After the end of a long civil war and the fall of the monarchy, Nepal is finally heading towards democracy. But the new government has yet to come up with a new constitution ensuring peace and growth in the country.
Nepal is one of the world's ten poorest countries
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of the capital city of Kathmandu, the Nepali people are doing their best to get on with everyday life. With poor infrastructure, roads full of potholes and power cuts for up to 18 hours, life isn't easy in this small country landlocked between India and China. Situated at the foot of the Himalayas, Nepal has often been referred to as paradise on earth. But this so-called paradise is one of the ten poorest countries in the world.
After a failed monarchy and a civil war that lasted a decade, Nepal finally elected a Constituent Assembly in 2008, which was tasked with writing a new constitution within two years. Unfortunately for Nepal, the Assembly failed to meet the deadline, so a new one was set for May 28 of this year, which now seems just as hopeless. It has prompted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to raise concerns over Nepal's peace process.
Due to poverty, many children have to work to help out their families
Challenges before the government
Surendra K.C., professor of history at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan University, Nepal’s largest university, says he doesn't believe that there will be a new constitution at all, "To make or frame the constitution is not the basic target of the Nepali politicians; it is only to show the people that they are drafting a constitution. Their target is how to maintain power and gain money. Two leaders, in a conspiratorial way, just made a compromise - Prime Minister J.N. Khanal and Maoist supremo Prachanda."
The constitution has to work out a way in which to integrate and rehabilitate thousands of former Maoist soldiers that fought against the government in the civil war. The biggest challenges before the government are ensuring rights of ethnic minorities and establishing peace in the country. But as Prof. K.C. puts it, so far the government has been unable to do so. "If there is peace, if the people are not threatened, they are not killed, that is sufficient for the poor Nepali people - that is the minimum." He adds, "Providing people with job opportunities or industrializing the nation should come second to that."
Many Nepalese believe nothing has changed with the new government
Nepalese disappointed but hopeful
For most of the common people the constitution is not the problem, as most of them do not understand what a constitution actually is. But what they do understand is that nothing has been done since Jhala Nath Khanal became the prime minister in February after sixteen rounds of voting over six months. Nonetheless, the Nepali people are not giving up hope just yet.
38-year-old Aruna owns a shop in Nepal’s third largest city, Bokhara. She says that there is an absolute feeling of distrust for the government, "None of them will do anything. All these people who come in power are absolute thugs." Another shopkeeper feels the same: "Earlier we had trouble with Maoists. Despite that there were tourists and we were earning a living; now it’s peaceful but there are still no tourists around."
Professor Surendra K.C. says peace must be ensured
Some two thousand youths have joined the "Nepal Unites" campaign on "Facebook" to voice their despair. Last week they also gathered in Kathmandu to put pressure on the country's politicians. But whether or not this pressure will bear any fruit remains uncertain.
Author: Isha Bhatia
Editor: Sarah Berning