Nepal Today

Saturday, May 25, 2013

S WOMAN MURDERED IN BARA Kathmandu, 25 May: The body of Pramila Lohani, 30, of Hairaya VDC was found near a forest in Bara Satrday. She was apparently murdered Friday. of the district found murdered some five kilometers inside the Charkoshe Jhadi on Saturday morning. nnnn. OPINION Government within government Kathmandu, 25 May:For the first time in seven years, the more than 550 campuses under the Tribhuvan University are scheduled to hold elections for their student unions. This highlights the fact that the so-called loktantrik years have been averse to seeking fresh mandate. The local elections across the country have not been held since a decade and a half. Constituent Assembly polls, held in 2008, were for two years, but the CA members extended it by two more years. As if to reward themselves for having failed to formulate a new Constitution, they wanted to revive the CA that was dissolved last summer, Trikal Vastavik writes in People’s Review. Next week’s student union elections should have been held four years ago. Private campuses are extremely reluctant to have elected unions for fear of “disturbances.” The black irony is that the teachers and the management committee members in these hundreds of campuses are overly attached to political parties. The hiring and firing is done along party lines. Many of these teachers work also for TU campuses and raise a hell whenever their political group’s interests clash with those of the TU administration. But then the big bosses at TU are also neck deep in the politicization of the academic atmosphere. In fact, careers aimed at the higher echelons of the country’s first and oldest university with more than 350,000 students are made on the basis of political spoils at their worst. Now that coalition governments are an automatic compulsion because no party is in a position to realistically obtain a majority all on its own, the spoils system, which our university textbooks used to refer to as one of the shortcomings of the United States presidential system, has been rendered at its worst by the gang of four. Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, of the Janashakti Party, aptly coined it “a four-party syndicate” and the term has entered a frequently cited diction in the current political debates downgrading the questionable methods applied by the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN (UML) and Madhesi Morcha. Except the quartet, almost all other three dozen parties in the opposition, the general public and the media have made a liberal use of the term. This indicates the public pent-up feelings against the four parties that have monopolized power and so cruelly and shamelessly dumped the task of formulating a new Constitution. In a similar case, trade unions are governments within government flexing muscles in having their ways that benefit a few. They function entirely as party units and, therefore, submit demands to the management abruptly, go on wildcat strikes and withdraw their threats when their party bosses signal them to do so. This is also the case with other organizations (sports, cinema, school university teachers, various professions, and journalists, lawyers, human rights workers, NGOs, among others). A number of international groups pouring in money on the labor issues in Nepal have since the mid-1990s tried to bring the labor force under one umbrella in order to boost the workers’ negotiating power. It has not worked because none of four-party syndicate members would want their constituent unions to function in that manner. Bringing all the unions under the banner of one umbrella would not guarantee the party bosses the avenues for unleashing labor trouble against the government of the day or the business houses that dare to be slow and not generous in contributing “donations” for the party coffers. In the unions, too, there are all sorts of vested interests. At a private dinner, industrialists were complaining that the unions would want to recruit their own nominee for each new personnel the management hired. Now this does not happen in any of the countries that the syndicate constituents cite for democratic practices. Nor would the World Bank and other international financial institutions allow it. But then ours is a “New Nepal” whose loktantra is yet to be defined, let alone the promised benefits to the poor and the deprived are delivered. UML leader Pradip Nepal had since quite some years suggested retirement of politicians who were above the age 60. While he is silent as he approaches the threshold he prescribed, his party this year toyed with the idea of retiring leaders above the age of 70. Most of the party’s top leaders today are nearly a decade away from the threshold. In ten years time the current spate of political malfunctioning could have the nation in back-breaking ruins, unless some new and determined force came to the rescue. This means almost all the existing top leaders in the organization will retain their seats. It would be no surprise if they provided a clause for making an exception of those with “exceptional” contributions to the party, once their time for retirement finally arrives. The party could come up with its typical penchant for rationalizing such decisions. Just in case the UML decided to abide by the age-limit for active politics, those who decide to differ could defect to another party that would embrace them with open hands in a political practice that accepts the language of perfidy as long as it is expedient to the parties concerned. Will the age-limit be strictly enforced? Former UML members like Radha Krishna Mainali, Devi Ojha and Hiranya Lal Shrestha are reported to be keen on returning to the party fold. They have crossed the ceiling or are not far from it. Or will the new age-limit be applicable after the formation of the new Constitution just as the TU student union election rules have it that student union leaders’ age should not be more than 28 when contesting for the posts once the new regulation comes into effect in 2016? Normally, preserving the best of the old and the universally tested and acceptable new would be the ideal approach. But these are abnormal times when anarchy is the rule. The ad hoc manner demonstrated with impunity for narrow purposes and ends should, however, end to prevent the political culture being stained so thoroughly. Making pawns of vital professions and unions to suit narrow party interests is a compromise that invites disaster. It is a kiss of humiliation and insult for the leaders, which future generations cannot forgive or forget. The silence that the majority of Nepali society maintains is a demonstration of its helplessness, which, too, will not go down well with history. If a sincere and determined group were to emerge to reject the ongoing charade, it would be greeted with enthusiastic public response. nnnn


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