Oli-Dahal discuss

Monthly News Analysis – June 2019

CESIF Nepal Democracy and Federalism, Gender and Inclusion, International Relations, News Analysis, News Analysis, News Analysis, News Analysis, Security and Strategic Affairs, Thematic Areas Leave a Comment

Summary

The US has been tightening its grip in the South Asian region alluring the countries with additional financial assistance. Nepal as a country in South Asian region cannot remain unaffected of the US assertion and has already received a huge commitment under the MCC. However, Nepal should have a coherent foreign policy in projecting its national interests and agreeing to regional pacts and agreements including China’s BRI, India’s neighborhood policy, and Japan’s open and free indo pacific.

Change of guard very often and a short-lived coalition since the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1990 deterred peace and development. The people, in the recent elections, expressed their votes in support of political stability. The votes gave a majority to the newly formed NCP after merger of erstwhile UML and Maoist Centre. As the party still struggles to complete the merger process, it has been well established that sustaining political stability would require cohesion within the Nepal Communist Party. Unfortunately, however, it seems to be failing due to internal feud among NCP leaders. This has hit all aspect of Nepal’s governance system, international relations, and has also deterred policy departure in terms of delivering services. The two-thirds majority government formed after decades of short-lived coalitions, which was expected to focus on peace and development, is missing those goals every moment.[1]

The withdrawal of the Guthi Bill following massive protests and not having much to boast of the recent Europe tour, the Prime Minister seems to have been losing his aura; at the same time weakening him, pushing him to be defensive, and scared of losing power anytime.[2]

The fiasco behind the IIFA awards is another setback to Oli’s government which has been backtracking on many occasion for not holding consultations with partners. The government has been facing same fate on many controversial ideas including the Guthi Bill, the Media Council Bill, and many more.[3] Successful hosting of the IIFA awards would have benefitted the prime minister in utilizing the platform to profess closer ties with India, but this dream has currently come undone with the cancellation. Many in the ruling party have seen Chairman Dahal to be behind the cancellation of IIFA in Kathmandu, while others believe that it happened because PM Oli has developed a habit of acting unilaterally. Various recent decisions, taken in rush without any assessment of the in-house mechanism to deliver, defend, and execute has degraded the trust on the government with each passing day. 

Amid the current diplomatic situation of Nepal, the country is trying to balance its relations with its neighbors and the western powers by making efforts to stand by its commitments. The changing political and economic way of engagements of India, China, and the US in Nepal have created a situation where Nepal has to officially organize the dialogue giving importance to all three countries. It was a smart diplomatic move of Nepal to have a foreign policy orientation when it is struggling to engage with China, India, and the US simultaneously. Nepali leaders maintained their neutral positions during the event by stating Nepal’s foreign policies to be pro-Nepal, keeping its national interests in the center.

Despite the change in governance structure, from unitary to federal, the budget expenditure trend remain unchanged as most of the capital expenses happen around the end of the fiscal year, during the monsoon. The recurrent expenditure would always be exhausted despite the minimal capital expenditure. The upsurge in capital expenditure towards the last months of the fiscal year remains a regular phenomenon. A policy departure, on improving the expenditure pattern with the recurrent expenditure tied up with the capital expenses and early start of the procurement process is yet to be practiced in the country, without which the country’s dreams of sustainable growth and prosperity shall remain unfulfilled.

Likewise, the troubled relations between the outlawed Biplab party and the government remains unchanged. Talking about forceful containment of the outlawed party and tagging them as terrorist would mean endangering peace rather than sustaining it. The former Maoist party who is now in the ruling party, no one else other than them would understand it better. The actions of the government in this regard is much of a personal ego in between the home minister and leader of the outlawed party. The government should justify its intention on banning a party in a competitive multiparty democracy that the country has been practicing for three decades now. At the same time, the revolutionary force should also make its space in the open political culture that the country is in in the recent years. The government, specifically, some of the leaders, may have vested interest fulfilled from the vengeful relations, but there is no way that either the country or the countrymen would support an armed struggle once again. The government should take heed not to fuel one. No to securitization and aggression yes to talks and negotiations for peace should be the way forward.

International Relations

A.1 The US Aid Allure: In a bid to strengthen the Indo Pacific Strategy, Trump administration has announced additional financial assistance to South Asian countries. An additional USD 30 million has been allocated for the South Asian countries-Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Maldives-under ‘Bay of Bengal’ security initiative as foreign military financing in addition to USD 64 million that the US committed earlier. The sub-committee of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the US Interests in South Asia and the FY 2020 Budget on June 13. The US is doubling its fund to USD 468 million for 2020 for South Asia’s economic and regional assistance. Alice G Wells, Senior State Department Official for South Asia, said the US along with India, Japan, Australia, and other trusted allies will work together for economic and political autonomy of IPS.[4]

Chandra Prakash Mainali, general secretary, Communist Party of Nepal, has said that the Indo-Pacific Strategy is an attempt to contain China. He further added that the US had no consultation with Nepal and announced that Nepal is a part of Indo Pacific Strategy.[5]

The US will continue to increase its economic assistance in the impoverished regions in support of its strategic move in the Indo-Pacific.

A.2 PM’s Europe Tour: PM KP Sharma Oli’s recent Europe visit turned out unfruitful and so had a little justification.

PM Oli left for his 8-day Europe visit on June 8 aiming to boost economic relation with the European countries. Oli left for the tour after the government presented its budget, policy and program for the next fiscal year. The PM was to attend centennial programme of International Labour Organization on the 9th and 10th in Geneva. On June 10, the PM attended a program at Oxford University Union and met the British PM Theresa May on the 11th, followed by a meeting with Norwegian PM.[6]

At the Oxford Union Oli said ‘Nepal has established the foundation for a non-discriminatory, inclusive, and participatory democracy for socio-economic transformation’, but the public societies here in Nepal denied Oli’s claim for a democratic Nepal.[7]

The PM claimed reviewing the 1947 tripartite agreement signed between the UK, India, and Nepal regarding the Nepalis serving in the British and the Indian army. Though Pradeep Gyawali confirmed about Oli’s discussion with outgoing PM Theresa May on the subject, the Gurkha leaders were unsure about Oli making any proposal to the UK, as it wasn’t mentioned in the statement from 10 Downing Street.[8]

The PM’s foreign policy adviser, Rajan Bhattarai, tweeted that forces inside and outside the country are intent on repeating history and are actively trying to channelize the popular discontent against the government.[9]

PM Oli seems to have lost the tuning and is not heading towards the right direction as per the regional as well as diplomatic moves. He has been wandering to South Asian countries and then to Europe portraying himself as a regional leader and enjoying the fallacy.

At a time when Modi 2.0 is pushing the neighbor first approach when the northern neighbor China is getting closer to India and Russia, it is high time for Nepal to adjust the tunes rather than wander around.

A.3 India: Despite Nepal wanting to share the Eminent Persons’ Group Report, the Indian side remains reluctant till date. Competing the proposed rails from China to Kathmandu, India’s Raxaul to Kathmandu rail seems to be making inroads to Nepal. The fiscal budget with increment of grant and aid by 178% is an indication of Indian engagement in Nepal.

In a new trade agreement between Nepal and India, Nepal Railway Company will use its own cargo to import from third countries, extending the railway service by adding Dhamra and Mundra ports in Odisha and Gujarat respectively. The railway cargo service will also reach Bhairahawa apart from Biratnagar. There has been an agreement to also permit the private sector in the transit trade.[10] Sources in the Indian government said that India has finalized and submitted the ‘pre-engineering and traffic survey report’ of Raxaul-Kathmandu railway to Nepal. The report said, the DPR will take 2 years and the construction would take another 5 years for construction of the.[11] 

PM Oli said that Nepal wants to create an environment so that the EPG can submit its report to Nepal and India. Constantino Xavier, a research scholar with Brookings India said “Delhi shouldn’t fear the debate” and should “make the report public.”[12]

Indian Ambassador for Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri handed over a cheque of Rs 1600 crores to the secretary at the Ministry of Finance Dr Rajan Khanal to support 50,000 beneficiaries in Nuwakot and Gorkha for post-earthquake reconstruction. The government of India partnered with UNDP and UNOPS to provide socio-technical assistance to rebuild shelters in Gorkha and Nuwakot districts.[13] India increased the allocation for Nepal from an actual disbursement of Rs 376.61 crore in 2017-18 to an estimated Rs 1,050 crore in 2019-20 – a boost of 178%.[14]

Despite strained relations following the Indian blockade in 2015, the increment in grants and assistance, trade facilitation, and progress in Raxaul-Kathmandu railways have been symbolic as India’s attempt to win the heart of Nepalis. However, the row regarding the import of vegetable and fruits on the pretext of heavy use of pesticides seems have disheartened the Nepalis en masse.

A.4 Nepal-China: The US will become a major factor in determining to what extent India and China can work together in Nepal.[15] Nepal is simply being ignored in most of the world forum. This could be an indication of the Oli regime losing the frame.

Nepal was not a part of the recent Boao forum. Likewise, Nepal, a dialogue partner, was not invited to the 19th summit for Shanghai Corporation Organization (SCO) that was held on 13-14 of June in Kyrgyzstan.[16] The summit was a key in deepening interaction between regions, strengthen fight against drug trafficking, and establish cooperation in information technologies, environmental protection, health care, and sports’.[17]

China hosted the China-South Asia Media Forum on June 11 to integrate ‘stronger media cooperation for the people-to-people exchange’ in Yuxi city. During the event, Madhav Sharma, press advisor to Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari, said Nepali and Chinese media should address the national interest servicing public rather than fulfilling exclusive interests. Krishna Murari Bhandary, executive chairman of Gorkhapatra Corporation of Nepal, said South Asia depends too much on foreign media for any global and regional issue and that the South Asian media should have their own perspectives.[18] Nepal’s envoy to China, Leela Mani Poudyal said Nepal seeks China’s help to promote access to Chinese market by transferring technologies and enhancing production capacity.[19]

Upendra Yadav’s Federal Socialist Party (FSP) has suspended one of its members of the federal parliament, Pradip Yadav, for taking part in an event supporting Free Tibet movement in Latvia.[20] Party insiders said the party had come under immense pressure from China.

On an incident over China restricting entry of Humlis in Tibet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to authorities of China for easy access of Humla residents to Taklakot in China. Nepali authorities requested China to ensure a suitable working environment for them as well. However, Nepal has not mentioned anything about the incident regarding a Nepali man who was arrested for murdering a Chinese women following which China prohibited Nepalis to enter the region.[21] Following the request, Chinese authorities eased the entry.[22]

On the ‘One China Policy’, Nepal remains firm. The event of suspension of lawmakers from their party is a gallant example of Chinese pressure in the country.

A.5 BRI: China has confirmed that Bangladesh is a part of the BRI.  There were doubts as Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar-Economic Corridor (BCIM) did not appear on 35 corridors mentioned during the 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in April.

The information released in the red book on June 4, states that China will be providing a grant amounting USD 2 billion for either cross-border railway or two internal railway links. It is not yet clear on which projects the grant will be spent.[23]

Trade imbalance with China is growing after the opening of the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung transit. While imports from the transit have more than doubled in the last year to Rs 43.24 billion, Nepal’s export has dropped 25 per cent to Rs 1.16 billion.[24]

The widening trade gap between Nepal and China is a concerning issue. Although trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity including cross border rails was part of the joint communique, no allocation of budget for the rails, except a grant from China in the upcoming budget, indicates low level of commitment from Nepal.  With the increasing trade imbalance with china, it is high time that the government kick-started export-oriented businesses in the country. Or else the futuristic connectivity will be of no meaning in terms of trade, and the country fails to capitalize the shift from land locked to land-linked, after China allowed Nepal to reach to third countries through their sea ports.

A.6 Nepal-China-US: Nepal, a dialogue partner of SCO along with countries like Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Azerbaijan, was excluded from an invitation for the SCO summit this June. Russia and China share interest to curb the Indo-Pacific strategy in Nepal and have found themselves combining their deterrence strategy.[25] 

With the increasing alienation from the US, the SCO saw scope for greater cooperation between China, Russia, and India. If the three countries make serious advancements in negotiations, this could mean that Nepal a country which has often claimed to be ‘a yam between two boulders’ could stand to benefit from two mammoth economies in the next door.

A.7 Foreign Policy Dialogue: Nepal streamlined its foreign policy objectives around economic agenda. The Foreign ministry proposed fine tuning of Nepal’s foreign policy to realize the goal of prosperous Nepal and happy Nepali.[26] The recently conducted dialogue is a stepping stone towards the same.

Nepal organized ‘national dialogue on foreign policy’ to formulate Nepal’s foreign policies on 29th of June. The dialogue was first of its kind after the current ruling government came into power. This dialogue program aimed to clarify Nepal’s potential to rightly fit in current world situation.[27] The dialogue witnessed themes titled “changing geopolitics: neighbors and major powerful nations”; “orientation on economic diplomacy and priorities”; “regional and multilateral affairs and new challenges”; and “climate change and labor migration.”

The essence of the dialogue was to present Nepal’s national interests, particularly economic, are incorporated in the country’s foreign policies, and the country formulates the policies without any bias.

B. Security and Strategic Affairs

B.1 Biplab: The outlawed outfit seems to have strengthened to carry out an armed aggression against the state.

NCP (Biplab) spokesman Khadak Bahadur Bishowkarma (Prakanda) informed through a press release that Padam Rai of his party has joined the ruling NCP. [28]

Kathmandu district in-charge Maela Lama absconded after bomb blasts in Kathmandu that killed four Biplab cadres and injured seven others. Nepal police is on his hunt and later arrested Motidhan Rai, Bhupendra Gharti, Bindu Kumari Kuekela, and Sandhya Devi Pun.[29]

Reports claimed that the party operated sudden and suspicious activities in Solukhumbu district. Security agencies claimed that 20-25 Biplab cadres attacked and tried to take control of the police post of Chheskam village of Mahakulung Rural Municipality-3.[30]

On June 25, unidentified people set two ward offices in Dhakari and Panchadebal Binayak municipalities on fire. An improvised explosive device (IED) was also detonated at the liaison of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project on June 8. Police suspect involvement of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Biplab Party behind these attacks.[31]

Four cadres of Biplab-led CPN fired at the police during a chase. In retaliation, Sarlahi, district in-charge of the CPN, Kumar Poudel was killed on the spot while three others fled the scene.[32]

A team of metropolitan police crime division and Kathmandu police arrested Biplab party cadre and film producer Nara Bahadur Karki. [33] Police also arrested NCP-Biplab cadre Kansa Dhimal, convicted for looting Rs. 7.50 million from a bank 10 years ago. Police confiscated two automatic pistols, four magazines, and 14 rounds of bullets from him.[34] Likewise, police arrested cadres from Rukum district. The arrested are secretary of Triveni rural municipality, Chhabi Lal Dharti, Bibek B.K, Dirgha Raj Gahatraj, and Gorkhe Kami.[35] Another Binod Sonam has also been arrested. [36]

Continuing with recent trends, there has been an increase in explosions, bomb hoaxes, life threats to elected representatives, cross-firing with government security personnel, and other activities including a general strike. The incidents have indicated at another armed struggle in the offing. However, it all connects to feuds in the NCP in dealing with the outlawed party. The home minister, with a subtle unseen support from the prime minister is all for a forceful containment, which will be a wrong course of action, as Nepal’s recent political history of Maoist insurgency suggests the same.

B.2 One China Policy: From not having provided any form of documentation to Tibetans for the past twenty years, surveilling their areas in Nepal, to now even deporting a so-called Tibetan agent, Nepal is on a path to be dubbed as China’s ‘client state’. However, there still remains some hope that the Nepali leadership will be able to draw lines between Nepal’s security and strategic vis a vis upholding of human rights.

On June 24, a US citizen Penpa Tsering was refused entry into Nepal on the grounds that his name was on China’s most wanted list, and the Chinese authorities had requested Nepal to stop his entry. However, it was discovered later that the name was confused with other Penpa Tsering who used to be the speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. Penpa was said to be involved in anti-China activities, a firm follower of the Dalai Lama, and an advocate of free-Tibet movement.[37] The American Embassy issued a statement demanding clarification on why the US citizen needed permission from foreign governments to enter Nepali territory.

Nepal has historically been a tolerant space which has recognized and respected Dalai Lama’s spiritual presence and has even had a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to hand over all illegal Tibetan refugees to the UNHCR. The deportation of Penpa Tsering indicates that China now occupies a decision-making space in Nepal. Nepal must exercise caution in its efforts to please the northern neighbor as rash decisions and actions may lead to a serious transgression with its partner countries.

C. Gender, Inclusion, Human Rights and Press Freedom

C.1 Press Freedom and Human Rights: One after other, the Bills that the government tabled have caused widespread uproar among stakeholders. Controversial bills created tensions in the federal parliament.

More than half dozens of controversial bill are registered in the federal parliament.[38] The Federation of Nepali Journalist (FNJ) announced third phase of protest against the controversial Media Council bill. FNJ will carry out whistle march, lantern march, cartoon exhibition, and signature collection campaign against the Bill.[39]

The ruling party and the main opposition are stuck to their stance on those Bills. The Media Council Bill for the past few months and the Guthi Bill recently have become the bone of contention for the political parties. When Prime Minister Oli was addressing the Oxford Union during his tour, confirming his belief in democracy and freedom of speech as crucial element for a country to prosper, journalists and human rights activists back home were demonstrating in Kathmandu, pressing for withdrawal of Press Council Bill and Information and Press Bill and use of force against the peaceful protesters against the Guthi Bill, in an ironic turn of events.

C.2. The Guthi Bill: The NCP government has learnt a lesson that a two third majority government does not mean that the voters have submitted to every move of the government, right or wrong.

On the last week of April, the Guthi bill was registered in the National Assembly. Nepali Congress obstructed the HoR proceeding against the government amendment on the Bill.[40] As per article 23 and 24, all trustee rights would be immediately terminated once the Bill is enacted. There are more than 2,335 public guthis under the Guthi Sansthan-a government corporation that manages them.

When the PM was wandering in Europe, massive protests in Kathmandu was going on against the government’s move to control Guthi through the new legislation. Kathmandu valley Newars warned of a shut down if the government did not withdraw or revise the bill.[41]

As the contested bill propelled massive protest in Kathmandu, riot police used water cannons and charged batons to disperse cultural experts, heritage conservationists, locals, and stakeholders.[42]

However, lawmakers of the ruling party also criticized the bill. Lawmaker Pampha Bhusal and Anjana Bishankhe criticized it at the parliament meeting on June 10.[43] Lawmakers from NC and RJP-N also demanded the withdrawal of the Bill. NC lawmaker Prakash Man Singh said the bill was against the spirit of Nepal’s Constitution while RJP-N lawmaker Anil Kumar Jha urged the government to go for comprehensive consultation with stakeholders.[44] Even if some leaders are in favor of the bill, most of the former Maoist leaders are critical of the government’s stance.[45]

Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (United) co-chairs Pashupati Sumsher JBR and Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani said they would go for street protest if the government didn’t withdraw the bill which represents Hindu and Buddhist cultures.[46]

At a press conference in Chitwan, Chairman NCP co-chair Prachanda made a face saving remark that the government will go for consultation with the stakeholders and make revisions on both the Media and Guthi bills.[47] After a widespread criticism, the government signaled a revision in the Bills. [48]

The protest in Kathmandu, against the legislation to regulate the Guthis, did not only press the government to withdraw but also taught a lesson to be cautious on such matters in the future.

C.3 Transitional Justice: As the government intentionally delays the transitional justice process, an issue has gone to the High Commissioners Office in Geneva indicating an international pressure in the days to come.

Former Maoist child soldier, Lenin Bista filed an application at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva demanding justice for the thousands of child soldiers during the Maoist insurgency. Earlier, in the second week of April, he filed a similar petition with Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, in Belgium.[49] Among the 4,008 disqualified combatants, 2,973 minors were disqualified during the verification process conducted by United Nation Mission in Nepal in 2007. They didn’t receive any substantial support, except few thousand rupees from the UN.[50]

Likewise, at home, on June 10, meeting of Transitional Justice Recommendation Committee failed to finalize the names of nominees for the two transitional justice bodies. The next meeting on June 23 turned futile as well.[51]

Transitional Justice Recommendation Committee meeting has been postponed again. Om Prakash-led committee failed once again to nominate the names of office-bearers for the two justice commissions, TRC and CIEDP. Political bargaining and power-sharing remains the reason behind the delay in deciding the leadership. [52] 

Families of martyrs, injured, and disappeared persons during the decade-long insurgency in Province 2 accused local government province for discriminatory behavior while distributing different facilities. They warned of agitation in all eight districts of the province if their demands are not met. A total of 28 persons lost their lives during the Maoist conflict in the district while seven persons are still missing. But the provincial government is only focusing to the families who lost their close ones in Madhesh agitation.[53]

Nepal government failing to complete the fulfillment of positions in the justice bodies will allow playing field for the international community. The government, in consensus with the opposition and the war victims, should sort the deadlock out at the earliest possible for a respectful position for the country with regards to transitional justice.

C.4 Tharuhat Movement: Tharuhat movement is catching momentum once again as they have increased their preparatory activities for the National Summit in August. Tharu leader Laxman Tharu is travelling across districts meeting political leaders and activist to make the summit successful. However, Tharu Welfare Society is turning away from the movement saying that the summit will create disharmony among communities.

After the Tikapur Incident, the Tharu activists remained silent until the release of Laxman Tharu. The movement, however, may be failing due to lack of co-ordination among leaders and leading organizations.  

Further, lawmaker Resham Chaudhary, convicted of Tikapur killings, was seen chained while receiving treatment at Bir Hospital. The picture on social media received innumerable flack, forcing PM Oli to instruct the police to remove the shackles.[54]1.  Leaders, including former PM Baburam Bhattarai, Rajendra Mahato, Tharu activist and actress Rekha Thapa, visited the hospital and decried the inhuman treatment. Leader Mahantha Thakur said the extreme mindset of the rulers in Kathmandu towards Madhesh, Tharus, and indigenous people is yet to change even after repeated protests and movements.[55] A lawmaker, though convicted, cannot be chained on a hospital bed is a shameful act and shows the government’s bias against the minority.

C.5 Employee Recruitment: The employee recruitment process for local governments as per a vacancy announcement of the Public Service Commission moved ahead as per plan after facing a few hiccups.

Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee ordered cancellation of hiring process that the Public Service Commission recently announced for recruitment of staffers in the local governments. The committee claimed that the announcement was against the principle of inclusion and the constitution. The committee directed the Ministry of the Federal Affairs and General Administration to consider principles of inclusion in all of its recruitment processes.[56]

Following widespread criticism, both the ruling party and opposition parties spoke against the hiring process claiming that it violated the provision of the Constitution.[57]

A joint student struggle warned the government to correct the vacancy notice of the Public Service Commission with due consideration principle of inclusion.[58]

A recent Supreme Court decision stamped a go ahead for the PSC on its recruitment plan. The rule of law is a key to liberal democracy, which has been upheld in this case. Article 227 of the Constitution provisions reservation quotas for marginalized groups in Public Service Commission recruitments. The parliamentary committee advised the commission to withhold the process. However, the court’s decision gave a go ahead. The provinces have been deprived of the constitutional rights of employment recruitment as provincial public service commission is yet to be formed for lack of relevant bills which is being discussed.

C6. Child Marriage: The impact on child groom hinders not only their childhood but forces them to take responsibilities which they may not be aware of and not be prepared.[59] Even the child grooms experience a lot of complications similar to child brides. Child marriage destroys their future- both boys and girls.

Last month Province 2 State Min­ister for Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment Suresh Mandal assisted and paid for a wedding of a 14-year-old girl Dalit girl from Siraha. This is not the first time that he has done it. He has been endorsing by saying that helping and paying for wedding ceremony for poor Dalits is not a crime. The minister has weakened the Save Daughter, Educate Daughter campaign of the provincial government.[60]

A UNICEF report on child marriage among boys, ranked Nepal tenth highest and is the only country in South Asia with a major prevalence of child marriages among both boys and girls. Globally, 115 million boys and men were married before age 18.[61]

Despite international commitments, the government failed to bring about changes. The government should enhance awareness programs on consequences of children’s future especially in the Terai as the practice is still booming. With more research, investment, dedication and empowerment from the government, impetus could be created in ending the practice.

C7. Demographic Dilemma: Data received from United Nations has indicated that the current population of 28.6 million in 2019 will reach 36.45 million in 2053, but will decline to 27.3 million by the end of the century. Declining fertility and rising life expectancy will affect health, education, social security, labor market, and economic growth of the country due to decreased labor force participation. Further a study in 2017, found that 117 boys were born for every 100 girls.[62] It shows an increase in sex-selective abortion in the past few years. The skewed boy girl ratio, though the effect is not visible immediately, has unwarranted consequences such as partner crisis and sexual violence against both men and women. When gender ratio gets imbalanced, its outcome almost always affects the next generation, causing a direct impact in the country’s population, which will ultimately present a threat to the stability and security of the country.

D. Democracy and Federalism

D.1 NCP feud: Factional politics is on the rise in NCP party and hindered the merger which eventually shall hit the long awaited political stability in the country.

Nine senior leaders are protecting their group interests in the party. PM Oli leads a group with committed members and has home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa as the new comer.[63]  

During an event organized to commemorate the death of former communist leader Madan Bhandari, Pushpa Kamal Dahal indicated he had been assassinated by foreign forces. Dahal implied he was under a similar threat.[64]

During the event, Dahal also said there would be no power transfer outside NCP. “NC should not dream that NCP will split and it will get a chance,” he said adding that NCP’s failure would tantamount to the nation’s failure. He implied that any tussle for power was internal.[65]

NCP discussed the name of in-charge and co-in-charge of the district committee. The party formed central, provincial, and relation coordination committee, sister wings of Madhes Committee and also formed international coordination committee.[66]

The party is yet to finalize the head of the party organization department. Both co-chairs want their person as head of the department. Leader Bamdev Gautam is the top contender for the post.[67] 

Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal claimed that he will be the next prime minister on the basis of 5-point agreement in between him and PM Oli.[68] Both Chairs met to discuss the power-sharing issue after the agreement surfaced on social media.[69]

Senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, claiming ignorance of the agreement, urged that the government should operate for five years. [70]

A meeting of the central secretariat of NCP on June 4 ended inconclusively. The meeting held to finalize the work division of central committee members, chose the head of various party departments as well as full-size and division of politburo members.[71] The issue of contention was one leader one responsibility rule or otherwise.[72]   

District committees are gradually taking full shape. Morang formed its district committee with 185 members led by Rishikesh Pokharel (former UML) and Secretary Ganesh Upreti from erstwhile Maoist Center.[73]

Rift in the party was a reason behind the government’s announcement that Kathmandu will not be hosting the 2019 International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards. The decision did not come in response to resounding public and political discontent. Instead, the IIFA awards became a pawn in the ongoing power struggle within the ruling party. As such is the case, the rift among leaders will affect all government actions not only the ones not in the interest of the country, but all those which are in the interest of the country too.

D.2 Opposition Parties: Nepali congress, the key opposition is weakening further waning hope of the people.

Nepali Congress seems to be weakening further with politics of faction, sub-factions, and groups as seen in the ongoing nationwide awareness programme.[74]

NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba claimed that NC will start a movement to uproot the Communist as it did with the Ranas, the Panchayat, and the Monarchy.[75]

NC registered a public importance proposal at the federal parliament over labour agreement with Malaysia and the subsequent withholding of employment migration.[76]

Samajbadi Party Nepal, which was seen as an alternative is breaking when it was just starting to build. The party has been using tools of threat against the government, but in vain.

Samajbadi Party Nepal co-chairs Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Yadav charged the government of seriously not considering amendment in the constitution as per their demands. The party indicated at withdrawal from the government and going for street protests against the government.[77]

The party also criticized the Public Service Commission on its recent recruitment announcement.

RJP-N and Samajbadi Party Nepal, leaders, Rajendra Mahato and Upendra Yadav discussed reshuffling Province 2 government.  Despite ongoing discussion, RJP-N is yet not ready to join the Samajbadi party.[78] Both parties have claimed that a new alternative force should replace the traditional parties and informally discuss party merger. [79]

RJP-N also started talks with various ethnic parties for revival of identity movement. The party leaders discussed with Tarai Tharuhat party and Kumar Lingden-led Limbuwan Party. [80]

With all the developments going on the fringe parties around mergers and getting stronger, there is a chance of strong alternative political force rising in Nepal’s political domain. Samajbadi-RJP-N is making a bid towards that end. However, there is a decision awaited from the parties.

Fringe parties continue to carry out activities to show their presence in support of agenda of restoration of Hinduism while some have reckoning a need of merger amongst themselves and making their presence felt.

Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-United, Pashupati Sumsher JBR Rana said that they will take to street movement for restoration of Hindu state. He claimed that as 81% Nepalis are Hindu and 94% belong to Omkar family, the restoration is possible without foreign support.[81] Similarly, Kamal Thapa of Rastriya Prajatantra Party announced the start of second Rashtriya Swabhiman Abhiyan from Mustang. Thapa also called for roundtable conference accommodating the former king and Biplab for ensuring peace and political stability. [82]

D. 3 Budget and Economy: The rampant anomalies towards the end of the fiscal year remained characteristic of Nepal’s budget expenditure system this fiscal year as well. The expenditure on facilities including vehicles for officials topped the expenditure list.

Karnali Pradesh took a controversial decision of purchasing 54 four wheelers by allocating a budget of over Rs. two billion from the development budget. The government already bought 42 four wheelers and plans to buy 12 more. The government will also purchase 10 ambulances at a cost of Rs 150 million.[83]

The Ministry of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens started the President Women Uplift Program in 30 districts from current fiscal year 2018/19. Minister for Women, Children, and Senior Citizens, Tham Maya Thapa said that grant amounting to Rs 305.5 million has been provided to 47 groups and organizations run by women in order to assist them in operating agriculture, tourism, livestock, and skilled–based enterprises. The minister also informed that the program will be expanded to 55 districts in the upcoming fiscal year.[84]

Local women from Mahakali Municipality are working on a construction of Mahakali River embankment for the past three months. The construction work is commissioned mostly to women to make them economically strong and not to seek monetary support from their family.[85]

After unveiling its budget, Province 2 brought forward the idea of developing cultural cities. The government also announced development of Madhes-Mithila Artist Center and including Mithila Art in school textbooks.[86]

The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) disrupted provincial assembly meeting of Province 3 claiming that the budget announced for 2019-20 was distributive and not inclusive.[87]

The provinces in their budget have prioritized agriculture, physical infrastructure, education, and tourism sectors and industrial sectors.[88] A campaign ‘Healthy Life Programme’ aimed at enhancing access to health facilities has been introduced in Province 1.[89]

Despite announcement of a few new initiatives, the budget followed the same old trend of being distributive rather than focusing on something substantial in line with the government’s ‘Prosperous Nepal-Happy Nepali’ agenda. The expenditure trend, towards the end of the fiscal and around monsoon season, remains a challenge. The government needs to break the trend and implement projects timely.

D. 4 Civic Space and Human Rights: Following criticism, the government dropped the Guthi Bill from the National Assembly. This put the government at a tight spot with regards to many other contested bills, including the Media Council Bill. Civil society, journalists, and opposition parties have also demanded withdrawal of the controversial NHRC Act. The past decisions of the government remains futile in human rights in the country.

Farmers who were unable to pay back the loans of the landlords were mired into the never-ending circle of bonded laborers, fell into the category of Haliyas and Kamaiyas. This was in practice in the far west region of Nepal. [90] This system was abolished on paper, though there are few who still practice it. In order to uphold the rights of Haliyas, the government provided financial support to provide them with pieces of land. However, some families are surviving in poverty with the land gone, while some are back to the same practice again. In Jajarkot only, 202 Dalit Haliyas are still landless. Their life has not changed, and they still depend on labor.[91]  In the last fiscal year, Rs. 3.89 billion budget was set aside to complete the rehabilitation work for Kamaiyas and Haliyas.[92]However, it needs comprehensive empowerment package, including re-establishment amenities so that they don’t have to go back to the practice again.

Amidst criticism, Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, Minister of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs claimed that the government brought the NHRC Bill as per Nepal’s Constitution.[93] However, opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba accused the government of being authoritarian and undermining democracy. Deuba claimed that as the people dismissed Rana rule and Monarchy, and this government will have the same fate if it goes against the democratic system, curtail civil liberties, freedom of expression, and intervene in the NHRC.[94]

FNJ, in its third phase of protest campaign, collected signatures of 20,000 journalist and forwarded it to the PM office through respective chief district officers of 77 districts.[95]

D.5 Judiciary/Corruption: In the recent months, stories of increasing corruption, distortion, and various other malpractices in the judiciary became quite regular.

Advocate Narayan Prasad Duwadi, chairman, Independent National Law Professionals Campaign demanded screening of academic certificates of all judges and justices.[96] The CIAA has been refusing to provide the Supreme Court with the case files and the decision to prosecute former minister Gobinda Raj Joshi since the last five years. In its latest decision, the Supreme Court has asked the CIAA to submit the decision and case files within 15 days.[97]

D.6 Good Governance: The government transferred more than Rs 5 billion under budget heads at the end of the current fiscal year. The government made the transfer to pay motivational allowances to government officials and overtime wages to customs officials. Almost every year, the finance ministry allows large budget transfer in headings at the end of the fiscal year. The government also spent a huge sum to fund official visits to foreign countries this year.

The government recommended four names as possible ambassadors – Mahesh Dahal for Australia, Narad Bhardwaj Wagle for Qatar, Banshi Dhar Mishra for Bangladesh, and Dawa Futi Sherpa for Spain.[98] 

The incumbent government defied the criteria of diplomatic experiences and credentials in nominating the Ambassadors. The cabinet decision went against foreign ministry’s new criteria for selection of ambassador.


[1] https://theannapurnaexpress.com/news/opposition-to-power-sharing-deal-could-lead-to-a-split-1694

[2] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/oli-s-missed-opportunities/

[3] https://www.setopati.com/politics/185354

[4] https://www.wionews.com/world/eye-on-china-us-government-seeks-more-funding-from-congress-to-bolster-bay-of-bengal-military-security-226703

[5] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-06/10/c_138131578.htm

[6] https://www.nepal24hours.com/investment-issues-to-feature-during-pms-visit-to-britain-france/

[7] https://setopati.net/political/147717

[8] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/printedition/news/2019-06-13/oli-proposed-review-of-1947-tripartite-pact-in-a-meeting-with-theresa-may-foreign-minister-says.html

[9] https://twitter.com/Rajanktm/status/1143266273784033280

[10] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-09/nepali-trains-to-transport-cargo-to-biratnagar-and-birgunj-from-kolkata.html

[11] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-09/raxaul-kathmandu-rail-survey-report-is-ready-indian-officials-say.html

[12] https://twitter.com/ConstantinoX/status/1144837940868108288

[13] https://www.nepal24hours.com/india-hands-over-rs-1-6-billion-to-nepal-for-post-quake-reconstruction/

[14] https://thewire.in/diplomacy/budget-mea-foreign-policy-charts/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

[15] https://www.theindiaforum.in/article/can-india-and-china-escape-their-recent-history-and-shape-their-engagement-better

[16] https://www.rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-hosts-shanghai-cooperation-organization-summit/29999408.html

[17] http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2019-06/12/content_74878366.htm

[18] https://www.nepal24hours.com/china-calls-for-fair-information-order/

[19] https://www.nepal24hours.com/nepals-envoy-urges-chinas-favour-to-reduce-trade-deficit/

[20] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/18054/2019-06-25

[21] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/china-urged-to-let-nepalis-work-in-taklakot/

[22] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/after-a-brief-pause-chinese-authorities-allow-humla-residents-to-reenter-tibet.html

[23] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-07/china-pledges-rs-2-billion-in-grant-for-railways-but-where-will-it-go.html

[24] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-30/imports-continue-to-surge-via-rasuwagadhi-kerung-customs-point.html

[25] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-06-08/shanghai-meet-to-go-ahead-without-nepal.html

[26] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/national-dialogue-on-foreign-policy/

[27] https://mofa.gov.np/remarks-by-minister-for-foreign-affairs-hon-mr-pradeep-kumar-gyawali-at-the-national-dialogue-on-foreign-policy/

[28] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128749

[29] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128772

[30] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-03/police-send-reinforcements-to-solukhumbu-village-after-chand-partys-suspicious-activities.html

[31] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-07-03/peoples-representatives-concerned-over-incidents-of-blasts-arsons.html

[32] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/sarlahi-district-incharge-of-biplav-led-cpn-killed-in-cross-firing/

[33] https://setopati.net/political/148768

[34] https://setopati.net/political/148783

[35] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/four-leaders-of-biplav-group-arrested/

[37]  https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/man-labelled-dalai-lamas-agent-deported-to-us/

[36] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/biplav-group-s-lamjung-secretary-held/

[38] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/controversial-bills-set-to-flare-up-tensions-at-house.html

[39] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/fnj-unveils-new-protest-against-media-bill/

[40] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/opposition-obstructs-house-protesting-governments-use-of-force-against-guthi-bill-protesters.html

[41] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-12/with-guthi-bill-government-wants-to-exploit-ancient-customs-for-money-locals-say.html

[42] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/police-use-force-against-those-protesting-guthi-bill.html

[43] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-12/controversial-bills-draw-criticism-from-ruling-party-lawmakers.html

[44] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nc-rjpn-lawmakers-seek-withdrawal-of-guthi-bill/

[45] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-13/united-in-haste-ideological-schisms-appear-in-ruling-party.html

[46] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/79659/

[47] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/govt-to-make-changes-in-proposed-media-guthi-bills-in-consultation-with-concerned-stakeholders-says-ncp-chairman-dahal/

[48] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/79577/

[49] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-07/former-child-soldier-files-petition-at-un-human-rights-office-demanding-justice-20190607191754.html

[50] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-07/former-child-soldier-files-petition-at-un-human-rights-office-demanding-justice-20190607191754.html

[51] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/committee-to-recommend-leadership-for-transitional-bodies-failsonce-againto-nominate-anyone.html

[52] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/committee-failsagain-to-recommend-tj-commissioners/

[54] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com.np/news/2019-06-23/shackling-of-resham-chaudhary-shows-how-the-state-treats-its-citizens-differently-rights-defenders-say.html

[53] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/martyrs-families-complain-of-discrimination/

[55] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/reshams-manacled-leg-enrages-pm/

[56] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/06/10/156014386473316055.html

[57] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/parliamentary-committee-directs-government-to-terminate-staff-recruitment-process.html

[58] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-12/instead-of-encouraging-provinces-federal-government-went-ahead-with-staff-recruitment.html

[59] https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/06/1039971

[60] https://theannapurnaexpress.com/news/minister-helps-arrange-child-marriage-1501 

[62] https://www.recordnepal.com/wire/features-how-patriarchy-denies-nepali-girls-the-chance-to-be-born/

[61] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/nepal-ranks-10th-for-child-marriage-among-boys/

[63] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128647

[64] https://www.setopati.com/politics/183646

[65] https://www.setopati.com/politics/183646

[66] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/ncp-to-appoint-heads-of-district-committees/

[67] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-04/as-ncp-heads-into-key-meeting-fog-thickens-over-who-will-lead-organisation-department.html

[68] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/dahal-says-he-will-be-pm-after-a-year/

[69] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/cpn-chairs-oli-dahal-meet/

[70] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/78650/

[71] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-05/over-a-year-since-unification-ideological-differences-appear-in-ruling-communist-party.html

[72] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-07/row-lingers-in-ruling-party-over-one-leader-one-responsibility-issue.html

[73] http://annapurnapost.com/news/129090

[74] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128689

[75] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128711

[76] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/78894/

[77] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/15783/2019-06-02

[78] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/17797/2019-06-23

[79] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-28/samajbadi-party-in-informal-talks-with-rastriya-janata-party-for-merger.html

[80] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/rjpn-bats-for-alliance-with-ethnic-parties-to-revive-identity-movement-1/

[81] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/78900/

[82] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/rpp-chief-thapa-bats-for-roundtable-conference/

[83] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/karnali-spends-rs-2b-development-budget-on-vehicles/

[84] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/president-women-uplift-program-commences/

[85] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-11/women-join-hands-to-construct-embankment-in-mahakali-river.html

[86]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/capital-of-province-2-to-be-developed-as-a-cultural-city/

[87]https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/18086/2019-06-26

[88]https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/18125/2019-06-26

[89]https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/17915/2019-06-24

[90] http://www.csrcnepal.org/pages/details/campaign/haliyarightscampaign

[91]http://annapurnapost.com/news/128728

[92] https://mof.gov.np/uploads/document/file/speech_english_20180715091522.pdf

[93] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/bill-to-amend-nhrc-act-in-accordance-with-constitutional-provisions-minister-of-law-justice-and-parliamentary-affairs-bhanu-bhakta-dhakal/

[94] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/sher-bahadur-deuba-threatens-to-topple-government/

[95] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-21/after-guthi-bill-pressure-mounts-on-government-to-withdraw-the-media-council-bill.html

[96] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/17562/2019-06-20

[97] http://www.gorkhapatraonline.com/news/71368

[98] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-09/four-names-recommended-as-ambassadors-against-the-foreign-ministrys-new-criteria.html

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