Sunday, March 30, 2014

Raising Goats? No Kidding

When Dr. Baburam Bhattarai expressed his desire the other day of spending life after politics rearing goats in his home district of Gorkha, Maila Baje for a minute thought the man had finally thrown in the towel.
Yours truly should have realized that retirement would be a long way off for a man who has just inspired a national debate on the urgency of a new national political force.
Still, Maila Baje couldn’t be blamed for jumping the gun on this one. In the aftermath of the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist’s electoral whipping, more than once our perpetually malcontent luminary has been rumored to be considering retirement.
Since he appears to have lost his latest do-or-die battle with party supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal, there was little our comrade really had to live for, politically speaking, that is.
And isn’t a threat to return to the rustic reaches of the family farm tending livestock what President Ram Baran Yadav has perfected as a response to every political assault he has been facing in recent years?
That said, Bhattarai’s speech served to reveal more about the ideology he has long represented. “The Kathmandu-centric attitude of people must be changed and we should go back to the villages,” Bhattarai told a gathering organized by the Gorkha Tourism Society. “Parents send their children abroad for further study. The children finally settle there and their parents end up in the capital to spend rest of their lives. This trend has to be discouraged.”
Whether anyone ventured to ask why was not clear from the published reports. The we-know-what’s-best-for-you-better-than-you-do conviction is at the root of the international left. When the ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ that left the lips of leftists usually had the force of coercion in the old days, it was one thing. In their headlong plunge into the democratic mainstream, the Maoists have not quite realized that there is no reason for the rest of us to keep conceding the premise of the debate.
Why indeed should the Kathmandu-centric attitude of the people change? And why must the trend of children settling abroad and their parents ending up in the capital to spend the rest of their lives be discouraged? Just because some have the opportunity and most don’t mean that the few should forgo their desires?
Bhattarai also suggested that the new generation of people switch to entrepreneurship by giving up the mentality of doing a job. How can they do that in the climate of diminishing opportunities for the regular guy? After all, Bhattarai, who railed so much against this stacked deck, did little to even the field.
People like Bhattarai might still want us to judge them by the purity of their motives, not by the results of their actions. Nepalis have long crossed that river. Yet he persists in grandiosities by sending acolytes like Bhim Prasad Gautam to tell us that he wants to revive the global communist movement from Nepal in the twenty-first century through the articulation of new thoughts and ideas. And what might those be?
Let’s consider what Bhattarai did say at Gorkha. First, his village lacked fertile land suitable for agriculture, which was why he would rear goats, an undertaking with greater prospects locally. Then he committed himself to developing Gorkha as a ‘model zone of development’. Now, aren’t those strings of words coming straight out of King Birendra’s vocabulary?
Ultimately, Bhattarai is free to raise goats in his village or raise arms nationally again. If things don’t work as planned, he better not start blaming the rest of us again.