Wednesday, March 20, 2002
Shopping for helicopters
By RAZEN MANANDHAR
How on earth can I convince the government that this peace-loving country is in dire need of helicopters, and more helicopters. I quote those intelligent geographers who now say that Nepal’s geography is complicated? In fact, it is true. If you don’t believe it, then take a round in a helicopter and look from above, you see hills and mountains only. OK. I have no Nepal-ko-graph.
You may say: if we need so many things in this world, why are we talking about helicopters only? You may add if we already have a dozen or so of such flying objects, then why do we ask for more?
Everybody knows that the situation of this country is changing — day by day. In the past we used helicopters to carry foodstuff to remote areas, to take every successive prime minister on supersonic tours around the country during election campaigns, and we even used them to shower flowers during auspicious occasions. But such purposes do not get much attention these days as other pressing needs have come up.
Now we need some more sophisticated helicopters to carry dead bodies of our security personnel to the capital. It is not unfamiliar that soldiers die in wars. It is so disappointing that we can’t bring the bodies back to Kathmandu in time to cremate them at Aryaghat.
The bodies of our soldiers lie in remote areas for days. They deserve a better treatment. After all, they die during "search and destroy" operations. Just imagine how long they had searched for terrorist hideouts and how they put up against all odds before attaining Veergati. We the intelligent citizens — the political leaders, government staff and social workers -- must do something to pay tribute to the brave soldiers.
Incidents take place so often and we have only a few helicopters. And you know, the ministers make it a point to visit the site after every terrorist attack. We can’t say "no" to them because most of the ministers are from those areas and it is an opportunity for them to meet their voters. All the helicopters are "house-full" these days.
We swear, we won’t let anyone misuse the fund. We have a glorious record of successful aircraft purchasing. It’s amazing the people have become so pessimist that they smell fishy whenever we talk about buying any vehicle.
While going for shopping, we should see that the helicopters must not be like those which do not fly even after making sacrifices, just like the recently purchased Indian helicopters or the much-hyped night vision chopper that is gathering dust inside a hanger because its "crucial parts" are not available in the local market.
March 19, 2002
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