Nepali Times Asian Paints
Give and take


Nepal's public sphere is so politically top-heavy, the media narrative so dominated by minute-to-minute coverage of day-to-day politics, the public debate so obsessed with hush-hush give-and-take between rulers, that it overshadows everything else.

Politics gets reduced to its lowest common denominator of power and greed. Clever party spokesmen spin the media for advantage in negotiations. Reporters readily fall into the trap, such is the urge for the scoop or pithy soundbite. Politicians who shout the loudest and have the most extreme slogans grab the headlines. This polarizes positions and makes negotiations more difficult.

The real story in the coming weeks is not whether a new draft constitution is written or not, but whether in the process of give-and-take in Hatiban or Dhulikhel or some other resort, it will preserve national unity and democracy. Will our new federal structure lay the groundwork to reduce poverty, or will the citizens of future provinces be even more marginalised and discriminated against? Will it help nurture sustainable peace, or lead to inter-ethnic strife over territory? Will the kind of government lead to representative democracy from the grassroots up, or pave the way for an authoritarian president-for-life?

It is perilous that the most critical and sensitive elements of the new constitution are being left for the last four weeks of political bartering. They had four years to examine the reports of demographers, resource economists, political scientists and geographers about the political and economic viability of future federal units, we had a representative assembly of 601 elected members to do the job, but in the end it looks like 22 men behind closed doors are going to carve up the country into little pieces.

In a country that is already the poorest in Asia, politics must be about finding the shortest path to the largest public good: raising income and equalising opportunity. But clauses in the new constitution have become bargaining chips for future power sharing between the main parties.

The only silver lining is that our country has already hit rock bottom, so there is nowhere to go but up. It has been six years since we stopped killing each other and the peace process is somewhat on track and the finality of the 27 May deadline seems to have sunk in.

From what we hear from selective leaks, the parties are about to trade Maoist flexibility on ethnic federalism for UML-NC flexibility on a directly-elected presidential system. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has not tried to hide that he wants to be an all-powerful president, for which he is ready to trade anything: his former guerrillas, identity-based federalism, future judicial system, or citizenship norms. Politicians, by definition, want to get to power and stay there. But can we afford, at this late date, to let two dozen men sit in a dark room and tailor-make a take-it-or-leave-it constitution suited for just one man's ambition?

The bottom line should be a constitution that can best guarantee stability and lay the foundation for a democratic state that can ensure long-term development. The new provinces should be designed to ensure viable economies, and a balanced distribution of natural resources. We shouldn't get bogged down in haggling over the names and territorial boundaries of future federal units. This is not just our point of view, but the considered opinions of independent experts we have carried in these pages over the last three years of the constitution debate.

The goal of the new constitution is to make everyone better off, not to keep us mired in poverty and authoritarianism.

Read also:
Mind what you speak, but speak your mind, ANURAG ACHARYA
Nepal's transition is not being driven by issues at hand, but by those that will follow once the constitution is declared

Journalism of deception, RUBEENA MAHATO
The power that comes with being a journalist in this city has led most to think that they can get away with anything

1. nepali cheli
This is by far the most direct, honest and right on the spot editorial that I have read in a long time. Thank you Nepali Times for this much needed clarity in a time of hush hush nation building. As a Nepali I am happy that the peace process is progressing so swiftly and that we might actually have a new 'constitution' by May 27. But on the other hand, all the decisions are being made by the top dogs (all males) of the 3 main parties. And I am slightly skeptical of a constitution created behind closed doors through plain give and take negotiations. No public debate? No procedures? How far will such a constitution go towards resolving the country's deep rooted problems?

2. Bimala Pradhan

The unfair domination by Nepali men has to end NOW. To say the least, these failed leaders of govt. or politics need to take a back seat. We need a woman to lead. Look at the neighbours, they have very competent women in charge of the show. PKD will sell his soul to become the President. This cannot happen. The 27 May deadline Constitution is doomed to fail for it has not been inclusive of all parties or all people. The future is not looking so great for the majority of Nepalis. If the people had the means to earn an honest income to support their family, then the politics and the politicians can go to hell. Really, I mean that. Maybe the Civil Society will flex its muscles and stop the loot as well as bring some hope and justice to the poor people of Nepal. Lets see what happens.

3. Srijana Shrestha
So -  if everyone knows that the PKD is a big fat liar and a thief, why no one has the gust to bring him down. So - PKD lied to the UN, the Maoist have been looting the Nepali people, Vaidya and Gang may still have weapons buried somewhere.If everyone knows why are they quiet. Nepal is ruled by criminals and Nepalis love it. The future looks pretty bleak, I do not believe 1ousy word that comes out of the mouth of these criminals in the Maosit, NC and UML. Is there no one honest and truthful in Nepal any more. ??????????????????????????????????? 

4. Bandana Rana
Are the Maoist and their leaders the only group that has any brains in Nepal. The Maoist, since they came to power have lied and looted and cheated and threatened and disgraced Nepal and people of Nepal. The NC and UML are helpless in front of the Maoist. Think about that for a  second. An immroal and corrupt and disgraced man like PKD is trying to become a powerful President and most of are just watching from the sidelines. The NC was touting a PM and now talks about a mixed model. Where is the integrity in that. Let economy and prosperity for all be the focus of Nepal not only politics, stinking politics filled with corruption and shame. Who is going to emerge to take us out of this downward spiral and darkness. Will that be a woman. I hope so.  

5. K. K. Sharma

An article based on wishes. ! Trend of events and the likely result is not considered. Geopolitics is totally ignored...... As a saying goes, " if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. " Be more realistic please.

6. Party Peedit
"The goal of the new constitution is to make everyone better off, not to keep us mired in poverty and authoritarianism." ????!!!!

Surely you must be joking Mr Dixit?! Let me re-write that sentence for you as it should have been written.

"The goal of the 12-point Delhi deal was to remove Gyanendra -- who to be fair to him was so far removed from grassroots Nepali concerns or reality that he was just too easy a target -- to make the SPAM party leaders as well as their Indian handlers and their Scandinavian/Brit/American funders better off. The Constituent Assembly was the means to that end, but a devious one: it voted to remove the monarchy based on a proposal tabled in the newly elected CA by South Block's blue-eyed boy Krishna Sitaula who lost the elections and was NOT even a member of the house!  Deviousness has been the hallmark of all the four governments we have had in this New Nepal. As said rather honestly again and again by the party chieftains, their purpose is not to write the constitution but to indefinitely continue with the charade of a "process" that benefits them and only them (in their own words: "shanti ra sambidhan lekhan prakriya lai aghi badhauney") It is over-romantic journalists in the corporate media that want the rest of us to believe that this "process" is meant to be for the good of the Nepali people, that the goal of the party thugs is not at all to keep us mired in poverty or to prolong their authoritarianism over the rest of us for their party welfare."

I hope you will take this rewording as a sign that your readers do NOT believe in Santa Claus or that the moon is made of blue cheese!

7. krishna S.

Let me be the devil's advocate here. Isn't PKD wanting to become President on a directly elected system? Think someone else will do a better job? Vote for him or her. Simple!

But wait....., we all know who will win in such a contest. Deep inside we know where the majority poor and "ignorant" will exercise their unalienable right, right?

At least make something else up. Stop the hypocricy please.

8. Nirmal Gautam
Kunda - one thing good is that your paper is getting a lot of us excited !  The younger generation of Nepalis can see through the evil motives of Nepali leaders that are destroying Nepal with the help of the southern neighbour. Dahal is taking steps so he can become a President, and he will sell his soul in the process. BRB has the most biggest and corrupt govt. Gyanendra and few handful sycopaths used to loot Nepal, now all the parties, ( NC, UML, Maoist, Madhes) literally hundreds of individulas are looting each and every day. Is the price for democracy. A country without law and order, no security, boom in criminal culture and activity,  corrupt govt., corrupt police, corrupt army, this not what we had hoped for in 1990.  Without upholding the law and order, without a new generation of leadership,  we will keep getting more of the same. How will the poor and uneducated Nepalis exercise the power of the ballot box. All elections are rigged. This is what we get for trusting Dahal or Bhattarai, or the NC or the UML, who are traitors not patriots.         

9. Satya Nepali

Well, we can't only blame the 'politicians' for potentially kicking us into poverty, ethnic strife and authoritarianism, can we? We need to ask: who got those politicians in that position of power in the first place? Who provided them the opportunity to (re)write a "New Constitution" when we had a pretty good one already (1990 Constitution)?

The Maoists had always said their aim was an authoritarian communist republic. They always said that putting down their arms and entering a (fake) peace process was just another phase in their long drawn-out war to get to their ultimate objective.

Who chose to ignore these warning signs while highlighting the false 'peace' aspect? Who chose to masquerade the Maoists, including PKD and BRB, as heroes of the poor? And who red-carpeted them to power and legitimized their violence?

...the same people who did so now express shock and surprise at the way things are turning out. Should the fellow Nepali readers of this paper allow themselves to be fooled by such *drama*? Can we expect HONESTY from our political leaders when we don't demand it from our 'intellectual' leaders and when we don't practice it ourselves???

The warning signs were always there. Our so-called 'intelletual leaders', journalists, editors and opinion-makers simply chose to ignore them and kept the masses uninformed about the truth. Not only that, those who tried to express the truth were hounded as royalists, regressives, extreme rightists and such sundry flattering names, flustered, frustrated and humiliated, and forced to self-censor and shut up. While the journalists/intellectuals promoted themselves as grand 'democratic champions', and led us through the treacherous paths of the past 6-7 years that has brought us to this cliff-fall now. And then they have the temerity to wring their hands in agony and pretend as if it's all somebody else's fault!

Will the esteemed readers of this paper be fooled, allow themselves to be fooled, by such tomfoolery, such 'bakwas', such 'nautanki'?!

10. Satya Nepali

The journalist class of Nepal has been the greatest 'useful idiots' of Maoists there ever was. (This too has been pointed out to them since 2005, which they have happily ignored like all the other warning signs). Some commenter above asks why no one has been honest enough to tell the Nepali people the truth. Well, when telling the truth involves revealing one's own complicity in a dirty game, then the truth gets obfuscated, suffocated and submerged under many layers of Lies until it disappears (they hope!). More so in case of those whose role has been that of a doormat, a useful idiot. You can't expect such people to come out and reveal their doormat status can you? Especially when they are so full of themselves, they think they are higher and better than any other human being in Nepal, as Rubeena poignantly points out in her hard-hitting column in this very issue.

Bottom-line fellow readers: whatever you do, please don't buy this editor's game of casting all the blame for our sad state of affairs on (some) politcians alone. The key questions are: who got those politicians, including the Maoists, there? Who helped them get there? And why so despite all the warning signs all along the way?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)