Democracy & Sustainable Development Goals

Madhavji Shrestha

Democracy and development are the two important factors that stand as inalienable components of the modern society. One complements the other. If both walk together in rhythmic pace, the society will flourish. If not, the society may suffer from chaos and confusions because democracy without development will remain insubstantial and development without democracy will be irresponsive. One cannot be divorced from the other.

The evolution of the modern society has amply provided examples that democracy must be substantially supported by the visible process of development. If democracy is the obverse of the currency bill, development is its other side. Let us come down to the glaring case of Nepal. Ever since the overthrow of the Panchayat regime in April 1990, the Nepali society has plunged into the party politics. With the disruption of the party system for a year and few months in 2005 and 2006, the Nepali society has again embraced the second phase of the party politics with the blowing off of the royal authoritarian regime in the late April of 2006. The Nepali people have again got to freely breathe the air of democracy under the multiparty politics without break.
However, to the consternation of the common people of Nepal, development could not make its pitch as should have been made through. Hence, democracy in Nepal is seen frail and fragile. Political leaders are so much indulged in the intra- and- inter politicking that a strong and effective positive political force could not come up as hoped for. The result is that the national politics has become fragmented with no political leadership commanding national respect. Naturally, an integrated national vision, accompanied by appropriate action at a desired level, could not emerge to take the country along the unrestricted development process.
Notwithstanding all that, if the projected federal and provincial elections scheduled for this November 26 and December 7 to be conducted in two phases could produce politically workable outcome acceptable to all political forces, the face of Nepal would turn out to be hopefully promising one for the future. The conscious people of Nepal must take a special note of the constitution promulgated on September 20, 2015 that has enshrined 32 fundamental rights for the common people of the country. These fundamental rights range from the political and civil rights to all sorts of social and economic rights with the specific provision of their implementation within three years of its promulgation.
It is common knowledge of all that the Nepali policy makers have planned to graduate the country to the developing status by the year 2022 and then to placing it on track to elevate to the position of the middle income level. Interestingly, the last fiscal year saw Nepal’s economic growth rate at 6.94 percent. This good rate has not come up as calibrated by the planners. But two important factors have contributed to this impressive growth; the first being a good monsoon and the second a normal supply of electricity. Thanks, the government could manage the supply of electricity with almost elimination of load outage. However, the current year has witnessed the inadequate rainfall somewhere in the country and in other parts over-rain causing loss of human lives and damage to the property of affected people. That will reduce the agricultural products compared to the previous year. However, the possibility of the supply of electricity may be sufficient to meet the demands. It is assumed that the economy may not pick up as expected because the country still lacks the skillful management of the economic planning and much depends on the whims of monsoon.
The underdeveloped economy of Nepal certainly needs cooperation from reliable quarters to get along with the modern process of development. Time is moving ahead with the globalizing process, especially in areas of finance and economy. But the economically weak and inefficient countries like Nepal is not benefitting like the stronger and politically stable countries have been receiving.
The useful step of the United Nations in advancing 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a welcome act for the developing and underdeveloped countries. This Agenda also known as the Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals is a valued successor programme to supplement the incomplete development process of countries of Asia and Africa. By adopting the Agenda in 2015, the United Nations has managed for 17 Goals with 169 targets to be implemented from 2016 to 2030. It has now been 20 months that the actual programmes have been started to transform the global economy. The Agenda covers a wider range of socio-economic nature. All areas are important for Nepal to move on for social and economic advancement. However, when we give a closer look at the economic scenario in Nepal, greater priority needs to be given at least to the seven Goals to substantially help Nepal move to reinforce democratisation in a realistic way.
Goals No 1 and 2 aim at ending poverty and hunger while Goal No 4 ensures inclusive and equitable education for all. Goal No 8 intends to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth for productive employment. Goal No 13 urges actions to combat climate change and its impacts. Goal No 16 provides to promote peaceful and inclusive societies with access to justice. And Goal No 17 intends to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
The rest 10 Goals are also no less important but the above seven need continued attention from the authorities and planners for timely implementation, which would strengthen the foundational basis of democracy to take deep roots in the Nepali society. It may be noted that the remaining 10 Goals are closely related with the health, gender equality and empowerment, use of water and energy, building of infrastructures, industries and innovation, reduction of inequality, sustainable urban and human settlements, consumption and production, proper use of ocean and sea resources as well as protection and promotion of terrestrial ecosystems realistically .The government of Nepal along with its planning body has adjusted and integrated those Goals to be achieved under its 14th development plan. This is an appropriate way of doing things to achieve what are needed to lift up economy for smooth sailing of the democratic ship. Unless democracy is assisted by the concrete development achievement, the aspiration of the people will not be fulfilled. Neither deviation nor complacency in translating programmes into actions needs to be tolerated if democracy is to lead a life kicking off all the times.
Nepal is said the first country among others to have submitted its report on SDGs. In mid-July this year the delegation of Nepal presented its Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the implementation process at the High Level Political Forum under ECOSOC as also by informing about the allocated expenditures out of the national budget.

Political Leadership
If Nepal could exhibit its committed efforts to implement assigned Goals, it would, doubtless, enhance Nepal’s standing and win back the dignity it deserves. Materialising the Goals would confer on Nepal two significant assets. First, it could visibly contribute to help Nepal walk the democratic way convincingly. Second, it would show to the world the strong will of the political leadership of the country to do things tangible despite several hurdles. There should be no dithering in its journey forward.


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