Let’s bring the Finance Secretary back in office

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


25 thoughts on “Let’s bring the Finance Secretary back in office

  1. One more thing we can do is we can open doodle pool and share that link.People around the world can log In and vote against this action of minister. This voting statistics can be pulished some where in the newspaper, online magazines and or this blog itself. This can give idea to those politicians that there are many smart Nepalese poeple around the world who are observing and protesting their actions.

  2. Can we give face to this movement, well one with Guy Fawkes mask will also work. Shall we all with laptop/webcam available take few minutes from our schedule and post a video of why we think finance secretary should be back in his office. I am sure even though we do not have direct reach to the lawmakers and leaders, our friends from media will help us send our consent to necessary and concerned bodies.

  3. @Ankur i like your idea. Could you arrange some channel between video-posters and media-people? Or do you think people should post videos on youtube and share the link somewhere, the people from media can collect those links? I think, a single video with appeal from many people will be be more effective.

    • We already have media people reading this, or we can aware them through twitter, facebook, mail etc. If we have enough videos (atleast 20-30) then media will automatically pick it up , who doesn’t want to add ireport kind of section to their news? and if this works we can get more people for solidarity and avalanche of videos on the topic.

      • Cool, let’s work on the sentence that video-posters have to speak while being recorded. Not more than 10-15 seconds long- many videos of many people saying the same thing will have great impact.

      • नमस्ते मेरो नाम हो। म एक हुँ। म राजनीतिक दवावका कारण अर्थ सचिवले दिनुपरेको राजिनामाको धोर भत्सर्ना गर्दछु। प्रत्येक स्वतन्त्र नागरिक कर्मचारी तथा पेशाकर्मीले निर्वाद रुपमा कसैको करकाप डर धम्की बिना र सुरक्षित ढंगले आफ्नो कार्य सम्पन्न गर्न पाउनुपर्छ।
        अर्थ सचिवको तुरुन्त पुनर्वहाली हुनुपर्छ र सम्बन्धित पक्षले माफ माग्दै यस्तो कार्य नदोहोर्याउने प्रतिबद्दता व्यक्त गर्नुपर्दछ।
        (or something along this line, please bear my spelling mistakes with Nepali words. I hope someone can help correct it)

  4. Everything is unpredictable but some things are even more unpredictable when it is Nepali Politics. What is going to happen next is again unpredictable, seems like we have words to spellbound our etiquette.

    • or, we can propose it to tweetdebate this week? would that be too late? I’d like to start as soon as we get few of us ready. I’d wait for others to comment on this (probably everybody’s enjoying cricket now)

      • Looking at the heat in the parliament today, I think the Secretary will get to be back in office. But that is not enough- it should be established that what was done with him was wrong and will not repeat in the future. This is not about one isolated incident. So, moving ahead with this campaign irrespective of what happens with this case will be a good move- we’ll build a good community, and we can do better, powerful things in the future (if we succeed this time). This incident can be an experiment.

  5. @all : The political leadership of Nepal is below average. Their thinking is only limited to their region ,their family and affilited with big commercial houses only ,as they lack proper education about national and global issues. Our leaders lack education, but by education I here doesn’t mean going to the University and holding a degree only. Having a degree doesn’t mean they are educated. Those leaders are educated who think broadly for their nation and analyze things around them and work for the betterment of the society as whole.

  6. Its time for the masses of this nation to wake upr and think and act rather than just sit down, curse, accuse and blame the leaders and the political parties. Let us all unite, and push the political parties to build a system because till date in Nepal there does not seem to be a system built around the selection process of these politicians which ensures good people surfacing to the top.

    But unfortunately, on the contrary it’s usually the corrupt, visionless, lackluster, and communal politicians who surface to the top. And as a result of the fragile foundation laid by them and examples set by them, Nepalese democracy has distorted. This is a recipe for social as well as economic collapse. We didnt need such leaders who think मै मात्र ठुलो भन्ने .but ultimately they dont know anything .
    We all are to blame in one way or the other. It was us, who elected them as our leaders and these leaders are from our society too. Nonetheless, I blame us, the urban folks much more than the rural peoples. Majority of the urban, educated and independent people of this nation do not even bother to vote and majority of those who do bother to vote are the people who are struggling for their existence. Hence, I am a firm believer in the concept of “people deserve the leaders they get” and we deserve what we have.I am not satisfied with the traditional Nepali media also ,seems they represent political parties in mEdia.They do not give us platform, they do not give us space if anyone is willing to write on BIG issues.So we all deserve this !

  7. I appreciate the step you have taken, and I am with you! But, talking in general, we are still hitting the tortoise from outside its shell. Like Sushil said, I doubt if these steps will move any pieces anywhere, its worth trying though. It is a system perfectionised by ALL the political parties over decades and spraying any amount of water on its surface wont even soak a bit. In Khanal’s case, now that he has been pulled back, he will be tried and played internally. I wish we could do something to protect the likes of him from the inside, not posting messages from outside. There are tons of messages, news and videos going out to them, they just shrugg it off. There’s should be something …. lets keep discussing !

  8. Ushaft – It’s a good start and thanks for bringing the topics. I am not going to blame anyone, the main reason for Nepal for having “the failure” is not because we don’t have laws and orders….we do! However we were not able to uphold it. It’s not only politicians its public as well. At a minimum we should discourage misuse of power. There’s a responsibility for all of us. We have to be honest with our profession.
    When I read such news, feel sad.. And I don’t find a place where I can share my “honest” comments. Well you did a good job by allowing people who are scattered in different part of the world now can share their views. And if possible need to reach to as many Nepalese and those who love Nepal as possible and bring the topics that everyone of us should be aware of, share views and information that matter most.

  9. I think this shows the politico-businessmen nexus and how brazen the politicians are in terms of manipulating the laws. It isn’t for nothing that the parties have nominated Chaudharys, Khetans in CA. It’s a deep rooted malady and the Khanal issue is just a tip of the iceberg.

  10. yes. if not not now, then when ?
    unless we do it, who will ?
    isn’t this about our future, or some one elses?

    Include me in,
    How can I help ?

  11. I request the media person , please give us the space/column on your paper ,seems there are many unwanted/surfacely written issues on Nepalese media.We want to write abut our social ,economic and other issues of OUR MOTHERLAND.Anyone listening ???

  12. All those ideas expressed here are good ones. Only a few reservations – 1. our lawmakers are more inclined to party interest than the truth 2. new media despite so many people using them have a low impact.

    I have one more suggestion for a thing that we all can do with some impact – using mainstream media. As a journalist, right now, I only see that the best way to do that right now is writing letters to editors – lots of them. Maybe we can start having people onboard (having mailing list or something like that) for ‘Write Letters to Editors Campaign’ so that we could have quicker response in future.

  13. Pingback: April 1, 2011| #tweetdebate
  14. Pingback: How (not) to build a community « Ushaft's Blog
  15. Pingback: Nepal: Frustrated Undercurrents · Global Voices

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