Nepal: Six Years of “Transition”
From Kathmandu, Nepal
Three huge revolts in Asia in the last decades came to an end: the anti-Confucian cultural revolution in China 1967-76, the anti Phnom Penh Khmer Rouge revolution in Cambodia 1975-79, and the anti-feudal monarchy anti-caste maoist People’s War in Nepal that lasted 10 years from 13 February 1996, followed by 18 days of effective nonviolence in the streets of Kathmandu in 6-24 April 2006. The King abdicated.
Transcend mediated in May 2003, and identified, through dialogues with the parties, eleven deep faultline conflicts as roots of violence:
|2||Gender||repression of women||appropriate representation|
|3||Generation||young people||appropriate representation|
|4||Class: Political||His Majesty’s Gov’t
|5||Class: Military||Royal Nepal Army||parliament control of army|
|6||Class: Economic||misery, inequality||massive uplift from below
temple land reform
public and private sectors
|7||Class: Culture||marginalization||massive literacy campaign
sharing of culture
|8||Class: Social||dalits||appropriate representation,
|9||Nationalities||dominant culture||mother tongue education
|10||Territories||misery, inequality||massive uplift from below|
|11||Others/Nepal||intervention||reconfirm panch shila|
There was an Interim Constitution, a Constitutional Assembly, multi-party national elections, and demobilization and reintegration of maoist ex-combatants, also in the army: points 4 and 5 above.
Invited back for mediation in October 2006, the conclusion was:
“Only conflicts affecting elites /4-5/ are taken seriously: violence control and parliament-government-head of state legitimacy-not social inequity and massive deprivation, leading to process asynchrony. Prognosis: This is a cease-fire process, not a peace process. A causal chain from unresolved conflicts-polarization-dehumanization to violence-trauma calls for a peace process with four components: mediation for conflict resolution, peace-building /with equity, harmony/–and conciliation for healing and closure. Major dangers: cease-fire without conflict solution may reopen the violence; conciliation without conflict solution is only pacification. This may lead to massive instability, general strike, violence. Conflicts must be addressed creatively by a leadership suffering people’s daily suffering.”[i]
And mediating now, in February 2013, what is the situation?
There is negative peace: no direct violence, and control of weapons. One army is out, but the other keeps growing. Teams from both could cooperate rebuilding what had been destroyed. However, the opportunity was lost as was negotiation of the maoist 40 points in early 1996.
There is no positive peace, no peace process. The Comprehensive Peace Accord was not comprehensive. There has been no reconciliation after the war trauma-18.000 killed-no Truth and Reconciliation process exchanging the 3Cs, Confession-Contrition-Compensation for A, Amnesty. Social inequity is increasing. There is little compassion for those suffering in Nepal: dying young, the 25% below the poverty line–50%+ for the casteless dalits–those excluded as non-Nepali speaking, those in remote districts, the dalits again. There is no provision for elections in the 14 regions, 75 districts or 4,000 villages, for referenda-initiatives. Nepal is extremely top-heavy and centralized. There is democracy by the people, voting, but not of, and not for.
Still worse: the multi-party system is blocked. They make power deals among themselves, but consensus-action and majority-based action seem blocked or can be vetoed with street protests. The armed forces keep increasing. Key commissions are not functioning, still no Constitution, not even a clear budget.
A brief summary of the situation right now:
Diagnosis: One conflict, between the center of political, economic, military and cultural power in Kathmandu, and the rest, powerless. In addition, the power center got stuck, incapable of enacting power. The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is neither federal nor democratic; it is party-cratic, banko-cratic, occasionally India-cratic, possibly becoming technocratic with the Chief Justice as PM.
Prognosis: Violence, from below against inequity; or from above to maintain the inequity status quo and-or against stagnation.
That raises the question of Therapy. So much can be done to get a system that got stuck unstuck, for a real peace process, such as:
 Lift the bottom up: Identify the most miserable community in Nepal–maybe as measured by mortality/life expectancy and morbidity– make some credit available for the most needy to work in basic needs oriented cooperatives, producing food by three-dimensional agriculture and aquaculture, and clean water; clothes and housing with mostly local materials; health by a dense network of polyclinics staffed by paramedics who can heal the 10+ diseases that account for 90%+ of the cases of illness, with helicopters for the heavier cases to top level regional hospitals; and education for all, not only the young;
 Politically, an identity-based federation, to better include the non-Nepalese and the remote parts of the country with names combining both identity and geography, like Limbuwan-Koshi. Make them feel at home in Nepal by using their languages in street names, official documents, speeches in parliament. Not easy, but hiding the identity is recipe for disaster; and provisions in the Constitution for local elections, at the region, district or community levels, and referenda;
 Economically, more local cooperatives, and not only agricultural, sales points directly to consumers, and more local savings banks committed to local investment and no speculation;
 Militarily, no Nepalese army will ever be a match for the giants to the north and the south-west; from the east unlikely. The army is mainly for domestic use, for status quo (called “law and order”), and can also be used for coups. Reduce it; substitute for law and order the police, and for defensive defense easily mobilized militias and nonmilitary defense, by non-cooperation and civil disobedience;
 Culturally, use the cultural diversity as an asset, including the Muslim minority as a bridge to the 57 Muslim countries. Create openings for cultural expression all over, for sculpture and painting, prose and poetry, music, building on the rich local traditions.
 Foreign policy: remind India of the panch shila, one of the principles being mutual non-interference in domestic affairs.
Play up to the best in the Big Powers in the world:
* India, by inviting them to give advice on identity federalism;
* China, by inviting them to give advice on lifting the bottom up;
* USA, by inviting them to give advice on creativity, NGOs.
 Human rights: both civil-political and social-economic rights.
China and Cambodia did better than Nepal against millennia of repression. When violent conflicts come to an end attend to the conflict: the Chinese opened for more participation by women, the young, the countryside, the Western part of China; and Cambodia worked on the positive aspects of the Khmer Rouge, local uplift, land reform, etc.
Nepal lost the 2006 opportunity when the society was plastic and could be molded. High time to catch up.
For deep analysis of Nepal and also global politics in general see The Weekly Mirror, firstname.lastname@example.org, Bishnu Pathak email@example.com.
Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.
Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgment and link to the source, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS, is included. Thank you.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 18 Feb 2013.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Nepal: Six Years of “Transition”, is included. Thank you.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.
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