Jeetendra Narayan Dev

If we do not go into big jargon and complicated definitions, nationalism simply means thinking for the nation and working for the nation. In a simplistic way democracy means people’s sovereignty or the rule of the people. One cannot imagine nationalism without national interest and democracy without people’s participation. Democracy is always inclusive and

representative. These two political components are always complementary to each other.

But, in Nepal the two were always put into contradiction and often used one against the other. Those who claim themselves to be nationalists always opposed democracy and vice versa. In the past 55 years of modern Nepali polity, nationalists always negated democracy and accused democrats of being foreign elements. In the same tune, democrats never gave serious thought to national interest. Such behaviour of political forces goes totally against the

very concept of nationalism and democracy.

Nationalism is always defined in Nepal on the basis of anti-Indianism. In the same way, democracy is understood as a baby of India. So, the whole concept of nationalism and democracy in Nepal has remained faulty and prejudiced. The so-called nationalists always kept themselves against democracy and India. It is also unfortunate that the Nepali democrats

could never prove themselves to be true national fighters. Due to conservatism and preconceived ideas, nationalists could not play a balanced role. Thus the responsibility lies on the democrats to show the strength and be wise in favour of both the nation and democracy.

So far India and China are concerned, past and present experiences have showed that India always stood and will stand in favour of democracy, development and territorial integrity of Nepal. China too has always stood for Nepal’s advancement and territorial integrity. So, we should be proud to have India and China as our two big neighbours. We should take it as an opportunity for development. We should not always be guided by the small-nation sensitiveness but should become pragmatic. Whatever threat we face comes from within the country in the form of violence, discrimination, injustices and poverty. Nationalism as a concept should be implemented in a true sense. Democracy cannot survive, cannot be popular and pro-people without nationalism. In today’s globalised world, nationalism without democracy means isolation and backwardness. So, we should search for nationalism in democracy and democracy in nationalism in a dialectical perspective.

At present, nationalism and democracy are weak, imperfect, partial and divided in Nepal. This is because of the practiced nature and characteristic of both. Only those people are talking about nationalism who are enjoying the taste of state power. It has not become the voice of total population. Even democracy could not become full and for all. It lacks inclusiveness and representation. So, nationalism and democracy, which are in practice in Nepal, need restructuring in line with the nation and the people. Both nationalism and democracy are essential for Nepal as complementary components and a panacea for survival and development. Dev is ex-central committee member, CPN-UML