Blaming politicians: The hypocrisy of democracy
In the bustling political landscape of developing countries like ours, where the journey toward progress and development is often fraught with obstacles, the blame for their misfortunes and under-development is regularly directed at politicians. The media, civil society, intellectuals, and citizens have found it easy to hold politicians responsible for the nation’s woes. However, amidst this blame game, few pause to ponder why the nature of Nepali politicians has evolved into what it is today.
Historical progression of Nepali consciousness
Following the above proposition, we must wonder why do politicians seem immune to accountability for their actions? As we point fingers at the much-maligned ‘evil game of politics,’ we must introspect and question whether the blame solely lies with politicians or whether we, the citizens, intellectuals, civil society, and democracy-supporting taxpayers, also bear some responsibility.
The roots of this complex dilemma may be found in Nepali society’s long-standing predisposition toward acceptance, notably in the arena of politics. Throughout history, when dynasties changed hands or power shifted between ruling families, the people of Nepal largely accepted these transitions without much resistance. From the reign of Amshuverma in 605 to the complex rule of multiple kings during the Dark Ages, the populace often embraced political changes without questioning their legitimacy. Even when Nepal was divided into three kingdoms by the sons of Yaksha Malla, the citizens accepted this division. From the conquest of Kathmandu by Prithvi Narayan Shah to the tragic assassinations of Prime Minister Ranoddip Singh and the ruling monarch in 2001, the nation’s people have repeatedly surrendered to oppressive forces and violent upheavals. This distressing consciousness of acceptance has hindered their ability to challenge authority and demand accountability. While resilience is commendable, an excessive inclination toward acceptance has stifled progress and perpetuated a cycle of subjugation. Such historical examples of complacency with political events beg the question: does this passive acceptance still hold sway in modern-day Nepal and is it the cause of the lack of political accountability?
Scholars like Dor Bahadur Bista have argued that this seemingly pessimistic tendency to accept the status quo in Nepali society stems from a fatalistic thought pattern. This attitude may have become ingrained in the psyche of the people over the ages, influencing their approach to politics as well.
Comparing this with a recent event in France, where the introduction of the Social Security Financing Act in 2023 sparked massive revolts, sheds light on the hypocrisy of democracy. While the French people are politically literate and active, the situation in Nepal reveals a different reality, one marked by political inaction and apathy. Three important revolutions stand out in Nepal’s history: the Revolution of 1951, the People’s Movement I, and the People’s Movement II. All of these movements were carried out under the auspices of political parties. Beyond these revolutionary moments, there has been a lack of significant leadership by the people themselves. This begs the question: why have the citizens not taken more initiative in shaping their political landscape? The answer lies in the lack of extremism among Nepali citizens, coupled with the two-faced role played by relevant professionals in the country.
Nepali citizens have often been politically inactive, yet they remain steadfastly critical of politicians. The historical backdrop and socioeconomic elements at work have influenced people’s consciousness. The lack of widespread political literacy, coupled with economic struggles, has contributed to this passive approach to politics. As a result, the blame is consistently placed on the politicians without fully understanding the underlying complexities and systemic issues. In other words, the public or even the national consciousness of Nepal, through historical evolution has failed to materialize into a unified voice.
Surprisingly, despite widespread dissatisfaction with the political situation, the voter turnout in Nepal has been shockingly high in comparison with other countries. This apparent contradiction is a reflection of the larger problem at hand. Citizens are disillusioned and distrustful of the political process as a result of the distance. As a consequence, many Nepalis feel that their vote may not truly bring about any change, leading to voter apathy.
A modern retrospection of role of Nepalis
In the contemporary context, Nepal has made significant strides toward democracy, embracing the principles of representation and participation. People have the right to vote, to express their views, and to express their concerns. The evolution of democracy has opened avenues for more active political engagement, challenging the notion of fatalism in politics.
Despite these democratic advancements, the accountability of politicians remains elusive. Politicians may indulge in corrupt practices, break promises, and act in their self-interest without fearing the repercussions from the public. This lack of accountability has led to disillusionment and mistrust among citizens.
While democracy is celebrated for empowering citizens, it can be disheartening when elected officials betray the trust bestowed upon them. The blame for this hypocrisy cannot solely rest on politicians; the onus is also on us, the citizens. As democracy-supporting taxpayers and development-wishing individuals, we must recognize our role in the system. Our responsibility doesn't end with casting our votes during elections; it extends to holding elected officials accountable throughout their term. We must actively participate in the political process, staying informed about policies, demanding transparency, and questioning decisions that affect our lives.
Apart from the citizens, the responsibility of checking politicians also lies with relevant professionals and organizations in Nepal. These individuals and groups are often found to play a dual role, pledging to support the common people but also maintaining close ties with the political elite. This collusion not only perpetuates the status quo but also erodes public faith in the possibility of positive change. Hence, in an atmosphere where the populace are cultivating skepticism toward its political establishment, the civil society and other professions, to prevent their reputation from getting tarnished, applied a path of neutrality and inaction. In a paradoxical manner, the citizens increasingly turn to civil society organizations, hoping to find a voice that echoes their concerns and aspirations in politics. While some civil society groups indeed work tirelessly to address public grievances, the broader landscape reveals that they are equally intertwined with political parties.
To comprehend the situation better, it is essential to consider Nepal’s unique historical context. Nepal was ruled by monarchs until 2008, with limited political space for ordinary citizens. The transition to democracy brought hope, but it also introduced its share of challenges.
A complex web of political interests and power struggles emerged, hindering the progress of the nation. So, democracy, while celebrated for its principles of equality and representation, can sometimes become a bitter pill to swallow for developing countries like ours. The demands of democracy require political parties to appease different groups and garner support, leading to compromises that may not always align with the broader interests of the nation.
The recent incidents such as the passing of MCC has added yet another layer of doubt in the minds of the public toward their political leaders, further intensifying their distrust in the political system. This raises concerns about Nepal’s progress toward becoming a fully democratic nation. Evidently, the Nepalis seem to be unaware of the potential power they possess in shaping the government’s decisions. Centuries of living under monarchy and autocratic rule have seemingly ingrained a sense of suppression, preventing the realization and utilization of their inherent influence.
Nepal’s struggle with political apathy can be mitigated through increased political literacy. To be able to make wise judgments, citizens must be equally informed on the complexities of governance, policy-making, and the duties of elected officials. This will enable them to close the gap between expectations and reality and make politicians responsible for their actions. Similarly, civil society, intellectuals and other concerned professionals must proactively distance themselves from political affiliations to regain the trust of the people they aim to represent. Hence, Nepal’s path to genuine democracy and effective governance is heavily reliant on striking a harmonious balance between political leaders and civil society.
Politicians are a product of our society, despite the fact that we often blame them for the problems our country is facing. Nepali politicians are woven into the very fabric of our culture, values, and aspirations; they do not exist in a vacuum. Therefore, we must rise above the blame culture and collectively work toward building a more accountable political system. The blame placed solely on politicians for the challenges faced by developing countries like Nepal reveals the hypocrisy of democracy. While politicians undoubtedly hold a share of responsibility, the citizens, relevant professionals, and organizations also have vital roles to play in shaping the nation’s destiny.
A thriving democracy requires political literacy, improved civic engagement, and increased responsibility. If Nepal can recognize these factors, we can move past its current state of political indifference and toward a more affluent and egalitarian future. The trip may be difficult, but with teamwork and accountability, we can create the way for genuine progress and development.
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