Plea For Inclusive Meritocracy

Mukti Rijal


Nepal has got a full-fledge stable government commanding an absolute support in the federal parliament. With such a politically consolidated and strong government at the helm of the state affairs, it is natural for the people to expect for a meaningful and substantive change in the political reality of the country. However, things are not seemingly going the way the Nepalese people have presaged or anticipated.
The kind of the leaders that do rule the roost these days, it looks like that the political arena will not witness any change at least in the immediate future. The way political actors and ministers are managing and conducting the public affairs of the state, there is less to hope for. Since the political actors are of the same variety and the manner with which rules of the political game have been played out, there is not much that can be anticipated from them.

Tested leaders
The set of political leaders we have today have been more or less already tested and they are all burnt out and ripened. Same stock of leaders whose only qualification has been to organise and lead agitation politics and indulge in cronyism and favouritism have indeed occupied the important seats of ministers, chief ministers and parliamentarians. The character and organisation of bureaucracy is the same that was in the past. In fact, we in Nepal from the time of partyless Panchayat polity have been destined to be ruled by mediocre politicians who seem to be clever in manipulation and political debauchery but not prudent, sensitive and conversant with the democratic and developmental politics the country is in need of .
The new generation especially youths in the country expect that politicians and ministers behave differently, truly represent them and work towards improving the plight of the people. But the early indication seen in the performance and conduct of business of the politicians elected in the last democratic franchise does fail to inspire any hope and optimism. It appears that the country has not landed in honest, committed and munificent hands. Many of those elected during the last polls do not come from ideal political ethics and backgrounds. They do represent the class of the people who have made their fortune through questionable economic deals, shady businesses and transactions. It looks like that our politics is being gradually hijacked by those who hold financial clout and are deft at political intrigues and deception.
In a democracy, in order to make its delivery effective citizens and voting public need to be conscious and vigilant. They should choose intelligent and ideal people to govern. Each and every voting public and citizens should earn from what the political scientists like Schumpter, Ronald Dahl say, “All the power ministers and politicians do have is given to them by the public through elections. We can take it back. It is not their power, it is our power. We have just to find away to take it back because giving is very easy, taking it a little difficult. It will not be so simple. It is our power and they will go on having it if we behave like a mob, not a conscious and intelligent citizen.”
In fact, once we develop and transform ourselves from mob into conscious citizen, we can elect intelligent and erudite people worthy of governing us. For example, if we have to assign a politician the responsibility of governing the affairs of education , we can entrust this to a man who has devoted his whole life to thinking about education and its problems and has done all that was possible to do in finding out every detail to improve education . Then only becomes the possibility that he will do something for the nation as an education minister. In the contemporary world, a country that has transformed its type of democracy and governing system into meritocracy with inclusion is Singapore. Singapore is said to be the least corrupt country in Asia. This is particularly due to effective punitive measures employed to curb the corrupt practices in that country.
The country provides handsome salary and perks to the prime minister and ministers who is said to be higher than the provision made for the head of the government or the chief executives in any developed countries. The prime minister of Singapore receives reportedly at least six times more salary and perks than allotted to the president of the United States of America. The Harvard educated Lee Kuan Yew, founding father of Singapore, who believed in meritocracy writes, “In a different world we need to find a niche for ourselves, little corners where in spite of our small size we can perform a role which will be useful to the world. To do that, you will need people at the top, decision-makers who have got foresight, good minds, who are open to ideas, who can seize opportunities. My job really was to find my successors. I found them, they are here; their job is to find their successors. So there must be this continuous renewal of talented, dedicated, honest, able people who will do things not for themselves but for their people and for their country. If they can do that, they will carry on for another one generation and so it goes on. The moment that breaks, it’s gone”.

How the inclusive meritocracy is being put into practice in Singapore is evidenced by the way the talented, competent and meritorious people are elected and inducted into the policy making and implementation organs of the government irrespective of race, gender and ethnic background. The leaders and bureaucrats have to deliver and meet the standards no matter the hierarchical organisation of the state and racial and ethnic background they come from.

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