Not so long ago we all hated the fact that all we nepalese cared for was the guest of the program and not its intentions. There was a time when we would see the same face at least four times in a news, provided he is not Rishi Dhamala poking his head right next to any political bigwig, and wonder as to why and how a person would get away inaugurating seminars and distributing trophies 9-5, six days a week. There was this ‘bramha’ like motives trying to tell the world, ‘I am everywhere’. Or may be for the participants it could be the fact that there were lesser number of television cameras back then covering the news event and only way to ensure that the event got covered by the solitary TV station was call the men at the helm. Then only the TV would come and you could smile to your family members while you watched the news over a dinner. ‘There, there..you see me?’
That was then when you offered your Namaste to the guest by bending your backs as if you were doing some kind of yoga. The more you bend it, the more respect, it was something like that. It’s worth recalling an incident here when I was literally pushed by an army office sans the uniform in one of the ceremonies while I was in class five. I had missed the dress rehearsal as I came to know and therefore missed the strict instructions of bending my back like a gymnast while offering a bouquet to queen Aishwarya. But then again, that was then. That was just a done deal, nothing more nothing less and more importantly no questions asked.
The trend as we are all aware soon began to change. The guest list started to change. If it were a function organized to honor singers, people like Kumar Basnet and Tara Devi were invited as the chief guest. For sports, it was iconic people like Baikuntha Manandhar. This certainly looked more graceful, pleasing to the eye and moreover you felt like justice’s been done to whole cause or the purpose of the award. There was this guest who had the knowledge of the program he or she was participating in and sharing experiences rather than just reading out a ‘typed’ content.
I was reminded of all the award functions due to recent the furor caused at the Nepal Bidhya Buhusan award ceremony. The event as we were told was to be graced by the head of state, that being the Prime Minister. The furor raised by the winners was a slap on the face of all the educated youths of the country. Just about the time when we all thought we have come of age and felt that as a responsible citizens we had some obligations to fulfill in the midst of chaos and near anarchy, we were hit hard by their raucous. The shouting of a slogan by one of the recipient at a near violence marred event saying that there was no singer representing the Madhesis in the small chorus that sang national anthem was even more shameful. It begs the question, should the Gurung and the Kirat community taken a victory parade because members of their community won the race to compose and write the wordings for the national anthem. Its altogether a different story as to how the PM, some say, has been using his ‘ill health’ to choose to attend the programs he likes to attend and ones he wants to avoid but nonetheless when the recipients were made aware of PM’s inability to attend, that should have been respected. Or may be they had the option of queuing up outside his living room in much happening Baluwatar.
What was also hurting was how some of them lamented coming all the way from Putin’s Russia and elsewhere leaving all their ruble and euro paying job behind. This definitely showed the utmost respect and regard they have for the country and how much they treasured the honor given by the state. But then again the whole situation could not have been more ironic. They were here to receive an honor conferred on them for heir academic excellence at a time where they were serving some other country making use of that very academic excellence they had acquired from this country. This idea may not augur well with many of us who are working abroad but the fact is for all the contributions they have not made to the society and rather spilled communal hatred by bringing up the Madhesi issue in the national anthem, the nation should have every right to deny any honors. The cream of the society resorting to such a behavior, certainly was in a very poor taste, very shameful to say the least.
I always thought that there was a silent majority of educated lot who hesitated or were just indifferent to the events taking place in the society. The maximum they did was write for a newspaper column or a blog and discuss the events during coffee and lunch breaks, nothing beyond that. To them, all the strikes and rallies taken out on the street are nothing but a nuisance disrupting their daily regular work or holiday plans. To them everything is plain incomprehensible. But more importantly they are serving the nation in their own way by going about their own work. This often reminds of constant question raised by my colleagues and friends alike as to what I can do for society. I have read blog posting by many of my colleagues right after the bombings took place saying how hapless they felt for not being able to do anything to bring about a change. I did not have immediate answers then but now I think may be we are doing our own bit by going about our daily business without much fuss and in turn keeping the wheels of economy moving.
However coming back to the point regarding those invited to receive the award, quite obviously they did not just form the part of the silent majority but were the cream of those educated lot. May be they could have led the way just like the way they did while getting education which made them win the award from the state. While one must salute those seventeen people who accepted the award from the education minister, it’s very disheartening to see the icons resort to protests the way they did. To them it should have been the honor that should have mattered the most and not the occasion and certainly not the chief guest. To the remaining lot other than those seventeen, sorry, it was in a bad taste.
They later went on to receive the award from the lawns of Baluwatar.
(Unedited verision of the article published on Sunday edition of The Kathmandu Post, 16th September, 2007.)