By Govinda Neupane
Rejoinder to the previous article.
[UWB published an article by Neupane on May 30 (Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive) which was equally appreciated and thrashed by fellow bloggers. Here in this esay, Neupane defends his article and responds to criticism. Govinda Neupane is one of the founding members of the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist). Neupaneg.com is his personal web site and he could be contacted at email@example.com.]
Excerpt from previous article:
The so-called national consensus on holding the election of the constituent assembly may not necessarily provide synergy only for forward movement. The situation is fluid and complex and it is natural that the Maoists will maintain their army and even they may expand and strengthen their fighting capacity….Therefore, the polarization between the parliamentary forces and the Maoists sounds imminent. Hence, in all probability, the people have to live in a situation of civil war till the unjust upper class Khas rule becomes history…
In Nepal, there are five nationalities – Madheshi (31.53%), Khas (30.89%), MangolKirat (23.05%), Dalit (7.87%) and Newar (5.48%). Besides, there are some small unclassified groups (1.19%). The Khas has four sub-groups. They are Bahun, Chhetri, Thakuri and Sanyasi. The Khas-Hindu rulers used the caste system, cultural invasion and Hindu administrative as well as legal system as the basis for suppressing the cultures of other nationalities. The process of Khas domination had started long ago and the state provided the leadership.
Therefore, the role of the state in creating favorable environment for Khas domination and centralization of available resources, opportunities and power around them is the primary reason for all sorts of inequalities among nationalities. In 2005, Khasas having a population of 30.89% had been occupying 59.18% of the powerful leadership positions in four major areas – state, political parties, private sector and civil society. (For details, please see my book “Nepalko jatiya Prashna: Samajik Banot ra Sajhedariko Sambhavana“, Second Edition – 2005, Center for Development Studies – Nepal, Kathmandu. The first edition of the book in English titled The Nationalities’ Question in Nepal: Social Convergence and Partnership Building through Multiculturalism and Federalism” is available for download here). In reality, if we wish to build an egalitarian, civilized and prosperous Nepal, we should end the Khas domination in every aspect of national life.
There are four issues involved – ownership, communal relations (i.e., nationalities’ ownership pattern, such as who controls the former Kipat land in Limbuan), value of land as per its location and productivity. In Nepal, land brings prestige, provides insurance cover and ensures livelihood for a large majority of people. Therefore, one has to appreciate the role that land plays. Moreover, it is the most important means of production. Also, the land has contributed to class conflicts, court cases and corruption opportunities for the bureaucrats including in the legal system who are called judges. Therefore, resolution of the land issue has been critical and central.
The issue is not that everybody has to share poverty, rather everybody should have equitable share on prosperity. Therefore, the traditional land reform alone may not solve the problem, though it is true that there is the need of redistribution of land particularly based on “land to the tiller”. Hence, one has to be creative, innovative and willing to accept the mechanism of collective problem solving. Cooperative farming particularly horticulture in commercial scales in the hill areas by bringing land and labor inputs together as shares could be one among such initiatives. In some areas, reverting to communal ownership as an upgraded Kipat system may help. In fact, the most important issues are to ensure equity, justice and prosperity. Let’s collectively continue to search for better and better options to resolve the issues related to land, which is one of the most important productive resources in Nepal.
After the historic people’s movement of 1990, the expectation was that the pace of change would be faster. The aspirations among the people heralded that the political forces should move in an unprecedented speed so as to bridge the political, social, economic and intellectual gap created by overall underdevelopment, injustices and irresponsible governance. After the movement, one or the other party formed the government. Unfortunately, they not only overlooked the people’s aspirations and the national development agenda but also nearly all the leaders and influential cadres of the parliamentary political parties accumulated unimaginable wealth through all sorts of corrupt practices. As a result, disappointment and frustration among the people run high. In the mean time the Maoists took arms.
The politico-economic and social agenda have centered on the armed confrontations, battles and war since 1996. Since then, the society has been passing through a difficult phase of transition. In fact, feudalism has been fast disappearing in the villages. The towns and cities also are passing through socio-political change, speedily. The awakening among the oppressed nationalities has been unprecedented. And, hope has been generated among the people. The “Spring Thunder of April 2006” has opened up the opportunities to realize the dream of a new Nepal. Now, the Nepalese state and people could address the issues of fundamental societal transformation.
Therefore, there is the need of a superstructure, which is compatible to the transformational agenda. If the society has to move forward, there should be a progressive state which operates with dynamic political processes. Obviously, pluralism with a difference (please see my article “Pluralism with Difference” for definition and characteristics on this page.) provides the synergistic environment to all political parties, social and economic forces and mass organizations to function as centers of excellence. Also, it makes them accountable as the people could judge them continuously. The important factors are the orientation of the state power and the choice of a mechanism by which the power is exercised. When the interest of the common people, their values and visions occupy primacy, rest will fall accordingly.
It is important to institutionalize those primacies in the form of constitutional provisions, and for this purpose there is the need of a duly elected constituent assembly. When there are such provisions in the constitution drafted and adopted by the constituent assembly, the armed forces and the bureaucracy need overhaul. A surgical process can insert the new state values within a new operational framework. The amalgamation of two armies into one could provide the opportunity for such surgical process. To create such opportunities, many individuals, groups, parties and forces fought resolutely. Certainly, the Maoists are one among the major players. Therefore, it is normal and natural to appreciate the Maoists for their value adding contributions in this historic process.
Validation of Conclusion
The consensus that has built around the constituent assembly could be the new departure point in the endeavor for building a new nation, a new Nepal. But, if this process gets obstructed, the course may turn again into a violent one. We should not forget this probability only because of the euphoria of optimism. Being impulsive is good, but keeping the head cool is better.
1. Spring Thunder in Nepal: Glorious but Inconclusive