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Thursday, February 23, 2012

End of ideology in Nepal's parties

Yuba Nath Lamsal

It looks as though gone are the days of value-based politics in Nepal. Ideology, principle, conviction and faith no longer occupy any space in the lexicon of the political parties. What prevails in the present day politics is power, perks and position, for which intrigues, conspiracy and deception have become the name of the game in Nepal’s politics. Grabbing power and retaining it by any possible means, be it moral or otherwise, is the new norm in the politics which has not only corroded the moral of honest and genuine politicians but also created a sense of public apathy towards politics.

Power is paramount force which plays crucial role for one’s influence and position in party and politics. The fundamental raison d’ĂȘtre of the present day politics is to gain control over power and accumulate wealth through whatever means possible. As this trend continues to escalate, politics is becoming a game of scoundrels who resort to politics to cover up their crimes. As a result, criminals are politicizing crimes whereas politicians are criminalizing politics.

As politics is being criminalized, political parties are vying to attract criminals and gangsters into their parties. Now some gangsters and their bosses, most of whom are in the wanted list of police, are members of different political parties. These thugs are carrying out banditry under political cover and protection. This trend has killed morale, value, honesty and norms in politics. Most of the parties have given up the political principle, philosophy and values their founders had cherished.

Ideology has taken a back seat in the agenda of the parties. The original political documents of Nepal’s parties have their own analysis on other political parties. The Nepali Congress is one of the oldest parties in Nepal which has the history of leading movements against dictatorship of different kinds on different occasions. The party was founded when Nepal was under Rana oligarchy. In the beginning, Nepali Congress was a revolutionary party that not only opposed feudal oligarchy but also championed some revolutionary economic programmes. In course of time, it ultimately turned out to be a rightist party and started hobnobbing with feudal forces and comprador capitalists, which marked its clear departure from its original principle and policy. Until its founder BP Koirala was alive, Congress stood for the principles of democratic socialism both in words and action. With the demise of BP Koirala, Congress lost its ideological and philosophical energy and floated along with the wave of changes taken place in the world and also in Nepal. When socialist bloc collapsed with the fall of Soviet empire that paved the way for global influence of capitalism in 1990s and later, the Congress completely abandoned its ideological stance and followed the path of ultra capitalism. The Nepali Congress transformed itself into a rightist and capitalist party. Since then ideological debate and orientation also came to an end in this party. What guided the Congress is the immediate political gains.

In the case of the CPN-UML, which is also one of the mainstream parties of Nepal at present, this party is also devoid of principles and ideological debate. This party was founded with revolutionary zeal guided by communist principle of class struggle to emancipate the people from all forms of exploitation. In the beginning, it raised arms in Jhapa but realized that armed struggle was not possible in the contemporary Nepal and began to mobilize people for a mass movement. Within ten years of its foundation, the UCPN-UML (previously known as CPN-ML), expanded its organization so rapidly that it had a nationwide presence and established itself as the militant and strongest cadre-based party in Nepal. Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong thought was behind its inspiration and energy. The party went through ideological debate on various occasions and these debates sharpened it ideologically and politically. The ideological debate continued until 1990, which maintained its ideological and organizational vitality. It finally gave up revolutionary ideology and adopted the peaceful political course through periodic election based on multi-party political system and the ideological debate also completely came to an end in this party, which marked the beginning of its ideological, political and organizational decline. Formally giving up, Marxist-Leninist doctrine, it adopted a cross breed of capitalist and socialist system called ‘People’s Multi-party Democracy’ or PMPD, which is in essence akin to BP’s democratic socialism in Nepal’s context. Although Madan Bhandari and his followers claimed political copyright over the PMPD, the ideological switchover of the CPN-UML had been long due and this was natural process because the party had already undergone ideological and political transformation and degeneration. The PMPD is not a political ideology but an opportunistic scheme to hoodwink the people just to grab power. In reality, the PMDP was a deviation to capitalism, reformism and revisionism.

The other political force that has key role in the political equation of Nepal is the front of different Madhesi parties that have cobbled together for the greater interest of the people in the Terai plain. They are scattered and split into different parties. They know that the role of individual Madhesi parties was not effective and this realization has brought them together under the banner of Democratic Madhesi Front. These parties came into existence only lately and most of the leaders were formerly associated with other mainstream parties like the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML. These parties emerged in Nepal’s political scene to take advantage of the new situation cashing in on sentiment of the people in the Terai. Thus, the Madhesi parties are, too, opportunistic force and it is useless to expect any ideological debate and input from them.

The largest political force at present in Nepali political arena is the UCPN-Maoist. This party was founded on revolutionary communist ideology of Marxism, Leninism and Maoism or MLM. Since its guiding political and ideological doctrine is MLM, it pursued the tactics of protracted people’s war as practiced by Mao Zedong during the Chinese revolution. Its goal was to establish the communist regime. Its ideology and guerilla warfare proved to be successful in attracting people in such a way that the party virtually controlled almost 75 per cent of the country. Until the emergence of the Maoists, CPN-UML represented the leftist trend in Nepal. As the Maoists gained strength, the CPN-UML was pushed to centrist line and the Maoists became the sole representative of the revolutionary leftist political ideology in Nepal. However, vacillation and deviation have surfaced in the party from ideological as well as tactical point of view especially over the last four years. This happened when the party gave up armed insurgency and joined the peaceful politics. The Maoist party had started armed insurgency with the resolve that it would not lay down arms until its objective of establishing new democracy was achieved. In course of its decade-long insurgency, the Maoist party had achieved many successes, suffered several setbacks and learnt some important lessons. Based on its successes, setbacks and lessons, the Maoists changed its tactical policy of joining peaceful politics and finally declared the end of the decade long insurgency, which was a clear deviation from its revolutionary ideology and a beginning of reformist political line. It contested the multi-party election in which it emerged as the largest political force of the country. During the period of its decade-long insurgency and five years after it joined the peace process, the Maoists underwent a fierce ideological debate, which continues even today. Three types of ideological lines are clearly visible in the party. The debate is whether the party should give continuity to the revolutionary line and protracted armed insurgency or to pursue peaceful politics and work for peace and constitution in the line adopted by other parliamentary parties. The ideological debate in the Maoist party had had serious impact not only in the organizational life of the party but also on Nepal’s national politics. Since the UCPN-Maoist is the largest political force of the country, Nepal’s present political course is revolving around the Maoist party. The political course of the country would also be determined on how the political and ideological debate of the Maoist party would be resolved.

The ideology is the lifeblood of any political party. The ideological debate sharpens and energizes the political organization. Once the party is devoid of ideological stance and it gives up ideological debate, the political party is considered as a dead organization. In the case of Nepal, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML seem to be devoid of ideological debate and stance, which is the reason for their dwindling strength and popularity. The Maoists, too, seem to be following the Congress and UML path. The political parties, thus, need to make their cherished ideology the core value of its political standing and activities, instead of only seeking power and position. This would only strengthen party’s position and energize its workers, followers and supporters.

Coup in Maldives: A lesson for all in South Asia

Yuba Nath Lamsal
The atoll nation of the Maldives is once again in political turmoil. Democracy that was introduced first time in this Indian Ocean nation only three years ago was trampled by a coalition of different interest groups including Islamic extremists and loyalists to former dictator Mymoon Abdul Gayoom, who was ousted from power in the wake of popular unrest in 2008 followed by a general election based on universal franchise. In the first ever free and fair presidential election, the opposition icon Mohamed Nasheed was overwhelmingly elected as the President promising sweeping changes in the tiny country comprising groups of small islands in the Indian Ocean. Former dictator president Gayoom suffered a humiliating defeat in the polls.
However, in the new turns of events, popularly elected president was recently forced to resign under pressure by the security forces at gun point, which the ousted president Naseed has described as a soft coup and a big setback to democracy in the Maldives. In his resignation statement, which he was forced to sign, Naseed said: "I wish the Maldives would have a consolidated democracy. I wish for justice to be established. My wish is for the progress and prosperity of the people". Ever since he came to power through a popular voting, Naseed had tried to undo several decisions and moves of his predecessor, which cost him dearly. Apart from challenging the religious forces in the Maldives, who are said to be powerful in political and social influence, Nasheed had ordered the arrest of a judge of the Criminal Court over some wrongdoing, which had annoyed some hardliners and loyalists of former President Gayoom. The judge was believed to have tried to block the legal action against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for his wrong doing and human rights violation during his long rule. This was one of the reasons that triggered the coup. Instead, the Criminal Court has issued warrants for Nasheed on instruction of new president Mohammed Waheed Hassan. Naseed is Hassan\'s mentor but he has now turned an arch foe and an ally of the forces that plotted a coup.
Coups do not take place suddenly. Nor has the coup any rationale. In most cases, coup is staged at the whim of power hungry dictators. A coup needs a long plan and preparation. But Naseed failed to sense the conspiracy against him which is his biggest mistake. Naseed is a political activist and supporter of non-violent movement. But he lacked political shrewdness that gave opportunity to his critics and opponents to regroup and plot against him.
Coup can never be justified and nor can be the ouster of a democratically elected government at gun point acceptable. All democratic forces, countries and people must condemn the undemocratic move In the Maldives. Unfortunately, some countries in the world as well as in the region that claim to be the messiah of democracy and democratic values have, instead of condemning the coup in the Maldives, hobnobbed with the coup plotters. The United States of America always champions democratic values in the world. But it has failed to take any action against the coup plotters in the Maldives. Instead it has demanded an early election. India, which also claims to be the largest democracy in the world, is toeing US line as far as the recent events in Maldives are concerned. Election is the best way of exercising democratic rights by the people to choose their representatives and the government. In the case of the Maldives, election had been held only three years ago. Ousting the democratically government at the whim of dictators should not be justified in the name of holding early election. Coup is coup and it is undemocratic act which should never be supported under any pretext. Against this background, the stance and position of the United States and India is against democratic norms and values, which cannot be unacceptable for democracy loving people in the world. In this had been staged against Mymoon Abdel Gayoom\'s dictatorial regime in the Maldives. India sent its troops to crush the coup and protect Gayoom\'s dictatorial regime to justify India\'s decision to send troops to the Maldives to suppress the coup plotters. Sending troops to any other sovereign country under any pretext and interfering in other\'s internal affairs is against the international rule and norms. India\'s move to end troops is a violation of international rule. The question of settling political and other issues is the business of the Maldivian government and its people. And it is not the business of external forces to meddle and intervene in political affairs of other country. It exposed India\'s intention that India always wants to meddle in its neighbour\'s affairs. Secondly, 9it has also exposed time New Delhi protects dictators if they toe India\'s line. This is well illustrated in its support to Maldives\' Gayoom and Bhutan\'s absolute monarchy. When dictator was in trouble in the Maldives, New Delhi sent troops but it has not spoken even a single world to criticize the coup against the democratically elected government in the Maldives. India\'s silence implies that New Delhi has tacit support to coup in Maldives. New Delhi has already started hobnobbing with the new regime in Maldives and echoing the voice of former dictator Gayoom of holding early election.
The anti-democratic forces and loyalists to previous dictatorial regime are behind the coup. They ousted the democratically elected government and imposed a government comprising handpicked people. Naseed and his regimes, too, are partially responsible for emboldening the plotters. Since coming to power in 2008, Naseed introduced ultra capitalism in Maldives, which benefited a few rich and upper class people while majority of middle class, poor and marginalized people were rendered vulnerable. As a result, majority of the people in the Maldives got frustrated with the new government headed by Naseed. Coup plotters cashed in on people\'s frustration and staged a coup against him.
The case of Maldives is a symptom of a newly emerging trend in South Asia. Dictators are slowly regrouping and reorganizing against the democratic polity. The armed forces are also trying to have upper hand in political affairs in all South Asian countries. There are instances of confrontation and conflict between the civilian government and armed forces in all countries in South Asia. In Maldives, a coup has already been staged. In Pakistan, there is an open confrontation between the democratically elected government and the army. The conflict between the government and the army is likely to escalate in future in Pakistan. In Bangladesh, a coup plot against the elected government of Sheikh Hasina was foiled before the conspiracy could take any shape. In Sri Lanka, the relationship between the army and the government is not smooth and good. There is a friction between the Sri Lankan government and the army over the issue of punitive action against the former army chief. The relationship between the government and the army in India is relatively smooth. Not much has been heard about the political ambition of Indian army. But a recent case that involved friction between the government and the army over the age issue of the army chief is an indication that confrontation between the army and the government is slowly brewing in India, too. In Nepal, army has been assertive especially on issue concerning the integration of the Maoist combatants. The political parties in Nepal are trying to instigate and provoke the army. This is not a good practice because provoking and instigating army would ultimately encourage the army to poke into politics. So far, Nepal\'s army is professional and it has kept itself aloof from the politics. But the activities of politicians and political parties may drag army into politics which would be very unfortunate.
We have witnessed a new wave of democratic upsurge sweeping the world sending dictators to pack up in different countries. The recent examples are Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Democratic movements are snowballing in other countries of Asia and Africa. Only recently, the military junta in Myanmar has relaxed its brutal control. People in Syria and other Arab countries are resolutely raising the banner of democracy high. But democracy has backpedalled in the Maldives which is not a good sign for democratic development and its consolidation. India seems to be behind the conspiracy against democratic government in Maldives, which clearly shows its double standard. South Asian countries and regimes should learn a lesson from the incidents of Maldives. This is a warning to democratic regimes in South Asia that establishing democracy is difficult but more difficult is to sustain democracy. The loyalists of the old dictatorial regime are always active and seeking opportune time to hit back. This is particularly so in Nepal as we are in the process of institutionalizing the achievements of popular movement. Now the monarchist forces that lost their laurels in the wake of popular movement in 2005 are trying to regroup and reorganize to sabotage the new political process. Nepal\'s political parties need to learn lesson from the incident of the Maldives and remain cautious about the possible conspiracy of the reactionary forces in Nepal.
The author can be reached at: yubanath@wlink.com.np

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nation is above individuals and parties

Yuba Nath Lamsal

Political course in the country has recently taken a new turn. The situation changed especially after the State Restructuring Commission (SRC) submitted its report to the government with its recommendation on federalism and its model. The SRC report has created further controversy instead of providing an acceptable solution to this pressing political and national issue.

Opinions are sharply divided on federal model and number of federal states. It had earlier been expected that the SRC would provide an expert opinion rising above the partisan interest and agenda. But it failed to live up to popular expectation but came up with more partisan agenda. The high level panel failed to arrive at common point and submitted two separate reports with conflicting views on the principal issues mainly on the number of federal provinces and their territorial jurisdiction. The SRC was composed of nine members, who were nominated on parties’ quota instead of their competence, qualification and previous experience.

Now the issue on state restructuring has gone back to square one and parties again are scrambling to restructure the state as per their agenda. There are some inherent weaknesses and flaws in the formation of the Commission. In the first place, parties chose their loyalists rather than independent experts on the basis of parties’ quota. Since the SRC members were appointed on the basis of their loyalty to parties, it was foolish of us to expect independent and professional result. We, thus, reaped what we had sown.

After the report of the SRC was submitted, a new kind of political deadlock has surfaced in the country. The parties have their own stance on this issue and they are not going to make any compromise. Earlier the Madhesi parties had opposed the formation of the SRC. The report of the SRC proved that Madhesi parties were right as they had said that the state restructuring was a political issue which should be resolved politically in consultation among the parties. If the SRC had come up with a single report, it would have been acceptable to all.

Now, no political party is happy with the report of the SRC. The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are unhappy because the majority report of the SRC has recommended federal states on ethnic line. These two mainstream parties are demanding federal provinces not on ethnic line but based on economic viability. The Madhesi parties are unhappy because the SRC did not recommend one single Madhes province. The Madhesi parties have been demanding one single Madhes province from east to the west. The UCPN-Maoist is relatively more contended with the SRC report. But the Maoists, too, are not fully satisfied with it as the SRC has not been clear on the issue concerning the right to self-determination. As far as ethnic communities are concerned, most of the ethnic groups are not also happy. Sherpas have already condemned the SRC report as Sherpas were denied of their separate state. The Brahmins and Chetris together constitute 30 per cent of the total population of the country. But they do not have any particular area as their province. A non-territorial province has been recommended for dalits who constitute almost 13 per cent to the total population of Nepal. Dalits are also not satisfied with the non-territorial state that the SRC has recommended. Thus, the SRC has opened up Pandora’s Box in Nepal’s political sphere more than ever before, which is not likely to be resolved easily.

One likes it or not Nepal must go for a federal structure. Although the issue of federalism was decided without debating its pros and cons, Nepal can no longer remain a unitary state. Political parties have already made commitments for federalism and they cannot go back to old unitary system. Moreover, the Interim Constitution has also defined Nepal as a federal democratic republic. Thus, there is no going back from federalism. Federalism is the creation of sub-states within a unified state. This is a system that distinctly divides authority between the centre and the provincial units. The federal provinces are granted autonomy to decide on everything except foreign policy, defence, monetary policy and other issues clearly defined by the constitution. The federal structure and demarcation of authority between the centre and the federal provinces must be clearly defined by the constitution. Thus, this issue must be sorted out before a new constitution is written. Any delay in taking decision on the nature of federalism, federal structure and the jurisdiction of the centre and the federated states would also delay the constitution writing process.

This issue has to be sorted out as early as possible in order to speed up the process of constitution writing, which must be completed in the next four months. Given the seriousness and its repercussion in the national politics, social, economic cultural life, the issue concerning federalism needs to be thoroughly discussed at every level and section of the society. But the decision was taken by the parties to go for federalism in haste without thorough and detailed debate and study. As a result, federalism has been interpreted by different political forces and ethnic groups and individuals differently. The Maoists raised the issue of ethnicity-based federalism, which encouraged different ethnic communities to demand their autonomous federal provinces. There are more than one hundred ethnic and indigenous groups and nationalities in Nepal and it is not possible and practical to grant them autonomous federal provinces to all ethnic communities. The Madhesis thought that they would get a single Madhes state with the right to self-determination. In practice, one single Madhes from right from the eastern border to the last western point of Nepal is also not feasible. The area east from Sunsari is no longer dominated by Madhesi population. The people from hill origin are in majority in Jhapa. Even eastern part of Sunsari district does not have predominant Madhesi population. Take the example of Dharan. This is a city entirely dominated by hill-ethnic communities like Kiratis and Limbus. Similar case maybe with western Terai. Chitwan is entirely not dominated by Madhesi population and so is Rupandehi. Nawalparasi also has mixed population. Moreover, there are differences of opinion among different Terai ethnic groups on one single Madhes state. Tharus are the oldest and largest ethnic community in Terai. But Tharus are opposed to the one-single Madhes concept but demand a separate Tharu province in the western Terai. Similarly, there are many ethnic groups in Madhes who are also not happy with the one-Madhes state.

The Brahmins, Chhetris and Dalits, who together constitute almost 43 per cent population, are against the very concept of federalism. According to them, the federalism is not feasible in a small country like Nepal. They are of the view that genuine decentralization and the concept of local self-governance would best suit in Nepal. Given the diverse opinion on federalism, the parties have failed to feel the pulse of the people. So has done the SRC.

Federalism is a concept of empowering local people. The way we are adopting federalism, we are creating many unitary states within a country. If we have to make federalism a genuine and functioning one, there has to be clear-cut definition on rights and authority of the center, federal provinces and local units in the federal provinces. A clear-cut division of jurisdiction, rights and authority of villages/municipalities, districts, provincial government and central authority must be incorporated in the constitution that alone would make federalism more functioning. The other issue that may create more controversy and problem is the ‘right to self-determination’. The parties which have been championing the right to self-determination must clarify to the people what this terminology would mean and why they want the right to self-determination. Right to self-determination is normally granted when a nation is created by unifying the different states. The case of Nepal is different. We are going for federalism from a unitary system and right to self-determination is absolutely unnecessary and irrelevant.

Neither political parties nor the SRC were able to clarify and address these issues, which shows that they simply lack competence and knowledge about the very concept of federalism and its repercussions in the society. Since the SRC failed to come up with an acceptable report, the issue has again gone to the court of the political parties. Federalism is the most important national issue that has touched every citizen of this country. The parties now have to take the national opinion and sentiment into consideration while taking final decision on the state restructuring. If we make a slight mistake, we may not be able to correct. Thus, parties must act responsibly and cautiously. We must understand that country is above individuals and parties. Thus, decision must be taken in such a way that the national interest, national sovereignty and territorial integrity may not be in jeopardy.

Tibet and its speedy march for modernization

Yuba Nath Lamsal
While over 1.3 billion Chinese people are marching forward on the path of development and modernization, some trouble makers in the name of self-styled Tibetan refugees are using foreign soil to create trouble in their motherland. They are not the genuine Tibetans but criminals who fled the motherland after committing crimes against their own brethren back home. These criminal elements are being instigated by foreigners and enemies of China and are trying to harm their own country and fellow country people. They are out to split and weaken China for which they have become pawn and puppets of some external elements and forces that do not see a unified, strong and prosperous China.
For the last few months, some Western media have raised the issue of self-immolation by some so-called Tibetan monks protesting against what they described as Chinese rule in Tibet. This is yet another propaganda being unleashed by anti-China elements and their supporters abroad. Buddhist monks, be they Tibetan or others, believe in non-violence and remain away from dirty politics and any kind of conspiracy. Moreover, Tibetans are free to practice their form of Buddhism in Tibet. No genuine Tibetan monk is likely to opt for such kind of crime against humanity. It is nothing other than the conspiracy being instigated by the Dalai Lama, who was forced to flee in the wake of popular uprising and Beijing assertion of its right over Tibet in 1949. These people claim to be Tibetan refugees and are trying to create trouble in Tibet.
In fact, Tibet was not occupied by China but it was only liberated from Dalai Lama\'s serfdom. Tibet had never been an independent country but remained a part of greater China throughout history. China had granted autonomy to Tibet and the local chieftain used to rule over Tibet with the consent of central authority in Beijing. China remained weak under feudal reactionary rule of different dynasties and dictators, Dalai Lama took advantage of the autonomy and imposed his serfdom in Tibet and treated Tibetan people as slaves. After, China was liberated and People\'s Republic of China was established in 1949, Beijing also took direct and active initiative to liberate Tibet from feudal serfdom. As People\'s Liberation Army in collaboration with Tibetan people finally emancipated Tibet from serfdom, following which Dalai Lama and some of his loyalists fled the country.
On March 28, 1959, Beijing announced the dissolution of the local government of Tibet and replaced it with a preparatory committee for establishing the Tibet Autonomous Region. This marked the beginning of a new era in Tibet. Since then, phenomenal changes have taken place in this province of China in the Himalaya.
Chinese authorities describe the Dalai Lama\'s rule in Tibet as a period of serfdom where people were treated not as citizens but as personal property. This was worse than the slavery that existed in the United States of America before Abraham Lincoln declared an end to slavery and the slave trade. Under serfdom, all properties, including the people and natural resources, belonged to the rulers, and the people had to submit to the government. While the rulers enjoyed a luxurious life, the general mass suffered hunger and lived a primitive life.
Some may take Beijing\'s claims and its comparison of life then and now in Tibet as mere propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party. But anyone who has seen Tibet in recent years agrees with China\'s version. Once one of the most backward regions of China, Tibet has now leapt forward in terms of economic development after the central government intervened and decided to ensure governance by the people of Tibet, which was impossible during the Dalai Lama\'s rule.
According to some western propaganda that we have seen in the biased press, Tibet was an independent country which was taken over forcibly by China. They are fanning separatist activities in the name of a small group of followers of the Dalai Lama. According to them, the situation of human rights in Tibet has worsened and the Tibetan people have been denied the right to self-rule by Beijing. This is a mere propaganda designed to create a split in China and an attempt to once again push the people of Tibet into the trap of serfdom.
As said earlier, Tibet had never been an independent country but an integral part of China. All historical facts have proved this. Right from the Tang Dynasty in early 7th century, Tibet came under Beijing\'s rule, and it continued to be under the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. When China became a republic in 1912, the central government declared it as a republic of five nationalities - Han, Manchu, Mongolian, Hui and Tibetans. After the establishment of the People\'s Republic of China, serfdom was abolished, and Tibet was declared an autonomous province of China.
However, Tibet was granted total autonomy by the central government, which has now been dubbed by some as having independent status. This is a distortion of history and the truth. But one thing is true that whenever rulers in Beijing were weak, Tibetan authorities tried to be more assertive. But all the decisions taken by the Tibetan authorities had to be finally endorsed by the central government in Beijing even before 1951.
After the 1949 revolution that established a communist government led by Mao Zedong, things changed. The Dalai Lama was so unpopular in Tibet that the Tibetan people themselves wanted Beijing\'s intervention to free the Tibetan people from the vice of serfdom. At the request of the Tibetan people and policy of the Communist Party to free its people from all forms of slavery, serfdom and exploitation, a contingent of the Chinese People\'s Liberation Army marched into Lhasa along with Tibet\'s common citizenry and declared an end to serfdom and the beginning of people\'s rule.
The Dalai Lama along with a small group of his henchmen then fled to India from where attempts were made to destabilize Tibet and China. Some western powers that are opposed to the socialist system anywhere in the world have found a good excuse to bash China and carry out activities aimed at splitting China. But these ill motives have always been foiled due to the solidarity of the Chinese people, including Tibetans.
China has been focusing more on ensuring a decent life for its people so that they can enjoy and exercise other rights. This is exactly the case in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
Moreover, the support to the Dalai Lama is support to slavery and serfdom, which is the worst violation of human rights. In fact, slavery and serfdom are a blot on civilization. But it is only the Dalai Lama\'s supporters who are backing serfdom in the name of the \'Free Tibet movement\'. They want serfdom to stage a comeback in Tibet in the name of "Free Tibet", which is being backed by some western governments.
The question here is whether emancipation from serfdom or pushing the people back again into serfdom is a human right. It is time for the world to decide which side is right and which one is trying to snatch the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people. We must speak loudly and clearly where we stand - with the people of Tibet who have enjoyed a far more decent and dignified life or with those who want a return of feudal serfdom in Tibet.
The entire humanity applauds Abraham Lincoln for his bold and historic decision to end slavery in the United States of America, which has been hailed as a step towards upholding human dignity. The end of serfdom in Tibet is a similar step. While the people in the western countries hail the end of slavery in America, they make a hue and cry when same thing happens in China. This clearly shows the double standard and hypocrisy of the western world regarding human rights.
Tibet is an autonomous province of China and it is resolutely marched forward on the path of development. Autonomy refers to a system in which local authority has final say in cultural, economic and even political affairs of the region. Local self-governance is another dynamic of the political autonomy. Central government has already declared Tibet as an autonomous region and the local government takes decision on local affairs. It was the status of Tibet in the past as the central government had given some sort of autonomy. Now Tibet enjoys better autonomy than in the past. So far as Nepal\'s position is concerned, it has adopted a one-China policy and supported Tibet\'s modernization process. Perhaps, no other country knows Tibet better than Nepal due to its geographical closeness and interaction between the two peoples. Since Nepal has recognized Tibet as an integral part of China, it does not regard anybody that flees from Tibet as refugee. Those who flee Tibet and carry out anti-China activities are criminals and they should be treated accordingly.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Diplomatic nuances and national interest

Yuba Nath Lamsal

The world has undergone a sea change. The situation that existed twenty years ago is no longer present now. As the global situation has changed dramatically, the psychology of the nations has also changed. The method and modes of handling international relations have also taken a big paradigm shift. Gone are the days of military power to determine the world order and maintain influence as well as protect one’s own national interest. Although there are still some countries that believe in military power to control the world, this is an old concept which is not compatible with the changed international scenario.

The old concept of use of force to settle bilateral and multi-lateral disputes has virtually come to an end. In its place, the art of negotiation, which is called diplomacy, has gained currency in international dispute resolution and shaping new world order. The conduct of diplomacy is a delicate issue that needs sophisticated handling. A slightest mistake makes a big difference in the world of diplomacy. A diplomat has to take into consideration a lot many things in the conduct of diplomacy. The use of word, body language, tone and intonation, dress and facial expression tell a lot which a diplomat must take into serious consideration.

A diplomat must be aware of these diplomatic nuances in order to properly project a nation’s image, protect national interest and get the message through. It is only through the art of successful diplomacy one can boost the image of the country and protect national interest abroad. It is said that what cannot be gained by war can be achieved through the art of diplomacy. In the present complicated yet interconnected world, art of diplomacy plays crucial role in pursing the national interest of a particular country and make one’s presence felt in the international arena in a more visible and meaningful manner. Nations negotiate with one another on a wide array of issues, ranging from serious problems of war, peace, and disarmament to the more ordinary matters of boundary disputes, fishing rights, foreign aid, immigration quotas, and international trade.

In the world of diplomacy, language is crucial factor. A diplomat must not only have good command of international language in general, he or she should be able to understand the language spoken by his or her counterpart in particular. Art of articulation and fluency in language makes the communication better and clear. The knowledge of counterpart’s language helps understand the mind of the other side in negotiation while the fluency in the language of communication makes one’s point clear and position better in negotiation. With the art of articulation and persuasive skill, one definitely keeps his or her position in negotiation better than that of the counterpart. Through his or her eloquence in language and proper etiquette and articulation skill, a diplomat has to persuade, request, argue, warn and protest on issues of negotiation or on issues pertaining to national interest. The body language and facial expression, sitting position and attire also count in diplomacy. Any person responsible for the conduct of diplomacy must need to pay due attention to these factors. The issue of dress code was raised by the Nepalese media during the recent visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Nepal. While all members of the Chinese delegation had strictly maintained their dress code, Nepalese side including the Prime Minister seemed to be either unaware of the significance and meaning of the dress or they simply ignored it. None of the Nepali officials seemed to have maintained proper dress code.

A good diplomat can boost country’s image and dignity through his or her diplomatic acumen. Diplomacy is the combination of ways and abilities for any state that proves its existence and worthiness in the world and establishes cooperation with other members of international community. A diplomat is someone who wins the war with words. A successful diplomat should possess a combination of ingenuity, wit and common sense. Moreover, diplomats must be highly qualified experts to be able to solve any problem even in an unpredictable situation. On the quality and qualification of a good diplomat, former President of the United States of America Abraham Lincoln once said: “Flexibility is a very important quality of a diplomat”. It is true that a diplomat is required to be flexible but it depends on the situation. As the diplomacy is the game of international power politics and intrigue, one has to be tough and arrogant at certain time if the situation so demands.

The conduct of diplomacy is an art and skill that requires professional acumen. But sometime politician and other people perform better in the conduct of diplomacy than the professional diplomats. At times politicians are chosen for certain diplomatic assignments because the chosen politician may fare better than the professional diplomats. The employees in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are said to be the professional or career diplomats. This is true to a large degree. But this is not wholly true. The staffs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs know many diplomatic nuances but they are more bureaucratic. When it comes to decision making on certain issues they often falter and sometimes miss opportunity to strike the deal for the interest of the country in time. In such a situation, political appointees may fare better. In some important place, high-level politicians are appointed as ambassador. During the tenure of Bill Clinton as President of the Untied States of America, former Vice President Water Mondale was sent to Tokyo as the American Ambassador. Some had even said that a person of such a high stature should not have accepted the junior level position of an ambassador (ambassador is a position of joint-secretary level). But the trade issues and relations between Japan and the USA were highly important and crucial at that time and a person like Walter Mondale was required to deal with Tokyo on such vital issues. In some other countries, too, ambassadors are appointed from outside the foreign ministry staff. In Nepal, diplomatic assignments are something to be given to someone as a reward but not for conducting diplomacy. Nowhere have any of our diplomats fared satisfactorily. Nor could they have their presence felt. This is applied to both careerists as well as political appointees. It has been widely felt that Nepal’s conduct of diplomacy in the international arena has been weak and getting weaker over the last two decades especially after the 1990 political change. Nepal’s diplomats are not conducting diplomacy but officials of other countries or their mission in Kathmandu set the conditions.

Not all the employees in the Foreign Ministry are career diplomats but some may possess excellent qualities of diplomacy. In the same manner, it is not that all outsiders are diplomatic novice. Some political appointees are better than careerists. The Foreign Ministry employees often think that the conduct of diplomacy is their protected domain and rights. This is also not true. The conduct of diplomacy is the job of the government, which is composed of politicians. The job of the bureaucrats and officials in the foreign ministry is to facilitate and assist the politicians in the conduct of diplomacy.

But the demand for appointing careerists (employees in foreign ministry) in the diplomatic mission is gaining currency in Nepal. There should not be any objection to it. Perhaps keeping this demand in mind, the present government headed by Dr Baburam Bhattarai appointed careerists in the half of the total diplomatic appointments. This is praiseworthy step. But the government has appointed the rest from various fields, most of whom do not possess even slightest diplomatic experiences. They are bound to create diplomatic debacle. Similarly, the other issue being raised at present is the inclusiveness in the diplomatic appointments. There should not be any objection if anyone from any ethnic background is appointed as ambassador in any country. But diplomacy is the art of projecting the country and one who is appointed as ambassador should duly project the country and ensure national interest through better negotiation, communication and articulation. In the field of diplomacy, merit should count more than political sharing in the name of inclusiveness.