VOICE OF OUR FOUNDER: RITA THAPA
Prolonged post conflict transitions such as ours mean heightened corruption, impunity, increased abuse of human rights, (especially women’s human rights!) and instability in terms of economy and security. Furthermore when eclipsed with self-serving and power centered political leadership, the state is unable to provide basic infrastructure and relief to its citizens who have directly and indirectly paid a very high price for the 10 year long civil war that raged in Nepal. Transitional justice, reparation work, and peace dividends – much spoken of in the past 7 years, are still far off from being actualized and experienced.
During these 7/8 years, despite these given conditions and Nepal’s growing “youth bulge”, what sustained peace in Nepal is little short of a miracle! My experience tells me that it has been possible owing to the resilience of the Nepalis, their ability to be entrepreneual and innovative be it in seeking work outside or being self employed in Nepal, and the commitments of the larger citizenry to simply live honest lives. Especially in the past two years, I have been inspired by the “Nyano Sansar/s”, the “Ma Swadeshi/s”, the “Hamro Nepal/s”, the North Kathmandu/s”, the street mural artists, the musicians who are reclaiming folk/traditional music and going beyond – all led by youths who are not only taking a stand for peace and justice, but who are also demonstrating that a better harmonious world is possible here and now, and it does not have to be job or project oriented as in the “development” world I know. I have been inspired, reassured, and energized! I have learned!
Then there are our one-person armies – the Pushpa Basnet/s, the Ishaan/s, the Dil Shovas, and myriads others who support these or take similar initiatives but may not yet be named. These people do what they do, not because they do not have other skills or talents, but because they cannot bear the pain of this all-pervasive general apathy and deterioration. They are provoked by their own higher callings, and the “good” in them that they cannot not help but respond urgently, inspiring many others to act in similar ways.
Therefore organizations working for development and peace, which are now fairly grounded like Nagarik Aawaz, have a bigger responsibility to deliver to the constituencies they serve. They are often not only equipped with more/necessary institutional learning, human resource, and funds than the “one-person armies”, but have also committed explicitly to the cause. So it is no longer enough to count the good that has been achieved in the past, but to be proactive in both furthering what needs doing as well as calling to books related political parties they voted for and the Nepal government. How can the enlightened citizenry at large continue to hold together the safety net/s, and the politics/state inadequacies or interest and allow for the ongoing destructions of what is being built tirelessly over all these 7/8 years!
Corruption has increased but where is it at its worse? Who enables and supports impunity? Why are women through the ages and now after all the empirical evidence and state rhetoric, continue being at the receiving end? Is it insecurities and fears of a loss of position and power from those who now wield power? Otherwise how is it justifiable? Can self-reliant Nepalis who live in dignity despite all the hardships owing to lack of safety nets and basic infrastructures be called “poor”? The table for accountability has to be turned around – for those who now wield most power are also therefore the most responsible.
– Rita Thapa