I arrived in Kathmandu on May 5th, somewhat aware that the new Nepalese constitution was being written. It was difficult for me to understand what was truly going on, and so I thought it was not that big of an issue. A general strike was announced a week after my arrival, but we were told that as tourists, our buses and cars would still be allowed in the streets. Bearing this in mind, I left for the Tibetan border, on a rainy Thursday morning. Not only did we stop after only thirty minutes, we were also stuck in between two groups of protestors, neither allowing us to continue our trip or return to Kathmandu. They were armed with big wooden sticks and menaced us to break our bus if we tried to go through them. Needless to say, we had to wait. In the end, it took us two hours to return safely to Thamel, going through various groups of angry protestors, waving their different flags at us.
Strikes went on for another two weeks, throughout the city. Putting pressure on the government through protests and strikes can be very efficient, to a certain limit. If every ethnic group strikes and has its own personal requests to be put on the constitution, then nothing positive can come out of this strategy: the government is overwhelmed with contrasting demands. What this country needs is cooperation.
Cooperation is the foundation of any efficient group. Rice seeds will be planted much faster if people work as a team, rather than individually. Along the same lines, the constitution cannot be written if the Constituent Assembly members work as individuals, rather than together. Before May 27th, if the CA had agreed upon the type of federalism needed instead of voting about it, almost 120 issues would have been solved instantly. Nepal, right now, cannot work on issues such as education, health, and economic development, because the idea of a stable government does not even exist. After four years, it is astonishing that the members of the CA have no yet grasped that they are freezing Nepal in time.
Each political group pushes for its own interests, however finding them in the constitution should not be their goal: their aim should be to create a constitution that is best for Nepalese people, no matter what it implies. For instance, it is obvious that dividing the population by ethnic groups rather than geographical features will break the syncretic culture of Nepal. Why then even argue about it? The CA has failed to provide for the people of Nepal what they really need: political stability. It is time that politicians and interest groups in Nepal stop contemplating their own navel and make decisions for the people, instead of for themselves.