Monday, January 11, 2016

In The News (14)

What’s different?
The seven-province federal model adopted by the new constitution could be seen as the fourth major attempt in the last 250 years of the state trying to perpetuate the state of inequality among social groups. ..... the nobility of pre-unification Gorkha palace continued to rule the roost in the new unified territories comprised of the old chiefdoms of Khasan, Magarat, Newa, Khambuwan, Limbuwan, Tirahut, Simranghad, etc. This nobility came from chhatharghar (Pandey, Panta, Aryal, Rana, Bohara, and Khanal, all Khas Arya except one Magar). ...... Some Chhetri families with sir names of Thapa, Basnet and Kunwar, and Thakuri (descendants of the rulers of small principalities known as Baise and Chaubise rajyas pre-unification) joined the royal palace post-unification. These old lords are still at the helm in republican Nepal's politics, bureaucracy, judiciary, security sectors, academia and media. ......... The promulgation of the old civil code in 1854 was the second attempt at making of an exclusionary state. By this code, the state sanctioned the Hindu polity in Vedic order which professes inequality of human beings vertically—Brahman/Chhetri at the top, Matwali (a derogative word used for Janajati as alcohol drinking group) at the middle and Dalit (untouchables) at the bottom. Horizontally, it placed the Hill Brahmin as superior to Madheshi Brahmin. Replacement of old civil code by new one in 1963 theoretically made all Nepalis equal. But practically, the old civil code still largely rules. For instance, Nepali Congress did not field a single Dalit candidate while contesting 240 seats in the second Constituent Assembly election of 2013. ....... Division of Nepal into 75 districts in 1961 could be called the third concerted effort to discourage excluded groups from getting their due share in state apparatus ...... Chepang settlement areas are now dispersed into five districts (Dhading, Gorkha, Tanahun, Makwanpur and Chitwan); hence their position is reduced to tiny minority in electoral constituencies of each of these districts. So no political party picks Chepang for candidacy in election. ........ Except in Province 2, the Khas Arya constitute the majority in Province 6 and Province 7 and as the first largest group in other provinces, with big difference in population to the second largest group—the difference is 14 percent in Province 1 and Province 5; 17 percent in Province 3; and 25 percent in Province 4. Since population has direct bearing in caste/ethnic based distribution of seats allocated under Proportional Representation (PR) of mixed electoral system, the position of ascendency of the Khas Arya over other ethnic group in all provinces, except Province 2, is crystal clear. ......... All know that national politics of Nepal is in the grip of the Khas Arya. This is largely true at local level also. For instance, among the Presidents of 75 District Development Committees elected in the last local election of 1997, the Hill Brahmin/Chhetri constituted 67 percent. Transformation of Nepal into a federal state obviously means creation of a political space at middle level between centre and local. This new political space under seven–province federal model will serve the interest of the same dominant group.

Does not it mean that restructuring Nepal into a federal state will expand the political power of the Khas Arya?

A dysfunctional state
Schools in Kathmandu are open, but all educational institutions in much of central Tarai-Madhesh have remained closed for almost five months. Traffic jams in the capital city hide the fact that petrol sells in the informal market at almost three times the regulated price. ......

At least four ex-chiefs of police force are under investigation for suspected corruption.

As if to prove that their individual net worth was not insubstantial, each succeeded in posting personal bonds of several million rupees within hours of demand to avoid custody. ...... Load-shedding—that's merely a fancy euphemism for enforced disruption in electric supply—lasts for up to 16 hours a day.

Water trickles from the tap once a week for less than an hour in most part of the city.

Cooking gas disappeared from the market soon after protests in Tarai-Madhesh began and even fast-food joints have begun to rely on firewood. ......... Prices of essential goods, including foodstuff, have rocketed. Reports of snowfall around epicenter of Gorkha Earthquake are accompanied with details of government's abject failure in providing even minimal relief to affected families that continue to brave rain, hailstorm and snows under bulging tarpaulin sheets. ...... States fail when they can no longer perform basic functions of providing physical and human security and people are forced to take sides in fractious violence of warlords in order to merely exist....... American Jurist Robert Jackson describes a disintegrating state as lacking "the characteristics of a common public realm: State offices possess uncertain authority, government organizations are ineffective and plagued by corruption, and the political community is segmented ethnically into several 'publics' rather than one." Sounds familiar? Yet, Nepal isn't exactly a flailing state either. .......

Nepal isn't a functioning state.

The state can't guarantee the security of a person's life, liberty, dignity or property. Powerful people are free to flout laws with impunity. In a race to the bottom, one after another government has broken records of failure in providing even minimum level of services such as potable water, rudimentary sanitation, primary healthcare or basic education. ........ Officially, nearly three and half million youths have voted with their feet and gone to perform what are called the 4D (Dirty, difficult, dangerous and desperate) jobs in Sheikhdoms of West Asia and South-East Asia. Many more millions migrate seasonally to India. Trust in government's ability to improve the situation is so low that

everyone who can wants to escape this country at all costs and as soon as possible

. ........... Nepal is perhaps designed to be what it is: A country meant to exist for the benefit of the power elite rather than for the betterment of the lot of laity. ...... Premier Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli hasn't spoken a single coherent sentence ever since becoming the head of government. His deputies vie with each other in spouting absurdities. One DPM, sworn into office to protect and promote the secular republic, openly advocates Hindutva and monarchy. Another of his colleagues has taken it upon himself to denounce federalism that he is constitutionally-bound to implement. ....... another DPM revels in bigoted denouncement of Madheshi politicos. Singing hosannas of long-dead monarchs is the chief occupation of a minor DPM. The last one of the laughable lot takes the cake for ridiculousness: His party is agitating against, and negotiating for political settlement, with the same government in which he is a senior DPM. ......

The duplicity lies in the Gorkhali system of governance rather than with any individual.

....... When the warrior-chieftain of Gorkha principality conquered Nepal valley and declared himself the new monarch, King Prithvi Narayan Shah (1723- 1775) made sure that all power shall remain for foreseeable future within the circle of family loyalists. In order to consolidate his control over the newfound country, he put in place a ladder of communal hierarchy, militarist structure of governance, and patrimonial pattern of sharing the loot in acquired territories. By and large, the same system remains intact even after nearly two-and-half centuries. ......

the message for those who don't agree with the proposition is unmistakable: Go, agitate to your heart's content but not even a coma will change in the supreme law of the land to dilute Gorkhali hegemony.

Einstein called nationalism "an infantile disease" and "measles of mankind", but then the heroes of the PEON are Hitler and Stalin. ...... Nepal has been a vassal state since the Treaty of Sugauli (1814-1816); Jung turned it into a tributary enterprise by putting the entire country and all its resources at the disposal of the British Empire. There is a reason the Ranarchy (1846 – 1951) lasted for over a century by turning the entire country into a giant prison. ......... The constitutive norm of sovereignty in the international system allowed states with virtually no capacity to effectively govern to exist and function with the patronage of hegemonic powers. Mere existence is the essence of negative sovereignty. ........ This land is truly at the mercy of Lord Pashupatinath.

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