Nepal Comment: Catch Phrases and Road to Nowhere

By Chattra Bahadur

The catch phrases in Nepal change frequently. Usually, metamorphosis is almost invisible; however, it spreads uncontrollably like a wildfire. The media, knowingly and/or unknowingly, creates frenzy. We are instantly consumed by the season’s catch phrase and our reactions are often extreme, defying any logic and reaching a point of insanity. Then, we see, hear and read in the media from a new breed of self-professed experts, who seemingly have knowledge of everything. They often propagate radical, intense and idealistic conceptions that make one suspect whether these experts suffer from some delusional syndrome. Perhaps, the experts understand that radicalism does sell very well, given the Nepalese social milieu; at the same time, it is hardly a feasible proposition. Despite their shortcomings, they must be appreciated for pointing out that Nepal is in dire need of transformation in all spheres. Unfortunately, we are also witnessing a trend wherein the experts present a variety of piecemeal packages aimed at transforming one sphere (usually political environment) only at the cost of and/or neglecting other spheres. The rationale for this practice is that ‘correction of the political environment precedes correction of all the other environments’. It is myopic approach because the political environment influences, for instance say, the economic environment and, in turn, is influenced by it. In other words, one particular environment acts as the both cause and effect concurrently, and unidirectional relationship does not exist in the context of societal influences. Thus, only a comprehensive package of transformation, inclusive of all spheres, will be successful.

It is known fact that the Nepalese society is highly politicized and politics permeates every sphere. Perhaps, this is the result of freedom from very long political repression. However, even in the era of democracy, the political power is concentrated in the hands of ‘neo-elitist’ coterie. This is contradiction since the revolt against one-party rule in the early 1990s was against then ruling elitist coterie. The crusaders of democracy (after assuming power) found it convenient to give continuity to the same mannerism and mores that existed before, instead of ushering vibrant and workable democratic values. The politicians, in drunken stupor of power, chose their past hardships and unknown fates of their compatriots (during the one-party rule) as a honorable excuse to perpetuate any undemocratic exercise to remain in power. The definition of democracy was their undeniable right to be in power because of their past hardships and not because they can contribute positively at present. In no time, existent values such as ‘right connection’, ‘nepotism’, ‘favoritism’ and ‘money by any means’ were strongly ingrained and reinforced further in the societal value system, and became inseparable and inerasable fabric of the Nepalese society.

The urban-based exclusive clique of the Nepalese intelligentsia was quick to understand the emergent undercurrent. They were also equally quick to mould themselves to this new reality and take advantage of available opportunity. Instead of influencing the political process in any manner, they allowed themselves to be submerged in the narrow visions and self-centered goals of the politicians. Many of them continually asserted their independent intellectual identities but were seen propagating ideologies of the political parties that accommodated them. Some even took evolutionary (though risky) approach to transform themselves into human (and civic) rights activists; of late, they are known as the first citizens of the civic society. Their strongest contribution to the Nepalese society is that they created a new employable sector for hundreds of unemployed Nepalese. They showed that even without adequate educational qualification or minimum level of understanding, you could have a very successful career as a human rights activist (measured in terms of number of conferences and seminars one attends, number of times quoted in media and regularity therein, and amount of dollars attracted from the donors). Secondly, they showed that loud decibel in the national media, even without venturing outside the capital city, can ensure success and bring great rewards. However, at present, their stock has hit all-time low. In the power struggle to rule Nepal after the April 2006 movement, the politicians have not taken their incessant attempts to dictate terms and assume the extra-constitutional authority kindly. As a result of this, they are having a low-intensity confrontation with the politicians, but without much success. It is certain that they will bounce back again in a new avatar with new agenda and new catch phrase.

Where does it leave us- the ordinary Nepalese? Not exactly in a rosy predicament. However, the optimists call these times as the moment of reckoning. Perhaps it is because we are groping in the dark trying to ascertain our cultural identities and social relevance while being acutely aware of lost hopes and worsening economic and security conditions. We know that our politicians will weave a new catch phrase tomorrow for mass consumption that will be ably supported by our media. We also know that a Mr. John or a Ms. Smith, representing some international agency, will assure us that everything is all right and we are making great progress. By then, many of us will realize that catch phrases and assurances are the roads to nowhere. And tomorrow, rather than being consumed by these catch phrases, many of us will be in India, Malaysia and the Gulf countries to make our ends meet. Some of us will be washing dishes in the western world in pursuit of higher education and better life. Many of us will give in to cynicism criticizing everything and everyone without an inch of belief and faith in anything or anyone. And most of us will ultimately resign to the irony of fate.

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64 thoughts on “Nepal Comment: Catch Phrases and Road to Nowhere”

  1. Hey Kirat are you working for the Carter Center – you seem to be taking this a little too personally with your rants and raves and not to forget little seven letter words?

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  2. Carter is going to give Nepal’s woes some much needed exposure. I’m not saying that’s all Nepal needs, but surely recognition can’t be all that bad.

    I’d rather Bill Clinton came here–we will very likely be seeing another Clinton in the White House and it would be nice to have her husband around.

    But we can’t be choosers. Carter was President of the US–a lot of liberals still like him a lot.

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  3. c2k:
    What the hell is your problem with Carter coming to Nepal? I am lost as to why your as*s is itching so bad with this news. Him coming to Nepal is irrelevant but it’s not going to make anything worse or better. So let him be. Even if he spends a few dollars it will be of some good. That was my point. I don’t know why you have foam oozing out of your mouth for that.

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  4. We already have too many foreigners saying too much about our peace process without any of our leaders having any political balls. There is no such thing as irrelevant. All our politics seem to depend on the west and India and what is acceptable and not acceptable to them. No one even asks what Nepalis want. And Kirat, if you think that pessimism is a typical Nepali mindset, it is only because people like you have given Nepalis nothing to be optimist about. Your never tiring rant about how great maoists were and how bad the RNA were, are still afresh. However it is because of people like you the maoists have another chance of killing Nepali dreams again. It seems you have changed your old opinions but the Maoists have not. You simply dont give benifit of doubt to the terrorists, because there is too much at stake, which is very unlike your thinking process. Just because you hate the king does not mean you jeopardize the who Nepali existance and/or its future based on some lies of the terrorists.

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  5. Carter’s visit will generate international media interest in Nepal. Which will mean :-

    1. India can’t blatantly interfere in a negative manner.
    2. Maoist brutality and hypocrisy can be exposed more.
    3. The bungling inefficency and corruption of the SPA will be furthermore exposed.
    4. Will ensure KG will stay away from the spotlight.

    Besides the above I believe Carter is here to try and get all the parties to agree to internationally accepted norms and practices for the proposed constitutional assembly elections. I understand that the success he has had on such missions on other countries is debatable. But his good intentions (as a former US President) and the positive pressure he will create on all the parties is not debatable.

    So really only morons would be bitter about his proposed visit to Nepal.

    And no, I do not work at the Carter centre. I own my own company. Providing a good salary to many people…giving them a decent standard of living and more hope for the future than B will ever be able to his entire life.

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  7. Ah! At least we have someone calling spade a spade. So refreshing from all those pretence of calling Maoists a party rathan than bunch of murderers..

    Maoist actions threatening peace process: Moriarty

    American ambassador to Nepal James F Moriarty has once again criticised the Maoists for not living up to their “assurance that they are peace loving democrats”.

    “Maoist assurances that they are peace loving democrats have been proven hollow daily by the violent actions of their cadre. If the Maoists want the people’s trust and support, they must win it through democratic competition and free elections – and not through violence,” Moriarty said addressing a function organised by the Community Information Center in Pokhara Tuesday.

    He further said, “I have been told repeatedly over the last year that the most important thing in Nepal is the peace process. I have been accused of derailing this process by speaking out against atrocities by Maoists and other groups. I think many would agree, however, that these atrocities, not my words, are threatening the peace process. Peace is not just the absence of war. Maoist violence and intimidation are derailing the peace process, and the consequences threaten the future of all Nepalis.”

    He went on, “Finally, we had all hoped that the entry of the Maoists into the government on April 1 would prompt them to behave like a mainstream political party. Instead, the Maoists have forcefully reminded the people of Nepal that April 1 is also called April Fool’s Day. Since that date, the YCL has run amok, the Maoist ministers of Forests and of Local Development have called for bandhas against the government they work for, and the Maoist Minister of Information and Communications has publicly stated that the Prime Minister, his boss, has a criminal mind.”

    According to Moriarty, Maoists’ violent behavior and the ethnic division are two main obstacles to peace and democracy in Nepal.

    He also said the US government would continue its support to the Nepal government’s efforts for peace and democracy and revealed that Nepal would get more than $50 million US aid this year.

    Full Text of the Speech Here

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  8. Talk is cheap. When Moriarty had the opportunity, he got sold down the river by the Indians and this “born again” does not stick at all. By the Kantipur for all its abandon and clueless propaganda is finally kow towing to Maoist- they have to- Maoist Union got them their balls. So much for much hyped cry for Loktrantra- all you gonna get is sour pussy in the name of free press. Do not tell me – you did not see it coming, suckers.

    We tend to rely on other to solve our problems- this dependence is quite self defeating. may be Carter visit will be fruit full but the point is, will it solve the problem. As we are weaking internally, the first sign is communal strife, we are going headlong on path that has no return. Nepal may not exist as we speak if bickering, putting trust on foreigners (NGOs, Past President and Ambassdors), and blaming others is the only topic we dwell in. Time to be proactive and to be for, by and from Nepali.

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  9. As everyone seems to be busy talking about what is good for Nepal and what is not. No one leaves any stone unturned when it comes to blaming someone for this and somebody else for that. And, in the midst of all this, the one thing that most significantly defines democracy—elections—is sidelined. So the obvious question becomes who wants election in Nepal?

    http://lovesnepal.blogspot.com

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  10. You are so right Kirat, Mr. Carter’s intention can not be debateable. Of course not. After what he did in Iran, he may be the most honorable man alive today.

    As far as exposing our leaders is concerned, Kirat, they already are. The whole world knows that the nepali leaders are one of the most corrupt, inefficient, lazy and ignorant people in the world. Any more exposure will only make them more imune to the affects.

    Two years ago, you were saying the same things about prachanda as in he may have choosen the wrong way but no one can doubt his sincerity. Or something like that.

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  11. I am from Italy, here we have become slaves of the politicians, we should give a lot of advices to who rules nepal on how avoid these problems in your country.

    Stefano

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