Nepalese people in general are quite conservative/traditionalist. You may find them in modern attire and with modern gadgets; may even find them in bar drinking imported whiskey, but deep inside, most of them are conservative, narrow minded, proud traditionalist, who believe that we are what we are and must be preserved. They come up with their own pseudoscientific explanation to defend their practice and beliefs.
How did we end up becoming like this?
Well, there is not just one reason and it didn’t happen so overnight. You and us are new to this part of world, born probably 20-30 years back, but this country has been around for many hundred years. Long before we came to his world, people were strictly following certain values, beliefs, concepts, practices, rituals, and kings and rulers then were preserving and promoting those things. There were even laws and rules to force people to adhere to.
Nepal was “close country” just like North Korea for a long time. This country was living with its own concept and rules and practices, primarily based on Hinduism. It was only recently that we have stepped in to become an open country, where we would value individual freedom, gender equality, free market, science over religion, etc.
WHY? Why did we move from what we were to this new form?
Because we didn’t benefit anything from being close, religious, anti-liberalism country. We only remained poor forever because of our obsession with religion-based policies and practices. So, overtime people realized that this must change and we should not be holding onto failed concepts and ideas, and rather adopt ideas and concepts that seems working in every other countries.
From BP to Prachanda, that was the fight for. Nepal as a country finally got freed from Hinduism-based ideas, concepts, laws and rules and policies and leaned towards liberal democracy and liberal values. It took 50+ years to uproot the whole thing.
How come Hinduism to be blamed for our poverty and misery?
That’s a very complex question that I am afraid I can’t answer in few lines, but to make you understand the theory in perspective, understand this.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
If you end up having a terrible life, there is something seriously wrong in belief you carry. If you end up becoming poor, there is something seriously wrong in belief you carry. Similarly, if your country never prospers, always in poverty, always in darkness, there is something fundamentally wrong in the collective belief hold by the people living in the country and their rulers. Since for many hundred years, people from Nepal remained poor, lived in darkness, one thing for sure, there was something seriously wrong in what this country was living by as guiding principles, beliefs and values.
So, it’s not that Hinduism as a whole to be blamed but the values and beliefs rooted to Hinduism seemed likely the reason behind out backwardness.
Still no one knows that for sure. Think of Nepal as a man who is struggling to gain weight. Tried this, tried that but never seems to gain weight. So now finally they are feeding him what every other people are eating. Result is yet to see. If he now gains weight, it’s proven that what he was eating was a wrong food.
Why are people still conservative and proud of beliefs and values that never benefited them
That’s an interesting question. Think like this. There is a village totally cut off from outside world. They have their own practices, values and traditions that they live by. For them, being rich means getting to eat rice once in a year. They don’t know that even the poorest can eat rice every day from other villages. They walk all day for water but they think that’s normal. What you think as hardship is their everyday life and they don’t see anything wrong in. Now, you go and offer them something that would get them rice every day but for that they should be doing certain things in your ways and not how they have been doing. Will they do?
There is always a leader in such close tribe-like village who decides what to be done and what not to be. If leader is conservative, traditionalist, proud about what they are and how they, the leader will not buy the idea nor will let village members to.
In our case, King, Ranas, ruling Hindu elites were the leaders, that’s why monarchism had to be thrown, feudalistic institution had to be destroyed, and people were to be given more freedom to decide.
So how to change them?
First, change the leader and replace with someone more progressive, open to new ideas and concepts.
Second, make the village more democratic so that only handful of people don’t get to decide what is best for the village.
Third, educate people on news ideas, practices, give them more broader perspectives, introduce them to more diverse world and structures. Make them realize that their hardship is unnecessary and not normal. Show them that life can be lived with much ease and comfort. In all this, they will on their own realize — one life and I should live by what is best for me, what makes me happy, what matters the most to me, and not that to the tribe leader, not that to the superstitious beliefs, not that to the tradition and culture.
Fourth, promote freedom and liberty that every single individual himself/herself stands as a change maker. Today, we have pages like Kaagmandu Magazine, Atheist Millitants of Nepal, many liberal and progressive pages, contributing in changing this country. There are many organisations and clubs and political parties formed to work on the change. They are not funded. It’s happening spontaneously and voluntarily. WHY? That’s human thing. In free and open society, things like this happen pushing naturally the society into progressive lines.
What are the challenges
There are always three types of group in any existing system. One who is happy, another who is not happy, and the third one, the undecided one. Happy group fight to retain the status quo. Unhappy ones fight to change. Third ones observe the fight, listen the arguments, to finally decide which side to take. Third ones are mostly the defining group that whichever side they take will win.
So first challenge is to develop argumentative skill that comes with education. More the educated people for change, more easy to win the show.
Second challenge being right people in governing power. We need to empower progressive and open minded people. Get more such minds in all professions and positions.
Third challenge being ensuring freedom and liberty. As long as there is freedom and liberty, country naturally takes the progressive line.
Fourth challenge being religious extremist from South. They should be kept off the bay.
Last challenge being the regressive force, who wants to push country backward.
It takes time for people to change. 100 years back, 100 out of 100 people would practice “menstruation taboo.” 50 years back, with communist and other progressive movements, number came to 90 out of 100; with Maoist and new wave of change, probably in 60. By now, probably in 50-50.
Change is like a bicycle. The moment you stop peddling, it will stop rolling.
To get a perspective about what kind of country are we actually living in, think of this. Most of us are first in our family to go to college; even first to pass SEE, and we represent barely 40%. 60% of the population have never been to college. Out of those 40%, many of them don’t know what was wrong in our belief system in first place — they think there is actually nothing wrong. We live in such country. It gonna take sometime for people to understand what very few of us have understood.
Bright side of our society however is we are not extremist or fundamentalist as such. We are quite open to change, quite easy to convince, quite soft to deal with regardless of differences. We have democracy, we have started to endorse and value liberty; we are being more exposed to outer world. In couple of decades, we probably will be the most tolerant, most easy, most open society, as long as there is democracy, liberty, secularism, and more emphasis on science and education.
Until then, let’s keep peddling.
What do I think of Nepalese Youth in general
If you don’t fall under the type that I fear, you don’t need to prove the article wrong.
Irony of my life is, I run youth-based media and I fear the very same demography the most. That’s because, I have watched them closely for many years, through their comments and posts on social media, their online and offline activities, have identified their interests and hobbies and life and political philosophies and trust me, they scare me. By saying that, of course, I didn’t mean to generalize the whole youth populace but the specific type.
I am afraid of them, not because they are physically violent, but because they are too wild, uncouth, and insensitive that you don’t know when you will become their memes, you don’t know when you will become their social media posts for nothing. Just say something against their set beliefs and you will become their tea talks. From a nice guy, it does not take a time for you to become the most hated and taunted person — all because you offended them by not speaking their existing thoughts and beliefs. And sometimes, because they simply have problem with whatever you do, out of jealousy or envy, and they just wait for that one mistake from you to amplify their deep-rooted hatred to bring on social media.
This whole society runs on the formula “what others think of you is what I will think of you.” Probably, this is where what-people-will-say came from.
Why are these people like this? I have wondered zillion times. I have wondered while going through posts on Facebook groups like MRR, I have wondered while going through comment sections in local news portals, I have wondered while reading Facebook posts from my “FB friends.” I have wondered while listening to gossips over coffee, I have wondered while watching Youtube videos from them.
It’s like unwritten rule that everyone of them follow — if someone says something that you cannot agree with, mock them, taunt them, insult them. They drag you to their level that you have no option but helplessly pray that no one from your circle gets to see that. You think of your siblings, your relatives, your loved ones, your friends, your colleagues and wonder what they may think of you seeing you being mocked and taunted publicly.
Sadly, the whole society runs on the formula “what others think of you is what I will think of you.” And the taunts and mocks become your new identity. Probably, this is where what-people-will-say came from. Makes sense right? Since you are going to be judged based on what others think of you or say about you, you have to be careful about what people will say.
Slowly, this fear of “what people will say” start crippling you mentally so deep that you knowingly and unknowingly fear to dare, fear to be bold and straight, fear to take a stand against popular opinion, fear to make mistakes, fear to learn from. You rather will choose to be one of the sheep and be loved and adored than be different, try different. Or, you rather choose to be quiet than be judged for speaking or being obvious and apparent to others. You must have heard some people saying “Nepal ma bachera kaam garna jannu parcha.” That’s what they meant — avoid any kind of spotlight if you want to live smoothly in this country.
Funny, most of these youth think that they are educated because they can read and write, they have gone to colleges and succeeded to crack the exams and get the certificate. No matter how toxic their attitude and mentality is, they somehow will find a way to earn their life through some job or business, or at worst, find a job abroad, and what do you need more? You have now source of income, who do you need to care anymore! You are not going to lose your job for throwing your half-baked knowledge on social media or mocking some youtubers or media personality or writing crap on Priyanka Karki’s post or passing anti-gay or racist remark on social media, like how Bronx Restaurant Fires Employee After Anti-Gay Remark to Married Couple.
And, then there are this high-class youth, whose way of bashing you is much sophisticated. They gather over coffee in an expensive cafe or some fancy internet forum and make you a topic. And like always, rest of others build the opinion on the person, based on the opinions of gossipers. Different class, same formula.
However, irrespective of my fear and concern and frustration and resentment against these youth, I love them and care for them, because problem with them is they don’t know what they are doing, and no one to tell them how they actually should be. Class, appropriateness, etiquettes, sophistication are not part of a family for whom scarcity, chaos, and stress are life. Most of these youth are born and raised by parents who never went to college, and they grew up listening to assumption-based opinions rather than facts and research-based in dinner tables and neighborhoods. They went to school and college, but barely learned and understood what’s in curriculum, the purpose and message. Throughout their life, it was all about cracking exam by answering somehow right. As there is a saying, “fruits don’t fall far from the trees.” So what we are seeing actually is the younger version of very same uncle and aunties and elders with baseless opinion on America, on India, on politics, on health, on each and every aspects of life; the very same elders whose favorite self-soothing behavior is mocking and looking down to others just to feel good about self. Only difference being they have college degrees.
Nevertheless, someone has to make the hand dirty to fix it all for generations to come rather than hiding all their life to avoid insults, mockeries, bullying for taking the stand, challenging the established norms and thoughts.
Sand economy: Understand now or regret later
In budget for the fiscal year 2021/22, FM has announced that the government, in a bid to reduce the trade deficit, would export rock, gravel, sand and other aggregates to neighboring countries, which has come under criticism.
Yesterday, we had an intense and interesting discussion on Clubhouse regarding government’s decision to lift the ban on exports of mine-based stones, pebbles and sand. On surface, most people were against the decision based on the fact that such permit will destroy our nature and ecosystem, and will be counterproductive and catastrophic for the environment. Some smelled ill-intentions and corruption behind the decision.
Likewise, the decision has come under widespread criticism from conservationists and environmentalists and have become a trending topic on Twitter and Facebook.
However, it seems like general public are least bothered about the matter. Maybe, it’s due to the bias on their side partly and partly because they are not aware about the consequences that they are going to face in both short and long term.
Thus, we are writing this article, so that people get to understand why they need to be angry, be frustrated and speak up because if they don’t, they themselves and generations to come have to suffer.
In this article, we are not going to talk about the environmental impact which anyway many have already spoken about but didn’t move the public an inch. In this article, we are going to explain the economy side that shall scare hell out of them.
To begin with, first thing first,
What is sand and its significance?
Sand as common as it seems is the most-consumed natural resource after water. Just look around. All the houses, all the malls and buildings, roads and bridges and dams, sand is the integral raw material used to build them. Likewise, sand is also integral raw material in making the glass in every window, windshield, and smart phone screen. And even the silicon chips inside our phones and computers – along with virtually every other piece of electronic equipment in your home – are made from sand.
So sand, as common and easily available as it seems, is equally high-on-demand natural resource, without which the modern equipment and infrastructural works will come on halt.
With the rise in urbanization, every country and habitant are in need of sands to construct houses and buildings and infrastructures; likewise, glasses and chips. Thus, there is a huge demand of sands and pebbles in global market that includes India and China.
And when they say sand, they didn’t mean dessert sands. Dessert sands are useless. The sand they need is the more angular stuff found in the beds, banks, and floodplains of rivers, as well as in lakes and on the seashore.
Catch 22 situation
All these developing countries with rapid urbanization are in need of sands and pebbles in billion tons, yet they don’t want to extract too much from their own countries. First, because that will have the negative environmental impact and second, they need some stock for future.
So do what?
Maybe, find a poor country with corrupted government, from where can import sands and pebbles in exchange of money. With that, they don’t as such have to face environmental impact nor their people will bear the consequences enough to shake their institutions, yet they will have enough sand to carry out their urbanization and infrastructural projects.
Is it a coincidence that Nepal, a poor country with corrupted government where the parliament is dissolved and is in amidst the political instability, has come up with a bill to allow exports of sands and pebbles to other countries, clearly stating “to narrow trade deficit” ?
Now things started making sense to you right?? Wait, keep reading.
The bill didn’t come without a strong lobby and money from the vested interest groups. Some of the gullible are thinking “whatsoever, country will make money by selling sands and pebbles, so what’s wrong on that? Why creating the fuss??”
Here is the reason:
Worrisome No. 1
Sand is not tree, that you can chop off now, plant another to compensate, and in couple of years you will have the tree. Sand is non-renewable natural resource, which means once it is gone, it is gone.
Here is the thing that should scare everyone of us. So far consumers of sands and pebbles were only Nepalese people — poor country of poor people with very limited use of the materials.
Imagine the market is open for the whole world. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO wipe off THE PEBBLE AND SAND FROM THIS LAND? India, China, Bangladesh, all these countries with growing-economy, if are allowed to buy sands and pebbles from Nepal, think how long will the sands and pebbles be lasting here on this land?
Twenty years from now, when we are in need of sands and pebbles for our own development and buildings, what will we do when, what we have is already sold out?? Remember, sand is the most-important natural resource in modern world and rapidly in scarce. How wise will it be to finish the natural resource that you will need in future for yourselves? What are we going to tell our future generation? Are we going to tell that “we sold all our sands to reduce trade deficits, so now you go to different countries to buy sands in price you can’t afford?” Is it??
It is not about selling water or electricity, it is about selling sands which once sold out there is no regeneration of.
Worrisome No. 2
Let’s say sand per truck right now is Rs. 5000. Price is set per supply and demand. You must be aware of that simple economy. What will happen when the market is open for the whole world and all of sudden demand is surged? Since supply is not going to surge, cost of sands are going to surged like never before. Who will sell for Rs. 5000 when there are customers from India and China to buy at Rs. 20000? Yes, that is going to be the reality we all are going to bite with this stupid bill from the government.
We are walking through the double-edge sword. If every one of us don’t wake up now, and stand against the bill, people living in this country are going to bleed left and right, both economically and environmentally, now and in future.
You may not care about environmental impact, and that’s okay because not everyone understands science, but you cannot choose to not care about economical impact that you will have to pay 10 times more for a truck of sand just because government made it possible for other countries to buy it from this market at the market price. You may not care about environmental impact but you cannot choose to not care about the fact that generations to come will be out of sands in their own lands, when they need it the most for their own buildings and development.
Handful of people are putting this country of 30 millions into the risk of exploitation and inflation all for their greed and/or short-sightedness.
Wake up now or regret later!!
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.
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