Institutions And Leadership

Mukti Rijal

In the Nepali political discourse concepts like leadership and institution do always come into debate. Some political pundits opine that no matter the institutions or type of institutional arrangement, character, positive outlook, competence and performance of leadership is very significant to deliver results. Others argue that institutions create suitable and congenial ambience for leadership to deliver outcomes.

But the debate revolving around either good leadership or appropriate institutions should not be conducted and resolved in binary frame characterised by this or that fashion as both healthy institutions and positive leadership are very important for democratic governance to function effectively and deliver results. One in the absence of other cannot bear fruits and results.
Today political leadership in Nepal has come in for sharper scrutiny of media and civil society contending that the federal democratic institutions are being messed up due to allegedly morally corrupt and dishonest leadership. Even Prime Minister Oli and many more leaders who were once adored as the champions of broader national and democratic interests have not been spared. In this regard, many do conclude that good institutions fail to work and produce intended outputs if the sane, honest and competent leaders do not complement them.
In fact, the Nepal’s quest for appropriate democratic institutions has been very long as it was postulated that the ushering of the democratic institutions would automatically herald development, prosperity and happiness for the people. And finally it is due to this reason that we have chosen to establish and enhance federal democratic institutions taking recourse long and protracted often stalemated process and procedures.
The country has adopted federal type of governing model and this is being institutionalised and implanted in the body politic of the country. The democratic elections, conducted for local, provincial and federal level, have installed elected leadership to address the needs and interests of the populace. However, the democratic institutions in Nepal are premature, and democratic norms and practices are yet to be made regular and effectively functional. The country’s situation can turn into a chaos if wise, balanced and prudent decisions are not taken by the elected leaders. In fact, what the elected leaders do today to deliver results to meet the aspirations of the people will determine to which direction the country will be heading tomorrow.
Whether we will live together in harmony and peace in a democratic society respecting each other with due accommodation and collaboration or precipitate ourselves into conflict and animosities is totally hinged on the decision the elected leaders take and act today. It is in this context that a visionary leadership with holistic foresight and clear strategy at local, provincial and federal level was needed in the country. Such a positive leadership should have the courage to cross the boundaries of caste, gender, race, religion and age.
In fact, the need of the hour in Nepal is positive and appreciative leadership at different levels. The positive leadership endowed with an integral vision can serve the development aspirations of the people and prevent the society from getting divided. Such a leadership can weave the diverse communities into a fine fabric to build a democratic society where everyone can live together in harmony with dignity and respect. We have several examples of this type of leaders who not only fought for establishing democratic institutions but gave wise and positive leadership to make them functional and effective.
Going to the broader national and regional level, we have the examples of BP Koirala, Manmohan Adhikari in Nepal and Mahatma Gandhi in India. At the broader international level Nelson Mandela in South Africa can be cited to be a brilliant example of the integrative and accommodative leadership. In fact, his integrative vision was instrumental to transform South Africa from a racist and apartheid nation into a democratic society. Had Nelson Mandela not given leadership with integral vision, South Africa would have been split into ethnic enclaves always embroiled into conflicts.
Integral vision is seeing the whole, not parts or fragments. It is the conviction and commitment of the leader to hold all sides into composite unity. The integral leaders do not exploit the fragile and volatile situation for narrow and parochial interests.
Leaders with integral vision commit themselves to seeing as much of the larger picture as possible and not limit and constrain themselves in the narrower framework. At this time in Nepal issues related with constitution amendment have been asserted. The political parties that support the government or participate in the government as the coalition partner have bandied about the subject again. The political and social stakeholders are blowing their own trumpets without seeing the larger picture of social and cultural landscape of the country. They stick to their oft-repeated position grounded on the assertion of their narrow identity of some communities oblivious of the composite and plural character of our social formation.
Mark Gerzon, a leading conflict expert describes this type of leaders as demagogues. Demagogues are always inclined to magnify differences, polarise relationships and sabotage cooperation. Positive leadership seeks to build partnerships and alliances to integrate the society and forge common destiny of the Nepali people.

Leaders should not do anything that consequently leads to tear the larger unity of the nation even though such moves can serve their short-term interests. In order to make federal democratic institutions effective and functional Nepal needs honest and credible leadership that can rise above the narrow regional and partisan interests and work with dedication to cater to the broader national interest and democratic aspirations of the people.

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