Is the Maoists' vision Nepal's future?
Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and the ruling coalition, including Maoist leader Prachanda, agreed in a meeting on Thursday that elections will be held in November to select an assembly that will be responsible for writing the country's new constitution. Press reports suggest this decision will bring peace and stability to Nepal, but there is little evidence to support such optimism.
Last week the Maoists succeeded in forcing the government to provide money as well as free food and accommodation to their soldiers while they are staying in cantonments to prevent them from further fighting.
And last Friday, as U.S. Ambassador James F. Moriarty was leaving a refugee camp in Jhapa district, his car was attacked by members of the Maoist-linked Young Communist League, who waved black flags, chanted slogans and pelted his car with stones. Luckily, he wasn't hurt.
The attack was the Maoists' response to Moriarty's remarks that the United States cannot accept them as a political player in the Nepali government due to their long history of violence. Rather than refuting his position, their action only confirmed the wisdom of the ambassador's stance.
Nepal is like a kite flying in the sky without anyone holding the string, at the mercy of events. No one is moving the country in a clear direction with a sense of vision. Only the Maoists are grabbing at the string with a clear idea of what they want -- the abolition of the monarchy and power for themselves.
Nepal's leaders -- including rightists, leftists, royalists and communists -- have proved unable to unite among themselves or to address the problem of Maoist violence over the past 10 years. It is time for clear lines to be drawn, and for everyone concerned with Nepal's future to take action and stop wasting time in rhetoric. If the current efforts at dialogue can halt the violence, intimidation and extortion, even temporarily, even this would be welcomed by the Nepali people.
On the other hand, many people are expecting yet a stronger show of muscle from the Maoists -- whether represented by the YCL, the trade unions, the ethnic Mukti Morchas (liberation fronts) or the student organizations. Some people are waiting for the Maoists to begin agitating in the Cabinet, in the legislature and in the streets, and for the uprising in the southern Terai plains to become more serious.
Desperate people welcome new ideologies, so it is not surprising that many people in Nepal welcome the Maoists to power. Initially, they may fare well with the Maoists' plans for land redistribution and job creation. There may be an end to starvation and jobs for all who want them. However, there the dream ends.
To develop economically, Nepal must build an infrastructure that includes educational institutions, an electrical power system, communications systems, adequate water supplies and efficient transportation. These take time and money. Where is the money to come from?
Under communism, the intellectual and manual efforts of the people are tapped to benefit the community, not the innovator. The creation of jobs for everyone will cause labor costs to escalate, making prices uncompetitive in world markets. If Nepal's economy is not competitive it will be unable to import goods and services in sufficient quantities. The result will be continued poverty for the people. This pattern has been demonstrated in failed communist states around the world, most of which have now abandoned this ideology.
Eventually the general population will become so dissatisfied that a group of counterrevolutionaries will arise to oust the Maoists. The people will be no better off than before, except for the Communist Party functionaries who have been able to line their own pockets. Is this the future Nepal is heading for?
This article was originally published by United Press International
Asia. Journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup is specialising in
in-depth reporting and writing on Peace, Anti War, Women, Terrorism,
Democracy, and Development. Some of her publications are: Empowerment
in South Asia, Nepal (Booklet). Prevention of trafficking in women
through media,(Book) Efforts to Prevent Trafficking in for Media
Activism (Media research). Two Stories collections. Her interests
include international conflict resolution, cross-cultural
communication, philosophy, feminism, political, socio-economic and
literature. Her current plans are to move on to humanitarian work in
conflict areas in the near future. She also is experienced in
organizational and community development.