Modes of resistance in NepalDr Govinda KC raises his voice to better the medical sector, something the political leaders themselves should have attempted to sort out.
On the 26th day of Dr Govinda KC's 19th fast-unto-death demanding medical reforms, a dialogue between the government’s and Dr KC’s talk panels was underway. Doctors from all over the country are agitating to save Dr KC’s life and urging the concerned to fulfil his demands. Dr KC has carved out a history of his own mode of resistance. Those who make disparaging remarks about him forget that he has already made great achievements during these years. He will always be remembered for the Nepali resistance movement that uses satyagraha as the modus operandi. KC has been able to bring about a number of medical and healthcare management reforms. He is fighting for the fulfilment of the rest of the few demands agreed in the earlier agreements.
It is interesting to see that KC occupies an important space as a social campaigner in the history of the democratic and now republican Nepal. Political parties are now reported to be fighting for power. And those who are at the helm of affairs are criticised for succumbing to the traps set up by the compradors. I do not want to go into this big subject, nor do I have the time to dwell on the outcome of the ongoing dialogues. But here I want to problematise a theme about the various modes of resistance, especially those we have experienced in recent history.
These different modes of resistance have broadly two dimensions—political and civic. In Nepal, the political modes of resistance were, and still are, led by the communist or socialist parties—the erstwhile UML, the Maoists, the Nepali Congress, the unified Nepal Communist Party, among other. The patterns of action for political parties are broadly two-dimensional. They organise around some principles or ideology and carve out their plans on the basis of those principles.
Naturally, we come across terms such as the amelioration of the poor farmers, workers and the disenfranchised people in the lingo of the Nepali communist and the Congress parties. The parties use their principles as the models of resistance. In the later history of Nepal, communists used arms for a decade, then catapulted the entire model into a peaceful resistance by convincing the mass to rise against the institution of monarchy. All the political parties transformed their methods of resistance into various modes of peaceful electoral politics resulting in the promulgation of the first republican constitution of Nepal on September 20, 2015. Those who feel that the constitution has not addressed their problems promise to continue their peaceful resistance.
But Govinda KC's minuscule peaceful resistance that started demanding medical reforms in Nepal from 2012, even before the promulgation of the constitution, continues to be the sole non-violent movement as a force to reckon with in transitional Nepal even today. The most important feature of KC's resistance is that it was launched at a time in contemporary history when the political parties were seeking various ways of consolidating their power or vying to come to power through elections.
That KC's movement spans the most important transitional phase of Nepali politics can be seen in who came to address his demands or which party or whose government was in power. We have to realise that the doctor’s non-violent Gandhian method is the other mode of the movement of civic nature in Nepal. It is a matter of historical coincidence that most major politicians or government leaders of Nepal since 2012 have negotiated with Dr KC. That includes Baburam Bhattarai (twice), Khil Raj Regmi (twice), Sushil Koirala (thrice), KP Oli (in 2016 and now), Pushpa Kamal Dahal (twice), and Sher Bahadur Deuba (four times).
Ironically, this frail medico is asking the leaders of this new democratic Nepal to address issues like the common people's approach to medical education and reforms in its management, which should have been the leaders’ concern to begin with. These government leaders all have good intentions, surely, but it is an irony of an intriguing nature that they should act by treating this insider with a sense of alterity, philosophically speaking. In other words, Dr KC is treated as the other, which is a travesty.
I do not want to be ambitious about theorising this phenomenon. But what can be said is that all these politicians and leaders look at Dr KC with a sense of respect. They also know that his is the voice of socialism, equality and justice. Then what is the problem here? Questions have been raised about the role that the compradors have played in the domain of medical education in Nepal. That is a subject of investigation. But what is true is that one who is using satyagraha as a weapon to campaign for equality in medical education and its good management is the voice of the changed political times for which the same politicians have worked very hard. And the government leaders and politicians should confess in good spirit that they too are the leaders of the changed political times.
But the treatment of this medico with a sense of indifference is an unnecessary and uncalled for development. That should be immediately realised and corrected. Nobody loses by fulfilling this doctor's demands. But we should be fair to the governments and their leaders for the several agreements they have made with Dr KC and have implemented them. Now it is a question of sorting out the rest of the agreements that were sidelined when the bill was passed. Just address them for everybody's benefit, and strike a deal with this doctor.
If a constant tension between the social campaigners and the leaders of democratic Nepal continues to become an issue of conflict, we should realise that we have not been serious enough to address some of the outstanding problems. In the final analysis, the forces of resistance in a democratic society, though they follow different modus operandi, are working towards meeting the same goals; the time is never late for that.
The times of fighting with Covid-19 are very challenging and hard for all us. Everybody should realise that the mechanism of state power and the strength of the people should create a common force to fight with that. Fulfilling Dr KC's demands is a prelude to that campaign.
What do you think?
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