Much Cry And Little Wool
Development is an ongoing process. If one compares the level of development of today with that of twenty or so years ago, one will find a higher level of development today. Development is thus a gradual process. Sometimes it is visibly perceived by people and at other times it is almost imperceptive. However, the kind of development that leads to an uplift of the lot of people through economic and social transformations is always desirable. A government, no matter which party or coalition of parties forms it, always talks about developing its country. It never says that it will not work for its country and people. This is because it knows what its obligations towards its country and people are. Such obligations are always noble and worthy of emulation. The point is to what extent a government fulfils such obligations.
Nepal is now in the new phase of governance. The Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is in power. The recent induction of the Federal Socialist Forum, Nepal into the government has made the government even more powerful. With this, the government has a two-thirds majority in the federal parliament. This indicates that the government can make important decisions on its own volition. The NCP is also considering assimilating the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, the Naya Shakti Party and maybe other fringe communist parties into its fold to make it a really monolithic party in the politics of Nepal.
This has scared and startled the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress, out of its wits. It fears that the NCP might turn into an authoritarian party at the cost of the overall development of the country and the general welfare of the people. However, the NCP claims that it is working towards political, economic and social transformations in the country.
There are some positive developments emerging in the country. Elimination of the syndicate system in the public transport sector and a crackdown on erring contractors are two examples of good work on the part of the government. The government is also bracing itself for the construction of railways, monorails, metro railways and additional airports in various parts of the country, which is a positive development.
However, the people have many complaints to make against the government even in basic matters. To be upfront, the people are deprived of even the basic services. The sanitation, healthcare, education, transportation and other basic sectors are in a shambles. The government raises taxes from the people but the people are not getting the services commensurate with the taxes paid. What is more, the people have not been able to feel differences even if it has been a year since the people’s representatives supplanted the government employees in the local bodies. The people’s representatives need to roll up their sleeves and devote themselves to the development works and better public services in their areas of jurisdiction.
The responsible ministers of the government and leaders frequently talk about doing this or that without considering whether it can be done in time or whether it can done at all. One of the glaring examples is the bundle of 101 commitments made by Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya. One of the commitments was to make Kathmandu one of the excellent cities in the world. If anything, Kathmandu is now notorious as a polluted, dirty and ill-managed city.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has collected a lot of brickbats for his variety of statements. Sometimes he says that no Nepali will have to go to bed hungry, at other times he says all tuins (wire bridges) will be replaced by suspension bridges and still at other times he says Nepal will be linked to the sea through its inland waterways. He has, however, stopped talking about supplying piped gas to every household, which is not possible as per the experts. He has also stopped talking about producing adequate electricity from the wind.
It does not befit the Prime Minister, who is regarded as an institution representing Nepal in the world, to talk about things that are obviously out of the question. The people have grown conscious and so he cannot easily throw dust in their eyes. The people do not need a smart city right now. They want just the basic services fulfilled. There are problems here, there and everywhere. Instead of trying to solve such problems, the ministers and leaders are busy talking about constructing smart cities. This can be construed as a ploy on their part to escape their responsibilities.
The ministers and leaders are never sick and tired of talking about ending corruption by adopting a zero tolerance policy. But as things stand, corruption is spreading its tentacles to every nook and cranny. Even if those accused of corruption are arrested, they may be acquitted by courts on bail or without bail and the bail amount often happens to be far and away less than the amount embezzled. The people have, therefore, lost their faith even in the judicial system. This may further foment corruption in the country in sharp contrast to the ministers and leaders who shout from the rooftops that they will put the kibosh on the state of impunity. If corruption is to be extirpated and the state of impunity put to an end, the culture of political protection and collusion between the ministers and leaders, and the corrupt must come to an end.
The people have heard much rhetoric from the government and the ministers and leaders. The government and the leaders should now devote their time to engaging in real development works instead of indulging in highfalutin and sometimes funny talks. They should see before they leap. The people do not buy their preposterous talk any more. So they should show sobriety and earnestness in their talk to win back the confidence of the people. What they talk should be based on the ground realities and not on their whims or caprices. After all, mere rhetoric will not lead to economic prosperity, which is one of the overarching goals of the government.