The ninth global conference of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) concluded on Friday by electing new leadership. Kumar Pant has been elected as its global president. We extend congratulations to Pant, a Germany-based Nepali entrepreneur and hope that he will be able to deliver as per the expectations of NRN community across the world and fellow Nepalis. NRNA was established in 2003 with noble objective of uniting and binding the Nepali diaspora under one umbrella and to contribute to development of Nepal, their home country, in the way they can. Over the years, the organization has been expanded in many countries across the world and National Coordination Councils (NCCs) have been established in 80 countries. NRNA has made some attempts for Nepal’s development too. They have made investments in various sectors, sent remittance—the lifeblood of Nepali economy—and contributed through donations and assistance to Nepalis whenever they are in distress. The assistance lent to Nepalis during the 2015 earthquakes was exemplary and the evidence of their concern for home country. Besides providing financial support to host the conference, the government of Nepal has also recognized the diaspora as vital part of Nepal’s development. It has been given legal status through Non-Resident Nepali Act (2007) and the constitution has made a separate provision for NRN citizenship. The government has invited and facilitated NRNs to invest in various sectors.
But despite their contribution (to whatever extent that is), NRNA and NRN communities have in recent years become the subject of public criticism, mainly on two fronts. First is the politicization of the organization. NRNA has not been able to emerge as a non-partisan institution, which it was expected to be. During every conference, NRN leaders are divided along party lines. This partisan interest was visible during this election as well. Because of this, the election process was delayed this year. Some kind of vandalism was also witnessed during the election, bringing reaction from the Nepali community in the social media that despite living in developed countries with decency and discipline, their behaviors have not changed. Other criticism is related to their behavior at the immigration office at Tribhuvan International Airport. They have been accused of being too assuming and insulting toward the officers on duty and behaving as if they are more equal than other Nepalis.
Needless to say, individual behavior cannot be generalized and we do not mean to do so here. But larger NRNA community does not seem to have done much for the better of the country. Understandably, not all NRNs enjoy the same level of comfort and income in the foreign land. Some of them may be suffering in silence and bearing with the immense hardships. But the larger NRN community has failed to inspire hope among people in Nepal and among NRNs themselves and deliver on their investment promises. And there are voices for reforms in the NRNA community—including in its election process. This is something the new leadership should take up with priority. More importantly, NRNA is slowly eroding the credibility it enjoyed back in the past in Nepal. We hope that the new leadership will reinvent the NRNA into a community which when they come to Nepal they feel like home and which Nepali community regards as a group of Nepalis estranged by circumstances, yet full of love and concern for the betterment of Nepal, wherever they may be.