The following was posted in this blog a year ago, on 1 May 2009. The despair in the piece, I believe, is multiplied ten-fold now, a year since then.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
MAY DAY!! MAY DAY!!
This morning's (1 May) Kathmandu Post (not the other Indian-controlled daily) puts it succinctly: The Thauus have shut down the Terai (20 districts) for 9 days; essential commodities are in short supply; prices have soared; the queues at the petrol stations in Kathmandu are serpentine; there are daily strikes; and insecurity is rife.
Yet the Neros in our government fiddle on. The Maoists want to, if necessary, unilaterally sack the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Katwal. The Nepali Congress (NC), as the main opposition party, is adamantly against it, and for once is showing some mettle. The UML, which is neither Marxist-Leninist nor united, has come up with a brainless formula - sack Katwal, his number two Khadka (who is trying to be COAS by kissing the Maoists' you-know-what), as well as the Defense Minister Gurung, a top Maoist. NC opposes this. The Maoists, naturally, don't want Gurung removed.
This melodrama is being played out at the expense of the Nepali people who made the Maoists the largest party in the Constituent Assembly. The title of this piece is not a celebration of May 1. Rather, it is the call sign for air crafts and ships in distress. This country is in distress, without a shadow of doubt. While the daily lives of its people deteriorate, the government is engrossed in political shenanigans.
Today we are supposed to celebrate workers' rights. The only workers who have rights in this country are those belonging to the Maoist-affiliated unions. The rest remain as they were - in the morass of feudal, nepotistic constraints. More than half a million Nepalis are working abroad. How they must be celebrating their rights as Nepali workers today!
And while we may shout "May Day" at the top of our voices, asking for help, let there be no misconceptions. The only help can come from we ourselves. Donors, international organizations, and our giant neighbours look promising as aid-givers. Let us not live in a fool's paradise. Millions, even billions, of donor dollars may pour into Nepal; but as long as those dollars line the pockets of a corrupt government and further bolster the dominance of the economic elite, nothing will change.
So, "MAY DAY!"