EDITORIAL: Show flexibility

It is expected that the major parties will forge a common stance on the demands of the agitating parties before the next parliament meeting on Thursday

Three major political parties – the ruling CPN-UML, UCPN-Maoist and the main opposition Nepali Congress – have decided to forge a common stance on the 11-point demands put forth by the agitating Madhes-centric parties. The major parties have also reached an understanding that the two amendment proposals – delineating election constituencies based on the distribution of population keeping intact at least one constituency to the existing 75 districts and inclusion of Madhesis and Janajatis in all state mechanism – tabled earlier in Parliament by the NC-led coalition government will be amended after seeking consent of the agitating parties. However, the major parties are yet to forge any common stance on the demands of the agitating parties. In order to forge a common stance on the issues of boundaries of the seven federal units, delimitation of the election constituencies and inclusion, among others, the major parties will be holding joint or separate meetings with the agitating, ruling and opposition parties before sitting for a meaningful dialogue with the agitators. On the other hand the major parties have also appealed to the agitating parties to make their agitation peaceful and allow the ambulances and medicine-laden vehicles to ply on the highways without obstruction.

The major parties are particularly concerned over the agitation becoming violent day-by-day though the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) announced on Thursday that it would let the ambulances and the vehicles carrying medicine and medical equipment move smoothly. Even though the NC is pressing the government to table the two amendment proposals hoping that the move will create a positive environment for holding meaningful dialogue with the agitating parties, the UDMF has said it will not call off its agitation unless the boundaries of the federal units are redrawn, which the UDMF says is its bottom line. The UDMF has also rejected UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s latest proposal of redrawing the boundaries of the federal units. His proposal was also opposed by the people of Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa districts.

It is expected that the major parties will forge a common stance on the demands of the agitating parties before the next parliament meeting scheduled for Thursday. Once the major parties come up with a common stance, it will be easier to hold talks with the Madhesi parties about which of their demands can be addressed and not. The talks then can become meaningful when both the sides make clear their positions on a number of issues raised. But what can be advised to both the sides is that they must show flexibility to all the extent possible as all of the expectations of the agitating parties cannot be fulfilled right away. But they must not give up the hope of finding solutions to the problems that have remained unresolved for the last eight years. When they sit for talks the agitating parties should not stick to the two-Pardesh model in the Tarai and Madhes and hurt the sentiments of the people of other districts who do not want to be part of these Pradeshes. Even if the boundaries of the federal units are redrawn the move should not provoke violence in other parts of the country.

Quality education

The quality of higher education being imparted in various institutions in the country is degrading. They fail to meet the international standard which is a matter of serious concern as they are not research oriented for the most part. The growing number of education institutions is also considered responsible for this. If institutions offering the same course are lying near by they could be merged to get rid of the unhealthy competition of enrolling as many students as possible that is taking place these days. This plight should be resolved through holding extensive research and debate. The right to education should be there for every Nepali citizen.

Moreover, stress should be laid on technical education as well which is the need of the hour. There are also calls for not granting affiliation to academic institutions for dealing with the problem of mushrooming colleges in order to ensure the quality of education improves. The challenges facing higher education are access to it and its quality.