Nepal suffered terribly in 2015, 2016 may bring more of same

By Pranaya SJB Rana ,The Kathmandu Post/Asia News Network

The end of a calendar year is an occasion to take stock of everything that has gone before and look forward to a new timeframe where things will hopefully be better. It is a wishful exercise, a belief that we as humans must always strive to be better than we were. The calendar year might be an arbitrary marker in time but it provides people with a moment of respite, a slice of time when you are neither here nor there, seemingly floating in limbo between the past and the future. And thus, the ideal time to decide where we were and where we would like to go. Most often, this manifests in New Year�sresolutions that the lot of us will never keep beyond the first month. But as I write this, my first column for the year 2016, I feel very little hope and much, much helplessness. This past year has been a terrible one, personally and otherwise too. I lost a close family member to disease and foolishness and a best friend to human cruelty. But personal tragedy, though devastating, can be dealt with. It concerns emotions and a coming to terms with the fact that things change, people die and friends leave. Personal perseverance can be drawn on to steel oneself against hurt and though we be bent and bruised, we can come through unbroken. Public tragedies, though, are a different thing. They concern events and incidents that are often wholly beyond the control of one individual. This is especially true in a country like Nepal, where democracy is as hollow as the proverbial empty vessels that make the most noise. We Are Reduced to

Trembling Shells The April earthquake reduced us to trembling fearful shells of ourselves, cowering under tents and tarpaulin while the ground quaked underneath us. The weeks following the first big quake on April 25 were spent in terror at every little jolt, hoping that nothing else would come crumbling down. This was helplessness in the face of something immense and insurmountable, which can result in stasis in even the most stalwart of beings. For, how will you challenge the earth? How will you thumb your nose at this great blue marble that follows no laws except its own and respects no life but its own? The only thing we could do was wait and hope we don�t die, which is no hope at all. Then, another occasion ripe for hope was made cruelly into a sham. Nepal�s new constitution, so full of promise in its interim avatar, was put through the shredder of Panchayat-era values and forced through. Protests leading up to, and after, the promulgation were crushed brutally, with the security forces raining batons on Dalits in Kathmandu and bullets on Madhesis in the Tarai. The aspirations of an entire generation that had grown up in the shadow of the Maoist insurgency were crushed under the boot heels of a government led by KP Oli, who has always been too eager for what he has always seen as his rightful turn at the till. The protests turned violent and then snowballed into a blockade, by Madhesis and by big brother India. And meanwhile, PM Oli, that fork-tongued charmer of snakes, added more ministers to his massive Cabinet, distributing the ill-gotten spoils of an internal war.