About sixty years ago there was a remake of the popular Cole Porter Musical Hollywood film with the above title starring Bing Crosby in the title role. I recollected this title when I thought of present day Nepal. We are in such a situation in this day and age here with our political leaders playing musical chairs.
An Austrian Capuchin monk had, as long ago as 1624 in writing about Nepal had stated, “There is another custom in this country of monstrous cruelty ……”
The last issue of New Spotlight quoted the opinion of Brian Hodgson, one-time British Resident at Kathmandu, who in 1833 remarked in a letter to his sister in England that we were barbarians who believed in ‘rumour and hey and say than facts.’ This opinion was confirmed by the American diplomat Leo Rose of the post 1950 era, who, when asked what he liked about Nepal stated, ‘the rumours.’
It seems that we Nepalis do not have many scruples about how we conduct ourselves. Each and every one of us is trying to ‘pull a fast one’ to gain leverage over the others in our community. The things that come to mind as one ponders are:
Load-shedding: The schedule exists but the fact is that lights are put off suddenly in the hours of night when power should be available. Alternatively the hours without lights are lengthened at the whims of NEA. Of course this is to give continuous uninterrupted supply to special industrial consumers as at Birgunj and other unknown places! The ordinary citizen does not deserve it.
Then comes the supply of water by KUKL. If we have a connection we are expected to pay full rates for water which trickles or has to be sucked in for a few hours once a week or fortnight. What is the service we are paying for? Melamchi is a mirage in the horizon.
Now take the case of cooking gas. A double pricing of blue and red has been the talk of town for a long time but the fact is that the shortage which is a chronic malady has become worse now. Money is changing hands for more cylinders to bring about better prospects, but one is never sure what the future holds.
Next come the petrol pumps who have been giving less petrol or diesel than the quantity they have charged for. When the government tried to take action, the whole lot of petrol pumps and presumably the workers went on strike, making the public suffer and demanding that this decision be revoked, the NOC Board agreed. Is the long suffering public to presume that two wrongs do make a right! What is Nepal coming to, these days?
In this line too comes the Syndicate in the transport system and people are made to pay more for travelling than what it would have been, had there been competition to provide the services. But this is not the end of the story for the services provided are in vehicles which though not road worthy, still run in overloaded conditions and driven by inexperienced drivers. It turns out now that a number of the drivers carry fake licenses. It is no wonder then that many Nepalis continue to lose their lives as a result of this ‘free for all’ to provide services on our highways. Plans and schemes have been made public to try to stem the rot. All very well but there seems to be no sign of implementing the same. Who cares about this to try to bell the cat?
Then comes the question in the education sector. Because of the impending action by the CIAA, a large number of teachers are resigning en-masse as they had all been appointed on the basis of false certificates. This is not something new but has been going on for many years with the knowledge of different parties that have been in power over the course of some decades. This is not a new problem as most are appointed as a result of political muscle and leverage rather than ability and capability. What is however more disturbing now is the fact that some members of the CIAA team that were out to sort all the irregularities occurring in the land have themselves been caught in the act of ‘making hay while the sun shines’!
A sad fact which is a reality now is the hoodwinking of young Nepali adults – both males and females to Malaysia, Korea and Gulf countries. The females are being trafficked, the males end up in jobs or situations that are vastly different to what was promised. Many become virtual slaves or end up in jails. Many are taking refuge in Nepali legations in different countries and are coming back to tell of their harrowing experiences. It is the end of the road for many who come back to Nepal in coffins. In spite of the evidences, there seems to be no will to take steps to rectify the wrong doings and punish the culprits. These sad heartrending cases of Nepalis especially from the rural areas have been and are continuing ad infinite. Is this because of political protection and involvement that there is no end in sight? It just makes one wonder.
The recent midnight fiasco in the House demonstrated that majority will can be and is easily opposed when there are backers to bring this about. We are therefore coming to a situation where a consensus driven constitution is another mirage in the horizon.