Stepping back

  • Rather than progressing, Nepal regressed in 2014
Stepping back

Dec 31, 2014-

As 2014 ends and a new year begins, and as we look back upon our recent past to see where we have come, it is evident that a lot has changed in Nepali society in recent years. The end of the war in 2006 ended the widespread climate of fear that existed, and allowed people to resume their normal lives. There has been a tremendous increase in people’s self-confidence since then. Many thousands of Nepalis have travelled to other countries, often to live and work, and have thus gained great exposure to the outside world. There is a tremendous entrepreneurial energy all around. But the unleashing of these energies requires major support from the government, and this sadly has been severely lacking.

 Politically speaking, 2014 emerged as yet another wasted year. The only real accomplishment of the government was that it signed some agreements with India and China that will potentially boost investment to Nepal. Other than that, this year’s politics was marked by failure and a sense of futility. A new Constituent Assembly (CA), which was elected in late 2013, made little headway in drafting a constitution. The political parties continued to refuse to compromise on the content of a new constitution, and the deadlines of the CA calendar were repeatedly flouted. Now, it seems unlikely that the nation will even have a draft of a new constitution by the promulgation deadline of January 22.

 What makes this especially galling is that this was not the only recent year that was marked by failure and futility. In fact, almost the entire period since the dissolution of the first CA in 2012 has been marked by failure and futility. The dissolution of the first CA led to a major political and constitutional crisis that took two years and a half to resolve. The political parties should have learned from this crisis and made the required effort to draft a new constitution and bring long-term stability.

 Rather than progressing, Nepal regressed in 2014. Various groups advocating for the revival of a Hindu state have emerged, and these pose a threat to the fabric of our secular state. Various regressive constitutional provisions that were done away with in the 2007 Interim Constitution are in danger of being brought back, for example, citizenship provisions that are highly discrimiNatory towards Madhesis and women. The ruling parties have become completely blind to the exploitation and inequality that exists in Nepali society, and refuse to countenance any demand for rights by marginalised groups.

 There is still a small window of time to salvage something from the failures of recent years. The parties should agree to a constitution that aligns with popular sentiment and firmly establishes the progressive principles, such as secularism, that were enshrined in the 2007 constitution. 

Published: 01-01-2015 09:07

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