The blockade is now over. Things will get back to normal in a matter of days, and it will be just be an incident of the past. A horrible dream like the ones we had in the eras of King Mahendra and King Birendra when our monarchs had their skirmishes with India. The trouble with us Nepalis is that we have short memories and forget too quickly. At the end of 2016, many of us now will have forgotten this devastating blockade and the hardships it caused. Will any of the alternative strategies thought out, all be it at 5-Star hotel workshops, ever be taken up and implemented? What about the harnessing of solar and wind power that are so abundant in this land of ours? Will the alternative plans, so seriously and heatedly discussed by the participants, as road map for the future, ever be implemented? Will the plans for survival be now put on the shelf, to be soon forgotten? What about support to the local industries and self sufficiency? If we are to progress we must be ready to ‘Cry out – Pakhlas’.
The recent primaries in the State of New Hampshire of the USA have indicated to many as to what the mood of the public is in that part of the world. Well established Republican contenders to vie for the Presidency of the USA were soundly beaten by Donald Trump, having been rebuffed by the voters. On the Democrats side, Bernie Sanders a male beat Hillary Clinton, a well known political figure as many of the young female voters were not awed by her credentials. Is it a sign that the Old Order must Yield to the New?
If the current intraparty elections of the Nepali Congress is anything to go by, here too the candidates backed by the veterans Koiralas, Prakash Man Singh, Gagan Thapa at Morang, Kathmandu 1 and Kathmandu 4 respectively seem to have fallen by the wayside to new faces. Is the Wind of Change, a worldwide phenomenon, taking place in Nepal too? Is the public finally saying to the stalwart politicians of the old order, ‘Enough is enough?’ Is it a cry of ‘Pakhlas’ which needs to be said, or rather shouted by the new voters at the politicians, who have been promising the sky but have delivered nothing in fact?
When the earthquake of 12th April 2015 and its aftershocks devastated the country, the excuse for the delivery of long term relief and rehabilitation was that the rainy season was too near for the required aid to be sent on time. Even what was delivered was diverted elsewhere or the materials were substandard. A lot of abuse of power and authority took place in the diversion of the aid. A winter of hardship and discontent followed and passed with no succour. An international aid conference was held with much fanfare, but the promised aid has not yet been utilised to the desired extent. Who is to blame? Those affected are still hoping for aid, but for how long. It is all non performance by the authorities in power?
How long will it take for things to get back to normal? Will the prices of everything that were jacked up now come down to what they were before the blockade? Or will they persist until the hoarded stocks have been sold off? Is the answer to all this, ‘Blowing in the Wind’ as has been vocalised by the famous song? Is the announced andolan from Baisakh 2073 just a face saving tactics of the Madhesi leaders?
When will our other hardships disappear? Take the case of the 14 hours daily load shedding that the Nepal Electricity Authority is subjecting us too. During the daylight hours of deprivation the power is switched off fifteen minutes before time and is given about a half hour behind the scheduled hours. At night, when most of the populace have turned in and are sound asleep, the light is given invariably an hour behind the scheduled time. I should know for I have to do my computer work during the early hours of the morning!
We Nepalis are very docile lot and ready to put up with anything. There are perhaps some comments on the Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube but these have not achieved anything so far. They need to be much more aggressive. We all have to say or even shout out, ‘Pakhlas—wait till the next round of elections. We must vote for a totally new set of people all around at different levels to get rid of those who have not kept their promises made to the voters at the last election. It is time to note that the new players Nepal football team who replaced the corrupted ones, have won the gold medal at the SAG. A change in the political scenario may also produce results.
Current news is that KP Oli will be on his first official six days visit to India as PM. A recent cartoon showed him about to embark on the plane with a bystander remarking, “I hope that you have not taken along any of our rivers as koseli.” How true. Hope that the tradition of certain Nepali PMs of the past to hand over the responsibility to develop and harness our rivers to India on terms that are not advantageous to Nepal will not be repeated.
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd