On the 14th of April 2015, 43year old Marco Rubio, a Senator of Florida, USA announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Presidency of the nation. This action Rubio is said to have cut him loose from Jeb Bush, his ‘friend, philosopher and guide’ for the past seventeen years. Rubio’s intention was for the common citizen to be provided an option for fresh blood and not to condone dynastic rule even in politics. Rubio clarified that his bid was for the future and not for the past. He referred to 69 years old Ms Hillary Clinton, his possible opponent from the Democratic side as a leader of the past and thus ’history’. Being of Hispanic descent and risen from humble background his feeling was that the country should elect new leaders without the usual family connections.
Unfortunately we find that our South-East Asia is tuned to the culture of passing down the baton of power from one generation to the next. Scrutinising our region for ‘power’ centres is enlightening. We find that the Nehru and his progeny number 3, Zulfakir plus daughter 2 and Bandranaike plus wife and daughter 3. Bangladesh is different in that they have the two dynasties of Mujib and Zia who have been having their ups and down for some years. Going a little further out we find that Communist North Korea has formally implemented this concept and the descendents of Kim Il Sung number three generations in the chair of power if not the throne. Whilst saying woe to such practices one discovers and has to acquiesce to the fact that Lee Kwan Yew has managed two generations in Singapore.
Is this due to the old practices of occupational identity such as the names of Carpenter, Smith, Bottlewala, Chainwala, Nakarmi, Dakarmi and Sikarmi in a worldwide setting? It must be noted too that UK had father and son Pitt prime ministers and the US father and son Bush presidents!
Though the hereditary Shah kings lasted for twelve generations from Prithvi Narayan Shah, Jung Bahadur started the trend of handing down power to the senior most of the Rana clan. This step was not totally accepted when as one considers the cases of the A and C classes and becomes aware of the ups and downs during the subsequent 104 years of Rana rule when there were a total of ten Shree Teens!
Considering the present day situation in Nepal one wonders if the Koiralas are vying to copy the performance of the Ranas in Nepal! Fact remains that the age of many of the current crops of leaders of almost all the parties are on the wrong side of fifty. The various wrangling of the past, their tendency to stick to their outdated thinking and not give an inch in the matter of their positions has led to an impasse which has extended to almost eight years since the constitution writing process started. The good news, though not confirmed is that the second generation leaders of almost all the parties have taken a welcome step and asserted themselves to the extent that they seem to be bringing about some form of consensus for constitution making in our country.
Of course whilst there have been young leaders such as Alexander the Great, who ascended his assassinated father’s throne at the age of twenty and continued his quest of conquering India. As a result of this, this brave leader is said to have died of malaria at the young age of 32 years. His instruction for his final rites was that his body should be laid out with his palms facing upwards denoting thereby that he was leaving the world empty handed. He had also instructed that his physicians should be his pall bearers to demonstrate to everyone that there could be no saviour when it was time to meet death.
However there have been also very capable and elderly leaders such as Konrad Adenauer of Western Germany, Winston Churchill of UK and who became the Chancellor and Prime Minister of their countries at the age of.73 and 66 respectively. Lee Kwan Yew became PM of Singapore City State at the young age of 36 and was premier for a continuous tenure of 31 years. All the three personages took their lands to great heights and lived to the grand old age of 91.
Nearer home has been the spectacular rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in India. They managed to win all but 3 seats out of the total of 70 in the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections. This dramatic performance and shift of support to new, though untried faces by the Delhi citizens in their quest for change has brought a breath of fresh air. There have been many letters to Google NNSD groups and also Tweets in Twitter as to the desirability of such happenings in our setting in Nepal. There is a great feeling to correct this deficiency in our country. The call is for a new young leader to emulate the ‘Old Man’ of Singapore!