“Haloween” in the Thirld World: Dipavali Fireworks & Reality
An Assessment on Challenges faced by Nepal’s Maoist-led Govt
This year’s month-long season of festivals Vijaya Dasami & Deepawali(Tihar) concludes in Nepal with the celebration of BhaiTeeka(Bro-Sis Day) on Oct 30. However, there remains one more festive occasion, & perhaps the greatest for the Nepali Hindus along the southern plains – the Chatha. This year, Nepali Muslims celebrated their Eid that fell during the Dasain days with extra jubilations – for the first time in predominantly Hindu country Nepal, Nepal Govt recognized the Eid as one of Nepal’s national festivals & declared the day as a public holiday. Similarly, the Christmas has also been recognized as a public festival of Nepal. And the reporters of international media in Kathmandu enjoyed reporting the news of a republican Nepal with the Maoist-led govt becoming even more inclusive in adopting diverse religious & cultural festivals.
However, a tricky winter awaits the conclusion of festivals – for both climatic & political reasons. Not only that the global economic recess & fuel crisis adversely affects the so-called mostly agrarian economy of Nepal, but the power crunch that forced to go for a nationwide load-shedding for about 50 hrs a week would only deteriorate in the dry winter season. After the Kosi floods that paralyzed transport along the National Highway, most of the industries in eastern Nepal are on the brink of collapse. The Nepal Electricity Authority warned of a possible system collapse unless the consumption during peak hours was not minimized. Nepal’s carbon footprint average has also sharply gone up this year despite the worst fossil fuel crisis Nepal has ever faced since the ban by India in 1989. Why are Nepalis following the global trend of energy squandering?
Moreover, the Federation of Nepalese commerce & industry entrepreneurs, the FNCCI, has formally handed over a memorandum to PM Prachanda warning of closing all industries unless law & order conditions improve in the country. Answering to a question by a BBC correspondent on the national responsibility of the entrepreneurs, the FNCCI President Kush Kumar Joshi said, “How can we work by risking our lives amidst increasing kidnappings by the outlaws, & continuous strikes by the workers?” Although Nepal observed the largest number of tourist arrival this year in the past 10 years owing to affordability & hospitality, the number might dwindle down unless the global economy & local law & order conditions improve immediately.
Ironically, the greatest threat to personal security & property comes from the sister organizations associated with the political parties themselves. All the political parties have modeled their youth wings on the Maoists’ Young Communist League (YCL). Moreover, some of more than scores of armed outfits that claim to work for “Madhesi Liberation” & operate along Indo-Nepal Border have already refused the Govt call for the dialogue. Nepali Muslims who constitute the second largest population in Nepal & have been living for generations not only along the plains, but also in the hills of Gorkha, Kaski, Lamjung etc. I was myself amazed to see Nepali Hill(Pahadi) Muslims in Gorkha attired with black Topi(hat) & striped blue lungi with long beards and shaven mustaches.
The religious extremists all over the world can learn some lessons from Nepali Muslims who have earned their respect from all Nepalis for keeping harmony & tolerance despite the recent Mosque attacks by suspected Hindu fanatics from across the border. However, some Nepali Muslims have strongly reacted to repeated attacks on their holy places. Similarly, Christians too have been complaining of discriminatory measures by the State. Still, thankfully cultural tolerance is one innate quality of Nepali society.
The Maoists who are the most powerful political unit at present must observe extreme care while venturing on troubled waters. Nepalis voted for the Maoists despite the latter’s bloody past for only one reason – that the Maoists are comparatively less corrupt & also have renounced violent political path. Nepal was perhaps never this much united ideologically that made it possible for the “velvet” implementation of the republic. Instead of wasting their energy on unsuccessful attempts at further radicalizing politics; the Maoists better demonstrate to the world a revolutionary concept in responsible governance. If the Maoists merely delivered good governance & observed financial discipline, Nepalis would surely be persuaded to follow what Chairman Prachanda calls, the “new cultural revolution” – peacefully.
For, Prachanda is not alone to fear that the nation might reel into another cycle of violence if the present Maoist-led coalition government fails its purpose.
BTW: Welcome to General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon from the United Nations, an organization Nepalis look with high regard.