Friday, January 22, 2010

Hisila Yami on the Dialectics of Struggle in Nepal and India

This OpEd piece appeared in The Kathmandu Post on January 16, 2010.

Hisila Yami [Yami is a member of the Polit Bureau of the UCPN (Maoist)]

It is often observed that not only children but even adults are taught that this world is simple, straightforward and sunny. However, often it is complex, topsy-turvy and murky. The first tendency makes one project positivity and the second negativity on the world. The truth is that both exist side by side. It is by fighting against the negative tendencies that one moves ahead and gains positive results. In short, contradiction is behind all the movements, thus making it the salt of dialectics.

In Nepali politics, there seem to be wrangling between new and old systems, between visionary leaders and power hungry leaders. Those who are fighting for new system are struggling to gain power, maturity and credibility at both national and international level. And those who want to stick to old system are similarly trying hard to retain power, credibility, and reliability at both national and international level. Similarly, those leaders who have power do not seem to have vision. They are using power as an end. And those leaders who have the vision do not have power to translate their vision into action. This is seen in almost all the political parties in Nepal.

At the world level, this tendency persists in different ways. Generally the developed countries are seen to be so consumer-oriented that they seem to lose political vision. The leaders from developed countries tend to find technical solutions to political problems in the Third World countries by bombing here and there and by erecting military bases. In the process, they are alienating themselves more and more from the Third World countries.

And the Third World countries are much too laden with politics because they lack power and they lack stable system to translate their vision into practice. They sound more and more strident against the First World for not giving them the freedom to solve their own problems with the consequence that they are distancing themselves from the developed countries.

At the micro level, it is important to understand the psychology of poor people. They have to face adversities at every step, hence are rebellious, militant and ruthless by nature. Their natural tendency is to be ultra leftist. The rich people, because of their abundance of comforts which are inversely proportional to the work they perform, are reluctant to change. Their natural tendency is ultra-rightist. In the end, too many changes too soon is as bad as too much stability for too long. Between the dialectics of change and stability, it is the change which should lead the period of stability, preparing the base for higher level of changes.

It is also important to know the dialectics between whole and part, particularly when Nepal is going to transform into a federal state from a unitary state. The whole should lead the parts. It is important that those fighting for autonomous regions on the ground of nationality keep the unity of the whole country in perspective while carving out their autonomous regions. It is equally important that the central government respect the aspirations of people of all nationalities for autonomous states. However, what is even more important is that the centre, at least in the beginning, be strong enough to be able to keep together all the autonomous states democratically.

There is also contradiction between big and powerful countries and small and powerless countries. Small and powerless countries always feel dwarfed by the big and powerful countries. The big and the powerful countries tend to assume they have answers to all the problems of small and powerless countries. It is important to note that in the globalised world, all countries are becoming more and more interdependent, both in positive and negative aspects, irrespective of their sizes and international clout.

At this juncture, it might be worthwhile to understand the dynamics of Indian politics as it has overwhelming effect in Nepal.

India is full of contradictions; along with countless challenges it has many opportunities as well which enables it to lead the region. It has all the geographical features: hills, mountains, Himalayas, flat plain, seas, rivers, desert, which present myriad possibilities and as many challenges. Politically, it has all sorts of movements: The Dalit movement spearheaded by Mayawati, the regional movement in the North East, the separatist movement in Kashmir, the religious Hindu movement spearheaded by Bharatiya Janta Party, the revolutionary class movement led by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the reformist communist movement under Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the comprador bourgeois movement of Indian Congress Party. 

Alongside these big-scale political movements, there are innumerable smaller movements led by environmentalists, women activists, green peace activists, social activists, educationists, scientists, anarchists, etc often complimenting and contradicting the mainstream movements.

There is also contradiction between the centre and federal states and among federal states when it comes to power sharing. There are newly assertive nationalities fighting for statehood. In the economic field, India has remnants of tribal economy, feudal economy, capitalist economy to the monopoly capitalist economy within various states. There is a big gap between haves and haves-not. In the cultural realm, you have various forms of matriarchal and patriarchal systems. It has almost all the religions present in the world. Linguistically, the whole country is divided into Hindi speaking North and non-Hindi speaking South. Even the countries surrounding it have different political systems. 

In the North, it has tightly guarded border with unitary communist state of China. It has open border with Nepali state which is a nascent republic and monarchical Bhutan. In the West, it has the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, almost in a state of war. In the East it has Bangladesh, another Islamic state and Burma, a military state. And in the South it has the president-ruled Sri Lanka which has recently emerged from a civil war.

India is competing with China for global economic supremacy, but at the same time it is also facing all-encompassing movement of CPI (Maoist) which is gradually spreading all over India.

You need a bit of everything in politics, but ultimately it is the scientific vision and ideology which should lead all these tendencies. India has bits of everything; the challenge is to lead it, both nationally and in the international arena, with scientific vision. Nepal-India ties must also be seen in the context of the regional dialectics. There are bound to be ebbs and flows in the relationship. The two countries, being part of this globalised world, must learn to co-exit with each other meaningfully.

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