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Friday, January 27, 2012

Game Of Possibilities In Nepali Politics

Yuba Nath Lamsal

Politics is the game of possibilities. In politics, all possible strategies, approaches and games are sought to find an amicable solution to the problems facing a country or society. This is the beauty of democratic polity.

Such an approach may not be possible in an authoritarian system in which the rulers impose their decision, and people have no choice other than to accept the decisions and diktats of the rulers quietly. It is only in a democratic system that people are provided with different choices and alternatives. This is why a democratic system is stable and sustainable.

People have the right to revolt if the regime or state does not listen to their voice and does not take the initiative to address the people’s woes and concerns. A revolt is the last resort of the people. Prior to resorting to a revolt, dialogue is held to find an amicable solution out of the many possibilities to address the people’s concerns. A similar process is being pursued in Nepal at present.

Political uncertainty

The country presently is mired in political uncertainties and crises. The people have trusted the parties to take appropriate measures to address the people’s woes. Peace, stability and security are the key concerns of the people. The parties have also been busy in this process for the last five years since the peace process began following the signing of the 12-point agreement as well as the Comprehensive Peace Accord, or CPA. However, the parties’ efforts appear to be mere perfunctory.

All the revolutions and political movements took place in the world when other peaceful means were exhausted. That was the case in Nepal in 1951, 1990 and 2005. The regimes and rulers refused to listen to the people’s concerns but applied force to suppress the people. The Nepalese people waited for more than a century for change, but the Rana oligarchy instead tried to crush the people’s movement with force. This compelled the people to join the armed revolution, which overthrew the century-old Rana rule, and establish multi-party democracy in 1951.

A similar approach was followed later when late King Mahendra took over power through a bloodless coup by dissolving the elected government and disbanding the political parties. The parties and the people first demanded the restoration of the multi-party system through peaceful means. The Nepalese people gave plenty of opportunity and time for the kings to return the power to the people. But the monarchy did not listen to the people and failed to understand the feelings of the people, which forced them to rise against the authoritarian Panchayat regime and re-establish the multi-party polity in 1990.

It seems the king had not learnt lessons and did not read the mood of the people. Soon after King Birendra and his entire family were eliminated in a massacre, the late king’s younger brother Gyanendra Shah rose to the throne of Nepal. Soon after being crowned the new king, Gyanendra engaged in the political misadventure of disbanding the multi-party polity and imposing absolute rule.

Even after this dictatorial move of Gyanendra Shah, people waited for some time and gave ample opportunity to correct his mistakes and restore the rights of the people. Despite the attention drawn by the political parties and warning issued by the people, Gyanendra Shah refused to budge but continued with his authoritarian rule, denying the people their basic democratic and human rights.

The people were not only infuriated by the attitude and behaviour of the king but also came to the conclusion that the monarchy was the enemy of democracy and the institution of monarchy, therefore, had to be abolished to institutionalise and sustain the democratic polity in Nepal.

At the same time, the Maoists had been waging a guerilla war to abolish the monarchy in Nepal, and the guerillas had virtually taken control over much of rural Nepal. The parliamentary parties that had earlier supported the constitutional monarchy also went for a republican programme. This was the basis for an agreement with the Maoists to launch a joint mass movement against the monarchy.

The republican set up, election to a Constituent Assembly for writing a new constitution, federalism, secularism and inclusive democracy were Maoist agendas to which the parliamentary parties, namely the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, agreed. In response, the Maoists accepted the multi-party political system which is the political agenda of the parliamentary parties, mainly the Nepali Congress. Based on these, a 12-point agreement was reached between the Maoists and an alliance of seven parliamentary parties led by the Nepali Congress, which paved the way for a joint movement called Jana Andolan II in 2005.

Jana Andolan II and the Constituent Assembly election institutionalised some of the agendas that had earlier been agreed upon between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance. The monarchy was abolished, a republican set-up declared, multi-party system restored and the peace process formally initiated.

However, the problem began after the Constituent Assembly election. Prior to the election, it was predicted that the CPN-UML and Nepali Congress would emerge as the first and second largest parties whereas the Maoists would trail a distant third in the Constituent Assembly. However, the election result was shocking to the arm chair analysts because the Maoist party turned out to be the largest party whereas the force that had been predicted to be the winner was reduced to a third position.

As all political calculations failed, the parties also adopted different strategies in the post CA election scenario, stalling the ongoing political process. The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, which were the principal constituents of the seven-party alliance, had their own strategies and programmes to be implemented in the post-CA election scenario. The election results shattered their hopes and dreams, and they started a new game of delaying the political process, which is the beginning of the new political crisis in the country.

In the last four years since the CA election was held, the political process has been hostage to the parties’ diverse perceptions and partisan interests and calculation. As a result, no significant progress has been made in the constitution-writing and peace process. This is because the parties want to write the constitution and complete the peace process under their own terms and conditions. However, this is not possible given the present political equation in the Constituent Assembly.

Governance

On several issues, discussion and debate are being held on different possibilities and options, but the parties have not yet arrived at a conclusion. Federalism and the governance model are the two key issues in which the parties have sharp differences at the moment. But efforts are being made to find an amicable solution, for which various possibilities are being proposed.

Form of governance is not a major issue because this is a sub-system within the western multi-party capitalist system. Since all the parties have agreed on the multi-party capitalist political system, the debate on the model of governance does not have any significance. In fact, there should have been fierce and vigorous debate on the political system itself. The Maoist party that fought a decade-long guerilla war to change the political system should have sought an alternative to the present capitalist democracy. Thus, the debate on the forms of governance is meaningless, which is nothing but a prestige issue for the parties.

China's meaningful and decisive role in rescuing global economy

Yuba Nath Lamshal
While the entire Western world is badly bruised by history's worst economic crisis, China remains relatively less touched and hurt by global meltdown and it continues to grow vibrantly. China's miraculous and unhindered economic growth despite global recession is a subject of academic debate and research for economic scholars. With high rate of growth and economic prowess, Beijing's clout and influence is also growing up in the global scene. The world is, thus, looking to China for playing its meaningful and decisive role in rescuing global economic order. China is, thus, expected to assume an increased role in global leadership.
This global expectation is mainly influenced and guided by China's growing soft power image. With its growing clout in the global arena, China has already felt its international obligation and is accordingly adjusting its foreign policy and international relations. To do this, China has not adopted hawkish and coercive policy but is furthering its soft power image. In fact, China is already a global soft power and it is trying to further improve this image in the world.
Unlike, other international powers mainly the United States and its allies, Beijing prefers to shun coercive policy in order to achieve its goal in the international scene. Beijing prefers cooperation instead of coercion and partnership instead of pressure in dealing with other countries in the world irrespective of their size and economic and military might. In today\'s interconnected and interdependent world, mutual cooperation and partnership are the best tool to create a safer and just world, which Beijing has well understood and practiced.
There are some international powers that treat countries on the basis of their physical size, economic strength and military might. But these dynamics count a little for China as Beijing wants friendship and cooperation on the basis of mutual equality. Respect to sovereignty of other countries, mutual equality, non-interference in other countries\' affairs and cooperation are some of the cardinal principles of China\'s foreign policy. On the basis of these foreign policy priorities, China\'s has been pursuing its soft power in the world and accordingly trying to play more decisive and meaningful role in the international arena.
As China\'s role in the international scene has dramatically enlarged in t he global politics, this has been a subject of academic discussion and debate in every international forum. China\'s policy has definitely had greater impact on the global politics, security and economic situation. The world is, thus, looking closely at China\'s behavior and policies and also expecting much from Beijing for reshaping new global order.
During the Cold War period, the behavior and policies of the two superpowers-the United States and the Soviet Union- played crucial role in world affairs. With the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union which paved the way for the end of the Cold War and also gave rise to uni-polar world with the United States of America as the only superpower, Washington\'s policies and behaviors ruled the roost in t he global politics and security affairs. Now the situation has changed and is further changing. The power vacuum that was created after the collapse of the Soviet Union is now being filled up, which may give rise to multi-polar world instead of the present unipolar situation dominated by the United States. China is set to emerge as an alternative power in the international scene which would definitely change the current global power equation. This is the reason why China is being the center of discussion in the international forums.
China is already the second largest economy with the possibility of emerging as the largest economy in a few years. China\'s possibility of growing as the largest economy is not based on the fictitious projection but based on factual. Given the speed with which China\'s economy is growing one cannot deny this possibility. Moreover, the Western economies mainly the United States and the European Union are in the worst economic recession and the global economic crisis shows no sign of abating, there have been calls from the international community for an increased Asian intervention mainly by China. The struggling Western economies are looking to cash-rich China as their key rescuer.
China, too, has strongly felt its international obligation and role to rescue the world. But this cannot be without cost. China has already issued strong warning to the Western countries especially Washington and the EU that they have to first look inward and initiate policy measures in order to clear the mess they have created in their economy if they at all want China\'s intervention and assistance to rescue their ailing economies. This message was more clearly conveyed by Premier Wen Jiabao in the World Economic Forum in September, 2011. In his speech, Premier Wen made it clear that Beijing was willing to offer assistance but other Western countries must "first put their house in order". This was Wen\'s message to resolve debt crisis the European economies have suffered.
This shows that China is already a global leader with capability to steer the word into newer but positive order. China has been emphasizing on peaceful rise, which has, to a large extent, been realized. The peaceful rise means China would be no threat to any country in the world. Although some Western countries mainly the United States and some in its own neighborhood seem to be a little skeptical about China\'s peaceful rise, most of the developing countries are happy with China\'s growth and increased international role. China\'s rise and its increased role in the world politics would definitely end the hegemony of the lone superpower, which would help in creating safer and balanced world order.
As China assuming global leadership role, it is being widely said and believed that the 21st century would be Asian century. This is definitely an important paradigm shift in the global power politics. The United States, which is the only superpower at present, has also often spoken of enlarged role of China in the future global power politics and economy. Washington has already seen China as the principal challenger to its global security and political domination. The United States has already sensed its waning power and China\'s rising influence. Washington, thus, has adopted multi-pronged strategies to contain China and check its power enlargement in the globe in general and in Asia in particular. With the objective of containing China, the United States has increased its military presence in South China Sea as well as in the Pacific region on the one hand; it has outsourced its security in South Asia by entering into a military and strategic partnership with India. This way, the United States is trying to encircle China to check Beijing\'s growing influence in Asia and beyond. However, it will have no significant impact as China has no appetite for other\'s territory but only wants to build a partnership with all countries in the world for better economic and security conditions of the world.
China is interested not only to achieve its own foreign policy goal but also wants to contribute to global objectives. China has already started asserting its right as well as role in matters of global concerns. This has two reasons for Beijing\'s foreign policy priorities. One is to enable China to speak its mind in the global affairs and the other one is the assertiveness of its responsibility to undertake in the world.
Against this background, China\'s pursuance of soft power is entirely for defensive and developmental purposes. Beijing, thus, is aiming at forging trust with all countries to promote its brand of soft power. China believes that cooperation in the field of economy, development, culture and education and deeper and stronger contacts and relations at the people\'s level further deepen bilateral relations. China seeks no hostility and enmity with any countries in the world. This is the principal bedrock of Chinese brand of soft power. As a global soft power, China always suggests all countries to have friendly relationship with all and animosity with none. This is also applied to its neighbors including Nepal.
Premier Wen Jiabao\'s suggestions to Nepalese leaders and government, during his recent one-day visit, can also be viewed against this background. Premier Wen told the Nepalese leaders and officials to have equally strong and friendly relationship with its neighbors including India. This gives two clear messages. The first message is that China has no animosity and competition with India, in whatsoever way, and Beijing has no objection if Nepal builds stronger partnership with India for its own national interest and sovereignty. Secondly, China is a soft power and suggests every country to take maximum benefit from the friendship with its neighbors. China\'s concern is Nepal\'s sovereignty, peace, stability and development. For this, Nepal has to adopt balanced foreign policy and friendship with all countries on the basis of mutual equality.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Row In Governance Model: A Non-Issue

Yuba Nath Lamsal

Political parties have currently locked horns on governance model. The parties have made the governance model as their prestige issue, which is, in fact, no issue at all. The row is whether Nepal is to adopt presidential system, parliamentary type or a mixed model. The political parties know well that there is no fundamental difference in these models because all the three models are the sub-system within the multi-party capitalist political system. The parties are just using this issue as a tool to weaken the position of the rival party and have their strong say in the constitution making process.

There are a clearly three types of views on the issue concerning the governance model. One is the parliamentary model which is being pursued vigorously by the Nepali Congress. The Maoists have proposed and pushed for a presidential system whereas the CPN-UML has come up with a compromising middle way approach of mixed model.

There are various models of political systems in the world. On ideological basis, there are mainly three categories of governance models. One is the feudal and dictatorial model which is being practiced in several African and Middle East countries. In this model, power is centralized into the hand of few elites and feudal landlords and their patron monarchy. The military dictatorship may also fall under this category. Nepal, too, used to have the feudal monarchical model until a few years ago.

The second type of model is the communist or socialist model that is in practice in China and a few other countries. The third model is the multi-party capitalist model which is popular in the Western industrialized countries and also in many developing countries. The multi-party capitalist system has different models. But the fundamental essence of all types of Western capitalist model is same—the multi-party political system and capitalist economy.

The United States of America has the presidential model in which president is directly elected by the people. In the United States, president is the executive chief whereas there is no provision of prime minister. The other model is British parliamentary system which is also called Westminster model. In this system, monarchy is the head of the state whereas the prime minister is the executive chief. The Prime Minister is elected by parliament and is also accountable to the House.

Several British colonies after attaining independence adopted the British type of system or Westminster model. Most of the newly independent countries entered into the Commonwealth Union, a group of former British colonies, and regarded British Queen as their head of the state. Canada, Australia and several other countries adopted this system. A few countries like India did not accept the British monarch as their head of the State but joined the Commonwealth and adopted the British type of parliamentary political model. Some other countries that were not part of the British Empire also adopted British parliamentary system because other conditions in those countries were similar to that of the United Kingdom. Japan has Westminster model because it has to adjust multi-party democracy under monarchy. In the countries which have monarchy, Westminster model is best suited. In republican democracy, other system either presidential or mixed system would be better.

The third model is the mixed one which is also called French model. In France, President is directly elected by the people and enjoys all executive power. Prime Minister is elected by parliament and is responsible only for daily administration. In several Francophone (French speaking) countries or the former French colonies, the mixed model or French system is more popular.

The Nepalese parties are currently not debating on types of political systems or political model but on governance model within the western type of multi-party capitalist democracy. As the country is in the process of political transformation and constitution writing, there should have been fierce debate on which type of political system would be best suited to the country like Nepal. But all parties have agreed on western capitalist model but are debating on the model within the multi-party capitalist democracy.

The UCPN-Maoist had pushed for the presidential system akin to what the United States has been practicing. But it made a compromise to go for the French model because of other parties’ insistence. Maoists are against parliamentary model because agreement on this model would mean the continuity of the older system that Nepal had briefly experimented during the period between 1951 and 1960 and also after 1991 political change. The Maoists have their own logics and reasons against parliamentary system. According to the Maoists, the parliamentary model is suited only in monarchical system and this model has failed in republican democracies. They even do not take Indian democracy as a successful model. They attribute to problems that India is fraught with to parliamentary model. Parliamentary model, according to the Maoists, is the root of political instability in the developing countries and Nepal also cannot afford more political instability. This is the public position of the Maoists but their inner desire for the presidential system is to show the people that they want a break from the parliamentary system. If they go for presidential system, it would give a message to the people that they have adopted different type of political system. Ever since the Maoists entered into the peace process, the hardliner factions in the party have accused the principal leadership of being deviated from revolutionary political line. The Maoists leadership wants the presidential system not only to placate the hardliners in the party but also to show the people that they are different from other parliamentary parties.

The Nepali Congress does not subscribe to this view and demands that parliamentary system is the best answer to Nepal’s problem. The Nepali Congress has its own logic against the presidential system and says that directly elected president would give rise to authoritarian tendency in the leadership. According to the Nepali Congress, parliamentary system ensures perfect checks and balances in politics, which is necessary for functioning democracy. This view of the Nepali Congress is just for public consumption. But main reasons for the Nepali Congress to stick to parliamentary model are something else. Firstly, Congress considers parliamentary system its own agenda whereas the presidential system is the Maoist scheme. The Congress does not want the Maoist agenda to be established. Secondly, accepting presidential or mixed model and sacrificing parliamentary model may send message to the people that Congress surrendered to the Maoists. Nepali Congress led a movement in 1951 for parliamentary system. In 1990, too, the Congress was the principal constituent of the united front that spearheaded the political movement and reestablished parliamentary system. Nepali Congress, thus, considers parliamentary system its political property right which it does not want to lose.

So far as the CPN-UML is concerned, it has no firm position and any of the two systems is acceptable to it, although it has come up with an alternative model to bring the Maoists and Congress to a common point. The CPN-UML has proposed directly elected prime minister and a president to be elected by parliament. The UML is not adamant but wants a compromise to resolve this issue so that the constitution writing process would move ahead.

Viewed from the past experience, parliamentary system has failed in Nepal. But the failure was not due to system itself but because of the incompetence and bad intention of the parties and the leaders. In a country like Nepal, there is always likelihood of hung parliament. In such a case, parliamentary system may give rise to instability. Our own past experiences have also shown that parliamentary system may not be best suited for Nepal.

So far as presidential system is concerned, it is relatively more stable because directly elected president cannot be removed from office easily until his or her term expires. But there are two dangers in this system, too. One is the likelihood of giving rise to authoritarian tendency and the other is possible confrontation between the president and parliament. The mixed system is a hybrid model which may not be suitable for Nepal. It would, thus, be better if Nepal adopts either the presidential system akin to the model the United States has practiced or the Westminster model that the being practiced in the United Kingdom.

Given the merits and demerits of both the presidential or parliamentary models, the former would be better for Nepal. We have already experimented parliamentary system twice but the experiences are not very encouraging. Although system itself does not have to do with the success and failure, parliament system has practically proved to be a failure in Nepal. As we are always in the process of experimentation, there would be no wrong in once again experimenting presidential system. If we adopt presidential system, it would give different meaning and message to the people. But its success or failure would depend on the behavior of the people and leaders who handle it.

Wen's visit: Nepal-China ties renewed

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao paid a whirlwind one-day visit to Nepal on January 14, which is a matter of pride for the people of Nepal. The Himalayan republic had long been eager to welcome the Premier of the second mightiest country in the world.
Wen came to Nepal on virtually four-hour \'official\' visit at the invitation of his Nepali counterpart Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai. Earlier, a three-day visit had been planned but was postponed for reasons unknown. However, sources said the visit was deferred because Beijing was not fully confident of security arrangement as well as Nepal\'s diplomatic immaturity. The sudden postponement of Wen\'s visit had definitely upset Nepal\'s Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai who wanted to give a message both at home and abroad that he was had enjoyed the recognition of the world including Nepal\'s two immediate neighbors-China and India. Ever since he was elected as prime minister, Dr Bhattarai, on various forums and occasions, has been repeatedly saying that he aimed at acting as a genuine between China and India.
Dr Bhattarai had earlier been perceived as the one who had pro-India orientation. He wanted to dispel this perception from people\'s mind and proved by action that he was neither pro-Indian nor anti-Chinese but a pragmatist patriotic politician. Dr Bhattarai, thus, desperately wanted Chinese Prime Minister\'s visit to Nepal in his tenure of premiership. However, constituents of Dr Bhattarai-led coalition government and also some members of the cabinet were not enthusiastic to welcome the Chinese Prime Minister. This was the reason why the earlier scheduled visit was postponed and the recent visit was also cut down to four hours from earlier three-day trip.
This shows that China does not trust the present government\'s capability and honesty. There is no doubt over the intention and sincerity of Prime Minister Bhattarai. But the developments have shown that the government is not in his control and so is security apparatus. The earlier postponement had caused diplomatic embarrassment to Prime Minister Bhattarai and his government. The government came under heavy criticism from opposition parties and others for the diplomatic failure. Dr Bhattarai desperately approached Beijing to reschedule Wen\'s visit. Similarly, Beijing, too, did not want to annoy Bhattarai despite its displeasure over what has happened in Nepal especially activities concerning security of China\'s Tibet province and accordingly arranged Wen\'s brief stop-over trio to Kathmandu en route to three-country visit of Middle East. During the visit, China announced comprehensive economic assistance to Nepal and also renewed its long and historic friendly relationship with Nepal.
Though brief, the visit of Chinese Premier Wen\'s visit is highly important for both Nepal and China. The repercussions of Wen\'s visit definitely will be far-reaching not only in Nepal and China but also in the entire South Asia and beyond. The world was, therefore, watching closely and enthusiastically Wen\'s visit to Nepal and its outcome.
The visit is a milestone in the bilateral relations between the two traditionally close friends. Wen is the highest ranking politician and the most important dignitary of China to visit Nepal in the period of one decade. The last Chinese premier to visit Nepal was Zhu Rongji in 2001. Earlier, Premier Li Peng, Zhou Enlai and President Li Xiannian and Jiang Zemin too had visited Nepal. Although there have been many exchanges of visits from both sides at different levels on regular basis which have provided opportunity for both the countries to share and exchange ideas, explore areas of cooperation and nurture bilateral ties, no Chinese leader of Wen\'s stature has visited since 2001 when Premier Zhu paid official visit to Nepal. During this period, two Nepali heads of state and three prime ministers have already paid official visits to China.
Much change has taken place in the world since Premier Zhu paid visit to Nepal. Both China and Nepal have seen tremendous changes over the last one decade. Nepal underwent internal upheaval that overthrew feudal monarchy and the country has now been transformed into a federal democratic republic. Nepal is currently in the process of institutionalizing republican democracy and the peace process initiated five years ago.
There has also been a sea change in China especially in the economic and developmental front. Over the last one decade China has made a miraculous progress in the economic development. China has already emerged as the second largest economy in the world leaving behind Japan and posed to become world\'s largest economy in a few years surpassing the United States of America.
Although Nepal and China are traditionally close friends having no problems at all, these countries have to introspect on how these cooperative relations can be remodeled to cope with the newer changes taken place in the world as well as in the neighborhood so that the bilateral and mutual relations and cooperation may have direct and more positive impact on the life of the peoples of both the countries. China\'s foreign policy focus at present has been in building its soft power image in the world and more in the neighborhood. China has always been a soft power throughout history. It has attached greater priority to the projects and cooperation that would directly benefit the people. Already China has been involved in infrastructure development of Nepal. Beijing is now more interested to help in such a way that Nepal can be self-reliant and a stable country. Apart from infrastructure, China has now accorded equal priority to education, culture and other people\'s to people relation as a part of projecting China as a soft power image. China\'s interest in helping Buddhist academic research and cultural promotion can be viewed against this background. This is the reason why China has shown interest to develop holy Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
As a neighbor China\'s prime concerns in Nepal, like in other small countries in the neighborhood, are peace, stability and development. China is more concerned in Nepal because of its security in Tibet. This is because some elements are trying to use Nepal\'s territory to instigate anti-China activities and destabilize Tibet. These elements may take further benefit from Nepal\'s political instability. Beijing knows well that roots of conflict and instability is poverty and underdevelopment. At the same time, development is not possible in the absence of stability and peace. Mindful of this, Beijing is interested to help Nepal\'s peace process in whatever ways possible. Stability and peace are not only Nepal\'s concern but they are also in China\'s interest because Nepal\'s stability is in a way or the other linked with Tibet\'s security.
Wen\'s visit was an opportunity for both Nepal and China to reinforce their age-old ties. Despite his hectic work schedule, Wen spared some time to arrive in Nepal and express solidarity with the people of Nepal in their efforts of transforming Nepal into a peaceful and prosperous country. This is a testament of the fact that China has accorded greater priority to Nepal.
Wen\'s visit came at a time when Nepal is passing through a transitional period. Nepal is in the political transition from earlier feudal monarchical system to federal democratic set up. The peace process that began five years ago is in the final stage despite many hitches and hiccups. Wen\'s visit is a message that it wants to make significant contribution to Nepal\'s bid to establish permanent peace.
More than that the Chinese Premier visited Nepal at a time when there is a government which is perceived as being more \'India friendly\'. Beijing is knowledgeable about the political and foreign policy orientation of the constituents of the present coalition government headed by Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai. In his own Maoist party, Dr Bhattarai is viewed as a politician who is relatively softer towards Indian than China. Dr Bhattarai\'s orientation can be clearly seen in his political document he presented in the party\'s sixth plenum held in Palungtar of Gorkha district last year. In contrast to the reports party president Prachanda and senior Vice President Mohan Vaidya who had designated India as the principal enemy of the party and Nepalese people, Dr Bhattarai, in his dissenting document, had defended India. Beijing has full knowledge of Bhattarai\'s \'favor India\' orientation. But Bhattarai wants equally strong friendship with China.
Wen\'s visit had multiple purposes and wants to give multiple messages. The first purpose of Wen\'s visit is to give the message that China treats all political forces and governments equally. Beijing respects Nepal and Nepalese people and any legitimate government of Nepal is acceptable for China and wants to cooperate with it. Secondly, Wen\'s visit in the present transitional period is to extend China\'s full support to the ongoing peace process and wants to make meaningful contribution to Nepal\'s peace, stability and development.
Third purpose is to seek better cooperation in controlling anti-China activities in Nepal. One accepts it or not, sporadic anti-China activities have taken place using Nepali territory with the objective of destabilizing Tibet. Although Nepal has adopted one-China policy and has made its commitment public that it would never allow any kind of activities in its soil that are likely to harm the interest of any of our two neighbors including China. It has been perceived that Nepal has been paying only lip service to China\'s concern so far as anti-China activities are concerned. Despite public commitment of Nepal to check anti-China activities, such things are happening in Nepal with instigation from people who are closer to Nepal\'s southern neighbor. Thus, China wants better assurance from Nepal government in general and the constituents of the present coalition government on security of Tibet.
China, thus, wants reciprocity in relations and cooperation with Nepal. Beijing treats Nepal with dignity on the basis of mutual equality. China is open to extend any kind of cooperation and is prepared to invest huge amount in Nepal\'s hydro-power, infrastructure and tourism and cultural development. What China wants from Nepal is the assurance that it would not play any card against it and not be swayed by the unscrupulous elements that are out to destabilize China and create instability and chaos in Tibet. China wants Nepal to prove its commitment in action. If Nepal wins Beijing\'s trust, there would be no dearth of resources and fund for the development of Nepal.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Relevance Of BP’s Policies

Yuba Nath Lamsal

The Nepali Congress observed recently the national reconciliation day reminiscing and paying rich tributes to its founding leader and ideologue BP Koirala. Much has been said and written about BP and his reconciliation policy. But little has been done to assess and evaluate BP’s works and contribution from independent and realistic approach.

There are two extreme views on BP. A group of people and writers see BP as a super human being who does not make any mistake. This group of people finds no faults and weakness in BP. In their views, only eulogy can be seen which does not contain anything about BP’s weaknesses, mistakes and failures. This group consists of those who are either members of the Nepali Congress and its supporters and sympathizers.

There is another group of people that always find only negativities in BP Koirala. Their views are based on sectarian concept and ideological bias. This type of group consists of leftists, communists, ultra-rightists, feudal and ultra-nationalists, who have always tried to demonize BP grossly ignoring his contribution to political consciousness, democratic movement and patriotism in Nepal. Both of these are extremist views which have either not been able to understand BP Koirila and his political orientation properly or have deliberately tried to mislead the people about him. Both the views have done injustice to BP and his contribution to Nepal’s democratic movement and his patriotic orientation.

BP is, without any shade of doubt, a towering political personality of Nepal. In the political scene of Nepal, none has reached the intellectual and political stature of BP Koirala. There are always three kinds of people in the political leadership everywhere in the world. They are political bosses, leaders and statesmen. The first type of people belongs to a category of political bosses, who hardly rise above factional interest. The people belonging to the second are called leaders, who are concerned only with their own party, party members or supporters of the party. They never rise above the partisan interests. And the third category consists of statesperson, who looks at things from broader national perspective.

In Nepal we have mostly first types of people. Most of the people in the political parties who claim to be leaders are merely political bosses who behave like tribal and sectarian leaders. The political bosses are more concerned with the interest of a particular clique and supporters of this group within a party or organization and have got nothing to do with even their own party let alone the interest of the country and the people at large. Be it in the government or the parties, political bosses are running the show at present. This is the reason why factions and sub factions are being created in all parties in Nepal and parties are being split and re-split. All political parties of Nepal are either already split or are on the verge of fragmentation. The Madhesi parties have been split to almost a dozen small groups. The RPP, which was once a single entity, has been divided into three parties. The UCPN-Maoist has three distinct factions and all these factions are functioning as though they are separate parties. There are several other sub-groups within every faction. The factional fighting is also fierce in the Nepali Congress. Two factions—one led by party chairman Sushil Koirala and the other by senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba—are visible and both the leaders and factions are at the loggerheads to eliminate the other. Similar case is with the CPN-UML. Although some efforts are recently being made from its leaders to patch up their differences and discourage factionalism, factional fighting is equally intense in the CPN-UML. Party chairperson Jhalanath Khanal and KP Oli have recently come closer turning the triangle power struggle into straight fight between the two groups. Madhav Nepal and his faction have already crossed swords against the Khanal-Oli group.

The ones that are in the political limelight at present are either political bosses or leaders. The number of political bosses is more than that of the leaders. There is none in the political spectrum of Nepal who can be called a statesman. Even in the past, we had hardly anybody who possessed the quality of a statesman. Only BP was close to the stature of a statesman. A statesman always rises above factions and parties. A statesman is concerned with the overall interest of the country and the people.

So far is BP is concerned, he is the tallest political personality and intellectual figure Nepal has ever produced. BP has two personalities. One is his literary personality and the other one is the political one. In literature, he is one of the top class writers of Nepal. As a political figure, his contribution is huge in Nepal’s democratic movement and diversification of Nepal’s foreign policy. Also BP is an ideologue who advocated political philosophy which, he thought, could be best suited in Nepal’s context. Politically, BP believed in democracy that guaranteed individual liberty, human rights and political activities. But he was opposed to capitalist political model because it denied the people equal access to resources and opportunities. He advocated socialist economic model that could ensure economic justice and equality and ultimately eradicate poverty and backwardness in Nepal. He, thus, borrowed the concept of democratic socialism, which was propounded by Germany’s Willy Brandt and followed by many in the world including some Indian leaders like Jaya Prakash Narayan.

Although democratic socialism was in vogue in different countries in the world, it was a new concept in Nepal when BP first advocated it. At that time, a communist party had already been established in Nepal and its influence was growing fast. BP had thought that if poverty and backwardness remained unaddressed in Nepal, the influence of communism would be stronger and the fate of Nepali Congress political ideology would come under threat. BP had also seen the growing influence of communist philosophy across the world. Even in our own neighborhood like China, communist revolution had succeeded and communist party’s rule established. BP’s democratic socialism was aimed at checking communist influence in Nepal.

Although BP advocated democratic socialism and also incorporated as his party’s guiding political doctrine, democratic socialism was never practiced by the Nepali Congress. Democratic socialism remained a showcase object of the Nepali Congress. Instead, the Congress after coming o power in 1990 adopted ultra capitalism.

BP was no doubt a greatest political personality. He was an ideologue, a great patriot, a man of high intellect and stature and also a visionary leader. But he had some inherent weaknesses, which failed BP in practical politics. BP always championed democracy and political freedom in Nepal but he could never see it in his life time. Even when he led the elected government in 1959, his premiership was short-lived because king ousted him from power by a bloodless coup. BP trusted every one easily. He trusted the monarchy too much. Even after he was ousted from power and put behind bars, he always championed monarchy. It was BP’s first weakness. BP was anti-communist and always saw threat from the communists, which was his second weakness. This anti-communist thinking always brought him closer to the monarchy and far from the leftist forces in Nepal. But monarchy never trusted him. Even when the communists proposed a united front and joint struggle against the monarchy, BP always rejected it, which gave longer life to the monarchy and the Panchayat system. Had BP agreed for a united front with the leftist forces and joint struggle, Panchayat could have been dismantled and democracy established even during BP’s life time. The united from and joint struggle became a reality only after BP’s demise. Ganesh Man Sing took the initiative for a united front and joint struggle in 1990 which overthrew the Panchayat regime and established multi-party democracy. Although Girija Prasad Koirala, too, was a staunch anti-communist until 1990s, he realized the necessity of the united front with the communists when the king again took over power and imposed absolute monarchy in 2003. It was GP Koirala’s initiative and leadership that the Jana Andolan II was launched which abolished monarchy and also initiated the peace process with the Maoists.

Against this background, BP and his contributions, policies including democratic socialism and national reconciliation and also his weaknesses and failure should be evaluated. So far as his national reconciliation policy is concerned; this was BP’s compulsion rather than his choice at that time because of his sour relations with the then Indian establishment particularly the Indian Congress and its leader Indira Gandhi. His closeness with opposition leaders like Jaya Prakash Narayan had annoyed Indian regime of that time and BP thought that it was better to face the wrath of Nepali government at home than the humiliation of the Indian establishment. Thus, BP returned to Nepal from his self-exile in India on December 30, 1976 with national reconciliation policy even risking his own life and liberty at home.

Need to readjust neighborhood policy

Yuba Nath Lamsal
The state of foreign policy of any country is better judged by its neighborhood policy. If relationship of a particular country with its neighbor is hostile, there is something wrong either in its overall foreign policy formulation or there is inherent weaknesses and failure in the conduct of diplomacy.
So far as Nepal’s relationship with its neighbors is concerned, its foreign policy is always vacillating. Prior to the unification of Nepal, there was no foreign policy at all. The concept of foreign policy is a new phenomenon, although the basic tenets and features of dealing with external forces and countries had been devised differently by different countries, it was basically guided by military doctrine.
So far as Nepal is concerned, its foreign policy concept emerged only after its unification almost 240 years ago. But the concept was still in fragile and infantile stage. Nepal’s founder Prithivi Narayan Shaha, in his ‘dibyopadesh’ or ‘ noble counsels’ had defined the nature of its two neighbours China in the north and British colonial rulers in the south. According to Prithivi Narayan Shah, the nieghbour in north was friendly and southern power was clever and cunning and had suggested to deal with them accordingly. Although the situation then and now is totally different, some of the basic conditions have still not changed. The northern neighbour is there as powerful as it was in the past. But changes have taken place in the south. British colonial power is no longer in the south. British ruler shad invaded and occupied several states in South Asia, which they called India. They left India in 1947 but they did not virtually decolonize South Asia. They created two nations out of the entire British colony in South Asia. Prior to British arrival in South Asia, there were dozens of independent countries in South Asia. But while, going they created India and Pakistan out of their colony and accordingly handed over power. Had India been decolonized, British should have restored the situation of pre-British arrival.
Although British left South Asia, India inherited colonial legacy and continued the same British hegemonic policy in the neighborhood policy. In such a case, what Prithivi Naryaan Shah had said is as relevant now as it was 240 years ago.
However, Nepal has not been able to cope with the changes taken place in the world and in its neighborhood when it comes to formulating and conducting its foreign policy. The Himalayan republic is always in dilemma in dealing with its neighbors. Nepal has no problem with its northern neighbor. Nepal and China have friendly and cooperative relations. But Kathmandu is faced with multitude frictions and irritants with India, which has surrounded Nepal from three sides.
Ever since Nepal was created as an independent political entity, it has been finding a tough time in defending its territory and safeguarding national independence. There were some minor frictions with the northern neighbor which triggered Nepal-Tibet war on a couple occasions. But those conflicts were resolved to the best interest of both countries, in which Beijing had demonstrated magnanimity towards smaller neighbor. As a result, the relations between these two nations have been perfectly exemplary in the modern time especially after the establishment of the diplomatic relationship. China attaches greater importance to the relationship with Nepal whereas Nepal considers China as its true friend and development partner.
Nepal has problem only with its southern neighbor-India. Be it under the colonial rule or after independence, India’s policy has caused irritation in neighboring Nepal. Most Nepali people believe that India is the main stumbling block of Nepal political transformation and economic development. When Nepal was in the unification spree, the British India came as the roadblock to Nepal’s mission of its expansion. War broke out between Nepal and British colonial rulers in India. The war ended with signing of the Sugauli Treaty, which resulted in the loss of a significant size of its territory( nearly one -third) by Nepal. The Sugauli Treaty has determined the border between Nepal and India even today.
Despite losing sizable one -third territory, Nepal, somehow, maintained its independence-sometimes by coaxing British colonial power and sometimes by confronting and intriguing. As a result, we can proudly claim to be the citizen of the ancient and independent country which had never been a colony of any county. Nepal is, thus, one of the oldest countries in Asia. Nepal is, thus, not a part of Indian sub-continent but an ancient country of Asia that has its own language, history, culture and tradition.
But India has always ignored this historic reality. Even some historians and analysts tend to subscribe to Indian school of thought which claims that the culture in the entire South Asia is an offshoot of Indian civilization. How can the culture of a young country be a mainstream culture of the entire region when there are quite old and ancient civilizations and cultures continue to exist from the ancient time?
Compared to Nepal, India is a young nation which was created in 1947. India has been dominating its neighbors because of its geographic, economic and military size. India has been trying to manipulate in the internal affairs of smaller neighbors, which is quite aversion to the universally accepted international laws, diplomatic norms and values. As a result, India is the most hated country in South Asia. In all South Asia countries, anti-Indian sentiment is very strong, which is New Delhi’s own making. All South Asian countries have problem with India and these problems are getting complicated every day which are the prime reason for anti-Indian sentiment in South Asian countries. The problem with its neighbors has impacted in creating bad image of India in the international arena.
Since India has border with all South Asian countries except Afghanistan, these countries have to adjust their policy with India. None of the neighbors , in fact, have any ill-will against India and its people but are against New Delhi’s hegemonic policy. Nepal is a case in point that gives the overall picture of India’s policy towards its neighbors and opinion of the neighbors about India and its policy. India has always tried to bully Nepal and create problem. If surveyed scientifically, more than 80 per cent Nepalese would perhaps disapprove India’s Nepal policy. The recent case of open interference in Nepal’s internal politics has further annoyed Nepalese people. It is the direct interference of Nepal that has blocked the process of election for the prime minister. The largest political party of Nepal-the UCPN-Maoist- has more openly and candidly opposed India’s interference and vowed to fight Indian hegemony. But New Delhi has done everything possible to prevent the Maoists from leading the government.
Nepal and India are two sovereign countries and active members of the United Nations and other global and regional forums including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Nepal wants to nurture its relations with India on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. If India, at all, changes its hegemonic policy and genuinely wants to develop relations with Nepal on the basis of five-principle of peaceful co-existence, both the countries would benefit. India has to accept the reality that its Nepal policies have miserably failed, which has created friction with its neighbor. India’s current Nepal policy would ultimately harm New Delhi more than Nepal because Nepali people who have once fought with British imperial power to keep its independence intact, would never accept India’s hegemony and domination. Thus, these two countries now need to begin a fresh to make bilateral relations friendlier, more cooperative and cordial that would be able to face the newer challenges in the present changed international context.
The initiative should first come from New Delhi. To begin with, all unequal treaties and agreements Between the two countries including the 1950 Treaty must be scrapped and replaced by accords made on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. This would be beneficial for both Nepal and India. The ball is, now, in the court of New Delhi and if it genuinely comes up with good intention and with changed policy, Nepal-India relations would be exemplary for the world. Nepal and India are neighbors and they cannot change their geographic location. As the close neighbors, they must cope with one another. If relations continue to get sour, that would not be in the interest of both the countries. If something goes wrong in Nepal, India will also face its fallout because of closeness and open border. New Delhi must realize the fact that the coercive policy that India has adopted so far in Nepal has totally failed and instead created more problem.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A new year of hope dawns

Yuba Nath Lamsal
The year 2011 has already departed from us and the year 2012 is here to greet us. With the dawn of the New Year, the air is filled with optimism that the bad old days will now be over and a new and more prosperous future lies before us.
The year 2011 was marked by great crises, upheavals and promises for better future. Economic crisis induced upheavals swept across the world from California to Cairo, from Dallas to Durban, from Tokyo to Tunis and from Dublin and Damascus. The root of all the problems and upheavals are politics and economy. Beginning from the United States four years ago, the financial crisis afflicted the world especially Western countries. The ‘Occupy…’ rallies became almost daily phenomenon in the major cities in the world including Europe and America. The Euro crisis threatened the very existence of the European. The governments’ bail out schemes have worn out and failed to rescue and stimulate economies in America and Europe. With lesser resources and more debt burden accompanied by popular resistance, the Western economies seem to be unable to save the capitalist system.
While the capitalist system is collapsing and the Western world is confronted with its worst economic crisis, the rest of the world is facing other kinds of protests and upheavals. The Arab World woke up and some of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa have already seen changes of regimes. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya saw change of regime and people have heaved a sigh of relief as their diction rulers were deposed by the popular movement. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was forced to step down in the wake of mass agitation ending his iron fist rule in the land of the Nile. Libyans got rid of Mohammad Qaddagi’s dictatorship.
The Arab Spring is indeed an epochal event. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya have seen regime change but the game has not ended here. Although dictators fell down but the revolutionary regimes and achievements of the revolution are yet to be institutionalized. The people’s struggle continues in these countries even now, which have its fallout in other Arab countries as well. Syria is currently feeling the fire of revolution. People have poured to streets of Damascus demanding the end of Assad regime in Syria. Despite mass protests, Syrian dictator has so far not buzzed. Instead, he has unleashed a reign of terror against agitators and demonstrators. Hundreds of civilians have already been killed at the hands of Syrian troops. But the freedom and democracy loving Syrians are not discouraged and deterred from the protest and revolution. One day the people would force the Syrian dictator to step down or face people’s wrath. Similar movements are underway in other Arab countries including Yemen, Jordon Palestine, Iraq, Iran and even Saudi Arabia.
The electrifying protests of Arab spring, the ‘occupied’ movement in the United States and worst economic recession marked by slow growth, mass unemployment and inflation are some of the marked events that have afflicted the humanity in the world. These were the major events of the year 2011. The conflict and unrest in Iraq and Afghanistan are daily phenomenon, to which the world has already been accustomed.
The continued unrest, upheavals and tension definitely carry negative connotations. But they have positive side as well. These protests and demonstration are indicative of the fact that people are getting more and more aware and conscious about their rights and interests. Dictators have trembled and people are getting more enthusiastic and courageous. A new wave of democratic upsurge is sweeping across the world.
People are breaking their chains and shackles. Palaces are being stormed and streets have become magical laboratory where citizens are proliferating movements and creating cadres. The Internet became the major tool for communicating and mobilizing people for their rights. The Arab Spring has shown how technology can be applied for political purpose. The Arab uprising is being dubbed as the face book and twitter revolution.
While Western countries are having negative economic growth, the developing countries are making progress. China has made stunning progress in economic growth. Brazil has followed suit. China has already become world’s second largest economy. The giant of South America-Brazil-is emerging as a global economic power already poised to occupy fifth position in the global economic growth.
The focus of global politics and economy is shifting away from Europe and North America. The 2011 was the turning point of this shift. The 19th century belonged to Europe as it dominated the entire world. The 19th century was colonial era with European powers colonizing the entire world. Even the United States, Canada and the countries of Latin and South America were once the colonies of European powers. It used to be said that sun never sets in British Empire because Britain had colonies in every part of the globe. Prior to British rise, Spain was the main colonial power.
The World War II devastated Europe. Germany and Italy were crushingly defeated. Although Britain emerged victorious, it was so exhausted that it slowly lost its influence in the international political domain. After the World War II, Britain’s place was taken over by the United States which still continues. The 20th century became American century. But the influence of the United States, too, seems to be waning now.
Asia is emerging as a new political and economic powerhouse. Given the new trend of growth, Asia has become the center of global attention and attraction. The 21st century is going to be the Asian century. The process has already begun and is intensifying. China is going to be in the central stage, which is a matter of pride for all Asians. Being close neighbours, Nepalese, too, are proud of China’s rise in the global arena as an influential power because China’s growth would definitely have its impact on Nepal and we ought to take maximum benefit from the experience and development of our northern neighbour. China, too, will be happy to contribute to the development of the neighbours like Nepal.
The developments and activities that took place in 2011 in our next neighbourhood-the South Asia-had their own impact in the region as well as in the world. Afghanistan is a zone of tension and conflict. But indications are that Afghan people may see peace and stability in near future. The United States and NATO, which have currently been fighting a decisive war on terror, have already set timeline to end their mission in Afghanistan and handover the responsibility of Afghanistan’s security to Afghan government, for which necessary arrangements have been made. The Afghan police and army are being trained and equipped to make them capable of handling the security situation and fight Islamic terrorism. The tension between India and Pakistanis is yet another matter of serious concern not only in South Asia but in the entire world. India and Pakistan fought three wars over Kashmir, which is the flashpoint of conflict in the region. This issue remains unsettled for years since Kashmir was annexed to Indian Union. The year 2011 also saw no significant thaw in the decade long tension between these two countries. But towards the end of 2011, hope of peace has been revived as prime ministers of the two countries expressed willingness to herald in a new era of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan in 2012.
The situation of our own country, too, is not markedly different from the international scene. Nepal is passing through a difficult time in history and is in the labour pain of transformation. The year 2011 was not promising and encouraging period for the Nepalese people. All sectors remained in shambles. The peace process that had been initiated four years ago was still not complete. The parties got preoccupied more in power struggle than zeroing in on their activities for completing the twin tasks of constitution writing and the peace process. However, the recent activities have shown that they are a little bit serious on the main issues of the country. All pending issues are now being settled slowly, which has given hope that the country would get a new constitution that would clear the way for establishing durable peace and stability in the country in 2012.
With the dawn of 2012, the era of desperate pessimism seems to be slowly coming to an end. The outrage of the people that had filled the air throughout 2011 has its contribution in uniting the people for change. This fury united the people of the Arab World; the economic crisis united the American and European people in the campaign to exert pressure on their respective governments for introducing changes in their system and policies. The state of uncertainty for the last four years has compelled the people of Nepal to arrive at a common point in the task of constitution writing and completing the peace process. These are all indications that the year 2012 will definitely be different from the previous years and is expected to herald in a new era of peace, stability and prosperity in the world.