Book review: Focus on our wrongs


Even crisis can be an opportunity for creative people and Aditya Man Shrestha has proved this by writing Wrong We Do, Right We Don’t — A Hard Talk. The author has dedicated it to young people to correct mistakes committed in the past and save the kingdom from plunging into a failed state. Readers may not agree with some arguments in the book, yet the writer has presented his analysis, predictions and questions in such a way that readers — naive or experienced, young or old — will be satisfied knowing the writer shares their own views and feelings. Shrestha begins by giving reasons why are we up to a hard talk today. He gives ample examples of we being good in doing wrong. He has dissected every little detail of Nepali politics and actions of political actors — the king, political parties and Maoists. He has described the real nature of these three forces, and innumerable mistakes they have committed in order to grab power and state resources for their own self service.

He has created three interesting Grand Designs — the King’s, Koirala’s and Maoists’ — to tell how the three actors have been playing their cards, and hatching conspiracy against one another, instead of joining hands for the real purpose of national interests. Sadly, the sixth stage of all Grand Designs reveal the real intention of these political actors, which is to rule and be in power even if the country goes to hell. In Shrestha’s own words: “The Designs are self serving and not intended for the safeguard and welfare of the people.” Similar articles also describe the wrong steps taken by the king, stupidity shown by political forces, and Maoists’ wrong strategy of violence and terror. He has also dragged in the international community, neighbours and security forces.

The readers may agree with this argument: “There is no reason why they cannot find a common ground for restoration of peace and democracy in the country,” when, “there is already a broad consensus among them on constitutional monarchy, multi-party system, ethnic representation, poverty alleviation, social justice, human rights and so on.” He asks what the political forces are upto? It is understood they are in just to rule, otherwise, why can’t they find a common ground in crisis too?

Democracy is at stake, violence is increasing and so is the foreign intervention. Why have the kings’ words not been translated into action? Why are political parties not able to give up their personnel wishes, and why do Maoists continue to extort, abduct and kill innocents? Why foreigners’ statements become friendly and concerns sincere if it is appropriate to them, and why the same becomes international meddling if the words do not help in achieving their interests? Readers may have reservations on other arguments. All may not agree with his suggestion of asking American to play a direct role or help Nepal directly in resolving our internal conflict, neither would we agree with his view of sending Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) troops to fight under US flag in Iraq or with his view that US military assistance alone has nurtured the Nepali conflict.

Shrestha has argued if Nepalis can serve as British Gurkhas or Indian Gurkhas, why RNA was not sent to fight under Americans during Iraq invasion? The case is different: Great Britain and India recruit Nepali people, train them accordingly to make them a part of their armies. If the US army would recruit Nepali people and train them as part of US Army, then it would be a different issue. Just sending RNA troops to fight under US flag means sending them as a part of allied force, which would be against Nepal’s non-aligned foreign policy. Shrestha in Is Nepal next Afghanistan has said: “There is nothing wrong for the US to help Nepal restore peace at a time when the Americans had already thrown the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan and preparing war on Iraq.” But US has invaded Iraq, uprooted Sadam Hussein’s regime and also conducted elections there. Similar development has taken place in Afghanistan. Still, the question remains: Does peace prevail in both these countries? What about the post-war insurgency? So, a direct foreign intervention will not necessarily lead the country towards sustainable peace. Unless our national leaders are not committed, we can’t buy a single step towards peace.

Other articles reveal mistakes done in socio-economic fronts. For instance, his Red Light should get Green Light advocates legalising traditional but flourishing profession of prostitution. Interestingly, in ‘What is in store for us in Future’, he has warned of Nepal turning into Bhutan. The writer has done a hard work to convince political forces it is not the time for power sharing or balancing an equation. It is time to act, to deliver good education, lucrative job instead of political ploy hatched by most undemocratic leaders in the name of democracy, or in the name of liberating people, or in the name of fight against terrorism.

Shrestha in What Really Counts rightly pointed out: “A government counts not by what it is composed of. It matters what it does.” Every conscious citizen would like to read Wrong We Do and Right We Don’t — A Hard Talk to realise what can be done for bringing Nepal out of the current crisis before it is too late.