Sunday, 20 June, 2021
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OPINION

Regaining Lost Credibility



Bhupa P. Dhamala

AT nostalgic moments an intriguing question recurs to my mind “Can we ever make political norms and values as readily acceptable as currency and calendar?” A quick retort would be “probably not”. Yet, there is ample ground to argue that we can make them minimally acceptable if we make relentless effort.
Just as some facts relating to natural phenomena are immutable, so some assumptions relating to social phenomena are also undeniable. Nobody can alter some universal truths: the earth is round; the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; water flows downwards and air goes upwards; an apple drops down when disjointed from a twig of tree; every born person dies someday; two and two make four; two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen constitute water, and myriad more. These immutable facts cannot be denied unless proven otherwise.
Likewise, nobody can avoid the use of language that is commonly used in a particular linguistic community; nobody can avoid a religion followed by the people of that religious community; nobody marries the person born of the same womb; nobody eats human flesh, and countless more. These social norms and values operate spontaneously unless forcibly enacted otherwise. Why, then, can’t we make political norms and values as indisputable as natural rules and as undeniable as social laws? I surmise we can do it but only with difficulty.

Utopian dreams
There may be no denying that contemporary Nepali politics has lost its credibility to the extreme extent. It seems incorrigible, at least for the time being, because leaders are inextricably involved in foul play. It is thus very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify the rotten politics that has fallen into the abyss of apparently perpetual disorder. Any wise Nepali can well understand that the contemporary Nepali political course is derailed for two chief reasons. One is the leaders’ lofty promise of utopian dreams that have never been materialised and are unlikely to ever come true. The other is their Faustian desire for perpetual rule with absolute power. In both cases they have lost their credibility to the utmost level.
NC leader BP Koirala dreamt of Democratic Socialism which can be termed as a utopian juxtaposition of two mutually exclusive systems. No other succeeding leader of his party has been able to satisfactorily explain this dream, let alone materialise it. The pioneer Nepali communist leader Pushpa Lal Shrestha dreamt of the utopia of Naya Janabad (New Democracy), a concept of system which he borrowed from China but none of the subsequent communist leaders is truly following it now. Madan Bhandari dreamt of People’s Multiparty Democracy which some of his contemporary leaders say is no more than reiteration of Socialist Democracy as a political alternative to Scientific Socialism. Prachanda also dreamt of the Democracy of the 21st Century which again has proved nothing more than a new term to mean what Mao Zedong called some seven decades back.
It is essential to understand why the leaders’ goals have never been achieved, if only partially, despite their intermittent efforts. Is it because their blueprints of making the nation as they dreamt has some faults within themselves or is it because the political actors who championed these dreams have turned corrupt meanwhile? It is quite natural that if somebody promises things that are impractical, then they cannot be provided. Likewise, if somebody desires something unachievable, then they cannot be attained. Our leaders said they would make Nepal an earthly paradise with abundance of development, profusion of prosperity, and all pervading happiness but people are left empty handed. This is how utopian dreams have turned into dystopian rendering. This is why leaders have lost their credibility.
Another cause of the leaders’ discredit, and by no means less devastating, is their illimitable desire for power. Astonishingly, any leader is ready to compromise with their ultimate enemy for the sake of power just like Dr. Faustus signed an agreement with the devil to practice necromancy with a strong desire for becoming the most powerful being in the world. So he was granted and so he indulged in gratifying his senses. But the devil tore his soul to pieces at the fixed time to his utter distress. The enemy in the case of our leaders is not the mythical devil but temptation for the pleasure of material life, a dark side of the attribute of a political actor.

Acceptance of truth
The leaders’ failure caused by their ever unachievable utopian dreams is forgivable as it can be easily rectified by disinterested discussions among the party leaders and cadres. But their failure caused by their ulterior motives cannot be undone. It is certain that they will fall into the deep quagmire which they themselves have dug. It is thus advisable that the young leaders of each group and faction have to cultivate fearless acceptance of truth and should immediately disconnect themselves with their political masters who rely on their malpractice. Then they should commence free and fair discussions on the possibilities of their own blueprints on down-to-earth basis, reach the consensus, and go to the people with only the desire for service without self-interest. They should realise they are in no way inferior to the old obsolete leaders.
The next thing that the young leaders have to strictly follow is the ethic of self-discipline which has immense power to alter the world. Many nations around the globe have already changed because their political actors are guided by ethical principles rather than driven by unethical temptation. The young generation leaders should establish political norms and values as guiding principles and strictly follow them allowing no possibility of double standard at any cost. If this is done sincerely, then it will help regain the lost political credibility.

(The author is the chairman of Molung Foundation. bhupadhamala@gmail.com)