February 22, 2020
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It's Raining Rakshi

It's Raining Rakshi
"Nepal is a mess," begins a recent bbc story about this oft-benighted place. Political paralysis had choked off petrol and diesel supplies that were already sparse because Nepal’s state-run oil corporation can’t pay its sole supplier, India. Neither water nor cooking gas could be had for love or money. Bandhs by minority groups demanding their rights were proliferating. Add to it all, an economy in freefall and a soaring crime rate. And, oh yes, don’t forget a befuddled international community and a mischievous monarch unable to accept that his days wearing a crown are almost done. "Mess", then, is classic British understatement. But what a difference a few days make. No one’s dancing in the streets just yet, nor has Nepal begun paying its multi-crore petrol bills in any but the most desultory fashion. Somehow though, there’s a paradigm shift in mood, a sense glasses of rotgut—locally brewed rakshi—can now be raised in celebration rather than the drowning of sorrows. A governing alliance of seven political parties and the once illegal Maoists has cut deals with various groups of ethnic insurgents and activists to allow crucial constituent assembly elections to go ahead. The petrol is flowing again, and the usual Shivaratri thunderstorms have cleansed streets and filled water tanks. It’s a classic Nepal moment; an unexpected light in a once-dark tunnel.
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