--BY MADAN LAMSAL
No sooner had the Deuba-led government appointed a businessman to the post of Minister of State than the sharp arrows of satire started striking the government from all sides. I then pointed out – “This is a just Minister of State appointment. It's not even a full-fledged minister or even the prime minister. Why so much protest against it?” Some businessmen reacted by saying, “Yes! You spoke our minds!” I replied – “This is not just about what was on your minds but also about money!” I hope I was able to get the message across.
It is part of the very hallmark of Nepali democracy that a person who cannot even go to the office is appointed the Prime Minister, that the country can be run from a hospital bed! Even a person who is physically or mentally sick can become the Health Minister, an illiterate person can become the Education Minister and a land mafia can become the Land Reforms Minister!! The recently-appointed Minister of State for Health and Population is already quite healthy and wealthy – completely fit and fine - and can still contribute to increasing the country’s population if the situation so demands! What’s wrong with his appointment? On top of everything, he has already announced that he will not take up any of the state’s perks and benefits which he is entitled to by virtue of being a minister, except for the government security provided to him!
On our part, we should feel lucky that we have got such a person as the Prime Minister now, for the fifth time, someone who doesn’t speak that much. Actually, there is no need for him to speak, either. The reason is, the outgoing PM has already done enough talking – enough for the next 4-5 PMs to come! As far as work is considered, who's expecting that he will work? Rather, it would be better if he did nothing. Because, the fear, is he could end up doing anything! Everyone has a past. He has one too! We know that very well. Yet again, our country is such that you get prizes when you do nothing and punishment when you try to do something.
The current PM’s predecessor has already created ‘happy Nepalis and a prosperous Nepal’. So, there's no need for him to do anything else. But some people are still saying that there's still no prosperity. Actually, the thing is prosperity exists where there are no people and where there are, well, it doesn’t reach that place. But you cannot flat-out say that the country hasn’t seen any Bikas (development). For example, the unemployed youths who were just 20 years old 30 years ago have now turned 50. What is this, if it's not bikas? The truth is the development of unemployment in the country is so fast-paced that poor bikas itself is unemployed. If you don’t believe me, try asking some Bikas Bahadurs, Bikas Kumars, Bikas Prasads or Bikas Rajs!
Petroleum products and other essentials are getting more expensive day by day. What the general public doesn’t seem to understand is the fact that the government carries out development works through savings and earnings. The government is saving through the unemployed and earning through the rising prices. Because the unemployed cannot spend while the government earns through the rising prices! This is not rocket science but simple economics. However, what is worrying is the fact that petroleum products aren't getting more expensive. How will the government deliver development when its earnings are not increasing?
Government officials say –“The businessmen are evading taxes. Commodities like electricity are being stolen. The theft has to be stopped somehow.” They are right. But the dacoity (robbery), too, has to stop, isn’t that right, hakim saaps? Because more than just plain theft, we have been the victims of looters and gangsters. And in some far-off circles it's said that nobody knows who the robbers and dacoits are better than the hakim saaps and their bosses – the politicians! Because they are the ones who usually remain closest to the robbers and dacoits!
The contribution of agriculture to the national GDP has already come down to 30 percent from 80. Still those of you in government haven’t stopped chanting ‘Nepal is an agricultural country’. The sugarcane farmers frequent the ministries every year, crying and pleading to you to help them get the payments for selling sugarcane to the sugar factories in the country. But ‘assurances’ are all that they get from you every time they visit. This has been the bitter reality for sweet sugarcane in Nepal. Don’t you see all this? They say the government should fear the people in a democracy. But in Nepal, it is just the opposite – the people look scared of the government! Democracy continues to sink deeper and deeper into the abyss of mismanagement while high rises are rising ever higher into the sky.
If we look back at the past two decades, then it becomes clear that among the SAARC countries, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh etc have made great leaps in terms of development. But you hakim saaps say – “There's no need to despair.” Do you mean to say if there were competitions in unemployment and rising prices at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, then Nepal would have bagged golds in the long and high jump versions? Perhaps the lobbying to include them wasn't strong enough at the Olympic Committee, isn’t that right, hakim saaps?
Therefore, let’s get together and hold some serious discussions on what to do next. Otherwise, stop loudly complaining about the country's development. Rather, keep your voices low for the time being. Because our recently appointed Prime Minister is in his honeymoon period! The moment his honeymoon is over, he will definitely get back to work. He has been at the post for five times already now, always being elected PM because of the good job he's done in the past. Is this a joke or what?