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Being unusual does not mean “Pagal”

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Somebody on Kmag page had once asked me “how come Rupchandra Bista, despite being such a genuine person, was little known all this time?”

I vaguely remember, when I was a kid, someone had called Rupchandra Bista, a “pagal.”

We all know that Laxmi Prasad Devkota too was labeled as “pagal.”

There are many such people in history being labelled as lunatic or “pagal.”

I never understood until recently why they are being labelled so.  My reasoning is, because they were unusually different from rests.

Nepal per my understanding is a very defined society.  Life path is pretty defined.  Once you are born, you go to school, then go to college, finish it by 25; get a job or find an earning, get married, breed kids, raise them up, get old, die.

Everything is so meticulously defined here, like how a son should be, how a buhari (daught-in-law) should be; how one should act in 30s, etc, etc. Actually, every nitty-gritty thing is defined and everyone is expected to act per the definition.

What will happen if someone does not live by the definition? Or say, what will happen if someone defies the definition and lives by own norms and styles? What will happen when a son does not live or act per the definition? What will happen when a buhari doesn’t act or live per the definition? What will happen if a man in his 40s live like in 20s? Answer is – the person will be considered as “lost the track,” “something not right.”  Must have lost mind.  “Pagal.”

Grow a dreadlock and you will know what it is to be different here. Get a tattoo or pierce unusually and you will know what it is to be different here. Choose not to marry or not have a kid and you will know what it is to be different here. Choose to not walk the road and you will know what it is to be different here. Why is it so hard to be different here? So where did this one-must-be-like-this idea come from? Why people can’t be just chill and not bother about anyone’s choice of living?  Answer is same — because we are very defined.

Pagal here isn’t to be mentally ill, but is to be socially misfit and that is because we still haven’t learned to respect the differences; haven’t learned to accept and embrace those who have chosen to be different.

There are millions ways of living, there are millions of styles to follow, there are millions of ways to act and behave and still be normal.  Sadly, we don’t have millions of options given.  Either you follow the group, or be prepared to be labelled as Pagal, weird, psycho.

That’s how Rupchandra Bista, Laxmi Prasad Devkota, and many others became pagal, a psycho.  This must change.

We all are humans but we aren’t same. Let’s embrace and respect each other’s differences.

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Opinion

Why “financial literacy” should be included in school curriculum

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Back in school, we vastly studied about solar system to what’s deep beneath 1000 KM of the Earth. We read about the environment and survival of the fittest and also about nature’s natural selection. We studied maths, science, language, history and almost everything. While studying however we missed one important thing to learn about that is supposed to be taught since the beginning and that is, FINANCE. Finance is an integral part of modern life and covers most part of our adulthood. Be it from as simple as opening a bank account or having our first salary account or be it credit cards and loans and investment. There are barely any human on earth who does not care about money yet financial literacy is barely provided to any individual during their growing up. How are the people supposed to be part of the money game if they are illiterate about finance it first place?

“ Money, like emotions, is something you must control to keep your life on track.” Natasha Manson(author of Life lessons for my sister). Truth be told If we don’t have the skill set or the knowledge regarding how to manage finance properly and in a way that life can be easier, then what’s the point of earning it?

In Armenia, 78% of the total adult population lives paycheck to paycheck and 3 in 5 adults does not maintain a monthly budget and that’s because of the lack of financial literacy. And, the same problem exists in most of the countries including Nepal. Most of us don’t have any ideas related to how insurance or the tax system works and are only learning in a hard way after burning their finger. Almost everyone is worried about career and in constant search of right profession for them with better earning potential, but ironically, everyone is clueless about how to manage the income and expenses, tax rates, and so on. There are heaps of ironies in our grown-ups world with so many academically qualified yet poorly literate individuals wondering what to do with the money they earn. I have even seen individuals running for DMAT account but holds zero understanding on investment, which again is the result of poor financial literacy.

Why is financial literacy that important? Simple answer, ignorance is not a bliss but a curse when it comes to finance. Not knowing the basics of saving, investment, insurance, taxation, etc will take financially illiterate no where. They will be losing so much of opportunities in life that road to financial independence will be near impossible for financially illiterate. And at the time like Covid or other crisis, they will be left in cluelessness.

So what really is this financial literacy?

“Financial literacy is the possession of the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources”Wiki explains. Basically, it involves basic knowledge regarding how to manage money. A financially literate person knows the difference between saving and investing, the difference between credit and debit cards, interest rates, how compounding works in wealth maximization, budgeting for keeping track of money outflows and so on. 

In Nepal, The financial rate is just around 18%. The developed countries like Norway & Denmark have around 71%. The financial literacy rate around the world is 33.33%, which means Nepalese are below average in terms of financial literacy. So, what other countries are doing that Nepal is not doing to be left behind? Other than because of availability of different financial tools and robust institutions, better financial literacy rates in developed countries is because most of these countries have included financial literacy-related subjects in schools curriculum as compulsory or optional subjects. Let’s have a better look at the different countries school curriculum in the table below.

 Source: https://www.lafinancepourtous.com/IMG/pdf/Mundy-final.pdf

From the table above, It’s clear that the other countries have realized the importance of teaching finance-related subjects at the school level and have been actively working for the same. Most of the countries have appointed departments to look after the cause.

While learning about other countries, to my surprise, not a single effort has been made for the same (apart from NRB’s initiation) in Nepal. There’s a provision in NRB unified directives on CSR activities with a recent amendment that BFI’s in Nepal must invest 5% of the total CSR fund in the field of financial literacy. How the fund are utilized by BFI’s is a different topic and needs elaborative explanation. But, 5% fund is not enough. It seems like the government’s policy on this matter looks like a work done for the sake of doing it rather than the focus on the result. The education department or the concerned body have been neglecting the topic. Needless to talk about unwillingness on people’s side to feel the need. This explains the reason behind the low financial literacy rate in Nepal.

Financial literacy is as important as learning about number of districts in our country; is as important as knowing who landed first on the moon. The mistakes done by our previous generations in terms of finance must not be repeated by the coming generation.  Personally, as I entered the real world of finance, I never knew what inflation was or how the tax was levied on different topics. I made several errors which cost me my hard-earned money. Had I been taught about financial management at an early age, I would have performed better with lesser mistakes. The schools in Nepal are vastly credited in teaching and grooming students and this is where the financial literacy programs must start. To prepare a better citizen who can work well, earn well and manage his money well, financial knowledge must be provided at an early age for which, inclusion of related subjects in the school curriculum is must.

The author is a participant of ongoing Online Writing Workshop and this “opinion piece” was written during the workshop and published here for public review.

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People & Society

To fall in love, you should be ready for love

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To most of the youth today, if you ask, “will you marry someone from different religion or so-called lower caste or widow?” most of them will have the typical answer “I will if I am in love with the person.” In surface, that sounds legit. But if you go deeper, you will find the reason is different.

Naturally speaking, long before you develop a feeling for someone, there must be a desire and want to get the person. Only if the desires and wants manifest further, you will develop the feeling for the person, otherwise you won’t.

Example: You met a person in a cafe and you liked the person instantly. That’s attraction, but attracted does mean having the desire and want right away. To develop the feeling of “want,” you need to know the person. Now, let’s say the person you liked instantly happened to be from so-called lower caste or widow or of any background that your parents would frown upon. First thing that will play in your head is, “this person is nice and great but can’t think of smooth future without conflict at home and all those drama.” And you will start asking yourself, “do i want to get to that direction?” All that thoughts will kill the desire and want then and there only.

Most of the very same people who say “I will marry if I am in love with the person,” in reality never fall in love with the person as they give up the idea of wanting or desiring the person soon after knowing the caste or religion or widow status calculating the possible complication from family in future.

It’s same as people from certain community never falling in love with someone with the same last name.

Point is, though they are right they would marry anyone if in love, but the social construct will never that easily let them develop the feeling for someone that they see will create unnecessary stress and conflict in future with the family and society.

Many youth today fail to realise this. In comparison to previous generation, of course our generation have moved an inch further and can at least say “will marry if in love,” that earlier generation even would not say that, but still that does not mean our generation have reached the ultimate state of progression.

The ultimate state should be a social construct, where when someone likes a fellow human, s/he can let himself/herself to fall in love without having a second thought or fear of family or society. Until we don’t reach to that level of comfort and freedom, we haven’t actually accomplished true liberty from old-age dogmas and concepts.

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People & Society

Male privileges that many men don’t see

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Male privilege is like driving a car. Only those outside can see the car. For the person inside, he is just enjoying his privilege.

Most guys don’t know about male privilege, because for them, it’s normal and usual life and nothing as such “privilege.” They don’t see anything privilege on this gender-specific socially constructed freedom and liberty, that many women are deprived from. To show the reality to such guys, KMAG had asked female followers to share what is male privilege. The following were some of the comments we received.

Calling themselves as the head of the family, and freedoms to select clothes .

Many girls have actually lived through this and are living. You know that “daddy kinda” attitude from your brother even though is younger to you or few years elder to you? And then there is dad already being that daddy. Male privilege is getting that upper hand and self-assigned authoritative position that they can claim for being a male. If you are a male, you are automatically the head of the family with the veto power.

Men remarrying but women vilified for the same action even if she is a widow

This is not the case anymore?? Seriously? Second marriage for woman is still near impossible whereas man can marry any day he wants. We all know Shweta Khadka, a popular Nepali actress how she had to deal with her second marriage. If that is the case of popular figure, imagine what would be the case of ordinary woman. Ignoring small fraction of progressive family, women are still socially conditioned to stay single after divorce or being widow, whereas men can without any societal pressure can marry. That’s the male privilege.

The privilege of walking on the road at any time of the night is the privilege WOMEN MIGHT NEVER GET!

I love nights. Ahead of the sun, cobalt blue fades into pastel robins egg and pink, signalling the end of the night. The night is a time for contemplation. When I can own the world around me in solitary comfort, it’s private emancipation. But then, hey! I don’t have that luxury, whereas my male counterparts have the luxury at any odd hours at night to roam around. I know, I know there is a reason. The security thing right? So who we are unsecured from? Definitely not from girls.

That’s another male privilege that we girls envy. We can never enjoy long night walks because we are “female.”

Serving the “men” of the house first no matter how hungry you are.

It appears to be an unspoken rule that men are entitled to be the first one to be served unless they gave the permission for others to eat. Let’s not even bring where does daughter-in-law fall in the hierarchy. Ya it’s culture! that’s what we are saying, it’s a culture that grants you the privilege that others don’t get to because of being from different gender. Women to cook, women to serve, women to organise, and men get to have their birth-right for being the first one to taste, eat or even finish. What a privilege that they become alpha simply because they are the male.

Men can make mistakes but women can’t

Do you know how uptight we women are to avoid making any mistakes? We all have listened thousands of times that every success is the result of 1000s of mistakes, which means mistakes is the way to grow. Now, how are we women supposed to grow if we are not allowed to make mistakes? We are always being guarded, protected, directed to walk the certain path, do things in certain ways that are proven to be right; we are not supposed to experiment, explore, try things differently because while doing so, if anything wrong happens, “chori manche ko jiwan barbad.” Being male means you have the freedom to make mistakes. That’s the male privilege.

Men don’t have to deal with marriage as soon as he completes bachelor’s or hit the 23-24 age bracket. Women have to.

If you come up with that “girls after 30 will have problem conceiving” logic, then let me ask you this, why it happens mostly in South Asia? No one puts pressure on a 24-years old girl in America or Europe to get married because “otherwise will be hard to conceive.” We, women have to face the parental and the relative pressure for marriage from as early as 22. The pressure of study, career, family and this constituent pressure of marrying and what not. Males don’t have to face that, at least not till they hit 30. That’s the another male privilege that many men don’t seem to understand.

Males don’t get judged for not cooking, not keeping house clean, not doing laundry, not feeding the child but women are even if she is a working women

Taking care of self and that of people you share the room is a basic responsiblity and is not supposed to be assigned per gender, but then male has the privilege to just do nothing yet not be judged but women? Oh, if she fails to, she becomes a terrible wife, terrible mother, terrible human being. Can you feel the male privilege here? Yes, that’s what I am talking about.

Can stay with parents after marriage whereas females have to leave

Do I even need to explain or tell that what a privilege it must be to not have an obligation to leave the house you grew up in?

Last but not the least, being male means you are de facto leader, born intelligent, respected unconditionally, and many more things that we get to see every day in house, in office, in street, where two humans are treated differently purely based on gender they belong to. I understand this privilege granted to you are not something you asked for and you are not to be blamed. Purpose of this post is to merely educate what is male privilege that often many males don’t see and wonder where is inequality and differences in treatment.

Becoming aware of privilege should not be viewed as a burden or source of guilt, but rather, an opportunity to learn and be responsible so that we may work toward a more just and inclusive world.

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