Running out of patiencePolitical leaders have always exploited the resilience and diligence of the Nepali people
2015 truly was a year of trials and tribulations for the country. But in the face of unprecedented adversity, the resilience and diligence shown by the people of Nepal have been remarkable. The April earthquake and ongoing Indian embargo were a litmus test of diligence and resilience of the Nepali people. When people devastated by the earthquake offered tea to visitors with a smile on their faces, it proved the resilient spirit of the Nepali people. Even now with this ongoing Indian blockade, when people undertake dangerous journeys in crammed buses or offer rides to people in need, it shows their spirit of perseverance.
Nepal’s history can help us understand how Nepalis became so resilient. Apart from the Lichhavi period, which has been marked as a golden period, other regimes only brought troubles and grief for the people. The Shah regime, which ruled the country for 240 years, treated the people only as subjects not as citizens, whereas during the 104 years of Rana oligarchy, common people were treated like slaves. Living under such oppressive regimes cultivated the spirit of perseverance in the hearts of the Nepali people.
After overthrowing the autocratic Rana regime and establishing democracy in 1951, Nepali people had respite for a few years. Again for three decades there was the partyless, dark Panchayat regime, which treated Nepali people merely as subjects. Freedom fighters were jailed and abused brutally in this period. Again people came to the streets demanding the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1990. Many people sacrificed their lives for democracy but political parties and their leaders engaged in horse trading to form and pull down governments thereafter. Corruption and nepotism were rampant during the 1990s.
Taking the benefits of instability and socio-economic differences, the Maoist waged the decade-long civil war in which around 17,000 people lost their lives. Public and private properties were blown away and countless people were displaced. Amidst the politics between the palace, political parties and the Maoists, the lives of the common people were crippled and only a spirit of resilience and diligence helped them to cope.
When the then king Gyanendra overstepped his jurisdiction and became the chairman of the Cabinet himself, the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists got together to fight the autocratic Shah regime. People once again came out on the streets to take part in the second People’s Movement. Nineteen days of agitation successfully restored Parliament. According to the 12-point agreement signed in Delhi, an election to the Constituent Assembly (CA) was also held. Forgetting its past deeds and in a hope of a better future, people voted for the Maoist party, making it the biggest political force. But the government led by Prachanda was short-lived. Due to bickering among political parties, the first CA was dissolved. Once again the seven-decade long dream of the Nepali people to write their own constitution was aborted.
To the Election Commission’s surprise, more people voted in the second CA election and proved that Nepali people were hopeful for the future and resilient in nature. While the constitution writing process was moving at a snail’s speed, Nepal was devastated by the earthquake last year. Even after eight months, quake victims are still languishing in tarpaulin tents in this freezing temperature. And now the entire populace is bearing the brunt of the blockade imposed by India.
Nepali people’s long struggle for peace and prosperity has not been successful; instead the country has been bombarded with problems, one after the other. To survive during times of despair and tribulation, people had no choice but to become resilient. But political leaders have exploited this resilience and diligence of the Nepali people, not realising that one day people’s patience will eventually run out, and they will have to pay a huge price for all their actions and inactions.
Kainee is associated with Global Hope Network International