Despite being rich in abundance of natural resources, Nepal is still deemed as one of the poorest nations on earth and sadly the chances of getting out of that unenviable position is almost none to zero. Here are the 25 reasons why Nepal will never become a great nation. And as a true and proud Nepali myself, it really pained me while writing this piece and I genuinely wish and hope for that the future can really prove me wrong.
1. Geographical position – Nepal is a landlocked country, it is surrounded by India at its three sides, and the great Himalayan range is situated at the remaining side at the north. Beneath the Himalayan range, the land is mountainous, unsuitable for cultivation, and the other parts of the land are also not much fertile. Only the southern part of the country is plain, fertile and easily cultivated; it is where mainly the people from Indian origin live; and most of the Nepali people, also known as hill-people, live alongside the sloppy hills, valleys and other rugged terrains of the nation. The harsh terrains mean not only harder for people to commute, build infrastructure and create business but also difficult to grow enough crops and become autarky.
2. lack of industry – It is so unusual that Nepal virtually has no industries at all of its own, barring some small family businesses, almost everything it needs all come from outside, and entrepreneurship is almost non-existent. The atmosphere, services and supports are simply not there for businesses to flourish, and the lacking of industrial knowledge and skills are so much so strong and widespread that almost nobody thinks about businesses at all. Priority mostly starts from finding a stable job, working in governmental institutes, running a small shop, becoming a driver, assisting in a small workshop, and so on. Moving to a nearby town for a new job is always a dream for all the village youngsters, but they are hardly equipped with necessary skills to survive in the cities and mostly ended up working in the lowly jobs. The others have to work mostly on the field, learn the basic skills of village farming and keep on toiling for life. The return is still so meager that it is hardly enough for the family to survive the whole year and the chance of earning extra cash is almost non-existent in most of the village areas.
3. Outdated farming practices – The farming systems still widely used nowadays in most of the villages have not changed for decades, they are not only primitive and outdated but also unproductive, and people have hardly looked for new and productive options. Most of the villages in the hilly areas are far from the city, almost nobody cares about them and the chances of bringing improvements to their lives are pretty remote. They are mostly of their own, not much has changed for to the harsh reality of those villages and it will keep grinding on with no end. The crops they grow are also the same each season, most lands are not ideal for different type of crops and they are forced to grow the same crops each year. According to the statistic, although only 20% of lands are cultivable, 80% of the population are said to be relied on agriculture and it hardly produces enough for its own people.
4. Poor infrastructure system – Due to rough and mountainous terrains, building roads and bridges in Nepal is extremely difficult and the status of infrastructure system in Nepal has always been either very poor or almost non-existent. According to World Bank, only 17282km of roads were built in Nepal by 2007, with a mere 5% annual rate of expansion in road building, it still has a very long way to go before the infrastructure system of Nepal can be said decent. Furthermore, most of the roads built are either in the city areas and its vicinities or at the flat plain land of Terai, and the most remote parts of the country are still inaccessible by road. The only way of commuting between villages is still by foot, lack of a simple bridge alone makes the life of people from both sides harsher, and people still do walk for days just to get to a nearby town for a medical check-up. Without proper infrastructure system in placed, the improvement of the people’s life is halted, society is not progressing, and the advancement of the nation is stopped.
5. Poor communication system – The communication system of Nepal is still in a very primitive and rudimentary stage, telecommunication services are only available at town/city areas, and the waiting time for a landline phone can still take years. Such basic services like phone, TV and Radio are still out of reach for many folks back at the villages and incredibly they are still limited only to the city or town people. Although portable battery operated radios have made it to those village areas, it can still be counted as luxury and had it not been for the mobile technology, internet services would have still been a thing of the future to them and generations could have been lost before they can see and try the modern things such as mobile phone or internet. Mobile technology has certainly made communication easier for many, it has penetrated many village areas hitherto and peoples’ livelihood is improving. And yet, there is still a very long way to go before new technology can reach to allover the nation and bring some smile to the poor and suffering people of the nation. Need less to say, communication plays a very important role in the making of a nation, it has to be not only fast but also sophisticated to fulfill the demand of the modern age, and without a reliable communication system, the advancement of the nation will be compromised.
6. Poor education system – According to UNESCO report 2011 – the literacy rate of Nepal is 56.60% with a huge variation between male and female. (Male -71.6%, Female 44.5%) Apart from the capital city and other nearby towns, the education systems in use on most of those villages are still very outdated and rudimentary level and in some parts even schools are seasonal. Working on the fields still trounced the importance of education, mostly boys from the family are send to school, and even that very practice is mostly taken as obligation. Most of the schools itself are nothing more than a makeshift structure, they are not only badly built but also blatantly neglected, and in some parts, even the text books being used are not the proper ones. Furthermore, some of the teachers working in such schools are volunteer, unqualified and simply holding the position that nobody wants. Those poor students have to walk hours each day to the school and forth, it is extremely hard for them to attend school when the weather is bad or something expected happened at home, and education always got to take the backseat to many other travails of life in the hill. Education is undoubtedly one of the most important factors of nation building, nobody needs to repeat that here again, and yet, it is so disturbing that the education system of Nepal is still lingering on such a dire situation. Until it can be lifted up, the future of the nation itself will remain in doubt and everyone should wake up by now.
7. Poor health system – According to WHO the total expenditure on per capita was $135 in 2013. It takes a lot of courage, experience and wisdom to understand the true meaning of the old saying – health is wealth – but most of the people in the developing nations are so much so busy and preoccupied by the travails of life that such values are simply ignored and Nepal is no exception. Such common and necessary practices like health care and health insurance are still alien for many here, major hospitals and health centers are mostly located in the city areas, and people living in the remote villages are not subject to common medication. They hardly have medical centers nearby them, such practices as health checkup don’t even exist, and many people die an untimely death without even knowing the cause of their death. The national health system does exist in the name only, most of the medicines and medical practices are not even properly regulated and peoples’ lives are mostly left on the mercy of individual private doctors.
8. Too poor and isolated – The country is not only small, poor and underdeveloped but it is also isolated from mostly outside world and some folks still live in a nomad life. Some of the villages are located at so much so remote and isolated places that they had neither any outside contacts nor people from outside have ever visited them. It is simply too far away from the reach of the government, they are left alone by their own, untouched by both virtue and vice of modernity and the biggest priority in their life is to have enough to eat in a daily basis and nothing more. They haven’t got the luxury of seeing and experiencing the new things that modernity has to offer, many things we take for granted nowadays can still amuse them, and the development of such people and community is, at least for now, almost nonexistent. Without proper education, health care and social skills, the advancement of the civilization will simply stop and the society will move towards the regressive gear by itself.
9. Crippled with stone-age feudal caste system – Nepal is still crippled with stone-age feudal caste system, people are mainly divided into four main castes and each main caste contains almost hundred sub-castes within it. Each type has their own separate dialect, tradition and way of life; they don’t mix at all, and inter-caste marriage is not only a taboo but also unacceptable. People hardly mix, cooperate or marry out side of their caste; people can be living side by side but their life can still be a world apart; and this stone-age feudal caste system has created a hierarchical society that put people in both higher and lower positions. People’s professions were determined not by choice, talent or merit but by their birth, it is so much so ingrained into the society that choosing profession outside of your birth is almost impossible, and many generations did just slither away without any changes. It has not only created inequality, prejudice and discrimination in the society but also gave unfair advantages to some over others and provided a mandate for atrocity. The domineering group will always find ways to keep a strong grip on the power, as conditions will deteriorate and resources will dry up, the weaker group will become even weaker, and the whole community will get unbalanced. In such an unfair, unhealthy and lopsided society, individualism flourishes, people become rather selfish, and at the expenses of the nation, everybody starts thinking about only themselves. Most importantly, it divides the nation into an irreparable term, unity was just never there and it has hollowed the nation from the inside. Unbelievably, it must be only in Nepal and India where people are still called untouchable and treated as lepers.
10. Societies are too backward, primitive and full of superstitious craps – Most of the village societies in Nepal are still in a very primitive, backward and undeveloped era, they are totally out of touch and unaware of the outside world. For most of them time has sort of stopped evolving, life has somehow stuck there, and not much has changed around them. Tending livestock, working on the field and living in a closed community are still the main jobs of the villagers. Houses are mostly made of stone, mud and dried grasses. Not even a single house has a built-in toilet in many villages, natural calls have to be responded onto an open ground, and personal hygiene is the last thing people have in mind. However, it is the anomaly of superstitions that village people have blindfolded faith on that is harming them the most and the whole societies are still full of such unfortunate craps. For instance, whenever someone got ill, instead of seeing a doctor, the first thing they do is to call for the village doctor. The village doctor is neither qualified nor helpful; he/she is mostly self-proclaimed one with a mixed skill of improvisation, knowhow on herbals and tantric practices, a sort of a witch-doctor. And amazingly he/she does possess cures for all illnesses. He/she will be there for on each and every important event of the village. If most of the country is still full of such primitive, backward and superstitious craps, it is impossible for the nation to improve and achieve greatness in its history. Sadly Nepal happens to be one of such nations and its future is very bleak.
11. Gender inequality – Gender inequality in Nepal is really bad, it is so prevalent and deep-rooted in our society that it affects each and every stratum of the society and the final outcome is very sad. The prime root of the problem is this outdated conception alone – daughters are other’s asset as she will move out to her future in-laws’ house after marriage – why bother? Most girls don’t attend school, they are also restricted to many rules, and the societies see them much more differently than they see the boys. As a result, they are less educated, ill-prepared for the future, and mostly ended up working at home/field as a child bearer and nothing more. According to UNESCO 2011 report, only 44.5% of women are literate in comparison of 71.6% men, it is even lesser in remote areas and it is a well-known fact that many women still use thumb-print as their legitimate signature. A mother plays an irreplaceable part in a child’s upbringing, it does totally depend on a mother how her children will grow up to be in the future, and a well educated mother will definitely bring out a good citizen in the society. If most of the mothers of Nepal’s future children are in such a dire position, what can be expected from their children and eventually to the nation? It is a very serious issue, it has been going on and on for generations and even worse, the light of the changes are not even seen there yet. What’s more, girls also don’t get anything from her parents’ assets and the entire family assets including houses, lands, businesses, jewelries and money all go to the sons only. That is not only cruel but also a sin at any sense and that should be abolished right away.
12. Child mortality – The child mortality rate in Nepal is still very high, according to The World Bank report, it was 37 (Children death before the age of 5 out of 1000) in 2014 and not much has changed in years. Inevitably, it is an average rate and the rate in those remote areas is definitely much higher. Many children from those remote villages are also malnourished, such children grow up with not fully developed body and mind, and their potentials are fully compromised. It is a shame that we cannot even feed our own children enough, you cannot win a race with a stunted horse and our situation is more or less the same here.
13. Too religious for its own good – In each nook and corner, you will find a worshipping place that are mostly made up of stone statue, big rock, small shade, a tree, a wellspring or anything imaginative that can be used as the worshipping God, and they are not necessarily related to any particular religions. They just need a place to pray, they will find God in any shapes and sizes, and in Nepal everything is God including animals. The belief is so much so strong and ubiquitous that people find solace on calling Gods even when they are in fault and seek help when they are actually cursing others. Ironically, this blindfolded faith is to blame for more petty crimes that people commit while trying to cleanse it and end up bad on God’s book. Furthermore, it has also become a big obstacle for the development of our social advancement and hindered our progresses. Too much or overindulgence is good for nothing, including our life and being too religious is also definitely not going to be good for our country as well.
14. Always wait for outsiders to do our works – Our people have a chronic disease of always waiting for outsiders to do our works, we do nothing by our own, and we need help on almost everything like we are a fulltime beggar. Our roads and bridges were built by Chinese, our hospitals and medical centers were made by Indian, our schools were constructed by European nations, other building, machines and so on were made by Japanese and others, and the list can go on and on. We could hardly find a thing within the whole nation that was actually made by our people and feel proud. We are so much so reliant on outside help that without their initiation or donation nothing can start, we can wait forever but nobody will do anything before that, and that is the saddest truth of our nation.
15. Brain drain – Brain drain is not a modern phenomenon, when home country doesn’t offer enough opportunity, people tend to move abroad for better job, and a nation is in trouble when such problem persists on its soil. Ironically Nepal is one of such nations where it freely sells its talent to the outside world and don’t even blink, let alone feel guilty. Its best and strong young men are still serving other countries like UK, India and Singapore for centuries, one half of its youngsters are working in many cities of India as lowly paid skivvies and the other half are killing themselves in unlivable and inhumane conditions throughout Middle East, Malaysia as migrant workers. Whatever remains in the country are mostly divided into two groups: first group, they are either too weak, too proud or too poor to go outside and second one, they are fat and happy cat that don’t have to look outside for a living. And we shouldn’t expect much from both groups, they won’t do anything for good, one by habit the other by choice, and that is certainly not good for any country including Nepal.
16. Myopic views – Having a myopic view on all aspects of life is not good for anyone, it is a petty thing that causes nothing but harm, and the momentary reward it gives to the bearer carries a very high price. Almost all the Nepalese are victimized by this cruel disease, we tend to do nothing by our own, but whenever someone tries to do something, we are in a hurry to see it through our own myopic view, and start doubting for his/her motives without even thinking about the good and bad of it. We suddenly become cynical, start making allegation without proof, and create as much trouble as possible for the project so it cannot progress any further. Nevertheless, at the same time, instead of helping them, we will open our own superstore of excuses to not to do anything from our part and have the audacity of taking pleasure on our own failure. We do that because we are jealous, we are afraid of the other guy taking all the credits and we are the experts on leg-pulling. All in all we do nothing at all from our part, we cannot even see others doing it and don’t give a damn about the nation. If we carry on living with such a myopic and pathetic perception, of course our country will keep suffering on and no one but we, ourselves be the one to be blamed for it all.
17. Too nice to everyone but ourselves – Nepalese are known as one of the friendliest, warming and welcoming people of this world, our people are renowned for generosity and whenever we have some guests in our home, we always offer them the best we have in our home. Modern people from around the globe don’t take their guests home, they mostly meet and dine at the outside restaurant, and businesses are mostly conducted that way. But we are different, we invite them to our home and serve them with the best hospitality that we ever could. But that sort of excellent service is of course only reserved for the people from outside; we take pride on people from outside visiting our humble home, and treat it as a privilege to have them in our place. Nepalese will die on such opportunity, we are too nice to everyone from outside world and we are so much so fond of outsiders that even a notion alone can have a swooning affect on us. In the contrary, whenever it is about our own people, we are completely opposite of our usual behavior and won’t even blink an eye on taking 90 degree turn. If we are nicer to outsiders, we are mean to our people; if we are welcoming to others, we are not only cynical but also envious to our people; and if we are always helpful to outside people, we are always harmful to our own people and never miss a chance of exploiting them whenever it were presented to us.
18. Barking on the wrong tree – Our people are well-known for hardworking, resilient and tenacity, that is absolutely right, and it won’t be wrong if I say Nepalese are probably one of the most hardworking people of this world. Generations after generations have been working extremely hard throughout their lives; rain, heat and cold won’t stop us from working hard, and many poor folks have done nothing but works during their entire life. Simply by our work ethics alone, we should have been a rich and prosperous country by now, if not, at least we should have enough to feed ourselves without having to spread our hands for mercy. Why is it not happening? The answer is very simple. We always work for wrong reason, we always fail to recognize our priority and we always waste our lives chasing the wrong dream. We are always barking on the wrong tree, we don’t know what is good for us and our nation, and we spent all of our time, money and energy on the wrong place.
19. Our water supplies – Despite having an abundance of water supplies in Nepal, its electricity supplies through hydropower are still in a very primitive status and the nation is still suffering from a perennial shortage of electricity notoriously known as load-shedding. It is said to be 2nd richest country of this world in water resources, and yet, till date only 680MW of hydropower is in developed out of the potential of 83000MW. Why? The answer lies on the ongoing malpractices and abuses of political power that have been the norms of the political leaders in Nepal for centuries and allegedly all the hydropower projects in Nepal have been awarded to the people and companies from India for the personal and political gains of the so called leaders. India has been accused of hoarding Nepal’s hydropower, seating on them and doing nothing with its own hidden agendas. India will be the most populated nation on earth soon, besides their rivers are either dried up by overuse or too dirtied by unregulated industrial and sewage waste, and they will need plenty of water to keep those more than billion people alive. Where will they get enough water from then? Nepal of course, India can go to a very extreme measure in order to protect its interest, and it seemed to be its main policy towards Nepal that has been well planned and going on for years. And that can be a very dangerous sign for Nepal and for its very own existence.
20. Too divisive society – Thanks to our feudal caste system, we have so many castes and sub-castes that we don’t even know all of them and we hardly integrate, work or marry the other caste than our own. As the result, the societies are divided into many separate groups, sub-groups and special groups of people which will not only have their own culture, tradition and way of life but also interest, position and hence power. We have a too divisive society within our nation, instead of uniting we see the other groups as our competitors and we fight each other for domination. We do spend all of our time, energy and resources to get the upper hand over the other groups and knowingly or unknowingly though, we will also make ourselves very weak from the inside as a nation. At the end, we might win the internal battle but surely lose the outer one which is very important for the ultimate survival of any nations in this world.
21. Too much politics – The chronic illness that is killing Nepal for so long time is called politic, we have way too much politics in our society and whether there is food or not at the dinner table that evening, well, we still need to talk about politics. We all want to talk about politics, each and every one of us needs a platform to talk and if you are not having one, it won’t take long for us to create another one. It is all about talking politics, no actions are necessary and as long as we can talk, we are all happy. It doesn’t matter whoever you are, wherever you live, and whatever you do, end of the day you must talk or participate on politics. It is not because we are good at it, we love our country by being in politics, but because it is where money and power are, and surely we all love money and power, right! But the biggest problem in Nepali politics is people want power, money and position without responsibility, we just want to join politics or carry parties’ flag to ingratiate ourselves for a better opportunity, so, when the opportunity finally came, we can loot and plunder the nation with both hands as everything is belonged to our father and it is our hereditary right to grab them all. But talk is cheap, empty talks alone won’t make a nation and the only thing we do hitherto is just talk.
22. Too much reliance on India – Through irredentism, Nepal, not only by geography, tradition and religion but also by polity, is entirely relied on India and it gets almost everything that it needs in Nepal come from India – including ideology. Its free border with India not only send people but also its ills as well as its shortcomings, almost everything Nepalese people learn and apply in life all come from India. Indian are undoubtedly the smartest people on earth, had they used their smartness for nation building, India must have been the greatest nation of earth by now, and it would have certainly helped Nepal as well. Sadly, they have the tendency of using all of their super brain on petty things such as outsmarting each other and personal enrichment has always truncated the job of nation building on their list of priorities in life. Since Nepal gets everything from India, why would we like to be left behind on such important trait and just like everything else, we also accepted this type of mentality with open heart. After all, all of our dear leaders learn all the lessons on how to run a nation from New Delhi, why shouldn’t we? Unless we start looking beyond New Delhi nothing will change in Nepal and a continuous downfall is guaranteed.
23. The government – Nepal’s government is not only shamefully corrupted, clumsily inefficient, and full of craps of bureaucracy but also acts like a mafia and always preys on innocent public. In many countries, the government is by, to and for the people, but sadly in Nepal, it is totally the opposite. It must be also one of the nations in this world where without bribing nothing will happen and instead of serving the public, it serves to certain individuals and powerful leaders and Nepal is in reality a Kleptocracy. Those people, who are actually running governmental offices, institutions and departments, are appointed not based on merit or qualification but through nepotism, cronyism and personal connection, their allegiance and loyalty are not to the nation but to that particular individual, and along the process of keeping their respective masters happy, everyone forgets about the nation. And it is from here where all the problems for the nation begin.
24. The leaders – No matter how many of the leaders are there in Nepal, they all have the same disease, and the disease has no cure. Our leaders are not only greedy, selfish, egotistical, inept, liar, power-hungry, money-grabber, cheater, thug, and many more but also spineless, useless, principle less, undemocratic, unpatriotic, irresponsible and so on, and no matter how many adjectives we add here in front of their name, it will still be not enough. Being in the politics is a national hobby, people get into the politics to get rich quick, and whenever the opportunity is arisen, they never look back and plunder the nation with two hands as it was their father’s wealth. Whatever party had been in the power, their first priority has always been of emptying the national treasury, and make them financially secured for generations. Those leaders who have started dirt poor as paupers will suddenly become a multi-millionaire, even billionaire over night, all of their children and family members are sent out overseas for better education on national fund, and it is the nation that suffers the most at the end. Our leaders are good on only delivering speeches, promises are made but never fulfilled, and they run the nation as it was their personal fiefdom run by thugs. Our leaders want power, position and wealth without responsibility, self-enrichment is our main priority, and nobody cares about the nation. They share the position and power as it was their loot, it has been going on and on for so long that it simply doesn’t matter whoever comes to the power anymore, and if the nation is run by such thugs, the continuous downfall of the nation is almost guaranteed.
25. The Public – In both good and bad, it is always the public who must bear the responsibility of the situation and the public of Nepal is no exception. They can be excused for believing themselves as victims, we should also have some sympathy for that as well but the truth will always remain the truth and it is entirely the publics who are to blame for whatever situation we are now in Nepal. We can say our government is bad, inefficient and corrupted, but it is the public who allowed them to setup the government; we can say our leaders are corrupted, liar and useless, it is also the public who elected them as well; and we can blame many things, find many excuses for our shortcoming, but at the end, it is us the public who let this happen to our country, did nothing to stop them and watch them as a bystander while the others plundered the nation to the skeleton. Therefore, at the end, it is ultimately our fault that we waited for so long, did nothing and put our nation into such a shameful situation. If we still don’t wake up, it will be too late and we will all end up as the citizens of other peoples’ nation. All in all, it is our fault, it is our nation and we must rectify our mistakes for the sake of our own nation.
Although I have been living outside Nepal for my entire adult life, I still care about Nepal and the events that have been occurring in Nepal for the last few years have genuinely perturbed me. It saddened me the most when our people ignore our national priority, sell themselves out so easily for petty personal gains, and plundered the nation to the skeleton. If this trend to continue, it won’t take too long for us to lose our identity, and trust me, there is nothing worse and humiliating than losing your own identity in this world. After becoming a fulltime writer, I have started rekindling my passion for writing and it gives the opportunity to bring up my feelings that have been suppressed or neglected for so long and my perceptions of seeing things in life have started to reemerge again. My emotions towards Nepal were so strong and profound that I simply couldn’t stay quiet and watch it from the sideline, I had to express it and what could be the best option than writing for the writer like me? This article is the final outcome of that rage, I wrote it simply because I care for Nepal and it is also my responsibility to let it see the light of the day as well. If you really care about Nepal, please read and share it, and let the whole good people of Nepal know it. If not, well, I just have one thing to say to you, and that is – How many more reasons do you still need to act? God bless us all!
TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com