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Prime Minister Prachanda’s Address to Nation

Issue 05, February 01, 2009

(Informally translated by Siddhi B. Ranjitkar)

On Sunday, January 25, 2009, Prime Minister Prachanda went on the state-run Nepal TV and delivered the following message:

Respectable mothers-fathers, sisters and brothers

First of all, on behalf of all of you and on my own, I want to express my gratitude to all the martyrs that sacrificed their lives during the 10-year long people’s war, 19-day long People’s Movement, Madhesh Movement and all the movements of people from ancient time to date for opening the beautiful gate to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

I am going to tell you something not only as the Prime Minister but also as a citizen. After the bitter experiences in running the government for five months, I have reached the conclusion that it has been impossible to meet the national commitment to build a new Nepal only working in a traditional manner. To meet the aspirations of Nepalis for building a new Nepal, I heartily appeal to all political parties for new consensus politics of all political parties on the constituent Assembly as of the 12-point understanding reached among the political parties in the past.

I just want to refer some background of our politics. On April 10, 2008, we held the historical election for the Constituent Assembly. After the results of the elections, a week passed, then a month but a door to set up a new government based on the fresh mandate of the people was not opened for a long time. That was neither a natural nor a democratic. The status quo and regressive elements have the fear of the Maoists would start the building of a new Nepal giving priority to the underprivileged class and breaking the fortresses of ignorance and then based on their discretion, emotion, labor and dedication. None could stop the time-bond change. You all know the fact that a new government was formed based on the people’s mandate filling that vacuum.

Following the democratic norms and rule of law, the Maoists headed the new government. At that time, there were numerous doubts about Maoists at the national and international levels. There was a widespread rumor that the general diplomatic dialogue of Nepal and relationship with the international community would end if the Maoists came to power. However, the government has proved the rumor wrong improving the Nepal’s relation with the international community during the last five months. In addition, there was wrong publicity of the foreign assistance would dry up. However, during this period, we have signed off agreement for Rs 40 billion foreign assistance. There is no doubt about having plenty of foreign assistance for implementing the new budget if we strengthen the peace process further. The willingness of friendly India to review and timely update the treat of 1950 is very important achievement from the point of views of the national pride of Nepal and the good friendly relation between the two countries.

The foreign relation of Nepal is based on the notion of independence and development of Nepal and mutual cooperation and understanding among the nations. Nepal will not be for or against of any neighboring or far-away countries. Nepal will not be the playground of anybody’s interest. I have made these things clear to all concerned during my visits to various countries and in other contexts, too.

Respectable mothers-fathers, sisters and brothers

Nepalis have high expectation of the new government would do many good things; it was not incorrect. However, after having the experiences in running the government for five months, I need to clearly tell the respectable citizens that drastic changes were not possible due to the traditional structure of the state, culture and style of working. In addition, we did not have any experiences in running the government. Certainly, the last five months for us have been the period of direct learning of the profound character of the state and of the rule and style of running the state. We were in the period of transformation, too. In addition, this government is made out of the political parties with different ideas, ideology and culture; so, it has some limitations and complications, too.

I agree that the performances and speed of the government has not been up to the expectation of the citizens. However, I do not accept the charge of the government could not set the direction, made against the current government.

During this period, the internal revenue has increased. Rural-oriented budget has been prepared; dialogue with various groups fighting in Madhesh has been initiated. In addition various committees have been formed to craft a new constitution, and the long lasting vacancies in the executive of the public Service commission has been filled up. Similarly, all the vacancies in the diplomatic missions, judiciary, and administrative and academic institutions will be filled up soon.

We have fought for quite a long time for self-determination, rule of law, federalism, inclusiveness and proportional representation. As a result, we are now in a federal democratic republic.

Mountains, hills, madhesh, terai and their citizens are the Nepal and their problems are the real problems of Nepal. In order to make the administration, army, police, education and health sectors, and judiciary inclusive, the government has the policy on making reservation for proportional representation of disabled persons, underdeveloped areas and people, Muslims, dalits, Mdheshi/terai dwellers, ethnic/aboriginals, and women in the scholarship and the public services.

In the beginning I have told you; today, as a citizen, I want to tell you something. Until yesterday, this country had petty kings and big kings. We blamed them for our fortunes and misfortunes. Now, they are gone; nobody was there to blame for or charge of. Now, the rein of this country is in the hands of we citizens. However, what are we doing? Sometimes, I feel, are we not reaching the peak of anarchy? How can we build a new Nepal amidst the so many shutdowns, protests, and strikes? Taking the course of shutdowns, protests, and vandalism for expressing discontentment to somebody or the government, or of protest or putting pressure for achieving demands have been the regular daily lives of the unsatisfied people.

This culture and style of expressing dissatisfaction and claims goes against the peace process. In addition, this culture and style of expressing dissatisfaction and claims has been hurdle to the ongoing process of crating a constitution. I have been worried very much, as the energy of youths that has to be used in a productive and creative way for social justice and peace has been wasted in this way. In this context, I heartily appeal all people concerned especially the powerful youth community of the country for using the energy wasted in negative conflict and in taking mutual revenge, for productive and creative work. If we all together do not build a beautiful Nepal now when shall we build? If we all together do not make Nepal beautiful who will make it beautiful?

In this state of affairs, the very bitter relationship, enmity and mutual fights among the political parties particularly among the sister originations of the political parties in the coalition government are very objectionable. So, I heartily appeal all concerned people for immediately stopping all these things.

Respectable mothers-fathers, sisters and brothers

In any country not only the government but also all the people need to build the country based on the plans and programs formulated by the elected government and under its leadership. In the history of the world, there is not a single example of any country that has become prosperous without the people’s participation and responsibility. However, we do no have the culture of giving anything to the country, if have that is very minimum. A person living in a house worth of Rs 10 million and riding a car of Rs 6 million never drops a truckload of crushed stone to fill up the pot holes near her/his house rather looking at the pot holes shouts at the government.  A person stepping on the skin of a banana s/he has thrown, and falling down does not look her/his face at the mirror but curses the invisible enemy. Some people spend hours daily gossiping at the teashops, playing carom or cards at a tavern. However, they won’t be ready to do one-hour voluntary work for the country in a year. We understand the meaning of the patriotism in the sleek word or in the sentimental poem or only in the slogan. Patriotism means the intellectual, mental and physical contribution we make to the country.

Certainly, I am not trying to blame any individual. I am simply trying to portrait our attitude created by our interest, habit and behaviors. Without changing and improving this attitude, how is built a new Nepal we are parroting to build?

How could that country prosper where the women comprising more than the half of the population are not treated like humans? Certainly, for most of the women, home has been the torturing house. Due to the social evil such as the dowry system, most of the parents are forced to think about stopping the birth of a girl child.

This government announces that the dowry system will be completely prohibited within a week. Both the giver and taker of dowry will be subject to punishment by law.

Women’s rights will not be ensured until equal rights to parental assets are not ensured. This government announces that the law on equal rights of sons and daughters to parental assets will be immediately enforced.

This government is committed to make wedding and other ceremonies economical. The law on not allowing more than the limited number of people participating in such ceremonies will be strictly enforced.

With the objective of restricting the domestic violence, a complaint center against domestic violence will be set up at every Village Development Committee within a month.

Attempts have been made to resolve the problem of women’s uterus falling. However, none has paid attention to the problems of other diseases such as hernia, backbone drying, pileus and so on directly related to the labor. From now on, the government will make an arrangement for treating all these disease in one approach. You all know that the government has already made the announcement of the free maternity services available at all the hospitals in the country effective on January 14, 2009. In addition, an arrangement will be made for defining the role of health institutions in regularizing the health services and utilizing them. Teaching hospitals will be encouraged to engage in research work, and private hospitals will be encouraged in developing health tourism.

Respectable mothers-fathers, sisters and brothers

In this country, the dalit community is economically, socially, politically and culturally very backward community and has been subject to oppression and hatred. The community called ‘badi’ is the most dalit among the dalits. Even now, the so-called high caste people do not drink even the water touched by hundred of thousands of dalits living in the country. Doors to the temples are closed for them. The culture of discrimination against dalis is still prevailing at the schools, hotels and water wells. This is the shameful national evil created in the name of the caste system. Any citizen thinking another citizen an untouchable cannot be a civilized and democratic person; s/he can be only a criminal. This thinking and culture of making hundreds of thousands of citizens not humans is a great inhuman attitude. So, this government announces that the system of untouchable is the heinous crime. To this end, if the existing law is insufficient then a new law will be introduced to define the system of untouchable the heinous crime and take strong actions against such a crime. To eliminate this crime, a legal arrangement will be made and an untouchable-eliminating cell will be set up at every law court.

Similarly, at every Village Development Committee, a powerful watchdog center of crime on untouchable with the mandatory participation of dalits in it will be set up. Preparation is being made for setting up a commission on national dalit rights under a separate law. I respectfully appeal all responsive and conscious people engaged in cultural activities for participating in the socio-cultural campaign of creating the awareness of the need for eliminating social evils such as a system of untouchable, and the practice of insulting and even torturing incapable women of dalit or poor community charging them of witches, and many other social evils. In order to commemorate the contribution made by the dalit community to the people’s war and people’s movement and to develop the dalit community, a daliit education scholarship fund will be set up in the name of martyr Dilbahadur Ramtel. I think that this fund will be certainly the matter of happiness and pride for the dalit community.

In the Nepalese society, the problem of landless people has been a never properly resolving problem. This government has a clear ideal of every citizen needs to have a shelter and a piece of land for sustaining life if another profession or job is not available. So, the tillers who had missed the registration of land in their names in the past for various reasons will be called upon them to register land in their names within a certain period of time. In addition, powerful labor commission and other commissions to clearly address the expectation of landless people, freed bonded laborers, ‘badi’ and Muslims will be set up.

The action of ending the landlords owning land and increasing the productivity of land will be immediately and effectively taken through the high level Land Reform Commission.

For increasing the productivity of land, an arrangement will be made for setting up a seed bank for providing the marginalized farmers with seeds, fertilizers, fund, and equipment at cost and for making soil test all over the country. To achieve this objective, extension staffs will be sent to villages. In addition, livestock health camps will be set up.

Tourism is one of the main sources of foreign currency; so for promoting the tourism industry, attractive publicity programs will be launched across the country.

The role of the foreign loans and grants played in creating our infrastructures is generally positive. However, our attitude of looking for foreign assistance for even a smallest possible project will never make us self-respectable and independent. How long shall we live identifying a road made by one donor, an overpass made by another donor, and a highway built by a third donor and so on? When do we build the roads, the overpass, highways and stadiums on our own? Let us make a national determination to make one thing as an example using Nepali capital, Nepali technology and Nepali labor. Let us do one project of only Nepalese items. That project could be upper Tama Koshi Hydropower Project that will be built with the shares of the state, private and local people following the public-private partnership concept. This is the effective method of making the people feel the project is theirs and they own it. The government announces that from now on, foreign loans will not be taken for small things and for the non-priority projects, will be taken only for ambitious and large projects.

The government will immediately implement the policy on using the surplus labor available in the country at maximum for creating the development waves. To this end, as mentioned in the budget speech of this year, various development programs on building the nation will be launched as the national campaigns with the people’s participation. An arrangement will be made for contributing voluntary work of high-level officials to building mid-hill people’s highway, north-south people’s highway and river training in terai-madhesh areas. I myself will participate in such programs.

In our country, consumers suffer very much. We are very backward in protecting the rights of consumers. Most of our food products are not good for the health. Making administrative machinery effective and appointing a Food Protection Official to every district administration office, the government will soon regularize every service and product. To this end, the Department of Standards and Metrology will be strengthened. Very soon, every ward of Village Development Areas and municipalities will have a cooperative store for selling the most important daily consumable goods at fair prices.

A study team will be set up immediately for studying the East-West Railway. Construction work of the fast track linking Kathmandu with terai will be soon begun. This time, the country has been experiencing the most dreadful crisis in energy. This crisis passed on us is due to the past dependency, order-less and plan-less decades. This crisis in energy cannot be overcome easily and in a short time. However, the government has announced the 35-point action-plan for mitigating the troubles caused to all the citizens by the crisis in energy. Thermal, solar, biological and other sources of energy will be effectively tapped for ending or reducing the power-cuts in this year. Just reducing the power-cuts for a few hours, an attempt on mitigating the troubles to citizens has been made. Such an attempt will be continued. This government announces that if the license holders for producing hydropower from different rivers do not initiate work within six months then their licenses will be annulled.

It is sure that Nepal cannot remain untouchable from the influence of the economic slowdown started in the United States of America. At the same time, the process of returning Nepalis working abroad to Nepal has already started. It is clear that this will add up to the problem of unemployment in Nepal. There is no alternative to creating employments in the country starting small or large projects. Serious homework is being done to this end; self-employment and other programs will be started very soon.

Karnali and the far western region of Nepal are the most neglected areas. A special package program will be introduced to bring those areas to the national development stream. This package will put emphasis on investment promotion in these areas.

A high level task force will be set up to control the Koshi River and to rehabilitate the flood-affected people and distribute relief materials to them. In addition, an effective means will be adopted to make the program systematic on distributing relief materials to the flood-affected people in the far western and central regions.

Our education sector has been plagued by anarchy and disorder. Schools are the effective mediums of creating awareness among the people and also the places of learning the best culture and the skills. A high level education commission with the representatives of expert educationists and of the students will be set up to make the education sector disciplined and systematic with the view of making the education employment-oriented and country-oriented. A study team will be set up to implement the concept of the Open University.

After the formation of the government under the leadership of the CPN-Maoist, we have not made any major change in the then-administrative setup. We have no thought of making major changes in the administrative setup. However, I request all of you for not taking it as our weakness. The government will take strong actions against the officials that will not cooperate on implementing the government plans and policies, will pass on their tasks and do not provide services to citizens.

A system of tokens will be introduced at every government office with the objective of remedying the delay in service delivery and the bribery prevailing in the government offices. Following the system of tokens, an arrangement will be made for ‘first come, first served’. Every official will have one-hour tea break from 1:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. Officials will need to work in the office at other time. Inspection of offices will be done to effectively enforce this system. Every office will have a complaint box. Necessary actions will be taken after examining the complaints. Middle persons will not be permitted to work at land revenue office, transport management office, district administration offices and so on. If an official could not complete the work today then s/he needs to give the reasons for that in writing to the customers. We have been always blaming only the officials for bribes. From now on, the bribe-giving person will be equally considered as a guilty person. I would like to inform you that a high level restructuring commission has been set up for a long-term improvement in administration.

The people’s complaints about the spread of the diseases of bribery and delay in work at the law courts are not new things. The past culture and style of working have caused these diseases at these institutions, too. Such diseases at the institutions that deliver justice to the citizens are the roots of the impunity. Most of our justices and frontrunners of the Nepal Bar Association have accepted this fact in public. In order to gradually improve the justice system, to make available justice easily and at fair price, and to increase the people’s trust in the court, a special action plan will be implemented in consultation with the Supreme Court of Nepal. To this end, an alternative dispute-settling Act will be introduced. An arrangement will be made for taking a weekly report on justice delivery within the Judicial Council. An open and effective complaint box is being set up for making the justice process fast and efficient after listening the people’s complaints daily.

Since January 14, 2009, illiteracy elimination campaign has been started across the country. I heartily appeal all students’ organizations, NGOs, youth organizations and political parties for their support for this campaign.

The government is making preparation for sending the cultural teams through the peace campaign in the countrywide campaign to heal the wounds and bitterness inflicted by the conflicts in the recent past. I believe that this campaign will be effective in strengthening the peace process and in transforming the doubts into understanding, distrust into trust and disagreement into agreement after setting up a Truth Commission.

The media are the mouths, eyes and ears of the citizens in the age of the today’s magical information flow system. I especially would like to inform the media persons that we are at the point of building New Nepal. We have been always reading negative news and we read in the news only the negative things of the nation. Now, let us read the news about the hope and possibilities. Let the media inspire the citizens for building the nation. Let the media contribute to arise the feeling of self-sacrifice and new awareness in the minds of the citizens. This government is fully committed to human rights and freedom of press.

Respectable mothers-fathers, sisters and brothers

I politely appeal the industrial and business houses to contribute to the building of the nation. This government is strongly committed to create an investment friendly environment making industrial peace and ending the widespread anarchy and the culture of shutdowns in the country. Without making the prestige of the country high anybody’s prestige will not be high no matter how big the businessperson is. When will the day come when we can proudly say that Nepal Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Nepal Industries and Nepal Chambers of Commerce meeting their social responsibility have build this road or that university or hospital. Let us hope that we will have the luck of seeing that day very soon.

Impunity is the fatal disease of the democratic system and culture. The treatment of this disease that has taken the deep root in the Nepalese political culture will be started courageously. In this context, a process of taking actions against the guilty persons after evaluating the reports of the past commissions will be immediately started.

I have attentively listened to the citizens’ criticisms and comments on the Prime Mister and ministers have entangled in the useless formalities and minor things going beyond their jobs, major responsibilities and priorities. Honoring these comments and criticisms, from now on, an arrangement will be made for the Prime Minister and ministers to reach their offices in time setting aside the tradition of listening to the individuals’ requests, complaints, grievances and accepting congratulations at their residences in the mornings and evenings, and to do such things in the offices in a group or individual meetings as required. In addition, an arrangement will be made for weekly evaluation of the work done by each ministry. I promise that as a Prime Minister I will be active to continuously evaluate the government’s performances from the eyes of the citizens keeping lively and near contacts with them.

I have taken seriously the citizens’ complaints about the Prime Minister and ministers have been practicing the nepotism and tending to enjoy luxurious lives. In cooperation with the members of the Council of Ministers, I collectively attempt to create a situation of the citizens not requiring making such complaints from now on. Soon a powerful commission on missing people will be set up to end the culture of impunity taking legal actions against the guilty persons disclosing the whereabouts of the missing people. In addition, a new understanding has reached on rehabilitating the people displaced by the conflict; and its implementation process will also be started.

The new government’s rural-oriented budget will soon go for implementation. Implementing this budget in an appropriate way will open the way for Nepal going from poverty to prosperity, from dependency to independence, from injustice to justice, from unemployment to employment, from backwardness to development. Implementation of the people-oriented policies and programs mentioned in the budget will be speed up setting up people’s representative-oriented local governments soon. I appeal all citizens for cooperating on contributing their knowledge, profession, labor, skill and dedication to implementing the budget.

It is sure that again the country will fall in the circle of dreadful conflict if we cannot avoid the economic, political, social, cultural, caste, gender and regional discrimination that has been the causes of the movements and various sorts of rebellions in different areas and the people’s war. To come out of the dreadful circle of conflict is to unite the two armies, and to craft a constitution setting the structure of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal with agreement and participation of all Nepalis. Crafting a constitution is also the legal base for institutionalizing all the achievements made by the peoples’ war and people’s movements. I heartily request political parties, industrialists and businesspersons, civil society, media persons, and all citizens of Madhesh-terai, hills and mountains for cooperation on the task of alleviating poverty through the creation of new socio-economic order in Nepal and for assisting with their open minds in completing this great task of crafting a new constitution in the scheduled time. Certainly, we face many challenges on the way ahead. However, if we could remove all the challenges on the way and ensure the positive attitude and cooperation of all, we also have many possibilities of materializing the dream of building self-reliant, peaceful and lawful, new, lively and prosperous Nepal. To transform the possibilities into realities, let us be engaged in this task. The future of sovereign and prosperous Nepal is bright. 

Thank you.

January 25, 2009.

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