Looking back at 2018
As we bid adieu to 2018, it is worth recalling some notable events of the year. On Feb 15, KP Sharma Oli replaced Sher Bahadur Deuba as the country’s prime minister, following a thumping win for his communist alliance in the three-tier elections in 2017. Expectations were high as Oli, widely hailed for standing up to India during the 2015-16 blockade, came to power with over two-thirds majority in the federal legislature and with his alliance controlling six of the seven provinces. And yet the performance of his government has been rather patchy.
Another important event was the formal merger between the two largest communist forces of the country back on May 17. People hoped the merger would make the ruling party stronger still, giving it the power to enact sweeping reforms. But unity between two parties that until recently were at loggerheads has proven to be rather tricky: while the merger has been consolidated at the top, the grassroots remain bitterly divided. Nor has government functioning improved.
At the end of the year, Nepali Congress, the main opposition, at long last held its Mahasamiti meeting. The shambolic event was the perfect example of a party in disarray. In this year time the government also banned porn, regulated alcohol products and brought a ‘revolutionary’ social security scheme. People are unconvinced any of these measures will have the desired effect. Dr Govinda KC had to sit on yet another fast-unto-death to get health reforms enacted, and again to no avail. Likewise, the unresolved rape-and-murder of Nirmala Pant is another blot on the government. Meanwhile, the economy remains wobbly.
However, this was also the year Nepal welcomed over one million tourists by air, for the first time, which augurs well for tourism and Visit Nepal 2020. Sandeep Lamichhane, the 18-year-old leg-spinner made his long-awaited IPL debut—and impressed everyone. The second half of the year saw two Nepali beauties (with ample brains), Shrinkhala Khatiwada and Manita Devkota, shinning on the global stage in Miss World and Miss Universe pageants, respectively. Subsequently, Mahesh Maharjan bagged gold at the 10th World Bodybuilding Championship. It was heartening for Nepali youngsters to see home-grown talents hold their own against the best in the world.
On the whole, it was more misses than hits for Nepal in 2018. Hopefully 2019 will be better, and not just because Lamichhane will once again take the field for the Delhi cricket franchise.
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