Sunday, April 14, 2013

Teetering Amid Transitions

With the prospects of new elections in June now virtually vaporized, a new round of blame game has ensued among the government, election commission and political parties. In reality, our major politicians must be relieved at this postponement of their tryst with the people.
Much has been made about how the peace process formally came to a close last week, with the dissolution of the special committee entrusted with supervision, integration and rehabilitation of thousands of Maoist ex-combatants.
Peace more or less prevails across the nation. A process of sorts, too, has been under way for a while, averting several last-minute breakdowns. Nepal as a country continues to exists. We still breathe and bounce around, at home and abroad, as full-fledged Nepalis.
The international news media, however, is picking up bits and pieces to paint a portentous portrait. The specialized outlets are especially worried. Some are concerned about the future of homosexuals. Others are anxious about the fate of women. Non-Hindus are restive over their rights. Nationalities are edgy over the disrepute the word ‘federalism’ has been kicked into. (So much so they want to resurrect the constituent assembly that had already been on life support for two years.)
Under Khil Raj Regmi, our novel head of government, Nepal’s narrative seems to be moving from one of a politically fractious state to that of an administrative/bureaucratic variety. On the surface, the high-level political committee appears to be directing affairs. But even Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who heads the political mechanism, has started extolling the virtues of evolution. (Without his flip-flops over the past decade and a half, there would have been neither war nor peace, the Maoist supremo reminds us.)
Deeper down, the government of ex-bureaucrats is doing what it can only do best: consolidating the trapping of state. Enjoying the support of the international community and most of the political parties – albeit grudgingly – the Regmi government gives us the pretense of business as usual. When the world’s sole superpower and strongest democracy now is increasingly ruled by executive orders and bureaucratic regulations, there is little point in our feeling out of step.
As long as the political process that began in April 2006 shows no immediate sign of collapse, the principal political protagonists and their civil society cheerleaders should be satisfied with anything. They will shriek and shout about principles and propriety, but that is all part of the script.
Still, this transition, by its very definition, must be transitory. When will we ever see some sort of closure? First, it was the leadership transition in China, but that has moved apace. Next on schedule is the passing of the torch in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty down south ahead of national elections. The power equations within the Hindu nationalist fold, too, need to be reset. And regional forces, including those bordering Nepal, still have to undergo some realignment.
That will easily take us to 2014, for sure. Will we then have arrived anywhere? Maila Baje thinks not. We might have to await the transition in the Tibetan leadership, as the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s walks deeper into the twilight of his life, setting off fierce geopolitical jockeying for years.
If the Chinese, Indians, Americans and Europeans are all absorbed in that direction, maybe we, too, should start paying more attention – for our sake.