A political discourse with the students of Karnali Technical Institute in Jumla, one of the most remote districts in Nepal
“We need the President in Nepal. Tomorrow Karnali might give birth to a child with the capacity to become the President of the country. That’s why the top post of the country should not be reserved for one certain family. All people should get opportunity to reach there.” Pics by Wagle
By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal
KTS (Jumla)- It’s not easy to follow the politics of Kathmandu from this remote corner but the students of Karnali Technical School (KTS) discuss about the current affairs as and when they get time from their study. Youngsters from various districts attend the school, first of its kind in Nepal that was opened to provide technical education to those who are unable to go college, but in today’s discussion (with Katnipur) 12 students representing five districts of Karnali zone, one of the most backward regions in the country, are present. The topic: Politics, Constituent Assembly elections and the dreams of Karnali.
Many feel that the Maoists haven’t changed their intimidating style of functioning even after joining the government and the youngsters expressed their concerns about the possibility that the Maoists’ activities might put the CA elections, which has already been differed, in danger. They said the Maoists must immediately stop such behavior and the problem in Terai must be solved so as to create suitable environment to conduct elections. Their analysis was that the country would plunge into deep crisis if election doesn’t happen in time.
“Election on one hand, abduction and beatings on the other,” said Durga Hitan (Mugu), a student of ANM. “It doesn’t seem possible.” (Students cited an unfortunate incident that took place a few days prior to this conversation in which the Maoists had manhandled their principal. The Maoist cadres had smeared the principle’s face alleging him of promoting corruption in the school. The students immediately retaliated by vandalizing the Maoist office in the district headquarters. The subsequent investigation of the incident showed that the corruption charges against the principal were baseless.)
Narendra Khatri (Jumla), a student of Construction, said the problems in the country will deepen if the election doesn’t happen. All students participating in the discussion are above 18 years and they all said that they would actively take part in the electoral process. “Who will take this country forward if we fail to elect a good leader?” asked Chandra Kumari Shahi (Kalikot), a student of Agriculture.
Though it’s almost certain that the country will adapt federal governance structure political parties are divided over the technicalities like naming and constituting the federations. Some including the Maoist have proposed that the federations be named after ethnicity where as others have said they should be named after geographical/natural landmarks like mountains or rivers. It’s certain that this region will get its name Karnali, name of the biggest river. All youngsters participating in the discussion favored geographical names over ethnic. “No ethnic,” said Lokendra Bahadur Shahi (Jumla), a student of Construction. “Geographical.”
This remote district that was not connected to the road network until recently might not be a dream place to study. But there happens to be tough competition and occasional power play to get admitted in this institute. “No tension at all,” commented Narendra about the life as a student here. Bhima Gurung (Dolpa), a student of ANM, added: “It’s peaceful here. No noise. Once you adjust yourself in this environment, you start enjoying.” Durga added: “More enjoyable than staying with family.” Prithvi Bahadur Nepali (Jajarkot), two of the students participating in the discussion from outside Karnali, said: “Many don’t have enough money to go and study in Kathmandu. Here, many are children of poor.” Chandra said: “You can meet friends from all 75 districts.”
It’s mentioned in the constitution that the first meeting of the Constitution Assembly will decide by simple majority the fate of monarchy. The overwhelming majority (84%) of youngsters in this meeting decided in favor of abolishing monarchy while the two who said they favored continuing the provision of kingship said that they would like to hold election for the post of king. “We need the President,” voiced Prithvi. “Tomorrow Karnali might have a child with the capacity to become the President of the country. That’s why the top post of the country should not be reserved for one certain family. All people should get opportunity to reach there.” Youngsters rejected the concept of Baby King that some leaders have floated in the politics of Kathmandu. “Like grandpa like grandson,” said Narendra. Bhima said: “All the money that the king gets from the state should be invested in Karnali.” Birendra Pun (Dolpa), a student of Agriculture, said: “The country can’t be run without a king. But this king is unacceptable. We must hold election to have new king.”
Karnali, considered the most backward region, is one of the most talked about topic in the national press and debates. Ask anyone from Karnali; it’s almost certain that each of them have at least one plan or dream about the development of the region. All these youngsters stressed on the need to link all five districts to the road network and proper marketing of herbs found in the region. “We should utilize herbs properly,” said Lal Bahadur Budha (Jumla), a student of CMA. “There should be proper marketing.” Chandra Kala Rai (originally from Khotang but admitted on the quotas of Humla), a student of CMA, said: “Opportunities of jobs and higher education should be created here.” Narendra talked about declaring Karnali region a tourist area where as Durga stressed on the need to promote modern ways of farming in fruits and potato. “Road access to all districts,” said Dan Bahadur AD (Mugu), a student of Agriculture. “Then we should concentrate on education and health.”
Three districts of Karnali-Mugu, Humla and Dolpa- are yet to be connected to the road links. But many Mugeli said they have become hopeful about the road coming to their district especially after seeing vehicles running in Jumla.
Nepali version of this article appeared in today’s edition of Kantipur