Question: what will you do to protect your future in Nepal?
My answer: Be selfish. It is in your very selfish interest to protect your future in Nepal.
Here is a story to make my case. Let’s say, you make it big! You become rich enough to grab a “bright” future for your family. You own a nice house in Kathmandu, with guards, servants and enough money in the bank after many hard, years of honest work. Your relatives are filled with envy!
Let’s say, you have a beautiful, small happy family, you, your partner and your two cute little children. Everyday you drive through tons of problems in Kathmandu. No one seems to be doing much about it. You get angry, frustrated, even depressed. In the end, the only words that come out of you are “Yestai ho”.(यस्तै हो)
So you focus on where you feel you can make a difference which is to take care of your own family. You forget about the rest of Kathmandu. As you do this, the Bagmati river which flows through Kathmandu, pretty much remains the same, extremely toxic. You convince yourself, repairing her is beyond your job. You start the blame-game. It is the damned government’s job or some INGO’s or some environmentalist’s job.
Coming back to your family; you keep raising your children in the best way possible. You put them in expensive Montessori schools, equip them with the latest ipad, iPhone, send them to excellent summer camps to broaden their horizons. You convince yourself that one day, when they grow up they will certainly help their country. This is why you “mind your own business for now”.
So now, let’s say because of the highly toxic Bagmati (or the pollution in Kathmandu or hundreds of other health disasters waiting to loom here), a resistant form of mutated bronchitis or tuberculosis creeps its way through. It is lethal. Lets say “unluckily” your daughter gets (could be from her friends in school or through water or from someone, somewhere in this big city?) You rush her to a nearby hospital; put her in a deluxe first class cabin with a private personal doctor to treat her 24 /7. The doctor consults with the best practitioners around the world. Money is never a problem, but it sure shows its limits when the doctor finally admits, “your daughter cannot be treated here because the disease is new, highly contagious so she has to be taken abroad immediately to a better facility”.
You charter a plane to Delhi (you sure can afford it). You try to leave for Delhi immediately but are stopped because your daughter needs to be quarantined as per their state policy. You plead with them; you lie, and even threaten them. You call directly the high level politicians of Nepal to find a way out. You manage to pressure them. At last you have permission to proceed. You fly out to save your girl (your investment, your future). But by then, it has become too late. The disease moved too fast. Too much time had already been lost. Your little girl is no more.
- So now the blame game starts inside you. Who to blame for this loss of your child, your future, your investment, your hope?
- Do you blame the doctors and the hospitals for not being able to save her? or her friends for transferring this disease ?
- their irresponsible parents or the school perhaps?
- or the toxic Bagmati River? the people who were supposed to clean it?
- or the government for being incompetent?
- Would you even go on to blame your neighbors (countries) for their apparent bias against Nepalis (for not letting your daughter get medical access in time)?
- Or go one step further and blame Nepal itself for this mess? “Sati le saraape ko desh.”
- Or do you just blame yourself?
Would blaming anyone bring your daughter back? Certainly not. But if you could see into your past, where would you change things so that your daughter would be alive today? Think hard for a minute before reading further.
You would have tried to prevent this from ever happening, right? You would have never let these problems get this big. You would acted actively to control these social, environmental problems when they were small. After all it is for your own sake. In essence, It is in our own selfish interest to act now to solve these collective problems of the future. If we don’t, it will haunt my future, your future and our children’s future. So how about making this super-selfish pledge today!
To protect my family, I will look for and support or even build any citizen movement to clean up Bagmati.
To protect my future, I will not remain silent as incompetent rulers destroy my future.
To protect my lifestyle, I will be proactive in my neighborhood, city and country.
People who helped with this, Vidhan Rana and Prasanna Dhungel. Thank you.
was also published in myrepublica daily, April 13, 2011