On one side of the world a Diamond Jubilee celebration which, whatever your views, brought worldwide media attention to the UK. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Nepal still has no constitution. At midnight on May 27, Prime Minister Bhattarai announced a fresh election for November 22, 2012. Consequently the Constituent Assembly, elected four years ago specifically to draft a new constitution – ended its tenure without even a draft. Not something which has garnered much, if any attention here in the west…
The Guardian has this brief video report, but in truth more coverage appears to have been given to overcrowding on Everest. The lack of news coverage isn’t perhaps entirely surprising, given that for the two years that I was in Nepal, little progress was apparent, at least to a relatively uninformed ‘outsider’ such as myself.
[Here's what I wrote at the time:- "Time Is Tight" 29/05/2010; "The Politics Of Inertia (Or Indifference)" 29/11/2010; "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" 17/01/2011; "Nothing Is Ever Black & White" 21/02/2011 and "Talkin' 'bout A Revolution" 07/03/2012 ]
There does however appear to be a louder, if not entirely different drum beat…the sound of federalism.
“The political demand for federalism in Nepal has come from a long-standing aspiration for self-governance in regions outside of Kathmandu. From their standpoint, the Nepali state is seen as a distant and unresponsive authority that has historically failed to recognize the ethnic diversity of the country in a politically meaningful manner. These aspirations have been politically articulated and electorally consolidated by different geographic and ethnic constituencies as well as identity movements in Nepal….
(But)…the reality is that Nepal’s ethnic mix and settlement pattern is not amenable to an ethnic or linguistic division of provinces. Analyses show that no matter how the boundaries are drawn it is impossible to produce an ethnic majority in any province, even with significant gerrymandering. And resorting to an all-out carving of the state would result in provinces too small to remain economically viable… ” [Source: Sagar Prasai "In Asia" 30 May 2012]
If Nepal’s next battle is to be fought over the country’s ethnic fault lines then it behoves the current leadership to deliver growth and improvement to the lives of the people….