Recently the PDP ( People's Democratic Party) shared an article " Looking Out "by Sujeev Shakya in Kathmandu Post on 26th September with the Party's comment " What could other leaders learn from the Bhutanese Prime Minister".
This article is about the author's perception of Bhutanese Prime Minister possessing a better " global mind-set" than Nepalese Prime Minister. He felt that Nepal is more inward looking whilst Bhutan was outward looking.
Bhutan is fortunate that we always had and have few fantastic national leaders under the benevolent guidance of their Majesties the Kings of Bhutan. And I was probably an earlier recogniser of these facts. In fact I wrote about it in 2013 after India intervened in the General Election. A small nation with limitted resources somehow have been compensated by presence of outstanding individuals in every era who served the Kings and the people to steer the nation to secure path. I, therefore, can comprehend why the author Sujeev Shakya is impressed by our capable Prime Minister His Excellency Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay. So were many impressed by former Prime Minister His Excellency Jigmi Yoeser Thinley. Therefore I am not confused by the perception of the author. I do not think any Nepal Prime Minister has much to learn from Bhutanese Prime Ministers as eloquent and socially gregarious as our PMs are.
What worried me was possible misunderstanding and therefore the under estimation of the depth of Nepalese political Leaderships acumen by our ruling political party leaders and other political parties' leaders who may direct Bhutanese destiny hereafter. We are yet to move away from the sole political orbit of India. But Nepal is on another political Plateau. Nepal's outlook is for Nepal as a nation. Bhutan's outlook till now seems to be pleasing India no matter what.
I want to share few real life facts about Nepal from recent historical events.
1. Nepal became a multi- party Democracy. Some would say through popular unrest. What I heard was that the King had actually said that he would abdicate if people so wanted. The King refused to use the Army to fight off foreign manipulated or encouraged so called democratic forces. His Majesty was only standing up against India only for the Nepalese people and Nepali sovereignty. Later the great King and his whole ruling Royal Family was massacred. The blame was put on the Crown Prince but public of Nepal was wiser. They mourned for the Royal Family including the Crown Prince.
The King died but his political legacy remains true and strong. Today Nepal is wooed by both India and China. The King's vision to have both economic and political relationships with China and India has strengthened Nepal and improved the hereafter national prospects for the people and the country. The Royal Family paid the ultimate sacrifice in Royal Blood but saved a nation and her people from foreign subjugation.
2. At one time, Bhutanese Ministers used to gloat over how Bhutan got India to invest in hydropower projects in Bhutan whilst Nepalese Leaders " foolishly " rejected Indian offer. Now one wonders who were the wise guys?
3. During the last big earthquake that Nepal suffered, so many nations and agencies came forward to assist. However, when few nations and Agencies demonstrated ulterior motives that posed security and political dangers, the Nepali Government and Army High Command ordered all to get out of Nepal. Even India and America had to get out. The courage and will of the people and Nepali leadership in preserving their sovereignty and national policies is beyond self survival of a King or a Prime Minister. Historical events stand testimony to such personal sacrifices.
4. Nepal have had so many change of elected Governments. Such frequency in change of Governments is damaging to socia- economic development and sense of peace and stability. And yet none of these Government changes caused a political crisis similar to 2013 of Bhutan. Bhutan had in democratic governance sense and description a proper formal change of government. A political party completed its term of 5 years and election was held which elected another political party to resume the reign of Governance. And yet the wounds of political grievances are still festering. Far worse than that of Nepal. Signs of utmost political immaturity in Bhutan I would say.
5. The Government and people of Nepal went through the excruciating economic pains for several months due to blockade imposed by India and unrest in the southern belt of the nation. Neither the major earth quake nor the economic blockade defeated the indomitable national spirit of Nepal. Whilst a gas cylinder cost hike by India had Bhutanese Political leaders in total disharmony. Thus in reality, Bhutan has a long way to catch up in political maturity and sense of national entity. Let alone looking down upon the Nepal scene.
I think the trails of political processes show that Nepalese political parties have used foreign resources to achieve recognition and gain power in Nepal. However, apart from Prime Minister Koirala ( I could never comprehend Koirela's closeness to India almost like that of Kazi Lhendup of Sikkim ), all Prime Ministers of Nepal ultimately stood for Nepal. They know to whom they originally owe their status. Their source of power and legitimacy is Nepal and Nepalese, not foreign agencies or Governments.
For these reasons , I would never belittle Nepal and the Nepalese. I fully respect the political Leaderships of Nepal for their wisdom and dedication to Nepal and Nepali sovereignty that goes beyond self political survival.
May the two Himalayan nations remain friends and support each other at crucial times. So far the records of affection and trust between Bhutan and Nepal is very admirable.