If there has been one big change in two and half years since Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli took office, it is near complete reversal of public faith in him and his government. The expectation that his administration would do better than previous ones has died down completely. The hope that coming days will be better, governance will improve and the Prime Minister will change the way he is governing the country has been shattered.
Ill logic, emotion and sentimentality, name calling of nationalists and mocking of Nepal are back on citizenship debate. This time around too, like a year ago and years before that, a set of some same myths, lies and propaganda are being manufactured and spread as State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the parliament has proposed seven years’ residency for foreign women married to Nepali citizens as a criteria to obtain Nepali citizenships.
The world, it seems, is obsessed with China. President Trump is raging against China and until recently there was a call from some Western countries for compensation from China for the loss caused by the pandemic outbreak.
The message to be spread is predetermined. Panelists seem to have been invited only to get it reinforced. The host begins by saying China is using Nepal. China is nobody’s friend. China is alone in the world. Nepal has released the new political map on China’s behest. Nepal’s claim on Lipulekh-Kalapani-Limpiyadhura region is groundless. The host shouts out loud, almost shrieks. When Nepali panelists start speaking, the host reiterates the same position. The Nepali panelists are literally given no time to make their points.
Nepal is in rage and resentment against India after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on May 8, inaugurated the road linking Dharchula of India with Lipulekh of Nepal. The road had been built without Nepal’s consent.
Until April 20, when the government issued two infamous ordinances to change the existing laws regarding political parties and the constitutional council, before the alleged “abduction” of a lawmaker to break a fringe party apart became public, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli still had something to fall back on. Because he has had a critical kidney transplant surgery recently, there was some sympathy for him. The Covid-19 pandemic, which is ravaging the world, was overshadowing the issues of government accountability. There was a space for him to rethink the way he is governing.
Every great disaster wrecks humanity to its core but it also makes us aware of our mortality, lays bare our arrogance, prejudice, pride, fear of death and the desire to stand supreme despite the predictable vulnerabilities. This is what has happened since the illness that broke out in early January that has now become the global pandemic.
A statement issued by Chinese embassy in Nepal on February 18 over an article published by The Kathmandu Post sent Nepali media persons and social media population in reaction mode: China has no business telling what a Nepali newspaper can and cannot publish. Chinese embassy has breached the diplomatic decorum. Nepal government should raise this matter with China.
I first met Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri, who is returing to New Delhi next week after serving his term in Nepal for around three years, in May, 2017 in the Indian embassy. The embassy was organizing a ‘familiarization tour to India’ and I was one among the participants.
Kathmandu is fighting a battle with facts and evidence for Kalapani, the land area that actually belongs to Nepal but which India has been claiming, occupying and using as its own for many decades. Without some kind of assurance from New Delhi that what is Nepal’s shall remain Nepal’s, or without some conciliatory approach, Kathmandu and New Delhi look headed toward sour, even fractured, ties, we don’t know for how long.
On the lead up to the Constitution Day and the day itself last week, as cynics on social media were jeering at the government’s appeal to people to mark the day by wearing national flag emblazoned t-shirts, my contemplation was on what the press and intelligentsia would say about the constitution that turned four on September 20, 2019. There were two stark responses: outright ambiguous and dismissive.
Anyone critically following views and opinions peddled by media in Nepal, including social media and major news media, must have sensed this. The information landscape is flooded with half-information and misinformation. Emotion prevails. Reason has taken the backstage. It is easy during such times to lose foresight and context. The costs of decisions made during periods of half-information can be very high and irrevocable.