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पत्रकारिता के खिलाफ पत्रकार

Posted by chimeki on November 18, 2016

journalism2002 नेपाल के एक साप्ताहिक अखबार जनादेश के संपादक कृष्णसेन इच्छुक की पुलिस हिरासत में हत्या कर दी गई। दूसरे दिन तमाम नेपाली अखबारों ने इस हत्या के विरोध में अपने संपादकीय पृष्ठ को कोरा छोड़ दिया। ऐसा कर सभी अखबारों और पत्रकारों ने राजनीतिक विचारधारा उठ कर पेशे की एकता का परिचय दिया था। उनके इस कदम का मतलब यह था कि माओवादियों और सरकार की टकराहट में उनका पक्ष जो भी हो लेकिन पत्रकारिता पेशे की एकता सर्वोपरि है।

कृष्णसेन इच्छुक की हत्या के विरोध जो व्यापक विरोध हुआ उसने तत्कालीन सत्ता पक्ष को यह एहसास दिला दिया कि उसे स्वतंत्र अभिव्यक्ति के अधिकार पर हस्ताक्षेप नहीं करना चाहिए। और उसके बाद माओवादी जनयुद्ध को कवर करने वाले पत्रकारों की हत्या अथवा उनके दमन की कोई बढ़ी खबर नेपाल में देखने को नहीं मिली। और वो भी एक निरंकुष राजतंत्र में। यहां तक कि माओवादी पार्टी का मुखपत्र माने जाने वाले जनादेश में काम करने वाले भूमिगत पत्रकारों की हत्या नहीं हुई। लेकिन जो कुछ आज के लोकतांत्रिक भारत में देखने को मिल रहा है उससे चेतना बहुत जरूरी है। रिपोटर्स विदाउट बाडर्स् की 2015 की रिपोर्ट के अनुसार भारत पत्रकारिता के पेशे के लिए तीसरा सबसे खतरनाक देश है। एशियाई देशों में ये अव्वल है। पाकिस्तान और अफगानिस्तान एवं इराक से भी पहले।

हाल के वर्षो में खासकर पिछले दो वर्षों में भारत में मूल पत्रकारिता का दायरा बहुत छोटा होता जा रहा है। 2014 तक भारत में पत्रकारिता में सत्ता विरोधी स्वर प्रमुख था। पिछली सरकार के जनविरोधी फैसलों को उजागर करने में पत्रकारिता का बड़ा योगदान रहा। लेकिन वर्तमान सरकार में पत्रकारिता सत्ता पक्ष की प्रोपोगेण्डा मशीन बन गई है। जो कुछ भी सरकोर वाली पत्रकारिता दिखाइ दे रही है वह ब्लाग अथवा सामाजिक संजाल जैसे ट्वीटर या फेसबुक में सिमटा दी गई है। 2011 के जनगणना की माने तो भारत में मात्र 4 प्रतिशत लोगों के पास इंटरनेट से जुड़े कंप्यूटर की सुविधा है। इसी तरह मोबाइल इंटरनेट, जो अभी भी काफी मंहगा है, के जरिए फेसबुक अथवा अन्य इंटरनेट सुविधाओं का उपभोग करने वालों की संख्या अभी भी बहुत कम है। अधिकांश लोग टीवी अथवा रेडियो या समाचारपत्र जैसे पारंपरिक माध्यमों पर ही सूचना के लिए आश्रित हैं। ये माध्यम ही दुनयावी जानकारी के लिए बहुसंख्यक आबादी के स्रोत हैं।

लेकिन पिछले दो सालों में ये माध्यम तेजी से सरकारी प्रोपोगेण्डा मशीन बन गए हैं और पत्रकारिता के सरोकारों को भुला दिया है।

नोटबंदी के सरकारी फैसले के बाद जिस तरह की अराजकता और परेशानी व्याप्त है उसे सामने लाना और सरकार को इस बात के प्रति चेताना हाल में पत्रकारिता का प्रमुख कार्यभार है। लेकिन सभी समाचारपत्रों और चैनलों ने अपने इस कर्तव्यों से किनारा कर लिया है। जो एक या दो समाचारपत्र या टीवी चैनल इसे दिखा रहे हैं उन पर हमले हो रहे है। अभी पांच दिन पहले कारंवा पत्रिका के पत्रकार पर हमला हुआ। और परसों और कल फील्ड से रिपोर्टिंग कर रहे रवीश कुमार और उनकी टीम को डराने की कोशिश की गई। जिन लोगों ने यह किया वे एक पार्टी के समर्थक थे। और वे ऐसा ही करते हैं और करेंगे। ऐसे लोग बस या मेट्रों पर भी होते हैं लेकिन हम यह मानते हैं कि इन्हे सरकारी संरक्षण प्राप्त नहीं होगा इसलिए हम प्रतिवाद करते हैं, उनकी सुनते हैं अपनी सुनाते हैं। लेकिन पिछले दिनों में यह आभास हो रहा है कि पत्रकारों पर इनके हमले के खिलाफ अन्य मीडिया संस्थानों का खामोश रहना अनिष्ठ का संकेत है।

सुधीर चैधरी का डीएनए क्या इनता विकृत हो गया है कि अपने ही पेशे पर हो रहे इस अशलील आक्रमण के खिलाफ एक लाइन तक नहीं कह सकते। वे जिस कदम को ठीक मानते हैं उसके प्रति उनका पुर्वाग्रह रखना कोई गलत बात नहीं है। लेकिन अपने पेशे के प्रति इस कदर उदासीन रहना उनकी बड़ी भूल है। अर्णव गोस्वामी या दीपक चौरसिया जो भारत पर आने वाले तमाम खतरों को दूर से ही भांप लेते हैं क्या लोकतंत्र पर मंडरा रहे इस खतरे को नहीं समझ पा रहे। पिछले दिनों कारंवा के पत्रकार और इन दिनों रवीश और उनकी टीम पर हो रहे हमले दरअसल पत्रकारिता पर हमले हैं। और इसलिए भी यह वक्त पत्रकारों को अपनी विचारधारा से उठ कर सोचने का है। रवीश पर खतरा एक व्यक्ति विशेष का मामला नहीं है ये पत्रकारिता के पेशे पर दवाब है। साथ ही यह फेसबुक और ट्वीटर के पत्रकारों पर भी हमला है। इसलिए पेशे को बचाने की लड़ाई बेहद जरूरी हो गई है। विचारधारा इसके बाद।

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Prachanda Pulls Out Yet Another Rabbit from the Nepal Hat, But Is It Little More Than an Illusion?

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

maoist-center-3Nepal’s Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s hunger for experimenting with Maoist ideology is unending. In his long career as the Maoist supreme leader he often took decisions unheard of before by Marxist practitioners. He once wanted to align with King Birendra against the parliamentarians; next he forged an alliance with seven parties against King Gyanendra. During the initial days of insurgency he called India an expansionist power but later revised his stand and worked under its mediation. His experiments didn’t always go well with his party comrades as well as other Marxist leaders and parties of the world, but that didn’t deter him.

Recently Prachanda successfully repeated what he had achieved before initiating the people’s war in Nepal on February 13, 1996 or Fagun 2, 2052 B.S. He united 10 splintered Maoist groups or parties to form the Maoist Centre. Previously, these groups were part of his party but had broken away blaming him of betraying the revolution. The leaders thus united now include Matrika Yadav, Mani Thapa and Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’. Not so long ago Badal used to call Prachanda an Indian R&AW agent and he did his best during the second Constituent Assembly election to defeat Prachanda’s party. He travelled miles of Nepal’s difficult terrain on foot and on horse’s back to persuade people to rise against Prachanda.

Similarly, Mani Thapa too didn’t have a good relationship with Prachanda until this unity. Just before the Maoists joined open politics, the party had issued a ‘death’ warrant against him forcing him to take shelter in Darjeeling. Twelve of Mani Thapa’s supporters were abducted and kept in Kabre near Kathmandu under ‘arrest’, and allegedly tortured to disclose Mani Thapa’s whereabouts. Mani used to secretly cross from Jalpaiguri and plead with ‘soft’ comrades like Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Baburam Bhattarai for his comrades’ release.

Matrika Yadav, a former Forest Minister was until recently trying to forge an alliance of ‘like minded’ comrades to counter ‘Prachanda’s arrogance’. A few days before he united with Prachanda I had a long conversation with him in Delhi where he showed me a document he said he had given to Prachanda listing his party’s conditions for unity. As far as I could read from the document, unity looked impossible on those terms. Matrika wanted assurances that would in effect declare the new constitution reactionary, agreeing on principle for violent revolution and the right to national self determination of Madhesi and other nationalities. Matrika called the whole exercise a washover necessitated by pressure from the people of Nepal and his own party comrades.

Apart from these three leaders there are now people from different schools of thought in the party. There are people like Bishwo Bhakta Dulal ‘Aahuti’ in the party’s politburo who see Nepal’s unification by Gurkha King Prithvi Narayan Shah as hinduization of tribal people and unnatural imposition of a Brahmanist Varna System on a subjugated people. Also there are leaders like Laxman Panta, until recently a member of Kiran’s party, who are critical of tribal or janjati, madheshi and minority leaders’ for viewing Nepal from English eyes.

This jumble of contradictory and opposite thoughts doesn’t give sign of long-lasting unity. It looks more like a pre-poll alliance, survival of which will depend on the party’s election result. Even if the party does well in the election there is no guarantee that this unification will last. More so as shifting loyalties are acceptable values in Nepali politics.

By uniting these groups Prachanda has taken a very serious, if not miscalculated, risk. In Matrika Yadav he now has a face to project in the plains of Nepal, and in Badal and Dev Gurung he can reach out to janjati or tribal people. However it will not be easy for him to have complete and and undemanding loyalty from these leaders before and after the elections. Navigating through these difficult waters will be a difficult challenge for Prachanda.

However, Prachanda must be given credit for achieving what was looking impossible until recently. His ingredients are delicately balanced in what can be a good cocktail, but a wrong measure could spill it even before the people have had a chance to vote on the taste.

(Published in the Citizen, 4 July 2016)

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Nepal Stymies India

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

kp-oliNepal has cancelled an upcoming visit of its President, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, to India. Sources say the decision to cancel the visit was taken by Nepal’s cabinet on the behest of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who sees India’s hand in a bid to topple the new Nepalese government.

With this move, yet again, India has had to swallow a diplomatic defeat in Nepal. This is its third consecutive defeat since Nepal promulgated its constitution against India’s wish. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) should now seriously review its foreign policy, particularly with India’s immediate neighborhood. If the UPA government was criticized for neglecting its backyard and appeasing the West, the current government can be squarely blamed for destroying the relationship with India’s neighbours altogether.

In 2014, when NDA took over from UPA II, the then Prime Minister elect Narendra Modi, in his trademark pomp and show, announced that unlike his predecessors, the core of his government’s foreign policy would be to build a strong relationship with the neighbouring countries. He called the initiative “Neighbor First.” The invitation to the heads of the SAARC countries on his oath taking gave a glimmer of hope for many well wishers of South Asia. However, just after a few months, the facade started to crumble and like everything else, India’s foreign policy too was back in its traditional track.

In 2013, in an interaction programme in New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, former Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar spoke about how India’s foreign policy, by and large, is driven by its exaggerated security concerns. He narrated how in his own career he was often ‘briefed’ as to what he ought to do not by politicians but by officials of security agencies.

Fast forward to Nepal now and things don’t look different from the time when Bhadrakumar was serving. In last the two years, the ‘foreign’ policy advisors of Narendra Modi have made sure that the government doesn’t deviate from its long taken course without caring how awkward this could be for a man who has set great expectations for himself. Typically, India’s operation in Nepal shows that its foreign policy is and will be dominated by the logic disseminated from the ‘secret’ cables from its missions abroad.

It is now an open secret that since September last year, defying all logic, India has been trying hard to bring down the KP Sharma Oli led government in Nepal. India fears that the current government is threatening its own interest in Nepal. India’s assumptions are not based on hard facts but on feedback from its friends in the Nepali Congress and other parties as well as security analysts. To topple the government, it first tried to put pressure with the pretext of the Madhesi movement. The tactics boomeranged. Now, it is trying to forge an alliance between Nepali Congress and United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to topple the government. The development in Nepal suggests, it is snubbed yet again.

The government, had it depended more on its political advisors than some paranoid National Security advisors, it would have learned that the communists in Nepal are no different than reds of China or of West Bengal or Kerala. They too have turned ‘pragmatic’ long ago. It could have also learned that the Nepali communists are competing not to create a feared ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ but to woo India, to win its confidence. Since Nepal became a democratic nation, the sole aim of Nepalese communists has been to end Nepali Congress’s monopoly as a trusted friend of India. This understanding would have given India an insight into Nepali politics and also a new wisdom to deal with it.

India must also appreciate the fact that Nepal is now a democratic republic where politicians have to win people’s confidence to survive. It must also consider the fact that not allowing Nepali politicians to do so is tantamount to finishing off their careers. Nepali politicians certainly need breathing space and India could do better not by strangulating but rather, by helping in the creation of that space.

As Nepal was set to promulgate its constitution, India rushed its advisors to stop the process which ironically it had itself initiated in 2006. The long drawn drafting process had fatigued the people and they badly wanted it to end. Against this popular mood, India made its first blunder. It hastily tried to stop the promulgation of the constitution. Sometimes it seems that NDA is yet to learn to distinguish between a party and a country’s politics. A nation’s diplomacy is often different from the ideology of the party which is ruling it. It is strange that this time likes of SD Muni and other couldn’t guide India on the right path although earlier they played a very important role in ‘bringing the Maoists down from the hills’.

After it failed to stop the declaration, India, instead of welcoming it, tried hard to ‘impose’ its will on the already accepted constitution. No doubt there were and are some reasonable shortcomings in the constitution and a larger part of Nepal’s population remains unsatisfied with its provisions, but that isn’t enough of an excuse to visibly interfere in a foreign country’s politics. The ‘blockade’ was rather a shortsighted move which embolden Nepali leadership to take on India. The result: India lost its monopoly over Nepal’s fuel and other supplies, at least on paper.

And just at the time, when the harm done to the long standing relationship was on the path of recovery, India again shot itself in the foot. It looks as if India has made it an ego issue to remove Oli from the top seat. Otherwise, where is the logic in India wanting to replace a set of communists for another? India should know that only a miracle could bring the Nepali Congress to power before the next election. Both the UML and the Maoist are trying to form a united front in the upcoming election and they are in no mood to hurt each other. Prachanda will replace Oli only if Oli himself gives a go ahead. Hence, the strategy to play one against the other is full of risk.

So the best possible thing India could do in Nepal now is to stop doing anything at all. It should let this government complete its term and wait for the election result. Also, India could do better if it internalizes the fact that Nepal is now a democracy and there are certain obligations to it which, if not fulfilled, can cause more harm than good.

(Published in the Citizen, 9 May 2016)

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Nepal’s Bhattarai Set To Form New Party, More Splits In UCPNM Expected

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

baburamThe Resignation of Dr Baburam Bhattarai from the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), UCPNM, has not come as a real surprise for the readers of the Citizen. The break was delayed because the prolonged constitution drafting process Baburam’s intentions were visible on his face during his farewell press conference yesterday. His voice betrayed an excitement of a leader who is ready to explore new possibilities, and is clearly set to form a new political party.

The two main architects of the Maoist insurgency, Prachanda and Baburam, in Nepal were never able to come to terms with each other. Even during their underground days, they usually stood in opposite camps on many vital issues concerning the party’s ideological and political line. From the start of the civil war until it lasted there was hardly a year in ten years when news of their rivalry, threatening the existence of the movement, didn’t surface.

Prachanda’s loyalists often blamed Baburam of brewing ambition to oust him, at least ideologically. Prachanda, a shrewd politician knew that he needed Baburam on his side to make the struggle look more than an armed conflict. Baburam’s presence, a Ph.D from JNU, gave the party a facade to win over the middle class, which Prachanda believed was necessary for the movement to grow. Although he never tried to put a stop to the anti-Baburam campaign in the party he never seriously wanted to lose Baburam. He even allowed Baburam to write some of the important political documents during and after the insurgency. For Baburam, playing second to Prachanda, even when he was being humiliated was compulsion. He knew that without Prachanda it would be impossible for him to convince the party leadership to accept ‘bourgeoisie’ democracy as the goal of the movement.

Like the unity, the break too was a compulsion for Baburam who has been burning the midnight oil to carve an independent path for himself for long. In the last three years he has projected himself as a leader of a new age. He is the most active Nepali leader on Facebook and his idea of politics, corruption free, transparency, austerity, finds resonance among young Nepalis who are exposed to, thanks to smartphones, the state of politics in the world. Since 2012, he has been advocating ‘leadership of a new type’ for Nepal and consciously belittling Prachanda’s style of politics. Baburam, known for hardhearted reasoning, knows that shedding his ‘Maoist’ legacy is now necessary to win over youth in the changed politics of his country.

The move is obvious so is the outcome. Within days, several leaders will join Baburam’s bandwagon and leave Prachanda sulking. Prachanda, who was once described by the Time of India as a ‘Fidel Castro of South Asia’ seems set to outlive his utility.

(Published in the Citizen, 27 September 2015)

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Nepal Constitution Under the Shadow of the Military

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

Over a week has passed since seven policemen and an infant were killed during a Tharu agitation in Tikapur in nepalworkerNepal. It was followed by riots and army deployment in the area. After 10 years the Nepalese Army is out of the barracks to enforce law and order.

Although Nepal today is a Republic, not a bit seems to have changed in the government’s approach towards crisis in Nepal. It’s still looking south for direction. Instead of making a serious effort to reach out to disgruntled groups the Nepal government seems to be in a hurry to promulgate the Constitution in ‘time’ under the military’s shadow. Suddenly extended Constituent Assembly sittings are being held.

The proposed constitution has opened old wounds which have bled Nepal since the 1950s. Lack of foresight coupled with superficial attempts to resolve it has, like always, only deepened the crisis. The standard crisis management method so far has been: first, suppress democratic aspirations, then negotiate and at the end create a bigger problem to make the first look minor or at least unworthy of any serious attention.

Just a brief recall: to counter parliamentarians, erstwhile King Birendra let the Maoists spread through the country, and even held secret talks with them. Later to control the Maoists, King Gyanendra held secret negotiations with China and other European countries and gave them full opportunity to influence Nepal’s internal politics. Then, to make the King listen, the parliamentary parties struck a deal with the Maoists. And in 2006, to subdue the Maoists, the Nepal government under late GP Koirala extended support to the Madhesi Movement.

The current crisis in Nepal too is the result of a lack of wisdom, and levels of connivance, in the current leadership of the ruling parties. In the last three months the Nepali politicians have made two fundamental errors which have fueled mass unrest. First, arose from the belief that the leaders of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) and Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, Democratic still hold credibility in their constituencies. Second, they couldn’t correctly foresee the people’s anger. They believed that with the Maoists and the Forum on their side they would make people accept the constitution without much trouble.

It is a fact that the second Constituent Assembly is hardly as representative of the will of Nepalese people as was the first. The representation of indigenous, Madhesi and dalits-minority has almost come to naught in the present Constituent Assembly. It is definitely a setback.

The parties which had been ruling Nepal for last three decades and were by large responsible for whatever Nepal is today, are in the majority and have forcibly revised several important decisions of the previous Assembly. The unrest today is a result of those revisions. Along with this the Maoists also completely capitulated on every positive issue they once stood for. Such as secularism, ethnic based federalism and land reform. In all, the 2nd Constituent Assembly has given a constitution minus the spirit of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and several other agreements and understandings with the Madhesi and other ethnic and poor people of Nepal. In fact, it gave the same constitution which had been proven outdated for Nepal long ago.

Hence, when the ruling government of the Congress and UML bet on Prachanda and Gachhadar to make people believe their intentions they made a very poor choice. Prachanda and Gachhadar have long lost their credibility. The Madhesi people don’t see Gachhadar as their representative leader. Similarly, Prachanda too doesn’t have the support of people beyond a tiny faction in and outside his party. The parties should have considered the fact that Prachanda lost the election from Kathmandu and marginally won from Siraha. It is only a ‘miracle’ that for the last three years he is at the helm of the UCPNM leadership. For long he has managed to remain at the top only as a compromised choice of rival factions in the party. Both Gachhadar and Prachanda are the leaders who everyone in their parties want to see fail. Their failure guarantees survival as well as resurrection of many other leaders.

Hence, the stamp of these two leaders on the new constitution was not acceptable. Their agreement on the draft only justified people’s fear that they were about to be fooled once again. The result: for the last two weeks Nepal is shut. Curfew is imposed in several parts and gradually the military is taking the lead role. Can a constitution promulgated in this situation give the lasting peace Nepal has been looking for since the 1950s?

(Published in the Citizen, 2 September 2015)

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The New Nepal Constitution: A Losers Document?

Posted by chimeki on August 11, 2015

nepal constitutionNow that the draft constitution of Nepal is out for public scrutiny, it looks as if the nine year long exercise for constitution writing was a wasted opportunity. The draft constitution has postponed many important issues for a distant, yet unknown, future. The new constitution, the 6th in as many decades, lacks some of the core elements which have been the cause for chain of unrest, bloody and peaceful, in the Himalayan nations for more than a century now. No wonder various sections of Nepalese have already hit the streets to oppose it.

Padma Ratan Tuladhar, a credible ethnic face and prominent human rights activist, has described the new constitution as a ‘losers’ document’. This is because, the constitution makers, have ignored the aspirations of the Madheshi (people of the plains), dalits and major ethnic and religious groups in the draft. Since the the Gorkha king Prithvi Narayan Shah united most of the present Nepal, these groups have had a history of marginalization and exclusion.

Current constitution keeps the exclusion intact. For example, the current draft replaces the word ‘proportional representation’ for marginalized communities in interim constitution with ‘inclusive’ participation. This means that the communities will be ensured participation without any promised representation. It further exposes the communities to the competition where they, due to historical reasons, are in disadvantage.

Similarly on the issue of religious freedom the drafters have shown their disdain for individual’s wisdom. The new constitution states that each person shall be free to profess, practice, and preserve his/her religion according to his/her faith, and distance himself/herself from any other religion nevertheless it criminalizes the religious conversion by putting a condition i.e. it categorically states, ‘no person shall act or make others act in a manner which is contrary to public health, decency and morality, or behave or act or make others act to disturb public law and order situation, or convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of other people. Such an act shall be punishable by law.’ The constitution is inconsistent with the article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which gives every human being freedom to change his religion or belief.

The above argument has to be understood in the current political and social context of Nepal. In last few years, Nepal is being sharply divided on religious lines. Post Monarchy there has been many fold increase in efforts to blunt the democratic aspirations of people by polarizing them on religious line. The political parties, including the Maoists, are unnecessarily debating the word secularism in the draft. They are infusing xenophobia in the citizens’ psyche. Even the Maoist leaders Prachand has misinterpreted the word secularism and agreed to find a ‘suitable’ replacement. In an interview to Outlook Hindi Prachanda said that he was against ‘forceful conversion because spread of Christianity in Nepal is dangerous.’ He didn’t define how.

Likewise, the constitution is also ambiguous on federalism, land reform and other issues including gender rights. These are the issues that should have not been left for future. It is widely believed that the current constituent assembly has been hijacked by the forces which were fought against to create it. Nepal has seen many violent uprisings in the past. Nepali leaders ought to understand that keeping the status quo won’t help in future either. For last nine years, the Constitution Assembly could never show that it was serious in resolving the contentious issues through serious debates. Every major compromise was achieved outside the assembly in often questionable negotiations.

Those who know about 1990 movement, also known as People Movement I, that resulted in end of absolute monarchy and making of a new constitution could see that the present exercise was no different. Then too in the name of compromise the leaders betrayed the most marginalized and exploited people. That betrayal pushed Nepal to the bloodiest civil war for a decade which ultimately broke the economy and society. It was hoped that the leaders would understand the past mistakes and address the core issues that has caused unrests in regular intervals. Unfortunately they didn’t.

Nepal today stands at square one. It has lost a good opportunity to move on the path of peaceful growth. The leaders may take a deep breath for now and think of themselves as heroes but future certainly will be not very kind to them. They have repeated the same mischief for which they have been punished time and again. It now looks obvious that their reluctance to not learn for the past would cost Nepal dearly.

VS

(Published in the Citizen, 9 August 2015)

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नेपाल का संविधान और 40 सूत्रीय मांग

Posted by chimeki on August 3, 2015

Constitution-nepal4 फरवरी 1996 को तत्कालीन संयुक्त जनमोर्चा (नेपाल) की ओर से डाॅ बाबुराम भट्टराई ने प्रधान मंत्री शेर बहादुर देउबा को 40 सूत्रीय मांग पत्र सौंपा। संयुक्त मोर्चा ने यह भी घोषणा की कि इन मांगों पर यदि सरकार की ओर से कोई जवाब नहीं आया तो वे ‘राज्यसत्ता के विरोध में सशक्त संघर्ष के रास्ते में जाने के लिए बाध्य होंगे’। 14 फरवरी 1996 को नेपाल की कम्युनिस्‍ट पार्टी (माओवादी) ने नेपाल की राज्यसत्ता के विरुद्ध जनयुद्ध की घोषणा कर दी।

नेपाल के नए संविधान (मसौदा) की 1996 के उपरोक्त मांग पत्र के साथ तुलना करने पर यह साफ हो जाता है कि नया संविधान उन मांगों को संबोधित करने में पूरी तरह विफल साबित हुआ है जिसने नेपाल को 10 साल के लिए अनिश्चय, अस्थिरता और अशांति के रास्ते में डाल दिया था।

माओवादियों की 40 सूत्रीय मांग नेपाली समाज में व्याप्त उन अंतरविर्रोधों का लघु मानचित्र है जिनके हल न होने से नेपाल हमेशा एक ऐसे ज्वालामुखी के समान बना रहा है जो छोटे-छोटे अंतराल में फटता रहता है और सामाजिक और राजनीतिक उथल-पुथल का कारण बनता है।

नेपाल में एक नए संविधान का बन जाना कोई ऐतिहासिक महत्व की घटना नहीं है। 1950 के बाद से नेपाल के वर्तमान संविधान को मिलाकर कुल छह संविधान बन चुके हैं। नेपाल का सबसे पहला संविधान 1951 (अंतरिम) में बना, उसके बाद 1959, 1962, 1990 और 2007 (अंतरिम) में नेपाल में संविधान जारी हुए। इस अल्प अवधि में इतने संविधानों का जारी होना यह बताता है कि नेपाली समाज में व्याप्त अंतर्विरोधों का समाधान किए बिना शांति, स्थिरता और विकास की आशा नहीं की जा सकती। संविधान का निर्माण भावनाओं में बह कर नहीं किया जा सकता। यह किसी के अंहकार की तुष्टि का साधान नहीं है। संविधान का निर्माण वस्तुपरक स्थिति के ठोस मूल्यांकन के आधार पर ही हो सकता है। नेपाल के वर्तमान संविधान में इन सारे मूलभूत सिद्धांतों की अवहेलना की गई है। अंततः उसने उन कारकों को पुनः मान्यता प्रदान कर दी है जो नेपाल को बार-बार अराजकता, अस्थिरता और अशांति की ओर धकेल देते हैं। नेपाली समाज का छोटा मध्यम वर्ग और सम्पन्न वर्ग चाहे जितना ही ईमानदारी से शांति, स्थिरता और विकास की बात करता रहे, यह तब तक संभव ही नहीं है जब तक यह वर्ग व्याप्त अंतर्विरोधों को हल करने की दिशा में कोई ठोस कदम नहीं उठाता और बहुसंख्यक गरीब आबादी को यह अहसास नहीं दिलाता कि देश हित की उसकी दलीलों में उनका भी हित शामिल है।

नेपाल को एक स्वतंत्र देश से अर्ध-उपनिवेश और अब नव-उपनिवेश की स्थिति तक पहुंचाने में नेपाल पर समय-समय पर लादी गई असमान संधियां एवं समझौतों की बड़ी भूमिका है जिसमें सबसे प्रतिक्रियावादी संधि भारत और नेपाल के बीच 1950 में हुई शांति और मैत्री संधि ही है। इस संधि ने नेपाल के अर्ध-औपनिवेशिक चरित्र को मजबूत किया।[1]  इसलिए 1950 के बाद नेपाल में जितने भी छोटे-बड़े आंदोलन हुए उन सबकी प्रमुख मांग इस संधि को खारिज किया जाना था। 1996 में माओवादी द्वारा प्रस्तुत 40 सूत्रीय मांग की पहली मांग इस संधि को निरस्त करना था। वर्तमान संविधान में इस दिशा में कोई ठोस आश्‍वासन नहीं है।

एक अध्ययन के अनुसार, नेपाल की 65 प्रतिशत जमीन पर 10 प्रतिशत सम्पन्न सामंत वर्ग का अधिकार है। नेपाल में 8 प्रतिशत लोग पूरी तरह से भूमिहीन हैं और 65 प्रतिशत गरीब किसानों के हिस्से में मात्र 10 प्रतिशित भूमि है।[2] इसलिए नेपाल की बुनियादी जरूरत ठोस भूमि सुधार कार्यक्रम को लागू करना है। भूमि सुधार कार्यक्रम को सख्ती के साथ लागू किए बिना बहुसंख्यक जनता के हित में भूमि संसाधन का दोहन नहीं हो सकता। वर्तमान संविधान में वैज्ञानिक भूमि सुधार करने की बात तो है लेकिन भूमि के वितरण पर खामोशी है। साथ ही अनुपस्थित भू-स्वामित्व को केवल निरुत्साहित करने की बात की गई है। इस संबंध में स्पष्ट दृष्टिकोण का अभाव बहुत भ्रामक है। साथ ही 40 सूत्रीय मांग में गरीब किसानों के लिए पूर्ण रूप से कर्ज माफी की बात की गई थी लेकिन संविधान ने इस पर आंखें बंद कर ली हैं।

40 सूत्रीय मांग में गोर्खा भर्ती केन्द्रो को बंद करने की मांग की गई थी। इसका उद्देश्य उस घृणित परंपरा का अन्त करना था जिसके कारण नेपाली जनता को दूसरे देशों की जनता के आंदोलनों को कुचलने के लिए इस्तेमाल किया जाता है। यह असभ्य और मानवता के खिलाफ है। आज ही नहीं ब्रिटिश उपनिवेशवाद के दौर से ही ऐसा हो रहा है। 1857 में भारत में हुए अंग्रेज विरोधी संघर्ष में नेपाली सैनिकों का प्रयोग किया गया। इसके अतिरिक्त पंजाब, कश्मीर, अफगानिस्तान, लैटिन अमेरिका में भी नेपाली सैनिकों ने सक्रिय रूप से भाग लिया। वर्तमान संविधान इस पंरपरा को बनाए रखता है।

2005 के अध्यन के अनुसार मात्र काठमांडू में 31 हजार से अधिक संपत्तिहीन लोग हैं जो झुग्गियों में रहते हैं। पूरे नेपाल में यह संख्या कई गुणा अधिक है। 40 सूत्रीय मांग में इन लोगों के लिए उचित व्यवस्था की मांग थी। साथ ही यह भी उल्लेख है कि बिना विकल्प के इन लोगों की बेदखली नहीं होनी चाहिए। लेकिन मसौदा संविधान कानून के अनुसार बेदखली को वैधानिकता प्रधान करता है।

इसके अलावा भारत नेपाल बीच की खुली सीमा को नियंत्रित एवं व्यवस्थित करने पर भी संविधान में कुछ नहीं कहा गया है।

40 सूत्रीय मांग की ऐसी अनेक बातें हैं जिसे वर्तमान संविधान में पूर्ण रूप से निषेध कर दिया गया है। 40 सूत्रीय मांग में नेपाल की सभी भाषाओं को समान अवसर और सुविधा देने की बात है लेकिन वर्तमान संविधान में नेपाली को ही सरकारी कामकाज की भाषा का दर्जा दिया है। इस तरह लाखों गैर-नेपाली भाषाई नागरिकों को हाशिये पर धकेल दिया गया है।

माओवादियों की मांग थी कि नेपाल के सभी नागरिकों के लिए निशुल्क और वैज्ञानिक स्वास्थ सेवा एवं शिक्षा की व्यवस्था होनी चाहिए। वर्तमान मसौदा संविधान शिक्षा और स्वास्थ सेवा के निजीकरण को संवैधानिक अधिकार के रूप में मान्यता देता है। इस तरह यह शिक्षा और स्वास्थ्‍य के नाम पर होने वाली लूट को चुनौती देने तक को आपराधिक अथवा गैरकानूनी बना देता है।

यह कहना अतिशयोक्ति नहीं है कि 1996 में प्रस्तुत माओवादियों की 40 सूत्रीय मांग को अंततः यह संविधान खारिज कर देता है जो जनयुद्ध के शुरू होने और विस्तार करने का महत्वपूर्ण कारण था।

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[1] संधि को ठीक से समझने के लिए नेपाल के तत्कालीन प्रधान मंत्री मोहन शमशेर और भारतीय राजदूत सी पी नारायण सिंह द्वारा हस्ताक्षरित ‘लेटर आॅफ एक्सचेन्ज’ का अध्ययन आवश्यक है।

[2] बाबुराम भट्टराई, पोलिटिको-इकोनोमिक रैशनैल आॅफ पीपुल्स वाॅर इन नेपाल

वि.श.

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नेपाल में गाय : पवित्र जीव से राष्ट्रीय पशु तक

Posted by chimeki on August 3, 2015

Gaijatralनेपाल के नए संविधान में भी गाय को राष्ट्र पशु स्वीकार किया गया है। वैसे 1962 से ही नेपाल का राष्ट्रीय जानवार गाय है। यह इसलिए कि 1962 के संविधान में ही पहली बार नेपाल को राजसी हिन्दू राष्ट्र के रूप में परिभाषित किया गया था। इससे पहले नेपाल में गाय एक पवित्र जानवर था। अधुनिक नेपाली राष्ट्रवाद का जन्म भी इसी समय शुरू हुआ। राजा महेन्द्र ने हिन्दू धर्म को नेपाली राष्ट्रवाद का रूप दिया और गैर हिन्दू आबादी का जबरन हिन्दूकरण करना शुरू किया। राजा महेन्द्र ने एक देश, एक वेष, एक भाषानेपाल की तमाम राष्ट्रीयताओं पर लागू किया। यह अनायास नहीं है कि नेपाली इतिहास के ठीक इसी बिन्दु पर नास्तिक माने जाने वाले कम्युनिष्ट दल नेपाली राजनीति के रंगमंच पर स्थापित होना शुरू हुए।

नेपाल के संदर्भ में गाय का सवाल मात्र एक जानवर का सवाल नहीं है बल्कि यह इतिहास के उस कालखण्ड से जुड़ा है जब वर्तमान नेपाली भू-क्षेत्र में हिन्दू रियासतें स्थापित होना शुरू हुईं। भारत में इस्लामिक सत्ताओं के विस्तार और बढ़ते प्रभाव ने हिन्दू राजाओं को पहाड़ों की और ढकेल दिया। इन लोगों ने पहाड़ों में कई छोटे छोटे राज्यों की स्थापना की। बाद में गोर्खा राज्य के राजा पृथ्वीनारायण शाह ने इन्हीं राज्यों का एकीकरणकरके आधुनिक नेपाल राज्य का निर्माण किया। गोर्खा नाम संस्कृत शब्द गौरक्षा से आया है। इसलिए जब गाय को धर्मनिर्पेक्ष राष्ट्र का राष्ट्रीय पशु माना जाता है तो तमाम भलमनसाहत के बावजूद हिन्दू राष्ट्र के प्रवेश का चोर दरवाजा खुला रह जाता है।

यह दलील दी जा सकती है कि नेपाली राजनीति को भारतीय ढांचे में रख कर नहीं देखना चाहिए या इसका अध्ययन भारतीय संवेदना के साथ नहीं होना चाहिए। यह भी कहा जा सकता है कि शयद नेपाल के लोगों को इस बात से फर्क नहीं पड़ता। यह सच है कि नेपाल के लोग गाय के सवाल पर वैसी बहस नहीं कर रहे हैं जैसी बहस भारतीय संविधान के निर्माण के वक्त हो रही थी। भारत की संविधान सभा में बहस करते वक्त डा अम्बेडकर कहते हैं कि हम पिछले सात दिनों से इस (गाय) पर बहस कर रहे हैं। नेपाल की संविधान सभा ने एक मिनिट भी इस पर चर्चा हुई हो ऐसा प्रमाण नहीं मिलता।

लेकिन जरूरी बात इस बात की जांच करना है कि नेपाल के संविधान निर्माता गाय को कैसे देखते हैं। जब वो गाय को राष्ट्रीय पशु कहते हैं तो गाय के कौन से गुणों को चिन्हित करते हैं। बेशक कृषि प्रधान देश में गाय एक उपयोगी पशु है। लेकिन गाय की उपयोगिता सिर्फ दूध, बैल पैदा करने और गोबर देने में नहीं है। गाय प्रोटीन (मांस) का भी महत्वपूर्ण स्रोत है। यहीं वह पेंच है जिसकि पड़ताल किए बिना गाय को सवंधिान को चरने के लिए नहीं छोडा जाना चाहिए था।

नेपाली पाठ्यक्रम की पाठ्य पुस्तकों में गाय पर सामग्री का अध्ययन करने से संविधान और नीति निर्माताओं की जिस मानसिक स्थिति का संकेत मिलता वो वाकई देश के धर्मनिर्पेक्ष भविष्य के लिए खतरे की घंटी है। पाठ्यक्रम में जो सामग्री है उसके अनुसार गाय राष्ट्रीय पशु है क्योंकि वह दूध देती है और हिन्दूओं के लिए पूज्य है। यदि पाठ्यक्रम यह भी संदेश होता कि गाय के दूध के साथ उसका मांस भी प्रोटीन का अच्छा स्रोत है तो भी शायद गाय का विरोध नहीं करना पड़ता। गाय और हिंदू धर्म का गहरा संबंध है। एक तरह से ये दोनों शब्द एक दूसरे के पूरक हैं। डा अम्बेडकर ने गौ मांस खाने वाले और न खाने वालों को छूत और अछूत की विभाजन रेखा माना है।

राष्ट्रीय प्रतीक क्या है? किसी पशु, पक्षी या चिन्ह को राष्ट्रीय घोषित करने के क्या माने होता हैं? इन सवालों के कई जवाब हो सकते हैं लेकिन सबसे तार्किक जवाब यही लगता है कि राष्ट्रीय प्रतीक या चिन्ह राष्ट्र के इतिहास और संस्कृति के वे चिन्ह होते हैं और इनका चुनाव करते समय लोग यह तय करते हैं कि वे राष्ट्र को किस संस्कृति और इतिहास के किस हिस्से से जोड़ कर देखना चाहते हैं। राष्ट्रीय प्रतीकों का चुनाव समावेश और बहिष्कार की एक साथ होने वाली प्रकृया हैं। और ठीक इन्ही बिन्दु पर देश का चरित्र स्पष्ट होता है। इसके साथ यदि नेपाल को उसके इतिहास और दक्षिण एशिया के संदर्भ से अलग करके देखा जा सकता तो भी गाय कोई बहुत गंभीर बहस को पैदा नहीं करती। लेकिन अफसोस कि नेपाल को दक्षिण एशिया और उसके इतिहास के साथ ही समझा जा सकता है। इसलिए यहां गाय एक राष्ट्रीय पशु से बड़कर एक राष्ट्रीय चुनौती है जिसने अक्सर राष्ट्रीय आपदा को जन्म दिया है।

जैसा कि उपर कहा गया है भारतीय संविधान के निर्माताओं ने भी गाय पर लंबी बहस की। संविधान सभा में गौ हत्या पर निर्पेक्ष (ब्लैंकिट) प्रतिबंध लगाने की मांग भी हुई लेकिन डा अम्बेडकर ने इस प्रतिबंध के पक्ष में धार्मिक आस्था वाली दलील को अस्वीकार कर आर्थिक दलीलों को स्वीकार किया और संशोधन में यह रखा गया कि राज्य उपयोगी जानवरों की हत्या पर रोक लगाने का प्रयास करेगा। इस तरह संविधान निर्माताओं ने एक बड़ी आबादी को राहत दिलाई।

द किंग एण्ड काउः आॅन ए क्रूशीयल सिम्बल आॅफ हिन्दूआईजेशन इन नेपाल में एक्सिल माईकल्स् लिखते हैं कि नेपाल में गाय का प्रयोग कतिपय राष्ट्रीय समूहों और दुर्गम क्षेत्रों के एकीकरण और उन पर आधिपत्य स्थापित करने के लिए किया गया। वे इसी निबंध में लिखते है कि शाह राजाओं और राणाओं ने नेपाल राज्य की विचारधारा को गौ हत्या पर प्रतिबंध से जोड़ कर देखा। 1854 के मुल्की ऐन अथवा सिविल कोड में कहा गया है कि, ‘कलयुग में यही एक मात्र राज्य है जहां गाय, स्त्री और ब्राह्मण की हत्या नहीं हो सकती।

1939 में जब तत्कालीन राणा प्रधान मंत्री महाराजा जुद्धा शमशेर ने कलकत्ता का भ्रमण किया तो तमाम भारतीय समाचार पत्रों ने उन की यह कह कर प्रशंसा की कि वे एक ऐसे देश के प्रतिनिधि हैं जो हिन्दू राष्ट्र का प्रतीक है। हिन्दू आउटलुक नाम की पत्रिका में छपे एक लेख में जुद्धा शमेशर की प्रशंसा करते हुए लेखक ने लिखा है, ‘एक पवित्र हिन्दू की तरह महाराजा महान गौ पूजक हैं

उपरोक्त परिप्रेक्ष में गाय को इस आसानी से राष्ट्रीय पशु स्वीकार कर लेना चिंतनीय है। एक धर्मनिर्पेक्ष राज्य किसी ऐसे जानवर को राष्ट्रीय पशु की मान्यता कैसे दे सकता है जिसके हवाले से नेपाली की बहुसंख्य जनता का उत्पीड़न किया जाता रहा है। एक अध्ययन के अनुसार गौ हत्या के मामले में सारे आरोपी जनजाति, पिछड़ी मानी जाने वाली हिन्दू जातियां या अल्प संख्यक समुदाय से हैं। इसलिए गाय का राष्ट्रीय पशु हो जाना नेपाल को आज ठीक उसी बिन्दु पर खड़ा कर दे रहा है जहां से असंख्य विद्रोहों का सूत्रपात हुआ था।

वि.श.

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Narendra Modi in Nepal

Posted by chimeki on April 29, 2015

Courtesy: Business Standart

Courtesy: Business Standart

It takes centuries to build a national identity and less than few months to lose it completely. This is a lesson that the people of Nepal are to learn very soon. Nepal, because of its geo-political location, has been always a place of political and diplomatic maneuverings for the regional powers but never before was it done so openly and brazenly as it is being done now.

Under Narendra Modi India has become dangerously assertive in Nepal. Since he took over as the prime minister of India he had made it clear that India would actively involve itself in the affairs of South Asia. The method would vary country-wise. In Nepal, he is trying to launch a powerful assault on the Nepali identity by evoking the Hindu identity. Interestingly, there is a complete lack of concern among the Nepali politicians and academia who, until recently, would jump the gun over anything they perceived as a threat to Nepal’s sovereignty and nationality.

While he talks Gandhi and secularism to his Western audience, his regular conjuration of the Hindu identity in Nepal has become a matter of serious deliberation among the concerned Nepal watchers. Post 2002 Gujarat communal carnage, Mr Modi projected himself as the man of development in India and abroad, but for Nepali people, he has become a religious zealot, a crusader who felt it his duty to make them conscious of their religion.

Mr Modi has betrayed his obsession with Nepal quite often in the last few months. His fixation with Nepal is hardly a secret now. In his first visit to Bhutan he mistakenly referred the Bhutanese parliamentarians as the Nepali law makers. Later he praised Nepal in his maiden Independence Day speech to the nation.

In between these two references he toured Nepal and offered prayers in the Pashupatinath temple. The photograph where his forehead is smeared in the temple’s holy ash created a sensation in the country. Even the hardcore nationalists saw it as a signal from India to have a good relationship. When he spoke in the Nepal’s Constitution Assembly, the first head of any state to do it in recent memories, he repeatedly evoked shared Hindu identity by the people of the two countries.

Taking the step further, he planned a road trip to Nepal in November this year to attend the 18th SAARC Summit. Thankfully it didn’t happen. Mr Modi’s itinerary included Janakpur, a town considered to be the birth place of Ramayan’s Sita, Muktinath and Lumbani. He had plans to address the people in all the three places.

Nepal and Identity:

Birth of Nepal as a nation-state coincided with the expansion of the British Raj in India. In the south of Nepal, the two powers constantly disputed over trade and border issues in the last and the first decades of the 18th and 19th centuries. Finally, in 1814 the more than two-decade-long tension culminated in a fully fledged war. The Anglo Nepalese War of 1814-16 in which Nepal suffered a humiliating defeat sealed the fate of Nepal for more than a century and a half. That defeat also made Nepal extremely conscious of its existence. Over the years Nepal’s foreign policy and relationship were moulded with a specific aim of protecting its existence. That was the reason, many believe, Nepal whole heartedly supported all British moves in Asia and the world.

During the first war of Independence in India in 1857, Nepal played a very crucial role in reestablishing English supremacy in the region. Then Prime Minister of Nepal Jung Bahadur Rana, who established the Rana autocracy or Ranacracy in Nepal, personally led the Gurkha army to crush the armed uprising in Lucknow and other parts of Northern India. Karl Marx called Jung Bahadur Rana ‘the English dog-man’. Even after the rebellion was thoroughly crushed, the Rana regime continued to aid the British establishment in India. Thereafter, the Ranas would not allow any anti-British activities from Nepal. In the following years Nepal was the source of a large number of Gurkha recruits and slaves for the English rulers. The successive Rana rulers continued to aid the British with Gurkha soldiers in the missions in Burma, Afghanistan, China, Malta, Cyprus, Malaya and Tibet. In the two world wars more than 2 lakh Gurkha soldiers fought along the British lines. During World War II there were 112000 Gurkha soldiers in the British Army, the highest ever.

Post British rule in Asia, precisely after India got freedom, when India’s new rulers set the task of assimilating as many independent states as possible into India’s fold, Nepal had to wake up to the new political reality. The hastily concluded Peace and Friendship Treat of 1950 with the new Indian government has signs of a desperate attempt by the then Nepali rulers to switch loyalty. Although the Rana rule ended soon after the treaty was signed, the treaty remained in effect. It still is. Since then this treaty is the core around which Nepali politics moves. The political trend in Nepal is that every political party would criticize the treaty when she is in opposition or leading an armed movement and go mum as soon as it would come to power or become part of the system.

The suspicion for India grew after Sikkim became the 22nd state of India in 1975. Many in Nepal saw it as a forceful annexation. This event added a new word in the Nepali political lexis, Sikkimikaran or Sikkimization. The merger made Nepali people more attached to their Nepali identity.

In the coming years, this attachment to identity first developed into cynicism and then transformed into socialism. The socialists in Nepal become the flag bearer of sovereignty and Nepali identity. This transformation happened due to the recognition and support Nepal got from the socialist China. China offered Nepal an olive branch to stand on its own, for itself against its mighty southern neighbor which, for many Nepalese, had followed the British legacy of expansionism and assertion.

Since 1950, there have been many attempts, deliberate or unintentional, to dilute the Nepali identity by the Hindu fundamentalists from the both sides of the border. Like today many Indian leaders had tried to influence Nepali masses by evoking common religious belief in the past too. However, Nepal for long remained unmoved from these assaults. In the last 60 years, Nepal has successful defied the Hindutva agenda of blending Nepali identity with the larger Hindu identity. Nepali people had always challenged the hegemonic rhetoric of its southern neighbor. Also, whenever they felt that the leaders or the kings couldn’t be trusted in safeguarding the sovereignty of the country they had come out to protest. Often these protests have led to big political changes.

On the other hand, the kings too found it necessary for their own survival to keep the Nepali identity separate from the broader Hindu identity. Often they fuelled nationalistic sentiments to check growing Indian interventions in the country’s sovereign affairs. The first king of Nepal Prithvi Narayan Shah warned his subjects from crossing the border and mixing with the Indian population. Later, the Rana rulers consciously chose not to be seen as an extension of India. However, from the second half of the 20th century, the idea of state-sponsored Nepali nationalism was challenged by the new and more inclusive form of nationalism i.e. socialist nationalism.

Nationalism(s) in Nepal

From 1950, there emerged contesting views of nationalism in Nepal. One view reflected the state sponsored top-down nationalism based on national pride centered on the Shah Monarchy and Hindu (not Hindutva) ideals while other view advocated bottom-up nationalism based on class unity of the marginalized and toiling masses. The former was intrinsically anti-woman, anti-dalit, anti-religious minorities and also against the people of Tarai (plains) known generally as the Madheshi. The latter view defined nationalism in Nepal’s context as the unity of all the exploited people and demanded restructuring of Nepal based on the principles of socialism and democracy.

After a prolonged struggle the people of Nepal succeeded in uprooting the monarchy in 2008. The first Constituent Assembly saw the largest number of representation of hitherto suppressed minorities, nationalities, gender and castes. It looked as if Nepal was on the threshold of resolving the contradictions it had been in since the emergence of modern Nepal. However the first Constitutional Assembly failed to write a constitution in the stipulated time and had to be dissolved. The second Constitutional Assembly, which came into existence in November last year, is not as representative as the first. The number of women, dalits, Madheshis and other marginalized communities and minorities has come down to one third of the previous number. Nevertheless, the people still hoped for a better Constitution than they had previously.

However, things have been changing fast in Nepal since the Baratiya Janta Party came to power in India. This has also coincided with the weakening of the nationalist consciousness among the Nepali people. Nationalistic feeling subsided because people feel cheated by the nationalist leaders. There is a feeling that the leaders cultivate nationalistic sentiments to further their self interests. It is not long ago when the Maoists were seen as the watchdog of national sovereignty. But they too proved to be the same old wine with a new label. It was during the premiership of the Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai that Nepal signed the worst bilateral trade agreement, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), with India. Several studies have already proved that these agreements have always harmed the interests of the weaker economies. Besides, the Maoists have shown reluctance to speak on India’s growing intervention in Nepal. In the name of pragmatism, they dared not offend India’s goodwill.

Not long ago the Maoists would stop Indian motor vehicles from crossing to Nepal calling it the right of sovereign people. There were nationalists who burnt posters of Indian film stars and politicians they thought had hurt the Nepali sentiments. These leaders are now completely silent over the most ill-timed intervention by the head of India. The passivity is bound to cost Nepal very much.

The question of nationality is still relevant for the neo-colonized countries and nationalities. Although, it is considered an obsolete idea to emphasize on nationality and identity at the cost of the larger class question nevertheless the weakening of socialist movements across the world and rising assault of capitalist imperialism has made it inevitable to fall back to the Marxist line which, along with the class question, addresses the question of nationalism in the newly colonized or neo-colonized countries of the world. For these nationalities, as Lenin would see in various forms of struggles, the nationalist or identity struggle is a process of crystallizing the class struggle. In the last decades of the last century, the socialists in many countries of the world creatively blended the Marxist class line with the issue of nationalism and were not only able to win over the large masses of people but also sustain their power for a longer period.

The Maoists in Nepal must remember Lenin’s warning when he said, “The bourgeoisie ‘want’ to curtail the class struggle, to distort and narrow the conception and blunt its sharp edge.”  Narendra Modi seems to be doing exactly this. He is trying to blunt the edges of the volatile class struggle in India and Nepal with a narrow nationalistic sentiment based on Hindu supremacy. The nationalists in Nepal, including the Maoists, must remember that nationalism is ultimately an idea. It cannot be saved, by stopping foreign goods and vehicles from crossing the border, shutting cinema halls playing foreign movies and other such rituals, useless the idea itself is saved.

V.S.

(Published at Sanhati.com on December 13, 2014)

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Nepal Peace Process on Track

Posted by chimeki on April 29, 2015

Nepal Peace ProcessIn Nepal, the constitution writing process is back on track. On September 2, the big three parties, Nepali Congress, UML, UCPN-Maoist, have agreed to engage with Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’ led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist. The CPN-M is the biggest party outside the Constituent Assembly and has been proposing an all party conference to resolve the contentious issues of the Constituent Assembly. It has warned of consequences for the government if it tries to ignore its alliance.

The breakthrough has come just four days before the deadline set by the working calendar of the Constituent Assembly to build a consensus on all disputed issues. On 5 April, the Constituent Assembly had formed the Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee under UCPN-M leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai and mandated it to underline the bone of contention among the parties in and outside the Constituent Assembly. On May 16, the committee sent a list of 145 points related to the constitution writing process that, it said, needed addressing. Accordingly, the committee held talks with 45 parties outside the Constituent Assembly on 7 and 8 July to put on record their demands. However, the CPN-M, which, along with 33 other parties, had boycotted the second Constituent Assembly election held in November last year, refused to sit for talks saying that it didn’t recognize the new Constituent Assembly. It demanded a direct talk among the parties and all the stakeholders in Nepal.

Since then the writing process had stuck in limbo. It looked as if the Sushil Koirala government had made up its mind to bypass CPN-M and parties outside the Constituent Assembly while working on the constitution. Had it happened it would have set a wrong precedent.

Since last November, the political landscape in Nepal has completely changed. There have emerged alternative voices in every major political party. In the CPN-M, one strong voice is represented by Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplab’, a charismatic young leader with an influencing following. The party which, till recently, had claimed to be above factionalism is facing an existential crisis. Biplab has serious reservations on the line taken by the party leadership since the second Constituent Assembly election. He has attacked the leadership for not being able to formulate concrete line in the changed scenario. He believes that the line of the party chairman Kiran and other senior leaders, which tells that the Constituent Assembly is still relevant, has exhausted and the party should change its course of action. In a recently concluded meeting of the central committee, Biplab had presented an alternative proposal challenging the Chairman’s.

Biplab’s proposal to the party is: go back to the People’s War. His emphasis is on getting out of the peace process and going underground. He has strongly rejected Kiran’s argument for a peaceful struggle until the time is mature for a ‘people’s revolt’. He is of belief that there is no scope for peaceful struggle for Socialism in Nepal and that line of ‘People’s revolt’ is the excuse of the status quoist forces in the party! Biplab seems ready to say goodbye to fellow comrades if they don’t make amendments in the party’s present line. If this happens, the peace process in Nepal will certainly collapse. The leaders must understand that the consequences of the collapse will not be Biplab’s sole doing instead more responsibility will be of the government.

For better part of its term, the government had seldom shown seriousness in fulfilling its commitment to the Nepalese people of giving them a new constitution. The peace process which began 8 years ago often looked an unending exercise. The Constituent Assembly is yet to present the first draft of the constitution! Experts believe that the real process will begin after the first draft is made public because only then people will actually join the debate which has been going on behind the curtain for all these years.

The agreement to hold talk with the CPNM is a welcome step. It sends a clear message that the government is serious for a meaningful and constructive dialogue with all the voices without caring much for their size and standing. It is also a message to Biplab and his supporters that their fear that there is no scope for peaceful and democratic solution of Nepal’s problem is without merit.

V.S.

(Published in The Citizen)

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