The Selfie Politicians Of Nepal
KATHMANDU: Democracy has failed in Nepal or rather Nepali politicians have failed us. The recent state visit by the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee proved that ruling parties no longer care for the citizens. The roads were cleared for his three days visit and an unofficial curfew was imposed. Two twitter trends appeared following his visit: #IndianPresidentNotWelcome and #PranabDaSaySorry. The public clearly had a hostile sentiment, which the Nepali government made sure to not let the Indian President know about it. Or did he come to know about it?
Few weeks back Raj Kamal Jha, the editor of The Indian Express, gave a rousing speech at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards where the Indian PM Narendra Modi was also present. He aptly said that “good journalism isn’t dying but bad journalism has been more vocal since the last five years.” He also stated that criticism from the government is a badge of honor for journalists. One thing editor Jha is right about is that politicians in Nepal have become selfie politicians as they only long to please the leaders of neighboring nations. To be precise, Nepal’s foreign policy has failed, partly due to the selfie attitude of our so-called politicians.
The first selfie of Nepali politicians is ‘showmanship’. These days the 601 parliament members and the remaining elite rulers of the nation obsess with ‘showing off’ rather than working for the nation. This corrupt behavior has pushed Nepal to a stagnant economy, where scores of youths leave the nation for a better job abroad. The reconstruction work since the earthquake last year is snail-paced, and government spending is pathetic. According to the World Bank (WB), Nepal slipped to 107 from 99 on the Doing Business 2017 ranking. Nepal’s dismal ranking is owed to the business environment and revision of datas. It is unfortunate that Nepal is still one of the poorest nations in the world.
The second selfie is ‘hoodwinking citizens’. We are well aware that politicians rarely keep their promise after getting elected and playing power politics is not a new thing. Our politicians particularly have failed in maintaining a sound foreign policy. They either side with India and China or with both of them. This behavior has baffled the leaders of our neighboring nations. As stated in International Relations it is almost difficult to predict what the state actors will do next. After Trump won the US elections several self-proclaimed pundits opined that he would only spew disaster to the world. As soon as he got elected, two articles mentioning his aggressive stand on climate change and banning Muslims’ entry to the US was removed. As Vox said, Trump’s foreign policy is unpredictable and so are the leaders of Nepal. They have been hoodwinking us since the 1990s and I wonder how long they will manage to do so.
The third selfie is ‘selling hope’. Nepali leaders are famous for selling hope to citizens. The current PM Prachanda is known for his claim that he would transform Nepal into Switzerland. But where are we so far? No one knows why they are so immersed in eliciting fake hope. Nepal is certainly a beautiful country with resources but lacks great leaders. We are now living in a time when leaders are chasing their dreams but have stopped thinking about the citizens.
Recently, the government leaked an unofficial document, which had the text that naturalized citizens would be able to occupy top ten constitution positions like PM, President, Speaker and on after living for ten years in Nepal. This paper irked a lot of Nepalis as they felt that external and internal forces were trying to transform Nepal into Fiji, not Switzerland. There’s a story of Fiji that few outsiders went there as a minority for a sugarcane factory and then later ended up ruling the country. The majority became a minority and vice-versa. Couldn’t Nepal follow the suit if the leaders are like that?
Few analysts claim that India have tried to make Nepal the Bhutan Part 2 but only has succeeded partially since many parties turn out to be anti-India at times. They also claim that India won’t take over Nepal militarily as it did with Sikkim back in 1975 –which itself is a controversial issue in the 21st century. Cables leaked by Wikileaks prove that during the rule of former PM Indira Gandhi, India threatened Nepal to occupy militarily; impose unbalanced trade deficit and border blockade. It has never fulfilled the first threat but has successfully enforced the latter two. India has blocked the borders in 1989 and 2015. It cannot be said that the same will happen in the future unless the PM of India is like the Canadian PM Justin Trudeau or the bureaucracies, BJP, and RSS become enlightened. India must let go its fantasy to make Nepal a Hindu country since itself is a secular one and when its neighbor embraced secularism in 2006.
The whole narrative of selfie politicians in Nepal is that the lynched Himalayan nation might collapse in the future due to own shortcomings and mistakes. The time has come when Nepalis stop blaming India because we do not know how the future PM or even the current Indian PM Modi will act next. It is a fact that India is paranoid about China but that doesn’t mean Nepali leaders have the luxury of becoming selfie politicians and sell the people’s dreams like excessive snapping of selfies. This vanity has to stop.
(The writer is the digital editor of Anna Note)