If you are looking for a proper book review, I hope you won’t end up disappointed. After the disappointments with fuel, power, food prices, and traffic in the times of fuel rationing, this is the last thing you want.
Let's begin from thanking Ishwar, the guy who gifted me the book, written by Kul Chandra Gautam, highest international service career (UN Assistant General Secretary) holder from Nepal. A person from remote Gulmi village made it to the top of UN system. What a remarkable career.
|Former President Ram Baran Yadav releasing the book to public, with the author.|
Bluntly saying, this book is not as exciting as Rubeena Mahato calls it to be(in her Review), neither as frustrating as Kantipur Editor Sudheer Sharma or The Kathmandu Post Editor AkhileshUpadhyay pointed it to be in their tweets. Sorry guys, I found it to be somewhere in between.
Rife with 'politically incorrect' languages, and no diplomatic sluggish whispers, rather a clean-cut version of thoughts that resemble news reporting style, KCG narrates his opinions of contemporary Nepali political and social discourse. The book not only presents the clear picture of essential parts of Nepal in transition, but also explains the causes, effects and the way forward. It analyzes the decade long conflict in different way, naming the cunning Maoists to be blamed for the never ending transition for their political benefit. The book's soul lies in the KCG's version of explanations on miserable insurgency in Nepal and aftermath, extended and elaborated. The author doesn't really look against the "Change", but he definitely looks 'not very satisfied' the way Change is happening.
Other good thing, for me is it balances the debate on Nepali politics for the vantage point of international community. With plethora of commentary and books available on post conflict and in-transition subject, in addition of recent turnaround of events, that mostly tend to be over progressive and leftist with armchair romanticism of revolution, dismissing every achievements democracy or liberal democracy presented to us, this books stands out.While those abundantly left leaning almost always blame Nepali state in the divisive versions as hardly and as harshly as possible, with the narrator living on the orientation of some generation old irrefutable and mostly blowing their own trumpet of errorism, on the contrary, KCG presents rightist version of analysis, dismissing all these romance and bromance of progressive intellectuals with some outdated patterns of theories, mostly established for personality cults. He questions their stand, the essential gaps between what they say and what they do and what actually the truth is and so on and so forth.
KCG also forwards what should have been the pattern of debate on post-conflict & post-earthquake era, how we missed economy and development at the center or sidelined it deliberately and how we missed the huge opportunity to renovate our ever-developing country. He not only rejects the concept of federal republic utopia, but also severely criticizes the identity based federalism to be impractical and judgment error, which I completely agree. What must be is not the "Federalism" but "Human Rights, Rule of Law & Liberal Democracy", as experiences around the world suggest.
Against my speculation, KCG goes on heavily criticizing the role of INGOS, especially UNMIN, UN and others in the peace process and what followed. He has given thefull details, as where the devil is, of how these (of all) people fell into booby trap of false progressive analysis of Maoists and sphere, and went on providing fetish for benefit of doubt to every idiotic move of the then rebels. He not only accuses UNMIN to be bias and cavalier about almost everything, but also questions his Excellencies diplomats’ haste and pampering baseless agendas.
Another thing I liked about the book the way forward he suggests. Rather than fighting for what is lost, to look ahead for a promising future.He speaks for rule of law, end of impunity, respect for human rights, and stability with economic and social development at the center rather than some political bragging with no real performance. Most places, I totally agree with KCG. To put a few: celebrity analysts presenting black and white labeling demarcation of who is progressive and who is status quoist, not on the basis of some tangible performance indicators or worthy evidences, but with prejudices and slogans hardly befitting for an aspiring civilized society.
To speak of shortcomings of the book we have to begin with poor editing; this book has been lazily edited, with many repetitions that in times reader is bound to get irritated, with same things coming again and again. Some narratives are unnecessarily stretched and boringly explained. The book should have been at least reduced by 50 pages or so. Over stretching makes the book sluggish, making it harder to keep engaged and focused about what actually is the thematic intention of the author.
With more than 40 yearsof a glorious career abroad, I was probably expecting a better writing from KCG. I was expecting some insights on the celebrity diplomatic world, how it functions, and others. But the book monotonously talks on politics with language a par below satisfactory.
As expected for anyone who actually puts up an honest effort to discuss the state of Nepali politics, the writer looks confused in many places, and the reader many times gets confusingly blur vision of what he actually wants? InOne paragraph, he curses the system, in the very next he praises. The voracious criticism of the then rebel Maoists almost makes the book look like an anti-Maoist rhetoric.
KCG looks totally outsider in the book, which he actually is. He left Nepal pretty early, and came back so late, that he looks totally dependent on secondary source analysis. He claims to have visited some districts, after coming back, which is definitely not enough to analyze the era we left behind. This weakness has created gaps in the narrative. And perhaps not to the surprise of many, he looks completely emotional at number of times.
He says cynicism is our national problem but he himself makes himself a cynically fierce criticizer of Maoists and other "self proclaimed progressive analysts", which is actually funny. He not only criticizes them with Leninist term of "useful idiots", but also questions their background as most of them have enjoyed the privilege even if they are from marginalized community. This might be true, but to keep on saying that again and again looked a bit ugly, a kind of revenge criticism. Not gentlemanly to kick someone when he’s down.
Another error I noticed is over blowing the self trumpet, as most of Nepali celeb writers do, with the very own theory of "I, Me & Myself". I had this prejudice, that me-ness is the result of Nepali schooling, but after reading KCG, I decided it must be the Nepali Essence. Whatever the topic is, describe yourself as lengthy as you can. You will get something right eventually.
To conclude, the book was a nice but lazy read. Don't expect too high and don't denounce too low, as this book presents a perception of never lasting transition of Nepal. I have worked in the time of emergency in remotest part of Nepal, fearing for life every day, and now living within the confines of relative safety, whenever I read celebs explaining this and that about the politically terrible decade, I smile on what I used to think at that time. I blow my trumpet too; I too have a Nepali essence.
With the frustration that topples us everyday, I would have more than happily named the book "Tossed, Crushed and flushed in Transition". But we can label the hardwork of KCG, in translating the transitional ethos into a perspective opinion, as "well translated".
Let us keep the frustrated humor alive.
Book Name: Lost in Transition
Writer: Kul Chandra Gautam
Publisher: Nepa-laya Publications
Price: 675/- Nrs
Total Pages: 429
Published Date: December, 2015
(Image 1: Himalayan Times) (Image 2: Nepali Times)