The Spillover Effect: from Bihar to Nepal [and the Maoists]

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

We are waiting for the spillover effect to take hold. China is growing phenomenally. India is following China so very closely. We are tightly sandwiched between them. We are folding our hands and sitting back, hoping that one day the economic progress will spillover from both sides and submerge us. We are hoping to swim. While hoping so we continue to berate both of our neighbors. We call the Chinese the “ex-Maoists who have no idea about democracy and freedom.” We call the Indians “expansionists who have nothing except the Bihari-style democracy.”

spillover effect
Kathmandu Post 28.11.10

The Bihari-style democracy! Turns out the Bihari-style democracy is much better than what we have been told we have—”great achievement of the great People’s War”. In the past four years since the ‘great People’s War with small help from People’s Movement-II’ gave us republicanism we have gotten nothing but instability and inflation. Life has become harder for the man on the street while leaders are engaged in an endless power struggle. Frustration has surpassed the height of Sagarmatha.

Until recently, Bihar used to represent the worst of India: crime, corruption, insecurity, lack of development and immoral politics. Everything negative. That image of Bihar has changed dramatically in the past five years. And in the meantime, all these negative Bihari traits have crossed over to Nepal. That’s the actual spillover effect taking place. Neither Bihar nor India is to be blamed for that. We are solely responsible for stagnation and the deteriorating situation in our society. What have we done in the past five years when Bihar went through the historic transformation? Okay, we too witnessed historic political changes. We ended a decade long bloody war. We transformed from an autocratic monarchy to a democratic republic. Certainly things to be proud of. But, the question is, is that enough? The answer is a resounding NO.

What’s our problem? What do we lack in? Can we blame it on the fractured mandate of the Constituent Assembly election? Bihar’s mandate in 2005 was fractured too. No single party received the majority in the Legislative Assembly. Two political parties formed an alliance that ran an effective government while the multiparty opposition stayed quiet. In the latest election the same ruling alliance got two thumbs up from the voters. But, significantly, no single party has taken hold of the majority. The point is, people are not to be blamed for giving fractured verdicts. It is up to the political leadership to show some flexibility and accommodate each other’s differences so that an effective administration can run. That didn’t happen in Nepal.

Instead of delivering the fruits of political changes in the form of developmental activities, our largest political party—the Maoists, whom the people had trusted the most to rule—started chest thumping. Instead of inaugurating road and electricity projects, the party focused on consolidating power and strengthening its hold in the state machinery. That was the biggest mistake since Girija Prasad Koirala’s decision to dissolve the three-year-old House in 1995 which triggered further instability in Nepali politics.

Our misfortune is that we haven’t been able to produce a leader who is acceptable to all of us. Contrary to that we have been frequently embarrassed by our leaders. The latest embarrassment comes from the swallow-chest thumping of chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal in the hills of Gorkha. He thinks Nepal should declare a war against India, as if we have already colonised the Moon and are ready for the next adventure. One can ask, why waste the precious time and energy of Nepali people by engaging in such nonsense rather than working on something concrete to uplift their living standards? The Prachanda statement may have come as a result of a tough intraparty power struggle in the Palungtaar plenum. But that has greatly embarrassed us Nepalis. Such an irresponsible and childish statement not only shows the lowliness of our political discourse but also reduces our credibility in the international forum to zero. Indians laugh at us. They pity us. “So you guys will fight with us?” an Indian friend politely asked me as we discussed the Prachanda statement that made big headlines last week. “Not we,” I said. “Prachanda. Just as George W. Bush had named his cat India—peace be upon her—our Prachanda calls his challengers in the party—Baburam Bhattarai and Mohan Baidya—India. When he talked about waging a war against India he was meaning to eradicate Bhattarai and Baidya from within the party.” We both laughed. But my laughter was that of embarrassment, of a lame effort to save face.

What’s in store for us in the future? I have no idea. I don’t know where this daydreaming of our biggest political party will take us. If this irresponsible attitude continues, what I know for sure is that it will not just embarrass us like it is now, but will put our sovereignty and national interest at great risk. It will make us poorer, backward and inferior. On the other hand I see more progress and better days ahead in Bihar. The same leadership that put Bihar on the track of progress in the past five years took the oath of office on Friday for another five. This alliance led by Nitish Kumar has not talked about controlling the Bihari society by hook or crook. What Kumar has stressed on is the need to work harder to deliver the fruits of developments to the Bihari people.

This article first appeared in the Kathmandu Post yesterday.

9 thoughts on “The Spillover Effect: from Bihar to Nepal [and the Maoists]

  1. A very good article Dinesh ji. This is what I exactly feel.
    Being a ‘bihari’ is a matter of pride for the people there, just because of the development. Everyone is talking about Bihar these days, and it’s all because of the rapid development Nitish brought into Bihar.
    Our leaders can’t be Nitish, but they must atleast try not being ‘monkeys’ !

    Like

  2. Wagle ji must have been to Bihar recently, but let me recount some of my experiences on a trip around there 2 years ago.

    I actually travelled to Bihar rather accidentally. I was supposed to reach Janakpur from Kathmandu passing the Mahendra highway, but owing to an ethnicity called bandh in Terai, for ‘recognition’ of their rights, we had to me, my friend, his two brothers and over 50 other passengers had to go through Bihar via Raxaul. But once we reached Bihar it was an eye opening experience. We had heard all sorts of cliched statement about Bihar being the most underdeveloped place in India and all but it didn’t take any rocket science to realize that Bihar in fact was much more developed that Nepal!

    The 4-8 lanes roads were superb! The irrigation canal made to divert rivers(flowing out of Nepal) towards agricultural lands in Bihar was superb! The sight of farmers riding a Hero Honda Glamour bikes wearing dhotis and driving at full speed was quite amusing! The sight of Dish TV umbrellas coming out of thached roofs were no less surprising. And another suprising sight was the presence of a Mahindra Jeep showroom pretty far from a town centre, which broke my previous assumption that doing business in rural Bihar was unsafe (compare that with banks of Nepal going no further than town centres in rural Nepal).

    But one particular comparison between our country and Bihar topped all other comparisons. While in Nepal before reaching the Indian border, we were brought to a highway eatery at around 1pm and since two of us were hungry we decided to order two plates of ‘Masu-Bhaat’ costing Rs. 110 per plate, and what we got was two plates of foul smelling meats and pretty ‘baasi’ rice! I couldn’t even eat half of it, and soon when the bus was rolling towards India my stomach started to tell me how badly dissatisfied it was with the order. But the next day when we reached the Indian part around 12pm, we were stopped at an Indian dhaba, and all 4 of us decided to order something! So we ordered those traditional thick Rotis and some eggs and surprisingly it was very tasty, when compared to our Nepali dinner last night. And soon after we finished that meal, which fully satisfied our appetites, we asked for the bill and the owner of the dhaba said “Rs.47(IC)”! Then we furthur asked is it Rs.47 per plate and he replied ‘no it’s the overall amount’! Then I realized how badly are we treated by some of our own counterparts, and how bad is the attitude of businessmen in our country.

    I hope that u must have seen much more when you went there, Dinesh ji!

    Nirvaya

    Like

  3. Certainly Nitish is different from our Contemporary leaders.
    You don’t see Bihar’s name in bad things much now.
    But still lot needs to be done.
    I don’t know how Nepal is at present but youth will bring change there.
    In our Sub Continent if Youth comes in Politics then a big change will be seen for sure.

    Like

  4. Do not put this all on leaders all of us have to make Nepal better, collectively and internationally.

    Between the old and the new Nepal the current gloomy scenario has been to long, God bless Scott Delisi for his good relations so now that all is so good and parliamentary rebuild and rebuild.

    I feel the worst problem is the money and the lack of employment affecting business and educational systems to the bone.
    Yet somehow I feel that the reality behind other failures of Americas international politics show how urgently good lobbies have to fundraise for Nepal yesterday, thank you.

    Like

  5. 5 long years; so that’s how long it’s been since we were told that we were about to enter into this new era; that we or rather those politicians would change Nepal into a ‘New Nepal’. Of course, to our surprise and dismay (come to think of it, it’s not that surprising either), nothing has changed, and I doubt anything will ever change. Same old story! Having said that, I don’t want to lose my hopes here. I mean, Bihar wasn’t a prosperous state either. But with the sheer determination of some politician (though I’ve never heard or read about any Bihari politicians, except for Lalu Prasad Yadav), Bihar has changed for good. So I guess it’s high time these sick politicians of our country started thinking about making Nepal a Bihar rather than Switzerland; though we wouldn’t mind the latter option. And I pray to the Almighty God that the spillover effect from Bihar reaches over our country sooner than later!

    Like

  6. 5 long years; so that’s how long it’s been since we were told that we were about to enter into this new era; that we or rather those politicians would change Nepal into a ‘New Nepal’. Of course, to our surprise and dismay (come to think of it, it’s not that surprising either), nothing has changed, and I doubt anything will ever change. Same old story! Having said that, I don’t want to lose my hopes here. I mean, Bihar wasn’t a prosperous city either. But with the sheer determination of some politician (though I’ve never heard or read about any Bihari politicians, except for Lalu Prasad Yadav), Bihar has changed for good. So I guess it’s high time these sick politicians of our country started thinking about making Nepal into Bihar rather than Switzerland; though we wouldn’t mind the latter option. And I pray to the Almighty God that the spillover effect from progressive Bihar reaches over our country sooner than later!

    Like

  7. 5 long years; so that’s how long it’s been since we were told that we were about to enter into this new era; that we or rather those politicians would change Nepal into a ‘New Nepal’. Of course, to our surprise and dismay (come to think of it, it’s not that surprising either), nothing has changed, and I doubt anything will ever change. Same old story! Having said that, I don’t want to lose my hopes here. I mean, Bihar wasn’t a prosperous city either. But with the sheer determination of some politician (though I’ve never heard or read about any Bihari politicians, except for Lalu Prasad Yadav), Bihar has changed for good. So I guess it’s high time these sick politicians of our country started thinking about making Nepal into Bihar rather than Switzerland; though we wouldn’t mind the latter option. And I pray to the Almighty God that the spillover effect from Bihar reaches over our country sooner than later!

    Like

Please post your thoughts. (कृपया तपाईंलाई लागेको लेख्नुस् ।)

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s