Public accountability is the key to any successful government. When the government fails to fulfill public accountability, the opposition political parties take hold of this agenda and pressurize the government to heed to public attention. The role of civil society is crucial at this juncture to warn the government and force it to focus on social justice and public accountability.
Civil society should keep itself away from political and ideological influences and must kon social justice and public accountability. This is not happening in our nation. This is why an independent group of youths is taking some sort of initiative to fight against social injustices. Enough is enough movement is the result of such initiation by the youths and for the people. The role of such an independent group of youths has been growing globally at the time of pandemic.
When COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China in December, 2019, the government of Nepal took no initiative to fight with this pandemic until the last week of March, 2020. It imposed nationwide lockdown and forced people to stay at home on March 24, 2020. The government also suspended international flights and sealed international borders. There were few COVID-19 cases in the initial stage. When migrant workers and Nepali citizens started returning home from India and abroad, the cases increased rapidly.
The next couple of weeks is going to be crucial for the country and the people since COVID-19 is about to enter its second stage. It has already shown symptoms of being spread in the community. The real struggle begins when it spreads in the community. The nation and the government are not ready to accept this since our health infrastructure is not developed to fight with this pandemic. The government initiations and actions to fight with this pandemic are insufficient and under managed.
The opposition political parties are putting their views against the government in the parliament and the government has turned deaf ears to them. However, this is the time to put people ahead of politics, and not the other way around. This is the reason why youths initiated enough is enough movement. The government initially saw this movement as an infiltration of outsiders but has realized the importance of holding dialogue with the protestors, and forced them to negotiate with the right activists. It is good that the leaders of enough is enough movement decided to end fast-unto-death after an agreement with the government.
The youth-led movement urged the government to fight against COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the safety of the workers and people. This movement is not a fad; it will go on for a long time because the fight for justice is not and should not be one time movement. The Oli government has so far spent ten billion Nepali rupees to fight against COVID-19 and the result of this investment is pathetic.
The quarantine camps were mismanaged and due to the government’s incompetence, the virus has spread all across the country. It has been four months since the lockdown has been imposed and the suicide cases are also increasing. People who were sent to the quarantine centers have horrible experiences. They lack safe drinking water, social distancing and facilities for food and supply. Caste and gender-based violence are also taking place in quarantine facilities.
If the government does not want to see protests in the streets, it has to focus its actions to uplift the poor. People living under the poverty line have no savings and they depend on loans if they fall sick. The life expectancy of this group is low. These people are always at risk in pandemics and natural disasters.
About one fourth of our people are living below the poverty line. In crisis, they are the first victims. Hans Rosling and others have talked about pandemic as a threat to humanity and severe threat to people living below the poverty line. The lockdown locked their children’s education since they cannot afford online learning and fully depend on in-person learning in school.
Time has come for the government to take care of its most vulnerable people and mobilize public funds to directly support them. This is the time to spring into action. Enough is enough movement is limited to the capital city and is gradually spreading to other major cities. If it takes momentum, the government will regret only. The prime minister has acknowledged the voice of youths by visiting the followers of this movement.
The government has to understand that the movement is against the government's poor performance.