Until when will we carry the tag of a ‘beggar’ nation in the world?
This question haunts all of us who believe in building a prosperous ‘Nepal’ within our lifetime. Looking back at our history of ‘begging’, in the last 60 years one can safely deduce that foreign aid has not delivered. Tragically, it has instilled in the mindset of Nepalis the culture of ‘begging’. Our fierce human wish to be self-sustained, dignified and entrepreneurial has been handicapped by this very culture of begging, exacerbated by decades of foreign aid (easy money). Today there remains only two options for a Nepali; either continue being addicted to foreign aid and keep begging for more, or take the detoxifying path to regain dignity and self reliance through entrepreneurship fostered by investments for Nepal.
Nepali society can never lift itself out of poverty if our leadership continues to embrace this culture of ‘abject’ begging. Our leadership’s attitude and the subsequent system it has built accepts donors as gods. This has created a extractive model of opaque (non-transparent), corrupt and unequal donor driven society. The government and non-governmental institutions engineered around foreign aid have in the last five decades remained largely unanswerable to the people of Nepal (It is been 14 years since we had any locally elected officials-leaders to guide us). Our rulers have consistently over-promised and under-delivered specially when it comes to use of foreign aid. One simple proof lies in the much hyped earthquake preparedness campaign with the help of millions of dollars of foreign aid. Look where it got us!
When the bigger 1934 earthquake happened, there was no foreign aid yet we Nepalis managed to rebuild our heritage, our homes and our neighborhoods ! The current calamity has given us pause to reflect inside at our own shortcomings and not look outside. So it is time to use the help we receive abroad in specifically creating opportunities and skills as investments, otherwise the the foreign aid that we have to know and accept, will simply going to protect the current extractive institutions that are designed to extract incomes, wealth and power from the rest of us to help themselves. The world has had enough testimonials of how foreign aid has actually kept third world countries from achieving prosperity by sustaining incompetent rulers and the institutions that it seeks to protect. Sadly Nepal has not been an exception.
That is why to guide Nepal towards prosperity, we simply need more investment not aid. And investment is not possible without a conducive environment which only locally elected accountable government can deliver. So if we continue down this road of giving more aid to an unaccountable aid addicted Nepal, this young republic which has been born out of such agonizing pain will again collapse in the evil of poverty, inequality and hopelessness.
It was not the 7.8 richter earthquake but political leaderships and the government systems they have nurtured who bear the responsibility for this post April 25th disaster. They never paid any attention to the countless warnings and didn’t prepare anything to ward off this disaster even after receiving foreign aid of tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars for earthquake preparedness!
This is not the time to cash on the crisis and make us beggars once more. It is time to open Nepal up for investments and bring in much needed skills and knowledge to our nation. Nepali youths have already stepped forward to lead the country out of this mess. We believe this is the time to sprint on a road towards self reliance. That is why, before we look outside we need to see inside (to cure our addiction for easy corrupting money). Let our first priority be to use the resources of fellow Nepalis and building an investment friendly environment in Nepal. We Nepalis want to own the process of reconstruction and resurgence of Nepal. Any help from friends of Nepal flatly rests on whether it enhances the dignity of citizens and whether it creates direct opportunities and builds knowledge skills for Nepalis to thrive in the 21st century world.
In light of the donors conference of June 25, 2015, we urge Nepal government to strictly seek investment and no aid. Post-earthquake Nepal is at a fundamental crossroads. Will we finally start hacking at the roots of evil or continue cutting its branches only? Do we choose to stay a nation of beggars or be creators of a prosperous Nepal (in our life-time)?
Thank you for choosing.