Cruel intentions


Youth exploitation

Years ago, one of us bumped into a man with trembling hands at a pharmacy in Patan. When asked, he said he was a Nepali Congress freedom fighter who carried out dangerous activities at night under the influence of alcohol to topple the autocratic Rana regime.

Excessive use of alcohol made him bold and reckless to take inordinate risks. He bitterly complained that his leaders had given him nothing but neglect after the end of Rana rule while alcohol gave him trembling hands.

Leaders use youth to fight their political wars and, when they succeed, neglect or defenestrate their fighters. As in 1950, it happened in 1990 and 2006 and in the wanton Maoist bloodshed from 1996-2005. The young so involved have paid a heavy price in death, lost limbs and health, and in leaders’ indifference. Former US President Herbert Hoover has aptly said, “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.”

Elections—low-intensity political wars—extract a similar price from youth. As CA II election scheduled for November 19, 2013 looms, political parties have already begun priming this pliable group for the battle. To be sure, politics cannot be vibrant, vigorous and continuous without new blood. But leaders encouraging youth for a healthy involvement in politics is different from sacrificing this impressionable section at the altar of their greed for power and pelf.

Leaders shamelessly manipulate and use voters because, as the former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli has said, “In politics nothing is contemptible.” Especially, politicians target students and other youthful souls, for they are easy to influence, quick to organize on campus and in clubs and teashops, simple to mobilize through peer pressure, and inexperienced, idealist, and desperate enough to be reckless.

More so in poor countries like Zimbabwe and Nepal. Both are the hotbeds of student/youth activism in politics. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe has recently secured a fifth term in a highly rigged election by using the callow students and intoxicated and unemployed youth who were part of his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).

In Nepal, young people have been a political football after the collapse of the Rana rule. Panchayati leaders propped up the party-less system, grooming the youth to become Mandales. They bribed the Mandales with public resources, immunity for private extortion and other excesses, and stimulants—jingoism, sex, impunity, booze, guns, etc. Political parties too set up their student organizations and youth wings, which now enjoy similar privileges.

Maoists have surpassed all other parties in this realm. To fight their bloody insurgency, they corralled abducted children and disenchanted youth into their guerilla force. After the peace process started, they have enrolled in the Young Communist League most of the guerillas and dangerous criminals evading justice. YCL members are different from the Mandales and similar other organizations only in that they are more militant, more criminal, and more immune from law, thanks to political protection.

While it is good for political parties to have their sister outfits, it is bad to excessively politicize and unscrupulously exploit vulnerable youth, to the extent that they become skill-deficient, permanently unemployable, and parasitical—dependent on donation, extortion and other crimes. This is horrendously criminal.

Such exploitation takes different forms in Nepal: Strikes, shutdowns, militancy, street fights, vandalism, etc., each serving one or the other political agenda. Such strikes and shutdowns, often accompanied by vandalism, are more regular than classes in colleges. Many students cannot complete their education. Those who complete do not have employable skills. Many youth lose their life and limbs in fights with rival groups and parties. Parents that can afford to send their kids abroad for studies and the country loses talent and resources. All this results in a huge national loss.

Leaders overlook the national loss for personal power and wealth. Their deplorable attitude has been as responsible for our slow growth as corruption, lack of infrastructure, pro-progress policies and stability. Leaders have, despite their sky-high promises, tried to deliver just enough development to win the next vote, but not more, because they do not want people to be less interested in and less dependent on politics, which comes with economic take off. As the developed and fast developing countries show, once the economy picks up, students focus on studies and acquire skills necessary for employment, non-student young people work, and the employed raise their family and go on vacation; and leaders lose mercenaries to fight their battles.

All over the world, youth are angry with their selfish political leaders. They are aware that political battles often come in the way of their aspirations and their need to be competitive in national and global markets for skills, services and goods in a flattening world. Still, they fall prey to devious political stratagems. Why? We believe the youth’s idealism, quest for identity, and high responsiveness to stimulants in the midst of vulnerabilities virtually force them into the embrace of politicians.

Idealists at heart, youth seek opportunities to change the world for the better. Politicians apply scare and sop to distort their universally oriented idealism into narrow idealism— jingoism, fundamentalism, racial supremacy, etc. Chinese leaders had successfully stoked such warped idealism into children to inform against their parents for stamping out dissent during the Cultural Revolution. Islamist leaders are doing it today.

Grown up under the shadow of adults, youth want their independent identity as individuals. Politicians deploy flattery, fiery rhetoric, and even guns, to convert this admirable desire into the morphine of tribal or dogmatic identity to build vote banks. Turkish, Malaysian and Egyptian leaders have used this strategy to convert their liberal populations into conservative Islamists and British and American leaders have applied anti-immigrant slogans to win votes.

Restless and impulsive, young people want freedom and action. Leaders calibrate the youth’s testosterone with stimulants and channel it into populating their political platform and inculcating intolerance towards others. Soviet communists used Vodka and sex to keep their young people at bay for nearly 70 years. Mugabe has been harnessing his gung-ho gangs to put him in the presidential palace, while the country continues to slide into poverty and chaos. Long and excessive use of stimulants harms the addict physically and mentally.

The famous psychologist Carl Jung has rightly said, “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.” Yet people, lacking experience, embrace such addictions and hold the coattail of politicians, who promise employment and other economic opportunities, out of desperation and insecurity, which high youth unemployment generates. Leaders exploit youth vulnerabilities.

In Nepal, politicians have converted the youth’s idealism and quest for identity into sectarianism and ethnic identity, respectively. Consequently, tribalism and intolerance have made a roaring comeback and leaders are busy building their support niches. Political protection for excesses; hatred of other parties, ethnic groups and ideologies; and the free flow of alcohol, especially at times of polls, have become the norm. Politicians have extracted a pound of flesh from Nepali youth in exchange for their pledge to help them with jobs and other economic opportunities. Nearly 50 percent young people are unemployed and underemployed in the country.

British cleric and author Charles Caleb Colton believes, “The excess of our youth are checks written against our age and they are payable with interest thirty years later.”Obviously, the man with trembling hands at the pharmacy in Patan was paying through the nose for his youthful and reckless activism. Unless the country develops quickly, many other youth activists of today will follow suit, while leaders enjoy ever more power and perks.

Published on 2013-08-25 01:40:29

फस्टाउँदो चन्दा आतंक

मुरारि शर्मा/भगीरथ बस्नेत

केही दिन अगाडिको मात्र कुरा हो, एउटा ठूलो राजनीतिक दलको भ्रातृ संगठनका कार्यकर्ताले निर्वाचन आचारसंहिता लागु भएपछि सोको प्रावधानविरुद्ध जबर्जस्ती चन्दा आतंक मच्चाए । पुलिसले उनीहरूलाई पक्राउ गरे । जो चोर उसैको ठूलो स्वर भनेजस्तो सो भ्रातृ संगठनले चितवन बन्द गर्‍यो ।

हालै एकजना व्यापारीले चन्दा आतंकबारे आफ्नो गुनासो पोखे । आफूलाई एउटा दल विशेषका कार्यकर्ता हुँ भनी  दाबी गर्ने दुईजना चन्दा माग्न आए र चन्दा नदिएमा जे पनि हुनसक्ने धम्की दिएर गए । यस अगाडि सन् २००५ तिर पनि यसैगरी १ लाख रुपैयाँ चन्दा माग्न आएका थिए । उनले चन्दा दिन आनाकानी गरेपछि चन्दा माग्नेले तपाईं बाहिर निस्कँंदा तपाईंको २ वर्षको छोरालाई राम्रोसँग आलिंगन गरी निस्कनु होला, के थाहा भरे तपाईं र छोरामध्ये एक नहुन सक्छ भनी त्रास देखाए । विवश भई ऋण काढेरै भए पनि मागे बमोजिमको चन्दा दिनुपर्‍यो । अहिले भाषा अलिक कम धम्कीपूर्ण भए पनि सार उस्तै त्रासपूर्ण छ, व्यापारीले भने ।

करिब ३/४ महिना अगाडिको मात्र कुरा हो, एकजना वरिष्ठ नेता काठमाडौंको -क) वर्गको बैंकका मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकृतसँग भेट्न गएछन् । संयोगवश उक्त अधिकृत बंैकको बोर्ड मिटिङमा रहेछन् । कर्मचारीले सो कुरा बताएपछि नेताले मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकृतलाई म तपाईंको कार्यालयमा छु भेट्न जरुरी छ, आफ्नो कोठामा आउनु होला भनी एसएमएसमार्फत सन्देश पठाएछन् । केही समय बस्दा पनि मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकृत नआएपछि नेताले तपाईंको रवैया खेदपूर्ण भयो, मैले तपाईंको अफिसमा आउँदा भेट्न पाइन. मेरो दललाई आर्थिक सहयोग गर्नु भन्ने व्यहोराको धम्कीपूर्ण पत्र छोडेर गएछन् । यो खबर पाएपछि ती मुख्य कार्यकारी अधिकृतले अरु बैंकहरूसँग मिलेर चन्दा आतंकविरुद्ध एक भई डट्न आह्वान गरेछन् । फलस्वरुप बैंकहरूमा केही हदसम्म चन्दा आतंक घटेको चर्चामा आयो ।

हालै एउटा निज्ाी कलेजका प्राचार्यले चन्दा आतंकले कलेज चलाउन गाह्रो भएको गुनासो गरे । उनका अनुसार चन्दा माग्नेहरू अनेक समूहमा पटक-पटक आउँंछन् र लाखौं रुपैयांँको सहयोग माग्छन् । त्यत्रो सहयोग गर्न नसक्ने बताएपछि चन्दा माग्नेहरू कलेजमा तोडफोड भयो भने हामीलाई दोष नदिनु होला भनी धम्क्याएर जान्छन् । नाम चलेका र धेरै विद्यार्थी भएका महंँगा विद्यालयबाट अति ठूलो धनराशि चन्दा मागिन्छ । स्कुल, कलेज व्यवस्थापनकर्ताका अनुसार लाचार भएर उनी चन्दा दिन बाध्य भएका छन् ।

चुनावको घोषणापछि चुनावका लागि घर-घरमा पनि चन्दा माग्न आउनेको संख्या बढ्दैछ । त्यसैगरी चुनावका विरोधमा लाग्ने पनि चुनाव रोक्न चन्दा मागिहिँंडेका छन् । चुनाव हुनसके पनि नसके पनि यो क्रम जारी रहन्छ । चन्दा माग्न आएपछि जति दियो, त्यति लिएर गए आफ्नो शक्ति र इच्छाअनुसार सबैले धेरै-थोरै सहयोग गर्थे, तर ठूलो रकम माग्ने र नदिएमा कठोर परिणामको भागिदार बन्नुपर्ने धम्कीले अबका दिनहरूमा सर्वसाधारणको जिन्दगी अझ दुरुह हुने स्पष्ट छ ।

राजनीतिक दल सञ्चालन गर्न र चुनाव लड्न चन्दा माग्ने र स्वेच्छाले चन्दा दिने चलन संसारभरि छ । अमेरिका र बेलायतजस्ता विकसित र भारतज्ास्तो विकासोन्मुख प्रजातान्त्रिक मुलुकमा पनि यस्तो चलन छ । यस्ता कामका लागि अबौर्ं डलरको च्ान्दा उठ्छ । तर चन्दा विना करकाप लिनुदिनु पर्छ । करकाप र धम्की एवं त्रास प्रयोग गरी चन्दा उठाउनु गम्भीर अपराध मानिन्छ ।

नेपालमा पनि चन्दा माग्ने चलन नयाँ होइन । राणाहरूले पैसामात्र होइन, राम्री छोरी पनि जबर्जस्ती चन्दा माग्थे । पञ्चायतकालमा शाहहरूले सामाजिक सेवाका नाममा राम्रै चन्दा जम्मा गर्थे भने मण्डलेहरूले धम्क्याएर यस्तो रकम संकलन गर्थे । १९९० पछि राजनीतिक दल र तिनका भ्रातृ संगठनहरूले चन्दा माग्ने बिँडो थामे । माओवादीहरूलेे सशस्त्र युद्ध सुरु गरेपछिका अवधिमा त पैसा र छोराछोरी चन्दा माग्ने कामलाई देशव्यापी आतंकको रूपमा विकसित गरे ।

सुरुमा जनताका पीरमर्का हेर्ने, उचनीचको भेदभावले पिल्सिएका जनतालाई शोषणबाट बचाउन अभियान सुरु गरेका माओवादीले जनतालाई आफ्नो पक्षमा पारेपछि पहिले त ती पिल्सिएका समूहलाई नै विभिन्न प्रकारले शोषण गरे । जसले चन्दा वा आर्थिक सहयोग गर्न सकेनन्, उनीहरूलाई एक घर एक व्यक्ति माओवादी सेनामा भर्ती गराउन बाध्य पारे । यसरी माओवादीले विकसित गरेको आतंकले विकराल रूप लियो । डरले चन्दा दिने कैयन व्यक्तिहरूको घरबास उठ्यो । चन्दा नदिनेलाई बन्धक बनाइयो र मारियो । यस आतंकले धनाढ्य वर्गलाई मात्र होइन, साना व्यापारी, जागिरे र किसानहरूलाई समेत छोडेको छैन । शान्ति प्रक्रिया सुरु भएपछि पनि माओवादी र तिनका भ्रातृ संगठनहरूले चन्दा आतंक कायमै राखे । जो चोर उस्ौको ठूलो स्वर भएपछि अरु दलहरूमा पनि माओवादीको नक्कल हुनथाल्यो । चन्दा आतंकले जनतालाई मात्र शोषित र त्रसित बनाएको छैन । यसले चन्दा आश्रति एउटा भुइँफुट्टा—परजीवी—समूहको सिर्जना गरेर देशको आर्थिक उन्नतिमा समेत कुठाराघात गरेको छ ।

नेपालमा, खासगरी राजनीतिक दलहरूमा, एउटा गलतफहमी के छ भने चन्दा आतंकको मार धनीलाईर् पर्छ, गरिबलाई पर्दैन । तर वास्तविकता यसको ठीक विपरीत छ । व्यापारीहरूले चन्दा तिरेको रकम उपभोक्ताबाट असुली गर्छन् । स्कुल-कलेजका सञ्चालकले विद्यार्थीका अभिभावकबाट चन्दा तिरेको रकम उठाउंँछन् । उत्पादकले उत्पादनको भाउ बढाएर र बिक्रेताले बिक्री गर्ने सामानमा नाफा थपेर उपर गर्छन् । यदि चन्दा आतंक असहय भए धनीहरूले नेपालमा बन्दव्यापार छोडेर अन्य मुलुकमा लगानी गर्न सक्छन्. बुद्धिजीवीहरू विदेशिन सक्छन् । त्यसैले चन्दाको मार अन्ततोगत्वा अन्त जान नसक्ने सर्वसाधारण र गरिब उपभोक्तालाई नै पर्छ । यसरी आफूलाई गरिबको मसिहा घोषित गर्नेले जनताको नाममा चन्दा आतंकको माध्यमबाट गरिबलाई झन् गरिब तुल्याएका छन् ।

चन्दा उठाउने भन्दै विभिन्न राजनीतिक दलहरूको नाममा गुन्डा समूह पनि सक्रिय हुनसक्छन् । विडम्बना के छ भने प्रायः ती सबैसँग दलको लेटरप्याड र छाप हुन्छ । तर दलहरूले र तिनका भ्रातृ संगठनले आफ्ना चन्दा संकलनका गतिविधि नियन्त्रण नगरेसम्म को कस्तो भनी छुट्याउन मुस्किल हुन्छ । चन्दा पीडित व्यक्तिहरूको गुनासोअनुसार पहिले चन्दा रकम दस लाखबाट सुरु गरे पनि अन्तमा दस हजार लिएर चित्त बुझाउने पनि केही भेटिएका छन् । त्यही दस हजार दिन पनि कति व्यापारी, संस्थाहरू, कलेज र हस्पिटललाई गाह्रो पर्छ । एक दल वा एक समूहलाई चन्दा दिएर पुग्ने होइन । लगातार धेरै थरी व्यक्ति चन्दा माग्न आउंँछन्, अनि कतिलाई दिएर स्ाक्ने ?

सन् २००६ मा संसदको पुनरुत्थानपछि संविधानसभाको निर्वाचन घोषणा नभएसम्म यस्तो चन्दा आतंकबाट जनताले आंशिक मुक्ति पाए पनि संविधानसभाको घोषणासंँगै यस आतंकले फेरि शिर उठायो र देशको अर्थतन्त्रमा निकै नराम्रो असर पार्‍यो । संविधानसभाको निर्वाचनपश्चात पुनः अलि मत्थर भएको यो आतंक दोस्रो संविधानसभाको चुनावको घोषणासंँगै फेरि एकाएक ह्वात्तै बढेकोे छ । अहिले जताततै विभिन्न दलहरूले चन्दा मागी जनतालाई दिक्क पार्न थालेका छन् ।

चन्दा आतंक एकातर्फ कानुनी शासन कायम गर्न सरकार असफल भएको द्योतक हो भने अर्काेतर्फ बढ्दो युवा बेरोजगारीको उपज हो । सरकारले लुटेर खान छुट दिएपछि लुटेर खान चाहनेले त्यसो गर्ने नै भए । त्यसमाथि पनि देशमा रोजगारीको अवसर नभएपछि र सबैले वैदेशिक रोजगारको अवसर नपाउने अवस्थामा एउटा दल वा आपराधिक समूहमा लागेरै भए पनि त जीविका त गर्नैपर्‍यो । एकपटक ठगिखान र राम्रो आम्दानी गर्न पल्किएका व्यक्तिलाई त्योे बानीबाट मुक्त गरी इमानदार व्यवसायमा लगाउन निकै कठिनाइ हुन्छ । चन्दा आतंकले देशमा प्रजातन्त्र र अर्थतन्त्रलाई धमिराले जस्तो भित्रभित्रै विस्तारै खाइरहेको छ । जागरुक नागरिक समाजले चन्दा आतंकविरुद्ध बेलैमा एकजुट भएर प्रतिकार नगरे नेपालमा छिट्टै प्रजातन्त्रको ठाउँं गुन्डातन्त्रले लिनेछ, लोकतन्त्रको ठाउँ लुटतन्त्रले लिनेछ, परिश्रमको ठाउँं परजीवनले लिनेछ र इमानदारीको ठाउँ बेइमानीले लिनेछ ।

राणाकालमा चन्दा शासकको मोजमज्जा र धन संकलनको माध्यम थियो । राणा—उत्तर शाहकालमा यो राजपरिवारको जनपि्रयता देखाउने र मण्डलेहरूको मोज गर्ने बाटो बन्यो । प्रजातन्त्रको पुनःस्थापनापछि चन्दा दलहरूको खर्च र नेताको चुनाव खर्च जुटाउने स्रोत भयो । माओवादीको उदयपछि चन्दा चन्दादाताको लागि आतंक र माओवादी कार्यकर्ताको जीविकोपार्जनका लागि उद्योग बनेको छ । अहिले नेकपा-माओवादीले फेरि चन्दा आतंकलाई नयांँ उचाइमा पुर्‍याएका छन् । चन्दा स्वेच्छाले आफूलाई मनलागेको काम वा दललाई दिन वा नदिन पाउनुपर्छ । जवर्जस्ती कुनै समूह विशेषको जीविकाको उद्योग गर्न होइन । यो उद्योग बन्द नगरेसम्म नेपालको विकास र जनताको सशक्तीकरण दिवास्वप्न मात्र रहनेछ ।

Kantipur Daily:

Published on: 12/08/2013

Pricey Puzzle

Murari Sharma

London embassy sale

The Nepali Embassy in London is in the news once again, this time for alleged corruption and the firing of two local staff. But in the past, the priciest property of Nepal overseas has frequently hit the headlines because of the controversy over its proposed sale.

The minimum going rate in Kensington Palace Gardens (KPG) is above 6,000 pounds per sq. ft. and the park side carries a further premium. It means the 12A KPG, which has more than 26,000 sq. ft. and which abuts Kensington Park, could sell for a whopping 156-180 million pounds.

KPG, a gated exclusive street, boasts the Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana lived after her separation from Prince Charles and where Prince William and Princess Kate will soon move in. It also hosts Saudi and Brunei royal families; residences of Indian, Japanese, French, and Russian ambassadors and Laxmi Mittal, the UK’s richest person for the last several years and third this year; as well as Russian, Israeli and Norwegian embassies. The British royal family owns all these properties, including the Nepali Embassy.

Such exclusivity attracts the super-rich from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa to buy properties for safe investment and last refuge. It makes house prices in KPG recession-proof, as witnessed during and after the devastating 2008-09 economic slump.

Almost every government of Nepal since 1990 has tried to sell the lease of 12A KPG. They have argued that by selling the lease they can buy freehold properties for the embassy, reduce the current high maintenance cost and prevent the potential loss from the expiry of the lease, which Nepal might have difficulty renewing.

While maintenance cost cannot be avoided for 12A or any other buildings Nepal may buy, other reasons are quite valid. Philippines had to vacate the building in KPG because the price demanded by the Crown Properties to renew the lease was exorbitant. It lost the money it could have made by not selling the lease on time. India renewed the lease at a stratospheric price only because, as the Indian High Commissioner told me, it became a prestige issue for their country.

Nepal will face either Philippines’s or India’s unpleasant predicament. It cannot expect a better deal than one given to India. India-UK relations are very strong due to their commonwealth connection, the influence of Indian lobby in London and growing economic relations between the two countries, while Nepal-UK traditional bonds are on the decline.

Nepal has abolished monarchy and the UK has been reducing the size of the British-Gurkhas gradually under its austerity and military downsizing programs. If Nepal cannot renew the lease due to a prohibitive price, it will have to leave the property empty-handed.

Even the Saudi Royal family has put up their lease on the KPG property for sale recently.

But the Nepali diaspora have fiercely opposed the sale. They know that governments sell their properties all the time without much opposition and controversy. The sale of Louisiana and Alaska to the United States did not generate any. Neither did the swapping of lands and drawing new borders in Europe after World War II. Even the British government has sold many of its buildings without any problem in the last couple of years. But why are the Nepali diaspora still opposed? It is because of misinformation and fear of corruption.

Some in the diaspora mistakenly believe that the property should not be sold because it is a gift from the British Queen. It is not. Some others have stood against the sale because they take pride in the embassy’s exclusive and prestigious address, which is understandable. But the overwhelming majority lobbying against the sale fear that much of the money will wind up in the pockets of politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen.

History gives ample ground to suspect that the proposed sale is as much motivated by public good as by private greed.

Here is why. An estate agent of Eastern European origin told me that he was involved in brokering two deals. In the first, the lease was to be sold for 30 million pounds, 20 million pounds going to the treasury to buy properties for the embassy and the rest to those actively engaged in selling it.

In the second deal, the building was to be disposed of for 60 million pounds: 45 million pounds posted in government accounts and the rest distributed among the key players. Both deals, he said, failed because of change in government.

This agent promised me, too, a nifty profit if I followed his advice. I told him frankly that while I was asked by the government to sell the lease, I would do so only if two conditions were met. First, the sale must fetch the highest possible price. Second, every penny from the sale must go to the treasury without malfeasance so I would not be a scapegoat for the corruption of somebody else to go to jail at the end of my clean and long career. The agent never showed up again.

The government, determined to sell the lease, constituted shortly a committee of several members under my chairmanship to recommend how and at what price it could be sold. I consulted two of the largest estate agents—Savills and Knight Frank—about the property’s market value and selling process. They informed me about the normal process and the estimated price—110-150 million pounds, even at the depth of the 2008 recession.

I was not satisfied with the process and price range. I told Savills and Knight Frank that I would float a competitive bid first and organize an auction among the five highest bidders subsequently in a completely transparent process to get the best price—150 million pounds or more. The two agents agreed that it could be done.

In its report, my committee recommended that the government should first repair the building, only a properly elected government should decide whether the property should be sold, and if the decision is taken to sell it, then the process must be transparent to prevent the leakage of resources and get the best price. Based on the report, the embassy could not be sold at that time.

The report did not serve the purpose of my political masters at the time—Prachanda, then Prime Minister, and Upendra Yadav, then Foreign Minister. So they fired me.

Early this year, the government set the process in motion again by forming another committee to sell the lease. As before, the Nepalis in the UK protested. Some local organizations have, I am told, even boycotted the ambassador for his inclination to sell. Some worried organizations in Nepal went to the Supreme Court and got the stay order. However, the Court cannot stop the sale forever, for it can only examine the process but not the government’s decision itself.

That said, the government should not ride rough shod over the diaspora’s objection. It should rather take the diaspora into confidence by convincing them that the sale is in national interest and that not a single penny will be misappropriated either in selling the lease or buying freehold properties subsequently. Transparency is the source of confidence. The government should make the process transparent, including by involving diaspora members in the decision-making process, and sell the vacant buildings in Bonn at the best price without any malfeasance to build such confidence.

While the issues of alleged corruption and firing of local staff are transient irritants, the sale of the London embassy’s remaining lease has become an enduring and major puzzle.Without transparency and mutual confidence, this priciest property puzzle will continue to make unpleasant headlines time and again.

Published on 2013-08-11 01:45:13