EDITORIAL: Feeling the pinch

The bandh-enforcing parties should realize that bandhs and resorting to violence and vandalism will not lead to the fulfillment of their demands

The protests in the Tarai region are already about three weeks long, with bandhs, violence, vandalism, arson, scuffles with the police continuing in several parts, and in the process several protesters and some policemen have lost their lives, and many more have been injured. It may take some time more for the protests to end which have been timed with the finalizing process of the constitution with a view to getting as many of their demands incorporated into the new constitution as possible. But the main victims of these protests have been the general public, with the fear of retribution leading to the closure of schools and colleges, factories and offices, and vehicular transport. A natural result of all this is the growing shortages of goods, including essential commodities like food, vegetables, medicines, and fuel, in the Tarai, as well as in other parts of the country, including the capital, and increasing prices. The transporters have not been able to run their vehicles along the highways for lack of security.

The capital city has started to feel the beginning of the shortages; but even harder hit seem to be the Tarai and other parts of the country. It is good that the government has started escorting transport vehicles. And this has helped ease the hardship somewhat. It is the government’s duty to ensure that despite bandhs and disturbances, the flow of goods into the country and from one part of the country to any other part does not stop. The government escort services to suppliers and transporters should be expanded and strengthened further so that no part of the country suffers from shortages of any commodity. A number of oil tankers and trucks carrying all types of goods are already stuck at the Nepal-India border points awaiting passage into Nepal. All the sectors concerned should discuss the problem and find a way of beating the bandh.

But business people, the school operators, transport entrepreneurs, and working people in the Tarai have been expressing their dissatisfaction over the bandhs and disturbances that have made the lives of the people much harder, and they should show more courage to say no to bandhs. In some parts, they have even defied and come to scuffles with the bandh-enforcing protesters. This is a positive sign in that Nepal has been hit hard by the bandhs called by all types of political parties and groups for all types of demands over the years. But in the meantime, the government agencies should also take all necessary measures to effectively check commercial malpractices that have often happened during times of shortages such as hoarding and over-charging. Strict monitoring and stern action against the offenders are essential. Many people also tend to buy much more of the necessities than they normally do for fear of possible shortages in the near future. The government authorities should also do something to remove this fear from the public mind. The bandh-enforcing parties should realize that bandhs and resorting to violence and vandalism will not lead to the fulfillment of their demands nor will these reflect public support for them, rather such action would only alienate the masses from them, and they may well be left behind.

Self-centred

Staffers of various medical colleges across the country have warned of non-cooperation with the government if it implements the National Policy on Health Profession Education prepared by a team led by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former VC, TU. They have warned that around 15,000 employees in various medical colleges will lose their jobs if the Mathema report was fully implemented. However, senior orthopedic surgeon Govinda KC is on a fast-onto-death demanding that the report should be fully implemented without further delay. The government officials have claimed that most of the demands put forth by the surgeon have already been implemented.

The demands of the concerned staffers seem to be self-centered. The government is in a dilemma as it is clueless as to whom to appease and whom to antagonize. The Mathema report was prepared by a team of experts who have sensed serious problems in the medical science education that is gradually losing its standard and quality. If Nepal medical education is to maintain its standard up to the international level there is no other way out than to execute it.

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