--BY MADAN LAMSAL
People still ask time and again: Why did we go for federalism? To honour the identity of different communities? To ensure representation of all? For all-round development? What is the achievement of federalism, after all?
They simply don’t have the ability to see the benefits brought about by federalism. Let me recall some of these benefits and achievements:
Federalism has established the historicity of the country, has enhanced ethnic identity, has made the provinces understand their power, has devolved the power to the grassroots and has ensured representation of all communities in all sectors. Federalism has granted such a lot of power to those who were downtrodden, marginalised and exploited that they are no more downtrodden, marginalised or exploited. Just turn the pages of the Constitution, it has guaranteed everything from good health, good education, good employment and good identity for everyone.
Now let’s look at the evidence:
To begin with, the leaders were successful to convince the people to take up arms and fight each other in the name of ethnic and communal identity. Many people became ‘martyrs’ in that process and later the government ‘honoured’ them by calling their families ‘the families of martyrs’. And there is a day fixed as holiday in honour of those martyrs. Is that not a big deed?
The same leaders were the advocates of federalism and eventually they won a two-thirds majority and were placed in the centre of power. Then they named the provinces as Lumbini, as Gandaki and as Bagamati. Yes, these same names were used for the former provinces (then known as Anchals or zones). But the previous names were wrong as they were not approved by a two-thirds majority. Now they are perfectly right as they are approved by a two-thirds majority. And this has honoured its historicity. If you call it Lumbini zone, it is regressive. To call Lumbini a province is revolutionary and progressive and gives the sense of being prosperous.
Second, federalism has ensured representation of all the ethnic groups, castes, genders and the like in every sector. And people feared that such representation would promote division. But no, this has promoted harmony. See, all the provinces have males as the chief ministers and even the Federal Ministry for Women’s Welfare has a male minister. This is not a small feat. This is the manifestation of a charming submission by women (by not claiming these posts) and to the women by not burdening the women with too much responsibility.
Have you heard of any street procession by women questioning why there are so few women in the high constitutional positions? Why are they not opposing it? Because the Nepali women have developed a sense of obedience to the men, thanks to federalism. They want the males to take charge. And the men have been constrained to take up this burden.
If you look closely, you can find that the best example in the world in power devolution or decentralisation exists nowhere else but in Nepal, under the federalism. We are a small country but we have nine speakers and chairmen in nine provincial and federal parliaments, 4-5 hundred are MPs or MLAs. And they have innumerable advisors and personal assistants. With such a large troop of servants for the country, there is nothing that can stop the country from surging fast along the road of federal development.
Look at the local levels and the office spaces of their chiefs and ward chairmen. Do they seem to be less in any standard from that of the ministers of England? Roads are yet to be built, but they have already procured high standard cars. You must praise the farsightedness. These cars exist as strong evidence that the roads, too, will be built for sure. To ensure that the roads will be built, the chiefs and ward chairmen of the local levels have already initiated the road building work. They have already purchased dozers with personal investment.
You still may have a question: “So far, so good. But how do we arrange the resources to meet the expenses of federalism?”Don’t worry. The internal revenue of the government may not be sufficient. But there are so many international lenders to help the country out. Repaying the debt is the responsibility of the future generation.
Still, there is nothing to worry about when it comes to arranging the resources internally. The wards have already set up a system to charge thousands of rupees for even a simple recommendation letter or certificate. You have to be ready to bear some costs for the luxury of being a citizen of a federal republic. You may worry that such money you pay will be used up by those in power and those around them. But are they not our own brothers and sisters? So, it is our duty to service their costs.
Therefore, federalism is really a very progressive system that ensures prosperity for all. Those who complain against the federal system are regressive and anti-democratic.
Hurray to federalism!