Friday, June 20, 2014

The Meaning Of 12 Lakh Votes

English: a aerial view of field in terai in Nepal
English: a aerial view of field in terai in Nepal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Eastern Terai -  - HT -3
Eastern Terai - - HT -3 (Photo credit: lecercle)
If the unified Madhesi party ends up with 12 lakh votes, that would mean the party is as good in the Terai in political strength as the NC and the UML might be nationally. That unified Madhesi party will be the natural party of power in the two Terai states.

Natural Allies: 10 Lakh Votes

MJF(D) 2,83,468

MJFN 2,14,319
TMLP 1,81,140
SP 1,40,930

NMSP 79,508
TMSP 65,047

MJF(R) 35,289
Federal Sadbhavana Party 25,215

These eight parties are natural allies and are candidates for becoming one party. Add to that JP Gupta's grouping. That makes it nine. The Tharu parties might be a harder nut to crack. But attempts have to be made. Bijay Gachhedar should take the lead there. If he can not even unify the Tharu parties, what good is he?

Tharuhat Tarai Party Nepal 62,526
Dalit Janajati Party 48,802
Federal Democratic National Front (Tharuhat) 21,519
Tharuhat Tarai Party Nepal 13,811

And then there are the fringe Madhesi parties.

Nepali Janata Dal 33,203
Madhesh Samata Party Nepal 23,001


Looks like I got the numbers wrong in the last post. Here are the revised numbers.

MJF(D)  2,83,468

MJFN    2,14,319
TMLP   1,81,140
SP         1,40,930

NMSP      79,508
TMSP      65,047

Tharuhat Tarai Party Nepal  62,526
Dalit Janajati Party               48,802
MJF(R)                               35,289
Nepali Janata Dal                 33,203
Federal Sadbhavana Party    25,215
Madhesh Samata Party Nepal   23,001
Federal Democratic National Front (Tharuhat) 21,519
Tharuhat Tarai Party Nepal 13,811

Total Votes     12,27,778

Madhesi Party Unification: 14 Parties, Not Just 3

Madhesi Parties: 12 Lakh PR Votes

It is to be noted that the Madhesi parties did not get fewer votes than in 2008. At 12 lakh votes, they seem to compete with the Maoists themselves. There was no anti-incumbency wave against the Madhesi parties. They punished themselves by being divided into 14 parties. There is no need for another Madhesi Movement. There is only a need for a unification among these 14 parties.

Election Results

MJF(D)  2,66,276
MJF, N  2,12,733
TMLP   1,80,435
SP         1,33,521
NMSP      79,264
Terai Madhesh Sadbhavana Party  64,299
Tharuhat Terai Party Nepal           62,889
Dalit Janajati Party                        47,696
Nepali Janata Dal                          33,186
MJF(R)                                        32,004
Federal Sadbhavana Party              26,463
Madhesh Samta Party Nepal          23,960
Federal Democratic National Front (Tharuhat) 21,519
Tharuhat Tarai Party Nepal           13,811

Total Votes 11,98,056

Thursday, June 19, 2014

NRNA USA: The Next Steps

Regions and eligible countries for the Diversi...
Regions and eligible countries for the Diversity Visa lottery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With the newly organized elections for the first time the Non Resident Nepali Association has become a mass based organization in America, but barely so. If there are 200,000 Nepalis in America, the 2,000 people who voted for Khagendra GC are but one per cent of the target population. And so the immediate focus has to shift to a massive membership drive, much of which can be done online. For elections to be held within a year, the voter base has to cross the 10,000 mark. Even with 20,000 members the organization will have but organized perhaps only 10% or less of the target population.

I think the membership drive by now has hit an autopilot mode. There is a natural rush among the people to join the organization. That is a far cry from the ground reality only a few years back. The use of digital tools has made a major contribution to that end.

But the membership drive is only part of the story. Modern digital tools make possible for an organization to become truly grassroots, not just during membership drives and elections, but also after. A candidate with a public Facebook page that gets updated regularly allows for an election to go beyond name and face recognition to actually igniting discussions on issues. Photos and videos from events shared on such a public Facebook page draw people in, regardless of if they showed up or not, and most can’t.

A national organization necessarily has to hold its regular meetings over conference calls. International meetings can be held over Skype. There are still conferences people show up for, but digital meetings allow for broad participation.

But the most cutting edge thing the NRNA could do would not be digital at all. Encouraging ordinary members to organize monthly home meetings would go a long way to turning the organization truly grassroots. In person is still supreme, and will continue to be.

Those monthly home meetings could be about discussing agenda items sent from the central committee, but also about suggesting agenda items that the central committee should discuss. The communication has to be two way. But the primary thrust of such meetings has to be the upward mobility of members. Most Nepalis in NYC make less than 10 dollars an hour. How can more and more members be guided to possibly making more than 10 dollars per hour? There has to be brainstorming, there has to be note sharing.

The local NRNA has to build formal vehicles to encourage more and more people in Nepal to apply for the diversity visa lottery, and make it smoother for lottery winners to transition their way into America, whether they personally know someone or not. But once here most Nepalis stay stuck in where they started for a decade or more. I think the monthly home meeting could help steer people to look beyond where they stand right now.

A lot of socioeconomic mobility is about exercising the muscles between your ears. There is so much to learn online for free or cheap that can help people move up the income brackets. And being organized helps. There is a clear social component to learning.

Shared wifi can cost as little as $10 per person. You can get a Chromebook for $250. And that is all you need to go to university. We live in an era of lifelong education. No Nepali I know is too educated to learn some more.

So far NRNA membership drives feel like an exercise to help a few dozen people get their fix of politicking and for abstract far flung concepts like dual citizenship. NRNA membership has to be made of month to month immediate relevance to its ordinary members. Beyond taking the membership of the organization past 20,000, that push should be the real thrust of the association.

Keeping all book keeping transparent online, keeping all meeting minutes transparent online would go a long way to making the organization truly grassroots. Heck, in this day and age it should be possible to produce and share video minutes of meetings on Facebook. You get a minute here, a minute there, and edit and share.

If there are two million Nepalis outside South Asia, and if 200,000 of them are in America, the country’s share comes to about 10%. Funny that the top country on the planet has been the last to get organized to some extent as far as the Non Resident Nepali movement is concerned. Perhaps some day NRNA USA might even aspire for global leadership. Going decidedly grassroots and being number one in the use of digital technology is how you get there.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Restructuring The Permanent State

Unison (Shin Terai album)
Unison (Shin Terai album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once you decide on how many states, their areas and their names, and once you decide on the size and shape of the parliament, and that of the office of the president and prime minister, attentions shifts to the states.

6 Geographic States With Geographic Names
205 + 100 MPs At Most

The six states should have one chamber parliaments that are at most 100 strong. So the two Terai states might have chambers that are 100 strong each, whereas the four hill states might have chambers that are 50 strong each. For a total of about 400 state level legislators. The majority in each elects its Chief Minister.

Then you shape up the district and local level governments.

The biggest part of state restructuring is what do you do with the bureaucrats. What do you do with the police? The army?

The civil war has been over for years now, but the Nepal Army has not been downsized. That is a problem. The Nepal Army needs to be downsized drastically to about 10,000 soldiers. Policing will be a state function. And obviously you can't have a Pahadi police force in the Terai. Some downsizing will have to happen in the police force as well. The armed police force was constituted in the face of the Maoist insurgency. But that insurgency is over. Some police personnel can be shifted to the states, but not all. Many will have to be guided into the private sector of the economy. This is part of the peace process still. Foreign aid can be sought for the same. People don't find their livelihoods gone. They just find they have new vocations now.

The same goes to ministries. Many will have to be downsized, a few will have to be eliminated.

State restructuring is not state restructuring unless you restructure the permanent government.
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205 + 100 MPs At Most

I am pretty happy with the map I drew a few days back.

6 Geographic States With Geographic Names

The next question obviously is, how do you constitute the national parliament.

The two Terai states would end up with something like 55% of the population and so should get 55% of the MPs.

How many MPs total? If a large country like India has about 500, a small country like Nepal should be able to do with 200. So, say, 205 is the Lower House, and 100 in the Upper House.

Once you figure out which district gets how many MPs, then there should be reservations. 10% of the constituencies should be reserved for Dalits. As in, only Dalit candidates may contest. These should be the 22 constituencies with the largest shares of Dalit populations. Eight of these 22 should be reserved for Dalit women.

Every third constituency should be reserved for women. 20% of these for Dalit women, 30% for Madhesi women, 30% for Janajati women.

First past the post for the Lower House.

For the 100 seats in the Upper House, it is all proportional. So a party that gets 30% of the votes gets 30% of the seats, and so on. The list has to be submitted beforehand. As in, you can not change the list ex post facto. And the list should be inclusive of the DaMaJaMa. As in, one third women, 10% Dalits, and so on. One third women meaning every third name on the list is a woman.

205 + 100 = 305.

This would be the national parliament. It could be made that the entire parliament elects the Prime Minister, and not just the Lower House.

Every elected leader in the country at local, state and national level will form a pool. That pool will elect a president who would be the constitutional head and the Commander In Chief of the Nepal Army.
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