Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Indolent Singha Darbar

For a week schools throughout the country were shut down. Students, their parents and teachers looked up to the government for assistance and encouragement for the smooth functioning of schools, but the government failed even to officially acknowledge the problem in time. Warring hotel entrepreneurs and workers appealed to the government to mediate to reach an agreement, but Singha Darbar failed once again to respond. The government did take an initiative but it came after the worst damage was already done to the industry. The threatened strike was avoided, but it was too late to save losses to the industry. Tarai farmers are suffering due to the dwindling price of rice in which they invested so much of their labour and expensive fertiliser. Rice-growers had expected the government to fix a base price for their produce, or failing that, that it would at least act to check the cross-border smuggling of cheap rice from India. Singha Darbar failed them too. And instead of offering support to the farmers as would be expected, their desperate condition is yet to be officially acknowledged. Police are posted in far-flung posts without proper weapons for self defence and dozens of them are being killed in single attacks. Unarmed civilians are being killed and their families and children are suffering their losses in silence. Bandhs, strikes and chakka jams have become part of daily life.

During difficult times democratic governments stand with the people, but unfortunately our government has failed us even when civil society has appealed for assistance. No department, ministry or official sector can be singled out for this apathy, the whole government apparatus is a part of it.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has been a total failure in the sense that the promises he made while returning to Singha Darbar nine months ago have not materialised. The peace and security situation of the country has worsened, while economic progress and development have taken a back seat. Nine months itself is not a long period, but there seems to be nothing to call for optimism. The government has become incapable of any action. It is the government's responsibility to strengthen government mechanism and reach out to the people for a way out, if necessary. The present Constitution has accorded the power to make Singha Darbar strong, but, unfortunately, the government itself has failed to protect and follow the Constitution.

It is time the prime minister evaluated his own performance. If he still has faith in the ability of the present government he should act promptly (although the general public has totally lost faith in the government). If he believes that a cabinet reshuffle is the answer, there is no sense in delaying it and if it is the upheaval within the party that is the obstacle, the prime minister himself is the key person who needs to act. In short, some bold decisions are needed to save the country. If the prime minister's health and other factors are the obstacles towards meeting the national challenges and the worsening situation of the nation, as believed by the general public, the prime minister should pay attention to these issues also. No democratic government has the right to remain blind to the problems of the nation and the people.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)