Since decades Nepal political system is not anchored in substantive democracy, peace, progress and stability. The gulf between Nepal’s inner and outer world is widening rather than offering a broad mixture of wellbeing and satisfaction with the political system. The mega earth quake has ruthlessly worsened the political climate and diluted the nation’s ability to lift the citizens from physical and psychological trauma. It has demonstrated the malfunctions of government in scores of aspect owing to coordination problems among the ruling parties and their struggle for future role. Political system is the soul of the nation, the life force of other sectors. It is that part of vitality that keeps citizen’s spirit alive and thriving and political system responding to their hopes, fears and uncertainties. The resolution of peripheral issues lies in linking them with the core political plot of political system. System survival and maintenance largely rest on its adaptability with the changing aspirations of citizens, their livelihood guarantee, freedom and satisfaction with the performance of political system.
The quake altered the traditional functions of political parties, civil society and other public institutions entailing them to respond to effects of earth quake especially through rescue, relief, rehabilitation and rebuilding, expedite the constitution drafting process and assume appropriate roles in rebuilding resilient Nepal. So far these institutions have only elevated the notion of rights in Nepal and contributed to the mushrooming national NGOs, federation, human rights bodies and international organizations. After the quake, Nepali knew scores of matters that are vital to head off in an entirely novel direction of nation’s development attaining the shared goal in areas such as strengthening the ability of political system to respond to the demands of citizens, improve inter-agency coordination problem, rescue and relief strategies and finally reconstruction of conflict-damaged infrastructures and relationship, and rebuilding of the nation’s overall aspects. The concept of open public space is equally important to escape from the disaster. All these demand stakeholders fulfilling duties as citizens of Nepali state and transcend the classical game of mere power struggle. The role of international community in sharing a common humanity cannot be underestimated.
Sustainable rebuilding needs a political system that can address structural injustice and link citizens with it and muster needed support for its survival and ability to deliver essential public goods. This is possible only if fiscal and monetary aspects are robust for financing the reconstruction. Second element is the revival of Nepal’s agriculture where most of Nepalese youth are deployed for daily wage and livelihood. It is also connected to preservation of the nation’s environment. Third vital interlinked issue is trade and transaction goods from surplus to deficit areas so that crisis can be easily averted. Reconstruction of private and public houses and cultural sites requires the mobilization of both human and non-human infrastructural goods. Renovation of cultural sties is especially important for Nepal as it provides historical identity and attracts foreign tourists. Many tourists during the hour of crisis linked Nepal to the whole world. Here private sectors can also play a great role since they have both resources and knowledge of how to renew contacts with the world of resources. The role of civil society cannot be underestimated in many areas so as to facilitate accountability and transparency in governance in coping with national disaster. Trust building is linked to pull the resources of international community.
In Nepal, strengthening of public interest is very important. In the past, privatization of industries, emergence of private schools and health centers, INGO, consultation companies and NGOs have boosted up the power of limited section of society at the top of power leaving the rest of citizens face the consequence of hunger, poverty, migration and natural disaster. It created polarization and social conflict. How can citizens heave self-awareness in the condition of natural state of imbalance and forge a balance between the society and the nature and state and citizens?
The quake increased unity and solidarity among the Nepali citizens of all hues. This forced the leaders of four parties-- Nepali Congress, Community Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist, United Communist Party of Nepal Maoist and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum to sign 16-point deal so as to promulgate the constitution by mid-July. They have settled on 8 federal states, parliamentary system of governance, Maxed election system and citizenship in the name of mother and father. The deal also agreed to transfer power from NC to CPN-UML. But there are four forces opposed to the deal: Madhesi parties, CPN (Maoist) led alliance, ethnic forces and monarchist Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal. Only a rational compromise of legitimate interest can accommodate Nepal’s diversity and introduce peaceful change of political power from gerontocracy to equal representation of youth and their creative participation in rebuilding resilient nation. These are also the preconditions for political stability and social peace.
Democracy cannot last long if power acquisition and transfer is based on power equation, not democratic values of freedom, inclusion, justice and peace. Second, democracy also becomes fragile if opposition is left with no legitimate space other than to resort of extra-constitutional means. Third, power-based syndicate system easily tramples the principles of constitutionalism. Post-conflict reconstruction and post-quake nation-building demands strengthening the local communities and local government which requires self-determination and self-governance. Substantive democracy is participatory in nature, it is build from below with the active participation of citizens. Any regime imposed from above without the consent of citizens can only breed authoritarianism in the long rule and loses its credibility, legitimacy and robustness.
(Bishnu Devi Memorial Trust)