EDITORIAL: Sad state of affairs

Detaining a professor to bar him from boarding a flight seems to have stemmed from the desire to pursue political vendetta

The KP Oli government has once again stirred up a hornet’s nest. The government move of barring Nepal Sanskrit University (NSU) Vice Chancellor Kul Prasad Koirala from flying to Canada to participate in the 17th World Sanskrit Conference has drawn widespread criticism. On Saturday, Koirala was stopped by police at Tribhuvan International Airport and taken to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). He was kept there for about an hour, saying Prime Minister Oli, who is the chancellor the NSU, was busy. When he was asked to leave and come the following morning, his flight had already taken off. The other five individuals, who were to fly with Koirala, were allowed to board the flight to Vancouver. According to Koirala, he had submitted his leave application 11 days before. The rule says a leave application has to be submitted seven days in advance. Now the government has argued that Koirala’s leave was not approved. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology says “Koirala never got his leave approved from joint chancellor (education minister) or the chancellor (prime minister)”.

Be that as it may, the way the government mobilised security personnel to haul an academician to the PMO does reflect a grim state of affairs. Had the professor not applied for leave or had his application been rejected, the government had different measures to deal with the matter. Isn’t it unbecoming for a democratically elected government to use police to “detain” an individual holding the post of vice chancellor of a varsity? Reports suggest that Koirala was barred from boarding the flight at the behest of Prime Minister Oli. The incident has occurred just as the Oli government is on a firing spree, as many top officials who were appointed by the previous government have been relieved of their duties. It must be noted that Prof Koirala was appointed the NSU vice chancellor by then Sushil Kolirala-led government back in 2015.

In an open and free society, every individual enjoys the freedom of mobility. Yes, when it comes to government officials and appointees, they must follow the due procedure. But the move of “detaining” an academician on the pretext that “the leave was not approved” goes a bit over the top. A democratic system does not only mean achieving a goal, it also calls for a proper process to achieve the goal. In a democratic society, sovereignty lies with the people. We have earlier also argued in this space that the incumbent government’s some of the moves are giving some sense that it is becoming intolerant of dissent and criticism. We expect the Oli government, which is the most powerful in more than last two and a half decades, to focus on some tangible and constructive works that could ease the lives of the general public. But instead, it seems to have developed a penchant for creating a controlled society where public voices are stifled and dissent is curbed. In the professor’s case, the move, it appears, has stemmed from the desire to pursue personal or political vendetta. Democracy means government of the people, by the people and for the people. If it continues to undermine individual liberty, people will feel that the government is selling the pass.

Saving baby girls

The Parsauni Rural Municipality in Bara has decided to deposit Rs 10,000 every year for a 20-year fixed bank deposit in the name of a newborn baby girl from the new fiscal. The second assembly meeting of the municipality took this decision in line with the Province-2 government’s “Save Daughter, Educate Daughter” campaign. Bhola Prasad Gupta, chairperson of the municipality, said the decision was taken to educate girls and get them married only after they reach 20 years of age. The newborn baby girl should be registered with the municipality within 35 days of her birth.

The said amount will be deposited in the newborn baby girl’s bank account. The girl must pass grade XII and must reach 20 years of age to withdraw the money. It will incur a huge financial burden to the municipality. It, however, will encourage families to educate girls and get them married only after they reach 20 years of age. This scheme will discourage child marriage which is rampant in Tarai. The campaign launched by the Province-2 for daughters has been well-received by all. This scheme will encourage many families to send their girls to schools and; its impact can be felt within a couple of years to come.