Why India should keep hands off Nepal


The reason Nepal is still unstable, and hence unable to protect India’s and China’s interests is because she was always denied the time and space to practice democracy. This time, let Nepal exercise democracy and please trust us to serve your interests.

I would like to provide a very simple reason. On this blog, I have previously provided other reasons on why India should rather support the Nepalese people, who have expressed their will through the election instead of relying on its spooks, middlemen and their favorite politicians. Former PM Baburam Bhattarai, and a section of India’s administrative-intelligence establishment recently lobbied vigorously in New Delhi. They want India to play an active role in the current Nepalese political deadlock, and support a political line that has been defeated in the elections. Others have written about how this will sabotage the constitution writing process, and the blame would lay on India.

I will provide another, very simple reason for why India should not listen to such spooks and their network- let Nepal exercise democracy and please trust us to serve your national interests.

The reason Nepal is still unstable, and hence unable to protect India’s and China’s interests is because she was always denied the time and space to practice democracy. Nepalese people have repeatedly expressed their will to be governed under a democratic government and live in a free society. There have been multiple popular uprisings for those very reasons. But Nepalese people could not choose their leaders, make mistakes, learn from them, and grow as a democracy. Look at how India had a long streak of democratic governance since her independence and how China had her share of stable political system during the same period. They have practiced the political system they wanted to live under, made mistakes within that setup, learned from them, groomed leaders, prospered economically, and are today formidable forces in the regional and global balance of power.

Relying on select few people and politicians at the top while thinking the Nepalese people don’t know what’s best for them will backfire, like it backfired for Nepal’s active monarch, and for the neighbors in the past.

Now let’s look at Nepal. The King in Nepal, with support from both India and China, thought he knew better than the people. The messy democratic system, weak political parties, and opportunistic leaders won’t do Nepal any good- that was the logic behind the support for an active monarchy. Had the monarch stayed away, and allowed the political system to mature and democracy to function, we’d have perfected our style of democratic system, the political parties would have institutionalized better, and through various elections and policies, people would have separated the chaff of opportunistic leadership from the responsible one.

This is not to say that international support is harmful at all times. When there’s an authoritarian government in Nepal and the people want to get rid of it, it is the moral imperative of the international community and our neighbors to stand by that will of the people. When basic freedom of the people is in danger, we expect our international friends to stand by the universal values and help us restore an open society. None of this is the case today.

Instead, our neighbors should learn to trust us as a people. They should let us have regular elections, and let us decide our policies within that framework. Relying on select few people and politicians at the top while thinking the Nepalese people don’t know what’s best for them will backfire, like it backfired for Nepal’s active monarch, and for the neighbors in the past.

A democratically stable and experienced Nepal is in the best interests of both India and China. We will make some mistakes along the way, but those are mistakes worth making. Nepal will not destabilize or be a haven for anti-India and anti-China activities. Instead, nationalistic fervor rises and opportunistic ultra-nationalists become popular whenever foreign intervention tries to impose their will against the popular choice in Nepal. In the past, there were attempts to instill a strong anti-India feeling by the royal faction and the communists (the Maoist party’s rise to power was based on its jingoistic and ultra-nationalistic stance). But with time, people have recognized this as harmful, they have come to realize the dangers of such ultra-nationalism based on the hatred of others. Such forces have been defeated by the people, through uprisings and elections.

This is a sign of how if given the time and opportunity, Nepalese people will make mistakes and ultimately learn to be a stable, mature democracy. Only such a Nepal can help India and China.

So, what should India do at this time? The best she can do is to have trust in Nepalese people, and let them decide and learn what kind of society they want to build. India should be wary if this very process is in danger because of authoritarianism, and it’s ok if India helps us avoid such path through her experience and insight. Other than that, the best thing she can do for Nepal right now is to keep her hands off.

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के सबै कुरा उतै बाट हुन्छ ? नेपालको हातमा केही छैन ?


कतै भारतको भुमिका बेगर नेपालमा केही सम्भव छैन भन्ने मान्यता स्थापित गराउने प्रयास स्वरूप नियोजित रुपमै त य यस्तो भइरहेको छैन ?

सुशील कोइराला प्रधानमन्त्री हुनु अघि काठमान्डुमा एउटा हल्ला चलाइयो । भारतलाई खुशी नपारेको हुनाले कोइराला प्रधानमन्त्री हुन सक्दैनन्, भए पनि टिक्नै सक्दैनन् । हालसालै कोइराला र ओलीले एउटा भारतीय पक्षको दबाब अनुसार संविधान निर्माण गर्न अस्वीकार गरे भन्ने समाचार पनि आए । यो कुरा सत्य-असत्य जे भएपनि भारतलाई खुशी नबनाएकोमा प्रधानमन्त्री हुनै नसक्ने भनिएका कोइराला प्रधानमन्त्री बनेनन् मात्र, अहिलेसम्म टिकिरहेका पनि छन् । नेपाली सरकारहरू टिक्ने औसत समयभन्दा धेरै उनको सरकार टिक्छ पनि होला । सरकार टिक्नु मात्रै त ठूलो कुरा होइन । तर यहाँ विषय सरकार टिक्नु होइन, सरकार बन्ने सम्भावनाकै निम्ति पनि पहिले भारतको अगाडि लम्पसार पर्नुपर्छ भन्ने मान्यता जबर्जस्ती स्थापना गर्ने प्रयास बारे हो ।

अहिले पूर्व प्रधानमन्त्री बाबुराम भट्टराईको भारत भ्रमणको प्रसङ्गमा पनि यस्तै कुरा उठेका छन् । भट्टराईले किन अलिकति पनि हिचकिचाहट नराखी खुलेआम भारतको हस्तक्षेप मागिरहेका छन् ? नेपालबाट भारतीय हस्तक्षेप निम्त्याउन धेरै पार्टीका धेरै नेता दिल्ली धाउँछन् । पहिले अलि लुकाउने प्रयास त गर्थे । तर भट्टराईले एउटा स्वतन्त्र राष्ट्रको प्रतिनिधिलाई कत्ति पनि शोभा नदिने गरी आफ्ना आन्तरिक राजनीतिक प्रतिद्वन्द्वी बारे भारतमा किन सार्वजनिक वक्तव्यबाजी गरिरहेका छन् ? लुकाउने प्रयास पनि नगरी खुल्लमखुल्ला आफू भारतसँग गुहार गर्न र भारतको आशीर्वाद प्राप्त गर्न दिल्ली भ्रमण गरेको देखाउन चाहनुको उद्देश्य के हो ?

कुनै डरलाग्दो गोप्य कार्य लुकाउँदा त्यसको कुनै महत्त्व नहुन सक्छ तर सोही विषयको चर्चा  षडयन्त्रका रूपमा हुँदा त्यसले मानिसमा डर र निरीहताको भावना जगाउन सक्छ। आफ्नो वशमा केही पनि रहेनछ, सबै षडयन्त्र रहेछ भन्ने लाचार भावनाले मानिसलाई राजनीति, क्रिया र विवेचनात्मक सोचबाट पर हुन प्रोत्साहित गर्छ । कतै त्यस्तो डर, निरीहता र अकर्मण्यता जगाउने उद्देश्यले यस किसिमको अभियान त चलाइएको होइन ? र भारतको भुमिकाको विरोधको नाममा अतिरञ्जना गरेर नेपालको हातमा केही छैन भनेर स्थापित गर्न खोज्नेहरू कतै सोही अभियानमा संलग्न त छैनन् ?

हामीकहाँ भएका सबै राजनीतिक परिवर्तन, सबै सत्ता फेरबदल र सबै साना-ठूला कार्य हरू कुनै विदेशी संस्था वा देशको चाहनामा भएका हुन् र तीबिना यी केही पनि सम्भव हुने थिएनन् भन्ने आशयका विचार, लेख र किताबहरू अचेल  बजारमा यत्र तत्र छन्। अनौठो त के छ भने त्यस्ता खुलासा गर्नेहरू स्वयंले ती घटना हुँदै गर्दा त्यसको जानकारी कहिल्यै गराएनन्, त्यसो गर्न सक्ने स्थितिमा भए पनि। त्यस्ता लेख र पुस्तकले कति खुलासा गर्न सक्छन्, ती  खुलासा पाठकका पक्षमा हुन्छन् वा अरू कसैका पक्षमा, र ती कति वस्तुगत हुन सक्छन् भन्ने विषयमै सन्देह रहन्छ ।

कतै भारतको भुमिका बेगर नेपालमा केही सम्भव छैन भन्ने मान्यता स्थापित गराउने प्रयास स्वरूप नियोजित रुपमै त य यस्तो भइरहेको छैन ?

त्यसकारण होला सुशील कोइराला प्रधानमन्त्री हुँदैनन् भनेर भविष्यवाणी गर्नुपरेको । वा यस किसिमका अभिव्यक्ति धेरै सुनिन थालेको: ‘हाम्रो हातमा केही छैन, हामी केही गर्न सक्दैनौँ। सबै उतै (भारत)बाट हुन्छ। हाम्रा प्रधानमन्त्रीले गृह मन्त्रालयका चिट्ठीपत्र हेर्ने कर्मचारीलाई समेत केही गर्न सक्दैनन् किनभने तिनी पनि उतै बाट परिचालित छन्।’

भारतमा यसअघि कहिल्यै नदेखिएको यो स्तर, आत्मविश्वास र खुलेआम रुपमा भइरहेको भट्टराईका कृयाकलापलाई पनि यसै रुपमा प्रश्न गर्नु आवश्यक छ । तर हाम्रो राजनीति र हाम्रा समस्याहरूको समाधान हामीसँगै छ । यो विश्वास मरेर सजग हस्तक्षेप गर्न छोडेको दिन र आफ्ना देशका कामहरूमा सहभागिता जनाउन छोडेको दिन भने हाम्रो हातबाट सो लगाम छुट्न कत्ति पनि गाह्रो छैन ।


यो ब्लग नेपाल साप्ताहिकको अंक ६०२ (२०७१ असार १५) मा प्रकाशित मासिक स्तम्भ टिस्टुङ् देउराली को लेख “हामी कति स्वतन्त्र ?” लेखमा आधारित छ । सो लेख पढ्न यो लिङ्कमा क्लिक गर्नुहोला


AAP’s victory and takeaway lessons for Nepal


One phase is over in the life of modern India- that of elevating herself as a peer to other global players. Having seen it all, is it time to focus on substance now?

The Aam Aadmi Party has won the Delhi state elections. Winning would be an understatement. The party that was non-existent a couple of years ago has literally swept aside its opponents (its election symbol is a broom that’s used for sweeping). Here are my initial thoughts on the election results. Indian political events naturally have their repercussions in the neighboring Nepal, at the very least in perception and conversations. AAP’s good showing in the previous election created a loud buzz in Kathmandu, with politicians from the extreme left to the civil society cheering for a similar “new force” in Nepal. I have written about this previously (see the previous blog post in Nepali).

I admire AAP’s focus on transparency and accountability. This should challenge traditional political forces to reform. Accounts of expenses and donations are rarely made public in the subcontinent, neither are other deliberations on policy. AAP’s leader Arvind Kejriwal being a part of the RTI (Right To Information) movement in India has contributed to this focus on transparency. AAP’s emergence should send alarm bells inside other parties and the sooner they reform, the better.

I am not a fan of AAP’s economic programs and I think they are a bit naïve. Sure, I think their intentions are good, but intentions alone do not mean anything. They need to be guided by tact and a clear long-term political program. Maybe they know this already, and will learn the game as they move on. Of course it is easier said (especially from outside) than done.

I think this election result also says a lot about the way Indian voters, especially Delhi voters have evolved in this generation. Modern Indians, many of them having been lifted to the middle class, well educated, globe-trotting, and earning, are now used to India’s status as a global player and emerging power. Having a central government that can assert India’s power outside her borders is nice. But they don’t have to be obsessed about their national identity when it comes to internal, and especially local affairs. I think the voters are more confident now of their international stature and image. Obsessing over the great India (mahaan Bharat), over and above the local issues makes little sense to their daily lives. They want to be residents of a truly modern and developed city now, one with a government that’s more respectful and sensitive to their real needs like water, transport, security, energy, transparency, and environment. During the short time that BJP has been in power at the center, India has already seen a lot of assertive foreign policy starting from the neighborhood to Australia, Japan, and America. Indian economy is now the world’s fastest growing, and is predicted to be bigger than China’s in the next decades.

One phase is over in the life of modern India- that of elevating herself as a peer to other global players. It required a bit of showmanship, arrogance, grandiosity (international sporting events and space missions), global figures (billionaires and celebrities), and an inflated sense of national pride. Having seen it all, is it time to focus on substance now? The tasks of making it safer for women to travel, of having clean drinking water, less corrupt politicians, and of people feeling like they have a real say in power? The young and hip generation doesn’t just want to sign online petitions and post likes on Facebook. A proof to this is the manner in which Delhi-residents took to the streets a couple of years ago after the rape incidents. They want to feel like citizens with real political power and representation. Maybe the AAP tide is a response towards that need.

A good mayor can make a lot more impact in the daily lives of city dwellers, and a VDC chairman can prove his mettle in more tangible ways than by trying to make big changes to the life of a country as a whole.

I firmly believe that local elections are ideal to test politicians, policies and build leaders. My suggestion to political aspirants in Nepal (including Bibeksheel Nepali Party) has also been to focus on local elections- and try their hands at the level of wards, VDCs, and municipalities. A good mayor can make a lot more impact in the daily lives of city dwellers, and a VDC chairman can prove his mettle in more tangible ways than by trying to make big changes to the life of a country as a whole. In advanced democracies, it’s usually popular mayors who slowly mature into national leaders. Lack of local elections and accountability has introduced a very distorted way of practicing democracy in Nepal- we first see untested, unproven but very confident people trying to fix things in the national level. It has led us into a lot of disappointment.

We should not be distracted by the seduction of power, big words, and abstract polity we see at the national level and instead try to bring democracy directly to the lives of people. Starting out at the very bottom is the best way to do it.