--BY MADAN LAMSAL
Some people have gobbled up government land in Baluwatar. Others have taken over the capital’s Khulla Manch and Tundikhel. For some time now, the Nepali media has kept itself busy with such petty issues carried out by a few politicians, government officials and business persons almost every day. At a time when a stable government formed in the country after ages is moving ahead with the great goal of bringing prosperity to the country, it is unfathomable why people are unable to move beyond these and other similar petty issues.
The people are stuck, and sometimes even seemingly obsessed, with small things because, perhaps, ours is a small country. Though some people might be harbouring the illusion that Nepal is big. For example, Nepal’s great poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota, in his famous essay Ke Nepal Sano Chha? (Is Nepal small?), tried to prove that Nepal is a big country. However, in the views of this scribe, Nepal is surely small and that is why the Nepalis give more importance to small things. For example, who gobbled up whose land; who swallowed how many slim-body or wide-body planes; who seized the opportunities to enjoy government incentives and benefits etc? The time now is not to think small but to think big and talk even bigger!
The truth is, our government has a big heart. That’s why it is after big things. For example, ending poverty and bringing prosperity. For this, the government is fully focused on the poor, drowning in worries for them and thinking day and night how to eradicate poverty. Why wouldn’t it? After all, there’s only one resource in the country that is available free of cost – the poor! That’s why copious discussions are held on the poor and poverty in the media, on the streets and also in parliament. The poor and poverty make a reliable topic for everyone.
There are so many poor available in the country that we always hear about the government holding serious deliberations on them. In this way, the government has always honoured the poor. Also, if there is anything that is never missing in any speech, it is the poor. So, the poor are seemingly the most popular people. The poor are everywhere. That is why the government has set up a separate ministry for the poor – the ministry of poverty alleviation – and placed the poor at centre stage. This has only increased the importance of the poor and boosted their confidence.
Needless to say, the poor are the most important people in our country. If the poor were not there, then who would one seek the votes for and who would one practice politics for? Who else to push forward to kill and get killed in political protests? Who to look down upon? Whose huts would our politicians go to, to click photos showing them having lunch or dinner and then post them on social media? Who to feed meat and offer drinks to, free of cost, during elections? Who to admit to the government hospitals? Whose children to enroll at government schools? Who to take to shops built on encroached public land from the pavements, only to throw them back on the pavements again?
Similarly, if there are no poor, who would the dozens of government bodies such as the National Planning Commission, Poverty Alleviation Fund, Landless Squatters’ Commission etc make plans for? Who would the government sell lofty dreams to? And on whose name would it ask foreign donors for grants?
The poor are creatures on whom you can pour your anger, anytime you want. Who you can despise and disrespect anytime, anywhere – government offices, hospitals, market places, public transport, workplaces, and so on. They can be deprived of any opportunity to meet even the basic needs and kept starved. And their children, you can even kill by denying them access to even substandard food and water. Whatever you do, they won’t speak up. Because they are poor.
Yes, they are poor and in poverty. And because of that they go hungry and yet sleep calmly. But, what will they do if they are to wake up sometime?