Prof. Ram Kumar Panday is a renowned scholar widely recognized in the country and abroad for his academic works. Emeritus Professor in the Tribhuvan University, he has written about 100 books, out of them, half is in English language.
He is the president of PEN International Nepal, Traditional Poetry Writer’s Association of the World, Nepal Haiku Center, Nepal Sijo Center, Nepal Humour Foundation, Center for Nepalese Geography, advisor of the Nepalese Society for Children’s Literature, Nepal Policy Study Center, among others. He is the member of the Nepal Council of World Affairs. He is profounder of the Altitude Geography and Journalism Geography. He is also known as an expert in Nepal Japan relations. He has worked for UNDP, ICIMOD, UNICEF and UNESCO like international organizations in different times. He is active in intellectual discourses of national interest and people’s welfare.
People’s Review interviewed him on contemporary political issues in the country. Excerpts as given below:
Q. How do you observe the present scenarios in the country?
A. Thank you for the question of current values. In my observation, black cloud is covering the whole region of our country. This time it looks gloomy. The darkness of the black is inclining. It is not going to fall as a rain but started polluting the country. The political system which brought by uprooting democratic monarchical system is not suitable in the Nepal soil. We can easily understand that out of 200 countries only 28 countries have practiced federal system on which some have already failed and some are also going to be a failed state with this model. As I told, it is not suitable according to needs of the country as it was not brought from the wish and wants of the Nepali people. It was imposed from outside. To be very frank, we explore changes of the Nepali politics, however, the change never appeared as a result of the Nepali national revolution. Revolutions that we had depicted in the history were not real revolutions of the people of Nepal. All were fake and they were under the game plan of the outer forces. Therefore, all have become failure. The contemporary reign is also falling down. Hence, I see gloomy picture of our political system.
Series of mistakes of political parties created dimensional problems. Parties, such as, Maoist played with illiteracy, poverty and backwardness among the people. In the beginning the Maoist united backward people and tried to bring change. They were doing well in the initial period by irradiating social injustice in the village and helping poor people. Later, the force misused its strength in destroying historic monuments, killing poor people and dismantling infrastructures of this economically poor country. Traditional culture and religion and age-old social values — all have been destroyed. This force worked for noncreative and constructive works. They adopted terrorist action. People faired and severe destruction and killing occurred. The government of the then Nepal restricted to kill and control them. Ultimately, the Maoist got success to change the political system. No negotiation was done between the old and new forces. Then onward, the political leaders started to work as per their own wish. Their works have been criticised by the people. Even their dedicated cadres became dissatisfied with their behaviour of self-centered development. They could not bring people-oriented programmes. They could not bring national consensus through the constitution. They did whatever they like. People’s demand was not to abolish the monarchical institution. People’s intention was to end dictatorial power within the king. People had never demanded secularism. All these changes were pushed by hidden power to create instability in this Himalayan country. Therefore, even after spending more than a decade, people are unable to fulfill their basic needs through this political system. With series of mistakes of political experiments, people have been harassed.
The major outcome of the past political change is the people’s awareness and consciousness which helped to create voices on the existence and independence of the country. Thanks to the past political leaders for awakening people!
There is some golden lineage in the edge of black cloud. People of contemporary Nepal got lots of experiences of different political experiments. Now people have become conscious and they are aware of motherland. People are watching all sorts of activities in the country. All are realising need of great change in this country. They are expecting another revolution which must be patriotic. And that should be the revolution for nationalism. It is inevitable and change may occur soon.
Q. We are experiencing “loktantra” in “new” Nepal. How is your experience?
A. First, I have different views. I do not believe any “tantra” work smoothly in our case. Our society is different. A large section of people are illiterate, poor, traditional and we have hierarchical system of caste, community and economy. How can we run democracy as we feel the opposition force as like devil? Those who are in power, feel themselves like the God and opposition as devil. Our mentality is suffering from backward attitudes and values. All the political systems depend on the leaderships on how they treat and manage the polity of the country. Many of the countries having monarchy as the head of the nation are not less-developed. Out of 20 highly developed countries, more than fifty percent have kingship. China is a leading economy. Democratic country like the USA is powerful and there are small countries like Nepal also adopting various political systems. Nepal has experienced different political modality including kingship, dictatorship and republicanism. No other system except the system with monarchy was suitable for Nepal. Panchayat system could be unique if remodeled with Nepali intellectuals’ brain. Loktantra with federal system has proven worst. From economic point of view it is totally failed in the country. How can a country afford this high costing system in absence of manpower, capital, technologies and national consensus as well as capital? Yes, in my experience, it is not loktantra. It has become a ‘joke tantra’. One rupee tax for one egg and tax on per kilo of goat-meat is not justifiable for the poor households of our country. People are becoming poorer and poorer when leaders are becoming richer. Remittance revenue is rising but its utilization is not transparent. Leaders are losing people’s trust. How many leaders have declared their real property to the public? Look at the faces of the so-called leaders and power holders, are they really making ‘loktantra?’ They are feudal. They need more security. They have become merchant, landlords, business contractors and brokers. Loktantra is only for leaders and their family members to collect money and nothing more. Yes, we are seeking ‘newness’. New in the sense that unnatural thing is to happen. Quite strange, they, who are in power, monopolise in appointment from lowest to highest posts. Do you think a party person of low qualification nominated in the Academy and University posts can bring prosperity? Look at the nomination of the ambassadors and other higher posts! Nobody looks happy in the party quota system of appointments. There is no any fair and free competition. Look at the development projects like Melamchi! The government has been totally failed. Look at the border encroachment. No leaders are found serious. The government has become totally failure in controlling corruption. Look at the offices like municipality, survey department, tax office and land revenue office! People are suffering from innumerable problems created by corrupt civil servants. Who is responsible in regularising public contact offices? Yes, some strange things became new for Nepal and strange for people. Political activists changed their old dress and collected property beyond imagination. My observation is that loktantra turned into ‘Loottantra’. Development became a subject of joke. Nepal is heading towards an unimaginable crisis. Everything is degrading day by day. All these are new for us. Even common sense has not been used on basic things of people’s concern in their day-to-day life. Look at the quality of road, look at the drinking water and energy uses. The government is trying to suppress people. It is trying to control freedom of the people.
In reality, loktantra is no more a loktantra. How can we say this kind of politics is for the people.
Q. Intellectuals and academicians believe that the partisan politics destroyed the educational institutions and now it has entered in the independent judiciary organ also. Do you agree?
A. Yes it is true. In promotion and placement of civil servants, they are recommended on the basis of their political belief. What can we expect from the lawyer and teacher who are holding the banner of particular political party! Partisan politics has not only overshadowed educational institutes like universities but also civil service organizations. Service providers are polluted with low grade of politics. Students fight not for the rights of the people or education related issues but for their role even under the same party politics. In this condition how can we expect quality education and justice from the court? In the name of party politics, mediators, vendors, brokers, dons and dacoits have captured the governmental mechanism. No qualification and quality needed for them to handle the country. Partisan even inside the party is hampering the party politics. Grouping of party leaders has created fraction within the party, in result, political parties have become weak. Such a weak party can do anything to come to the power. In such a situation any foreign power player can use them and this will ultimately create national problems. Political partisan among students, teachers, educational administrators, civil servants are destroying all most all fields. The government can do nothing to stop it. Rising quality in public schools has become a dream. Fraction even in the governmental offices is in active state. Not only in the judiciary but everywhere power balance has been distorted with fraction. Morality has been degraded, discipline has been destroyed and system has been decomposed. In such a situation, nothing can run smoothly.
Q. What is this citizenship law amendment bill controversy?
A. This is a great sabotage which started from the time of King Birendra. Covered with the finance bill, the citizenship amendment bill was sent to the Palace for the Royal assent. King Birendra, to know the legal provision of the bill, had sent that controversial bill to the Supreme Court. The citizenship law amendment bill of contemporary Nepal also came as a sabotage which is not amicable to the country like Nepal. This will have a long term consequences. We should learn from the history that how Fiji and Sikkim were sabotaged and how Sikkim was collapsed. Why Bhutanese were driven to Nepal crossing the Indian borders? Why Tarai based leaders, not the real Tarai people, are raising imaginative voices of citizenship all the time? Tarai people will suffer much with this bill. Who designed all these things? Are we under a dictatorship? This is unlawful to implement the bill which is under consideration in the Federal Parliament. Why immediately district offices in Tarai districts started issuing citizenship? Issuance of citizenship by descent to the children of citizens by birth is controversial. Why the Home Ministry issued the circular before the decision of the Parliament? Later, the Supreme Court issued the stay order. Every Nepali citizen should think on this. Nepal should not accept foreign nationals as citizenship by descent.
It is suicidal to provide citizenship to the offspring of foreign nationals either in the name of mother and father. Nepal has to check foreign migrants first. Border must be regulated and tourists should be controlled like in Bhutan. The population in the southern border in India is dense. Our immediate neighbouring countries are highly populated. Opened borders with India have hampered to both the nations. China seems wise enough to fixed frontier. Nepal even cannot control future flood of tourists by keeping borders opened with India. Migrants on one side and tourists on another side may create difficult situation in future. Better to plan with farsighted vision is needed. We must regulate opened borders with India. At least open migration must be controlled by keeping entry record system and ultimately introducing passport. If not, Tarai will suffer much at first and it will bring economic disaster in Nepal. Citizenship is a subject of chronic diseases of Nepal. This must be fixed with long-term vision.
Q. What is your evaluation on the present government enjoying two-thirds majority and main opposition party, NC?
A. I don’t believe on so-called majority. Are they really working to meet two-thirds peoples’ demand who voted for them? People are becoming furious. No change has been made as they had committed. Energetic youths are turning as manpower source for the foreign countries. In the rural area, migration of working age people has resulted fallow land and empty house. Lacking human capital for any development work cannot help to fulfill dream of prosperous Nepal.
Parties have weak homework in creating united force and development works of the country. Party people are not serious in saving national identity. People have been pressed for conversion of their religion. INGOs are freely working to destroy traditional Nepali culture and values. Political parties are not practicing democracy and political culture is lacking among them. The Congress Party is no more a democratic party because it has already changed its fundamental philosophy. Now, they are nowhere. Is there any philosophy remaining with the Congress party? The party has adulterated their philosophy with the communist party, in result, it has became like a hybrid of horse and ass. That is ‘khachad’ in Nepali language. They will either split or change their route following original one designed by BP and KP. They have to do more homework for reconstruction of the party. RPP also went to a wrong direction and destroyed its virginity. Now, the party has split into three parties as the three senior leaders wanted to become the chairman of the party. They could come together with the mechanism of Presidential Council but all three leaders wanted to become independent leaders of separate party. Recently, two factions of the splinter party have forged unification with the modality of the Presidential Council enjoying same status by two supreme leaders. All the three leaders should beg pardon with the people and adopt the mechanism of Presidential Council to run a party. The other alternate could be handing over the leadership to the second generation leaders and playing the role of advisor by the three supreme leaders. No leaders are interested to take retirement. It is really very sad part in the Nepali politics. Now enumerable so-called high paid leaders in three stairs system polity may create havoc in coming days with tier of demand.
The two communist parties though they are not twins, want to show sisterly relations which is quite artificial. The parties looks like disable of two heads and one neck but two separate stomachs having four legs and hands. How can they move in future? PM Oli is making jokes out of any serious matter. People ask why the government is not serious in our border problems? Is the government providing any employment to bring back home to our youths from abroad? Are newly elected leaders feeling stability in politics? Who will answer the cause of the worst situation of the country? The reflection of people’s dissatisfaction is creating different national groups to strengthen people’s voice.
However, the hope is rising. In my observation, new forces are emerging. The King is becoming popular among the people. Similarly, there is new Maoist party led by Biplab. He is exposing all sorts of weakness and misdeeds of the government. Hidden force is marching boldly to change polity of the country. Besides, there is silent mass which may burst anytime. The last force is military i.e. armed force which is responsible for saving national interests and national sovereignty. There are many nationalists forces dispersed all over the country including religious groups. They can revolt in favour of their motherland. Around seven million Nepalis are living abroad. If all of them will become united, they can bring tremor in the country. The two strong parties under government have become very weak.
As a student of geography, I see many prospects in this country. There are enumerable natural resources. We have necessary manpower also but we lack national consensus among the leaders. Party cadre never got success to work. Nepal is facing more and more problems. People are becoming angry with political leaders. Therefore, anytime anything may happen. Before any possible crash, all should think and take precaution. There should be a political summit to seek political solution for national consensus. People cannot tolerate instability in the country. The situation tells us that no power centers can be neglected. All should be given space in the country. No one can handle the country alone. Now, the time is ripen for the national consensus for which all should think once again to solve the chronological diseases of politics. People are thinking for existence of the country. In this line there is a need to protect our identity and unity for stability of nationality. The monarchical institution can be a meeting point to bring peace, happiness in the country and movement in development. The tornado of the past polity has demolished two powerful pillars of the country. Hindu religion is deeply rooted in the land of this country and mind of the people, without which, no political stability can be achieved. Nepalese people should think from the national point of view. The King and political leaders have done series of mistakes in keeping the Nepalese political system stable. Nepali nationals should realise this. Young generation is coming up with new vision and they may turn into Tsunami for yet another change. Nationalist revolution should be nonviolence movement. Either national consensus or nonviolence revolt can bring the change. Satyagraha uniting nationalists force help to avoid bloodshed. The time has already arrived to settle all issues and work together for building nation. People’s expectation is growing high. Different foreign power players are making Nepal weak. So, all the nationalists should be united and serious to make change. The change or movement will be innovative and new. The coming year is the year of nationalists’ revolution. It will make country strong. Nepali leaders should rethink for the soft landing. They should think to make national consensus in a serious manner before coming a political tornado. Think, we Nepali and our country first!