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No Nepali time

Senior communist leader Madhav Kumar Nepal was perhaps the only top leader in his party who was a stickler for time. Now he has com­pany. On Dec 1, the ruling NCP secretariat, the party’s top decision-making body comprising of nine leaders, including Nepal, was to convene at the Prime Minister’s residence at 3 pm. But when Prime Minister KP Oli, who is also the party co-chairman, did not show up till 3:15, the four secretariat members who had been waiting—Nepal, Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Jhala Nath Kha­nal and Bamdev Gautam—decided to leave.

Apparently, this was not the first time PM Oli had kept them waiting. They say they ditched the Dec 1 sec­retariat meeting to teach the prime minister a lesson in punctuality. There are various other interpretations of their decision. But if the reason given by the four lead­ers is taken at face value, it underscores the larger ten­dency of senior government officials to disregard time. Even vital state-level functions are routinely delayed as the designated VVIPs fail to show up on time.

The four secretariat members are bang on when they suggest that as the leader of their party and as the executive head of the country, it is imperative that Oli sets the right precedent. If party chairmen and our prime minister and president show up on time, those in lower ranks are bound to be punctual. But what we see right now is just the opposite. The prime minister makes his ministers wait, who in turn make senior bureaucrats do the same, and this self-defeating ten­dency is passed down the line.

But it is not just politicians and government officials who routinely disregard the time of other people. Nepali patients have long grown used to waiting for doctors for hours on end. Our aircraft and buses, both private and public, are also infamously late. Restaurants take forever to deliver food and our trash is seldom col­lected on time. If, like the rebellious NCP quartet, more officials in leadership position insist on doing things on the dot, those working under them might learn to value time as well. Those outside the government are also sure to take notice. As Shrestha has pointed out, better time management is vital for both personal and national prosperity.