Feb 3, 2011

How to slap a politician? A Layman’s guide to active citizenry

Devi Prasad Regmi, a simple farmer, made headlines after slapping Jhalanath Khanal, a prominent politician (they don’t deserve the title of leaders!) during a party convention. Though he later regretted his act after being jailed for a couple of days and advised his wannabe followers not to do the same, the sheer amount of publicity and the support he got through online campaigns as well as real life campaigns points out how terribly do we detest our politicians. It's to no one's doubt that when he was hailed as heroes by the general public , it was for doing something which everyone had always wanted to do but didn't have the courage. I wonder how many of our politicians would have busted cheeks if all the "wanna-be Devi Prasad" were to go on a slapping spree. Oh, what a sight it would be!

Getting back to reality, slapping a politician (literally) might not be a good idea (you'll have to spend days in jail and no matter how much people say they support you, you'll end up having to pay for your own bail and  it does NOT work). Slapping them won't change anything except the color of their cheeks and embarrassing (if they are embarrassed by anything at all) them a little.However, having some understanding of fundamentals of economics, how economies function, what are the various methods of running economies and political systems and what makes our lives so dependent on their whims might help. And making the right demands and allowing nothing more than essential powers to the politicians might be useful. Boy, what do i mean by that?

If you look around, the major sources of our frustration are the stagnant economy, sky-rocketing inflation, increasing lawlessness, anarchy and threats to our lives and property, aggression of powerful ones over the less powerful ones, dwindling opportunities, increasing gap between the world and us, power cuts propelling us to middle ages to name a few. Dig down deeper and you’ll notice these problems originated in one way other because we asked politicians to act on our behalf!

Every economy has to decide what are the goods and services it is going to produce, how they are going to be produced and who gets what amount of the goods and services produced and who's going to lead the growth. We could let ourselves (individuals) decide or we could ask the politicians to decide for us. The more we ask the politicians to decide for us and give them the power, the more they are going to slap us in face without shame whereas, the more we let the people to decide themselves, the more we are going to slap the politicians by making them jobless.

For eg, who decides currently, what "noodles" do you want to have and in what amount? Or what shoes do you want to wear and for how long?    "YOU"... However, who decides how much electricity to consume and at what price? Who decides how much petrol to have and at what price? Who decides whether foreign companies should be allowed to operate in Nepal, who decides whether their goods or services are good enough? Who decides which roads will be built and which won't be? Who decides what's going to be the inflation rate for a year? "NOT ME, NOT YOU" It's the POLITICIANS.  And where these issues need to be decided, the dirty game of politics supersedes the common sense and rationality of general people and we get caught in their game. Needless to say, they have been slapping us so much that our indignation and common sense is getting numbed!!

We are partly to blame for all of this. At one hand we are expressing how disappointed we are with the politicians whereas on the other hand, we are making demands that they take care of more and more of our needs. 

When one is asking for nationalization of schools and educational institutions, he/she is asking these very politicians to decide what education we'll get or whether we get education at all? (The money paid will be one way or the other yours and yours alone...ever heard a government or politician producing any wealth?)

When one demands that state should provide him/her with employment, he/she is asking these politicians to decide what job should he/she get, and how his/her wealth should be used? (I don't think you believe that when government provides you with employment, you get your salary from politician's pocket, or do you?)

When one is asking for "Right to food" be written in the constitution and be taken care of by the state, all he/she is asking is these very politicians to decide whether you get to eat or not? (I don't think you believe that people are starving just because "Right to food" isn't written in constitution and writing it there will solve the problem, do you?...it'll worsen the situation instead)

So, next time you make a demand, think whether you really want them to make the decisions ("state should take care") or do you want to make the decisions yourself ("leave it to the market"). Make sure that you don't let them slap you! Giving the politicians less and less power to control the destiny of your lives and properties is how one slaps a politician!