Without convincing answers from the United Nations on the recent controversy to its well-wishers like me and other people of Nepal, the presumption of innocence accorded to the global body cannot hold for very long.
I appreciate the goodwill of foreign missions in Nepal, including the UN and would like to whole hardheartedly thank them for the good work they are doing. It is with the hope of making them aware of the public perception they are engendering that I sat down to spend some of my time in writing this post. I hope this is received as a positive criticism of some of their works, and not a grossly generalized attack on all of their activities.
We are used to seeing China or Russia doing all they can to prevent discussion in the UN about their human rights records. This applies to many other countries like the USA and Israel, and involving different other issues too. Despite not having a veto power in the UNSC, India also frequently lobbies to stop similar discussion in international forums like the UN, especially about caste-issues, Dalit rights and Kashmir. It terms them as “internal issues” and fears that internationalizing them would invite players of all sorts to meddle in the social, cultural and political sphere.
Unlike many other countries, because of remaining free, we could not learn the harsh realities of colonization. On a psychological level, it left us wanting of the few benefits of such a possibility, like railways, administration, English education or a greater exchange and mobility with the Europeans. While the formation and independence of this country can be attributed to the prudence of its past rulers about regional realities and the tricks/skills of colonizers, some of our wanting is being fulfilled today precisely because of our disregard to those very principles that helped build our nation. Some such wanting are coming true in the form of a molotov cocktail bottled in inflammable policy recommendations and sealed with aid. The failure to learn even from our immediate neighbors on why our social problems are best kept away from hands known to break whatever unfamiliar societies they lay on has left us in a situation where trying to do what Kul Chandra Gautam, a former senior UN official, terms as the most predictable and likely course of action, has been made an excuse to attack different tenets of our society.
The subject of this discussion is a policy document (UNDAF) drafted by the UN and revised by the Government of Nepal (GoN). Not happy with the various phrases used by the UN, the GoN suggested some changes. The UN chose to express its dissatisfaction and leak the details of the document through a commenter, who is known as an active promoter of Nepal’s ruling ultra-left political force. The easiest and surest method of demonizing anyone who disagrees with this ruling coalition in Nepal these days is a highly generalized and racist accusation (Hill-people, Hindu elites, elites, Brahmin-Chhetris, Khas oppressors, etc.) repeated so often that it is on the way of becoming a part of normal discourse. On the internet and the press, it was done again, this time to blame some “bureaucrats” who allegedly suggested changes to the UN document.
Despite the elimination of effective criticism and diversity in opinion by demonizing any disagreeing individual has succeeded in creating an obstruction-free path for the ones who designed it, some people indeed tried to point out the flaw in their arguments, albeit in a tone that is clearly pursuant of avoiding being seen as discomforting.
I want to bring to attention three points that have not been covered elsewhere:
- First, as this interview of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Vice Chairman Deependra Bahadur Chhetri (on BBC Nepali service, 22nd Aug 2012) reveals, the changes were fully endorsed by the government. Mr. Chhetri is a known leftist and he was politically appointed to the post by the Prime Minister. This not only renders the blame on “Bahuns (aka Brahmins)” or even “bureaucrats” useless, but also raises a question of whether the blame was done in purpose so as to support the series of hate-campaign on certain communities and cultures (Hill Brahmin, Khas) that has been launched in recent years.
As Mr. Chhetri states, the GoN has done quite a lot towards addressing the concerns of minorities in Nepal. I do not understand how the same number of people can be without citizenship every 5 years (election?) because just before the previous election, a lot of people were provided citizenship certificate under a special clause, and a few years before that too. Nepal’s electoral process and parliament is one of the most diverse in the world in terms of the represented minorities. The government has also enacted several laws since more than a decade ago to reserve seats in government positions for people from different communities. Some of these measures were taken before the issues were hijacked by the ultra-leftist forces.
Second, the UN Resident Coordinator, while tweeting from an official UN twitter handle (@UN_Nepal), actively promotes views and newspaper articles from the radical leftist writers. Whether it is just co-incidence or if is also a participant of this smear campaign and one-sided propaganda is beyond the knowledge of this meek blogger. I also do not know if my attempt to bring to his notice an article from a different viewpoint and opposing the ongoing campaign was well received. The Kul Chandra Gautam article linked above certainly represents a different opinion on the subject, but the official twitter handle of UN’s Nepal mission seems not to be interested in it.
The UN has in the past received a benefit of doubt during what many term as it’s espousing of the Nepal’s radical left in the form of being a silent spectator during the latter’s infamous inflating of their fighting force, violation of the terms and conditions of weapons-management and peace agreement and the use of violence for different political goals. The UN has also supported the ultras’ agendas in social-political issues by both choosing to ignore the excesses and toeing them.
Third, is it time for Nepal to initiate a critical discussion on whether our psychological need for friendly mixing with interventionist forces and organizations is bearing its intended fruits? Without convincing answers from the United Nations on the recent controversy to its well-wishers like me and other people of Nepal, the presumption of innocence accorded to the global body cannot hold for very long. Is it time for us to analyze why our neighbors and other countries who have learned it the hard way have been doing what they’ve been doing? By belonging to comparable social-geological environment, can theirs’ be a model we could take some inspiration from?
It could be for these very reasons that India and China were warning us against our more-than-eager invitation of international mediation of the peace process. Not many countries have survived such a decision.
Please hold on a second before using your flawed reasoning to label me as enemy of Dalit rights- I am a strong supporter of freedom for all people, including the marginalized ones, minorities, and dissidents.