EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES

  • Voice Of The People

May 19, 2017-

Nepal’s decentralisation has been a constant battle between domestic innovativeness and a meddling of foreign concepts. The latter is accompanied by donor money to entice potential buyers but it is often divorced from the depth and diversity of the host country’s development experience (‘Return to direct democracy’, May 14, Page 6). Nepal’s own initiative at empowering communities dates back to 1962 when the nationwide network of village and district panchayats was laid out. But given the feudal nature of society, the panchayat members, although elected through adult suffrage, were widely corrupt and intercepted development funds meant for the communities. 

So the Decentralisation Act of 1982 introduced the institution of user groups as a mainstay for grassroots development. The two internationally applauded success stories emanated from this legislation, the forest user groups that accomplished the dramatic restoration of Nepal’s denuded forests, and the mothers’ groups that catapulted Nepal as a top performer in the world in attaining the Millenium Development Goals in Child Survival and Maternal Mortality Reduction. However, after the 1990 restoration of the multiparty system and the mushrooming of donor agencies, multilateral and bilateral donors fought over the ownership of Nepal’s decentralisation agenda, eventually leading to the promulgation of the so-called Local Self Governance Act in 1999 that diluted the rationale of the user groups and restored widespread corruptibility at the local level. Any new initiatives must be supported by backward and forward linkages.

- Bihari Krishna Shrestha, 

via email

STAY WITHIN LIMITS

A very timely article has reminded the various players of their constitutional roles and boundaries, which they would do well to stay within (‘Play by the rules’, May 16, Page 6). The executive, legislature and judiciary have clearly defined roles and powers and none should try to either singly or in alliance undermine or browbeat the other by taking advantage of loopholes. All three parties must allow the rule of law to take its own course no matter how uncomfortable it is for them. The article has also succinctly clarified that ‘the country does not belong to any politician or any party’, a fact that is dear to all people who believe in democracy. After all, we did not fight for democracy so it would benefit a politician or a party. As such, they—party and politicians—are fully accountable to the people to whom the country collectively belongs, not to a section or a clan or their kith and kin. 

We the people of Nepal are extremely grateful to the US for standing by us for the past 70 years. We harvested rich dividends from our strong friendship with the world’s only superpower: good health, fine education, malaria free plains and, above all, assistance to fortify our fledgling democracy. We must also rejoice at America’s assurance that it will stand by the people of this country as we reinforce our foundation for a prosperous future buttressed by unadulterated democratic practices and principles of good governance and rule of law. Therefore, our parties must desist from handing over the reins of the government through mutual consultation and consensus rather than through the rule of law. We also need reforms in electoral practices allowing anyone to submit their candidature for the post of chief executive of the country, even if they haven’t spent their entire lives in a political party as is the case in some pseudo democracies. The Rock has announced that he might make a bid for the president in the next US election. He has received endorsement from his wrestling foe-turned-friend, Mick Foley. Who knows one of us might like to bid for the position of the next prime minister and, who knows, we might do a damn good job.   - Manohar Shrestha, via email

Published: 19-05-2017 08:26

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