Pay heed

The new constitution must make every attempt to connect with people’s aspirations

Many lakhs of suggestions have been received on the draft constitution, and these suggestions are now being processed topic-wise. Now the ball is in the court of the leaders of the political parties, particularly of the four major parties and the CA as a whole. Crores of rupees were not spent on the task of collecting public opinion just to put them aside on some shelves of the CA as mere records, but for the majority views to be acted on. The suggestions received have gone, in major respects, against what the CA and the parties represented in them had agreed on, and against the 16-point agreement between the four major political parties regarding the resolution of the unresolved issues of the constitution and its promulgation.

The major political parties now face difficult choices as, if they decide to go by the majority public view, they will have to overturn their existing stances on more than one constitutional issue. Direct election of the chief executive, whether at the federal, provincial or the ward level, has won overwhelming support from the public. The provision in the first draft provides for indirect election of the chief executive (in this case, Prime Minister), which would make the government shaky, all the more so because of proportional representation. Proportional representation has been disapproved by the public. Direct election of chief executive, understandably, will not be palatable to the various power centres because it would make government stable. Many other things will fall into line if the directly elected chief executive is adopted in the constitution.

An overwhelming number of suggestions have also been recorded against the new provision of Nepal being a secular state, with the majority of public favouring Nepal as a Hindu state with religious freedom. On federalism, many suggestions have been received in favour of settling the issue of delineation of the boundaries of eight Pradeshes. Similarly, many people have sought the fixing of qualifications of members of parliament and other elected posts, whereas even the lowest of jobs in the government hierarchy require certain qualifications. This suggestion is sound as the job of the elected representatives at federal, provincial and local levels will require education and interpretation, for example of the provisions of the laws or Bills. There have also been suggestions calling for equal treatment of women. Nepalese women will have the sense of equal treatment when the new constitution guarantees that citizenships will be issued through mothers. Suggestions have also been received institutions and such constitutional organs as the Nepali Army, Public Service Commission, Election Commission, Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission. Of course, not all suggestions can be incorporated in the constitution, but the political parties must ensure that the handful few — some of them cited above — must be addressed well in time. Only an inclusive process will make as many people as possible own up the constitution. The new constitution must make every attempt to connect with people’s wishes and aspirations. Going by what have come to surface so far, the state, it appears, will not be able to implement the new constitution if the same is issued in its current form and shape.

Anti-venom shortage

With the climate getting very hot the number of poisonous snakes have increased and also the incidents of snakes biting humans. On Wednesday 11 people were bitten by snakes in Rautahat district alone. There must have been more cases of snake bites in other districts as well particularly in the plains of the Terai. To save people who have been bitten by poisonous snakes they are given anti-venom doses. Some such patients require five anti-venom doses and others up to 50 according to the severity of the cases. Unfortunately, most of the hospitals do not have enough stock of anti-venom.

The concerned health officials know very well that they would be needing more such medicines. The medicine is in short supply and they need to be imported from India. However, it is believed that India is not producing anti-venom in the required quantity, and therefore Nepal has not been able to import the sufficient amount of this life saving anti-venom. Because of the irresponsible health officials many people who would need the anti-venom would die as there would be no anti-venom for them.