Saturday, March 16, 2013

Holding Their Feet To The Fire

Considering the swiftness and sanguinity of the international community’s response, Nepalis were seemingly senseless to have spent all those exquisite weeks on constitutionalism.
Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi’s installation as head of the interim election government, according to these foreign stakeholders, is a welcome development toward consolidating democracy.
The street protesters, backroom complainers and congenital quibblers may have a hard time digesting this subversion of the democratic process. But they should recognize that, at least in this case, separation of powers and judicial independence – like beauty – are in the eyes of the beholder. And, for those with the locus standi to confer legitimacy, every thing is hunky-dory.
A leading poll shows the electoral field wide open, with the people willing to hear all ideas. But the prospects of elections do not seem that bright. Even if they were to be held soon enough, prolonged squabbling over the outcome is likelier than ever, considering the perceived shift in the popular mood and the ostensible addiction of the current satrapy to monopolizing matters.
Then, of course, there’s that pesky little issue: what do we do if the Regmi government, too, were to prove just another futile experiment?
Maila Baje feels Nepalis could do much more than just sit back and seethe. To make some good out of this bewildering twist, we could strive harder to make the international stakeholders own more conscientiously the entire post-April 2006 process.
Let’s not feel bad in considering ourselves in some kind of international trusteeship. (Which, so to speak, is far better than the ‘Bhutanization’ we’ve been denouncing and dreading for so long.) The international principals would now have to substantiate that what they have legitimized is actually not so ludicrous.
Sure, the Americans and Europeans won’t see eye to eye on everything, despite their perceived proximity on the values of democracy. Nor will the Chinese and Indians ever be able to come close enough to really rooting out the rest. The Russians, Japanese and Pakistanis are other key imponderables we must contend with.
However, the international and regional powers that so haughtily claim a stake in this nebulous new Nepal can be expected to sufficiently negotiate their contradictions to build a basic state of equilibrium.
Nepalis have seen enough political systems to recognize that the sturdiness of the basic law alone does not ensure regime durability. What does count for us is basic life and liberty in pursuit of a decent existence.
The principal panic that has resurfaced is of one of sweeping demographic transformation through the indiscriminate distribution of citizenship certificates by the new government. But that certainly is not the only thing pitting the regional behemoths and their clients against each other.
If our water resources are a problem for our neighbors, Nepalis could certainly forgo our long-held dreams of building dams here. In terms of crude water flow, topography long favored the Indians; technology today would allow the Chinese deploy water as a strategic tool.
We wouldn’t mind helping out the Americans in such areas as extraordinary rendition, missile defense or what have you. Keep the Free Tibet issue as alive as you will; just don’t kill us.
More tangibly, international stakeholders could apportion a percentage of their national budgets in unconditional cash transfers to every Nepali for their fortitude and forbearance. (Indeed, the West could pay us to let the annual March 10 Tibetan protests go ahead unhindered, while the North could then recompense us to stop them. May the highest bidder then triumph.)
With a guaranteed monthly check actively adjusted for inflation and more, we might even learn to enjoy these foreign power plays.