Nepal instated a new constitution Sunday. My immediate response upon hearing this was delight; this constitution promises to enforce secularism and democracy, while simultaneously protecting religion when needed. After years of political unrest, interim constitutions and monarchies, this seemed like good news. But was I right in my assumption?
In Nepal, this constitution has been met with raucous protests that have led to more than 40 deaths. The constitution seems like it is in accordance with modern movements. After all, it is more defensive of human rights and is believed to be the step needed by Nepal to move forward economically. Yet it is flawed.
Ethnic groups, such as the Madhesi and Tharu people, say they will not be properly represented and provided for upon the adoption of this new constitution.
When some problems are solved, others inevitably arise, and that is a constant occurrence in all countries. Unsurprisingly, whenever a country chooses to change its laws and policies there is almost always a backlash. In the case of Nepal, some citizens’ frustrations are valid. Furthermore, the protesters also seem to be receiving support from India. Often times the complaints in other countries are also valid, but sometimes there is a backlash simply because people think there should be. Are people that afraid of change?
In contrast, people often claim to need change. Most of the people reading this moved from high school to college. Even historically, most of our ancestors were nomadic and therefore were constantly changing aspects their lifestyles. However, the unifying element for citizens in a country is the country itself. It is the same country in which their grandparents and great-grandparents grew up. And because of citizens’ personal attachments to their country, they learn to adapt to life amid the changes. A leading government chooses to address what it perceives as prevalent issues in their country regardless of individual citizen needs. Those who obey these changes must come to the realization that the home and comfortable lives they have built for themselves might improve, or shatter completely.
In the case of Nepal, change is one of the only constants it has experienced in many years. Naturally, their concerns and complaints are more than legitimate because they are rooted in reality. To be able to make Nepal the progressive and global entity it wants to be, the government needs to realize that change must be gradual. It has to take into consideration the constant state of limbo that Nepalese citizens have been enduring for so many years. Thankfully, the political leaders are willing to consider changes in political borders, which would be one step towards easing the tension in the country right now.
Was I right to be so delighted in Nepal’s new constitution? Perhaps it does not matter because I can only see Nepal as an outsider. Because I have not experienced — nor do I even have knowledge of — the complicated events that have shaped Nepal’s history, I will naively assume that this constitution will work. I hope this constitution reflects its constituents and improves the quality of life in Nepal.