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Invisible power

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Nepalese authorities are surrounded by reverence. Everyone respects them, or at least bows before them. One day I visited a local hospital in Kathmandu, and suddenly everybody around me began to look tense and even a little solemn. All eyes were fixed on modestly dressed man in his fifties, who bought his medication without much pomp. My Nepali guide explained: “This is a minister!”

I was delighted that the Minister visited the hospital so quietly (not without bodyguards, though), and that the faces of Nepalis around me showed no hostility or irritation, but only respect. “Probably a good man and a great professional,” – I thought, and asked my guide – what good the Minister had done for his people.

He did not even understand my question and repeated: “He’s a minister!”

Once again I asked the same question, but it still eluded the consciousness of my companion. When I ask the same question to his friends, whom he was talking with, I heard exactly the same response. This gentleman is a Minister, and that’s it.

Continuing questioning, I realized gradually that “good minister” and “minister” are identical concepts for the Nepalese because in their eyes this man reached the pinnacle of his career. The fact that he took such a high post already means that he is the object of admiration and respect quite apart from the fact what he does or does not do at his job. Moreover, none of the Nepalese could say anything in answer to the question “what this or that minister does?” or “what the president did?”.

And for good reason.

The fact is that, according to the mentality of the Nepalese, ministers do not have to do anything. A minister should hold his office and, to put it mildly, to extract some advantages from it for himself, his family and his entourage. And this applies not only to the president and ministers. This applies to all those involved in any public office. This is the Nepali mentality. So they live here for centuries. And this may be the reason why they live exactly so – in the dirt, poverty, ignorance and hopelessness.

And I want to ask Nepalese: why they won’t recognize the simple fact that officials actually have to work for Nepali people and report to them? That ministers and the president and other persons in power are if not the servants of the people but at least the hired managers. But if they are managers, shouldn’t they report to their employers – the people? Is it a conceivable situation where the owner has no idea of what his manager does? And even more than that – the owner is supposed to have no right to know it. How long the firm with such practices will live?

In my opinion, every official – from the very bottom to the very top – is obliged to report to his employers how he spends his time, what issues he deals with, what actions he takes, what targets he sets and what measures chooses, whom he meets and what questions discusses with them. His every move, his every breath in the workplace should be completely visible to any Nepali citizen.

Maybe it is technically difficult to do?

Nothing of the sort. The solution is very simple:

  1. 24-hour monitoring with a webcam in the office of any more or less important official. With excellent quality of picture and sound.
  2. Each officer should be obliged to open a blog (at least on FB) and give a brief account every day – what he has done today for the good of his people. In details, with facts. Every working day of an official should end with 15 minutes, during which he write in his blog about what has been done for the current day.

This blog should have a separate section where other important issues are reported: what orders the official has from his superiors, what tasks are facing him for the next week, month, quarter, etc.

Then the invisible power will turn into quite visible one. And then any interested Nepali citizen can get a very specific answer to the question “what this official has done today”, and members of the press will then be able to ascertain whether the official’s statements correspond to reality. That will make the mass media a real “fourth estate”, not circus actors to entertain their readers with various fables. And then the authority will cease to be a gods’ theater and come down closer to their people, and then it will be possible to make them responsible and reward them according to their work.