By P. Kharel
From Satya Mohan
People are amazed by the energy and enthusiasm displayed by the Man of the Century, cultural expert Satya Mohan Joshi even as stepped into his 100th spring last fortnight. He can also be candid in making comments. At a time distortion of history has become a mega political history in Nepal, Joshi spoke to Naya Patrika news daily the other week, commending King Mahendra’s contributions to Nepali literature.
It is extremely rare for any leader from any sector in Nepal to appreciate individual contributions made to various sectors during the partyless Panchayat decades. And King Mahendra figures as the target of most virulent attacks. Anything resembling appreciation of him singles out its source for being termed reactionary holding feudalistic and undemocratic beliefs “in the name of nationalism”.
Joshi pointed out that King Mahendra donated 50 ropanis of land and through his personal purse established Royal Nepal Academy, in a measure that gave a sense of being accorded respect to and recognition of literary figures in the country. Those who served as academy members were widely respected and thus enhanced the institutional image and reputation.
In the course of conversation with the said daily, Joshi pointed out that King Mahendra, who wrote poetry and took special interests in promoting literature, spotted talents and gave them space for doing more. He cited how Lain Singh Bangdel, who was studying in Paris, and Surya Bikram Gyawali, who was in Darjeeling, were invited to work in Nepal. And the duo, among many others, not only arrived in Nepal but made rich contributions to Nepali culture, history and literature. Khadga Jit Baral, Amber Gurung and a host of others were similarly encouraged with due incentives to work in Nepal, and they made their mark.
Himself a poet, King Mahendra’s pro-active active patronage of art and literature ranks him as the most effective in the Shah dynasty in unified Nepal. Some members at the academy have in among themselves tossed the idea of installing the King Mahendra’s statue at the premises academy’s premises, only to be discouraged by the ones with not much spine with the argument that it would “invite controversy”.
That’s the level of the academicians’ outlook even when it comes to someone who took the initiative for establishing the institution they now proudly find a seat. If such is the mindset of people supposed to hold free discussions and work independently, what much can one expect from others of their ilk?
In a reminiscent of the decade-long armed insurgency he headed, resulting in the deaths of more than 17,000 people, Pushpa Kamal Dahal last fortnight told his Nepal Communist Party comrades that he would not mind returning to the “jungle”.
Actually Dahal, unlike most of his troops waging the armed insurgency, never really faced any brush with great risks, escorted and supported as he was by Indian intelligence agency personnel. During his first stint as prime minister after the elections to the first Constituent Assembly, he confessed to a gathering in India of having spent as many as eight and a half years at NOIDA on the outskirts of the Indian capital, New Delhi. For the rest of the decade-long conflict, the Maoist leader was in various Indian cities from Patna to Calcutta, well fed and well-protected in a process that tossed him onto positions of power and privilege since the past 12 years. The farce is underscored by the fact that the government of India had declared the Dahal-led Maoists terrorists.
Dahal’s admission is bound to be referred to other governments in the South Asian region and elsewhere when tables are turned on them on issues of sponsoring, protecting and/or fighting proxy wars in third countries. Those on the wrong side of the principles they preach to the world at large but practice something diametrically opposite will someday have to pay the price for such blatant double deal.
Nepalese political parties engage in practices that risk boring people to death because of their penchant for terming everything they do, dream or propose as “epoch-making” or “historical”. This do this so often that the terms have lost their charm and meaning. Every time, someone invokes these words, people yawn. Yet the politicians never seem to learn. Decades of non-delivery of the goods promised with great eloquence but never delivered in action has blunted people’s power of patience and the desire to give politicos the benefit of doubt.
Having bogged down by a steep fall in their public estimation and credibility, leaders vainly resort to claiming “historical” whatever step they take. In the past 14 months, the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP)’s twin bosses Prime Minister KP Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal have been engaged in a boasting spree, terming “epoch-making” anything their party and governments does and promises to do. They blame the past for all existing ills, and promise for the near future the best the world has witnessed, vowing a highly prosperous Nepal where Nepalese live very happy lives.
The trouble is that most people dismiss as mere propaganda by the leather-tongued duo keen on taking voters through the garden path yet again.
Prof. Surendra KC, on Mountain TV: “Pushpa Kamal Dahal will not become Buddha; he will not rebel; but will remain Oli-loyalist.”