On 10th January 2023 our newly elected House of Representatives gave a 268 to 2 approval to PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal to govern the country. This was considered by many to be a blessing from the North but was perhaps unlikely. Many shades of opinion by elected representatives were made and heard from all over Nepal. The general demand was that it was necessary to get the country out of its present quagmire state. Loud and clear was that the various industries, started as necessities by previous monarchical regime on its own and with aid of other well-meaning countries were sold off at negligible prices. The plea was that a state must not do such activities in modern times!
The result of all this is that Nepal is a country which perhaps imports almost everything it requires. Yes, it exports its precious Nepali souls for whom it cares little, to labour under at pitiable rates. The remittances sent by Nepalis, working, sweating and dying in countries from the Gulf to Malaysia and various other countries is utilised to import more costly goods from foreign lands for the neo local masters who hold power by hook or by crook! Yes, this is the state of our Motherland. No wonder then that we have been cursed by Sati.
The current policy by some of our businessmen of investing in foreign lands or on far off shores should be looked into. They should be made to do it the other way round i.e. Udharka Iddhar. Investment should be here so that workshops and industries spring up in the high, mid and low lands of Nepal and our Nepalis do not have to go to phoren lands to do dangerous, menial and sub-menial work which their own bhumiputras do not opt to do. Looking back at foreign history, one realises that people went from Europe to Africa, the Americas and Oceania to rule and make gains. This was done by subservient means and with the ‘Rejuvenating waters and the speaking guns’ they took over the lands from the natives! Some victors took back some riches to their homelands but many settled there and made good. The scenario now is that many Nepalis are struggling and sweating abroad, supplying cheap labour for tasks which the locals will not do at monetary rates paid. How long is this to go on?
These thoughts brought back to my mind a film with the legendary Peter Sellers which I saw about sixty years ago. The film, ‘I Am Alright Jack’ was about Trade Unionism in England but it depicts too what is happening in Nepal. The self-immolation by Prem Prasad Acharya in front of the Sansad Building on 24 Jan. 2023 is example of this. May his soul rest in eternal peace! The attitude of the entrenched business community towards the small Nepali entrepreneur trying to start up a business and succeed is terrifying. The small entrepreneur has to supply his goods to the ‘built-in nexus’ which in truth wants to obliterate him/ her as a supplier by not paying dues on time, creating a state of perpetual tension, depression and suicide. The bigger business community consisting of traders paying commissions to politicians who themselves are the investors, reap the benefits in which the ‘Big One’ always wins at the cost of the ‘Small Fry’! This Small Fry who hoped to flourish in his native land never had a chance in this ‘Make Believe Nepal’ as the ‘cards were all stacked’ against him. S/he had no right to exist in Nepal where interest of the rulers is paramount. The Arab Spring may have succeeded in far off Tunisia but is doomed here. Our heritage is that Nepal is a land cursed by Sati!
The export of rocks from Nepal was banned for a few days and then re-started on the plea that many projects under construction will be affected. This order was withdrawn 22 days later on the plea that projects within the country could not be completed. Everyone, licensed or otherwise went back immediately into regular business. Surprise, but this is Nepal. The Home Minister who had brought about the above happenings resigned on the 32nd day of his appointment. Was he working against the unseen system? Is this a lesson, not to upset the apple cart?
By a court order, Rabi became in his own words a ‘stateless’ person – a situation which is against the concept of present day Human Rights! The unimagined happened for the usually static government’s wheels moved and within 48 hours, because of the weekly holiday, Ravi had almost all his status quo back! Is Ravi’s the only case? There are many past instances in our political horizon which need to be brought to light. Hopefully our various citizenship issues will be solved now.
Characterises of government actions over the years are:
Contracts for building road, bridges etc are awarded without adequate homework. Very inadequate compensation for the lands which will be taken over by the government has been offered but is not accepted by the affected landowners. Both the contractor and the concerned authority know it but still the contract is given and commitments made between the two parties signed and settled in full somehow! Sometimes the chosen contractor hands it over to another and moves on. The work is only partially started or a little cannot be completed as the locals whose land is to be used have not been given compensation. This is an example of bad intentions which is rampant in Nepal.
An example of variation to this system may be said to be the extension of the Ring Road between Kandeutastan and Chabahil which the Chinese Government is supposed to be building. They have rightly refused to start the Ring Road Expansion undertaking until the compensation issues pertaining to the land are settled first by our government!
China and US trade, with various clauses en force, still goes on. India and China in spite of the fact that they have been facing each other across a line of control (LoC) for many years with periodic flare-ups at times still trade together. A Vimal Lamic post in Twitter in Mid-Jan. 2023 stated that: India imported from China in 2022 136 billion dollars worth of goods and exported just 19 billion dollars worth. Was Indian media unaware of this? (How does this compare with the Nepal, India trade?)
Even as Europe and US send sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine to fight with Russia and call each other names, usual trade with gas, oil and other goods continues. Such is the realities of life. Here in Nepal everyone knows what is happening but like the populace in the story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ we await a novice to shout ‘But he is Naked’!
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