The results of this year's Himalmedia Public Opinion Survey 2012 that were released last week proved once more that the main concern of most Nepalis are mundane day-to-day issues like jobs, education, health, or roads. Politics figures way down on their list, and when it does, there is widespread disillusionment with politicians at the national and local levels.
But what is even more surprising is that compared to the cynicism and disenchantment in the capital with the state of the country, most Nepalis are upbeat about the future and think there have been marked improvements in development. This is borne out by statistics that show dramatic improvements in Nepal's literacy rate, child and maternal survival and the spread of roads over the past decade.
In response to another question about the state of the country compared to last year, there was a dramatic decrease in the number of don't know/can't say answers. People seem more outspoken, not afraid to voice their opinions, but not always to complain. Sixty per cent of respondents felt things were improving, or were hopeful they would improve.
In all three regions and from east to west, most people thought political violence, extortion, property seizures, and crime have gone down in the past two years.
When asked to name the three main problems the country faced, more than three-fourths of the 3,210 respondents cited inflation, and more women (81%) were worried about price rises than men (71%). More among the illiterate (82.3%) felt inflation was a problem, whereas the educated ranked corruption higher. In fact, the corruption perception index rose from 56% in the Himalmedia Poll last year to 75% this year.
There is a feeling that local service delivery has improved across the board in health, education, roads and drinking water, but there was frustration over the lack of progress in electricity and garbage disposal.
People in the west and mid-western districts were most positive about improvements in road access.
Alas, at the rate things are going the people seem to have less and less respect for local leadership of the political parties with most equating them with discredited national leaders.
These results, together with the popularity surge of Baburam Bhattarai, the plummeting support for Pushpa Kamal Dahal and the negligible endorsement for the leaders of the NC, UML and Madhesi Front, provide one big message to our leaders: work on integrity and performance, listen to the people and maybe they will vote for you in the next election.
The times they are changing, ANURAG ACHARYA