Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Mainstreaming The Monarchy

So far at this blog my most ardent efforts have been directed towards helping mainstream the Maoists. The Maoists are moving towards a multi-party democratic framework in a consistent, honest way. That is a major achievement for them.

I think the next big push should be to similarly mainstream another archaic force: the Monarchists. Monarchism in its original form is feudal, it is repressive, it is anti-democratic. But just like there are former communists in many parts of the world who have successfully entered the multi-party framework, there are many monarchies that carry zero venom towards the democratic process. In many ways it should be easier to transform the monarchy in Nepal.

It has become a fashion statement in several democratic corners in Nepal, especially among the youth, to say you are republican. And I respect that sentiment. That should find its legitimate outlet. On the other hand, that sentiment also has at times taken the form of posturing. Personally I am not interested in any posturing. It can give you a sense of belonging in a cliquish way, but can get in the way of genuine creative political work. For one, a rigid stance like that one limits one's flexibility.

That does not mean I am not republican. Under certain circumstances I can see the country going republic. Say if the movement really takes off, and the king gets cruel in trying to suppress it. I am not predicting he will. I don't know. But if he goes that route, the country should and will go republican.

If not, my stance on the monarchy is that of a democrat. If the majority of Nepalis want to keep the monarchy, it is for the democrats to respect that sentiment. You can find that out through a Constituent Assembly, or you can go look at the results of the last conducted nationwide scientific polls. And incorporate that public support for a strictly constitutional monarchy into the political platform.

The bigger impediment to the movement really taking off is the so far reluctance of the seven parties to work on internal reforms. Democracy has to be introduced inside the parties before it can be earned for the country at large.

Once you have done your homework, and then once the movement takes off, if the king goes on being an obstacle to democracy, then going down the republican route might be a viable option. But the republican slogan can not be a symptom of the parties refusing to conduct internal reforms. Such a slogan can sound like a cover-up, it can sound hollow.

I request the seven parties to look again at my Proposed Constitution for both issues: the monarchy, and internal reforms.

China And Nepal

China is an amazing economic story. Its consistent near double digit economic growth rates are truly amazing. Most democracies and aspiring democracies in the Global South, India among them, could learn a whole lot on the economic front from China. But then that success has been rooted in the market mechanism, not communism as has been traditionally known. The Chinese success earns points for political stability, for foreign direct investment, for consistent policy work, for focus, but it is not a statement on autocracy. On the other hand, I think China could never really become a world power with a global reach without becoming a democracy.

China is not supporting the king's move of 2/1. It is staying neutral. Tomorrow if a democratic movement were to come up with a policy to even more closely integrate with China, that country is going to respond even more positively. That is China on Nepal for you. China is basically politically neutral on what happens inside Nepal, but economically it wants to go ahead as much as possible. What that means is, as the movement for democracy gathers steam, China is going to continue to stay neutral. It will not be for or against such a movement.

And so, no, the China card does not exist.

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