Why Nepalis don’t return

Published On: February 11, 2019 04:30 AM NPT By: Amrit Bhandari

Amrit Bhandari

Amrit Bhandari

The author is an anthropologist living in the US. Views are personal. abamritofficial@gmail.com

In this millennium of media and information technology, you can equally help your country in ways those physically present in the country do.

My previous article received much criticism (see “Why I haven’t returned,” Republica, Jan 20). I was not surprised. It was expected. I am rather happy that the topic drew adequate attention from readers. I completely understand the dissatisfaction demonstrated mostly by the younger generation towards people who leave the country and build on cases of reasons behind their abandonment. What makes me truly unhappy is that the new generation is still not ready to accept the alarming condition of the country. If the country’s status quo continues for the next five years, it is bound to lose many high-potential young people. Believe me or not, this is the truth.  

I wrote “Why I haven’t returned” not because I wanted to portray a bad picture of the country. In fact, my article tries to illustrate the undeniable realities of country and the reasons behind people’s unwillingness in returning to Nepal. Why I haven’t returned is not because people in Nepal tell me not to. However, making the decision to return to Nepal, for me, takes a bit time to think about. Those who talk or proactively criticize people like me living abroad will not definitely feed us upon our return. Most of us know the challenges that await us back in our country.

It is human nature to look for an easy lifestyle. Most people who unnecessarily take part in overshadowing the ugly fact of hardships back home, dwelling on the Utopia are, for sure, the very same people who, given the opportunity, will race to the front of the one-way flight ticket line at a moment’s notice. Anarchic feedback and comments don’t help, either. The fact all needs to understand is that the people living abroad are not only contributing to Nepal financially, but are also helping to minimize the overexploitation of scarcely available resources in the country. 

We care 
Yes, we do live outside of Nepal. But that does not mean we don’t have concern for or we don’t care whatever happens in the country. It is equally painful for us to hear bad news of our country. It is our equal right to raise a voice against corruption, gender-based discrimination, budget misappropriation, or any other social deviation. It brings smiles on our face when we learn about the progress in Nepal.  

It hurts when we read about main accused in Tikapur massacre being sworn in as a lawmaker and Nepal’s airlines company falling apart due to corruption.  The first one fundamentally mocks the rule of law indicating the fact that anyone can be lawmakers, no matter how heinous of a crime you are accused of. The second one brutally stabs the spirit of good governance.

How happy we would be, if the space that these two-news items covered in the Nepali vernaculars was instead replaced by news that informed us about the completion of a newly-constructed hospital building in a remote district of Nepal? 

Ask us why we troll online newspapers every day. The answer is because we love the country the way you do. If you think our physical absence hinders the progress of Nepal, you are disillusioned. If you are instead jealous of us living abroad, that’s understandable. Importantly, we need to understand that in this millennium of mass media and information technology, no matter where you live in this globe, you can equally help your country in ways those physically present in the country do. 

The fact is that those who are willing to return to Nepal after spending considerable years abroad can bring a lot of constructive experiences from which the country can reap outstanding benefits. But no sooner these returnees try to explore ways and opportunities to lay bricks on the foundation they are humiliated and not listened to. They grow upset, their excitement aborted. They may be encountering these ever-present problems, may be discouraged, may be ignored. This situation bothers all of us, whether you live in the country or outside of it.

Help in need  
When in 2015 earthquakes hit the country, people living abroad panicked to learn about the thousands of people losing their lives and properties. We were thinking of and talking about the country. Those who could fly back immediately provided support to those in suffering. Those who could not collected donations, raised funds and sent money back home to provide relief. All people living abroad got united, they were sad and they were ready to give what they could. 

This is the true love for the country we need to demonstrate. If this unification could stretch beyond the call of natural disaster, harmony would abound. Hate and bigotry does not help. It will always divide us. Where you live doesn’t matter. What matters, rather, is whether you are helping your country. 

Many people who are currently living abroad may be planning to return. But most of them are those among students or others who obtained a visa for a certain period but are not able to extend it. While they are staying outside the country, they criticize the people back home, and when they must go back to Nepal with obligatory compliance, despite pouring all their efforts in extending their visa, start lambasting the people living abroad in frustration. This two-faced opinion makes me sad. This is not something we want to be. We need to be realistic. 

The fact remains: if you truly want to help from your end, you can do so from anywhere around the world. If you stay in Nepal, you may not end up moving a single, tiny rock. Criticizing and demoralizing people living abroad does not make one a true nationalist. 

Bhandari is an anthropologist. Views are personal. 

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