Heed People’s Plight

D.M. Thapa

Nepal has been going through a myriad of problems for quite some time now. From natural disasters and corruption at higher places, to lack of vision among the political leaders and an ever weakening economy which all have been making things very hard for the general people. Particularly, the poor and impoverished people have suffered more, while only a few people have exploited this situation.

Let us start with the issue of corruption first. This malice has really gotten the country into a terrible mess, but the authorities don’t seem to care and in the eyes of the public they seem helpless. Of course corruption exists everywhere, including in developed countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and also China which have harsh punishment provisions for corrupt officials. Corruption existed in Nepal also when tough talking Ranas ruled the nation for more than one hundred years.
But it became blatant from the beginning of the Nineteen Eighties, when a person like late Surya Bhadur Thapa was made Prime Minister to defend the Panchayat system from multi-party democracy in the Kingdom. Eventually after ten years, multi-party system was established through a peoples’ revolution and everyone thought things would become better then. Sadly this did not happen.
For a while, due to the pouring in of huge funds from foreign countries and much freedom in almost all sectors, the economy witnessed some boom. But soon after this “good feel economic development” burst. There is no doubt individuals gained much freedom, press freedom became a part of the change, industries showed growth and there was abundant liquidity of cash in the market.
However, looking back at this time only individuals, especially political leaders, bureaucrats and other government officials and their aides gained much, while the people suffered from strikes, inflation and insecurity.
There are daily reports in the media of how the Nepali rupee is sliding down against other countries. When I travelled abroad, I remember buying one US dollar for just ten rupees, the Thai Bhat was two times lesser than a Nepali rupee and the Japanese Yen was way, way lower than our currency. This has all changed now. Just the fact that one US dollar costs more than one hundred and ten rupees indicates where our economy is. Even the Thai Bhat in spite of so many political upheavals, is more than two times stronger than our currency. The Japanese Yen is almost equal to ten Nepali rupees.
How has the nation come to this state? We have had so many Five Year Plans, so many experts with high sounding degrees in the Planning Commission, many experts in the Nepal Rastra Bank and the Finance Ministry. Why couldn’t they make proper policies for the country’s economy to show growth. Yes, political freedom is good, but such freedom is not enough when youths have to go abroad for work and people even in Kathmandu are finding it hard to make ends meet.
Even Co-chairman of the present ruling party CPN Pushpa Kamal Dahal admitted a few days back that promises made in the past have not been able to be fulfilled. This is for certain, but just the present Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and the government he leads cannot be blamed. This mess started since a long, long time ago.
But have the so called mainstream and free media made any comments or follow-up reports on the plights and problems of the people? No, they only indulge in politics and say or write whatever their masters or outsiders tell them to do. There probably are only very few editors of big media outlets, who have not started working for foreign institutions after being relieved of their jobs. Is this professionalism? Is this fair on the part of foreigners who constantly preach us about code of conduct, ethics and so on and so forth?
There is constant load-shedding in many parts of the country, there is a dearth of drinking water, in spite of increased tariffs in both these basic needs of the people. There is a constantly increasing inflation, the health care system is poor, the education system is pathetic. There is no social security and there is an increasing rate of crime. Aren’t these issues about which the political leaders, planners and right activists dwell on? Sure, we need political freedom and a constitution which suits the people, but shouldn’t the basic needs of the people also be taken care of?
Only holding seminars, conferences and giving high sounding speeches are not enough. Building political infrastructures are not enough; we need development too, that also development of basic needs which are taken for granted in many other countries. The foreign funders who want to take political people and others on free junkets abroad must ponder about this. Simply taking a few political leaders, civil society leaders, right activists or even media persons on free trips and giving them a little pocket money is actually a waste of time and funds.
Don’t these foreign governments, our own political leaders and media persons realise that floods and landslides take place every monsoon season in this country. Landslides take place in hills and mountains, floods take place in almost all regions. Air travel becomes dangerous and driving on the highways is hazardous. The political leaders never talk about such problem and the media only mention such tragedies as if they happened in far off places and the casualties are just numbers.

Certainly no one can control the wrath of nature, whether it is a landslide, flood or God forbid, an earthquake like we last saw in 2015. But when we know of regular floods and landslides among others, we should be better prepared for it, whether it is in rescue operations, providing prompt health services or even evacuation people from the danger zones.
Maybe we need more health workers, maybe we need more fire fighting engines, maybe we need more well trained rescue teams, this is what the policy makers, planners and others have to think about. The role of the media is to jerk such high level people to think and also plan on such issues and not only think of staying on in power or keeping safe their perk giving seats in whatever institution they are in.


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