In Search of Wisdom: Where does Corruption Live?

Authors note: This article was written in March 30, 2007 but had not been published. It is published in a hope that it is still relevant.

As I was entering into my high school years, a wave of political consciousness was catching the Nepalese society, which was under the shadow of the Panchayat regime. The carriers of this movement were the political workers who fed the young minds with books adapted to Nepali language from foreign publications and those written by Nepali authors. Books deemed illegal by the state were being circulated and read by people who hid them away from the watchful eyes of the state. Those books that I first encountered were “Monera Dekhi Manab Samma”, “Debasur Sangram”, and “Pachas Rupiyan ko Tamsuk”, written by Modnath Prashrit who had received a top literary award in Nepal a few years earlier for writing “Manav Mahakavya“. These books had greatly inspired me and the name Modnath got inscribed in my heart as a great philosopher to have been born on the soil of Nepal.

More than a decade had elapsed and I had moved onto other endeavors of studies when I was awoken by reading the news that Modnath had become the Minister of Education in Nepal. It was in the early 1990s and I was in Canada in pursuit of studies in engineering, but my memories of the high school days came vividly and I was happy for him and for Nepal. I thought that finally a literary figure and a true philosopher was coming to the helm of the most important ministry for contemporary Nepal.

Subsequent news on Modnath, however, was not as inspiring and he could do nothing but continue the legacy of the previous government that had started a for–profit education system in Nepal that segregated the rich and the poor from early childhood. These policies were in contradiction of the ideals he stood for in the books for which I admired him. There were also accusations of continuing government corruption as before or worse. But, the name of Modnath was written in golden letters in me for so long that I blamed other leaders of his party for all the failures. I even went on to say to my critique friends that it was a mistake of the party to make Modnath a minister and to not let him remain a writer and philosopher.

Those criticisms came and went but I had not made any further attempt to inquire about Modnath for more than a decade. But then I got a phone call from a friend in England about fresh writing by Modnath that had appeared in a Nepalese newspaper. My friend exclaimed that it was such a marvelous piece of writing that I must read and do so right then. My friend even insisted that I supply a commentary on the piece as we were linked due to one of my article published in the news media not long ago.

Within a few minutes, I was reading the article, which was so eloquently written that it was obviously the creation of the same writer who had made a great impression on me. It was a commentary on the contemporary political problems of Nepal and a proposed solution to those problems. For such a superbly composed piece, I could have nothing but admirations for his literary skills.

Then I went on to analyzing his thoughts. He had correctly identified that Nepal is in a difficult state of quagmire. He had also brilliantly outlined his perception of the major players behind the creation of the complex problem. He had even invented terminologies to describe them. The way others were capitalists, communists, Marxists, and so on, he had invented terminologies named “Castist (Jatibadi)” to label his key political opponents – the Maoists, and “Classist (Bargabadi) ” to his own group. However, he thought that the solution to Nepal’s problem could be found if everyone else abandoned their respective “wrong ideologies”.

Although it was a well composed writing intended to sway the readers to his ideas, I felt that he was using his literary skills to sugar coat some shallow thoughts with terminologies that were misappropriated. This writing did not do justice to people like me who wished to see a genuine philosopher in Modnath. I was not in search of a cheap satire by him but thoughts that could last the test of time. His thoughts appeared so poor for they had come from a person who, some 30 years ago, was able to see and teach us that the casts were invented in the guise of religion to create classes in the society. But now he was attempting to infer that a politics opposed to the cast was inferior to that opposed to the class! In fact I would be inclined to think in the contrary and tend to believe that the elimination of religious casts may be a more achievable and urgent a goal than elimination of economic classes. However, it is not to say that I am pro-economic classes.

A true philosopher or thinker should feel happy that there are problems to solve, and, therefore, there is some utility of his abilities to think. Instead my philosopher was unhappy that there was a problem to be solved. Similarly, a thinker must attempt to find the solution to the problem at hand and not boast that he would have a solution if the problem were to manifest in a different way or other people were to abandon their beliefs. The required trait of a true thinker is not the eloquent complaint about the problem but is the deliberation of elegant solutions to them. This is so because the future is not waiting for us to grant us with a set of conditions wished by us and no one carrying differing ideologies is waiting to conform to the conditions of our liking. If my solutions are not working for the present condition of the society, then it is time that I better wake up and refine my own solutions rather than complaining about the conditions and the bearers of other thoughts. Being clever in not admitting that our own theories are unfit for the present condition of the society is not enough.

I realized that my much admired Modnath is a long shot away from reaching the rank of a philosopher. So after keeping the glorified image for such a long time, I am today compelled to say goodbye to the philosopher of my childhood, introspect my old imprints, and embark a journey to search for the wisdom without waiting for the solutions to descend from the keepers of the Big Politics. Farewell Philosopher!

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