People in Nepal
are all agog with anticipation for the final two stages of voting that will
herald the establishment of the Democratic Federal Republic of Nepal. One of
the thoughts currently going round in FB and Twitter is that Nepal as an entity
existed six years before the formation of the USA and also many of the nations
of the world. Our own journey in this
world started when Prithvi Narayan Shah stated his concept of an exquisite garden
of different creeds and colours. Thus
Nepal as a Nation existed much before India, Pakistan or Bangladesh! However in the present environment, the
contributions of our past rulers such as King Prithvi Narayan, PM Jung Bahadur,
PM Chandra Shumsher and King Mahendra have been downgraded as just
insignificant events of the past and not worth thinking about.
Our current situation is very much different to what existed in the past especially considering how far ahead are the advances in thoughts and practice of the foregone days. Nepal became the Democratic Federal Republic in 2007. We have had during these last ten years no less than eight Prime Ministers, who to state were: GPK, PKD (P), MKN, BRB, JNK, SKK, KPO and SBD. In retrospect, it is obvious that our current crop of leaders have got into the habit of playing musical chairs for the Prime Ministerial seat, occupying it again and again. This system of taking turns to be PM has become a fiasco in this land of ours. Is there a secret understanding amongst the leaders which we ordinary folk have no inkling about?
Of course we have had this same band of leaders over the course of the last twenty years as local elections were not held for over two decades. No new blood has been injected into the system! This provided a golden opportunity for the present crop of leaders to make hay whilst the sun shone. Now that local elections have been held, one has to see whether new leaders will begin to sprout in the country or whether those trying establish themselves in this environment will be quietly dissuaded to leave the field by the musclemen who have become permanent hangers on of leaders.
The Rana and Shah days are now gone. In contrast this, is an age in which people who get killed in police firing, for whatever the reason get the status of 'Martyr' and are then given compensation to the tune of initially 2 lakhs but now raised to ten lakhs each. The atmosphere in the country has now changed and if a patient dies during the course of treatment at the hospital, the authority running the institution has to fork out compensation money in figures of lakhs to the patient's party.
This brings me now to some much bigger questions, especially for the future. The latest figure is that averages of two thousand people die on the Nepali roads every year because of road traffic accidents (RTA). Should not those who succumb, be labelled 'RTA Martyrs' as they have died for no fault of their own? Placing busts of those who died at the accident sites will denote it as a hazardous area and may perhaps deter reckless driving by the motorist travelling on that highway! True some of these deaths may have been due to incompetent or overworked drivers or old, overloaded and badly serviced vehicles. Many are however due to badly maintained roads that are hazardous. Road repair sites are left unmarked without any warning signs or red lights to denote that accidents may occur. A number of children and even adults have met their ends after falling into potholes in the roads that were filled with water. Even the current PM's order to rectify this within two weeks was not carried out in time. Presently, it is the Central Government or the Department of Roads responsibility to keep them roadworthy. Cannot the relatives of victims, who die in such accidents on the roads, sue the government for payment as per the present norms for accidental deaths? This is essential if our RTA numbers are not to sky rocket. What one needs to remember is that the maintenance and upkeep of the roads in this land of ours will, after all phases of our elections are over, be the responsibility of the local or Pradesh authorities. It is likely that some of the newly created authorities may not be aware of their responsibilities in their respective areas or may even neglect it. The fear of being sued for deaths on roads in their respective areas may perhaps ensure their responsibilities are met and road repair will get work done promptly.
The question arises as to whether the old order of functioning has changed. Recently, PM Deuba or is it Emperor decreed perhaps on a whim, that two days leave will be given for the Chath celebrations. This was a sudden decision, in fact a thunderbolt from the blue. Was this decision made in view of the impending elections? If the country is truly secular, should not the same number of religious holidays be given for ones religious belief, irrespective of what the religion is? However those who are likely to suffer will be the atheists! Another question that arises is whether the decision of the Right and the Left parties of this land of ours to band together to fight elections? Will this bonhomie last or is it just a ploy to fool the public? Is this just an attempt to pull wool over the prospective voters' eyes? This will only be apparent after the final results are out. May Lord Pashupatinath protect us Nepalis.
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd