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Nepal : Democracy a Casualty ?

“We see across the dangers of great future, and we rejoice as a giant refreshed, the great
victories are yet to be won, the greatest deed yet to be done.”
----------Theodore Roosevelt.

Democracy is a casualty in Nepal by the action of the King Gyanendra. But it is good for
Nepal. I am talking of the country as a whole. We need to analyze the past, present and then
come to conclusion for the future rather than just shouting that the action taken is wrong. It
has become fashionable to cry wolf by the activists in all aspect of governance in any parts of
the globe if it is not as per their perceived principles.

Being a Gurkha (an another name for Nepalese), born brought up and educated in India
then having commanded the Gurkha troops of the Gurkha regiment of the Indian army, more
than 50% of which is recruited from Nepal and being a student of social science, I feel that I
understand the psyche and the thinking of Gurkhas better than many who have been writing
and commenting on the recent happening in the kingdom of Nepal.

We need to glance at the past history to draw practical guidelines for the present and base
our present assessment for reasonable forecast of the future. Keeping these principles in
mind, let us analyze whether the action taken by the King of Nepal is right for the nation as
such or it is really as bad as activists from all parts of the world are trying to project.

What happens in India today happens in Nepal after one week. The Nepalese are well
known warriors, loyal and disciplined force who have been led to many successful campaign
from the First World War to all wars / battles fought thereafter in many parts of the world.
They are led and need leadership for the accomplishment of any given task.

What Gurkhas have achieved under the able leadership may be difficult under normal
terms for many. They are hardy and can adept themselves to any situation and difficult
circumstances without much problem and fuss. The only thing they look forward is an able
leadership to whom they must respect genuinely from the heart.

Shibbu (Lato)
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There are few leaders in Nepal who can instill that kind of leadership which propels the
led to achieve something which an ordinary citizen desires. Unfortunately the constitution of
Nepal, its geography and past leadership have not allowed to develop leadership in the
country which can be a centrifugal force for the people to gather around in any area or region
of the country. The country is not so vast that provincial states could be carved out of it and
leadership allowed to emerge to take a centre stage when required like in India. There are
elections and elected members go directly to the National Panchayat (equivalent to our
Parliament). Those elected members remain out of the grinding process of grooming leaders
for the centre except few and those few have lost touch with the masses. They become
leaders like Prime Minister or Ministers by simply creating numbers within the Panchayat
and not by emerging leader from the state or region.

I know that by nature and characteristics, a strong leadership is required to hold the
Nepalese together. Under that kind of leadership these people will produce miracles in
whatever fields you place them. In the absence of that leadership each one considers him or
herself to be a leader and refuses to listen to other and chaos envelops. That is what has
happened in Nepal due to Maoist actions and fragmented polity in the past decade or so.

Having seen the historical and character traits of Nepalese, let us now analyze the present
takeover by the king. Consider the start of Maoist problem in the kingdom from 1996 and
trails of killings and failings of the governments to bring an amicable solution to end the
menace. The people, the elected government of Nepal and international community have
wanted to find solution with Maoists. The Late King Birendra did not intervene directly,
being only a constitutional head, and allowed the situation to degenerate to its present level.
He (Birendra was true democratic and wanted all decision of the elected government to be
final and behaved like a true constitutional head.) But with the analysis given above the
elected government lost the leadership quality and quibbled over their own existence rather
than trying to solve the problem faced by the masses. Nepal is a mountainous kingdom with
small stretch of southern parts bordering Bihar and Uttar Pradesh which is plain (Terai area).
Demand and carving out of Uttaranchal out of Uttar Pradesh is a live example of
dissatisfaction of people with the policies of the government who do not devise policies based
on the specific area of their state. Why I say this because I have already said earlier that
“what happens in India, happens in Nepal after one week”. Most of their politicians are
educated in India and they derive their inspiration from Indian politics.

Shibbu (Lato)
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Insurgency or militancy is an outcome of failed state where adequate employment
opportunities are not created to earn two decent meals for their family, education for their
children and dignity living for their elders. Lack of these three ingredients makes a perfect
recipe for insurgency to take root and flourish. In such situation a leader emerges who
promises heaven to the people and creates a mass movement.

The Deuba Government or any previous government of Nepal failed to address these
problems. The Nepalese government neither had the wherewithal to tackle the insurgents
militarily with civic help (as done in Punjab or being done in J & &K) nor it initiated any
measure at the grass-root or village level to wean out people from the lure of insurgents day-
dreams. A common man in India or Nepal is not ideologically involved with Mao’s thoughts
or communism. On the other hand he wants to have a greater degree of democracy to enjoy.
But the democracy or the democratically elected government must try to provide the basic
human needs of the people.

Elected government having failed to deliver in Nepal now it is in the hands of King
Gayanendra who assumed all executive powers which places him in a unique position to
solve the problem of his kingdom. All said and done kings and queens or their siblings are
still revered and venerated in Nepal or even in India till today. That is the psyche of Asian
mentality. (That is a separate subject and not to discuss here.) He can consolidate on that
leadership. Therefore it is the king and king alone who can sort this Maoist problem of Nepal
and usher his kingdom in new dawn. He should use all the four principals propounded by
“Chanakya” – Sam, Dam, Dand and Bhed and guide the nation out of present abyss.

Now it all depends on the King – his real intention, whether he really intends to devolve
power to the people or only use this opportunity to strengthen and bring back the feudal
system of governance only to his peril.

History is witness to autocratic rule and dictatorship to ultimately give way for a nation
much stronger and richer in culture and democracy, if the intensions are good. Let us hope for
the best for the people of Nepal.

Col Shiv Rana (Retired)

Shibbu (Lato)
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