To show its centrality in state affairs, the bureaucracy is often referred to as permanent government. Even when there is no plenipotentiary executive—as was the case in Nepal after the demise of the first Constituent Assembly—the bureaucracy ensures smooth day-to-day governance. But ‘permanent government’ has not always been used in the Nepali context as a term of merit. The marginalized communities rather use it to indicate how certain caste elites have permanently hijacked Nepal’s bureaucracy and made it next to impossible for representatives from these communities to rise through its ranks. We need only look at the names of the 18 joint secretaries who were recommended for the five vacant posts of secretaries last week. There is one Madheshi among the 18, and absolutely zero janajati or dalit representation; nor is there a single woman. No wonder the Nepali bureaucracy is accused of being completely in hock to the male Brahmin and Chhetri leaders who control all our major parties. For not only is the Nepali bureaucracy exclusionary, it is also thoroughly corrupt and under total control of the executive.
Despite the prevalent gloom and continued political uncertainty, Nepal’s economy showed some unusual signs of life in the last fiscal year. It was a point the Finance Minister made with a flourish as he unveiled the new budget.
Nepal’s economy, measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew by 5.2 percent in real terms in 2013-2014 relative to the previous year—the sharpest annual increase since the 5.8 percent growth recorded in 2007-08.
It has been almost eight years since the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the CPN (Maoist) and the then government of Nepal. Eight years is a reasonably long time within which Nepal could make considerable progress in implementing most of the provisions of the CPA. However, Nepal is still struggling to make its peace process reach its logical conclusion and shorten the political transition. This article attempts to provide a holistic analysis of flaws in Nepal’s peace process and some possible solutions.
Multiple factors are responsible for the delay in CPA implementation. End of consensus politics, power struggle, and changes in power equations among political parties after the election of Constituent Assembly I, unwanted external interventions, emergence and proliferation of new interest groups, and the loss of civil society momentum as a strong watchdog of the peace processes are major factors.
Abdul Rahman, arrested for posting comments against police officials on Facebook recently, has been cleared of all charges by a court ruling but his arrest has caused alarm among Nepalis about the content they post in social networking sites. Arrested in Saptari district for allegedly posting ‘baseless’ comments against the police, Rahman had to spend 19 days in detention on charge of cyber crime. He was accused of violating Section 47 of Electronic Transaction Act (ETA) 2008 which prohibits publishing or displaying of contents on electronic media that may be contrary to public morality or decent behavior or any types of materials which may spread hate or jealousy against anyone or which may jeopardize the harmonious relations among the people of various castes, tribes and communities.
Rahman had questioned the law enforcement agencies about the security situation in Saptari stating that his friend had to pay Rs 50,000 to get back a stolen motorbike. He made this comment in a post where he was tagged by his journalist friend. The post, which was tagged to many users, including Facebook page of Saptari District Police Office (DPO), was about a newspaper article mentioning the improved security situation of the district.
The hush-hush manner in which the bilateral energy cooperation proposal has been pushed once again raises suspicions on India’s intent. It also suggests that all’s not well with the coalition government, with one coalition partner supposedly in the dark about the activities of the other. As yet no one has come up with a credible explanation of why the proposal had to be kept under wraps since it was first proposed by India in early May. The Indian Embassy on Sunday clarified that the proposal does not, in any way, constrain Nepal’s sovereign authority over the development of hydroelectricity in Nepal. But the leaks from Energy Ministry suggest there is a provision whereby Nepal won’t be able to develop any major hydro project without India’s nod. The leaks might not be entirely credible. But that is beside the point. The people would not have had to rely on such leaks if the two sides to the proposal were more forthcoming. The Indian Embassy has clarified that what has been proposed is merely a draft and the nitty-gritty is yet to be hammered out. That does not help either, for the question is of the proposal’s intent, rather than its eventual outcome.