Sunday, July 10, 2005

Democrats, Drop Your Buckets

A ship in the Atlantic that had been lost for a while and was short on drinking water, back in the days, sighted another ship and contacted it by morse code asking for some. The other ship sent back a message: Drop your buckets, you are off the mouth of the Amazon river.

That is my message to the Democrats, in Kathmandu, inside Nepal, in Delhi, in the US, and elsewhere, but primarily in Nepal.

The democrats are sufficient on their own. The success of the movement for democracy does not depend on anything the Monarchists and the Maoists will or will not do, although it always helps if those two forces behave in certain ways. But so far it has been the internal homework or lack thereof on the part of the democrats that has been in the way.

Look at what Girija's approach was to the insurgency when he was in power. The Nepali Congress has been the biggest hurdle to the idea of a Constituent Assembly in the past years, surprisingly more so than even the Monarch and the Monarchists, who probably had bigger doubts about the idea, but did not have to so reveal. Because the Nepali Congress was already doing more against the idea than the Monarchists needed to.

Only today I read a Ram Chandra Poudel interview in which he says there is no problem in Nepal that can not be solved within the 1990 constitution, and I am thinking, which planet is this guy on? And he is supposed to be among the more progressive of the Congress people, an up and coming new generation leader. No wonder my conclusion has been the days of the Nepali Congress being the largest party in Nepal are permanently over.

Narahari Acharya wrote this great letter to the NC Central Committee about inner party democracy when he was in jail, and now he is out and efforts are on to sideline him inside the party. This party is going bonkers!

When 2,000 people have been killed, you do not budge, but when 12,000 people have been killed, then you are for a Constituent Assembly. Does that not mean you were waiting for 10,000 more people to die? When there is a parliament and you are Prime Minister, you do not budge, but then democracy is washed away, you are jailed, and many are exiled, then suddenly you are for the Assembly idea. What does that tell me? That 2/1 is the reason for your change of heart, in a spurious way.

But past is past. Finger pointing will not take us far, except in that the former intransigence continues. The Congress and the UML Bahuns are still not openly for federalism. The republic idea has room for flexibility, even for the Maoists, if things go a certain way, Nepal will still have a Constitutional Monarchy, and not even the Maoists will object, if their former formal stances are any indication, but federalism is an issue on which there can be no compromise.

Another is inner party democracy. That is a big one. There has to be a visible effort to that end. The reason the movement has been lukewarm to date is because the people have no desire to go back five or 10 years. 1999 was not heaven, 1993 was not heaven. They were, at a level, democratic hell. Not as bad as Panchayat, parts I and II, but hell nevertheless.

And then there is corruption. Where do the democrats stand on corruption? It is not a matter of "good" people ending up Prime Ministers and ministers. It is a matter of having the laws and law enforcement in place.

These Congress and UML Bahuns can get down to work, or the new generation in those parties might have to take over. I mean, people like Girija and MaKuNe, in their recent speeches, they do mention Janajatis if pressed to. But the terms Madhesi, Mahila and Dalit escape their imagination. Because each of those terms tell them, their background is one of privilege and that is a problem.

If you are not going to give ground on the DaMaJaMa issues when you are at your low point powerwise, and you are down and out, and need help from every possible person, what are the chances you are going to have a change of heart once you get into power?

So there has to be homework on federalism, inner party democracy and corruption, and that homework has to be done now. Because the movement for democracy depends on it.

In The News
  • ‘Multi-party democracy, only pillar’ Kathmandu Post, Nepal all political parties should come up with a clear vision to strengthen only one pillar - multi-party democracy..... a nation cannot exist without democracy. Monarchy is not required for its existence..... the supporters of monarchy are now contemplating a system without political parties..... Political parties should clearly state that the time to accept constitutional monarchy has already gone .... we are proceeding towards a final and decisive battle.... The civil administration has been replaced by a military one... not only sovereignty but also state authority should rest with people .... the monarch can remain only as a ceremonial head without any executive power. "But people also have the right whether to accept such a ceremonial monarch" ..... the king is not fighting terrorism. "Immediately after February 1, free press, political parties and civil society have been targeted, but not the Maoists"
  • Dr Bhattarai's book released in Delhi Kathmandu Post, Nepal 'Monarchy vs. Democracy: The Epic Fight in Nepal' ..... Professor S D Muni with Jawaharlal Nehru University .... Over the years, India has put monarchy at the center of its Nepal policy.... Now, it's time we reviewed our policy and put people at the center instead..... The book mainly contains Bhattarai's articles in the press, his interviews and summary of the Maoist proposal put forth during the past negotiation. .... The publication of the book in English language is seen as Bhattarai's desperate attempt to reach out to the masses, especially those living in India and the third countries.
  • Problems deferred, not over for Nepal Kathmandu Post, Nepal Madhav Kumar Nepal, has postponed the party's central committee meeting scheduled for Sunday, July 10, by a month, sensing strong criticism of the leadership from the members..... the UML ministers in the Deuba government are still planning to hold general secretary Nepal responsible for the UML's failure in the government..... to give some more time to Jhala Nath Khanal, party standing committee member, to complete his review report of the post-1990 democratic exercise and UML's performance in the Deuba government.... the reports coming from a majority of the districts have urged the party leadership to take strong action against UML ministers in the then Deuba government..... "I was surprised when he told the public that he was not aware of the decision to hike the petroleum prices." .... The UML ministers, as Pokharel claimed, had even asked the party general secretary to either withdraw or replace the UML team in the government when the ordinances on palace expenses and the welfare fund of the Royal Nepalese Army were introduced in the cabinet. However, he told us to remain in the government" ..... with regard to restructuring of the party structure .... senior leaders in the party are now against restructuring the party, including a change in leadership," said the central committee member, adding, "there is confusion about who would replace Nepal. Therefore, powerful leaders like K P Oli, Pradip Nepal and Bam Dev Gautam have decided to drag this issue to the next general convention
  • Docs treating Maoists under scanner Kathmandu Post, Nepal tight surveillance on all private doctors practicing in districts bordering Nepal..... receiving treatment and sanctuary in private nursing homes in the bordering areas..... Nepali Maoists have been crossing the border regularly for medical treatment.
  • Nail defaulters to revive banks Kathmandu Post, Nepal financial discipline in the corporate sector needs to be enhanced by adopting the internationally accepted auditing and accounting standards, and making the overall financial condition more transparent..... "Nobody is allowed to misuse the hard-earned money of the depositors" .... Referring to the policy adopted by the Pakistani government against the defaulters, he said Nepal also needs the similar policy to compel the defaulters to repay the loans..... political interference in the banks is a hurdle to boost the recovery process of troubled loans..... J. C. McAllister, chief executive officer of the Nepal Bank Ltd viewed that the Bankruptcy Act must be introduced as soon as possible in order to make the loans recovery process easier.
  • Unions protest proposed amendments Kathmandu Post, Nepal Unions of civil service employees have said that the Civil Service (Amendment) Ordinance passed by a Cabinet meeting Wednesday is undemocratic and detrimental to the morale of civil servants and have warned of severe consequences to the government...... the government has violated ILO Conventions 87, 98 and 151, to which it is signatory..... an amendment aimed at rendering unions powerless was in the offing. International Confederation of Free Trade Unions recently filed a case against that at ILO, Geneva ..... dumping secretaries to the reserve pool is a failed concept. "The Civil Service Act, 1992, discarded the idea, as it makes secretaries insecure and hurts their morale" ..... accused the government of seeking to escape the role of an ideal employer by deciding in favor of contractual appointments at lower levels. Pokharel added that the decision to reject seniority as a criterion for promotion will also hurt the morale of joint secretaries...... warned the government to be prepared for "unpleasant consequences".....Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities has expressed dismay over the removal of reservations for women, dalits and indigenous people in public service.
  • NC convention to decide monarchy: Koirala the upcoming party General Convention would decide the party's relation with the monarchy.... August 30 to September 2.
  • FM news indispensable: Int’l media mission Kantipur Online, Nepal Secretary General of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, Marcelo Solervicens said Saturday that the FM stations couldn’t be imagined without them airing news...“FM radios in Latin America and Africa are operating wire services too.”
  • Maoists' bunkers busted on Nepal border, Nepal a Kargil-like saga ... Valmiki Tiger Reserve .... a Maoist training camp atop Hadua-bah, at 3500 ft in the Someshwar mountain which forms part of the Raghia range of the lower Himalayas on the Nepal border.... "We busted two bunkers on the mountain top and dug out landmines, detonators, explosives, medicines and surgical kits, a computer set and Maoist literature in a large seizure" .... The police were led up the Maoist mountain trail by disclosures made by Bipat Choudhary, a hardcore extremist involved in the recent Madhuban attack.... the Maoists had recently abandoned this training camp. After demolishing the bunkers, police dug the ground..... The cache was buried in a box encased in layers of polythene sheets inside a wooden crate.... a brand new Pentium IV LG colour monitor, UPS, scanner with HP laser printer, two landmines, explosives, detonators, 44 cartridges, nine .303 bore and four .315 bullets, medical kit including antibiotics, injection vials, bandages, surgical kit, a table fan, hand mike, paper-cutting machine, stationery and firearm-repairing instruments..... a 500-page Chinese-published Hindi translation of a book titled "Jung se chhiri kahaniya — Mao-tse-Tung ki sankalit rachnayein" ... Two Hindi and one English dictionaries were also found. Army uniforms — both male and female sizes — were also part of the seizure.
  • LTTE maintains studied silence on the London Bomb Blasts? Asian Tribune, Thailand (LTTE) which is normally the first to comment on significant global events have maintained a studied silence on the London bomb blasts ... All its affiliate websites and media have blacked out the terrorist attack in London..... maintained a grim silence to cover up its links with terrorist organizations, according to analysts..... Analysts have traced LTTE links to the al-Quaida and other terrorist groups. Latest Indian news sources, quoting the Maoist rebels in Nepal, states that the LTTE are providing military training to them....provided cyanide pills to commit suicide if they are caught. .... LTTE record indicates that it maintained a grim silence after suicide bombers high jacked planes and crashed into the New York Twin Towers on 9/11 killing over 3,000 innocent civilians..... more than 110,000 Sri Lankan Tamils sought political asylum in Britain, since 1977.....The LTTE, it is estimated, collects more 200,000 British pounds per month..... collected monies are transferred illegally to Vanni through ‘hundi’ arrangements.
  • Letters to a Young Activist, AZ "If you secede from politics because you'd rather stay home and live a quieter, sweeter life or stick to your last or cultivate your garden, in effect you leave politics to the blindest, most unbalanced, meanest-spirited people. So if you want to make the world more tolerable, you really have no choice but to discipline yourself to collaborate with imperfect allies, not angels.".... a real challenge for the left of the center against the right (or the far left) is the inherent liberal tendency to differ, welcome diversity and dislike power. Overall, the left is more likely to produce filmmakers, philosophers, writers, musicians and artists rather than people in power, whereas the right is driven by unity for the sake of power itself (at the end of Left Forum 2005, Bill Fletcher warned, If the left is not interested in power, then this is all a game)...... the problematic nature of identity politics in the context of racism and other biases, the need to love what is not perfect and to criticize what is loved.... crucial to saving a movement is making it fun, and being fresh and innovative.... the anti-war movement was always met with popular opposition..... "There's no wrong time to live, only the right way to live your one and only life at the moment you're living it."

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