Nepali Times
Editorial
Social security vs military security


BIKRAM RAI

In the early days of the peace process back in 2006, a lot of the negotiations were around semantics. The Maoists did not want their emergence from the jungles to look like surrender, so the UN-supervised sites were not called 'camps' but 'cantonments'. The Maoists inflated their fighting force to more than 30,000 to guarantee advantage in future negotiations and compensation. It was unacceptable to call it 'decommissioning', so guns were stored in containers even though everyone knew that the more sophisticated weapons were outside. 'Demobilisation' was a bad word, so we used 'integration' to keep everyone happy.

Neither the Maoists nor the Nepal Army lost the war, but neither side won. It was the Nepali people who lost, the country's development was pushed back decades, jobs vanished as investors and tourists got spooked. The conflict brutalised society, leaving a legacy of violence, impunity and crime.

Next week, it will be five years since the Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed. The entire process has taken twice as long as it should have, and perhaps we were too ambitious to think that everything would be sorted out in five short years.

The conflict may have ended, but the guerrilla war has been replaced by criminal violence. In the absence of a strong state, organized crime dominates not just the underworld but also above-ground politics. Those in power correlate deteriorating security with the need to enlarge the security apparatus. But that ignores the real root of insecurity: rulers setting the wrong example by blatant impunity (the prime minister, for example, getting the expanded cabinet to make the president pardon a crony convicted by the Supreme Court of murder and sentenced to life). It ignores the politicisation of crime and the criminalisation of politics, protection rackets run by officials elected to protect the people, and political parties coddling crime syndicates for payoffs.

The reality is that the army and police are so bloated they are ineffective. The army doubled in size during the war to 90,000. The Armed Police Force was set up to fight the insurgency and is 40,000 strong. The Nepal Police has 60,000 personnel. Add to that another 6,500 Maoist ex-fighters to be integrated and the 10,000 people of Madhesi origin to be included in the army, and it is clear Asia's poorest can ill afford such a large military.

The first order of business will be to de-link politicians from criminal networks and address accountability and impunity. We need to remove the excuse politicians use to maintain military expenditure. Without this demonstration of political will to democratise the army and instil civilian command, security sector reform will just be a slogan.
Nepal's expenditure on security is more than 2 per cent of GDP. Defence expenditure in 2009-2010 stood at Rs 20 billion, making up nearly 14 per cent of the total budget. At a time when education, health, infrastructure are in such disarray, splurging on security is not just stupid, it is criminal. Our model should be Costa Rica, which has no army because it decided it doesn't need one. If we must have an army let's re-oriented to disaster relief, rapid response and infrastructure.

The real security we should be worrying about is social security. It is poor service delivery, the lack of inclusive health care and education and job creation that are going to be the real security concerns in the coming years.

Read also:
Getting away with murder

Eyewash, Nagarik

Flying smugglers, Nepal Samacharpatra

I beg your pardon, Kantipur, Annapurna Post, Nagarik



1. who cares
"Our model should be Costa Rica, which has no army because it decided it doesn't need one."


dont go there, they are not surrounded by india.


2. Raghu

The government should focus on improving the quality of the army rather that quantity. If  NA couldn't win the war against Moist how can they protect Nepal against superior foreign forces?

Reduce the size of the army and with the savings from that purchase state of the art equipment and provide proper training on combat and reconnaissance.

 

Regarding Costa Rica, most of its border is surrounded by sea so there is no threat of border encroachment from other countries.



3. Different view
"Neither the Maoists nor the Nepal Army lost the war, but neither side won. It was the Nepali people who lost"

so who won at the end?

The greedy politicians, crooks and their croonies - these are the real winners of the People's war - the greatest revolution in our history cleverly marketed and campaigned by NT and the likes


4. Soni
"The reality is that the army and police are so bloated they are ineffective. The army doubled in size during the war to 90,000. The Armed Police Force was set up to fight the insurgency and is 40,000 strong. The Nepal Police has 60,000 personnel. Add to that another 6,500 Maoist ex-fighters to be integrated and the 10,000 people of Madhesi origin to be included in the army, and it is clear Asia's poorest can ill afford such a large military."

Good that you clarified this. The expense of Maoist silliness is not just in excess of 1400 crore NR in direct expenses. But there is so much more in hidden costs that the country's economy would have been soaring at this time had it not been for extraordinary stupidity displayed by the, well, intellectuals of Nepal.

Note also that several states in India, larger than Nepal and more densely populated, have done so much better. Nepal with its relatively better educated youth in the cities, and relatively (relatively) low corruption would have done far better.

The densely populated plains which started off brilliantly with rapid industrialisation would have done so much better when foreign investment was permitted in mid-90's.

It is just astounding that this madness that the Maoists and the hypocritical clowns called in intellectuals unleashed in Nepal, continues to hold sway over their tiny brains. More maddening is the fact that this is going to continue being the case.

And, there is nothing that Nepalis can do.


5. Nepali
Social Security means security to selected one, few leaders & cadres from each party supposed to secured as they have priority to keep NA or NPF.
Violence & crime are out put of Poor politics by NC/UML where Maoist and outfit take due advantage.
Over all society is so unsecured that any time any one can be killed .President law almost paralyzed. So might is right is only policy observed..


6. Arthur
Since Nepal Army did not win you no longer have to write editorials saying "Long Live the King"

http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/2001/06/01/Editorial/8816http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/2001/06/01/Editorial/8816g".

But it is childish to imagine the Maoists did not win, merely because you can still write articles saying "Down with the Maoists". Their attitude is different so you can write what you please.



7. who cares
during the massacre era, 

maoist used to run away like rats when ever security force entered remote villages, 

even after ambushing they used to run away as soon as they could, 

all maoist's meetings were held secretly,

all maoist's bosses were living outside nepal,,,




and still i wonder who was winning and who was loosing the war?


and not to forget that it was not security force, rather maoist and other parties who signed peace agreement. 


8. kamal kishor
Nepal should gradually reduce the number over a period of 20 years. Nepal's economy can't afford to have a big army and police personnel. It is just ridiculous that we have such a big army. We don't need it.

9. Rajaram Singh
Instead giving military traing to the PLA ,they should have given vocational training along with some physical one , from the beginning  so that we could have a strong team of skilled workers in the country that was destroyed during the time of insurgency,.  They would have been capable of we have,who don,thave a foresight to  see the future.


10. BRB
For social security and Military Security assistance ,one must be levy Paid Maoist.!!!


11. sudha
The editorial started out terrific and descended into a bunch of wishful and impractical contradictions.  What a waste of my time reading this piece.  And then what's up with that Costa Rica nonsense?  It is just a coded word for "make Nepal into a de facto Indian state aka -Bhutan model"... 


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(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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