A recent Facebook post listed sayings from William Shakespeare. My title above exemplifies the high-handedness or abuse of political power that needs to be brought before the public’s eye.
There is always news of scams in the air, be it in the area of school textbooks or in embossed plates for cars and motorcycles or in waste management. While there is hefty tax on cars and motorcycles, the poor rider has to pay again as petrol or diesel tax. Then there is the tax on cooking gas. It is simply pay, pay and pay again in whatever way the Nepali citizen can be made to do so. One pays for water that never comes in the tap. Nepalis are being taken for a ride by our politicians who secretly have their fingers in the core of these scams.
Presently, a topical talking point is the Janak Shiksha Samagri Kendra which has the responsibility to print school textbooks every year but now has given the excuse for failing because of having to print ballot papers for the local elections. This is not totally correct for the supply of textbooks to Nepali schools is a yearly problem!
Another troubling aspect is that many private schools are riding slipshod over the parents of children studying in their schools. There exist funny rules like making the students to be admitted every year as s/he rises higher in class. Some schools change textbooks on and off, stating the syllabus is changed! Not only new textbooks but also exercise books for class and homework have to be sophisticated ones with glossy hard board covers, subsequently covered with brown paper at extra charge! Yes, the parent is expected to pay for these sophisticated rules.
A Facebook comment by a parent was – “The 2200 that I spent for my son’s books I had to sell to the Kabbadiwala for 40. The books were new and if the publication had not been changed another parent / guardian would have benefitted. Imagine how much the country would have saved.” Another quote questions this practice, stating that in rich country like USA the classroom textbooks are reused by succeeding students every year!
A post by Namaste Nepal shows a small boy with a bundle of Rs. 1,000/- notes on his back with the caption: “Private schools no longer learning centres are shopping malls. Here books, clothes, shoes, socks and tuition teachers are sold. In some schools even religion is sold and lastly only ‘education’. Furthermore all these items are sold at ten times the usual cost.”
The system of education anywhere should be made for the citizens of the land. True, a large number of our educational institutes are affiliated to various Universities or Boards in distant lands. True, a number students studying in schools with extraordinary foreign names, will go abroad in course of time, able to compete with students there. As majority of students will stay in Nepal so our elite schools have much more responsibility to focus on them too.
One country which has an outstanding reputation in modern thinking in education is Finland and I quote a recent quote by one Brad Johnson of US in that respect:
“We spend 50% more hours in schools than Finland. And they get 15 minutes of recess every hour. They have NO standard textbooks or PISA in HS (High School) and they outperform us every time. If we can’t give students more movements, recess and playtime, then we don’t understand education.”
Next is the case of the embossed number plates for cars or motorcycles to be made with English alphabets. Why? Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Egypt all have it in their own scripts. Why this rule? Is it to conform to the practice in India? In reality only a small percentage of Nepali vehicles cross the border into India. Or is this rule being implemented to serve the interests of some political high-ups of Nepal? As the cost of such number plates is said to be 8-10 times more than what it costs in India is this an open ‘rip off’! Another charge is that it is a ploy to do away with the Nepali language!
The Nepali individual is already paying exorbitant taxes on two, three or four wheelers. Besides this there is the additional tax on the petrol or diesel. Many items available and sold in the shops or even the food eaten in the restaurant have VAT added to it. In Kathmandu dwellers have to pay for a water supply that is rarely available. Cash has to be paid for the disposal of the wastes that periodically pile up in the Kathmandu streets. Tax has to be paid to the local ‘wodas’ for the land and the house built on it. All this money collected in the name of the people is under the thumb of the local or municipal authorities to use it unwisely, as is the usual custom. Kathmandu’s newly elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor are having a hard time to work as the vested interests of the entrenched local authorities is at risk. Will they succeed or not? Why not generate electricity from wastes as they have done in Sweden for a long time. After all Harka Sampang Rai, mayor of Dharan is generating compressed gas from wastes and using the same for running 3-wheelers in the city.
One is told that in the developed countries only about 10% of what one earns is spent on food. Here in Nepal it is perhaps 70% or more is utilised for that purpose. How can the average Nepali live? What will s/he do if our government decides to put a tax on the air that we breathe? Anything is possible in this land of ours which has at times been labelled as ‘Ajeeb Nepal”. I end with line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest - Hell is empty and all the devils are here.
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