Last week was all about history. I refreshed my memories about World Wrestling
Federation Entertainment from Bret Hart to HBK, Steve Austin and CM Punk. Belonging to the millennium generation from Kathmandu I was never a Rock fan. Thus I am trying to mention him less. Much of school life, grade eight, nine and ten, was about WWE, talking about Monday night “RAW” and Thursday’s “SMACK DOWN”. The back stage interviews, entrance music, commentaries made by JR and King, and those awesome rivalries were must know general knowledge. Everyone knew how to draw the bull (pictured below), sketched out in notebooks, text books, and school diaries. My sister would go on to draw it in her school bag, and I know I had one printed shirt of it. It read “ayatollah of rock and rolla” in the most common Times New Roman font – italicized. We took three (or four) days to design this in MS Word ’97. I still don’t know what ayatollah means.
AND thats the bottom line… cuz Stone Cold says so!
Last week was also about my political inclination back in Nepal). Major parties in Nepal including the pseudo-communist beleaguered Maoists, have put their nomination forward for the November election. This is the second constitution assembly for Nepal. There nomination list has some surprises, few misfits, and certain number of dropouts compared to the last election. My supported politician back from 2006/7 elections did not get the ticket this time. She’d won last time. Had I been in Nepal, I’d vote for the Nepali Congress nominated candidate from Kathmandu Area Four constituency. Gagan Thapa is by far the most favored candidate in NC right now. This is what I think. Since I am outside Nepal and won’t be able to participate a direct election I take up an audience seat this time. But why can’t I vote?
So why can’t I vote?
A friend of mine in Facebook mentioned something about 2008 Election commissionaire talking about the foreign Nepali voting right. “He had promised that the Election Commission would work towards this end and create conducive environment for Nepalese residing abroad so they can exercise their right to vote in the future.”
Why doesn’t Nepal have a workable mechanism devised so that citizen/s could vote from abroad?
Why doesn’t Nepal have a workable mechanism devised so that citizen/s could vote from abroad? My one word answer would be poverty (an initial perception). However, I think there ought to be some other explanations as well. Disclosure – no money was required, but some time was spend researching internet.
Voting right for citizen abroad
There is an excellent Gaurdian article by Joseph Mayton (here) from 2010 July which speaks about how you would feel deprived of a say in your country’s future, if not allowed to vote. He gives two country specific examples which are very similar to Nepal’s emigration. He speaks about a theoretical possibility related to Lebanon’s diaspora. Lebanon has some 12 million citizens living outside the country compared with only around 4 million inside – so in theory absentee voters could determine the outcome of any election. Please also listen/read to the Freakonomics podcast on how Lebanese are most successful Immigrants in the world (here), which came out in August 29 of this year. Our second example is that of Mexico, which recently introduced voting right for citizen abroad. The cost factor might be unprecedented for Nepal, but if we are to learn from Mexico’s example; Nepalis should begin to seek out a means to better their native countries.
This article also refers to Maria Gratschew (co-author) and her handbook, Voting from Abroad, where she argues that “external voting is highly relevant to the many people who are travelling or working around the globe”. This handbook is from 2007, so some of its data might be irrelevant. My next post has some quick read materials that I found interesting in here along with more personal insights for November election. Disclosure – This book is free and under Creative Common License (CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0)
So what has Nepal to gain from its citizen abroad?
I argue that there are three major groups of Nepali outside Nepal.I wrote some part of this in August 2013.(here is the post link). First the hard working labor population representing mostly from Middle East and South East Asia. They are the ones keeping Nepal’s economy well and alive through massive remittance. It not Lord Pashupatinath, its them. There has been a huge spike in this group in the last decade, and boys leave the country as labor population as soon as after finishing grade eight. This is the plight of the Lower Class, a majority in Nepal. Tap into them for voting rights, and most if not all will represent socialist outlook. Presently represented by एमाले (confusing mixture of democracy and communist) and माओवादी (purely communist) parties.
It not Lord Pashupatinath, its them and their remittance that have kept Nepal’s economy alive in this last decade.
Second huge group outside Nepal is the student population – both undergraduates and graduates. Most if not all the undergraduates are money-drain from Nepal, and like the First Group there has been a huge spike in people leaving Nepal for Education. This group of students are have mixed educational and intellectual background when it comes to politics. Most represent the Middle Class family from Nepal, and as progressive they are, all of them might not be the answer Nepal needs right now. Case in point to a blog post written by Pranaya Rana in ekantipur.com (here). The topic was something I’d definitely would have talked/written about before I came across this post. He writes it very well, and he has much better command in the language (better than me). The post argues about the plight of middle class, and how we are limited and disillusioned by our own good intentions to do good. Mr Subedi (read more here) last week was one of the fall guy among this Middle Class hordes. These represent a mixed political views ranging from liberal democracy to hard line communism.
The third group is the indistinct settlers. These are either the upper class or the ones that have first educated themselves in foreign land and then gained experience as much to settle in. The H1B Visa status in USA and the alike. I can’t really say anything more about them as they comprise of the heterogeneous population from all parts of Nepal, and most of them are content with their lives in foreign land. They comprise the brain-drain population from Nepal. Few definitely have done good deeds for Nepal, despite being outside Nepal. Most of them represent the नेपाली कांग्रेस (corrupt-democratic) party. Obviously this is my personal statement and I don’t have hard facts to prove it.
Regardless of my perspective, if the country is to make a situation for voters abroad have their say, it would benefit Nepal. According to the Census report 2011, Nepal’s population stands at 26.4 million, out of which 1.9 million is absentee population. This is 7.1% of those who are outside Nepal. I am short on the total number of registered voters right now, still searching for it and will post as a comment to this page once I find it.
Lastly – reinvigorated love for my N9
Read a post last week from OSNEWS (here) and a link from an original article (here) about the one true mobile phone experience – Nokia N9. He writes – Virtually every N9 owner I’ve ever talked to loves the N9 unconditionally. It could have been the Eve of Nokia’s resurrection. Instead, it became the symbol of its demise. So very true. I do have a constant mobile phone changing experiences averaging eight months – – albeit with budget phones. Until last week I was using Palm Pre II through Ebay at 54 USD. Got it in USA, this July, because it wasn’t available in Nepal two years since it came out. Used it for three months, but now am back to Nokia N9 (got this in early Feb 2013 – second hand shop). It just works.
Next Post – is part two of this one. shorter and fewer tidbits on November election. The tea post is still on, i still am searching for few images (CC-BY-3)