On behalf of Rabindra Mishra, unofficially
The social media went bollocks recently when Rabindra Mishra, a renowned journalist and philanthropist, declared his resignation from BBC to serve the country as a politician. I was excited the moment I heard about the news and started to voraciously read the press release he published on his Facebook page, like I had been hungry for such a statement from him for years.
However, there was a certain fear in me which kept hammering on my mind: What if he joins Naya Sakti, CPN (UML) or even Nepali Congress? As a self-declared die-hard atheist I was hoping, wishing, and even praying that somebody of his intellectual stature and integrity should not fall prey to any of the false promises of the already established political forces. There was a great relief for me as I read it all: Mishra and his good mates were going to establish a new political party that would be transparent, accountable and responsible, and envisions greater good rather than make strategies of how to control and rule.
I was happy to see many people sharing the same sentiments that I had in my mind. People were congratulating him for his bold move. I call it particularly a bold move because he had already established himself as a respected journalist and a generous philanthropist, and yet was risking all the good name he had earned for himself for something which he considered more important than his good name and image. For decades, he had been on the cleaner side of the wall and pointed out the dirt and slime that had covered the leaders and the system that they had established and promoted. Now he was going to get in the slimy mud himself. He risked being called dirty, he risked being rejected, he risked being a failure, he risked being accused of corruption, he risked being called greedy, he risked all he had just to make a mark on the system and try to set it on the track where it should have been.
However, there were some voices which were quick to forecast that he is doomed to fail. Others with fantastic imagination were quick to add that he must be some kind of a “foreign agent” who will ultimately compromise security and stability of the country. The most scornful diatribe against him asserted that when the rest of the freedom fighters were fighting to re-restore democracy, he was strolling happily along the streets in London.
Haters will always be haters, but for those who have a mind open to new ideas, different opinions and most importantly logical arguments, here are a couple of things I would like to say. First, I believe it does not matter to him whether he fails or wins. I do not think he has taken this move as a calculated game. He has decided to get into the political arena not with the fear of losing or with the desire to win the prime minister’s or the president’s chair, rather he has decided to get into the arena to make a mark, to try to set the rules of the game right, to establish a political culture of accountability and transparency, to institutionalize the achievements Nepalis have got through martyrdom and struggle, to ensure the rights of the marginalized, to boost good governance, to safeguard the rights guaranteed by the constitution, to try to materialize the directive principles of state policy stipulated in the constitution the enforcement of which cannot be guaranteed by the judicial system, and most importantly to dedicate his life for the service and good of his motherland. In this sense Mishra cannot be doomed to fail, as for him failure lies in not doing anything, and not in trying and not succeeding. But with all the good spirit and a team of many other like-minded visionaries he is bound to succeed, I believe.
Second, there are yet others who perceive him as a foreign agent who is trying to compromise security and stability of our country. Some were even quick to call him “British agent”, not the fancy 007 kind, of course, and yet others called “Christian agent”, which is an accusation I could not understand why it was heaped over him even though I tried to put myself in the shoes of the most hateful hater and thought for a good number of hours. Mishra is a man who promotes change, who understands that we Nepalis should keep abreast with the development in science and technology, respect human rights, should not comprise on free speech and yet try to preserve and promote multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual heritage. He is a man who is not giving rousing speech in support of Madhesi at the cost of bashing the Pahades, but who is well aware that Madhesi of the Terai have been marginalized for decades sometimes through government policies and yet other times through socially constructed hierarchies. Yes, he will try to break the hierarchies, he will try to demolish the notion that this is just the country of Hindus; he in turn will try to establish a state policy that will at times even support Christian groups over the Hindus, as reparations for historical wrongdoings, and that is the principle of equity. He envisions a country where we will have no time hurling accusations on each other as “foreign agents”, but rather will be busy and motivated in doing our work; enjoy time with our family, rest without any fear of persecution no matter whatever one’s caste, creed or origin is. If trying to introduce such values makes him a “British agent” or a "Christian agent”, then so be it.
Third, we have a tendency to perceive that the greatest guards of our democratic systems are the stone-hurlers and the tire-burners. If that is the criteria to judge one’s effort to establish a democratic system, I happily say that Mishra doesn't qualify. Sometimes we even count the number of years one has spent in prison to check whether the person is a champion of democracy or not. I have great respect for those who spent a good long productive years of their lives in prison to fight the Panchayat Regime. I have great reverence for those who lost their lives in the fight against autocratic rule. We will always be indebted to those great souls. However, this does not give anyone the license to bash or belittle those who were not imprisoned or are still alive. It is a thing widely accepted that Mishra and his team of BBC Nepali were instrumental in informing the Nepali people when King Gyanandra usurped power and there was a kind of information blackout for days. I still remember how we would try to tune into the BBC short wave at quarter to nine to listen to the BBC when all other sources of information were put down. I can imagine how much trouble his team must have gone through to keep us informed. It may sound a bit exaggerated but I have no qualms to say that had it not been for the BBC team’s noble effort to keep us informed, we would still have been singing “Shree Man Ghambir” and pretty proud about that.
Finally, I would like to appeal to everyone from all walks of life to support this man and his good team. It is not necessary that his party has to be in the government, it is not necessary that he and his team have to be acknowledged in history, but it is necessary that we need to hand over a better country and a better society to our children. I do not know whether Mr Mishra and his team can do all they hope for, but I certainly see a beacon of light in total darkness. For me it is quite enough to begin with.
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