The various ideas or suggestions offered for incorporation into the new election related bill include voter’s right to recall elected representatives; allowing a corruption convict to run in an election after serving a certain number of years; and the voter’s right to reject all of the candidates standing in an election. The most dangerous to good governance and maintenance of ethics in body politic has been the push made by some lawmakers, particularly those belonging to the ruling Nepali Congress, to include in the bill under discussion in Parliamentary State Affairs Committee a provision to allow corruption convicts to contest elections. This attempt has been made unsuccessful by the strong protests from the opposition parties and the general public. If a corruption convict were to be allowed to run for a public post, the next logical step would be to demand this right for other criminals who have served a certain number of years in jail, including murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and human traffickers. This idea seems to have been floated to pave the way for a handful of politicians who have been convicted of corruption.
The second idea was to incorporate the voter’s right to recall an elected representative. The idea itself is not bad because in principle the voters should have the right to recall their representative if they let them down or do things which would discredit their office. But in practice, the way politics are conducted in the country, it would be easy for those who lost the election to stir up the discontents of the public because expectations are high and what the elected people can do is limited for a number of reasons. Such a legal provision would likely lead to a spate of recall moves one or two years after the election, and it would not do good to anybody — to the political system, voters themselves, or the delivery of services by the elected representatives. If such a provision is to be made in the law, it will be better to wait till our democracy becomes more mature, which means not now.
The third idea has been to give the voters the right to reject all the candidates running in any constituency by stamping ‘None of the Above’ box as per the Supreme Court ruling. This idea could be incorporated even now without any harm because it would not lead to practical problems as a provision to recall elected representatives would. In Nepal, voters are most likely to vote for one or the other candidates fielded by the political parties. Rejection of all the candidates in the fray would be very unlikely to happen; it would be nearly impossible for such naysayers to form a majority. But such a provision would theoretically give the voters an additional choice. Therefore, incorporation or non-incorporation of this provision would be of academic value. Much more important would, however, be to include provisions in our many laws to make government bureaucrats and elected representatives more accountable for their action or non-action. This has not happened in a significant way so far. That is why most of those who have acted against the public interests and the country for selfish ends usually go away scot-free.
According to the Bird Conservation Nepal five out of nine species of vultures face the threat of extinction in the Indian subcontinent. This is a matter of grave concern for many species of vultures are under pressure while some are endangered and could be very well extinct. Vultures play a vital role in the ecosystem, and if these were to disappear the consequences could be disastrous. So it is high time these exotic species of birds were conserved. Many of the vultures die after eating carcasses laced with pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. If vultures were to become extinct it could have drastic consequences in maintaining the ecological balance which is deteriorating over time.
The International Vulture Awareness Day is marked in the first Saturday of the month of September every year. This day has been marked since 2009. This day was observed by holding various programs like generating awareness, vulture festivals, cultural events, interactions and rallies. However, it is comforting to learn that the population of some species of vultures in Nepal has been rising since 2013. This is very encouraging and looks like campaigns to save the vulture is working. Still more needs to be done.
The Himalayan Times, September 4, 2017