Waiting was a bit vexing and a humorous as well all as a wit-full and popular MC Saroj Ghimire told the Chief Guest (CG) straight on his face in a rather jolly mood: Sir, if we were out waiting for you this long at another location and if you were late as a CG, we could very well say- we have waited for you long. But today we are at your yard and the time we spent here has another connotation – this place has waited for this program. But wait we did, anyway. In response the PM KP Sharma Oli joked in his typical style: I have been criticised for my late arrival. I can be criticised for many more things.
Half an hour here and there, the tight and full capacity audience was remarkable in its quantity as well as quality. Or so did the people present there thought and the speakers appreciated from the bottom of their heart. The audience was a mixture of politics, arts, culture, academia, municipality and village councils from neighbouring municipalities and villages, mostly from the district of Kavre, immediate east Nepal.
The occasion was the launching of a book: Iman ko Indreni – the Rainbow of Honesty (writer’s loose translation). The person on whom the lovely and very fitting title was conferred, was former minister and a former UML (now CP/N) leader Keshab Badaal. Badaal is known as a seasoned and committed promoter of Cooperative movement in Nepal. The function was further brightened by a galaxy of scholars and top brass of the recently united party. To have the PM as the CG is always a fun and this occasion was not an exception.
The book and the comments on it – ranging from the writer Anil Subedi to the commentators and the PM- gave the aura of ‘hero worship’. What were the reasons behind the worship? A brief commentary on the expressions and the stories made and presented before the audience is warranted here in order to elaborate on the issue.
Badaal was called Hero of the hour of the occasion by several speakers including the PM. When approached to pen down his memoirs he would say a clear and confident ‘No.’ He would not even consider the proposal to hire a ‘ghost’ writer. Insisting on the fact that his life was worthwhile and the people had the right to know, the virtual writer Anil Subedi offered his own plea to do his biography. Badaal agreed on someone’s voluntary plea. And the writing had begun.
The book shows Badaal had scored success once he rejected his academic career at places and engaged himself in the struggle for the sake of have-nots. And there were so many in the country. He remembered his mother who shunned caste and other status based discrimination and treated ‘high and low’ on equal basis. Her special support to the poor, deprived and females in times of distress helped change his attitude towards them vis a vis the ‘haves’.
The writer of the biography Anil Paudel in his speech said he had found several distinct qualities on his ‘hero’ as he processed to go to several chapters of his subject’s life. The title of the book – Indreni/Rainbow – offers serious thought on the life and achievements of Badaal. Paudel said – while going through his commitment and contribution in the field of land reform commission, cooperative movement, politics, writing, etc. his honesty and self-confidence scored distinctly high in terms of colors in the rainbow. To base his one year long journey of putting together the evidences related to Badaal’s life, Paudel had visited his native village – Sarsyukharka in Timal – 3, Kavre, and his first sojourn abroad – Varanasi – where his classmate’s one derogative remark on Nepal’s sovereignty prompted him to abandon the dream of higher education.
Obviously it didn’t take higher degree for him to write one dozen books mostly on land reform, agro-revolution and change in various countries like China, Vietnam and Nepal. In these seminal works Badaal has focused on the application of cooperative for economic progress. At age 71, Badaal seemed going great and committed for the cause he has been pursuing.
Foreign Minister Pradip Gyawali appreciated Badaal’s effort for the cause of progress and prosperity of the people through Cooperative movement. Said – at a time when there is obvious dearth of honesty, the book can motivate people. In all spheres of his life, honesty is at the centre of things, and the new generation in contemporary politics can learn many things from his career, Gyawali added. Similarly commentator Om Devi Malla highlighted on the role of Badaal in bringing the Coop movement to a new, international height.
It was Badaal’s term now to reflect on his life full of several modes, curves and hurdles. In order to substantiate his story of hard work in Nepal and India’s Varanasi, Badaal made several of his star witnesses who saw the Badaal family closely stand from their seats more than once. There were repeated applauds from the audience. He had seen Cooperative as a means to the end – guarantee the progress and prosperity of the people and the nation if it were to be accepted as the preferred track for economic development from the grass-root level. Obviously, at places where the grass never grew, there were and are big name banks and financial forests any way. Badaal’s dream and perseverance he demonstrated in his long career have sung by many in the country.
Finally, Badaal was presented as the ‘hero’ of the occasion and from all counts he was the one. The event also proved to be historic in many respects. A fact based book will go to the stores for the benefit of the readers who will find a different taste at a time when politics has often been a subject of satire and joke. Bhudipuraan, a noted publishing house had undertaken the responsibility of bringing the book to light. From the Chair, Keshab Parajuli felt satisfied to publish the book to give the readers a chance to know the subject of the book, Keshab Badaal, better.