This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in July-Aug 2012 issue.
Even though we are away from home, most of us are very passionate about our motherland NEPAL and we have a long list of things we think Nepal needs to change in order to make it better for the future. We are very happy to jump into any conversation on what is wrong in Nepal and never far behind when voicing our opinion about how Nepali politicians are so wrong. If I asked you to tell me one thing you would change in Nepal if you were in power for a day, I am sure, you would join the bandwagon of people who have dreamed to turn Nepal into Switzerland.
We all know that Nepal has failed to make a permanent constitution since 2007 and all the delay has not helped our pessimistic attitude towards Nepal. The decade long civil war, the bandhs, and the corruption in the government are not only making us disappointed but strengthening the idea in our head that Nepal definitely needs to change.
I am sure most of us remember Nepal as the only Hindu kingdom in the world and a country which could attract tourists from around the world with her natural beauty and peace. Then in a blink of the eyes, things changed dramatically. First, the Maoist civil war killed thousands of our brothers and sisters followed by the Royal massacre which killed our beloved King, Queen and princes along with many other royal family members and then the unstable governments that haven’t been able to agree upon a constitution even after 5 long years.
It is 2012 now and things seem to be going downhill in Nepal. The tourism industry is one of the main sources of foreign currency in Nepal and provides many people with employment. Once the world’s most sought-after destinations for tourism; Nepal has lost millions of dollars in income from the tourism industry due to the headlines around the world about its bandhs and the negative publicity. I have a few friends around me who have always wanted to visit Nepal but they fear to travel there due to the fear for their own safety.
Government websites like http://www.smartraveller.gov.au in Australia has a warning for Australian citizens who wish to visit Nepal. They state
- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Nepal due to the uncertain political and security situation.
- There have been violent incidents, including bomb attacks, at crowded locations and on public transport throughout the country.
- Shortages of essential supplies (food, water, fuel, gas and kerosene for cooking) can occur with limited notice.
- Black out (or load shedding) periods can have a significant impact on services, including in major tourist destinations. Crimes against foreigners, including tourists, such as assault and theft occur in Nepal due to the poor law and order situation.
- Illegal roadblocks and enforced national or local strikes (bandhs) often occur without notice and may continue for lengthy periods resulting in the closure of businesses and vehicles not being allowed on the roads. At these times, access to the airport can be disrupted and taxis are not usually available.
If you are a tourist who is looking for a relaxing holiday away from home, would you choose a country which has so many problems? I definitely wouldn’t. I am not blaming smartraveller, as they have stated everything correctly in their website and are doing a great job of making the citizen of Australia aware about the real situation in Nepal.
This brings me to my point why there is still nothing wrong with Nepal. Nepal is still a very beautiful country and I still say this after I have seen a lot of countries around the world that attract tourist in the millions. The only problem right now is that we, the Nepali people, don’t appreciate her as much as we should.
Deforestation and land degradation is one of the biggest environmental problems in Nepal and people are responsible for that, not the country. There has been a loss of huge forest area which has resulted in floods, soil erosion, and stagnant agricultural output. At the same time population growth and improper use of agro-chemicals hasn’t help the environment either.
Political instability has become a huge problem for the country. The politicians need to realise that it is easy to say that they will make Nepal into Switzerland in a certain number of years but they have never paused to think how Switzerland became such great country. They fought so long and hard to established democracy in the country but they are fighting over power and money now when the country needs them most. While I was in Switzerland, I could imagine that if the infrastructure in Nepal, like better roads, could be developed then Nepal too could attract tourists like Switzerland. The thing we, the people, and also the politicians should understand is that there is no quick and easy way to success.
It is the country’s citizens who decide what the country will be like, for better or for worse and we as Nepalis seem to have followed the wrong path for a while now. Let me give you an example. Most people heard that “If you spit in the streets of Singapore, you will be fined by the cops”. While on holiday in Singapore, I took a bus tour of the city and we had a Singaporean guide. She was so passionate about her country that she made sure that the tourists in the bus followed all the rules while travelling with them; like not leaving the empty coffee or juice cups on the side of the road or no chewing gums as they are banned in Singapore. She was there enforcing all the rules that we normally expect cops to enforce. If every Singaporean has that attitude and love towards their country then definitely the country will prosper.
Now I ask you “Have you followed all the rules while you were in Nepal or enforced them on others?” If your answer is no then it is definitely time for us to change and take the responsibility of the country and guide it in the right direction. Many Nepalese who would never throw rubbish on the road or dare to break a traffic rule abroad will do it in Nepal without a second thought.
I just want to ask you a few simple questions:
Have you paid money to get your license?
Have you bribed government officials to expedite your work?
Have you bribed a traffic officer when he caught you doing an illegal U turn or speeding?
Have you bribed an airport official to take extra weight illegally or used someone with influence to make it happen? (Most of us going abroad are guilty of this one.)
There are many similar questions that I can ask but I’m sure you got my point. Be honest with yourself because your excuses are not good enough and you are contributing to the corruption in Nepal. You complain about the corruption and bad politicians of Nepal but when it comes to benefits for yourself, you don’t hesitate to bribe your way out. How can you be such a hypocrite? The worst part is that you would never do that in Australia, America or UK. You don’t hesitate in Nepal because you are confident that you can get away with it. I am not saying that I am a perfect citizen and I know most of are not but all of us need to change.
You might argue it is easy to maintain a country that is already in a good state but difficult to improve a country if it is in a bad state. I do agree with that but consider my previous example of Singapore. In the past Singapore had a big civil war between their Chinese, Indian and Malay citizens due to the difference in language, religion and culture but they rose above all those problems and came up with a solution to improve the country. Now they have four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. They celebrate every religion and have holidays for the Chinese New Year, Vesak Day, Deepavali, Hari Raya Haji (Eid) and Christmas as well. They are one of the most prosperous countries in the world now.
So there definitely is a solution to every problem and we, the Nepali people, have to see it and work towards it.
The next time you think Nepal needs to change, pause for a moment and think what you can do to make that change? Instead of gossiping about our politicians and their wrong doings, let’s start with something small around us that we can improve. As each brick added makes a house stronger, every improvement that we make, makes the country better. We need to make everyone around us aware that a country is made up of its citizens and they can make or break the country. Let’s take responsibility of our own actions and not blame others for the state of the country. If the government is doing something wrong, we need to understand that they too are Nepali citizens and we have the power to make or break the government too. I am sure we all have learnt that from our experience of democracy until now. We do not depend on people who govern the country, they depend on us.
Let’s all set realistic goals and contribute whatever we can for the betterment of Nepal.