The election fever is widespread in the country. The parties are promising everything under the sun. 'If you elect us and we come to power, we will do this ..............' or 'We will do that ...........'. Those who have a miniscule chance of being elected and in a position to govern have no worry for they will never have to fulfil their commitments. For them it is simply, 'Promise anything that you think of' or 'Promise them the pie or mithai in the sky'.
The election manifestos of one of the major parties, the one leading the government has declared election booklet that various improvements in manifold aspects that took place during the last 25 years (2048 BS - 2073) was due to the party's leadership of the government. The figures quoted are those of the National Planning Commission and other sources. This is very surprising to say the least in that the party was not always in power during those years, let alone leading the government. Is this not a subterfuge - taking credit for something which one has not done? After all these canvassing sops or lollipops are well practiced actions on an ever believing or gullible public.
A surprising news is an editorial that appeared in an English daily newspaper in circulation in Kathmandu. It states that Health Insurance, now that it has been made compulsory, is a step in the right direction and comments on the obligations and commitments. It states that Health Insurance will be made compulsory for each and every citizen. The editorial warns too about the misuse or fraudulent practices likely to take place as it has been the practice for a long time. This, in fact is another 'vote getting ploy' put forward to fool the public.
The reality is that a large number of our population who have migrated to the towns in search of work have no proof of their citizenship. They cannot vote for they have got to go back to where they were born and get their citizenship certificate. There are usually hurdles in the way unless they are prepared to pay something extra for their needs. The percentage of females having citizenship is even less and they are deprived of voting! Of course this situation is becoming less, as more and more of our population go to Gulf, Malaysia or even further afield in search of work. Proof of citizenship is a basic requirement to get a passport.
Many school children wanting to sit for examinations and apply for grants have to have citizenship certificates. Their fathers may be out of the country and to get citizenship on the basis of descent from their mothers is still not an easy undertaking. Knowing of such concrete prevalence of non implementation of governmental decisions, how can one be sure that this dubious has been solved?
Many years ago during the erstwhile Panchayat days one of the ministers had a bright idea that he would try to tax the users who were receiving television facilities by use of disc antenna. Digitalisation had not taken place at that time and so it was that the government was trying to tax the populace for a facility which it was not providing at all. Nepalis in major towns were literally fishing in the cosmos and were trying to catch what had been let loose in the open sky. Thus it is that the government was trying to tax the people for a service that it was not providing at all. One has only to think of the charges that we have been paying all these years of a water supply that is non-existent. How long it will take for Melamchi water to be a reality is still a question mark.
There seems to be a deep rooted thinking in Nepal that we the people should always be made to pay. Nepal Telecom recently announced that using Viber to make foreign calls is illegal! Will someone now tell us that the Nepali citizen should not use Internet too. Nepal Telecom have a famous comedian tell us every day on TV that it is very cheap to make calls from abroad to Nepal. Of course it is considering the value of our currency. Nepal Telecom offers a cheap rate if one dials '1424' for America and Canada. This should be made cheaper still and action against those providing 'bypassing' of calls should be made stricter. The Nepal Oil Nigam has a policy to keep the prices of transportation fuel high whilst not bothering much to stop leakages and improve efficiency. Such are the practices in this country of ours.
As we move around the dusty Kathmandu streets wearing masks for self preservation, I am thankful to Kulman Singh Gurung and our Southern neighbour for having exported electricity to us during our dire needs and thus helping to do away with load shedding. In this state of euphoria the other news is that our Northern neighbour is helping to build a railway via Pokhara and Kathmandu to Lumbini. Perhaps it was because of this news that prompted our two major political groups to announce in their election promises of priority to electric vehicles in their manifestoes. They state that Kathmandu dwellers will be travelling in electric vehicles soon - one even offered to make it a reality within three years. The Lord is praised for Kathmandu will no longer be subjected to smog and we will be able to gaze at our Himalayan peaks in peace.
As a small child I remember reading a story about a small chick going along a road and which on meeting any other animal or bird uttered 'The sky is falling down'. The widespread dissemination of this message created panic among many. One has only think of ‘Gulliver's Travels’ or ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to imagine what is going happen to us in this Shangri la of ours.
The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd