Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Thousand Mutinies Now

V.S. Naipaul, in his travelogue India: A Million Mutinies Now, explores an interesting notion about burgeoning democracies. As democracy offers a promise of freedom and equality, in a society shackled in age-old unfair, discriminatory societal hierarchies, it consequently has the effect of creating a seemingly hostile, retributive environment. Grievances are voiced, discriminations challenged, and the status quo questioned by a 'million little mutinies.'

The recent Madhesi conflict in Nepal can be seen under similar light. In fact, Daniel Lak makes a similar point about the changing dynamics of power in Nepal. Once, a select few controlled the bulk of the resources and power; now, everyone wants a piece of it.

Of course it isn't that simple, political processes in the third-world always complicate matters. However, there are two things, in particular, about the recent Madhesi uprising that I feel the need to mention:

1) Sure, the madhesi grievances are justified. It's about time they are addressed, too. Social justice, however, is multi-dimensional. Madhesis aren't the only marginalized group in Nepal -- there are dalits, tharus, women, and many others who have, for too long, received the short end of the straw. Within the madhesi community, the caste system is still existent. If the blacks had a discriminatory societal hierarchy within themselves, how phony would have Martin Luther King's 'I have a Dream' speech sounded?

2) I, for one, do not believe in violence as a means of social change. Unfortunately, the decade long armed struggle of the Moaists that has resulted in them being invited to share the governance of the country might have sent the wrong message. 'If you wanna be heard, if you wanna be counted, take up the gun.' Gandhi's method of non-violence resistance has been called a fluke by many. Perhaps, this is the time to give it another try.
We surely don't want to go down the route of chakka jam and nepal banda to protest every single issue there is, whether a taxi driver gets into a skirmish, or the price of oil is raised marginally.

Nuts and bolts aside, I have to agree with Daniel Lak. From afar, Nepal does seem to be heading in the right direction.

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At 8:12 PM, Blogger raatekainla said...

I have read Daniel Lak pieces before too and he does have an insight into Nepal.
In any case, kudos to your blog and look forward to coming back regularly.

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Mircea said...

Good post.


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