Year 2077: A Mixed Bag For Nepal

The year 2077 B.S. witnessed many joyous and undesired events.The start of the year coincided with the undesirable arrival of the fatal and destructive COVID-19 that delivered a blow to all Nepalis. The cruel and unavoidable virus took more than 3000 Nepali lives. The year also marked the completion of the KP Oli-led near two-thirds majority government’s second year and its entry into the third year.
Globally, 2077 was a year of challenge and hardship due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that disturbed every aspect of human life throughout the world. Nepal was not an exception. Despite navigating the troubles and hardship, there had been some moments of glory and concerns, making 2077 a memorable year for the country.
Politically, 2077 was a year of instability. Prime Minister KP Oli’s government enjoyed a considerable majority in the parliament offering stability to politics and hardly faced any challenges from the opposition parties. But it suffered many political wounds and scars thanks to its party members. The opposition did not hold any major rallies, shutdowns and closures, for which the country’s politics is notorious, but the senior leaders in his party harassed the PM psychologically and he had to bear non-cooperation from them.

Momentous Year
For Prime Minister KP Oli’s government, it was a momentous year as the prestigious Melamchi Drinking Water project attained a major milestone with the completion of the structural work. The Melamchi Water Project has been a major infrastructure project for the Kathmandu dwellers. The project was dreamt by the then King Birendra, initiated by the then Prime Minister KP Bhattarai and successfully concluded by incumbent Prime Minister KP Oli. Many a time the project had fallen into controversy because of the political instability since the restoration of the multi-party system. People had expressed scepticism over the inability and inaction of different governments regarding the Melamchi Project. The completion of the structural work has thus significantly boosted the image of the nation.
There had been some moments to cherish, including the infrastructural development works that can have strategic importance for the nation. Another important but bad development in the political arena had been the breaking of a political party that was leading the government. The Prachanda faction of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) reverted to its previous form- the Maoist Centre. The UML was also revived. The MK Nepal and JN Khanal faction of the UML formed many parallel committees
This tumult in the ruling party cannot exist for a long time and it is an unwelcome sore in the eyes of the people. MK Nepal has been suspended for six months from UML and wants to act differently. His ideology is not different from the KP Oli faction, but he became dissatisfied after having a negligible share in power. Notably, the Nepali communists are notorious for their unity and splits.

The country had to declare a lockdown in the last week of March of the last year to control and curb the spread of the virus. The country, however, had been volatile from the point of health security due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Thousands of people fell sick and hundreds died due to the virus infection. Several heart-rending incidents of the Nepalese who went outside for employment and wanted to come to the country to reunite with the families in the dark days of the pandemic were witnessed. People were stopped at border check posts and those who were in Kathmandu for studies and employment were not allowed to go out of the valley to see their families. They had to evade the eyes of the security personnel to escape out of the Kathmandu valley
The trend of killing people from illegal groups had gone down during the year 2077. Not only CK Raut-led separatist movements but other groups were also brought into the political mainstream. The militancy or terrorism witnessed a downward trend since there were no major incidents. Following the country’s policy of zero tolerance to terrorism and militancy, the law enforcement authorities and security agencies undertook strict counter-terrorism drives and arrested cadres of various militant groups, mainly Netra Bikram Chanda-led Maoist group and Goit-led Tarai Mukti Morcha.
The active counter-terrorism measures by the government prevented these organisations from carrying out major acts of violence, except for a few stray incidents of violence like the low-intensity bomb blast and murder of an innocent teacher in eastern Nepal. The ban on the non-political activities of the Biplav-group was lifted after the state party and the Biplav Maoist faction inked a deal to stop all violent activities and to release all prisoners belonging to Biplav.
Despite the success in controlling activities of the militant groups, there have been concerns about the growing internal feuds, which are threatening the liberal fabric of the country, a value consciously nurtured by the people and the government.
The ill-intended, vociferous, and heterogeneous campaigning against the government is bound to raise concerns in the country. The loggerhead between the government and Prachanda, MK Nepal, Dr Baburam Bhattarai, Upendra Yadav has only weakened the parliamentary practices. Prachanda, Nepal and Bhattarai created many obstacles for the government.
Our country’s healthcare is regarded as one of the inferior ones in the world. The lockdown did not help much to contain the spread of the virus as the citizens tried to defy the instructions and guidelines of the government and directly and indirectly continued working to sustain themselves sometimes. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the Nepalese economy too, and there had been a steady decline in government revenue collections, because of the low economic activity, caused by the restrictions and trade disruptions.
The income of the people decreased during the pandemic, and the rising prices of food, owing to supply shortage, had made the situation worse. The pandemic had also opened up a major problem of limited economic diversification. The country’s economic growth did not climb up. Comparatively, the economic index was not that unimpressive.

Sound Relation
On the foreign policy front, Nepal maintained a friendly relationship with most of the global powers, including Great Britain, China and the United States. Its relationship with neighbouring countries like India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives was also friendly.
The country’s relationship with most of the South Asian neighbours remained cosy, warm and friendly. There was some perception that the country’s relationship with India was facing stress, but strictly, following a balanced and equal relationship with both India and China, Nepal has been able to deepen the ties with the neighbours in the year 2077.
Nepal’s balanced role in the international fronts was also praiseworthy. Prime Minister KP Oli has been a major partner in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for cooperation among South Asian nations in addressing the challenges of the pandemic. India provided major medical relief assistance to Nepal including COVID vaccines.
We equally got assistance from the US and China for vaccination against the coronavirus. It can be a major mark of a close friendship between the two countries. The outbreak of COVID-19 too has made Nepal aware of uncertainties. Given the persisting unpredictability, any futuristic projection is just a futile exercise. Now, the new strain of the COVID-19 virus after the mutation has made the issue more worrisome. However, the country has arranged with vaccine developers across the globe to secure the vaccines. Let us hope it will help the country navigate the challenges with the procurement of the vaccine soon. People have become more aware of safety and prevention measures.

(Kharel is a lecturer at Unique Multiple Campus, Surunga, Jhapa).