Welcome, PM Prachanda

Welcome, PM Prachanda

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 17 September, 2016

Prime Minister Prachanda of Nepal has spent decades of his life battling for causes dear to him, principally an improvement in the lives of the people of Nepal. The population of Nepal is hard-working and talented, yet they have for long been held back by a feudal administrative system that closely resembles the colonial model. Such a model constricts the citizen and bloats the power of officials, creating multiple blockages in the path of any citizen striving for progress. Nepal is not alone within South Asia in feeling the chill winds of colonial-era practices. In India, a country where the private sector had become almost as large as that of (admittedly devastated) Japan in 1945, steps were taken in the 1950s to smother private enterprise and replace the vacuum thus created with state-owned companies that over time have sucked up hundreds of thousands of crores of taxpayer rupees, distorting the economy and contributing to the fact that in its seventh decade of freedom, this country still has nearly three hundred million citizens who live in conditions worse than seen in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, history books continue to heap praise on the leaders responsible for the perpetuation of poverty, not surprising in view of the state patronage received by so many such “sarkari” historians, who have collectively combined to create a storybook recital of India’s history that often deviates significantly from the truth, shrouded as such recitations are in bias and romanticism. A shared need to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged citizens brings Nepal closer to India. It cannot be ignored that both countries permit the free flow of each other’s population into the other. Several million citizens of Nepal are living and working in India, where they are making significant contributions to both countries. In particular, who dares forget the bravery of the Nepalese soldier, who has so often faced danger with a smile and ensured by his bravery the security of India?

Justice must be done to all, and it is expected that the Prime Minister Prachanda will move rapidly on the constitutional amendments needed to ensure justice to the Madhesi community. Such a step would not only win him the goodwill of India, but millions of voters in his own country. Hopefully, the legislature in Kathmandu will ensure that the amendments needed to bring justice and stability to Nepal will get passed, despite the fact that Prime Minister Prachanda falls short of the 397 votes needed to convert the proposals into settled law. The diplomatic skills of the former leader of the Maoist rebellion against the King of Nepal will be needed in such a task, which needs to be completed before the 2018 elections in the country. India on its part should ensure that significant investments get made in Nepal, especially in hydro-electric power schemes that would benefit both countries. There are several projects that were held up because of the anti-India phobia of the former Prime Minister, K.P. Oli, and these need to be expedited in order for growth to be visible to voters in Nepal. In that country as in India, economic growth is what the citizen seeks, and this is what Prime Minister Prachanda needs to ensure. Being a good friend of several leaders in India, it is certain that the PM of Nepal will have an exceptionally busy schedule in Delhi. We would like to add our voice of welcome to the Prime Minister, who will assuredly meet a kindred spirit in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a special corner in his heart for the lovely land of Nepal and its vibrant people. A warm welcome to a good friend.

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