BY D. M. THAPA
The country is really at a most difficult juncture right now. From daylight encroachment of Nepal’s territory to the unheard of spiraling market prices, the people are living in misery and they have not seen even a glimmer of the golden days promised to them by the political leaders who ushered in a completely new system and threw out the benevolent monarch.
But this is not a new story for the common citizens who suffered during the Rana regime and also during the panchayat days, when individuals were rewarded for their proximity with one powerful person or the other, while the real good citizens were grossly overlooked.
This momentum changed extremely after the historic political revolution of 1990 and the King was shunted out of power to be only a constitutional king and the political parties controlled all powers when they were in the government. Not that the autocratic Rana regime or the panchayat system were a cake walk for the ordinary citizens, but things turned worse when they thought democracy would build them castles and usher in a ray of bright sunlight in their lives.
The peoples’ hopes were further dashed when late Girija Prasad Koirala became the Prime Minister through conspiracy and sheer luck. A person, who had not talent or charisma became a hero overnight, as the then charming leader of the Nepali Congress, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai lost in the general elections in 1991. He was defeated by a little heard person called Madan Bhandari, who is now a hero for all communists and who is the husband of the present President Bidhya Devi Bhandari. Late Madan Bhandari was a visionary leader, who had big dreams how the communist parties should work in Nepal and his wife the current President is also a simple woman with little needs or greed. But all leaders of this country have not been like them.
The beginning of the end started when late Girija by default became the Prime Minister of Nepal, a newly formed multi-party democracy. A gaunt looking and gangly Koirala, who was hardly suited to be in charge of any important post became one of the most powerful and influential man in the country. His decisions were wrong, his advisors were greedy young upstarts and naturally the nation suffered. But his only heir, his daughter Sujata, who had abandoned Nepal and married a German and stayed with him in that country, reaped the most benefit out of the power and influence of her father. Naturally his cronies, cousins and cadres also were not far behind in taking advantage of the situation, and they became millionaires and even billionaires overnight. This is a long story and almost history now, but the real destruction of Nepal and many professional institutions, including the security forces started in earnest from that time. There has been no looking back since then, when every sector has become politically partisan and certain individuals have amassed a lot of wealth, but the majority of the people have suffered.
Therefore the scenario looks very dismal, specially with a virtually leaderless government, spiraling market prices and increasing corruption seen in almost every sector. More sad is the fact that, though many people know corruption has virtually mailed the country dry, the attitude of the society to applaud rags to riches individuals instead of treating them with disdain, is also disheartening. But that is the present Nepal and the scenario looks really dismal.
The only thing that the people had to cheer about was the good performance of the Nepalese sports people, who performed very well in the 13th South Asian Games, before called the South Asian Federation Games, that was held in Kathmandu and which ended just a few days back. Not that the sports official had much hand in enhancing the performance of the Nepali players, the players themselves did well with their own motivation and talent and of course with the support of many enthusiastic youngsters within the country.
This was the most important aspect of the Games as young Nepali supporters rallied behind the players and gave them a reason to do better. As this author sees, only sports and some songs have encouraged and motivated the new generation to be proud of their country and hold its unique National Flag fluttering high with pride. This was a clear message to everyone, including the foreigners, how the new generation of Nepalis have changed and while much apathetic to political speeches, they genuinely love their country and would welcome any new person, repeat new person, to lead the country instead of the old corrupt politicians.
One friend of this author, who was a fanatic supporter of sports and got to any length to watch sporting events, told me how happy he and some other members of the older generation were when they saw a glimmer of hope in the faces of the young people who wanted their country to win, if in nothing, at least in sports. This was touching, as Nepal really did well at the regional games and made everyone happy. The corruption and mismanagement part is there, but the people can do little about it as political parties still think of sports as a playground to appoint their chosen people and cadres in the National Sports Council and other sporting associations. But still we take our hats off to all those players, who not only won medals but who participated for the pride and prestige of the nation.
Of course, doing well in any sporting event is a short lived experience. Before the enthusiastic people come back to reality of living in an environment where the government is virtually dysfunctional, there is alarming inflation and there are increasing incidents of corruption and criminal activities. Almost same as when some South American country like Brazil and Argentina, or more devastated nations in Africa do well in the football World Cup, the most watched sporting event throughout the world.
It can be hoped that Nepal will also stand up in pride, exactly like they did when Nepali players won medals in different sports and send a message to the political leaders and others who are dragging down the country through sheer personal greed, that a new generation come forth and such anti- national acts will not be tolerated anymore.