The other day a friend sent me a quotation of Khalil Gibran:
“Pity the nation whose people are sheep and whose shepherds mistreat them; pity the nation whose leaders are liars and whose sages are silenced, and whose bigots haunt the airwaves. Pity the nation that raises not its voice except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as Heroes and aims to rule the world by force and by torture…….”
Reading this set me thinking about the existing situation in Nepal and comparing with what has been happening down the ages in other countries. The history of the world over the last 15 thousand years has had its ups and down. Though initially a question of self survival it automatically led to the survival of one’s community. Starting with the move and crossing over of some Mongol tribes across the Bering Strait to the Americas the story goes on about the travels of the Mongols from the wilds of Siberia to to present day Finland and be labelled as Lapps.
During the subsequent centuries, people such as the Aryans, Mongols, Romans, Greeks, Byzantine and Turks set up various alliances and combinations and set out periodically to rule parts of the world. The initial rulers worldwide – both in the East and West were the religious ones or priests, who with the aid of collaborators set up - Caesars, Emperors, Tsars, Kings, Princes, Rajas and Sultans who ruled over the almost illiterate masses and taxed them. It was not surprising therefore that in the course of time the masses rose for their rights.
It was from the books of the East, concentrated in the Library at Alexandria, that knowledge of numerals and algebra was taken to the West. Later, the inventions such as paper and gunpowder discovered by the Chinese were also introduced to Europe. It was the application of that knowledge on a larger scale that propelled Western communities to be much ahead of us in the third world.
The countries of Europe which in those early days were small enclaves, principalities or duchies combined or separated as per the wishes of the religious leader at Rome. Combinations and deductions led to formation of pioneering forces in the countries of Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Turkey which then separately set out at various times to subjugate distant lands across the seas.
Initially the Pope ruled over the kings and the people of Europe until a division occurred and the Greek Orthodox Church separated from the church at Rome. Later the Protestants of many lands of Europe distanced themselves too from Rome. The beheading of Charles I of England was followed by eleven years of Republican rule under Cromwell until monarchy was restored. The French Revolution of 1789 was also a rising up of the masses against the ruling clique which included the church in 1793. It led in the succeeding 250 years to the formation of the First Republic lasting 10 years, then an Empire of 11 years followed by a monarchy of 34 years. This was followed by the 2nd Republic of 4 years and then the 2nd Empire of 18 years. Later established 3rd and 4th Republics were of 75 and 12 years respectively. The current 5th Republic with Charles de Gaulle as first head came into being in 1958. Thus the establishing of a republic is no easy matter.
Following the two World Wars one had hoped that sense would universally prevail. The possession of the atom bomb by US, England, France, Russia and the near capability by others was touted at one time as ensuring peace as its first use by any country would be tantamount to world destruction. One wonders on this score, as the current fear is of North Korea and Iran plus other likely contender lurking about!
So where does this all put us? Subsequent to the British leaving these shores, the Indian subcontinent initially became two and later three entities. The princely states had been amalgamated to create the present Union of India. A worrying point for us in Nepal is the fact that we are as King Prithvi Narayan Shah stated, ‘A yam between two stones’. Our politicians, novice midgets by world standards, who have been ruling had never been able to function independently for national interests. Irrespective of whichever party was in power, they have always been toeing the line delineated by the masters. And we the populace at large have been voting to put them in that place again and again. Sadly, though good leaders emerge from under the canopies of faith and trust from amongst the people we have not been lucky so far. Will the election, said to be on the horizon be any different? One cannot be sure of this for it might just be a mirage like the oasis afar off.
What has been our record since the time of King Prithvi Narayan? He created Nepal by conquering chaubises, baieses and other states. Shah Kings then ruled from 1768 to 1846 when Jung Bahadur took control of government and Ranas held power for 104 years. The subsequent 10 years respite was followed by 30 years of Panchayat rule. Then came Parliamentary rule and Constitutional Monarchy followed by direct rule and ten years of constitution making and finally the establishment of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The country is now decreed as just ‘Nepal’.
As we ponder over the situations in the USA with the Trump tantrums and the periodically occurring mass unrest events in France, one realises that democracy too has to have time to take roots. For the past seventy years we have been putting back to power the same old and tested out leaders who have failed us time and time again. Why should we the people always be made to suffer? Can we not hope for anything better than these individuals? Must we all pity ourselves and our nation?
The author is a retired medical doctor and writes fiction under the pen name of Mani Dixit also. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd