Monday, March 28, 2005

Nepal Journalists Read Blogdai?

Great article written by kantipur. We wish blogdai had said it. Wait a minute...blogdai DID say it. Read "A Compromise" below and see the similarities. For this new article, blogdai disagrees only with the proposed term limits of 8-10 years; it's too long. In that time, politicos could figure out the system and just steal faster. No, keep 'em confused: 4 years maximum for public service. -=blogdai

Democratise parties first Op-ed by Shyam Shrestha in Kantipur, 20 March

February First was no surprise. It was the political party leadership that had an important role in bringing it about. At a time when elections weren’t possible, Sher Bahadur Deuba dissolved parliament. Even though he could have extended the mandate of local councils by one year, Deuba didn’t and left the villages and districts without people’s representatives. None other than Girija Prasad Koirala ruled the country for eight out of the 12 years, yet he did nothing to strengthen democracy, take it to the grassroots and make it more inclusive. He refused to bring the royal massacre to parliament to discuss it. Then there was Madhab Kumar Nepal who jumped ship at a time when the street agitation against the October Fourth move was gathering momentum and declared that regression had been corrected and joined a royal appointed government just because his party got a few powerless seats in the cabinet.

Someone once said, “I’m not afraid of my enemies, I know them: save me from my friends.” Nepal’s democracy needs to be saved from its adherents, not from its enemies. Driven by a lust for power, they have hacked off the branches, trunk and roots of democracy until there is only a stump left.

Even so, there is no alternative to multiparty democracy. If democratic leaders make mistakes, the right to punish them is with the sovereign people and the rank of file of their own parties. Democracy shouldn’t be punished for the mistakes of the political leadership. The alternative to democracy is better, more genuine, democracy. But just the opposite happened here. The leaders made blunders and we penalised the system. It’s like setting fire to a bus because the driver made a mistake.

This is our democratic dilemma: democracy can’t function without political parties, but the leadership of these parties aren’t capable of steering the engine. Restructuring the leadership of the parties, electing new leaders and reforming the parties is the main challenge. There is no point complaining about feudalism in the country if the party runs along feudal lines. If there is no internal democracy within the parties how can they fight for democracy in the country?

Democratisation of the parties must begin with:
1 No leader should remain in the same position for more than two terms, or 8-10 years
2 Party leadership should be inclusive of all viewpoints
3 There should be a free marketplace of ideas inside the party but a unity of purpose in implementation
4 A referendum should be an instrument of reform not just for the country but also for party members to have their say
5 an independent ombudsman should monitor decisions and activities.

If they want democracy to move forward, leaders like Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhab Kumar Nepal, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Mohan Bikram Singh and Narayan Man Bijukche should humbly step down. If they don’t voluntarily step down, the party cadre should force them to do so.
After that the parties need an agenda. The king’s agenda is clear but is the parties’ agenda clear? It can’t be something vague like ‘genuine democracy’, it must chart out a path for pluralism and a resolution to the conflict. It could be a constituent assembly election and an all-party conference to take us to the goal of an inclusive, non-dictatorial multiparty democracy.

We must end this excruciating cycle of struggling for democracy and having it taken away. In 1950, we got a sort of democracy, in 1953, it was taken away. In 1959, democracy was restored and in 1960, it was abolished. In 1990 we reinstated democracy and within 10 years, it has gone again. Does every generation have to fight for democracy all over again? We must find a way to make democracy sustainable so no one can ever take it away. It must be the kind of democracy that makes the people completely sovereign, only that will remove the excuse some people have to take up arms.

7 Comments:

At 2:14 PM, March 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, ok, yes you are right most of the time and yes you are often ahead of the mainstream sources (especially the Indians)but I find you deeply suspicious, not to mention self-absorbed (the latter being almost excusable since you back it up with some pretty incredible stuff) what's your deal anyway? Give us the dosh.

Are you toying with all of us? You are obviously some kind of expert. At least tell us: are you someone of note? famous perhaps?

Nikki, New Zealand

 
At 8:29 PM, April 03, 2005, Anonymous Dipesh said...

You seemed to be quite impartial when you first started off; now you just seem to be just another in a long line which thinks whatever the king did is right. Your tone is turning quite nasty these days. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that your beloved monarch, for whom you had such high hopes, is really turning out to be as empty of ideas as the politicians he so summarily dismissed as inept. Lets face it; the man had two months of absolute power and all the country has to show for it is locked up politicians and more fighting with the Maoists. In two months the country has not moved forward an inch; it might actually be regressing. What makes you think that the situation will suddenly improve and the rebels brought to heel? And believe me, I don't hate the monarchy for the sheer hell of it. If the king can restore some semblance to a country this fractured, then all power to him. However, since he has done nothing in sixty days except announce proclamations, how can you expect anyone to take him seriously? He says that he can crush the Maoists militarily. Don't you think the British, the Indians and the Americans (who are suffering their own identity crisis right now) would know better since they've all been in similar situations before and have become wiser for the experience? Why is it that everyone around is suddenly being seen as the enemy, while China, that most unreliabe of nations, is hailed as a friend? I'm no conspiracy theorist; I am under no illusion that Big Brother up north wants to extend its dominion southward, but even so, why all this hoopla about China? What has it done in the last 50 years to merit being called "a true friend" or whatever it was the king called him?


And what's all this bluster about being able to go it all alone? Example: Iraq. The world's most powerful nation is seemingly powerless to stop an almost daily carnage; how can a poorly equipped and badly trained army (not to mention badly stretched) hope to wipe out an insurgency in terrain that is much more favorable to guerilla warfare than Iraq? I'll retract this argument if the King shows he has adequete intelligence, but that has to be done soon. Sooner rather than later, if this stalemate continues, the ordinary fellow on the street is going to be ticked off. Face it, people like authoritarian governments only if there is something to show for it. If not, at least a democracy offers a platform for screaming your head off.
So here's the problem as I see it. Something tangible has to be done, fast. Otherwise its not the international community that the present government should be worried about, its the wrath of the man on the street.

 
At 8:43 PM, April 03, 2005, Anonymous Dipesh said...

And sorry, furthermore, for linking you with the "we love China" crowd, as I see that you have views that are quite similar to mine. That was a regrettable error that I wish I could correct.

Anyway, I have to commend you for taking an alternative view and expressing yourself very nicely.

"China has no use for anything in Nepal that doesn't have to do with either buffering against India or harrassing Tibetans.China built, and is building roads up to the Nepal border at precisely the points where tibetans are known to cross on their way to India."

This has to be one of the funniest lines I've read in a long time.

 
At 3:06 PM, April 04, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

No worries Dipesh, have edited out your duplicate.

You bring out an interesting observation that, perhaps, is more a sign of our times than a real concern: we want the king to act on our terms and on our impatient western timetable.

Mostly, this Western impatience shows how little world leaders know about doing things on "Nepali time." The West is unilaterally arrogant in its spoiled short-attention-span opinions on events in Nepal: we want it our way and we want it now.

Blogdai is not immune to this phenomenon either. That cynical tone you've noticed is a reflection of my frustration with the slow pace of reforms.

King G. is slow and he's no democrat, but where is the despot? So far G. has added power to anti-corruption monitoring and prosecution and begun to free more politicos. Sure, public demonstrations get shut down, but mostly the ones sponsored by the former corrupt political parties.

This is not a perfect process, but it is a necessary one. Unless this thing starts going noticeably downhill, lets not impose some arbitrary timetable that accomplishes nothing more than satisfying our own arrogant sense of expediency. -=blogdai

 
At 10:22 AM, April 05, 2005, Anonymous Dipesh said...

I don't exactly disagree with your portrayal of our politicians, but I don't think you're making that much sense when you say talk of a real democracy emerging. How would that happen?

You can say that our current netas have done nothing in the past twelve years, but who else can we get in their place? They're bad, some of them, but in a country like Nepal, what else can you expect? As long as the country is dependent on foreign aid, people will exist to skim off as much as they can.

Actually, the problem lies in the villages. That was where the insurgency started and that's where this whole issue will be decided. If the villagers decide that their own needs are worth fighting and dying for, armies and paramilitaries are useless against them. If a person is willing to die for a cause, what power can stop him? But if they feel that all that violence hasn't really gotten them anywhere, only made their situation worse, they'll stop. But as far as I see it, if the security forces keep harassing them too much (as HR groups keep saying) they just might be tempted to join the Maoists.

Someone mentioned Peru, but I think Nepal's going to more like Colombia, where Marxists groups have been engaged in violence for 40 years, first with the security forces, but now mainly with a self appointed vigilate group that's even more violent than the communists.

King Gyanendra would be crazy to encourage such groups to exist in Nepal, which reports suggest he's doing. He may think its a short term thing, but very soon he might find he's got another, bigger problem on his hands. Left wing crazies abducting children by the hundreds and chopping off hands and feet are bad enough, do we also need an equally brutal right wing reaction to it? And like Colombia, the two might decide to grow drugs to finance their wars on each other. In Colombia, the army is pretty much reduced to being a marginal player now.

The very fact that the King is encouraging vigilantism seems to me that he is running out of options. If he had intelligence, he would have no need to take such a drastic step. You made a good point about how good intelligence was the key to crushing the Sendoro Luminoso in Peru and how we really don't have that kind of intelligence. But then, you seemed to be running away from your own conclusion when you made an about turn and claimed that for peace to come about, the army still needed decisively against the Maoists. But by your own admission, that won't happen in a while.

You might make light of the vigilantism I talked about and say it was an isolated case, but right wing extremism is like left wing extremism; once its out of the bag, its really difficult to put it inside. I took Colombia as an example, but there's one right next door-- the dreaded Ranvir Sena in Bihar. Of course, this group operates only in the one pocket of the state in which the Maoists are strong, wheras Nepal's case is more apt to be like Colombia's where there's fighting in a much larger area of the country.

 
At 9:20 PM, April 06, 2005, Anonymous A said...

Why hasn't blogdai been gazing at his crystal ball as frequently as he used to?

a) blogger fatigue has set in
b) blogdai has attained nirvana
c) blogdai has landed a 6 figure job
d)blogdai got himself a girlfriend and has better things to do.
e)blogdai is off to Rome to pay his tributes

 
At 10:38 AM, April 07, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

A, where have you been? Good to have you back.

a) we are in a slow news cycle right now and blogdai doesn't want repetition.

b) paras has not done anything stupid recently (is he sick?)

c) expect some fireworks in the next week or so!

-=blogdai

 

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