Pain and politics

People in Nepal continue to suffer. The issues like misery, loadshedding, political disorder and violence are so pervasive that they sound trite when reported by the media. But in real life, they are authentic and powerful, and deeply impact people’s sense of wellbeing. For many people in Nepal, the only way of ending their suffering is by going abroad. But that dream, as many Nepalis continue to experience, can turn into a nightmare. Vernaculars frequently report

stories of pain and suffering of young Nepalis who’ve gone abroad to pursue their economic dream. There are two recurrent themes in these stories: betrayal and hardship. First, the agents or middlemen who supply manpower promise one thing and deliver another. Secondly, the youth experience so much suffering they are torn between returning home and recovering the money they’ve already spent. Many of those who want to return are trapped, and find it easier to end their lives. These stories are heart-rending.

Unfortunately, most of the sources of unhappiness are our own creation. We continue to fight against nature, against disease, against hunger, but in the face of human-created misery, they appear but insignificant. This is the context in which we should be able to locate politics, the peace process and the performance of the government. There is a thin strand of hope allowing the remaining Nepalis to be resilient, and that hope is based on promise of good governance, freedom, and a new constitution. Immediately after the April 2008 elections, there was a consensus on interpreting the results. People had voted for change, which they believed could be ensured with the then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) leading the government. The government has largely failed to provide relief to the people, to deliver good governance, and to significantly alter what had gone wrong in the past. The peace process is under threat, and violence threatens to rear its ugly head, not because it is required, but because that’s the easiest way to assert power for the physically powerful.

The Maoists have raised a hue and cry over the purported “conspiracy” to topple the government. They see a design in the India visit of some key politicians, including former King Gyanendra. While it is prudent to keep a watchful eye on political opponents, the Maoist-led government should realize that the strength of the government should be based on its performance and support of the people, not on annihilation of detractors. The government will retain its legitimacy, which the people had unequivocally given, only if it delivers its promise. It is very difficult to govern a modern state that is embedded in an intricate geo-political context, and one that is part of a complex network of local, national, and global relationships. So far, the Maoists want to run the government alone. They have been unable to trust professionals. In a game that requires professional skills, and knowledge, political will power alone will not be enough. The UCPN-Maoist, sooner than later, should learn to accommodate voice of reason, and learn to work with the opponents. As a party leading the government, that initiative must come from the Maoists.