The Intellectuals And Challenges

Prem Khatry


Intellectuals create, recreate, change and drive the society. History is the best witness for this phenomenon worldwide. Dictators have bowed down to their brainpower whereas democrats and liberals have enjoyed their company through the development journey. When challenges appear, they cannot disappear, they must not. Few words are in order to see how intellectuals fare this week’s challenge coming from a top station of state power.
Imagine a scenario: Karl Marx reads PM Oli’s message to the Nepalese intellectuals. Imagining, there was no earthquake in Nepal, so KM climbs dharahara, emerges on the balcony of the top floor and makes a call in his typical style: Intellectuals of Nepal, unite, face your PM squarely! In a matter of hour, he sees the crowd below. And in a matter of minute, the crowd had gone! Obviously, intellectuals had gathered there only to see him. Marx could see only a sole Shyam Tamot, singing. Those who have pens, rise up with your pen, those who have brain, face the PM! Those who are coward, go home, stay inside, it is cold! Shyam ji, truly surprised, makes some changes in the epoch-making song and leaves, with a disheartened Marx alone watching it all.
In fact, in a country like ours, all sections of the society need to come together to achieve the set goal of the nation. In fact, the intellectuals have major role to play in the process. There is a history they have done so without hesitation, without any second thought and without fear. Their audacity, courage, determination and commitment have changed the course of history – from autocracy to democracy, from bondage to freedom, and from tyranny to relief. There are books about major changes of the past and one can consult them so this 1000-word write-up wouldn’t do justice in this regard.
The reference here is the news in the media where PM Oli posed a challenge before the intellectuals of this country, saying (almost): Come on, folks! Let us do shasrartha or debate on the current, or other issues you may have in your mind and may expect clarification from me! I can knock down you in the first bout and some of you will (Nep. thala parne) perhaps never rise. Nobody thus far dared face the PM.
Despite the call, the leaders of Hon Oli’s status and integrity will never forget the role the intellectuals have played to bring multiparty democracy in this country. Therefore, looking through some positive glasses this call is affectionate, filled with camaraderie, and willingness to sort out problems if there are any. The PM knows intellectuals carry free and sane mind with sincere wishes for the capacity our leaders display in their performance.
It has been three decades the intellectuals took to the streets in favor of the conducive political atmosphere where the leaders could work freely using their vision and courage. After the restoration of democracy, teachers and students went to the classes, doctors to the hospitals, bankers to their desks and workers/farmers to their jobs or work sites. They let the politicians do their work – consolidate their political power through respective parties, shun local elections, split the parties and create groups and subgroups, and yet manage to run the country.
From the beginning of the new, democratic era, external influence was one major hitch in the smooth planning and step-wise development. Unprecedented and unexpected friction in inter - and intra-party relation was also a dominant factor for balanced development. It was during such a state that secularism was introduced in the middle of the night. Nepalis were pointing their fingers outside the country.
Madam Ha Moon has left Nepal but her ‘historic’ blessing is stirring the country. It will do so for some time to come. This has created debate in the ruling party, in the opposition and in the public. Media is naturally in the forefront to highlight on Moon’s dynamic personality and how she performed while in Kathmandu. She was calm, composed and majestic. No doubt our leaders not only appreciated her moves, they fell in to her personality. For those who attended Unification Church function of the past week, she was a Devi, Goddess, charming and graceful.
This week’s Nepal, a national weekly, gave her the cover page. With piercing eyes and graceful look, she seems satisfied that ‘she came and she conquered.’ Missionary faiths are all about conquering – first the mind, followed by the hearts and the culture. In Nepal we already have plenty of missionaries at work. They do not believe in the kind of fanfare the UPF demonstrated, they are much clandestine and hardworking with measurable result as the outcome. The whole West is satisfied because the secularism design has worked effectively after all. When Nepal Weekly published the cover story with relevant pictures of the past, there is no reason why only Oli government is the only target at the dock. More, nearly all leaders have bowed down to the blessings of the other, senior Moon in the past. Hence the weekly said – many leaders of this country have exposed themselves already.
Finally, a missionary faith, whatever its name and guise, works painstakingly in order to penetrate into a culture. For them hardships and distance do not matter. No big feast like the one UPF organised and Nepal played the dutiful host, they believe in crisscrossing the length and breadth of Nepal on foot, repairing a school roof here and carrying a patient to the hospital there. They don’t drop few rice bags, biscuits or noodles from a helicopter; they meet the real people and listen to their stories and sympathise.

Therefore, as long as our school kids risk their lives two times daily hanging on a weak grass rope to cross the dangerous river underneath, as long as our public schools remain weaker and incapable agents for change, as the long girl children like Nirmala Pant remain unsafe at schools and at home, our big talks remain unproductive. The intellectuals are keeping mum even when the PM threw a challenge and even said jokingly he would render them disabled (thala parne).

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