Postplatform : Goodbye to dynasty

- Devendra Gautam

May 29, 2014-

South Asia has been the turf of kings and queens, new and old. Our own country has had a long line of royals from the Gopalvanshis, Mahishpalvanshis, Lichchhavis and Kirats to the Sombanshis, Mallas and Shahs. By shedding our own blood and with a little help from the southern neighbour and the West, we freed ourselves from the yoke of the Shah kingship in the 1990s and managed to introduce a multiparty democratic polity.

But the epic epoch-making change failed to make much of a difference in our lives. For most of the people, the old royals gave way to new royals. In the royal era, the royals and the nobility had a licence to loot the country. In the democratic era, new rulers from a particular family seemed to have acquired that licence with a single “larger-than-life” individual ruling the country for over a decade in return for his and his family’s contribution to abolishing the Rana and Shah regimes and restoring democracy.

Even after the end of the Maoist conflict, which was waged primarily in the name of social justice, our democracy is in crisis with select leaders and kin having an upper hand in the affairs of state. Cosmetic reforms have done little to alleviate the suffering of the masses. Political instability and lack of jobs continue to force thousands of young Nepalis to head for strife-torn countries for employment. Our new princes and princesses continue to lord over us, like the royals of yore. They have indeed institutionalised (orphaned) democracy, which has become their cash cow.

Democracy is not having a great time in Pakistan either. They had their Bhuttos. When the Bhuttos were not ruling that country, the army was ruling it most of the time. In Bangladesh, the Zias and Hasinas, hereditary successors, have been fighting as ever in the holy name of democracy. We can only hope that democracy will flourish in India, the Maldives and Afghanistan.

In India, the Gandhis ruled for long, directly and indirectly. However, the Indian people have dealt a huge blow through the recently concluded general elections to the Indian National Congress, giving the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leader Narendra Modi a resounding, historic victory. Indeed, it is the Indian vote, and whether it be triumph or tragedy, we have no business to celebrate or turn a sad face.

But let’s not forget that India and its democratic polity have a huge influence in the South Asia region. We stand to benefit a lot by emulating the Indians and defeating non-performing dynasties and their heirs, who take themselves as the Kennedys, in the general elections. Democracy will indeed get a boost if this vote inspires the people in other South Asian countries to choose promising “commoners” through the general elections, instead of voting dysfunctional dynasties to power.

Published: 30-05-2014 09:01

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