Brave people, weak nation: Need for Jana Andolan III
Logically, the brave people have a strong nation. But in case of Nepal, it is just the reverse. Nepalis are brave but they have a weak nation. Needless to recall the unequivocal admiration the Nepalis earned for their gallantry in the First and Second Word Wars. But the enlightened Nepalis do not comfortably digest it because the fight was for somebody else and not for the Nepali cause.
Come the Maoists, who proved beyond doubt that the Nepalis could fight for their own sake without any external help. Agree or not, they demonstrated great courage in risking their lives for the commendable cause of transformation of the society. Over 13,000 people died in and out of the battlefield for various reasons. The potential of violence is still very high, Maoists or no Maoists, given the volatile situation prevalent in the country. The future is fraught with interminable struggles, both violent and non-violent.
Jana Andolan II, during which millions of people took to the streets to overturn the rule of the absolute monarchy, turned out to be most commendable in the eyes of the world. That was a testimony to the fact that Nepalis could struggle hard en masse even without a gun in hand. In fact, it came out more effective than the armed struggles Nepal had witnessed in the recent and remote past.
If you need extra evidence to vouch for the valour of the people, the Madhesi uprising is the most spectacular example. They are still protesting against the government, paralysing transportation, markets and public offices in a number of the Terai areas. Some 30 people have already lost their lives, with many more badly injured during the clashes with the security forces. Once considered to be docile, the Madhesis have stood up for their rights not only against the state forces but also against the ferocious Maoist workers.
Close on their heels are other ethnic groups from the plains and the hills who are raising their voices for a share in the state structure on the basis of equality and equity. The Tharus are up for their rights. The Limbus, Rais, Gurungs, Magars and, you name it, (even the Rautes) are coming forward daringly to assert their presence in the new Nepal. If they have risen for their fundamental rights and welfare, they should be equally capable of defending their country against internal and external threats.
Because of such a brave and courageous people, there is no reason why Nepal should turn into a weak nation. But unluckily, that is what it is — a weak, fragile and fumbling state. The law and order situation is in a shambles. Public security is almost non-existent despite the 100,000-strong Nepal Army and 50,000-strong police force. The country has come to such a pass that the security forces cannot be mobilised to maintain public security lest they provoke break-up of the country or a reopening of armed struggles.
People are, consequently, deprived of a normal and peaceful life. The government exists only in name with its fiats being defied in all corners of the country.
Irrespective of the clear mandate from the people to exercise sovereign power, the
government is dithering and ditching the people in virtually all its decisions. It has failed to feel the pulse of the people and address their grievances. Who has, then, made this nation so weak? It is all because of a single reason, i.e. the weak leadership of a strong people.
Nepal is in a fix about whether to do away with monarchy or not, as if this country would not survive without a king. It is under the great illusion that chaos would result in the country if Girija Prasad Koirala ceased to be the Prime Minister.
In great fear, as if all private property would be usurped by the government if Prachanda became the ruler of this country. Is Nepal that vulnerable that it will be destroyed in such eventualities? If yes, Nepal has no right to remain an independent country.
In fact, thanks to our leaders, we are no longer independent. The decision makers are somebody other than the Nepalis. They are carrying out what is told to them because they are already sold out. They have landed us in such an intractable state of affairs that Nepalis will suffer till the state of Nepal remains. So, as a corollary, in a cynical sense, the end of Nepal would be the end of Nepalis’ suffering.
In the interplay of domestic and external forces in the name of the Nepali people, the identity of Nepal stands as a bane for the Nepalis. Nepalis will have peace, security and prosperity once they lose and forget their national identity. The constituent assembly or not, Nepal is clearly headed for an inexorable precipice. The only escape from this mess for the brave people of Nepal is to launch yet another Jana Andolan to throw away all the reigning leaders and replace them with new young ones.
Shrestha is a freelance journalist