This is an untold story of Juddha Shumshere Rana, ex prime minister of Nepal, have heard some time ago which I felt worth stating to the context now.
There are many beautiful parks in England. One in Greater London known as Hyde Park has an interesting history behind it. In 1866 Edmund Beales’ Reform League marched on Hyde Park where great scuffles broke out between the League and the police. Eventually the Prime Minister allowed the meetings to continue unchallenged and since 1872, people have been allowed to speak at Speaker’s Corner (Hyde Park) on any subject they want to. This is one of the specialities of this park. Freedom of speech is honoured and peoples’ voices have been heard there for centuries. This venue is not just for politics but it is a common podium for anyone who wants to express their feelings, beliefs or even agony. They can go there and make a speech, openly criticise government, or even speak about the monarchy. This freedom of speech, allowed for a long time, has a significant meaning, that every human being needs a forum to express him or her. The scenario is different in Nepal’s case here we lack this habit of expression. Speak and let others Speak and Listen to them is not done here.
Our politician’s ears are not used to hearing criticism. We citizens of Nepal need to praise them all the time even if they are wrong, inefficient, misleading people presenting a lot of nonsense. For a long time unqualified people seem to have ruled this country. They panic when somebody criticises them and democratic processes are mere words for them used in political speeches to mislead people.
There is a little known story of a previous prime minister of Nepal who seemed bolder and wiser than many of his successors. This gentleman did not create a Hyde Park in Nepal, but initiated an informal forum in his residence to gather public opinion. I have heard from elders that Juddha Shumshere Rana, then the Commander in Chief and Prime Minister of Nepal, was a funny, interesting, and a jolly good fellow in many respects. He used to assemble citizens especially the so-called untouchables of those days like: Damai =traditional tailor, Kami =Black Smith, Sarki =Shoe Maker, Pode =Toilet Cleaner, Chyame =General cleaner and so on for discussions. He fed them the Royal Feast (Chaurasi Byanjan – a meal having 84 varieties of food, served in those days only to the Royals) I am sure Juddha Shumshere must have also provided them with some liquor during those sessions. Then, after a good meal and drinks he used to tell them. “Now listen gentlemen: you do not have to worry or be afraid of me, you may start cursing me, criticise me or use whatever words you feel are appropriate. I have no problem, feel free to express yourself. I would like to know your opinions and I will not punish you for them, whatever they are.” The invitees used to be surprised and many were afraid to take up his offer. To encourage people to be open, his royal priest used to tell them that Juddha Shumshre wanted to be free of the bondage of his past sins and he was in a remorseful state, so if they cursed and criticised him, his sins would be forgiven. It must have been difficult, in front of the most powerful person in Nepal, for commoners to oblige but Juddha would assure them and hear all their opinions. In this clever way he learned about what his people thought. He was witty and wise in many matters, though he had flaws he was successful in ruling Nepal for over 15 years. In these citizens jollies he gathered the key information about public opinion he required for his administration.
So, what about our present administrators and politicians, they do not even seem to possess the listening qualities of the previous autocrats. They are not used to criticism or opposition, they need flattery and false praise from the people. If our politicians cannot learn from Nepal’s past then they need to learn and understand the democratic way of life from other world statesmen. Just fooling Nepal and Nepali, but enjoying one’s own personal life in a regal way is wrong, and it is not good enough.