The Trump victory did not figure in any of our conversations. The farmers working in the fields were oblivious of it and so were housewives
When Donald Trump was winning in a tightly contested presidential election that featured the two most unpopular candidates in the American history in the fray, I was with my friends in Naubise village, Dhading. Blissfully unaware of the historic election, there were both young and old people outside a health post, waiting for the medics to arrive.
Among them was a 70-year-old lady, who complained of heartburn. The stretcher was unavailable in the village, so her 45-year-old son had brought her to the health facility, carrying her on his back for 20 minutes after a bus ride, with his 50-year-old sibling providing a helping hand. The woman was complaining that some evil force was behind the heartburn!
According to the 50-year-old, her father was capable of treating such conditions of other villagers save his wife, for reasons best known to him! We talked about child mortality in the village, maternal mortality, domestic violence, women’s empowerment, youth outmigration, child trafficking and immunization, among others.
In course of conversation, a social mobilizer still energetic at a ripe old age said that around 50 people out of roughly 700 households have gone abroad for jobs. She said many villagers have taken to vegetable farming and are making money by pushing the greens to Kathmandu. The locals said traders from Kathmandu have established themselves as kingpins in the demand and supply system and benefit the most from vegetable trade. What a spectacular example of Big Business!
At a nearby school that runs classes from the playgroup to Grade VIII, some children were playing, while some were in class. There, we talked with two male and two female teachers. In course of our conversation, the teachers told us that dropout rate was high among students from Chepang communities. Chepang children would hardly pursue education after Grade V, because these economically disadvantaged people from remote parts of Naubise VDC would realize by then that there were far more ‘pressing concerns’ other than education, like getting a job, earning a livelihood. Early employment would lead to early marriage and more kids, severe poverty and malnutrition, the teachers pointed out.
The teachers told us children from Dalit communities also choose to get into crafts such as jewelry and metal-craft after getting a bit of basic education. At the same time, they complained that while both government and non-government agencies have whole lot of programs meant for uplift of indigenous nationalities and Dalits, they hardly have any program for Brahmins and Chhetris. Their reasoning was that not all Brahmins and Chhetris are rich, that prosperity does not always have to do with caste/ethnicity. That’s why, they said, there’s a need for stakeholders to launch some programs for the uplift of needy Brahmin and Chhetri people of this village. |
At the end of a whirlwind tour, we had a meeting by the side of the highway with women from a cooperative who were working on fields as diverse as savings and investment, anti-child trafficking initiatives and domestic violence prevention.
Naturally, the historic US election and Trump’s victory did not figure in any of these discussions. The farmers working in the fields were oblivious to its fallout, so were women wracking their brains over a myriad other issues and men from the village, including those who were toiling abroad for a pittance, and schoolchildren studying in the government-run school whose playgrounds offered a spectacular view of Jugal and Ganesh Himal, all for free.
In our tour team was an American professional from Virginia, with whom we had a long talk about what the Trump victory means for the US and the rest of the world.
As the election was unfolding and a Trump victory seemed evident, she seemed to be analyzing the massive impact it would have on the US and beyond. It’s clear that Trump victory may not only mean construction of walls along the US-Mexico border, lax gun control, policies that are Islamophobic, policies that are not so friendly towards naturalized Americans and measures that abet climate change.
If Trump goes ahead and implements his ‘vision’, there’s every possibility that the US will start turning into a wasteland, at a time when India, China and Russia are rising. A Trump win has the potential to affect India and China because the US is still at the helm of the global economy.
If better sense does not prevail, there are fears that the United States may no more be what it used to be: A beacon of hope for the rest of the world. It will cease to be a land of boundless opportunities for migrants, it will cease to be a melting pot, it will cease to be a country that attracts the world’s best and the brightest.
A Trump victory may lead to curtailing of funds to developing countries for programs like child immunization, women’s empowerment, child nutrition, maternal mortality reduction and many more. His policies may lead to worsening of the environment, glacial melting at faster rates and more accelerated depletion of the ozone layer. Even the American-sponsored programs in Nepal might be affected. Do they sponsor some programs in Naubise? I wondered.
If Trump goes ahead and implements his vision, there’s every chance that America under Trump will alienate Muslims and Mexicans further. In the worst-case scenario, the Trump regime will turn into the Third Reich of sorts.
These thoughts kept recurring to me as I chatted with my American friend on the tour. However, I then thought, for countries like Nepal, where many of its young people harbor dreams of the land where ‘milk and honey flow’, a Trump victory may turn out to be a boon in disguise.
In the best-case scenario, Nepal’s young people may not find America under Trump that attractive and may choose to reclaim their destiny in their own country. What’s more, many of our own brightest and the best, who are living in the US, may choose to return home and give back to the country!
As for America, the Americans have decided what is good for them just like the Britons decided what is good for Great Britain through a Brexit vote. It’s in their powers to choose their president, not in ours. We all know that both the candidates in the US presidential election have had their share of controversies. If the Americans feel they can bear with Trump, who are we to force Hillary onto them?
We need not worry much about the world’s most powerful country: Unlike in Nepal, there are institutions that can withstand a Donald Trump and no political pundit probably believes that America under Trump will slide down the KKK path. While Nepal has political leaders that appear quite capable of ruining a country, however great it may be, in a pretty short span of time if they ever get such an opportunity, Trump probably isn’t ‘capable’ of doing that.
What gives us reasons to be optimistic is that Trump, in a speech after his victory, has expressed his desire to take his opponents along.
That means, unless and until the new US commander in chief chooses to pull the nuclear trigger, a Trump victory does not mean the end of the world. Even in the worst-case scenario, chances are that the world will somehow survive four years of the Trump presidency, so let us not lose hope.
Naubise, meanwhile, seems blissfully unaware of this tumultuous global event. Perhaps it really doesn’t matter much in the larger scheme of things.