Opinion

What MCC is and what it is not

Published On: September 13, 2021 07:44 AM NPT By: Jagadish Paudel


Jagadish Paudel

Jagadish Paudel

Jagadish Paudel, a faculty member at the Central Department of Education, TU, is currently pursing PhD at The University of Texas
paudeljaggu@gmail.com

Nepal is not the only country in the world that is receiving an MCC grant. Several other countries have already received grants and some countries are currently in the process of receiving the grants. We can look at what were the agreement points in the countries where the project has been implemented, how it has been operated, and whether the project has done well or not. We should also examine what kinds of agreements are being made with the countries where MCC funding is currently being received.

Currently, the issue of the MCC (The Millennium Challenge Corporation) compact project is becoming a boiling issue in Nepal. The situation is staggering. If a person says that provided the MCC project is implemented in Nepal, it will be like Afghanistan, s/he is considered a patriotic person. On the contrary, if a person argues that if the project is implemented, Nepal will become a developed country like Japan or South Korea, s/he will be accused of treason and bombarded with all kinds of rubbish and toxic language.

Protests against the project and its agreement points are rampant through staged programs on the streets, via broadcast media, and on social media.  Political leaders are sharply divided: some are in favor of the project and some are harshly opposed to it. Although all were involved, except for a few small political parties, surprisingly, it is now seen that the political parties and the leaders who would once support the project are now seen as against it. When they were in government, these forces were in support of the project, but when they stepped down from the government, they started to speak out against the project.

Some political parties’ leaders and bogus groups are only worsening the situation, making the MCC project more controversial and complex. They are playing with this issue for their own political interests. The MCC project has been proposed for making the country prosperous through infrastructure development, particularly through road construction and electricity transmission lines. This project is designed to increase the availability and reliability of electricity supply in Nepal’s electricity grid and by facilitating power trade, and lower the cost of transportation in Nepal by making a strategic road network.

Though most of the major political leaders are in fact favorable to the project, they are not speaking openly about it. It is their failure for not being able to make themselves understood by the public. They are afraid of talking openly in support of the MCC project due to some charges that are made against the MCC project.  

Charges against the MCC

Currently, the discourse about the MCC project that has gone to the general public is that the project goes against the country's sovereignty; that it is injurious to national development and peace.

Fearful plots are being composed to terrorize the public, twisting the facts of the project.  Some leaders are agitating the public, saying that if the MCC project is implemented, the American Army will come and make Nepal like Afghanistan, the place of conflict and war. People are falsely convinced that there was an MCC-type project in Afghanistan, and because of the project, the current tragic situation emerged in that country.  This is utterly wrong. Afghanistan did not have the project. There are more fake stories created against the MCC project: the American Army comes to Nepal and rapes Nepali women; the MCC is above Nepal’s constitution; the people who are involved in the project can do whatever they like without complying with Nepal’s constitution; Nepal will become just like Afghanistan; America will loot uranium resources from Nepal; the whole plan is part of a greater Indo-Pacific Strategy, and many other similar claims. These are all baseless accusations, created with the sole purpose of evoking and stimulating the emotions of the people.

Due to such fake news, the general public has started to harshly criticize the MCC project, without understanding even the basic ideas of the proposal, its agreement points, and its implementation and operation procedures. The situation is becoming highly contentious.

Anywhere in the world, when we talk about sovereignty and nationality it boils people's blood, and people will soon become convinced to take action. These kinds of issues make people highly emotional. This is the case that is happening in Nepal. It has strived to lead the general public by emotion. Emotion never brings a good result, but instead, it leads to destruction. So, it would be wise to settle the issue promptly. Once it gets incubated, it will become very costly to settle it.

How can it be settled?

The grant given via the MCC project is a large amount of money given to Nepal for building its infrastructure. As purported by government spokespeople and the MCC project, the agreement has been prepared with the aim of completing the project work in time and without obstruction. In Nepal, when a project starts, it is commonly observed that many seen and unseen forces create obstacles to impede the project work and prevent the completion of the project on time.

So, in order to settle the issue, our first job is to make the general public understand the MCC project: What does it do? How will it work? How does it contribute to our national economic growth? We should stop composing phony stories. Instead, we should educate the general public that the MCC needs to go through Parliament to maintain people's supremacy, as the public has given the mandate to parliament to make decisions on such issues and projects. Passing through Parliament is a democratic exercise. Besides, we should tell the public that the compulsion to abide by all MCC compacts and international agreements.

What has happened is just the opposite. People have been falsely told that the agreement of the MCC project is above Nepal’s constitution. It is argued that if the agreement is passed as it is, it will be a legal artifact for legally selling off the country. Such twisted rhetoric is working among the public.  

As the issue is drawing central attention in Parliament and on the streets, the Nepal government and political parties should take the initiative soon about it. People have raised issues regarding the MCC's agreement points and operating procedures. To discuss such issues, the Nepal government should form a diplomatic and expert committee to further study the issues that are being raised. If the agreement is really against the nation’s sovereignty and future prosperity, the government and the political parties should dare to request its amendment to Fatema Z Sumar and Jonathan Brooks, vice president and deputy vice president of the Department of Compact Operations, who even recently visited Nepal to settle the issue. If the agreement is acceptable, political forces should unite and tell the public openly that the agreement is in favor of Nepal. They should not unnecessarily linger, putting it in incubation, giving space to the vigilantes and propagandists to do dirty politics.

Nepal is not the only country in the world that is receiving an MCC grant. Several other countries have already received grants and some countries are currently in the process of receiving the grants. We can look at what were the agreement points in the countries where the project has been implemented, how it has been operated, and whether the project has done well or not. We should also examine what kinds of agreements are being made with the countries where MCC funding is currently being received.

Getting assistance from the developed countries is very common among the countries in the developing world. Today’s globalized world is interdependent. Even the most developed countries sometimes take grants and assistance, let alone the developing countries like Nepal. We should study and learn about other instances of such grants and their impacts. Just talking about ideal matters and calling on blind patriotism does not lead us toward prosperity. As a conscious Nepali, I feel it is the right time to think and push our leaders to make the right decision in time.

(The author is a PhD student, Rhetoric and Composition Studies, and Assistant Instructor at the University of Texas at EL Paso, USA)

 


Leave A Comment