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Sep 5, 2010

Animal Farm, Windmill and the Republic Memorial

Our windmill is supposed to look like this
The recent news about the Republic Memorial reminded me of the windmill in George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm. The pigs decide to build a windmill which is more of a display of the grandeur of their rule rather than an object of utility. The mill construction gets costlier and costlier over the time forcing the animals to work even harder and give up their luxuries to bear the cost.

It isn’t a surprise that throughout human history, rulers have always been eager to create something to represent the grandeur of their rule mostly at the cost of their citizens. Grand structures and how others perceive their might is more important to them than the welfare of their citizens. No matter how much we are awed by the grandeur of infrastructures like Taj Mahal, Great Wall or Singadurbar, the sad reality is that they represent a ruler’s dream of grandiose more than anything else.  Republic Memorial is for me just another addition to this list of rulers’ fantasies.

The grand republic tower is said to cost about Rs. 500 million and take 2 years to be constructed. As is the usual case, the cost is very likely to increase for countless reasons. It is supposed to signify “our” victory over the monarchy. My question is, do we have so much money to spare for a tower when poor taxpayers are dying because they can’t afford a medicine of mere Rs. 5? How could anyone spend 2.3 million on designing something when millions of children are deprived of education for lack of money? Would anyone of sense that cared for others spend so much money for a monument? It is not only ludicrous but it is an injustice that our money is being spent on building a monument when we have so many urgent needs to be fulfilled. But again, it’s the way the rulers are! For a common Nepali, the new republic isn’t any better than a nightmare, the transition from being a subject to a king to slaves of 600 plus kings isn’t something to feel victorious about let alone spend millions on erecting a monument.

The fact that Mr. Dahal who calls himself the savior of the poor was eager to spend so much on something to symbolize his rule over us and Mr. Nepal was so eager about the monument that his cabinet decided on the day of the oath about the tower, signifies that their thinking is no different from the ancient emperors who built monuments by exploiting their citizens. Had it been their personal money or even their party’s money, I am sure they would have never even dreamt of such extravagance. But it’s not their money after all! It’s ours!  And guess what’s worse than this?? We are overjoyed that we are going to have a grand tower , something to take photographs against or maybe something to mention except Mount Everest or Buddha when in need to show off.

(Published on the Republica of 6th September 2010)