Every now and then, our political leaders, civil servants, policymakers and planners fly to near and far-off shores with different agendas.
Chances are that if our political leaders are not smearing each other, they are on foreign trips. For one thing, our leaders are always in dire need of medical treatment of all sorts.
Is it the result of having to fight too long and hard for democracy, human rights, secularism, federalism and what not?
Does it not mean that time has come for the old guard to retire instead of burning themselves out? Anyways, what significant gains has their supposed hard work over the decades brought to the country? Are we doing better in facets of national life like the rule of law, national security, good governance, living standards, corruption control and financial health?
Is there more to it than meets the eye when it comes to these engagements?
Who would know? Medical professionals? Political pundits? Astrologers, perhaps?
The VIPs and VVIPs of this country will always get numerous opportunities to go abroad for state-funded medical treatment.
But what about the members of the general public? At private medical facilities, services cost a small fortune. This means the people in general have to rely on a public health system not in the pink of health. Even treatment at public health facilities does not come cheap. An ‘ancient’ joke telling how those lacking money end up exiting Bir Hospital through a labyrinth without getting treatment is but a mild satire on our public health system.
Families going broke in the course of treatment of ailing member/s has become a regular affair.
Appeals for funds for medical treatment of kith and kin along the clogged arteries of our metropolises, through mass and social media have started sounding like a cry in the wilderness.
Even after a series of epoch-making changes over the decades, a reliable public health system for treating hearts, limbs, brains, stiff backs and a myriad other aching/ailing parts is lacking. Isn't it a pity?
Back to the foreign trips of our leaders and others in positions of power.
Medical treatment is but a ruse, members of the public feel, and they start speculating about the hidden agendas of impromptu visits, guessing whether this country will lose more pounds of flesh after such a trip.
This is because important agendas are almost always under wraps in our high-level bilateral, multilateral and international engagements. Details of secretive engagements and the prices attached with them coming to light decades later come as a rude shock for successive generations.
At our bilateral engagements in particular, notetakers are always missing. Occasional pictures of our leaders engaged in important discussions taking notes on loose sheets of paper show that the Nepali state needs to act far more professionally, not like a college student attending a lecture that he is least interested in.
Grabs from such meetings show the other side dictating our representatives. The whole idea of this photo-up, it appears, is to show who is the boss/the gangster in this rough neighbourhood that is at the center of a massive global transformation.
During such engagements, our side does not get that much air-time. Even if it does, its concerns do not get due attention. This again brings to notice the unjust and unequal nature of our adjectives-filled relationship.
On the other side of the table, notetakers are always there to keep record of agendas discussed and understandings reached, thereby boosting institutional memory of the other party and giving them an upper hand in future negotiations.
Our functionaries hardly bother to inform the people about their upcoming impromptu visits, what takes them to those, who take the entire subcontinent as their own backyard (read: fiefdom), the decisions taken after such exchanges and their possible impact on generations to come. These people never feel the need to apprise the sovereign Parliament of their engagements and what national interest they served.
This lack of transparency during such crucial engagements makes a mockery of ideals like democracy, sovereign equality of nations, human rights and a rules-based international order.
‘Powers that be’ are choosing to remain silent on the agendas discussed and understandings reached may be a stark pointer that they, once again, furthered the interests of a clique by selling the country down the river.
Our functionaries lacking the spine to stand for Nepal has been a chronic problem spanning decades. In this context, facilitating and funding medical treatment of our leaders is like treating the symptoms instead of getting at the root cause of the disease. Therefore, national energies should be channelized to strengthen the spine of our subservient political leadership so as to enable it to stand upright and safeguard national interest.