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Monday, December 6, 2010

Viewing the West from the East

We have been in limbo for centuries. The west was different till now and probably will persevere to remain different in future through this turmoil. This period of transition when the pain of the limping under-developed countries is shared by the west is interesting to watch.


For the western world that is now gasping with the problem of rising unemployment with a number of European economies inching towards bankruptcy in the aftermath of a painful economic recession, these years are pretty tough. The unusual things are now happening; the workers and the students are there in streets with demands that will be properly outlasted by the deliberate apathy of the ruling governments. The protesters are being even beaten by the law-enforcing policemen and the obstruction of the critical public services that was once seen only in the under-developed countries has now seen at least in France where the policies of the rightist president Sarkozy collide more head on with the demands of the protesters who too have appeared more adamant than their counterparts elsewhere.

Living in a third world country where the protests, obstructions and even the political revolts are more usual than the politically and economically stable time periods in the recent history it is quite amusing to observe such developments in the west. The white gentlemen with decent jobs and social position being beaten! The white students studying in premium institutions indulging in rude acts like overthrowing a police vehicle and being beaten! These make the scenes that are not easy to comprehend in the east where the Western models of economic and political developments are viewed as something ideal to be reproduced or at least mimicked. The political stability that has supposedly acted as the catalyst in their (breath-taking!) journey to prosperity is seen as the magnanimous cure-for-all-illnesses in the east. The developments in Europe after the serial announcements about the austerity packages in the European states are thus genuinely disorienting.

"We can't even vote yet. So what can we do? Are we meant to just sit back while they destroy our future and stop us going to university? I wanted to go to art school, I can't even afford A-levels now without EMA [education maintenance allowance]". This was what Leyla, 14 had to say, while she was on a protest in London against the rise in tuition fees in the university*. In this half of the world the indulgence of the students in the petty politics of muscle and money from early years has been responsible for an education system that never works properly propelling a huge proportion of wealthy to middle-class students to foreign universities. Politics has been the huge container that can accommodate all the unscrupulous elements in the society that know how to utilize the political machinery in their favor. That is why few of the bright students prefer to enter politics proper and often yearn for a politics, that, like in the west, worked in favor of the majority.

But now, as the west is in the middle of a turmoil whose end is difficult to foresee, the politics in the west has been less-than best for even the most loyal supporters of the system of ‘liberal democracy’, a term resembling the coalition partner of the current English government that has now been declared ‘traitor’ by the students there. The vicious attack by the American right to the ambivalent president Obama labeling him a fascist like Hitler is less than pleasant for the supporters of the American system. Obama’s routing in the recent mid-term elections in the US shows a hard-to-explain mood of the American public that is now less convinced of the Obama rhetoric of reviving the American glory risked by the reckless adventures of George Bush.
Regardless of the outcome the current developments in the west are worth watching and that can be a consolation for people in countries like Nepal where the political debacles are ruining the economy that is already pretty bad and everyday life is getting tougher.

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जीवनमा अफ्ठ्यारा घुम्तीहरुमा हिंडिरहँदा मैले कुनै क्षणमा पलायनलाई एउटा विकल्पको रुपमा कल्पना गरेको थिएँ, त्यसलाई यथार्थमा बदल्ने आँट गरिनँ, त्यो बेग्लै कुरा हो त्यसबेला लाग्थ्योः मेरा समग्र दुखहरुको कारण मेरो वरपरको वातावरण हो, यसबाट साहसपूर्वक बाहिरिएँ भने नयाँ दुख आउलान् तर तत्क्षणका दुरुह दुखहरु गायब भएर जानेछन् कति गलत थिएँ !

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