Whether you accept it or not, Politics is the all-time most discussed topic in Nepal. Nepalese within the country and our diaspora rapidly spreading throughout the world is deeply indulged into several political platforms.
I don’t even know how this notion of Nepalese youths hate politics became mainstream when all I see is tremendous number of Nepalese youths extremely convoluted in politics. Most of us are involved in at least one political party and if not, surely our parents. In a country where affiliating in a Political party is more like a continuation of family lineage, politics is bound to fail. If not, why is it so that despite our enthusiastic presence and involvement in politics, not much of optimism flourish?
The Problem in Consideration
Politics as a subject is continuously evolving. Despite wide variations over the subject-matter of politics, scholars, philosophers and intellectuals unanimously agree that power and people are the core element of politics. As of recent, there is extensive discourse in the west over the nature and course of 21st century politics. Prominent political thinkers and intellectuals are identifying the crucial challenges of today’s global politics and ways to address them. On the contrary, we at home are still debating if Bibeksheel Sajha should be considered a club or a political party. I personally feel that our core understanding about what politics is, is the root cause to where all of this went wrong entirely. Today, what our ‘youths’ do in the name of Students’ Union is an ample of how we do politics in this country. Such actions have not only made our political system dysfunctional but also ruined the possibilities of making this country prosper and stride.
Power is Vital than People
I have many friends with whom I discuss plenty of political issues ranging from the rise of Donald Trump in the US to the recent government restriction on Pathao and Tootle in Nepal. From many of them, what I’ve learned is the term ‘people’ missing from politics. Most of them only consider power as a vital element of politics. I argue that people generate ‘power’ and politicians are an intermediary whose primary job is to connect people with power. They firmly deny it. I see this opinion being hold by vast majority of Nepalese. If achievement of power is actually considered the sole objective of politics, what role do we have in politics? We become valueless whose voice will always be unheard and genuine interest always neglected. As such, people will simply become a medium for any politician to grasp power and authority. The notion of a strong, authoritarian leader benefits the country and leads it to prosperity is an outcome of our same narrow concept on power as the soul of politics. If we cut people and their voice from politics, what is left for us to celebrate? To consider power as ultimate is to hammer our own head.
Ineptitude of Leaders
Leaders lead people and their cause. They are progressive voice of people and society. A person should essentially possess some skills and qualifications in order to be called a leader. We all know what those basic criterion are, and we also know that our politicians seriously lack the qualities of a good leader. Knowledge is the very first thing they lack. I won’t argue that one should have a Harvard degree to be called a leader, but basic understanding about how things work is a must. Knowledge can be gained and broadened from experiences other than formal education. Most of our prominent politicians are neither visionary nor far-sighted. They lack ideas and skills to address people, their concerns, problems and ways to resolve it. They seriously lack adaptability, aren’t reliable and sincere. Otherwise, why is our economy not thriving as promised and expected even after such a huge political revolution? Big mouths, big talks and no work, it shows the prevalence of incompetency among our politicians.
Criminalization of Politics
Our recent political development shows court convicted criminals like Deepak Manange and Resham Chaudhary, among others, contesting elections from party tickets and getting elected to the parliament. Someone like Balkrishna Dhungel is pardoned and granted clemency despite huge public outrage. Where does this courage among our politicians come from? And more importantly, what will these people do in the sovereign Parliament other than sufficing their own interests? Corrupts are already there and to aid them further, people with criminal background are easily getting access to political parties. Mafias, dons and even tole-gundas get affiliated with political parties for safely operating their illegal activities and politicians utilize them for personal benefits. Protecting criminals and the crimes they do result into increment of impunity in the country. And where law-makers ultimately breach the law, can we ever establish rule of law?
Dominance of the Wealthy and Well-Connected
Nepotism and favouritism is a deep-rooted problem that spread from our society to our politics. From a very long time, Nepali politics is revolving around the same few dominant leaders and people who are well-connected with them. There are several camps and factions within a political party, most of them, entirely based on political opportunism. This unfair, biased practice negates the qualifications of a person and makes one’s successive future depend on his/her nexus with someone prominent. In the recent past, our politics has become expensive too. Several politicians have publicly admitted that it has now become very hard for any political worker to raise up the rank within the party or to contest elections without spending huge amount of money. If this is to continue, we will sooner reach that stage where a poor can neither join a political party nor contest election. This will further weaken our wretched democracy.
The Mess of Electoral System
We are a country of huge diversity. It is very challenging for a country with 125 caste variety that speaks 123 different languages to address and bring them all under the same umbrella. The Proportional Representation Electoral System was introduced to avert inequality and establish social justice. It was meant to provide opportunity for the underprivileged, minorities, women and marginalised communities to represent their unheard voices and concerns. But our political parties throttled this core principle of PR Electoral System for their advantage. Today, we see politicians nominating their wife, brothers and relatives to represent in the parliament. Those section of people for whom it was originally created never really got the benefit of it. These power monger politicians have manoeuvred all of us for their personal gains.
Absence of Transparency and Accountability
Corruption is a vital problem of this country and our politics has only helped unfurl it further. Nepal ranks 122 among 180 countries in the Global Corruption Index, published in 2018 by the Transparency International. Neither our system of governance nor our political parties are transparent and accountable to the general public. There are several instances where court convicted corrupts were warmly welcomed by a prodigious crowd of political workers. Five years ago, veteran Nepali Congress leader late Khum Bahadur Khadka was welcomed with 111 Kg of garland. Another convict, JP Gupta was also welcomed by an exhilarating crowd of political workers. Our political parties and politicians are never accountable of what they do, how they do and for whom they do things that adversely affect the life of common people like us. Unlike in the U.S. and some other countries, we don’ have specific laws and policies to regulate and monitor political funding. As a result, political donations received by political parties and politicians have become completely non-transparent.
The Trouble With Us
The list of problems with our politics keep growing and has shown little to no sign of improvement. We are more concerned over “what’s happening in the US?”, the future of #BREXIT, “why Narendra Modi is bad for India?”, but spend very less time to figure out what’s wrong with our own country. We don’t know where we are heading and are completely unaware about what we are getting and missing. If we cannot admit to have a faulty system of politics, we will never aspire to change for better.
The way we are, and the way we do politics in this country has long denounced the basics of accepted political principles and practices. Our version of dysfunctional politics still considers political belief as an outcome of family inheritance. We are never concerned on building a strong and better platform that is capable of holding our political ideals. Instead, we regularly come up with deceptive notions like an autocratic leadership completely transfigures the entire country forgetting that a decade ago, we all fought together to dethrone the tyrannical rule of such an autocratic king.
Our sheer hope of a prosperous and developed nation just hasn’t made its way simply because the soil where we have sowed the seeds is not fertile enough to produce the quality of politics we have desired. Sometimes I wonder if it was us who spoiled (our) politics or (our) politics that spoiled us? It still remains unclear but to quote French philosopher Joseph de Maistre, “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”
Citizenship Act: What’s the issue
Many from Nepal seem quite confused when it comes to the debate on citizenship provision in New Constitution and I reckon that’s because the constitution came in rush without much of discourse and debates and lot other factors like nationalist rhetoric. So here is my attempt to explain everything in very simplistic way.
What constitution has said about citizenship
There are two kinds of citizenship:
- Citizenship by descent.
- Naturalized citizenship
What’s the difference
Citizenship by descent is quite superior to naturalized citizenship in sense, in order for a person to be elected, nominated or appointed to the office of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief of State, Chief Minister, Speaker of a State Assembly, and chief of a security body, the person must have obtained the citizenship of Nepal by descent.
Which basically means if you have naturalized citizenship, you can never become President or Prime Minister or Chief Justice or anything mentioned above. Naturalized citizenship is basically designed for people who would like to obtain Nepali citizenship though didn’t have ancestral root in Nepal.
Ya, in a way, it makes sense for not letting naturalized citizen to become president of Nepal or Prime Minister of Nepal. Up to here, no issue.
So what’s the issue
This is the most complex part. So let’s go slow from here.
Neha and Raj are siblings. They both got married and both have children from their respective partners. As their children reached 18, they both went to get citizenship by descent for their children.
Neha’s child can get citizenship by descent if:
Clause a. Her husband holds Nepali citizenship.
Clause b. Her child was born in Nepal.
Clause c. Father of her child is not traceable.
Which means, Neha’s child can never get citizenship by descent even though she herself is citizen by descent if:
1. Her husband is a foreigner.
2. Her child was born outside Nepal.
3. She didn’t want to lie or hide father’s identity.
So, Neha must prove that either her husband is Nepali, or her child was born in Nepal, or she should simply lie that she does not know where the father of her child is. If she fails to provide any, her child will only get naturalized citizenship which means her child can never ever become president or prime minister of Nepal.
Whereas, Raj’s child can get citizenship by descent without any clause.
Can you see the difference??
Do we ask the same question to a man? “if he is married to a foreigner, he should get citizenship for his child from his wife’s country. Why Nepal?”
We don’t. Why? Because we are culturally wired in patriarchy.
Sufferers of this constitutional provision will not be Nepali girls marrying Nepali guys. Sufferers will be the following:
- A Nepali girl married to a foreign guy and got abandoned later with a child.
- A Nepali girl, who while working abroad, got impregnated through exploitation.
- A Nepali girl, who wants her child to be remained as Nepali though married to a foreigner.
- A couple (Nepali woman and foreign man) who wants to settle in Nepal and helps their children grow and reach to their full potential as freely and openly as any Nepalese couple by descent.
This will not be a case if is a Nepali man. If his wife (foreigner) abandons him, his child can still get citizenship by descent. If he wants his child to remain as Nepali though married to a foreigner, he can make that happen. If he wants to settle in Nepal with his foreign gf/wife , he can and still help his children grow and dream to their full potential as freely and openly as any Nepalese couple by descent.
Another issue is,
There is a provision though that will let child from such women get citizenship by descent. All she has to do is lie and tell “I don’t know where the father is.”
11.5 A person who is born in Nepal from a woman who is a citizen of Nepal and has resided in Nepal and whose father is not traced shall be provided with the citizenship of Nepal by descent.
How awful, sad, frustrating, and sick can a constitutional clause be that is designed to work as loophole, to encourage contempt, practice lies, and make someone feel terrible?? Why can’t her child be given that goddamn citizenship by descent without too much drama and questioning??
There are thousands of Nepali women married to Indian men. Now what?? we give citizenship by descent to all those children?? No way!!
Boom! Nationalist rhetoric.
Why can’t we set uniform criteria for both male and female? Maybe something like, a child, whose father or mother is of foreign nationality, must have stayed in Nepal for X number of years to qualify for citizenship by descent. That would be win win for all.
To sum it up,
A brother gets married to an American girl. A sister gets married to a Korean guy. They both have babies from their respective partners. After some years, they got divorced.
Brother comes back to Nepal with his child and sister with her child.
18 years passed since then. Child from both have grown up. Time to get the citizenship. Brother’s child gets citizenship by descent and sister’s child gets naturalized citizenship. One can dream to become president of Nepal or Prime minister, and another’s can’t….just because she is not man.
That’s discrimination. Please don’t justify it showing people from other side of borders.
Running Off the Track
In a race, the most important rule for any player is to run on and along the lane. If players run out of their lane, they will be disqualified. If we apply this criterion as a prerequisite to our current government, what result will we get? Will the KP Oli led government still qualify?
There are several factors responsible for the landslide victory of NCP in the federal elections. The prosperity rhetoric, hyper notion of stable government, nationalist image of K.P. Oli and the unification of two major communist parties are some that benefitted them. It made people trust and immensely believe in them. People voted the NCP with a great enthusiasm and hope that the country will have a better future if they come to power. Today, the NCP is ruling in 6 out of 7 Provinces and KP Oli leads the powerful federal government. The party solely has near to two-third majority in the House of Representatives and more than two-third majority in the National Assembly. And after one year of their reign to power, a fundamental question has and needs to be raised. Has their performance in the federal and provinces been splendid as expected? Are the promises made to people during elections being delivered?
The answers aren’t positive at all. People have lots of expectation with the NCP but it is repeatedly indulging into affairs that doesn’t address the vital concerns of common people. For instance, People desperately wanted syndicate to be gone. The Government promised to put an end to it but didn’t do much for strictly implementing their own decision. People lately realized that it was nothing but a hype, promoted by the Home Ministry. Several major policies and programmes of the government have met the same fate. The massively advertised and equally criticised Social Security Scheme has failed to attract private sector, its workers and employees. Economists highly suspect that the 120 day-unemployment allowance scheme introduced by government would actually help reduce unemployment from the country.
PM Oli and his cabinet has time and again proved their incompetence as an administrator. People have seen and felt a rapid increment in corruption and criminal conducts. Impunity is on the rise as convicts of corruption are allowed to freely roam around and court-convicted murderers are pardoned by the President. There was no quick response from government and concerned authorities on the recent Nakkhu bomb blast incident that injured three innocent pedestrians. Biplov – Maoist, taking responsibility of that criminal conduct which claimed the life of one innocent person, termed it “a minor mistake”. The government was very late to condemn this terrorist act. This proves its failure to adopt adequate and viable measures to obstruct such adversity and maintain peace and security in the country. At one point, it seemed as if the government is more concerned about regulating social media than securing the lives of people of this country.
At this point, the Oli – led government seems very confused on its core mission. Even someone like CK Raut has trapped the Prime Minister to set himself free from the bars. After amassing much failure on almost every front of governance, one thing where the government seems to be most successful, is at creating controversies. In this one year, people have seen the President, head of the constitutional bodies and the entire cabinet involved into nasty controversies. Even the judiciary became a part of it resulting in a series of conflict for several months. Though this has come to an end for now, it has diminished its dignity and trust from among people. Today, the Prime Minister is seen freely scoffing and mocking his critics and the opposition but there is a bill registered in Parliament that proposes to punish people for their posts in Social Media. Another bill tabled in the parliament creates barrier to acquire citizenship through mother. The cadres of NCP are seen publicly threatening singers to remove their “anti-government” songs from YouTube.
The government is busy staging an unclothed dance of power while the opposition is weak and dumb to play its role. All that is left for people is grievances and outrage.
Kanyadaan – Donation of daughter
During one of my regular scrolls on Instagram, I came across a beautiful couple’s wedding photos. It was a normal, beautiful Hindu wedding that suddenly led me wondering about Kanyadaan. ‘Kanyadaan’ was just another normal word for me until I realized how it is made up of two words: ‘kanya’ and ‘daan’. I was tempted to Google about it and what came up next on my smart screen shook me to the core.
‘Kanya’ means a maiden and ‘daan’ is donation. So literally, Kanyadaan is the donation of girls. As per my near and dear ones and the internet, Kanyadaan is supposed to be the highest honor that a girl’s parents can ever receive to cleanse out their sins. After donating your daughter to the groom, your pathway to the heaven is made all clear! Someone genius on the internet also pointed out how the word starts with ‘kanya’ and not ‘stree’, denoting that only virgins can cleanse the sins of their parents. I see. Back since hundreds and hundreds of years ago till now, Kanyadaan is very much prevalent in our society. It is one of the sexist traditions that objectifies us, women. The thought of giving away your daughter makes me sick because no matter whoever she gets married to, she is still a person before being your daughter and no one has the right to give her away as if she is some sort of a property that can be passed around.
You may wonder that the definition and meaning behind it might have changed and that it does not hold true to its initial original concept but has evolved into something entirely different and welcoming? Well, how I wish it were true but no. The reason behind it is that the people don’t care; they do not know the significance behind this tradition. Kanyadaan had been followed through ages and rather than questioning it, they are easily influenced by the people to adopt the tradition largely on emotional basis. However, these days people do not follow it solely for the purpose of bringing down women but are simply not aware of it which adds up to uplifting misogyny in our society. Ignorance is the cause of almost all of the existing problems; we are never taught to question. In the name of god and purity we are ready to anything and everything without realizing how wrong we may be.
If more people came to know about the true meaning behind this sexist tradition, I bet you that Kanyadaan would definitely change into something more meaningful and welcoming, something that begins with ‘stree’ and does not end with daan.
Originally published in MyReublica