There is a lot of talk around the country, about how the new generation of political leaders should come to the helm of the government and give it a new direction. This is all fine and the results of the recently held local level elections have also proved that the people of this country want to see some change in the political scenario. But the question is - will the nation see a change in its governance only because of the fact that young leaders are elected?
Apart from the elections, one heartening news was that there are more than 30 persons who have been appointed as joint secretaries, many of them women, who are below the age of 40, and they are in a position to make decisions in the ministries where they have been appointed. The irony is that these people may have to retire very early because of the fixed rules of a person having the right to stay only till certain tenure in office. If they are not promoted in time, they will have to retire, and this could be very costly for the nation which is trying to bring in young faces both in the political field as well as in the bureaucracy.
The same thing could happen again and seasoned bureaucrats could be out in the cold at a very young age. There is no doubt that this would be a loss for the country. This writer remembers the time when the then prime minister in his first stint in office, had shunted aside many veteran bureaucrats and promoted young people to higher posts, where it would have taken some more years to get them there. There were some individuals who would have to wait for several years to just become a joint secretary, but due to the sudden change of policymakers, they became secretaries almost instantly, provided that they had the right political connections and good networking.
This trend made other professionals also to take political sides, which was bad for the country. Bureaucrats must remain bureaucrats, not a cadre of any party! But before we go into this dramatic change in the bureaucracy of the country, let us once more talk of the demand for change in the political leadership of the major parties. Just giving an opportunity to young leaders to contest in the very soon arriving general election is the first daunting task. This will be like breaking the ‘iron gate’ between the old and the young.
Then further daunting is the ability of the young leaders getting the votes from the people, who after all are the main decisionmakers in any democratic election. For this to happen, the whole mindset of the voters has also to change. This is easier said than done. Okay, if the young leaders win, will they be strong enough to get out of the shackles of the old system? This is an important question as these young leaders have also been moulded in the old style of political manoeuvring.
The main change should come in the attitude of the people, not only regarding the older or newer generation of leaders, but specially about the vice that is slowly taking the breath of the nation through corruption. After all, corruption is the main cause for the deteriorating condition of the country. Go to any sector and you will find corruption being cunningly carried out for the personal benefit of a few and for the woe of the ordinary masses. Till now the people have remained quiet and allowed things to run smoothly as their own works are done. In such a stage, how can a new and younger generation do to bring about real change in the country?
So there is no doubt that a change should also come in the outlook of the general people. Forget the politicians and bureaucrats, many of who are best and hardworking people as well, the fight for a corruption-free society, should come from the people themselves. Similarly, the people should also boycott any individual who has earned wealth illegally and not consider them as ‘successful’ in their lives. Yes of course, the legal action should also be punitive so that others are discouraged from indulging in such practices, but here we feel that the action taken against corrupt individuals are also too lenient.
Not that we are asking for a death penalty against such individuals, but the punishment should be strong enough to deter others from going for easy money, just because they are in power. Actually, the abuse of authority here is very alarming, therefore, more power should be given to the Commission for Abuse of Authority (CIAA), so that it can really ‘bite’ the wrong people as it should. Right now this does not seem to be working. For example, the top level officials of no less than the CIAA, themselves have been accused of wrongdoing, who will act against them and also punish them from betraying the trust of the people? So the call for change should come from the people, not by bringing fresh faces only, but by bringing in individuals with fresh ideas and a corruption free society.
This is a hand nut to crack but like we have seen in the change of the whole political scenario in the past, the Nepali people are ready to see similar changes in the days ahead. But again, like we want to see a change in the political leaders, we must be ready to also see basic changes in political corruption and short visions of the old regime. This does not mean that we have to retire the veteran politicians who have contributed so much for democracy in the country, but the challenges for change is one of the most daunting task before the major political parties before we head for another general election in the near future.
(The author is a freelancer.)