Nepal Today

Saturday, March 2, 2013


UPDATE PALESTINE BEATS BANGLADESH Kathmandu, 2 March: Palestine Saturday beat Bangladesh 1-0 in the AFC Qualifier Group D match in the Nepali capital. The solitary goal came in the 75th minute on play on the opening day of the tournament. Palestine is a strong contender to head the Group and qualify for the next round in Maldives. Nnnn OPINION COLD FEET OR PART OF THE SCRIPT. Kathmandu, 2 March. For nearly a month, as Nepal churned in controversy over the political establishment’s attempt to entrust the government to Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi, the man himself remained tight lipped. The silence was far from dignified. Some speculated that Regmi’s refusal to speak on something that split the political class, including the four principal parties pushing the initiative, bespoke his covetousness for the top executive position. When the proponents finally got around to formally requesting Regmi to head an election government, the chief justice turned ambivalent. First, he seemed to loathe the specific – albeit still-unspecified – conditions set by the parties. Then he thought of the reputation he had built during his long career in the judicial branch, Maila Baje writes in Nepali Netbook. One more excuse or the other has popped up since. While Regmi has not pronounced an emphatic final no, the advocates of a chief justice-led government have started looking like lily-livered clowns. From the outset, the proposal was an admission of failure by the political fraternity. Now, leaders had to virtually supplicate before the man to save what remained of their reputations. Maila Baje agrees that Regmi could have saved us a lot of time and energy if he had been more upfront about his intentions from the beginning. In fairness, though, he didn’t really have that much explaining to do. He didn’t step forth and present himself as a potential head of government. Some leaders of the principal political parties were bent on installing a ‘non-political’ government from all angles. There was much politicking going around within these four parties before they settled on the chief justice. While the ruling faction of the Maoists seemed more united behind the idea, the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Madhesi parties were deeply divided. Traditional factional maneuverings guided individual leaders’ position. If Regmi refused to become part of this sordid play, you could hardly blame him. It has since emerged that the intrigues ran deeper. Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal was credited with the idea of amalgamating the executive and judicial branches in the legislative emptiness as part of some dazzling conspiratorial design. Dahal endured much opprobrium, too, before and after the Maoist party convention in Hetauda. Then Nepali Congress leaders Ram Chandra Poudel and Krishna Prasad Sitaula separately insisted that the idea of a chief justice-led election government was really the brainchild of President Ram Baran Yadav. Yadav, for his part, conceived of the notion during his visit to India. Then things got a bit outlandish. After the Maoist convention, Indian Ambassador Jayant Prasad reportedly reprimanded Dahal for having uttered such an inanity. The Maoist chairman then did a 180 and, with a straight face, claimed he had never made the suggestion. By then, the leaders of the other three parties/groupings had considerably warmed up to the idea, despite continuing turbulence within their own respective organizations. Where did this leave India? Its widely assumed principal spokesman Surya Bahadur Thapa of the Rastriya Janashakti Party spoke against the proposal with all the scorn he could muster. But K.P. Sharma Oli of the CPN-UML, another voice believed to convey Indian thinking, took his own U-turn to support the idea. While the Indians are known to play from all sides of the field, the Europeans stuck out their necks the farthest, urging Nepali leaders to suspend constitutional subtleties to hold elections. That forced Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala – the most aggrieved man in the race to succeed Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai – to reveal that the parties accepted the proposal amid mounting international pressure. Now C.P. Mainali of CPN-ML – never one to fade into oblivion – suggests that Dahal be given leadership of an election government. Something crucial is lost amid the wrangling over who should lead an election government. Let’s assume that free and fair elections were held in time. How long might the new house be able to hold on to its mandate? Coming back to the original question: did Regmi get cold feet or was his stance part of the script all along? Does it really matter? Nnnn HARD CURENCY OF REALITY astavik- Kathmandu, 2 March: Mumbai’s cinema actor Mallika Sherawat recently showed that not everyone is enamored of the politically big and powerful. The Hindi movie star was not starry-eyed to go overboard in attending a dinner hosted by Barack Obama, the president of the world’s only superpower, Trikal Vastavik writes in People’s Review.. She decided to give the skip to the White House dinner and devote to her promo schedules for her upcoming movie. Not that, initially, she did not confirm her attendance but her sense of priority made her overturn the decision when last minute rescheduling had to be done for the promotion of her movie. What would she have gained from the dinner bash other than a quick handshake with the world’s most powerful man? Many others would have been willing to suffer an arm-break if they were extended such an invite, in the delusion that it would boost their personal profile. The quick photo session and the most monetary exchange of smiles might give some people the kicks they create in their mind and boast of it to anyone who cared to bear with their never-ending narratives. It may be recalled that Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal five years ago publicly expressed his great desire to shake hands with the United States Ambassador to Nepal. The American official took quite some time to spare an occasion for the revolutionary leader of Nepal to offer her hands for the keenly awaited shake. Dahal became the republic of Nepal’s first elected prime minister only to resign in a huff the very next year, much to his own regret. Later, he reportedly told his coterie that he should have stuck to his chair instead of making things easy for “our opponents and those who are against the gains made from the Jana Andolan.” Some people are just not prepared to learn because it demands critical self-appraisal bolstered by honesty and desire for improvement. Unfortunately for us Nepalis, our political leaders are long on promises and short on performance. This has been the permanent feature since 1951 without any respite for the hapless people. The leaders of various political parties are in the business of expressing their concern as to “What will foreigners say about us?”Such concerns are expressed more often than expressing concern over “What will our people say?” That is the crux of the problem. No surprise then that, since the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1990, they have been talking about making Nepal a Singapore or a Switzerland. They refuse to realize that Nepalis want Nepal to be Nepal and for the Nepalis. This is why the contextual track and relevance gets lost, and the promises speak of nothing more than a mirage. However, party leaders and cabinet members show great courtesy to anyone foreign and anything foreign. All Tom, Dick and Harry get express-entry into the precincts of the state buildings in response to last minute desires for appointment with the presiding boss of the manor. Sadly, the same courtesy is not shown to fellow Nepalis. In other democracies, it is the local people who are given the first attention. At a gathering of technocrats of considerable repute in Lalitpur the other day, someone rued, “Whatever a donor’s foreign representative says or advises is lapped up with alacrity. No such response will be generated if a Nepali with more knowledge and experience makes a similar proposition.” Mediocre personnel heading foreign missions and INGOs pass on directives which are expected and, indeed, do get obliged, to be received and followed up as words of wisdom. That they would not get even a fraction of the awesome admiration they might seem to generate here is without the shadow of any doubt. What keeps the donors ticking even if artificially is the lure of the dollar. I have seen from close quarters Nepalis with high academic credentials and proven expertise meekly follow curt guidelines INGOs representatives issue to them. Mere hints of a certain desire or directive by the men and women with the purse are enough for the intellectual giants jump from their seats to thank them for “your valued suggestions. We will do our best not to let you down.” No one would like to miss a junket. The very prospect of netting a foreign trip or a well-funded “project” at home serves many civil society activists, as does a heap of dirt to flies. Confidence and individual opinion is sacrificed at the altar of the column of foreign funds. They commit themselves to the agendas set by others not out of innate belief but the expediency of their cravings for fat remunerations that exact little labor but raise their profile in the existing currency circulation of the busybodies who are constantly preoccupied by the business of running helter-skelter for permanent patronage. When a local agency some years ago organized a poetry recital program on the qualities of Hillary Clinton, a galaxy of litterateurs turned up to sing praises of the American First Lady. I am sure she had nothing to do with it and would have felt immensely embarrassed by such gimmicks. A number of countries which profess to be profusely concerned about human rights and are vehemently against capital punishment never think it appropriate to take up any campaign against capital punishment in, for example, the United States or India. These countries have many, many things in common with the United States but they are not known to be proactive in convincing the Americans about the uncivilized methods of punishment in this day and age. They could have tried their argument in India but dare not do it because of the scorn the Indian government would cast on their approach that could risk affecting other areas of “mutual cooperation.” Human rights activists in Nepal could also advise the governments that want capital punishment to continue. They toss around anything that is of foreign origin but would not dare come up with any suggestion that contradicts the donor or sponsor. Resorting to fancy phrases and practices to please sponsors is the name of the game. “Yes,” said a former chief district officer of Kathmandu, “these NGO-wallahs go to outrageous extent to curry favors. I have seen gender activists pecking kisses on the cheeks of a Muslim man from South Asia in front of many other Nepalis. Once I was in Islamabad and happened to witness a similar spectacle by the same activists. The practice was neither the part of the recipient’s culture nor that of the giver.” (The writer can be reached at: trikalvastavik[at]yahoo.com) nnnn

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