Editorial: A token gesture
Festive vibes are already in the air that has a tinge of cold to it. The mellow classical Malshree is trying to fill hearts, a tad too sad, with joy. Even the balmy rays of the sun have not been able to pierce through the hearts and bring cheers to a people considered one of the happiest in the world.
What’s behind this deepening sadness in Nepali hearts? Factors one too many.
First, the society is not at peace with itself. Social-religious strife is occurring with increasing frequency. Some years ago, parts of the far-western region and the Tarai-Madhes witnessed violence.
Not so long ago, eastern parts of the country erupted. However, before vested interests could use the faultlines to drive the society further apart, better senses prevailed, making it clear that it is not easy to drive a wedge between peoples, who have been living together for centuries by respecting each other’s cultures, traditions and religious beliefs.
Recently, Nepalgunj saw a bid to stoke up flames. But the good news is that those with sinister designs failed as the state acted on time and community leaders came together, proving once again that the ties that bind us together as Nepalis remain strong despite sustained efforts to break the bond.
This does not mean we should lower our guard against the elements trying to tear the society asunder. In fact, repeated bids to stoke up tensions mean we should be more alert than ever against the sinister designs.
Apart from this strife, there’s one other major factor that’s tormenting the people: Soaring market prices.
The prices of food and other committees continue to head northwards at a time when major festivals like Dashain, Tihar and Chhath are around the corner. Even at inflated rates, finding things like sugar in the market has become a feat in itself, thanks to artificial shortages, lack of market regulation and also a continued disruption of the global supply chain.
In view of the festivities, the government has decided to sell food commodities at subsidized rates through several outlets across the country. The subsidies cover a wide array of food commodities from mountain goat to table salt to sugar.
Perhaps, this move, repeated every festive season in a ritualistic manner, is also meant to undo the damage resulting from a short-lived decision to hike the prices of petroleum products.
But will around three dozen fair-price shops spread too thin across the length and breadth of the country be enough to provide significant relief to a people reeling under political instability that has exacerbated ills like inflation, joblessness, corruption and unrest, stymied economic growth and pushed the youth in increasing numbers to foreign shores?
Rather than short-term populist measures, the government should make sustained efforts to revive the economy. It should try to prevent Nepal from becoming a wasteland of sorts by curbing corruption, creating jobs for the youth and boosting farm production through policy interventions that benefit real farmers.
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