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Opinion

Problem in problem solving

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On the earlier post, KMAG published an article emphasizing on the need of cultivating a culture of openly talking about certain traits and characters that are reflection of troublesome and potential threats, while fighting against “violence against women.” The article basically tried to dig on psychological factors, along with cultural factors that are quite apparent yet we collectively ignore or hesitate to talk about. In response to the article, Dr. Neeti Aryal Khanal commented, “…Your explanation of violence as psychological problem of abuser is laughable in itself.”

I know her for her bold statement on her Facebook, especially related to gender and societal issues and I respect her for many other different reasons regardless of our differences.

However, I am turning this particular comment as an opportunity to express something that I have been deeply feeling regarding how we educated populace often fail in problem solving and why.

Let’s take Rape as a problem.

Rape happens for different reasons.

Oh! my dad is DSP, I am untouchable.Impunity reason.
Oh! girls are made for sex. What is a big deal in having a forceful sex?Cultural reason (misogyny).
Nepal’s law. I don’t fear.” Weak law enforcement reason.
I am too desperate and I can’t control my sexual urge.Psychological reason.
“I enjoy raping. It makes me feel good.” Criminal reason.

You see, rape does not happen for one specific reason. Different people rape for different reasons (sometimes mixed of all). There are so many factors behind any incident. And if you are to look for a solution, you need to rightly understand what all are the factors involved. You need to take different approach for same problem with different factor.

Sadly, we are often too black and white while analyzing any problem. When you are too blind to think that there is only one factor for causing one specific problem, you will never find a solution, just like our political parties. “Oh! King is the reason for all our problems” and removed the king just to realize that’s not the sole reason. That’s a very good reference and lesson to learn from.

Anyone with bachelor level of education have conducted some kind of research or done assignment and must have learned how to analyze a problem. As taught in college, we need to take various factors into consideration to understand problem before we work towards the solution. Strangely, the very same assignment, we forget while in real world. We jump out of closet “faasi de!” as if problem is only with weak law enforcement. We demand “Kill the culture” as if that’s the only reason.

I strongly think now that this black and white thinking is one of the reasons why we never succeed to solve a problem. We become so obsessed with our idea of what could be the problem, that we don’t even think of other various factors involved. Why corruption? Because of this” Why poor? because of this. Why road accident? because of this” I mean, we really think there is always that one specific reason for that specific problem and nothing else. What will happen next? We chop off one head, just to realize there are other heads, just to be forever lost in the problem.

Instead, problem solving needs a scientific approach. What I meant by scientific approach is that we first identify a problem and think over all the possible causes and reasons. We take stats and analyze each case understanding factors involved. Then we try to understand the most common factor in all the all cases and we derive a solution that addresses that common factor, and then derive other factor-specific solutions.

That’s how an educated person is supposed to look at a problem and prescribe a solution. So many rape cases, so many acid attacks, so many domestic violence. How many times have our feminists actually have sat and segregated the case income-level wise, ethnicity wise, geography wise; how many times have they tried to look into a case apart from “patriarchy” angle? Of course, that is there and is expected to be one of the main reasons, but still have anyone ever tried to look from psychological factor? Not just feminist, but even our investigative agencies and bodies, media and civil society, I have never found them looking into a problem in much broader sense, analyzing layer by layer and rightly reaching to conclusion like a researcher does.

Anti-capitalists are too quick assign the blame to capitalist world.
Feminists are too quick assign the blame to patriarchy.
Activists are too quick to assign the blame to weak law enforcement and impunity.

I don’t know where it is coming from, because our education system has always taught us to never take a black and white approach to understand a problem and its causes. Maybe, it is coming from our politics, or from black and white media narratives, or our home or society.

Whatever, in this too-quick-to-assign-the-blame to something that we inherently hate or distaste, we have been failing to solve the problem, because problem has 100 heads and not just one head.

This is very important for every educated one out there to understand. What’s the difference between you the educated one and the porn-is-the-reason politician, otherwise.

p.s. This post is not about rape. Only taking rape as an example of discourse to imply how and why we fail in problem solving.

Just like one of you who happened to be a founder of Kaagmandu Magazine

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Opinion

How is “reading culture” in Nepal?

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If your country’s educated people lack common sense, for sure your country does not have a reading culture.

When it comes to reading culture, Nepali society probably falls behind the most, that you can tell by visiting most houses, where you can see everything in collection except books. Even the most well-known author can barely sell 50K books to Nepali audience. In 2018, adult literacy rate for Nepal was 67.9 %, which means we have nearly 2 cr literate population yet publishers struggle to sell 1 lakh books.

To know how bad is reading culture in Nepal, this post itself will speak the volume. This article will be published through Facebook and can get if nothing also around 10 thousands reach, but the article will be read barely by 1000. Most people will ignore the link itself, and those who somehow got to this article, half of them will simply scroll and leave because they don’t want to read.

In a survey conducted, the most common excuses being lack of patience and time to invest over the reading.

It’s not that Nepalese people are not interested to learn. Just like every other humans, Nepalese are also curious monkeys desperate to learn and know, understand and contemplate different thoughts and ideas, stories and experiences, but somehow they don’t like to read for that, unless it comes in short and quick format.

Our literate citizens are not developing any interest over reading anything beyond their course books probably because they have not felt the importance of reading. We as a society never collectively cultivated the reading culture. Humans by nature don’t build interest over anything that neither falls under their need nor the entertainment. In the context of Nepal, not reading a book or any long write-up isn’t going to stop anyone from getting a job or getting dates nor makes anyone odd in a society. Reading has never become a judgment criteria in job interview nor in dating scene. Likewise it has never become a judgment criteria in social circle. If one of the common questions in job interview were to be related to books, people would definitely make the reading their lifestyle. Or, if dates or peer talks would involve “books you read,” reading would definitely become part of life. Since that’s not the case, reading is still a luxury, with or without also life moves on pretty well. When it is not going to affect by any means, why will they read anything that takes more than a minute of their time?

This lack of reading culture is scary because without the reading culture, we are only going to create a mass of literate people with only baseless opinions and hypothesis. We can already see that on social media on how narratives get built by literate crowd on subjects that they clearly have no understanding over. People are forming opinion over secularism, over democracy, over feminism or even life and relationship without never ever reading much on the subject. This pattern if not corrected can be very dangerous to a society and in personal space because such opinions and hypothesis coming from seemingly educated can misguide and misinform further the society, as people generally tend to buy easily anything that comes from “educated.”

Some people wonder if reading is really that important in the era of video and podcast. What they fail to understand is a 5-minute YouTube video can no way offer what a book can offer. Likewise, a verbal lecture can go over our head but not words read. If video or podcast would be that effective, all the modern universities and colleges would replace their libraries with video and audio contents.

The fact is, reading is what makes us humans, because reading/writing is an act of communication and whatever we humans have achieved and reached so far are the results of shared knowledge and wisdom, without which we would be just like every other animal.

If you are reading this, glad you exist. Please make a habit of reading, for your own good and for that of a society you live in.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin

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People & Society

6 Things you should never say to your Dalit friends

Though the title of this article is directed towards Dalit and non-dalit, it is also equally relevant to women, marginalized community, race and minorities who have been oppressed for years and now voicing for equality and dignified life.

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Human world had been subject to discrimination and oppression for a very very long time until the rise of liberalism, which promoted the idea of liberty and freedom and equality for all. Humans have finally begun to look at fellow human from the lens of humanity and not from race or ethnicity or tribalism. Age-old practices based on culture and tradition and patriarchy are in the process of getting replaced by liberal values and reasoning, which makes up the modern world.

However, though everyone believes that all humans are equal and need to be treated equally, some of us still tend to take a soft approach towards the change, simply because of “conditioned thinking” or because of being from the privileged bubble and don’t have the first-hand experience on what does it feel like to be oppressed and treated unequal. Because of that, every time there is a debate and discussion over “how to end discrimination of all form,” they come up with certain arguments which they should not be saying in private or public.

The following are 6 things you should never be telling to any Dalit or any oppressed and marginalized group.

Change does not happen overnight. It will take a time.

What are you trying to imply by that? Are you saying the person should suffer because “change does not happen overnight?” When your life is in hell or you are going through the tough times, it’s natural for you wanting to come out of that as soon as possible. At that moment, what you need is motivation and hope that everything will end soon. You don’t want to hear “it’s not going to end soon, so deal with it, adjust with it,” especially when you know it can be ended soon if people genuinely work towards. As Vladimir Lenin said, “there are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” You never know which week gonna turn into the one.

There is discrimination everywhere, even in USA.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because there is discrimination of some form or other everywhere does not mean we should live with it. Just because USA could not fix it, does not mean we cannot. Maybe, we can find the solution that world can learn from. Until Gandhi, no one thought you could win by non-violent approach. He proved it and now world lives by the template. Moreover, don’t you see people storming the street against discrimination? Which country is better…country where discrimination exists but people protest against or country where discrimination exists but no one protests?

There will always be inequality

YES! There will always be inequality, unfairness, hardship, fights. Since the dawn of humanity, we humans have been solving problems, finding solutions just to end up in another problems, another challenges. It’s like walking through mountains. You climb up a mountain just to meet another mountain. It’s a never ending journey, does not mean we should put no effort to solve the current crisis and problem. Today, whatever we humans have attained are the result of our relentless effort of making this world a better place, not for few but for all the whole humanity. We fix one issue, and then move to next issue, and then next. Thus, just because another form of inequality is waiting for us, does not mean we should live with the current inequality in practice. We should thrive to fix the existing one and prepare for next one. That is how it works and should work.

Don’t create a scene, taking the issue to public

Everyone likes that soft, loyal, non-rebellious individual who takes a soft approach in solving an issue in private, or leaves it quietly. By saying “don’t create a scene…” what you are trying to imply is be that nice and soft person. But remember, you can’t break a mountain without making a noise. So, let there be noise. Better accept, encourage and promote those brave and bold. It may look chaotic for a while but Taj Mahal is not built without mess of debris and construction materials.

Don’t be idealist. Be realistic

What is to be realistic? dictionary definition of being realistic is “having or showing a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected.” So what is unrealistic in saying “do not discriminate any human based on their caste or race or gender or sexuality?” And what is unrealistic in saying “we must end it as soon as possible?” Asking for equal treatment is not being idealist. Asking for punishment for any wrongdoing is not being idealist. Those who say “don’t be idealist,” are indirectly supporting evil in society and are afraid of those asking the end to it.

As long as there is reservation, there will be discrimination

It’s like saying as long as there is a reservation for woman, there will be sexism. As long as there is a reservation for poor, there will be classism. Reservation is never a solution and is not there for a solution to end any form of discrimination. Reservation is a mere compensation to help oppressed and weak ones and also a protection for the kind till the wings grow. Don’t mix reservation and discrimination, just like how you should not mix rape and dress.

Conclusion

If you cannot be part of a fight, it’s okay, but don’t say or do anything that discourages, demotivates, or disowns any fighter fighting for a change. Like how desperate you will be to run out of heat if you are to put into, like how even a second means 100 years long to wait if you are to sleep over a bed of nails and thorns, living through discrimination, living through inequality and injustice feels the same for the victims. You can’t feel it unless you are one of them.

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Opinion

Be Anti-Casteist. Non-casteist isn’t enough.

Most people think since they don’t support racism or casteism, they must be against it, but are they? In between racist and anti-racist, there are non-racists. This article is for them.

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In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.

Angela davis

The above statement is equally relevant to country like Nepal (Indian subcontinent), where casteism is a form of racism. Most people like to call themselves “not casteist,” which is a good thing, but what most of them fail to understand is that becoming non-casteist may stop the casteism from growing, but it does not end the casteism. To end casteism, just like racism, there should be strong force of anti-casteist. Not speaking the truth reinforces casteism. It allows us to believe it’s our normal, which Nepal recently have witnessed, and that is equally worse, because whatsoever we are only accepting the reality, not willing to change it aggressively.

When you are not the suffering group, it’s very easy for you to say that “society does not change overnight…give it a time.” With that attitude what you are indirectly saying is, “Please suffer until then.”

Racism/Casteism is supposed to be least divisive agenda but then why we fail to fix it? Because there are three groups involved. In two ends of the fight, there are racist/casteist and anti-racist/casteist, but the non-racist/casteist are the majority and their problem is they neither support nor fight. As Martin Luther King said during his fight against racism, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” This is what happening. These non-racist/casteist choose to stay silent because they somehow don’t want to be part of the fight.

Some of these non-racist/casteist people also believe that “not talking about it is the best approach to end it,” which is the typical elephant in the room situation, which may give sense of peace and calmness in a short run, but sooner or later it will explode, because just because you are not talking does not mean it’s not happening. So, not talking about the reality isn’t a solution.

“You are tired of hearing about it?
Imagine how freaking tiring it must be living through it.”

JON STEWART

Just like how racism against black cannot be ended by only black in streets or only black making the noise, casteism cannot be ended just by low-caste people and dalit community in streets fighting for equality. Remember, they are the victims because they are the minority. It is the therefore the responsiblity of those in majority to join them and for that, being non-casteist is not enough. You must be anti-casteist.


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