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Meet Ram Bahadur

Like how US has “average joe,” Nepal has Ram Bahadur. It’s not a person, it’s a class.

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Ram Bahadur has many avatars. You may find him working for a bank, or in the civil service as a salaried person; or owns a momo shop or a business with decent enough income to live a financially stable life in Nepal; has a house to live and needed social support, has access to all the basic utilities. He is a religious man high on nationalism – loves festivals, loves his religion; loves his language; loves his country. Some of the Ram Bahadur may seem jobless or without any business, but still, they have good enough inheritance to live a life comfortably. Overall, Ram Bahadur is a secured privilege Nepalese. Most of these Ram Bahadur live in cities. Some of them can be found in semi-rural areas.

He has no interest to leave this country in search of a job or better life abroad. He is happy here. Why will he even want to leave? He does not have to. He can plan a weekend party at home, he can make a short trip to Pokhara whenever he feels like, he can take his family to a resort once in a while, he can go out for dinner or lunch; can spend all day in a tea shop or over coffee; buy clothes, afford bike or vehicle. He can basically stand loud and proud among his peers and relatives for the way he is and things he does. Thus, he has no reason to go anywhere else when he already has his identity and base in this country.

His life is simple. It revolves around his work, his friends, his family, and his relatives. Maintaining them and finding fun in between pretty much sums up his life. He is not here to make a rocket, nor is here to build an empire. His career plan is also plain and simple – work till 60, take no shi%. He has no desperation to climb the career ladder. He leaves that up to time and fate. The jobless Ram Bahadur too has a simple life plan – manage till you can and when you can’t, sell a piece of property.

Ram Bahadur loves using social media – Facebook, Tweeter, Tiktok. He is super proud of Nepali music and movies. Loves giving his opinion on different sociopolitical topics. His opinions are based on people he follows and youtube videos he watches or FB videos that go viral. He is a nationalist. He does not like Indians much nor likes the US government. He is a self-recruited knight to protect his religion, culture, and tradition. He strongly believes that white people from the west are all up for spreading Christianity. And, India is all up for annexing his country. He is politically inclined to some or other party, and other than his party leaders, he thinks everyone else is corrupted and is an agent of a foreign power. He also believes in protectionism. He thinks the only way to grow a country economically is by promoting local products and thus if possible should ban or tax heavily any foreign product. But he does not understand how the economy works. Since he is making money to afford a life and sponsor his dependents, to him the economy is just doing fine and nothing much needs to be done.

Basically, he sees and understands the country and people from his own level of thinking and the bubble he belongs to. To him, everyone is rich in this country. To him, it’s not that tough to make a living wage in this country. He looks at the share market and generalizes the whole of Nepal stating “look! everyone has money in this country.” He has a simple formula to develop this country. “Since everyone has money, Nepal can have enough money to develop but corruption is the problem.” He does not know how much tax revenues get collected and where that money actually goes. He does not understand any complex system and process that the modern world runs by, but he does not like to admit that. He thinks he knows. You can find him often giving his opinion and prescription on national and international issues and topics; can find him sharing his opinion on social media and cafeteria or while with friends on what Nepal should do, what India or US is doing, etc.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Ram Bahadur’s needs fall somewhere in between love and belongingness and esteem needs. Since he has passed across the safety needs, his way of looking at the world is in terms of looking for acceptance and love, a sense of belongingness; desires for respect and reputations. He is so fixated in the zone, that he can’t think of anything beyond his privilege bubble. From his terrace, when he sees a city full of houses, he tends to think everyone is a house owner in this country but fails to see that in all those houses there are people living in rents whose life is not as easy as of him. While riding his bike or driving his vehicle, he fails to see hundreds of people waiting for the public buses. He does not know what number of people are deprived of quality education and health because, in his world, that’s not the case. When he posts a status stating the border should be closed, he has no idea what number of people are actually surviving because of the open border. He does not know where Nepal stands in GDP, in HDI, doing business index, nor he is bothered about. From his glass, everyone is doing just fine.

Ram Bahadur is a lucky man who should not be allowed to decide what is best for unlucky Nepalese unless has a needed empathy and wisdom to see from others eyes, listen from others ears, and feel from others heart.

Hey KMAG Readers,

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Opinion

4 Life Lessons to learn from Prachanda’s life

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While writing this, “Maobadi” party, CPN-M, is having its general conference.  Before them, UML, RPP, Nepali Congress had their own general conference, and relatively speaking, the general conference of CPN-M is quiet.  It looks like a bunch of lost people having a soul-searching moment that the world outside doesn’t care much about, where their tribe leader, Prachanda in his trembling voice, desperately is in search of a magical wand to bring back the lost glory and in his eyes, everyone can see even he does not have the hope.  There was an incident during yesterday’s General conference event where Prachanda was trying so hard to ensure that the alliance will be intact even during the election and for that he was clearly playing with words buttering Sher Bahadur Deuba.  It was kind of funny and sad coz that’s the desperation level of Prachanda right now because deep down his heart knows that his party is facing extinction from politics without the support of any other parties.

How a party that once shook the country ended up to this level? Prachanda is probably the most taunted political figure on social media. How a personality who once was Robinhood for poor and marginalized has become a lonely dog searching for a master to adopt?  I guess there are many reasons, and those reasons do serve as a life-lesson for many.  After all, the mistake of one is lessons for many.

It is important for us to have this discussion because I see there are still many out there wanting to be a “change-maker,” and without discussing about Prachanda and his party, those high in spirit may fall into the same trap.

Lesson #1

Don’t “Use and Throw” people

We all have goals in life and it’s natural to seek out for help from fellow humans.  What’s unnatural is using them, dumping them, and never turning back.  You sell them dreams, you sell them benefits, you sell them good days, hopes and promises to use them as horses and once the juice is sucked, you abandon them like they mean nothing to you.  NEVER DO THAT. 

That’s what Maoist did, or to be more precise Prachanda did and does and all the negativities and lonesome are of the result of that.  It’s not the war alone they waged, it’s not the radical politics alone they did but how they used each individual during their political journey. Every single individual has 5 family members, which means being known as A-hole for one individual makes you A-hole for 5 other individuals.  Those 5 spread their views further and it goes on.  Eventually, you become the person no one trusts, no one likes, no one wants.

In 20-25 years, Prachanda has used many people, be it ordinary people in the name of People’s war, business people, fellow politicians and cadres, friends and families, diplomats and intellects. There is probably no one left that he had not used just to throw them like they mean nothing to him as soon as he finds another horse to ride on.  In short term, it may look like a clever move but in a long run, the very same pattern will hunt you because by now your true self is known to everyone.

So, learn to take care of people who took care of you. Even if you have other priorities in life, make sure they don’t feel like being used, being abandoned, being forgotten.

Lesson #2

Be apologetic 

Life is full of mistakes, and there will be more mistakes if you are walking the road that no one has walked before.  With those mistakes, you are definitely going to irk people but deep inside humans can’t hold grudges for long, but that does not mean you just ignore them.  In a long run, people don’t have a problem for you making mistakes but they will have a problem if you don’t accept your mistakes, don’t have the courtesy to say “I am sorry.”  One simple sorry would flush off half of the negativity and anger towards.  

Prachanda never felt sorry for wrongs he and his party did during the Maoist insurgency.  Thousands of people lost their lives, lost their homes, lost their present and lost their future. Betrayed fellow politicians, betrayed many, hurt many, and Prachanda never felt the need to apologize for real.  Whatsoever, people know Maoist insurgency was a necessary evil but that does not mean he could live and walk unapologetically. There are tons of mistakes from himself and his party, and a genuine apology would spurt the positivity. It would be good for himself and generations to come.

Lesson #3

Don’t fake.  Be honest

An honest fool is more respected than a pseudo intellect because at least the honest fool does not claim to know or be someone that they are not.  Prachanda is the kind of person who claims to know things that he actually does not; claims to understand things that he does not.  He claims to be the voice of marginalized, claims to have an idea over the economy, claims to have an understanding over global politics and world, but in reality, he actually knows nothing, understands nothing, that overtime everyone had learned.  

Until no one knew him everyone thought this guy had everything figured out, but as people started knowing him, they realized he is the kind of guy who can’t even write a column expressing his thoughts and ideas.  The so-called Prachandapath was a mere idea of someone else that he stole.  He is clueless about economy, he is clueless about society, he is clueless about global issues.  He is just a random Facebook guy who steals everyone’s status and goes viral.  Can you remember any speech where he had clearly expressed out his principles, thoughts, beliefs, like how a leader is supposed to? Other than vague and half-baked knowledge over certain agenda with fake tears and manipulative tones, he never could offer anything that a leader is supposed to. A genuine leader that of his status was supposed to have a clear logic behind his argument, are based on the theoretical framework, references and principles to back those ideas.  You don’t get to hear such a thing in Prachanda’s speech and that’s how you know he is a fake guy who luckily had managed to put himself in the center of politics. If he was of this timeline in his 20s, he is just a random guy on Facebook with radical views, who has only read one book and has a problem with everything that goes against the book.

People are getting smarter day by day.  Thanks to education and the internet.  So, don’t fake to know things that you don’t understand; don’t pretend to be someone that you are not.

Lesson #4

When you get more than you deserve, know when to retire.

Whatsoever, life works mysteriously.  Some people just manage to keep on dodging bullets in life, keep on avoiding consequences, keep on climbing the ladder even without being undeserving, keep on hitting the jackpot cluelessly. Maybe, it’s nature’s way of paving the path for the future leader through them.  We never know how Universe works.  So for such people, there is a beautiful quote by Joker “you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain.”

Prachanda had a perfect opportunity to retire after merging to form NCP, but he didn’t.  If he had, he would be a respectful figure in history and politics despite all the flaws and weaknesses mentioned above.   The desire to remain supremo despite lacking integrity, intellectualism, honesty, and positive mass perception only made him look like a loser that anyone can make fun of, taunt and despise. Sadly, Prachanda and his party always mistook them as “coming from reactionaries and right-wingers,” which is not actually the case.  Anyone with critical thinking and rationalism and a bit of intellectualism can outright say Prachanda and his party is a clueless youtube channel that happened to get popular for covering issues and stories that were ignored by others.  It gave momentary popularity but overtime every other youtube channel who actually knows to do it in better took it to next level and now Prachanda and gang look like Bhagya Neupane, busted!

That is why you should never be in a stage for long that you happened to get into by accident or situation.  You were supposed to find a meaningful closer as soon as possible and go back to the seat, looking like a hero. 

These are life lessons I can draw from what i could observe Prachanda and his party, their rise and fall because deep inside, we all are change maker – in house, in work place, in society, in country or in world.  There is so much to learn from others mistakes so that we don’t walk the same loop.  

No hard feelings.

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Opinion

Why you should be participating in surveys

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You must have come across surveys while surfing websites or social media or while in streets or malls. Once in a while even government or NGO visits you to collect surveys. They ask you a list of questions, that you sometimes may feel too lazy to participate in. But you should know that you should not be lazying. We will tell you why.

A survey is a list of questions aimed at extracting specific data from a particular group of people so that the surveyor can gain knowledge and insights into various topics of interest and then mostly generalize the result.

Say, for example, a survey is conducted to know what percentage of high-school students do smoke. Out of 1000 participants, if 100 say they do smoke, the conclusion will be drawn stating something like “10% of high-school students in Nepal are smokers” or say “1 in 10 high-school students (+2) smokes cigarettes.” Thus, the survey is – first they collected the day, with the question like “Do you smoke?” Yes/No and then they generalize.

Before coming to why everyone should participate in surveys, let’s first start with what happens before and after surveys. There are basically two types of surveys, one by students for assignment purposes. We are not talking about such type of survey. We are talking about surveys conducted by businesses or government or NGO/INGO or media or independent researchers. Or say, surveys conducted by those who are genuinely into finding out something, not for sake of submitting a college assignment but to analyze and understand and act accordingly.

Every survey that comes to you comes from humans who have well thought and crafted list of questions to frame their conclusion. Hours and hours are spent behind to formulate those questions. There are reasons for why those questions and the purpose behind them. Then happens data collection, which is when you will be answering those questions. Post-survey, there happens the data analysis, where they will gather all the data collected and interpret to reach to a conclusion.

Why do people do surveys? The simple answer is because we humans are biased and our judgment often comes from keeping ourselves in the center of the Universe. Say, for example, I may think almost every Nepalese drinks because I drink. I will only know the truth about what percentage actually drink if I go asking everyone. Since this is my website that I am so used to with, I may think this website is super cool but reality can only be known if I ask everyone about what they feel. If your job or business or activity is people-oriented, you cannot keep yourself in the center to decide what others like and dislike nor you can ever find out what people are thinking or wanting. So, people do surveys to find out the truth so that they can take the right measures. Businesses do surveys to understand customers’ needs and desires; NGO/INGOs do surveys to understand people’s problems and issues; governments do surveys to formulate the right policies, etc.

Coming back to the question, why everyone should be participating in surveys:

Because you don’t want people making wrong judgment or conclusion

Let’s say a researcher comes to you to survey about domestic violence in Nepal. You despite being a victim of domestic violence chose not to participate in the survey. In your locality, the survey was conducted among 10 people and you were missed out.  All 10 happened to never experience any kind of domestic violence.  The conclusion will be made that there is no domestic violence in your locality.  A false conclusion has occurred because you chose to skip the survey. As said earlier, based on the survey, a generalization will be made, based on which actions and priorities will be set. A wrong conclusion will set wrong priorities and actions.

Because you need to be heard

The sole purpose of a survey is to know what others think or feel or experience.  When someone is out there to find out, they should be knowing what you think, or feel or experience as well.  Your voice is equally important to them and you should be heard and considered.  When they are drawing a conclusion and setting up actions and priorities, making policies or changes, if you are heard then only they can consider your wishes and desires, needs and wants. By y skipping to participate in a survey, you are choosing to not be considered or counted in their decision-making or conclusion.

Because you want to contribute in making the world a better place

Whether it’s a survey by businesses or media or NGO/INGO or government or researchers, ultimately the purpose is to understand the world from a much broader perspective and plan out what is best for all per the survey.  When you take part in the Facebook survey, you are indirectly helping them to figure out how they can make the platform better and greater.  When you take part in the survey by Media, you are helping them to understand things in a better way so that they create content accordingly.  The same goes for NGO/INGO or a government.  No one does a survey without any purpose.  Thus, by participating in a survey, you are directly and indirectly helping them get better with whatever they are up to which eventually will make this world a better place since the better world is nothing but a collective reflection of better decisions made by every group and organization by making right conclusion and understanding of their field of interest.

Because you respect and support people willing to learn and understand from others lenses

The world is filled with people who assume to know things despite never stepping out from their own biases and bubbles.  Purely based on self-reference, they brush off the whole world.  To them, what they think is what everyone thinks; what they feel is what everyone feels; what they like is what everyone likes.  People who do surveys are different.  They are here to build their opinion based on what others think and feel.  They are here to find truth through data analysis and interpretation and not through personal assumption.  They are here to draw conclusions, prescribe prescriptions, not based on what they think is right but based on voices of 1000s.  The world needs this sort of people who are humble enough to step out of their bubble and biases and seek truth by asking people, researching and analyzing, explore grey areas, understand layer by layers, understand variables, understand every little thing before reaching to a conclusion, before prescribing anything, before proposing anything. By participating in surveys, you are directly and indirectly supporting and promoting a culture of seeing truth and knowledge through research.

Because you are a human

Being human means we share knowledge, we share our experiences, we share our stories, we share our thoughts and feelings, our wants and desires; we share our perspectives.  No other species do as much as we do.  Everything that you see around is the result of sharing culture that over 1000s of years got accumulated making it possible for every human to know and understand things even without seeing or experiencing.  The internet, the books, the passed-down folklore and wisdom, idioms and proverbs, skills and techniques, you name it and they are all the acts of knowledge sharing.  Some way or other we always contribute to the accumulated knowledge that makes up our modern world and civilization.  Participating in a survey means an act of humanity.

There can be few other reasons but that’s it for now. Hence, whenever you are asked to participate in surveys, try your best to be part of it. Somewhere, someone will be looking into what you filled, what you said, what you recommended, based on which they will be setting their priorities and plans.  You may never get the credit but deep down you know, your 5-minute has played a role in shaping this world.  

Decision making is an art until the person understands the science.

Pearl Zhu

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Opinion

Legalisation of Marijuana for recreational use – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

This article is on “legalisation of marijuana for recreation use” and not about legalisation for medical or other lifehack purposes.

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Louis Hansel - Unsplash

By now, almost everyone agrees that marijuana should be legalised for medical purposes. They also agree that marijuana should be legalised for hemp-related products like clothes, beauty products, etc. Debate, however, remains regarding legalisation for recreational use. Or in other words, many are still wondering if it is good to let adults smoke weed like how it is legal to drink alcohol or smoke cigars and cigarettes. The debate has been taking over social media, internet forums and over coffees and classrooms. There are strong for and against arguments regarding legalisation of marijuana for recreational use, with both sides having strong points.

Most of us have smoked marijuana here and there at some point in life, and we know what it feels like. Those who have not smoked too have friends who do and they too know it’s not like snorting cocaine or injecting heroin. The demand for legalisation of marijuana came from the fact that many are being locked behind bars or had to face state-sponsored harassment for simply smoking marijuana or carrying it, whereas people drinking alcohol or smoking cigars are socially and legally accepted. Fundamentally speaking, it is a discrimination simply because marijuana being labeled as “crime.” Thus, the voice for legalisation have been getting louder. Marijuana users, for recreational purposes, want to be treated the same as cigarette smokers or alcohol drinkers. From this point of view, it is definitely not right. 

Cannabis was part of human civilization for many thousand years, so what actually happened in between that now it is almost banned everywhere? It’s because of “Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,” an international treaty to prohibit production and supply of narcotic drugs, that include cannabis. Every country that has signed the treaty is thus obliged to ban cannabis, that includes India and Nepal. That is how cannabis became illegal in this part of the world, despite having the cultural and social significance of cannabis.

At the U.S.’s insistence, cannabis was placed under the heaviest control regime in the Convention, Schedule IV. The argument for placing cannabis in this category was that it was widely abused. The WHO later found that cannabis could have medical applications after all, but the structure was already in place and no international action has since been taken to correct this anomaly.

But things are changing. Many people have started voicing against “total ban” on marijuana. They now are demanding for acceptance and recognition of marijuana for recreational purposes as much as tobacco or alcohol. They want legalisation so that no one faces legal consequences for smoking weed or carrying it. They believe the state should not be controlling people’s freedom of choice of living. And they believe marijuana is still much better in comparison to effects of alcohol or tobacco and thus should not be treated the same as heroin or cocaine nor its users be treated as cocaine or heroin addict.  

With all that arguments, here is our two cents on what will happen if recreation use is legalised – the good, the bad, the ugly.

The Good

Humans in general consider anything that is illegal as being bad and consider anyone doing anything illegal as being a bad person. Our moral and ethical lines are very much defined by what is legal and illegal. We humans in general are law-abiding citizens and that’s where the perception gets built. Criminalising marijuana has built a perception among people that marijuana is bad and anyone who uses marijuana is a bad person. It’s not the same for alcohol or cigarettes because they are still legal. So a good thing that will happen from the legalisation of marijuana is that no one gets judged as being bad or “waste life,” “bigreko manche,” for smoking weed. With the legalisation, the stereotyping will come to an end.

Secondly, legalisation means doors open for business, open for market, which means there will be tax revenues, which otherwise was not producing any taxes even though being traded.

Third being, studies show cannabis users tend to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol moderately, which means a drastic fall in the consumption of alcohol or tobacco, which will have a better impact on long term prospects, both on an individual and social level.  

The Bad

Since with the legalisation, marijuana will no longer be perceived as a “bad thing.” This will create a new world where you can find people publicly and openly smoking weed. Just like cigarette smokers, you can find weed smokers in every cafe, in every social gathering, even in the street and station. Getting high, going live, acting funny on YouTube and Facebook content will be the new normal, influencing more people to give it a try without fearing to be judged. Young crowds may get easily influenced by this “new culture and trend,” and there will be a rise of cannabis users.

Whatsoever, cannabis will alter your sense of reality, positively and negatively, affecting your cognitive ability on a functional level, that may someway or other affect your productivity and decision making if done so under the influence of cannabis. This can bring conflict at work, conflict at home and relationships.  

Since legalisation brings the normalisation, and it’s one of the easiest plant to grow at home that you can just dry and smoke, marijuana will be an easy escape for anyone going through hard times or low moods.

The Ugly

There are all kinds of humans out there and one of them being irresponsible, psychotic, incompetent individuals. The kind existed long before alcohol or drugs were born, long before they learned to smoke weed. But humans need to blame someone or something for every bad thing that happens. With the legalisation and normalisation of weed smoking, weed will get all the blame for husband being irresponsible, for a staff being unproductive, for a student not able to perform well academically, or for a psychopath murdering or sociopath destroying public properties.

As weeds get all the blame, those who don’t use weed will start developing hatred towards the plant, and they will start ganging up against weed users, will start demanding for banning the weeds, and will lobby against the plant. Basically, we will be back to where the US was in the 1930s. 

Bottomline

Humans from across the planet were using marijuana for recreational use for many thousand years but nevertheless, it never had a good name. Even in Swasthani book the relationship between “marijuana” and “mahadev” was presented negatively. Buddhism strongly advocated for mindfulness and its importance for healthy living and happy life, which indirectly was meant against any practices or substances that alters humans cognitive ability. There is a reason why it got banned. No it was not banned “to promote alcohol” or “lobbying from tobacco company” as many conspiracy theory believers like to think. It’s banned because the unregulated and untamed freedom to smoke weed had rifled the society then. If you ask many villagers from remote Nepal, who are far from media and internet, what they think of weed smokers, most of them will frown with disgust. They blame weed for their son being useless, husband being useless. Those perceptions are not going from media. It’s coming from generations and generations.

Hate towards weed has been there long before the international treaty, and will be there if it is let to be part of people’s life and style without any regulation, without any check and balance. The thing with the weed is, it’s cheap, it’s easily available, and it’s powerful, and normalising such thing will be too hard on society to handle if left unchecked and unregulated. Unlike cigarette or alcohol, you don’t need a manufacturer or a brand to supply you weed. You can simply grow it in your bedroom or your in terrace, dry it and smoke it. Now, think how good is it to normalise it?

Maybe smoking weed has a positive side as well, maybe weed actually heals then destroys, but mass need to feel so and you can’t just make them feel so by talks. It should be apparent, which means weed should be regulated so that only responsible users get to smoke and prove the world that weed is not a problem but the problematic humans with problematic behaviour who happens to be a regular weed smoker is the problem. This thing to get established, it takes time. Let it take time. Until then, for the love of weed, legalize but don’t normalise stoning.

Hey KMAG Readers,

Glad to see you here. Since you are here, don’t forget to drop your email address. We want to surprise you.

Much love and regards,
KMAG

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