Naked Nepal: The Blog

… from the land of gods and what not

Monsoon Madness

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By Edwin Koo

July 17, 2010

These days, I find myself complaining about the rain. The monsoon has arrived, very often filling the khaaldos (potholes) with mucky water. Riding a motorbike in the monsoon is often a very wet experience, even with your raincoat on. If you don’t get wet from above, you get wet from below.

Perhaps, it’s symptomatic of Nepal. If Nepal was a bhato (road), it is one pothole-ridden dirt track, squishy with muck. And since it’s the only road around, everyone gets wet and muddy.

Workers clearing a choke in the monsoon

Workers clear the choke in a sewage outlet in Dhobighat, Lalitpur. Most of the drainage system in Kathmandu are unable to cope with the sudden increase in rainfall during the monsoon season. Nepal. 2010/07/11.

Of late, the road to “peace” has become the most bumpy of rides since Nepal became the world’s newest republic in April 2008. It was first signaled by the expiry of the May 28 deadline – when a new Constitution was supposed to have been born. Instead, the so-called leaders of this country decided to strike a new deal – and extended the term of the 600-member Constitutional Assembly by a year.

A month later, Prime Minister Madav Kumar Nepal surprised everyone by resigning, leaving the “peace process” in limbo, and leaving everyone to guess what kind of political chess move he was trying out.

Then came the national sport called “extending the deadline”, made popular by the anti-climax of a historical milestone of May 28. On July 1, President Ram Baran Yadav told the political parties to get together, have a nice picnic, shake hands, exchange hugs, make peace, and agree to team up to form a new consensus government.

To be exact, Yadav gave them a week to do these things. When 7 July came, the parties missed the deadline. Yadav plays nice, tells the boys to try again for the next five days. 12 July came, and still no consensus.

The parties are still haggling over the same “issues” since 2006- how to rehabilitate the Maoist fighters, what to do with the Youth Communist League cadres, and how to deal with the forced seizure of properties, etc. Actually, to cut through the clutter, the main issue is, “who gets to be Prime Minister”.

So Yadav finally decides to call a spade a spade, and tells the parties to elect a new Prime Minister by 21 July. It doesn’t have to be a “consensus” government anymore, Yadav says, since pleasing everyone is impossible. Instead, let’s go back to the “majority” government system, in which “winner takes all”, so the boys can have some mud-slinging fun while they slug it out.

So in 2 months, we have had 4 extensions of deadlines, a resignation of a Prime Minister, and a full-blown circus show of bickering politicians, which unfortunately, occupies many pages in the daily newspapers.

In the midst of this impasse, the Finance Minister managed to table a truncated budget of NPR 110.21 billion to keep the government running. The Foreign Ministry also managed to award the Machine-Readable Passport tender to a French company, much to the ire of Big Brother India.

In fact, such important matters are keeping the ministers so occupied, there is really not much time to consider the perennial food crisis, caused mainly by market manipulated inflation. And where is there time to look into the drinking water crisis, both in Kathmandu and far-flung places like Illam? Moreover, who would have time to look at the issue of forestry officers deforesting Eastern Nepal (wasn’t that their job description?)

As Nepal wades helplessly in a monsoon season of anarchical chaos, it is no surprise that a Maoist commander decides to go rogue again, robbing Chinese merchants in broad daylight. And that Maoist fighters can die mysteriously when they are supposedly under the “protection” of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the “peace process” has once again, become “in peril” for the umpteenth time. By the way, what is a  “peace process”? A euphemism for “we’re trying to make things right, but we’re still trying to figure out how”?

While the foreign consultants and pundits are busy administering their “cures” to the problem, “peace” will remain elusive, because the honchos in charge aren’t exactly concerned about real peace.

A Nepali youth waves a national flag during peace rally in Kathmandu

Tens of thousands of ordinary Nepalis took out a peace rally on May 07, 2010 to call for a resumption of daily life following a week-long Maoist bandh.

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