BP, in his Atmavritanta, rates the Kathmandu intellectuals very low. They are, according to him, 'making hue and cry over senseless issues, creating problems where there are none and hardly of any help for the cause.' He was talking about the Kathmandu society of the late forties. But his observation is as true today when it comes to what the neo-elites of the valley have to offer.
At a time when national politics has disappointed us badly, once again, how the intelligentsia has behaved should be of great concern. Caught in a pitiful yet laughable quagmire of power struggles and backstabbing, the course taken by our first parliament after the promulgation of the constitution is unfortunate. Hopes of stable government, connected to the future of 30 million people, have been washed away. But the intellectuals are either in deep slumber or deeply invested in the power equation already to even have an iota of critical and independent outlook.
Who is shaping opinions today in Nepal for the future? And, how are they behaving? These are important questions. Of course, times are different than in the forties, and the privilege that comes with access to even basic information about state and politics is no more exclusive to the intellectuals. But away from the cheap click-bait pop feeds in YouTube and social media, a large section of the society still looks up to the intelligentsia to make sense of things. And these elite Kathmandu intellectuals, sadly, are way off the mark when it comes to sensing the pulse of our society and identifying its real problems. Even the newer generation is already showing disappointing symptoms.
Recently, a young activist called leaders like KP Oli and Sher Bahadur Deuba lwade 'ल्वाँदे'. She wrote in her social media post: 'Who is a ल्वाँदे? The entitled mediocre men who take the space and power way bigger than their share. Ambition not fueled by purpose but unbounded greed. Their rise not powered by competence but a total lack of self-awareness. And they do rise, in a country such as Nepal, as our whole system of power has been mediocre, entitled men puffing up other mediocre entitled men. This lineup of clueless ल्वाँदेs would have looked hilarious had it not been so tragic and dangerous. Thus the need to identify these dangerous ल्वाँदेs.'
The language and the intonation suggests the mindset of a frustrated youth. But Dovan Rai is not just any frustrated youth from the streets. She is a PhD in Computer Science from the US, and is actively involved in public discourse, ironically, as a political expert.
Rai is a representative of a new breed of young and sad to say—'entitled'—youth in the public discourse who not only display a lack of understanding of the complex Nepali society and politics, but also have no penchant for learning about it. They do not want to learn about the layered power equations at different levels that form the superstructure of our society, nor do they even consider it important to travel their own nation, outside Kathmandu, to make sense of the politics at the top. They can simply make tall claims with a sense of entitlement that emanates from their 'western degree'. Craving for a sanitized 'meritocracy' of their own preference, rooted in their basic western orientation, they forget that to complain without a commitment to fight for the change that's needed in our society and politics, borders hypocrisy.
Anyone with a basic understanding of politics in our society would know that the politicians who have managed to rise in power are not stupid. But, by calling names that suggest that our society, and politics in general, rewards stupid people, youths like Rai can walk away with a sense of gratification without doing much to change the reality. The reality is grimmer. The politics is in control of shrewd manipulators who are not 'Lwade' or stupid, but masterminds of the political game. Accepting that they are what they are also adds an onus on the avant-garde youth of the society to build an army to fight against them. But such denial is the easier option that these privileged youths have fallen for.
The comfort of collective negligence, and easy complaining without a deep commitment to fight for justice is being taken as an easy route by many talented, privileged, and capable young intellectuals in Nepal. Sadly, the leaders who are at the forefront of the fight for establishing an alternative to the criminal gangs that are misruling the country today are equally naive. They believe a sense of entitled puritan moral pitch will be enough to wrestle power from these established politicians. What BP said about the Kathmandu of the forties still holds.