BY D. M. THAPA
Dasain, the biggest festival of the majority of the Nepalese is just around the corner, and people are already euphoric on spending it in the best way they can with their near and dear ones. Dasain is the festival when many folks go back to their homes, wherever it is, and they spend time with their parents or elderly relatives and others with whom they grew up in mostly villages of the country, where they seldom go these days.
This is the time when they wear new clothes, buy new clothes for their children and also close relatives. They gorge on meat and other delicacies for almost five days catching up with old times and many becoming nostalgic.
Then quickly follows Tihar, the second biggest festival of the people and again there is the tradition of sisters putting “Bhai Tika” on the forehead of their brothers and the brothers in return offer money and presents to their sisters. Then the winter quickly engulfs the nation and there are no other festivals for at least four months or so. Like during Dasain, Tihar is also a time to eat different delicacies as well as dance and raise money for whatever the cause, in a happy and friendly manner. Apart from these, Sel, a doughnut type of fried sweet bread, bright lights and naturally meat of various kinds are also part of the festival.
One’s heart goes out to those people who cannot enjoy these festival because of lack of hard cash and also those who have been affected by the floods, landslides, illness or other personal reasons, but not only the harsh winter, but also a weakening economy has been facing many citizens of this country who could enjoy these festivals in small or bigger ways, as per their income till some decades ago.
But of late, the scenario seems to have become bleaker and bleaker, not only because of the crumbling economy, but many other troubles that are being seen on a regular basis in most parts of the country.
The constantly weakening economy is already there, add to this the symptoms of corruption taking root in every nook and corner of the country, the constant inflation that is making life hard for people to make ends meet, the rising rate of criminal activities in many urban areas, the inability to plant crops either due to lack of manpower or proper irrigation, one sees negative indicators wherever you bother to take a look.
The handful of people who are rich are getting richer and the majority of the people are getting poorer by the day. This is not an indication of a “prosperous Nepal and happy Nepalese”, as envisioned by the government. But sadly, the political leaders who lead the nation seem deep in corruption as well as bureaucrats, police personnel and big time business people for whom these festivals are occasions when they can flaunt their ill-gotten wealth.
There seems to be no light at the end of this dark tunnel, including the much hyped Melamchi Project, which years ago should have already brought enough drinking water for the present dry Kathmandu, which had abundant water in the past.
For an agro-based country like Nepal, now we are importing the basic food stuffs that all Nepalese live on, like rice, lentils and vegetables. This has happened not only due to lack of irrigation or floods, but also because lush fields which yielded much crops throughout the year are being sold to greedy land mafias, who turn such land to build houses and dig makeshift roads wherever they like. That is why we see the impossible conditions of the roads built by land mafias, who fool customers by showing these roads during the dry seasons only. They are also in cahoots with the government officials who allow them to work anyway they want as long as some returns are given to them.
If the readers remember, this scribe has written dozens of articles on corruption and the ever growing mafia members dealing in land transactions. These people have stolen private lands, which few talk about, specially the media, and they have been so encouraged that they are even stealing government owned lands. This is the height of corruption in the government bureaucracy, the cunning land grabbers, the courts and political leaders who seem to look the other way when such daylight robbery is committed.
But this is still just the tip of an iceberg of corruption where poor people are compelled to sell their lands and tricked by the land mafias and also government officials, but it is also an indicator of how things are moving ahead politically, economically and socially.
This way of the leaders and protectors of democracy, just can’t go on, like mentioned above, where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Either there has to be a drastic change in the system and all corrupt persons have to be severely punished, or let things go out of hands and a chaotic situation take place in the country. This is perhaps what the corrupt people and also foreigners want to happen. While the corrupt can get away to another destination out of the country, the foreigners will be happy to see Nepal as a fertile ground through which they can play their games for their own interests, be it economically, religiously or socially.
This is something which every serious and non-partisan observers of the present scenario in Nepal have already pointed out. But a few of the Nepalese, including the political leaders, bureaucrats and also media people are willing to be the puppets for green dollars and other benefits which foreigners offer. They don’t seem to care about the fate of their own country or countrymen, as long as their coffers are filled and they feel confident that they can fly abroad when things turn from bad to worse here.
This is bound to happen if the wayward leaders are allowed to do as they like and the corrupt are walking free even as the common people are suffering as they never have suffered before. So correct corrupt activities of whichever person, and make the Nepalese truly happy, festival or no festival.