If you are already aware of the background of the case, skip directly to the third section (“How should we do it”).
News: The Secretary of Finance Ministry, Mr. Rameshwor Khanal walked out of his office yesterday following continuous pressure from his minister (Bharat Mohan Adhikari) and the political parties of the current coalition government. He has reportedly submitted his resignation. For details, refer to yesterday’s BBC Nepali Service and all major papers of today. The Nagarik Daily has a banner headline for this news.
Khanal has been praised as being highly competent, skilled, hard working and a clean bureaucrat. He has served under the governments of all major parties. Last year, the Finance Minister (Surendra Pandey of the previous government) had lobbied for his appointment as the Governor of the Central Bank. Lately, he had committed himself for booking the tax defaulters (amounting to billions), including some big business houses, he had stood against political pressure to slow-down the investigations or to obey some other undue pressures, including (among other issues) the acceptance of the promotion and transfers of many corrupt officials close to the ruling parties. According to reports, he was facing pressure and humiliation from the Finance Minister, Prime Minister, the largest party (UCPNM, and the other party in govt- CPN-UML).
What we should do: It is nice to see good coverage from some leading newspapers in support of the victimized Secretary. A parliamentary committee has also started interrogation. But history tells us that there is a high chance for this case falling through. There will be some noise for some days, and then people will move on. Our habit of resigning into the hands of fate, or passing some moral comments like “sati le saraapeko desh ho,” “yestai ho yeha kehi ramro hudaina,” or “hamile garera k hune ho ra” will continue.
Well, here’s an opportunity to try to change things a bit.
We might be unsuccessful, but we might gain some momentum, create a critical mass of people for some similar incident in the future, or achieve some other nice goals on the way. We should not forget that people coming together on the internet social networks have achieved wonderful things in the recent times (read Middle East, Wikileaks etc). Let’s aim in bringing the Secretary back to his office and creating an environment where he can work independently and in his full capacity. Let’s hope that we’ll succeed in teaching the politicians a lesson and that they do not dare to do similar things in the future.
Let us make this our initial mission for a larger campaign. We can use the lessons and examples from this process in achieving other things of grave concern to our country and people. I have written enough on twitter on why we should do this, examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. We also had a tweetdebate last week on the need for a strong and persistent civil vigilance. This might be the chance for our generation to fix things ourselves.
How should we do it
Here are my proposals:
- Let’s continue to discuss things on social media, including twitter, facebook, blogs, youtube and so on. To make things more concentrated, we might need better planning. We can discuss how to do this in this week’s tweetdebate (Friday 10PM to midnight, see http://tweetdebate.net/ for details).
- Let us create a close knit community of some people who can coordinate and discuss things. On the long run, this community should expand and be more democratic and open, but to start with, lets start with something like 20-30 people, preferably on twitter. I request leading young journalists like @wagle @deepakadk @UjjwalAcharya @svbel and their friends to join hands.
- Let’s call, write and meet as many lawmakers as we can. Let’s make numerous phone calls to thems informing them of our displeasure. Let us demand them to take stands and take actions in the favour of the people. They can raise the issue in the parliament and in their own parties. They can boycott the parliament, they can file for a no-confidence motion against the Finance Minister and so on. In other words, they will use every democratic and parliamentary measure available to them to get the people’s demands fulfilled.
- Let’s get young lawmakers like Gagan Thapa on board too. If we can, let’s get young entrepreneurs, professionals (like lawyers, writers, editors, actors like MaHa jodi etc) and business men aboard. But we have to make sure they don’t use their influences to harm the interest of our community. We’ll support them only if they support us. And we’ll keep records of what they speak and do.
- Let’s start a petition (if possible, offline too) and collect as many signatures as we can, from Nepalese people all over the world. Let’s increase pressure until the government apologizes and promises never to make such mistakes. The Finance Secretary should be back in office, given reward instead of punishment and humiliation- and the finance minister should go (and booked for abuse of authority) if he doesn’t like it.
- If change doesn’t happen immediately, we (some member of the community from the law-profession) can file a case in the court, demand for a compensation and reinstatement of the Secretary.
- All the people in the community will do whatever they can from their respective positions. We will use our personal contacts, networks and influences, get together will other people who can do the same, and use the collective strength to bring positive changes.
Update: We shouldn’t allow our campaign to get out of hand- we shouldn’t endorse demands for resignation of PM or change of govt- that’s not our aim at the moment. Also, we should try to stay as far as possible from activities that make us appear unnecessarily closer to one/few political camps. That discredits our larger aim.