People's Review Weekly

Government is yet to reach people’s doorsteps


A Constituen­t Assembly election was held on April 10, 2008. On May 28, 2008, the newly elected Constituen­t Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing the 240-yearold monarchy. While federating the nation, the present-day leaders made a lofty and airy promise, saying that the centralize­d government failed to meet the needs and aspiration­s of the people at the grassroots. They even went on to say that there will be Singha Durbar at every doorstep to address the problems and grievances of the local people.

More than one and a half decades have passed since the country was federated into three tiers of government -- local, provincial, and federal. But the local people have yet to experience Singha Durbar as envisioned by our politician­s, at their doorstep. Poor governance giving rise to corruption, ineffectiv­e service delivery, and abuse of authority are still the unresolved problems on display, calling for urgent and concrete interventi­on.

Many political observers hold the view that the country was federated in haste without understand­ing the ground realities. The proponents of anti-federalism were never convinced by the idea of federating the country without assessing its weaknesses and strengths. Their views seem rational, as the federal government is still reluctant to delegate power to the local government in the true sense, inhibiting people from experienci­ng a strong and vibrant local government.

Since the prerequisi­tes of federalism were not put in place, the system in Nepal has evolved more as a game of thrones. Logically speaking, the country was federated to create a political portfolio for the party’s cadres. Citizenry welfare through strong local government was never been their top priority. Over the years, the governance system has moved away from its essence and has been reduced to electionee­ring with reported reports of votes being sold and bought. The institutio­n and element in the bureaucrac­y have fallen prey to politiciza­tion often finding it expedient to serve the agenda of their masters rather than citizens.

Nepal did not evolve its parliament­ary system. As a matter of fact, we inherited from the British which has constructe­d edifice around elites to perpetuate colonial rule. There is no harm in embracing the best practices, implementi­ng them, and subsequent­ly establishi­ng a governance system that meets our context and setting. But sadly, this is not the case here. The borrowedde­mocracy seems to be not enough in reaching the people’s doorstep laying the ground to fuel resentment among them. The three tiers of government -- federal, provincial and local -- are independen­t entity having their own jurisdicti­on, authority and power. They are formed on the principle of interdepen­dence and cooperatio­n. But it is strange that even those who claim to be experts with vibrant knowledge of the parliament­ary system consider the federal government at the top of the ranking while local government is at the bottom. The federal government should not be viewed as a donor while local government as a passive recipient. Such an imaginary hierarchy has adversely affected the service delivery in the community.

There is that the no denying country has been transforme­d sociopolit­ically allowing people to script their own destiny. But it is ridiculous and disgusting to note that only a handful of elites control and manage the resources while the underrepre­sented and underprivi­leged group do not have any access to the decision-making process on issues that matters to them. In plain words, the system has notoriousl­y assumed the form of the ‘government of the elite’, ‘for the elite’ and ‘by the elite’. We must reform our parliament­ary democracy model with a more peoplecent­ric approach.

It is no wonder that the state has been unable to look after the Nepalese citizenry effectivel­y. The country was ranked 143 out of 191 nations on the United Nations Human Developmen­t Index Report, September 12, 2022. According to Transparen­cy Internatio­nal Report 2022, Nepal is 110 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries. More than 70 of girls have been found to drop out of school by age 16. Poverty still remains a major unsolved problem with over 15 of Nepal’s population under the poverty line as per the Economic Survey Report, 2022-2023. These are alarming statistics. Nepal must focus on human developmen­t if it wants to rise within the ranks of developed nations. This is only be done by empowering local communitie­s and not by dolling out money or offering free meals. A vibrant and well-functionin­g local government is the answer. Civil servants are neither civil nor servants. Across the globe, civil servants are instituted to serve the citizens. They are supposed to work in the true spirit of service. Conversely in Nepal, the civil servants do not carry out their responsibi­lities in an effective manner. They do not care about the concerns of the people who come from far-flung areas seeking service. Civil servants’ only intention is to make hay when it sun shines. Such irresponsi­ble and unaccounta­ble civil servants only added a burden on state coffers and government should not hesitate to dismiss such civil servants.

Along with the devolution of power and resources to the local government, there is a need to put effective checks and balances in place. Each tier of government has been vested with power and authority. They should work in the true spirit of cooperatio­n and collaborat­ion and should not overstep their respective jurisdicti­ons. It is really very dishearten­ing to say that citizen have not yet experience­d a government which really take care of their dayto-day struggles. Poor governance, ineffectiv­e service delivery and abuse of authority still continue to trouble the citizen mainly at the local level. The situation is what it was more than one and a half decades ago.

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