Although politics should be a facilitator for progress, it has been the biggest roadblock in Nepal. Without clearing this roadblock, we will have to fight a very tough battle for economic progress. For how long do we have to carry the fear of a new era of dictatorship every few years? Till when do we have to take caution in writing and speaking, because of the fear of some draconian regime starting to crush dissidents? And for how long do we have to tolerate total negligence of business, trade, commerce, education, science and technology because we are supposedly going through “a very important political transition” ?
First things first- we can’t wait forever for “others” to do the work for us. It is time to take politics in our hands and change things.
We started this discussion sometime ago, as a tweetdebate (please read it if you have some time). With recent developments in Nepal, there have been renewed calls for similar campaigns. Examples: these posts by Rabindra Mishra and Ajay Bhadra Khanal.
I propose that it is time for a Leaders-for-Nepal initiative. Election or not, we now need a nationwide network of youths committed to some core political and economic values. We need national institutions like study-centers, think-tanks, archives and research bodies apart from good leaders in all fields of society. Most of our national institutions have been destroyed or weakened by years of political interference and stalemate. We now need to revive them all one by one. This is going to take a lot of time, but if we never start it, it won’t get done.
So, what should the initiative do? Here is a suggested plan, let’s discuss more on this subject if it interests you. Among others, people who were involved in the Entrepreneurs for Nepal initiative (Ashutosh Tiwari, Ujwal Thapa, Sagar Onta) could start L4N as a new campaign in order to improve the state of things in the political front.
- Finalize a list of core political and economical values *,
- Announce a nationwide call for leaders,
- In different districts, cities and villages, organize interview sessions whereby candidates are screened for their understanding of, and commitment to the values and capacity to serve,
- Register a political party,
- Organize funding. Announce call for donations and if there is a provision of national fund for political parties, claim it. Keep all funding information transparent. Declare beforehand the remuneration that will be paid to volunteers. Do not make anyone work for free and compensate everybody’s time and efforts. They can donate back if they don’t need the money,
- Open offices with fixed number of staff and decided mandate,
- Initiate intra-party discussion about different issues and problems, prepare a election manifesto,
- Train the leaders on different issues. Bring experts for trainings and discussions, prepare documents by researching through the issues and publish them,
- Initiate public discussions and hearings, take issues to the people and convince them, accept feedback and improve, re-iterate this process,
- Work together with businessmen, media, writers, artists, rural people, poor people, urban people etc. But understand that it is not possible to be a universally-likeable party. Have to be very clear about what base and what agendas to stand for and not flinch,
- Some agendas for the constitution are below. Please add more in the comments section (apart from what is already discussed in newspapers):
- state funds the national political parties and all other funding information has to be made transparent
- a maximum of two terms for top posts
- companies/offices have to grant a 5-year leave to people who want to contest elections for the parliament
- complete respect to natural rights in daily life, technology (eg: internet rights) and so on.
* examples: unconditional acceptance of standard civil liberties, human rights, democratic and participatory governance, renouncement of violence as a political tool, devolution of power, supremacy of representative body (eg: parliament), transparent and accountable state (in terms of information, funding and expense), respect for property rights, and right to do business, occupation etc., support of private investment, environmental-friendly policies.
Additional Notes: (these notes are added later, please check periodically for more)
1. Advanced democracies have strong institutions that hold the society and the country together and ahead in the path of progress. Merely having leaders who contest elections and then retire would not serve the purpose. Additional structures that continually work behind the scenes to do research, brainstorm, collect data, provide feedback and so on are also required. Such political research bodies help prepare the positions of the party and its leaders and they publish documents that are of lasting value. Strong politics is not possible without a strong research culture. In the political process proposed above, we should also have place for such a structure which will accommodate further leaders of the society in the party.