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Nepal: Humanitarian Crisis On The Rise – OpEd

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The government formed after the promulgation of the new constitution has just completed its first one hundred days. Has it produced anything that can be celebrated? The unfortunate fact is that it has not.

The general view is that this so called government has done nothing good for the nation except expand the cabinet, making it the largest in our history and placing more economic burdens on the country. The newspaper headlines are full of reports that earthquake victims are dying from lack of food, medicine and appropriate shelter. Ordinary people are suffering even more from shortage of daily essentials for their livelihood caused by the enduring Indian economic embargo against Nepal. The price of all goods has sky-rocketed and monopolies have flourished. No serious initiative is taken by the state in order to control and punish such perpetrators.  Law and order is being ignored, and the proverb ‘might is right’ pervades society. Nobody is fully aware of who is running this country at present.

The much discussed “disaster reconstruction project” is already been delayed and is being treated as a cruel joke for many. The Madhes agitation continues. Several dozen individuals have been killed by forces within the past few months. The PM has utterly failed to find a political solution. It seems as though this government is only defending the interests of the ruling class, those near and dear to persons in power and of course the mafia and syndicators. Who is actually benefiting from the present crisis? Illusive promises by the PM seem to dictate the everyday business. There is a strong feeling among ordinary people that our country is in a real sense lacking in government, law and order.

As in every crisis, there will be hardly any problem for the rich, the powerful and those who are politically well connected. Who cares about the millions of poor and vulnerable citizens who at the best of times struggle to earn enough to live from day to day? The poorest of the poor in our society including the bulk of ordinary citizens are the first to suffer whenever there is a national crisis. Where is the obligation on the state to respect, protect and fulfil the right of those millions to live in dignity? Where is the guarantee of the human right to access to food, fuels and other daily necessities for all? It is a gross human rights violation and the state seems to be running away from its absolute duty as required by our supreme law of the land and by various international human rights documents to which we are a party

Many questions must be asked today: is it not time to seek an alternative to this government? The problems seem to be enduring ones, but what is the existing government doing to address the present crisis? Cooking gas, kerosene, and oil are unavailable in the store and yet one could easily obtain them if ready to pay double or three times the usual price. There is no petrol or diesel available at the local pumps, but the streets seem very busy with all sorts of vehicles. Today, this country appears to be run by a few groups of established mafia. The state economy seems to be controlled by the black-market supported by the established state power. It appears to be a clearly undeclared policy of the present government. A recent report of the National Human Rights Commission accused the government of encouraging a black market in various essential items. Moreover, illegal trading in fuels has been taking place under the very eyes of security agencies and government officials in various parts of the country. Is that that what the present government wants to create? Where are the voices against these actions and omissions of the government? Is it not a time to break our long silence? How much longer should we close our eyes and minds?

Wake-up call

The government needs to act fast. Things cannot go on like this forever. How much longer can this government ignore the needs of the people? It must provide clear agendas, policies and programmes to end the enduring humanitarian crisis in a transparent and responsible manner. What political progress has been made and how exactly is the bilateral dialogue with India taking place? When will the blockade be ended?  People are already more than tired and they need clear explanations. Where is the accountability of the government? Why does it turn a blind eye to black-marketeering? The government is there to do things and it is paid to serve but nothing seems to go right. In a democratic society, no one has the right to hold on to power if they fail to meet the needs of the people.

Moreover, the government has failed to maintain an atmosphere of respect and toleration necessary for a diverse and pluralistic society. People are asking:  has it even begun to take seriously the Madhes issue? If so, what is happening? Why did the government fail to create a broad political understanding between the agitators and the state? If the government cannot function correctly, it has no constitutional, legal and moral right to hold on to power: it has two options: either do something positive or resign. This is the very charm of a democratic system. The nation may have to start looking for an alternative government in the sense that the country may demand a new PM who is a highly confident and competent individual with a broad understanding of the political forces at work.

Finally, what worries me most is that it is not only the government that seems to be blind to the current crisis: it’s as if nobody is aware that anything is actually going wrong.  For example, I wonder what those self-declared human rights activists and mushrooming NGOs are actually achieving while the country passes through this gross humanitarian crisis. What are the so-called human rights activists and human rights NGOs doing? Where are they?

They do not seem to hear the voices of the so-called civil society, the student unions or the pressure groups that normally speak aloud on these issues. Where are their voices? Why are we all so silent on such genuine matters of public interest? It seems as though we have all been muted by unknown forces. What is making every one of us so silent? It seems to me that we are immersed in a deep collective unconsciousness.

Can we just wait forever for things to happen? The answer is no. The collective unconsciousness must be halted. We must start speaking out and reacting against wrong values. This is our country. We have already suffered so much at the hands of incompetent political leaders. The time has come for a wake-up call to all of us. We all know that the mainstream politicians are insincere towards the people and the nation, but it is for us to change their minds set through our very deeds and reactions.  We need urgently to begins thinking beyond the political, ideological and partisan agenda. We must develop our capacity to differentiate between right and wrong in order to foster correct judgements and humanistic values. For this to happen, we must first break our silence.

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Dr. Gyan Basnet

Dr. Gyan Basnet, who holds a Ph.D. and an LL.M degree in International Human Rights Law at Lancaster University, U.K, is a Prominent Columnist, Lecturer & Researcher in International Human Rights Law and a Human Rights and Constitutional Law Lawyer in the Supreme Court and Subordinate Court of Nepal. Email: [email protected]

One thought on “Nepal: Humanitarian Crisis On The Rise – OpEd

  • February 7, 2016 at 12:04 pm
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    I agree fully with you and your statements on the Nepalese situation and its politicians, Mr. Basnet. You ask for an alternative to this government, on the one hand. On the other, you mentioned this government has the biggest cabinet in the country´s history. So, I wonder ahy you don´t mention and then ask for the return of the monarchy. When there´s a monarchy, and things go wrong, many voices are raised to change the political system of the country. But, when there´s a republic, and things go worng,nobody says anything about changing the political system. I think and I´m more than ocnvinced, Nepal needs to become a kingdom again, Nepal needs the King to get rid of these bad politicians.
    Thank you Mr. Basnet.

    Reply

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