• This Dashain, Nepalis have an opportunity to reflect on recent political and societal changes

Sep 28, 2017-

Dashain is here. For most Nepalis, it’s time for merry-making, meat-eating, travelling to their ancestral home—from Kathmandu, and from urban centres across the country—for the auspicious Tika. As we write this, tens of thousands of remittance-earners are crossing the Indian border via land and many others are entering through TIA, Nepal’s only international airport.

 It is also a time for quiet reflection: to see what has gone right for us since the last election and what we could do better before families sit down for the inevitable Tika once again next year.

 Two successive governments—that of Pushpa Kamal Dahal and now that of Sher Bahadur Deuba—should be lauded, alongside the Election Commission, for holding three rounds of local elections. The first two elections saw a creditable 73 percent turnout, and the turnout for the last of the three elections was amongst the highest ever recorded in Nepal, at 77 percent. Now the provincial and parliamentary elections are slated for November 6 and December 7. If history is any indication, both are likely to be reasonably successful. The completion of local elections and then the subsequent two other elections will mark a turning point in our political history: we will have taken a giant stride towards consolidating a federal democratic republic, a task that started with Jana Andolan II in 2006.

 But successful elections themselves are not the beginning of the end of the long and difficult transition; they in fact only mark a new beginning of a never-ending task of building a democracy that requires eternal vigilance. Most Nepalis now, while happy and relieved that the once-divisive local elections are done with, are nervous as to how three tiers of governments—local, provincial and central—will govern with proper allocation of resources and allocation of power, and how the Centre-Province-Local dynamic will emerge to form a governance framework. There are going to be long days ahead.

 The other issue that makes Nepalis deeply uncomfortable is the level of corruption that has seeped into our polity. So much so that that political party leaders, and even senior bureaucrats, have now become objects of public mockery and disdain. Less and less Nepalis believe that they are accountable to the people who put them in positions of strength. That’s dangerous. A political class that loses public trust risks turning the nation into an ungovernable society. World history, along with Nepal’s own, offers countless examples of how an arrogant political class and rulers have led to a political churning.

 As The Kathmandu Post goes on a four-day Dashain recess, we appeal to the political leaders and indeed the senior bureaucrats to take lessons from history. It’s indeed time for all of us, not just the political leader but the larger Nepali citizenry as well, to reflect on how we can make our community and the country a better place for the younger generation. Eternal vigilance indeed is a price of democracy. Happy Dashain.

Published: 28-09-2017 08:34

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