I am making this prediction assuming that Nepal will remain as democratic country founded on idea of liberty, inclusiveness, liberal democracy, free market, open society, modern education, and secularism. My predication may go wrong if Nepal shift the paradigm towards authoritarian system, state-controlled market, closed society, or turn into a religious state, which I personally think is highly unlikely, because country like Nepal has no option but to function per global practices and agendas set by world forum like UN, IMF, think tanks, etc, unless it discovers its own massive wealth generating source like oil reserve or chooses to be next North Korea under the protection of China or turn into a religious country under the protection of India, which again is very unlikely given the level of political and ideological awareness among its people.
Also, my predication may not come true in next 20 years, if world itself gets in massive global crisis cause of World War like conflict or pandemic/environmental calamity putting the whole humanity in halt, which again I believe is highly unlikely as the level of consciousness of humans after going through many wars and conflicts have risen up significantly that they will naturally work towards avoiding any such conflict that would affect the entire world. Regarding pandemic/environmental calamity, given the advancement in science and technology, I believe we will somehow find a way to fight against and shine back within a year or two.
Thus, taking a leap of faith, my prediction goes like this:
Next 10 years
For next 10 years, we will not be seeing much of progress or remarkable change because we will still be in a phase of discovering “actualization.” What I meant by that is, think of New Nepal as a newly-opened restaurant, where founders and all the stakeholders are too confident about their vision, dream, ideas and they believe their management style, their sales strategies, their foods everything is best and awesome. But that is only what they think and not necessarily to be a reality. They are yet to be tested to be proven to be right or wrong, which the result will speak. In the context of a country, result is economic growth, stability, human development and happiness index, etc. Like every new brand, Nepal is also in that obsession phase, obsessed to be unique, obsessed about the idea, cognitively biased, and this will remain till the bubble is not burst. Sooner or later, Nepal has to be sellable to attract investors, to attract intellects, to retain its people, to maintain the stability and if it fails to do so, the bubble will burst. Looking at the initial signs and symptoms, Nepal is heading towards bursting bad for good. Once this bubble is burst, Nepal will finally become realistic, grounded, open to listen to others, adopt what’s working in other restaurants, become more sales focused, be more wise and humble. This bubble burst will wipe out some of the wrong ideologies, concepts, incompetent managers and leaders to never get a space in this land. We need to wait for next 10 years for all that to happen. Until then, we gotta bear the experiment of those new managers in power, political and bureaucratic.
After 10 years
From here onward, we will start witnessing old generation, both in political and familial level, vacating the decision-making or influencing position that they had been holding, either by dying or by being too old and frail. Wealth will be transferred to new ruling generation. This new ruling generation will be in decision-making position, in politics, in government, in family and society.
So to rightly predict how Nepal will be in 20 years, I am taking into consideration the new ruling generation — how their leadership will be, their decision bias, their principle and ideological lines, their belief systems, etc. And for that, I need to look into how they are right now.
The 50-60 years old leader from future is 30-40 years old youth today. My understanding of today’s youth from this age bracket is, they are somewhere in between conservative and progressive. This age bracket is found to be sensitive about nationalism, religion, tradition and culture, but same time, they are also tolerant, accepting; understand the diversity, open to new ideas, respect logic and reasoning, believe in evidence and facts.
So with the bursting of bubble in next 10 years and lots of other exposures and realization in between, they will not be as rigid as earlier generation but still will be living with the belief that Nepal should not leave its original self of being culturally rich country; nationalism will still be the thing. As far as socialism, they will be a free market supporter, and take a route that of social democracy. All in all, they will be calm, quiet, wealthy conservatives who live by their beliefs but also respect those who don’t want to. But in familial level, they will still be dictating one to an extent.
In next 10 years, Nepal will have collective realization on the following:
- Nepal cannot be built or prospered by Nepalese alone and need to join hands with foreign powers and organisations and offer mutual benefits.
- Communist/socialist Utopian idea, that thrives on state-controlled policies will not work.
- Protectionism, syndicate, etc is only good at making few people rich, but overall, it does not serve people in large.
- World does not owe us anything and it is us who need to come up with offer that lures them.
- There is nothing great about us or our history, and we must not get drunk on self-constructed identity.
- We are individual first and then only group and thus individual freedom and happiness should matter the most.
- Inclusive growth and opportunities can only guarantee our overall economic growth.
- You can’t progress by holding on to what kept us behind for so long.
Based on those premises, I predict the following.
In 20 years, communist party will be least popular party. NCP will be replaced by socialist party as a leftist party. Nepali congress will remain in upgraded form as right to center. There will be other small regional parties. Federalism is here to remain but this too will get a massive makeover in next 10-15 years to finally give a look and feel of federalism in true sense, after which we can see Nepal for real moving from Kathmandu-centric country to the actual decentralized form.
In infrastructural development
No, there won’t be any New York like city or 12 lanes highway kinda infrastructure. We will still be the same, with bit more roads and malls. That’s because we will still be struggling to be realistic and fit with the world in next 10-15 years before finally we start getting enough grants and investments to see the infrastructural development. Maybe after 20 years, we can see rapid infrastructural development. At best, we will have trains in southern Nepal.
I see we doing pretty good in education. Our public schools and colleges will set an example for world. Private schools and colleges will be there as well and will be doing good as well, but it will be catering mostly wealthy middle and upper class. We will not be education destination though for foreign student yet.
I don’t see we doing anything great in health system. We will be still struggling with shortage of doctors, access to medical facilities, expensive healthcare system, and public hospital still not at the par.
Business and Industry
We will be known for being emerging financial and service hub. We will be service hub for mostly neighboring countries. Some local brands will make their name and fame to globe. Global companies will start to step in. I see agriculture will be in industrial level run and operated by private and public firms. In tourism, we will begin to attract high networth visitors.
We will be more health conscious. Most people will be fit by appearance. Bhaat/MoMo will not be as popular as it is now, as protein-rich diet will be more popular. There will be more private vehicle owners. I don’t see we becoming country of public transportation commuters. We will be more outgoing, fun loving citizens and more openness towards individualism and individual freedom.
Religion will be completely private matter. No one will judge others for not following rituals and traditions, like Shraddha/jatra. Electric cremation will begin to be popular. Things like “menstruation ritual” will be almost non-existing among urban communities. However, festivals will be celebrated wholeheartedly and with bang. People will be proud of their cultural background but don’t think right to demand for any special privilege or protection from state. I don’t see people converting to other religion either. They simply will be less religious and live by self-blame/credit, believing in Karma/work. They by now know the difference between culture, tradition, religion, and ritual. Above all, they by now will have understood the essence and importance of secularism.
- Some individual and group will represent Nepal in global stage and win some of the shows.
- Nepal will be regularly visited by well-known individuals from world.
- Some of the technology-based brands will become a global name.
- One or two global award will be bagged by someone from Nepal.
- Electricity and freshwater will be our thing.
- Also, agriculture.
- Healthcare system.
- Policy-level corruption.
- Our mainstream entertainment sector.
To sum up
In 20 years from now, we will not be next Singapore with high-rise building and clean and smooth roads or next silicon valley with vibrant workforce and rapid flow of money, but we will be pretty much all set to head towards. Twenty years will be spent over building the foundation, grooming leaders, establishing new values and beliefs, discarding stupid ideas, experimenting and learning lessons. There will be more educated population set to lead their respective fields with modern values and principles. We will not be heading to become America-like capitalist country nor we will be heading to become Cuba-like socialist country. We will be heading in becoming more like Scandinavian country, difference being we are much colorful with diversity and their respective cultural practices.
All in all, in 20 years, we will be a country of progressive citizens, progressive leaders, all set to turn this isolated, confused, laboratory-like country into a country with clarity and openness ready to collaborate with everyone to set an example for rest.
Until then, let’s deal with it.
Youth migration: Shrinking or swelling local development?
The ministry of youth and sports in its report data released on the occasion of
International Youth Day on August 13, 2017, revealed that 1,600 Nepali youth leave the
country for foreign employment each day and this number is nowhere close to slowing
Hundred years down the line, imagine the youths migrate out of their villages or small towns. They do not lead the simple “gaule jiwan” as we call it. They have stable incomes and they live with their families in a town or at least nearby a market.
Can you picture a prosperous life for them? Sure, it can be said that they live a prosperous life with stable incomes and access to the market and facilities. But let us take a moment to think about the village they were originally from.
From my recent experience of volunteering with Raleigh Nepal, it has been alarmingly established in my mind that migration practice in Nepal is detrimental to the future of the country. I stayed in a semi-rural community of Dal Bhanjyang, Gorkha. The village was sparsely populated, mostly comprising elderly, women, and children. Most of the young people of the village, particularly men, were out of the village in bigger cities or foreign countries for employment.
A gap in the active working-age population was evident due to the rampant migration. This gap created by the lack of active working people has affected the agricultural yield of the farm-based community. Many farmers leave their cultivable land barren because they do not have enough helping hands to farm.
I would like to give you an example of my host family in the village. Khadi Maya Thapa lived with her daughter Sarita and mother in law Pampha Devi Thapa in the village. She has a son who lived in Gorkha city for education while her husband works and lives in the Middle East.
They have plenty of land in the village but they do not have enough helping hands to help in agriculture. They look after a few livestock and practice subsistence farming only in a small section of the land they have, leaving the rest of the land barren.
Another important aspect to be considered is not just the current lack of young people in the village, but the future demography of the village. There is already a huge number of youths who have migrated to a place where they have a more comfortable life. Plus there are more young people who are planning to migrate in the future. So, this rampant migration will ultimately displace families to a more comfortable location.
Therefore, in the span of a few decades when the now old generation will pass away, the current middle-age population will be senior citizens, and the current new generation will be migrating and moving, these villages will be empty. The now middle-aged population is already working hard in the country and abroad to invest in their children. Either to send them to foreign employment or for their education. Which further perpetuates the migration of the newer generations into the cities away from villages.
Let us look at another example from the village, Narayan Thapa was a local of Dal Bhanjyang who came back from Qatar for a few months break. He looks forward to going back to Qatar because he believes he would be able to earn a good living for his wife and his children in the future. When I asked him if he wants to settle somewhere or live in Dal Bhanjyang all his life, he replied that he is working hard in a foreign land so that his children, wife, and himself can enjoy a comfortable life in a city or at least a small town.
From villages to towns, from towns to cities, and from cities to a foreign city. There is always a better place one can strive for. But at what cost are we striving for a comfortable life is the question. The bottom line could also come to causing a major shortage of agro-based families and causing problems of food security as well.
Moreover, we need to understand that these communities without the presence of an active young population can cause a gap in the smooth function of a society. Because it is the youths who are the torchbearers of the future and the ones who bring innovations and new ideas to communities. Nowadays, the villages in our country are facing a big gap in innovation. The children are growing up without having to look up to youths and families are separated.
Even though the situation seems to be distressing, we cannot deny that people in these villages have no other choice but to try to keep pace with the world that is innovating and changing. So when they cannot do that from their villages, they opt for a bigger place. On the other hand, the ramifications of such choices may be too hard on the country. Therefore, decentralization and empowerment of youth in the local communities are a must.
American life, Nepali salary — does not work
I carry a phone, have a computer, decent pair of clothes and shoes. In my room, there is a TV hanging on wall, and in kitchen, a micro oven to warm my foods and refrigerator to preserve left over. To go around, I have a bike. I sometimes drop by cafe, which serves me coffee made from coffee machine. Love to watch movies and go to near by multiplex with cozy ambiance and lights and world-class sound system. Need to take my parents sometimes to doctors and they do the check-up using the modern equipment. A typical middle-class life I live. There are millions out there in this country with same pattern and possession.
From morning till I go to sleep, everything I consume aren’t made in Nepal. They are imported from some other countries. Even the internet I am using or electricity, the system behind is based on device and technologies made somewhere else. To share my thoughts, I have this blog, the domain and server, are too based in other countries. Those phone, those computer, those clothes and shoes, those TV and refrigerator, bike and coffee machine, or the medical equipment, are not manufactured keeping Nepalese people in mind. While setting the price, they didn’t think if a person from the poorest country can afford or not. They simply set a price that people with earning of 1000 dollars per month (at least) can afford.
How can you have a lifestyle of 2-3000 dollars per month with 500 dollars income?
Standard of living that most Nepalese thrive for is influenced by standard of living that of country from high GDP and we consume the products made for those people with average income of 2-3000 dollars per month. Irony, however, is we barely earn 500 dollars per month at best. How can you have a lifestyle of 2-3000 dollars per month with 500 dollars income? This is the conflicting zone most of us are living in. We want perfect things like that of from country with high GDP or we will laugh. Office needs to be perfect, house needs to perfect, vehicle needs to be perfect, lifestyle needs to be perfect, like as seen in videos made from US citizens or from other developed countries. We forget to realize that perfection comes with a price, that being Nepali is hard to afford.
But then who cares. Wife does not care, children don’t care, neighbors and relatives do not, nor friends. We are constantly judged for what we posses, how we pose and how we present ourselves, and it must be like that from Youtube or Bollywood insta or else we will be laughed. We will be judged for being poor, being below the standard.
In macro level, this is the struggle that most middle-class Nepalese are facing. First, there is an obligation of buying products like refrigerator, phone, TV, etc, as a necessity, made for people with 1000 dollars income, from a 300-500 dollar salary. Second, there is a cultural psyche to look better, stand out better. Thus, we will rather thrive to meet that standard than settle with our reality. Thriving to meet that standard means finding an income source of 2000-3000 dollars per month. First we try in genuine way, and if is not working, we look for hook and crook.
Be it PM, or president, or mayor or bank CEO, designer or call center employee, everyone is walking that struggle to fit in. Outside we all may pretend to adore and admire people living with their own ability and affordability, but deep inside we don’t value people who can’t live the standard. We don’t value celebrity that we can find travelling in local bus. We don’t value government website that can’t afford high speed. We don’t value PM’s web conference with poor resolution. We don’t value relatives in government office who can’t afford to send their children to good school and college. We don’t value CEO that looks “khate pate” because can’t afford branded clothes and shoes. I can go on. We in reality have no space or respect for those who fail to live and act matching the modern standard.
All the standard comes with a price, price that is designed keeping people from high GDP. So what the people from low GDP supposed to do? Simple, find a way to earn at least 2000-3000 dollars per month to enjoy that standard or live in your cave as you truly belong.
An old man once told me, “timiharu lie chahiyeko chha bikasit desh ko subidha, kamaunu chha garib desh ko talab. Ka milcha ani?. In other words, you can’t have american life with Nepali earning. Either go to America to have that life or find the american income here in Nepal.
That’s what happening in Nepal. Everyone is looking for a way to get to that income bracket — school, college, businesses, cafes, parlors, everyone — without which you can’t afford iPhone, you can’t afford coffee from coffee machine, you can’t afford Nike shoes, you can’t afford a vacation, you can’t afford TV at home, you simply can’t afford anything made somewhere keeping in mind 2000 dollars income bracket.
There is no way out. Deal with it.
Underpaid elected representatives and the consequences
No graphic designer wants to work for anything less than 25K salary. No programmers wants to work for anything less than 50K salary. Hire a marketing consultant to take care of your business marketing, s/he will not charge anything less than 50K.
A principal of a school take nothing less than 70-80K to lead the school. A CEO takes anywhere from 2 lakh and above to run a company. A bank CEO takes way way more.
Just try taking a decent flat in good locality, you will get nothing less than 35K. Want to take in a colony, will cost you nothing less than 40K.
To have a decent comfortable life financially, you need at least 2000 dollars of income, that you can send your children to good school, can take care of parents, can fulfill genuine needs of spouse and of self.
When your personal life is smooth with no guilt or regret or shame because of poor financial status, you are highly motivated, energetic and dedicated to your professional side. You must know that by now.
That’s the reality we live in.
Now think of a job, where you job responsibilities include waste management, infrastructure development, maintaining the social harmony, planning and executing projects, and salary offered is 60K.
That’s salary for a mayor.
I am sure no one with good experience and academic profile will take that job. Why should they when they deserve more and they can earn 3 times the amount? Only people who will take that job are those who can’t earn outside or the naive minds who have not tested the reality yet and are living in a bubble.
Salary of a PM is around 1.5 lakhs. A bank CEO gets 5 times that, whose job is just to take care of the bank and its few hundreds employee. And here, the person whose job is to manage the whole country and 3cr people gets barely 1500 dollar. HELLO!
Let’s for a while, flush off all the prejudice and hate towards elected representatives and think…think them as fellow human just like everyone of us, and ask, will we get best out of them by paying way way less?
We ended up in this situation because of our idealist concept “neta janata ko sewa garna ho….paisa kamaune bhaye jagir khaanu parthyo, business garnu parthyo” Our idea of leadership is Jogi-like figure who can sacrifice all the materialistic needs, compromise personal happiness and that of family, live that altruistic life, and we judge fellow human interested in politics and in public service based on those traits and characters. We look for that Jogi figure.
What we forget to realize is that, with that criteria, we will never attract someone who can lead bank, who can be country head of NGO/INGO, who are gold medalists. And instead will end up with good-for-nothing individuals to manage this country, manage our county, manager our city. And we wonder, why we only get a terrible incompetent person for the job. Because we set the criteria that attract only INCOMPETENTS and NAIVES.
A successful business man once told me, “if you don’t pay well, you will end up with bad team and with that bad team, you will never succeed. You should never be concerned about how fat paycheck is being taken. You should be concerned about are they doing what they are paid for. If you are paying them 15K, you will get 15K worth of work. You should not be complaining for them not doing 50K of work. If you want them to do 50K worth of work, you should know to pay them 50K.”
As a business consultant, I can relate that. I have seen many businesses going no where and the problem is in kind of team they have. To pay less, they hire freshers and dull employees and they wonder why their businesses are not growing.
I have also seen brightest and smartest indviduals failing to deliver a project because they took the project at very low cost, that when reality hit them, they lost the interest and the needed energy to deliver right.
The very same thing applies in country.
You don’t get Elon Musk in 200-dollar salary.
This realization comes with growing up. So may be it’s time for us to be realistic enough and not idealist, and speak for better paycheck, better facilities for our elected representatives, so that more bright and smart show interests. it’s time for us to acknowledge the fact that Mayor is a job, PM is a job, like CEO and Branch manager. Do you know that Ward Representatives don’t get salary??
We have messed up big time by chasing the idealist version of governance, which only has created more gossips, more lack of respects, more contents for media to taunt for them taking beggar way of sheltering in hotels, wearing gifted watch and shoes. What are they supposed to do with 60K salary?? Put yourself in that shoes and think. Money is the reality and we should not shy away from. Rather embrace it, articulate it, and get best out of. Pay best, pay enough that s/he can take care of her personal life without reaching out to donors and businesses, and then question if not performing per the amount paid.
We have been complaining a lot without ever thinking of what payment are they getting in return. It reminds me of a boss, who had so much of complaint against his employees but never thought from his side if he is paying enough to expect the result. He didn’t understand that you don’t get Elon Musk in 200 dollar salary.
Father of Singpore, Mr, Lee once said, ” Don’t underpay our ministers. To find able and committed men and women of integrity, willing to spend the prime of their lives, and going through the risky process of elections, we cannot underpay our ministers and argue that their sole reward should be their contribution to the public good.”
You want this country to be like Singapore? then start thinking like Mr. Lee.