Been there, done that
We don't need no revolution for the moment, thank you
After the Arab uprisings that led to the fall of governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, another street uprising is going viral thanks to social media.
The Occupy Wall Street protests that started rather uneventfully in lower Manhattan two months ago has now snowballed into a global movement. Protests have revived earlier protests in Spain, Italy, Britain and even Hong Kong where people discontented with capitalism have poured out into the streets in overwhelming numbers.
What lies at the heart of these protests is the growing disenchantment of the people over their governments which favour the rich and sacrifice the majority for the interests of the few. Perhaps this was long overdue in countries where unbridled capitalism has led to greater inequality with no hope of narrowing the gap.
But trying to extrapolate this to Nepal, and even talk of replicating it here seems at the moment stretching it a bit too far. It's not that there aren't grievances here: the peace process is stuck, constitution drafters have a writer's block, erstwhile revolutionaries instead of liberating the people are at liberty to continue looting and extorting.
We went through two street uprisings, one in 1990 and the next in 2006. The second one ended the war and ended up sweeping away the monarchy. But as far as Nepal is concerned, for the moment at least, it is a case of been there, done that.
Op-ed pundits are full of over-eager praise for the Occupy protests. But as much as we love revolutions, perhaps we are better off working on something that revolutions are supposed to bring: change. There are some inconvenient truths that we may need to address: questions which would have amounted to blasphemy if asked at the time the revolutions were in progress.
Were any of those revolutions really useful in terms of what they strove to deliver? Can we say that the 19 people who died in the April 2006 protests, dozens others who died in the Madhes Movement or the 1990 movement did not die in vain? Was their blood spilt in vain? Did their deaths do anymore than to help one greedy bunch of politicians topple and replace another? Perhaps even more pertinent question to be asked is if 16,000 people needed to die in a bloody war whose only utility now it seems was to propel new war lords to positions of power.
Could the war have been started by starry eyed romantics out of touch with reality and the lessons of history? They decided to experiment with this country for a pseudo-intellectual exercise whose sole aim was to get to power and take the country to Year Zero. Before responding to any call for change and taking to the streets, one may do well to look back at our recent history, and the promises that went unfulfilled.
No one disputes that Nepal was plagued with social injustice, discrimination and exclusion. In the absence of jobs and opportunities it became ripe for the kind of revolution Mao preached. But ultimately the objective conditions for revolution were simply the excuse that politicians used for a shortcut to power, and the people be damned. Those thousands who died, were maimed, the families who lost their earners were all "martyrs", even though they wanted no part in a war fought in their name. we can now ask: all that sorrow and sacrifice for this? We have enough political rights to boast of, at least in paper.
The only revolution we need in Nepal now is an economic one. Let's start with an agrarian revolution. There are thousands of enterprising farmers in this country who can do so much more only if the government takes time off to build irrigation canals, facilitate seed supply and open up markets by building farm roads.
Let's start a nation-building campaign, the ones that helped countries like Japan and South Korea rebuild after wars devastated their lands. The country cannot survive indefinitely in a transitional state hopping between people power uprisings every ten years.
Last edited: 28-Oct-11 12:18 PM