The Sins of our Fathers

The knack of leadership in Nepal is that leaders are never to blame; at least if they happen to be male. Nobody minds blaming women, in fact it’s par for the course not only in Nepal but, so it seems, worldwide.

June 2, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.9 No 22, June 3,2016 (Jesth 21)

When things go wrong, we rarely blame ourselves. We look around for culpable parties. It’s a safe bet in this country where politicians are notoriously short on good ethics that there is always someone else to blame. The knack of leadership in Nepal is that leaders are never to blame; at least if they happen to be male. Nobody minds blaming women, in fact it’s par for the course not only in Nepal but, so it seems, worldwide.

There is something about intelligent women and strong women that men fear, something that through generations and generations has resulted in women being pushed to the very end of the pecking order. To illustrate what I mean let me cite a sample of statements found in the many interminable project reports that abound in government circles:

“Those to benefit from this project will be people injured by natural disasters, the disabled, the landless, the disenfranchised, the marginalised, those living below the poverty line, and women.”

This of course is only a sample of passages I have read, considered and, as far as possible, adjusted into more acceptable forms. The fact is that adjustments were based on a professional perspective of society. For most people, even some women I know, it doesn’t strike an unwelcome chord. It is, perhaps, because some of us, trained to dissect sentences since youth during laborious hours at unraveling the idiosyncrasies of classical languages, from both west and east, might comment,”Ah so what they’re saying here is that it’s worse to be a woman than any of these”.  Alternatively we could interpret it as saying that it’s worse to be a woman along with any of these conditions than it is to be a man!

But, as the late playwright Oscar Wilde put in so many of his pithy sayings about the wealthy and powerful there’s surely nothing worse than being a stupid man! One of his best sayings comes from the all-time favourite comedy, ‘The importance of being Earnest’ in which the bullying mother claims to have been tricked into believing that her daughter was attending a lecture on ‘the influence of a permanent income on thought.’

Perhaps I am wrong in my assumption but it seems that our political representatives have already been stricken by such a crippling influence. They have power and money, some of them beyond their wildest dreams; and hence it matters not a jot that vegetables are so highly priced that people at the bottom of the salary scale can hardly afford to eat. Neither does it matter a jot that their failure to create employment has resulted in a country whose demographic profile is becoming heavily weighted with the elderly, women, and children (a good many of whom are ending up begging on the streets). As Nepali author, Maya Thakuri, depicts in her short story about a telephone operator assisting people making transcontinental phone calls, it’s the Pied Piper all over again. The sins and greed of the leaders of this land are before our eyes and, in our lifetime, affecting our children. Instead of our providing for their better future, they are escaping from whatever future their land has to offer!

If only those who call the shots would desist from taking commissions, if only those organisations purporting to develop this land did so in honesty and transparency there would be the means to create jobs, there would be the means to keep the city clean and in working order and young people would stay here with confidence in the future of this much-loved land.

Reflect for a moment about the causes of pollution. I can almost hear people thinking motorcars; well shall we blame Henry Ford for inventing the motorcar? After all, motor fuel is not the only or the most inspired use of petroleum.

Petroleum products are used for transportation; to generate heatingand electricity, for asphalt and road oil; and to make chemicals, plastics, and synthetic materials; and that includes clothing, all of which might make life easy, but few of which are environmentally friendly. If only we could do without them! If only we could repair the deep wounds we have inflicted on this greenest of planets! If only we could put Nepal back on the right track!

Maybe, the last ‘If only’ really is the only one we, from one of the poorest nations in the world, can do anything about.Even so, isn’t it worth a try?

I read in the nation’s newspapers this morning that certain politicians had responded to the Supreme Court’s summons by saying the prime minister had an agreement with them that cadres should not be prosecuted for ‘people’s war’ crimes. One might ask here a pertinent question, what mandate gave anyone the right to make such a deal? We haven’t had a general election and the former parties in the constituent assembly have no right, in a democratic nation, to pass portfolios between them as if it’s only a game of musical chairs at a kids’ party. We do not have a prime minister elected by the people and the only ones we had are either deceased or staging ill-conceived comebacks.  How can there be a comeback without an election? Frankly, we have no political heroes, but now it seems we do have legal ones. Let’s be honest and tell our third-rate politicians that a political pact is not the rule of law!

Which path to follow now? A reasonable suggestion might be that it’s time to dissolve the ‘constituent’ assembly and in a last exaggerated act of ‘foolish’ expenditure use some of the budget money the government continually fails to spend year in, year out (supposedly) on electing a prime minister male or female. He/she should then be asked to form a party of professionals and technocrats.  They can operate according to the rule of law and all those who object to the constitution will have to go home and rest until the rule of law sorts everything out; and that includes prosecuting those thought guilty of human rights’ abuses and criminal acts - no matter which political colour they are. Failing that, those who suffered because of criminal acts during the war foisted on this nation have no other recourse but to go to the international court of justice; and perhaps that’s the recourse that should have been advised in the first place!



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