BY TIMI GURUNG
What happened to us Nepalis? Yes, all of us, all Nepalis including those living abroad. Nepal is one of the best nations in the world, never doubt that. But why are we lagging so far behind the rest of the world? A patriot could never feel comfortable with the current situation our country is in.
There are so many wrongs in our country, starting with the people themselves.
Politics is a national hobby in Nepal. Being a politician, especially one of the top ones, gives you not only power and influence but also immeasurable wealth and benefits. The best part of all is that it all comes without any responsibility whatsoever. In the civilized world, people enter politics to serve the people, the community and the nation, and make a name or two for themselves, if possible.
In Nepal, however, people come into politics for only one reason, and that is to make money and get rich. The top leaders, the rich and the elites always act like they are above the law. People worship the person, not the position, and the senior leaders wield unbelievable power without accountability. Vices such as nepotism, cronyism and favoritism so ingrained in the system that they have crippled the core of the whole system, so much so that the Nepali people have no choice but to accept these ills as a part of their life.
A top leader in Nepal wields tremendous power and influence for the rest of their life and his or her family members never have to work again for many generations to come.
All this doesn’t mean that the country has no constitution, judiciary or disciplinary services. It has everything in place just like any other civilized country in the world. The problem is not the lack of such systems or institutions but the utter failure to implement them. It can be said that people’s uncivilized, selfish, ignorant and lazy manners could have contributed to all this, but that cannot be right, as people from cities like Kathmandu are anything but uneducated. Why do we tolerate all those anomalies in the society that suggest otherwise, then? Nobody cares to ask.
Given the opportunity, we won’t back off from debating with the best of the best in the world on any given topic, and we even dare to win some of the debates. We are very good at talking, after all. However, talk is cheap – it is much harder to put our talk into practice, and we have failed miserably in that aspect. You don’t agree? Just look at the traffic in Kathmandu. One disgraceful act of stupidity was put on display by a selfish man who rode his bike through an unfinished road and left a long trail of ruin along the wet concrete for all to see.
Government officials are called “civil servants” as their primary duty is supposed to be serving the public. However, it’s exactly the opposite in Nepal, where government officials actually believe and behave as if the public is there to serve them instead. Not even a simple task can be done without hassles. For instance, even paying a land tax can take a whole day in Kathmandu. The inefficient, corrupt and bureaucratic government officials are no better than parasites that are eating the core of the entire nation from the inside out, and they are one of the main reasons the country has not developed as it should have for a long time.
Also, there is hardly a Nepalese institution or community that hasn’t been infiltrated by the mainstream political parties. Apparently, we are all working for the parties while completely forgetting the needs of the country as if they don’t matter at all.
Sadly, the general public of Nepal is doing nothing about this. We always want to do things alone and never understand the power of uniting together as a force. “I” always comes before “we” while personal interest always trumps the national interest. We are frustrated when we are victims but we become numb when we get to taste power. We keep on electing the same corrupt, incapable leaders and plunderers of our nation to office.
Our embassies in various countries fail miserably in their first duty, which is to protect the safety and well-being of the Nepali citizens in those countries. Most of the embassies remain irresponsible, indifferent and unsympathetic toward their own people. Not only that, the staff in some of the embassies have stooped so low that instead of being helpful, they have been disgracefully involved in exploiting Nepali migrants in the Gulf nations and brought dishonor to the country.
Nepalis never tire of talking about nationalism and patriotism, but we don’t fight against those who are grabbing our land, selling citizenship, or closing down our industries. Nepalis are too busy with our own self-interest, living in our own small worlds, and missing the big picture that our country is suffering in extreme humiliation and poverty.
However, not all is lost yet, and there is still time for us to shine again. All we have to do is unite as one, put “we” before “I” and national interest before personal interest.
(Gurung, who served in the British Gurkha Army, is a Hong Kong-based novelist. He established an international manufacturing business in China and ran it for 20 years before becoming a full-time writer. He writes both fiction and non-fiction and his books are based on serious global and social issues, including the Gurkhas’ history.)