian political party leaders who launched the 1990 movement for restoration of multiparty system in Nepal. He and his Indian team members, including Chandra Shekhar, addressed a gathered organised at Ganesh Man Singh’s Chakshi Bari residence in Kathmandu in February 1990, marking the commencement of the “People’s Movement”. He, too, made some rabble-rousing speech at a time when Nepal was reeling under a back-breaking and longest economic blockade New Delhi inflicted on this country.
Nothing of any note was heard in Nepal about Fernandes who, during Indira Gandhi’s notorious emergency rule in 1975-77, was in jail on charges of dynamiting railway infrastructure apart from engaging in other “terrorist” activity.
During his next trip to Kathmandu not long after, Fernandes went to Tatopani on the border with Tibet. Misusing the hospitality of the Nepalese government, he slipped onto the other side of the bridge to the Tibetan side, posing as a Nepalese citizen. His Nepalese political friends of Nepali Congress variety aided and abetted him. On return, he boasted of what he thought was a bravado a bough misadventure. No one seemed amused, though. Quietly rebuked by his own government, he never mentioned it in public thereafter.
That was basically the last the Nepalese noted of Fernandes until last fortnight when news reports announced he had breathed his last.
Nepal’s cricketing captain Paras Khadka’s maiden century in a T20 international series recently was the first by a Nepalese. Cricket fans cannot but commend the feat, with hopes that it will not be the only century of its type for either Khadka or the rest of the national team in the days ahead.
Cricket here has gained ground as a popular game in an increasing number of urban centres. Drawing more crowds than most other sporting disciplines, it could very well be the largest crowd-puller after the all-time favourite football.
The monetary reward offered by the state every time our team performs well abroad is deserving and timely. At times, there is a tendency to unfairly compare our cricketers’ earnings with their counterparts in South Asia. Well, India hosts the world’s richest cricketing body, and boasts of the largest paying crowds again and again and again, which boosts the fund check and with it the players’ pay packet.
The motto for Nepalese crickets and fans alike is: Spend as much as what you earn, and not beyond the already over-stretched means. Gate money would do a whale of a job in this. The trouble is that paying crowds are extremely few and far between in Nepal, with spectators’ stands thinly filled even when the free entry is offered. If gate tickets were introduced, the stands could threaten to generally wear a deserted look. Hence we need to give time for the game to pick up on this front too.
Srinkhala Khatiwada in December was crowned Miss Nepal World in a demonstration of a talent that lit the pageantry to a new height. She created a welcome flutter elsewhere too. Daughter of parliamentarian Birodh Khatiwada (Makwanur) and Provincial Assembly 3 member Munu Khatiwada, she continues make waves on the social circuit as celebrity carrying a blend of brain and beauty.
If celebrities are associated with grit, greed and glamour, they are also linked with charm, social grace and charity work. According to “Sampurna” tabloid weekly, Nepal accounts more than 300 beauty pageants a year. With interests growing in various communities, localities, professional groups, youths and sponsors, the number can be expected to rocket in the ensuing times.
The concern is that there is very little for the beauties to earn a decent living once the initial spotlight and fevour of enthusiasm begins to decline and the cruel course of life begins to set in as a normal schedule.
Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Agni Sapkota, on Mountain TV: “King Gyanendra has shown the political culture of a very high grade.”
Spice of Life
By P. Kharel