Monday, August 24, 2015

States Of Mind

Against the multi-pronged attacks the notion of a ‘new’ Nepal has exposed itself to, the ‘old’ nation continues to acquire its own luster.
Sure, the past carried its share of iniquities. Without real and perceived exclusion, after all, no amount of internal machinations or external meddling would have fueled the Maoist insurgency.
The end of the Hindu monarchy – the supposed starting point of our trudge to newness – instead of injecting clarity to the pursuit of a harmonious future, rendered the idea of inclusiveness even more amorphous.
In that nebulousness thrived a massive enterprise of social engineering. Each one of us proffered our two cents along the way, but what the country really needed was a single viable road map.
When we got bogged down in that search, weirdness and wackiness proliferated in the public sphere. From Brahmins and Chhettris demonstrating for fair representation to Muslims demanding the restoration of Hindu statehood, events have acquired an unparalleled ability to keep confounding us.
The pursuit of inclusiveness has long lost connection with a determination of the number of provinces Nepal might need. Appeasing one group has invariably ended up alienating several others. Things are not likely to change in that regard. A sense of belonging is a state of mind. Millions might feel comfortable within a given framework. The perils of ignoring the thousands who might not are all to clear.
We know we are Nepalis because we are not Indian, Chinese, Pakistani or Sri Lankan. But there must be something more to our identity. If Nepaliness were indeed an artificial formulation imposed by the custodians of a predatory state intent on preserving their monopoly on power, then, yes, erasing every remnant of that dark past might make sense.
But what purpose would smashing statues of Prithvi Narayan Shah serve when at the same time we set ablaze our own stores every time a Bollywood star has something nasty to say about Nepalis?
Wouldn’t fostering a spirit of belongingness during such trying times be a more worthy demonstration of our willingness and ability to build inclusiveness?
Of course, such ramblings have lost utility, as we have long crossed that bridge. If anything, we need the new constitution to be promulgated soon to mark the official failure of the experiments spawned by the 12-Point Agreement.
Perhaps then, the five development regions would begin sounding like a basis for a viable solution, instead of something to be shunned outright.