It is not a crime nor is it a virtue to be born with a pointed nose. Likewise, it is neither a curse nor attraction to be born with a flat nose. When a Nepali hums a tune, he does not select only one that was put to music by one from his own caste or tribe. It might be a melody given to us by Ambar Gurung or Aruna Lama. Bhupi Serchan is no more, but his poetry is still alive in the minds of countless Nepalis. The Tarai has countless stalwart Nepalis. Just because Harka Gurung´s nose is shaped differently from my Bahun´s nose, why should I be prevented from taking pride as a Nepali in his erudition and learning? Nepal is not a country of Bahuns, nor of Chhetris or Thakuris. Nor can this Nepal be divided into a Mongol Nation, a Limbuan or a Magaraat. True, there once were a Liglig, a Gorkha, a Lamjung and a Tanahun. But that is history. The past. If yesterday´s reality has not survived till-today, it cannot be revived tomorrow. In the future lies an “improved Nepal”, which should be the common property of all.
Today, there are all kinds of political forces at play here. Gajendra Narayan Singh of the Sadhbhavana Party warns of domination of the Tarai-basis. Gopal Gurung of the Mongol National Organisation, M.S.Thapa and Goray , Bahadur Khapangi of the Jana Mukti Morcha,rail against Bahun-Chhetri domination of the hill tribal. Certainly, these are not “main-stream” politi-cians, and much of they espouse is negative and ultimately antidevelopment. But you cannot ignore them. Rather than relegate them to a corner, we must sift through their demands and search for positive elements. Otherwise, we go the way of the countries of South Asia which did not heed the danger signals in time.
If Goray Bahadur Khapangi has the abilities to serve as Prime Minister, I have no problem with that. If he wants to be a leader of the Magars, I have nothing to say. It is communalism of the meanest kind to think that Bir Nembang cannot be a leader of Bahuns just because his nose is flat. Nepal was not created only by Prithvi Narayan´s decree. Nepalis of all caste, creed and ethnicity have played a role. So if hill ethnics or Tar&i-waltas say they have too little say in governance or in administration, how can we ignore them? It will no longer .do to sing paeans to the glory of the Gorkhali conquest. We must strive to provide an all-encompassing environment in which the Gurung, Magar, Rai, Limbu, Tharu, Bahun, Chhetri, Newar, Muslim and all the Tarai peoples will feel equally Nepali. And if the Stats hesitates, the people will try to grab their rights for themselves.
An occassion had presented itself to address the dissatisfaction among the hill tribal and Tarai leadership —but the Government let it pass. If only the process leading up to the local elections (in late May) had been tackled properly, we might have been going somewhere. The Government should have been daring enough to give autonomy to the local elected bodies. Instead, it dragged its feet and wasted an opportunity.
District, town and village level organisations are the ones to ensure equity and decentralised development. With autonomy and control over resources, they would have developed as the foundations of democracy. Why, after all! does a tiny developing country like Nepal need a huge centralised structure of government? Why tend and feed this white elephant? Strong, autonomous, .elected bodies at the local level would actually make the center stronger. And in no other way can that old dictum, unity in diversity, come true for Nepal.
So the opportunity came and went without politicos and parliamentarians on both sides of the bench showing too much concern. The Government rushed the legislation on local government through Parliament towards the fag end of its session and prevented debate from taking place. What it has done, and the ostrich-like attitude of the intelligentsia, will only delay genuine social and economic progress in Nepal.