EDITORIAL: Will it work?

The will system is a complex one which will bring about many complexities into our society, all the more so if it is introduced without certain necessary ifs and buts

A Bill to amend the Civil Code is now at the Parliamentary Legislation Committee which proposes, among other things, introducing the will system in Nepal for transfer of parents’ property. If the will system becomes a reality, the legal right of offspring to parental property will cease. The will system is not a good or a bad thing in itself. The present Constitution of Nepal provides daughters right to parental property. For unmarried daughters of thirty-five years of age, right to parental property had been granted decades ago. Now, it seems all of a sudden, the idea of will system is being given concrete shape at a time when the concerned existing legal provisions for daughters have not been fully implemented in our society. In the context of Nepal, such change after change, so fast, when the change already made has not had the time to show how it has worked out in Nepali society throws up serious challenges for the social and economic structures of our society, which is still mainly agrarian.

No doubt, society should move on. It should embrace reforms, whether in politics, social and economic relations, and other areas of national life. But that said, we should also keep in mind the existing ground realities of our social and economic relations, of the economy as a whole and the cultural and other factors that have a considerable bearing on such things as the distribution of parental property. The proposed change has not been discussed widely in public, nor has any thorough research on the impact of such far-reaching legislation on our socio-economic structures, family system, etc been done. The motivations of such hurry for the amendment are strange.

The parliamentary committee is reported to be mulling over the idea of starting the implementation of the will system several years hence, say from 2023, to give families “enough time’ to become mentally prepared that the old right to parental property will be no more, and that individuals should learn to be self-reliant and not expect anything from their parents. According to a legislation committee member, Ram Narayan Bidari of the UCPN-Maoist, our children have become very dependent on parents and that if the present system of automatic right to parental property is not ended, they will be lazy and unproductive.  He also argues that the only way to stop fragmentation of land in the country is to introduce the will system. The benefits of the system can be cited, so can the demerits of the system imposed on a traditional society. The will system is a complex one which will bring about many complexities into our society, all the more so if it is introduced without certain necessary ifs and buts. Many questions have to be answered beforehand, such as where the responsibility of parents towards their sons and daughters end. Generally, the will system has worked well in advanced countries. Without adequate homework and without taking into account all the problems, any switch-over would be highly risky. However, the existing system has its own demerits. Therefore, effective measures should be considered instead to remove them or to minimize their adverse effects.

Vaccination drive

Vaccination of infants and children against 11 diseases has been carried out successfully in Nepal. Female health volunteer workers administer vaccines against the diseases like polio that  has been eradicated in the country. However, it is shocking to note that the campaign has failed to meet the target in urban. We would assume that the guardians and parents of the children would be better informed. But this is not so. This is baffling the experts but they believe that the cause for it and solution for it would be found out soon. The health workers have succeeded in providing immunization  to   98 per cent of the total population targeted against the HPV virus that is highly infectious and can cause cervical cancer. Fortunately, the infection can be prevented through immunization and can be cured if timely detection of the cancer is made.

Officials complain that although they have been able to immunize children against the virus in  most of the rural areas, they have not been able to do so in many urban areas. Their guardians and parents had been counseled about the benefits of the vaccination yet some of them have not permitted their wards to be immunized which is rather disturbing.