Nepali citizens in existential crisis
Despite good provisions and progressive framework in the constitution of Nepal, people are dissatisfied with the direct implementation of the constitution. The notion of liberty, inclusivity, fairness, rule of law, democracy, socialism and many more are not properly defined in this political cum legal document.
A good constitution may fail to implement its progressive framework if there is weak political will or even a poor provision in constitution may be strongly enforced when there is strong political will. People have started dissociating with the constitution, started looking for loopholes and there is low level of political will to implement as per the drafters’ intent. Today communal identity is in crisis, people have started harboring enmity against each other as fairness of constitutional provision is not enforced. Recent case of public service examination can be considered one of the examples.
It is true to argue that until you represent the marginalized, oppressed, suppressed, and weak segment of people through proper constitutional protection for certain period of time, merely awarding them with civil and political rights would not suffice for their development. This is a country where reservation schemes are exploited by people who had, have and will always have access to power. Kathmandu elites have access to all facilities while people living in villages are denied of opportunities. In the name of reservation, empowered people are getting benefit rather than the true needy.
Moreover, the state is failing to invest in those sectors which will promote fairness, competitive environment and is also curtailing constitutional provisions. This is a crime committed by the state. If we admit the fact that historical injustice must be repaired, wrongdoers must be punished, reparations must be done, it is only possible when laws are fairly enacted, constitution provisions are rightfully implemented and people trust each other.
Nepal’s political parties have always played “Us against Them” game. It is a recorded fact that Nepal is only geographically unified while it is culturally diverse, socially different, and psychologically non-unified. Still people have not connected with Nepaliness and have some genuine problem with common identity called Nepali. We must admit the fact that all regions of Nepal are not equally developed and all people have not access to all the resources. The state must take prompt action to include those people.
Nepal’s constitution has provided for three tiers of government with proper powers and authorities. This constitutional scheme has somehow realized that the oppressed must be represented and people must have faith in the government. The constitution has clearly demarcated the areas, subjects and contents where states are empowered to work on but still these essences are not being enforced. There may be many reasons for it. An obvious reason is denying the existence of people and their representatives. Center has always tried to keep all provinces under its grip which is against the norm of federalism. Province no. 2 has become hotspot in exercising the constitutional powers and realization of true federal power.
Regional identities were looted, robbed and destroyed during the so called nation building process in Nepal. The state made a mistake in neglecting the significant percentage of people out of mainstream and political power. This is again the continuation of historical injustices by a democratic state. People are more afraid of the democratically elected regime than under monarchy.
Democratically elected government is striving for limiting the rights, liberties and movements of people by enacting improper laws. It has become one of the regular activities of the government to impose restrictions on citizen’s rights and their constitutional guarantees. Each institution is questioning their existence and rule of law has merely become subject for academic discourse. Even the academic institutions are fragile and performing poorly.
We, the people of this nation, are looking for our identity and existence in order to exercise the rights. People are divided in the name of class, caste, religion, race and political ideology. We fail to search common identity among diverse identities. It is time to cultivate honesty and values in order to establish the democratic culture and rule of law in the nation.
The state has to assure that we are in safe hands and laws are not made in order to curtail our freedom. Laws are there to empower us collectively, not to make us tremble with fear.
The writer is a lecturer at Kathmandu University School of Law, Nepal.