Role Of The King In The Present Context
Role Of The King In The Present Context
By Prof. Ghataraj Bhattarai
Two thousand years ago Sage Vatsayana, also called as Kanandak, had prepared a Nitishastra (moral guide) on how a King should run a country. Although the basis of that guidebook was the situation of two-millennium ago it is equally relevant today. The first responsibility of the King is to safeguard the country and the second is to protect his people. If there is no safety the whole country will become inert and vulnerable.
The Nitishastra says: a harsh punishment will deter the people and if it is too soft people will stop obeying the people and start doing, as they like. So, a King who uses the appropriate dose of punishment is praiseworthy.
In Nepal the history of monarchy is worth remembering. The justice of Ram Shah, the unification of the country by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the good effort of King Tribhuvan, the start of building a new nation by King Mahendra and lately King Birendra's good work of giving full democratic rights to the people are the contribution people have not forgotten. There still are many people who consider king as incarnation of Lord Bishnu, who think they will be cleansed of their sins if they look at the king. The monarchy is also an institution on which people can belief and rest their hopes on. Because Nepal is a Hindu Kingdom, the role of the king is directly related to the country's welfare. Even Buddhists also take the royal institution with equal faith and aspiration.
The country has have to suffer the present debacle because the Constitution of 2046 established the monarchy just as an idol, which may be worshipped but cannot speak out. The active leadership of the king led the country for 30 years during the panchayat democracy days. The number of people killed in violence was not as many as those killed in the last 12 years. Although that period is often called as the 'dark nights' but it was full moon night if compared to what we have today. During that period it was the King who would directly look into the state of affairs, and actions against corrupt ones and the people's suffering were taken directly by the King. People used to fear the King as much as they revere. But now, there is no fear of any politician, minister or administrator.
The political parties only look at their partisan interest and not of the country. This is natural. It is the party and its workers who have made them leaders. So, it is not necessary for a leader of one party be considered as leader same by different party. It seems nobody seems to have understood that a small and land-locked country like ours would face a daunting situation if we divide amongst ourselves. Who is there to fight for the people and the security forces? Who is to look into the sufferings of the people and give protection to them? Who is to save the country? The government is totally unstable. No prime minister remains in the seat for five year. There is no unity within the political parties and when they are all and always busy fighting for their personal and narrow interests only, who would think about the country's interests? A leader is the one who can lead the country, but the country has not seen such an able leader.
There is no doubt that democratic is essential and imperative as the global politics shows. But when there is lack of able leaders, democracy is better safeguarded by the King than by inept and incapable leaders. Even though country's like Britain, Japan and many others have much more refined and matured democratic exercises still those countries give equal importance to monarchy. This is something we must ponder and think about. Nepal is suffering from gamut of problems because we have not given due importance and role to monarchy in the last 12 years. In a democracy any party, which receives 51 per cent of the vote has the leadership, but a King belongs to all and what he does is acceptable to all.
Again, the issue of democratic unity is being raised but it is not clear who would take the leadership. In this issue also the protection of democracy is possible only if the leadership goes to the King otherwise the leaders of the political parties, who have their own interests to look into, would find it difficult to be acceptable by all. In this way it would be very difficult for the country's politics to find stability.
Now, the villages are becoming empty. There is no administration and no security. Anyone might do anything. In such a situation, who should look after the country? It does not mean the King should always remain active in politics and in the country's state of affairs. But in this crisis-ridden situation, there is no one except the King who is able to take care of the situation, when the only thing the political parties are doing is to try to look down upon the other. For them the interest of their parties is above the country's interest. Because the constitution formed after 2046 has although taken the King as a symbol of unity, rendered monarchy powerless, the political parties and their government are all become fearless and out of control. It does not mean multi-party democracy, which is working so well in many other countries, would be useless in our country. Multi-party democracy has its merits but what is needed are provisions to rein in 'free to do anything' and checks and balances.
If we cannot protect this Himalayan country unified by late Prithivi Narayan Shah and safeguard the ancestry established by the late King along with the all the tribes, castes and the communities as an independent country, we would be cursed by our posterity. No one has to evaluate and analyze what the country went through in the last 12 years when we kept the King inactive. The aim was let the political parties involve in active politics, let them be able to solve the people's problems. But then the political parties and their leaders cannot solve the country's problems and the country continues to slide down, in such a situation the country urgently needs the active leadership of the king. All the political parties and the people must understand that the King does not belong to any particular political party or group but to the whole country. The less that everybody should understand is that first the country should remain and only then things like democratic rights and civil liberties come.
It is good and also necessary that all the political parties have kept and maintained the honour and respect towards the monarchy and the royal institution. In normal circumstances the political parties would remain active, however, if the constitution of 2046 has clearly specified the role and the position of the King in abnormal situation the country would not have to face the present crisis-ridden situation.
Vatsayana has also written in his moral guide that most of the people are kept within the refrain from doing whatever he likes and are kept within the moral boundaries because of fear of punishment. And a just and morally sound king keeps the country and the people disciplined and under control with a policy of punishment to the evil and rewarding the good. Such a King will bring incalculable and long-lasting prosperity to the country and the people.