Celebrations Amidst Cold Waves


 Prem Khatry

In Nepal's recent history, the visible activities going on in the political and administrative circle are phenomenal. The President has served the oath on the chiefs of the seven provinces. They will then do the same on the members of the province parliaments. However, a bit too politicisation on the issue of province capitals heated the politics. This continues despite the fact that the temporary capitals have been designated by the government and oath taking and all start-up activities are now taking in the seven cities – except Pokhara and Surkhet - in the Terai plains. 

In terms of the total death tolls across the length and breadth of the country, this cold season was a 'killer' of the cruelest sort. And, there are limits man can go to minimise the impact. With concerted efforts from the government, the political parties, people’s problems can and must be solved. But the numbers of difficulties hurdles and problems have been piled up for a long time now and it will take herculean efforts to sort them out.

Silver lining

The latest development in the administrative change including the formation of regional governments shows some silver lining in the dark cloud hovering over the Nepali political sky. People have waited too long even to hear the good news from the Election Commission about the result of the parliamentary elections held months ago. As process for the formation of the provincial government proceeds there will be stability and clarity in the environment.  Will there be a true, functional and lasting stability in Nepal? Will the processes of development in all spheres of national life take due and much desired course? Some political analysts doubt that given the current scenario, there will be stability leading to peace, progress and prosperity in the nearest future. 

There are strong grounds to be on guard and to cast doubt on the popular assumption. First, of the three coalitions, two showed success during the election while the third fell flat with very poor and unexpected outcome. The loser coalition still rules the country and has been able to buy time for the transfer of power. Its critics say the government is making all undesired and reversible decisions knowing that it is there in power only for a short time.

Second, the party in question is now in the middle of criticisms and self-valuation spree. Party leaders of different age groups and hierarchies are now grilling the Chief and his kitchen clique. In fact, they are being grilled over a burning stove. There have been tough and sour misgivings not palatable for the ranks yet they found no control over their emotional outbursts. This shocked the party cadres and well-wishers but amused the rest.

Third, the largest and proven coalition is yet to demonstrate its viability. Time to take over the reign in hand is approaching and their homework for the promised party unification has not borne fruit. The news coming out in the media are positive from all possible angles.  There are many who believe that the urgent need is stability regardless whoever rises to power. When all this is happening in Kathmandu and capitals of seven provinces, how are the millions of quake victims in the hills and flood and cold wave victims in the mountain and Terai faring in these chilliest weeks of the year? There are very few who are giving some serious attention to this human tragedy.  Be it flood or fatal cold the fast-prone Dr Govind KC is one soul who travels to the affected areas and spends time serving them. 

The 2015 mega quake had a devastating effect mainly on the people of 14 hill and valley districts; the flood had its effect on more districts. The flood had virtually destroyed many villages mostly in Pradesh No 2 in the Terai. Many areas in the hills also suffer from landslides when the Terai faces flood. Rautahat district is one example of flood, cold and a host of problems facing the poor. Every now and then the correspondents keep the readers and listeners posted about the latest in the affected districts in particular and region in general.

Rautahat has always been a victim of monsoon flood. One major impact of flood is the loss of fertile top soil rendering the field infertile. Flood also causes loss of times, seedlings and resources for rice plantation Movement of people also becomes impossible. People are forced to stay indoors. All connections – communication and movements are limited and restricted. Villages become like islands. People, especially young have no job. So, poverty is the main enemy leading to starvation in several sections of the district population.

Flood in the summer and cold in the winter are two major killers for the old and very young.  Literacy rate is low so a big percentage of the youths in marginalised groups cannot avail opportunities if there are any. People of the lowest section of the   society have developed the dependency syndrome. They are not motivated to work or go out in search of work. According to Sanjay Karki, the district's IMAGE FM correspondent and a noted journalist, Rautahat has lower HDI compared to Mugu or Humla-Jumla.

Viable plans

Finally, Rautahat is but one example.  The cold of the season and the flood earlier in the summer had their toll on the people of the region. The only hope now is the new, provincial government with its own resources and freedom to plan for development. Let us hope and pray there will be viable plans for the welfare of the people of not just Rautahat but the entire regions focusing especially on the poor, the deprived and the disadvantaged.  Isn't it time those on the lowest rung of the social ladder rise up holding the hands of those who are better placed and luckier? With the restructuring of the state, it is now time to see there are more targeted actions than stray talks and false promises.





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