Kripa Sur Sherpa
Social worker,Bhojpur, Nepal
Mr. Kripa Sur Sherpa is a Social Worker working for upgrading education and health related sectors in Nepal's rural areas. He is affiliated with the CPN-UML and originally hails from Bokhim-7 of Bhojpur District, Nepal.
He was the former president of Nepal's Sherpa Association and now also associated with the movement of the indigenous communities. He has completed Master's in Public Administration and Political Science from Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur and Bachelor in Law (BL) from the same university.
The special correspondent of The Telegraph Weekly and its online edition telegraphnepal.com approached and interviewed this social worker cum politician on several facets of Nepali society and politics. Below the excerpts of his exclusive interview: Chief Editor.
TQ1: It is rumored that social work has now become the means to pocket money by befooling people. Don’t you feel ashamed if anyone introduces you as a social worker?
Sherpa: I agree that the word 'social work' has become polluted. Commercialization of this sacred field and its extreme misuse has made this word highly unpopular. In the name of social work, some people are engaged in bagging huge amount of money from the international donor agencies and fulfilling their personal interests in a shameless manner. Those people have made social work their earning profession, but not have taken it as a social obligation. Social work has, of late, become the victim of what could be called 'intellectual prostitution'. We need to oppose such unfortunate trends.
TQ2: Why do you think Nepali society is still lagging behind in economic terms than our immediate neighbors?
Sherpa: Like the other backward societies, Nepali society has yet not come out of the vicious circle of illiteracy. Lack of education is the main cause of our misfortune. Besides this, psychology of Nepali population which at best is guided by inferiority complex is also responsible to a greater extent for this pitiable situation.
TQ3: Some social scientists accuse long prevailing ethnic and class based suppression/oppression for the escalation of poverty in this Himalayan nation. Is it so?
Sherpa: Not at all. If you go to Karnali and Himalayan region, you can see whole region living a heartbreaking life. The human development index of those regions is at the lowest ebb. The economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights of the people living in those regions remain in a very poor state. People from all ethnic groups and economic classes are living miserable life. Poverty and economic backwardness is the common problem of people from all community and hence it demand combine effort to mitigate it.
TQ4: Let's change the topic. The so-called major parties of Nepal have decided to go for fresh Constituting Assembly (CA) election. What is your personal opinion regarding their fresh move?
Sherpa: Country cannot remain in a state of limbo for long. The decision of the major parties has attempted to provide outlet to the ongoing political impasse. However, I don’t think holding next CA election can resolve the problems Nepal is facing now. Personally, I prefer holding parliamentarian election slashing down the numbers of parliamentarians (below 300). The newly formed parliament should play the role of legislature and CA for the first three months. Within three months, draft of new constitution should be promulgated and country should be brought back to stability and right track.
TQ5: Do you think the new CA will promulgate new constitution within three months?
Sherpa: Three months time will be more than enough if the leaders agree to work with full commitment and dedication according top priority to the broader national interests. Political parties basically have different opinions regarding the restructuring of the state and form of governance only. Other contentious issues have been already settled by the now dissolved CA. In the recent past, the parties and leaders squabbled amongst themselves in vain, for example, for nominal things like naming of the provinces. This useless debate led to the tragic demise of CA. We need to learn lessons from it and should try not to repeat such mistakes again.
TQ6: Can you forward some candid ideas on how to solve the unresolved issues regarding the restructuring of the state?
Sherpa: Nepal has become a melting pot where people from different ethnic groups are living in a harmonious manner since time immemorial. Accommodative nature of Nepali society has fused the presence of 112 different ethnic groups. Despite this diversity, we haven’t ever witnessed any noteworthy ethnic confrontation as such. Unity in diversity is the awesome treasure of Nepali society and it should be protected at any cost. Undermining this reality, some people are advocating for the formation of federal units based on ethnicity. Is it possible to provide separate provinces to each ethnic group? Why don’t those people realize this simple aspect?
Looking after this fact, I have concluded that federalism based on single identity is not possible in our country. Some groups with vested interests have become active to wreck our ethnic accord for pushing Nepal further in the whirlpool of instability, uncertainty, chaos and bloodshed.
Prior to making any decision regarding the basis of federalism, we should study what had happened in Nigeria? In the beginning, there were four states in Nigeria and in the meantime the number of states swelled to 59. People are now selling their harvest to purchase the bullet; they are selling their lands to purchase lethal weapons. Do we prefer the occurrence of same situation here? Do we want our country to remain engulfed in the protracted conflict and never ending uncertainty? Is this our common wish?
The people from indigenous communities are seeking identity, access and representation. The naming of provinces or the formation of provinces on the basis of single identity cannot fulfill these demands and aspirations of indigenous communities. I am firm on my belief.
TQ7: So what should we do now? How to resolve these issues?
Sherpa: Ethnicity should not be made a basis for forming provinces. Restructuring of the country into the federal order should be made on the basis of geography and historical settlement of people. In my view, our country should be divided into five provinces and each province should compulsorily stretch from north to south. We, the Nepali usually commit mistakes in haste and repent in leisure. Let us not allow it to happen again. The only way out to strengthen Nepali nationalism and Nepali population is to create few federal units stretching from north to south. I don’t foresee any other option.
TQ8: Some people accuse alien forces for acting covertly to create ethnic animosity among the Nepali communities. Do you think so?
Sherpa: Hundred percent yes. The fund of foreigners and donor agencies goes directly to the community level in Nepal. This has made our national integrity to remain in a vulnerable state and has posed serious security threat to our country. Government should formulate and enforce policies to channelize those funds through government agencies. Foreigners and communities should not be allowed to interact directly in the name of promoting development and empowerment of the people.
TQ9: Why the alien forces want to disrupt our communal accord? How they will benefit by troubling us?
Sherpa: In the near future, water is going to be one of the scarcest resources. It is going to be extremely precious commodity like the petroleum products. Realizing this fact, some of our neighbors are desperately looking for snatching the vast water resources of our country to feed their population. Stable and prosperous Nepal will refuse to bow down because we cannot address all of the concerns of our neighbors. Strong Nepal will accord priority, firstly, to its national interests. Thus, some of our neighbors want Nepal to remain unstable and poor so that they can compel us to act as per their will. They do not want us to be self reliant and independent.
Similarly, our northern neighbor China is becoming a super power in the next decade. Some regional and extra-regional power doesn't want it to ever happen fearing it may end their monopoly in the global arena. Those forces are looking for using Nepal as a strategic base to target China and to ravage the latter completely by disassociating its underbelly Tibet from its mainland. For this purpose, they are advocating for creating many fringe ethnic provinces along the northern belt of Nepal that adjoin China’s Tibet. If Nepal fails to comprehend this grand design at the earliest, our sovereignty and independence may get endangered.
TQ10: You are making quite thrilling remarks. Then what China is doing amid this frightening situation in its backyard?
Sherpa: China has better understood this fact and therefore, it does not prefer the formation of provinces based on ethnicity in Nepal. Few weeks ago, a visiting Chinese delegation publicly urged Nepal not to adopt federalism based on ethnicity and single identity. China has already conveyed its message clearly.
TQ11: Don't you think such blunt statements from Chinese authorities tantamount to interference?
Sherpa: Of course yes. Realizing this fact, China has recently made it clear that it will acknowledge the decision made by the sovereign Nepali people. But I think China has made those remarks for public consumption only. I firmly believe that China is committed not to allow Nepal to adopt federalism based on ethnicity or multi-identity, come what may.
TQ12: What should we do to check increasing alien maneuvering in our country then?
Sherpa: Government should be held responsible for keeping our friendlier nation(s) at a comfortable distance. Other political actors should support such initiatives of government.
TQ13: But it is often accused that Nepali state is in itself acting against Nepali nationalism. In such circumstances, how can you believe that government can push our friendlier nations to a comfortable distance?
Sherpa: Indeed this is the most unfortunate reality for us. The threat to Nepali nationalism lay from within the Nepali state. Very sorry to say this. We have observed the incumbent government trying to submit all the airports of Nepal to the Indian firm(s) in the name of revamping it. It signed BIPPA with India undermining Nepal's national interests. Nepal government is not loyal towards Nepal and its people. It loyalty lies somewhere else.
Exclusive for telegraphnepal.com
Published in Telegraph Weekly September 26, 2012.