A Call to Youths

Bishwaman Angdembe, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

‘Think not what the nation gave to you; think what you gave to the nation.’ – John F. Kennedy

Our Situation
Once while I was in Portland State University doing my MBA, I was in a group study for a Finance class. We were four people from four different countries – China, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, and USA.

I and the Chinese girl were working on the group assignment while the Saudi Arabian guy and the American girl were talking facing us. At one point of conversation the American girl asked, “If Saudi Arabians don’t do the labor work, who does that?” The Saudi Arabian guy replied, “There are people from Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and some other countries who do that. They do the sweeping, cleaning, and all those things.” Realizing that I was from Nepal, the American girl gave a quick glance at me and both were visibly uncomfortable. I pretended not to have listened and didn’t say anything. But, it did hurt me a lot. I respect dignity of work but having said that, it’s not a thing of pride to be compelled to leave one’s own country for menial work in another.

Another time, during a discussion in class, a German exchange student laughed in mockery and said, “What? Germany, a third world country?” An American guy had said so due to slip of tongue. It hurt me very much but I said nothing. Everyone knows Nepal is a third world country and it was a sheer mockery of the third world and the reaction spoke volumes about the feeling towards the third world. People may not show it but that’s how most people feel it. It’s a bitter truth. We are a poor country. In fact, we are one of the poorest nations on earth and the second poorest in Asia after Aghanistan. And, it’s certainly not a thing to be proud of. I sometimes think, “Don’t all Nepalese here, temporarily or permanently living, feel hurt when they hear such things about Nepal? Don’t they feel uncomfortable?”  I am sure they encounter such things once in a while. And, I am sure every Nepalese who has true Nepalese heart will be hurt by such things.

3 Types of Nepalese
We have the first group of Nepalese who can afford to go to the first world countries like the US and Europe. Next, we have second group of people who can’t afford to go to the first world countries and go to the Gulf countries and Malaysia, mostly in menial works. Today, up to 3 million Nepalese are working abroad in direst of the conditions, in the burning deserts of the Gulf nations and in the rubber factories of Malaysia. Finally, we have the poorest of the poor who can’t afford to go anywhere except India due to free border, which currently is not really free. Several Americans have asked me, “How can you live with your family back home?” Well, first I couldn’t afford. But, I told them that I was in much better condition than those 3 million fellow Nepalese, most of whom are working in laborious conditions away from their families and haven’t seen them for years. It’s not our choice, it’s our compulsion. If millions of my fellow Nepalese are laboring under the sun and near the fire away from their families with very little freedom, why should I deserve to be with my family here? How can I forget my fellow countrymen working in dire conditions in Qatar, Malaysia, and India?

Youths & Politics
China is developing fast on the north. India is also picking up. Countries after countries are leaving us far behind. As the pace of modernization is increasing, the gap is increasing. The whole world is on the race of economic development. And, here we are walking backwards in Nepal. Instead of uniting for peace, prosperity, and development, we are increasingly divided in the name of ethnicity, religion, and caste. Nothing hurts a true Nepalese than this. It seems everything that has to go wrong happens with a poor nation. We have one of the worst corruptions in the world. We have one of the worst lawlessness in the world. We have one of the most unstable politics in the world. And, worst of all, we have leaders who put party’s interest above nation’s and one’s own above the party’s. We are a country where semi-literate and semi-educated rule over people with graduate and Ph.D. degrees. We are a country where even educated people follow corrupt, semi-educated, and even criminal leaders blindly in the name of ethnicity, religion, and communalism. And, we youths are just bystanders. The most we do is criticize. We are just reactors.

Americans built America from the wilderness. South Koreans built South Korea from the ashes of Korean War. Israelis build Israel from the desert. When will Nepalese build Nepal? Those Americans, South Koreans, or Israelis won’t come to build Nepal. We have to build our nation ourselves. Chinese are doing that. Indians are doing that. When will we Nepalese start doing that? Or, are we going to simply vanish in the deserts of the Gulf nations or jungles of Malaysia or cozy offices of Europe and America? I agree we can contribute from anywhere in the world but unless we are there in Nepal to change politics, things won’t be much different. Youths of Nepal, inside and outside, should never forget this, “Nobody is going to clean your house. You have to clean your house yourself.” How long are we going to remain bystanders and criticize the leaders when we ourselves have really not done anything for the nation? Let’s not forget Lincoln’s words, “You don’t really have the rights to criticize if you don’t have the heart to help.”

Enough seen and enough said. The country really needs honest and dedicated youths, youths of character and integrity, to change politics and the fate of the nation. If not us, then who will build Nepal? If not in our generation, then when? As for myself, I have plans. Do you?
Email: bishwa.subba1@gmail.com 

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