Our parliamentarians have decided to shamelessly increase their own pay and perks, to up to double the current levels. After they get elected, it seems, our MPs start believing that they are the law onto themselves.
Last week, we had in this space written about how Nepal’s tourism is still reeling from the aftereffects of last year’s twin disasters: first the earthquakes and then the five months of the border blockade. Hotel booking in the paradise city of Pokhara at this peak season has been around 30 percent, the same as last year.
The government of Pushpa Kamal Dahal has now been in office for two months, which means that it has only around seven more months before Dahal has to make way for Sher Bahadur Deuba, his coalition partner, as prime minister. So Dahal’s government, unless there is some dramatic development, has a short shelf life.
Escalating tensions between India and Pakistan seem to have doomed the SAARC project. The Indian media, both print and broadcast, have been quick to announce the ‘death’ of SAARC following the terrorist attack on Uri of the Indian-administered Kashmir, resulting in the deaths of 18 Indian soldiers.
An air crash, anywhere in Nepal, is big news, for the sheer spectacle of it. There are few things that garner people’s attention more than an air-crash site: the pulverized main body that has been ploughed into the ground, debris everywhere; the mystery of what went wrong up there, the search for the enigmatic black box down here. The few human casualties, as a result, are deeply mourned, and the personal details of the deceased instantly enter public consciousness.
Pokhara is a wonderful place to be this time of the year. With the mercury dipping a notch around Dashain, those who visit the scenic city in Western Nepal can expect a comfortable temperature, even as Kathmandu is starting to get a little too chilly.
The hush-hush manner in which the ruling parties have gone about the task of amending the new constitution has created suspicions among common folks that their top leaders are once again up to no good. Various aspects of the proposed amendments, which are now apparently being discussed among top leaders of major political forces, have come out in popular press.
The two-month stretch starting with Gatasthapana, the first day of Dashain which falls on October 1st this year, is a time of festivities, first with Dashain, soon to be followed by Tihar and Chhat. Businesses around the country witness brisk sells, as people look to stock up on foodstuff, buy new clothes, even new vehicles, or add a new coat of paint on their homes. What people buy, of course, depends on their purchasing power. For some families Dashain might be an opportunity to buy a new car under one of the many eye-catching schemes on offer. For others it might mean an occasion to eat meat, this one time in the entire year.
The title of a World Bank report on Nepal published back in May said it all. The report, titled Remittance at Risk, warned that a potential slowdown in remittance poses “a significant near-term risk to Nepal because of its outsized role in the Nepalese economy”.
Nepal’s foreign policy is in a complete mess. Following last year’s border blockade, relations with India reached perhaps an all-time low. Despite the ouster of the ‘anti-India’ Oli government, Nepal’s most important foreign relation is still strained, as was evident in the controversial joint communiqué issued at the end of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s recent India visit.