The resilience of the Nepalese continues to be admirable. Whilst the leaders do not fail to prove proficiency in their chameleon like behavior, the people concur nimbly by digesting all the ills passed on to them by such leaders. The month-long relay protests, in early 2022, against an international arrangement designed for the country—a maze of security pacts camouflaged in the agenda of development— which otherwise should have been only in the Executive’s domain but was imposed on the Legislature, are still fresh in our minds. After showing, for months, their extreme and non-negotiable position in their demands, quite harshly retaliated by the state apparatus in the name of law and order, in the end, the protestors easily accepted the statements of compromise proposed by their leaders along with the outcomes, however irresponsible and unconvincing they may have been. The high intensity with which the protestors had voiced their concerns against the specific arrangement, allegedly containing, among other, serious elements crushing the nation’s sovereignty, was diluted by the protestors’ succumbing to a completely contrasting decision, without even a byte of resistance. A condemnation of an equal force was expected, but the response was only but an ominous silence. Given this, it is difficult to gage whether some of the protestors had tactical and devilish motives or were simply acting in innocence. Nonetheless, the complete sidelining of the vox populi, despite its inherent criticality in a pluralist democracy, was blatant. Meanwhile, while maintaining a minimum subtlety, the unexpected decision was justified as externality but endorsed on grounds of the doctrine of political necessity.
What is regrettable is that during the protest-period, scores of innocent citizens were injured, and with the unsatisfactory outcome in hindsight, much of the protestors’ productive time turned out to be expended on futile sloganeering. During that time, the media’s continual efforts to glorify and, at times, mystify the protests, and day-long academic sessions organized to rebut and rationalize were also noticeable. Many renowned high-ranking leaders who also joined the street crowds were initially showing unbelievable outspokenness, but when everything was decided through a ‘master-strike,’ they forgot to even explain what prompted them to confidently mislead the protestors with their miscalculated prophecies. To pacify the critics, the establishment found it opportune to issue a set of ambiguous statements and promise golden future years for the country, ironically identical to the sales’ pitch made in 1996 in favor of immeasurable energy benefits to people, which after 26 years, are yet to be realized. Coincidentally, barring a few, the key players in 1996 and 2022 happen to be the same.
In addition to the unique lifestyle saturated by a variety of colorful religious and cultural holidays, interestingly, the Nepalese have been blessed with frequent —almost weekly—protest events. The cause-lists for protests are multifold and one specific theme for use can always be easily picked. These events provide raw material for rumor mongers and opportunities for all-time/all-round experts and advisors, however dubious their neutrality and integrity on the subject matter may be. Such events also create possibilities for follower-less leaders, for confused opportunity seekers, and for romanticized ideologues to show usefulness, secure a forum, and be visible. All keep themselves busy pontificating without accountability, and free from any liability. In forums created for their own specific purpose, most make pronouncements that are rarely subject to reality-check. Their analysis of the morning may completely differ from the one in the evening although the theme, variables, and context remain unchanged. In all this, the facilitation services provided by the mainstream media and You Tubing business venturers are commendable. No blame needs to be put on any one group here as this is admitted as not only a good revenue generating business model, but also the freedom of expression marching ahead at full throttle.
For some time, prestige and power have prevailed over people’s plight. Rhetorical futuristic and distant imageries have prevailed over the present existential reality. Saying has prevailed over doing. Risky alliances have prevailed over tested neutralities. Uncharted surrealism has prevailed over established photorealism. Visionless hoarding has prevailed over well-planned spending. All these have been bent on establishing a unique identity and countered in the name of ideological rivalry. This appears to be the new model of governance-development marching ahead.
In 1945 already, George Orwell rightly saw the potential of a variety of political idolatry and outcomes in an animal kingdom he formed in his mind. Therein, the rebellion instigated by a group of farm animals against their farmer, aimed at creating a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy, was crushed because of betrayal. In the end, the farm ended up in a state as bad as before but was, then, brought under an absolute authority. Miscommunication between the farmer and the members of the animalia led to such unexpected outcome. In 1920, Hugh Lofting had already understood the value of language and clarity in communication. His good Doctor Do little, who mastered the language of each animal he treated, had the ability to easily prescribe the right type of medicine for patients. Creating an analogy from the above, one can say that a sensible, clear, and honest discourse is critical for all societies. That is also true for Nepal, where the drama of politics continues unabated, but without any all-accepted trophy to share, where one script, full of ambiguity, is on display, but with too many directors to steer, and where the music continues without notations, but with too many conductors to serve. No wonder, the audience cannot react efficiently, as it is far from perceiving clearly the scope, coverage, and tenor of the musical play, thus leaving the spectacle to continue with applause.
Admittedly, the politics lacking in clarity of agenda has been continuing in Nepal for the past several decades, with self-declared victors, and subservient followers. The level, the quantum and the pattern of victories, losses, and increments are measured through uniquely designed lenses and interpreted through custom made tools, which enable calculations to feed party needs, and to continue their inter-ideological romance, derailing genuine competitiveness in politics. With this, the future of the political market is certain to be distorted, unless something is done to correct the course!
The author can be contacted at: Kshitiz@juno.com