Some of us oldies can remember the days of Panchayat rule in Nepal. It brought back some memories in the back drop of Donald Trump's win of the Presidential election of USA. In those days Ms Nani Maiya Dahal fought in the elections with very meagre funds but against all odds won in Kathmandu. Of course Mr. Trump too has won against all odds for at one time his chances of getting the Republican nomination and winning the presidency was said to be 100 to 1. Of course he had unlimited funds at his disposal.
Both these personages, many miles apart in their very different settings of affluence or hardships have responded to the call of the people. Both have succeeded because they both dared to try to represent that section of the population which was very aggrieved at having been left out in the cold and not being able to get a piece of the cake or a little bit of Dal Bhat in our context. When one looks deeper one realises that a major chunk of the population is not happy with the politicians and the way that they are governing the country. This has been our problem for the last half century.
Some say it is the success of a populist trend, some say it is the right taking over and some say it is the might of those who have been left out in the cold. What exactly was it? Incompetence? Non caring attitude? Is this the makeup of the politicians in whom we have placed our trust and destiny?
The fact is that many Americans are echoing the rallying cry of 'America First'. Whilst many had travelled from Europe to the New World of America, it was only after the attack on Pearl Harbour that the USA became involved in what was until then a European affair and joined World War II. The fact remains that the League of Nations, UN, NATO and the European Union were all formed as a result of the nudge and support of the US.
Now with the Donald Trump victory, the message on the airwaves suggests that it is going to be 'America First'. The recent trade agreement with countries of the Pacific Rim is said to be in jeopardy and what one reads in the press is that China is going to concentrate more in South East Asia. This has created some hope for those of us in this part of the world.
The reality from past centuries has been the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, British, Belgians, Italian and Mogul conquests in the various continents of the world. The conquerors ruled the nations with an iron hand and looting much from these lands sailed regularly to their own countries to develop the lands where their homes were situated. The raw materials taken from the colonies were then processed and sent back to be sold to the natives at a profit which was then taken back to the home country to be reinvested or simply recycled. The visitors from the distant lands were the masters and the natives had to see and put up with signs such as 'No Indians and Dogs allowed', 'No Coloureds' and similar epithets. Thankfully those colonial days of going there and bringing back items and profits changed with the demise of colonialism.
The lands subjugated had to put up with the high handedness of the oppressors. They wanted to ensure that their stay would be permanent and so they created wherever they were, a group of 'chamchas' who would do their bidding. In the case of India, Macaulay in his foresight created the 'babu' to enforce Babudom and continuity. Now it is perhaps the younger folks of the subjugated countries who have picked it all up all the customs and the commercialism of the outsiders. Many have taken up customs and attitudes, irrespective of whether it fits in with the existing concept of life in our part of the world. The easily influenced have turned to WOGS or Western Oriented Gentlemen.
The political culture too is one such. Because of the dominance of certain nations, what is resulting here is a mould of their thrust or what they wanted. The rules of governance are one such and what India inherited from their previous colonial masters has been copied here by us too. Our local form of governance in days long past was the village panchayat, but the word now has been debased in Nepal though the system continues in Mamata Banerjee's Bengal. Our latest Constitution, though it has seen the light of day has still not been finalised basically because of the vested interest of external forces. While our elections in the past had the British connotation of 'First past the Post' it now rightly includes the concept of proportional representation. We now seem to be having second thoughts on this and with the formation of new provinces there is the thought that local, provincial and federal elections should be should like what is being done in America. Such a constitutional head elected by all the people, should have the right to appoint ministers, albeit confirmed by Parliament or the House. This option seems very appropriate for it will get rid of our politicians who have been just looking after their own interests, taking it in turns to do so.
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd