Even after the sacrifices of more than 15,000 Nepali citizens for the sake of full-fledged democracy that can be free from feudal monarchy, the Nepal government has so far maintained all the feudal mechanisms in the country despite people’s pressures that they should be dismantled and replaced by people-oriented mechanisms. The major forces, previously active under King’s regime and now in the Seven Party Coalition, have not been able to convince the majority of the Nepalis that they will assume a different character even after the Constituent Assembly polls meant to map up a new design of Nepal’s political and socio-economic structures. To this day, the political forces with the claims to make a ‘New Nepal’ have not produced any convincing outlines for state restructuring.
The Nepali society ruled for centuries by feudal ideology and practices is in a difficult position at present since contradictions between the existing ruling classes composed of feudal elites and status-quoist political parties and the progressive political forces seeking tremendous changes in the political and socio-economic structures are likely to sharpen in the days to come. Many fear that these contradictory forces may combat each other in the name of the constituent assembly and facilitate a playground for other undesirable forces.
The most powerful central leaders of the Nepali Congress with landlordly background have been subtly defending monarchy despite their party declaration that they have adopted the policy of democratic republic. Current Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had been advocating for the preservation of monarchy in any form. Due to widespread objections from all change-minded political quarters, he has now ceased to pronounce it; his daughter and a central leader in the party Sujata Koirala has now and then spoken for some sort of monarchy. Since she, too, has been bitterly criticized for her stand in favor of feudal monarchy, she has recently uttered something vague while in India. She said that she cannot speak for monarchy because Nepal’s interim constitution has adopted the path of republic.
However, declarations on paper do not seem to be enough for those who argue for republic in Nepal. Most of the ordinary masses are highly dissatisfied not only with the mafia-friendly attitude of the current government but also with the feudalism-friendly character. For example, not a single measure has been taken by the government to make people feel that the country’s vital security mechanisms have been improved.
Class-based privileges and exploitation are still getting consolidated. Factories still make workers toil for a remuneration not worth for living a life of human dignity. No labor law has been implemented though the government has always hurried to sign in various ILO commitments. Similarly, the government has not taken any initiative to initiate the process of ending the inhuman practice of caste untouchability. Because of this racial discrimination (the UN General Assembly has not yet taken it as a racial issue), almost five million Nepali working class citizens have been deprived of their human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Thus, the unhindered feudal practice like this has clearly indicated that the current Nepal government intends to maintain feudal customs for their selfish ends.
To prove this, there are other facts to state. The Nepal government has not been able to protect its citizens from daily murder crimes, robberies and attacks while it has shown a high degree of concern for the security of feudal bigwigs who own a huge portion of land. For example, it has become a common fact today that the Nepal government has deployed thousands of troops in the Royal Palace for the security of royal members.
Media reports in Kathmandu have recently confirmed that the Nepal government’s religious trust Guthi Sansthan is going to distribute alms worth millions to the about two hundred thousand Indian beggars, who have come to Nepal on the occasion of Hindu Festival Mahashivaratri.
The huge amount of money to be customarily distributed to Indian beggars actually belongs to the Nepalis’ national revenue. From the national revenue, previously the king used to distribute it. Celebrating festivals and following one’s spiritual faiths definitely belongs to human rights. But why the Nepal government has shown its interest in maintaining feudal and monarchial customs in this way is beyond understanding. Squandering people’s money in the name of alms is not a democratic exercise, nor is it a productive idea.
Another evidence for this is the Nepali calendar. Most of the holidays in Nepal are related to Hindu worshipping. As Nepal is a country with absolute poverty at grassroot level, she needs more work and time management. But the government has been working to maintain status quoi, not to transform the degrading situation.
The Mahashivaratri festival is tomorrow (March 6, 2008). It is a Hindu festival when devotees worship Lord Shiva with a belief that they would be done good to. Ascetics and other devotees smoke hashish in the name of God. Ascetics even sell hundreds of cigarette sticks filled with hashish. Thousands Nepali adolescents, youths and foreign tourists gather at the Pashupatinath Temple premises to taste the hashish filled by the hands of ascetics. The Nepal government has not banned the sale and use of hashish within the Pashupatinath Temple premises during the Mahashivaratri day. But the nation’s law has banned it at other times.
However, the Nepalis look optimistic that such self-contradictory practices in democracy will slowly vanish when the actual process of restructuring begins after the constituent assembly polls.