Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Big brother is not watching

Be it during the long rule of the monarchy or during the one-and-a-half decade in which Nepal experimented with semi-democracy and even in the subsequent phases of complete democracy, the Himalyan nation has never witnessed a more dangerous, anti-India programme in action. The manner in which the new breakaway group from the UCPN (Maoist) called the CPN (Maoist) has been blatantly attacking every Indian symbol in sight in Nepal is worrisome.
The CPN (Maoist)’s most recent decision to ban Indian vehicles and Bollywood cinema within the country marks the height of bankruptcy in Nepal’s ultra-Left movement. First, it violates the fundamental rights enshrined in the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, in Article 12(2). Second, it negates Nepal’s long history of co-operation with India.
The psychological complex that has produced such action is, however, strikingly different from the Orwellian notion of a big brother figure watching over the country. Or else, the people propagating the anti-India message would have similar apprehensions about China as well. But they don’t, possibly because Red China is offering the seed capital with which to destroy the tightly knit fabric of India-Nepal relations.
China is already outpacing India as a major investor in the Himalayan state, besides controlling the nerves of that country’s ultra-radical political forces. India should never have taken China’s hidden game in Nepal so lightly. Also, India’s diplomatic mission in Kathmandu has miserably failed in recent years to nourish the goodwill of the Nepalese people.
People-to-people contact between India and Nepal is New Delhi’s sole edge over Beijing. Probably, this is the reason why the average Nepalese stands against the ban on Indian vehicles and movies, having dismissed the dictates of the CPN-Maoist. But this is not surprising.
Since 1996, when civil war broke out in Nepal, the Maoists have consistently defied the common man’s aspiration. Even those with the most radical of imagination will agree that the Maoists don’t qualify as the leader of proletarian movement. Indeed, it is the average Nepalese, the civil society in that country and the Press that have been the biggest victims of the Maoist’s hypocritical people’s movement.
Ideologically, the Maoists’ movement in Nepal is impure and reflects the personal cynicism of its leadership. Next to the ideological line, these leaders have been nurturing their political ambitions by pumping up a ‘sovereignty phobia’ or ‘Indophobia’ in Nepal. Maoists are divided entities now, and those who sit outside the power circle, try to carve a niche for them. They hope that the anti-India demonstration will give them the mileage to do so.
A recent report by the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, charting 10 years of human rights violations during the Nepal conflict, presents the trove of horrific data regarding the number of dead, the number of abducted people etc. As expected, the ruling Maoists have rubbished the report. In fact in a bid to corner the international watchdog, the Maoist Government has begun distancing itself from the UN in multilateral arenas. This marks a complete departure from its earlier reliance on international agencies such as the UN. Clearly, transition from a power-seeking role to a position of power-mongering has altered the basic principles of the Maoists.
Political theory suggests that a state’s sovereignty rests with its people. Nepal has always successfully maintained its sovereignty and independence. Since the end of the Malla confederacy and the political unification done by the founder of the ruling house of Gorkha, Prithvi Narayan Shah, in the 18th century, Nepal has in fact never faced any sovereignty crisis.
Even the present time of political transition has hardly allowed for any systemic vulnerabilities in Nepal that might result in the country falling to the domination of a foreign power. So, this new-found ‘insecurity’ regarding sovereignty, especially among the radical politicians, is really the result of the kind of petty politicking that is rampant in Nepal.
Let there be no doubt that political strategies based on anti-India, hate campaigns will not last long enough. This is because neither Nepal’s economic nor sentimental impulses will ever allow India to be any less participative in its soil. Besides, India still has a positive footprint inside Nepal. Any apprehension towards India’s role in that country is misplaced and principally irrational, and the fighting political parties of Nepal must acknowledge this. They must also understand that there is no merit in engaging in a tease game with an immediate and friendly neighbour, who also strategically ranks high in global power-politics. The Nepalese people deserve better than vile rhetoric.
Atul K Thakur
October10th, 2012, Wednesday
(Published in The Pioneer,dated on October23,2012)

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