Three Lessons from “Madhes” Protest and the “Unofficial Blockade”

Disclaimer

” Most people do not listen with an intent to understand, they listen with an intent to reply ” – Stephen R. Covey ( The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)

Internet has given us all a platform to express ourselves (and be anonymous at the same time) and put our perspectives in front of the whole world. It’s easy, it’s effective and IT’S FREE, mostly ! The power to say anything and be anonymous at the same time has often been troublesome with so many incidents of cyber-bullying and harassment. Considering the fact that almost anything and everything someone can think of (Imagine a weirdest idea you can think of and just google it) has already been thought by someone somewhere and there are always a bunch of people who agree as well as disagree with everything one can think of, many people get tempted to “impose” their idea and bully when someone disagrees rather than to try and understand their counter argument. So, the point is let’s agree to disagree. 

1. ” भाई फुटे … गवार लुटे” probably started from us

At the end of the day, when all this will be over, we gotta be asking ourselves..” Really whose fault is all this?” Is the “madhesi” community struggling for equality and inclusion among other demands, supposedly the biggest gainer from this constitution or the “pahade/khas” community who were supposedly all in power and are now a significant loser from this constitution? OR is it our skewed government? Oh, who am I kidding, it’s all India’s fault for not letting us become stable and to develop, right? While it’s easy to pin point others and put all the blame on them, I believe India is least accountable for all this. India has always been least accountable for everything that has happened in our country. The problem is within us. We are never united and we have never been able to get beyond our petty personal gains. You don’t blame your neighbors for trying to play politics in your family when a member of your own family can not stand another member and “invites” the neighbor to “settle” your differences and make peace.

Whether the demands of Madhesi community are legitimate or not, is a different question, but the way our government failed to acknowledge and sort of ignored the hardships people are facing with over month long strike and death of over 40 people including children and security personnel until  there is a fuel crisis in Kathmandu is disappointing and hurtful. I am no fan of Madhesi origin leaders and neither are the millions of people who are staging this protest. In fact, many don’t even care about what the constitution has or doesn’t have for them, all they wanted was little respect, inclusion and sensitivity from the Government’s end. Top leaders giving racist and hurtful comments instead to reaching out to angry public has been a major factor as to why the neighbor got their role and influence in our “family matter”. Sanity doesn’t last very long when you are witnessing death and struggling against irrational and inhumane power. Calling death of people “merely 2 or 4 mangoes falling from tree” is not at all humane.

Had our government and leaders become a bit more sensitive towards this issue and reached out to them timely, neither the corrupt “Madhesi Leader” nor “the big brother” could have claimed authority for this movement.

2. One Picture Shows Everything that’s wrong with us

Princes Street in Edinburgh, the main thoroughfare through the city, now restricted to busses, taxis, bicycles and trams. Photograph: Elizabeth Leyden/Alamy (TheGuardian)
Princes Street in Edinburgh, the main thoroughfare through the city, now restricted to busses, taxis, bicycles and trams. Photograph: Elizabeth Leyden/Alamy (TheGuardian)

There is that and then there is this :

Unused Trolley buses are rotting while owners of private vehicles are "patiently" waiting their turn to get their share of Petrol/Diesel after fuel crisis. (Credit: Nagariknews.com(L) and ennnepal.com(R))
Unused Trolley buses are rotting while owners of private vehicles are “patiently” waiting their turn to get their share of Petrol/Diesel after fuel crisis.
(Credit: Nagariknews.com(L) and ennnepal.com(R))

Does anyone even “need” to point it out ? Okay, here it is, our transportation system sucks big time. We are a small and not yet hugely overpopulated country with relatively small cities. But we are as lazy as a pig. We use vehicles to reach walking distances, first thing someone does even before his/her job is fixed is buy a bike/scooter and owning a car is the new “standard symbol” for us. Who uses the public bus, unless they are too poor to afford a private vehicle.

First, there is an urgent need to change the culture of promoting private vehicle. Every offices/organizations should start with providing incentives for using public transport and make it mandatory that every employee comes in bicycle at least once a week if their work place is less than say 5-8km (or some appropriate distance) OR use public transport if the distance is longer.

If I am correct, our finance minister was at the recently held “NADA Auto Show” showcasing the best and the latest automobiles available in our country and explaining why he can not reduce the customs in automobiles. If it was upto me, I would say further increase the taxes on small private vehicles and make big and mass transport vehicles tax free. We should totally redesign our tax system and make vehicles running on electricity/biofuels/or other clean and alternative sources of energy totally tax free. If possible, do not let even the riches to buy cars, and if they wanna buy it anyway, make sure it’s an electric car or earn fortune from those who won’t let go the diesel Pajero. Now, an electric (Mahindra e2o) car costing approximately NRs. 7,00,000 in India costs a whooping 22,00,000 plus in Nepal !!!

Meanwhile, we should strategically abolish small vehicles from publish transport and eventually go all electric, not just in transportation for almost every possible sectors from cooking to heating and riding. Of course we need loads of electricity for that and that’s the reason we will never be rich by selling electricity. We should rather use the electricity in maximum possible ways and minimize the import if fossil fuel, and use rest of the electricity to run industries and after we reach that stage, only then we should think of selling electricity.  The irony is, because the taxes from selling petrol/diesel and the private vehicles is a major source of income for our government, many suggest that our temperamental and short lived governments will never risk the short term chaos and loss of government income for the long term strategic gain for nation.

3.  The छेपारो को कथा Phenomenon

Based on what little I  know about the छेपारो को कथा , a famous anecdote in Nepalese Society, a lazy lizard while freezing in cold night would promise itself of making a warm home the next day but would never actually do it. This is very much the case in our country. Now with the Blockade ( sick of that “unofficial” word now ) everyone’s sleeping patriotism is suddenly awake and we are enthusiastic about anyhow not caving in front of Indian government. Some to such an extent that, they’ve already bought a bicycle. That’s wonderful. Let us actually make changes in our thinking and our lifestyle this time, even after the blockade is over ( which could be any day from tomorrow to next week). This time, let’s actually “try to watch Nepali Channels ” too (apart from what you already love watching), “try to use Nepalese products” too, try walking or cycling or using public vehicles whenever possible, and above all let’s try to embrace/respect the differences instead of hating each other. Hating is easy but not the right thing to do.

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