Spice of Life
By P Kharel
Even if the eighth edition of the National Games barely managed to be organised in Nepalgunj and neighbourhood from April 17 to 24, National Sports Council members make a ridiculous claim of a flying success. This is what happens when nothing but political proximity and loyalty serve as the chief criteria for important appointments: no responsibility but big boast.
More than 5,000 athletes from various parts of the country took part in the jamboree that turned out to be a melee, with sheer bad management visible all over the venues. Athletes bitterly complained about shabby accommodation, improper meals and confusion all around. In fact, a number of events had to be organised under strange circumstances.
Swimming events were shifted to a hotel facility because the pool at the premises of the Nepalgunj stadium was not complete. Athletes, as a result, were hurriedly rushed to a private hotel to organise the pool events. And this was no isolated incident. Shooting events, too, had to be rescheduled after the related range was reported incomplete.
Yet, the NSC member-secretary had the cheek to claim a grand success in managing the 35-discipline Games that had been postponed again and again without qualms. “I view my term as the golden age of sports in Nepal,” Member-Secretary Keshav Kumar Bista sounded quite boastful at a press meet last week.
The entire NSC team members should be sacked but they won’t be because of their political activism of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NSC) variety. They could earn the credit by walking what today sounds like tall talk unlikely to materialize anytime in the foreseeable future.
To those with the right political connections, rules are made to breach, while to others the very rules are overstretched in interpretation to show the deficient the red card, whatever the status of the latter’s innocence. NSC officials have an immunity to act with impunity.
Some more on the so-called “forward”-looking comrades, who say one thing during daylight and do quite the contrary when night falls. In the world’s first communist nation and now-disintegrated Soviet Union, Russians used to exhibit such traits. Their embassy staff members in Kathmandu used to travel to Thamel and other places in the city to consult with astrologers to know what the stars had for them in the days and times ahead.
Some Nepalese, who studied in the communist regime in the 1980s, used to narrate interesting tales about avid Russians with the penchant for showing their palms to Nepalese students supposed to possess knowledge about astrology. In the process, students who passed as astrologers in the eyes of the desperate hosts made tidy sums of money collected as fees for rendering the service desperate souls sought for.
Member of House of Representatives, Pampha Bhusal last summer was in the horn of controversy. The communist leader, in the early years of the loktantri period, was the board chair of Mahendra Vidya Ashram at Lalitpur. People in the vicinity as well as the school’s thousands of alumni are deeply saddened by the one-time noted school’s existing state of affairs in the so-called loktantrik years.
In what form and shape is the school today? A significant portion of its property, donated by King Mahendra in the 1960s, was given on lease to a business group, when the “revolutionary” leader chaired the management committee of a school which until the advent of the loktanrtik years enjoyed reputation for quality education. People suspect money having changed hands in effecting the coveted deal.
Today, the school is sidelined to insignificance, maintaining as it does only a token presence of far fewer students than during its heydays, i.e., prior to the advent of the 2006 political changes. One bitter alumnus made a wry comment: “Is this the revolutionary way of avenging the ‘coup’ King Mahendra’s political action of December 1960?”
Perhaps taking that reference, there were news reports of Bhushal getting embroiled in an attempt to rent out the land that belonged to Harisiddhi Brick Factory. The hue and cry over the issue was reported to have stalled the dubious decision for the time being. Privatised in 1992, the statute of the factory stipulates that the property is appropriated for no purpose other than for setting up an industry.
In the wake of the Lalita Niwas land purchase scandal, Bhushal must be thanking her stars that she escaped from the factory scandal by a whisker. But then one never knows who all are involved in such scams that cannot take place without the blessings or involvement of the politically powerful.
After all, failure in one site does not necessarily mean a dead end. “Land mafia” groups have ways of preying on public property and make quick bucks for transforming their lifestyles beyond the dreams of an ordinary citizen.
Dev Prakash Tripathi, in Ghatana ra Bichar: “Those standing on the plane of multiparty system might assess Panchayat as a stern rule. But when it comes to issues such as nationality, national unity, security, peace, sense of discipline and physical infrastructure, there should be no hesitation in hailing the Panchayat period as a golden age.”