Surviving at the mercy of Pashupatinath?Now it’s known that there are other variants, and the first vaccine may not prevent all strains.
Well, here we are in the second wave of the Covid-19 nightmare. Just on May 9, 2021, the government announced they would build an isolation hospital. They’ve also woken up to the fact that oxygen plants would be useful. But it’s been over a year since the pandemic was announced. Bir Hospital meanwhile has empty new beds all ready to go. One would think a thinking government would use the resources it has. The Nepal government’s efforts have been lacklustre at best. Patting themselves on the back for rebuilding temples, which is all well and good; but surely God would understand if his temples waited for a while. After all, God is considered to be is eternal; people aren’t.
Then there’s the situation next door and the Nepal government’s failure to restrict border crossings. Heathrow airport refused permission for more landing rights from Indian airline companies because of Covid-19. So what happened? Scores of Indians crossed the border and flew out to the United Kingdom via Kathmandu. Heathrow must be livid, but as long as the Nepal government won’t control it, what’s to be done?
Does the government have a long-term strategy for survival or is it just so much serendipity? Right now, we are supposedly in lockdown with movement for essential work allowed up to 11 in the morning and between 4 and 7 in the evening. But is this under control? Hardly, if one listens to the noise of traffic between those hours. We’re literally back to Maverick, as Independent Television used to announce about one of its favourite series. Those with clout can always bend the rules, those without can just like it or lump it. What happened to good governance and all being equal before the law?
Another big gaffe is the fact that the government gave permission for 39 teams (or even more) to climb Mt Everest this year. As if a virus can't scale altitude. Once more, it seems that making money means more than Nepali lives. The BBC reported 17 cases were discovered at Everest base camp.
Now, it’s known that there are other variants, and the first vaccine may not prevent all strains. Can the small hospitals cope with it? Shouldn’t our great government have thought of that before opening the floodgates? Now they have halted domestic flights, but that is for what? To protect the great and powerful in Kathmandu and certainly not to benefit the vast hill and mountain hinterland. Next we hear that international flights are halted, but not some selective ones. Does the government have a plan or is it just waiting for Pashupatinath to get us out of the hole? As usual, the non-governmental organisations and international non-governmental organisations are left to pick up the slack, providing free meals for the abandoned and emergency medical aid.
Those in politics are all too busy launching no-confidence motions and playing the usual musical chairs around the prime ministerial seat. It must be entertaining someone, but certainly not the poorest of the poor. The government must step up to the plate. It all cannot be left to volunteer organisations.
The country’s polity is going nowhere. In fact, it has been working like a big self-serving machinery of a set of politically affluent people. They are regulars, and they are known to us. No matter what remains in the store for the masses, they survive and thrive—unlike the common people of Nepal. The ruling and opposition camps are made of the same elements, hence no surprise if Oli retains his chair again and again. Nepal’s potential and realities are poles apart, and people should realise it to decode their existential puzzles.
Something has to happen to pull Nepal out of this quagmire. That something is certainly not a government that says one thing one day and retracts it the next. We cannot even trust the information the government hands down the airwaves. Nepal’s Covid-19 figures are probably much higher than given out. Is this a revival of the old and forgotten Panchayat days? Pashupatinath protect us!