Saturday, March 21, 2009

Student Union Elections - Nepali style

The student unions in colleges all over Nepal have just concluded their elections. Early reports indicate that the uninos affiliated to the United Marxist-Leninist (UML) political party are #1 in the rankings, followed by the unions affiliated to the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Maoists.

The last few days have seen traffic disrupted all over the capital as the student unions campaign and bash each other. This phenomenon is reflected all over the country, of course. Kathmandu is still "Nepal", as the saying goes. A couple of students have died in inter-union clashes. Others have been injured when the police tried to maintain order.

We in Nepal are now quite used to seeing political rallies, violence, traffic disruptions and general mayhem. What is unique about our student unions is that they are clones of the political parties. I wonder if any of them are fighting for concrete benefits for students. Rather, they are echoing the voices of their masters - the political parties. I remember a time, in the early 1970's, when I was running for the executive board of the student union of my local college. I remember well exhorting, in my campaign speech, that students need to look after their own interests instead of trying to become politicians. I lost handily.

The 3rd ranking of the unions affiliated to the Maoists is a promising sign that people (students, at least)realize who and what the Maoists are. Now let us see whether the UML and NC have the ability to capitalize on this. I have my doubts.


Subodh said...

I guess Nepali Congress and UML were out to prove that the CA election where the Maoists won handily was not free and fair. Does this student election prove Nepalese are predominantly democrats? As the saying goes, "Morning shows the day", and so I am terrified that today's student leaders will be tomorrow's national leaders.

Anonymous said...

The Maoist affiliated Students Union becoming third, standing neck-to-neck, to NSU (NC-close) and ANNFSU (UML-close) is an alarming sign. The former panchas, considering themselves nationalists, the madhesis considering themselves the regional power- are nowhere in this contest. (Note- Students close to former Panchas are in Students Union fray since the beginning). Where are they? This is the first instance Maoist affilialed Students' Union took part and could achieved a great success. Now, the Maoist has PLA, YCL, Students Union, so called dalits ( a huge portion of proletariats). Nepal has more than 60 percent poor people- thanks to Nepali Congress' 13 years of rule) where the revolutionaries can grow in a second. It is growing each day, is there anybody to stop this trend?
(personally I believe: Crown as guardian, economic development, plural democracy, genuine decentralization, stringent anti-corruption measures and the blend of nationalism- could be the closest solution or let's have referendum to decide the future course).

Bishal Shah, New York

Bishal Shah

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing out one unique reflection on the various problems besetting the New Nepal. With due respect to the previous comments, I would like to add the following:

1). The student union elections (SUE) is a typical example of lack of democractic structure and governance which is the contributing factor to many a problems in Nepal today.
2). In an intimidating environment, we cannot expect a fair election.
3). The election is a calculating strategy by the Maoists to sustain their position and stronghold in the Country's polity since they know they have lost all the respect from those who believed on them that they would bring in some positive changes.
4). Also to blame are UML and Congress with their missed opportunities to do something good for the country and its people when they had the power.
5). Kingdom of Nepal was a place that provided peaceful coexistence among all ethnicities. If people thought the powerful exploited the powerless or proletariats (Comrades' terminology) then, what about now, are not these same people continuing to be exploited now--so, nothing has changed and actually become worse.
6). India has been successful in its long pursued objective to see a weaker Nepal and one that seeks the Big Brother guidance. Maoists supported by India?? Give me a break. This is a support that is a tainted one as we all know now the hard way.

In name, it is Student Union Election. In practicality, it reflects the political crisis in Nepal, a Nepal torn by vulture who have stakes in the country. Would we ever see a Nepal that embraces true democratic ideals. India has fragmented us by siding with the evils but would it not be great if it could also help us to institute democracy. Thanks.