Gods in Kathmandu seem less inhibited than ministers!
In a fresh interview with the BBC on Oct 6, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Bam Dev Gautam has reiterated his firm commitment on War on Sex & Liquor in Kathmandu night bars. Gautam dismissed the argument of right to work during the night hours asking, “What sort of work on earth do they want to do during the dark hours when most people in Nepali culture go to bed after the whole day of work?” Gautam further elaborated on the relationship of law and order situation with alcohol, sex, and criminal activities.
Earlier, talking to entrepreneurs in Pokhara, Gautam proposed that he may allow “tourist related such works” within a certain periphery in Pokhara, but not in the capital Kathmandu. Gautam also claimed that most of the customers in the night bars in Kathmandu are not tourists but derelict Nepali youths.
Critics compare Gautam’s move as just another populist measure like Maoist’s resistance to Miss Nepal Pageant. But, Gautam comes from a moderate communist party UML which advocates a form of democratic socialist ideals. Some hotel entrepreneurs, too, criticized Gautam’s strict orders to the police to shut down all bars and discos by 11 in the evening as dictatorial, fearing such actions would be detrimental to tourism industry. They also accused that most of the sex-work are conducted in the restaurants belonging to the former security officials, and the police enjoys a weekly income the hafta bribery threatening the genuine workers with charges of indecent activities.
Gautam lamented that critics ignored the positive impacts made within a month of his declaration of War on Sex & Don culture and vowed that he’d either free Kathmandu of all social evils within six months or would step down from his post in case of failure.
Despite all resistances, Gautam has found a firm support among mostly either traditional or left-leaning Nepali society. The locals of the major tourist hub Thamel in Kathmandu have even come up with a Press Statement applauding Gautam for curbing “noise, crime, and indecent activities” in their area.
Home minister Gautam further elaborated on his upcoming liquor regulating act plan, “You must produce your citizenship card and fill up a form mentioning your three generations before you can buy liquors”.
However, Gautam might face stiff resistance from the ethnic communities the janajatis, if he fails to notice the relationship between culture and home-brewed liquor. Most of the ethnic groups make home-brewed beers Chyang, Jand, or Tomba both for re-creational and cultural purposes. He better take lessons from the recent protests by the Newar community against Maoist Finance Minister Dr. Bhattarai’s budget cut proposals on traditional ceremonies.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prachanda has also made it clear that the ambition of making a fully developed New Nepal would not be possible unless there is a rethinking on the prevailing age-old cultural practices.