To: Scott Heekin-Canedy
President and General Manager
The New York Times
Hello from Nepal (the Himalayan Kingdom and birth nation of Lord Buddha)
I just read an article titled “Nepal, on the Brink of Collapse” published on 5th June 2012, authored by SEYOM BROWN and VANDA FELBAB-BROWN published on your globally renowned and readable newspaper -The New York Times. When I at first read the title of the article, I was extremely shocked to know that the two authors (SEYOM BROWN and VANDA FELBAB-BROWN) along with your newspaper have made the judgment and declared internationally that Nepal is near to collapse.
One of the bases of their judgment is that we have not been able to write the constitution so we are close to be failed state and collapsed. Yes, we all agree that we (not only leaders) could not write the constitution in four years. This does not mean that we have failed to write. The Constituent Assembly has been dissolved on May 27th but the process of constitution writing has not been dissolved yet. It will never dissolve too as it is still in the hearts and minds of people. The people still want and struggle to write a democratic and inclusive constitution with federal system of government no matter how much time they have to invest and how much struggle they have to do for the secure future.
In this regard, I do not see any reasons to worry at all and make a big noise globally that something risky situation is about to come in Nepal taking reference to the delay in constitution writing. Each country has a transitional history like Nepal. I have also studied the constitutional history of some of the countries and come to know that the countries, which have adopted federal system, have not made the complete constitution overnight . The constitution is not like writing a story. It is about writing the future of the nation. Therefore, the process of constitution writing should of course be lengthy in terms of time for quality. In Switzerland, the constitution was first promulgated on 12th September 1848( 164 years ago) but it has only been able to make the federal constitution only on 18th April 1999(13 years ago) which is the third constitution. It took nearly 151 years for the Switzerland to write a complete constitution. Even in the France, each new constitution has established a new republic. France is now the Fifth Republic. I mean writing the constitution and setting up republican and federal form of government of course take time. Therefore, taking time is not a problem. By the way, the dissolved constituent assembly has done more than 50% tasks, which could supplement the next constitution making effort. There is only one difference that if the dissolved CA had written the constitution on 27th May then we would have got a new written constitution based on federalism. Therefore, we do not have a complete written document now in the form of constitution like the UK but we have an interim constitution, laws, and regulations, executive government (despite it has been termed as caretaker), public administration, constitutional bodies, and judiciary. The authors have stated about the poor rule of law, criminalized politics, and widespread corruption. This is obvious in the country where transitional politics exist. Nepal is not only one country in the world to face these problems. There are of course problems. That’s why, Nepal is moving on the way towards solution.
In this regard, I would like to mention the words of Daniel J. Elazar who once said: “Federalism is not only a structure but also a process and a culture.” With reference to these words, what I think is it might take time for the country like ours, which has suddenly entered into quite new system of governance to start and run completely new process of federalism, and institutionalize the federalism culture. Therefore, I totally disagree with the NY Times’ global media hype that Nepal is on the brink of collapse. We are not on the brink of collapse but on the beginning of a long journey to avoid the country from being collapsed through federalism and state restructuring.
The authors have urged the global community to threaten our nation to withhold aid. I would like to draw the attention of the world that none has the right to threaten our nation to do this or that. We are an independent and sovereign nation for long centuries despite its small size. Only the Nepali people who contribute revenue for the state has the right to threaten the national actors to write the constitution and move the developmental and peace process forward not the foreign countries just in the sense that the foreign countries have extended aid. It is not the aid. It is actually a way of diplomacy and international politics.
At the same time, I would like to urge the world not to see Nepal from the eyes of poor nation. Nepal might be economically back but naturally and culturally, it is one of the richest nations in the world. Therefore, it would be intellectually correct if anyone stopped terming Nepal as a poor country. We are just poor at management of our natural and cultural resources. That means we are rich at natural resources and heart, which is our global identity too. I think most of the foreigners who visit Nepal know it well than us.
Finally, I have a question with you (on behalf of New York Times) and with the entire world “Does any media have legal authority to judge, declare and let the whole world know that Nepal (any country) is near to collapse and failed state?”. What I believe is only the Nepalese people have the right to judge and speak accordingly on our internal issues. Why did not your media (NY Times) think seriously while putting the title (Nepal, on the Brink of Collapse) of the article that this title could tarnish the image of our country? I do not think so that your media is practicing real democracy. Is your media free to write anything in the name of freedom of press and expression that could harm others? Isn’t it the open attack on our country’s sovereignty? Please think about it.
Although, we believe in democracy and we respect freedom of speech and freedom of press. However, we do not respect the way of dissemination of news and information by using extremely disappointing words, which might also be against the ethics of journalism. I think dissemination of news and information that could bring positive change in society might fall within the ethics of journalism but I do not think at all that the news and information that could tarnish the image of any countries globally fall within the ethics of journalism. By publishing this article with such a distressing title, New York Times seems to give legitimacy to the failed state status for Nepal, which is vested interest and conspiracy of foreign forces too to make it playing ground as it is geographically situated between China and India.
Therefore, I want to give a strong warning to New York Times and other media globally too not to try to tarnish the image of any countries through such a disheartening words in the future. Please keep this important thing in mind, the words should be used for making people happy! Not for making people disappointed!
Mr. President! The words (Nepal, on the Brink of Collapse) published in your newspaper (The New York Times) have really made us (Nepali people) extremely disappointed.
On behalf of Nepalese people
Mr. B K Dalit (Social Worker) Nepal
Chief Coordinator, Green Civil Society (Nepali Greens)
Chief Founder/President, Team for Nature and Wildlife (TNW)
Convener, Action Group for Biodiversity Conservation/Asia Pacific Green Network
Policy Adviser, Ecoxia Institute (A policy think tank of Japan), Japan
National Coordinator, National Farmers’ Alliance (NaFA), Nepal
Green Civil Society (Nepali Greens)
06/22/2012 – 12:00