Democratic or regressive?
The rulers must respect people's concerns, create decent jobs and bring tangible changes in order for the people to keep their hopes alive in the country and its democratic system
Thirty-three years since Nepal discarded absolute monarchy and 15 years since Nepal became a federal republic, the country has seen a few events and incidents that bring about regime change alone does not bring prosperity and happiness.
The number of people who showed up at the recent demonstrations led by Durga Prasai is one indicator, traditional political parties losing their popularity is another. People crowding at former king Gyanendra Shah's events cannot be overlooked either.
When the Maoists started their protest in the 90's, how many people believed that it would eventually uproot monarchy? The then system underestimated the power of the people and a growing desire to see a new Nepal that would embrace a broader sense of freedom and inclusion. Although the revolution was started by the Maoists, people from all walks of life and political parties joined in because of some regressive actions taken by the then king. Failing to gain the confidence of the people and overpowered by the opposing force, the king finally gave up.
Although positive changes have happened in these years, the ordinary citizens do not feel their expectations of the 'new Nepal' have been met. Almost 8 percent of the Nepali population (as per the 2021 census) live abroad. Reports say more than 3000 people leave the country daily to work in foreign lands. More than 100,000 students left the country in the last year alone for higher studies. Ask any urban student what their plans are and they will share their desire to go abroad. Did we envision this to happen in the new Nepal?
Leaders sold beautiful promises to the younger generation only to see them leaving the country. But the departure did not happen overnight. They saw the queues at the international airport, outside embassies of foreign countries, manpower agencies, language centers and police departments. They overlooked the indicators. Instead, they kept signing more agreements to send the workforce out of the country. How hard is it for the rulers to understand that lack of jobs and lack of respectable pay are driving people out of the country? Do they fear the void it's going to create in the national workforce? Do they believe the outgoing population would return? Well, I don't think so!
To make matters worse, the same group of political parties and leaders who united to overthrow a regime are going regressive. Freedom of expression is a key right in a democracy and trying to curb that right does not go well. Banning of TikTok is a simple example that shows that the present rulers are not democratic but regressive. This reminds me of the time when king Gyanendra Shah took power in February 2005 and tried to impose censorship in the media. It cost him his throne eventually.
The rulers of this country must read these signs that have been visible through data and the masses that gather, although infrequently. They must be able to respect people's concerns, create decent employment, and bring tangible changes in order for the people to keep their hopes alive in the country and the democratic system that it has. We have come a long way in the last three decades and going back to an era that does not value freedom of expression will not be beneficial to anyone.
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