The real problem in Nepal: A vicious cycle where people extort each-other

We’re in a vicious cycle in Nepal. No, I’m not talking about politics and politicians. I’m talking about us.

नेपालीमा

Let’s imagine this scenario.

I rush for a business meeting at Durbar Marg in central Kathmandu. I decide to take a taxi as the traffic is too stressful and it’s getting late. The taxi driver happens to be a middle-aged fellow. He doesn’t seem to be a bad person. But he has decided to tamper with his meter and dupe me. Why?

It’s because Kathmandu is getting outrageously expensive for him to sustain his family. He has to make enough profit to give to his taxi owner and then some more to feed his family that night. So he makes a choice. He tampers with his meter and overcharges me. I sit silently seething at this humiliation of knowing I’m being duped but not having any immediate proof or the time to argue with him. I pay up. I feel wronged.

Why?

It’s because Kathmandu is getting outrageously expensive for him to sustain his family. He has to make enough profit to give to his taxi owner and then some more to feed his family that night. So he makes a choice. He tampers with his meter and overcharges me. I sit silently seething at this humiliation of knowing I’m being duped but not having any immediate proof or the time to argue with him. I pay up. I feel wronged.

That evening, the taxi driver goes home to his rented room where his family of four lives. On the way to his room, he stops by the shop to buy foods to be cooked that night. His wife is waiting. The shop owner is a hard-working woman. She may not want to dupe her customers, specially this taxi driver, but she feels she has to.

Why?

Well, her landlord has been arbitrary increasing the rent of her apartment, and on top of that, she has to send her two children to a “private boarding school” for any chance of her children to have a bright future – or so she thinks, since all her neighbors send their children to these rather nice schools.
So she spikes up the prices arbitrarily, duping the taxi driver. He complains about these daily price rises. She replies calmly. “Ajkalko Terai hadtalle garera bhau badeko ho!” (prices have risen because of the some strikes/shutdowns in the Terai region)

Next morning, she collects her “hard earned” profits that she has saved paisa by paisa over a month and goes to her children’s school. There, she pays off her children’s monthly dues. There, she asks the school principal, why is the school sending all these added costs and hidden fees on top of the tuition fees? A standard non-emotional reply comes, “You know, teachers, inflation, everything is getting unaffordable.” The vegetable seller isn’t convinced but what can she do? She feels helpless. She silently returns to her shop.

The educated Mr. X who runs the school is a smart man and has been able to make a good profit running this school and leads a comfortable life for his family in the city. But lately, he’s been forced to squeeze more and more from the parents of his students.

Why?

Well, because these days, he has to pay more and more money in the name of “donations” – the open extortion by all these numerous youth, local, ethnic, political groups in his area for “protection.” They hound him day and night. He feels helpless! So He made a choice. He decided to fleece more and more money from the parents of his students.

To make this happen, he needs more students to enroll for the next school year. He has decided to promote his school heavily. Do some branding that enhances his institution’s image which will in turn bring more profits. Guess who has he been getting expert consulting advice from?
Guess, guess?
Me!

Guess who he is going to get overcharged or duped by?
Me, who’s been repeatedly duped by the taxi driver, who’s been repeatedly duped by the vegetable seller, who’s been repeatedly duped by the private school owner.

Each day, we have these moral choices to continue or end this cycle.

Stopping this vicious cycle starts with me.

The question is: Will I break this cycle ? Will I change myself first ?

Will I ?

 

This article appeared in Myrepublica newspaper on March 16, 2011

 


Comments

  1. Can’t help but smile at the irony! :)nnI personally think its more of a vicious web, with more players who have been pulling strings. There is probably more that feeds into the circle than just donation drives.

  2. This is what the scenario of each n everyone of us…our country..!!!. What a fate..!! Now no more.u00a0 Continuity of this chain needs to be stopped!!!!!u00a0nnYes, be positiveu00a0to what Nepal Unites is doing. Keep supporting it in whichever way u can. Aniu00a0hernus, tyo din k na aula ra…????u00a0