Unless we grow in a real sense with solid infrastructures, home productions and competent systems our pride will remain hollow
Upon my return to the newsroom, he beamed with a broad smile and asked Tiniharulai thoknubho ta (did you nail them down)? To him, whether we vented out our anger or gave hitting explanations to the issues was important. We Nepalis are innocent, light hearted, compassionate, harmonious and sometimes even naïve. Naïve because we get very easily carried away by small things, especially if they are related with nationalism.
By ‘Tiniharulai thoknubho ta’ the colleague of mine was referring to a recent formal visit of Nepali journalists to India. As someone who had gone on similar visit before, he had shared an interesting experience with us. Following some discussion on inclusion, he had shed light on our constitution and current political scenario. I was not sure whether similar debate on constitution would even take place during our visit and whether I would be able to play it right but I was instantly motivated.
Actually, I wanted to go to Pakistan or China for such visit. India is so much ‘our own’ that it attracts us less. Since you already know ‘everything’ about ‘them’ or ‘there’, you’d like to land somewhere else for such trips. However, one week off from regular work was luring. So, I took the opportunity anyway. Injected with ‘thoknuparne’ sense of obligation, I did some fresh study over our bilateral grounds and issues, in case I had to defend our position.
I conveyed this message to other journalists as well. We agreed that we would not quarrel over Madhes-Pahad issue in front of them. Last time, this had happened, my colleague had said. If siblings fight in front of a neighbor, the latter gains, not us. Reporters from Madhes agreed. Problem of Madhes-Pahad is not much among people, the rift is deepened by cunning leaders for their vested interests, they said.
The mood was upbeat. Over one dozen young and vibrant journalists from Nepal were meeting important Indian officials in this ‘India familiarization’ trip. Delhi, not a new place except for one or two in the group, was the first destination. The impending talk could be important but not this place, we thought. But Delhi somehow proved us wrong.
As we boarded the bus from the airport, we saw wonderful parks around the street and classy infrastructures. Delhi was standing tall with a firm smile. ‘Thoknuparne’ was almost forgotten. Just around one and half years ago, I was there and it was not this elegant. Back in 2005, when I had first landed in Delhi, the airport was filthier than our TIA. Narrow streets had welcomed us instead of those flyovers. Over the years, they climbed up. For instance, the airport which ranked 101 globally in 2006 is now considered among the world’s best.
Had they not have to host Commonwealth Games, they would have not renewed the airport perhaps, I wondered. And even this brand new looking city would not make a way. Pressure works. We had hosted SAARC meeting in Kathmandu pretty well last time. Our leadership had done it passionately. Constitution promulgation was largely triggered by great earthquake. Or else, leaders were buying time citing this and that reason.
The ambiance of Delhi was appealing. I was thinking of Kathmandu roads and other towns back home. Developments of other nations do not bother us much, but India. There is certainly something interesting between us.
We reached Ministry of External Affairs. Inside the hall, we spent almost an hour with the state minister for External Affairs. ‘Thoknuparne’ was already out of my mind. Other friends were equally overwhelmed by different air. Dashing change in Delhi was a symbol of how India was doing.
I started thinking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was someone I clearly disliked until some hours ago. His charisma had crumbled before my eyes in 2015 when he treated us utterly inhumanly when we were in need of most humanitarian support. The economic blockade was imposed right when we were trying to rise from the rubbles. The earthquake is unforgettable, so is the blockade.
Now, I was softening somehow. At least to his own people and the country, he is an honest leader. Without his vision, will and dedication, the change would not have been possible. I thought of economic boom of India. Demonetization and several other bold moves were remarkable acts of NDA government. I also recalled scrapping of dozens of redundant Acts in order to make the government more efficient and active. Reportedly, promised number of jobs has not been created, but still, the scenario is very encouraging on the economic front.
Concerned officials claim that India is already the third biggest tycoon in IT sector. Smart city mission that aims to build 100 model cities in the country is going on in full swing. An overview about other short and long-term infrastructural projects across India gave us a sense of where India will be headed in the next coming five or ten years. This was the indication of the fact that PM Modi is not sleeping.
I had to sigh with admission that our disliking or liking him makes no difference. He is sincerely working for his country and people. He is strengthening the institutions, improving systems and turning things effective with full capacity. So he commands respect.
At the moment, the thing to do for me was to realize where we stand today as a country and where we want to go from here. Unless we grow in a real sense with solid infrastructures, home productions and competent systems our pride will remain hollow.
Until we address our extreme dependency and become capable of handling our internal matters without letting others to interfere, we cannot feel great about ourselves. Nor will we be in a strong position to negotiate or bargain for fair implementation or review of our treaties. Slogans like ‘Buddha was born in Nepal’ and ‘Mount Everest lies in Nepal’ alone cannot earn us respect if we leave our country in a mess.
We need to feel a pressure to catch the momentum of development. China and India are booming. We are absolutely lagging behind. So, all irrelevant elements and internal conflicts should be brushed aside in order to focus our energy on nation-building.
Putting our hands and minds to best use, not big talks, should be the motto of our leaders. Once we tap our rich resources, potentials and geopolitical opportunities, we will become an unstoppable nation. And such a mature move alone would be a fitting reply to whoever tries to undermine us. Development is the one and only way to respond to big brotherly attitude and to guard our national pride.