An Interaction Programme with Diplomatic Missions and Development Partners
January 8, 2016
Hotel Shangri-La, Kathmandu, Nepal
Distinguished Heads of Offices
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. The Setting
1.1 I would like to take this opportunity to welcome and extend my warm greetings to the Excellencies from the Diplomatic Missions in Nepal and Distinguished Heads of Offices of the Development Partners and their representatives.
1.2 I would like to extend my sincere thanks for accepting my invitation and making your presence today in an interaction programme despite your hectic schedule.
1.3 For centuries, the social structures in Nepal remained feudal and it was a conventional moral fiber of the feudal society to tyrannize the rights of the weak and marginalized groups of people. The government in any country mirrors the sentiment of the values of the hitherto society. Thus it is very sad to note here that Nepali people were oppressed by the state machinery as a part of the strategy to strengthen the feudal values, attitudes, beliefs and norms. For decades and decades in the past, Nepali people remained “devoiced” and estranged of the social, economic and political rights in the country.
2. Context and The New Force
2.1 Constitution making and completion of democratic political revolution
2.1.1 On September 20, 2015 for the first time in the political history of Nepal, after almost 65 years of struggle, the second Constituent Assembly subsequent to 8 years of arduous effort delivered the Constitution to the people of Nepal. The main features of the Constitution are commitment to adhere to democratic principles and values along with the provisions of inclusive state, federalism and institutionalization of the Republic. The fight for democratic political revolution has basically come to an end after the promulgation of the Constitution in Nepal despite certain grievances of some sections of the people. The long cherished dream of Nepali people to make their Constitution by their elected representative through the Constituent Assembly has now become a reality.
2.1.2 We got overwhelming encouragement to the Constitution from across the globe, including our friendly neighbors and countries in the South Asian region.
2.2 The Dawn of New Era
2.2.1 After the New Constitution in Nepal, we have entered into a pristine era of economic/industrial revolution. In the midst of abject poverty and rampant unemployment the people now aspire a sustained phase of rapid economic development to leap-frog to a modern prosperous society. There has been a shift of power downward. The hierarchies of feudal structures are breaking up. What used to be a closed system in the past is now gradually opening up.
2.2.2 Democracy has two faces – substantive and procedural. Democracy in most part of the third world is more slanting to procedural and seems to be satisfied if the conditions of the procedural democracy are met or at least guaranteed by the Constitution. But the electoral procedural democracy should complement to the substantive inclusive and participatory democracy. We in Nepal are faced with the challenges of striking a balance between substantive and procedural democracy. Procedural democracy should be able to support and lead to the socio-economic wellbeing and happiness of Nepali people at large which is the ultimate goal or substance of democracy.
2.2.3 The main challenge before us is to achieve a faster economic growth with social equity. This should be able to turn the consumption, savings and investment into a mass phenomenon, unlike the one in the past where a handful of cronies used to monopolize the state resources thus depriving the millions. The economic strength which was monopolized by the feudal elite in the past should shift to the masses.
2.2.4 The global context is changed and so is the need for us to adapt accordingly. We can no longer afford to reject the reality of technological revolutions, growth of the middle class and crisis of different ideologues. Both liberalism/neo-liberalism and state socialism as practiced so far are showing signs of structural crisis. Hence the need to go beyond these and synthesize new thought to suit the demands of twenty-first century and the concrete condition of Nepal is more urgent than ever.
2.3 New Force: An Alternative to Face the Challenges of the New Era
2.3.1 Apart from ideological-political system, our deep concern has been with the delinquency of the political parties and corrupt and unethical activities of the leaders in Nepal. The nation has just transformed from feudal regime and entered into a formative stage of capitalism. The transition calls for a new outlook and new thought. The values, attitudes, beliefs, norms and standards of the political parties and its leaders are still not free from the feudal mind-set. In fact, at the moment, there is a clash between the change-makers and the status-quoits. Those forces considered to be as progressive and revolutionaries in the past are now transforming into new aristocrats and perpetuating the earliest feudal outlook. Consequently the youths are getting frustrated and alienated from traditional politics.
2.3.2 I have in the recent past de-linked with the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) where I was associated for almost 30+ years. I am resolute and unswerving to bring about a change in the political frame of mind and demonstrate results through rapid socio-economic transformation of Nepal and Nepali people by way of new thoughts and pioneering new process of inclusive and participatory democracy and good governance.
2.3.3 To this effect, we have launched a campaign to create an alternative New Force (Naya Shakti) which will very soon take the profile of a political party. The New Force will entail values such as democracy, inclusion, participation etc. The main mission of the New Force is to usher in economic revolution in the country through concrete policies and programmes. Groups and individuals from different parties, civil society members, professionals and youths will come together to launch the New Force.
3. Basic Features of the New Force
3.1 Countries emerging especially from the conflict situations are usually in transition for decades. In a transition situation most of the state organs are vulnerable and natural to have lost the credibility and legitimacy. The New Force will create stable institutions and establish credibility and the legitimacy through governance reforms. System of directly elected chief executive will be introduced through constitutional reform for political stability, a prerequisite for economic development.
3.2 Politically speaking, the New Force will adopt inclusive and participatory democracy with strict adherence to the rule of law and discharge high sense of transparency to ensure good governance in the country.
3.3 Keeping into consideration of the ethnic, linguistic and regional diversity of the country, the New Force will provide proportional representation in the party and state organs to the three major clusters of nationalities, viz the Khas-Arya, the Tibeto-Burman or Indigenous Nationalities and the Madhesi-Tharus.
3.4 In Economic terms, the New Force aims at achieving rapid industrialization andmaking the development more inclusive and sustainable thereby eradicating poverty and unemployment within a given time frame. Suitable development model and concrete plans will be worked out by a team of experts and policy makers.
3.5 The New Force will adopt the universally accepted principles of sovereign democratic values and will free itself from any sort of political dogma. The mission will be socio-economic transformation of Nepal and Nepali people. Political vision of the New Force will be democracy and socialism with dialectical and historical materialism as the core principle.
4. On Current Issues
4.1 Some groups especially the people from the plain regions (Terai-Madhesh) and the Tharus, the aboriginal communities, concentrated mainly in the mid-western and far-western plain regions of Nepal have shown their discontent to the delineation of the 7 provinces. We hope that the difficulty the country is currently faced with due to disturbances in the southern border areas would be amicably solved at the earliest through dialogue and compromise.
4.2 There is no alternative to a meaningful dialogue with the warring groups in Tarai-Madhesh to thrash out the core issues of provincial boundary delineation. The political parties and the government should recognize and respect the past agreements and understandings with the Tarai-Madhesh groups, especially on proportional representation for a durable and lasting peace. Any use of force to subdue the voices of the Tarai-Madhesh and Tharu community will be a guaranteed recipe for future conflict in the country.
4.3 We have been witnessing disturbances at the Southern border areas from the Madheshi front since the last 4 months. Cross-border movement of goods and services between Nepal and India is very turbulent and irregular and that has crippled the life of Nepali people. The hardship has already been enough, and the senior leaders in both countries need to revisit their political positions and facilitate the smooth resumption of movement of goods and services in both countries.
4.4 An adage goes well that “misfortune never comes alone”. Life of Nepali people and the economy has severely been stalled due to the Earthquake in April last year. Earthquake affected people are compelled to live in a pathetic condition and to add to the already worst condition the harsh winter has made the life unbearable. The government has not been able to reach out to the earthquake victims. Petty politics seems to have gained priority than the life of the vulnerable people. Reconstruction of the damaged infrastructures especially the houses/shelters are also a far out cry in reality despite repeated promises from the government.
5. On Foreign Relations
5.1 The New Force will adhere to the principles of Panchasheel, non-interference and sovereign equality as its guiding principle in foreign policy. It will follow a pragmatic and dynamic foreign and neighborhood policy keeping into consideration of the unique geo-strategic position sandwiched between the two huge countries of India and China by developing Nepal as a vibrant bridge between the two friendly neighbors.
5.2 We will aim at maintaining good and friendly relations with all countries of the world based on the principles of equality and mutual benefits. We firmly believe that we should take advantage of rapid economic development of both our neighbors India and China. It would be a national loss to miss the opportunity of getting the most out of the two giant economies.
6. In a Nutshell
6.1 We have experienced chronic instability even after nearly ten years of peace process in the country. People are getting frustrated with the non-delivery of theexisting political parties.
6.2 Taking into account of the existing political mapping of the country, we are convinced that the emergence of New Force is a dire need of history to meet the challenges of the Republic of Nepal.
6.3 Hence emergence of NEW FORCE is a must in the country, otherwise it is very likely that whatever gains the nation has achieved from arduous struggle for Loktantra that too may remain at risk.
With these notes, I invite your insights, thoughts, suggestions and comments.
The floor is open for interactions and I thank you for your attention.
Former Prime Minister of Nepal