15 January 2009

The Six Month Report

Today I received an email from my manager asking me to complete my six month report. It contains such questions as "what do you feel you have acheived so far?" and "Do you feel supported in your project?" and "Where to next?"

Facing a complete inability to answer these questions for myself, I started looking around me for something to distract me from the inevitable task of answering these impossibly difficult questions. My eyes fell on a group that might be asking themselves the same things. Or at least should be. Where to next? What have we actually achieved? Has anyone noticed that we aren't all that sure what needs to happen next? Harsh words to apply to a new government, but I am becoming increasingly perplexed and the political climate in Nepal.

In a place where the leaders are more capital city centric in their thinking than Queensland, I have already unloaded about the difficulties faced by load shedding - we may have 16 hours per day without power but there are some remote villages with NO POWER. We can't lay all the blame of that on the Maoists, obviously. Nepal has been in a situation of government instability for decades. Foreign aid was diverted from the projects it was intended for by the very people responsible for distributing it. Parts of the country thrive on insane levels of bureaucracy seen before probably only in Douglas Adams books. The need for more power plants was obviously recognised, but somehow, no one ever got to doing very much about it. However, the Maoists have made some horribly poor promises that people want to hold them to for good reason and they shouldn't have done that. They have a terrible shortcoming in looking no further than next week's crisis. There are so many pending crises (some they created and others they haven't) that if they keep this up, the 2 years allowed for the development of this constitution will be up before anyone has blinked an eye. They need to stop creating crises for themselves that not only prevent them from getting on and managing the country, but undermine their credibility as the group that intends to abolish castes and treat all people equally.

Some examples you say? The YCL (the youth arm of the Maoists [commonly referred to as Maoist cadres]) stormed the printing office of NepalMedia, assualted the journalists they found there and attempted arson to prevent further negative talk of the Maoist affiliated trade unions. Following the attack, a Maoist minister claimed that it never happened before taking it back and saying 'it wasn't that bad, at least nobody was murdered' before then accusing the journalists of attacking the YCL boys they then turned in two culprits whose fate I haven't yet ascertained. The event displayed the party's terrible lack of unification and a horrifying penchant for violence when things don't go their way. Oh yeah, as well as a lack of respect for a free press.

Recently, as I believe I have mentioned, some Indian preists were assisted in their 'resignation' from the holy Hindu temple Pashupati. What I don't think I mentioned was that they were replaced by Nepali priests appointed by the government. A stay-order laid down by the Supreme Court was ignored by a minister and the YCL (again) who broke down the gates and escorted the Nepali priests in to give worship. When some priests got together a press conference to voice their concerns they were attacked by the YCL and many tyres were burnt (disrupting my trip home, incidentally) and making a rather unpleasant smell float through the air. Incidentally, the urge to get the Nepali priests in there at all costs obviously dissipated as they reversed the decision with the whole event ending up being a waste of government and commuter time while admittedly making some interesting water cooler talk.

The Nepal Army started recruiting for vacant positions, that one can only assume developed through natural attrition as well as vacancies that may have been left over as a result of war. The Maoists objected to this and stated that if the Nepal Army began re-recruiting then they would too (obviously fearing some kind of coup). Hardly a situation that instills a sense of confidence in the people that you are done with your violent past. There is a perfectly valid argument for not recruiting and that is the strain on the economy that an inflated army creates, but they didn't go for that, they went for a game of cowboys and indians 'well, if you do that I will too! So there!'

Every time the Prime Minister comes under fire, his response seems to be 'fine then, I'll just quit!' Sorry, that's all I've got to say on that one.

There is another item, but I don't think it really has anything to do with the government, I just want to complain about it. The garbage hasn't been collected in more than a week. I put it down to load-shedding related strikes but there was a rumour that one of the landfills is locked, to which I say "where's the bloody key?" This might not be a problem you think, hey, the garbage men only come once a week in Australia... Well here's the thing. I'm not just talking about my area, I'm talking city-wide. We don't have wheelie bins, we don't have industrial bins and giant trash compacting trucks that lumber down the street. Our garbage piles up in certain allocated (or less allocated) areas on the street where is it available for dogs, monkeys and various scavengers to sort through for treasure. In fact, I actually saw one scavenging dog that had become an item of the garbage - such a shame. The pile was so bad down near New Road yesterday that the traffic could only go one-way!

I really worry about what is going to happen next. What will happen if they don't get re-elected? They have already displayed a lack of respect for the things that many countries hold dear. Want to stop corruption and imbezzlement within the richest temple in the country? Then stop the corruption, enforce some sort of regulation, don't just appoint your own lackeys. For this country to have a chance of future success the government needs to take a long-term view, stop creating issues for itself, get their violent youth under control by giving them something constructive to do and stop ingnoring the essence of democracy that they supposedly stand for, and allow a free press and respect the order of the courts!


Isa said...

Perhaps short-sighted governance is one of the commonalities of the developing country?

We have a similar situation here in Tonga, where 2010 is meant to herald full democracy, yet they haven't even begun to work out how this new democratic government will work.

Sometimes you just gotta throw your hands in the air and be grateful to chance for where you were lucky enough to be born, I reckon.

Dash said...

born at all? or you mean born in Australia?

The difference is that many people here have grown up with it and consider it to be normal. I haven't and don't. I was warned by a friend that we shouldn't have the western idea that "they should just do it our way". That's not what I think I am saying. I would like to see them do it any way, as long as they just did it.

Interestingly, I have a meeting with our regional manager on Thursday.