Nepal: Political Laboratory
Nepal, more than anything else, more than a place where I grew up, more than lingering therapy for some past unpleasant to downright devastating experiences as a Madhesi, has been a political laboratory for me. I have imagined new things possible. And I have been disappointed.
It would have been nice to have one third of the constituencies reserved for women. Noone else in the world is doing it. A new constitution should be a cutting edge constitution. But that was not to be. I would also have liked a multi-party democracy of state funded parties, each party getting money in direct proportion to how many votes they collect, and being barred from other sources of funding. But not even the Maoists have gone for this.
I have not been a journalist reporting on events. I have been a digital activist trying to shape events. The distance has been a boon. I would have been less effective in person on the ground. From 10,000 miles away in New York City I have devoured on information sources to suggest actions and strategies to the progressive forces. The progressives of 2005 are the unapologetic regressives of 2015, and so 2015 still feels like 2005 to me, as the cause closest to my heart, equality for Madhesis, is as unfinished as ever as of now.
But the good news is India is waking up. As late as early this year, I was lamenting the word Madhesi does not exist in Patna, Lucknow or Delhi. But now the word also exists as fas as Kerala. The Madhesis for the first time have showed up on the Indian map. Never before have an Indian Prime Minister, an Indian Home Minister, an Indian Foreign Minister taken interest in Madhesis. Heck, I never got the impression they were ever aware we even existed. But that has changed, and that is tectonic. There are as many Madhesis as Jews on the planet today. Jesus was born a Jew, Buddha a Madhesi.
There have been take away lessons for me. I might have failed to shape political events exactly to my liking in Nepal, but I have managed to formulate a political roadmap for India. That India is the largest democracy, and democracy is not India doing America’s bidding, although it is high time America considered India to be the new Britain, its number one ally in the world. Democracy is native to India: the earliest republics were during the early years of Buddhism. America’s original mission of a total spread of democracy gets kneecapped by its original sin: race. The militarism gets in the way. It is too rich and unrelatable by the vast swaths in the Global South. There are not enough semi-educated Muslims in America. India has none of those disadvantages. India is better positioned to carry the torch than is America, although it remains shy. There is a peaceful way to spread democracy. Actually, peaceful is the only legitimate way, it is the most effective way. And there India can take the lead. And there my Nepal experience has not disappointed. If democracy will enter China, it will more likely do so through Nepal than Taiwan. Tibet is China’s soft belly. Tibet is too far from the China proper, and it is too close to Nepal and India. The Tibetan plateau will forever remain vulnerable, until it opens up.
The Law Of Political Entropy (I formulated it) says, a country tends democracy granted there is sufficient flow of information. Democracy is the natural order of things, and it comes from inside the human heart, inside every human heart. But its expression requires a free flow of information, often stenched by autocratic regimes. So powers like America and India that live and die by democracy, or should live and die by democracy, should focus first and foremost on beaming down the Internet to all corners of the globe. Elon Musk is already doing it. The US government should simply become an angel investor and perhaps buy 10% of his satellite internet company for 10 billion dollars. The growth that investment might see will also help pay down some of the humongous American debt. The Chinese might appreciate.
Democracy has to come as a consciousness and a roadmap, and an organizational structure and a leadership flow. Perhaps you start in the diaspora. Once you are ready, and you have an interim constitution at the ready, and an interim Head Of State in waiting, then you seek to shut the country down completely. At least 25% of the people will need to show up in the streets. The interim government holds elections to a constituent assembly within a year of taking over. The only rule for the interim and the subsequent cosntitution is it may not clash with the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.
This roadmap is the best for the cause of a total spread of democracy, and Nepal has been the political laboratory where I saw it tested on the ground. In this roadmap, the smartphone is the AK-47.
This also means opening wide the doors of immigration in the rich countries. Not only do you need that to prop up your own ageing populations, remittances have been way more effective than foreign aid, and diasporas pick up lessons in democracy and organizing that State Department programs can’t teach, it is beyond their scope. The scale is humongous. Immigration can not, should not be stopped, it should be encourged and managed well. Do not fight it, tame it. Globalization is not just a free flow of information and goods, people also want to move around. That movement brings forth progress. People always seem to want to move from less desirable to more desirable conditions. They know what is more desirable. They move, they soak up, they learn, and then they propagate. They beam it all back to places where they came from. And light spreads. It’s not just democracy, it’s also prosperity. Democracy very appeal is that it makes prosperity possible.
Nepal's Decade Long Political Transition