One Year At The Helm
Dr. Narad Bharadwaj
After fifteen days the elected left government will complete its first year in the office. During this period this government has succeeded in negotiation a turbulent course of transition grappling with both expected and unexpected challenges. Despite being held back by many obstacles, the left government can now boast of an impressive list of performances helping it inch towards its goal of attaining stability and leading the Nepali people onto the path of prosperity.
After coming to power through an unprecedented electoral mandate, the left government has accomplished some very important tasks having direct bearing on the democratic good governance in the country. Immediately after taking the rein of the state, the KP Oli government took sweeping steps to accomplish the implementation of the Constitution of Nepal 2015. The Oli government took epoch making initiative towards institutionalising federal republican system of government by forming the central, provincial, municipal and village level structures, paving the way to federal decentralisation of power. This achievement shattered the dreams of the revivalist forces for staging a comeback by taking advantage of chaotic transition to democratisation.
After consolidating newly gained political turf, the elected left government proceeded towards strengthening bilateral relation with its immediate neighbours in the north and the south. Prime Minister KP Oli visited New Delhi at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and succeeded in clearing the haze of misunderstanding hanging on from the time of the blockade. Because of his frank and well-articulated position on various controversial issues, Oli managed to win diplomatic trust from and enlist support of the Indian government in the development endeavours of Nepal.
In the same vein, Prime Minister KP Oli also visited China after his visit to India and succeeded to win China’s good will and open-hearted assistance for Nepal’s infrastructural development in the field of transport, communications and tourism. The agreement signed by the Nepali and Chinese leaders to expand multi-dimensional trans-Himalayan connectivity has open a vista of possibilities for trans-border infrastructure development and mutual prosperity of the peoples living on either side of the border. During his visit to China, Nepal’s Prime Minster KP Oli also managed to sign on some historic agreements. In this context, it must be noted that Nepal’s success in eliciting Chinese commitment towards railway and surface road connectivity between Nepal and China was unprecedented.
Nepal -India cooperation has also received a new impetus during 2018 with many India-assisted projects making substantial progress at the project sites. Janakpur-Jayanagar railway project has been completed and is on the verge of operating cross-border railway service. The construction of postal road has gained momentum. Integrated check posts have been completed at Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. Jogbani-Biratnagar and Jayanagar-Bardibas railway projects are nearing completion. Considerable progress has also been made in regard to preparation of detailed project surveys on the East-West Railway and Raxaul-Kathmandu Railway Project.
The present government has also made substantial progress in post-earthquake reconstruction campaign. It has completed restoration of a number of important heritage sites and many more are nearing completion. The present government has started the construction of Kathmandu Tower at the old Bus Park, foundation has been laid for the construction of the historic Dharahara and considerable achievement has also been made in controlling the dust and smog pollution in the streets of Kathmandu.
In a short span of one year, the elected left government has brought forth plans for agricultural modernisation and has taken initiative towards creating industrial areas for developing export- oriented manufacturing plants. The federal parliament has taken steps to remove policy bottlenecks and legal hurdles to facilitate external investors to operate enterprises and industries in Nepal. The present government has also taken substantial steps towards constructing alternative international airports in Bhairahawa and Pokhara in view of the growing air traffic and congestion of Tribhuvan International Airport terminals.
The present government has opened discourse on the possibility of reforming education system in Nepal. In order to curb rampant commercialisation of education, restrictive measures have been taken against private schools and colleges unleashing policy initiatives to strengthen public educational institutions. In this connection, the passage of the bill on medical education by the federal parliament early this week is of epochal significance. The endorsement of the bill by the parliament has paved the way for inclusive, affordable and quality medical education in Nepal.
The above mentioned initiatives are irrefutable achievements of the left government which show that Nepal is irreversibly on the track of stability and prosperity though it is facing some obstructions partly because of inexperience and partly because of anti-people elements’ deliberate attempt to put spokes on the wheel of the left government. In overall sense, the elected left government has been proved more effective in mobilising development efforts than its predecessor governments were.
However, it appears relatively weak in resolving contradictions with its critics and competitors. At a time when the people of Kathmandu were expecting their water taps coming alive with drinking water from Melamchi, they were betrayed by the Italian contractor of the project Cooperativa Muratori Cementisti (CMC) without so much of an inkling of brewing differences within the project. This has greatly damaged the rating of the government efficiency in handling competing interests that are involved in operating mega development projects.
Another dilemma the left government is facing today is its failure in formulating a policy to deal with the problem brought about by the hunger strike of maverick doctor Govinda KC. With the endorsement of the bill on medical education, most of the demands of the striking doctor KC have been addressed and the glaring anomalies besetting medical education have been resolved.
The contents of the bill reflect the honest effort of the government to address the genuine issues standing in the way of reforming medical education. However, the detractors of the government at home and abroad have been misusing Dr. KC’s strike to subvert democratisation and prevent the government from marching ahead to its goal of ‘prosperous Nepal and happy Nepali’. From the way the anti-democratic forces are kicking up the shindy, it seems that the elected left government needs to mobilise the popular support more effectively so that the subversive elements will have no space for using demagogy as a tool for misleading people.
The voice of action is always louder than empty rhetoric. The elected left government needs to unswervingly put its mind and effort in prioritising strategic projects and implementing them at all costs. This will strengthen the foothold of the popular government and help take development dividends down to the grassroots population in the years to come.
(Dr. Bharadwaj is a freelance writer and holds PhD degree in ethno-history. He writes on history, foreign relations, and national and international politics)