Nepal’s Ongoing Challenges – Nepal Updates

Rev. Dr. Bal Krishna Sharma

रेभ. डा. बाल कृष्ण शर्मा, पिएचडी

Nepal is going through a very challenging time. The massive earthquake of 25th April 2015 devastated the country with destroying about eight hundred thousand houses and more than 14000 lives were lost and more than 25000 people injured. The traumatic pain of people is evidence in their activities. The national and international responses were overwhelming for rescue initiatives. Many national and international organizations have pledged and provided resources for restoration of this destroyed infrastructure, but the implementation of this is not in function. Affected people are eagerly waiting for help and that is delayed. Affected people somehow managed to survive in raining season and now the harsh winter is approaching and how people are going to survive is an issue of concern. The government, general public, NGOs and INGOs and other humanitarian organizations and international communities have big responsibilities to respond to the needs of earthquake victims.

Since last eight years, Nepal was struggling to bring out constitution by the Constituent Assembly. Promulgation of Constitution by the Constituent Assembly was the dream since 1950 when Nepal was freed from Rana Regime. But because of various political ideologies, Nepal never received such constitution until now. The earthquake ‘united’ Nepali political leaders and they all felt that the constitution has to be given to Nepali people. So, despite, some of the forces trying to stop the process of constitution promulgation, Nepali leaders declared constitution of Nepal 2015 on 20th September. It was a historical achievement for the nation and an example for international communities. Some leaders of ethnic groups and Tarai (places border to India) were not happy with this constitution. They are having agitation since several weeks and decided not to accept the new constitution. Assuring to address all their dissatisfactions, about 95 percent members of Constituent Assembly approved the Constitution 2015. This is an important documents prepared by Nepalis. Though there are many points that have to be amended, this is an achievement.

Nepal has been declared a secular state, but it has redefined secularism in its own way that is contrary to the international norm of what secularism means. The spirit of secularism always gives equal place to all the religious and political ideologies and uses no funds for the promotion of one religion or political ideology. This constitution 2015 has curtailed the freedom of conscience, speech and persuasion, profession, and propagation of our beliefs. Such definition of secularism is not acceptable if we want to keep the spirit of secularism. It is hoped such wrong definition will be amended to tally with the international standard and understanding of secularism. At present constitution states that conversion to any religion is punishable by law. Such definition of secularism is contrary to the spirit of secularism and the human freedom.

When the constitution of Nepal 2015 was promulgated on September 20, many nations including China welcomed this achievement. But, India a close neighbor not only did not welcome the new constitution, but decided to show its ‘anger’ by imposing embargo. The reason it gave was that since there was unrest in the border between Nepal and India, for security reasons, it cannot allow goods to come to Nepal. Everyone in Nepal was puzzled with such Indian behavior.

Until now no one has really understood why India imposed embargo to Nepal against International law of free pass to the landlocked country. Getting access to International market is not on the mercy of India, but it is a right of landlocked country like Nepal. Some Medias have begun to write on the real reason of Modi government getting ‘angry’ with Nepal. Imposing of embargo to Nepal was not the decision of Indian people; it was the decision of Modi government. Other Indian political parties, intellectuals, common people from all over India are against Modi government’s dealings with Nepal. I have written an article in Nepali language on September 22, giving reason why Modi government became angry with Nepal. In order to understand this present scenario in Nepal, we need to understand the history of Modi’s political party and its philosophy. I teach Modern Religious and Secular Movement course in colleges both in Nepal and India and I have studied Modi’s party’s philosophy in detail.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has long connected history with Hindu Fundamentalist groups in India. RSS, Shiva Sena, Bajranga Dal are its sister organizations which have communal philosophy. Vishva Hindu Parisad or any Hindu organization has very strong connection with BJP. In India, BJP is knows as a Hindu Party and it works for the interest of Hindu Fundamentalists and it is against other religions. The history shows that many religious riots in India happened in the blessings of the party. So it is not a secular party. Modi’s visits to Nepal explicitly expressed that when he donated money to Pshupati temple even though he was opposed by the Indian parliament for rejecting secular spirit of India. Recently, Indian Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has stated that Modi is creating religious conflict in Bihar. This also shows that is he is not in favor of secular spirit of a nation.

Despite all kinds of Hindu religious pressures, Mahatma Gandhi and Neheru and other leaders declared India a secular state in 1947. India has 80 per cent Hindus and it is a secular state. It cannot become a Hindu state as BJP would like. So BJP party was very interested to make Nepal a Hindu State. It has expressed that intention time to time though its leaders. During the visits of Modi to Nepal, he had a special interest of making ‘religious pilgrimage’ to various religious sites in Nepal. Nepali senior political leaders were called to New Delhi one by one and he must have spoken to them about this Hindu State issue. United Maoist senior leader Prachand made a statement while in Delhi or after his return to Nepal that ‘Christians are dangerous for India and Nepal’. How did that statement from Prachand come? Did it come out of blue or it had some talk on secularism and Hindu State. These all developments show that BJP had a special interest to make Nepal a Hindu State and since it did not happen, under the pressure of BJP, RSS, or such organizations, Modi government imposed embargo to Nepal. Such reaction of Modi is interpreted as immature and he has failed in his diplomatic norms in relation to neighbor, Nepal. Modi government is facing a tough criticisms from within India and also from around the world. It also realizes what it did to Nepal was wrong, now it says that it has withdrawn its ‘undeclared embargo’. It will take several days to normalize the situation. Nepal has been facing acute shortage of fuel, other commodities and basic supply. Schools and colleges have closed down. Such Indian action has parlayed Nepal and we hope and pray that it will normalize soon.

Now Nepal has understood, how dangerous it can be if religion is mixed with politics. So what Nepal has decided to be a secular state is good for the nation and the nation funds should not be used for any religious activities. The politics should not interfere in religious affairs. Let religions co-exist together and live in harmony.

Nepalis are peace loving people. The nation should not be divided on the basis of ethnic or religious groups. All people should be given rights in order to develop themselves and build the nation together. The peace has to prevail in the nation. Economically Nepal may be poor, but people of Nepal have big and good heart. They are hardworking and peace loving people. Nepal has so much of natural resources. If it can be tapped, it will develop very fast. Many friends of Nepal are willing to come along to partner, but we have to show our genuine concern and transparency for the development of this nation. Quality education has to be provided to every citizen of Nepal and people need to be committed for service. Every one of us needs to work for the welfare of all. We need to be committed to serve and make a difference in our communities and nation. May the God of peace and love give us wisdom and humility to serve to those who are in need and be light and salt to the world as Jesus Christ has commanded us. We love our nation and people and are committed to make a difference in the midst of difficulties and challenges.

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