Sunday, April 16, 2006

Back to the square one: Does SPA have governance strategy?

It did not take very long for the gain of mass movement of 1990 to dissipate. Fifteen years and we are back to the square one once again chanting anti monarchy slogans, burning tyres, vandalizing public properties, and behaving more like goons than civilized human beings.

Our politicians seem to have learnt everything but Gandhian philosophy of non-violence from Indian leaders. Mahatma Gandhi hoped to win people over by changing their hearts and minds, and advocated non violence in all things. Gandhian philosophy which crumbled British Empire seems to have no buyers in the next door neighbor. Have we become more pessimistic over time and think a peaceful struggle for democracy against the tide? Or as a society, have we have become more egoistic? If we start valuing vendetta over morality, vendetta becomes our morality. We will start viewing things more and more from a teleological perspective: that as long as we are better off in the end; we have not committed an immoral act.

We can win hearts and minds of people through non-violent struggle. No guns or brick pieces are needed to bring the repressive, autocratic regime to its knees. Its foundation shall eventually crack due to its own misdeeds and repressive practices. Democracy in Nepal can and should be achieved through peaceful struggle and processes without destroying public properties. The era of nations achieving their independence through armed struggles and terrorist activities has passed. Thus it is not a matter of if but when.

Sooner or later we shall prevail as a democratic nation. However, our ability to strengthen democracy and keep it functional remains highly questionable. Moral bankruptcy among the political leaders was the major source of our failure in the past. Hopefully our leaders have learned a lesson this time. If not, Feb 1 shall repeat in some form or the other. It does not have to be royal take over. Thus, a million dollar question right now is: What would our leaders do differently than they did after the fall of Panchayat regime in 1990 that would strengthen democracy and make Nepal prosperous? Our ability to thrive as a prosperous and democratic nation solely depends on that. After 50 years of independence, Pakistan is still unable to solidify its democratic structure mainly because its leaders did not bother to take care of peoples’ aspirations.

Democracy in Nepal can and should be achieved through peaceful struggle and processes without destroying public properties. The era of nations achieving their independence through armed struggles and terrorist activities has passed.

If our leaders continued with their old habits, coming generations will have to fight for democracy again in future. This is mainly because failure to deliver development benefits and control corruption shall invite February 1st again and again in some form or the other. Insurgencies will easily flourish as impoverished societies are hot beds for insurgent movements. Thus, our leaders instead of engaging themselves in tongue lashing should come up with clear vision and plan about as and what they would do differently this time. Hard earned democracy did not last long because the rent-seeking coalition between business and politics served to fuel corruption and violence in the body politic of Nepal.

Easy money earned through illegal means was used to sustain a new class of political elites who remained immune from the forces of law enforcement because of their political status and connection. Nepal as a state was not driven by a clearly articulated vision of its leadership. Democratic structures started to tremble mainly because none of the prime ministers and their junior colleagues who held office in Nepal over the last decade appeared to be driven by a sense of mission to transform the society in a particular direction. The lack of developmental vision amongst the leadership in Nepal was compounded by their weak commitment to realize the importance of such a vision. Popular disillusionment occurred mainly due to the failure of the state to deliver expected democratization of local social relations and political authority, continuing poverty and a widening gap between have and have-nots, and widespread frustration with corruption at all levels of government.

Political parties should realize there mistakes and pledge non confrontational style of politics in a new democratic Nepal. This would help promote political dialogue to build a consensus behind a development agenda. Parliament should not be abused as an arena for rhetorical exchanges rather than a vehicle for political consensus building. Politicians should make a pledge in public that they will abandon their ill practices of the past and work for peace, prosperity, and stability in Nepal. Indulging in immoral acts of burning and destroying public property that we built through the tax payers’ money over the last 15 years is mockery of our own achievement.

No comments: