By Om Tat Sat,
Lack of respect for time is a norm in Nepal. It has created immense damage yet the nation continues to relegate the issue to the back burner, and the result is a continued suffering for everyone. One such recent aviation incident concerned a new and young minister causing a big splash in the media. The whole situation is problematic in many ways connected to all parties.
First, the flight from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu was scheduled to take off at 6:25 p.m., but even with the delay on arrival, it should have flown by 6:40 p.m, but finally did so at 7:04 p.m. only. As the minister was caught up in a Dolphin Festival in another town, he acknowledged making a call to hold the flight. Buddha Airline did; most likely because the minister is the chief brass of the ministry -airline and tourism ministry- that controls the airline, otherwise there had been a case on April 17 earlier this year when Buddha Air flight left without Minister Baskota from Bhairahawa so he demanded an investigation. He told the reporters, “If the airline can behave with me, a minister, in this way, one can only imagine the plight of other normal passengers.” Apparently Buddha Air has downplayed the incident this time stating that it was only a 10 minutes delay. They informed that the minister did not arrive even after 20 minutes when they had informed about five minutes delay in arriving. The delay even made the passengers come out of the plane, after being tired of waiting. This shows that Buddha Air made special accommodation for the minister. They certainly treated him differently this time around.
Second, the passengers had a right to be irritated, however, after scolding and thrashing the minister for his abuse of authority, their conduct inside the plane was against the airline rules. Disorderly conduct could bring a fine of Rs. 100,000 and one year in prison. Shouting and yelling inside the aircraft is illegal. No such measures were taken, but one of the passengers, an activist against corruption Gyanendra Shahi, was physically abused the next day when he held a press conference about the incident. It cannot be mere coincidence that the students of his party disrupted and attacked the activist at the press conference. The incident has been labeled as state terrorism and complaint has been filed with the Human Rights office in Kathmandu.
Third, as for the Minister, Mr. Yogesh Bhattarai, he seems to feel he is more important than others ordinary citizens, so it was not a problem for him to call in to hold the flight on his behalf. This could also explain why he never apologized to the passengers or the crew when he arrived. He merely ducked other passengers’ insults and stayed silent. He apologized the next day in his facebook status. That is one clear bug in social etiquette. Had he apologized to everyone face to face, he would probably have ameliorated the situation; instead, he politicized it by accusing the monarchist for the outrage.
आज कैलाली जिल्लाको टिकापुरमा आयोजना भएको डलफीन महोत्सबको कार्यक्रम सकेर बुद्ध एयरको धनगढीको अन्तिम उडानबाट काठमान्डौ…
Time is of essence to everyone, irrespective of profession or political ideology. Nepal’s ministers do not realize this so they do not conduct themselves to show they value time. They are never punctual for anything. That is why when this scandal was going on, people were also comparing it with incidents abroad when a Mexican minister resigned because she cause a delay of another airplane due to her own plane’s delay. Another intellectual Surendra KC recited in an interview how a Japanese minister resigned for arriving three minutes late.
It is a painful situation in Nepal to live in. Such blatant disregard for time, and abuse of authority are rampant. Nepal has not shed the heavy burden of a feudal mindset, no matter what kind of political system happens to be the order of the day. The leaders in this republican system all start behaving like the former royal family, and feel it is their right to abuse the state, people and the treasury for their personal whims. It is not a matter of shame for ministers and congresspersons to seek advantage, or bend the rules to suit their purpose, or talk down to ordinary people. Subsequent developments like banning Gyanendra Shahi from traveling to Dhanusha and Kaski by the student wing of the ruling party is a telling sign of the Communist party. Probably to give fuel to the fire, former PM Prachanda actually called on those youth to counter people’s movement as being against the republic government.
The final truth seems to corroborate George Orwell’s famous line from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
The writer is a graduate of Arizona State University in Political Science. He is working as a social activist and motivational speaker for students across Nepal since 2007.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necesarily reflect the official policy or position of Nepalisite.