The year in reviewFor most Nepalis, the year 2016 was spent recovering from the chaos and disaster of 2015: the earthquakes, the protests, the resulting deaths over the new constitution, and the border blockade.
For most Nepalis, the year 2016 was spent recovering from the chaos and disaster of 2015: the earthquakes, the protests, the resulting deaths over the new constitution, and the border blockade.
If 2016 was so much better for the population than 2015, it wasn’t really because of any great development or transformation. Especially after the blockade came to an end, there was no major natural disaster or significant political turmoil. And the relative stability of the period allowed some relatively minor changes that brought a greater level of well-being to the population. A case in point is the reduced load-shedding under the new NEA director Kul Man Ghising.
So 2016 appears positive mostly because 2015 was catastrophic. But considered without reference to any other year, the past year was one of missed opportunities. There were so many things that the state could have done, but it did very little.
To start with, throughout the year of 2016, very little was done politically to address the concerns of the Madhesi parties about the new constitution, and the disagreements over the amendment seem to deepen. As a result, a large section of the population feels alienated from the state. In addition, the impasse over the amendment has made it uncertain whether elections can be held by January 2018, the deadline mentioned in the constitution.
On the reconstruction front, almost two years after the disastrous earthquakes, many survivors are still living in makeshift sheds. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has not yet succeeded in even disbursing the second tranche of funds meant for those who have lost their homes in the earthquakes.
Much of the population now has a sceptical attitude towards the political class. Many now assume the purpose of politics is not, as was once promised, to lead to any great societal transformation, but simply to accumulate wealth and power for small coteries of people within and affiliated to political parties. At most, one can expect to enter into the web of patronage and gain some favours from the powerful. Across the country today, people seek access to political leaders to gain a job, or some favour from the local authority.
But it is good to hope. In 2017, we hope that the political parties will solve the country’s immediate problems, namely resolving political conflicts that continue to affect the constitution’s implementation and intensifying reconstruction measures. In addition, we hope that the state will be able to extricate itself from vested interests and play a greater role in fostering social change and economic transition.