By P. Kharel
By now, the national consensus is that the 1951 democratic revolution, inspired by King Tribhuvan and steered by Matrika Prasad Koirala, of Nepali Congress, remains unique for the true bearings of democratic changes inspired more by serving the nation than by catering to individual and group interests. This year’s Democracy Day was noted with some interesting views aired by prominent personalities whose cutting comments include the following:
“The only democratic movement sustained permanently was of 1951…All other movements failed to leave any permanent impact on the Nepali society. Now we have a new constitution…they promulgated it using their might without correcting weaknesses…No one in Nepal is doing politics honestly to achieve a particular goal…During the [decade long] Moist movement, different incidents occurred but no one had given the true explanation of the incidents.”
“Those doing politics of integrity are being gradually sidelined; I feel sad that rather than putting at the centre the national interests, it is party and individual interests taking precedence.”
“King Mahendra went ahead with the belief that the nation should be built but not with political parties… King Mahendra constructed highways and the nation’s development map, but we too need to end our incapacity to achieve [at least] that much.”
“No government has found time to remember even those who staked their lives for democracy. Only those with connections and are well-off are benefiting from it [change].”
“There is a crisis of character and ethics among leaders and those in the administration. Those with power and money get everything. No one listens to the underdog.”
“Intellectuals feel that the rule of law, good governance and dream of political stability did not get fulfilled.”
Those are assessments of Nepal’s existing state of political affairs made not by active royalists or ultra-leftists but by noted individuals generally respected by mainstream parties. The above-comments are respectively attributed to Nepali Congress leaders Kul Bahadur Gurung and Leela Koirala, CPN (UML) leader Modnath Prashit, activists Shanta Shrestha and Bhadra Kumari Ghale, and former Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr. Jay Raj Acharya. And the views were carried the state-owned Gorkhapatra and The Rising Nepal daily newspapers in special articles preopared for the Democracyu Day, marked by a public holiday.
This is a country where party-affiliated intellectuals laud Rana Prime Minister Dev Shumsher for launching Gorkhapatra as the country’s first newspaper and also opening a few schools. But the present crop of politicians and their immediate party predecessors have vainly tried erasing the qualitatively better side and rich contributions made to Nepal’s development and foreign policy thrust during near three decades of partyless Panchayat. Biases creep in when groups that felt victims under particular rulers in particular contexts have their memories fresh. They engage in relentless tirade against their targets of ire.
Today’s fallen ones will find fame tomorrow in a cycle of which prejudices dominate when and where. It is history that does justice to events and individuals. Contemporary prejudices of the dominant in positions of power are never fair. Those is power generate more praises than they deserve and those no longer in the seat of influence are accorded less priority and attention than they actually merit. This is true elsewhere, including the United States that is seen by millions from everywhere as a Mecca of opportunities for better living standards than what they are experiencing at home.
People used to falsity and exaggerating what they began partly as propaganda and partly as genuine grievances get so soaked up in the exercise aimed at others delude themselves into believing it as fact.
The New York Times found it appropriate to give a front page treatment to an opinion piece by Roger Cohen recently, in which scathing remarks are made against conditions that find an average individual susceptible to various vagaries of contests and tools of manipulations. He wrote: “People are weak. They are susceptible. They are easily manipulated through their fears. They long to prostrate themselves. They can be led by the nose into the gutter. The angels of their better natures, if they’ve ever given a moment’s thought to them, are a lot less powerful than the devils of their diabolical urges.”
If such is the situation in a country that millions from other countries envy or love to live in, one can imagine what could be the conditions in places where the teeming billions seen as lesser gods might fall for. As for Nepal and its tall-promising-and-never-delivering leaders, Pushkar Lal Shrestha, editor-in-chief of Kamana Publications, had a comment carried in his Nepal Samacharpatra daily the very day the Times featured Cohen’s write-up.
Shrestha’s observation succinctly sums up the prevailing conditions here: “Paradoxically, political parties and leaders unite for personal interests, and then clash again. In the name of addressing conflicts, they again engage in talks for a show of talks but only for personal interests… People do not seem to realise how often they have been taken for a ride.”
Do we get the meaning?