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Nepal: Politics of American Initiative of MCC


A hoary resistance and a series of protests against the MCC agreement broke out in the capital of Kathmandu and across the country a few days back. The geopolitical showdown is no good when internal architecture is unstable or weak to withstand temperatures of the global political and economic climate. Governmentality and governability have to curb intrinsic unlimited crises and address multiple frontlines of chaos and complexity in political society.

Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) of the American Government in the Nepal Compact Program is raising eyebrows from the right to the left of Nepalese domestic politics. In a deliberative democracy, Nepal is entering into a debate about an American-funded program on infrastructure development and economic prosperity along with support to democracy and good governance. Interpretations galore – partisan interests, economic stimulants, and extreme public pulse without separating facts from fiction. A hoary resistance and a series of protests against the MCC agreement broke out in the capital of Kathmandu and across the country a few days back.

The Nepalese Government issued a stringent prohibition notice to take action upon political demonstrations against foreign governments, including the government of India. Protesters are banned in public squares. The government of Nepal is undertaking damage control exercises without jeopardizing bilateral relations. In this scenario, Nepal’s mindset and foreign powers’ involvement in partnering to fix the underdeveloped state of affairs and securing the future of democracy has a legacy of ownership in the aid, frameworks, and naiveté of such business. The political contentions, dissensions, and dissonances are heard when interests collide or do not match in pursuit of the development model. Back to square one, Nepal has a sovereign choice to opt what is best for its national interests, comprising national integrity, national security, and national welfare.

Nepal is a sensitive country and nobody is certain of what happens next. The US initiative of MCC is being vehemently criticized, but there are supporters of it, too. Policy choices are left open when the Deuba Government is focusing on passing this MCC through the Federal Parliament. It is a buzzing and burning agenda that is on political crossfire.

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Some quarters are willing to accept the MCC without deliberations for poverty reduction and economic development. Some others vociferously decry MCC from its ideological distinctiveness of international power politics, and its provisions therein for contravening the laws of the land arguing against its approval stamping. Indeed, there are provisions in this political-economic enterprise that might benefit certain sections of coterie and ilk. This might exclude locals and stakeholders who are said to be leftover in economic ventures.

American Ambassador to Nepal once said, categorically, to the Nepalese media that distributing money can be a palliative measure for widespread poverty and downtrodden people of Nepalese society. When capitalism is contested severely in Nepal, money is not the question. What drives our life is not just the monetary volume.

Because political sloganeering fails to materialize the economic and financial agenda, the capital-starved country has an imperative to secure liberal democracy.

Geopolitical factors are convulsing warily inside Nepal. A great power rivalry is accentuating political polarization and political divergence. No country assures Nepal of infrastructure development if it does not pay rich dividends instantly. A nouveau riche is expanding like a bubble, while the Nepalese economy is loaded with negative financial indicators of a down spiraling tailspin. Nepal is in a dilemma, geopolitically, to choose sides or tap rivalry in its national interests. In this matter of primacy of economics, the MCC has become a high premium. Because political sloganeering fails to materialize the economic and financial agenda, the capital-starved country has an imperative to secure liberal democracy.

An American report in the 1950s entitled Nepal as a small country with big problems. This still sounds truer in this context. These criticisms are valid as the human face of Nepal has not changed significantly even with the donor countries pouring large amounts of financial and technical assistance, grants, and loans. Statistics reveal that though the human conditions have uplifted, this is not a sustainable policy to alter the ground reality. Nepal has to reform governance, enhance the quality of government and follow principles of liberal democracy in practice. In a country where there is a comfortable section of agitating and militant groups, political extremes are not new. The right-wingers in politics who ruled for 30 years before the advent of democracy in 1990 continue to hark back the nostalgic past. After three decades of democratic parties, including radical democrats like the political variants of the New Left after 1990, there is no end to political debate in a country where economic and income inequality, and human development indices exhibit dismal records.

Of course, policy solutions are available in the public sphere wherein the best minds are critical and suggestive of mature comments and feedback. It is still unknown as to when will the Nepalese dream of sovereign, independent, and economically sound objectives be met. Political society cannot always keep and confine its discourses to high-sounding words and lip service. As has been said, political and economic promises are to be delivered. One has nothing to comment if it is otherwise. In Nepal, its economy is not in good shape, as is evident from the workers migrating and the educated ones leaving the homeland to enhance their quality of life abroad. Nepal’s soft power has been eroding as well. The attitudes and mentality of the diaspora are changing. Nepal’s pride and self-esteem have been damaged in a trajectory of politics in a democracy that has not augured well. The blame not only falls on political society. It is to be reiterated that every citizen and civic society is part of this political onus.

Nepal’s soft power has been eroding. The attitudes and mentality of the diaspora are changing. Nepal’s pride and self-esteem have been damaged in a trajectory of democratic politics that has not augured well.

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Although it is not the aim of this article to cover these issues, except on the American initiative, these salient features of Nepal and Nepalese reveal our times are getting tougher in the post-earthquake situation and COVID-19 pandemic disasters. Unless interdependence and redlines for every sector of politics, economics, administration, and civil society are not neatly demarcated, liberal democracy would not jell to restore the credibility and credentials which Nepal has been in the quest for many decades.

Sanguine prospects of healthy economics can be ascertained when an aid-dependent economy shifts its focus towards mutual and reciprocal investments, trade, commerce, and business with foreign countries. This would reform and transform our concept of sovereignty vested in its people. Additionally, a metamorphosis of independence and interdependence would translate abstract notions of pride, self-esteem, and dignity of a nation and nationhood into reality.

Governmentality and governability have to curb intrinsic unlimited crises and address multiple frontlines of chaos and complexity in political society

Still, there is adequate time to rethink, recreate and reform our political and economic habitat to make a difference and bettering the governance towards an excellent government. These could be some lessons about what is happening in Nepal. It can act as a policy precursor to learn from Nepal’s errors and pitfalls when engaging with the world. A true journey of a nation and state commences on the idea of polity that is inclusive, just, and sane. In this perspective of a greater picture, a spotlight on the cordial interests of American, European, and Japanese partnering Nepal’s development is to be conceded. India and China, in this respect, would be more vigilant as great powers indulge in a territory that is in proximity to their sphere of influence.

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There are apprehensions about Nepal following the Afghan trail. This is a minimax hyperbole analogy to policymakers and experts. But a note of caution is to make Nepal better than it is now. Nepal should not imitate the development paradigm of the advanced industrial countries. However, it can emulate its own discursive practices and communicative actions to realize who we are and how safely democratic politics takes a voyage in the rough and storming environment.

In this regard, the geopolitical showdown is no good when internal architecture is unstable or weak to withstand temperatures of the global political and economic climate. It is a discredited sense of doubt to many in Nepal. If a country’s omen is to turn positive, some fundamental thinking and actions have to be amended. In this periphery of political questions on foreign aid, governmentality and governability have to curb intrinsic unlimited crises and address multiple frontlines of chaos and complexity in political society. Certainly, Nepal’s current history has to take off. Is it not so?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are of the author solely. TheRise.co.in neither endorses nor is responsible for them.

About the author

Rajeev Kunwar is a political scientist based in Kathmandu. He is currently a doctoral student of political science at Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Nepal.


Rajeev Kunwar

Rajeev Kunwar is a political scientist based in Kathmandu. He is currently a doctoral student of political science at Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Nepal.

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