April 26, 2006

Great Job, Nepal!

The recent events in Nepal which culminated with the restoration of the parliament and the announcement of a three-month truce by the Maoist rebels are very encouraging. The manner in which huge masses of Nepalis protested and essentially forced everyone claiming to be in charge to take notice of their wishes is heartening.

Not only did King Gyanendra make uncharacteristic concessions, but the Seven Party Alliance (which was in charge of the agitation) too had to reject the initial offer of King Gyanendra (installation of the Prime Minister) in the face of overwhelming opposition from the people.

The supposed torch-bearers of democracy (India, the US, and the EU) showed themselves in poor light by expressing glee over King's initial offer and indicating that SPA would do well to accept it. In the end, to their credit SPA listened to the voice of the masses, instead of jumping over themselves to please the democratic powers.

Equally heartening is the pragmatic step by the Maoists to help this people's movement along, instead of squabbling over the finer points of their agenda. In fact, they should continue this process of gradually joining the mainstream political scene and present their vision fairly and peacefully to the people.

The iron hand with which the King ran the country in the last four years destroying all the institutions of public opinion was pernicious and out of place in the 21st century. In the end, his rein was ended in the only way which could have lasting ramifications - by the force of mass protests.

All this euphoria shouldn't however screen the great task ahead. Indeed, the real work begins only now. It is rather easy to achieve good will of people when your opponent is a monster. Preserving that good will after you are in power is the difficult part. So the Nepali political leaders, who successfully led the people to check the power of the King, now need to provide a significantly better alternative if the King is to be kept at bay in the short run, and if there is to be any improvement in the lives of much-suffered people of Nepal in the long run.


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