Sunday, June 28, 2015

You Say You Want A Constitution…

Gee, our politicos turned out to be cannier than we ever considered giving them credit for.
They want to give us that long-delayed constitution so bad that it will now be our fault if we don’t get it sooner rather than later.
Before the Great Earthquake, it seemed as if our Constituent Assembly members were intent on prolonging their term in office, persuaded that were inured to their ineptitude.
After the disaster struck, the entire political fraternity disappeared, knowing the little they could have done in the circumstances. After all, their specialty lay in shutting down the city, not opening up its blocked arteries and alleyways.
Ordinary people rallied together in a spontaneous demonstration of collective action, drawing the admiration of those near and far. We almost got comfortable with the notion that Nepal could do without politicians.
Then the 16-Point Agreement took us by surprise. Was the political class so shaken out of its stupor so as to demonstrate its relevance? Or did the earthquake precipitate just enough geopolitical shifts to advance the political agenda? Regardless, the Supreme Court’s interim intervention did not stop the scribes. Nor did President Ram Baran Yadav’s admonition. The document will be ready for public unveiling any day now, considering that the draft has been all but finalized.
In retrospect, the political class made a smart calculation. A constitution no one likes is likelier to be acceptable to everyone for the time being. The Great Earthquake shifted the national conversation and concern. To be sure, the Big Four want to become part of a national government. But they seem patient enough to wait until after the constitution has been promulgated. Now, isn’t that forbearance a sign of finality?
After the international donor conference, Nepal needs to press ahead with reconstruction. Nepal’s is the first major natural disaster to have occurred since the United Nations Disaster Reduction Conference held in Sendai earlier this year. Japan, the host country, has said Nepal would test the commitments the international community made there.
The amount pledged at the Kathmandu conference varies from $3 billion to $6 billion, with $4.4 billion being the widely accepted figure. Still, no portion of those billions will start trickling out until we prove our worthiness by, among other things, strengthening efficiency, transparency and accountability in handling international assistance, we’ve heard from experts and analysts.
That, in turn, would depend on ensuring political stability, organizing early local elections, and completing the constitution drafting process.
So it all boils down to this: We can contemplate amending the lousiest constitution only when we have one in place.